Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What Is Life About?

God help me, because I don't know anymore.

Is it mating?  Is that it?  Raising issue/kids?  Is it about status, finding a way in this cold world and holding your head high against the tides that be?

A Beethoven string quartet?  Beauty?  Some aesthetic ideal?  Aren't aesthetic ideals just sort of reflections of what's so beautiful about life, though, in some more essential way?

Getting into good relations with others?  Well, what does that mean?  What relationship is crucial and honest, not a pot-luck or amalgam of hesitations and false-starts?  Which relationships work?

Having respectful kids?  Parents?  Elders?

Is it not going mad by the time you've reached middle age?  Recognized mortality?  Fended off youthful idealism?  Found enlightenment?  Where?  How?  What does it look like?  Is there any right answer?  I'm stunned for something correct.  Please provide it.

Have faith?  Is that the answer?  Have faith that there is purpose?

In the end, is religion effective because it is effectively all we can do??

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thank God I Made It To Where I Am Today

What a pathetic and shallow post title!

What little punk of a kid would risk the shallowness of a greeting card.

Where else do you think you could ever be, besides where you are, anyway!

Well...  I'll tell you where.  I could cease to exist.  I could have vanished.  I'm not living an out loud life these days, trying to imprint my existence on other people or the world as much as when I felt I could do such a thing, and I'm certainly unaligned in political battles.  I see turf wars with a wary eye.

What I've just accomplished, at this moment, is a very decent roast of coffee in my home oven, and some opera, prepared laundry, written a few words in a journal that I'll type out henceforth, and worked a decent day at my decent job.

I don't need more, necessarily.  There are other facts that I'm leaving out.  I've been losing weight, fast.  Since I stopped eating all sugar, it has been like I'm in a new body.  Huge amounts of energy that were not available in the past.  Consistency of sleep.  Exercise.  A loving partner.

But I'm well aware that I could have ruined it.  Seriously ruined it.  And "it" to a lot of people is perhaps something to be looked down upon.  I however, am growing to cherish it a lot more than I ever thought I could.

Because our decisions do matter.

And I was very close to  making flip decisions that would impact me for the rest of my life many, many times.

And I'm glad that I didn't make certain decisions, and that other decisions didn't hurt me as much as they could have hurt me.

And I'm glad I have the courage to stick to something for once.  I've NEVER been able to stick to anything.  Just stick to it, I tell myself, and I tell you, readers, and stick and stick and stick.

Queue webbed feet.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Not Cursed. Blessed.

I got that feeling today of being extremely lucky.  All of the things that represent the biggest challenges to me, that I can get really worked up concerning different possible scenarios.

They flipped.

I can't explain it so much as intuit it.   Instead of representing challenges to be overcome, they mutated into blessings for me to enjoy in the fullest, and I got a rush of good ole connection with those around me.

Instead of feeling threatened and making complicated excuses for my own emotional responses, I felt thankful.

Instead of trying to protect my ego by denigrating other people, I felt fortunate that I could be exposed to the challenge they represent.

If I couldn't respond to what someone was saying it meant not that they were stupid, but that I had to refine my beliefs.

I know this sounds quaint.  Trust me, when reading it I know.  I also know this is fundamentally true in a big way, a way that allows me to stand on my own shoulders and embrace that which I am submerged in, instead of trying to run away from it, or be scared.

Overwhelmingness and incomprehensibility are to be cherished sometimes.  Now happens to be one of those times.

Drunk Driving

I realized that after two and a half years of sobriety and blogging about sobriety I had not spoken whatsoever of any episodes of drunk driving.

The reason?  I'm so bloomin' ashamed of my own behavior, I can't even anonymously report any incident.

Which is a testament to the tremendous loads of guilt I've let sit on my chest for years, how badly they made me feel, and how much I want to avoid--simply obliterate more likely--the memories.

But the truth, naturally, is that I, like you, if you are an raging binge drinker/alcoholic like me, and live mostly anywhere in America where bars are only accessible via auto, have driven drunk, quite a few times.

My general rule was not to do so, mind you.

It's never like I set out to drive drunk.  Who does?

Drunk driving is a behavior like domestic violence.  I don't think there's a way to justify it, and I don't think those who perpetuate it begin their days saying that they plan on committing an act of intrinsic evil.

But the formula for occurrence is easy.  You know a few friends.  Friends who like to drink.  You live in a Midwestern state, for instance   Your friends live outside of the city.  Not too far, but far enough that taking your car is a normal way to arrive to the event.

You arrive at event.  Set strict limit for alcohol consumption.  You overindulge.  You wait out the overindulgence.  But then again, how long does it take to get 1 drink out of your system?  1 hour, 2? How many hours can one sit there, letting one's liver clean out the booze?

And what if the over indulgence was 4 beers worth.

And what's the legal limit anyway?  Isn't it at least 4 beers?  Isn't it at least .08?  Sometimes .10?  Isn't that 5?

Isn't it justifiable that having 7 and waiting 2 hours is okay?

Well, these are hard calculations to make.  How much food have you had?  How much weight?

And that's only the situation where I ended up driving drunk incidentally, whereas I was not drunk enough to black out or be totally out of my skin, so I drove "Carefully," whatever the fuck that means.

There are other situations.  Far worse situations.  Situations where holding the wheel itself is a chore.  Where judging the distance to a stop light is a journey in itself.  Where the eyeball doesn't want to constrict and all lights turn into big blurs.  Where sliding happens.  Where worse happens.

Thanks God nothing worse ever happened to me.  I can count those bad times on one hand.  I'm relatively young.  But I was lucky.  And I know people who were not so lucky.  And their entire lives changed, not to mention people's lives they hit.  Not to mention all sorts of other vile shit that I can't even get into here without feeling an excessive need to vomit.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Make No Mistake

People will screw you over if they can.

And that's unfortunate, but true, in a lot of cases.

Home construction.  Autos.  Lots of services where you don't have a specialty and you don't know the true price of the service.  They change their terms.  They add in little extras.  They nudge.  They plead.  It is ridiculous and true.  The quote, then requote.

As if we need more people besides ourselves screwing with ourselves.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Do You Want to Struggle?

What's the honest answer?

The honest answer is that we want the recognition, esteem, and perhaps insights that struggles bring, the experiential knowledge of interactivity, and not necessarily the cost, the moments of abject loneliness, of tepid criminality, pangs of guilt, shame, worse.

Struggling is so often a predicate for worthwhile behaviors that we forget that there could be degrees to struggle, to strife, and that those degrees of intensity don't correspond one for one to the outcomes that we desire from struggle.

Yes, this is abstract, and yes applicable to many situations.

But the honest answer is that we want an easy route to nirvana, that we want enlightenment without starvation, that we are all hypocrites  and that this is expected okay behavior.  We don't need to denigrate hypocrites.  It won't do any good.  It is in our nature.  I dislike unfair play, competitions that protect folks who shouldn't be protected, people who don't make it on their merit.  The truth, though, is that merit is a fairly fungible thing, outside of outcomes that are finitely computational, and lots of people get jobs, for instance, because of the way they make their potential boss feel, or worse.  There's a lot of unfair shit that can drive any sane person right off the cliff of insanity.

Struggle, though, isn't about getting things for free.  So why go nuts when thinking about how others get things with no struggle?

Because the truth is that we don't want to struggle, not right now.  We want to watch TV, or maybe go for a walk, or maybe just sort of read and lounge.  But the truth is also that we will suffer for our stagnation, that it is unhealthy to sit all day, mentally and physically, and that we will be happier if we don't follow our nature to be as lazy as we possibly can.    That's what self-improvement is all about, anyway, not just finding the easy road because it is possible, but weighing a host of heavier handles, and trying to pick in a dynamic fluid system that is opaque at best, trying to maintain the complexity in models where we need simplicity for the sake of moving anywhere.

At times it is easier just to throw up our hands, to sigh, to scream, to fuck everyone and everything, and just . . .

What, exactly?

Trying, struggling, learning to fail, those are the things we do the best.  To stop is to die.  To stop is to become stale.  To fail smartly is the hardest thing.  Not to align one's ego with all murmurs across the hall, not to hold fiercely onto ideology or outrage for the sake of feeling good about oneself.  To exist and be small, to step back and re-evaluate without pressure, to sink into pressure again, to flop and to make nervous gestures, to implicate, to run away, to simply accept the colossal mountain of shit we've emerged from, relatively battered, maybe, still alive, still attempting to run a solid respectable life without giving in

To stray purposefully away from everything that is cheap and easy, not for the sake of principle so much as because cheap and easy things are so very expensive. To learn from the sins of our youth, and not proselytize sin.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Things are, for the first time, not so bad.

For the first time in my life, I honestly feel like things are not so bad.  I know that sounds slack, and halfway dishonest. For the first time in my life, I don't think of perfection as the sole goal to living.  I understand that process is the point, the end of the journey, and it is a profound cliche: the point of living is to err, to correct, to find solutions that aren't immediately evident, to deal with unexpected layers of events you had no idea could even occur before they did.  To understand the mounting tension in a Bach string quartet, before it slowly disintegrates back to a few simple lines.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Proper Nutrition Beats Alcohol -

If you're drinking your meals, it will be virtually impossible to stop drinking.

Because you'll get fucking hungry as all hell.

For goodness sake eat some solid protein instead of drinking.  Not refined carbs.  Not sugar.  Not alcohol.

It is easier to quit when you're not starving.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pissing People Off -

This is bound to happen some day.  We simply cannot always placate everyone else.  

For many years, I tried.  It is in my nature to try.  Often to a fault.  Lots of other people simply always look out for "number 1" without any equivocation.

But it also turns out that some interactions really are zero sum game, and in those situations, you basically offer a different person comfort at your expense.  This is okay sometimes, surely, and expected.  There are a number of situations where it is expected that we relinquish seats, slow down, or otherwise help. 

There are other situations, though, when our desires are strictly opposed by others, and the only way to get what we desire, or need, is to not put others first.  It isn't always pleasant.  For me it isn't pleasant.

The point is not to do so gratuitously. Stick up for yourself without inflicting damage or causing unnecessary future harm.

Be careful, though (see, even now, I am putting myself second): outrage is an easy trigger for us all.  It binds us into and against others, and offers tunnel vision.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Being A Man


1) Finding the courage to fight through days that don't give a shit about you.

2) Doing the responsible thing, even when it reduces expected pleasure.

3) Finding peace and solace in moments when the world supplies them.

4) Knowing how to compromise your ideal of a perfect world with the world that is, and how to manage the expectations of others so that everyone comprehends what was agreed on, and who will take part in which responsibilities.

5) Being able to back down when challenged.

6) Seeking consistent healthy friends.

7) Building flexibility into your conception of your day.

8) Failing at something and continuing on.  And on.

9) Knowing how to look at death without allowing it to level everything of meaning to meaninglessness.

Procrastination -

I had breakfast today with a good friend.  He described a dynamic of procrastination that was especially pernicious and lucid.

He said, essentially, that for him, procrastination was very thick, leading him to inactivity for most of a day, for instance, but that, when he actually started to engage in an activity, to be productive, he got extremely intense about how productive he was, so much so that he was unreasonable with himself, and wouldn't stop, causing his tardiness to multiple events, which further fueled this dynamic.

Another example.  Arrive late to work, very late.  Get very serious about and send out multiple emails.  When there are no responses in 15 minutes, get on the phone and demand responses.  Get outraged that people cannot work when you want them to work.

Meanwhile, you, the example you, were actually 4 hours late to work.

It is a vicious cycle.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Alcohol, My Best Friend

There's one thing that alcohol does effectively: makes you feel less alone.

I'm not saying that drinking alcohol is a way to beat loneliness, at least not all the time, but it does provide a level of certitude, drama, and general mental warmth.  Even a hangover is something to get over, something to coax away, to work on, and allows one to avoid stunning isolation, myopia, and depressed-type living that can very well occur when sober.

Perhaps that is one aspect of becoming sober that is not desirable.  There's no running away from cold hard reality, or at least it isn't as easy as it used to be.  Go home and drown your troubles?  In what?  If you can't find the bottle, yee old friend from many years, exactly who keeps you warm at night?  Who can ever keep you as warm as alcohol?  Alcohol is total ego deluge.  It is the capacity to be totally self-focused.  Nobody will ever give that to us in the same way as alcohol, and if they do, well, there will be costs to pay later on down the road.  Healthy relationships are not evinced via modeled alcohol-relationships, even though, or especially because, alcohol feels so right, so righteous, so morally pure and correct, like diving in to what one is supposed to be and swimming in light playful energy.

It is the bliss of full emotional engagement that alcohol provides, and that no alcohol doth not provide easily.  One must earn such engagements, and only by getting sober does it become fully clear that using alcohol for many years is like buying them all on credit and blind-folding oneself until the next binge.

Fuck what the doctors are saying about my liver enzymes, what my boss said when I got fired, what my wife said moments after the grainiest most vicious manipulative frothed evil fight we've conjured, and mostly, fuck everybody who doesn't want what I've got, because, we all know that we don't have to change, and that our friend alcohol will just keep telling that to us as long as we want.

It doesn't have to get better.  The default is not getting better. It is something else entirely.  And until we stop drinking, we, and we know who we are, will not be able to realize how utterly backwards we've been running our lives.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Comment By Anonymous

The most common comment by far, mind you.

And here's one:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "What Happens When You Stop Drinking. How Long to ...": 

Im 21, and have been drinking regularly (mostly every weekend) since age 13 and now regularly has turned into most week nights as well. My friends and I usually drink for every occasion. Whatever we're doing we've always looked at as an opportunity to drink. After puking (which I never do anymore) and making some other really poor decisions 2 Saturdays ago and experiencing one of the worst hangover of my life--which lasted two days-- I realized I was sick of living like this and letting a substance make me feel so shitty. I have really bad anxiety the days after I drink even if I'm not that hungover, and I feel drowsy and not up for anything. I decided I didn't want to let alcohol be the center of my life. I haven't gotten drunk in twelve days and as bad as it sounds, this is the longest I've gone since several years ago but I can already see a difference. My anxiety has went down, my face has cleared up, I'm happier, and have more energy. My whole outlook has changed. I do get antsy at night though and have cravings but I try to immerse myself in something else, like a book or homework. I want to learn to have fun without needing alcohol. I know I can be a fun person without it but I always just chose to drink and be the life of the party. I don't feel like I need to do that anymore and I don't think it's worth the hangovers and the anxiety and the money. However, being at school makes it very hard. This is my last semester of my senior year of college and drinking is the culture here. I'm also on the rugby team. Drinking is pretty synonymous with the sport. My friends are all going to give me a hard time but I really want to stick to this for the sake of my health, my life. Advice? 

Advice here is that you can make it through your senior year for the sake of your life, as you say.  If you're asking whether you have a problem drinking, well, it sounds like you know that you do.  I used to drink for the sake of going to parties, because I did experience heavy layers of shame from not being as social as I thought I should be, whether that meant going to the party in the first place, or talking to people at the party.

Don't expect your rugby friends to understand that you're trying to get and stay sober.  You don't have to explain it to them.  They don't really need that kind of access to your emotional inner-self.  Instead, tell them the doctor gave you orders not to drink.  Tell them you've been prescribed medication, or that your liver is already showing problems.  Tell them to fuck off.  Tell that you're on your way to meet buddha!  Tell them they can drink endlessly if they choose.

See, what I'm trying to write around here is the funny idea that your friends won't change when you stop drinking.  It just isn't true.  If you're not drinking all weekend (and week) with those friends, your relationship to them will change.  It just will.  It is unstoppable.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Small Things (Days, Months, Years)

Humbling oneself can itself become quite an egotistical journey, one that involves plenty of signaling, hierarchy, and ostensible sublimation.

I'm trying, very intently, not to think too much about the journey.  The large over-arching narrative of life.

For many years, I kept wondering whether I'd gotten "there", wherever it was that I had previously wanted to be, and where I could actually relax.  I kept looking for little cues as to whether it was there that I was, and if not, how much further it would be.

I kept idolizing the notion of letting go.  Without understanding one bit the idea of letting go.

Because I am starting to think now the idea of letting go actually involves the destruction of the self.  All of the things that we've told ourselves about who it is we are and what cardinal character.

I mean, I've "known" that fact in the past too.  Naturally you just destruct who you are and build a new one!  The actual process means letting go of all sorts of problematic romantic ideas, though.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Comment From Anonymous about sobriety While Binging -

"Anonymous said...
So guys I am drinking tonight, I failed, three weeks sober it was awesome I am an invesable drunk, no one can tell when I have had too much to drink, and I do not get a hangover Hope I can start over tomorrow.