(500) Days of Sober

Five Oh OH!

Double O face today, my friends.

Because my math is shaky at best, I assume yours is, too. Five hundred days = 1.36 years, 11,985 hours, 16.38 months of sobriety. None of these numbers matter more than 24–my span of ruin, rapture or radiant joy in a convenient day-shaped package. Now that I have insomnia, I live 20 out of those 24 hours with a motherfucking smile, tears or a confused look on my face. Sometimes all three.

Here is how I’ve changed in 500 Days of Sober:

1. I connect to something more powerful than me. Love, acceptance of self/others, the sex powers and musical stylings of Bowie.

2. I hone my decision-making skills. I don’t cajole, manipulate or conquer choices. I ask for guidance then make my decision. I ignore self-doubt because that’s boring. Consequences happen, either way.

3. Honesty. What gets under my skin, why and what part I have in that. The truth is kinder to me these days. I don’t apologize unless I mean it.

4. I honor my intuition. These guts turn for me and me alone. I don’t obfuscate my view of the truth within me by drinking. I listen. And I cry now.

5. Authenticity or bust. I am strong in my vulnerability. I relay where I am with no filter, aside from a deep wellspring of joy. It’s my nature.

That said, I am the proud owner of multiple new (or newly discovered) character defects. What the fuck ever, I’m human. I can’t answer several million of the questions I have for my life, so I’ll stop trying. There is a greater force working on my behalf. Because my mother has cable, I caught this Oprah show about attitude. A woman she interviewed described how her life changed when she began thinking, “The world is rigged in my favor.”  Or as my sponsor likes to say, “You can have it.”

In the movie, (500) Days of Summer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt convinces himself he can’t live without Summer, Zooey Deschanel’s character. He gets bent out of shape that she won’t love him like he thinks she should. He sees what he wants to see. Granted, she feeds his fantasy. He throws himself headlong into a murky romantic entanglement. He controls, he cries, he crashes. Summer, like my cruel lover, booze, does not reciprocate the feelings. This is not a love story. There are no winners. Thank God booze is not a person, or I’d have wasted many hours waiting for texts and calls that would never come. Booze hits it and quits it.

Who wants angst when you can just be? I woke up this morning, happy. I get to create beauty. I write, I speak, I listen, I laugh–I laugh harder when someone knows the exact right way to make fun of me. I spend time with my mother. I work. I eat. I yoga. I listen to Joy Division and Rhye. I do not cower before my emotions.

When I untethered myself from alcohol, I created the space to change, to be. The most pressing question I will answer today is, “What do I want to create?” instead of “Will the liquor store clerk give me a discount on Bullet whiskey if I flirt hard enough?”

I am not afraid to be who I am. I am not afraid of much these days, come to think of it. Except maybe intimacy. I cop to that. But that’s where faith comes in. My relationships to friends and family teach me to be less afraid. Fear has little use for me. Action steps, doing the right thing–those replace ambivalence. Or in my case, fear of failure. Also something that bores me.

In short, it is physically impossible to follow fear when my Higher Power is David Bowie.

Bowie is Paris

xx

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The Lion, The Witch and the Warhol

I relish the nights when songs get stuck in my head. One of the reasons for this quirk is my desire to quiet a rambunctious mind. I find that songs replace thoughts I would otherwise discard. I don’t particularly mind the repetition, as I am a creature of habit if ever there was one. A familiar song is like lullaby for me, anyway. I experience insomnia every couple of nights, though it doesn’t bother me one bit because I learn more about music when I’m waiting to fall asleep. For the past few weeks, I’ve had Donovan and Louis Armstrong keeping me company. The latest addition to the nighttime collection I’ve amassed is Bowie’s Andy Warhol from his 1971 album Hunky Dory. I love me some Bowie, but this song is most def in my top three. It’s just so…weird.

As I lay down to sleep one night last week, I attempted a meditation practice. Approximately three million nonsensical thoughts crowded my consciousness until it got very quiet. I heard the murmurings of Bowie as Warhol on the track and I became instantly calm. I remembered what I had read about this song–that Bowie was all proud of himself for creating a tune that he was sure Warhol would love. Turns out, Andy was annoyed and super bitchy toward Bowie for writing it in the first place. Bowie revered Warhol, but the feelings were not exactly mutual. (Not to worry though–Bowie ended up playing Warhol in the movie Basquiat, which gave him some closure, I suppose). Ahhhh, the webs we weave.

My brain did a rather curious thing as I played the song in real time. I began to free associate during my meditation. Free association, to me, is like interpretive dance for the word-happy ones among us. On the third play through, I thought of my favorite book as a girl, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I used to love this book, especially because one of the characters shared my name (I love self-referencing, because I can). My brain then jumped to a possible title for this blog: The Lion, The Witch and the Warhol. I googled the title to make sure no one had used it yet. To my delight, I did not catch it anywhere. What I did find, however, was a collection of Warhol pieces known as The Witch Myths Series. Thanks, Universe! The Myths collection includes works of American villains and/or mythical figures of the collective consciousness, redone in a most distinctive Warhol way. I’ve seen this collection before, but I never knew its name. He believed many of the characters, like the Wicked Witch of the West and Uncle Sam, represented parts of his own personality. I think he loved self-referential things even more than I do. Just a theory.

The Witch Myths made me think about the facets of my own personality. Lately, the “character defects” motif continues to inspire me to get to know myself. Though I’ve walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Defects in my sixth step work in AA, I have only caught a glimpse of what constitutes a defect of character and what serves a higher purpose. My dad used to tell me that crazy, narcissistic or wayward people were exciting and interesting for a reason. He did not mean to tell me I should revel in these attributes, but my teenaged brain clung to his words as validation. I don’t consider myself crazy, just complicated. I have let go of judgement recently, considering how weird I am. It is way more fun to be free–it leaves room for other weirdos to come be free with you.

I am experiencing a period of self-transformation by being still. I have decided that it’s okay to discard some of my old ideas of what’s supposed to make me happy. I am open to more people, places and things because resisting the experience of being home no longer serves me. I meet new people and I see new things. This strange world in Virginia inspires me to be myself. My old beliefs float away as easily as the the little florets on a dandelion. When I was a little girl, I would pick these flowers that are actually weeds and blow on them like birthday candles to make my wishes. Being home is the flower, not the weed. I made a wish and I said a prayer for my Higher Power to help me heal and be happy. He listened. And just as my defects are open to interpretation, I will interpretive dance in words to free-associate once more: dandelions, Andy Warhol, the Dandy Warhols, Bohemian Like You. Or weird, like me.

Go be free, ya weirdos.

xo

Photo courtesy of modernartcollecting.blogspot.com