Saturday, December 31, 2011

Going Commando In Mexico

Day 109
Happy New Years Eve!  This is about the worst day of the year to have an "Act Like I'm Not A Drunk" Saturday so I'm not even gonna try.  On top of that it's my wedding anniversary and the cap'n just got back last night so I'm gonna have me some fun.  But it's gonna be sober, safe fun.  Just like sober, safe sex, sober safe fun is a lot more fun,   Here's another blog from my "other" life.

You can take the girl out of the ship,

But you can't take the ship out of the girl.

So I guess that means I'm still full of ship!

When I lived on a boat all my friends back in KS used to say, "Ooh la la! You live on a yacht." And of course I did nothing to dissuade them even though there was nothing further from the truth.

So now I live in Mexico and all my friends in the states go "Ooh la la! You live in Cancun!" But when I try to explain the difference between living in Cancun and living in Progreso they look at me as though I have frogs coming out of my mouth.

So in the quest for total honesty in my new life I'm going to present two scenarios and let you decide which one the "real" Kary starred in.

Scenario #1: Kary is stuck in a bathroom at a resort in Cancun

Kary glides into the marbled mirrored lavatory at the Pinche Fresa Temple Resort. She opens the stall to the gleaming fully assembled toilet and perches on the rim of the seat that is, of course, "down". Kary finishes her business. She delicately wrinkles her nose as she daintily disposes of her tissue in the receptacle (you don't flush TP in Mexico) making sure to avert her eyes so she doesn't see anything "unsightly" (shudder!). She stands and straightens her clothes and moves to leave the stall. The latch won't budge.

"Oh no! What will I do now?"

A tiny worry line creases her forehead.

"This is so mortifying," Kary cringes.

"Uhmm, Conchita?" Kary whispers.

"Si Senora. Esta bien?" replies the attendant, attentively stationed at the door.

"The latch seems to be stuck."

"De nada, Senora," Conchita replies. And with a quick sleight of hand opens the stall door from the outside.

"Oh dear!" wails Kary as she diligently scrubs her hands in the shiny gold sink.

"I think I've chipped a nail!"

Scenario #2: Kary gets stuck in a bathroom in Merida

Kary and the cap'n have just arrived in Merida on the late flight from Miami and have been transported to the rental car agency in downtown Merida. Kary waits in the vehicle while the cap'n goes to negotiate and arbitrate the pre-arranged rental contract. As usual this takes longer than expected and Kary needs to use the facilities.

No problem, right?

Every rental car agency has a bathroom and so does this one.

So what if it doesn't have a door.

So what if the doorway faces the glassfront of the agency.

So what if this rental agency is on a very busy street in downtown Merida.

So what if the rental agency shares its parking lot with an OXXO convenience store.

So what if the parking lot is teeming with people chatting and strolling and HONKING.

So what if it is 1:00 am. T.I.M. (This Is Mexico).

At this point I'm getting desperate. I don't care if the whole Mexican National Football Team shows up to watch. The manager of the rental agency however is a little concerned about this possibility. He's not the one with a bladder the size of Texas. He quickly employs his employee to accompany me to the little corridor between the agency and convenience store which conveniently houses the facilidades necesarios. However, (there is always an however) it cost 5 pesos to open the gate.

Do I have 5 pesos? No.

Does the attendant have 5 pesos? No.

"De Nada. Not to worry," says the attendant ( I think).

Apparently if you jiggle the gate just right it will open.

So we jiggle. We wiggle. We jimmy and we shimmy. Hell, we're doing the freakin' la cucaracha with it. The cabrona ain't budging.

My bladder is now the size of the Louisiana Purchase.We walk back into the rental agency.
Does the cap'n have 5 pesos? No.

Does the manager have 5 pesos? No.

The manager and employee now engage in an animated conversation that I am praying will develop into a solution of my problem. But the real translation probaby goes something like this.

Manager: "It is fun to watch the gringo lady squirm, is it not?"

Employee nods fervently, "Si, Senor Jefe."

Manager: "See how her eyes are starting to bulge. She will not last much longer. She is no longer young and her bladder grows floppy."

Employee nods fervently, "Si, Senor Jefe."

Manager: "Uh oh, she's crossing her legs. You better hurry before we have a mess to clean up. Do you still have the key?"

Employee nods even more fervently, "Si, Senor Jefe.

Employee heads for the door.

Manager: "Just one more thing. Did you remember to remove all the toilet seats and toilet paper?"

"Si, Senor!" Nod. Nod Nod.

After a quick sleight of hand the employee opens the gate. Relief is at hand. I am unprepared for the lack of clean up accessories as usual. After several minutes I decide air drying is not an option in this humidity and pull up my pants. I move to unfasten the latch. De ja vu! The cabrona ain't budging.

I survey my options. Correction. Option. Yep, looks like there's only one way out of this predicament and it's through that 6" space under that 12" wide door. ( You know that measurement dyslexia problem us girls suffer from swings both ways. Some days it's longer, some days it's shorter. It just depends on how you treat us.).

Time to go commando !

Now I just want you to picture this in your mind's eye for a minute. A blonde gringo chica whose most apt body description is ample, is down on her elbows with belly on the floor of a Mexican toilet stall that is built for the very petite Mayan people. And she's trying to wiggle her way out. And she's wearing white. Of course.

So did you guess which one is the true story? It was the chipped fingernail that gave it away, wasn't it? You all know I'm a biter. I don't have any freakin' fingernails.

As the Cap'n used to say:

"You can dress her up, but it doesn't matter what country you take her to, she's going to end up crawling around on the floor at some point."

Adios & Vaya Con Dios!

P.S. Sorry to disappoint all my pervert friends who thought this article was going to be about the other kind of commando. Maybe next week.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I've Got Your Back

Day 107

 I tumbled off my pink cloud today.  Sort of.  Remember Sandy, the dog I’m keeping for my friend, Greta (not her real name) who is recovering from a relapse?  Yesterday she dug a hole under my gate and managed to wiggle her way out, but I wasn’t too worried because I usually walk her on the beach without a leash and she runs off and won’t come back when I call her name but she eventually finds her way home and I know that Greta used to let her have free run at her place.  She has been fixed, thank God!

So this morning after our sprint on the beach, Sandy decided she wasn’t done with her morning exercise and when we returned home and I shut the gate behind us, she decided to wiggle out her new escape route again.  I called her name a couple of times but she didn’t come so I went about the business of fixing breakfast and sure enough when she smelled the bacon and eggs cooking she was right behind me in the kitchen.  I teased her a little bit and told her she had missed her desayuno of scrambled eggs but she and Stanley, the blind killer bichon with an abscessed tooth, both got their own bowls.  After breakfast I decided to water the plants and once more Sandy decided she’d had enough of the confines of our compound and once more I didn’t worry too much about it…until I heard that unmistakable squeal of tires and thud accompanied by a dog’s pain-filled yelps.

“Please oh please, God.  Let that be one of the hundreds of other dogs that are running loose in this village.”

But I knew it wasn’t.  I headed around the corner toward the highway and sure enough here came Sandy limping and yelping.  Shit!

I got her in the porch and I frantically called the vet that has been coming over to take care Stanley’s tooth.  Sandy limped into the flowerbed and collapsed.  She was breathing hard, but she didn’t seem to be hurt any place but her foot.  I picked her up to put her back in the porch where the vet could see to take care of her.  She yelped again in pain and I felt her teeth go through the tissues of my finger.  I knew she would never bite me on purpose, I knew she was in so much pain and shock that she was reacting out of her fear.  I’ve been there.

The vet arrived and tranquilized Sandy and inspected her.  She was pretty sure that it was just her foot that was injured but she would need to take her into Merida for x-rays.  She still had several dogs in her office so we decided to leave Sandy here at my house until she could take her.  She left and I had to call Greta.  We had just talked right before Sandy and I went for our walk on the beach.  Sandy was supposed to be going back to her mama tomorrow and Greta and I had made arrangements for me to drop her off at Greta’s new place.  Now this.

 I stumbled through the “I’ve got bad news but it’s not that bad of news…”  Greta seemed to take it okay and I didn’t hear any blame in her voice.

I hung up the phone and I broke down.  Maybe Greta didn’t blame me, but I sure blamed myself.  I should have been more careful.  I shouldn’t have let Sandy run free.  The cap’n had warned me that this exact thing would happen.  And I got that old familiar feeling.  Yep, you know the one I’m talking about.  I didn’t really feel the urge to drink but I recognized it as a feeling I would have tried to drink away in the past.  Then I got worried about Greta.

 I called her and said, “Now this is not something that is going to make either one of us start drinking, okay?” 

“Of course not,” she replied.

“Because it would have in the past, for me.”  I said.

“Yeah,” she replied, “It would have me, too.”

We assured each other that we were okay and I hung up the phone.

I had some friends over last night and the conversation turned to Greta.

“She’ll start drinking again.” one of my guests said.

“People change.” I argued.

“I guarantee it.” they insisted.  “She’s done it too many times before.”

“I wonder if they say the same thing about me?” I thought.

But they don’t know me.  And they don’t know my friend, Greta.  They don’t know how strong we are.

The vet just came back and took Sandy.  It’s been several hours since the accident and there are no signs of internal bleeding.  I am relieved but Stanley is still worried, he is wondering around looking for her and whining.  He crawled up and laid down beside her and never left her side all afternoon. (I have a pic but the camera transfer cord is in the capn’s computer bag with him back in CO.)  They haven’t been the best of friends since Sandy came to stay with us, more like wary cohabitants that give each other their “space”.  It reminds me of Greta and me, we weren’t close friends before but now, when the chips are down and everybody else is betting against us, we’ve got each other’s back. 

So today I’m just out there doing my best to place my bets on people and dogs that the odds are against, they always have the biggest payouts.

P.S. I will update you on Sandy.  And I want to thank you guys for the encouragement on my last blog.
P.P.S. Greta just called to check on Sandy, and to check on me.  "You're not drinking, are you?" she asked.  Do you know how good it felt to know that question was asked out of concern instead of derision?
"Of course not." I reassured her.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shining Examples


Imitation Is The Highest Form Of Flattery

Day 105

Hi gang!  I hope you had wonderful and peaceful holiday and if not, I hope this holiday will be starting point on the path to a place where  you will find peace.  It was another first for me, my first Christmas without alcohol, my first Christmas to be fully present to receive the presents the day would bring and to fully enjoy them.  I was blessed this Christmas, even if I was alone.  It was definitely peaceful and maybe that was what my sober soul needed.  It was also the first Christmas since my mother died that I haven’t cried.  I just now realized that.  Hmmm…I’ll have to ponder that and delve into its deeper meanings later because I already have this blog all planned out and for once I’m going to stick to my plan.

I am observing (as much as you can in the cyber world) one of my internet message board buddies going through that awkward time where you start to tell people that you are no longer drinking.  We’ve all gone through it, or we will go through it.  The making up of the excuses, “I’m on medication and I can’t drink with it (I can vouch for this one), or the disguise drinks like my sparkling cider (Hey, I like holding pretty stemware and I really like this stuf.f).  Why do we do it?  Why are we embarrassed to admit that we have a problem?  I guess maybe it’s part of the process, once we start telling other people, it’s no longer our own little secret.  We become accountable and people are watching us. It takes a lot of courage to put our naked shaky souls up on that rickety stage while people watch with gleeful anticipation for our downfall.  But not all of them are betting against us, some are sitting quietly watching, with their fingers crossed and their breaths caught in their throats.  They don’t see in us a tale of tragedy or shame instead they see in us a tribute of courage and strength.  And they wish they had the courage to climb up on that stage.  And they hope against all hope that we will make it because then maybe they will too.

My brother, Pat, climbed up on that stage almost 30 years ago.  I am so thankful that he did.  I don’t think he had anybody from our family to show him the way, I’m glad I had him.  I’ve been watching him for years, too afraid to climb up there with him and too stubborn, ashamed, stupid,(take your pick) …to ask for a hand up.  He did not know I was on this journey.  I wrote him yesterday to let him know. I had wanted to wait until I had a year, I guess so I could say, “Look at me, I did it all by myself, even though I know I didn’t.”  But yesterday my Co-writer gave me one of those nudges and said, “Write him.”  Of course, I argued, “It’s 103 Days, that’s not a significant number.” He just nudged me again and just like when I don’t want to write this blog, he tells me that I might have something to say that somebody needs to hear that day.”  Or maybe he thinks I need my big brother along for the rest of this ride.   So I emailed my brother and thanked him for leading the way.   He called me this morning but I missed his call, I think I heard tears in his voice.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to give well deserved applause to all of those shining examples that don’t know that we are watching them.  Now it’s our turn to take the stage.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Very Merry Christmas!



The war may not be over but it sure feels good to have the enemy on the retreat.  I hope all of you have a very joyous and peaceful Christmas.  Much love, Kary

Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Traditions


"When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it - but all that had gone before." Jacob Riis

Day 102

I’m in a piss poor mood this Christmas Eve morning and two bags of M&M’s haven’t helped a bit.  In fact I’ve gotten more po’d with every little M&M I’ve munched.  (I’ll be pissed off about the M&M’s themselves later when I have to squeeze into the dress I’m wearing to dinner).  So I apologize beforehand, but this is going to be a rant.  A rant about myself.

Yesterday I was spending the 94% percent of the day that I allot to fb, dutifully fulfilling my obligation.  I read a post from a girl I barely knew in high school who was responding to another girl I knew even less in high school.  She wrote that she was spending her first Christmas alone, away from her daughter and grandkids and she said that she had a revelation the night before that she was reaping what she had sowed.  It seems that  after a lifetime of painful Christmas’s she had let her alcoholic father spend Christmas’s alone in a nursing home because he didn’t fit into her “Norman Rockwell” (her words) Christmas and now she felt that she was being repaid for her lack of kindness toward her father.  I wrote back and said she had already paid her dues with the Christmas’s she had endured and that her now deceased father wouldn’t want her to suffer anymore because of him and that she had done what she needed to do to stop her own pain.  She wrote back and thanked me profusely.

I sat back for a moment with a puffed out chest,  thinking, “At least I never ruined any of my kids Christmas’s with a drunken tirade or made a drunken fool of myself.”  My superiority was very short-lived because I suddenly realized that I had been spared that particular offense because I had removed myself from my kids’ Christmas’s years ago.  If I think back hard enough I can remember the last one we spent together,  my youngest was a senior in High School and I remember the look that passed between him and my oldest when they noticed the glass of Jack Daniels and Diet Pepsi in my hand.  It was 11:00 am in the morning and I had already drank my celebratory bottle of Asti.  That was eleven years ago and I haven’t spent a Christmas with my kids since.  Since then I’ve spent my Christmas’s on a sailboat in the Bahama’s or the Virgin Islands, or in a crappy hotel while the cap’n worked, or down here in Mexico.  I told myself that it was my choice.  I told myself it was less stressful on the kids if they had one less parent to worry about in the quagmire that had become Christmas with my ex-husband and his now ex-wife and her blended family and then their own wives and their blended families.  I told myself we could celebrate Christmas another time, but we never did.  I told myself it didn’t matter, Christmas was just another day.  I told myself a whole shitload of lies and then I washed them down with Jack Daniels until I believed them.

So here it is Christmas Eve and I am alone down here in Mexico.  I don’t think I mentioned it before,  but the cap’n is NOB in CO working, so I am totally alone for the first time in my life and it is Christmas.  Oh, I have my friends and they are keeping me busy, actually too busy, but it’s not the same.  And I don’t even have my old amigo, Jack Daniels, to convince me that it is okay. It’s not.   I have had too many years of too many compromises in which my bargaining power itself was compromised by alcohol.  No mas. 

OMG! I just felt a transformation.  What was anger when I started to write this rant has transformed itself into determination.  Determination, what a wonderful old friend.  I thought it had abandoned me but it showed back up about 102 days ago and I’m determined to convince it to stay.  So suddenly I am determined to make this Christmas the advent of a new holiday tradition.  From now on I am determined to make my Christmas’s ones of my own determination.  I know that I can’t control all circumstances and that the Norman Rockwell Christmas is an unreachable aspiraton and to reach for the impossible only brings disillusion.  But here is what I am determined to do.  I am determined to be an active, fully present voice in the determination of how and where my holidays will be spent, if compromises are made they will be equal and not balanced by the ambivalence of alcohol.  I am thankful for the renewed and strengthening relationships I have with my children and I am determined to continue to build on that strength so that if I do find that we are apart at Christmas I will have the peace of knowing that they love me and that I have been the best mother/grandmother that it is within my power to be.  I am determined to stay sober and to feel the true tidings that the season brings whether they be of joy, or loss, or sadness and know that every feeling is necessary to make up this wondrous thing we call life.  I am determined not to compromise on these determinations.

It’s not a long Christmas wish list but it is huge in the scope of gifts that it will bring my way.  What more could I ask for?

So today I’m just out there asking Santa and my Co-Writer to fill my stocking with some extra determination and a few more of these Christmas transformations.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

100 Days!


Day 100!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s good to be back, I missed you guys.  It’s been a hectic couple of weeks but I won’t bore you with the details right now because, in case you didn’t hear, today is numero 100 for me.  The cap’n called this morning and told me he is proud of me, my son fb’d me last night and told me he is proud of me, my non-drinking friends told me they are proud of me, my drinking friends told me they are proud of me (and then they asked me if I would be their designated driver tonight.lol) and best of all, I’m proud of me!  What more can a girl ask for?

I sat on my beach steps this morning before the sun came up and pondered what changes these 100 days have brought me.  They may not be visible to the naked eye but in my mind’s eye they are colossal. Here’s just a few I came up with.

  I have had 100 days of waking up rested instead of drunk, hungover, vomiting, wore out in body and soul.  I have had 100 days of self-respect instead of shame and embarrassment.  I have had 100 days of being able to smile or laugh if warranted and a lot less crying.  I have had 100 days full of expectation instead of dread.  I have had 100 days of fully appreciating my blessings instead of wishing away the hours until I could have a drink or go to bed because I was so damn tired.  I have had 100 days of hope instead of despair.  I have had 100 days of certainty instead of that damn incessantly questioning confusion. Good riddance, to that.  I have had 100 nights of dreams instead of endless hours of twisting anguish and regret.  I have had 100 days and nights of peace.

Thank You God!

When I read back over this, it does sound like I’ve just recovered from a horrible disease.  I’m so thankful that I’m choosing to recover.  It maybe later than sooner, but better late than never.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to keep this string of good fortune going for another 100 days and another and another and another…

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Longer MIA

Day 99

Hey gang.  Just  quickie to reassure you that I haven't fallen into the ruts of that old wagon trail.  The toy drive is finished, we gave away 796 bags of toys last night and I am exhausted.  But happily and thankfully sober.  I promise to blog and figure out why I can't seem to comment on my own damn blog manana.  I will tell you it has been a wonderous week and I couldn't have done it if I wasn't sober.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Neighbor Kary May's Radio Show: The North Of The Border Brain Disorder


Some of our workers

A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours. ~John B. Priestly

Day 95

Welcome to another Act Like I'm Not A Drunk Saturday morning episode of Neighbor Kary May's Radio Show.  This week has been whacko!  I went to a party down the calle Wednesday night and remained sober, (yay!) and then went shopping the next day for 900 kids.  I was ready to shop 'til I dropped and I think at least two of the elves that had also been at the party the night before wanted to wallop me in my cheery little head.  Last night went out to dinner with a couple of friends, when they pulled up to my gate the husband asked me if I was still on the wagon.  I replied, "Yep!" and he threw me the keys.  Imagine that. Me the designated driver.  Today we will be bagging up the toys, I remember last year when we did this, I was one hungover elf.  Not today, what a difference a year makes.  So I'm on the run this morning but I wanted to take the time to drop in and say, "Hi!" Things will settle down after Tuesday when Santa hits town. 

I swiped a post from my other blog.  It was written after I returned to Colorado last year.  I hope nobody thinks it is derogatory, it is just the way things are down here.  I would have made the comment I made in the previous blog about Mexicans not getting in a hurry to any one of my Mexican friends down here and they would have just looked at me with pity.  They no comprendo gringos' angst when it comes to the concept of time.  It's one of those things we love about them and are envious of but it drives us freakin' loco!

Here's the blog:

I've been back in Colorado for a few days now and I'm having to re-learn everything.
"Now where do I keep the toaster and which drawer is the silverware drawer? " I can't even ask myself, "Now where would Gaby, (our girl Friday in Mexico) put this?

"Oh look! I have a dishwasher!" (Clapping hands excitedly).

I've finally remembered where the button is that rolls down the window in the car but the one thing I can't seem to retrain my brain to do is turn on the hot water in the kitchen. It should be easy. It's just one of those simple faucets with a handle that swivels to the right for cold water and, of course, swivels to the left for hot water. What's the problem? This is universal, isn't it? Umm…not necessarily. You see, after I had our plumber/electrician guy (they are often one and the same in Mexico) hook up our new kitchen faucet, I found that he had hooked them up the opposite way. If you swivel the faucet to the left you get cold water. If you swivel it to the right you also get cold water… for about twenty minutes at which point the water instantly turns boiling point hot for, again, about twenty minutes then it turns cold again because you have depleted the 5 gallon hot water tank. (For some reason our house has a bathtub you could almost swim laps in. I have no idea why. It would take me until the next Olympics to fill the thing.) If you are asking, why I didn't just call the plumber/electrician guy and have him come back and re-plumb the faucet correctly, you've never lived in Mexico.  Here is what would happen:

Monday morning:

Me: "Hola, Miguel. Como esta?"

Miguel: "Bien. Bien." (Miguel is thinking, "What does the gringa want now?")

Me: "Miguel, there seems to be a problema with the faucet. Could you come by sometime today and
look at it?"

Miguel: "Si. Si. (Miguel is thinking, "Posible, I will have time on Thursday.")

Me: "What time will you be here?"

Miguel: "9:00" (Miguel is thinking, "Why do they continue to ask me this stupid question?")

Me: "This morning?" (Disbelief)

Miguel: "Si. Si. " (Miguel is thinking, "These gringos, they will believe anything.)

Monday, 11:00 am

Me: "Hola Miguel. Donde esta?"

Miguel: "I am on my way. I will be there in 15 minutos." (Miguel is thinking, "Posible I will have time on Friday.)

Me: "Okay, because I have to be somewhere at 1:00 pm"

Miguel: "Si. Si." (Miguel is thinking, "So what?")

Monday, 3:00 pm:

Me: "Hola Miguel." (I'm not even going to ask.)

Miguel: "Lo siento, Senora. I will be there manana." (Miguel is thinking, "If she would have stopped calling me, I probably could have made it on Sabado.")

So instead of being held captive in my own home for a week, I decided that I would just wait until the next time I had to call "Miguel" for another more urgent problem and then I would corner him and not let him leave until he fixed my faucet. In the meantime I would just learn to use the faucet the way it was wired, I mean plumbed.

  Not!

 I have the scald marks on my hands to prove it.

I swear up until the minute I left, I continued to make the same mistake so why now that I am back in the states has my mind finally decided to rewire itself and start working the way I wanted it to in Mexico?
Oh, I get it.  My mind is waiting for manana.

"Ow!!! Damn that water's hot!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Response to Comment From My Green Chip Blog

Arrgh!  For some reason blogger will not recognize me when I try to comment, something went haywire when I bought this new computer.  I wanted to make sure I got this response on here because I didn't want any more misunderstandings about my view of the lovely people that I choose to live among down here in Mexico.  Someone read my blog and thought I was being derogatory when I made the comment about Mexicans not getting in a hurry unless they are driving. Sorry, but for the most part, I have found that to be true.  I don't think that is a bad thing.  Here is my response that I have been trying to post for the last hour.  A Mexican would not be near as frustrated as I, because they would realize it is "no importante."

"I'm sorry that last sentence offended you.  Funny, I don't find it insulting in any way.  We could all learn a lot from the Mexicans' calmer, "slower" and more deliberate attitude toward life, it's one of the reasons I live down here.  If it was my reference about their enthusiastic driving "velocidad" that did injury, you need to come clock the traffic on the highway between Merida and Progreso. I will see you over at WFS, it's a great place."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I've Got A Green Chip...And A Dog

"Every human being is the author of his own health or disease." Swami Sivananda Saraswati (September, 1887 - July, 1963)
Day 91

No, I didn’t go to an AA meeting.  That is still safely on my “yet” list.  Do you remember my elf friend I told you about, the one that was in detox and I was wondering whether I should reach out to her?  Well, she had a horrible accident when she got home and she was sent back to the hospital in an ambulance.  She is very lucky to be alive.  I emailed her and told her my story and just said I was there for her if she wanted to talk.  She emailed me back and said she was not offended at all that I emailed her and we started emailing back and forth.  Yesterday I went to visit her.  It was day 90 for me and since she isn’t getting around very well, she is on crutches, I took lunch and I bought a slice of cheesecake for us to share to celebrate my 90 days. She told me that at one time she had been sober for six years and then one small thing at work set her off and she’s been back on and off the roller coaster ever since.  She was doing well recently and catching the bus into Merida twice a week for meetings but then her sponsor moved back to Texas and she fell, both literally and figuratively. 

It is funny to think that we were walking along the same path without knowing it.  Now maybe we can walk together and nudge each other away from the potholes or reach out and grab for the other if one of us starts to fall.  And if we fall maybe we can help each other up.  I’ve got to remind myself not to run ahead as if I know the way, which I tend to do.  She has so much to teach me.  God brought her and I together in this strange place for a reason and we need each other to figure out why.

The new place where she is staying doesn’t allow dogs, so I said I would keep hers until she moves to a place that does or finds another home for her.  When I went to pick up Sandi, the dog,  yesterday morning my friend dug a green three month chip out of her pocket and gave it to me.  I promised I would give it back to her in a couple of months.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to hold on to my chip and train Sandi to be Stanley’s seeing-eye dog.  It’s not going very well, I just chased her across four lanes of traffic.  The only time Mexicans get in a hurry is when they are behind the wheel of a car.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

All Is Not Lost

And yet, I suppose you mourn the loss or the death of what you thought your life was, even if you find your life is better after.  You mourn the future that you thought you'd planned.
--Lynn Redgrave

Day 89

Hey gang!  A year ago having me MIA for a week from this blog would have fostered ominous foreboding but I am happy to report that all is well down SOB (South of the Border).  I feel like I hit the tarmac running and I just now have a chance to catch my breath.  I had planned to go to Merida this morning but the weather is not cooperating, there are very few days in the Yucatan when I wish I had a fireplace but today is one of those days. Blustery, and rainy and a chilly 71 degrees Fahrenheit.  Boy, I sure do acclimate quickly, I’m still sitting here in my shorts but I’m just about ready to go upstairs and pull on some sweats and socks just like everybody that lives down here full time has been wearing for a few days. 

This week has been a week of revelations and while I have all day to write about each and every one of them, I know you, my loyal readers, would take one look at the length of the blog and decide you had better things to do, like read War and Peace.  So for today, I’ll just tell you about yesterday.

I sent the cap’n off to the airport in Merida at 5:00 am yesterday morning.  I gave him a kiss, pushed him out the gate, waved him off and turned around and faced the coming day like a big birthday gift I had been waiting weeks to open.  You see, I can probably count on one hand the number of days, in my entire life, that I have had completely to myself.  To try and envision three whole weeks of such days is just too overwhelming, so, as I have become quite adept at doing, I’m taking it one day at a time.

First I piddled around the casa for a couple of hours, I spent some time contemplating the Christmas tree lights, I drank some tea, I visited the message boards, drank some more tea, looked at the lights some more and then I went outside to piddle around in the garden for a bit.  Saturday is the day that the “plant guy” comes to the square in our little village, and I decided I needed to replace some plants that hadn’t withstood my desertion of the last couple months, so around 9:30 am I drove down to the square to see what the “plant guy” had to offer.  He wasn’t there so I settled in at my favorite little cocina economica and had a couple of tacos arrecharra with salsa and crema.  Pretty soon I saw a battered old scraped up van chug around the corner.  The plant guy had arrived.  I waited as he unloaded and then he and I began our pantomime attempt at communication.  I ended up with 4 poinsettia’s, 1 eucalyptus, 1 bougainvillea, 1 oleander, 1 vine of some sort, 2 rose bushes, and 2 tiny cacti for 480 pesos (about $35 US).  My friend Shelli puttered up on her scooter and together we found the nerve to haggle the price and the plant guy knocked off another 10 pesos (73 cents). That should teach him to try and take advantage of this gringa.

I hurried home and unloaded the plants.  A new Italian restaurant in Progreso was donating the entire day’s profits to the toy drive and a couple of my elf buddies and I had volunteered to help them out.  I picked up my fellow elves and we headed over the bridge to Progreso but before we started our afternoon of chopping and peeling vegetables we stopped off at the Progreso Mercado and meandered among the produce and flower stalls.  Each of us bought a bunch of bright purple bachelor buttons with the intentions of harvesting their seeds to plant in our stingy flowerbeds, then we sniffed appreciatively at the romero (rosemary) plants and tried to figure out why none of us have been able to get one to survive down here in a climate in which it seems they should thrive.  With a “never say die” bravado I bought two more sacrificial offerings.

We spent the afternoon helping Progreso Pasta’s proprietors prepare for the special evening of Christmas music and the “impossible to find in the Yucatan” delicacy of filet mignon.  They had to ship the beef in from Monterrey, them Yucatecan cows ain’t got no meat on their bones.  Now if we could just get russet potatoes and good corn, we’d have all of the comfort food of home.  The rumor that Mayan corn is good is a myth, I don’t know what corn god they were praying to but it was the wrong one.  They must have been worshipping the god of corn not fit for human consumption.

And now for the most important part of the day.  I bet you thought I’d never get here.  This blog reminds of a story one of my guests’s was telling last night, he paused in the middle of it and said, “Now, to make a long story short.”  And I thought, “Too late for that.”

At 4:00 pm I said “Ciao!” and headed home with my containers of lasagna, ravioli, and alfredo and five pieces of Drunken Deutschman cake.  I had invited a couple of couples over to eat take out.  I iced down the beer and I swear I never even considered having one.  It didn’t even cross my mind.  As my friends drank their beer and wine throughout the evening, I sipped on my sparkling cider and sat back, happy to be a spectator and participant and not the one woman act I always felt driven to be when I was drinking.  None of my friends seemed to take notice of my not drinking, if they did, they didn’t comment on it and it sure didn’t seem to deter them from their drinking.  There did seem to be something missing (other than the cap’n) but I don’t know if anybody noticed it but me. There was the same jostling to be the first one to get a word in, there was the same amount of laughter and hilarity, but missing was that escalation into brash awkward drunkenness that seemed to permeate my parties of the past and when  my guests left to get in their cars or stroll down the calle to their casas they seemed to leave with a sense of comfortable well-being instead of the riotous, on edge, over the top, out of control (do I need to go on?)desperate hysteria I remember. I have full confidence that all awoke this morning with good memories of the evening.  Their heads might have ached a little but there was no pain of regret gnawing at their innards.  One more thing that I had mourned as lost when I gave up drinking, good times with good friends, is resurrected in a new and much improved form.

I cleaned up and went to bed with the same sense of well-being and it wasn’t until this morning that I realized that I didn’t even consider having a glass of wine to wind down, even though there was half of an open bottle left on the counter.

So to make a long story short, you don’t have to give up everything you love when you quit drinking, but you do have to give up the drinking.

So today I’m out there just doing my best to be more succinct and making the most of the 19 days, 8 hours, and 32 minutes of alone time I have left.

P.S.  A year ago, I would have allowed myself to have one or two celebratory glasses of wine when I arrived in Mexico and by this time a week later I would have been in the depths of withdrawal and a day like yesterday wouldn’t have been in the realm of possibility.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Love Quickies!

Hi guys,
Just a quickie to let you know I'm fine and dandy and sober, too.  Busy, busy week but I will try to blog tonight or tomorrow because there is so much to tell you.  I'm off to Merida, the big store mecca, this morning and I've got to make a shopping list.  The cap'n is headed back to the states to work for three weeks and I can't figure out how to grocery shop just for me.  What do I like to eat?  Manana!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dr. Dreadful's Miraculous Recovery Elixir

 

Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”

--C.S. Lewis

Day 81
I thought the birds deserved a special treat on this snowy morning so I drizzled some honey on the rolls I baked last night and I’m getting a giggle watching their feet stick to the plate.  Some days life is just a giggle.  I’ve been assigning myself the task of finding a miracle in every single day and my miracle yesterday was giggling back and forth on the phone with my grandson yesterday when we were discussing his Christmas list.  He wants a Dr. Dreadful Zombie Lab which is bad enough but what set us off giggling was the accessory toy, Dr. Dreadful’s Snot Shot and Wax Snax kit.  I’ve got to get those for him, it will drive his parents crazy.
What a miracle to be able to be silly and giggly without drinking.  I used to think only drunk Grandma could do that.
The other task I’ve assigned myself is a little more difficult, at least it is more difficult to discern.  I’ve set myself to creating a miracle every day.  Sometimes my miracles are planned and orchestrated but sometimes, like yesterday when I was tired and cranky, it’s kind of up to my miracles to start the creation process on their own and only when I glance back looking for them and they show themselves, am I able to imagine them into the miracles they could be.
Confused yet?
Let me try to explain.  This morning when I sat down to write my morning pages, I went in search of any trace of miracles I might have caused yesterday.  I thought about my congratulatory response to a friend of mine on the mmabser's message board who had announced her one year sobriety anniversary, but, in all actuality, my congratulations was just acknowledgement of the miracles that she has wrought in my and so many other’s recovery with her zany wit and no bullshit counsel.  You are a guitar destroying rock star, Lulu.
Then I thought about the 144 princess dolls, 50 sock monkeys and 50 pounds of Play-doh I packed for their trip south to be part of our little village’s toy drive.  Each one them a little miracle for a child whose parents won’t be able to afford anything else this year and I am so thankful to be a part of this that it too makes me feel as if I am on the receiving end of these tiny miracles that I am packing so carefully.
Then I thought about the request that I put on the toy drive facebook page asking for volunteer “elves” to help us with an upcoming fundraiser and I remembered when a woman named Star, (yes, that is her real name.  Kind of symbolic, huh?) asked me to help with the toy drive.  I was new to the expat community, and I so badly wanted to start anew, to become known for something other than being able to drink 20 sailors under the table, to be respected.  That extension of trust from Star, her willingness to see through my jolly drunk fa├žade, saved my life because the toy drive became one more thing, or 900 little things (kids) I needed to get sober for.
So maybe I didn’t start that miracle either but yesterday I passed it on.  Maybe someone will grab it and use it as a lifeline like I did.
 I wrote a letter to Star early this morning to thank her.  Maybe that will be her miracle for the day…or maybe she’ll think, “Old Kary must be hitting the bottle early this morning.” LOL
Get on out there now and find your miracle for today and start a few of your own.  If you keep yourself busy miracle making, you’ll be too busy to drink.
So today I’m just out there doing my best to dream up some more miracles and keep finding something giggle worthy. Maybe I'll order me the Dr. Dreadful Scabs and Guts Game. See! It works, just typing that made me giggle.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Resilience

"It's the constant and determined effort that breaks down all resistance, sweeps away all obstacles."
Overcoming Addiction Quote by Claude M. Bristol

Day 79

Okay, here’s my scenario.  I am supposed to be on a plane headed to Mexico bright and early Monday morning with 100+ pounds of toys for the kids in our little village.  I had a whole two weeks to get packed and get the house cleaned up for the winter, so of course me being me, I procrastinated until this week.  Then I decided I needed a new computer which entailed a trip to Denver and an overnight stay to get it all set up.  But that’s okay, I still had 5.5 days to pack and what idiot would dust her house before leaving it for six months? Then the cap’n got a call to work one day this week in a small town in the north part of the state which would also require one, maybe two, overnight stays and since we only have one car and I don’t relish being left up a mountain without transportation I would have to go with him.  He could have turned the work down but I have a new computer that has to be paid for.  I still had 3.5 days to pack. Plenty of time.  Then a blizzard decided to visit and it doesn’t look like I’m getting home until Saturday sometime, and we have to drive to Denver on Sunday because we fly out early Monday. 

You know what?  It will be okay.  There is always this mad dash when we are getting ready to head south for the winter.  No matter what happens, I know this year is going to be easier than ever before because I’m sober.  Would you like to hear about my experience last year at this time?  I didn’t blog about it because I was too ashamed but I can write about it now, even if it still turns my stomach and makes me want to cry.

Last year I decided to squeeze in one last visit with my precious grandson because I wouldn’t see him for 6 months.  My son, his dad, was stationed in Iraq and my daughter-in-law was at some sort of special training in CA and her stepfather was staying with my grandson while she was gone.  The capn and I drove up to see him for a couple of days.  I was lit when I got there.  I had been hungover when I got up that morning and I nursed Jack Daniels during the four hour drive to his house (the cap’n was driving).  But I was still functional, or so I thought.  We played cards all night, and I was hilarious and fun, or so I thought.  At about 3 am, I woke up and, of course, was sick.  I took Stanley, the blind killer bichon, out to the backyard to do his business while I knelt down on all fours behind their garage and puked my brains out.  I must have made some commotion because my daughter-in-law’s stepdad came to the back door to see what was going on.  I mumbled something incoherent as I pushed past him into the house.  The next morning my grandson had a soccer game and he was so proud to have me there, he’d turn around and wave at me in the stands about every 10 minutes and I’d try to smile and wave back.  I went down to the bathrooms twice to get sick.

The cap’n knew I was ruined and after the soccer game was over, we made some sorry excuse about why we had to leave suddenly.  I hope my grandson was too young to figure out the real reason why, but I know the step-granddad knew.  I was so ashamed and heartbroke over this (I still am), I swore I would never drink again.  But I did.

But I’m not drinking now.  And that’s what is important.  I made it on a plane south a few days after that visit.  I made it through a year of relapses, separated by longer and longer periods of sobriety.  I’ve had four visits with my grandson since then and I didn’t drink a drop.  I’ve made it through 79 consecutive days without alcohol. 

This ain’t that bad.  I’ll make it.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to persevere through rain, and snow, and dark of night and waiting for a break in the weather.