2000 words a day.

Stephen King writes 2000 words a day.

Obviously I’m not going to do that.

But today I will do a “stream of consciousness” list.

1. this blog is completely self-indulgent.
2. I keep thinking back to one of my students, Gwen. She now wants to go by “Griffin.” She is so angry and defensive to the world but I sometimes get her sweet, soft side. Today I think I pissed her off during the carwash with my orders. But then, I caught her saying that I was a slow hose-user (we were washing cars) and she felt bad and stumbled over her words, trying to apologize. She is dating another girl who wears smeared lipstick. I hope Gwen does like me, because I am so fond of her.
3. I was trying to decide what the exact word is for how I feel about my students. I do think the word is “fond.” I am fond of them. They often annoy me, puzzle me, stress me out, but at the end of it all, I see their compelling, earnest faces staring up at me as I attempt to teach them, and I am head-over-heals fond of each and every one of them.
4. My nose has been runny all evening.
5. I contemplated buying wine tonight as I often do. I think of buying just one serving bottle. Or a cheap regular bottle that I will only drink one glass of? But then I think, “no, because I will just end up drinking the whole thing.” Then I rush past the discounted beer to check out of the store quickly so I won’t buy any alcohol.Then I come home and glug two mouthfuls of mouthwash.
6. Tomorrow I have a date with “Nick.” Tacos at Agave. I’m not nervous. Yet.
Ok…. bored now.
bye.
How many words… ?

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Ok. I suppose it’s time to start writing some memoirs.

I’ve been reading the memoirs of Lena Dunham. She is a “comedienne en vogue” and I find her intriguing. The first time I learned of her was when I came upon one of her movies, Tiny Furniture, on netflix and decided to watch it out of curiosity. I loved the movie and was impressed that she had written, directed, and starred in it. Honestly, I was also fascinated by her body. There are quite a few scenes in which she undresses and she has a unique body shape not seen much — small plum breasts with large waist and thighs. Usually the breasts shrink and grow along with the rest of the body but not in her case. Needless to say, I continued to follow her growing career (no pun intended and that was supposed to be an ironic statement, anyways).
I digress.
So tonight I am sitting here at my wooden table, oven humming in the background (I put it on and leave it open to heat my kitchen – my latest boyfriend (as if there are many – not true) always exclaimed that I kept the house too warm), my mouth chewing away at my wad of gum like a motor, reading Lena’s memoirs and each part is just making me mentally itch to write my own.
“So,” i thought, “Why don’t you?”
I have nothing to lose.
No one needs to read them if I don’t want. Of course, this whole time I’m thinking of who I’m going to send this to, first. Ella? My sober friends? Publish it out into the internet abyss?
Not yet, I will try to write more first.
Ok…. what memoir do I want to start with…. or at least, begin right now.

I want to talk about the last moment I was “with” Michael, my first real boyfriend.

We had been together for roughly a year and a half. He was my first love. The first man I “made love to.” The first man I said “I love you” to. His name reminds me of chocolate – creamy, slow, warm.

Ours was a relationship so unique and different that it now makes me smile ruefully at our generic originality. Oxymorons! Yes!
The first time I saw him I was hanging out with girlfriends at a local watering hole – The Horsehead. We were sitting outside in the smoke-filled patio and I noticed a boy sitting in the corner, beanie hat pulled low on his brow, staring broodily out at the crowd. His eyes lingered on mine and I’m sure I gave him some sort of coy smile. My artsy friend, Claudia, answered my inquiry by telling me that he was a friend of her ex-boyfreind, Tynan, and he was weird, moody, emo. She dismissevly waived her cigarette at him. I was intrigued.
I saw him next at “80’s NIght” at another bar, John Henry’s. It’s all a vodka-tonic infused haze now, but we danced together and rushed out of the sweaty, hot club into the cool night to snap a photo. I still have it. In the photo I have my arm slung around him and I grin into the camera. He huddles his shoulders together as if he is trying to shrink into himself and he looks off to the side away from me. No, this is not a sign that he didn’t like me or a symbol of a later distancing in our relationship. Rather that he was trying to embody his chosen personality of bashful hesitation in all social interactions. A complete facade that he still indulges in today – I can attest personally to this (but that detail can be divulged later). Is this my skewed perspective? Maybe, but it is shared by many others.
Regardless, what followed were numerous dancing encounters at this famed “80’s night” every Thursday for another month or so. Then, finally he asked for my phone number and we met up for lunch.
On the day of, I walked from a class to meet him on the college campus. I approached him – he was sitting on a bench, hands crammed in pockets, rough backpack, large earphones, sambas (a type of shoe he made me purchase – so cool), and the sweetest smattering of freckles across his cheekbones like fairy kisses. I remember those now and every time I see him I am drawn to them. Oh, and he was listening to
We went to a sandwich shop around the corner and I couldn’t stop giggling. I was nervous and just liked him so much that I believe I couldn’t handle the spectrum of emotions that was throbbing through me at that moment. He was physically beautiful – those freckles, I was fascinated by his quiet demeanor, and he kept making incredibly witty comments that gave me an electric thrill every time. We sat in a booth and my giggling distracted us from any useful conversation. Instead he tried to calm me down and his witty attempts kept me laughing. I believe he was taken with my silly hysteria. Well, I don’t know… what I do know is that he made me a mixed tape that night – I found out the next day when we met up again to go for a walk between our classes and he presented it to me. We were near the art building (he was majoring in theater — I can just hear all you readers thinking “of course”) and we walked around the back of it over the grass. It was a chilly afternoon and he withdrew from his jacket pocket a cassette tape case which he had covered in random magazine cutouts and labeled ironically. I was taken aback by his eagerness to give me something. I took the tape home, borrowed a discman from Claudia, and popped the tape into it for the bike ride to my job at the local mall movie theater.
The first song, “Disconnect the Dots” by “Of Montreal.” It was electrifying. I remember walking through the food court in my enclosed musical world. The strums and trills of the song captivated me as did everything about Michael.
He was lovely. He is lovely and I wish that I had continued to love him but my heart is not something my mind can control. The end of our relationship taught me that.
He made me four more mixed tapes over the span of “us.” I kept them for years after we broke up, cycling through them in my car tape deck until the words wore off the labels and a few of them warped.
We slept together, ate together, drank English Breakfast tea in bed together in the mornings. We danced together and went on long drives and picnics. We became alcoholics together and snorted coke together. We traveled to visit his sister in Santa Barbara and while there, got into screaming fights together. I escaped to the car and watched him talking to me through her apartment window as we made up over the phone. He wrote poems about me that only I would understand and I scraped our initials, “m +m,” into some wet pavement (I have since returned to that spot and it is paved over). During our first time having sex, he held my hips and gently moved me to match his rhythm.
Upon graduation, I moved to Portland alone and would drive down every weekend to be with him, crying as I returned on Sunday evening. He was going to move up a few months after me, but those few months changed everything. Slowly I realized that I could live without him. His idoicyncracies began to iritate me. His broody, melancholic attitude became a cliche. I felt that his reservations about moving away from his hometown were a symbol of his hesitance towards autonomy. I was breaking out of college life; getting a job, living in a new city, surviving in my new apartment and navigating the social circles. I fell out of love with Michael. I tried not to.
I would return to him and pretend everything was the same — But his pet names for me were bothersome and I no longer found his witty jokes to be funny. I was frustrated with myself – after all, I already had our future envisioned. We were the perfect couple – my boozehound philosophy teacher even said so (he was a an eccentric older professor who would get drunk at our parties and philosophize with us. A narcissist at its best).
The night I decided to break up with Michael, I was having dinner with another girl friend and waiting for him to come pick me up. I sprawled out across an armchair and vocalized my intent of breaking it off. I spewed out my frustrations and sadness and received from her support and affirmation of my thoughts. On the way to his home, I told him in the car. I stared at his profile as he drove and I said “I don’t love you anymore” into the dark warmth of the jeep’s frontseat. He was in disbelief. He drove erratically and when we finally arrived, I ran into his house to get my things. I don’t remember any of what happened inside but I know we yelled at each other. He demanded that I explain why and when I had changed. At some point I left and went straight to my car. I opened the door and sat in the driver’s seat. He came outside to the car and stood in the opening of the drivers side staring down at me. He was crying. He hadn’t put his shoes on when he came outside. The street wasw wet and black against his white feet. He held the car door open and shoved his feet repeatedly against the street pavement, scraping their soles. I watched his feet, his white feet jerking forwards making a rough sound as they scraped the asphalt. Over and over. His anger came through his physicality and frightened, I pulled the car door closed and drove away.

The reason I shaved my legs yesterday.

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“What did you do with yourself when I wasn’t there?”

I just started dating a guy. Again. For the third time. Third time’s a charm?

I hope so.

We broke up – for the second time – a month and a half ago.

He asked me this question tonight, “What did you do with yourself when I wasn’t there!”

I got defensive at first — I listed off all the things I had done this evening without him — we were talking on the phone. 

“I just baked an onion dish, I am watching a tv show, I cleaned my floor, went to see my dad, did laundry, went shopping, took a nap… I do lots of things. But when you are in my life, I plan my things around you.”

It’s true. I do this…. in the last two days — only two days — he has been on my mind nonstop and I do plan for him to potentially be a part of my day. Is this a good thing or a bad thing… the jury is out.

 

We broke up six weeks ago. At first, I missed him something bad but at the same time I felt a sense of relief to be single again — I am used to being by myself. It was as if I snuggled back into an old, warm, cozy sleeping bag of singleness. I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and it was liberating. I started working out more, reading more, ….. sleeping more…. eating more…. smoking more…. Some things were not as good as others. 

I think my single me is a good me. She is happy and content to be by herself and gets a twinkle-toes sort of excitement on a completely free Saturday with no coffee dates, dinners, or events scheduled. She loves napping whenever she feels drowsy and spending hours on end without talking to another soul — except giggling at herself in the mirror when she hears a funny episode on NPR.

But I also think coupled me is a good me and is a healthier me. Does a partner keep me in check? A partner helps me force myself to do the spiritual dirty work. The spiritual necessary work to progress in recovery. I consider his well-being and I notice myself making time in my life to be available to spend time with him. Sometimes I feel that this is a hassle and I want that “single freedom” again. I haven’t had that feeling yet this time around but I imagine that I will. However, I must remember that during that time spend with him I am interacting with another soul, experiencing physical touch, laughter, pleasure, and introspection. I am connecting with him and those connections are precious to me. They blow life and progress into my sails. 

What do I mean by progress? I think I may change that word out for another. But two nights ago, I was talking with Z (the dude in question), and he was asking me about my “issues.” Not in an unkind “checking up on you” sort of way, but a concerned “I want you to take care of yourself and heal” sort of way. My issues are (for the record): smoking, drinking excessive amounts of tonic water, anxiety about spending the night at his house, anxiety about telling people at work that I am sober, feeling inferior, feeling ugly (I still haven’t worked up the guts to go makeup-less around him), and dad/family resentment.  

I told him that all of them were basically the same, and he expressed concern about that and said that I need to face them head-on. That facing them head-on sometimes makes it easier — his words reminded me of AA words; “turning it over.” The concern and love in his eyes and voice were so heartfelt and sweet.

Withou him — anyone in my life with whom I spend a lot of time — I have been regressing. I don’t spend enough time with other people – I went whole weekends alone. I like being alone — but I know it’s not good for me to overindulge in. I end up spending literally hours on the internet and I binge on food and go a bit bonkers. It’s unhealthy. If this wasn’t the case; if I meditated, and read, and did hours of painting and/or spiritual projects (or something — I don’t know what a healthy recluse does, for god’s sake!) – maybe it would be ok. But some of the stuff I get up to is not ok. 

So what? Am I using Z as my medicine?

I don’t think so – but the act of bringing another being into my day-to-day timeline gives me an opportunity to experience discomfort with my routines which do not always serve me well! I know this but — as many alcoholics do — I need a metaphorical kick in the ass to get me to make a change. 

This time around he has told me he loves me. 

More on that next time.

 

 

Stinkin’ Thinkin’

“One of my favourite books is Drunk Mum by Jowita Brydlowska, who writes heartbreakingly about just this. Finding breast feeding to be the most sacred connection she had ever experienced, and secretly feeding her son formula because she was drinking. Being overwhelmed with love and the sense of responsibility of being in charge of such a small being, and also drinking to black out so that she wasn’t safe in charge of him. To an outsider, it seems like utter madness that this charge that one is entrusted with makes one drink more. To a drinker, or at least to me, it doesn’t.”  — afteralcohol.wordpress.com

I was just reading this blog and this passage was striking. Especially the last two sentences. One of the greatest reasons I had for getting sober was that I knew that I could not stay sober while pregnant nor be a good drinking mother. I would obsess, I would drink while taking care of my children, I would choose drinking over spending time with them.

How fucked up is that, right? Right. And an alcoholic does it anyway. It’s just the stinkin’ truth.

 

Life change-up? Done.

running life quote

I am so blessed to have changed my life when I did.

I was in Seattle living in a little apartment isolated next to a busy street. I was unemployed, basically friendless, and about to run out of money.

So I drank. I woke up in the morning and had a mug of white wine with my cereal. Actually, sometimes I went on a run first. I showered — maybe went out to drop off one resume or run an errand (buying more alcohol and food) and then came home to start in on the drinking.

After an extremely serious night of drinking and desperately confessing my inability to stop to my cousin, I was rescued.

My cousin told my mom — she knew I was out of control — and she took me out of Seattle and eventually my mom came and took me home.

I let them — I was on auto-pilot. My feelings were dead. It was like I knew I had no choice but to put one foot in front of the other and follow the direction of my loved ones. I was powerless. It was like I knew that following my mother to sobriety was the only choice — the alternative would be… drinking until I was taken to a hospital and then taken home by my mother. WIth a lot more shame and damage done.

So.

Here I am two and a half years later and each day is a gift.

I have had the last week off from work and it has been a mental health holiday. Today was no exception. I was laughing within ten minutes of leaving my house to go to the gym. This sounds completely corny but it’s true! I saw a dog peeking out of a truck window and almost jumping out to chase a squirrel in a tree. It was funny. Little ears perking every which way at the sunlight on lawns, boys skateboarding by, other dogs being walked on the roadside. What a great start to my day.

Of course, it went south as I dealt with student loans and feeling that I don’t have enough money to pay them off.

But, at least I went to school sober! And got a job sober! and I’m still sober and making an income!

I don’t think I felt the urge to drink at all today.

This entry feels too corny. That is my “alcoholic” weary skeptical side coming out, “Any spiritually enthusiastic comments are probably coming from a kooky hippie or a born-again Christian type.”  I guess I still have a little bit of that girl hiding inside blowing on the embers of my alcoholism — keeping that fire alive. I have to watch out for her….

 

 

Stillucciannu

 

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Life is made up of tiny stories. I don’t take many photos — I don’t have a working camera right now and my phone doesn’t take them. When I was traveling I had a camera with film and many of my photos didn’t come out or were so poor they didn’t do the memories justice.

So I will tell some tiny stories instead.

I was living on a vineyard on Corsica. Literally. I slept in a mini-camper in a little clementine orchard in a vineyard next to a stone house in Stillacciannu, La Corse.

I ate dinner with the family that lived in the stone house at 8 pm every night.

I finished working in the vineyard at 6 pm.

I would take a cold shower in the stone outhouse (walking to and from the sidedoor of the outhouse through the little courtyard wrapped in my small towel in my flip flops).

I would read on my little bed.

At 8 I would walk around to the front door and let myself in.

The Grandfather always had the television on. One night we watched the TGV (Le Train de Grand Vitesse) pass the world record for speed as it went from London to Paris.

I always passed the Grandmother stirring our soup / boiled cabbage / stew on my way into the kitchen and sat at my place at the large wooden table that was in the middle of the room.

Sebastian stood warming his legs by the fire.

Dinner was quiet — conversation stilted.

Afterwards, Sebastian saw me out the door, shutting the big thing behind me. It made a loud clink.

I trotted around the path up the hill to my mini-camper. So dark. The stars so bright. They lit my way.

I smoked one cigarette before I went to sleep. I sat out on my stoop.

Sometimes I would pick a clementine or two and eat them.

I threw the peels to the side of the camper.

I don’t remember now if I ever heard crickets.

It might have been too early – it was April.

I left Stillucciannu the day before my birthday.

 

 

J’adore trop

Today is a day when I love my sober life.

After grading papers at a coffee shop, I went on a walk in the sun. I stopped at a hot stone wall and laid down on it to soak up the sun. I then went down to the playground nearby and swung on the swings. 

When I was laying in the sun and feeling the gravity pull my body up and down on the swing, I felt such satisfying and pleasurable sensations in my body. The need for that alcoholic physical sensation is replaced. Somewhat — I do crave the alcoholic head trip sometimes, but when I can find other ways to feel “good,” I am content.