Surface Tension

I was never “good” at science. With one exception–biology, sophomore year. I think it was something about the exotic vocabulary and pictures that piqued my interest. Ironically, two years ago I became an ad hoc / extemporaneous long-term substitute teacher for the sciences, ranging from biology and chemistry to physics and astronomy.¬†¬†Thank God it snowed for the first four days I was supposed to start teaching. I played catch-up the entire time I was snowed in. The last time I studied that hard was sixteen years ago. Note: I was 16 years old sixteen years ago. I just got a little faint.

I still have some work saved from High School. On paper and floppy discs! In one big folder, I tucked away several essays from my English AP classes and notes from bio. The diagrams are labeled and colored with such exquisite detail that it almost seems as if a science person drew them. When I moved back home in 2015, I exhumed my notes and found one section totally dedicated to¬†surface tension. Its definition stuck with me then, and continues to float around in my mind now–

Water molecules want to cling to each other. At the surface, however, there are fewer water molecules to cling to since there is air above (thus, no water molecules). This results in a stronger bond between those molecules that actually do come in contact with one another, and a layer of strongly bonded water. This surface layer (held together by surface tension) creates a considerable barrier between the atmosphere and the water. In fact, other than mercury, water has the greatest surface tension of any liquid.

The more you know.

What gets me about the concept of surface tension is that it can be personified, which is probably why so much of bio makes sense to me. We all know the feelings associated with water metaphors: learning to tread water; feeling like your drowning in paperwork; singing in the rain, when it rains it pours. But surface tension never gets its due in our vernacular. Today I felt so many feelings that the “floodgates opened,” which of course means I cried. Again. But what followed, as is always my way, were the thought bubbles. Why is it so upsetting to be seen upset? How is it that in a very stressful work environment, the less I want to lean on other people the more I absolutely must?

How, I often ask myself, is it possible for other people to handle pressure at work? Why is no one else crying? The immediate answer to one of these questions is that dudes and ladies handle stress differently. The quota so far is for every one cry I have in a two week period, there are three nights where any one of my coworkers slams dishes, lashes out at a cook or decides not to show up for work. The odds are in neither party’s favor.

There are so few of us in the kitchen. We work anywhere from 50-80 hours a week, morning noon and night. We kind of have to work well together. It’s like being marooned on an island. We have to try not to cannibalize each other to survive (all due respect to the profession which, thankfully, requires us to know how to cook enough so that we don’t have to resort to such measures–emotionally or otherwise). Like water molecules, we have to stick together. But oh, the tension. God forbid someone walks into work with a sour mood. We all feel it. I often put a voice to this when it happens, which my coworkers do not appreciate. Conversely, when one or more of us is in great spirits, it can uplift the whole crew. I swear it makes the food taste better.

It’s like a pressure cooker. Everyone is exhausted. I have burns and cuts and aches that just keep happening. Yet it’s part of the deal. The physical burdens of the job are nothing compared to what it feels like to be a complete novice in a world where everyone else seems to know what they are doing. Not to mention the fact that I am hyper-sensitive/critical of any sideways glances, comments or insinuations about my femininity. For the most part, that’s a good thing. Recently a male coworker asked me what it felt like to be one of four females out of 20+ people working in the kitchen. I told him I was excited–it meant I had a front row seat to watch the Patriarchy crumble.

My bark is almost always more vicious than my bite.

What it actually feels like is quiet defeat. I can pitch a fit or become spontaneously combustible, but people still need to eat. SOMEONE NEEDS TO DOUBLE-BOIL THE FUCKING cr√®me br√Ľl√©e. That’s the way it goes.

As embarrassing as it has been to lose my shit on the regular, I am also relieved. Several of my kitchen mates remind me I am in the right place. Remember that guy, what’s his name, GORDON RAMSEY? That guy loses his shit for millions of dollars a year. He doesn’t cry; he yells.

Image result for gordon ramsay memes

He’s straight up abusive to his staff, but at least he has a sense of humor. I won’t even discuss the parity of positive public opinion on women cooks versus male cooks, but I think you can piece it together. Bad behavior gets rewarded. In any other profession, our vastly inappropriate conversations about literally anything would get us fired. But in the kitchen, you better buck up and shut up or someone will show you the door. It’s refreshing. It’s also brutal and infuriating. But in every job I’ve ever had, no one is above the law of proving themselves. And for someone as impatient, perfectionistic, judgmental and sensitive as I am, time is an imperious bully. I want to be good at everything before the oven timer for the bacon goes off first thing in the morning. Not going to happen.

So there is acceptance. And that surface tension. We are all little water molecules buoying each other up. I had a conversation with Bowie today about it. In recovery and otherwise, this is where I’ve been led. These coworkers and friends are my current spiritual teachers. I pray, as I have on many stressful days, to acknowledge to my Higher Power that I’d be crazy not to follow, follow where He leads.

There you have it: spirituality on the fly.

xo

 

Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Boomerang Nebula

The Boomerang Nebula is purported to be the coldest place in space. Science says so, anyway. It’s all relative in my mind–I could name about 300 galaxies in my own soul right now that would give this place a run for its money. According to mine and Carl Sagan’s calculations, we are all made of stardust. Einstein chimes in to further complicate the matter by proving¬†everything is relative.

‚ÄúThe nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Carl Sagan, Cosmos

I introduced the Boomerang Nebula to my eighth grade class this week. “Located 5,000 light-years away, this young planetary nebula has a morbid creator: a dying star at its center.” The kids didn’t catch the solemnity in my voice when I said this. Nor did they piece together the enormity of this reality. I explained to them that stars are at their brightest when they are dying. After nebulae are¬†done expanding and exploding, they’ve fulfilled their duty of¬†blowing our minds.

I heard one chuckle. Someone murmured, “oh cool.”

I should give you some back story to my star sadness here. Things have been a bit rough at school. This week was the first time I applied my newly-acquired, more complex teacher school skills to the classroom. Eighth grade responded the fastest and in the most positive way. It’s fair to say that all my classes responded well. That is, until the nebulae exploded Friday.

After lunch, ¬†my sixth grade class filed into the room more quietly than usual. I prepared the SMART board for our lesson on heredity. Almost immediately, two students raised their hands to ask if they could talk to me in the hallway, it will only take a minute. Keep in mind that one of these students recently got our class “MVP” award for most improved in science, not to mention the “Peacemaker” award for the month of April. In the hallway, they explained to me with hushed tones that they learned in a previous class they should confront someone when they feel disrespected. Their teacher told them to confront whomever made them feel bad in any way. One kid expounded on this, saying he has issues with anger management and he needed me to know he didn’t like it when I called him out on talking. He doesn’t like getting blamed when he isn’t¬†always the only one talking (note: he is always the one talking). I felt myself getting defensive, but I responded by saying I appreciate the way they approached me so maturely. I told them I was proud of them for having the courage to tell me how they felt. I listened more than I spoke. But when I did chime in, I explained that it’s my duty as their teacher to be consistent in how I uphold consequences when students break the rules. They shook their heads in agreement and we returned to the class.

As I walked in, every student looked up silently at me. There was an eerie feeling to the room. I sat down to scroll to our next lesson. I opened my mouth to speak and a student’s hand shot up. “Ms. Lucy, we have something to say to you…as a unit.” I told them to go for it, having no context for what they were about to say. For the next 30 minutes, each student, one by one, stood up to air their grievances. The class had choreographed a teacher roast, ostensibly to manage their anger. This was a “planned group confrontation.” Comments included how “disrespected” they all felt by me. How “wrong” it was when I shared a stat about women–African American women in particular–suffering from heart disease at a disproportionate rate than the rest of the population. How much they “hate” when I “talk about David Bowie.” That my class and their art class are “the worst classes we have.”

This was not a group confrontation–this was a mutiny.

I managed to keep my shit together for the duration of class. At about 5 til 2pm, I set them up with a reading, put a student leader in charge, and excused myself to “make copies.” I rushed to the bathroom downstairs to cry in private with what little dignity I had left. I wiped my eyes and returned to the room to dismiss the kids. I locked the door behind the last one to leave. After about 2 minutes, the kids came rushing back, banging on the door. They knew they had fucked up. I didn’t answer. My last period class came in and they could tell something was wrong. So amidst our chats about DNA replication, we discussed some strategies as a group for how to not take things personally. We decided to make this a “life lessons” class period. I did my best not to go into too many details about what just happened, but news travels fast in a small school.

Friday hurt. Friday hurt real bad.

So I did the next best thing I could think to do. I met a newcomer, new best friend, for coffee at the ‘bucks. She told me her story, and I listened. We went together to a speaker meeting afterward. One alcoholic talking to another–that is the glue that binds us. More accurately, when we share our joys and woes, we act as fundamental elements that work together with cohesion. I taught something along those lines about surface tension. Because science.

I felt like shit yesterday, but I didn’t drink. I didn’t want to. But I could see why I would have in the past. Instead, I exercised a recovery muscle by¬†listening to someone else. That halted the neurotransmitter shit show bonanza in my head, at least for the night.

The first thing I did when I finished breakfast this morning was meditate. Then I called a lady from the program. Then I got a 95% on my teacher school test. Then I remembered the most important lesson I’ve taught that sixth grade class thus far:


The Hater Ratio – 4:1 – which postulates:

For every one amazing person, there will be 4 haters who will try to bring you down. If you don’t have haters, you’re doing something wrong. ¬†Pay them no mind.


After many reflections filled with staring out into space, I came up with a lesson plan for Monday. I will have the students read the Saint Francis Prayer. The Objective: To identify effective ways to love one another. They will spend their 50-minute class period writing and re-writing this prayer. I will smile, but I will not speak. I’ll let Franny do the talking.

Saint Francis Prayer

Then I will tell myself this, over and over again:

“So, the next time you are having a bad day, try this:¬†close your eyes, take a deep breath, and contemplate the chain of events that connects your body and mind to a place billions of lightyears away, deep in the distant reaches of¬†space and time. Recall that massive stars, many times larger than our sun, spent millions of years¬†turning¬†energy into matter, creating the atoms that make up part of you, the Earth, and everyone you have ever known and¬†loved.”¬†

x0.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

My Can-Do List

I teach a child–we will call him Aaron–who is too funny for his own good. He cuts up in class, but it’s hard for me to get mad at him because he’s so clever. He doesn’t show outright disrespect, he just talks A LOT. He also happens to have one of the highest grades in the class. He is funny to the point where I promised¬†if he could get an ALOL–Actual Laugh Out Loud–I’d give him a bonus point. I leveled the playing field with the other kids by awarding them two bonus points each if they could correctly identify a David Bowie song on every test.

Last week, I told the sixth graders they could name the skeleton I use to teach¬†them where different bones are in the body. They used the democratic method at an impressive pace to vote on the name “Sheldon Dipper.” Aaron led the charge, of course, because he approved of the class talking way too loudly for any extended period of time. After the vote, Aaron talked far less than usual for almost a week.

image1 (1)

His semi-silence didn’t last long, however. A couple of classes later, Aaron yammered incessantly. I asked him to move seats, to which he replied, “I can’t, Miss Lucy, that is not on my Can-Do List.” Setting aside the blatant insolence of this child, I burst out laughing. I made him write his quote down on the white board near Sheldon Dipper and took a picture of it. I would have given him a bonus point then and there, but I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. These kids are highly quotable, which makes it damn near impossible for me to remain stern.

image1

There is a lesson in this, naturally. On the same day the Can-Do List came into being, I had a 12th grade student reveal some disturbing details to me as I wrote notes on the board. While my back was turned, this student began making fun of his friend who was clearly hungover from a night of high-school drinking. He then tells the class of three students that he can rip “like five shots” before he gets too sick. I tried hard to keep my mouth shut. Now that I am an educator (or at least, on my way to being one), I have to set boundaries with the kids. I am openly sober, but it isn’t my place to Go Tell It on the Mountain with teenagers. This same student once told me that he had a problem with drugs and alcohol, “in the past”– that his way of dealing with childhood trauma has been to soldier through it with stoicism. All I said in return was that if and when you’ve had enough, you’ll know; there is help. I offered my support to him if he needed to talk about anything that was getting to him. And a split-second later, the only girl in this class walked up to me to say in hushed tones that she sometimes felt she couldn’t talk to her mom about her depression. I silently whispered, “Lawd Help Me.”

What I wrote on the board while this emotional shit show erupted was¬†the different types of chemical reactions that exist in nature. As I finished writing about “combustion,” I explained to the group that chemistry is easier when you personify the elements. Like a person who pushes down too many emotional things, combustion occurs. Except when humans explode, the volatility can be much more destructive to life than any chemical meltdown.

I have to walk a tight rope with the older kids. I am old enough to know better than they do about life things, but young enough that they are still getting used to calling me “Miss” Lucy without it being awkward. Turns out, talking openly about my recovery is not on¬†my¬†Can-Do list. That has proven to be harder for me than I anticipated. My instinct is to swoop in to save these teenagers from unnecessary pain. In short, the clarity in my sobriety is a Catch-22: I can spot an addict a mile away, but it isn’t my place to diagnose anyone, no matter what their age or pathology.

The best I can do is be there for them. The only way I can do that is to be sober. And study. The last time I took biology or chemistry was the year these kids were born.

Lawd, help me.

 

Give Me Your Hands ‘Cause You’re Wonderful

The last thing my father did before he died was play a flute solo in church. Power move. He was an atheist who frequented our Episcopalian church with the simple excuse to play music for people. He ended on a high note–literally–sat down in his chair, slumped over and died. He felt no pain. He would elicit no such drama.

“Atheist Dies in Church, Performs Final Solo,” read the headline in my mind.

David Bowie’s last release, Lazarus, was ‘parting gift’ for fans in carefully planned finale,” crept across my screen in the still of the night.

Gordon Morrisette, aka Tony, died on December 10, 2006 at the age of 68. David Jones, aka David Bowie, passed away on January 10, 2016 at the age of 69. My heart shattered with the news of my father’s death. My heart breaks more quietly and more gently with the news of my spiritual godfather’s death. I knew Bowie’s death would come. I’ve heard this song before–

Love is lost

Your country’s new
Your friends are new
Your house and even your eyes are new
Your maid is new and your accent, too
But your fear is as old as the world

*

The most important gift I received during my last Christmas of drinking came from my neighbor, Fly. He brought me fancy Russian vodka, a wooden print of Hunter S. Thompson and a canvas screenprint of David Bowie’s mug shot. I was ecstatic. I drank the vodka with a friend in one night while Bowie flatly stared at me, his gaze steadfast and unmoving. The picture I took of those gifts turned out to be a prophetic one–I tumbled into sobriety not three months later. Even in black and white, Bowie’s steely glare penetrated the chaos in my mind. It was unsettling.

bowie print

The walls (one of which was blue, blue, electric blue) in my apartment at “Rampart Village,” Los Angeles, were incredibly thin. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall. We tenants came to recognize the distinctive footsteps of every neighbor who walked up the stairs. Fly learned mine for Apartment 203. Every so often, he would blast Bowie next door to welcome me home. I could hear him playing Hunky Dory and Young Americans at all times of the day and night.

blue blue electric blue

In high school, my sister and I participated in every after school activity we could think of, which meant we got home late. When we’d turn onto Berkeley Avenue after a 45-minute commute from Richmond to Petersburg, we’d hear our father playing the flute from a mile away, making sure to keep the window open. He serenaded us at home, performing covers of Marvin Gaye and Big Band songs. I can still feel the exciting comfort in those familiar sounds. He showed unequivocal love through his music and art.

daddy.jpgGordon Morrisette, self-portrait circa 1978…

I know I’ve seen that face before.

Dance in bars and restaurants,
Home with anyone who wants,
Strange he’s standing there alone,
Staring eyes chill me to the bone.

*

I remember the day I declared Bowie as my Higher Power. I couldn’t wait to tell my sponsor. She giggled, then sweetly surprised me with Bowie episodes from Flight of the Conchords. I thanked her and gently asked if it was okay that I was sexually attracted to my Higher Power. She laughed as we both let that absurdity sink in. I knew Bowie was my One because he had been there all along. Labyrinth, released the year I was born (1986), 12-steps the year I came to believe (2014). The program required me to come to be willing to accept that something greater than myself could restore me to sanity. I knew choosing a mere mortal was tricky, but I gave no fucks. His music would be my muse. My shaky hands and my temples dotting with sweat ceased and desisted when Bowie came on the radio and that’s all I needed to know. As I binged on Netflix, three or four months sober, I began recognizing Bowie songs in some of my favorite movies and shows. His song Fashion plays as Cher chooses her outfit for school in the opening scene of Clueless; All The Young Dudes plays as the stoner dudes walk the “grassy knoll.” Cat People (Putting Out Fire) breaks out at the beginning dance sequence on an episode of The Office called Caf√© Disco. I couldn’t believe my ears.

My friends threw me a party when I turned one year sober. Our crew at Hollywood Latenight–the misfits, the miscreants, the tight-pant-leather-wearing pod people–rang in my new year and it was one of the best nights of my life. My male friend showed up in a revealing glitter onesie. My other friend, the matriarch of our group, brought me Bowie vinyl covers and lyrics scrawled out with purpose. Another friend brought me a Bowie mug that looked like a Warhol print. We watched projections of Bowie being all of the things. We talked about our sad pasts with music on our minds. That night, Lady Stardust was born…

And he sang all night long
Femme fatales emerged from shadows
To watch this creature fair
Boys stood upon their chairs
To make their point of view
I smiled sadly for a love
I could not obey
Lady stardust sang his songs
Of darkness and dismay

Hollywood Latenight.jpg

My name at Hollywood Latenight is “Judgy Snatch.” It suits me.

image

*

The last time I flew when I was actively drinking, I reeked of vodka. It was an early-early- morning flight, but that didn’t stop me from going hard the night before. My good friend met me at the airport, startled at the sight of me and my fire-breathing pyrotechnics. She furrowed her eyebrows and asked me if that was alcohol she smelled. I laughed it off, but the shame of her question cut me so deeply I couldn’t catch my breath. Not that I would have wanted to.

The first time I flew sober, I was skiddish and terrified. I paced up and down the airport’s corridor, trying to keep myself busy. I gave up and sat down after a couple of minutes because my heels were unforgiving. The second I sat down, Bowie and Freddie Mercury came blasting over the speakers. I wept with joy. I had arrived and Bowie hadn’t forgotten me. When I got off the plane, I met a woman from San Diego outside smoking a cigarette who casually mentioned she was several years sober. She gave me her number, whereas I was ready to give her my first-born.

You see, Bowie was always there. I never worshipped his human side; I prayed to his spirit. Somewhere in the far reaches of my body, mind and soul, I was able to differentiate between the man and the myth. Bowie tapped into something not many of us have access to: pure creativity. He helped us dream. He made it okay to be weird as fuck. To me, his death elevated Bowie to mystical, mythical proportions. And he makes even more sense now.

*

When I moved home, my mother asked me why I chose David Bowie as my Higher Power. (I think she wanted to get to the bottom of why in hell I got Bowie’s likeness tattooed on my right arm.) I told her it was because I found he had a power greater than I did. My mother matter-of-factly replied, “He’s not more powerful than you are, Lucy.” And she’s right, he’s not. But his flamboyancy gave me the permission I needed to be myself. Bowie the human is not who has kept me sober for nearly two years.  Rather, my connection to his music incited the imagination I never knew I had. His performances proved to me that I, too, could tap into the same power–absent of fear or judgement–that made him move with such freedom. With all that said, my dad wouldn’t have cared for the Bowie theatrics or for that matter, my tattoo. But because my love for you would break my heart in two…(sorry dad)!

bowie tattoo.jpg

I love you, Bowie. I don’t love you the way I love my father, but I love you all the same. And Dad, I know what good music is because of you. I remember your stories about playing back-up for Sonny and Cher and Marvin Gaye at the Norfolk Scope. Your sound was always jazz, but you played some mean funk with the greats. You never liked rock ‘n’ roll all that much, but you respected good musicianship when you heard it. You and Bowie left a legacy of dignified talent and love. I can honestly say that I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for the likes of you. I promise I won’t look for you, but I’ll listen. The Stars (Are Out Tonight), shining for both of you. The Universe honors you

Stars are never sleeping
Dead ones and the living

We live closer to the earth
Never to the heavens
The stars are never far away
Stars are out tonight

Bowie, my heart will be your moving shelter. I will love you forever and ever, amen. So keep your ‘lectric eye on me, babe. Put your ray gun to my head. Press your space face close to mine, love–

Freak out in a moonage daydream,

oh yeah.

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Ever Present

It never goes away. The addiction, I mean. I wake up in New York City and I’m just as much an alcoholic as I was in Petersburg. I brush my teeth, I’m an addict; I wrap a present, I’m an alcoholic. It’s Christmas day and it’s the same.

The gift that keeps on giving.

I wandered around the city by myself for three whole days. I stopped sometimes to use the little girl’s room or to get a coffee, of course.¬†I emerged from¬†my subway den to the brilliant, blinding and sweetly oversized Christmas decorations¬†of Rockefeller Center at 47th Street.¬†I felt more lonely than I have in a long time. With every block I walked, I willed myself to feel better. I imagined how chic I could look, if I just walked with the right boots and a stern enough stare. As the rain came down harder and the wind blew my umbrella more fiercely, I realized I was becoming more strict with myself. That feeling of not being enough crept up on me in such a subtle manner, I did not even realize how shitty my own thinking made me feel.

I don’t know what it is about the holidays or New York, but I never feel like I can get it quite right. Despite the grid system of these mean streets, I always get turned around. Regardless of the weight or quality of the coat I wear, I either shiver or I sweat. I hop from borough to borough to find my way, yet the¬†cramped sidewalks¬†are just as crowded as my mind is.

I think that’s the case for most people here, whether or not they choose to show it.

I went to a meeting tonight where there were lots of tears. Bitter tears, jubilant tears, exasperated and sad tears. The man next to me, a gay cutie who had just touched down from Los Angeles, shook uncontrollably as he shared. Lots of day-counters, many people getting sober for the second or third time around. The holidays have a tendency to remind us addicts of our weirdness. Our thoughts slowly become warped with the repetitious aggression of overplayed Christmas music. Being an employee at Macy’s starts to look more desirable than being stuck in our own¬†heads. This time of year is tough regardless of the happiness we enjoy in our present lives. What frustrates me personally is that I have never had so much joy and awe-inspiring moments in my life. In spite of this, I still feel a bit morose over the fact that my spirit is so easily suffocated and imprisoned my own thoughts.

It ain’t easy.

I’ve been praying for the opportunity to be of service to someone in need. I spoke with the shaky LA gentleman after the meeting, and I think that helped him a bit–it certainly helped me. I’m writing now in case anyone else feels the same non-descript loneliness I am currently experiencing. I want you to know you are not alone. If the holidays make you feel drink-y or even a little depressed, it’s okay. Join me in chucking those shitty thoughts in the fuck-it bucket. The holidays create a lot of pressure to be happy, but that shouldn’t take the joy out of recognizing you aren’t–at least not at the moment. I don’t mind admitting that I feel blue. I know that I have to accept how I feel¬†in order to not let the rage build. I get angry with myself if I can’t get it up for certain things, especially for an ostensibly¬†Christian holiday with Pagan roots.

I took today as an opportunity to see the new Star Wars with my boyfriend instead of listening to Christmas music grinning with disingenuous earnestness. And you know what? It was a good move. Saw the movie, got amped for the next one, then headed into the city for a meeting. This may seem silly, but I felt like a Jedi after I left the theater. Recovery pulled me from the dark side, though I don’t have a multi-million dollar franchise to show for it. Just honesty.

Tonight, there will be a giant, delicious meal and Netflix. Maybe some Panettone. Definitely Marvin Gaye and David Bowie.

And some Stevie Wonder to help me kiss lonely goodbye x

 

Photo courtesy of Link-Assistant

Part 2 Lady St*rdust is Born

Ladies and Gentleman, meet the woman, the myth, the legend–Lady Stardust:

image2 (2)

 I have never seen a more relevant (in my eyes) Halloween costume. I love Halloween because people get to be whatever they want to be in front of everyone. I think we should celebrate Halloween all the time–maybe it would give us all permission to actually be what we want to be without fear of reprimand or scorn. That is, unless, you want to unearth your secret racism or misappropriate cultural stereotypes for your own gain. 

image1 (4)
I’d like to wear more glitter and colorful hair. I’d also like to wear full body suits with high-heeled boots like Nicole did, because I think it would make the world a better place (just like she does). Halloween is a good exercise in the IDGAF mentality. David Bowie created an alter-ego in Ziggy Stardust because he did not give a fuck. His rock star persona made him a rock star because he took outrageous liberties when he cultivated this other-wordly character.

So when I gave no fucks, like Nicole and Bowie, yesterday turned out to be the best Halloween I’ve ever had. I joined my friend Fancie while she officiated a wedding in Chester. We traveled to the couple’s home where they were married in the back yard with their close families and friends. They stood next to the grave they made for their dog “Nicholas Cage.” The lovers were tattooed from head to toe, grinning from ear to ear with excitement and love. It was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen. The couple dressed as devilish ghouls and they looked amazing. They were so nervous, but their vows were heartfelt and I could feel their love for each other. It was an honor to be a part of such a rad wedding celebration. No one questioned the woman dressed as a Pineapple taking pictures for them on everyone’s iPhone.

PineappleThe only thing that trumps not giving a fuck is spending Halloween sober. I am so grateful to have my second sober Halloween in the books. Holidays–even the silliest ones–are tough for recovering addicts and alcoholics sometimes. Every now and again I get euphoric recall about the fun I had getting wasted with my friends. What I have to remind myself, however, is the unfun I had walking home alone getting lonelier and lonelier with every step. Half the time I ended up on some stranger’s couch, confused and disoriented as to how I got there. Even if I started the night out with my group of friends, I almost always ghosted them to stay out later at the bar or to go home with a stranger. I’m sure they were worried about me, but I didn’t have enough others-centered thoughts to care.

I look forward to dressing up for Halloween next year. Maybe in the near-future, I will be dressing up my toddlers in cute costumes. Half the fun of Halloween is getting to see my friends’ children dress as mini cupcakes, lions, Forrest Gumps or elephants. Me as a mother is a real-life costume I wouldn’t mind trying out.

Spookier things have happened.

Featured image courtesy of Popblerd

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