Tuesday, August 27, 2013

an alcoholic in his cups is an unlovely creature: on picking oneself up & dusting oneself off.

"you can't get a cat and expect it not to meow." - sherri

"An alcoholic in his cups is an unlovely creature. Our struggles with them are variously strenuous, comic, and tragic. One poor chap committed suicide in my home. He could not, or would not, see our way of life." - Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (italics mine)
i got to st clare's garden too late this evening, but tomorrow i'm gonna go call on sister b, septuagenarian sister of mercy, recovery maven, saver of lives, world traveler, athlete, brave, funny soul, compassionate beautiful lady, hero to so many....
today, tho i wanted to for one desperate minute, i again didn't drink alcohol. it's been 6,629 days!! the bulk of the reason i've not is cause of my mother & father, i think: i can't hurt them LIKE THAT ever again. people of strong faith, maybe, can get sober more readily, too, believing it's their god's purpose for them. they "move into the light." my faith in the beginning was in the sober group: how did all those rough-looking people not drink, &, in fact, look so happy? lately, the vestiges of my faith have waned & waned as i have disconnected from those brave rooms. still -- intellectually, & after that, the emotional flood of realization comes --  i know there is Something in the stars. i need more reminders; today i remembered i need more meetings & to recommit to the higher power of my understanding.
i'm sitting here at this table in crisis, & my heart hurts: how do people who've suffered but w/o ties to close loved ones or a faith stay sober? how do they do it???  why do i -- a person of relative privilege but at-times damning conscience -- sit here sober while so many are dying all around? why do some w/those advantages still drink & die from it, like dear stacy, never to be forgotten?
some people have that something: they are survivors. i think of the balloon of suffering referred to in frankl's "man's search for meaning": their balloon swells & swells & contains their misery until they find a solution to shrink it & find peace. the solution? again, i think love & faith, what frankl called a "why to live" or meaning to live... otherwise...
i know ones who have white-knuckled it, or they never get it & just die (examples  above), or worst of all, maybe, limp along for yrs & yrs, for the most part existing rather than living, maybe having quite the ball at times, being the life of the party, the guy/gal everyone wants to have & wants to have go down in flames so they can watch, but always alone in those dark moments, with never enough booze or drugs to keep the god feeling flowing. (i know that sentence was crappy & this entry is repetitive & poorly-written. i don't care!!) i know that the ones who never stop drinking alcoholically die before their time; i've seen it so, so much, especially when i lived in bakersfield. this disease is sad & fatal.
i don't wanna die that way!! i don't want you to die that way!!!!
when i was a newcomer, i got a card that read this: "granted that i must die someday, the question is, HOW SHALL I LIVE TODAY?" i think about that a lot & sometimes it keeps away the demons... yes,  another reason i had to get sober is i realized -- w/some terror, cause i saw i'd had a close call & saw what i'd been doing to myself, my health, not to mention all of those who loved me & whose hearts i was selfishly breaking, "i don't want to die!" i had thought i wanted to, & still i struggle w/suicidal ideation: it's my achilles heel, maybe. but that abiding love of & loyalty to family, the new-found desire to live as long a life as i can of dignity & maybe even some fun, the cornerstone of faith that i have: these all enable me to not have to drink today.
for me, to drink is to die, & again, i don't wanna die. not yet!!!
i spoke to my/our dear family this eve & all expressed regret & sadness & compassion for a dear one who went out (tho the person's drunken behavior -- selfish, ugly, vicious, cruelly jeering --  was far from dear. see quote above.) i was reminded that in 1995, had i not had my folks' support & felt loyalty to them, i, too would have  relapsed, like this person did. my folks told me that's probably more the norm: relapsing. hmm; maybe so... i know the relapser MUST NOT entertain shame, once the relapse has occurred. cast it aside so you may jump back on that train! the person who relapses has suffered enough, just enduring the long, torturously painful walk to the drink, then finally, inevitably , having the drink. now that it's done, it's time to, as dad said, "pick oneself up & brush oneself off!"
i was reminded today, alcoholics drink. addicts use. that they in some cases don't, there is the miracle!!! i am a frigging miracle!! i should be drunk, loaded, or suicidal... none of that's active right now!! thank you, great spirit/pumpkin/nature/g*d/greatness/grandfather/grandmothers/power of evolution!!
then i start thinking, sh*t: someone like me possibly might seem intimidating, not having drank for 18 yrs (tho i've been crazier than crazy plenty of times in "sobriety"). our loved one "might need to talk to others who've relapsed so they won't feel all alone or like something is seriously wrong with them," said my folks. man's wanted to experience bliss since 1st crushing grapes (or, w/o imbibing narcotic substance, while gazing at the night sky or a flower or while running, playing music, making art,  in the acts of love or service). it's so easy to grab that blissful "god" feeling from a bottle, pill, smoke, line, or, as i now know it's called, "issue." the condition is common, therefore, the misguided search for god/good/bliss, though to me it's maddening: isn't it illogical, anti-evolutionary, against the life force that humans continually should be drawn to substances lethal? my husband said it's about "thinning the herd." i refuse to believe that! maybe it's a test of some kind,  a way to point out to each of us false- versus real-god. i don't know!!
i do know anyone can get sober, if the body & mind haven't been ravaged beyond return & if a person believe & know in his/her (their) heart of hearts that they   MUST STOP because they don't want to die the sad, slow, painful death of an alcoholic -- a heartbreaking agony for all who love him/her & can only helplessly stand by & not much fun for the drunk, either!!
i'm so, so blessed right now that i stuck around long enough to learn that my own body can produce the god feeling. i need it; i crave it; without it, i don't feel like i'm really alive!!  to learn i can have that feeling w/o killing part of myself or scaring to death/making bitter/alienating those who really love me? wow. it makes me want to live this way yet another day, despite my moments of misgiving & despair. today, i know i hold the hope for any who might be suffering & want this solution!
i've taken for granted my continuous sobriety. i gotta treasure this fragile thing so i don't lose it!! yet, to those who have lost their sobriety, i say as long as you still breathe, there's room for you in the program of alcoholics anonymous, or whatever spiritual solution you seek, provided you want to stop. "the realm of the spirit is broad, all-inclusive," i think the book says.
yes, as long as there is breath, there is hope. so if you've relapsed but you live still, there is hope for you, if you want what we have.
i am extending to you my hand. please, i beg of you, please leave those deadly waters & climb aboard. i know it's a struggle to get onboard, but do it. the ship will sail in a rocky manner, & on deck life is deadly-serious, w/ever-threat of devastating storm, but it's also brave & joyous, filled w/the camaraderie of survivors rescued from a common peril. those on board are trustworthy; they will know your secrets & watch your back. yes, this ship will deliver you to a new land on solid ground, with tools that work, life-affirming spirit, & connection to your fellows -- much more satisfactory, certainly than the lonely death you faced in those murky, slippery waters -- as inviting as they may look in places... please, please, please, just don't die.


my cheap droid phone makes a camera sound when it "snaps" a photo. here are some from lately:
here, at scott abeyta's behest, i try to find out what's behind the "green door" in deadwood, SD, on recent band trip.

w/paul loranger, whom i know from when he played w/candye kane. we've shared 1000s of friends for decades, turns out!

bookends, mr smiley, & an interloper whom james considers to be one of the greatest harmonica players ever..
a great shot by casey reagan. people came out in droves to greet james.
getting ready to head out for south dakota, our friend snapped this pic & she & james are right: it's a great one!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


the hound has a blog!! http://thehoundblog.blogspot.com/ now i'm following it! i'm such a fan!!! on our honeymoon thru parts desolate, where not even paul harvey would've come in, were paul harvey still above the soil, we listened to old radiocasts of the hound (link at right someplace). i got to turn james on to the hound!! he's turned me on to so much great american music, so i was happy for this!!
gene taylor posted a jimmy donley song. some folks've thought my musical knowledge to be arcane or specialized, but it's really only pedestrian. for instance, i'd never heard of jimmy donley, so thank you, gene. one look at donley's mug, i had to listen. he sounded tortured, southern, plaintive, rough: like the silver fox, to my ears. his mug? part johnny cash, part ralph meeker, part... my husband. what a handsome devil, for sure, tough & wild, yet w/that polite thing some real men maintain somehow...
that led to a quick search for his bio, revealing tragic stuff. :( jimmy donley was tortured, his life a cautionary tale. read this, by blake butler -- what a writer! it's from http://www.oxfordamerican.org/articles/2011/dec/05/jimmy_donley/ oxford american describes itself as "the southern magazine of good writing"... fo sho!
"Most photographs I've seen of Jimmy Donley look like he's being stretched from the inside. He seems to have more teeth in his mouth than one should ever, crammed into a wide and rugged jaw, framed under eyes that somehow want to either pop out of their sockets or become swallowed in his head. He looks uncomfortable, is what I'm saying, to be captured in his body on film, or even more so, to be anywhere at all, though there is also something in that capture that suggests a tide rolled unrelenting, as if of the way he lived his life there could have never been a choice..."
am gonna tutor today & want to go to the gym. want to see "the butler." in memphis on our honeymoon, we saw a brick bldg near the larraine hotel/civil rights museum, near the arcade where elvis & rufus thomas & everyone used to dine & we did, too. the old sign painted on the bricks read "pullman hotel" -- where blacks working on the trains had to go to stay. i hope it was a nice place back then. probably it only was serviceable, but i hope the regulars had their thing down, keeping their dignity, their peace w/in the effed-up un-culture of jim crow...
well, that's it for now.
(hours later...)
we had a scare. james was commended by the jollyish doc for cessation of alcohol (nine months today. happy nine months, dear! in the ER! dang!) the other day, i had a scare & had to pack my wheezing self off to the ER, reminded not only do i still have asthma, i cannot smoke! argh! anyways, both scares this wk've put us back more than a few semollions, but they'll lead us toward better physical health, so ultimately, rationally, i only can be glad. my dear, dear friend had surgery last wk & i was so blown away when she called the health condition needing remedy, potentially a lulu, a "god shot." this was not vacuous positivism, not candidian, but life-affirming! my brave, beautiful friend! she's right: while we're here, what good does it do to be glum, cynical, & sad?? we might as well be pushing up daisies, being so... ok, off to the store to get supplies for my dear husband... happy 10 month anniversary to us tomorrow. we look forward then to meeting the keeper of the key, tho it may take us a bit to receive or comprehend that wondrous key...

Friday, August 16, 2013

"i don't need this stuff, and i don't need you!" (the jerk)

  • ...well, the latter part's not true, but we HAVE been talking about throwing stuff out. it's tricky when you like living out of a suitcase as well as collecting lots of stuff, two seemingly contradictory states, but then, i seem to live quite a lot in two different states (not texas & california, either)... (oh, heh, someone's humor is rubbing off on me.) :) this should be one of the worst days ever, but i feel strangely ok at this second. might be an advantage of having such a poor memory a lot of the time. situationally poor, that is. mama would say strategically poor. doctor might say  dissociated-poor. whatever it is, i feel ok, tired brain & body. we ended the eve w/a run thru an actual neighborhood in this town. nice to know there are neighborhoods here, not just luxury cars & entitled drivers & endless apartment complexes & surfer dudes & dudettes & tourists & expensive vacuous shopping malls. james has the killer pace of a future race-winner. mom & dad asked if his smoking interferes w/his running & i shrugged no. they both chuckled at this yet-another example of james's superior mutant physiology... i am slow & steady but strong, fueled by the rhythmically reassuring pleasure of feet against earth & my imagined connection to meso-american ancestors... i will never win a race except that i will finish, & in so doing, i win them all... the other night at harvelle's i kicked butt. it was a great feeling, knowing i had kicked butt. people tell me i'm talented. i know what i have, w/o arrogance. most of the time i don't feel like anything special except that i am jenny & in that, i am special, like every one of us is special in our distinct personhood, & at the same time universal. but wednesday at harvelle's, i kicked butt. i just love coming offstage wearing a sheen of well-earned happy sweat. james gave me the kindest compliment yet in support of my performance, in support of me as his wife. he went out there & kicked butt, even after he had an accident onstage & was injured. i noticed & came running out, but he stomped ahead. james is all-man & the show must go on, no matter what. he is a born performer, entertainer, "future movie star." that's enough of that for now.

    from the sages, some words about stuff:  
  • Navin: I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you. I don't need anything except this. [picks up an ashtray] And that's it and that's the only thing I need, is this. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that's all I need. And that's all I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one - I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that's all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair. [walking outside] And I don't need one other thing, except my dog. [dog growls] I don't need my dog.
  • - George Carlin: If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time. A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it... And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn't want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff... That's what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get...more stuff! Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore. Did you ever notice when you go to somebody else's house, you never quite feel a hundred percent at home? You know why? No room for your stuff. Somebody else's stuff is all over the place! And if you stay overnight, unexpectedly, they give you a little bedroom to sleep in. Bedroom they haven't used in about eleven years. Someone died in it, eleven years ago. And they haven't moved any of his stuff! Right next to the bed there's usually a dresser or a bureau of some kind, and there's NO ROOM for your stuff on it. Somebody else's sh*t is on the dresser. Have you noticed that their stuff is sh*t and your sh*t is stuff? God! And you say, "Get that sh*t offa there and let me put my stuff down!"
  • - today in my aimless wanderings, i spotted two tiles/trivets that looked like "my" franciscan apple dishes. i picked them up for $1 each & came home to look them up & found they are worth $40-50 each! i don't collect to invest, but still it felt nice to make this little score! today james came home w/a lovely necklace for me of purple-dyed fresh water pearls. i wear it now & am touched anew by his thoughtfulness. i am fortunate to receive such nice gifts & to have the time & resources to treasure hunt, but really, i am not in need of much more stuff... in fact,  it's kinda dumb how much i can love "stuff," like the little baby doll i purchased the other day in bakersfield... it's all ultimately effluvia, after all, some might say, mere  distractions from the tomb. as carlin implies, who needs any of it, truly? of course, there's the comfort element, as well as aesthetic, not to mention it's just fun to collect stuff... until it starts to drive you mad, confuse you, or you see the crew of "hoarders" walking up your front step & knocking at your door ... having written all that, i must contradict myself, as is my nature, anyways: if you find this, which i used to own, but lost in a box of pottery in a sad & distracted move four years ago, please contact me! on its back reads "los angeles potteries 650." yes, to sound like "the jerk," "this is all i need!"


Monday, August 12, 2013

the loneliness of the short-to-mid-distance runner

tonight i ran 2.5 miles through the dark wide hilly northeast bakersfield neighborhood of my youth. bakersfield is punishingly hot from may til october; nighttime, tho, can bring lovely relief, & the streets so quiet & still compared to southern california, the warm breeze & languid cricketsong of evening put me in a mood, remembering the many, many nights i've jogged in bakersfield, & elsewhere: in california, in other states, in other countries, as well as all the nights i didn't jog, all the nighttime memories & all the people & places that accompany these memories, & the mind just takes its own nighttime trip, doesn't it? is this what getting older brings, this ever-pronouncing lean into remembrance? i hope that i don't become a maudlin oldling fixated upon her past. on the other hand, that would be improvement upon the smarmy turd of my youth... nostalgia, longing, wistfulness, reminiscence, homesickness, from whatever it originates: the happy lonesome feelings that stir, of the moment, transience, mortality of oneself, one's loved ones, humankind, the possibility of universal transcendence & bliss or maybe nothingness, it whirls thru my head & catches in my throat & my heart soars & maybe i blubber a little or just shake it off... i jog til it all makes sense somehow, or endorphins take over & then i flat just don't care. this happens to you, too, right?
“the long-distance run... makes me think that every run... is a life- a little life, I know- but a life as full of misery and happiness and things happening as you can ever get really around yourself” (alan sillitoe)
good-night, fellow mortal.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood...

i knew everything in the known universe when i was young, yet never "got" mister rogers. he was just too kind for my cynical worthless smart a** to appreciate. plus he looked like a wimpier version of our dad, which at that time made me mad, for some reason. well, come to think of it, most everything made me mad back then; the world & its people flat just did not cooperate most all of the time... anyways, now i know mister fred rogers was next-to a saint, a worthy, worthy human who did so much to offer children & other homo sapiens dignity, education, comfort, safety: he & all like him are deserving only of the highest praise, & how blessed this world is that people like mister rogers exist to balance all the ones who, for whatever reason, are bad apples & eggs... anyways, i don't know why i started w/that. nice people: maybe that's it. was just watching pbs w/mama & they showed a father coaching his son's ball team, practicing in a fenced-in urban blacktopped yard someplace, & the dad's talking about teaching & modeling forgiveness. then they showed a man i've not thought of in some time, but used to teach about: his son tariq was shot dead by another teen & this father responded by quitting his high-power job & going to the father of his son's killer. these two fathers, one christian, one muslim, then started an organization, the forgiveness project, to "keep kids from killing other kids." here's a version of the article we used to read in class: http://theforgivenessproject.com/stories/azim-khamisa-ples-felix-usa/
the show progressed to scenes of viet nam vets returning to the far-off lands where under orders, & sometimes because of extreme grief & anger & stress, they'd committed acts unconscionable to civilians like me, & it showed these men, haunted all these years, collapsing in sobs before verdant fields & in asian graveyards, comforting one another. "do you want me to hide those cookies?" mama said, looking at me w/good-natured concern as i both blubbered & stuffed my face...  a comparative innocent like me, one who's been privileged to live a relatively easy & dignified life, in the moment only can overeat or cry to try to handle the tremendous emotion that wells up from mere dramatized accounts... why are some of us so fortunate & get to avoid the suffering that others' lives are marked by? i turned james on to viktor frankl's "man's search for meaning," & he seems to have absorbed its central msg better than i. "it's all relative," he says sagely, & i must shut up bc my husband has undergone worlds more suffering than have i, & therefore to blubber on would just dishonor someone whom i tremendously admire as not just a survivor, but a victor, a phoenix, even... i thought of a fellow i met while the band played in rapid city sd, a tall, grey, bearded biker w/sky-blue eyes shining from behind heavy glasses, wearing a shirt for his volunteer organization, www.guitarsforvets.org . he came up on break to enthuse about how much he & his wife loved the band, then happily said becoming involved in playing music for & with vets had changed his life; james trucked up, heartily slapped the guy on the back & declared, "let me know how i can be involved! i can help!" he walked off & james's & my friend noted james is always a great friend to veterans' groups, donating his music & heart w/o reservation... the man's wife, a tall, graying, girlish woman speaking flat friendly minnesotan, later came up & said her husband had "carried a heavy burden for 30 years" due to war & how involvement in guitars for vets had "lifted that burden." i agreed that the power of music is tremendous & healing for anyone, including those who have suffered, those w/heavy heart, the victimized, the wounded warrior. she then hugged me, saying, "god bless those of us who are married to vets," & isn't the universe & its people beautiful sometimes?...
on the trip to-from SD, i was reminded that this world is filled w/good people. james knows many. he is one. i am, too. may you be, as well. good night for now.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

bwahahahahahahahaha bwahahahahahahahaha

i can't believe we're actually going to do this... i'm looking fwd to it! my only other time in rapid city, i played tic-tac-toe w/a chicken, having found out about it in the new yorker. life's funny! the chicken beat me twice, then i bore down & started winning to preserve some modicum of dignity on behalf of humankind... the ride should be interesting; i like driving long, long distances, but haven't done it for at least a year, so i look forward to it. too, i hope to download my latest interest, duolingo, to my phone so i can practice italian, french, and spanish while i'm passengering. i hope to get to know everyone better, too. i've not gotten to travel w/a large group in many yrs. it's something i thought i'd dislike initially, but i really enjoy. i like people.... other than that, the latest is that the t-shirts arrived today & they look great. you kind of can see them here; the face bleaches out due to my phone camera being somewhat cheap. "we're gonna sell the sh*t out of those, baby," said james. "you'll be seeing those all over for years to come." i am a lucky human. may you be, as well.