30 September 2007

Meat and potatoes

It's been a good week for meetings. My home group met on Monday night. Being the last Monday of the month it was our speaker meeting, where the speaker gets the whole hour. We heard from someone who regularly attends our first meeting of each month (because it's a a Tradition meeting) but never any other.

On Tuesday night, I attended a meeting I rarely go to and heard Luigi, who had a great, great message. On the surface he and I have little in common, other than being alcoholics. He grew up on the city streets; I was a country boy. He was a heroin addict; I never got into any drugs. He never thought about getting a job till after he was sober; I never considered not having one. But he seemingly spoke directly to me, about how we can focus on the differences and find plenty of them, or focus on the similarities and find plenty of those too. With several years sober he had the thought that a lot of us have had: that we can go out for one night, have a few drinks then just come back to A.A. and easily get sober again. Luigi acted on that thought and couldn't get back for quite a while. I'm quite sure I'd get similar results.

On Wednesday night, my sponsor, The Rock, spoke at an anniversary meeting. He was outstanding. I've heard him several times and this was the best so far, full of humility, gratitude and emotion.

Early Thursday night, I went on my semi-regular walk and was debating whether to go to a meeting. I decided against it just before I got home. I walked in the house at 7:45 pm and got a load of criticism dumped on me, turned around and walked out to my car to drive to an 8:00 pm meeting. I was a few minutes late to the meeting—something I hate to be—but it did for me what I needed it to do and came out feeling a little less restless, a little less irritable and a little less discontent.

Last night I took Nimue to our Intergroup's annual dinner-dance, attended by almost 500 people. I asked her, thinking she wouldn't want to go, but for some reason decided she wanted to. I wound up half wishing I hadn't asked her, not because of anything that happened, but just because I'm more comfortable these days when I'm not around her. I saw a lot of friends and heard a DCM with whom I served on Panel 51 (2001-2002). I had heard him before too, and he was as good as ever on Saturday night.

This afternoon I spoke at a meeting 40 minutes away that I've never attended. I felt pretty good about how it turned out and had a nice drive home through some gorgeous countryside on a wonderful fall day (unlike the drive up which was up a main artery with far too much traffic and wall-to-wall commercial establishments lining most of the distance). I hit on two points I always try to remember to make: the importance of the steps and of carrying the message.

A guy who shared after I spoke commented that, for him, the steps are the meat and potatoes of the program. I like good analogies and the more I thought about this one, the more I liked it. Meat and potatoes don't just magically appear on the table for us to eat. There's a cook or two in the kitchen who had to prepare them. Someone had to go to the store and buy the raw ingredients. Some people at the grocery store had to make sure these ingredients were available on the shelves. Some others had to transport the raw goods from wherever they were produced to the retail outlet. Still others raised the beef and grew the potatoes and harvested them both. And these are just the most obvious things that had to happen. There are many, many services that go on behind the scenes in order to make the meal available, all of them essential.

Then tonight I attended another anniversary, that of my first home group, where I first got involved in general service. I was their GSR for about 15 months in 1993-1994. I heard the same person speak that spoke at the same church for another group's anniversary eight days ago. He's a guy I saw regularly in early sobriety but rarely see anymore. He was a big help to me in those early days and I got thank him publicly for it.

I'm so fortunate to have so many meetings to choose from, to have so many recovering alcoholics for friends. It wasn't alway so and still isn't so many places today, both in the U.S. and around the world. And it wasn't ever so, anywhere for ages and ages, up until a few decades ago. So if I'm still feeling restless, irritable and discontent, it could be worse. Much much worse.

29 September 2007

Comment approval

I'm sorry to report that due to continual posting of unwanted comments by one individual, despite my direct request to him to stop, I've decided to turn on the option to approve all comments before they are posted. I'm really sorry to impose this inconvenience to everyone else, but there's no other option available that seems reasonable to me. More than for any other reason, I hate doing it because it feel like I am handing some kind of victory to a sick person who doesn't know how to be kind or even considerate.

You can see what kind of person this so-called Christian is by reading the comment he left me here after I politely asked him to stop doing so.

28 September 2007

First-aid for burns

(Warning: clicking on the picture to the left will lead to a blog containg images that some viewer may find disturbing, espcially overeaters.)

Something I told my daughter almost twenty years ago, when she was 14 or 15, saved my 1½ year-old grandson from getting a very serious burn on his hand the other day. He put his hand, palm down, on a hot ceramic stovetop. His mother, S-Cat, remembered me saying when I was on the local volunteer ambulance squad that running cold water over a burn right away can reduce what would be a third-degree burn to a second, or a second-degree burn to a first. So she immediately picked him up, turned around and ran cold water over his hand. Fortunately she had been standing right there. At the burn center, they said she probably had prevented him getting a third-degree burn and that he might get away without even getting any blisters.

Care-takers of children, please take note! Of course this works equally well for the older ones of us who are occasionally unfortunate enough to get burned as well. Personally I like using ice even better, because it kills the pain. Just gotta be sure you don't freeze the tissue, which is a real danger, because as soon as you remove the ice, the searing pain returns almost immediately.

Listening to my own advice

Things are not as good this last week. I've been short-tempered, sullen, tired and unmotivated. Sunday was stressful: I chaired a meeting that an ad hoc committee I was not a part of had planned. I kept getting hit with surprises, which I like even less than usual when I'm chairing. I had my own 5-minute spiel to give and I felt inarticulate while giving it.

But all that was okay. When I got home, I had a bummer of an interaction with Nimue that seemed to have started me into my... well, "tailspin" is too strong a word, maybe "unplanned descent" is more accurate. We had several such spates throughout the week, mostly recently last night.

All week long I've been wondering to what extent, if any, this is due to my on-going unplanned withdrawal from Prozac. When I last posted about this, I once again had some slight hope that I had gotten through to my mail-order pharmacy, Caremark. A couple of days after that post, I got a call saying my order had finally shipped. But then a week later, I got another call saying they couldn't ship because they needed more information from my doctor. I let this person really have it and wound up hanging up on her because she wouldn't listen to what I was saying and insisted on talking over me when I was trying to speak. The next day I got the non-Prozac portions of my order filled at a local pharmacy, which of course cost me more than getting them mail-order would have. But at least I got them. I figured I had proven by then I didn't really need the Prozac and even was better off without it (mostly due to sleeping so much better). Or so I thought.

Then in reflecting this morning, I had the thought that for the preceding few weeks, back to the beginning of August, I had finally started to have "the courage to change [some of] the things I can," addressing some ongoing issues in our household that have left me feeling out of control of my life for years. Not that I ever expect my life to be manageable. But I do feel like we ought to be able to keep strangers—to me anyway—from walking into our house unbidden when no one's home, to not have leftover foods lying around the living room for days at a time, to not have dirty dishes pile up for over a week on the kitchen counters, to not have piles of cigarette butts and other smoking trash littering the entrance to our house, etc. I had begun to address some of these issues on my own, without Nimue's help or cooperation, even with her active opposition at times, despite the fact that her children are responsible for these things.

But this last week, I have once again started feeling that the price I pay for such efforts in terms of my relationship with Nimue is too high. I've got a real bad case of the "f--- its." The Rock, my sponsor, is very sympathetic to this view of things. He thinks I tolerate far too much abuse and keeps telling me not to be such a doormat. But then I know that he's got issues that cloud his judgment when it comes to relationships with women.

When my therapist first recommended going onto an anti-depressant, I was skeptical. I told him I thought my depression was situational rather than clinical. He responded that if the anti-depressant improved my mood, by definition it was a clinical depression. Up till now I've pretty much bought that. But all along I've wondered about it. Defining something a certain way doesn't make it really so. Who's to say that a depression can't be caused by the situation and still be helped by chemicals?

Or am I just playing my lifelong head game of finding the reasons to justify whatever point of view I prefer? I don't know. My inclination is just to muscle my way through the situation and "force" myself to feel better.

Funny, that's what I keep hearing from Mr Riches-to-Rags. And I keep telling him that's not how it works. Maybe I should be listening to my own advice.

21 September 2007

Random Questions

I'm taking up Doc's Girl on her offer to link to anyone who answers these questions.


Yes, my first name: all the oldest males on my maternal grandfather's side of the family for at least five generations had it. Some had it as a first name, others as a middle name. My mother's older brother had it as a first name, but he died at three days old. Then her younger brother got it as a middle name; he died in Texas in a jeep accident during World War II. I didn't realize this until well after I had named my own son, so I broke the tradition. Still, the second syllable of his first name is pronounced the same as my first name.


At my daughter's wedding in May.


It's not real honest-to-goodness handwriting; it's a kind of printing. Yes, I do like it. During grammar school, handwriting was the only subject I got bad grades in.


Thinly sliced steak, no question.


Five. Not including step-children (four) of children-in-law (two so far).


Most of the time, but certainly not always. Sometimes I get really tired of myself.


Yes, all the time.


Yes, I still have everything but 8 teeth—rather unbelievably, I have a really small mouth, LOL—and a little bit of skin from the 4th toe on my left foot that was replaced with skin from my thigh.


Yes, especially if no one else dared to.


Granola—currently Bear Naked brand.


Depends on the shoes: my sneakers, no; my dress shoes; yes; my sandals (which is what I wear whenever possible except when it's raining or snowing), obviously not.


Not particularly, though other people say I am.


Black raspberry chip (preferably with dark chocolate chips).


Their sense of comfort with themselves.




That I'm sober today.

On a materialistic note, I like that I'm exactly the height that everyone manufactures things for. I used to be exactly the size that everyone makes things for, and I could count on fitting into almost anything bought off the rack, but I've since put on some weight.


My maternal grandmother.


Black jeans, brown tie-up shoes.


Three cupfuls of low-sodium V-8 with healthy doses of Tabasco sauce.


Nothing. I wish I were listening to my favorite local jazz station, but it would probably be bothering those sitting within earshot of me.


Raw sienna (BTW, here is a great place to do research).


Coffee—I drink a lot of it but the smell has always been better than the taste—the air after a sudden spring rain, leaves starting to decay in fall, the ocean, marijuana (even though I never did more than experiment with it a couple of times) and sex.


A guy I was trying to talk into doing a presentation at an A.A. service event this coming Sunday. The person scheduled to do it went into the hospital with chest pains, had her heart catheterized, was told to stay at home and rest for a while, and still was planning to come do the presentation herself. I told her she couldn't. He demurred and I've since left messages for the other four people who are qualified to give it. I don't have high hopes of anyone agreeing to fill in.

Before that it was someone from Caremark, telling me that I needed my doctor's office to fax them some information before they could fill my prescriptions. This despite the call last week saying my meds had been shipped. Grrrrrr!


Curling, football (preferably Australian rules or Canadian, but not college—go figure) and ice hockey (NHL).


Brown, with more and more of it turning white, especially in my beard.




Yes, except at night.


Seafood, especially shellfish, especially lobster; dark chocolate; anything with caramel.


Most happy endings are too pat. Most scary movies are dumb. Despite the risk of appearing a traitor to my sex, I don't care at all for action movies either. I'm definitely into chick flicks, especially those that are confusing, odd or unusual in some way (Mulholland Drive, for example).


We Were Soldiers, which is a little embarrassing to admit.


Light blue—the color of faded jeans.


Spring and autumn.


I couldn't imagine living without both, yet here I am, stuck with just hugs for a couple of years now. Sometimes I wish I didn't have such scruples.


Dark chocolate, caramel.


Wittgenstein's Nephew, by Thomas Bernhard.


The help-desk logo of one of my clients, with their phone number and e-mail address.


Charlie Rose (he was interviewing Alan Greenspan).


A well-played clarinet doing a jazz classic, like Stardust.


Beatles, most definitely. The only thing that's changed since 1963 is that now I like John better than Paul.


Adelaide, South Australia (not including in my imagination).


Yes, for carrying the message of recovery to other alcoholics. It's the primary purpose in my life.


In a hospital about 6½ km down the road from where I now live, even though I grew up about 100 km away, in the next state.

The Gift of Freedom

Today's Daily Reflection:

The Last Promise

We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 84

The last Promise in the Big Book came true for me on the very first day of sobriety. God kept me sober that day, and on every other day I allowed Him to operate in my life. He gives me the strength, courage and guidance to meet my responsibilities in life so that I am then able to reach out and help others stay sober and grow. He manifests within me, making me a channel of His word, thought and deed. He works with my inner self, while I produce in the outer world, for He will not do for me what I can do for myself. I must be willing to do His work, so that He can function through me successfully.

This is closely aligned with my conception of God. The Higher Power manifests within me. If I am living right and cooperating with his/her design for living, then I become a channel. This is the means—the only means—God has of communciating with us directly: through other human beings. God lives, if you will, on the spiritual plane of existence, and while we live in this world, our consciousness remains on a material, physical plane and we are only vaguely aware of the spiritual one. Thus God's communication with those around us depends upon our freely chosen willingness to do his/her will.

As God said in response to Ernie Chambers's lawsuit against him/her: "I created man and woman with free will and next to the promise of immortal life, free will is my greatest gift to you." May I use this gift wisely!

20 September 2007

Recovery police?

My friend Jew in Recovery posted the other day that he came home from an NA meeting and started feeling like he was getting high. He wondered about the coffee. I quoted from his post and commented (without the links):

"I plan on emailing anonymously the county NA to register a suspicion. This is another diff. with NA, there are very likely users and dealers masquerading around there for the purpose of meeting new clients and fellow users. You know, find the guy or gal who will relapse, and now you have a new customer.

I know that this does happen there. because one of their rules is that they state, no illegal activities are allowed or action will be taken."

Wow, as a so-called "pure alcoholic" I had no idea. Is the presence of dealers at meetings a common occurrence? Are there NA "cops" who police this kind of thing? Is that who "county NA" are? What will county NA do after receiving your e-mail? What action is taken when illegal activities occur?

I shudder to think what it would be like to be attending meetings under such conditions. Yet another thing to be grateful for.

Another reminder of why I don't drink

A friend of mine shared his story last night. I've heard him several times before but, as usual, there were some things I'd never heard before, including this particularly horrific one.

One night while he was still drinking, he had his young son with him while playing poker at a friends house. He passed out and, during the night, one of the other men took his son upstairs and molested him. This is something my friend has had to live with for many years and that will continue to haunt him for the rest of his life.

Yet another example of the possible consequences of picking up a drink that constitute a fate worse than death, jail or institutions (the three most commonly cited in these parts).

19 September 2007

Let me say something good

Something about this song really appeals to the alcoholic in me:

You finally said something good when you said goodbye
So don't wait around to see if I'm a gonna cry
Instead of tears streaming down my face you'll find a great big smile in their place
You finally said something good when you said goodbye

I don't wanna rush things honey but I'll help you pack
I've been waitin' on you to make a move like that
Don't waste anytime on words my dear you already said what I wanna hear
Yeah you finally said something good when you said goodbye

Better make your move faster honey I'll call a cab
Now don't worry about the money I'll pay the tab
Now you've been talking for nearly a year and at last you said what I wanted to hear
Yeah you finally said something good when you said goodbye

Oh you finally said something good...
Oh you finally said something good when you said goodbye

(recently performed by Teddy Thompson on his album Up Front & Low Down)
I guess I wish I'd always been in the position to be able to say something like this. More accurately, I wish I'd ever been in the position to be able to say something like this.

15 September 2007


So much for being back to more normal sleep schedules. I went to bed at 11:30, watched a bit of a PBS documentary and fell asleep around midnight. I woke up at 2:10 and couldn't get back to sleep. After half an hour of trying to, I got up. Now here I am an hour later. I do think I'll need a at least a nap later. But for now, I might as well get something done.

14 September 2007

The circus is still in town

I just noticed that I didn't title my last post. I usually write the title last, since I often either don't know exactly what I'm going to blog about or I change direction after I start typing.

After consulting with a number of Past Delegates and much to my relief, AdenineLush, our Area delegate, canceled last night's meeting. She decided to do so Wednesday night. I didn't find out till yesterday afternoon. I am in the habit of turning off my mobile phone during A.A. meetings, but sometimes I don't remember right away to turn it back on afterwards. After Wednesday night's meeting, it took about 18 hours to remember. There were a large number of voice messages, mostly from AdenineLush, who initially had asked me to contact the other officers. As she began to realize that I wasn't getting these messages, she started making the calls herself. So now we'll reschedule this potentially dramatic meeting till sometime when we have more time available and with somebody else—someone more objective than I can be—facilitating it. Those were my two main concerns.

At the Wednesday meeting, I heard someone quote something new that made me chuckle. It certainly applied to my early sobriety and I know it's equally true for a number of my A.A. friends: "I got the monkey off my back, but the circus is still in town." For most of us, I suspect it's a three-ring circus too and that the animals are a littler wilder than most of our handlers would like.

I set aside this morning to work on my quarterly tax return, due Monday. In actual fact, it took all day, and I still have to double-check my work tomorrow or Sunday. I haven't had to pay estimated tax in about four years so the spreadsheets I use to calculate what I owe were quite out of date.

I'm still sleeping well, and still back to my normal number of hours. I got a call from Caremark; my two prescriptions shipped today. I'm still not going to hold my breath, but I might actually get them before the end of the month.

We've had a few gorgeous sunny days, with temperatures a little higher in the afternoon than I'd like, but nice cool nights. It's been cloudier today and will likely rain tonight and tomorrow, thanks to Humberto. After that it should be sunny again. Highs will be just above 20°C with lows around 10°. Fabulous!

I'm way behind in my blog reading. Hopefully I'll do some catching up over the weekend. I miss knowing what's going on with my online friends.

13 September 2007

A bit of downer

My euphoric mood is definitely at an end. For one thing, I came back from my weekend away to a bit of nastiness with Nimue. As a result though, one thing became crystal clear: there's one [admittedly very small] piece of our [supposedly] shared life together over which she has complete control and about which I get to give no input. Zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch. That was a definite mood-dampener.

There's also been a special meeting planned for tonight for some Area business. It wasn't a big deal until Sunday, when some things happened that have given me considerable anxiety about tonight's meeting. This hasn't helped my mood either.

My sleep time has become more normal too. Sunday night I slept for a really long time—10 or 11 hours. I woke up several times during the morning and could have gotten up, but didn't. I have to admit I was feeling a little depressed. I found myself wondering if I should go back on my anti-depressant medication when it arrives. On Monday night I only slept for 5 ½ hours, but then I napped for 3 more in the afternoon and went to bed at a normal time. Or was that Tuesday? Last night I slept for 7 ½ hours.

I'm still thinking I'll stay off the medication, at least for a while. That is, if it ever comes in. I just checked on the status of the order they promised for the second time to place three days ago. They still haven't gotten the prescriptions, they still haven't shipped them and they still haven't let me know what's going on! This time, the final rep—this time I wrote down all their names—promised to call me one way or the other.

By the way, the name of the mail-order pharmacy is Caremark. Avoid them if at all possible!

10 September 2007

In which Trinker loses it...

In my post Rx for Overhaul 3½ weeks ago, I begrudgingly conceded that the mail order pharmacy had taken steps to make things right. I shouldn't have.

I still haven't received my prescriptions. I called the pharmacy today and the representative I spoke to said once again that I was listed as being "too old" to have my prescriptions filled. That pushed me over my limit. I asked to speak to his supervisor. He agreed to transfer me and for the next five minutes all I got on the line was dead silence.

Eventually I realized my call was going nowhere, hung up and called back. I managed to put myself through to a service representative immediately, even though the menu choices they offered didn't include that as one of the options. With what I am sure was obvious anger in my voice I explained what was going on. The rep said he was able to get through the process of ordering my medications, but insisted I needed to send them the prescriptions my doctor had written, which they had returned to me at the end of July when this screw-up started. At this point I lost it and started yelling, screaming and swearing. I told him he had to make it right and eventually he connected me to someone who agreed—again—to call my doctor directly, get the prescription information and have them filled and sent to me.

So now I'm right back where I was on August 16th, only I've gone an additional 3½ weeks without medication and I'm much angrier with this particular provider.

I suffered the rest of today with an emotional hangover from having treated the poor service representative so badly. It wasn't his fault. I wished I had written down his name so I could call back and make amends to him (though I don't feel I have any to make to the company itself).

So what do you suppose we read tonight at my home group? It was pp. 82-83 in the Big Book, the part of Step 9 that precedes the promises. How appropriate is that? It included these couple of sentences:
There may be some wrongs we can never fully right. We don't worry about them if we can honestly say to ourselves that we would right them if we could.
Bingo! That's right where I am. I've got to let it go and hopefully, my medications will arrive in the 7-10 days I was again promised.

07 September 2007

A busy Friday

I've been regretting my use of the term mania for what I've been experiencing for the last 20 days or so. I don't want to make light of people who suffer—or in a dysfunctional way actually enjoy—their episodes of mania. I think euphoria would have been a better term. It's not as strong as it had been, and the last couple of nights I've gotten 6-7 hours sleep. I'm feeling more normal, but still very, very good.

Today I met with some folks I may be able to partner with in business. I'm a self-employed computer consultant. They have, at least as far as I know, a unique business model that I believe I could fit very well into. It would mean more time doing the things I enjoy most and less time doing the things I enjoy least, without giving up any of my independence or freedom to act on my own. I met with three of the four partners and their administrative assistant: the person they described as "the one who really gets things done around here."

The meeting went very well. We laid our cards out on the table and I think I hit it off with all of them. An additional plus was the way they raved about the person through whom my introduction came—I was my boss a couple of years ago—saying, "He's a fantastic guy, even if he is a Republican. By the way, you're not a Republican, are you? You don't look like one."1 The 90-minute experience left me euphoric again.

I devoted most of the rest of the day to preparing for an Area service event this weekend. I'll drive the almost 300 km midday tomorrow, attend a District workshop from 4:00 to 8:00 and then chair the quarterly Area Committee meeting, which will be an all-day event. Fortunately, I'm driving both ways with the Delegate and that's always a great pleasure.

If I get time, I might post from the hotel tomorrow night.

1 For the record, I don't.

06 September 2007

More on the Rule of Three

For anyone who might be interested, I updated yesterday's post on my Rule of Three. One comment reminded me of something I mistakenly omitted and another pointed out an important exception.

Also, in catching up on my blog reading, I caught Dr A. quoting something very relevant to this rule in his 30 Aug post:

Sober speech is mindful speech—embodying both truth and usefulness and expressed in a way and at a time that it can be heard. This last point necessarily involves whether to speak, as well as when and how. In many instances, wise speech/sober speech requires no speech at all. When our words would be untrue or frivolous or harmful, we are better not to speak.
Laura S., 12 Steps on Buddha's Path
This caught my attention immediately. As I read the first sentence I thought, "Hmm, this reminds me of something I posted about. I think I would have added one more attribute, making it read 'embodying truth, usefulness and kindness." Then reading the last sentence I thought, "Ah, the idea of not being harmful is quite close to the idea of being kind."
As I think I've said before, his blog is highly relevant to those of us trying to "practice these principles" in our relationships, especially the primary ones. All those who are not trying to do are excused from taking a peek at his blog.

05 September 2007

My Rule of Three

This is a rule I've been using for a long time, almost 20 years, back to the ending stages of my first marriage (maybe if I'd started using it earlier I'd still be in my first marriage). It's not Wiccan and it's certainly not sexual, but it seems vaguely authorish; it applies to interpersonal relationships. I was told when I first learned it that it originated with Native Americans. This seems to me likely to be apocryphal, but I've found it a wise and useful rule nonetheless.

It used to be that whenever I wanted someone to do something, I'd find myself doing one of two things1: asking once and, if I didn't see evidence of compliance, letting it go, or asking over and over till I got what I wanted. My personal style tends toward the former. I'm particularly annoyed by people who exhibit the latter style—commonly called nagging
—in their interactions with me.

You can probably figure out already what the Rule of Three says: that one should ask three times and no more. My experience is that after three times the person doesn't want to or can't hear what I'm asking, is unwilling to comply, or has some other issue that makes it useless to continue asking. Actually, continuing is almost always worse than useless. It starts becoming easier for me to get a resentment and the person of whom I'm making the request is likely to start perceiving me as being nagging.

So what do I do after three requests? If I'm to "practice these principles in all my affairs" I see only two choices2: (1) abandon hope of my request being fulfilled, without resentment or (2) find another way to solve my problem, meet my need or fulfill my desire.

Updated by Namenlosen Trinker on 6 Sep at 7:54

Pam's comment reminded me of one very important point I omitted in my original post: the three requests must be made on three separate but not too widely spaced occasions. Asking three times in less than a minute is outside the spirit of this rule. So is never being able to bring it up again. And it's for dealing with adults, not children (Thanks, Shadow!).

1 My 2nd sponsor, Ralph, was forever telling me that tended to see things in black and white. With me everything always had to be yes or no, good or bad, true or false. His advice to me was to pause long enough to think of at least one more alternative so I'd have at least three to choose among.

2 See what I mean? LOL!

04 September 2007

Storm clouds

I just learned that Cumulonimbus and Nonces Juicy have separated and moved into different houses. This is heartbreaking news. I've know her from early childhood (she's my first cousin) and him for nearly four decades. When we were both starting families, they actually lived with us for a few months. Consequently, my two oldest daughters are still good friends with their two.

He was my #1 drinking buddy from those early family days till I got sober. One 4th of July about 11 or 12 years ago, he asked me take him to an A.A. meeting. I did, and he lasted for about four years, as I recall. I love this man. I only very rarely see him. From what I hear he's getting progressively worse—no surpise there—and the consequences are getting greater. Now here's another one.

While he was on board, we regularly attended a Sunday meeting together in my sponsor's living room. A few years after he went out, I bumped into him. I took the opportunity to remind him that I'm there to help whenever he's ready. He practically made the sign of the cross to keep me away from him and took off as quickly as he could. Apparently, that attitude hasn't changed.

I'll be praying for both of them, and their children. If anyone else is willing to join me, I'd greatly appreciate it.

New mood theory

Yesterday and today, emotionally, I've been my normal excellent self, not my manic excellent self. Still, I seem to require less sleep than I had been needing until two weeks ago. Monday night I slept for 3½ hours. Then at my home group meeting, during our Tradition XI (subscription to A.A. Grapevine Digital Archive required) reading, suddenly I felt soooo tired. I let my eyes close and missed a big chunk of the reading. I didn't miss any of the sharing, but sitting there I felt like I could do no more afterwards than to drive the 8 km home and get to bed. And then when I got home, I stayed up another 1½ hours!

I went to bed just before 11:00 PM and read from the book I'm currently in the middle of—Wittgenstein's Nephew—for a half hour before falling asleep. I woke around 3:20 and felt rested enough to seriously consider getting up. But I didn't. I was afraid if I did that feeling of exhaustion might hit me again during the day. I fell asleep again quickly and got up just before 7:00. That's more sleep than I've had in over two weeks, but still less than my previous norm.

I have a new theory about why I've been in this mood. Perhaps its due to my excitement about converting from Windows to Linux. Though I've been intending to for years, and genuinely motivated by the fear of having to use Vista, I only got serious about it two weeks ago. Over last weekend, I made the major step of converting my primary e-mail client, including my e-mail address book, from Thunderbird on Windows to Evolution on Linux. It was a much easier process than I expected. Now I'm trying to get all my PIM data—calendar, scheduling, tasks and full address books—from Time & Chaos to Evolution. It's proving to be much harder, perhaps in part because I haven't upgrade T&C for a long time: ever since it acquired all the features I really wanted. These are the kinds of challenges I love though and, sure enough, it sometimes keeps me awake as thoughts about how to deal with them flood through my brain.

This is only a theory; it goes along with the others I have, the primary of which is being off Prozac, which I still am.

02 September 2007

Odds and ends

(1) Is my streak of feeling truly excellent, being full of energy and not needing much sleep coming to an end? I slept for about 6½ hours last night and could easily have stayed in bed. Furthermore I just feel my normal excellent self. Stay tuned (as if you cared, LOL!).

(2) I deleted comments from this blog for the first time today. At first I thought this person had left only one comment. I didn't like the comment, but e-mailed him a response thusly:
Thanks, Micky; I welcome your comments even though I don't agree with them. The tone of your post is just slightly alarming to me. Feel free to comment all you'd like but, please, no vitriol or harangues. I've taken the liberty of adding your blog to my blogroll since you seem to be interested in the subject of recovery from alcoholism.

Yours in sobriety,
Adding his site to my blogroll prompted me to add the caveat you now see at the beginning of that list. You can tell I was nervous, can't you? I used to have a problem with SPAM on my other blog;

When my message to him bounced, I realized that he had made four different comments like this to the same post (I hadn't noticed before due to the weird way Gmail displays messages). My fears were justified, it appears. I deleted all four posts and removed his site from my blogroll. I really don't want to have to start moderating comments so I'm going to assume for now that his was aberrant and unusual behavior.

(3) I've added something here I've been thinking about for a long time: a page documenting my story and another documenting the God of my understanding. I had a few miscellaneous things on my old blog, but not these. I created a page with links to each of these (and the date and time of most recent update); I'll add additional links if and when I add additional such content. I hope someone finds these of interest.

01 September 2007

A thousand's not enough

An alcoholic was walking along a beach. A sunlit glint of metal in the sand caught his eye. Going over to inspect it, he saw that it was brass. He started brushing away the sand from around it and soon realized it was an old brass lantern or lamp. After he'd cleared away enough sand, he was able to free it from its sandy grave. He lifted it up.

"Wow," he thought, "I wonder if this is worth anything?" and started brushing away the wet sand that still clung to it.

As he did so, a mist started drifting out of the spout. It very quickly became very thick and large, about his own size. Then, with a quiet whoosh, the cloud coalesced into a genie!

"Thank you, my friend!" said the genie with a kind smile. "You have just freed me from thousands of years of being washed around on the ocean floor by the tides and currents. And of course, as I'm sure you know, you now get three wishes. What will you have?"

It didn't this boozer long at all to know what he wanted.

"How about a bottle of scotch that never does dry?"

Poof! A bottle of scotch appeared in his hand. Somewhat wary, he carefully opens the bottle and sniffs the contents.

"Smells like scotch," he remarked.

"It's good scotch too," answered the genie.

The alcoholic takes a small sip.

"Mmmm," he says, "that is good scotch!"

I lifts the bottle to his lips and takes a healthy swig.

Lowering the bottle, he asks, "And it will never go dry?"

"Never!" replies the genie.

A big smile breaks across the drunk's face and he says, with enthusiasm, "Hot damn!"

He takes another swig, enjoys it briefly, then takes another.

The genie, getting impatient, says, "You still have two more wishes, you know."

"Oh yeah," says the drunk and thinks for a few seconds.

Then holding up the bottle, he says, "I'll take two more of these!"

Big Book Step Study, p. 30

This morning we read p. 30 in my Big Book Step Study meeting and it put me right back in the frame of mind I was in last night. It will take a little set-up to explain.

Nimue is Australian. A couple of Australian friends of hers are in town and they invited the two of us out for drinks last night. Cliff (I'll call him) has been here for a year and is attending college locally. I'm not sure why Matthew (also a made-up name) is here; he's probably visiting. This weekend is Cliff's last chance to relax and take it easy before school starts again. After that it will be "nose to the grindstone," full-time. Nimue was the one they talked to and she warned them that it might not be my cup of tea. She was right.

However, I did spend a few minutes with them before they left. I explained to Matthew that I couldn't safely drink, that I'd already had more than my share (Cliff already knew I was in A.A.). He understood immediately what I was talking about. Until about 10 years ago, he drank the way I used to. Then he decided, for whatever reason, to cut it out. He still drinks, but has no trouble controlling the quantity. At least so he says, and I have no reason to disbelieve him. Cliff is clearly not an alcoholic (something I already suspected); he had no idea at all what Matthew and I were talking about.

This is what put me in the frame of mind recalled by the chapter "More on Alcoholism."
... [O]ur drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.

We... had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics.... The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.

... We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals—usually brief—were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that alcoholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.
Not that I was thinking these things. It's just that I was in the same frame of mind during my discussion with Cliff and Matthew last night that I was when reading these words this morning. Somehowmiracle of miracles—the ideas in the Big Book have become an ingrained part of my reaction to thoughts about alcohol and drinking. Thank you, HP!

To finish about last night. While waiting for Nimue—what on earth did women ever do before bathrooms and mirrors were invented?—they asked me where they should go. I thought first of the Vertebrae Shanty, a place frequently by low-life (like me) and supposedly a great place to get drugs. I told them this and suggested they might want to go elsewhere. I thought next of Sharia Fettle, but they just tore that place down. Finally I thought of Banner Sky, which used to be a dive but has recently been all fixed up. Fixed up so well I've even thought of going there for dinner. That's where they wound up going, although I learned from Nimue today that it got to noisy, so they went to a nearby diner—no winer, beer or liquor of any kind—so they could have a real discussion. Obviously none of them are alcoholic.

The mood continues

In my last post I alluded to something special I wanted to address in my next post. This is not it. I was just about finished what I wanted to post and somehow—by navigating to different web page I think—I managed to lose a slew of edits and additions. Sigh! A piece of that poste will include the substance of a postscript I added to my would-be audio post during my walk yesterday. Hopefully I'll finish that post today and get it up here.

This post addresses the remaining substance of my would-be audio post, to wit:

My excellent, energetic and strange mood continues. Four nights ago I slept for 3, 3½ hours. The following afternoon, I did nap, but only for an hour. Three nights ago, I got more like 5 hours sleep. But then two nights ago, I know I was asleep by 12:30 and I didn't wake up till 6:30. (Is that right? I had it in my mind that I got 7 hours sleep, but maybe it was only 6. I remember thinking after I woke up that I'd gotten in nearly 8 hours which, until I started this streak of short nights, used to be my minimum. I mean, I could get up if I had to, but I paid the price.)

As you can see by the time of this post, I'm up early again. Last night I fell asleep around 12:30. I was up around 5:30. Normally on a Saturday, if I'm not off on some service commitment, my alarm goes off at 8:00 to wake me up so I can get to my 9:00 meeting.

I have discerned one drawback to this streak I'm on: in the last two weeks compared to the two weeks prior, my morning blood pressure is up a little (I try to record it several times a day; I'm on medication for hypertension). The systolic (upper number) reading is up just over 6 mm Hg and the diastolic (lower number) just under 4. I thought it was up by more than that, which is the only reason I even did the calculations. And of course I'm pretty darn good at recording these numbers due to my obsessive-compulsiveness (actually meticulousness is a more accurate description).