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

Advertisements

Los Reci√©n Casados (The Honeymooners)

We started our¬†luna de miel¬†with a missed connection in Atlanta. There were tears–there were many tears. But they dried when the dude at Delta’s customer service counter upgraded our seats to First Class on the last flight of the day leaving for San Jose, Costa Rica. The subsequent eight-hour layover resulted in our first Atlanta 12-step meeting. My husband insisted on getting a good start on our photo-journalism tour of Central America with an airport picture for posterity:

Corn on the ceiling
I don’t get it. Was the peach bad company?

We made it to San Jose in roughly five hours. The internet did not come with us. Though Waze was available every now and again, we felt supremely confident that we could mesh our Rosetta Stone and Kitchen Spanish-speaking skills to ask for directions if we needed them–WHEN we needed them. I’ll spare you the details of our trip from Hertz rental cars to the phantom toll booth peaje de fantasma¬†where we were forced to drive backward on a one-way highway. I don’t know why I didn’t hit “avoid tolls” on Waze, because here in Los Estados Unidos, I firmly believe highway tolls are unconstitutional. I refuse to pay them in dollars or colones. My stubborn streak forced us to learn the word and deeper meaning of “change” in Spanish: cambio. We had to, considering we only had a $100 bill to pay a $2 toll. Lady Luck would have come to visit the teller if we chose to surrender to our own ignorance.

The policia took pity on us, too. Our language barrier resulted in a telephone call to the b&b bungalow we reserved for the night. Two ex pats from Germany–a retired couple–answered the call in sleepy tones, asking if it was John on the line. The officers thought this whole thing was hilarious, but neither we nor the Germans found a phone call from the police in the middle of the night amusing. We followed the police van for a few minutes through Altenas, arriving at Apartmentos Altenas. The couple showed us to our bungalow, all the while explaining our late-night intrusion gave them no time to prepare for us as they typically would have. All things considered, it was perfect.

Apartamentos Atenas

When I asked the husband proprietor how long he and his bride have been married, he replied, “150 years.” I knew right then that my being a directionless wonder, leading my new husband down one-way highways to avoid tolls at all costs, got us exactly where we needed to be. This humble and intelligent couple not only cooked us desayuno the next morning, they told us all about their journey from Germany to Costa Rica while giving us a tour of the property. They showed us this elaborate garden with a homemade irrigation/mini-drip mechanism, where they grew vegetables alongside exotic herbs. The only word I remembered was¬†Bohnenkraut,¬†meaning Summer Savory. Smells like oregano, taste bitter like something else (I’m not the cook here, John is). Evidently it’s a German must-have, akin to cilantro for Costa Rica. An herb I despise but also wish I loved because IT IS¬† IN MF EVERYTHING.

CR7

We were sad to say goodbye to this place. But we had three-point-something hours more to drive through weaving mountain roads with the ever-present possibility of mudslides and/or detours. Not to mention the abundance of stray dogs who don’t seem to mind oncoming traffic. We learned the hard way that stopping for puppies is not welcomed, though hazard lights are; that motorcyclists care little for their own safety or for ours.

The best part of our trip was the free coffee with a view. Another impossibly generous couple offered us coffee and dulce de leche on a mountaintop perch. We literally sat with our heads in the clouds watching the winds take shape … bosque nuboso.

CR15

PerchedOur first resort stay was one of the prettiest and loneliest places I’ve ever visited. We stayed at El Establo, where the Pizotes outnumbered humans 2:1. The Hydrangeas everywhere balanced the flora and fauna considerably, though.

coati_pizote-3583
Pizote

CR57

Monteverde, turns out, is a city/town/province that is enormously influenced by Quakers. We were psyched to know this mini-colony has a Friends Meeting House. Too bad we showed up for a scheduled meeting that Wednesday to an empty wooden play house. Empty of 12-steppers, that is. We read to each other from the literature out loud while two actors practiced stage direction and lighting for an upcoming Halloween-themed production. It was weird, but it was enough to keep us sober and pleasant enough.

The Monteverde leg of our trip was designed for us to “explore” the area. We got lost a lot. That’s what helped us transmute our sense of panic and doom to wanderlust and an electrical humility. John drove us using 4-wheel drive down and up every calle. The roads were rife with pendejos, but the locals were incredibly gracious and warm. We ate olla de carne and casado at places like Sabor Tico and Tico y Rico; drank coffee at Cafe Besos, Stella’s Bakery and Choco Cafe. The air smelled like chocolate and coffee. The rain was barely chilly or obstructive. The nights were clear and quiet. We may have stumbled over our spanish words a bit, but the locals continued to speak to us in the most charming and calming way. Not much was lost in translation.

There were many frijoles, but not much touristy activity on our part. If one more effing person asked us if we were going zip lining, puede haber perdido mi mierda. We opted for hiking at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, instead. CR39

I think our hike(s) amounted to about five miles. At one point, we paused to take a picture of this giant tree that seemed to sneeze out a glorious flurry of butterflies. Seeing sanctuaries for all of the¬†mariposas made me remember the nickname one of the cooks at my old restaurant job gave to me,¬†mariposa traicionera,¬†roughly translated as “treacherous butterfly.” I still am not sure what to make of that one. Alas, the hike was brilliant.

CR33

So brilliant by design, this hike was, that we ended it at the mouth of las cascadas.

CR47

There were besos–there were many besos.

But as is our way, the fun didn’t stop at the cascades. There would be more driving. Lots more driving.

We spent four nights at El Establo, with awesome service and spotty internet. The channels were all in spanish, so we did our best to reckon with Netflix, taking it as an opportunity to watch Mindhunters (give the series a chance, it gets really good midway through the first season).

We off-roaded for our third hours-long trip, heading toward Guanacaste. The rain never stopped falling because we were in the rainy season for the region, but we kind of enjoyed it. Never were there more appropriate circumstances than these to continuously hum “I’m Only Happy When it Rains,” by Garbage. And we got miserably lost, this time to an excellent soundtrack. We anticipated no connection while driving, so I downloaded one of my favorites, The President’s Summer Playlist 2016 (PRESIDENT OBAMA IS THE ONLY PRESIDENT FROM WHOM I’D TAKE MUSICAL RECOMMENDATIONS). We stopped to ask for help reading un mapa, got some fried pork rinds and unwittingly used someone’s home toilet, mistaking their storefront for a¬†tienda¬†rather than a casa.¬†We took the Pan American Highway/Route 1, where instead of stopping for stray dogs, we were halted by giant livestock.

CR79

This leg of our journey marked the first time we truly stopped taking ourselves so seriously. Up until this point, we were so wrecked from all of the travel and lost-ness. It felt wonderful to laugh at how clueless we are as a unit. We solidified what I so lovingly refer to as our travel trauma bond. In spite of the chaos that unrelentingly ratcheted up our stress levels, we have never been more kind to each other throughout our entire relationship. If we got nothing else out of our honeymoon, that alone would have been worth it.

But we did. We got massages, aromatherapy, home-cooked meals, enormous surf at la playa El Jobo, poolside beds and coconut virgin daiquiris. We felt like royals at Dreams Las Mareas. That ish was fancy.

CR92

We arrived at night, skidding into the parking lot breathless from the insane roads and parrots in our periphery. The staff greeted us with two full champagne glasses, which we promptly insisted they (kindly) get the fuck out of our faces. They didn’t really understand, and we didn’t need them to. We simply can’t afford that kind of luxury.

We ate seafood, steaks, salads and plantains aplenty. The fruit at breakfast was unlike anything I’d ever seen or tasted. There were tourists from all walks of life on their honey moons, birthday vacations and retirement trips. We felt happy, but the continuous service and attention felt uncomfortable. Not too uncomfortable, as we stayed for three nights, walking the grounds for hours and returning to our suite each night to wear our swanky plush bathrobes. We ordered room service and watched the ID channel in English. There simply is nothing better. We gifted the room service guy with our free bottle of wine. We spent too much money on getting our clothes laundered and we used the balcony Jacuzzi, but not before we thought we broke it. This was opulence at its finest.

CR Fancy Jacuzzi

We ended our stay with the gift of a gorgeous sunset. The next day, we schlepped through our final road trip. When we arrived at Liberia airport, I realized we left all of the beautiful souvenirs purchased at Don Juan coffee/chocolate tours in the trunk of our Kia rental. THERE WERE TEARS. Those tears quickly turned to anger then defeat. We hugged each other, then shut up. There was nothing more we could do to change the situation while lining up in zone 2 to board our plane. I cried and prayed until we were seated then greeted with Starbuck’s coffee on the flight. It’s like they knew what would settle me down.

Our trip to Costa Rica changed me. I am a little less fearful, and a little more willing to trust the person I am. My husband was the real MVP of the trip, thank god. If you’ve made it this far through the blog post, you’re probably almost as exhausted (if not more) than we were when we arrived home this past Monday. Thank you for reading. There is more to come, there always is.

Pura Vida,

The Honeymooners

xx

 

 

How I Know

I’m going to write as much as possible for the next few days. It’s Friday, and students from all of the public and private schools where I substitute are on overlapping Spring Breaks. I kinda forgot the kids would be out of school for this long (two weeks). I’m relieved to have a break. As much as I bitch to those who will listen, I feel grateful to have more than one job. It’s times like these I can afford to be clueless about my constantly-revolving schedule.

Now, for this:

I’ve had a big, ongoing fear that I will one day run out of things to talk about. Like, somehow my thoughts will stop evolving. I think the deeper fear is that I will have nothing good enough to say that will keep people’s attention. But that’s a bullshit false humility. As long as my brain is functioning on all cylinders, I will have something to talk about. Every time I try not to think or not to write, my brain won’t let me be. Last night was one of those nights. I got to sleep around 3:00 AM.

At 7:00 AM I lurched out of bed. For the past week I’ve barely slapped together one night of decent sleep. It’s tempting to get frustrated by my exhaustion, but I know to pause; I’ve been here before. I did about .5 seconds of research just now to discover that others experience similar physical responses to mine when their Sixth Sense takes over, whether that’s sleeplessness, choppy breathing, sweating, racing thoughts or stomach aches. According to Method 3 of Wikihow’s “3 Ways to Follow Your Intuition,” I have good reason to listen to my Spidey Senses:

Pay attention to your physical reactions. Dangerous or uncomfortable situations may trigger a physical stress response. In addition to an upset stomach, you might feel your palms sweating and your heart racing. In some cases, our bodies pick up on the signs that something is amiss before our brains do. Listen to what your body is telling you: these stress reactions are a signal to the conscious mind to be on guard.

I haven’t talked about this in awhile, but I have a pretty intense story that I point to whenever I start to feel like my gut instincts lead me astray.

On a weekend in the 90s, my twin sister and I were at a Pizza Hut doing the whole “Book It” challenge (do you remember that?!) with our parents. We were two slices deep into our personal pan pizzas when I started to feel my heart beat hard and quick. I ignored it at first because I didn’t want to be perceived as a hypochondriac. (Note: not reaching out for help would be a theme that would follow me well into the next decade). I must have given a weird look, so my mom asked me what was wrong. She sounded worried when I told her, but for whatever reason we all decided to just chill and see what would happen. Minutes later, my heart started palpitating. It didn’t hurt, but I knew something was off in my body. I started to sweat and hyperventilate. Not a moment passed before my dad got a phone call from my older sister’s husband who had gone into labor. He told us that her second born child was delivered safely, but that he had a congenital heart defect. We all sat there stunned not really knowing what to make of this development. Thankfully, my nephew pulled through and is a healthy young man today. But even then, I knew this was something worth remembering. I believe I had a premonition that day.

Though I could go on about the negatives of my anxiety as a result of intuitive thought, having one to listen to in the first place is my favorite part of being human. It’s the most basic and efficient way to suss out any situation by leaning almost completely on my Higher Power. There is no real way to substantiate intuitive thoughts, at least not scientifically. Though, I have read some thoroughly-research articles on the matter, including one published the year I was born. All I know is that my inner knowledge wakes up when I hear certain music or smell familiar fragrances. Is it a spiritual thing? Do other people feel senses at the same time in potentially dangerous situations? I think it’s worth investigating.

Consider this my field research.

xx

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

How to Choose Your Decibel Level

Once I found my voice, I could not shut up. The ‘voice’ I reference here is my authentic self–the one I clawed my way to find in recovery. I worked day in and day out to get my AA program going. Through an act of Bowie, I lost my political job six months into my first year sober. Six months after that, I got my first writing gig. From that point forward, the door flew wide open for me to become as vociferous as I saw fit. I wrote just like I spoke–loudly, and with frequent usage of the word “fuck.”

I’ve noticed a distinct hesitation in my willingness to vocalize things lately, however. I shrink before the bold ideas I initiate in inner dialogues; I don’t pitch articles to other publications; I am reluctant to speak “too much” about addiction and alcoholism. A part of me has succumbed to the fear I once allowed to shut me up. In doing so, I’ve unwittingly invited my alcoholism to crush my courage.

And I’m not sure why.

I believe in synchronicity. More specifically, I have faith in it as a means of recognizing my Higher Power in seemingly random acts of awesome. On one such occasion, I heard a guy say at a meeting that the difference between faith and belief is that when he believes in something, he has blind faith, he is hopeful. Conversely, when he has faith in something, he has evidence-based confidence that things will work out, simply because they always have. At this point, I have faith that my voice will grow louder and more boisterous–

Simply because it usually does.

That being said, I’ve learned I have different decibel levels as a writer and as a person (I’m convinced the two are separate things entirely). Growing up, my sister and I always caught shit from our teachers and my father for being super loud. We decided it was impossible for us to whisper, most likely due to our Italian-ness. Furthermore, we didn’t give two fucks–no fucks from me, no fucks from her–nary a twin fuck was given. Whenever we were loud AND sassy, our father would cover his ears and ask us to please keep it down. I always thought that was funny coming from a life-long musician who spent most of his adult life in front of elaborate speaker displays on stages the world over.

Now that I’ve begun my part-time job as a high school online electives counselor, I’ve had to tone down my voice. For the last seven months, I’ve dropped several expletives in every piece of writing that’s been published. I’ve also spoken at length to randoms all about recovery. I realized  when I got hired for my new gig that this wouldn’t be the proper platform for me to go on about the rawness of recovery. I did have a proud moment, though, when the kids clapped after I announced on my first day that I did not curse once. They were beaming with pride.

I know that not everyone needs or wants to hear about what life is like for someone in early recovery. I also know that people expect me to give a quantum leap of shits about the impending presidential election. On both counts, I am without a care. I think speaking up about my recovery is not only a blessing, but a duty. Now that I no longer have the pressure of being a political professional, I have the pleasure of sitting this election out. In short, I get to abstain from being heard and shut the fuck up for once.

I remember a night right before I got sober when I walked across the hall (approx. three feet away) to my neighbor’s apartment to have a glass bottle of wine together alone. I brought with me a large Trader Joe’s two/four-buck-chuck, as my friend put on Graceland while she made jewelry. Four glasses into my writing project, my handwriting became as unintelligible as my thoughts. I continued to write, but nothing I put down on paper made any sense. I drowned my voice that night, like so many other nights before it. So I looked on longingly as my friend created beautiful pieces of wearable art, sipping on my bitter defeat. That was one of my saddest moments because I knew I couldn’t connect with myself anymore. The addiction was louder than me…whoever that was.

Now that I live with my mother–who has inherited bad hearing–I am forced to be loud. Each time she asks me to speak up, I do. Sometimes I even shout

A little bit louder, now.

Photo courtesy of HD Wallpapers

 

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