The rain we’ve had for the last few days has been wonderful. It’s cleaned the air and made everything come to life. The sound of it has been soothing and happy. I went to the grocery store on my scooter in the downpour and before I got out into it I was dreading getting soaked but once out there I remembered how much I love being in the rain. It makes me laugh out loud. I like to run around in it. I always have. When it’s dry for such long periods I forget how good it feels on my skin.
I haven’t lost any more weight in a week. I knew it would slow down but I still find it discouraging.
Yesterday I worked on chapter five more. Mostly I rewrote Markus Crane as a black man because I finally realized that’s what he IS. Smith is going to LOVE having a black partner to replace Hesse*. I am so enamored with Crane. He’s a man out of time. He wears 1940’s style suits and fedoras even in the backwoods of Oregon. Film Noire meets future western. He is fast on his feet and is the only federal agent in the west who doesn’t carry a lethal weapon. He will only use tasers or tranq guns because he doesn’t believe in lethal force. He is frequently underestimated by his peers and adversaries to their detriment. He is tough but never loses his sense of humor. Plus, you know, he’s gorgeous. I was influenced by my recent Alias binge watching so he looks a lot like Carl Lumbly with high cheekbones and dark skin and those amazing eyes. But he has dimples and is younger than Lumbly.
Meanwhile I’m working madly on catching up with my quilting projects and obligations long neglected. I finished making a quilt for a little girl named Lili and now I’m finally working on the quilt I started 5 years ago. Next up is making the quilt from the quilt top Pam (of Pam Kitty Morning fame) made for me 5 years ago. I’m really enjoying the quilting and am super excited to have some actual extra blankets around here for guests and for when we get really cold. Hahahaha. You know, in the arctic temps of northern California. But seriously – everyone should have extra blankets around in case of emergency. We have only one extra blanket left and it’s a super shredded antique quilt that is barely holding together.
I’m now officially one third of the way through my temporary period of sobriety and it’s dull as dishwater but I’m still completely committed to this because I know it continues to be what I needed to do for myself. I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in a month and while I don’t feel that makes me the least bit virtuous or “clean” – I know my liver thanks me. Or, at least, I tell myself it does. I’ve been a lot more prone to headaches since not drinking. I don’t know what it’s from. Maybe decaf black tea doesn’t actually agree with me in large quantities? It’s all I have to drink in the evenings that I find remotely satisfying so I hope that’s not it. I probably have a brain tumor. I haven’t gone a whole month without a drink since I was pregnant. I think, honestly, what’s most important about not drinking for a while (other than weight loss) is to rediscover that I don’t NEED to drink to get through an evening. I do need to constantly have beverages at my elbow and if that is a pathological habit then I’m okay with it. But it’s important that I know I don’t need it to be alcohol. I’m doing this whole thing because I wanted to reboot myself. “Recalibrate” is the word that most frequently comes to mind when I think about what I’m doing. And it’s working. I knew it would if I could just make myself do it.
Although the counseling and disulfarim didn’t turn out to be part of this experience – I think what made me actually DO what I knew I needed to do was going through the humiliating process of admitting to professionals that I needed help. It was a spur in my side inciting me to action, a threat to my mental and emotional safety that brought me to the starting line.
I told myself that if I felt like a month was long enough once I got there – I could end my imposed sobriety. I told myself that I trust I’ll know when it’s okay to drink again. At the month mark now I still believe I need to take this thing all the way to the three month mark because I think it’s going to take that long to truly be comfortable with the new habit of not drinking. When I bring alcohol back into my life it has to be in a moderate way and so I need to feel completely solidly able to go many nights without alcohol, without feeling that I need the alcohol to calm me down or make things feel alright.
My head is messier. It shows in my dreams which have become more vivid even than usual. Richer in detail. It shows in the disorderly way I approach each day and I haven’t been able to focus enough to figure out food to make ahead of time. I have not been tired at night but then sleep in. I don’t like this but my mind is buzzing all the time.
My friend Elizabeth asked if my nightmares have changed at all since not drinking. I said they hadn’t – I’ve been getting as many of them as usual. I forgot to mention that they are more richly detailed than usual. I also brought up insomnia, saying that it hasn’t been as bad as it usually is when I don’t drink. I realize now that I’m writing this that that’s because I have simply been staying up longer. I have been going to bed between 1am and 3am every night which is how I used to deal with insomnia. Stay up until you can’t. If I was trying to go to bed by 10 or 11 I would probably be awake in bed for two hours before falling asleep.
What I want is to go to bed by 11pm and get up by 5:30am so I can write in the early morning hours. I am as far from this schedule as I can be. Truth be told, the two nights I stayed up until 3am this week I wasn’t even tired when I made myself get in bed. My head was wide awake. It was full of images and thoughts and noise.
One thing at a time.
Time to get back to chapter five. I am looking forward to saying I’m working on chapter six.
*Among Smith’s other dubious charms such as being a chauvinist asshole is that he’s a racist son of a bitch.