has me by the throat again
i’m thrashing in the death grip
of an obsessive demon’s compulsion
the jaws toss me to and fro
i’m suffocating in my own blood
has me shooting up again
i’m injecting grids and numbers
straight through my veins into my brain
i’m smoking on a dirty staircase
numb and fixed inside a cage
has me by the soul again
i’m falling in and cracking up
a few numbers short of a grid
and turning inside out tonight
it might be lucifer’s delight
Drugs are hardly my only addiction. Games can be dangerous. If I had a dollar for every puzzle I’ve solved I’d never need to work again. I started sudoku when I had a baby in the hospital. Puzzles were a great way to pass the endless hours when I couldn’t stand another minute of basic cable. Then I got hooked on the damn things. I even had an elaborate denial system based on puzzles being good for the brain. They are. But maybe not for me. I really was sitting on a cold concrete staircase smoking a cigarette and working sudoku on a clipboard.
Sometimes I still do crosswords or play board games with real people. But I’ve had to delete every game app off my smartphone. If I had a penny for every level I beat I’d be rich. And what a waste of a life. A few minutes can quickly become hours to days to weeks to even months for me. And I have nothing to show for all that time. I could have written ten novels or learned a new language. All those years I didn’t write much? Well, a lot of that was wasting my time on dumb shit. It’s amazing I put down the pencil long enough to grab a pen and leave these words as evidence.
I like games and reasoning and problem solving. I learned Checkers when I was three. By four I could win or tie every game. My dad and I played almost every night for several years. We got bored with a predictable game and moved on to Mastermind, Chess, Mancala, Backgammon, Othello, Hex, Poker, Go. We played word games and number games and card games. Games can be a great way of teaching and interacting with kids. They offer the chance to teach social skills, logic, planning, math, reading. But I’m not allowed to play games alone anymore. Even computer solitaire can leave me feeling hungover and realizing a day went by and I got nothing done.
I love the challenge of a good match, a game well played. I love the interaction and stimulation and friendly competition of games. But that isn’t solving yet another sudoku or beating 2048 (three times!). Those are just addictive time-wasters that distract me from real relationships with real people.