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It has been an honor and a privilege to build a rapport with all of you on this blog. I am excited to continue our blog-friendship on a more expansive platform.

Sending love for the holidays,

Lucy

‚ô•‚ô•

\m/

Yesterday, I changed my maiden name to my legal married surname, just like that.  With one simple stroke of a pen, I went from Miss to Missus.

Yesterday, Danica Roem changed the political landscape of our entire country. With one simple election day, she went from Miss to State Assemblywoman.

*

I remember when Danica legally changed her name from Dan Roem to Danica Roem. Her task was not so simple. She encountered loads of leading questions from state offices, misidentifying her gender AND her name. The process took months. Pronouns became paramount–and evidently too difficult for people to manage. Nevertheless, she persisted.

Two summers ago, Danica came to visit me in Petersburg, VA, presenting for the first time (at least in my presence) as female. True to form,  she flashed me almost immediately. I felt an instant pang of jealousy: this bitch was prettier AND bustier than I was. We spent a couple of hours catching up, uncovering the fact that according to my endocrinologist and hers, I actually had more testosterone coursing through my blood than she did. She also joined me for a 12-step meeting to support my recovery. In a predominately conservative crowd, I felt protective of her, yet she was the one who made me feel comforted. She joked that during the circle-up at the end of the meeting, she was wondering if anyone noticed her jangling male parts protruding under her skirt. No one did. Since then, the Serenity Prayer circle-up makes me laugh every time. Throughout our visit, she was more amped to hear about my recovery than she was concerned about touting her own transformation. I guess you could say I was presenting as a sober woman for the first time, and she was THERE. FOR. IT.

*

Danica and I met in college at Saint Bonaventure University. She sat next to me in my junior year (her senior year) Government class. People gave her shit for constantly raising her hand. I thought she was brilliant. At the time, she was Dan. Not many people knew what to do when this metal head vocalist in a band called Cab Ride Home schooled pretentious co-eds about parliamentary procedure. Dan had long hair and a wide range of opinions on literally everything. I’ve never told her this, but I actually took notes on what SHE had to say, not our professor. I felt like Dan knew more about the issues that mattered to me.

I don’t know the exact moment we became friends. I think it was after class one day when I had finally mustered the guts to raise my hand and participate in the discussion. I was, of course, extremely insecure and self-conscious. She approached me after class to tell me she liked what I had to say. I felt so flattered; here was this loquacious and learned journalism student who knew more about legislation than most Congresspeople with paid legislative staff could ever pay to know. How did I catch the attention of such a special person?

We kept in touch after she graduated. We texted each other with a couple of emails sprinkled into our communications. Then Facebook messenger came around, and we became closer. In 2009, a year after I graduated, Danica and I reconnected. We met at a bar in Richmond to share a few beers. She was back from touring with her band in Germany. I will never forget when she sheepishly reported that she had something to tell me: she was gay. I was thrilled to hear this news, as my best and most entertaining experiences in friendship life were almost exclusively with gay men. It was at this bar where she recounted a story I will never forget. She described hooking up with a dude while masterfully inserting the infamous Mortal Combat catchphrase “FINISH HIM!!!” into the anecdote. It had been a long time since I laughed that hard.

*

In 2013, I received a major phonecall. I was visiting with a friend in San Diego. We had just gone swimming while drinking, one of my most favorite ill-advised activities at the time. I saw that “Dan” was calling, so I immediately answered. Dan was on the line to tell me that she would be transitioning to Danica. I remember squealing so loudly that I thought we might get busted for waking up the apartment complex. We talked for over an hour about what this meant for her identity, her livelihood and her politics. She was candid and eloquent about her transition process. Counseling, hormone therapy, gender identification, fears, hopes and ambitions. I felt so lucky. It took me a few fumbles with the pronouns “she” and “her,” yet she made the effort to make me comfortable. Her selflessness has never wavered.

*

On Christmas Eve 2016, I got engaged. Danica was one of the first people I told. She called me almost immediately. She was thrilled, lovely, gracious and adoring. A couple of months passed, and Danica had some news for me, too. She would be running to unseat Bob Marshall. After a few minutes of gushing settled our excited shrieks, she asked me to be her campaign manager. I nearly lost my shit.

But it wasn’t the time.

Danica offered me the most precious of campaign positions, short of being someone’s spouse. She believed in my abilities when I had long since abandoned my political organizer status. Her faith in our friendship was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I gave her proposition a lot of thought, but I realized that finishing school, waitressing and preparing for a wedding had me by the proverbial balls. I would not do her extraordinary candidacy the justice it deserved. She understood–of course she did–and she continued forward.

*

As most of us in the campaign world accept with a blistering resignation, the two weeks before E-day are the hardest of all. With that intimate knowledge, I stood awestruck when I glanced up from my fateful walk down the aisle to see her smiling face among the guests at my wedding ceremony. Danica had battled the rush hour DC Beltway traffic to witness the marriage of me to my husband. In essence, she suspended her campaign for one afternoon–an action considered incomprehensible to campaigners and candidates alike–to watch one of her very own friends have her day. She sacrificed a crucial weekend day on her campaign to be there for my E-day, with her signature rainbow bandanna adorning her head like a crown.

*

Danica, you are one of my very best friends. I am honored to know you, because to know you is to love you. In mine, and now the world’s eyes, you are love.

And with that, I will sign off as Danica always does, reminding us to rock on. Go forth and prosper, my Queen.

 

\m/

Sober Voting

I’m sad.

I’m sad with a sinus infection, acquired exactly one week ago.

I hate it. The election actually made me sick.

Furthermore, the post-election news cycle practically begs me (us) to bitch. It also begs the question of who we’ve become (or regressed to) as a society. But I promise I won’t propose a solution, not on that. I’m not really the demographic of human whose voice needs to be heard right now.

I just want to admit something:

I have no idea what to do, what to say or how to act now that my first sober election has come to pass. After five years as a drunk/progressive political organizer, I voted–sober–for the first time on an actual election day (no absentee voting, no early voting). This is the first election year where I did not have to knock on doors or make phone calls to GOTMF (Get Out the Mother Fucking Vote). I thought I was home free in a swing state, no less!

Up until this point in my recovery, there was one sober behavior I prided myself on: the¬†ability¬†to admit how much I hated working in politics. The drink made me do it! I would have never gotten or stayed in the business if it weren’t for the booze! DC is Hollywood for Ugly People!

Except maybe I was wrong.

We are effectively–those of us who give a fuck–political organizers now. Or maybe, more accurately, agents of change. At least that’s what feels like the ethical way to be to reverse recent fuckery. At this point, I’ll be taking way more of my cues as a citizen of this country from Black Lives Matter, The Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights Campaign. Definitely not from angry white ladies who voted for echoes of the Third Reich.

Other than a deep sense of betrayal that I’m sure minorities in this country have felt since birth, I feel ashamed. To top that off, I haven’t felt more like drinking than when I watched the returns come in on November 9th, 2016.

I spent the hours prior to the close of polls waitressing for binge drinkers and stress eaters alike. I thought that by keeping busy and by being of service, I would avoid a nail-biter of a night. Yet from the beginning, I noticed that every one of my customers was in a shit mood (as reflected by their tips). And with that, I knew what was coming.

Hours later, I sat stunned. I felt sick¬†with¬†the irony that the retired politico and drunk in me got nostalgic for wine on Election Day–

A nausea brought on by the phenomenon of craving, not election results.

So there you have it.

Reality bites. Acceptance bites back.

My greatest work one week out from Election Day is equanimity. Love thy neighbor as thyself to keep it balanced? I’m not really an expert on this sort of thing. All I know is that addiction and recovery criss-cross giant swaths of the electorate that I would just as soon ignore and/or loathe if it weren’t for the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Peace and justice,

Lucy xo

 

 

Photo courtesy of PetaPixel

Rhinestone Eyes

I’ve never felt closer to a Higher Power than I have while being in the presence of children. I started substitute teaching this week–fifth grade the first day, second grade a couple of days later. The little nugget children are full of piss and vinegar and inescapable honesty. A little over a month ago, I first started working with high schoolers at the same school as a mentor/electives facilitator, so I had a little bit of real-life experience in guidance before I began substituting.

Right before I began teaching, the Paris attacks occurred on 13 Novembre 2015. I felt angry and confused, just like most people. I also felt ignorant when I realized this kind of shit just happened in Beirut not even 24 hours prior–and I had no idea. The refugee crisis has resonated with me the most out of all of this violent horseshit for several reasons. First, people’s reactions to allowing 10,000+ refugees in our country is disappointing and xenophobic, especially considering ISIS wasn’t even successful in infiltrating this group of people. Second, little baby Syrian nuggets are being wrenched from place to place living homeless for months or years at a time. Lastly, many of us don’t realize that we are not powerless against the evils of terrorism; we have the ability to send our love forth through how we change and ultimately through how we treat people in our lives.

I read an article a couple nights ago about the magnetism of our hearts. Author Arjun Walia describes the importance of our hearts’ “intuitive intelligence.”

“Bottom line, feelings of love, gratitude, and compassion ‚Äď any positive feelings whatsoever ‚Äď have a larger impact than we could have ever imagined. These are all characteristics of consciousness, and as quantum physics is showing us, consciousness plays a definite role in the creation of our reality. If this is true, then how we feel about things must too, and with the research coming out from the Institute of HeartMath, it doesn‚Äôt seem unreasonable to suggest that feeling good might very well be fundamental to creating global change.”

The more we connect to the good inside of us, the better chance we have of radiating joy to others. This isn’t some kind of froo froo bullshit that has no basis in reality. When we feel good, we are more likely to be generous and kind to others. We might not have the tools to combat violence in the immediate, for example, but our nonviolent words and actions impact how others feel in a positive way.

Before I started subbing, I saw an image on Facebook of thousands of children meditating for world peace. I took that idea and applied it to the classroom. Both the fifth graders and second graders were STOKED to meditate. One of the kids took my hand and led me to their “reading nook” so we could all sit and meditate where the kids normally read stories. My heart felt so full when I saw these pure beams of light and love practice peace. Each time a kid gave me a hug, I imagined hugging a Syrian refugee child. A part of my soul became aware that the love we instill in children gives the little nuggets a chance to see how to love themselves in the face of adversity.

One of my 12th graders wrote on her daily gratitude list that she was grateful for music. She loves the band Gorillaz, so she wrote down some of her favorite songs from the band. I listened to Rhinestone Eyes, which reminded me of how precious those kids are. They look up to their teachers with these big, saucer-like eyes, sparkling like rhinestones with love and sweet promise. The lyrics struck me in a big way today: “I prayed on the unmovable” and “the storm brings strange loyalties.” I want to show these kids that they matter. They can pray when they feel sad or lonely. They can send love to other kids who have less than they do. They can grow up to be happy, non-violent, loving adults.

Recovery brought me joy and love. I never expected that love to come from children and adults. If you are reading this, I’m sending you love.

Just love.

Photo courtesy of DeviantArt

Off The Sauce September

Did you know that September is National Recovery Month?

WE GET A WHOLE MONTH.

I remember when I got a chip for 30 days of sobriety in April of 2014. I had never made it 30 hours sober–much less 30 days–before that. At the time,¬†I had a humorous case of the nervous sweats and an incurable desire to wreck every double-shot, Trenta iced coffee from here¬†to eternity. I numbed myself with phone calls, constant coffee to the face, Now and Laters, entire economy-sized jars of pickles, HBO Go and Netflix. I walked over a mile one way¬†every morning to my home group meeting at Caf√© Tropical on Sunset Blvd, leaving my¬†apartment by 6:15 am to make the 7am meeting (and to have time for two smokes beforehand with my friends). I chose the morning¬†AA slot due to¬†its magical charms and my utter disbelief that I could be up that early and not still be legally drunk.

sbxAn entire month sober–that¬†blew my fucking mind.

And it still does. I celebrate 18 months sober on September 17. My heart grew one size bigger with the realization that I get to celebrate this milestone during the one month a year that is dedicated to shining a light on addiction and recovery. I recognize the magnitude of this shit–it is¬†my right and responsibility to speak up. I am one person in recovery out of millions. I am alive and well today because I got help for my addiction to alcohol.

My enthusiasm for recovery hasn’t smoldered, but it has morphed into something far better than I could have imagined. The best and most beautiful gift of my sobriety is¬†the freedom to be available to other people. I connect with new people¬†and old friends who have resurfaced in my life now that I am not a complete C U Next Tuesday. It seems there is no shortage of love to go around. Forgiveness¬†and acceptance are¬†the prime suspects for my criminally large joyfulness.

I’m stepping up my game this month. Gratitude lists all the fuck over social media at least once a day, accompanied by topical memes and pictures of pandas (Google “panda daycare”– a surefire way to get you¬†really happy, really fast). I’m doubling my meetings this coming week (my attendance is more sparse than I would like it to be). I am calling, writing¬†or texting¬†at least one person in recovery every day. I am following up on a story I wrote about the Unite to Face Addiction Rally¬†by attending it¬†in DC October¬†4.¬†Lastly, I am “talking to Bowie” on a super frequent basis–i.e., praying a bunch for people and showing my flamboyant love to whomever is around to receive it. I am making myself more available, is the thing.

So let’s do this.

xo

July Five, Look Alive

I placed and/or received phone calls from 15 different people yesterday. I did the uncool thing of not going to a meeting on the 4th of July. Instead, I glued my phone to my right ear and talked for a total of 4.5 hours. One of my friends had a birthday yesterday; two of my friends had anxiety; a few of my friends just went through the motions of another 24-hour period of sobriety. I woke up feeling like a million bucks on the 4th. Not a care in the world, even with massive clouds in the sky.

The electricity in the air yesterday most definitely could be attributed to the storm that loomed, threatening to shit all over the annual fireworks show in Colonial Heights. Alas, the storm came and went, just like the fireworks did. I felt an electrical current in the air as early as July 3rd, the day I actually did go to a meeting. July 3rd was the day that set off sparklers in me, not the 4th.

My most dear friend, whom I met at college, saw my last blog post and took that as a sign to come visit me all the way from DC. She high-tailed it in her ’92 Dodge after three plus hours of traffic and didn’t even wait to shut the door of her car before she ran up my front lawn to give me a barrel of a hug. It felt so good to see her, I could have cried. But I’m not really a cryer. That, my friends, will never change. Unless I win the lottery. Or I’m PMSing.

She is one of the most extraordinary humans I have ever met. She is a transgender female. I am pretty sure she is prettier than me. This was my first time seeing my incredible friend after she started transitioning. She and I have talked for hours about how our changes in life are so similar in that we have to constantly discard our fears. She makes me feel brave and beautiful. She is both of those things, and then some. We discovered over dinner at a Mexican restaurant that she is chemically more female than I am. She also flashed me her newish boobs and it was awesome. How did I get so lucky to have such an amazing person in my life? She is gorgeous. I want to be like her when (and if) I grow up.

I thought the coolest thing about her being here would be her being here. I was wrong. She asked if she could join me at an open AA meeting. I was thrilled because I often feel alone out here at meetings. What a gift to go with one of my best friends–a stunning transgender woman next to me, a tattooed Los Angeles beotch–to an AA meeting together. She came with me to Colonial Whites, an affectionate term for a city that doesn’t care too much for black people or for justice. Here I thought that people might somehow judge her and me. I was wrong. To make a long story short, I acted as a lightning rod for controversy, not her. No one misgendered her; she was only met with kindness and respect. Good on ya, Colonial Whites — I did not see that one coming. I also didn’t expect that the dude sitting directly across from me who refused to identify with his first name would have such racist things to say with black people SITTING IN THE ROOM. I thought AA was supposed to be above all of that. He launched into a boring monologue about the racial tension and what a victim he was for being subjected to all of this. He lamented having to take down his Confederate flag. He described the WHITE flag being the only thing he wanted to see. White, for surrender. What a prick.

I know I shouldn’t have, but I jumped in to share directly after him. I thanked my Higher Power out loud for the tradition of Principles Before Personalities. I described my gratitude for being a liberal in the South these days. I also mentioned that I am sober and I have the ovaries to be myself now. It just didn’t feel right to sit idly by while someone spewed racist shit. I’ve bitten my tongue my whole life living out here and that just doesn’t work for me anymore. “Nobody” got up and left during my share. Byyyyyyyyyye.

I know my ego played a role. I know we are there at those meetings to get better. I prayed for that man last night and this morning. I thanked my Higher Power during the fireworks show for such simple beauty. My takeaway from this weekend was that my friend came to me when I needed her. I am fortunate to be so close to a person I love so much. She did not bat an eyelash the entire time she was with me, even as I became more and more agitated. She has learned to let go of the shit that doesn’t serve her. I am just now learning to do that.

I have taken today to reflect on another holiday spent sober. I feel for the people in the July 3rd meeting because we were all on edge right before the holiday. It isn’t easy to sit around a barbeque while people drink their 40 ounces to freedom. It is much easier to say “fuck it” and down a beer you don’t even like, much less a glass (or 10) of Chardonnay. I have compassion for myself and for others who still feel a pull toward alcohol, even when the obsession has been removed. That is why we have a program. That is why there are other people in our lives to help us see clearly when we cannot see for ourselves. I woke up this morning without a hangover or the sting of regret. I know I am not alone in that.

Happy July Five.

xo

Photo courtesy of espressoandcream.com

Consciousness is Sexy

The cosmos feel more benevolent than usual this month. I’ve been trolling the internet more fervently at month’s end to see what kinds of fuckery we’ve gotten ourselves into, only to find that June fuckery has turned into fortuitous blessings.

I am currently living in Petersburg, Virginia. Very few people–save any Civil War aficionados and re en actors–know of the significance this city held in the fall of the South. Petersburg was the last stop before the end of the war. Towards the end, the Union wanted to bring the city to its knees because it was a major supply line for the Confederates, where multiple railroads converged. The Union embarked on an 18-month siege. When the Union tunneled underneath Confederate earthworks, they set off a huge explosion that produced a giant crater. This backfired, bigtime. The Union charged after the explosion, only to be met with the Confederate defense. This event is known as The Battle of the Crater. There were other battles after this one, but the Union eventually wore Robert E. Lee down. Lee’s army evacuated Petersburg, after which the Union occupied the city. A week later, the South surrendered.

The CraterTo be clear: I could not possibly give less shits about the Civil War. I do, however, give many shits about how Confederate history has pervaded my city as well as Richmond’s. I take it personally when my eyes and ears are assaulted by fear-based racism. When a white psychopath decided to attack members in a church at Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, he was met with the most significant defense of all: forgiveness. I suspect he did not see that one coming. When the Charleston massacre occurred at an historically-significant black church, the presumptuous, insidious relics of racism prepared to die.

I am part of the minority in Petersburg’s population of approximately 36,000 people. I am a white person in a city that is 79.1% black or African-American. And I love my city.

I am also a straight woman. But I would estimate that 98.88888 % of my friends (and some family) are of the LGBTQ variety. And I love my friends/family. The Supreme Court decided yesterday that they can now legally love and marry each other, too. Is it just me, or do you feel a shift in consciousness coming on?

Our country has an expansive history of learning the hard way from its self-manufactured misery. As an alcoholic, I can relate. We are stubborn. We are also innovative and persistent. We have been more comfortable creeping in the shadows of pain than living in the light of love. That doesn’t seem to sit well with us these days. My heart has fissures in it from years of trying to forcibly remove intolerance from my ignorant neighbors. That being said, I have not experienced being a person of color in this country, nor have I lived as a member of the LGBTQ community. I have loved, though. And for those of us who love, we learn to exercise that love by taking cues from others who are different than we are. We start off not knowing; that is when we take the leap to learn. That is how we raise our consciousness.

Everything that has transpired in the last couple of weeks forced us to open our eyes. Reality uncovered a black hole of despair to bring it to the light of our own understanding. We cannot hide behind cowardice or intolerance anymore. The light has punctured our tired version of darkness. We have to look at each other in the harsh light of day. We get to live in a country that rises in love, despite our defects of character. We are the lucky ones.

I feel all kinds of charged up by the bravery of those who meet calamity with serenity. I am taking my cues from you, America.

Now that’s sexy.

Photo courtesy of warfarehistorynetwork.com