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.

The Ritual

these asshats cost me countless hours of serenity this weekend

 

In this blogging endeavor I have sworn to myself to write with humility, authenticity, and if I can manage it, fearlessness.

This is the part where I admit I’m a fucking lunatic.  Notsomuch fearless as authentic.

This past weekend I snuggled up with Netflix and decided to queue up a thriller. I adore scary movies and the new British flick, The Ritual popped up as a match, so I decided to give it a go.  What a rare treat!  An empty house, a full cup of hot tea, an asshole cat snoozing by my side, and a horror movie at my disposal. Life is good, no?

No.  Well, yeah, but it’s complicated.

Within the first ten minutes of the movie my shit went pear shaped, as they say in England.  Fuck.

The premise of the story is that there are five lifelong  friends and one of them gets killed in a robbery gone wrong (in a liquor store, I might  add) and it was his dream for the five of them to go back-pack across Sweden or Norway or some crap so they decide to do so to honor his memory, and of course, there’s some evil shit in them there woods. Duh.

Anyway, one of the first scenes in the movie is the four of them (above) atop a mountain with a picture of their fallen friend on some makeshift rock memorial and they pass around a black leather covered flask and they all take a swig out of it in remembrance of their mate.  When they had all drank, they poured out (are you fucking kidding me?!?) some on the ground for their pal, made a toast,  and subsequently, the movie moved on.

BUT I DID NOT.

I suddenly transported myself to a situation in the wreckage of my future where I am faced with the same dilemma and I wondered to myself if there’s a window in recovery for something like this.  I mean, the consequences  of my drinking have already cost me gravely at the expense of my liver and Cirrhosis, and I don’t often think about drinking ever again, save for an occasional short-lived craving. When I do notice “normal” people drinking in movies I just think to myself “well, how nice for you to be  able to drink like a goddamned average and ordinary person, you buttfucker”, and I move on, like the mature and sophisticated adult that I am. . . but I couldn’t this time because I became OBSESSED with the scene above.

Let’s invite my crazy down into the parlor for a spell, shall we?

The first thing that occurred to me was that of course I would take the fallen comrade’s drink for him/her in a show of solidarity because obviously I would love him/her the most over all of our other friends. Then, I jumped to the fact that one little teensy weensy shot of whiskey would not even resurrect a buzz in me these days and as far as I knew, they only had that one flask so WHY COULDN’T I have just one somber little whiskey shot at the makeshift funeral of my fake and non-existent best friend who tragically just hypothetically died?!?!  LIKE I AM AN INTERNATIONAL BACKPACKER AND COULD BE FACED WITH THIS PREDICAMENT ANY DAY NOW.

But in my head, it could and what the fuck would I do?!?  I mean, all of my current friends already know that I’m a raging drunk so they probably wouldn’t let me even hold the flask in the first place but COME ON PEOPLE it’s not like there’s a liquor store in the background, is there?  They are like DAYS away (well, I won’t spoil the ending but suffice to say they don’t have to worry  about the evils of civilization for very much longer) from ANY type of city and/or liquor store.

I had to shut down the din my head. My reaction was borderline Pavlovian. The scenario kept playing over and over in my crazy-ass circus of a brain until I could somehow justify a situation at some point in my life on this earth where I can rationalize having just ONE MORE DRINK before I die.  Isn’t that dismally ironic?  Isn’t that pathetic?  Isn’t that delusional, demented and deranged?!  Yes, it is.  They talk about the insanity of alcoholism and here it is in black and white.

Not drinking is SO MUCH MORE than just not drinking.  I had to finally circle back to the part where the guy got killed in the liquor store in the first place.  So, if he hadn’t gone into the liquor store, he would not have interrupted the burglary in progress, and he would still be alive today so clearly the message here is that vodka is nefarious and malicious, and will kill you in ANY WAY THAT IT CAN.  Okay, that *might* be a little bit delusional and somewhat far-reaching, but IT IS MY POST ISN’T IT?  This is what it’s like, in my head, all. the. damn. time.

And truth be told, if you had seen me in the last few months of my drinking, I was far more terrifying than anything in those woods.  Those Brits got off easy on their camping trip.

where did that pepsi come from?

So, feel free to share YOUR insanity with me. Come on, share your crazy!  Do you obsess?  Create scenarios in your head?!  I won’t judge.  Well, maybe a little but only because it’ll make me feel better about MY insanity and really, isn’t that what healing in community is ALL ABOUT!?!   I’m practically Mother Teresa over here.

oh no you do NOT underestimate Oprah

There are few things in life as pure and powerful as my love for Oprah Winfrey.  I have often referred to Oprah as my higher power in recovery and that no longer garners laughs in my meetings anymore because now people are leery (and damn straight) to do so, lest they incur The Wrath of The Crazy Drunken Trainwreck Obsessed with The Divine Ms. O.  And truly, if people can make doorknobs and ceiling fans their higher powers, THEN SHUT IT.  I would consider Dolly Parton as a back-up if need be, but for now, Oprah serves me well.

Oprah surrounds herself with smart people, and she listens and learns.  She’s spent a lifetime doing this and then she in turn, shares what she’s learned. One of these mentors was the incredible and amazing Maya Angelou, whom I had the privilege of hearing speak at an engagement years ago. Quite simply, it was a momentous evening.  Maya Angelou was/is an earthly treasure and I thank Oprah for bringing her message to many that may not have heard her otherwise. One of Ms. Angelou’s most famous quotes reads;

In a last ditch effort this weekend to avoid reality and escape into ANYTHING else than a bottle of SKYY vodka, I went to see “A Wrinkle in Time” at the movies.  Don’t even get me started on how much ass Oprah kicked, but here’s the real kicker, I have never read the book nor seen the original movie. Now, it IS a Disney movie so there wasn’t any hypodermic drug use or anal sex or anything so in that regard it WAS a snooze fest, but what really struck me as how now, more than ever, it’s a perfect tale for our current times.  Good vs Evil.  Light against Darkness. Love vs Hate. Believing in yourself. Authenticity. Speaking your truth. Trusting the Universe. Love is love is love.

As I left the theatre in the drizzling cold rain, I couldn’t help but grin. A few years ago, I thought I knew better. I thought I had all the answers, I really did. If you were to ask me, I’d have sworn up and down that I possessed an open and somewhat awakened mind. I knew who my authentic self was, and I was unapologetic about her.  I’m like Cilantro; you either love me or hate me – and back then, I didn’t really care which.

And then, in the summer of 2015,  I woke up at ground zero of my alcoholism and my whole world exploded and imploded, simultaneously.  Not to be overly dramatic here but unless this type of thing has happened to you in some capacity, there’s nothing I can write on this page to give you an accurate glimpse into that harsh and unforgiving reality.

Have you ever had to question everything you thought you knew? Have you ever looked into your own reflection in a mirror and not recognized the person staring back at you?  There was no light, no brightness of being left in me.  Who had I become?

In four months I will celebrate 3 years of sobriety. And I’d like to thank Oprah for setting the stage for me. You wanna know how I did it?  I surrounded myself with smart people and I listened to them.  I listened to their experiences as they shared what worked, and sometimes, more importantly, what didn’t. I marveled at their strength and nodded along in sympathy at their weaknesses. When they extended their hands out to help me, I grabbed their fingers in a death grip, and truly, that’s exactly what it was; I was fighting for my life.

And now, I know better. Instead of running to the liquor store, I just go for a run. When I need to escape reality, I know I can pick up a book, not a bottle. When I feel stressed out and anxious, I focus on my breathing. I’m learning to meditate and listen to myself, and the Universe.  This didn’t happen overnight, of course – you have to want it, and you have to work at it – because your life depends on it.  Like they say, the only thing that has to change is everything, and naturally, that’s terrifying. I’m still new in this journey but I can promise you, if you start it, you’ll be amazed at what’s revealed to you along the way, and that’s not just some ex-drunken existential bar-talk bullshit.

I guess what I’m saying is that you don’t have to have the answers, and you certainly don’t have to go it alone.  We’re here to help each other, at least I think so.  So, while I don’t have all of the answers, I know where to go when I need help.  And maybe that’s Oprah’s greatest gift to me – letting me know that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and that we can heal together, in community.

Now, I know better, and guess what?  I’m doing better.  A LOT better.

I’m going to leave you with another quote.  This one is directly from Oprah, so you can assume it’s pretty much the gospel truth.

I don’t know about you, but I think that this is Oprah’s way of saying, “one day at a time“.

 

March Madness

wtf?!? is she lying face up? or down? are those boobs? omg this is so my life right now

 

As the previous post would indicate, faith is important in recovery.  This post will document that sometimes it’s very difficult to practice these steps in all of our affairs.  HOLY SHIT BALLS.  I know I posted about faith just scant days ago but I also think accountability and honesty are important so I’ll admit that I’m having some difficulty in ACCEPTING what I cannot change right now . . . and struggling with faith in that the universe has GOT THIS, in the interim.  Motherfucker.

As you may recall, I’m currently between jobs.  I was laid off last Fall and have been temping intermittently since. Naturally, it’s a nightmare.  So I’ve been trying to CALM THE F DOWN and apply for jobs I’m way overqualified for and even grovel for the occasional interview on Craigslist, because it’s officially come to that.  Jesus.  I know, I know, what a “great opportunity” for growth and starting over, and how refreshing to “re-invent” my career path at this age, but COME ON PEOPLE right now it’s just a huge pain in the ass for this bitter old drunk trying to revamp her resume AT FIFTY.  Is Snapchat considered a skill these days because I don’t freaking have it.

Anyway, I had an interview yesterday at an industrial company. It’s some sort of administrative position, they all blur together these days, but as soon as I pulled up to the joint and glanced about the parking lot I knew I was in trouble. I spotted a Trump/Pence bumper sticker right off the bat and a sparkly little snippet of hope inside me died. I opened the door to the office and FOXNews was blaring forth from inside*.  Oh, no.  There’s a moment in the wild where this type of phenomenon happens, and I think it’s called “flight or fight” or something, but in reality, I did neither . . . I just kinda floundered at my predicament. The Big Boss himself interviewed me, and for the love of Barbra Streisand, I kinda liked the asshole. He was a burly guy with an easy manner and a dynamite smile. Besides not having any respect for him whatsoever and disagreeing with the core of his humanity, he seemed like a cool enough guy. . . but not one I’d want to work for, but there I was. . . nodding along and wondering how much of my black shiny soul I’d have to sacrifice for health insurance benefits.

The whole experience was humbling and soul sucking but there was a total DROP THE MIC moment in the warehouse when I correctly identified the song “Thunder Kiss ’65” by White Zombie blasting from the boom box (no shit y’all it was an actual old school boom box) and two of the guys by the forklifts clapped and laughed.  Now, if you’ve EVER in your life heard White Zombie’s song “Thunder Kiss ’65”, you KNOW the damn song so it’s not that perceptive or amazing or anything but I guess when you’re a 50-something sharply dressed woman applying for a shitty admin job in a rundown industrial park across from the shooting range, it’s somewhat unexpected when you dump that knowledge on some unsuspecting dock workers.  Judge not, boys.

renaissance man, Rob Zombie of White Zombie

Anyway, I came home and took off my bra and laid face down on the floor in front of the tv.  This seemed like the appropriate conclusion of my afternoon.  When I awoke I was in the midst of a Lifetime movie starring Lisa Whelchel (YES, Blair from the tv show The Facts of Life) and I started to get sucked in and that was the moment right then and there I decided that I was going to have to fight through the despair and general malaise that this day has brought upon me.  But it was fucking Blair (!) so it was super hard to turn it off, and you know in retrospect she has really aged well save for some puffiness around her eyes, and really, who am I to throw stones – but I DID turn it off and decided to promptly go to my little neighborhood yarn shop where I get most of my advice (solicited and otherwise) and sage wisdom because surely to God the company of real honest to goodness people would be better than holing up in isolation with Blair from The Facts of Life.   The next movie up starred WINNIE COOPER from “The Wonder Years”, I shit you not – so in effect, I had to flee my home like a scalded dog lest you find me going fetal in a fuzzy blanket wondering if Tootie has any movies under her belt these days.

After knitting for a spell I decided to go to my local meditation group and I’m new to meditation so I have no idea what I’m doing but I feel like I damn sure should be doing it so let’s keep an open mind, shall we?  I figured if ANYONE needed some Zen it was certainly me and even if I don’t “get it” I’m still sitting in silence for an hour and *attempting* to listen and that’s got to be good for the world as a whole.  So, I wanted to post this post as an accountability post in that I do NOT always practice what the fuck I preach. I don’t have the answers.  Yes, now I have tools at my disposal, but I don’t always use them. Sometimes you just want to freak out and be terrified and apocalyptic and wallow but you know what?  THAT SERVES NOTHING, NO ONE, NO POINT.  Except that I want to sometimes. Badly.

So I sat in silence. I tried to keep my mind tuned to the present. I struggled not to think about my impending bankruptcy and consequent homelessness, or compose a grocery list in my head, or worry that I’ll have some weird facial spasm and appear to suddenly be having a stroke while surrounded by all of these nice enlightened folks.  And you know what? In that quiet hour, nothing about my situation changed, but when my boots hit the parking lot, I felt lighter – inside AND out.

Like I’ve said – faith, my friends, is like a DUI checkpoint – just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.  I wrestle with it often, fight with it always, but impossibly, the net catches me anyway.

 

*I first typed “blaring froth” instead of “forth” and I almost left it

** this really has to be the only missive in existence that mentions Lisa Whelchel and Rob Zombie in the same post and for that, YOU ARE WELCOME.

You gotta have faith

So in continuance with my monthly theme, I’m going to leap (omg I am so clever) in here with Step 3, which, depending on  your beliefs, could possibly be a tough one to navigate. Firstly though, let me emphasize that I am not advocating one type of recovery or program over another – right now in my sobriety I’m at a point where I have to believe that however you choose to get sober is your business.  There are so many options and resources these days, that if it works, work it, I say. . . unless you have some sort of fucked up deal where you repeatedly flog yourself every time you think about a drink in which case you need more help than my little narcissistic blog can provide.  But, if you’re a run of the mill drunk like myself, listen up.

Step THREE.  I have been summarizing all the steps of a 12 Step Recovery programs with just one word.  Step 3 in the Alcoholics Anonymous  program reads “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”   This is typically the NUMBER ONE complaint I hear when folks tell me they want to stick their big toe in the AA wading pool.  They don’t believe in God or they don’t really like God, or they are sick and tired of God, or they don’t want God anywhere near their sobriety, and I can understand all of this.  And I’ve found that the “as we understood him” caveat doesn’t help folks that, well, don’t understand Him. The perceived God of my childhood isn’t the same God of my adult life so I get  that people get prickly when the Big Guy in the Sky is mentioned. I think it’s kinda like Obamacare. If they had just called it something else, maybe it would’ve gone over better, you know?  The premise was a good one, it’s just the name didn’t do it any favors. Maybe it’s the preconceived notion of the word “GOD” that gives everyone the heebie jeebies?

I like to summarize Step 3 with one word: Faith. You don’t have to believe in God – in fact, if you do struggle with the God thing  you can absolutely substitute the words “power greater than ourselves.”  Alcoholics only have to acknowledge that they need and are going to willingly accept help.  WILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT HELP.  That’s a big one so that’s why I went ALL CAPS on your ass there. You can also use “higher power” and that’s a little more ambiguous and enigmatic. If you experience gratitude, you indeed possess a whispery thread of a higher power, for if you are grateful, you acknowledge that there is something out of your control and larger than you in a universal sense in which to thank for your fortituitous circumstance, or blessing, or what have you.  And no, I have not been smoking weed this morning no matter how you read or interpret that sentence.  I’ve tried to edit it but I’m going to just leave it there and stand by it.

Let me also interject here that I have also come across some folks that do NOT want to accept that they were powerless against their addictions. They want to RECLAIM that power in their recovery  – but I also think that in my case, declaring the powerlessness is WHAT GAVE ME POWER, if that makes things even more confusing for you.  Alcoholism had to bring me to my knees, figuratively, AND somewhat literally, especially if you count the ONE AND ONLY time I’ve ever had an enema – but this is not the time or the place for that shit, literally.  Someone in a meeting recently said that alcoholics are much like boxers. We stay in the ring and get the ever loving shit beaten out of us, repeatedly, yet as the referee starts to count us out, we continue to rise, bloody and beaten and ready to fight yet again because THIS TIME we’ll win, we’re sure.  It’ll be different this time, right!?!  This is The Drunkards equivalent of saying “it’ll be different when they are OUR kids”, as young would-be parents will speculate and ultimately lie to themselves.  I laughed out loud when the guy that shared this ended his simile with “I’ve figured out the trick of this alcoholism thing . . . just STAY DOWN“.

Faith can be the quiet belief way down deep in yourself that understands that this isn’t who you are, and this is NOT who you are supposed to be.  Often we drunks lose faith in ourselves and our worthiness of recovery.  Faith can be the reticent hope that things will get better if you are willing to accept help.  A belief deep in your soul that has been covered up with deceit, lies and shame.  It takes a faith to “unbecome” something, trust me, but you can do it. Sometimes the path through alcoholism can lead you to discover your true self, and other times, it will remind you of who you once were.  Whatever your story is, it matters. As do you.

Have faith. Remember, without the dark we’d never see the stars.

 

Whiskey Business

my first St. Patrick’s Day – 1968

Nowadays if my Mother posted this on Pinterest she’d probably get arrested, or at the very least, an online smackdown.  I have to admit, the one time having a child ever entered into my vodka-soaked brain, it was because of the appeal of dressing it up, so I have no problems whatsoever with this but then again, I have never been known as a Beacon of Appropriateness.

My other favorite thing about this picture (besides the airplane whiskey) is that my Mother had GIVEN BIRTH forty days prior to this picture being taken and she and my Dad were not going to let a thing like the arrival of a fresh new leprechaun jack up their party schedule.  IT WAS THE SIXTIES, people.  My Mother probably didn’t even remove her dangling cigarette from her lips as she was positioning my wee pipe.

One could say that I never had a chance by looking at this, one of the very first pictures ever taken of me. Can you be destined to be an alcoholic? I don’t know, but the one thing I do know is that the one thing I DID inherit from my parents was a exemplary sense of humor and that’s gotten me through everything so far which also begs the question why my Mother is NOT GOING TO FIND MY POSTING THIS FUNNY AT ALL.

I love you, Mom.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

And the horse you rode in on

Back in my wilder days in Hollywood, my best (now dead) friend Ben gave me a nickname. Here’s the thing about nicknames; you usually don’t get to pick yours and often, they’re not at all flattering.  Think about it, didn’t we all go to school with a “pizza face” or the like?  It’s like that old joke, “you fuck ONE goat, and for the rest of your life, you’re The Goatfucker”.  Thankfully, mine wasn’t quite that terrible.

I got “Warhorse”.  The Warhorse, if they were referring to me formally, just Horse for short. Isn’t that delightful?  Years ago, as I prepared to go out for the night, my best friend Ben was flitting about my apartment, playing mood music and fixing us “primer coat” cocktails. You know, the drinks you have at home in preparation for the ones you’re going to have, when you go out. “They put a little glide in your stride, Mary”, Ben was fond of saying.  He would perch atop my toilet and sip his vodka tonic as I plucked, sprayed, styled, contoured, powdered, and shadowed my face and platinum hair. The finale was always crimson-red lipstick, drawing yet more attention to my pale face and dark smoky eyes. I would contort and squeeze myself into dirty ripped jeans along with a midriff baring top and cowboy boots, and then adorn myself with every amulet, ring, and bracelet I could find. I fancied myself a bit like a younger Stevie Nicks.

you call that a side-eye?

As I was gearing up one evening, Ben took a long drag off of my Marlboro and looked me up and down. He twirled the cigarette from the top of my head to the well-worn tips of my boots (kicking the bar from many a stool causes this tip-scuff phenomenom) and remarked,  “Jesus H. honey, you’re like one of those war horses in the movies  – all painted up with metal shit hanging off everywhere, ready to ram your way into a fight” and lo, the nickname was born, and you know what? For years, I wore it proudly. I WAS like a Warhorse. I stomped and snorted my way up and down Hollywood Boulevard for years and often returned home limping and/or bleeding. One could say the bars on the Boulevard were drug and alcohol soaked battlefields in those days. In my memories, I was regal and magnificent – an independent strong woman who drank straight whiskey and didn’t need a man to buy it for her. Luck was on your side if I was feeling flirty but woe to the hapless patron who crossed me in those days. I was brutal, unforgiving, and hellbent on letting everyone know that I didn’t have a single fuck to give.

Nice, huh?  This is probably a more accurate representation of my appearance.

fyi my hair never looked this good

I don’t recall thinking that the world owed me anything, but somehow I had tapped into the concept of unearned unhappiness. Looking back now with some perspective, I suppose my angst and bitterness simply stemmed from wanting to be different from who I was, or who I thought I was, I should say.  I was a good girl. I was smart. I was loved deeply by my family and had a pretty healthy and supportive childhood. There was no abuse, no neglect, no abandonment. Ho-fucking-hum. I was SO white-upper-middle-class boring.

So, I became The Warhorse. The Warhorse wasn’t nice, OR a good girl. The Warhorse took no prisoners and left a lot of wreckage in her wake. She was ruthless, cutting and downright predatory, not a shy and timid Pollyanna. Over the years I’ve reconnected with folks from those days and they’ll inevitably mention a memory of my eviscerating someone in their presence, if not themselves. Naturally, this is mortifying and heart-breaking for me to hear, but I still need to hear it. More often than not their story will include whiskey, a fight and/or arrest or some other regrettable outcome on top of the initial castigation and I want to vomit right there on the spot. It’s just not who I am. . . anymore.

There’s a saying; “hurt people hurt people“. Simple, but accurate.  It’s a vicious and terrible cycle, and one to say I’m proud to have broken. I’m not that horse gal, anymore. I’m stuck with the nickname, however, so now my lifelong pals and I choose to have a little fun with it.

there a horse in the jacuzzi. what’s it doing? the backstroke.

The Warhorse has been put out to pasture, and one could argue that there’s just a passive old nag left where the fearful beast once reigned.

Life is change, and that’s okay. . . the ride goes on.

 

My favorite color is YOU

Say what you will about Rivers Cuomo, you can’t not tap your toes and smile along with this song. AJR collaborated with him for this endeavor and I adore the outcome. The strings and cello are gorgeous and the song itself is effervescent. I realize they’re not using “Sober Up” in direct relation to alcohol, but it still counts in my book.  I mean, you can’t begin to argue with these lyrics:

Won’t you help me sober up
Growing up it made me numb
And I want to feel something again

That’s part and parcel of being an alcoholic. Numbing the pain. Numbing the loneliness. Number the fear and shame. Numbing anything and everything until we can’t feel a thing.  In fact, FEELINGS were the subject of a recent meeting I attended and while that category encompasses both joyful and hurtful feelings, as a sober person you get to experience BOTH and while the pain can be heartbreaking, the joy can be exquisite. The gripe is, you don’t get to pick – the human condition requires that we experience all of them. Emotions aren’t quite the same – that’s a hardwired response.  Feelings are more complicated, and that, my friends, is a post for another time.

For now though, won’t you and your inner child join me for a dance?

For maximum enjoyment, turn it up, make it widescreen, and smile.  Like it?  Tell me!  Hate it? What gets your head bopping these days?