Friday, September 28, 2012

Tonight I'm Having Brussel Sprouts

Okay, I think I should get the award for blogger that spends the most time dicking around on the internet when she's supposed to be blogging.  No kidding, I sat down at 8:00 am this morning to write this blog and now it is 2:00 pm.  There's always one more thing I need to check, or voice my opinion about, or read about what somebody thought about my opinion and then the sun is shining so I better get a walk in before it clouds up and maybe I should have some lunch, this shirt is too scratchy, I should change it, I should light a candle and make it smell good in here, where's my gum? I wonder if anyone has responded to my post on fb yet, I'll just check it one more time.....

I am in awe of you bloggers that post everyday while you have real jobs and family to take care of, I don't know how you find the time, obviously a lot less dicking around than I do.

Anyway, on one of my "breaks" today I took Stanley, the blind killer bichon out for some exercise.  He's probably 18 years old and I think he needs to get out and use what he's got left so he doesn't lose it, even if he bumps into things and his back legs kind of go caddywompus on him these days.  I was talking about Stanley to some of my co-workers a couple of weeks ago and one of them (my ex-sister-in-law, if you can imagine) said, "If he's that bad off, why don't you just put him down?"  I spluttered and sputtered, hopefully some of it landed on her, and replied, "He's been blind so long, he doesn't even remember what it's like to see. Other than that he's fine."

Today, whilst dicking around, I was reading posts on the Moderation Management List and the topic came up again about what to do with all that time we used to fill with drinking and I was reminded of my conversation about Stanley, it's as if alcohol put a blindfold on us or those things that racehorses wear so that we can't see anything out there but the booze and after awhile we forget that there were other things out there.

Here is my reply to the post: (Wait a minute, I've got to go back to the list and get it and who knows what I'll find over there that demands my attention or opinion and there will probably be a little notification number on my fb tab and I'll have to go check who just won some stupid ass totally make believe prize in Slingo Slotfest because I keep getting notifications even though I've blocked all content from that user.)  BRB

Ah, here it is,

Oh Jann
This just says it all. It echoes a post that was on the mmabsers board a few days ago in which Pepper said she felt like a 6th grader again with a new found level of interest and joy. I replied, Enthusiasm, I missed you.
In the short term, filling those hours that we used to spend drinking seems impossible, we all refer to it as a void, but what we don't realize is that it's not the absence of drinking that creates that void, it was our drinking that created it, our drinking that took over all of that space that used to be filled with such worthwhile things.
So when you quit or slow down, your looking at this big hole that you have to fill, but if you just hang on, your heart and your brain starts to heal and they start reminding you of what you used to love to do, or they goad you into doing what you always wanted to do. If you let them, if you don't sit around just staring into that f'ing hole thinking the only thing that will fill it up is booze.
I replied on a blog with the same message about new found interests (we can't all be making this up), I said,
I want to be a ballerina, neurosurgeon, children's author who dabbles in watercolors and is a gourmet cook.

Why the heck not?

Ok, maybe I'll skip the ballerina gig, my knees are shot.
You just gotta start throwing some things into that hole.
All my best, Kary
So my hole is overflowing at the moment. (Yes, I know how that sounds, but it made me laugh so I'm keeping it.).  I know I've said it a million times, so this will be a million and one, I was such a sick, quivering hopeless blob a couple of years ago, that this life of mine is a miracle.  
For those of you that are reading that were smart enough to stop and do something about your drinking before you got to that point, I am forever in awe of you and so grateful on your behalf. 
For those of you that resemble that sick, hopeless, scared, lost blob (that's just a nice way of saying pile of shit) you don't have to feel that way anymore, you really don't.

Now about those Brussel Sprouts!  The cap'n hates them so I"m fixing them while he's gone (there are advantages to sleeping alone) and I've only had them maybe twice, so what's the best way to fix them?  I need suggestions, and please nothing creamed, Julia just about has me creamed out this week, and that says something coming from the daughter of a German housewife who didn't know how to cook without cream and butter.  I await your counsel.

Monday, September 24, 2012

September Collage

Sweet little rock 'n' roller, sweet little rock 'n' roller
Her daddy doesn't have to scold her
Her partner can't hardly hold her
Because she never gets any older
Sweet little rock 'n' roller
-------Sweet Little Rock'n'Roller: Rod Stewart

My last day of work was Friday.  I cried.  I've left that place a dozen times before and I've never cried.  My co-workers said they'd miss me....and they meant it.  None of them know what this summer has meant to me with all the shifting and changing reasons for me to be back there.  None of them, the ones that knew me before or the newbies, would not have recognized me a year ago.  My boss said, "Thank you." and I said, "No, thank you.  You'll never know how much I needed this."  He knows a little bit because I told him.  He's known me thirty years, he wouldn't have recognized me a year ago either.

I hit the mountains just as the sun was going down and home was still two hours away, the cap'n wanted me to get a hotel and wait until morning to make the twisty-scarey drive instead of doing it in the dark but I wanted to get home.  Our cabin is an old simple A-frame and our bedroom is in the loft. From our bed you can look out at the mountains and I was determined to wake up in my own bed and see my mountains first thing in the morning.  The cap'n conceded reluctantly, he knows how strong-willed I am.  That's new, that strong-will, well maybe not but it's been cowering in the back of the liquor cabinet for a few years.  Too many years.

I white knuckle it up the twisty-terrifying road at 40 mph, I can see the dark mountain looming over me, I keep my eyes glued to the white line on the side of the road, a deer stares at me from the side of the road, I hope he doesn't decide to play chicken and run out in front of me because I'll have heart attack out here in the middle of nowhere.  But hey, my BAC will be zero! 

The deer displayed uncommon good sense and stayed put on the side of the road until I made it past.  I made it home safe and sound.

I woke up in the morning as the sun was lighting up the aspens on my mountain.

Saturday was a glorious sunny day.  My poor flowerbeds bore the proof of my summer abandonment, my delphiniums and poppy's are stunted little scraggly things where they've even bothered to come up but the native bushes that the cap'n and I transplanted are bursting forth in their short-lived riotous fall colors and the unruly brave little pansies have sprouted up among the gravel in the driveway.  The cap' made fun of me at the beginning of the summer when I dug a few up and put them in my flower boxes and covered the soil with gravel to retain what scarce water they would get. They're thriving and he's incredulous.  Look who's laughing now, buddy.

Taking advantage of being apart from the cap'n and his somewhat limited movie interests this summer, I watched Julie and Julia one afternoon and, of course, had to order the cookbook, Mastering The Art Of French Cooking, and, of course, the total amount was 2 cents short of the amount needed to get free shipping so I ordered the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking also.  I made Braised Pork Chops with Tomatoes, Cream, and Porcini Mushrooms.       AAAAAMAZING!

The cap'n was getting a little tipsy and I said, "You might want to think about slowing down.  I only have three nights with you and I want to enjoy them."  He said, "Okay, I'll just top this off with soda.  And he did.  AAAAAMAZING!

Sunday I decided to hook my laptop up to our less than mediocre, down-right pitiful oxygen deprived internet up here and, of course, it didn't work.  Lots of fiddle-farting around on my own trying to fix it, a little bit of snarling at the cap'n when he timidly offers helpful suggestions, lots of time on hold to various techie support services, and finally after a little bit of helpful advice (remove the battery, turn off the modem and let the computer reset itself), it worked, in its mediocre, down-right pitiful oxygen deprived way.  I told the cap'n, "I need a drink.  I think this might have triggered a relapse." He said, "No, you don't."  I was joking, making light, that's what I do, that's a Hickey thing, to make light of the heavy stuff, to laugh at our weaknesses.  I am a stoic, smart-ass, always ready with the wise-crack out the side of my mouth, Hickey, even when I'm quaking in my boots.

In some random conversation we were having, I made the comment to the cap'n, "Nobody's perfect."
He looked at me and said, "You are."
My breath caught.  Once more, if even for just a moment, he thinks I'm perfect.  Once more.

Today the cap'n left for another two weeks of work and I'll be alone up here on the mountain, which means really alone.  I know one soul that I can call if I have a problem up here, this is my hermitage, my Walden Pond, and while I'm a little intimidated by all that alone time, I'm, at the same time, relishing it.  It's been a strange summer for the me and the cap'n, we've lived in each others' pockets for so long, but I think it's been for the good.

So there's a handful of my weekend memories, just like those handfuls of fall leaves we used to collect for collages when we were kids, some of them have been held onto too tightly and may be a little bruised, and some of the brittle edges may have crumbled but when you throw them all together it's a beautiful brilliant thing.

So now I'm sitting here in my cabin, there's a fire in the woodstove, a from-scratch Bolognese sauce is simmering on the stove and I'm blasting Rod Stewart. Not that old fart stuff he's been singing in the last few years, nope I'm belting out the good stuff, Young Turks, Maggie May, Down Town Train...

Time to get off my sweet little rock'n'roller ass and dance!

Update:  The cap'n just called me on his way to the airport and told me how proud he was of me, how wonderful it was not to have to worry about me 24/7.  He said, "You have no idea."

Oh, yes I do.

Sunday, September 16, 2012



I want to thank you guys for your extremely kind accolades on my making it one year in sobriety and I promise I will take the time to address each of them tomorrow but first I want to thank you for pulling me back from the cliff this weekend. 


As I said in my last post, the cap'n and I were meeting up for a romantic interlude (under the guise of a Stanley, the blind killer bichon, exchange) this weekend.  There is this sweet little mountain village in the Southeast corner of Colorado called Cuchara and it is the only advantage I can think of to living in the Southwest corner of the state of Kansas as opposed to the Northeast corner of Kansas, we are closer to Cuchara.  My parents used to take me there as a kid and back then it was one block long consisting of a general store, a cafe, and a smattering of rustic log cabins surrounding it, now it is still one block long with three cafe/bars, a couple of  stores, a hotel, lots of realty offices and quite a few swanky model log homes cluttering up the mountainside.

There is a bar there called "The Dog Bar" which allows dogs in, it even has AA meeting times posted for the dogs of Cuchara.  And yes, of course, I have been drunk there before, a smattering of times.  The only two things I remember about the last time was that I had an argument with a fellow bar patron about a Jerry Jeff song and the hellacious, hangover plagued, six hour drive home to Kansas the next day.  That must have been before I started drinking myself well in the mornings after.

None of this was on my mind as I was driving up Friday afternoon, I was too busy basking in the golden glow of the aspens and the accomplishment of this year, but as I drove closer to the cabin I felt a little pang when I remembered there wouldn't be a drink waiting for me at the end of the drive.

We went to the Dog Bar for a hamburger that evening and all the locals (I don't think there are any real locals in Cuchara, I don't think anyone is actually from there, I think they all wandered in from Kansas and Texas and some of them just refused to go home) were starting to get  their Friday night loud on.  The band was tuning their guitars and one leggy blue-jeaned, down-vested blonde chick at the bar kept "Woo-Hooing" every time someone strummed a chord. Man, that bitch got on my nerves, couldn't be because she reminded me of someone I used to be, could it?

The band didn't seem to be in a hurry to get through their warm-up and the cap'n and I were exhausted so we payed our tab and headed back to our little rental cabin.

The cabin was perfection.  Just a tiny little thing with an iron bed loaded down with blankets and flannel sheets and a big picture window looking over a meadow pond and the snow dusted peaks in the distance.  We put our stockinged feet up on the coffee table and counted the stars reflecting on the pond from the comfort of the couch in the front room.

The next day we drove the mountain roads, oohing and ahhing at the autumn colors, like everyone else and all the while I was thinking of other autumn roadtrips and missing that cold beer in my hand.  At about two o'clock in the afternoon the cap'n asked me where I wanted to go next and I told him I'd be happy to sit on the deck of the cabin with a good book so we headed back.

The sun was shining and the dusting of snow had already melted off the peaks, I settled in with my Kindle and the cap'n went into fix himself a drink.  I was hit with a tsunami of nostalgia.  All the warm sun-filled afternoons of sitting with drinks in our hands, happy to be alive and congratulating ourselves on our lot in life, came rushing back and I was filled with such longing. I was homesick for the little arguments over whose turn it was to fix drinks, the delight and promise of a freshly made drink in my hand.  All so much bullshit, I know, I know.  But still.

When the cap'n drove over to the office to settle up with the manager that hadn't been there when we pulled in the night before, I picked up his drink and I thought, "Just a sip."

And I took one.

And I put the glass down and picked up my Kindle.

Then I looked at his glass again and thought, "Maybe after a year, I've learned my lesson.  Surely now I would recognize if I was getting into trouble and I could stop."

And I picked up the glass and took another sip.

And I put the glass back down.

I looked over to where the capn's vehicle was still parked over at the office and the thoughts started running together in my head, "It probably wouldn't take much to get a little high, just a little buzz, I don't want to get drunk, I just want a little buzz, maybe one more sip would do it."

And I hurriedly picked up the glass and took another sip.

And I put the glass back down.

But I didn't feel a buzz so I reached for the glass again and I thought, "What can I think of that will make me put this glass down?"

And I thought of all the kind things you guys had said about me on my one year soberversary and the faith you have in me.

And I didn't take a sip.

And I put the glass down.

And I didn't pick it back up.

When I got home this afternoon, I checked my email (there had been no internet at the cabin) and there was an email from my brother who had found sobriety almost 30 years ago through AA  (Shining Examples) and he congratulated me on my year and once more hinted that I should try AA.

"You know, honey, you can't keep it if you don't give it away." he admonished.

I am so thankful that all of you gave it away to me this week.  I will do my utmost best to return the favor.  I know I am guilty of sometimes of reading other blogs and thinking I have nothing to say that hasn't been said or that I can't relate to what the writer has written or even in a pique of adolescent petulance thought, "This blogger never comments on my blog, I'm not going to comment on hers." but really just saying you have faith in the person to get through whatever issues they are dealing with and to stay sober makes such a difference.  It did for me. 

P.S. Now about those sips, I'm choosing to put the emphasis on the fact that I stopped rather then the fact that I started.  I'm not going to let those three little sips take anything away from what I have accomplished, instead I'm going to acknowledge them as reminders that the wolf is still at the door and he's going to keep huffing and puffing, trying to blow my house down, and I've got to keep building my house stronger by, yes, writing this blog, participating on the message boards, reading and commenting on other blogs and giving it away every chance I get.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

One Year

 (The gang from mmabsers will get this pic.  My apologies to shutterstock for stealing this but it was too perfect)

Days of Sobriety: 363, One Year.  Hallelujah! I want MORE!

This morning I'm reminded of the very first mornings I wrote this blog, I've been finding all kinds of distractions and things I "needed" to do before I sat down to type this out.  As usual, I've asked my Co-writer to chime in and let me know what he wants me to say but it seems he's letting me throw my own party today.

Why am I putting this off, why, of all mornings, is this so difficult? "(I know, I know", my six year old self is waving her hand in the back of the room, "Pick me! Pick me")

I'm putting this off because I know it is impossible to put into words what this year has meant to me.  But I'll try my best.

I am sitting here looking out the front door of this shitty little apartment at this rainy, blustery, almost fall day, I have a cup of hot tea at my elbow and I can smell it's cinnamon apple sweetness, and I am content.  Once more a warm cup of tea brings an appreciative smile to my face.  Once more a cold autumn day entices me with dreams of a long hot bath, a roast cooking in the oven, a soft throw a good book and socks on cold feet.  This is enough.  This is everything.  I couldn't ask for more.

In my quest of avoidance, I traipsed through a few of my favorite blogs,  Patty wrote about passing her nursing exams, Riversurfer wrote of being in love, and SoberMom wrote of paths taken and I read all of them with tears of many colors prickling behind my eyelids waiting to overflow as my heart is overflowing with such humble gratitude this morning.  Okay, a few of those tears couldn't wait any longer.  Once more my life is overflowing with the graceful loveliness of friendship and being cared for and being able to care for.  That is so much more than I could have dreamed of.  More than I thought I'd ever deserve again. Thank you guys, I wish I could fully express my gratitude but there are not enough words.

In another delay tactic this morning, I sorted through a couple of bags of goodies I have squirreled away for the grandkids and sat them out on the bed so I could mail them later.  I picked up a soft pink flannel blanket trimmed in wide satin ribbon with a little kitten and puppy embroidered in simple X's in one of the corners.  I made this blanket thirty-two years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest son, back then you didn't know what you were having until the baby arrived.  It wasn't until this year that I finally got a little girl to send it to, my granddaughter Atalie.  As I rubbed the satin ribbon against my cheek this morning, I was so relieved and proud to know that she would only have memories of a sober grandma.  That when I hug her and nuzzle my nose in her sweet, sweet neck, making her giggle, that I'll want to linger and hold on to that moment instead of being distracted wondering where my drink is, as I was with her big brother.  That someday she might be proud to have me at her wedding, that she will never have the worry that I might shame her.  Once more, I have faith in myself.  Once more, I am proud. Once more I have self-worth and that is priceless.

Later today I'll do some laundry and pack a bag for my trip to Colorado this weekend.  I'm not going home yet, the hospital has asked me to stay on for a couple more weeks (another little deposit into my self-worth account) so the cap'n and I are meeting up for another conjugal visit (waggly eyebrows) at a rustic little cabin by a lake.  I bought a few little enticements a few weeks ago that I'll throw in there. Once more the feel of something new and sexy sliding over my body makes me giddy.  ( Okay, I know the visuals of a 50 year old menopausal woman and her 64 year old love interest getting it on are probably making you of the younger crowd a little nauseous. Get over it.) I'm not sure what this summer apart has meant for the cap'n and me and what adjustments will have to be made when we are back to co-habitating, but I do know it has been a demonstration of his faith in me and his devotion to me and what is best for me.  He vehemently didn't want to live apart for three months but he supported me.  Which is what he has done throughout this tortuous journey, which is what he has always unflaggingly done, held me up.  Once more I feel worthy.  Once more I feel I am carrying my load in this marriage, instead of being carried.  Once more, he has is wife back.  And I am so fortunate.

So tomorrow starts another year.  Bring it on, once more I am ready.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


 “Now, we have inscribed a new memory alongside those others. It’s a memory of tragedy and shock, of loss and mourning. But not only of loss and mourning. It’s also a memory of bravery and self-sacrifice, and the love that lays down its life for a friend–even a friend whose name it never knew. “
- President George W. Bush, December 11, 2001
Day 363 of Sobriety
11 years ago today, I was on my sailboat at the Gangplank Marina in Washington, DC across the Potomac from the Pentagon. The cap'n and I were busy getting ready to catch a plane back to Kansas later that morning, the friend that was taking us to the airport knocked on our boat and said, "Are you guys watching the news? I don't think you guys are going anywhere today." We hurried and turned on the news and watched the second plane fly into the trade center, a few minutes later we heard a plane flying low over the marina, we rushed up to the cockpit and heard a loud explosion and watched a cloud of smoke rise across the Potomac. The Pentagon had been hit.
I spent the rest of the day getting drunk.
Where were you?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bone Yard

Days of Sobriety = 361

I still have those nights of digging up the bones of my matrimony to booze, as evidenced in my blog of a week ago, Once In A Blue Moon , but I never wake up in the morning wishing I'd drank the night before.

Last night I had my first drinking dream in a long time, I was with the cap'n and my boys on some tropical vacation, at one point in the dream I was sitting alone in a bar/restaurant and when I got up I realized I could barely walk.  Then I belatedly realized, that I had just drank one drink and I marveled at how quick and hard it hit me, and immediately all those old compensation methods kicked in, how to try to walk and talk so nobody would know that I'd been drinking, and I was already planning about how I was going to lie to you all about it. 

Of course, I was blessedly relieved when I woke up to find it was all a dream and I remembered that in the dream my boys had been much younger than they are now.  They had been teens and tweens, the same age they were when my drinking was escalating, so maybe that dream was a necessary visit to the Bone Yard.  A gentle reminder?

I'm on call this weekend, so even though I'm not scheduled to work I set the alarm for 6:00 am so I could jump out of bed and put on my make-up and curl my hair just in case I get called out and have to go to work where I will don a surgical cap and mask and cover it all up anyway.  Go figure.

But then I crawled back into bed with my laptop and started strolling through the blogs, what a pleasure it is to be able to do so at my leisure this Saturday morning instead of in a pre-dawn rush before I go to work or in the evening when I am a barely functioning, brain dead zombie.

My friend and mentor, cp, posted a poem this week about how we find our way through recovery on the bones of others.  So it seems  this morning, I've been strolling through yet another Bone Yard. The poem is from the book,  The Zen of Recovery.

The Bones of Others
Mel Ash

If you are here to read this,
think of those who aren't.
Pray for them:good thoughts for those
who lost their minds, love and years
to compulsion, addiction and fears.
Think of their great sacrifice.

We recover on the bones of others.
Wrap your loving thoughts around them:
alone no more.

If you are here and recovering
your original shining true self,
a moment of silence for those driven mad,
by the voices and screams of disease--
driven dreams. We walk from night to day
on a path made of the bones of others.
Hold them tightly in the warm arms of your spirit:
cold no more

If you are here and attaining freedom,
A thousand bows for those who didn't
reach this shore and drowned in a
sea of despair:suffering no more.

We walk in freedom past cages made
of the bones of others.
They hand us the keys of desperation.
Quench their burning thirst
with the tears of your soul.
Calm their cravings. Still their minds.
Grant them peace in the dark and
lonely places below and above the ground.
Fill the gaping holes left by their deaths
with the immensity of your love.

Remember them as you sleep;
remember them as you wake.
Only a thought is the difference
between you and the bones of others.

To all of those that have gone before me, all of those who walk along side of me, and all of those that will follow:  Thank You

P.S. Randy looks a lot finer here than he did in his recent mug shots.  Hey Randy, if you need a shoulder, give me a holler.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Yes, It Is!!

Day 357 of Sobriety

I was sitting out on the front porch of my shitty little apartment shooting the shit with my neighbor, Kyvan, this evening.  Kyvan is a driller in the oil field, and if you know much about oil field workers, you know that  about the closest most of them get to refinement is what happens to that stuff that they're drilling that big hole and losing a few fingers for..  I can say that with pride because my daddy spent 30+ years in the oil field and he always liked to make note of all the years he spent in the field and the fact that he retained all of his digits.

Kyvan is also a recovered alcoholic and drug addict with 12 years of sobriety under his belt, I know this because my friend/landlady told me that Kyvan's first day of sobriety was the day he moved in next door, which was 12 years ago.  I also know this because another friend told me that Kyvan helped her daughter get off the crack and booze.

Kyvan does not know I am an alcoholic.  Or he didn't, but when we were discussing our mutual acquaintance, the daughter of my friend, I thought it appropriate that I let him in on my little secret.

"You know," I said, "I'm an alcoholic, too."

 "It'll be a year within the next week," I added with what I thought was just the right amount of humility.

"Well," Kyvan replied thoughtfully, running his tongue under his bottom lip as if he was getting ready to let go with a big wad of chew (which he also gave up 12 years ago), "Ya gotta start somewhere."

I blinked at him dumbfounded for a minute, and then I burst out laughing.

Who was I to think that my peasly, measly, almost year would impress him?  I'm sure he's seen the likes of me come and go and come and go again.

And then I thought of how I view the people with all those years of saying, "No" under their belts and how it must be so blase for them now and how the struggle has got to be practically  non-existent for them.  And really, after all those years do they really deserve much attention?  Certainly not as much as I, who still thinks about drinking on a daily basis, and even today had an occasion to think, "I wish I could have a drink before I do this."

And then I thought of how I view the people who are just starting out, the ones that are getting their Day 1's, and Day 30's, and Day 100's under their belt and the pull of the booze is still the stronger opponent in their game of tug-of-war and I'm still not putting my bets on them because that ground under their feet is still to damn slippery.

And then I made myself remember how hard-won and amazing every one of my 357 days have been and how proud and thankful I was/am when I woke/wake up in the morning after making the choice not to drink the day before. 

And then I made myself look ahead and try to picture myself 10 or 20 years from now and I wonder if I will have let my sobriety become monotonous or if I will forget how hard I struggled and how much I valued my early sobriety. How will I keep myself from being tempted to relinquish this miracle?  Will all that time spent sober some how fool me, once again, into believing I am in control.

 I looked into Kyvan's 12 years sober eyes and I could see the gratitude and pride that I knew was mirrored in my own 357 days sober eyes.

That's when I realized that every day we stay sober is a Big Fucking Deal!