If you need me, call me

Note to self: always bring a choir and wear sequins. Always.

“Just pick up the phone. Just reach out.  Just call.” These are simple directions but when I’m a shit storm of self-pity and feeling like I’m the worst person on the planet, picking up the damn phone is impossible. Besides who’d wanna listen to my crap? No. I’ll just sit here in the corner and silently bleed to death. Don’t mind me.

This is what my brain tells me when I’m in pain. Over the years, I’ve gotten better about calling or texting or sending an SOS that says, “Hey I’m really out of my effing mind! Please help!” But as we’ve discussed a zillion times, my pain threshold is pretty high so it usually takes me being horribly miserable to finally reach out. Sponsors, siblings, my husband, friends of mine- all of them get frustrated at how long I can feel miserable and not say anything. Lately, however, I’ve seen how vital reaching out can be.

Last month, I was walking back from the bank and I thought,”I could have a margarita.” This thought morphed into, “I DESERVE a margarita! I mean it’s the middle of the day, who would know? Just one wouldn’t kill me. It sounds fun!” Thankfully, I quickly remembered that one margarita has never existed for me. It’s usually 6 more,  followed by blow,  followed by several beers and wanting to die. Yeah. That sounds really fun. Well, I knew that I’d have to tell on myself and tell somebody I was having these thoughts. Sitting alone with wanting a margarita, regardless of how passing the idea was, is something that I as an alcoholic can’t get away with. The urge to drink after almost 7 years? I gotta be honest– it scared the crap out of me. It wasn’t something I should keep to myself and yet I did! For a few days! Finally, I reached out to my sponsor who informed me that, “Congratulations! You’re still a drunk.” Getting the thought out of  my head and in front of another sober person took the terror out of the moment. Plus, we figured out I hadn’t had lunch and disastrous ideas always happen when I’m hungry. Now, I’m not saying I would have drunk had I not reached out but how long could I keep secrets or lie about my program until drinking or using sounded like a good idea? Not very long, as proven by past personal field research. Opening my mouth and picking up the million pound phone isn’t easy or even something I like to do. But I gotta do it if I want to stay sober.

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Telling the world, “I’m fine. Actually, I’m great!’ just because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone with my pain is utter garbage. Not to mention the fact, it’s some of my oldest and most toxic behavior. Around this time of year in 2008, I’d talk to my family and sell them a load of how happy I was when all the while I was on the verge of eviction and alcoholic collapse. It was all “Merry Christmas!” when it should have been “Please help me.” Needless to say, the people in my life were surprised when I admitted right after New Years that I was fucked and needed help. This practice of asking for help and picking up the phone is just that. And I frequently fail at it. But eventually, I come around and I call someone. This is certainly progress for person who really enjoys bleeding in the corner.

If you hang out in the rooms of recovery, we see how terrible sitting on your pain can be. Over the last few years, I’ve witnessed a lot of lovely folks who don’t share in meetings or talk to people afterwards or even make their presence known simply disappear. Or relapse. Or die. It fucking sucks, mainly because it happens a lot. This isn’t a theory or something sober people say to scare each other. I’ve personally seen friends and people I love sit in meetings and smile, all the while they’re hurting inside. It’s happened a couple of times lately in my circle and it’s horrible. Horrible because seeing people you care about in pain sucks. Mainly, it’s horrible because it’s so unnecessary.

However, as they say, the phone works both ways. If I see someone in pain, I can get off my ass and call them too. Not like I’m so magically sober that I can keep other people sober. Thank God I don’t believe that. But reaching out–calling a new person or someone struggling- can’t hurt either. And it might just save my life too.

 

 

 

oh the places you’ll blow

If you haven’t done acid in your grandparents backyard, you haven’t really lived. That’s what I always say. Actually that’s the first time I’ve ever said that. And honestly, your existence is probably okay if you haven’t. Yet as a young drug addict in training whose motto seemed to be “Sure! Why not?” my adventures in narcotics took me everywhere from acid in grandma’s yard to smoking crack in an alley with a now famous music producer. While drinking just seemed to get me into trouble, drugs always had a unique knack of putting me in the strangest of environs.

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I guess it’s the whole “because they’re illegal” thing. Or maybe its the very nature of getting high. Who knows. But when you’re laying on the floor of a jewelry designer’s warehouse after doing heroin afraid to move because you’re convinced Jesus has come down and is now an alien who shoots lasers from his eyes, you know your life has gotten pretty special. That was at age 20 and after dabbling in meth for a few horrifying months, I trotted off to Europe with the hope that when I got back my drugcations would be cancelled once and for all. Naturally, I smoked a wagon full of hash and bought ecstasy from the Danish version of Kurt Cobain while in Amsterdam but that was to be expected. It’s like eating pizza in New York or hot dogs in Chicago. I got back and despite a few drug free months, the party was back on and I was once again a hot mess. Hanging out in sketchy all night suburban bowling alleys waiting to buy drugs, doing cocaine off the dashboard of a someone’s mom’s Ford escort, using the Mile High City’s gay bar restrooms as my own party depot. Classy excursions all the way around. In a desperate attempt to pull my head out of my ass, I moved to Los Angeles at age 23. Cause there wasn’t in trouble to get into in LA in 1995. Seeing as my sobriety date in January 2nd 2009, we know how that move worked out.

While drugs and alcohol might have taken me to random places (4am at a Korean speakeasy doing shots with Horatio Sands is the first thing to spring to mind), the one thing they never successfully did was totally remove me from myself. That was one vacation that not even the Priceline Negotiator could figure out. Sure, blacking out was a good way to erase how much I hated the world for a few hours. But it never lasted. I guess I’m blogging about this today because I’m happy with where I am. Yes, I could use a non-drug fueled real vacation. But overall I am okay with where I am– physically, spiritually, mentally. And I’m more than okay that my average, daily adventures no longer put my life in danger. That’s always a good thing. It’s also an incredible gift to wake up and know exactly where I was the night before. I don’t have to search receipts or look at fast food bags on my coffee table to piece together what happened. This isn’t to say my life is boring. Or maybe it is. But at least it’s real and at least I’m no longer trying to getaway from my life. Even though the beach sounds pretty incredible right now. Hold the acid.

The Library

I remember the first real meeting I went to. For those of you just joining us, by “meeting” I mean for the things alcoholics and drug addicts go to, not  a meeting like the high-powered thing CEOs go to with catered lunches and glass top conference room tables. This not-as-glamorous but equally as powerful meeting took place on the 4 floor of a dilapidated senior living complex in downtown Los Angeles. My recovery plan was simple.  I figured I’d sail in there,  shed some crocodile tears and legions of good-looking and helpful people would rally around  me and fix my life. I would then leave a brand new person, never to return. This rinky-dink library was filled with vintage page-turners by Nelson DeMille and Jackie Collins and probably didn’t see a lot of reading going on. I suspected it was more of an alternative napping place for the residents. (That’s how I plan on spending my golden years, by the way: finding new and kind of inappropriate places to fall asleep.) It figures that my first meeting would be in a library. I’ve spent the better part of my life hiding in libraries and stumbling on life changing information and this encounter was no different.

On my way to sit down, a really, really happy smiling older man in a flannel shirt and tan pants accosted me with a small square of paper. After getting my name, he explained the paper was to ask anonymous questions about getting sober. “Can you please shoot me?” or “What the hell am I doing here?” didn’t seem like the kind of inquires they were looking for so I kept the paper blank. As the meeting started, I surveyed the room looking for the three categories of  I normally look for upon entering a new situation: ” Fashionable people I want to talk to”, “Guys I Want to Sleep With” and People I Can’t Wait to Judge. It was a Tuesday afternoon so it was slim pickings for all three. Having grown up with a dad who got sober I was familiar with the slogans and prayers and pomp and circumstance to be found at an AA meeting. Within in moments, like clockwork all of it was there. But just as fast, I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I did. Also, these people were really fucked up. I mean seriously. Relapses, depression, suicide attempts, jail time and that was all from people who’d been sober awhile! Where was the hugging and smiling and instant life-fixing? It sure the fuck wasn’t next to the Mary Higgins Clark books and burnt coffee in the senior center library. Still, I was desperate enough to stay and listen. I listened as a tough looking Latino guy (who would have comfortably fit into Category number 2 if times were rough and trust me, they were) read the questions and other alcoholics answered them. I listened to a hipster dude talk about how his world had improved. I listened to a girl cry who said drinking had made her life a mess. But mainly, I listened to people who kept coming to meetings. For years. And years. Older men, the smiling variety who didn’t fit into any of my categories, shared about how they kept coming to meetings and never drank, no matter what. Hearing this I started to cry. Suddenly my life flashed before my eyes. An eternity spent in dank smelly libraries listening to drunk people who tried to kill themselves. Somehow I don’t think I put this scenario on my vision board.

At the end of the meeting, my friend the smiling guy gave me a chip, he hugged me and told me to keep coming back. “Like Hell I will!”, I thought to myself. But I did come back. Because even though this seemed like the end of the world and the last fucking thing I wanted to do, my life was just beginning. Mainly, I came back because I wasn’t fixed yet and maybe it wouldn’t happen in one sitting but at least these people were laughing and weren’t drinking. No, I wouldn’t have imagined a new start happening in a shitty senior center in downtown LA but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Real World Sucks

I went to detox on Friday night. But unlike the handful of near death survivors who sat in the little community room at the city hospital with me, I got to go home. I was asked to speak and anytime anyone asks me to speak at a detox or rehab, I jump at the chance. Not only because they’re such captive audiences or because I’m a lot more hilarious to people in hospital gowns but because it is an honor. For some reason my daily drinking and rabid drug use didn’t kill me so I’ll happily show up for people who really need a laugh or little bit of hope. Too bad Joey Kovar didn’t get to live to do the same thing.

29 year-old  Joey Kovar, a cast member of MTV’s Real World: Hollywood and Celebrity Rehab, was found dead last Friday near Chicago. He was found with blood coming out of ears and nose. Drugs, of course, are suspected to be the cause of death. The real, Real World is a brutal place and checking out of it must have seemed like the only option for Joey. And that’s just how it ends for a reality star whose drug addiction and binge drinking made for great TV. No scads of celebrities Tweeting about how wonderful he was and no video montages of his finest moments. Just a big story on People.com and lame statement from MTV,who profited from his demons and then tossed him aside.  Kovar soon becomes the answer to a trivia question and the world at large moves on to talking about bigger things like Oprah’s interview with Rihanna.

Now I’m not saying that we should have a moment of silence for Kovar or name a street after him but his death does make me stop and think about how we honor the lives of addicts. For big stars like Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston, we dance around the fact that they were drug addicts and focus on their careers instead. For z-listers like Kovar, we act like we do when anyone dies from alcoholism or addition, like it’s a shame but we saw it coming. Really what pisses me off about celebrities who die from drug addiction is the missed opportunity we have to really talk about the disease at hand. We don’t honestly say to kids or even adults, “This famous person died because of their alcoholism and drug addition. It wasn’t heart problems or drowning or because an evil doctor gave them a prescription. They died because they were addicts.” Yeah I realize things haven’t changed since I bitched about this same issue when Whitney died a few months ago.

But what I can do is not shut up and not sit back and watch any more. Having watched the Real World in the past and Real Housewives and any other bullshit show that pretends to be real, I can safely say I’m over trotting out hot messes, giving them wine and letting the cameras roll for our amusement. Being a disaster isn’t entertaining or inspiring. I’m done contributing to the culture who awards drunken idiots by giving them TV shows. This isn’t to say I don’t love my Chopped or RuPaul’s Drag Race but I’m just not interested in sacrificing dignity for entertainment anymore. And besides making a meal out of sheep’s stomach or performing in 6 inch clear heels requires some actual talent.

Anyway, it’s a shame Joey didn’t get the chance to hang out with my friends on the fourth floor detox of the county hospital. No there wasn’t any cameras or designer gift bags or journalists from Extra. There was just a group of people fighting for their lives and hoping they could change. Talk about real. We’d never tune in to watch such a thing on cable TV.

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Human beings are capable of many wonderful things. But mainly we’re really great at generating some truly horrible ideas. Yes, yes we the people are filled to the brim with great innovations and life changing ideas too. Yet for every polio vaccination there’s 100 bottles of A-Spray and 3,000 truck loads of Doritos Locos Tacos.

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Take me, for example.  I,myself, have had some earth shatteringly bad ideas in my nearly 40-years on this Earth. From wearing acid wash (although I never had the full-tilt boogie fringe ensemble as pictured above) to falling in love with unavailable, straight, meth addicts, my bad ideas are as majestic as the Grand Canyon and as puzzling as the film career of Jennifer Lopez. Perhaps I was born under a bad idea sign because as far back as I can remember I’ve cooked up one harebrained plot after the next only to have it backfire and explode in my face. As an early forger of report cards and author of book reports on titles that never existed, the shittacular schemes knew no bounds.   If there’s a Bad Idea Museum, I’m quite certain I’m a shoo-in for the curator position.  Although I reckon each of us could more than qualify for the job at one time or another . The anatomy of bad ideas, as far as I can tell, stems from the corny “live and learn” concept. We have awesomely horrific ideas, we experience hell on Earth because of them and we never ever have those ideas again. And herein lies the problem for your’s truly and other slow to learn addicts like myself.

If the “live and learn” concept was one I adapted, I would have only fell in love with just the one unavailable, straight, drug addict. Not four. And as much as the first experience of taking Special K (ketamine, not the cereal) made me feel like my heart was going to explode right after my face was going to melt off, it didn’t stop me from doing it about a jillion other times and even offering at as party favor at my Grammy party. I must have been out of Cheez-Its. To be fair, though, it was the trannies I worked with who brought it. Anyway, when it came to drugs and drinking, the ideas, which were already being cooked up in a crappy idea kitchen, were escalated to new hilariously awful heights. Like the time I shimmied across the gangsta tin awning which hung over my neighbor’s blind and endlessly barking dog en route to my open bathroom window where my tequila soaked body landed in a thud in the bathtub, all in an effort to break into my own house. Too bad I discovered my front door was unlocked the next day. I repeated the wasted at home break-ins, crazy financial espionage and other stupid plans over and over again. Compared to my life, the average episode of Three’s Company seemed full of plot twists and surprises. My inability to learn from my mistakes made for a fucking boring existence after a while.

I laugh at my mistakes and bad ideas today. Why? Well a.) I’m okay with the stupid things I’ve done b.) now that I’ve actually learned from them, some are pretty funny. Plus many  of the funny, bad, sober ideas of today turn into the great ideas of tomorrow. But mainly, laughter has healed me. I’ve stopped beating myself up and now can see the absurdity and humor in old stories that used to mortify me. And the more I talk about them and more I laugh about them, they remind that getting sober was the best idea I ever had.

The Last Time I Saw LA Gay Pride

Throughout the month of June, all over the country, in cities big and small, gay, lesbian bisexual and transgendered men and women are flocking to their local pride parades and festivals. If you’ve never been to one of these events, I can tell you that if you do attend you are likely to see a musical act from yesteryear performing on one of the stages (Belinda Carlise! The Village People!), you are likely to see fried food on a stick (because corn dogs and churros cross all lines of discrimination) and you will certainly see a lot of people who are really, really intoxicated.

Now I’m not saying that everyone who attends a gay pride festival is going to get fucked up but let’s be honest here. The only thing gays like better than half-naked people in booty shorts at 11am wandering the streets is half-naked people in booty shorts at 11am wandering the streets drinking. Gays are so fond of daytime drinking in the streets, gaggles of them often appear at random festivals solely for that very reason. I’ve personally attended everything from Cuban festivals to an abysmal non-New Orleans version of Mardi Gras all in the name of drinking in the streets. As citizen of Los Angeles for 15 years, I could bore you with dozens of drunken tales from the West Hollywood gay pride festival. In fact, as I read blogs and saw pictures of this weekend’s celebration, my mind took a trip down memory lane. I recall line dancing in a country music tent with a drag queen. I remember drinking vodka and watching what remains of the Mary Jane Girls perform near a baseball diamond. And how could I forget seeing Cyndi Lauper wave from a hot pink convertible as a dance remix of ‘True Colors’ thumped in the background? Yet it’s my last time at gay pride in Los Angeles that solidifies the gay pride experience for me.

A friend and I went over to the parade in 2007. With cocktails to go, we headed over to West Hollywood. Perched from a cozy alcohol adjacent corner inside Rage, a parade route- friendly watering hole, we watched as the rainbow of topless men and aforementioned booty shorts pranced by interspersed with floats sponsored by  Gieco and local erotic bakeries alike. This being a Los Angeles event, “celebrities” pimping their latest reality shows or albums were on display too. We cheered as famous hot mess and former America’s Next Top Model judge Janice Dickinson floated by with a bevy of shirtless models. Dickinson claims to be the world’s first supermodel but I would contend she may also be the world’s first celebrity with Tourette’s syndrome. I however always admired her frank nature and the fact that here was a famous person who was shockingly more wasted than I was. She made me feel like, “Gee, maybe I’m not a total disaster.” Dickinson, like any good addict, had moments of sobriety followed by moments of hot messiness. During this particular celebration, it would be safe to say she was experiencing the latter. As the parade wrapped up, we plotted our next move. Do we pay $20 bucks to get into the festival or do we go drink somewhere else? Well, clearly our Jacksons would be put to better use at a bar so we headed over to the Abbey. While you’re unlikely to find nuns at this Abbey (unless it’s Halloween), you were guaranteed to find strong cocktails, more naked men and on that day even Janice Dickinson. Along with a thousand or so of our closest friends, the partying really started to happen. More beers, more shots, and a pill that someone told me was “kind of like Ecstasy.” I wanted my picture taken with Janice but her tanned trio of bodyguards politely shooed my wasted ass away. The rest of the afternoon was a slurry blur and by 4pm I was home and napping off my daytime drunk.

I share this story because in my mind the preceding events had nothing to do with being proud of being gay. I wasn’t drinking and dancing and harassing celebrities because I loved being gay and loved who I am. Quite the contrary, in fact.  Yet that’s how I always celebrated gay pride: by getting absolutely shithoused drunk.

While in LA and newly sober, I stayed away from gay pride. Not because I was worried that I would relapse. But because I felt like it I had no business being there. Like a vegan at Outback Steakhouse. Everybody else was going to be drunk so why bother? A few years later, I’ve lightened up. My recovery is such that I can attend this kind of stuff  without feeling like I’m the only one not wasted. But also I know when not to go too. Like even though its been over 3 years, there are times that I can’t go to places where lots of drinking will be going on. And this is okay. Gay pride means being proud of who you are and today I can honestly say that I am just that. I’m proud to be gay, sober and positive. And I can celebrate all of this without drinking, booty shorts or Janice Dickinson.

Disco Damage

If you randomly bust into dance moves when you hear “Le Freak” by Chic  coming from the sound system at the grocery store, if you still expect to be on the guest list even though you have been to a nightclub in several years or if you suffer from minor hearing loss due to dancing next to speakers for an extended period of time; you may be suffering from disco damage. Other common symptoms include the unwavering belief that nothing gets good until after 12am, spontaneously yelling “Hey girl!” at drag queens even if you don’t know them and  a deep desire to dance instead of dealing with your life.

Disco damage sufferers like myself have a had tough week. The back-to-back deaths of Donna Summer and Robin Gibb reinforced the depressing, unavoidable truth: nothing,not even a great dance song, lasts forever. I was a toddler during the original disco era but the beat must have seeped into my brain at an early age because my whole life I’ve been in love with dance music. Yes, I am aware that an affinity for dance music is part of my gay DNA but disco and the culture around it were very much a fantasyland and that appealed to me very much as a future drug addict and alcoholic.

I was scooped into nightclubs and raves at an early age. And what goes better with dance music than drugs? Body glitter and platforms are fabulous but if I really wanted to dance my ass off, drugs had to be my number one accessory. Once at a rave in a warehouse in suburban Denver, the Chic song I mentioned earlier came blasting out of the speakers. I was high on ecstasy and it felt like this  was my moment. This is what I was looking for my whole life. I had friends on the dance floor, I felt fantastic and I was 20. This kind of high needed to happen all the time and normal life needed to feel more like this. So it was this feeling, this hunger that propelled me from Colorado raves to LA nightclubs to working at a record store and to DJing and promoting my own clubs in Hollywood. The goal of a budding disco diva was simple: get high and dance. Ecstasy was the preferred dancing accoutrement for many years but cocaine did the trick and so did some strong cocktails. (For the record, 3 Long Islands and  2 Vicodins aren’t a great dance floor combo and we’ll leave it at that.) There’s a great line in the disco classic, “Lost in Music” by Sister Sledge that sums it up:”Responsibility to me is a tragedy. I’ll get a job some other time.”  For many years, I worked to keep partying, I kept partying to avoid really living.

Eventually, the lights came on, last call was called and I tried to live real life. For a club child, this  is a difficult prospect. We’re used to phony relationships and being high all the time. Things like paying our bills and dealing with our problems are icky tasks meant for those boring, grownups we’d see heading to church on Sunday mornings on our way home from the club. I eventually would face the music and lucky for me that music still  had a disco beat. You could take the homo out of the nightclub but disco would forever “toot, toot- aah- beep beep” in my heart. Donna Summer and the Bee Gees were the soundtrack to my growing up, the background music at the roller rink and still bumping at after hours clubs when I was hell-bent on vanishing in the 1990s and 2000s. Now, songs like Nights on Broadway or Try Me I Know We Can Make it are celebrations that despite ingesting more drugs than a Rick James after-party, I too will survive. My dance parties today take place at my desk most of the time although I still occasionally hit the clubs with other sober folks.  So be kind to me if you see me shaking my booty in the frozen food aisle to Bad Girls or Jive Talking. It’s just a little disco damage and a sweet hangover that I don’t wanna get over.

Enough is Enough

I’ve been in a ton of self-imposed pain lately. Clearly I enjoy it otherwise I’d get myself out of it. But to be fair, as a gay, former Catholic, alcoholic my tolerance for pain is like superhuman. I reckon I could have survived the Inquisition, yawned and asked for a cigarette. Well, finally this week I had my Tina Turner-running-out-of-the-limosine moment. The only difference is the crazy abusive prick I ran away from wasn’t Ike Turner. It was myself.

What’s love got to do with it, indeed! I’ve gotten lazy (okay not gotten lazy- that’s like saying Mel Gibson’s ‘gotten racist’. I’ve been lazy.) I’ve been resting on my laurels. I’m not really sure I have laurels or what they even look like but as a person in recovery I’m told over and over again that I shouldn’t rest on them. Smartassafrass aside, at the end of the day, I haven’t been taking care of myself. Meaning I’m not praying really or going to very many meetings or helping other people and this sludges on for months like some painful soap opera that needed to be cancelled six years ago. And whaddyaknow-I’m batshit, balls out crazy, uncomfortable and doubled over in pain. I have had enough friends relapse or die doing this type of non-recovery dance routine but you know I’m different. I’m special. I don’t need meetings or help or any of the stuff that saved my life in 2009. Yeah right, bitch. Thank fucking God, this neglect didn’t gently shove me into a drink or mountain of blow.

This week a professional situation that has been miserable for months came to a head, got ugly and then pushed me into my Enough is Enough moment. I was resentful and felt like I’d been compromised and ignored. But talking about it would be yucky, un-glamorous and I’d have to be a—gasp!-human being. So I tried to ignore it. Again, dangerous games for somebody who’s major M.O. was to escape, avoid and disappear. Not dealing with things never worked for me and in sobriety the jig is up fairly quickly these days. A few heart-to-hearts with folks in the know and some prayer later, I eventually pulled my head out of my ass. I took a little action, I spoke from the heart and I stepped away from a creative position that was causing pain.   And low and behold, here on Thursday night I do feel better.

I’m sharing this right now for a couple of reasons. I need to tell on myself and you folks seem to listen and get it so why not bend your ear? I like to pretend you’re a captive audience but if actually read this while watching reality TV that’s okay too. Secondly, I want to tell the truth about this sobriety gig. Sometimes, it fucking sucks. It’s hard and I feel like I’ve graduated and don’t want to be perfect anymore. But the fact of the matter is I cannot go back to a life where I drank and used. So I stick it out. I hang in there knowing that it’ll pass and that drinking and using won’t solve anything. After 3 and a half years completely clean and sober, I am not all better. I keep going to meetings even when I’m so crispy dry I could crack in half. I pray a message of recovery reaches me and it does. Every time. But pretending it’s a walk in the park or can be solved by some bumper stickers never worked for me and I don’t think it helps others either.

Lastly, I need to write this down and see that regardless of how awkward and fucked I feel today, my life is so incredible and beautiful. Warts and all. Unlike when I was drinking and using, I know I have hope, that people care and that I deserve to love myself. PS- you deserve that too.

5 Things That Remind Me I’m Still An Alcoholic

5.) I still drink everything to the last drop: Recently, I guzzled down a glass of ice tea as if it was the last beverage on Earth.  I even sucked the tea out of the ice cubes like I was an anteater. The thing is: it wasn’t very good ice tea. In fact, it was horrible ass-brewed ice tea that tasted like a Glade Air Freshener. Didn’t matter. And doesn’t matter if it’s coffee, flat diet Mountain Dew or a thick chocolate shake, I gulp everything down like it’s a tequila shot. And regardless of what it is, I want more. (Duh)

4.) I still don’t know how to do ‘Happy Hour’: Or perhaps I should say my Happy Hour in SeanLand never lasted an hour and never wound up too happy. I never had that one after work drink over chicken wings with the gals from accounting. Happy Hour to me meant I had 6 two-for-one margaritas and the blackout walk home just happened earlier in the day than usual. Like I said, I don’t get it. Likewise you won’t find me in Vegas or at Mardi Gras or Oktoberfest. Thems drinkin’ places and without booze I fail to see the point.

3.) I still wake up in Saturday with a little dread: Altough I’ve been sober for a few years, a part of me still wakes up with that momentary “What the hell did I do” feeling on Saturday mornings. It passes faster these days mainly because my life is boring (and in a good way). It’s nice not welcoming in the weekend wondering what the fuck I said or sent in a text or did the night before. People who haven’t “cussed a bitch out” in a drunken haze rarely experience this kind of humiliation and good for them! I wish I was one of them but I’m not. I’m the guy who drinks and then yells at you. Charmed, I’m sure!

2.) I read stories about Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson and I identify: No really. Aside from that whole being a child star thing or being a crazy racist thing, I totally get these two. Love it or hate it: I know that we suffer from the same shit. Normal folk, on the other hand, read tales of their drunken terrors and shake their heads. I read that stuff and think, “Oh my god! Me too!”

1.) I don’t understand the concept of “Just one”: This sounds stupid because of how simple it is but hear me out. I was sitting with my husband a year ago and he had half of a glass of wine. And it just sat there. On further far and few between instances with alcohol, he would just have one drink. Or rather he could have just one drink. Fascinating! When I saw him do this the first time, I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “There’s something I could never do!” And that’s the point! I was always looking for some concrete, absolute evidence of proof positive that I am in fact an alcoholic. And since AA doesn’t send you a plaque or a special sticker for your windshield, this was my proof. Yes there were thousands of other flaming signs that pointed to my alcoholism. But in the simplest of terms, when it comes to drinking alcohol I just can’t stop.

So there you go! My first listy type of blog! Did you enjoy it?  Clearly, there are others and maybe we could add to the list. Also, it should be noted these are just my ways of remembering that I’m an alcoholic and by no means a definitive list for others questioning if they are or aren’t touched by this special condition.  In the end, it doesn’t matter how I remember, I’m just happy that I do.

Remember Roxie

Sometimes it’s the friends or family member of an alcoholic who help them see how jacked up their behavior was. For me, it was checkout girl named Roxie.

For much of my hardcore daily drinking, I lived across the street from a Von’s grocery store in the hip and occassionally dangerous neighborhood of Echo Park in Los Angeles. I lived in that apartment for 8 years and drank nearly every day during my time there. Having that “open until midnight” grocery store steps away from house was divine for a dialy drinker who liked to turn your plain old Tuesday into an excuse to get hammered. In many LA grocery stores, especially the ones in dicier neighborhoods, the liquor is kept locked behind glass doors on a walls near the registers. Going there daily, the checkers knew who we were and were always at the ready to unlock and pull out whatever it was we were drinking that night. During long runs of drinking, it felt shameful to have them yet again fetch booze for me. But not shameful enough. I got over it pretty quickly when it was in my hands and I was out the door. One Von’s employee, Roxie, was usually working nights when I would pop in after work to get a bottle before they closed. Roxie sold me alcohol many times when she probably shouldn’t have. Roxie rung me up in one or two blackouts. Roxie saw my disease almost nightly and was forced to deal with it for 9 bucks an hour. She was a doll though and we always had a cordial back and forth. Short, plump and kind of saracstic, Roxie was a friendly, if not always enthustastic enabler. Through the years, I saw her get pregnant, start college, change boyfriends. And then in 2009, I stopped seeing her altogether.

That Von’s stopped being across the street when I moved away to the West Side to get sober.  Our paths didn’t cross until a year and a half later when I was back in the neighborhood housesitting for the summer. I stopped into get cigarettes, which were also behind the counter, and Roxie who rung me up asked “Do you need a bottle too?” And I said “No I don’t drink anymore.” To which she replied, “Thank God. You used to drink all the time. Good for you!” That exchange hit me in the gut. Here’s this girl who didn’t even know me but could see my drinking was totally out of control. For a long time, the story struck me as funny. Like when the checkout girl realizes how much you drink, you know you’ve got a problem! But now it reminds me how real the problem was. It’s an oddly powerful yet brief moment that sticks with me especially when my mind tries to tell me I could maybe drink like a normal person. It also reminds me how many were affected by my alcoholism and how truly terrible it was.

So thanks, Roxie. Wherever you are. You’ve helped me more than you’ll ever know.