Friday, December 31, 2010

Impossible Expectations

Impossible expectations were a major theme in my life for a long time, predicated, I think, on impossible criticism for the world and those around me. 

End result: I was an asshole. 

The trick is to go forward with diminished expectations, or, in other words, to be motivated by something outside of criticism and/or immediate rewards.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What If You're Wrong? Who ever admits this?

Recurring dreams that I've killed someone.

At first I don't know what's happening.  I'm just running.  And the police are after me.  Sometimes the sirens blare, and lights pop behind me.  There are hurried forced steps.  And then I'm moving, breathing heavily.  It has happened in the woods, in an urban setting, some residential outpost.  One time I had the "Poeian"(?) realization that I had indeed killed someone, but because I'd lost my memory for the entire dream, I didn't know it until the cops arrested me and found the body . . . walled up in my basement behind the flat fieldstone kind of wall common on houses more than 60 years old or so.

It is an ominous dream.  One that always ended in exasperated breath and me "waking up" to the claim that I was a murderer, i.e. something I couldn't undo, couldn't take back.  And then I actually wake up, and the relief washes over me.  I vow to take life with more sincerity.  This is classicly short-term, though.  The trick to mastering alcohol is controlling short term desire, which is why it makes sense to have rules about behaviors, especially when you can justify indulging in the moment, even when, and this is the trick, the rule seems mindless.  The issue isn't with the rule's mindlessness, after all, it instead lies in the fact that you/I want to break the rule.

Living the most balanced life also leads to great insight, if you are calm enough to look around and not get sucked into your own complacency too much.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Passing the 6 Month Mark

Yeah, that was a thick black magic marker made line behind me, three dimensional and social networked even.  It loomed up out of the distance for so long that I wasn't sure it would happen.  Will a year feel the same way?  If it does, then I'm in it for the long haul. I'm clearer than I have in a long enough time to not recognize the current state of affairs in my head, and I'm glad about it.  I'm letting go of things that don't really matter, worrying less about keeping up appearances and generally finding out what I value.  I don't desire alcohol or feel that it will quench anxiety or depression, and I'm more able to see that the aspects to drinking I liked didn't really have to do with the drinking itself.  I'm more able, that is, to pull apart my social self from my drinking self, when before the two wore the same skin.  The questions have always been basic: what motivates me, what makes me intrigued?  The answers have always been overblown and complicated, highly stylized themselves and ineffably academic.  They've been everything I've been taught to think of as valuable and not enough of what I think is valuable. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It doesn't matter if you're right.

It only matters what the output of your disagreement is. I.e. forget about your ego for a minute, or for many minutes. Let it evaporate up and out into the world above you and merge in with the clouds.  Then look down at the ground to see if you've been stepping on anybody inadvertently.  At the end of the day, if you win the argument and you are right, what have you won?  At the end of the day, if you have a better outcome that increases average happiness between you and your X, well, it seems obvious that you've got something much more important.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Drinking for life.

Folks that might sink from the grey area of drinking a few beverages a day to straight out alcohol abuse later in life may receive stimulation from alcohol (instead of fatigue), and extended pleasure after consumption as compared to those that don't have as high a risk.  In short, booze gives you, problem drinker(s), or me, more of a high than it does for other people. 

Also, just like with smoking, drinking provides a reason for being, for going to seek companionship with other people, without showing yourself as weak or lonely.  "I'm here for a drink because the world out there is just too much, or got to me for whatever reasons.  Oh you have the same reasons? Well, aren't we on the same team for the evening."  This despite the fact that those same people, however deeply felt the connection, probably aren't willing to sacrifice too much of their freedom or money for your sake, only more of the experience that you bring by patronizing that bar or venue.

That's probably why it is hard to quit drinking, or quit smoking: until or unless the social costs of doing it outweigh the rewards, it is reinforced behavior that provides pleasure, even if it wreaks havoc physically or destroys other pillars of stable balanced life, like family.  As long as the companionship offered over beer is higher, it maintians itself.

That's also why, I think, everyone has a drinking story.  Fundamentally, because they could feel and be wanted, part of a group, and relatively safe in this sense.  Besides the weather, or pets, drinking stories are almost always "safe" conversation motivators outside of work, let's say, or where it may become embarrassing to reveal certain behaviors.  Another interesting thing about alcohol related stories is that they get competitive quickly.  My experience was so far out there that nothing else can compare as the underlying element.  And you know what, for potential or realized alcoholics, they're right.  They really were in a more pleasurable state than you were, and they'll be pretty fucking righteous about that.  In fact, boozers can even be fucking righteous about their sobriety.  Something I apologize for if I've reached that disgusting state at times.

Snow in NY

We're pretty much snowed in here.  Have a look out the bedroom window:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Note to Self: Religion and Evolution Are Cousins

I went to church today.  The lecture, in between chants, was about the need to recognize family.  I couldn't help but think that the intense primacy the pastor spoke of regarding the family as a unit is similar to the kind of emphasis evolution has given us regarding our families.  I also couldn't help but think about how easily such lectures, about the need to respect and listen to your family members, demarcate an us/them split, and even utilize that split rhetorically to back into defensive posturing about the family.  There's no need to use defensive statements if what you want to do is assert the power and magic of a good healthy family. 

There's also weird "call out" type prayers:

Praise Emily and Bill and Jason and Rolanda, and the people of this congregation, and their relatives, and this town, and this city and all people. 

Seems like we could cut it down to praising all people, right?  That might include Emily and Bill and Jason and Rolanda. 

Anyway, as the pastor lectured, I thought about his arguments, and remembered how kids who I knew in law school who also were highly religious in their upbringing, were fantastic law students.  Doctrines rule.  I felt like I was in some kind of bizarro law school, to be honest.  The funny thing, again, is that religion is very much a set of organizing principles for survival in the world.  The way to do it, what's most important, how to think, what to think when you have doubt about it all, and one central tenet: sin.

Going to church, as I've done a handful of times in the last year, is not as frightening or as potent as it used to be.  Now, I'm kind of a detached observer.  Here's a note for you before I go: religious people donate more money to charities both religious and secular than do non-religious people (self-identified_).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

What at first appears whole...

is really only tendrils, bits and fragments.  We add in the story line, provide for the reason, and insert the narrative, all as we try to talk about it and figure it out.  There are capital "T" truths about the physical world, and there are real consequences to actions.  I'm not sure it goes beyond that.

edit: this is a rambling post,.

When I was a kid, peering over the ledge of adult behavior, I often felt that those outside of my head were whole full beings with compelled actions and necessary motives.  Mostly that people know what they're doing and why they're doing it, and also that it is relatively well thought out.

Let's be fair though.  We're not all just scraping the barrel of existence with a rusted metal can, trying hard to show everyone how much we're suffering or bits and pieces of a self that never coalesces around something tangible.  But we are changing and morphing and there are simultaneously moving and stable parts to the thing we call the self.    Although some actions might be supported by vast reasoning systems, they may not be more correct than a gut reaction.  We don't know.  What we can do is measure reactions, to the extent we know how, across different contexts, and also measure how much energy we need to propel us forward into that action.  We can do a somewhat sophisticated cost-benefit analysis of actions in short.  We'd do well to take into account the time it took to take our actions into account as well.

Lately I've been really upset at some good things because I've got an irrational fear of death.  Like I won't get the chance to fully complete the thing I'm just now starting to get excited about because I have some progress, and that is so sad that I can potentially use it as an excuse.  If I was drinking I would easily do so.  For now, I'll say that drinking sure does take up a lot of time.  I don't often give myself the amount of time drinking gave me, when I was doing it, and in some ways it is a roundabout way to just take a load off.

Anyway, because time seems to be getting faster.  The problem is that really truly rewarding stuff can also be the same stuff that provides the texture of everyday life, or at least the substrate breaking out of the mundane boredom.  A lot depends on shifting perspective and values away from purely ego-centric goals.  Same thing goes when trying to get a handle on all those "adults" out there.  Those that have a sense of proportion don't end up doing stupid things, like putting themselves or their drinking in front of their family.  They don't follow up on something idealistic with more idealism.  Instead, they get to work and realize that important things take time. 

Projects take time.  They always will.  And when you obtain something and finish a project, the true joy will have been the process, and sharing that process with others who enjoy it too, for the sake of it.  That's why we'll start another project, be compelled to discover something more, whatever it is, and I hope that I'll get a chance to complete a few solid projects in my life so that I can feel good about my productivity levels and all of that, but I also hope that I have enough wherewithal to be working forward on something new when I do die. 

Why am I getting so deep into this manner of speaking?  Well, my drinking self, as a counterpoint, would ogle at the dreams and then coast by on easy accomplishment.  But there's something hollow about accomplishments when you haven't worked for them, even when they are things that evoke jealousy and provide money and prestige.  There's something substantial about figuring out what you want over time, and continually working toward it.  After being sober for six months, I'm beginning to see the landscape around me with farther ranging eyes, perhaps for the first time in my life.  It is fascinating out there.  I want to be around to check it out in some detail.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Baking not Drinking

I'm just going to show you the kind of baking goodness I've been up to recently.

Banana Bread and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Perspective comes from experience

What I'm saying, indirectly, is that we justify where we are in our lives in our outlook about the world, and boy, does that make talking about ostensibly neutral things personal.  That's why the weather becomes so inspiring on the elevator, or pets seem to have the magical glow of humans.

Why do we do it?

At times, straight up perseverance is a good trait.  Other times, though, you might bang your head against a wall and swear up and down that it is helping you and you might get angry with the people who point it out.

There's a lot of pressure to identify with a school of thought out there, i.e. a category, and anti-identification may prove the most pervasive type.

It is also tremendously hard to reveal your actual true thoughts to people that you don't feel completely safe with.

At times it may seem best to only tell people what they want to hear, or what you think they want to hear.  It may seem comforting. 

As easy as it may be to reverse the above statement, and try to stick to a goal of 100% honesty, it is probably harder to know where to actually draw the line.  Empathy doesn't necessarily spring from honesty all the time, and people need some empathy to feel comfortable talking in the first place.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Today the boredom ran wild

And I'll admit that I wanted a drink.  Shit, I wanted to go curl up with a bottle.  Instead I took a walk, and thought hard about bumming a cigarette, and then eventually got a cup of coffee.  Now I sit with a headache and I'm sober.  Bleh/

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Efficiency Against Unknowns: Love?

No matter how the past looked, we cannot know the future, even in the next second or millisecond. This is a fact that becomes occluded with experience, age, and what passes for wisdom.  Pattern recognition aids in predictive sagacity, there can be no doubt, and the ability to predict better than average may yield material wealth and longevity.  In our quest against the foreseeably unknown we do have tools.  One of them is the ability to trust someone else, or many others--coordination is the key to our having evolved into having such big brains, and not getting clobbered by larger foes long ago.  And it is coordination against foes that come into place when we have battles against other humans as well.  Thus, our ability to trust another person in the most fundamental way is paramount to our survival.   We try to tell people we trust this implicitly all the time, by agreeing with them about politics, or other people, for instance. We also tell them that we love them, which, if operationalized, would have to mean "I would give my life to your decision-making authority with little hesitation" wouldn't it?

Not Drinking On Christmas and New Year =

Carry a fake drink.  Trust me.

Drinking and Christmas

I don't know if this is the case for you, but Christmas generally brings out the worst behavior re: getting sloppy drunk and embarrassing oneself in front of one's family, then getting indignant and righteous about it before storming off in a huff, only to foster thinly veiled anger/anxiety about family for half the year, until things get calm enough to do it all over again.  This year, instead, I'll drink apple juice... don don don, because christmas happens to be my 6 month mark of sobriety, and I didn't even plan it that way. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Restraints

How many times have you been in a situation when you wanted to say something but didn't, only to find yourself expressing your outrage at a later point in time to a friend?  In a city that's supposed to be tough, I sure hear a lot of people on their cell phones expressing just this type of rage.  They're full of complaints about other people, co-workers, lovers, bosses, spouses, parents.  In fact, this communal complaining serves to begin new and solidify already existent relationships. 

"Can you believe what Joe did today?"  I'm so pissed at Joe and feel belittled by his action/expressed preference.
"Who could, he was a complete jerk!" You're right to be feeling what you feel, and are correctly assessing the situation that occurred.

Some people "don't deserve a response"--but why not?  Should our outrage be so obvious that we exclude the source from the feeling he/she induced if she/he fails to get it?  Wouldn't we be doing everyone a favor if we actually said what we felt?  Then the person might correct his/her behavior and we might feel like we mattered a little bit?

I guess when it comes down to it, the question is costs/benefit in the sense that we might not want to risk our necks if it means further exposure to undesired behavior by x person.  Especially if it confers social benefits later at a lunch/smoke break. We don't like to actually confront people's expressed beliefs that we happen to disagree with too much, no matter how tough we are.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sex and Evolutionary Psychology

For many years I didn't like this idea--i.e. that men and women were/are different. 

My sense of fairness and a bunch of feminist scholarship forced me to conclude that sexual behavior was purely learned.  I am not trying to take away from learned oppressive behavior with this post, so don't get me wrong.

What I'm saying, though, is that my previous assumptions were a bit naive.  Let's consider simple demand and supply around sexual reproduction, the primary driver of life.

Let's say that when men ejaculate, on average, there are 3 million sperm in their ejaculate. Let's say that men are "viable" from age 15 to age 55.  Let's also say that men can easily ejaculate once a day.  Wow, wait, I'm totally underestimating the amount of sperm out there.  Wiki says it can be up to 300 million sperm per.  Let's say an average of 100 million, to be safe.  And one orgasm/ejaculation per day, every day, for 40 years.  That's 365*40 = 14,600, and then 14,600 * 100,000,000 =


1,460,000,000,000 sperm.

Now, that's a LOT OF SPERM.  About a trillion and a half sperm for one male for one life.

Now, let's say the average female produces eggs from age 15 to 55 (a huge stretch), once a month.  That's 40*12 = 480.  

480 eggs.

Okay, so who's competing for whom here?  Women have a tremendous incentive to pick wisely.  They want men who can provide for their off spring, who will stay close (i.e. loyal), who will be dedicated, in short.  

Men, on the other hand, can go spraying all over town and then some, and never have to be that selective unless there's some disadvantage.  Is there?  Yes.  Eventually, they won't be that attractive to women--i.e. they won't be able to convince women that they can be dedicated, and therefore, have available mates.

That's not saying that all women think of all of their sex partners as life long partners, not wholly.  But it is a widely different calculus than men make most of the time.



The Right Thing.

I don't know if what I'm doing is the right thing to be doing. 

The eyes of my long deceased grandmother look back at me from a picture that fell off the wall as I wrote an email that impacted some of her legacy.  Made me pay attention.  They hold immense care.  Immense caring.  They love.  And they ask whether I know what I'm doing.  They look at me with acceptance and a polite question.  A knock on the door on a sunday afternoon, a gentle nod.  She knew what she cared about.  I'm scared that when I get what I really want, I'll realize a curse beyond my horizon line, and it will be far too late in the day to turn back home and decide that I didn't actually want to go on the trip I'd been preparing for over the last few years.  Then what will I do?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Life.

I'm not sure what to say; I feel kind of blank, kind of stuck.  At least today. I'm used to cultivating some excitement, and feel plain jane.  Maybe a new job?  Take a risk?  Not sure.  All of the activities I like take time.  A lot of time.  They don't guarantee financial pay out.  The don't guarantee anything, save the experience of doing them. Which itself is fine if we lived in an abstract fairy world.  Work as a principle is fine, is great, but the trick is trying to work hard to rearrange your goals/preferences so that you don't feel like a schmuck all day pushing someone else's agenda--i.e. believe in someone else's agenda enough to push it for them..  So much of my day is filled with the platter of administrative tang.  Makes me sick, and I have no right to complain, really.

Our lives are incredibly, microscopically, small.  We are born, live long enough to come to grips with the fact that we're aware of something; then we realize that what we've come to grips with is crumbling at the foundation, and that one eternal truth, one verifiable truth, is that the small fragment of happiness that have infiltrated the depths against impossible odds is highly fragmentary and temporal.  That we will no longer exist, and no longer matter.  It is a truth that we dislike even when we change during our lives from one perspective to another.  We don't like to change what we fundamentally believe in.  It matters too much.  Makes us feel completely wasted.  Only with viable alternatives will we seek to explore, to expose our underbellies--I should say, only with what we think are viable alternatives.  Even then, we dislike the idea that we've committed so much of our lives believing something only to move away from it. We dislike it so much because we know that we have limits to experience, real constraints, and the entirety of our being, from the elasticity in our skin to the sheen of our scalps, only matters because it matters to us.  That, when we stop caring about it, it stops mattering.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Love and Roses

Much is made of the possessory and exclusionary aspect of love.  Some men dote and dote on their women early on, only to abandon them in the private realm later, when there are kids, other people, and preparatory assignments that aren't as glamorous or dramatic as a good chase/be chased story, fill the air, and the excitement and self-centered nature of coitus fades.

The irony is that, I think, real love (or commitment, if you like) may begin to assert itself after the couple has gone through a few rough patches, and precisely when there are an overwhelming amount of things to do.

I never used to think this.  Now, I ask anyone who thinks of their relationship (and talks with me about it) what it is like in the morning, when they're both brushing their teeth,  and breakfast needs to be made.  However domestic and boring this may seem to those obsessed with the high glamor of 2am nights and secrecy and leather and stockings and sheer excitement, I'm convinced it is a more realistic indicator of future success as a couple.

Men who can be consistent, lack ego, are practical, and have moderate ambition, are best.  Drinking heavily, I'm convinced, is the direct consequence and/or result of inconsistency, impracticality, other-worldy ambition, and severe ego.

Of course, I wish I could practice what I preach, but I can't always do it!  Damnit.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tip for Sobriety

Did we do this one already: clean and do stuff that gets you out of your head?

Well, do it again.  A friendly reminder.  Especially when you don't want to do it--small accomplishments that are relatively easy can equal real joy.

Love and Evolutionary Psych

Is love the result of natural selection?--i.e. the outcome of successful mates who stay together because they and their kids tend to survive in higher numbers as compared to non-coupled (loving) pairs?    If the answer is yes, then our feelings around love (and commitment) are fully real, but entirely untrue--we don't love someone because of "who" they are, with regard to their principles, or how they treat other people, or how they might treat us, necessarily, or solely, but instead because those behaviors offer something else entirely: successful reproductive capacity.

Caveat: I don't know where I stand on this, but it is worth pursing a little bit.  The easiest rebuke, that love and human emotive potential cannot (or maybe just should not) be distilled down into a singular dimension, could be turned around: why can't the product of successful reproduction be myriad emotional commitments that are vital and, indeed, life sustaining (ahem, on average)?  Why couldn't the most important essence about our love for one another be grounded, again, on average, in reproductive fitness?  Fundamentally, what stops the core of our thinking about love, regardless of love's incarnations, or actual reproductive capacity once established, from being based on evolution?  It need not be a thin or manufactured reality.  If it is the case, it sure does change my thoughts about love, but won't, through making this link with current aspects of my relationships, make me more endearing.  A worthy point to keep in mind.

To spread this out a little more, consider the idea that we don't like to change our minds once we set them in place, and that outside information to the contrary makes many of us more rigid, not less, as we seek confirmation of our beliefs and dismiss perceived minutia.  Gets kind of scary, not being sure why I'm doing what I'm doing, especially when decision making capacity is highly valued.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Love and Religion and Drinking

One reason why religion is so polarizing is that we tend to be exposed to it when we are quite young, i.e. prior to forming any real distance from what will be our world view (leaving aside how much we can change our worldview).  It is also the case that our concepts are necessarily smaller, cramped if you will, when we are younger, though we believe them fully.

Think about how the concept of love operates when we are younger, for instance.  Of course you love your mom and dad and sister and brother.  But what does that say about your will to stay with them given the choice or capacity otherwise? 

So we have a limited idea of what it means to love as kids, but we also don't know it.  At some point we rebel against our parent's love (at least in the US), and start to think of them as smaller than they once were. But we dont' necessarily think of love as smaller than it once was.  In fact, we actively seek new ideals (in other people) to instill our love.   This can be dangerous of course, because it lends a bit of falsity to our relations with others. But there are always other and more people out there to try your perfect notion of love on--perhaps.

Love is an interesting example because most of us believe in it platonically and throughout our lives--it exists at some pure level that is untouched and it continues to be possible to attain. People that can love one another over time, I think, realize that it encompasses much more than a stylized glance every now and then, and that their ideal notions no longer maintain themselves in the act of loving.

The act of love is the act of accepting imperfection, of walking away from  previously comfortable emotional attachments.

Love that has been stymied can find an outlet in drink.

More on religion soon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Not Reacting/ Reacting

Try not to react:

"You are racist."

"You hate people/are selfish."

"You whine too much."

"You think that people are generally stupid, but that you are exceptional."

"Building a mosque near ground zero is important."

"You can never be more than a hick."

You'll always be [insert negative character trait].


In what way does asking or asserting these statements ever serve to start a conversation?  Assuming the purpose is not to start a conversation, but only to show someone you disagree with them/their viewpoint, what is the point in doing so?  What does it provide the producer of such statements?  Why does it matter?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

AA article in Harper's Magazine

As the cover story.  Go check it out if you haven't already.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

So you think you've got it under control?

Why drink at all, then, if you're so sure? 

When your child celebrates his 11th birthday.  And the cops look at you under darkened eyes.  And your mom asks you whether everything is okay.  And your hands shake if you don't drink before 3pm on saturday.  And your wife stares at you, tear driven mascara covering her words.  Molten bubbles that barely make it to the surface, they tell you something you're hiding from: that you're responsible for her pain. And you cringe under her stare, and lack the courage to elongate your gaze to match hers, and she stutters under the lightness of the man that you've developed into.

And you tell yourself that the only reality that matters is your reality, what you tell yourself, and you find it comforting, and distancing, and you don't have to listen to them all if you can just cradle against it and hold it, and everything can be, at least for that moment, how you want it.  And you know who your friends are.  And the enemies too.  And you're smarter than them.  And you have the success, and the scars, to show your spirit to anyone tough enough to look.  Never mind that your old man kicked out early, or that your child spends his nights in the glow of electronics, his puberty experienced in pixels.  It is part of the times, you'll say, and you'll be right, because you usually are right, after all.  And your wife will calm down and she'll stay with you.  And you only hit her that once, one mishap, one mistake that is not part of your character, your energy, because you are fundamentally good no matter how many fundamentally bad people you can think of.  Just one drink.  That's all.  Just one drink and you can think about everything else tomorrow.

I can't win this game

And winning would be a confusion of the game's purpose anyway.  So I'm going to try to let go of the ideal of winning, try to find a way toward eternal play with consequences that are not hugely dire.

Where the stakes are not life or death all of the time.

Where the stakes are not ultimate happiness or ultimate failure.

Where the stakes are not on the line.

There will always be moments of indecision, granted, and there will always be consequences to actions.  We know that much.  But knowing this doesn't mean that we can adequately ascertain the fit of our actions to consequences, that we can in fact control consequences with some degree of proportionality, even, and especially when we feel that "everything" is at stake.

It rarely actually is.   

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Green Tea

So, green tea.  You know the drill, right? Excellent health benefits, right?  Well, it doesn't matter. 

What matters is that you can drink it all day without getting the kind of caffeine hangover that comes from coffee (and even regular black tea).   If you're highly compulsive and need to drink something, consider this substitute.

Okay?

Consider, however, that, after getting a free starbucks card for attending a "webinar" as a follow up, the possibility that ordering a large tea will induce urination, the urge at least, and that the bathroom may thusly be closed for repair at such a point.  However much blogging may help me out, it doesn't help this.  So, have a good night.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

His breath

His breath was full of whiskey; booze, liquid fucking gold, my man, so partner up and grab a glass; this wall of insomnia is about to collapse in a wave of distilled propinquity, all the way in real close, cousin-like, telling you about his daughter, about the way she's textured her future out in courdory waves of fine granular successive successes, and his eyes roam, and his constitution blinks, winks maybe, depending on how much you want to read into it, and he can talk about anything you might suggest, but only when you overtly suggest it, like verbally.  Otherwise he remains in the throws of whatever subjective binge he's on, fracturing the rocks in gaseous heaps of nonsense until everything and nothing is left to say.

And his tie is red and his suit is navy and his smile, for all that is left to desire, is genuine, because that's just who he is. Out there. Living. Splurging.  Socializing.  Drinking that liquid heat.  So syrupy that it glides out of his mouth in a fine mist to coat my psyche as he speaks.  I inhale it unwillingly, repulsed and famished.  The bartender looks at me, nods.  The bar is open.  Free.  Below, the christmas tree and ice skaters and tourists glide soundlessly.  Enjoy. Endeavor.  Do something high impact.  Gain a contact.  Gain a contract.  Sign something.  Get somewhere.  You've gotta live, gotta have something to show for it.  Without it what are you, what have you when you're experience has been thinned down, parred into the sliver of his breath.

Stress

Stressful day here at work.  There are a lot of updates to be made, and I have to manage five different databases of the same information -i.e. this is ridiculous.  Luckily there's an update to the software planned, and it should happen shortly, which is fantastic (after testing is completed!).  For now though, it is stressful.  Buzzword.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Scar Tissue

I've got a scar across my neck from recent surgery.  It isn't too extreme, but it is noticed by people.  I had lunch with a guy the other day, and he looked over at me after I undid my jacket, then said: "thyroid?"  He proceeded to lower his shirt to show me a very similar scar.  I quickly clarified that my surgery involved the parathyroid, but I'll admit that the scar looked very very close.  Thing was, his scar had been there for over 2 years.

Which made me start think about getting rid of this scar.  So I immediately bought some vitamin E oil.  And today I went to get some of that special scar treatment cream.  Except it was 20 dollars, so I bought the generic brand instead. Do scars "naturally" go away or is there something I can do about this??

And here we sit, editing.

Flanked on all sides.  Semicolon; Period.  Space.  Insert cuppa coffee number three.  Insert eye twitch.  Delete manufactured presence.  Delete systematic appraisal.  Insert: Glossy textured appeals, common touch.  Delete originality.  Delete possibility. Maintain: distinctions between us and them, between me and them.  Maintain: the ideal that compromise is pejorative. Be true to your half-formed beliefs. Sink feet deeper in mud.  Rotten socks are good for the soul.  Go on believing: in yourself.  Insert in garbage disposal: past mistakes, hit switch.  Watch: lights dim.  Ponder: the way the cool air from the fridge spills onto your feet when midnight snacking, the light touch of a lover's eyes on your neck.  Perambulate toward a statue of religiosity, ancient propensities. Fix your eyes: in hazy distance to avoid focusing in on the froth; concentrate on: negative space, flinched out via reactions, inaction.  Pretend: you're not part of it too. Go on.  Feeling rebellious.  Insert: headphones.

I can still see you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Leafy

Today was a perfect autumnal slide into impending wintry excess.  Dogs barked out melodious herding calls, and birds answered back in formation inducing migratory premonitions.  Even the people were largely kind enough for a few words before moving on toward their destinations.  As I sit drinking my sizzling and refreshing non-alcoholic limonata, and pondering the mellifluous notes of a piano recording old but far from stale, I'll just say a silent toast to the capacity for harmonious intermingling and the synergistic possibilities of tomorrow. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wlasnie

Czasami, potrzebuje napisac po polsku nawet kiedy nie znam wszystko caly jesyk jeszcze.  Okay?  Kto bedzie to cytac zapytasz? Nie wiem.  Moze moja kolega od Polska i moja przyjaciel tez.  To jest dwie ludzi.  Teraz musze pije kawa, nigdy piwa.  Rozumiesz?  Do widzenia dla teraz.

Driven By Sex?

Tell me it ain't so, batman, that we're motivated only by our desires to have sex. 

It ain't so robin.  We're also driven by our desires of safety and peace.

Yeah, maybe you're right. But what if we want safety and peace just so that we survive, so that we have a safe place for our offspring?

Now your confusing two issues Robin.  Sex and sexual reproduction are distinct and separate.  I mean, look at me.

Oh Batman, I suppose that's right.  Maybe.  Then again, how would we know whether it was right or not?  Maybe when we act for sex, the sexual act, we're also, and always, acting in our reproductive capacity, one that links our concerns for general concepts like justice with our own ability to live and procreate.

Robin, you sly dog you.  Get on your knees and bark like the dog you are.

Ruff batman, ruff ruff.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Perfectionism

I could get up and fight back, or I could lay on the floor and watch the implosion of a man enter my sphere and take over.  I wouldn't have a lot of time, either, because he was making his way toward me, and, even if his intent was to go after the tidbit memories of Christmas on the mantle, his real objective was to go after me, to annihilate us.  I had one edge.  I knew that he wanted to do his deeds in secret, no matter how loud and angry he exhibited his immaturity to me with the flailing of arms and devices and punches.  I knew that it didn't matter what his girth moved, where his pelvis thrust, because it couldn't change the reality of the situation, and that was very basic: he couldn't cope.  I was successful for the first time in a long time, and definitely for the first time since we were together, and it was decidedly more recognized than he had imaged it could be.  The space existed where he wasn't the best.

I got up then, and moved toward the front door.  It was 22 degrees outside, and the crust of the snow would cut against my slippered by unsheathed ankles.  It didn't matter.  What mattered was that I break the consolidation that kept our reality between the two of us; what mattered was that I find a razor blade to slice open this industrial strength plastic of our mutual delusion.  His ego would wilt in the sunlight and fresh air, I was sure. Problem was, I was wrong.

Flock

He wrapped the thickness that was his inarticulate hand around the ceramic.  I could hear the friction between his fingers, his strength and aggression seething, his jaw working back and forth to grind out a rhythm that was achingly familiar.  When we had honeymooned at Niagara Falls in 1992 we took the boat ride--you know, the one that putts in under the falls--yeah, we were both just soaked afterward, and we laid down in the shimmering sun, our backs full of dried grass, drinking down chocolate milks and laughing at the tourists.  I remember the way his saliva looked on his white teeth, how soft his lips were then.  It is so close to my mind's eye that the smudge of a human in the kitchen hovers for a minute, a mirage.  That's before he threw the cup at me.  A white bullet smeared out across the room, me, sailing onto the floor, particles fragmented around the fireplace.  I could see a sliver of the diagram on one of them that I picked up slowly.  Outside, and I'll swear to this, were four grizzly bears, all fangs and claws, getting in one of the biggest bar room fights you can imagine.  Pool sticks cracking, queue balls sailing.  I had a decision to make.

Perfectionism

There are some advantages and disadvantages here, coming from a book about anxiety I've been reading (for various reasons).

Advantages:  I'll work hard to impress people; people will respect and admire me; I won't have to share my feelings; I can hide my feelings and present a polished image to the world; I can feel like a victim and secretly resent people for being so judgmental and not accepting me the way I am; I"ll appear calm and in control;

Disadvantages:  I'll feel like I have to be perfect to be loved; I won't be open to other people; I may get defensive whenever someone criticized me, because I'll feel like I have to be right.; People won't get to know the real me; I won't achieve the kind of intimacy that I want; It takes a lot of time to be so perfect;  people like me better when i'm not trying so hard

more?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Flames

The stereo clattered across my visual plane, getting caught only mid-flight by speaker wires vestigially attached to the rear.  He was going to leave soon, I hoped. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine him gone, tried to imagine myself in the apartment alone, some soft piano music, a cup of coffee, the sun light streaming through the bay window we had so easily imagined for two.  I had to vanquish those thoughts from my mind now, though, as much as I used to rely on them to survive, those piercingly idealistic meanderings.  I had to face a few facts, all of which were related to my survival.

The cd player came next, soaring in silence for a few seconds, before joining the receiver.  I shuddered and covered my eyes with my hands.  My palms were cold and the skin rough, my heart rate as if I'd been running in brisk weather.  He stormed to the kitchen, and the door of the dishwasher came down and bounced back up as he retrieved his precious mug. Why couldn't I have just left it alone?  How could I have been so nonchalant? 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Alcohol Screening

This is a handy little website to see how your drinking compares with the rest of the population--only 2 questions or so to answer.

Numerous Occassions to Lift Your Glass

These articles just make me itch all fucking over.  

Thoughts that don't apply to me.

I've minimized the extent to which certain events have impacted me (like my father's death, which, even written here as an aside, is odd: I don't own it, after all, so how can i so casually write it.).  Insert piece of dark chocolate into mouth.   Refresh browser. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting Sober

After over five months, I'm finally starting to get sober.  I think it has taken this long for my brain to actually begin to adjust to the lack of alcohol.   I don't plan on drinking for a long time into the future. 

Over the weekend, there was some very good whiskey, a Johnnie Walker Gold and Green label, to be precise.  I took a sniff of the two, back to back, to see what I was missing, and although the pungent odor infiltrated senses, I didn't feel the loss of anything, like a missed opportunity.  Would my life sincerely be better if I had some extremely tasty whiskey?  Generally, no.  Is my life generally better without booze, for now, and for me?  Yes.   

Monday, November 29, 2010

Listing

I meant to write "listening" there, but listing will work for the moment.  Getting dark damn early outside, and cooler too.  In my head, I'm still locked in the summer heat though, all unbuttoning my shirt collar and thinking about ice cream (where did those majestic singing trucks get tucked away, anyhow?), and when I go to the subways they reify my incongruous perceptions with their heat (yes still, and they heat those train cars far too much).  Something is happening.  Time.  It is slipping.  Correction: I'm now noticing that I cannot hold onto time, that my previous smatterings of perception have been unlaboriously removed from the wall like unwanted graffiti, and that, damnit all, it turns out that there are some hard sharp edges to this thing they call reality, and those edges will slice you if you lean in on them, and sometimes they'll get you just to play with you too.  And no matter how fulfilled you are, or how much you dream, you'll still only be stuck with yourself at the end of the day.  This, an important lesson for the budding alcoholics among us.  You can't get rid of yourself (well, you can, but then you'd fail to perceive this fact, so what I'm really saying is that you can't have it both ways by getting rid of yourself and being free of earthly encumbrances/physicalities and also stick around to know about that, however deeply embedded that fantasy may be in our popular culture or idols). And you can't get rid of time.  It sticks to you.  And no matter how it might seem, other people can't get rid of it either. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Potato Pancakes and Christmas Trees






There's actually some zucchini in them (credits to my anonymous fiancee for making these delicious treats).  I haven't had them in years, and they were just fabulous on a crisp sunday afternoon.

Today we got a Christmas tree...

More Successful Partying with Kids -

There they were, the little rugrats, crawling and pulling and pushing around.  A small one named Natalia, about 8 months old now, sat with me for a time, using her little fingers to grab at the buttons on my shirt (they were easily the most interesting) and then at my glasses.   I've gotten so used to speaking Polish to kids that even when I see kids who only speak English, I start to speak Polish to them.  I do it partially because they won't respond with a slew of words that I don't yet know, and partially because I happen to see only kids of Polish parents.  That's okay.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It will come when it is supposed to come.

And you can't rush it.  The creative process, that is.  You can and should work on whatever inspiration that manifests itself for you, and you can and should do research and absorb yourself in your interests, to the extent feasible and with a bit of balance for other necessary aspects in your life.  But we are all getting older, and there are opportunity costs everywhere.  There's no way for us to accomplish everything we want to accomplish without excluding other items/goals, and part of trying to do something, following whatever inspiration does come, is that we won't be able to follow every inspiration.  That we'll have to make choices.  That's okay.  Let's not try to hold on to the past or to the present in such a way that our future suffers.  Of course, part of the trick is that we don't exactly know what to hold and what not to hold, but that's okay too.  We're not perfect.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Transition Time

More running today, in the cold, too. Well, to be truthful, it didn't even drop below freezing, but comparatively, it was chilly.  I'm definitely not going out to see many friends lately, or maybe my definitions have changed. Still social, less willing to put up with shit.  Not drinking sure has a way with one's social life. I'm more focused. I no longer feel like I'm just riding out some wave until the end to be placed where the tide draws me back in again.  I'm walking on my own two feet, however much of a cliche that is, and however tacky I feel, and however much I didn't create the world around me, I do have a say in where I'll go today.  You know, the classic drill, the 5am rush of being somewhere important, and the lens of one's life that crops and distills compromised minutes into something manageable, then blows it back up to pretend that it can cover an entire wall. 

Over five months sober now.  Let's keep this going.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Drinking on Thanksgiving

Today I was offered a drink four times. All politely. All assuredly, with some force, and once with enough angst to expect a response from me. Something was wrong if I didn't have a drink.  I used the operation excuse.  It was easier.  I drank coffee.  I drank tea. I drank water.  There was a toast.  The entire family (my step family) wanted to make a toast to my pending marriage.  It was really sweet and heartfelt.  Am I the only one that's going crazy?  How can they possibly toast me and simultaneously push booze on my overactive mouth? Of course the answer is because they don't know that I can't drink because I would drink too much. . . . . eventually.  Not then, no.  Just eventually.  Either I turn the switch on or leave it off all the way.  This ain't no dimmer.

6/25/2010 - 11/25/2010

That's five months so far.  I'm dancing under the storm cloud of raining thoughts that want to pool up to the conclusion that I'll just stay sober indefinitely.  Although I stayed sober for 6 months last year, I didn't get to where I wanted to go, i.e. the point of staying sober was to change my situation in other non-alcohol related venues (if you know what I mean).  The fundamental realization that begat that period of sobriety was that I would need to change the aspects of my life that caused misery, and that alcohol kept me from doing that.  At 6 months, I took the GRE under the impression that I wanted to attend a doctoral program.  I scored well, although not well enough to assure success, but well enough to feel accomplished, to have a bit of an outcome to all of my restrictive madness.  So I had a drink.  Two drinks, actually, as I discussed with my then girlfriend (now fiance), were necessary.  How could I possibly break my sober spell with just one drink?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Praying for something or everything?

I don't get how we're supposed to be able to prey for something with specificity. I just want to pray for everything. Then my head says "Zero-Sum" dude, so you have to pray for something! But where does it say that in the Bible?  Are my prayers any less intense if I pray for the well-being of everything while also dreading the thought because somewhere deep down my instincts say that the well being of everything just isn't possible? Why not? 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November?

Wow, is it really november? Am I alone in the shock of the summer heat back in July. The 100 degree heat. The impossibility of autumn. Is it nearly december somehow? I've gotta straighten my head out to align it with the time-that-is, here in 2010, almost 2011. 2011.

Mood Log/Blog

Good god.  It has come to this.  I'm reading a book about anxiety.  There are exercises.  I'm writing this down at the same time trying to squeeze out some security by hinting at the idea that "we" don't really need to be doing this reading at all, and that it is a forced activity/behavior.  Much like sobriety right?  Forced.   Anyway, so there are exercises in there, and guess what?  Taking a mood log in your head doesn't work.  You've gotta write it down if you want to sort of pinpoint some of the  items that are taking over.  here are some, in no particular order:

Stuck.

Peanut butter style, opened sandwich half smashed onto window, pulled by gravity, taken by rats, nibbled into pieces, digested, shat, rotted, dessicated, vaporized, breathed in.  Still in the same place though.

Dealing with People

People can be extremely annoying.  They get in the way when you want to go somewhere.  They're always there when you are trying to get something done.  They're always, constantly, telling you things you may not want to hear, restricting your behaviors.  Problem is, well, you wouldn't do anything if it wasn't for other people.  They are always the end goal, even for seemingly endogenous activities.  So, maybe it is best to come to terms with their omnipresence.  That's a good thing, even though everyday life can be stressful and overwhelming. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

I was wrong.

At least partially.  Anxiety is useful, but when it becomes debilitating, and you, or I, don't change it when we can, it ceases being useful.   I know, I know, it seems that anxiety should always be eradicated, right?  Well, I thought so too, but I recently posted about it's usefulness.  And I wasn't wrong there--it might be useful.  But it might be so restrictive that it won't allow you to do anything.  When it keeps you at bay for months, or years, from a fuller life, it might be worthwhile to evaluate it's role in some way.  There's a simple method for this, but you absolutely have to write it down.  Okay, just list out the advantages and disadvantages of your anxiety.  Try to to list both.  I'm a fool, sure, fine.  But if you do suffer at times from anxiety, give it a whirl.  You'll only look like a food to yourself.  I think you'll find that, however unpleasant the experience of going through anxiety, it provides some modicum of safety, and unearthing the disproportionate way that it might operate in this respect will help to solve it.  I'll try to explain more in the next post.

Running

In combination with a strong vitamin D regimen (I was declared deficient previously, in need of high levels of supplementation, to which I've dutifully adhered and by the purchase of massive amounts of commercial grade gel tabs golden in color and initial consumption), yesterday I decided, after what I'll admit was a somewhat productive weekend, to go for a run.  I had wanted to get out of the house, and we did take a walk for about an hour, but the walk just didn't cut it, whatever it was/is.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Solace

Damien, on the other hand, found maximum pleasure through the discovery of insects--the hairier and more legs, the better.  He liked the way they could coordinate their various and multiple appendages to accomplish a task, whether climbing away from a predator or fixing on and attacking prey.  His love went far enough for him to catch and collect centipedes, water bugs, cockroaches, then feed them, in order, lady bugs, house flies, and caterpillars, if possible. His obstacles were two: social opprobrium, and motherly scorn.  His passions weren't easily communicated to the decidedly non-biologist student body at large--those peers who might judge or accept him and provide or decline opportunities, so he increasingly found himself deeply alone, in his room, studying latin named creatures on the internet until 2 and 3 in the morning.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Figurines

When my mother came back from Russia for the third time, she decided to bring me a gift.  It wasn't like I expected it; she was there for business, after all, and asking for a gift was taboo, at least in my family.  I'm not sure, at times, when people decided to ask for gifts, or expect them, and I know that they don't do it explicitly, and much has been said about the ideal behind gift giving, sure, so I'll just leave it at that for now.  My hopes, what small mounds of fine grain sand they had been, were long ago spread across our snowy drive way to provide traction for my father's diesel mercedes, one that, I'll remind you and myself, achieved a 0-60 time of about 20 seconds, if you bothered counting, enough to light and smoke half a cigarette, and certainly enough to probe into the beginnings of a conversation, if one were so inclined, about school, the weather, art projects, or the recent goings on of neighborhood type folk. One thing about the car's performance, though, it stayed consistent, all the way up to 300,000 miles, and more, which made the real and professed reason for its purchase all the more congruent, and all the less concurrent with more modern enterprises, you might say. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Damien

And then his butt was in the seat, his eyes up at the front of the room.  Ms. Grisleyford was glaring at him.  She must have heard about the recent flatulation of Damien on York’s beautiful little baby face.  He didn’t expect sympathy from her though.  Maybe she smelled blood, maybe food, like a honey-wine wafting off of him and his vulnerability.  The prickliness that had started in the hallway now advanced into areas only his mom had really experienced before.  He couldn’t move. There were, he knew, various twines that kept his hands and feet down, his eyes forward.  His body wouldn’t be any help to him in this unreliable state.  He had to appear normal, but all he could think of was that Damien, and all of his hulking mass was about to come down and sit next to him.

Submerged in Honey

Been burbling down into the netherland of my oh so flimsy self, not romantic this time, oh no, the flirtatious swing decidedly unavailable, as in no avail, slinking itself, folding up neuron by neuron, shadowed underlined bolded pixel compressing down the space between electrons, stilling their relationships for a shellacking.  We'll look back at them one day, like we look back at those porcelinized baby shoes, the quaking little wrinkly feet foibled beyond our knowledge horizon, and laugh, I'm sure. hah.  Funny humor, for the sake of relief, they will tell us, when they try to tell us something.  And we'll get overly excited at the proximity that we think we have to the picture of our old selves.

Vitamin D


Vitamin D.  You've read the studies?  I've seen a number of different items, mostly pieces that advocate its supplementation to your diet.  Vitamin D helps you to process calcium, among myraid other things, and it only comes from sunlight, so, if you're happily camped out inside most of the day, well, maybe you're not so happy?  It is also linked to serotonin production.  So, well being.  And yesterday I met with my endocrinologist (about a month after the surgery) and guess what? Vitamind D is low!  Far too low, in fact.  Below the "normal" range!  So, I'm supplementing now with the fervor that comes from medical and internet fused prescription.

I'm not bothered by this.  Instead I'm relieved.  Lots of depressive like symptoms seemed to be rearing their soft little heads in my life stream lately, so I of course have been concerned.  And while I know that vitamin D is not a cure all, I have traced feeling better to having had taken some supplement the day previous.

Funny thing with doctors, though.  He also recommended I take a calcium supplement.  But I sort of suggested this to him first.  He didn't have much to say about it.  Maybe I just want the doctor to take the lead, maybe I'm old fashioned, I don't know.

Anyway, here's to love, here's to life, here's to you, and here's to vitamin D supplementation.  Like sanitation for the soul!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Can Only Try

To do whatever it is that I'll do when I try. I won't necessarily have a finished beautiful product after the first attempt. That's gotta be okay. That can't keep me from trying in the first place, i.e.  there will be mistakes.  And it won't be perfect, ever.  No matter what.  The day that I produce something that is perfect only means that I've actually become content with my efforts, and that I've practiced a lot, not that it doesn't need more work, necessarily, or that others should view it in any particular way.  I may not be able to do it all, but I'll do something. 

And the day when I can master this technique  is the day that I need to try harder.  And relax harder too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It is all like I said it was going to be

in my head, before i said it. and what a let down, boy, lemme tell you, these days. so energetic in their frenetic morning pauses, their half-hearted commutes into the hinterlands and fallen wood, rotted, soft and dark. there was a thought yesterday. i almost pinned it down, but slipped at the last minute, violently so, and my shoe got sucked off in the sludgy mud that was left from recent rains, and my hand went down into the grass, the thick scalp of the earth shedding easily, welcoming, really, a synthesis of me, and of it, and i'm not ready yet, like i said, before i really knew what it meant. that i'm not really emotionally set on that aspect.

the idea went pinging away down the alley like a stone getting skipped on water, eventually settling down to look at me with eyes microscopically aware, the fusion of our paths liberally painted out in the recent past, vivid hues that i tried to capture too, with a french daisy yellow that was too costly in an east village shop on a windy day, when i reached back into the palette suddenly, aware that the idea might be tired, might be winded, that, yes, i could see it now, breathing over there, panting really, out of breath, energy dwindled down into a smidgen of a mark, only eyes to belie some sense of the movement, of the energy that sizzled out so briefly to test the heat of the pan, so i grabbed hold of a white tube then, and some sludgy mix off the ground, pushed the colors together haphazardly at first, and then with some rhythm, a sense of step, of hoopla, fluidly even, with some purpose, and dabbled my knife end longingly in the moisture that had perspired between us before applying it deep down blues groove etta james' on the already crackled dried up acrylics of my let downs, and, for those few moments, we cut the bodily apparatus down into a lockstep game of mathematical and engineering bliss.

Maybe tomorrow, we could do this again, I called out, in my newly acquired voice.

Sure, if that's what you think, my idea smiled. If you think you can manage.

I looked down to make sure my shoe laces were tied.

Monday, November 15, 2010

So Clean My Teeth Hurt

The joyride of sobriety flails, at times, through an unsightly bender of curves, blindingly spiral and tight, clamped down on your neck like the hands of over-achievers and paranoids everywhere, all the while hurtling out epithets, occupant's eye lids glued back to eye brows, frozen in place against the horror of oncoming deluge of sanity, oh wicked forced sanity, persistently lucid and mockingly straight forward. How I pine for the bliss of oblivion. How I stutter under the weight of my intestinal matter. How trees kiss me with their budding vociferous stability. There's a message here, encrusted in brine, and it speaks itself in language I cannot hope to decipher, or abandon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Anxiety 13

A lot of people drink to decrease anxiety.  Alcohol is a drug that does a fair bit of anxiety reducing, after all.  The question becomes, as always, how often you drink, and how intense the drinking goes--i.e. how much.  Sobriety is a bit of an imperfect experiment in some regard, because it is hard to gauge anxiety levels in a social situation when I'm the only one not drinking and everyone else has continued on with their typical evening.  To wit, if I really wanted to see what my anxiety levels might be without alcohol (and during some sort of social outing), then they'd have to be sober too.  And often, they're not.  If they were, we might all have higher levels of apprehension, hesitation, or paranoia.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holding A Glass of Wine

On Tuesday night of last week, I went to an event.  It was halfway social, and halfway professional.  There were a group of journalists gathered there and an installation as well.  There was also wine.  And for whatever reason, in my infinite wisdom, I took a glass when it was handed to me.  It seemed like the polite thing to do!  I just want to please everyone else so much sometimes, damn, it makes me sick.  I didn't drink it, but I did realize how close I was to drinking it, for the sake of, you know, doing something with my hands, and not at all for the sake of imbibing.  I successfully placed it on the ground once the presentation began and conveniently forgot about it, but my own nerves shocked me.  It is one thing to sit here and realize how substantially sober I've been, how weighty it has become, and another item entirely to go out and operate in that world and stay sober while, you know, doing things.  This will take some work.

Finding Deep Joy

When I was a kid, my father's mom, my Babcia (bob cha) used to make lemon poppy seed cake.   It was light gold in color, and although the crust was thick the innards were moist and delicately fluffy.  When it was still warm she would take it out its pan and let it cool on wax paper on the counter top.  Then I could take a piece and put it in my mouth.  I used to eat it not like cake, not like food to be chewed.  Instead, I'd suck on it like good chocolate.  It would disintegrate in my mouth while firing on all pleasure centers imaginable.  It is hard to describe the taste, partially because I've lost my sense of its flavor, unfortunately and, trying to recreate it, have eaten a lot of lemon poppy seed muffins over the years.  Of course, my grandmother died in 1996.  I didn't attend her funeral.   I had some excuse to attend to, and the truth is that it was more than my torn emotions that kept me from going, though, as high school kid, I wasn't fully aware of why the instinct had manifested itself.  Later, after the state police were called at the funeral, I wasn't surprised.  I still don't know exactly what happened, except that either my father or his brother got drunk and became violent.  I tell this dispassionately because I no longer attach heavy or many emotions to it.  But I do deeply enjoy the lemon poppy seed muffins and cake that I can find around town.  I know that none of them will really get to the level that she developed, or that I experienced.  Gleboka radosc, jesli ja moge pisac to.  Deep joy.  That's it.  That's what matters.  Now, how to attain it as an adult?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Falsetto

Any response was positive.  A mumble would be downright spectacular, a symphony.  That's when we got him a harmonica.  At first, the sounds he made mimicked his previous vocalizations--flat, monotone--; soon, though, we found that he could mimic the radio stations coming in from chicago, and I'm not just talking about the old timers.  He'd sucked in and spit out enough delta blues to transform the ward, and we weren't sure how it had happened, but over time it became clear that the language he could hear came in scales and notes instead of sentences and words, and that his parents could be an amalgam of chorus calls both wide and deep.  The challenge remained to make the boy believe we were as excited about him as we were about the sounds that he could produce, and, I'll tell you, it would have been an easier job if it was the truth.  Gerald, my former co-worker, he just couldn't get over the sound, the tone he'd called it, and he pushed the young boy just about to midnight every night if I let him.  Everyone had to be reminded, though, that this was a boy who could barely speak.  That this, my friends, was an aberration from what we knew, not, as our dreams may signal, a confirmation of what we wanted.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Problem

The boy couldn't have been more than twelve years old, sixth grade max, but his fingertips were wrinkled and his cheeks scruffy with wear.  A glance into his eyes yielded not hope or identifiable longing, but bewilderment, an excitement that couldn't find a way out of his mirror filled home.  When we went to pick him up, he didn't want to talk.  He didn't even seem to want to be.  But he was, which lead to the problem of where, precisely, we'd put him, if, that is, we had the opportunity.  You see, placement of this sort were a rarity to start.  We could put new clothes on him, wash his hair, sure, but the language barrier would be a problem.  He'd go into remedial class right away, and we had some of the best teachers across our part of the state.  Yes, you know, I think he would learn to talk.  The problem was that he'd missed out on all of those years in the first place, sheltered you know, walled up in either the most extreme of isolation, or the fiery will of his parents, disciplinarians and romantics at once.  Funny thing, is that people, they think folks come in one color, one stripe, either conservative or liberal, black or white, you know all of the typical divisions and their derivatives in more slang than I could hope to command, and yet, what, I'll tell you.  We would have a hard time getting rid of this boy, grooming or no.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I was "pulled over" the other night

Btw, at times I forget to tell all of you the potentially interesting tidbits of how I got to where I got, without the getting there part.  So, here's something.

On friday night, I drove to a desolate town update.  A weekend getaway.  No problem.  Except that we drove into the town exactly backwards, a fact that didn't dawn on me, and one which I was stubborn to admit, even when my fiance told me so a few times.  "The clock tower is on the left." Me: "But the directions say it is on the right side." Her: "You've got it backwards." Me: "No, it is just that part of the directions that were mistakenly put down backwards."

Yeah, you get it.  We came in precisely backwards, drove almost all the way to the house, by instinct, and also, then, by instinct, I turned around and drove back into town knowing that we had to go "through" town according to the directions, but had not done so.  And when we got to town, the clock tower appeared, as previously scheduled by my mind, except it wasn't on the correct side of the road.  So, we turned around.  And then we turned around again. And then something that was very very simple became quite disorienting.  And, then, viola, as we were looking at the directions, flashing lights appeared disco style, all white and red, in the rear view.

You know what my first thought was, right?  I mean, I know you know.  I'll tell you anyway: "I'm fucked. Let me take some deep breaths, I've got to appear sober and walk in a straight line now."-- yeah, me, little ole sober me had to convince myself that I was sober so I could act sober for the cop, who, all of 10 years old, was quite concerned that I figure out where I wanted to go, and then proceeded to get there safely.  Somewhere in the middle of my blathering about the directions (as if he should know the directions precisely), I realized that I hadn't had a drink in over four months and that, no matter what, I couldn't possibly be in trouble for drinking at that moment.  Maybe I was a klutz, or stubborn, or just nervous, but I wasn't drunk, and I wasn't in trouble.  I just thought that I was.

Now, what was that!?

Not Drinking Doesn't Inversely Increase Happiness

The title speaks for itself.  But let's get it straight for a moment.  There's a lot of variables that impact one's level of happiness, and drinking is just one variable among the masses.  Why?  Because, although the propensity to drink herculean amounts of beer, gain tolerance, drink again, lose one's money family career, sanity and even life, are all drastic enough, not drinking doesn't guarantee inverse proportionality.  Damnit.  And i was all excited too. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

From The Drenches

Empty/normal day, lacking energy, back on coffee, and sucking generally.  More explicit write up brewing into a pot of masturbatory self congratulation at a later date.  For now, will curl up in bed and be uncomfortable.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Alcoholic Pancreas

Here's a picture I found over at methods of healing.  Click on the link for more.

Just Relax Already!

It has come to my attention that some people are extremely worried about appearing relaxed, namely, without worry, and that, such chronic worry makes it nearly impossible to relax.  What concerns these people, myself at times included, isn't so much the need to posit a calm face, for instance, or arms and shoulders lacking muscle contraction, but is instead the need to prove to oneself that they are in fact relaxed.  Let's wake up to realize that we're not relaxed all the time, and that better communication, more effective relaxation, and an increased capacity for all sorts of things will come when we start to accept who it is we are, whatever that thing is, and however seemingly contorted.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Anxiety, My Friend, Come, Have A Seat.



Hello everybody.  I've got an answer for you today.  The answer is that 100% comfort provides an empty existence, and that this emptiness accumulates.  In other words, it is precisely the correct amounts of edginess and anxiety that actually provide a bit of sanity to an otherwise unanchored mind.  There's a place for anxiety, a proper place.  It tells you that something is going on, it asks you to look around in a rushed state of mind, in a way that cannot catalog everything step-by-step.  It can and is useful.  We shouldn't try to quash it.  We should instead try to live with anxiety. It is like a default setting from keeping us from getting ripped off.  If we want to maximize comfort, and I think we do, seen as pleasure, or seen as, you know, maintaining a life that doesn't require much affirmative action outward, anxiety steps in to keep us from going batshit crazy with boredom, or from letting our minds turn to mush.

I've dealt with some level of anxiety my whole life.  It could have once been external, but it comes from many places now, including maintaining an endogenous spirit.  For many years now, I thought the answer to increased anxiety was to think about a time when I'd have more of something, and when that more of something would ameliorate the source of the anxiety.  I always used to envision a life without anxiety.  I never really thought of anxiety as anxiety, of course, but knew that at times, I just had to get out of wherever I was, whether a public place, or school, or, for you budding psychologists out there, my own home.  It wasn't unidirectional, but once it grabbed hold, it held strong for some amount of time. 

The point is that I've always maintained an antagonistic relationship to my own anxiety.  But now I think that anxiety provides a certain perspective, one that might be beneficial to have so long as the anxiety itself doesn't consume everything in sight--so long as it cannot grow unabated.  Which is to say this: let's not run from anxiety and force ourselves into dark caves of whatever tonic we deem beats out the panic.  Let's realize that we've got some basic instinct that filters through in very specific biological and psychological ways that are fairly predictable and maybe, perhaps, provide levels of insight into something more fundamental.   

Okay, side point, google image search for "happy" yields some funky stuff:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Addicted To Cycles

Why not live a comfortable life?  I'm serious.  Why is it that we, as addicts, let's say, seem to prefer drama?  Is it simply that we're trying to splay out our emotions on the canvas of relationships we've developed to see what the picture will look like when it comes back at us?  Do we need to have a side for every point of view, an angle that postulates, espouses, flies off the handle or hook with every utterance?  What's the difference?  Are we addicted to the chemicals that we ingest as well as the emotional situations they create because it provides a sense of purpose, and because that sense provides us something stable and knowable and pursuable, in short, something to react against?

I think it might be the case that sobriety presents a biochemical challenge as well as an emotional one: to reassign one's reactions to the backseat of the car, to silence their yelps when they cry out for control of the wheel.  To try to think and be calm and responsible and respectful even when you think you know just what is needed in a particular situation, even when you're absolutely sure of what is right.  Just stop for a minute.  What's the story you're telling yourself?  What are the reasons you provide for your actions?  Let's work hard to make the implicit explicit.  Just for the sake of being better informed about what's going on, even when it is ugly.  Even when we prefer an emotional rollarcoaster, let's stick to observing the traffic for a few minutes, here on this bench, just see what rolls on by before we get up to join the fray.    I guarantee that natural curiosity will surface.  

Poasting, Ducky

I'm out in the country roasting in the open space and open air.  There's beer here, but not for me.  It is some local microbrew.  I'm really happy to be here even though I can sense that tomorrow, and Monday, will come very quickly.  That's okay for now.  If you're out there, and you're drinking and you don't want to be drinking, give sobriety a shot.  What have you got to lose? More substantial post soon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Specifically, what are you up to?

I'm asking you this question: why do we do what we do.

Also known as: why do you do what you do.

And because it is easy to shake this off into the effluvia of nostalgic meandering:

Why are you doing whatever it is you're doing right now?

I remain convinced that we don't have a very good reason or very good reasons.  That is, we don't have terribly specific reasons.  Or, if we have specific reasons, our ability to control those reasons goes down (by their nature, they are external).

That's fine.  Right?  I mean, why have a reason for every moment?  At times you have to go into all that is, oh holy reality, without knowing why.   So we've got imperfect information.  Anyone can admit that.  Still, given the imperfect information, we act, and we act based on?  It isn't always the specific reason/s we're telling ourselves (or each other).  That's my point for this moment of the morning.  And my point helps me tell myself that my reasons for action matter.  But maybe they're largely irrelevant, even to me?

A question worth pursuing with as little emotional attachment as possible. If possible.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I am not drinking today. Or Tomorrow

Or the next day.

I'll eat though.  So watch out.

Raining Today, if you've been inside so far

That's what's going on outside, if you hadn't also noticed by glancing from the window.  Also, you know, assuming you live somewhere around the NYC metro area (that you have a window, that you have light, that the light retains all of the classic characteristics we have come to know and love and forget, that you can see, that the window isn't dirty, and that I'm correct in the first place), or, let's check and see, yes, indeedy, www.weather.com confirms it: Messy commute for east coastville, USA.

You're tuned in to the local station here, listening to the mind drumming finger tip table top tapping out the rhythm of noxious mephiticisms that emanate daily from the inner being, right there, behind your ears at the base of your skull, tick tocking it's way around toward the visual landscape that exhumes itself, blissfully still alive and breathing and trying to make something from nothing. The classic effort, that, proving one's mettle in conjugation, declension, otherwise, language biting hopefully, sarcastic, referential though slightly hermeneutic, but basic, folks, quite basic, so let's get on with it.

The weather is cartoonish, painted in with the strokes of Micky and friends, first run batmans and robins, and the tunnels pour sludge they call subway cars, seeping in and oozing out from every little crack, the humidity omnipresent and thick, and did you notice that it isn't summer anymore, commoner standing next to commoner, having common convo, did you notice how the sky looks now, no? Neither did I.  But I'll tell you what, that summer [sky], that summer [sky] sure is gone, however it was, and whether it found some solace I don't know, but I'll tell you this: I would just kill for some roast beef, if you know what I mean. And there are bells ringing here and cows mooing, and the opportunity it seems, may have presented itself, like swiss cheese melting on toasted rye, I'll sit back, by and bye.



 Edit: I am quite sober.

Double Edit: Imagine if I wasn't?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Am I Not Drinking?

Good god, who knew that abstaining from something was such a business? Not that I'm falling down on the job, just that this activity of not doing something involves a lot more than forgetting about it. That creature of the night, so easy to come back in moments of desperation, if anything to break the damn monotony of time, which seems to stifle while it mocks with its subtle speed, flowing away fast as traffic down the thruway. So damn constant and determined, so much faster than before.

Yeah, I'm making small talk with you, fellow non-bar patron, finding a piece of mind at the end of a long day, or long night. Whatever, it is doesn't matter, because we're sitting here after an experience, no(?), an experience that found us both flailing in the tumult of the ineffable.

Give me one of whatever he's having. What are you having, anyway? Yeah, hot cocoa, okay, me too. Do I want whip cream? Sure hope it isn't alcoholic whip cream. You never heard a'that? Let me tell you, if I had a little kid and named him whip cream. Well, let's not start anthropormorphizing everything, let's just keep a distance, some pace, you know, with the fault lines of this thing.

But we're through now, figuring it, angling our hands in a line with some invisible platonic ideal, always content enough to get some purchase, even when we get ripped off. Who wouldn't, after that night/day? It sure was a feat, wasn't it? Sure was something, there, on the rocks, no longer anything though, barely enough moisture to say that it might dry up in the sun. No need to or call in the cops with their kitty litter, their sand, to mop up after our accident. Look at it out there? Yeah, if only everyone saw it like we see it now, well, shucks. Better get a move on, before those thoughts come back in.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Finding Time

Funny thing, since I haven't been drinking, I've had less time than when I was consistently drinking. Variables in my life have changed besides my drinking, that's true.  So maybe that just about accounts for it.  I used to do a lot of listening to music, but now I mostly press myself into other pursuits.  Did just find some old Frisell, so as kind of reclusive mysterious touch and go goes it is great; have a listen to it yourself:

Finding a Way Out

I'm sitting in Starbucks where the line is long.  People are highly desirous of their coffee.  Better to face the workday caffeinated.  I'm in agreement, but I also know that I'll potentially feel like crap later if I partake now.  All I can think about is how coffee pushes the body to feel stressed, and that stress might be good, feel good, because it wakes you up, but then, you know, depletes you too, so then I'll be trapped in the wall of a dead brain, which I can't stand.

Things -- brain activity? -- aren't exactly deadened right now, but they aren't vivid either.  There was a time when everything seemed vivid, when life was like sucking on a psychedelic lollipop of energy and intriguing ambiguity.  I'm not willing to trade these days for those days of extreme highs and lows, though I don't sit and stare as much anymore.  Perhaps that's also because I live in a much larger city.  Not sure.  Brain activity, perception, filtering, what have you, it is flat, flat and neutral., grey tone, neither bass or treble heavy.  That's the way to see music (italics on "the"), to hear life, etc., to find what it is that matters, quotes, that thing being primal and important and vital, so I used to think.

Now I think life happens here on the margins.  I'm trying to get something done before work, after work, before it all changes, all goes away, before I settle into whatever it is that I used to be disgusted with, before I accept what it is that predominates, god forbid, whatever that is.  Perhaps this is an admission that I've accepted it already, that I'm here, you know, in immovable space, much much smaller than I used to be, perhaps better for it, I'm not sure.  I know there are places left for animated affectation. I know they're waiting.  I'm just figuring out what they look like now that they're not distorted.  I'm over four months sober.  Sounds so small when I write it out like that and felt so much bigger before I wrote it.  I'm not thinking about how many more months there are to go.  I think that'd be a bit of an admission that I'm waiting for death.  I don't want to wait for death.  I don't want to blindly pine for that which cannot be, but I must make sure that it cannot be first, before I give up.  Whatever it is, wherever I sit.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Today is Today

And that's it.  I'm trying not to forecast the forever in a day, because I need to keep my sanity for the moment.  Not my calm, but my sanity.  If I start to think about too many phenomena at once, I'll get overloaded, and I will at least temporarily lose a piece of my sanity.  And, although my sane mind wants to assert itself at this moment to tell me that it would recover for a temporary shock, I don't think that it is aware of the circumstances that might ensue--and it is this precise reason, this lack of knowledge that keeps us from asserting this fallacy: I won't get into an accident.  I promise! 

How can you be so sure?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Sins of Our Fathers

In my last post, I started telling you about a situation that I observed on saturday night.  The father of two beautiful children was at the party that I attended.  He lost his wife, the mother of the children, about two years ago.  Since then, the deceased wife's sister (and her husband, a close friend to my fiancĂ©) take care of the kids a majority of the time.  The father of the children does buy them coats, clothes, toys, and more, but that's not what I am concerned with.  What I'm concerned with is his inability to spend time with them in a meaningful way.  When his son, all of three or four feet tall (I think, but about up to by waist I think, and I'm damn tall) asked him to play, he said he "wasn't getting down on the floor" to play that game.  Fine, but why not?  It was tic-tac-toe, a simple game if there was one, because by its nature, it requires minimal effort.

Successful Partying and Kids

Writing with a quick update.  Sorry, self, I've been out of touch a bit lately, preferring long silence with a book about Warren Buffett's rise.

Today I traveled to New Jersey for a bit of a Halloween party.  I was a pirate.  Not the happiest pirate, though, because the costume, purchased after work on Friday and before a different event, which I can write up tomorrow, was pure plastic, i.e. polyester, which means that it was terribly hot.  It didn't help that it was cold outside but likewise hot in the New Jersey Path train tunnels and stations, or that it was mostly hot at the event location itself.

Anyway I thought that we were going to spend the night at the party, but we're back, after a little bit of a mix up on the roads home (we got a lift).

So, I was sober.  There were a lot of kids there, all between the ages of like 3-5 mostly (old enough to run around in a giant pack), and the hosts were fine, just fine.  I'll write about something now that will be specific and revelatory and doing so, even thinking of doing so, makes me feel guilty.  But there is a point to it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Making Making Whiskey Fashionable

There's been a few write ups about good ole decent everyday type folks starting microbrewery type whiskey manufacturing in Brooklyn recently.  And here.  Which makes me jealous, which is:

"... is an emotion and typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, such as a relationship, friendship, or love."

(to the extent that wikipedia is accurate, which, because the emotion is so widely felt and wiki so open to editing by nature, can't be too far from the truth)

The question remains why I might feel insecurity or fear or anxiety or anticipated loss in regard to whiskey production, and the answer is simply that: I wish I could partake.

I know, I know, when I started I said I wouldn't fill this blog up with the pangs of a drinker longing for a drink.  I think a jealously might come in pangs, so I shouldn't fill anything up (definitely not a barrel) with jealously.  Btw, if you're interested in a barrel, just click on the link.

So for now i'll tell you that I don't want a drink, but do think the process of making whiskey is interesting and something I might want to look into.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Going to A Bar Sober

Okay okay, so last night I went to a bar after dinner with a friend.  Since I've been sober for over four months I'm feeling pretty good about things, and have made some successful attempts toward socializing while not drinking.  I played some great ping pong the other night.  I went out to see a movie.  I know, these seem relatively minor generally, and they are, but just being with other people in a social setting when drinking is typically involved and I'm not drinking, is good = makes inherent sense.  The more of a track record I can build up not drinking but hanging out where people might drink, the better.

And so last night I went to a bar.  It was the first really loud noisy and hugely stinky bar I went to since becoming sober this time.  And it was immediately familiar in a way.  But I was decidedly removed from the situation, which meant that all I could stammer out to a friend was "gosh, it's really loud in here, isn't it"--long pause, looking around, me looking at the ceiling, noticing the patrons and their varying states of drunkeness, the way that they were harsh then soft within their own conversations, and the generally brittle timbre of the music (thin and heavily tinged toward highs and lows)--"it is really really loud in here, is't it?"""  And then nothing.  Because there was nothing more.  I left.  I just decided to leave and go home.  And as I walked, the music faded out behind me, and I saw that some people were headed over to the bar, and excited for the place, for the scene, for the chance to mingle.

I distinctly remember arriving at bars ensconced in ambiguity and general inwardness only to drink, then drink again, until, over an hour or two, I would find into the land of extroversion and humor and a generally good state.  A drunk state too.  And over the course of the night, the experience took on a different vibe.  The dimness of the lighting wasn't just hiding the run down nature of the place, but making it into something else, something new.  And the the churning ice cream factory that produced excursions of motley conversations, and the extremes of behavior and the general need to keep pushing toward some infinite horizon that wasn't actually there at all, until utter exhaustion couldn't even get a foothold into the stubborn lock down that was my mind.  These same bars would become little nooks of activity and home life, teaming with potential.  And they would do so over and over, for me, if I let them.  Every night they could hold the same promise: to remove me from my own world, to make me think that my world existed in their walls.   To allow me to continue the fantasy that other aspects were swimming along.  In short, to equalize me with other bar denizens, friends, whom I could then manufacture into points of measure, to benchmark where I was and how I stood, whether it was slumped or straight.

And these days changing means being quieter, not more noisy.  So the bar looked sterile in a peculiar way.  Sterile and full of people.  Objective and obvious and not inviting.  So I left.

Successful Time Conceptualization

The ability to comprehend and communicate condensed time in a way that is not wholly statistically driven, and one that can bend/flex to a listener's point of view, will aid in the ability to achieve success, whether based on status, influence and/or general attention received.

As I write that, I think that I'm probably wrong, but I'll try to explain myself first.

The ability is general and abstract to start: How what you say and communicate and think condenses the world around you.  To take what is abstract--lived experience--and distill it down in a way that still maintains a semblance of the truth in the original whole.

The reason I'm wrong, of course, is that lived experience varies, that there's more than just one level of distillation.  The second reason I'm wrong is because distillation of lived experience doesn't matter if the receiver of that output doesn't do anything with it, or doesn't care.