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.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tip For Sobriety 10

Sit in the moment and don't rush to do unimportant things. 

Extinguish procrastination by slowing down.

Saying What You Mean

See, there's a bit of tension about blogging.  I'm almost convinced that you can't write without thinking about audience.  The goal, if you'll indulge me by assuming that the previous statement is correct, then, is to write with an audience in mind, but not because of them, not for them. They shouldn't dictate how you feel, for instance, just how clearly you might spell out what it is you want to say.

(And while it may be appropriate to dictate in parenthesis basic physical reality, like the warm but almost sour tea that you have, or the way the light comes down almost liquid like to cast itself heavily on your eyes, or the more mundane things, like the ebb and flow, the sound of traffic outside, and although it is the essence of how you process reality that is fundamentally interesting, it is not okay to expose reality quite objectively, or to let such an exposition become longer than your main text, on average).

But if you like audience, that is, if you like people reading what you write, then you naturally want to attract them to read more, to linger, and all of the other implied connections that are embedded in this attraction, which is basically an attraction to you, the writer, and who, by the way, doesn't want affirmative type attention?  See, though, the tension exists because there's something about the act of writing itself that is highly and personally rewarding.  It may only be that you, like I have, begin to find a voice, even one you knew that you had, and even one that isn't terribly strong.  It doesn't have to be strong.  It also doesn't have to be hugely provokative.  I'm spelling with a K there because it makes more sense, and because I'm learning Polish, which inherently makes much more sense than English (at least, according to how you might spell things, as in you pronounce everything, all the damn time).

There's something inherently rewarding in writing itself, even when the writing is fully descriptive.  I think part of the reason for that is because it aligns thought patterns by slowing them down.  No matter how fast I write, my writing is always slower than my thoughts.  And that actually allows me to think faster than I would normally think, by which I mean process something. So writing is useful on its own for processing. That's what I'm doing here.  That's the project, if you will, at least for now.  At times I felt internal pressure to always say something alcohol-related.  After all, this is about sobriety.  The funny thing about sobriety, as compared to drunkenness, though, is that it is fundamentally more complicated (the world that you experience is anyway): more subtle and delicate and creative and full of many more topics than you're used to, or have the ability to fully develop and explore, unfortunately (and fortunately). Anyway, that's my pitch for sobriety today.  I'll further craft this pitch and try to deliver succinct points in the future, but I may not be successful.  I'll meander, and go back on my own words.  But I won't be violent or manipulative or aggressive or mean spirited for no good reason.  I won't hit or punch or bite, and I won't be reckless in any way that has consequence.  For what it's worth.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Television is a big part of the American experience.  And shit, there's almost nothing on there at all, either, which itself may or may not reflect the fact that there's nothing really going on in the American experience itself, whatever I mean by it, or that I'm too bored to care (doubly, to care about defining my terms, it seems), or demand too much entertainment value to consume, whatever words might be best aligned to the truth of the matter.  It remains true, though, that I end up talking to the damn television.  Particularly regarding commercials for mood-based/mood-altering prescription drugs. 

The marketing for prescription drugs that alleviate problem moods consistently perturb me, not because they are so highly contradictory, reading a list of problematic potential symptoms (risk of suicidal thoughts--discontinue use if you find yourself having purposefully expunged your own life) at the same time that they show images of happy active people swinging on swings and smiling extra bright smiles (may increase chance of incontinence), but because they're so insanely out of proportion (if you consider mutilating small rodents when taking this drug, this may represent a rare but serious disorder that can best be alleviated by allowing that rushing feeling of flatulence to spread itself out in a warm pancake around your chair)--as if you become a more active happiness seeker and sprout a family and friends and a beach house when you take them.  Showing someone alone watching television and enjoying it more than they would have otherwise enjoyed it wouldn't be the best marketing tactic (because enjoyment of television isn't something that manifests itself in a highly physical way), but it might be more in line with what's really going to happen.   More successful television, vision.  Have a look at this:

Artificial Drama Not Needed

It isn't odd that we all want the same kinds of emotional items: fulfillment, a sense of self, the ability to love and be loved, and the capacity to be productive and benefit from productivity.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How do you know if you drink too much?

After all, maybe you just went to a wedding on Sunday night, and that's why you're head is hurting on Monday morning, and, then, again, why you had a drink Monday night.  Not six or seven drinks, mind you, just two or three, and just to take the edge off, the brittle edge, sure, but just to drop it out, and no, you didn't even drink on Tuesday, and don't plan to Wednesday, but Thursday through Sunday you'll drink again, in excess,  you know, but that's who you are right now, and you don't have any negative associated emotional issues, nothing derogatory toward yourself, the you, about your relationship with alcohol, nor toward the people you're with when you imbibe.  And so the entire process is really one of neutrality for you, even though, sure, on average, you drink more nights a week than you don't drink and you spend hundreds of dollars a week drinking, though a large chunk of it is on food too, so that's okay.  Really.  And your liver is functioning, and there's nothing abnormal there, enzymes all chugging like they should.

But if I drank like you'd I'd consider myself a drunk.  Then again, I consider myself a drunk anyway.  Still, I'm amazed at the ease with which you order your Sunday morning bloody Marys and the way they turn into three or four strong lagers.  I'm amazed at how cavalier you are with all of this, and jealous too, I'm jealous.  Because I'm not you.  I don't have your attitude, or your nonchalance, and it may be the only thing that separates what our futures could be even when drinking the same amount of booze consistently.

Or, maybe I want to believe that you'll increasingly get worse in your management, and that you are physically impacted by all of this debauchery.  Maybe you'll end of addicted and lonely and anxious and depressed and dead.

Maybe, in other words, it is all about how we think about alcohol, and not our actual practice of consumption, that indicates whether we have a problem with it.

Or have I got it precisely backwards?

Invisibility and Recognition

We just want to blend in, be normal, find a place that fits, etc., and we, simultaneously, want to be recognized, respected, and seen, damnit--we want to be heard and felt and impact stuff.  At least the stuff that comes back to impact us.  And we just don't want to stand out, be excluded, stigmatized, or plagued by the unmeaning of life. 

So we drink. And then we drink again. And get in trouble.

Sobriety and God, and Step 3

Because, those damn 12 steps really do seem to emphasize God, too!  And Step 3 specifically says that we have to turn our care to God, and then adds (I'm sure this was added): as we understood him.  Well, what if he's only been an opaque and diaphanous straw man that stands for the sake of my own moral compass pointing generally due north?  What if I have justified actions that don't deserve justification in my belief in God?

The point here is that we/I/you must make a primary decision to stop drinking, and then deal with the repercussions, even when we're not prepared to deal with them [right now] on our own.  It isn't easy.

Monday, October 25, 2010


It is a scary idea to not believe in God.  Or the idea of God, generally.  A lot of mostly secular believing type people maintain a propensity to believe in something grander, or more spiritual, or you know, religious--i.e. beyond human knowledge and beyond the knowable.  There must be something there, says the instinct, over and over, because, well, I just feel it to be true! Obviously there's no direct evidence for something there, which is why faith is so important.  But then again, the people I'm talking about, the casual God believers, do it because, I think, understanding the lack of God changes how they (or I, and yes, I'm maybe a casual God believer, at least right now, so am also examining and criticizing myself) act in the world--what they're culpable of, and importantly, how they hold onto mental/cognitive dissonance, particularly about their own actions and ideas.  Which is to say that, with the idea(l) of God, my moral compass tries to do a cost-benefit analysis of my actions as "Good" on a whole, so as to acquire membership in that wonderfully translucent concept of heaven, or, you know, whatever judgment befalls the casual God believers like me.  So long as we act in our capacity to do more harm than good, and to not intentionally inflict harm for no purpose, well, bingo, we're in.  I.e., we don't have to think about the consequences of our actions beyond a mainly selfish sphere.

So what am I struggling with here anyway?  Only that our actions, how we think about those actions as they relate to our identities, and those consequent identities, are in much more flux than we allow--not because they move around a lot, but because they might be radically different than we're telling ourselves.  And, if we get rid of the God idea, even the casual "I-don't-really-want-to-think-about-it" God idea, that radical difference presents itself rather rapidly, starting with your, or my, current behavior, which all of a sudden doesn't stand so straight and clean.  

Oh Right: Four Months of Sobriety

Yes, I've been sober since June 25, 2010.  That's this year. That's four months ago, if you're counting like me. 

That's 2 months shy of the 2009 6 month (to the second) record. 

Anxiety and Alcohol

These Monday mornings look the same to a lot of people.  That's what it seems to be like, anyway, from this coffee shop.  Not that I'm' drinking coffee, just that I'm watching a lot of human beings walk by with the same set Monday morning type look to their faces.  It is a mix between stress, consternation, and habit.  There's minor stress (or major, depending) because many of the people are on their way to a locale that doesn't make inherent sense for them and that they didn't exactly choose to go to. 

(As an aside, I'm frustrated because the version of microsoft word I have (the older version) just somehow simultaneously opened with the newer trial version causing a type of slow motion electronic crash.)

Some of these people are a little stoned on booze.  Not many of them, but not all of them look like we expect.  They wear high heels.  And they assert themselves.  And, they might feel so sensitive about the transition to Monday morning activities that they decide to make a little compromise to themselves.  Something along the lines of letting the juices of the weekend flow into the morning coffee.  Something that placates unease and relaxes.  A glimpse of a moment, wherein it goes down and makes the morning possible.  That's what we're talking about, where: drinking makes living possible.  That's because, I think, a lot of anxiety embeds itself in the brain of a heavy drinker. And, given the short term nastiness of dealing with anxiety as compared to the relative ease of pouring some vodka down your throat, at times, the vodka wins out.  With increasingly frequency, it wins out.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boredom in the Time of Agony

It may seem stupid, or inane, or foolish. It does seem that way.  And it is, too.  To some degree.  (No, not the way I'm writing in fragments).  But writing down thoughts generally.  It immediately makes me think about whether I'm being accurate, and whether what I say has relevance.  Or whether it is coherent.  I'm not talking about audience here. I'm talking about the immediate shift that writing something down allows as compared to solely thinking it--and then trying to evaluate it, whatever that evaluation process entails.  For whatever reason, it is dramatically harder to write something than to just think it.  At least for me it is.  True, there are times when this isn't the case--or when my thoughts just go down plunky-like, not lacking problems or body, what-have-you. 

I don't have anything to report from the land of sobriety, except that it exists.  I'm here.  Okay?  I think there should be a disclaimer, you know?  Life can be boring.  And when you have become convinced that this is true, watch out, because it might get even more boring.  It doesn't have to be that way, okay?  I know.  And I'm not trying to take away from other feelings, feelings that have worth on their own.  But for a moment, let's consider the idea that boredom exists and that we, generally, dislike it.  We become motivated by it to do stuff that we might not otherwise do.  Which is kind of a tautology of idiocy.  But, we do!  Stupid unhealthy stuff. Just to be not bored.  I wish I was telling you about something specific, but I'm not.  For what it's worth, boredom may be useful if I can accept it and not run away.  I think I can.  I think I can.  Just that, it always happens just at the moment when the restrictions of time come back into focus (i.e. maybe one of the key elements for boredom in the first place has evaporated and I am now motivated).  And maybe feeling bored is endemic to needed rest.  Either way. Both ways.  More drama soon, I'm sure.


Time Magazine reports:

That's because drugs of abuse co-opt the very brain functions that allowed our distant ancestors to survive in a hostile world. Our minds are programmed to pay extra attention to what neurologists call salience--that is, special relevance. Threats, for example, are highly salient, which is why we instinctively try to get away from them. But so are food and sex because they help the individual and the species survive. Drugs of abuse capitalize on this ready-made programming. When exposed to drugs, our memory systems, reward circuits, decision-making skills and conditioning kick in--salience in overdrive--to create an all consuming pattern of uncontrollable craving. "Some people have a genetic predisposition to addiction," says Volkow. "But because it involves these basic brain functions, everyone will become an addict if sufficiently exposed to drugs or alcohol."

Read more:,9171,1640436,00.html#ixzz13HjaVAs5

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Yum. I ate at least the top row of a bar from Trader Joe's and it helped everything. 

What It Is

Well, I'm less in a state of overdrive now than an anti sleep.  Amazing how the body adjusts to regularity so much that, even on a day when you're "allowed" to sleep in, you wake up almost to the minute as you would on a day filled with activities that necessitate such early rising.  So, I've got the half zombified trance like feeling of a Saturday morning that should evince the coffee making function deep in my automated response system and at the same time I should go back to bed for a few.  All terribly important, I know you're thinking, or feeling, too.  I should go outside, take a walk. It is a time like this that living in a nice Brooklyn neighborhood like Park slope near Prospect Park.

There's the armory there.  I used to live close by the neighborhood.  Close enough that I could wake up in the morning and go for a walk to see all sorts of people on the way to achieve some kind of carbohydrate caffeine blend in my blood.  And now that I'm starting to bogglingly reminisce, something new for me, and a bit awkward, I'm sorry, I'll tell you that I lived there less than a year ago, when, as a testament to my deeply unfortunate circumstances, my room-mate started a relatively serious fire in the apartment, forcing a move.  That was December 2, 2009.  A "three alarm" fire as they said.  A lot of my stuff was okay, just, you know, completely blackened and stinking (okay, so it wasn't exactly suitable, and I left most of it there, grabbing the essentials that I could). I don't plan on organizing my thoughts or feelings associated with the one year anniversary, but then again, I'm not sure that I can, or should.  Maybe the best way to let it be is to just let it be, endlessly echoed into a dimmer and dimmer switch in my head until I stop hearing it.

Alright, you want a picture? Fine, me neither. Here:

It's not that I'm nostalgic, per se.  Just a saturday morning in a less popping neighborhood in Queens.  I'm still around, though, and that, I'm determined to decide, does matter.  That should be the lesson.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I think this is so fundamentally correct that I'm going to paste and link it (and I don't have long greying hair and don't have to deal with the world judging or not judging me for it):

"My mother has a lot to say about my looks: Where did you find that shirt? Did you forget your makeup? She recently suggested, fluttering her hands in the vicinity of her ears, that I get just a very little trim. As if she thought she could still trick me into the barber’s chair to re-enact one of the central traumas of my childhood, when I was marched into a hair salon (so that’s where mothers went?) with hair to my waist and came out an outraged, stunned, ravaged 7-year-old with a stylish, hateful pageboy.
My mother’s favorite expression to me is “Make an Effort.” What she doesn’t understand, of course, is that just because things don’t turn out the way she thinks they should doesn’t mean an effort wasn’t made. It is incredible how parents and children never let go of old habits of relating. My mother still makes me feel like a 15-year-old. However, that no longer feels like a bad thing, if you see what I mean"

Take A Risk: Don't Cower!

We are weak and vulnerable and stupid and inconsistent and moronic, and disrespectful and self-absorbed, and we have fragile egos.

And I'll say something even harder: I am weak and vulnerable and stupid and inconsistent and disrespectful and self-absorbed and have a fragile ego.

But I'm coming to the realization that there are a hell of a lot of people, professional type people, who really honestly and truly seem well adjusted and highly literate in the communicative styles and successes of a world that I struggle with, who are extremely weak and try desperately to cover up their weakness.

And it takes so much of their strength to do this that it leaves them even weaker and even more alone at the end of the day.

And I'm just not sure why this is the case--i.e. why it exists.   But it does.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What is your base?

I had a good friend once, a room-mate.  She's still a friend, but since she lives in another state, it isn't the same--and we certainly don't live together.  Anyway, I know she won't mind it if I tell you that her thing was eating.  As in, my thing is drinking.  Her thing is, and was, eating.  Control, pressure, release, discipline, lack of it.  All of that, and more, except with food.  For drinking, for drinkers, for me, let's say, there's a problem that must be stopped--so, I go about ceasing that activity, writing a blog about the cessation, and whatnot. Tomorrow, I get up, go to the fridge, eat breakfast.  Tonight, I'll wake up at 3am and eat something. And I just won't have to worry that it will throw me off for weeks, or more.  She will.  She is forced to face her addiction on not just a daily basis, but at a microscopic level and on a daily basis.  Not only that, but the precise activity that I have trouble controlling, quantity, is the activity that she is forced to control whenever she consumes any food at all, and it is just as hard for her to do that (her brain offers up as many reasons to keep on going) each time she eats.

Which led to some pretty strange situations, I'll admit -- wherein, for instance, I was privy to her gorging herself on bread, at a restaurant, and I held the unenviable task of removing the bread and talking with her--a lucid, highly functioning hugely compassionate person whom I deeply admire and respect, and who has a higher verbal ability to talk about her problems and their specific roots and sources than I do.

Addiction is your brain saying that you have to survive, and you getting too much survival because of it.

The point of this story was something else, though.  It was a base.  She spoke of a base, of a point where you are (an age, and I think this is AA related) prior to use, where you were emotionally  (and consequently, the point of development that you most frequently act out in your binges/addictive behavior).  Pause for a moment and try not to see this as inherently suspect.  More on this soon.  I'm just too tired at this moment.

Now That I'm Normal Again, I'm Freaking Out

So, I'm normal.  In that I'm sober.  I'm also freshly minted from the factory, as in with stickers and cellophane wrap and hard edged plastic that gets in your way.  That is, I just recently had a very small surgery to remove one of the four of the small somethings called a parathyroid--they basically regulate calcium in your body.  The take away point is that, for the past three or  more years, I've had unusually high calcium in my blood, which means that my mental and to some extent physical functioning has been impaired to some degree that I don't know with specificity.  However, after doing a little bit of research, I'm confident enough to know that calcium co-exists with a number of other materials to provide much needed functions, like thinking and whatnot.  So symptoms of high calcium in the blood range from depression and anxiety to fatigue and other stuff. All which is to point to the fact that I'm absolutely normal now.  But I feel like I'm going about a thousand miles a minute, literally.  I stopped taking the pain killers the doctor prescribed for fear of a nervous breakdown, and I'm only half kidding.  Things are so crystal clear that they shake.  And I can see all of the facets of my life that I don't like, that aren't even really acceptable, and I have no way to edit out the clarity with which I see this stuff, mostly the major function of the day, but more than that too.  Almost everything is coated with a patina of "how did it get to be like this?" goo that I can't undo and I can't make too much sense of, which would be fine if my mind wasn't in a state of overdrive sense-making type mission seeking thing that it is in right now.  I desperately want something hard and real that is also meaningful and acceptable and it doesn't exist.

What is Satisfying

What is it that we find satisfying?  I have no idea.  And I have no idea how to find out.  I'm at a point (four months sober in a matter of days) where I no longer know what it is that makes sense regarding my own direction--not what might be escapist-satisfying or "i'm full from an excellent meal"-satisfying--and that isn't very reassuring, I'll be honest.   I know that drinking might not be satisfying in the longer term sense, and that it might push me or people generally away from the rational side of goal orientation and acquisition in a stricter sense, but it sure could be useful for the very simple and understandably limited feeling that it induces.  With the general caveat that such a feeling shouldn't be construed outward, and etcetera.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thinking Big Impenetrable Thoughts

You know, it is really easy for me to think big thoughts.   Thoughts that have rough edges.  Summarize vast quantities of information.  Thoughts that are really about patterns of behavior.  When I'll start to "really" do something, for instance, or thoughts about general fatigue in life.  That type of thing. 

The problem with these huge thoughts is that they just don't move.  They're always there to reference, sure, and that is nice, having something to reference; having something to call your own, hang your hat on, find stability in, etc. But that is not why those big thoughts are actually there.  They are actually a check list, but I'm so far down into the thought that the wall from the line of ink is up 50 feet from where I stand.  Now how am I supposed to cross that shit off anyway? I certainly can't go find myself an enormous pen.  I also don't know any giant size people out there that owe me favors. What then?

Well, I need to make some of the thoughts manageable.  Thoughts about socializing after I start to feel more awake--excuse type thoughts.  Instead of waiting, instead of pondering the infinitesimal particulate matter  of what it might mean to be more awake (*yes, I'm talking to you, you there) before I step in to act II of the awake play, I might as well just merge the getting more awake with the next activity. 

The benefits of this are startling and happen almost immediately, and always make me wonder what the fuck I was up to waiting all that time anyway.

Let's Remember: We're Lucky

Whatever we've come through, and however we got here, we're still here, and we still have the privilege of struggling with our addictions.  Many do not.  And many others that have struggled have harmed and hurt and killed.

Here in Staten Island

and Here in Brooklyn

and Here

Sometimes it is easy to mythologize the challenge of walking around sober as something based in fantasy, emotion, or just plain ego. While it may be planted firmly in those categories, it is also something with hard tangible consequences.  I'll try not to forget that my own behaviors can lead to bad consequences for other people too.


Recent posts about dissonance are, I've realized, really about me trying to find a way to talk about friction, about the stuff, whatever it is, that accumulates at the joints of the machine we're chugging ahead in.  I keep moving forward.  I keep grasping for, let's say, objective satiation, but I wonder what happens when the cumulative product of my objectives fails to satisfy? 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Step Three of AA is so opaque as to be wholly subjective, leading me into the "BIG BOOK"-- I'm going to have to read this thing before I continue my journey down the road of alternative steps, as well as perform more than superficial research on the subject.  However, in the interests of actually posting here, this will be an ongoing project.  Ultimately, I'd like to synthesize all available treatment options and provide a bit of a resource guide of sorts, at least a quick one.  Watch for that as time goes by.  For now, note that there are some other methods toward sobriety that I should go look at, like Rational Recovery, the makers the of the Small Book.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Alternative Second Step

AA's second step is:

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to

According to AA, then, sanity eludes problem drinkers. This seems to me a greater capitulation than necessary, no?

(I'll quickly remind readers of a previous point, concerning the Alternative first step, that alcoholism, broadly defined, is a progressive disease, so while again it may be true that hard core 24 hour type drinkers have lost their sanity to some degree (and have paid sanctions in terms monetary, physical and other) in a way that is fully recognizable to outsiders, I'm left at a cliff myself, being decidedly not a 24 hour type drinker: How can I, a problem drinker nontheless, navigate the field of sobriety on an ongoing basis in a way that doesn't diminish some of the accomplishments I already have; in other words, the positive productive and tangibly commendable traits I am in possession of de facto (a priori, even, if you like))?

AA's answer to this question throws out the entirety of human rationality.  The underlying claim must be that alcohol use takes away human rationality, and that alcoholics must seek something to replace their rationality, something else. The sticky problem that remains is one evidenced by alcoholic's behavior every single day, even the hard care type that cannot not-drink for fear of physical bodily chemical reactions: boozers the world over seek and obtain alcohol!  That means they have a goal, must obtain resources, make a plan, and execute the plan according to some strategy, wherein the result is the eventual barter of resources-non-booze for booze.   All we have to do now to re-insert a link between the ability to strategize and sanity, and we have a problem!

In that, I have a problem.  Because no matter what AA says, there are shades of meaning that both mimic sanity and insanity in all of our actions, the remaining difference between categorization falling squarely on end goal.  I might seem a hysterical lunatic if I go screaming through the center of town and endangering others until you know that I have a some sort of legitimate emergency.  No, alcohol procurement doesn't need to be legitimate for an alcoholic, but then again, it doesn't need to be insane either.  So I'm forced to admit that at some level alcoholics, even those scraggly old stereotypical men of yesteryear, function according to results and goals and damnit, that just isn't crazy.

Hence Alternative Step Two:

Come to admit that alcohol is beginning to (or has completely) replaced your default goal for any given situation (whether professional, personal, or individual) and that you have lost control of your ability to alter what you ultimately desire.

Come to believe that you can change what you desire to more healthfully impact how you behave.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tip For Sobriety: Cleanliness

Cleanliness.  Finding the time (and patience) to clean is paramount to finding the patience to maintain sobriety.  It also helps me to organize my thoughts, but it doesn't retain this romantic sheen at all times, meaning that I have to force myself to clean when I don't want to.   I can't just let it all pile up or it will be too easy to disregard it, and keep disregarding it, into the horizon of oblivion.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mint Tea Mornings

Yes, I'm waxing a little bit toward the herbal hued morning sun and crisp air, waiting for the right time to make banana bread and foster a connection between the piping hot goodness of its meat with the blank unwashed palate of a palette in my mouth.  I'm immobile, see, or slightly mobile for reasons that I won't even share anonymously, and for that reason will veer off course and away from alcohol, which should be expected anyway.

Back to music quickly.  You'll notice that John Fahey experimented with dissonance.  Even after producing hugely structured music for many years--and maybe this is a semantic distinction, because people like Fahey don't really break their own structure so much as meta-synthesize previous discordant elements into a jamboree of sorts.  Let's see if I can call ye an example.  Well, I can, but I can't seem to make my headphones work, so you'll have to go to see some visual examples instead.  Like this, at first, for a young Picasso, and then, well, you know all about the crazy three dimensional faces... and all the weird perspective shifts.  They're great, or you hate them.  Or they're all the same.  I'm sure there are links to support those small fragments of advocacy, and you're sure there are too, so let's just link them mentally for now, okay?  The point is that we hear all that structure and we get used to it, and we expect an artist to produce what we know already, especially when we take our music and whatnot seriously.  There are problems.  One is that you kind of have to know all of an artists previous work to get into the current more abstract stuff.  As I write that, I realize it isn't true, but it certainly helps.

Because eventually you get into like Marc Ribot covering the Beatles, and some reference points are nice if you want to make sense of it:

Friday, October 15, 2010


Imagine beautiful glistening sheering type music, the kind of stuff associated with  high strings, downward percussion, and a lot of layers that magically work well together to form a structure on their own and as one.  They present an even picture of whatever it is that the composer wanted to compose in the first place.  It mimics life, movement, attitude, emotion, and relations.  Now imagine, for example, two streams of pure audio delight that diverged but somehow still make sense together, though they might be going at different speeds, or the light might reflect differently off of the respective water surface of each stream.  Then, around a rock and bend, or a bend and then a rock, they slip slide back into each other with seamless almost nonexistent effort.  Yes, imagine that.  Lots of folks like the former more classical viewpoint--they want triumphant music that makes sense as a whole, that does not seem to go against itself too overtly, etc.  And yet, there's something as rewarding in dissonant qualities as well, if done right. There's folk that like pure dissonance for the sake of liking pure dissonance, which I don't agree with (but everyone that was once a dreamer is now a contrarian, right?), and there's also timeless musicians who rise above these types of divides and create something dazzling. Something new.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Very Short Break

You'll have to excuse me for a few days -- most likely I'll be back on Saturday, when I'll take up the Second Step. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Alternative First Step

The first step of AA is this:

Admit that you are powerless over alcohol (and that your life has become unmanageable)

There's some credence to this claim.  Life probably has become unmanageable if you find yourself at the first step of an AA meeting, or there's some element of life that you don't like, and it relates to your drinking.  That was certainly the case with me, though I can't pinpont it precisely, except to say that I was drinking too much and felt that it might just be an extraordinary waste of time--and that I was suffering and anxious and working to escape my then present surroundings.  It is highly possible that your drinking is a problem and that you just know it as a problem in that general term. 

AA's first step asks you to prioritize your awareness of your alcoholism into their accepted language.  In other words, when following the first step, you do not come to realize your relationship to alcohol with any nuance--you are left out of the relationship.  In turn, that relationship is one sided and extreme:-- which does classify over the top fully realized alcoholics.  But because alcohol is a progressive disease, AA may only catch or hgihlight the worst cases regarding step one.

So, we'll need to localize this first step in the individual, and make it a little more positive:

Admit that you love alcohol over everything else, including yourself.

Admit that you drink to the negative impact of other aspects of your life, and that your drinking has become a central part of your life even when in confluence with other highly positive aspects that, on their own, are rewarding and endure.  Every time you make a decision to drink (and yes, you make a decision to drink, however easy it is, and however hard it might be to make a decision not to drink), you push yourself into a lower position, one that will be harder and harder to dig out from, and one that encourages future drinking.

Don't give up on yourself to give up on alcohol.  You matter too.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Your outside is in and your insight is out, so..

Come on people now!

Anyway, the point is this.  That the typical way folks in Alcoholics Anonymous ween themselves from the drug is through a tremendously selfish path, one that outwardly manifests itself through a nomenclature of selflessness, bending to a higher power, and understanding one's smallish stature in regard to chemical dependency.

That's one perspective anyway. At first blush, I have to say that, for a non-believer, this is one sad sack of solipsistic shit.  I mean, good god man, how the hell are you supposed to accomplish these principles or activities or mental exercises if you don't actually buy into it?  I know, I previously posted about the opportunity or possibility regarding buying into a higher power via Mary Karr's memior, which was very good and soul searching and highly allusionary, and all the shit that's supposed to make a memoir good and fine.  No problem.   I don't even really have a problem myself with this issue, necessarily, at least that I'm open to it.  But, but, well, here's the thing.

You need to come to a realization (as an alcoholic) that you're harming yourself.  You may need to reinvent yourself to some extent, as in tracking the path to alcohol dependency, and you probably need some good ole fashioned social support to get there.  But, and here we go, you still have to make a decision to do it, yourself.  God won't make the decision for you, even if there is a God and even if you or I believe in God too.

Step 6 concerns, for example, the readiness to have God remove your defects.  I think that is fair, but for now, let's just say that, well, we all have defects, and we'll continue to have them to some varying degrees, and that one cannot get rid of defects, and those who do believe they have no defects because they've been lobotomized or removed, or what have you, they start to develop an attitude of sorts, one that may drive other people to drink heavily.

Stress is simply part of life, and one must affirm life and living to stop drinking.

I'm not arguing that there's no God (I have no idea), or that a belief in God might not be helpful in kicking out the addiction in your head, or that AA isn't necessarily helpful for some folks, but, I will endeavor to secularize the AA principles for the next few days nonetheless, assuming it hasn't been done.  If it has been done, I'll go find them and update you tomorrow.

Cat Owner to Cat:

 After administration of catnip:

"You're not only a cat, now you can be more than a cat."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Not Drinking on a Saturday Night

Not doing that much, though I'll tell it to you plain: I certainly thought about doing a lot of highly productive activities, layering them in over each other as other highly productive people might do, not quite to the extreme of synergistic simultaneous production that results in the eventual munificence of the collective whole, no, but maybe zigzagging my way into the procurement of piece of mind for sunday morning reading.  Maybe.  Then again, since I provided myself an underfunded mandate--since I knew my funding was low in the first (yes, i'm quite sure, but thanks for the urging)--frustration available in excess on a sunny october saturday that may or may not be John Lennon's Birthday  and patience a subway screech away--I instead found myself staring at Monet, and Pollack, and others, who, I'm sure, had their own frustrations, which was soothing in a way.  And now I've got energy for cheap novel reading on commercials of commercialized thriller film.  Note, though, that I did post here, as I planned in the first post (add link here).  I'm not drinking today, and, actually, I felt justified about it after listening to some jerks on the train who most certainly didn't share the same perspective.  Ah well,..

Friday, October 8, 2010

Getting Drunk to Spite Someone

Have you ever had the feeling that you'd like to get completely drunk just to spite someone who really cares about you to somehow get back at them while ruining a perfectly sweet sober run?  I'm not talking about rationality here, and it feels more pure that way.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Breaking Glass

Coffee is like a mini addiction in the grayish blue shadow of booze.  Booze might sit in the shadow of something too, but I don't really need an introduction.  So when I stopped drinking coffee, I expected something negative, a headache, a week long migraine, you know, the kind of pressure that crinkles the visual landscape and makes you want to find a match.  Alas, all of my doom and gloom was not matched by proportionate amounts of dyspeptic spiritual reckoning.  In fact, I was greeted with more stable days and increasingly high levels of energy.  So, like with other positive phenomenon, I decided to stick a knife directly to the jugular, and, after making coffee for a co-worker today (my coffee, in my french press), started to pour myself a cup.  Then I touched the lip of the press with the edge of my cup, and jumped a bit as a grating pop sound came off of the interaction, and a piece of something went flying toward the wall.  It took me a minute or two to realize that I had successfully removed a portion of the glass lip from the french press, and that part of it, or many pieces of it, almost microscopic, had fallen directly into my coffee, rendering it undrinkable.  And so, I was saved from myself, as they say.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Morning

Bob Dylan sings it out loud with some religious propensity.  I'm sitting in it, and it just ain't so glamorous.  I'm tired, but won't complain fervently.  The question is an easy one.  How do I find myself sitting here today.  I have crisp and what I think are accurate memories of distinct and prosaic occurrences from 15 years ago.  Sure, I was a teenager, but I"ve got the same memories from other parts of my life too.  Lately my mind has been cycling through them again in infinite detail.  Too much detail, I'd say.  I don't need to remember the glare of the sun when I walked down to the river across the street from the house I lived in as a kid.  Surely smells are always strong reminders. And some sights.  It's funny, because I've always had an inclination toward expectation, and the item I seek, when found, invariably varies as I develop a relationship with it (attaining it being one part of the relationship).  More often lately I've not attempted to reintroduce my older expectation into my new relationship even when the thing is not as good as the saliva producing idea of the thing.  That's because, I know, it is always more complicated once you actually obtain something you've been longing for.  And, over time, it will be more rewarding to distinguish the actual lived experience from the not-actual mind-only experience of expectation.  That's why I'll stick to the facts, if you will pardon the expression, in my life a little more.  That's also why it is good to stay sober.  Because, when I'm sober, I don't lie to myself as much about where I sit or how fucking fantastic things are.

There's a grounding, a basic flattening, and it is so much more stable than before.  The highs are creeping back in, in a good way, although I don't want to be stuck in a memory, it is nice to daydream and let my mind go into it a little bit, to develop the memory if you will, or rediscover it.  At times, I'm certain we remember absolutely everything but can only recall part of it.  If you think about that, well, there's real incentive to be ale to recall what you've got. One thing is that most of my memories now are sober memories, of when I was sober that is, not just sober in a distinctly boring sense, because I don't crisply remember all of the times when I was drinking--in detail like I do with other memories, that is.  Maybe people don't want to remember everything, I don't know.  I'm not everyone though, and have to remember that too, or, hmm, get rid of the notion that I should comport to what I think everyone is, whatever they actually are.  Staying sober is a sure step in the right direction toward comporting my world with the actual world, though I'm aware that there's just too much information in the world to suck in.

Music makes sense out of experience like this too.  In some sense, music is compressed experience.  To the degree that it is, and to the extent that we can talk about music on a time based continuum, the end points (at least the ones we'd have to recognize to talk about it with some cohesion) would be something like "all the way present, or reflecting no time compression" and "compressed a lot" however funny those might seem.

Thus, some very good music is made at all levels.  Some music may take you along without any compression of time, and seem a bit boring at first, and then, just as you sink into the tempo, it switches to a much faster time compression.  It symbolizes more highly an event or occurrence or mindset or what have you.  Good music often mixes it up like this.  Neil Young brings you "right there" in a very present and intimate way, and then backs all the way out to produce something chaotic.

The point is that we all feel something and that we're always, as in constantly, trying to express shit, no matter how it comes out (i.e. even if it seems highly superficial and even if it is highly superficial). That is, we're trying to deal with the compression of the world around us into our much smaller but still highly impressive minds.  And I think our minds work in mixed up way like music, with extensions of time delayed and then sped up, and so here we are, again, this morning.  We certainly wouldn't be here without memory.  Well, we would, but I wouldn't.  And my memory is better now that I'm sober.  I hope.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Response to a Recent Comment

From Anonymous on Recent Post: 

It seems that you're ignoring the fact that a lot of strategic projecting of their image that people do is done unconsciously. Just because you answer a question without (conscious) regard to creating a favorable image of yourself doesn't mean you're answering honestly and without regard to your image. Self-deception is very powerful.

This is undoubtedly true, and a great point.  Much of our signaling to others, that is, the code of the combination of our actions and communications in the world, is not under our control, even if we want it to be the opposite.  Two quick responses.  First, though the above holds, it still allows us to have some control regarding our communications with others and how they'll think of us, and to the extent that we maintain some control, without raising the question of how interaction and image formation work, we can make conscious decisions to be more honest.  True, our honesty must be based on something, and, also true, many people may not even understand how to act honestly in this situation.  The recent post was a shot toward people who have built small lies into their lives, such that they operate with ongoing and different narratives depending on their audience.  For those people, I advocate some higher level of open communication.  The second response, really part of the first is that, if you cannot control certain things about your projected or interpreted self, then you simply cannot control them, and therefore cannot start to pay attention and counter them, somehow.  Unless they are recognizable (and perhaps they are), in which case, then, well, maybe there's something to do about it.  I'll have to think about that a little bit more.

To be much more specific: I'm talking to myself, again, of course.  Without knowing it I kept what I incorrectly classified as harmless secrets because, I thought, if those secrets were known, they would become unnecessary problems.  A nice way to say that Ignorance is Bliss, but in this case, I thought I had a real claim toward bliss and ignorance, unless it/activity becomes obvious to the person who should remain ignorant-then we've got some not so blissy conversations to have. Here's the catch: if the behavior would have been previously revealed, then bliss would remain and no real conversations would have had to occur--in essence, the hiding part was really unnecessary.  I wasn't hiding my drinking, mind you, I'm still sober, but if anything, the experience was instructive.

Now, as far as unconscious signaling goes, I'll have to do more reading and thinking about it, but I'm not sure what drinking symbolizes in this context.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Break the Need to Maintain Secrecy

Secrecy is a funny thing.  Perhaps we should call it selective information sharing.  Either way, what you tell people obviously has an affect on them, on how they view you, that is, on how they think of you, and therefore, in a way, how you think about yourself.  Even if you were the source of flattering information in the first place, when it comes back to you from a believing mouth, it is helpful and seems believed and that, I think, bolsters one's ego, or self-esteem, or whatever.  But, and here's the big caveat: when you control that information to such an extent that other people cannot seem to locate other pieces of you, then you do a bit of a disservice to yourself and to your friends.  To yourself because you're setting up a persona of who you are, and not acting like who you are.  To be clear, acting like who you are doesn't mean that you have to be rude, or that you have no civility.  It doesn't mean that you produce loud flatulence, for instance: it simply doesn't mean you go around unedited or without respect for other people.  Instead, though, consider absolute transparency.  If someone asks a question, you answer it without regard to creating a favorable image of yourself.  You answer it honestly, in other words, with thoughts similar to the thoughts you say to yourself, edited out, in this sense, for sake of efficiency -- you'll have to summarize a little bit.  Consider, for a second, the freedom that this allows without at the same time thinking about the restrictions it may bring.  Now you won't need to provide pieces of yourself to certain people to maintain the illusion that you are in line with their viewpoints or that you fit a particular role.  You're freer to act in contradictory ways, even, in that you don't have to maintain an image of what you think that they think they want.  That doesn't mean, of course, that you aren't internally consistent. What it means is that you're more likely to find people that you actually get along with and share common interests, etc.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

You can't blame anyone

If you're trying to get sober, as I am (and now sober), you may find yourself at times turning toward external stimuli or people as a source of previous abusive drinking.  While it is most certainly true that there were a host of external stimuli or inputs to excessive drinking, it is not going to help to try to localize guilt or blame or responsibility on those features of the past.  They are quite simply part of a past, and you won't get going into the future by figuring out how to assign blame.  You will get into the future by thinking about how you related to those previous elements and how patterns of your own behavior played a role in exacerbating some of the stimuli from those previous events.   Yeah, I know, it makes shit harder now (it would be easy to talk about the crowd you used to hang out with), but there's nothing to do about it except revive relationships that are worth reviving. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

You May Never Overcome Alcohol

Reminded gently by a recent comment that alcohol abuse and routine drinking to the exclusion of more important items, people and pursuits, may not be something surmountable (because of one's genes), I am again left at a harder point than I planned to be when starting this blog, and when deciding not to drink for enough months to add up to a year or so: I may have to stop drinking completely, as in, the rest of my life.  Damnit, and I really didn't want to make that decision right now.  I didn't really want this to be a struggle, is what I'm saying, and I'll admit that I look forward more to the excitement of a possible accomplishment than the hard work it may take to get there .Why not, after all, I'm human, and delayed satisfaction isn't a particular trait that humans tend to be good at attaining.

From what I can tell, folks that are more inclined to booze get more pleasure out of booze and hit a maximal threshold (wherein normal people get tired and have simply had enough) at a very late point, leading to, you guessed it, increased tolerance and more of the original substance to hit the same high one once achieved earlier.  That's enough to propel a lot of people into some bad places.  How to know that you're one of them: just look around at your family.  Do any of them exhibit the tell tale signs?  That's the shortcut to figuring out whether you should consider halting any and all alcohol consumption.  It is an easy line and it is readily available for most people.  So, if you're reading this, and you know you have a family member that has suffered, and you know that you have suffered a little because of your own indulgence, or because of the family member, then consider not drinking, however fast you might defend your drinking.

See, I'm really just talking to myself.

To make another distinction.  I know that functioning alcoholics exist--people that can work and be successful in the world and still abuse booze.  But, I'm no longer under some romantic assumption that their behaviors don't come at some cost, even though such costs must be well hidden.  Smart people are not immune from alcoholistic tendencies, they may just be better at self-denial and hiding type behavior.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Controlled Drinking?

I was reminded by Sobriety Girl's Post about the idea of moderate drinking yesterday that it might not be as clear cut and exciting to experiment with moderate drinking after a period of sobriety.  After all, we addictive personality-types sure know how to walk the line, and then lose our balance.  After six months of sobriety last year I too decided that I should have a drink, that I had proved something, at least, and that I could handle the drinking.  Sure, I did handle it fairly well for a few days, but then I thought, somehow, that it could be normal to come home and have a drink or two, and then, on the weekends, to have a few more than one or two, and pretty soon I was drinking every day--and then I increased the amount I drank.  After a few more weeks of this, there was no difference between who I had been before my dry spell, and then the dry spell didn't matter.  I was me, the person who drinks and wants more to drink, and I was no longer the person who didn't want to drink, or had a reason to stop drinking.  In fact, my period of sobriety no longer mattered, and that meant, directly, that my sobriety itself no longer mattered.  Fast forward six months, and a number of atrocious situations that don't need to be dredged up from the muck of my personally polluted body of aqueous experience, and you find me again, wanting to get and stay sober, which is the purpose of this writing, at heart.