Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I want so much to write something beautiful and profound on this the most beautiful and profound night of the year, but I am exhausted.  I have done nothing but cook and shop and play games and cook and shop and play games for the last 3 days

Three days ago I traveled 17 hours to get to my youngest son's house in Texas, but I have traveled so many years to get to where I am.

Where exactly is that?

It's a place where I can cook and shop and play games for 3 days straight.  I don't have to plan ahead and wean myself off alcohol for weeks ahead of time, I don't have to plan when and where and how much I'll drink. I don't have to allow for hangovers.  I don't have to worry about embarrassing myself or the ones I love, or causing them worry or anger.  It's a place where I feel healthy, in body and spirit.  It's a place where I am loved and love myself.

It's a place where I am sober.

And that is beautiful and profound.

Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year to Me and to You!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rainbows and Love

My conversation with my Co-Writer (God) on Friday afternoon:

Me: "Why?"

CW: "Because there is evil and pain in the world."

Me:  "How could you let children go through that?  How could you let them feel that much fear?"

CW:  "How could you ever believe I would?"

A few years ago a pastor from Nebraska, Todd Burpo, wrote about his four year old son, Colton's, account of his visit to heaven during surgery for a ruptured appendix.

Here are a few excerpts from the book, "Heaven Is For Real."

A year after Colton has recovered, the family is driving through the town where Colton was in the hospital.

"Do you remember the hospital, Colton?," his mother asked.

"Yes, Mommy, I remember," Colton replied, "That's where the angels sang to me."

After Colton's parents exchange looks of surprise and disbelief,

"What did they sing to you?"

"Well, they sang 'Jesus Loves Me' and 'Jesus Fought the Battle of Jericho," he said earnestly. "I asked them to sing 'We Will, We Will Rock You' but they wouldn't sing that."

"Colton, what did the angels look like?"

"Well, one of them looked like Grandpa Dennis, but it wasn't him, 'cause Grandpa Dennis has glasses."

Then he grew serious.  "Dad, Jesus had the angels sing to me because I was so scared.  They made me feel better."

"You mean Jesus was there?"

My little boy nodded as though reporting nothing more remarkable than seeing a ladybug in the front yard. "Yeah, Jesus was there."

"Well, where was Jesus?"

Colton looked me right in the eye.  "I was sitting in Jesus' lap."

Several days or weeks later:

"Hey, Dad, did you know Jesus has a horse?"

"A horse?"

"Yeah, a rainbow horse. I got to pet him.  There's lots of colors."

"Where are there lots of colors, Colton?"

"In heaven, Dad.  That where all the rainbow colors are."

"You were in heaven?" I managed to ask.

"Well, yeah, Dad," he said, as if that fact should have been perfectly obvious.

When Colton's parents asked Colton what Jesus looked like he gives a description that most of us are familiar with, a man with brown hair and a beard dressed in brilliant white robes with a purple sash with one emphasis:

"And his eyes...oh, Dad his eyes are so pretty!"

For years the Burpos showed Colton images of Jesus, trying to find the perfect match, but one after another, Colton pronounced as "not right."  Then one day Todd Burpo heard about a young girl named Akiane Kramarik.  Akiane, an art prodigy, had begun having visions of heaven at the age of four and her descriptions closely matched Coltons.

"All the colors were out of this world," she said describing heaven.  "There are hundreds of millions of more colors we don't know yet."

When describing Jesus, Akiane said:

"He's pure.  He's very masculine, really strong and big.  And his eyes are just beautiful."

The truly amazing aspect of this story was that Akiane's mother was an atheist and that God was never discussed in the home, the family did not watch TV and Akiane was homeschooled.  Akiane had painted a portrait of the Jesus she had seen.

When Todd Burpo showed his son Akiane's portrait he asked,

"What's wrong with this one, Colton?" I said again.

Utter silence.

I nudged him in the arm, "Colton?"

My seven year old turned to look at me and said, "Dad, that one's right."

There was one very specific message that Colton was emphatic about sharing and he repeated it to his parents many times until his father finally said, "Colton, we get it."  Here is what the young boy so earnestly told his parents, over and over again.

"Hey Dad, Jesus told me to tell you, He really loves the children."

"Remember, Jesus really loves the children."

"Hey, Daddy don't forget," he'd say, garbling the words through a mouthful of toothpaste foam, "Jesus said he really, really loves the children!"

For me to reconcile that message the the events that took place Friday morning, instead of the tragic, heartbreaking images my mind will form from the television and internet reports, I have to try to see twenty  beautiful angels, their wings wrapped closely around to shield the children in their arms, their heads bowed, cheek to cheek, their lips to each small ear, singing softly, as they wing their way to a land of rainbows and love.

That's what I have to believe.

It's the only thing that makes sense.

Of course, my conversation with my Co-Writer wasn't that brief on Friday;

Me:  "I hate him."

CW:  "He is my child, too.  Forgive him."

Me:  "I can't do that."

CW:  "You have to."

Me:  "How?"

CW:  "Love.  That is the answer to all your questions."

Thursday, December 13, 2012


In case you didn't notice, there was a new moon last night.  You probably didn't, I didn't until I went for my walk on the beach this morning and there was a lot more beach.  I don't keep track of tides anymore since I moved off the boat, I think I have a block or something about those years on the boat, the ones I remember anyway.  Those years on that boat accelerated and cemented my alcoholism, and the fact that the cap'n and I received an estimate yesterday that it was going to cost us another $25,000 dollars to get it marketable, again, is not making me any fonder of it.

But that is neither here nor there.

Back to the beach.

In addition to having a new moon low tide which gave me more beach to traverse, a norte' blew in last night which usually means great shells.  Now I swear I'm not a shell seeker, like the boat, it is another thing I'm done with.  I mean you can only do so much with seashells and when we bought this house it came with its own collection of bottles, and jars and bowls, and buckets full of shells because the previous owner couldn't think of anything else to do with them either. Plus I have a few Jack Daniels 1.75  bottles full of tiny shells that I rescued off the boat that are now residing in a storage shed in Colorado.

Convinced yet?  
Ok, one more.

Enough shells already, agreed? 

 Except... I'm still on a quest for one of those big honking shells about a meter long that my friends have and swear they've found on the same beach or that some fisherman has gifted them with one after he's become enamored with their stooped early morning  figures and ample derriers as they poke among the rocks.

So I set off in search of my own today.

I didn't find one.

But I did find something that I've found a few times on the various beaches I've combed and it never ceases to amaze me.

An unbroken light bulb.

Laying on the beach where a wave has tossed it, past the reefs and the ankle snapping rocky shore, as if a careful, steady hand has placed it there.

Safe at last.

My friends, that light bulb is you and me.  We've ridden the tumultuous wave and balanced precariously on its crest only to be pulled under and deluged time and again.  Rising and falling. Rising and falling.  Finally we've been cast onto the beach, crashing against the razor sharp reefs and jagged rocks, tumbling to rest on the soft sand.


But we can never forget how fragile we are.  Please stay safe, don't get too close, don't let the tides suck you back out into the maelstrom.

The next wave might shatter you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I know that if I took the time to scroll back through my blogs, I'd find at least one that was titled "Enough".  It's funny how "enough" has cloaked itself in new meaning.  Back then, "enough" wore a dark cape of sickness and despair and self-loathing.  "Hadn't I had enough?" "Enough, already!" "Enough, I can't take this anymore!"

And now?

I woke up at about 5:00 am this morning, my bed was warm and snuggly but I wanted to get up and watch the sun come up.  I rolled over and gave the cap'n a kiss on the shoulder, there was a little tussle because he wanted me to stay in bed and "snuggle". (Snuggle has a lot of different meanings, too.)  But I persisted and jumped out of bed, gathered up Mr. Stanley and headed down stairs.

The birds were sending forth the first timid notes of the morning as I let Stanley out to do his business, it was still a little dark so I plugged in the Christmas tree lights.  I love Christmas tree lights.  I grabbed my rosary and headed down the steps to the beach.

The sand is cold and wet between my toes and there is just a faint pink hue over the buildings of Yucalpeten as I head east.  I am alone, except for the pelicans and tiny sandpipers that dart back and forth in a zig-zag as the waters of El Golfo lap in and then recede.  The purple beads of my rosary catch the faint morning light as they sway from my hand.

My Sunday rosary is supposed to be one of gratitude but I always manage to insert a few pleas in amongst the "thank you's".  Thank you, but please, could I have a little more, a little less, something different?

When I came to the decade of Hail Mary's that I was offering up in thanksgiving for my sobriety, I said, "Thank you for my sobriety, without it I have nothing, please will you continue to allow me to see it as the gift that it is so that I will always treasure it, so that I won't throw it away."

My Co-writer just shook his head and spread his hands and said, "Isn't this enough?  What more do you want?"

And I thought about my warm bed, my skirmish with the cap'n amongst the soft sheets, Mr. Stan's eager to see me (even if he is blind) wiggly body, the twinkly Christmas lights, the birdsong, the pink morning beach, the pelican bobbing in the waves, the kiss of cool dawn sea breeze on my cheek and the warmth of the rising sun on my shoulders.

Yes, it is enough.

Thank you.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Broken Trust

I think I told you all about my trip to the fancy hacienda about a month ago, the one that ended with us having to pull the van over to let a woman get out and get sick after a few margaritas.  While I relished telling you her story, I kind of forgot to tell you about my own faux paux.  That's the truth, I really did forget.

But I remember now.   The whole group was sitting out on the back terrace with the owner, we had been told that we would have lunch at 11:30 but now it was almost 2:30 and we still hadn't eaten, and worse, there had been no water offered since we arrived there two hours earlier.  Walking around a bamboo hacienda under the Yucatecan sun is thirsty work and it was no wonder that when the group was finally served something to drink, they guzzled it down, and it's no wonder, with nothing to eat or drink since early that morning, that they caught quite a quick buzz.

Me, with my rumless punch in hand, did not suffer these consequences.  An older man was sitting next to me and after two margaritas he decided it was necessito that he find the bano.  To get there, he had to work his way through the narrow passage between the couch we were sitting on and the table that held a wine glass that was precariously positioned on the corner of the table under which lay a big black lab that the man also had to step over.  It was quite an obstacle course, and the older man was probably not all that steady on his feet when he wasn't drinking, after two killer margaritas he was positively wobbly. I held my breath as I watched him make his way past the wine glass.

Whew! He made it. He even bent down to scratch the dog's head.

Now it was my turn because my own rumless punches had found their way to my 50 year old bladder and I was a little afraid that one of the drunks might do something to make me giggle and we know what happens to 50 year old bladders when we giggle.  They don't hold.

I gingerly made my way down the narrow passage and over the dog, I thought I was in the clear, so I swung to the left in the direction of the banos.  Crash!  The damn wine glass crashes to the stone floor and breaks into a million little pieces (Thank you James Frey).

My damn bag caught it when I swung left.

I was so embarrassed, but the owner quickly reassured me that it happened all the time and not to worry and, hell, he owns a freakin' hacienda, he sure wasn't going to miss one little wine glass.  He told me to forget it and I did.

If I had been one of my fellow guests who had had a couple of magaritas, I'd still be carrying the memory of that broken glass with me and it's jagged little pieces would still be cutting me every time I thought about that trip. That trip would have become all about that broken wine glass.

But because I wasn't drinking, I could let it go.  It was an accident.

I only remembered that incident today because I broke something much more fragile, something irreplaceable.  I broke someone's trust.  Just like that broken wine glass, it was a total accident, a momentary lapse of thought.  Absence of thought.  I didn't take the care I should have, I didn't protect it as I should have.

My one small comfort is that I wasn't drinking.

This is the season when many relationships are fractured, some are destroyed.  All it takes is a careless word swung the wrong way.  We think that booze makes us braver, smarter, wittier but all it does is take away our control.  It causes lapses. Lapses of judgement.  Lapses of thought. Lapses of care. I'd like to take up SoberMomRock's call, Just Put Down The Glass, for this season, give yourself the peace of knowing that nothing or no one was broken or destroyed because you were drinking.