Better pack a traveler, as my Mother would say.

So on top of all life’s other requirements these days we are also approaching an overseas trip that has been planned for almost two years and to tell you the truth, I never really thought it would happen so I didn’t allow myself to worry about it and, well, now…it’s fucking happening.   Don’t get me wrong; I am not bitching about a trip to Europe, because that would be entitled and ridiculous – I’m simply mentioning that this generous and amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity also comes with a LOT of planning and organization.

So while we’re over there being kind and benevolent ambassadors of the United States, and more importantly, the South, I’ve been trying to come up with some things to bring my relatives that are indigenous to my home state, besides moonshine and meth.  Now, it’s important to note that I have not met some of these folks, so there is a bit of a gamble on picking out appropriate and tasteful gifts.

nighty night from your second fave marsupial

A cute and cuddly stuffed possum, is a no-brainer, is it not?  Who wouldn’t want to curl up and spoon with one of these nocturnal garbage eating rascals?!?  I only wish this one could hiss and spit like they do in real life.  Oh well, bummer.  My cousin’s little girl is going to squeal in delight!

 

So, my cousin’s wife (whom I have not yet met) is from Paris so you KNOW she’s skinny and fabulous and probably wears high heels while she’s sipping champagne and eating pistachio macaroons. Since I know already she’s going to be totally fashion forward (she probably really wears a beret you guys!) naturally I thought a piece from the states would compliment her collection of haute couture.  After much thought about what her “go-to” pieces might be, I figured no-gal-about-town would be caught dead in the fashion district of London or Paris without her Confederate Flag hoodie!

I bet we are gonna be BFF right from the start, I can just feel it.  Now, my aunt and uncle do indeed have everything so they were a little bit harder to shop for.  My Mom had suggested a nice hand carved wooden wind chimes with some sandstones perhaps, to hang outside on their veranda, overlooking their vineyard.  Well, I found something EVEN BETTER.

im not so sure about the spelling either but wtf do I know about art?

Now, I know you can pay top dollar for these things in states like Arizona and New Mexico but I have never seen one indigenous to the South, so this very well *may* be a collector’s item.

 

Now my cousin is also turning 50 this year, so I can’t leave him out.  Obviously we did not grow up together but I feel pretty confident that he’s going to LOVE this t-shirt as his birthday gift. See what they did there with the BIG RACKS?!?!  SO FUCKING CLEVER. I mean, I’m no worldly expert or anything, but I feel pretty sure the Europeans love their guns and hunting (and boobs) just like we do, am I right?!?

 

I know America is getting a pretty bad rap these days and I think I may be correct in assuming most of the other countries pity us but I hope that I can go over there and be a beacon of light and hope for the residents of other countries.  We are famous here in the South for our hospitality so I’m just gonna pack that shit right up and take it across the pond, y’all!  You know, like Dolly Parton, the Patron Saint of the Smoky Mountains – I’m just going to sprinkle love and kindness all over everything, you know, like glitter.

omg i am SO ready for Europe

I thought about getting off the plane sporting a MAGA hat but I seriously don’t want to give my international family a collective stroke.

My cousin  DOES know I’ve struggled with a drinking problem the last couple thirty years of my life, so I’m sure he doesn’t know quite what to expect, but I hope to assuage his fears.  The last time he saw me it was 10 days after my liver surgery, and I don’t remember much. I recall trying to make jokes while shivering uncontrollably while also praying that my liver wouldn’t shoot out of my asshole. I mean, come on, after THAT, how bad can I possibly be?!?

Gone Girl

hopeless, idk but this quote is awesomeness regardless

So after an eight-week run I’ve been extracted from the temp job in the projects and not a MOMENT too soon because I’m pretty sure that my cohorts there thought the royal wedding had something to do with Queen Latifah.

I’ve had mixed feelings since then but I reckon it must be the right thing because I haven’t spent much time looking in the rear view mirror, if you know what I mean.  I’ve been placed at a new assignment that is located in a very swanky downtown office. I used to sit at my desk at the other job and wonder when, (not IF) a bullet was going to shatter my office window and part my hair, or alternatively, when someone would come into my office and beat my white privileged ass. Now I sit at my desk and ponder (with almost as much concern) if my foundation properly matches my neck. One could say there’s a vast difference in these two assignments.

The post before this one resonates with uncertainty, shame, guilt and regret. Sometimes it’s hard to see your way out of something when you’re so deeply entrenched within it, you know?   This is where you *attempt to* put one foot in front of the other and take a deep breath and keep. moving. forward. Last weeks relocation filled me with sadness but also with renewed hope.  I have to be willing to concede that maybe that wasn’t where I belonged. My pal Gregg says that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime and I feel the same way these days.  I think that everything falls and fits into place sometimes with a thunderous clank and often it doesn’t look like you thought it would.

The other morning my goddamn garage door wouldn’t go up and I was unable to override the system and manually lift it, so for about ten minutes I just spun around my garage frantic with my freshly ironed hair flying into my crimson-stained lips (it’s all very devil-wears-Prada at this new assignment so who knows I may roll up in a beret one of these days, #notjudging) while I ran up and down the stairs to and from my kitchen while simultaneously trying to call my boss while also trying to decide HOW THE F I AM GETTING TO WORK.

Also,  I “may” have phoned my husband (THREE time zones away – who was attending a business conference) to press the magic button somewhere from within his hotel room so that our garage door would rise unceremoniously and let me go to my assignment already.  Alas, it did not. Not only did I wake him up at 4:30 AM, but he was sweet enough to consult Mr. Google to ascertain that yes, I was indeed screwed as the proverbial spring had sprung on our garage door. So on a day of many firsts, I also took an Uber to get to work.  A SOBER Uber, you guys. It’s a different experience than say, when you’re wasted to your pits and tits on warm vodka (interspersed with shots of Jack) after singing in the rain all night at an outdoor Indigo Girls concert, for a random yet completely falsified example. Again, two VERY different comparisons, much like my temp jobs.

So, I took the damn Uber. I actually arrived BEFORE my twenty-something co-worker, which kind of cracked me up.  LOOK AT THE WOEFULLY RESPONSIBLE 50-YEAR OLD LADY, YOU GUYS!  She took an Uber to GET TO WORK, can you imagine?!?!  The Uber cost more than what I’m being paid hourly but that’s really another matter.  ANYWAY.  My point is that I bet their matte polished toes would curl up in horror at the path it’s taken me to get here and I’m NOT JUST TALKING ABOUT THE UBER you crazy millennials!

Sometimes I think life is just a series of destinations and states of beings and although the adventure is clearly sometimes in the journey, we all inevitably land where we’re supposed to.  Is that naive or childish? Maybe. I landed at work, sure.  How I got there was unconventional, I suppose.  Often things don’t go as planned, but they seem to work out anyway.

So, in summation, I will leave you with my final sage quote from the projects:

She from Africa. For real. She run with lions and shit and now you tellin’ me she afraid of my little dog?  Bitch, please.

I’m not going to miss all aspects of that assignment, but I will miss these little pearls, I’ll be honest.  There was a hum-dinger last week involving the phrase dookie-turd which now seems awfully redundant, but it was a whopper and if I can recall it “correctly” you’ll be the first to read it, I promise.

Here’s to the next adventure.  I hope you’ll join me.

 

Pity…party of one? Your table is now available.

So as the universe and life continue to duke things out in my current existence, I can’t help but try to maintain my sanity and my authenticity by NOT hurling myself into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a Hoarders marathon, but to attempt to handle the stress and anxiety with a calm and realistic approach.  One could argue that I’ve never been either; calm OR realistic.

Shit happens.  This we know.  People go bankrupt, divorces wreck families, people get cancer. There’s no shortage on hard times and I certainly don’t have the worst of the lot, by any means.  However, there are times when things are on more even keel than others.  This is not one of those times in my life.

Of course, for almost three decades my coping mechanism came in liquid form. Over the rocks, in a shot glass, or straight outta the bottle. This was always the answer when life threw me the hard questions. Knee jerk reactions of anger, blame and resentment. Lashing out at everyone and everything, save for MY part in the wreckage. Well, it would seem those days aren’t quite over. Despite my best efforts, I found myself up to my tits in a four-alarm meltdown on Friday evening over a situation that I myself, caused.  Trust me when I say I caused it because I spent the better part of the day desperately trying to find a deserving target in which to direct my anger and more importantly, the BLAME for said wreckage and only came back to my own reflection.

Shit.

So, did I put into place all the healthy and sound coping mechanisms I’ve learned in the 1,016 days I’ve been sober? No. Did I take a deep breath and focus within and press the pause button?  No. Did I immediately panic and spiral into a ferocious and tearful/fearful shame cyclone?  YES I SURE AS HELL DID.

And to show you how hard wired the ‘fight or flight” response is within me, my first reaction was to tell my husband that I was going to retreat for the weekend into a cheap bed-bug ridden hotel where I would remain under the jizz-stained faded bedspread while repeatedly telling myself what a non-deserving loser I was and why I really don’t merit any happiness or comfort in this world and all I do is screw things up. We drunks have a penchant for the dramatic at times.

I circled around and around this dark abyss and freaked out for the better part of three hours and the best most painful thing about this was it was just the SAME THING on repeat. No solution, no way out, just a endless downward spiral of shame with a dash of self-pity sprinkled in for irritating measure. NOT HELPFUL.

When I did finally press pause (with the help of my husband, my stalwart and rock-solid anchor) I was able to see the situation for what it truly was; and naturally, it was not remotely close to life-threatening.  Life on life’s terms. That’s what it was, and I had to look for my part in it and move forward from there. You know, like a GROWN-UP, dammit. We do the best we can with what we’ve got and sometimes your best is better than average, and sometimes, notsomuch.  My point here, if I have one, is that you have to forgive yourself for being a human being sometimes, warts and all. I reacted poorly, yes. I behaved selfishly and childishly and if I’d had the floorspace and flexibility to throw myself onto the ground in a fitful tantrum, I would have.

Years ago, after fucking up a situation at work, an old co-worker once remarked to me, “Hey kid, we’re not packing parachutes here, we’re all gonna walk away from this” in a hilarious comeback to my dramatic and apocalyptic reaction to my mis-step. And you know what?  He was correct. No, it doesn’t take away the feeling at the time when your chest tightens and your heart beat quickens and you feel yourself spinning out of control, but in reality, that’s the truth.  In some situations a freak-out of biblical proportions is indeed a justified reaction, but sometimes you just gotta check yourself before you wreck yo’self.

My situation is still not resolved and you know what?  That’s alright. I have no idea how things will shake out, and that’s okay too. I just have to keep doing the next right thing with the right intentions, and I know it will work out like it’s supposed to.  I know this, but sometimes while you’re on the way to the principal’s office you gotta shoot a few spitballs, am I right?

You know I can’t say anything in 500 words or less, but in summationlet me close with this; life is hard, guys – go easy on yourself.  Oh, and totally go for the Ben and Jerry’s* – it may not solve your issue, but it couldn’t hurt.

*I suggest their awesome flavor, Phish Food. Trust me, it’s waaay better than their music.

 

Gentle Joe

My Father would be 96 years old today.

I wrote about him a lot over at my other pre-sobriety site; Girl, Corrupted.  I was knee deep in it back then, dealing with his disease and physical and mental atrophy, as well as his death and post-funeral fall out.  I was a Daddy’s girl, through and through, and the last years of his life were more painful than his actual death and I’m sure some of you can sympathize with that bittersweet loss.

I’ve talked about his brash, hard-drinking, stubborn, fearless and heroic persona many times and I have brothers that can back up that bravado.  He was bigger than life, and not just to me.  He was a large man and had hands that would engulf yours if you were to shake hands with him, and I mean grown-ass men.  My Mom would lament that his feet were just as large and we were forever stepping over his giant mud-covered work boots in the garage.  Dad was a master handyman and could fix and/or build anything, really.  If he needed something and he could build it, well then, that’s what he did.  A garage.  Shelving. Tables or bookcases. I grew up with sawdust as a constant and yes, why that IS a post-hole digger, thankyaverymuch.  He had almost every tool or implement there was and if he couldn’t fix it, well, then it was a piece of shit in the first place.

He was a Marine.  He was a proud Irishman. He liked to fight, he liked to drink, and he liked to swear. More than that, he liked to laugh and I think he and I shared a belly laugh each day we were together on this planet.  He was my biggest fan, and I, his. His blue eyes would light up when I entered the room and his booming voice would yell “top o’ the morning, shitbird!”  Shitbird was a term of endearment, naturally. I loved it when he called me that; he was feeling kicky.

Today though, I’d like to take a minute to tell you about the other side of Joe.  The side that not many saw, but if you did, consider yourself lucky. The above picture was recently given to me by my Mother – I’ve never seen it.  This picture was taken at my high-school graduation.  My parents were among all the other families in the bleachers in my hot stuffy school gym since the weather that day didn’t cooperate.  She couldn’t remember much about the young boy’s family, only that he had grown so sleepy during the commencement ceremony, that he had unconsciously fallen over onto my Father’s lap and been fast asleep for the duration.  My Father, without a word, simply put his arm over the boy and waited it out while his only daughter was accepting her diploma. As the Grinch is famous for saying, my heart  grew three sizes when I heard that.

This was also the man I loved. The gentle and kind man that was always underneath the raucous braggadocio. Sure, he once punched a guy’s lights out in a McDonald’s DURING BREAKFAST, but he also rescued countless stray kittens and rabbits and baby birds.  I have many sweet memories of my Father holding an eyedropper filled with milk while nursing one of God’s littlest creatures back to health in a shoebox lined with a dishtowel. Don’t get me started on his love for dogs. Well, not all dogs.  He did take more than a few “for a ride” back in the day but that’s a post for another time.  He once told me that he hoped to die before our German Shepherd, Thor, because he didn’t want to imagine his living day to day without him. I didn’t take that personally.

To my absolute horror in my early twenties he showed up at my work with a picnic lunch.  Y’all, I mean a PICNIC lunch.  Complete with blanket, basket, fried chicken and all the fixings.  He had plopped it down in the grassy area of our parking lot and I was MORTIFIED. I went along with it though (thank god because we alcoholics can dwell on shit like that for decades) and now it’s one of my fondest memories.  What I wouldn’t give for him to pull up in his pick-up outside my work now, with a goddamn picnic lunch.

You better believe that if someone was on the side of the road with whatever the hell wrong with their car, he’d start signaling to pull over as soon as he saw them. He never sped past someone needing assistance, no matter how he was dressed or where we were going. It was just what you did.  Oh, and how children loved him. He put the fear of God in many a grown man, but children would flock to him like lepers to Jesus. He’d pull a magic trick, tell a joke, or have a piece of candy in his pocket. He was FULL OF IT, so of course kids and (most) adults loved him. He would spin a yarn  and have everyone’s rapt attention-he was a master storyteller. He would do most anything for a laugh and adored a good prank. He once balanced a bowl full of water on the ledge of my cracked bedroom door to catch me coming in late on my curfew. Upon tip-toeing into the house thinking I was home free, I gently pushed my bedroom door open when the bowl toppled onto my head, soaking me in the process, and sending a shocked scream into the night, notifying my Father of my late arrival. Lucky for me he was so tickled that his snare worked, I didn’t even get in (much) trouble.

I could write until dawn and I wouldn’t run out of anecdotes. It’s done my heart good just to jot these down, and my eyes brim with proud tears at these happy memories. I think of him often and a giant grin always spreads across my face.  My husband says that my eyes light up when I talk about my Daddy.  Of course they do. He was larger than life in every way, he was immortal, and he was the bravest and strongest man I had ever encountered. Now though, I want you to know the gentleman that he was, for that side is equally as important, now maybe even more so.

He was my Father, and he was a gentle man. Happy birthday, Daddy. Your shitbird sure misses you.

Milestone

 

 

I’m not sure where to start.

Staring at the above picture sends a ripple of mixed emotions through my veins. I could go all triumph over tragedy on your asses, but I won’t. I don’t feel that way. . .not today, anyway. This picture fills me with quiet hope and solemn pride but also really packs a ruthless and sickening gut-punch.*

Jesus take the damn wheel did that green shit really and truly come OUT OF ME?!?!

Yes. Yes, it did.  The other fun fact about the above photo is there is yet another pitcher of neon green goo to the right of the FULL one.  Swear.  I remember asking the technicians in the laboratory if I could take a picture, and how they looked at me with soft eyes, staring blank stares at each other.  I also remember thinking back then that they probably just couldn’t believe my bravery and my exemplary sense of humor, but since then I’ve realized that they were staring at me because I was dying.

1,000 days.

For the last one thousand days I have chosen life.  Life with all of its imperfections and flaws, as well as its joyful surprises and rewards. I’ve chosen love, and I’ve experienced unconditional love as well.  I have witnessed grace and forgiveness. I have screamed at the skies and collapsed in sobs.  I’ve experienced terror and uncertainty, and shame and humiliation.  I have formed bonds with a tapestry of humans  that linked their arms together in unison to catch me when I threatened to plummet into the seemingly hopeless abyss of my own self-created destruction.

I know I’m usually the first to make a joke of things or go for the easy laugh, but not today.  Today is a day of reflection, pride, and yes, some triumph. But some days it’s just still so raw.  The wolves still circle at my door, y’all – don’t get me wrong. But these days, if I do the next right thing and keep my intentions true, they’ll lay down for a spell and stop their anxious and restless pacing. I have to live in my truth and some days are easier than others.  I know this is the same for many of you and I honor the warrior in your spirit, as well.

They say that without the darkness, we wouldn’t see the stars.  Well, I can see the stars now, and they shine with an ethereal brilliance that sometimes blinds me.

They’re lighting my way, you see.

 

 

*My sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of you for letting me share my story with you.  And now I have to make one itty bitty joke because after proofing this post I couldn’t help but think that “gut-punch” is totally what I should caption the above picture.  GET IT!?!?  It’s the “punch” from my guts! WHO WANTS A MARGARITA?!?  See?  I really just can’t help myself.

 

Hear me roar

I admit, these days I’m playing a wee bit loose and fast with my posts while searching for gainful employment that doesn’t make me want to drink myself onto another transplant list and/or hang myself.  Blurgh. However, I must pull my cranium outta my rectum and get on the bus for the month is closing in on us and I still haven’t covered Step 4 in my monthly series.

To recap, we’ve covered honesty, hope and faith so far – step four, simply put, is courage.

COURAGE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF FEAR, BUT THE TRIUMPH OVER IT.

Nelson Mandela

I’ll be the first to admit that when it came to courage in MY story, I’m not sure that I possessed it, but I wasn’t really given a choice.  One could argue I was given a choice and I could’ve chosen to continue to drink myself to death in the summer of 2015, but I guess the universe had a different plan for me.  I guess I also had a different plan for me – I really didn’t want to die. I don’t know if that’s courage or survival instinct or just stubbornness, but I do know that giving up wasn’t ever an option and I’m genuinely not saying that because I want a slap on the back, I’m saying that because it’s the truth. Also, in absolute candor, I don’t think I realized just how sick I really was back then. I know – you would think that lying in a hospital bed having your abdomen drained repeatedly after having a shunt inserted INTO YOUR LIVER that you’d think perhaps a problem was afoot.  Not this dumbass. You couple a slow learner with a late bloomer and you’ve got…well, me.

Of course, courage doesn’t always have to be so grandiose and epic. Courage can just be getting out of bed some days, amirite?!?  I recently shared a fantastic life-affirming breakfast with a dear friend who I don’t see nearly enough.  We covered the usual topics, i.e;  what we’re reading, our current president quite possibly being the antichrist, and incorporating trans fats and avocados into our daily diets. As we were chatting she expressed some anxiety over a new water aerobics class she had just signed up for. We both commiserated about just how nerve-wracking it can be to try something new. Especially alone.  Now, let me just remind you that we are two grown-ass accomplished women, as if that matters. I shared with her a recent story from my own experience.

Since returning home from my GOLDEN JUBILEE (read:  50th birthday extravaganza) my yoga practice has been reinvigorated and it’s really about time. I had let it slip down the priority chain as finances are abysmal fleeting these days.  In an effort to try different types of yoga and additionally save money, I found a hip and highly regarded yoga studio in my city that offers donation-based “Karma” yoga. Perfecto!  Well, kinda.

As I drove up to the studio I noticed a gaggle of young and taut gals decked head to toe in trendy yoga wear heading into the building.  They were smiling and laughing and EVEN THEIR PONYTAILS WERE PERFECT.  Instant insecurity made my stomach plummet and my throat tighten. I started sweating and pitting out in my generic yoga-wear.  I quickly glanced at the clock HOPING that somehow I was late for the class and therefore it would be RUDE to interrupt it and I’ll just come back some other time when I’m feeling a little better. Like in fourteen years.

If you know me in real life you know that I have never been late in the entire capsulation of my existence. I’m dead serious, and if you DO know me in real life feel free to comment below with one of the times I made you damn near murderous because of it.  So, I knew before looking at the clock that tardiness was not going to be the case so I quickly began reciting the litany of other reasons I could tell myself why I wasn’t going in.  As I started to spazz out I realized my reaction for what it was;  fear – plain and simple.  I’m too old, too fat, too uncoordinated, too farty and entirely too out of style to join that yoga class.

I looked at my reflection in the rear-view mirror and I could see the miserable and familar panic in my own eyes, and just like that, I was sick and tired of being afraid. The reality of the situation hit me and in a flash of mock bravery I opened the door to my Jeep and before I knew it I was standing in front of yet another beautiful gal with cheeks the color of pink rose petals and eyelashes like the open wings of angels, asking me for my name and donation.  “Jesus Christ, what is this . . .yoga for supermodels?!”, I asked, only half-way joking.

“I know, right?”, she replied. “You should try working here, it’s enough to give anyone an inferiority complex!”  I let THAT SHIT sink in for a moment and said, “well then, I’m obviously in the right place”.  She nodded vigorously in agreement and we both laughed.

Guess what happened?  NOTHING.  Well, yes, something DID happen – I went to said 90 minute yoga class, met some other kick-ass gals, LOVED the teacher and walked out of that hip and trendy bonsai-zen-incense burning studio with my head held high and my body energized. If only I had a mic to drop, I would have dropped it. That’s how good it felt to conquer that insecure and scared voice inside of me.  I can only imagine how it might feel to live your LIFE that way, and I’d like to think that some days, I’m on that path.  I relayed this story to my sweet friend and she and I too shared a laugh at how NO ONE feels completely self-confident and cultivated and proficient and has their SHIT TOGETHER all of the time.

I received a note from her yesterday. She went to her water aerobics, despite the voices in her head that tried to convince her otherwise.  She admitted she was fearful but she plundered forward and you know the rest, don’t you?  She enjoyed the class, met some other fantastic ladies like herself and can’t wait to go back. COURAGE, guys.  It doesn’t have to be thunderous and monumental. It can be the quiet and sometimes fragile voice inside of you that is just one damn ounce braver than your fear. Courage is changing your trajectory.  Courage is being honest with yourself, and your addiction.  Courage is facing down your demons and confronting what needs to change, head on. If nothing changes, nothing changes. Courage is recognizing the patterns in your life that aren’t serving you anymore.

So, if you have a chance sometime soon, step out of your comfort zone.  I promise you won’t regret it.  You may even have fun, or learn something, or discover something new and wonderful about yourself, or the world.

But remember, there’s a very fine line between courage and stupidity.  Please don’t cross it.

 

What dreams may come

Follow your dreams. Unless they’re trying to kill you.

Recently someone in one of my recovery meetings brought up “drinking dreams”.  They’re pretty common among the newly sober and I myself have them almost weekly, even approaching three years of sobriety. I don’t really mind them or give them much credence, I mean, it’s a dream.  I know they can seem real, but when I awake, I’m usually just super grateful that it was a dream.  In my crazy ass night scenarios, I am already intoxicated in said dream and then some good but nosy samaritan reminds me that I’m an alcoholic and I am paralyzed in terror and panic and immediately wake up – I assume before my black shiny liver shoots out my asshole and skids down the hallway.

The person in the meeting was disturbed by his dream, so much so that he brought it up as a concern. In his dream he said he knew he was drunk and didn’t really care and wondered what that meant about his inner resolve.

Some twenty years ago I had a dream that I was trying to shove a baby into my garbage disposal in my cheap Hollywood studio apartment but the baby kept crawling out before I could hit the switch.  In this horrific dream I dutifully grab a broom from the closet and hold the baby down with it while flipping the switch to grind it up.  Um, yeah – I know. . . but come on folks, I may not be smitten with kids, but I don’t (usually) feel like chopping them to bloody pieces in my kitchen sink.  The point is, it was a dream.

Fast forward to Sunday morning where at 4:12am I awoke with a violent start and what immediately followed was such bone-crushing sorrow I could barely lift my head off of the pillow.  I was standing across from my Mom, whose face was wet and shiny with tears.  She was crying to the point of hiccups.  I was shaking my head in disbelief, saying “No, Mom…I promise I didn’t know – I thought I just have a couple and it would be okay, I’m so so sorry.” I  was having a terrible dream where I had just found out that my liver was shutting down as the result of my “sneaking” a few here and there.  In my dream I was genuinely remorseful and surprised at the news. It was such a helpless and gutting feeling – standing  there in front of someone who has believed in me, admitting that I had failed her, and myself.  I awoke with a heavy heart and crippling shame.  OMG IT WAS SO REAL YOU GUYS. It sounds somewhat ridiculous but the after-effects of that dream stuck with until lunchtime.  I could NOT shake the feeling of uncertainty.

It’s coincidental that I have just started a Tibetan Lojong class on compassion and awakening AND KARMA so I guess one could say I’ve already gotten a little ahead in my studies and had a valuable little lesson in karma this weekend.

The Universe is vast and ageless and infinitely mysterious, but it also has one ridiculous sense of humor.

What’s the matter here?

Answer me and take your time,
What could be the awful crime
He could do at so young an age?

If I’m the only witness to your madness, offer me some words to balance
Out what I see and what I hear
Oh these cold and rude things that you do, I suppose you do
because he belongs to you

And instead of love and the feel of warmth
You’ve given him these cuts and sores that don’t heal
with time or
with
age

-Natalie Merchant

Sanity vs Safety

You guys I am currently working at a temp job in the projects and while there is nothing inherently wrong with the projects, per se, it has really been an eye-opening experience for me this last week. I’m an adult (technically) and know that poverty exists and I’ve certainly had my fair share of exposure to sketchy neighborhoods and whatnot while living in Los Angeles and downtown Albuquerque.  And of course, as a raging alcoholic, I’ve also had my share of experiences with various and assorted drugs, and encounters with law enforcement.

None of this, however, prepared me for this assignment as I am, as they say, in the belly of the beast.  Now, I don’t really *fear* for my life while on assignment but I’m also keenly aware that I could catch a stray bullet at any time while walking to my car. I have been placed as an office assistant to the leasing manager of a Section 8 HUD housing complex. One that has been somewhat synonymous in the past with drug and gang-related mayhem.

Now, on the more humorous side of things, I am LEARNING SO MUCH STUFF you would not believe it. First off, I’m older than my supervisor by TWENTY-FIVE years.  She is African American, and the mother of three,  so by default she is definitely the “adultier” adult in this situation.  She is unflappable and truly, why wouldn’t she be?  She’s seen EVERYTHING in her tenure there and having a new wingman (as more of an unqualified hinderance than anything) has been kind of fun for her, I hope.  She told me first off that the residents would no doubt equate ME as the new boss because of my skin color.  Sad, but true. Remarkably, she was cool with this in that she doesn’t mind that they are a little timid with what they deduce to be a new “sheriff” in town. Of course this is utterly ridiculous because if I have to actually talk to an actual person I might wet my pants.  The exchanges with the residents that I have been part of, however,  have been somewhat noteworthy, in my opinion:

Three things I have heard while on assignment this past week:

  • “Gurl, she always smell like salmon patties”
  • “You straight up in the ghetto and you act like you ain’t never seen a roach”
  • “She could open a can of corn with them toenails”

Three things I have NOT heard:

  • “I’ll have the Pinot”
  • “Checkmate”
  • “Would you care for some hummus?”

I’ll be honest though, this assignment doesn’t leave me when I leave it, unfortunately. For the last two weeks I have lost sleep and even shed tears over what I’ve witnessed there.   I aim for the funny bone in almost all scenarios but at the end of the day, it’s been difficult to find the humor in this bitter reality.  I physically became sick while attempting to “walk through” a unit with some movers, I shit you not.  I found myself gagging in a hallway from the stench and the sights and scrambled towards the blurry rectangle of light which was the doorway leading outside, and vomited into the shrubs with such force that my glasses flew from my face.  There is a family with children living in these conditions.

It’s the kids that get me. The children came to me first out of curiosity, and now they flock to me because they know they’ll find cookies in my shoulder bag.  It all but it rips my heart from my hyper-ventilating chest.  There is one in particular they call “Grandpa” that I think will fit snugly INTO my purse because I truly just want to bring him home with me and snuggle him for eternity.  Grandpa looks and acts like a tiny old man, hence his nickname.  He walks slowly and deliberately and doesn’t speak. His round brown eyes  watch everything with an ancient essence I can’t quite explain. Grandpa is just two years old.

I don’t want to spark a socio-economic debate or diatribe on the causes and effects of poverty, the bitter consequences of drug-addiction, inner city stressors, what’s wrong with our schools and/or government assistance programs, or what as a society we can do about it.  That’s for another time. Right now I’m trying to focus on my sobriety and what I can do WHERE I’M AT- right here, right now – because if I don’t, my tender sober heart won’t be able to leverage the burden of what I observe day to day.  I know that this is a temporary situation for me, but it’s a way of life for them, so I’m doing what I can to be an ambassador of sorts; a person of peace, and kindness.

Now, I am certainly not saying there’s no time or place for shenanigans. There is a golf cart at our disposal and that has been completely ridiculous. We “off road” in that rickety thing throughout the complex and I hit every speed bump sideways, and on purpose. We received a call on Friday regarding some rats outside a unit that “don’t give a damn”. Naturally we had to investigate.  When we pulled up outside the building, sure enough, there were about 4-5 black rats standing around, running around in the grass, some on their hind legs, truly not giving a damn.  Even the rats are middle finger in this place.

Life’s an adventure and sometimes you just have to roll with it to see what’s next. I’m approaching this temporary situation with that in mind. I truly do not know what each day holds for me, but how many of us really do?  We can speculate, but life has a way of doing things on ITS terms.

Thing is, this assignment STILL beats working for the Trump supporters. I’ll gamble my safety over my sanity any time.  Stay tuned.