I’m Not There Anymore

There was a band in the early 90’s called Mary’s Danish.  None of their albums are available on Spotify – which is probably an okay thing – but that means in order to listen to a few songs that I really like, I have to go get my archaic CD collection out and find a place to play it.  Which also,  holy shit what even are those anyway.  My car actually has a CD player, so I found myself busting out their CD “Circa” not too long ago.  Not every song is a gem.  Nay, most are not.  But the last song on the album has always made me feel stuff and probably cry depending on the day.  The lyrics go like this:

“…You fail in every way

Ask the ones you love – the words they can’t pronounce

You fail in every way 

Ask the ones you trust – you know they stole everything.

Cover your face girl, now shoot some pool 

So what, ya had it comin’.”

 So this doesn’t really sum up how I feel about where I’m at in my life today, but I think the reason I get emotional when I listen to it is because I remember all too well feeling like that ALL THE TIME.  I can identify all too easily with the person in that song – or at least, my past self can identify with her.  It’s sometimes a quick mental hop back into a life that really isn’t mine anymore.

My past actions – they’re just that.  Past.  Nothing like a song to put you right back in that same frame of mind, remembering all the shit you’ve done wrong or poorly in your life.  But for all the songs you can find or remember that make you feel a certain way you don’t really feel any longer, there are just as many that can fit who you are right now, in this very moment.  I think it’s okay – even cathartic – to use music to examine how you once felt, or how you feel now.  It’s all part of figuring out your inner life which is kind of what I’m doing all the time now.  Or try to do.  Sometimes it is painful; sometimes I don’t want to look at it or reach my hand down into any one particular feeling-bog of muck and ooze.  But it’s kind of what gets me through to the other side and helps me appreciate my life as it is right now.

All I am saying is, music helps to move through in order to move forward.  I’m not sure where I’d be without it.  Thanks Gretchen and Julie.

 

circa

 

 

 

The Next Right Thing

I have a bunch of drafts started and some of them are funny, and some of them would be poignant AND funny, a double-whammy of Writing Which Other People Might Care to Read.  But none of the drafts sum up how I feel today.

Those in AA say that around the annual date of your sobriety, you get…emotional.  I don’t know if that’s what this is.  And before this goes completely off the rails, look.  Listen.  I know I am putting this out there for other people to read, and I want to feel like if it helps one person out there, then that is what my intention is and I can pat myself on the proverbial back as a Writer Capital W and we can all sleep soundly tonight.

Except that’s not what this is.  The voices inside my head scream that this is self-introspection and belongs nowhere, for no one but me to read later, how selfish am I, why do I think anyone would want to read about my days or times or trials or whatever?  Honestly, do I really think this is something other than navel-gazing self-aggrandizing by way of self-deprecation?  The answer is two-fold:  I don’t really WANT it to be that, and hey, Feelings, you don’t own me.  Shut the Fuck Up.

So I guess that’s what this is really about.  How the voices in my head lie and how my feelings don’t have to enslave me.  It’s just right now.  And let me tell you, right now has been pretty shitty for a while.  This is life.  Things will go wrong.  Things will suck.  Sometimes there are months of suck in a row, and maybe a bright day in between to break it up, hell, even just a bright hour.  Or you rode your bike by the ocean and it smelled like for real ocean.  Or you made bread and it turned out pretty fucking good.  Your husband hugged you and told you that you were great at something.  You held a child on your lap and played a game with them that the child will never remember and probably won’t even remember YOU, but it was kind of nice for 10 minutes.  I don’t know.  These moments exist.  And while you are right now in the throes of wanting to shove your face in a bagful of raspberry Zingers and after that chips and salsa and after that WHATEVER ELSE IS WITHIN GRABBING DISTANCE, you know it’s not the answer.  Food comes to mind a lot faster than a drink these days, and I suppose that is a bit of a saving grace, but those 20 pounds you have put on in the last 6 months on top of the already 40 pounds you needed to lose are…telling.  One addiction for another.  One escape for another.  Life’s fucking hard, sometimes nothing feels good, sometimes you want to crawl in bed and stay there for as long as someone will let you.

But the thing is, you don’t.  You slip back into Martyr Mode and fulfill all the duties that you think are yours.  You work listlessly but long hours.  All the bills get paid, the clothes get washed, the groceries get bought, the cats get fed, and still you find yourself at a stoplight ready to burst into tears.  You cannot hold it together.  You force yourself to hold it together.  You are not questioning the validity or worthiness of your life – you are not looking for someone to tell you how to fix whatever “it” is.  You just have all these emotions, and they are strong, and THEY. DON’T. FUCKING. OWN. YOU.

But sometimes it sure does feel like they have all the goddamn power.

5 years tomorrow, I stopped drinking.  I am grateful for it.  I would never be asking these questions or having these feelings if I had not stopped.  And while it has been a brutal journey facing myself, it is a journey.  Alcohol did not allow for the journey at all, alcohol allowed for the mask and that’s it.  Never in my head was the thought of “Feelings don’t own me.”  I didn’t feel at all.  So, big surprise that five years on, I’m still trying to put myself back in a fucking box.  Except that’s not where I belong.  I belong out here, feeling all this shit no matter how hard or painful or exhausting.  And it is all those things, but it is also hearing my husband laugh, or having that child hold my hand for a minute, or smelling the ocean.  What is worse.  What is better.  It is all just life.

And I am doing the best I fucking can and it is far from perfect and there is nothing wrong with me.

One day, I’ll really believe that.

 

Dogs. Death. Drinks. Devotion.

You can never know when you wake up that this will be the day you have to put your dog to sleep.  Millions of paragraphs have been written about losing those that we love, but nothing will seem to resonate with you on this day.  No one else can possibly understand what the pit of your stomach feels like as you make all the motions you have to make:  The decision, the comforting of your friend, the doctor as she listens for the stillness of the heart.  And your heart fucking drops at the same exact time.  Except you’re still moving around.

You walk away and immediately duck into the first bathroom and bawl as silently (or not) as possible.  You wipe your tears with the world’s roughest toilet paper and walk out into the all-too-bright February sunlight, knowing that doing the right thing sucks so much that you just want to lay down in the middle of the parking lot.

You drive on auto-pilot.

You go to your house and your friend is not there to greet you with a wag and a kiss, but all of your friend’s stuff is still there.  Like he was just going to the groomer or something.  You wander around the house.  You pick up the toys.  You gather beds.  You gather treats and food to give to someone you love.  And you sob.  Uncontrollably.  Ugly crying.  Unashamed crying.  You don’t know when it will stop.

This was my morning.  February 4, 2016.  Today marks my second year of sobriety.  Today is a day that has been horrible, and yet amazing, because it has forced me to do something I could not do when I drank – I have been forced to feel.  While it has absolutely been one of the most heart-wrenching days of my life, I could have never felt this over 2 years ago.  I would have drowned all this out.  And surprise – I wouldn’t go back to that place for all the money or happiness in the world.  No one is more surprised than I am.

I would never be able to feel the absolute gratitude I have for this little dog that came into our lives 9 years ago.  I had no idea how much he had given me.  He comforted me through so many hard days and celebrated with me on days filled with joy.  He gave me his absolute and complete devotion and love.  He gave me his trust.  He had a full life, and I am so thankful that we were able to give him that.

Sobriety to some may seem like a long list of “nevers” that you have to tick off.  But for me, sobriety is a never-ending book full of “always.”  I will always have the memory of knowing that I was there for him in his last moment.  I will always have an abundant circle of friends and family around me to comfort me when I am in need.  And I will always, always marvel at this magic fucking universe that gives so freely of itself, and fills up my short life with the wonder and size of the love that is within it.

 

The dog, thus far, has only learned how to look cute.  No coffee skills at all.

For Mister William Wallace.  Chase those frogs, buddy.

 

I Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans

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I am not a native.  I did not grow up there.  I have never lived there.  I have never, for that matter, lived in Louisiana.  But you know how you go somewhere and you feel like you’ve been there all your life?  That’s how I feel about New Orleans, and I am sure I’m not the only person who has felt that way.  There’s a certain allure about the French Quarter – the steeped-in-history feeling, the grunge, the funk, the quaintness, the overall vibe is exactly what millions of people fall in love with over and over and over again.  Every time I am there, I feel a weird, other-worldly feeling – like I am supposed to be there.  Like I have been there already.  Like the city is waiting for me, breathlessly, until I return.

And of course, it is.  Waiting for me with its endless balconies of weathered wrought iron; with its music that fills every corner – sometimes the jazz or blues it is famous for, other times drunken karaoke sung by a tourist.  Waiting for me with gallons of coffee and alcohol, if I wanted it.  It was something I worried about on this last trip – this was my first trip sober, and I was a little anxious to find out if New Orleans still held all the same mystery it did for me when I was drinking.  It of course did, because somehow I always knew that even though drankin’ is a huge part of the essence of the city, there’s a heartbeat that echoes subtly underneath the booze.  It’s the people, the whispered and passed-down tales, the food (good god almighty the food) and the desperate beauty that is New Orleans.  There’s absolutely no escape from it, at least not for me.

Have I seen absolutely crazy shit there?  Yes.  Hasn’t everyone?  More often than not, however, I find myself walking the streets of the Quarter or any of the surrounding neighborhoods in awe of the care people take with their plants, their porches – as if this is where life is centered, unlike anywhere else in the country.  I can imagine nothing more perfect than to lounge on a plant-filled porch with a book or a pen or some music, watching the neighborhood, watching the sunset, watching all the vibrant colors that New Orleans is.  Watching the night come alive, listening to the sounds of people cooking, laughing, drinking, and luxuriating – yes, that – the way only this one culture does.

I’m not a Christian, but I’m filled with reverence for the dead in this city.  Being among the graves in St. Louis # 1 fills me with not only the sense of “damn I best gather these rosebuds right the fuck now” but also with a stillness and a longing to know more, to learn all I can about the people who have lived here and made New Orleans what it is.  When I visit the small church that is next to the cemetery, it’s perfect and new to me every time I go.  The mosaics, the grotto, the room that is heated with a thousand silent prayers on the wicks of candles – it is gorgeous, it is tragedy, it is human.

New Orleans is faith.  It is us.

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My Garage: Metaphor for Life

Disclaimer:  If you usually come here looking for laughs, you might find a few in this post, but you might find it more poignant.  If you hate poignant, you might want to just roll out now.  I can’t give you everything.

I decided that after years of neglect and basically just throwing all things I wanted to avoid into our garage, it would be a good idea to rethink that philosophy and try to get in there and clean it.  I thought about this for 8 years.  That’s right.  EIGHT.

This was, undeniably, a task I did not want to tackle.  It seemed insurmountable.  I mean, I had successfully avoided the Garage Issue for a long time.  Because honestly, as soon as we moved into this house we immediately turned the garage into The Land That Time Forgot.  You could technically move around in there, but not well or without difficulty.  It was filled with useless stuff.  Oh, did you need a double vanity with a granite top?  What about a power washer?  Perhaps I can interest you in a smoke machine?  It was a cornucopia of shit on which we could have made a fortune on Craigslist.

But as I said, this shit was daunting, and it wasn’t just a bunch of big weird stuff, there was plenty small stuff as well.  SO MANY NUTS AND BOLTS.  Just strewn everywhere.  So messy and dust-laden and spider-filled.  “Let me in there,” my spirit called out.  “Fuck you,” answered my weary heart.  Until one day.  One beautiful day in a Texas July like no other July.  We had a streak of cool weather (and I mean waaaaay cooler than normal) and I just bit the bullet, opened the garage door, and stared at things.

I think I stared at everything for 10 minutes.  Then something in my brain said, well, nothing’s going to happen if you just keep staring at it.  And thus, I began.

It really amounted to throwing almost all of it away.  And by “away”, I mean I set all that shit out on the curb.  I started, and then my husband joined me later that weekend in Project Free Prizes for Neighbors.  We had people there looking through our stuff as soon as we set it out.  And honestly, that made me happier than any amount of money Craigslist could have ever brought me.  1)  It was gone RIGHT THEN and 2) someone wanted it, they got it.  For free.  That’s great for them, and all we had to do was walk down the driveway with it.  I gathered and organized much of the nut-screw-bolt situation we had going on, placed it on shelves that made sense.  I organized the boxes of Yule decorations I wanted to keep.  Shit was clean-ish, y’all!  I felt a huge sense of not just accomplishment, but a true sense of weight being lifted.  I declared to anyone who would listen that it was perhaps the greatest thing I have ever done.  It felt THAT GOOD.

I have been successfully parking in my garage ever since, and while there’s still work to be done, it’s leaps and bounds better than it was.

It’s not hard for any of you to read between the lines of metaphor.  But for those of you who are musing to yourselves “ok your garage is clean, welcome to being an adult and not living like a fucking hoarder” I say:  It’s bigger than that.  Way.  It’s taken 8 years for me to deal with the crippling obstacle that was my garage.  That doesn’t seem like very long when you compare it with the lifetime of other shit I had successfully (or not) avoided in LIFE.  I avoided it at an extremely functional level as far as your little eyes could perceive.  The twisted beauty of a garage is that as long as you keep the door closed, no one really has any idea of what kind of mess is behind it.  I treated my own person much like that garage:  Just a void where I pushed away anything I thought didn’t matter.  What a shocker when I realized that it actually mattered very much.  I avoided by drinking.  I numbed by taking meds because they helped me be “even.”  I comforted myself with the all-encompassing fuzzy blanket sewn with the Love of Other People’s Problems.  I CREATED A LIFE AROUND ALL OF THIS.  And I woke up every day with my first utterances being angry, hate-filled, woe-is-me-isms.  Good times, y’all.  Good fucking times.

Fast forward, and skipping all the therapy and delving and soul-searching (because hey, that shit never ends, we can talk about that ANY time):

It has been over 6 months since I’ve had a drink.

It has been over 8 months since I’ve taken prescription medication.

I AM NOT LOOKING FOR YOUR PRAISE.  This is what has worked for me.  It is my experience.  It is not everyone’s.  And while I can be proud of myself, I’m not special.  I am just like everyone else, with my own issues and ways of dealing with them.  But that’s just it, isn’t it:  I’m dealing with them.  Not just pushing it into a hidden space.

I wish I could say they have been the BEST MONTHS OF MY LIFE EVER, and while they have been infinitely better than many times in my life, I’ve been raw, vulnerable, and without any door to fucking hide behind.  It is uncomfortable.  It is sometimes painful.  It is, at all times, awkward and surprising and immobilizing and unfathomable,  and a giant dichotomy inside my brain that I mostly don’t have any way to resolve.  And that is why two words are the only ones that can make any sense to me most of the time:

LET GO.

Because hanging on is for suckers.

I guess now everyone gets to find out who I really am without that door hiding the mess.  Including me.

Should be fun, and I’m really not saying that sarcastically at all.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.  And, more than anything, I am completely cognizant that it took all the other experiences to get here.  I am grateful for every single minute that has led me to where I am, for a garage that I’m not scared to be in, and a door that’s open for perhaps the first time.

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Foat Wuth I Luv You but GOTTAMN

Dudes.  I am here on business.  “But you live in Dallas, Stoney.  Why is it such a big deal to be in Fort Worth?”

I WILL TELL YOU.

FIrst, the roads are colossally fucked, so why drive to Dallas only to sleep for less than 4 hours?  Stupid.

It is 12:04am on what is technically a FrIday morning.  I have spent my entire day in a 55-degree room.  I ate lunch at 1pm.  I AM STARVING.  After arriving at my hotel that rhymes with something like “Sheridan” I am not only confronted with the bar having last call at 11:45, but more importantly and discovered after the fact, ALL THINGS IN TOWN STOP DELIVERY AT MIDNIGHT.

areeeeeeee you kidddddddding meeeeeeeee

 

I am very hungry and tired and cold.  God bless the lobby, from which I extruded a turkey wrap after calling every pizza joint in town.

 

NEVER AGAIN, FORT WORTH!!!  I will bring snax next time.

 

love,

IAMCOLDANDHUNGRUANDWORKINGONTHEWEEKENDSUCKADICK

 

Easter ProTip: Drink to Salvation!

Originally written for the fine ladies over at Hex Chromosome. Check out their amazing shorts. Your ass will thank you.

Hey everyone, if you are easily offended by irreverent columns about sacred holy days, then you should probably stop reading now. I mean it. Stop. Reading.

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If you keep reading, you’re going to Hell.

Now that we’ve gotten rid of all the goody-two-shoes’seses (pfffttttt whatever), we can now get down to brass tacks: What to do while your offspring, nieces/nephews, or random street urchin youngsters are rummaging through your newly-planted spring flowerbeds, searching for a ridiculous plastic egg that holds the Baby Jesus in it. I mean chocolate. Something. There’s only one thing that’s going to make this allergy-infested, ham-laden snoozefest of a holiday better: DRANKS. Look no further, because I bring forth the answers to your burning bushel of Easter drinking etiquette questions.

First, WWJD?

Well, I am sure you immediately assume that the Lamb of God would get down on some wine, since 1) he had all that water and 2) that was kind of the mainstay of bevvies back in the day. Honestly, I think had he been offered a delicious and savory Bloody Mary (aw shit, no pun intended. For real! It’s just timely because it’s breakfast!) he would have enjoyed it, as long as it came with a salt and pepper rim and a charming array of vegetables cut into stirrers. What is NOT to like about this amazing concoction? Vodka is clearly the most pristine and innocent member of the alcohol family, and surely the Lord is pleased when we try to be as pure as possible. You totally need 5 servings of vegetables a day. Drink two of these in the AM and you are DONE, son. Vegetablez. YOU ARE SO HEALTHY.

What’s an appropriately solemn drink while I’m waiting for ham and pretending to like kids?

Which one do you hate more, ham or kids? If you hate ham or are only sticking around for the mashed potatoes because you shoved a metric fuckton of chocolate bunny ear into your gullet before lunch, then you should go with something that is either light or is going to mingle well with all the cheap chocolate aftertaste. I suggest Jameson neat (proves you are totally atoning for your sins because of the seriousness of the drink). If you hate children, a delightful wine spritzer should do the trick (light and airy, and that little asshole 7-year old does not need more Sprite today. Who are you kidding, grab that half-empty 2-liter and just dump the rest of the Target wine cube in it. Add Spree or Easter Skittles for extra festiveness.)

What drinks will go well with my meatless Good Friday?

Everything. Did you swear off alcohol for Lent? OF COURSE YOU FUCKING DIDN’T. Because you do not have a problem.

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More wine, just sayin. And ham is for sinners.

I need to watch Game of Thrones after all the soul-saving. How do I power through until then?

You really only have two choices here: You either need to go to bed immediately after brunch, or stay awake and drink all day. Personally, the latter is the safer option. By the time you are well into your cups and are looking at Jon Snow’s angelic face, you might actually have a spiritual moment of sorts. Plus, don’t worry. Lots of people die in GoT. All the time. Every chapter, almost. You will feel sufficiently sad, yet happy, and BLAM – your Easter is complete. PTL.

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Can someone get Drogo to rise from the dead? Do it.