August 6, 2020:

When I started reading I gave up the drugs.

The drugs had had a purpose. They were to take me elsewhere, when here was intolerable. But primarily they were to calm me down, a crude self-medication, an attempt to enable focus, where at least I could somewhat control my bouncing legs and motor mouth. With books and sun and bowling alleys I could do that without chemical assistance, and since I don't particularly like being high — I stopped.

I still drank beer occasionally and there was a brief period of flirtation with whiskey abuse in the dorm. But I was no longer getting lit to get through the day. To the contrary, my fairly infrequent alcohol use was now principally for sociability.

Ironically, this created unexpected tension with my girlfriend, my first love, the beautiful Ohio lacrosse player I'd fallen for second year. She was more ambitious for social acceptance, while I wanted to read. And because she read so much more quickly than me, she'd be done for the day, ready to pass the bong with friends. I'd be up till late, catching up; and when I finished the assignment I wanted to understand the contexts. How does Barthes relate to Levi-Strauss, Althusser, Foucault, and Derrida? To know you have to read those books, too.

So that for a whole period, from 1977 to 1984, my life was books. That's what I wanted, it's who I was, and if it hadn't been for tensions with the women who loved me I'd have been happy.