Category Archives: The Variety Show

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #25 and #26

whiskers

#24 Reason not to Drink: good example for kids

(#24 is brought to you by Stephanie Douglass)

“I think it is good to for my kids to see me not drink. Now it is probably not good for them to hear me complain about it, so I keep it to myself. But having the kids (now adults) not think it is totally weird that someone is not having a drink with dinner, probably not a bad thing.”

I agree that it’s good for Max to see me not drinking.  I don’t care if he hears me complain about it though.  It will show him that I’m choosing not to do something I really enjoy for the sake of my health and well-being even though I would really like to be doing it.  I haven’t complained much (mostly on Friday nights) because it hasn’t been that hard over-all.  I’m also not raving about how awesome I feel because I don’t feel very much more awesome than I did when I was drinking.

#25 Reason not to Drink: more creative ways to hang out with friends

(#25 also brought to you by Stephanie Douglass)

“I love seeing my friends and I network and attend a lot of social and work events. And yes I am able to enjoy myself with a glass of seltzer water. But really, it is not quite a great to be at a loud bar or making your way through a crowd of strangers without that glass of something nice. So I found that not drinking forced to me to find other ways to spend a little time with my friends. A quick drink after work is easy and I still love it as a fast way to spend time with people. But there are other great options. I get pedicures every month – I like nice toes, I hate sitting still while they get nice. The time spent on this grooming is more fun with someone there to talk to. It is nice to go for a run or to a yoga class with someone. Or even a walk after work instead of getting a drink. Not drinking makes me more creative in setting up mini-dates.”

I don’t really have any more reasons left not to drink.  I have been getting behind because I pretty much just keep thinking of rehashes of the reasons I’ve already stated.  My sister thinks I should keep this series up because it’s good practice.  I think I’m going to drop it because how many times and ways do I need to state losing weight as a reason not to drink?  Stephanie has a couple more but one of them is saving money which I’ve already listed as a reason not to drink.  The point of doing this exercise was to reinforce for myself the reasons I’m doing it.  What I hope to accomplish and to keep myself feeling strong about sticking to it.  Turns out I don’t really need the reminder or the reenforcement.

I’ve lost 11 pounds in 26 days.  That is what is currently motivating me.  I wanted to lose 10lbs a month for three months.  I figured that if I lost 24lbs in 3 months I’d be doing great.  At this rate I may lose 30lbs in that time.  Maybe not.  The point is – the single most important reason I’m not drinking is to lose weight.  To get my metabolism moving and to get down to where I don’t feel like throwing up when I see my image in a shop window.  I need to get down to where my body isn’t getting in my way and depressing me independently of everything else in my life.  Because when I get down to a regular size, I will not have so much trouble making healthier decisions for myself.  Self discipline becomes a matter of maintaining a feeling of well-being and I’m pretty good at that – or was – in general.  I said from the beginning that what I needed to keep me going to reach my goals was to see the scale counting backwards fast enough to feel that the efforts I’m making are making a difference.

I will keep not drinking because it’s working.  I’m not sleeping better and I don’t look better (yet) and I honestly don’t think the whites of my eyes are any clearer.  My skin isn’t clearer – as a matter of fact, those little tiny red veins all over my cheek bones that I’m pretty sure are from drinking too much have not only not gone away, since stopping drinking they have become MORE noticeable and some rough patches have developed that look like some of those little veins have burst.  Whatever.  I don’t feel more energetic or clear minded.  I don’t feel more moral or “clean”.

But my clothes aren’t quite as snug.  My face isn’t looking as bloated.

My evenings are more boring and I pee way more often than I used to.

My friend Lucille, who finds my urination habits mucho perplexing, will find herself even more confused than ever.  I can drink a few beers and not have to pee very much.  It absolutely depends on the time of evening it is.  I drink a lot of decaf coffee in the mornings and don’t have to pee too much.  I have to pee the most often when I think I won’t  be able to pee for a while, like when I’m getting on a bus with no bathroom.  Or if I know that the only bathroom that will be available to me for a couple of hours will be some nasty one in downtown San Francisco or San Rafael.  The minute I plan to get into bed I have to pee at least three times.  I can be reading in bed and already have peed three times but the minute I turn out the light I have to pee.  The thought of sitting in a movie theater for two hours makes me have to pee.  I dread having to get up and pee in the middle of it.

It’s what I call “pee fear”.  The fear of being in a situation where it will be challenging or impossible to find a place to pee.  I’m on an airplane far from the bathroom and the second everyone is seated and the flight attendants tell us not to get up – I have to pee.  It’s a psychological thing.  It’s uncomfortable and deeply irritating and causes me tremendous anxiety.

If I know I have access to a bathroom and it’s earlier in the evening, I can go long periods without having to pee.  Except now that I’m drinking 2 or 3 cups of decaf black tea in the evenings I seem to have to pee constantly.  Black tea is a diuretic.  So obviously that’s the reasonable explanation.  But I thought coffee was a diuretic too and it doesn’t have the same effect on me.

Philip tells me I can have as much decaf black tea as I want.  I find that comforting.  The only thing keeping me from having, say, four or five cups a night is that I would probably spend all night peeing if I did that.  Who has time for that?!

I haven’t been nearly as hungry since quitting drinking.  I’m still eating a really large breakfast.  But last night I had a banana, tea, and buttered toast with jam for dinner.  I thought I was hungry later so I cut some cheddar to eat with some crackers but after a few crackers with cheese I put the rest back.  Do you know how many times I have put cheese back that I intended to eat?  That’s right, never.  I did NOT put it back because I was worried about calories.  I had eaten such a small dinner that I had plenty of calories to spare to eat all the cheese and crackers and still remain in a reasonable calorie range for the day.  I just wasn’t hungry.  I didn’t feel like eating.  I wasn’t exactly full either.  I just didn’t need any food.

This is a huge and important change from the last few years.  It’s how I used to be all the time.  I have always been a hearty eater but not a person who over-eats or snacks when not hungry or eats out of boredom or stress.  Not until I broke my hip and was bed ridden and had very little to do all day for three months of immobility.  That was the first time I ever snacked out of boredom.  If only I had recognized what I was doing and where it would lead me – ach! – that is not a useful train of thought.  Anyway, I believe in eating well but not in eating when you’re not hungry.  This is the first sign of my old and previously good habit of listening to my body and following its actual needs.

It is clear that I am a beverage obsessed human being.  I must have a beverage at my side at all times or I feel unsettled and weird and unhappy.  Doesn’t have to be booze.  Long before I became a real DRINKER I drank coffee and black tea and water all day long and then herbal tea at night.  Right now I have an almost empty pint of water at my elbow.  I will drink at least two more of these, maybe three, before moving on to decaf black tea.  I think that when I’m ready to bring alcohol back into my life I will only be able to do it if I establish a routine of having maybe 2 drinks and then moving on to decaf black tea for afterwards.  A little like some people drink wine with dinner and then drink coffee afterwards.

Not drinking feels pretty normal at this point.  That happened a lot faster than I expected.  On Saturday I went out to dinner for the first time in almost a month to a place I have never gone without drinking before.  It was fine.  I can’t deny that I wasn’t very excited to go out and it wasn’t nearly as nice as when I can order a couple of pints of beer but I still had a fine time hanging out with my guys.  I drank root beer.  One of the few sodas that don’t make me want to choke.

For the first time in a long time I got back to sewing (as mentioned in a previous post) and am making swift progress on it.  It’s great to get a project going like that.  This evening I will start basting the layers together.

A freelance writing job has come up that I truly want and I’m struggling to come up with a clear way of presenting my pitch.  This would be a dream freelance gig so it’s important I do it right.  That makes it much harder to just DO IT and apply.  I have an idea and I think it’s a good one but how to package it and start it.  I have to do a sample post with pictures and I know what I want to do – so why does it feel like such a loaded thing?  I can do this!  It’s exactly what I would love to do and I believe it will work well for the site that’s hiring.  So, wish me luck.  The deadline to apply is February 14th but I want to apply in the next day or two at the latest.  I think I’ll write out some of my ideas longhand while drinking my tea tonight and watching something on Netflix.  Then tomorrow I’ll execute.  Then submit by Wednesday.  That seems like a solid plan.

So there it is.  I probably won’t keep up with the 90 reasons series unless you readers have some that you want to submit that aren’t the same as any of the ones I have already listed.  (So if you are going to submit any to me – be sure to read all 25 reasons that have already been posted).  I will continue to discuss this topic but I’m ready to talk about other things again too like writing, pop culture, politics, and things that piss me off.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #23 and #24

Lili quilt fabric

(The fabrics I am using for Lili’s quilt.  She says she likes pink, red, and purple.  I could not find any worthy purple fabric so I chose black as the third color.  I believe that all little girls benefit from having some black in their lives.)

#23 Reason not to drink: because it’s working

It’s been 3 weeks now and I’ve lost 9lbs.  That doesn’t feel like a lot compared to how much total I have to lose, but it’s down to 104lbs from 113lbs – and that’s not nothing.  I’m almost done losing all the weight I gained this summer and early fall and that feels great.  This rate of weight loss will not continue forever.  It will slow down at points (as it always does) and then pick up again.  But right now, it’s perfect.  It’s enough to keep me motivated to see this whole thing through.

#24 Reason not to drink: so I have time to make Lili’s quilt

I have a lot of quilt making to do, starting with a quilt for a little girl named Lili who is irresistible and smart and getting older every day.  Drinking beer on a vocational level takes up a lot of time.  I can’t do other things when I have a beer in my hand, at my elbow, or promising to be more delicious than, say, cleaning the house.  I want to get Lili’s quilt made before she graduates from high school so instead of drinking beer last night I cut out strips of fabric for her quilt.  Today I will start piecing them.  It feels great to have time to do other things now.*  An hour’s worth of picking up bottles of beer every night really adds up.  Think of it like this: 365 freed-up hours = 15 extra days a year to get stuff accomplished in!

*Author is in no way admitting to a belief that hours spent drinking beer are wasted.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #22

pippa portrait 2

#22 Reason not to drink: to dry Pippa out

Something many people don’t know is that my cat Pippa is a lush and I’m afraid that it’s my fault.  If only beer hadn’t been so readily available on my desk and on my side table and in my hands, she never would have gone down this rocky road of chemical dependency.  It’s so bad that I can’t open a beer without her showing up to try to lick the bottle.  She lurks around until she thinks I won’t see her on my desk obscuring half my computer screen to get at the booze.  (Pippa thinks she has powers of invisibility)  Tonight I’m not drinking because I need to show Pippa how to be a healthy cat, a cat who isn’t obsessed with beer.  It’s already been really hard on her.  She cries twice as much now and let’s me know that I’m a brutal bitch by slinking around under my desk nipping at my ankles.  Lucky for her, she’s discovered a neighborhood cat support group that meets outside our house at 10pm every evening.*  All I can do is reassure her that when she is able to drink responsibly again, the beer will come back.

*True fact.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #20 and #21

little veins

If you ever said or thought for a second that I’m a vain individual you better TAKE IT BACK RIGHT NOW.  My God!  The errant brow hairs, the eye bag, the eye veins!

#20 Reason not to drink: whiter whites of your eyes

#20 reason not to drink is brought to us today by Stephanie Douglass who says that not drinking alcohol will make the whites of your eyes whiter.  So I took a really up-close picture of my eye to see if it’s true.  It’s hard to tell because the lighting isn’t so great right now and I had to brighten it in photoshop.  The white parts might be whiter?  But damn, not drinking sure doesn’t get rid of those veins in the whites that look like tiny red rivers on a map.  Stephanie has some other reasons not to drink that I will share later this week.  Have you ever noticed that when you don’t drink the whites of your eyes get whiter?  Please share your observations here.

#21 Reason not to Drink: beverage variety

I love that there are about a billion different alcoholic beverages one can drink.  I love how much variety there is in the beverage world.  Just don’t visit that variety shit on me when I’m not expecting it, like Monday through Sunday.  I drink beer.  When I can’t afford good beer I drink cheap wine.  Then every once in a blue moon I’ll knock back a couple of gins and tonics.  That’s it.  I like that there’s variety available for OTHER PEOPLE, just not me.  So based on the concept that things you’re forced to endure that you don’t like build character (or really potent phobias and aversions) – this is an opportunity to suffer for the good of my character.  And boy is my character getting MUSCULAR.  Last night I had a glass of mineral water with Angostura bitters.  It was okay.  Then, just before I went back to drinking decaf PG Tips which is my new evening beverage that I don’t ever want to deviate from, I tried a drink Philip made that our friend Chelsea told us about: ginger ale with bitters and lime.  It was better than the mineral water with bitters.  Now I can’t find decaf PG Tips around here.  I went through a whole box of the stuff in three weeks after having had the box for two years.   So tonight I’m trying out another Chelsea recommendation: decaf Typhoo.  CAN YOU SEE MY CHARACTER BUSTING OUT OF ITS TOO-SMALL CLOTHES?!

Sunday Thoughts, Mostly About Racism

a hopeful volunteer

I lost another pound.  7 down.  106 to go.  That’s all I’m going to say about it today.

I want to live in a country where there is no such thing as “white privilege”.  I don’t want privilege if it isn’t shared by everyone of every color and ethnicity.  I didn’t get to pick my skin color but I have to carry the weight of this legacy of oppression and slave driving and violence even if I did not personally take part in any of it.  I read about the experiences that Americans who aren’t white are having and it makes me want to rip my own skin off.  I hear the hideous racist things that white people say and the shame I feel for my race is scalding hot.

That’s not me feeling sorry for my poor white ass.  That’s me screaming for all this racist shit to STOP.  Because it is not okay.  I have ended friendships because of friends being racist.  I argued with my racist grandfather and told him to shut the hell up.  I disowned my biological father because of his bigotry that is both religious and racial.  I will not be complicit with racism when it’s in front of me.  The only other thing I can do is to listen to everyone who is experiencing racism in this country, in this world, and keep connecting on common ground.

And not take righteous anger personally.  That is the hardest thing.  When white people are castigated as an entire race as though every last white person is filled with hate for people of color.  I have to remember that when you’re feeling raw with pain and injustice and you are shouting to be heard where people are trying to silence you – it isn’t important that you speak carefully – it’s just important that you speak until you are heard.

I know my own heart.  I love people of all colors, of every stripe, of all beliefs, and of all backgrounds – it’s what makes this world (and especially this country) the incredible vibrant place it is.  I judge individuals as I meet them.  Good and evil come in all skins.  Most of us are neither good nor evil but are complicated combinations of experiences, motives, and reactions.

I know my own heart and I have to trust that when people get to know me they will know my heart too.  If they don’t, then they aren’t listening to me.

Check out this incredible poem on: Extraordinary Machine

Our drought continues to go strong.  We might get rain this coming week.  We might not.  I’m turning into one of those hideous dried apple dolls that looks like mummified people dressed in quaint Kuntry Garb.  I NEED RAIN AS MUCH AS THE LANDSCAPE DOES.

I’d like to get some fiction writing done today but I need to work on Max’s application to the ArtQuest program and he’s having a couple of friends over and I will be hanging with my friend Chelsea.  I suppose tomorrow will be good enough.  I also have to track down some decaf PG Tips because I have only one bag left.

I’m off now.  I hope you are all having a great Sunday!

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #18 and #19

my green stripes

#18 Reason not to Drink: method writing

Method acting is a way actors access the thoughts and emotions of the characters they’re playing.  Method writing is the same thing.  What if I wanted to write a sober character in one of my novels?  How could I access the thoughts and emotions of a sober person while experiencing the joy and comfort of drinking delicious beers?  While I have no actual intention of writing completely sober characters any more than I have the intention of writing alcoholic characters, this is a valuable exercise to expand the colors in my crayon basket.  Now when I need to access what it feels like to BE a teetotaler I will be able to draw on all the raw irritation satisfaction and discomfort well being and Friday boredom zen-like indifference to festive beverages that I previously wouldn’t have been able to FEEL in my bones and make REAL on the page.  Now it will be in my power to make YOU feel it too.

#19 Reason not to Drink: my green and white striped XL shirt 

In the world of weight loss and weight gain there is this popular idea that you shouldn’t hang onto your “skinny” clothes because it’s just going to depress you and help you FAIL at reaching your goals and will serve as a sad reminder of how you used to be in horrifying contrast to what you’ve become.  I disagree with this.  I haven’t held onto things I wore when I was really thin.  I’ll never be really thin again and that’s not what I care about or want anyway.  However, I have kept all my favorite clothes from when I was a regular sized person.  I wore XL and looked great.  I had a waist and wore stripes and felt good.  That’s what I want.  That XL looks tiny to me now.  That’s what becoming obese does to you.  I know people who are proud of being size 4 and that’s great that that number means something to you.  I know people who will not feel good about themselves until they are out of the Large sizes and down to the mediums and smalls and invisible sizes.  Not me.  Look at that shirt.  It’s so small.  The fact that I’ve kept it all these years is to prove that I have not lost hope, that I have never stopped believing that at some point I will turn things around and get back to the clothes I love wearing.  I miss wearing my striped T’s so much.  Yah, I know.  I could wear them now.  I shouldn’t care about wearing stripes at any size.  I just don’t feel right or good in them.  Even if I could find this kind of stripe in my size.  Generally in my size they’re all bejeweled or beaded or covered in weird-ass decoupage-style printing and made of creepy fabrics.

I will wear that shirt again.

It is the closest I can come to religious-style faith.

*****

As I’ve reached #19 reason not to drink I am realizing that it’s going to be very hard to come up with 90 reasons.  I think it’s going to end up being a lot of jewelry and shirts I want to wear and stupid little nothings.  I’ve already used up about 80% of the big reasons I have for not drinking for 90 days.  Ah well, it’s okay.

Something I’ve been thinking about the last couple of days is this head-space I’ve sunk into and how I find myself wanting to jump into the television to become a fictional character on Fringe (maybe one of the people who doesn’t die at the beginning of every episode) or into a book, but only my favorite ones.  I find I don’t want to waste my time on fiction that disappoints me or stresses me out because I’m already spending enough evening time struggling to get into that calm happy place that I no longer have.  It has occurred to me that as a fiction writer I should be able to immerse myself in a different place any time I want.  I shouldn’t have to depend on other people’s fictional worlds to give me the happiness and comfort I need.  I’ve thought that maybe I should go get on my laptop and write some fiction.  Write what I wish I was experiencing.  Write the space I want to be in.  But then the weight of having to make Cricket and Grey follow the path it needs to take makes me stop.  So I rewatch another episode of Fringe and worry about what I will watch when I’ve rewatched the whole series.

Artists sketch in their sketchbooks.  I know because I’m married to one.  They sketch ideas and what they see and sometimes they just doodle and the doodle becomes something more.  Writers do this too, usually, writing in a journal or a blog.  I do this all the time to empty my head.  But I don’t sketch fictional characters or scenes that aren’t part of the big project I’m working on.  But why not?  Why not do small vignettes?  Why can’t I just sketch out small scenes without it having to go anywhere in particular?  I don’t have to share it with anyone.  I don’t have to take it seriously.  Why don’t I do it?  The last time I did it it turned into a whole novel (Jane Doe) that remains unfinished.  It doesn’t have to turn into anything.  I make up my own rules.  I always have.  So I don’t know why I haven’t  been doing this.  I can rewrite the same scene over and over and over again if I want.  Not to polish it for a book but simply to continue to be in the middle of it.  Long-form poetry.

In other news, I’ve lost 6 lbs in 18 days.  I put it on facebook but I need to record it here too.  I had 113lbs to lose and now I *only* have 107lbs to lose.

Yesterday I got take out from my favorite Mexican take out place.  I got my usual plat of cheese enchiladas, beans, and rice.  I always eat the beans and rice on tortilla chips first and eat the enchiladas last.  This time I took a few bites of the enchiladas and it was too cheesy for me.  I am not evolved enough to not eat them anyway, so I did.  Then I felt too full and not good.  Like I’d had way too much cheese.  These are words I don’t understand.  This is an experience that is new and almost frightening.

Too much cheese?!

I wasn’t kidding when I said I naturally eat a lot less when I’m not drinking.  But I have never understood the concept of “too much cheese”.  Until now.  My friend Sarah thinks it may be my body being wise.  I don’t know.  I do know I haven’t had enough vegetables this week.  I’m craving them but not making them.  (Out of laziness, really, it’s been a real funk of a week.)  This coming week needs to be full of steamed vegetables.  I’ve been wanting to cut down on cheese but hadn’t had the will to do it.  Maybe it’s because I’m consuming other dairy in the form of half and half in my tea?  It’s all useless speculation.  It doesn’t really matter.  Over-thinking food in this way is irritating.  More vegetables is all I need to focus on now because I’m craving them.  And smaller portions.  Not because that’s how to lose weight (though it is) but because I don’t need as much food now.  I’m getting fuller faster because I don’t have any alcohol to soak up with it.

One last thing.  I have been unwilling to find alternative relief to my discomfort and I continue to feel unwilling.  It isn’t that there’s nothing satisfying to replace alcohol with or that there’s nothing else I could come to look forward to.  I’m not entirely sure why I am so unwilling to find new things to enjoy and look forward to.  I think part of it is that I don’t want to let myself feel comfortable.  A little self punishment perhaps?  Or maybe it’s just that I need to be in this place of discomfort because I need to really live it for a while in order to prevent myself from getting to this place ever again.  I think I have to work through some of my anger about having mental illness.  I think what’s going on is that I don’t want to mask the raw unpleasantness I’m experiencing – this return to how my head was before I drank enough beer to settle it down and keep it calm.  I think this is an important part of this whole experience.  Like going through the seven steps of grieving.  Or going through the 12 steps of AA.  This is my version.  With my rules.  I need to live in this place for a while.  Until it either resolves itself or until I’m ready to work towards resolution.  Being completely raw and unmedicated makes me a danger to myself so this here, this state is as raw as it’s safe to be.  Whatever the actual reason is, I am not ready to “fix” it or change it.

My friend Nicole has mentioned seeking sedative-like effects from herbs.  Hops came to mind.  Bitter bitter hops.  Hops are one of the key ingredients in beer and what contributes to its satisfying bite.  Long long ago, when I lived alone on Hyde street and was getting really witchy, I used to make a hops, peppermint, and honey tea to help me with insomnia.  It wasn’t very effective but it was calming.  When I’m ready to find other things to drink and look forward to – I may try using hops in a few different ways and see what comes of it.  Not a lot of other herbs have had a sedative action for me but I will consult my herbal books and see what other things I may want to experiment with.  I am interested in making bitters – but this takes some alcohol.  They are meant to be taken in very small quantities – enough to soak a sugar cube, for example.  So I may allow myself home made bitters if it seems like a good idea.  I do plan on buying Angostura bitters this weekend.  That’s made with alcohol too.  But you use only a few drops per glass so I will not be counting that as having an alcoholic drink any more than I would consider taking an herbal tincture the same thing as having an alcoholic drink.  We’ll see.  I will look into it and I will consider it.

I make up my own rules because this is my own adventure.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #17

stefon

#17 Reason not to drink: so I don’t end up like my Grandma Maryalice

I remember when I visited her in Florida by myself when I was 10 years old.  We ended up traveling with my Grandfather up to Wisconsin and I have already shared with you all the infamous meat-eating misadventure and the follow-up to that a few years later with the Pork incident.  She was a mean son of a bitch!  But I’m remembering having arrived in her condo all wide-eyed hippie child excited to be away from my parents and siblings and ready for adventure.  There was a hurricane going on, as happens in Florida, and though I’m sure it was unimpressive by Floridian standards, the palm trees outside her condo were bent almost in half and brushing at the windows.  I was impressed and increasingly more scared as the evening wore on and I had nothing to do but notice the hurricane trying to get at my bones.  You don’t show fear to people like Maryalice.  I remember her pouring drink after drink of the hard stuff and cajoling me for being afraid.  I just realized that I can’t remember her smoking but the condo must have been thick with her cigarette smoke because she smoked a ton and didn’t believe in fresh air.  I felt spectacularly unsafe with this slurring adult inside and nature acting just as drunk outside.

Her teeth, when she got up in your face with a scowl, were pretty scary.

My grandma Maryalice was a very unhappy person and she enjoyed taking it out on other people.  As you can imagine, I have no fond memories of her, much as I wish I did.  Her smoking got to her before her drinking did and she died relatively young of emphysema but I gotta tell you, I’m pretty sure her liver was done-for too.  I haven’t gotten close to her level of drinking so far, which is why she’s tonight’s reason for not drinking.  I never want alcohol to get in the way of my ability to comfort scared children or be the cause of delivering bitter misery to the people who love me.  Alcohol is to enhance experiences in life, not drive them.

*****

I’m feeling a little better today (hello mood swings).  Thank you all for listening to me and being there for me.  Today I started tackling something I’ve put off for a while because I couldn’t deal with it even though I knew I needed to.  There haven’t been too many times in my life where I have been in a situation that forces me to choose between being silent or doing the right thing.  I always say that I’m the kind of person who does the right thing, even if there are personal consequences to me.  Life has decided to call my bluff.  I’m sorry that I can’t give any details – you know I normally disclose everything freely – but I just want to report that I’m following through.  I’m doing it because I can and others can’t.  I’m doing it because saying “no” to wrongs when we encounter them is the only way we keep the good in balance with the bad.

Mostly I just have to fill out some annoying forms, so nothing heroic or anything.

I feel like I’ve honored my character and my beliefs today.

Now it’s time to watch Criminal Minds and drink some decaf black tea.

90 Reasons for not Drinking for 90 Days: #16

the sentinels

#16 Reason not to Drink: because it’s never going to be better than this in my head

I just wrote a bunch and realized that all I was doing was trying to explain why everyone is WRONG.  I am kicking and screaming inside myself today and after trying to talk it out with people, explain it, and share it, I feel really alone with it.  What I’ve come to realize today is that I’ve slowly been returning to how I was before I started medicating myself with alcohol.  I had almost forgotten what it felt like.  It feels like having an amplifier strapped to my head belting out discordant noise on the highest volume plus one.  It feels like when you step in a big wet pile of shit so deep your feet sink and excrement gets inside your shoe and makes it wet.

I was just talking to Philip – talking a mile a minute.  He commented how I used to be like that all the time before medication.  It’s true.

I’m angry that I have mental illness.  I want to punch something I feel so angry about it.   Unless I decide to take sedatives in place of drinking therapeutic amounts of alcohol, this is as good as it gets in my head.

I liked being mellower.  I liked having more quiet in my head.  I loved that in the evening when drinking beer my mind would grow peaceful and I could actually breathe slowly and shrug the world off my shoulders.  I’m grieving for the loss of my sedated self who was so much better, calmer, less irritable, patient, and easy-going.  (Relative to how I am when not sedated)  It’s not about other people liking or not liking me more.  It’s about having to live with myself and how much easier it is to live with myself under sedation.

One thing I can say is that no matter what medications I’m on or not one, no matter what chemicals I am under the influence of or not – I am always completely myself.  It’s just a question of whether I’m operating at full strength, half strength, or quarter strength.

Full strength Angelina will yell at you for touching her things, talks incessantly, has to stay up writing and/or reading until 3am every night just to get enough stuff out of her head so she can sleep, is a danger to herself, writes notes to cockroaches, loses her shit when her husband comes home an hour late from work, snaps everyone’s head off pretty much over nothing, will move to Vermont to avoid an earthquake, and goes through dark periods when taking out the trash is pretty much the same as building building a fighter jet as far as how much energy it takes to get it done.

Half strength Angelina doesn’t mind if you touch her stuff as long as you don’t lose it, can express her anxiety about husband coming home late without completely losing her shit, doesn’t have the urge to hurt herself as often, can pass for normal(ish), can use CBT to deal with all the possible ways she could die, can ignore the sound of people breathing more often than it makes her want to scream, can recover from over-stimulation in less than two days, can curb a panic attack most of the time before passing out from hyperventilation, can converse with most people without giving them headaches.

Quarter strength Angelina can shrug off much idiocy, can summon the strength to let pass many golden opportunities to argue with people, can socialize in groups larger than 3 without feeling strung out within five minutes, can face the apocalypse with relative equanimity, doesn’t hate balloons and FUN half as much as half strength Angelina does, can go to unfamiliar places without a week’s worth of coaching beforehand, never has the urge to hurt herself, can sit through two hours of American Dad and not look bored, invites you use her stuff and never gets mad if you break it.

Quarter strength Angelina is just your regular semi-neurotic quirky person.  I like feeling almost normal, almost like a lot of other people.  Able to mix and mingle and not make an entire room of people uncomfortable with one macabre observation.

It makes me angry that there is no socially acceptable way for me to live like people who don’t have mental illness.  I’m angry and depressed and grieving about it.

I’m not drinking tonight because this is as good as it gets in my head and the sooner I accept it, the better.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #15

goofy is as goofy does

#15 Reason for not Drinking: fulfillment of a Filipino fortune teller’s prophecy

When I was 18 years old I had the distinctive misery to work for Radio Shack, and one night I was scheduled to work at the one on Vanness Street in San Francisco instead of my usual location on Market Street.  The only other person working that night was a diminutive Filipino woman.  We got on great.  There were no customers that I can remember.  Why would there be?  People don’t seek out cheap electronics from stores wedged between Homeless Cafe and Piss Alley.  I wish I could remember my coworker’s name after all these years but I only worked with her this one night.  Anyway, as you might expect when there’s no one to sell crappy transistors and maladaptive plugs to, my coworker read my palm.

I wish I had written down everything she told me, obviously, but I was a thoughtless 18 year old arrogantly believing that I’d be able to remember everything that ever happened to me for the rest of my life.  I believed (apparently) that writers have magical memories.  There were three things she told me that I never did forget and two of them have come true.  First of all, she told me that I was going to marry an American man.  Clearly the chances were in her favor on this one.  I’m American.  Meeting mostly American men.  However, she did not know that it was my plan to marry a European or an Asian man (probably Chinese).  The one kind of man I definitely wasn’t going to marry was an American.  Because my sampling of them up to that point had not proved promising.  Also, I had an enormous crush on an Italian man at that time.  She assured me, as though realizing that this fortune was disappointing to me, she assured me that I would travel with my dumb American husband.

I did marry an American.  A really good one who isn’t dumb at all!  And we have traveled together.

The other thing she said is that in the middle of my life line there was a big mess of health issues.  Right there in the middle – I was going to experience some big health problems.  But, she said, I would come out of the health problems and live a long life afterwards.  So.  At 35 years old I broke my hip, gained 30 lbs from bed-rest and a steady flow of beer, then experienced crazy ass depression and anxiety and gained another 60 lbs from increased levels of Paxil, then (because it’s never enough to just be miserable, it must be compounded madly), I gained more weight from increasing beer and cheese intake even more.  Foot problems ensued, recurring hip pain, frequent back problems from hips being out of alignment…see?  She NAILED it.

My cool and funny (she was funny and very cool) coworker fortune teller got 2 out of 3 predictions right.  I’m aware of the numbers, the statistics one can apply – how easy all of these things are to predict for just about anyone.  But sometimes in life it’s a hell of a lot more fun to believe in the magic of the people you meet instead of trying to explain it away with statistics.  After all, statistics, just like magic, can be based on faulty premises, dark and stormy nights, or an irritable bowel.  I choose to believe the Filipino fortune teller.

I do not, however, believe that life ever just happens to us.  I do not believe that life is preordained and all we have to do is float along and wait for prophesies to come true.  If prophesies can be believed at all they must work because they are based on the character and the actions the individual whose life is being prophesied is most likely to take in any given situation.  Which is, really, just statistics having fun on the see-saw in the kiddie’s park.  A prophesy in which I experience a big breakdown in health and then come out of it isn’t likely to come true or be prophesied in the first place if I’m the kind of woman to luxuriate in a slow but deathly decline like Camille on her sorrowful tuberculosis couch.

I am no Camille.  I mean, I’m a pretty delicate flower when it comes to the heat, but that Camille shit isn’t me.  I have gotten up off the floor of my misery and ill-health to fight back exactly 1,789 times in the past 8 years.  I never stay on the couch of pretty dissipation for very long.  Tonight I’m not drinking alcohol because it’s the best way I know to make the Filipino fortune teller’s prophecy of returned health and vitality come true, because that’s the ending I want to this story.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #14

my old view

An old view.  An old life.

#14 Reason not to Drink: Because this is the point where I usually give up

Two weeks of making major efforts, cutting serious calories out, being pretty damn healthy, and I don’t look even a tiny different and, honestly, don’t feel at all different either.  In the past this is the point where I give up because I get depressed that making big changes to my comfort doesn’t translate into clear changes in my body.  But this time I’m not giving up.  Today I choose not to drink again, in spite of the fact that I don’t feel any healthier or look any healthier, because I’m not going by the old script.

Just a few minutes ago I was thinking about getting some cleaning done and how good beer will taste when I’m done – and then experienced that horrid deflation on realizing that there wasn’t anything festive to drink as reward.  Our ginger beer is almost done but honestly will never compare to alcoholic beverages.

In spite of feeling a little low again about having one of my favorite things out of my life, I will not give up.

*****

It’s the official two week mark.  Has it really only been two weeks?  Today it feels like forever.  Maybe tomorrow it will feel like time is just flying by.  I don’t know.  I’m feeling pretty lethargic.  I have done nothing this weekend, gotten nothing accomplished.  Today all I want to do is watch Poirot and bide my time until it’s tomorrow or the next day or the next.  So, clearly not feeling very sparky or purposeful.  I think I can call today a success if all I do is get the Christmas tree down.  And, in an effort to not feel completely useless I will do that right now.  Hope you all are having a more happy and useful weekend.