Tis that Time, Again.
December 31, 2011

If you’re in need of some amusement, feel free to review the FIVE whole blogs I managed to log this year. Five. The gaping holes in my written year lend themselves rather succinctly to outlining the kind of year I actually had. In the interest of a year-end comparative I went back to the end of 2010 to see what I had written, I wrote nothing. So there is a change! This year actually ends.

Never been a huge fan of year-ends, less concerned with new years than I am with new birthdays but I regard both with general disdain. The demarcation of time passed has always served as an opportunity to beat myself senseless over failures, rather than any kind of celebration of growth or success. In the last few days I’ve vacillated between my usual ‘look, look at what you have not done’ thought processes and the conviction that articulating any of those thoughts would be a disservice to my friends. That’s new.

If I said only one thing about 2011 and what I’ve come to understand from it, it would be this: I get by with a little (or, a fuck-ton of) help from my friends. 

This whole positive spin thing is new so in keeping with the #1 thing I learned this year, I’m gonna borrow a friend’s model. Mostly.  This post will cover 11 successes, celebrations or understandings I’ve experienced in 2011.

1.) I get by with the help of my friends. In more instances than I can count I have been carried through this year by friends in my life. I’ve shared this before but it is worth repeating, some of my closest friends can be counted among my family and it is my friends that constitute my family. Got it?

2.) I’m still standing. See, #1. In February of this year 2010 came to a crushing close. Sounds dramatic, I know. The fact remains, though. My father died in the first week of November 2010. It took weeks following his death to end his life. Arranging the funeral, sorting and filing paperwork. It seemed to me at the time that there was roughly 6842 questions that had to be answered. I can take charge of anything, just ask my friends, and I did. Then I returned home and sorted out my own life which had fallen into it’s own state of disarray. At the point that everything, everywhere was back to rights the reality of his death caught up with me. In the second week of February, I got up one morning walked the three(?) steps to the end of my bed and dropped to my knees. I hit a wall. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t get up. In the hours, then the days, weeks and months that followed that morning friends in my immediate circle saved my life, carried my weight, sorted my head and kept me going until I could stand and move on my own again.

3.) I managed to put together two years. See, #1 & #2. Thank the Great Pumpkin.

4.) This year has afforded me the opportunity to see a number of unfuckingbelievable concerts! Slash in Oregon featuring TK!!! They think they were featuring Myles and I’m glad he was there BUT that show features Todd (are you kidding me) Kerns.  Merle Haggard & Kris Kristofferson under the stars at the Greek. Foo Fighters x 3, the Forum shows were fantastic but seeing the Foos on Record Store Day at Fingerprints in Long Beach goes down as one of the most incredible shows that I have ever been to.The Golden God Revolver Awards featuring LOADED with some appearances by others like…the OG Alice Cooper band! Oh, and did I mention Loaded? Loaded at the Viper Room in April, can you say happy birthday to me?! And,to take the live music year out! BOB SEGER!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have not seen Bob since 1996 and listening to him and Alto Reed in a sold out Staples Center was staggering. All of the Bullets were fantastic but Alto, shit.

5.) Orange belt. I got my orange belt in Muay Thai this year. I didn’t start at orange, of course, that’s just where I got to. In Muay Thai, generally there isn’t a belt system but the Master at my dojo was done ‘coaching’ parents on the progress of the younger students. Turns out the belt system works for me, too. It has been a measurable system of growth. Besides the pretty color scheme (Ha.) the thing about Kick boxing in general that works for me is it helps me to focus on nothing but the next step in front of me. When I don’t, it hurts. Real straight forward means of getting centered. Being focused and getting centered amounts, for me, to getting right. I never feel more together than I do leaving the dojo a sweaty, stinky, bruised disaster. I love it. 

6.) Travel. There is pretty much nowhere on this planet that I don’t want to see. I grew up in a family, in a town where most never leave. For various reasons, see #3, I believed for a huge portion of my life that I would die in that same town without ever leaving it. For that very reason, trying to out run that belief I began taking road trips at ages most kids wouldn’t. I had to. That need to travel has never left me, for some time including this last year, I’ve been in a position to direct that travel impulse. 2011 saw trips to two of my favorite places, Salem, Oregon in February and Seattle this past October. Oregon was a show jaunt with my Loaded family. Seattle a trip to see a once in a life time event featuring a life long hero. June afforded me my first travel to Europe. I got to head over to England to witness (and participate!) in my friends’ wedding! In the process got to see London and any number of sites and places that I have only ever dreamed of. This holiday season took me to the Bay Area on a couple of occasions and to the Sacramento area which I’ve not seen in quite some time.

7.) Guitar. This year saw the return of the guitar to my life in earnest. This one is still all mine for now.

8.) Books. Reading is a huge part of my life and this year there were a number of books that left their mark upon me. Duff McKagan’s autobiography, It’s So Easy and Other Lies deserves a post unto itself frankly. To say the very least it is a staggering tale of fortitude and perseverance. Susan Casey’s, The Wave: In the pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean was sent to me by a friend and has left me convinced that the next hobby I shall undertake is big wave surfing! Rick Riordan’s, The Son of Neptune, Book Two in the Heroes of Olympus series came out in October! Bless Riordan! His adventure series’ are some of the funnest books I’ve read. And, last though not least, everything written by Edward Bear has been read, reread, quoted and carried around with me over the course of this year.

9.) Dream Job. By the grace of a friend, I had the opportunity to see how an industry I’ve dreamed of being a part of operates. I learned more than I wanted to and less than I needed to, if that makes any sense. And, even if it doesn’t, I know that I got an opportunity to see from an inside perspective how a project evolves and that is not a place I could have garnered on my own.

10.) I’m a grown up. You might think that that one would have occurred to me sooner but you would be wrong. I figured this out, wait for it…by virtue of my friends. On multiple occasions, in recent days I have found myself dumbfounded by the unsolicited characterizations friends have made of me. To the degree that I recently declared somewhere that I hope to be the person that my friends believe I am. That’s the benchmark, right there and at some point I must have met it otherwise they would not have had reason to mention the virtues they think I posses. So, at the risk of repeating myself, I hope to be the person my friends believe me to be.

11.) New year, new birthday. This one just amuses me. I mentioned at the outset of this post my disdain for new years and new birthdays. As fate would have it I head into this new year knowing that on my next birthday Guns n’ Roses, the band that brought me to music in the first place will be inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. A few friends and I will be on hand to witness the induction and I could not be more excited about it. Nor, would I be there at all if it wasn’t for the kindest gesture from a dear friend. Bring on the New Years.

Thank you, thank you, thank you does not begin to cover the scope of my gratitude for the friends that have brought me through this year.

Love you lots. Happy New Year!

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from the stacks: December
December 29, 2010

 

Books Bought, Got, or Borrowed

 

 

 

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

-Mark Haddon

 

The Little Book of Economics:

How the Economy Works in the Real World

-Greg Ip*

 

When God Winks At You:

How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence

-Squire Rushnell

 

SeaBiscuit: An American Legend

-Laura Hillenbrand

 

The Blind Side

-Michael Lewis

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

-Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

 

Reading Lolita In Tehran: A Memoir in Books

-Azar Nafisi

 

Books Read

 

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

-Mark Haddon

The Little Book of Economics:

How the Economy Works in the Real World

-Greg Ip

 

SeaBiscuit: An American Legend

-Laura Hillenbrand

 

When God Winks At You:

How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence

-Squire Rushnell**

 

I’m certain that there is an explanation for the books that I’ve read this month but I’ve no idea what it might be so I’ll just make something up. The only book on the list of books I got or read this month that I actively sought out was Greg Ip’s, Little Book of Economics. I was reading some magazine or paper and while perusing the book review section read a review of Ip’s work. The review, in effect, said that Ip’s work was easy to read, did not lend itself to partisan-ship and was, well…easy to read. The appeal about that ‘easy’ part should not be understated! My working knowledge of economics  is limited to the basic econ classes and texts I encountered in college and that was some time ago. The subject, by and large, is beyond my depth and the seemingly hysterical diatribes emanating from tv, radio, blogs, bar stools and Facebook regarding the ‘end times being nigh’ as proven by our current economic state has NOT (I repeat, NOT) inspired me to try to engage the subject in any meaningful way. That is, until I read the Ip makes it ‘easy’ review.

It’s worth noting that up until that review and my seeking out the book I had not been able to read for several weeks. I had books. I just couldn’t do it. Twain sits on my nearest shelf gathering dust. I am mildly ashamed of that fact. Still and all though, could not do it. Why then did economics work? The obvious answer, I must assume, is that there was great appeal in engaging a subject that generally leaves me bewildered and irritated (?) with some assurance that I would come out the other side with answers. Actual answers. An explanation for how the world works. I’m in.

 The book is great. I’m still not an economist so I can’t argue the merits of his explanations or the veracity of his arguments. I can say that his breakdowns were logical, they were readable and my head hurts slightly less at the thought of hearing more opinions on the matter of our economic state. Also, and for my purposes probably more important, my head was quiet long enough for me to read a book. Not of the varietal I’m used to, in fact, none of the books I actually read this month would fall into the realm of reads I would ‘normally’ engage. That’s ok. At least I can read something.

 

The day I picked up Ip’s work a friend of mine was with me and being fully apprised of all the ins and outs and  up and downs of my life of late she insisted we go to her house and grab a couple of books I HAD to read. That is how I came to have possession of both the curious case and SeaBiscuit. The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-time proved to be a strange little read.  What makes the curious incident unique is it’s perspective. The story is the story of a young autistic boy writing a novel. What worked for me about the read was that the narrators view point is so far removed from my own that it leaves everything about the story and it’s telling unsettled. Literally, I never had to settle down to read it because even if I could, which I couldn’t, it wouldn’t have helped. The perspective is off and odd and so am I.

 

SeaBiscuit: An American Legend may be one of the most triumphant stories I have ever encountered. Certainly, Hillenbrand’s telling of the story is a triumph. There is nothing about this book that did not move me. From the lazy horse written off as ugly and useless, the greatness inherent in the very average (Tom Smith), if not expendable (Red Pollard), men who ‘sorted’ Biscuit out, too the will of a nation that just wanted to believe in beating the odds, the system, the Depression. Just, believe. I’m in.

* If you’re curious as to the color choices in the titles formatted above? So am I. (???)

**Got When God Winks for Christmas, it is a collection of stories regarding coincidence and I’m moving through them at random.

9 Months Later
July 22, 2010

Today marks 9 months sober for me.

In an odd turn of events it seems to me that while things have gotten easier by degrees, shit is no less complicated, nor, have things gotten all that pleasant.

Not sure anyone ever said things would get pleasant, come to think of it. It is however, an assumption that I did make.

In the shortest possible recap, in the last 9 months, my longest standing relationships have either ended or been altered so thoroughly they certainly seem to have ended. The oddest part of this occurrence, in at least one instance I am okay with that. In the other, not so much. Turns out though, I don’t get a vote. It is what it is and I’m going to go ahead and assume this like everything else is a part of the master plan. Just the same, I am struck by the knowledge that while some of the terrain in my life looks familiar, I recognize the faces and I know the language…I’ve never been here before.

Absolutely EVERYTHING has changed but only by degrees.

The Happy & The Crappy: X
January 2, 2010

X

 

01.01.10 marks my 1st Al-Anon birthday!!!!! (*I’m also @ 70 days today.*)

Got the years first new slogan: ‘Just allow time to take time.’

 Missed the Friday night meeting but made the meeting after the meeting. To be exact,  they ‘saved me a seat’ at dinner, busted my proverbial balls upon arrival, then we ate, swapped dramas, jokes and information. Thus, the new year has begun, with friends, health, happiness and hope.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

October 2009
October 19, 2009

“now an epiphany in one dark night,

and I’m sorry, so sorry,  that it took so long”
                                                                                                      

 

I have known since July that October 2009 was going to be ‘a problem.’  How, you have not asked? I started signing all dates as October dates. Every single time. To the degree that I was getting calls from work about deposit slips and the like all being ‘pre-dated’ since they were October dates. Ridiculous. There was a trainee at work with me at the end of July and I handed him all of the paperwork and ‘suggested’ he check every single date. He did. They were wrong. So I tell him the story that for 2-3 weeks at that point I had been dating EVERYTHING for October. I follow up my share with something to the effect of , “Clearly, I will be hit by a bus in October.” He responds with, “That’s not what it means at all! It means in October great things are coming!!!” enthusiasm not added, he appeared to believe that shit. I, in turn, stared at him as if he were brain damaged. That said, it was a curious idea and as October has approached I have been increasingly curious as to what the hell would happen. The month is only half over but so far…

October 4:

 

I ran my first half marathon on October 4.  It still doesn’t feel like an accomplishment but I know that it was. It also got its own post so I will not go into detail here.

 

October 7:

 

PJ  and old friends. I saw PJ for the ‘first time.’ First time being used a bit loosely here. Apparently, PJ and I were at Lollapalooza in 1992. I have no memory of this. A ticket stub. Witnesses. No memory.  Also, I went with friend to see PJ in Golden Gate park years ago but Eddie walked off stage moments into the set. Apparently, he was ill but nothing was said at the time. As a direct result of that experience I never tried to see PJ again. Until now.

PJ is to my BFF what Guns (now Sluff, aka Slash and Duff) was to me. They are her people and an part of her world view. I dig PJ. I dig her more. Ergo I dig them more than most other musics. Make sense? Anyway. We went together to the show on the 7th. It was incredible.

On our way out of the show we were shoulder tapped by some dude. Or so I thought, as I stood there staring blankly. ‘Dude’ is one of our good friends from high school. I guy we spent nearly every day with for YEARS. Had not seen him in 16 or so years… Very strange, very cool. He also, gave me a heads up on finding a couple of other friends from ‘back in the day.’ One of whom I sought out the next morning.

For the purposes of clarity if the PJ friend is Dude than the ‘follow up’ friend is F. Swapped re-introduction messages with F on the 8th and 9th. Very strange, very cool.

 

October 9:

 

Went to a meeting at my first convention EVER. The convention being SCAAC. Awkward. Really really uncomfortable. I had when I registered though signed up for a 5k/10k fun run on the 10th it seemed like ‘fun’ at the time.  This is relevant because the first topic of the first meeting that I went to was “Have Fun.” Had I known this was the topic prior to walking in the room I would NOT have gone in. I HATE this topic. Have fun, play-any variation of either of those two makes me ill. Oh! AND they don’t allow you to NOT share. Right, you have to get up and share and everyone in the room fucking stares at you until you do. RIDICULOUS.

So I shared. I HATE this fucking topic. More important than sharing that I hate the topic I explained why. I have no idea what is ‘fun.’ I have no idea how to ‘play.’ I like to read. I like live music or music in any form for that matter. I have started to run. That’s it. My list of fun is rather short. Largely because I have no idea who I am.

 

October 10:

 Came in 3rd on my ‘fun run!’ That is how I spent my morning and then I spent my afternoon and evening with friends. Friends that I grew up with and had not seen in more than 10 years. We played Guitar Hero, Wii and sang karaoke until after midnight. In case you missed that, friends that I ‘played with’ when I was young walked back into my life after more than a decade and we PLAYED all over again. Who knew?

On my way out the door a friend of mine who is sober asked me what my deal is and so I answered. I said, “I’m a double winner and I’m in program.” In case you missed that, I admitted to another human being besides my sponsor that I have more than one disease.

 

October 11:

 This day began near 1am when I just opened my mouth and spewed truths about my life which, a.) should not be uttered at 1am; and, b.) are no good as parting shots on your way out the door. FTW. Whatever. I went home and I went to bed. I woke in time to hit the Sunday morning beach meeting. Not only is this my home group but it is the first meeting I ever walked into. There is no other place I could have gone to get perspective on what had happened the night before. Topic? Trust. Trust yourself. Trust others.

Went back to my friends to hang and watch football after the meeting. My friend met me at the door. Literally. Waiting just outside. We sat and (mutually) spewed our stories. Still have not gotten my head around the relief that came with talking to someone who I actually know, someone who actually knows me and gets it. ALL of it.

 

October 12:

 

My sponsor, totally unfazed by everything I tell her.

 

October 14:

 

Spent most of the morning and much of the early afternoon doing everything I could think of other than my 4th step. I have to do this step. I do. I just can’t get my brain to go there.  Managed to avoid it in the evening too! Went over to my friends’ home to log some baby time! Spent my afternoon and evening playing with their little girl. Got to take part in bath time and bed time.  I provided the story time lap for the evening!!! Is there anything more calming then a baby snuggling with you?

 

Baby time was so great I actually went to my favorite meeting late. I considered not going because I detest walking in…forget being late.  I have no idea why but the walking in part of meetings still kills me. EVERY TIME. Alas, favorite meeting and because my schedule sucks I never know if I can attend. I went late. It’s an AA meeting. A sat next to a friend and at the end he said, “when are you going to share?” I said, “RIGHT after I start identifying.” He smirked. In all the months that I have gone to open AA meetings NO ONE has ever asked me when I was going to share. Of course, in all those months I had never admitted to anyone other than my sponsor that there was anything to share. Strange days, indeed.

15 minutes after the meeting ended my phone rang. I was driving and answered anyway. Not my habit. My Mom was calling to tell me that my Uncle had died. This would be my second Uncle in less than a year. Both of my Dad’s older brothers. One was functional.  One was not. It was in part my oldest Uncle’s death that served as a catalyst for my coming into program at all. It occurred to me, last December, that this is how it is going to end…for my father.  It seemed imperative that I come to terms with that reality and figure out how to live through it. So I went to Al-Anon.

 

This October it occurs to me that this is how it could end. I have to work a second program.

 

 

This Blog was Soundtracked to:

Visqueen, “So Long”

 

The Benefits of Loaded.
May 6, 2009

This Blog is currently under maintenance. Thanks.

12 Minutes
April 24, 2009

dscn0931tI am not in the hospital. A friend of mine is. He has been battling a recurrent illness since 2005. I met with my Sponsor earlier this week and was lamenting the length of time it has taken for me to decide to do something about my life, she said, ‘You have to hit bottom before you think to look up.’

Back to the phone conversation I just had with my friend…he is staggeringly positive about an illness that could kill him. It has tried, repeatedly. I said to him, ‘there is a lot to be said for how positive you are being about all this.’ He said, ‘Well, there is nothing else left.’

What I heard was…’You have to hit bottom before you think to look up.’

I only had to hear that TWICE this week for it to resonate.

Take Care My Blond Friend(s)
April 15, 2009

(Marina), Maggie, Monica, Mags, Mikey and Mary–in that order, it has occurred to me that I have for decades now always had a blond friend in my life. Not the dumb ass kind, either! Nope, each of the aforementioned has been an integral part of the period of my life that they shared, as often as not, functioning as the closest friend I had in the ‘moment.’ I’m not at all weirded out that each of their names begins with an M. (Honest.) Nor, for that matter, am I kicking myself in the ass for taking THIS LONG to realize that I have had the gift of any number of amazing, brilliant, strong, hilarious, adventurous, joyful-caretakers in my life. Thanks, Ladies.