It took some digging through sensationalist headlines to get straight to the source, but I'm glad I did. This is a very well-written account, explicit in its intent, which is not malicious. Some parts of this hit closer to home for me than others, but all of it is far too common a story. We could all stand to be better to each other, and to ourselves. How often we are held captive by our fears.
2016 5 November :: 12.49am
:: Mood: whoa, dude...
:: Music: the wallflowers
since last we met
yo. i'm still here.
I suppose a lot has happened in 2016 up to this point, and I should probably catch you up.
I didn't wind up getting that house. I did wind up getting out of my parents' basement. I was very fortunate to find an awesome roommate on craigslist. She owns her own home, and I rent the back bedroom. The price is right. We have fun. We eat food and watch tv and shit. I got super lucky to find this place, and appreciate that I get to live here. I didn't realize how much it bothered me living at dad's until I got out and felt this immense weight lifted off of my chest. That's not to say it's always sunshine and rainbows and shit here... but it's a lot better. I'm much more relaxed. More comfortable being myself. It took a few months being here to allow myself to ease into it. It's a good fit, for right now. It won't be forever, but it's nice to not be in a hurry to go anywhere. And she's not in a hurry to get me out of here, which is also nice.
I'm still single. Cold and alone, forever probably maybe. I still vascillate rapidly between deeply longing to be in a relationship and realizing that bachelorhood and freedom is actually pretty fucking rad. I mostly just want something warm to cuddle with. Maybe I should get a dog. I did do the 20-10-5 thing.
*spends half an hour looking for it*
... and now I can't remember what I did with it. I may have thrown it out. the big takeaway I can recall from it is that I'm shallower than I'd like to believe. I wanted to think that a sense of humor or intellectual stimulation would be the most important - and they were important, they definitely made the list of 20 (it was actually really hard to think of 20 things without being redundant) - but if you boil it down ... i have to be attracted to the person physically. have to. don't much care if anyone else thinks they're hot, but I damn well better think so. Otherwise there's no point to the rest of it. I wanted to think that I'm above all that physical superficiality, but apparently i'm not.
i have a "new" (year-old) lunchbag. it is gigantic and awesome. kathy got it for me. after all that bitching i did about her, she buys the best gifts. and i am an asshole. but the zipper works great
I still don't eat very healthy or exercise much. however i recently quit smoking tobacco. it's only been 11 days, so it's still a little premature to call it quits for good, officially, but this is the longest stretch of time i've gone without nicotine in my bloodstream in 10 years. it's kind of a big deal.
also, i bought myself a drum set:
I've been banging on that thing quite a bit lately.
like - all the freaking time. which is awesome.
i also built a drum. it's purdy:
It's at dad's house. I gave it to him because i wasn't crazy about how it sounded, and he didn't have a wood snare. he likes it, so i'm glad it worked out and found a good home. i probably would've warmed up to it over time. it didn't sound bad ... just not how i expected/hoped.
prior to that, i built a bookshelf and a nightstand for my bedroom. they turned out well. oak plywood is fucking expensive as balls. but it looks nice, and is rock solid. glued and screwed together. sanded and polyurethaned. should last a good long while. not perfect, but suitable for my needs.
I did wind up getting that 'promotion' at work. so now i have my own office, a company phone, and a slight (very slight) pay increase. it's a lot more responsibility - i'm running quality control for our entire plant - but it's not terrible all the time. i show up, do stuff, go home, and at the end of the week they deposit money in my bank account. it's a thing.
the basement audio lab has been put on hiatus for the time being. the other guys got busy with life and work and stuff and were unable to commit the time and energy they felt was necessary to continue the project. i can respect that they didn't want to half-ass it. and if things slow down, we'll pick it back up again.
in the meantime, i'm starting on a new project with different people. we will see what happens, but at least i'm still playing. there wasn't even that much down time, and i didn't have to go out looking for something, it came to me. so hopefully that's an indication that i'm supposed to be doing it. we don't have anything online yet.
Here's where the basement audio lab left off, if you'd like to hear what things sounded like right before we hit pause:
Today marks one month since the accident. I am finally feeling relief after going to the chiropractor. I am still recovering though. Occasionally I have brain fog, or things get fuzzy and I have a hard time focusing. Everyday I am even more grateful that my baby was unharmed in the accident. Last week was the first time that she had even asked questions about the accident. I knew it was going to happen, and I didn't press her after the accident because I was waiting for her to be ready. After the accident she asked what happened one time. And it was literally the first thing out of her mouth after we stopped. From that point on, all she would say was "I hate that lady's car for hitting us. She's a bad driver. I hate her driving". I would always reassure her that the only thing that mattered was that we were okay. I have been trying hard to not harbor anger over the whole ordeal. I am pissed that she wrecked my car. I am pissed that I am still recovering. But the fact that even after all that, my child is okay, makes me not want to hang onto those feelings of anger or hatred. Reagan could have been killed, or severely injured. She could have had cuts ALL over her body from all the glass. She could have been covered in glass, but for some reason she wasn't.
pissed off about a bunch of other stuff. trying not to take it out on the people around me.
been trying to buy a house. since june. in the final credit refresh before clear to close, a collection showed up from a lease I signed three fucking years ago, and never heard from them about. I didn't give them a forwarding address, but I didn't have an address to give them. paid it immediately, but it still dinged my credit score by 75 points, which dropped me below the FHA threshold of the lender I was working with. the deal's not completely dead, but it doesn't look good.
I was extremely prayerful and accommodating through the whole process, and I just don't understand what i'm doing wrong. the mantra has been, and continues to be: if it's supposed to happen, it will; if it's not, it won't. sometimes the mantra works. times like now, it doesn't make a damn bit of difference.
it mostly boils down to a lack of control, which is frustrating. being told you're fucked for basically doing everything right, apart from some wreckage from my past - which I cleared up promptly - just sucks. I also have unrealistic expectations of myself. I've never bought a house before. hell, I've never financed anything on my own before. dad co-signed for my car, and they make student loans entirely too easy to get. it's unrealistic for me to think I should know exactly what to expect, and to be prepared for every eventuality, and then get pissed at myself for getting blindsided by shit all the time.
I've got $3000 out of my pocket tied up in this whole deal so far, and now they're saying the deal's probably going to fall through, but I should still get $1000 back. whoopee, what a consolation. but honestly it's only numbers on a spreadsheet. I have to look at it that way. it gets too real if I reason that I worked the entire month of july for absolutely nothing, even if that's basically what it amounts to. if you had told me at the beginning of that month that I would bust my ass at work, put in all that overtime, so I could take that money out of the bank later in the year and light it on fire, I would have given you precise directions on where to fucking stick it. so I guess it's understandable that i'm upset.
I have also been fixating on the prospect of a relationship a lot. on the one hand, of course it's desirable. I would enjoy both having and being a companion. someone to live life with, you know? plus sex is rad. it's been an embarrassingly long time since anyone other than me has touched my penis. that's not the primary motive, but it's definitely a secondary consideration in that equation.
it bothers me that a house is such a huge part of that deal as well. I don't like to think that material things matter in a romantic scenario, but they totally do. it's practical, you know? what am I bringing to the table? hey baby, come on over and Netflix and chill in my dad's basement? btw, my stepmom will intermittently and without warning blow up about something that moments before was a non-issue. it's all part of the fun! you never know when it will happen, or what it will be that sets her off, but you can rest assured - it will happen at some point. experience the thrill of the hours and days of joyful tiptoeing that precede it!
not to mention, what if she wants kids? maybe not right this minute, but eventually? I'd like to think I would be a cool dad, but you can't feed your family 'awesome' for breakfast. they can't live in 'totally rad'. so, financial stability is important to bring into a relationship, and any woman I would want to be with would hopefully see that.
I need to do a 20 - 10 - 5. you make a list of 20 attributes you would like to have in a partner. then you sit on it for a while. after some time, you whittle that list down to 10 things. then take another break. after that, you pare the list down to the 5 most important things you want to have in your significant other. then those 5 criteria are supposed to help you narrow the search when you're shopping around. at least, that's the theory. i'm not sure it would help, necessarily, but it would at least be an intriguing exercise.
it's not all about the money, though, or even finding 'the one'. perhaps the most important (and thus, discouraging) consideration is what do I have to offer? spiritually? emotionally? physically? how much free time can I spare? I have to question how much energy i am willing to put into cultivating a healthy and lasting relationship with someone, when i look at the amount of energy i'm willing to put into dating. it's pitiful. so, as much as i want to bitch about being alone, and freak out about how i'm doomed to be alone for the rest of my life, it's unreasonable. i barely set aside enough time to sleep, let alone pursue somebody. it's like, i keep telling myself i'm going to eat better, exercise more, get my shit organized, finally learn Spanish, etc. it's not going to happen. maybe some of it will someday. but right now, it's a struggle to make sure i have clean laundry and cold lunches for the week. (also, the zipper on my lunch bag is broken. i'm still using it, but it pisses me off every time.)
i still let anger and fear dictate much of my life. how am i going to be available to help someone else through their shit if i'm too busy wrestling with my own demons. it just doesn't make sense.
ultimately, the house precipitates all this stuff. assuming i get the promotion at work it looks like i'm getting, and i do find a place to live, then i can start working on saving up money (or at least building equity), and living better. i really think i'm ready to be on my own for awhile. I've literally never had that. I've never lived in a place all by myself. the more i think about it, the more appealing it sounds.
so i guess i need to do whatever it takes to make it fucking happen. GOD WILLS IT! (that's a joke, by the way. i'm getting better at relying on the fact that there's a plan. i'm still no closer to knowing what the plan actually is.)
in other news, the band is still working on developing material. we're hoping to have an album in the can by next fall, ready for a winter/spring release. at least, that's the tentative game plan.
they want to do all original stuff, so gigging is a possibility in the as yet very distant future. it takes a long time to produce enough original material to fill 4 sets. but the upshot is, i get to make up all my parts from scratch. which is awesome.
honestly it just feels good to play again. especially with solid musicians who have been doing it for awhile.
so it's a total bummer that i can't play right now because of my knee. the recovery is going to be long. but hopefully the payoff is worth it. 30 years ago they would have handed me a cane and said, "enjoy this for the rest of your life," so i guess i shouldn't complain.
in other news, it was exactly one year ago from this very moment that i took my last drink of alcohol. i'm celebrating tomorrow, from the couch. i'll be going to the speaker at calvary tomorrow night, but i think i might wait until home group on tuesday to get my chip. i don't know, we'll see.
on the one hand, it's hard to believe it's been a year already. on the other, it feels like a year is a long fucking time, and a lot has certainly changed - mostly for the better. i guess the pit i was in wasn't exactly difficult to improve upon. geographically, however, tahoe is far superior to grand rapids. the city is convenient. i still really miss the mountains, though. they spoke to my soul in a way that i never would have imagined, and now that they're gone, i can sense that something is missing.
oh well. god has a plan, and it's probably smart of him to not let me in on all the details, lest i get ahead of myself and spoil it for everyone. i'm good at that. so, i just ask him to keep feeding it to me in chunks small enough that i'm not as likely to choke on them.
going in for knee surgery on wednesday. i'm intermittently anxious about it. i know that a lot of it is out of my hands. i just need to make sure that i'm doing what needs to be done on my end of the bargain, and let the rest of the chips fall where they may. because it doesn't do anybody any good to freak out about things that i have no control over anyway. just do the best i can with the things that are in my control, which are relatively few.
also, i've started getting into fancy sodas now. i realize it's kind of bullshit for me to pick up a new enthusiasm every time i turn around, but it's something i enjoy doing. i like finding things to be enthusiastic about. it's a lot healthier than moping. and sure, i can see how in a way it seems dangerously close to being a craft beer enthusiast. but that was something i always liked doing. it was the least 'alcoholic' drinking i ever did. drinking just to get drunk, you look for anything that gets the job done. sampling things to find flavors you like is a very different undertaking. it was fun looking for different beers and wines to try. why not sodas? i used to look at the labels to find the highest alcohol content. now i look at them to make sure there isn't any. it doesn't seem to me to be any sort of 'trigger' (i despise that term, but it has its uses). but this disease is subtle and cunning, so i guess i'll just be watchful. as long as i'm honest about it, and there doesn't seem to be a problem, then there probably isn't one.
so i got one of these at the orlando airport:
i'm really trying to find something like it that i can get around here, because i thought it was super tasty. the molasses comes on strong, so i wasn't a fan at first, but the malt aftertaste was awesome.
also, there's this high-schooly thing going around the internets where you spell your name with band names. i'm putting it here, because i don't like putting stupid crap on my facebook. so, thank you woohu, for being my perennial repository for stupid crap.
Toad the Wet Sprocket
Old Crow Medicine Show
I'm Gonna Talk About Feminism, So Please Ignore Everything I Say
i have a penis, which automatically disqualifies me from having any authority on this topic. i'm okay with that. but it has been coming up a lot in my wanderings around the internet, which is a good thing. it needs to be talked about. the first step in addressing the problem of the patriarchal system is acknowledging the fact that we're in it. i'm on board up to this point.
but what are the subsequent steps? as much as it's good to talk about this problem that needs to be changed, is there any plan of attack on how we're supposed to implement any changes? and what changes? surely it's not a wholesale thing, there's bound to be some useful stuff in the existing framework. what stays? what goes? and what takes its place? and how? i do wonder how long it will be before simply bitching about it isn't enough any more. could be quite some time. god knows we all love bitching. it will be interesting to see how society answers those questions.
i think the thing that really bugs me about what i read is the assumption that, because i'm a dude and i obviously benefit from the way things are right now, that i don't want it to change. i am in every way a majority demographic in this country, so everything is designed to be working for me, right? and in some ways, it is, i suppose. i have certainly benefited in ways that i don't even realize. it is admittedly difficult to take particular note of when something DOESN'T happen. countless instances where i haven't been raped. or objectified. or marginalized. i don't notice, because there's nothing there for me to take umbrage with, and the moment passes without a thought.
please do not expect me to suddenly start noticing all the things that could have possibly happened and didn't. there is debate on whether or not a physical difference exists between how lady brains and dude brains operate, but believe me, i have severe dude brain. i just also happen to be smart enough to have a little bit of capacity for lady thought tacked on there. but proportionally, it is minute, underdeveloped, and it operates sporadically. so, i have moments where i might be able to think like a young girl. but most of the time them shits ain't happening. and the dizzying web of fully developed adult woman thought is well beyond my capacity to comprehend. my brain just won't do it. it can't. maybe some guys can, i don't know. i can take one thought and go extremely deep with it, but i cannot see how that one thought interconnects with every single other thought simultaneously. i would have to examine each connection one by one, which would take a very, very long time. which is why i am never, ever, going to notice all of the things that don't happen. it is not because i'm too lazy to actually try. it's because my single-core brain, while wicked fast, was not optimized for multi-threaded applications. i have accepted that. i recommend everyone else does too.
this video says i'm full of shit:
in the headphone test, i managed to discern neither side, because i was so overwhelmed with thinking about trying to draw with both hands at the same time, and how hard that would be. the audio was just noise. just to let you know what you're dealing with here.
but if you're willing to venture down the google rabbit hole, there's a lot of conflicting science stuff that basically boils down to: we don't know, maybe brains are like snowflakes, we guess. so the fact that my brain can only focus on one thing at a time may not be caused by amniotic testosterone levels when i was a fetus. or it might.
either way, the important part is that we are all people. we all have brains. our brains enable us to think of ourselves as people. every last one of us has a sense of self. i think my biggest problem with the way many feminists are approaching this issue is that they are not acknowledging the heart of what's causing the problem. it's not because it's a man's world, run for men, by men - although that may be true. it's because our sense of self, our whole identity, is so intertwined with our gender. if you are a shining example of womanhood; a beacon of strength, beauty, power and compassion, then you will never be able to be equal. nor if you are all that is man, can you ever hope to bridge that gap. duality is not equality. having cake is not eating it.
this problem is not going to go away until society as a whole starts thinking of itself as people. that can't happen until we stop thinking of ourselves as men and women. that's a scary thought. since day one, i've been told i'm a guy. i've thought of myself as a guy. i grew up learning how to be one of the guys. if i give up on that lifetime of developing into a guy, then where does that put me? my perceived worth, my body image, my value to society, my existence as a human being, my relationships with other humans, are all viewed through that qualifying lens of guydom.
this is why it is such a volatile issue. as soon as the topic is broached, our ego senses a threat to its existence and immediately fires up defense mode. the ego exists for the sole purpose of perpetuating itself. it has wreaked no end of havoc on my life, and continues to be a real prick. it tells me all kinds of lies about who i am, and most importantly, what's gonna make me happy. it always says that just one more thing, that next whatever it is, then i'll be satisfied. but it isn't. ever. and for the longest time i thought that WAS me. it blew my mind the first time i was introduced to the idea that my ego was not me. that self and me could be two separate entities. that completely blasted the doors off my reality.
it's still very new to me, and i'm not entirely cozy with it, but i do like the idea. it makes good sense based on what i've experienced. it is certainly reassuring to know that my core person doesn't have to be the same as some of those insane thoughts i have floating around. that i can take a step back and watch my ego think. watch it burn its wheels up in futility. that used to be me. still is, far more often than i'd care to admit. i'm reticent to fully let go of my ego. i have a lot of time and resources invested in that facade that i spent a lifetime unconsciously erecting. and even if they're lies, at least it's familiar territory. they're lies that i believed for a long time. the great white unknown is far more daunting. it's weird to be a grown ass man, and then suddenly realize you don't know who you are, and maybe you're not even a grown ass man in the first place. but it's also kind of exciting, you know? i'm curious to meet me. there's got to be somebody in there, right? i just hope it's someone nice. and i have to believe it's someone whose opinions and emotions are no more or less legitimate and valuable than anybody else's. regardless of what they look like, or how smart they are, or how they identify themselves.
so, 'i am woman, hear me roar' is all well and good, (and right now, we need that roar to generate awareness, so don't stop) but just know that in doing that, you're still in some ways a part of the problem. and i don't blame you in the slightest. literally everything in our social world depends on that gender-based, dichotomous foundation. so, until we're ready to base it on something else - like, mustard packets or something - this is going to continue to be a problem.
this article is what got me started, if you want to know. i had snarky answers for all the questions too:
1. I am angry. And no one will fuck me. There is not necessarily causality between the two.
3. They already run the show there. Trust me.
4. It's 'mascunazi', jeez.
6. I'm not married.
7. I have had trouble, but that's not why.
8. I am not a father, nor am I established in my career.
9. Never, which is probably why my ego has attached itself to so many things other than my physical appearance. Regardless, all ego must die. It's a constant struggle.
11. No. People seriously do that? Why? Man, people are stupid.
12. Nope. The more someone else carries the conversation, the less I have to think about how to phrase my contribution. I do waste entirely too much energy on phrasing things that I never even wind up saying.
13. No. I'm sensing a trend here. People place a lot more value on their body image than I do.
14. Wait, I'm not a hyper-sexualized object of fantasy?
15. Yes, although I am very dismissive of many men's shows
16. Not always, but sometimes. Seriously, I have.
17. I am not an independent young man, and I resent that it is what is expected of me. It should NOT be a given, but it is.
18. Only when I worked with someone else who had the same initials.
19. I don't game, but again we're dealing with the ego thing. You're attempting to identify as something. To attach your sense of self worth to that moniker. And you resent that the name is stereotypically masculine. But I'm telling you, I don't care how gender neutral that thing is, as long as your sense of self is being derived from an external title, then it is going to be subject to the whimsy of the public sphere, and you will never be fulfilled. It doesn't matter what kind of parts you have, or what you want to have sex with, you are doomed to unhappiness as long as you are entwining your 'self' with 'else'. As long as you are discontent with being you, what the outside world perceives you as being is largely irrelevant.
2015 15 January :: 2.05am
:: Mood: stoked
:: Music: aerosmith - draw the line
it's ... ALIIIIIIIVVVE!
BAHAHAHAHA! i made a thing.
by which i mean i spent probably too much money online. but this is awesome. the case definitely required some modification. but whatever. it works!
this thing is probably one of the fastest machines i've ever used. i'm never going to buy a prebuilt computer again, i swear. it's been super fun. my bowels were tense putting the motherboard/processor all together, but honestly, it wasn't that bad.
i'm excited for the next one, now that i've made a few mistakes and am figuring out how to do things better. i initially thought that a cheap/free case would be an easy place to save a few bucks. not a great plan. it's like throwing a brand new corvette motor into a volvo 240.
still though, having fun. learning stuff. playing in the mud.
just blows my mind how fast the darn thing boots and runs. and it keeps pretty cool, considering how little the case fans i added are actually doing. guess they're doing enough.
well, i bought stuff. still waiting on the motherboard and ssd to come in the mail, but...
this is what's going down. hopefully it's awesome.
i'll probably post pics after. because, you know, that's a thing people do.
i should clarify. i had a pretty good christmas, financially speaking. so, this little guinea pig is going in my dad's ancient gateway atx case, to be used with the projector in the basement as an HTPC.
i will be continuing to shop around, now that i'm starting to learn what it is i'm looking for, and how much shit is going to cost, to build MY pc that will hopefully last a while. so, this is essentially just a practice build for me to bloody my knuckles on. that way when i drop some more serious money on hardware, i'll feel more confident in my decision making process.
as a sidenote, i have really enjoyed doing the research on this project. even since i ordered the parts, i've learned a lot more about the various parts. it's a happy accident that some of the things i ordered fit together as nicely as they do. and there are definitely a couple of things i picked which are less than ideal, now that i look at it. i guess that was kind of the point. but it's been really nice to be able to dig into something like this, and gain a better understanding of how these things work. also, useful knowledge for future times. i will probably never be a "computer guy," which i'm really okay with. just like i will never be an auto mechanic. but it's fun to be able to work on my own toys. and feel like i could actually have a conversation with someone about it and not be totally lost.
2014 16 December :: 5.26pm
:: Music: foo fighters - sonic highways
I CAN HAS COMPUTER?
so, i'm thinking i want to build a pc.
i've been studying up on stuff, and it seems simple enough.
that being said, the selection of parts available is pretty overwhelming, so any input or suggestions are welcome and appreciated.
this is not a gaming pc, as i'm not a gamer. i would be using it for interwebs and itunes, primarily. normal home computering stuff. about the only thing i might consider doing with it that would demand higher performance is digital audio recording, and even then, that wouldn't really be too strenuous.
i want it to last me a while, so upgradeability is a consideration. if i can get away with replacing a couple components in the future, as things become obsolete, i would much rather do that than replace the whole thing. i don't want to spend top dollar on the absolute latest and greatest shit, because frankly i don't need it, and would be pissed off in a couple years when it becomes dirt cheap. but i also don't want to totally cheap out and get junk. there has to be a happy medium in there somewhere.
i'm thinking an APU makes sense, so i don't have to get a separate video card. i'll probably go with an amd processor, since i don't want to pay intel prices for something with comparable performance.
i like the idea of getting an SSD for the OS, and then having a separate HDD for cheap storage.
i know absolutely dick about motherboards, other than they need to be compatible with the processor, and accommodate whatever crap you're adding on.
RAM: 8GB should be plenty, yes? not sure how much speed i would want. probably just match to the top end of whatever motherboard i wind up with?
PSU: i know it's important. ummm, modular? wattages? i have no idea. again, i'm not gaming, so it shouldn't draw too much juice. just something solid to get the job done.
i'm not overly concerned about peripherals. i'm sure i'll be able to piecemeal that stuff together.
i'm thinking i could get a secondhand case pretty easily. i don't give two fucks what it looks like. just as long as it has enough space for everything, and enough airflow to keep things cool. maybe i'm wrong on this, but it just seems like the easiest place to cut costs. also, fans?
i am planning on going with windows. i'm on XP right now, but support has ended. have i mentioned my laptop is gonna be 10 this year? i didn't like vista at all. 7 was good. i haven't used 8 or 8.1 yet. traditionally, it seems like every other version is good, while the alternates suck a bag of donkey dick. so, that would mean 8 was all shitty, but 8.1 is probably okay? i don't know. this is why i'm asking. if they both suck, i'm okay with just putting 7 on it. not sure where to get a product key on the cheap, but i don't really want to pirate a bogus one. meh.
hello. this entry is per beaver's request, but i also have plenty i've been meaning to share anyway.
so, i left off last with some of the uglier portions of my story, my first tangible spiritual experience, and the pink cloud i got to ride on for awhile afterward.
i have 'finished' step 4. step 10 basically covers the same ground, but is more for maintenance as things crop up, now that the majority of the housecleaning is done. i at least have a list i can reference, and add to as things occur to me. considering the amount of chemicals i've used to kill my brain, it's not surprising that some stuff i don't remember. so, i try to put it down as i encounter it. incomplete as it felt it was time to move on. step 5 is essentially a confession of the crap from your past that's weighing on you. again, i felt that this portion was somewhat incomplete - certainly not my entire life story. but really, the whole thing would be boring and be a case of diminishing returns. the point is that i'm willing to disclose any part of my sordid history, and am not trying to shy away from it myself, or hide it from anyone else. it does not mean i should force someone to endure it in its entirety.
maybe it would be better to break things down this way:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
i had done this step before my first meeting. the decision to come to AA was the ultimate admission of defeat. i saw no other options. but my dad has been sober for 19 years, so when the time came, it was obvious to me where i could go for a solution that would work. i just wasn't going to go there until i was willing to admit that i had a problem. the unmanageability of my life was a given. i hadn't been trying to run the show for quite a while. no wonder i felt like i was adrift, living a purposeless life. the part i have only come to realize in retrospect is how much alcohol took the reins. i remember coming into meetings early on and hearing lots of things i could identify with. these things tend to be pretty common among alcoholics. it was a convincing argument for my position among their ranks. but i also heard a lot of sob stories about hitting rock bottom. this wasn't me at all! i never got a DUI (regardless of how many i should have gotten. like, a lot. it's staggering, really.) i didn't destroy a family/relationship. i didn't lose a job (not true. i lost several. again, denial prevented me from seeing it at the time). i never sucked dick for blow. you get the idea. but it's hard to get a DUI when you don't have a car. it's hard to destroy a relationship when you're single. i had unwittingly custom-built a lifestyle that accommodated and facilitated my drinking. when i gave up on life, booze took it over for me, so that's what it became all about. my new life mission was to never run out of vodka or cigarettes, and wish for the rest of the world to leave me the fuck alone.
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
i am powerless over alcohol. nobody else can do this for me, even if they tried, and i wouldn't want to put that burden on anyone else's shoulders anyway. that wouldn't be fair. so, a higher power is pretty much the only option left. without it, i will get drunk. i haven't gotten drunk in over 5 months. this means that what started as an innocent little unfounded belief is quickly becoming reliable faith based on my evident continued sobriety. the insanity is the self-delusion. the truth is right there staring me in the face. but my brain has the amazing ability to replay things over and over and over again in my head, tweaking little details each time, until the picture has become so distorted that i am convinced. it is lying to me, and i begin to believe it. justification of all sorts of sick thoughts and behaviors, based on lies which were initially rooted in reality. to get so turned around that you don't know what's real and true, and what isn't, is insane. quite literally. not that i've had regular conversations with trees. in fact, i could treat all sorts of other matters quite rationally. but when it comes to me and my feelings and my sense of self - and let's not forget my drinking - all reason flies out the window and the insanity creeps in. but spirituality can fix it for me? hellz yeah! i am a lazy fuck. any and all responsibility i can foist off on something else, regardless of how ethereal the entity, is something i can get behind.
3. made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of god as we understood him.
again, i'm fucking lazy. but for some reason i still have this compulsion to try and control things. i say i am willing to relinquish my will and my life to this being that i still don't fully understand (the more i learn, the more woefully inadequate my understanding proves), but suddenly find myself clinging to things. still trying to do stuff my way. getting upset when something is taken from me, or when i can't have things that i want. i am a child. i throw tantrums and hissy fits. i'm sure god - and probably most everyone watching - laughs hysterically. but the turnaround time is getting better, little by little. i don't fight as much, or for as long. the temptation is there to cling to the anger. i like it. i feel powerful. i feel justified. i am not. it is stupid to think that. i have proven it doesn't work. shit works a lot better if i stop fighting and just let it happen. i am often shocked at how well things work out. even better than what i had imagined, more often than not.
4. made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. admitted to god, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. were entirely ready to have god remove all these defects of character.
i don't know that i was really 'ready'. but again, it was one of those things where i have to keep moving. if i wait until i'm ready to do something, it'll never happen. if i wait until my inventory is complete, i'll never get done. the key here is willingness. i am not perfect - far from it. but i'm willing to try to get better. i'm willing to try to let my creator - whatever it is - take all of me, good and bad (that's in the 7th step prayer). it's wild to think that god can use the bad stuff in me to create good in the lives of others, but he can and does, without me even having to see it. it just happens. but if i don't give it to him, he can't use it. better let him work his magic. i just have to sit down shut up and watch the show.
7. humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings
it does not say 'adamantly demanded' that he remove our defects. humility and servility are important here. the prayer expounds a bit: "...i pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows." how often i obstruct my usefulness with selfish desires, self-absorption, or just distraction. we live in a noisy world. there's a lot that pulls us away from the here and now. away from the opportunities to help that are directly in front of us. i always thought it was stupid that people will send money to aid some third world country, then turn around and snub (or loudly complain about) the homeless and hungry in their own communities. how much more gratifying is it to help someone else than it is to buy a new toy? how much longer does the satisfaction linger? this is the better course. i aim to be greedily generous of myself and my resources, so i can feel that good. all the time. or, at least, as often as my awareness allows. i miss a lot of opportunities to help. but there are always always more. i just have to keep looking, and be at the ready when the time comes to capitalize on them.
8. made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
my sponsor has kind of been blending steps together. i appreciate this, as my brain is pretty helter skelter about a lot of shit. i can't just sit down for an hour and say "okay that's done. next step." that's not the way it works when we're dealing with memories and emotions. so i'm glad that i'm not forcibly tied to a strict set of rules. the steps are separated distinctly, and placed in order, for a reason, yes. but they are also designed to sort of flow naturally into one another. all this stuff is related, so it's hard to touch on one string without it's vibrations setting off other strings of a similar frequency.
so my homework, which i have not been doing, is to make a list of all the people i've harmed. i have a good start on the list, as all of the people from step 4 are pretty much going to carry over here, but again there's room for addition. there are plenty of people that i don't even realize i've hurt. or things that i've been hanging onto, that the people they were inflicted upon don't even remember. even if they don't know i've hurt them, or shrug it off, it is still important that i get that off my chest. only then will i be free of that injury playing over and over and over again in the worlds shittiest cinema - my brain.
so that's where i'm at as far as the 12 steps are concerned. progress is being made. that's all anyone can hope for.
the pink cloud is no longer quite so present. remnants, perhaps. and i haven't had any really notable spiritual experiences like that moment in the car, but i have been checking in more often (i have never prayed this much before in my life), and it's paying dividends in my sanity, if not my conduct. work is a total bitch, so it's a perfect place to really put this crap into practice. real life. real time. and it's constantly pissing me off. so... lots and lots of good practice there.
i need to go to bed, but there's more i didn't get to touch on yet:
- i can't live with myself: me and self (eckhart tolle - the power of now)
- fabric of the universe
fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering...
so, the program continues. i am currently working on step 4 - moral inventory. i wasn't really sure what i was supposed to do at first, but i went ahead and did my best with it anyway. now that i've kinda done it, i'm realizing it wasn't nearly as big as i thought. just focus on what's weighing on you the most, be honest, don't omit anything. that's the hardest part. make a list of what you're angry about. make a list of what you're afraid of (not necessarily phobias, but more day to day life stuff). sex history (i think i remembered all of their names ... maybe.) you really need a sponsor for this step. and you need to write it down. you can't do it in your head. the whole point is ultimately to get rid of it. you can't get rid of it if you're keeping it in your head.
MORE ON THE GOD THING:
sorry guys, but there's no skirting this issue. there just isn't. i like to think i'm a pretty smart guy. i grew up with church every week, and the bearded guy in the clouds, winged angels in heaven, blah, blah, blah. then i became a teenager and went, "wait a minute, what the fuck? why am i buying this wholesale, without even questioning it?" i questioned it. is god real? is god fake? have they been lying to me this whole time? what about jesus? what about buddha? this is madness, and i want no part of it. it made me feel the same way i've always felt about politics. i hate politics. two parties arguing about shit that doesn't matter while they don't seem to notice the world crashing around their ears. ignorant followers that are strongly opinionated on issues that they haven't even really investigated just parroting someone elses beliefs. and does the leader really even believe that, or are they just using it to distract the lemmings from their secret agenda, which invariably revolves around making money. after all, politicians are businessmen and women, at the end of the day. so fuck it. i'm not going to waste my time listening to their bullshit. christianity made me feel like that. "i'm gonna go to heaven because jesus died on a cross, and his father is the one god (nevermind that whole holy spirit conundrum). if you don't believe this you're wrong, and i need to make you believe it, even if i can't legitimately articulate why i believe it. them heathen muslim towelhead camel jockeys murderin' and rapin' all the time ... send 'em all straight to hell, bur bur bur, 'murica." why all the fighting? can't you idiots see that you're all talking about the same damn thing? why do we get so hung up on what to call it, and whose name is right or wrong? the important part is that we are acknowledging a common human experience that should bring us closer together, rather than farther apart. at this point, i could at least concede that there was something out there. i'd felt and seen it at work enough in my own life to admit that it was there. there were too many things that fit too perfectly together to be mere coincidence. i also cite the prevalence of at least some form of diety/religion in almost every culture around the globe throughout human history, even in geographically isolated regions, as fairly compelling evidence. but i still didn't want to enter the discussion. i didn't want to argue with someone about god, allah, the creator, the spirit of the universe, or bob the great sheep in the sky. that wasn't the point. i needed something that was real. that had an impact on and pragmatic use in my life. i think i'm finally finding that. starting to.
delirium tremens is no fun. if you've experienced it, you know. if you haven't, then take me on my word that it is not a place you want to go. i have never felt so scared and helpless in my life. and i couldn't make it stop. i was stuck in the vicious cycle; though self-imposed in a way, it seemed interminable. and even if i did get clean long enough for the shaking to stop (i caught a bug that was going around last fall and didn't come out of my room for 48 hours straight, but to go to the bathroom to puke/shit/try and drink a little water, when i could manage to walk. my roommates didn't even know i was home. i probably came closer to death than i would really care to consider.) it wouldn't be long before a drink sounded good, 'just to settle my stomach,' or whatever the justification was at the time. and once i started, i physically couldn't stop. my body demanded more. it craved that which was destroying it. so for me, this really is life or death business. a normal person may not be able to comprehend the seriousness of the problem, but i must never forget what that was like. i never want to go back to there. and if i drink anything, it won't be long before i pick up right where i left off. at first, yeah, i could probably have a beer or two at a party. and then a beer or two after work (a reward which i have earned well through my labor, right?!). but really, what's the point of just having a couple? if you're gonna drink, might as well have fun with it and get fucked up. remember, i earned this! it's not long before we're back to a half pint of vodka in the morning just to settle my nerves enough to go about my day.
it is very real. the wolf is always at the door. i live a quarter mile from a liquor store. nobody's gonna stop me, especially if i have half a mind to do it. so it's vitally important to remember why i don't want to. and the miracle of this 'god business' is that i really don't want to anymore. i don't need to. i hardly think about it any more. even at parties, i'm not really tempted to. i've proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that it ultimately doesn't make anything better. in fact, it makes life much much worse for me, and everybody around me. why wouldn't i want to take the path of improvement? of contentedness?
so, needless to say, i was at a point of desperation. i couldn't stop drinking - didn't even enjoy it anymore. i was dying. i was willing to do anything, so long as it promised to 'get me off this crazy thing.' so i start my day with a couple cocktails (this being a pint glass with 4 fingers of bottom shelf vodka, topped off with tap water), go to work for my 8am-2pm shift, the end of which is always a horrible horrible experience, pull the pint of vodka from my backpack as soon as i'm off the clock, make a 50/50 with warm water from the bathroom sink in one of the cups from the cafeteria, because it has a lid and a straw so i don't spill it all over while i'm shaking, trying to drink it. once that's drained the shaking stops. i'm waiting for the bus, it's an hour ride to the nearest AA club, which is in a different state. bought a half gallon at the store (since i was already in town, you know?), just to stock up for the weekend. by the time the bus ride was done, i was tuned up enough to walk normally again, and approaching brave enough to even speak up at the meeting and ask for help. i did. guy at the meeting volunteered to drive me home. we talked. grabbed a sando. sat on my deck and ate while my shakes came back. he takes off. i make another drink. i go for a hike with a friend through the woods, work up a good sweat. i brought a flask, just in case, but didn't need it. made gradually weaker and weaker drinks that night, until i was basically drinking water. that was march 20. march 21, i didn't consume any alcohol. i wound up giving that half gallon away to a friend. i woke up in the morning, shaking like a motherfucker, but managed to have some toast and a glass of water without spilling all over myself or the kitchen. it took about a month for the shaking to subside completely. i'm sure there's still at least some residual permanent damage to my nervous system, but i feel better than i've felt in years. and that is a miracle. a miracle that god worked in me. that's the only way i can explain it. as much as you might argue that it was just me not taking a drink, it's simply not true. left to my own devices, i get drunk. it's what i do. i'm good at it, if that's what your objective is. i know all the tricks. it was not me that did that. i just asked the universe to help me stop, and it did. and i still do that every single morning. and i thank the universe for keeping me sober at the end of every day.
i had a spiritual awakening of sorts earlier this week. i've been praying and talking about - god i guess, for lack of a better term - a lot in the past 2 months, honestly giving up all self to the whim of the universe. how may i best serve others and help do the good of the world today? grant me serenity, courage, wisdom. tell me what the fuck to do, because i don't know. help me place others before myself. i'm yours to command, since life was a shitshow when i was calling the shots, so you're in charge now. take it, i don't want it. every morning i do this.
notice, i'm not talking about jesus. i'm not reading the bible more. i'm not going to church more. but i am praying... to whatever the hell it is. i am talking with others about this thing and how they perceive it; what their experiences have been.
so, i'm driving home after work tuesday, thinking about work stuff. i'm getting all riled up about stuff that's going on there (trust me, it's frustrating as shit. all jobs have their pain in the ass parts to them, but this is like the worst horrorshow of an abortion i've every been party to as far as employment goes. it ruffles my feathers. but i'm viewing it as a sort of test - an opportunity to practice - handling these emotions, and seeking the best course of action. trying out this newfangled god thing everyone in the meetings is saying they use. i view this as pragmatism.) so, i sense the noise in my brain starting to rev up, the negative thoughts floating around in there are building up steam. suddenly i hit 'pause'. boom. stop. where's god? what's he up to right now? so - words really can't describe the actual experience, but i will do my best - i go to this room in my mind, which i have never been in, and god is there just chilling. there is no big booming voice. there is no real peace washing over me - at least, not the way i imagined it - but i am suddenly at ease. i'm all like "hey god, what's up?" and he's all like "nmh, just chilling". suddenly it was all okay. all of my anxiety over shit at work was gone. i just realized that god wasn't freaking out about this stuff, and if god really is in charge of the show, then why am i freaking out? there's nothing to worry about. it's taken care of. i need not concern myself with it. just suit up and show up. play my part, and be of optimum service. be ready when the time for my usefulness comes into play, waiting patiently.
and in that moment, there wasn't a sense of god saying "finally, you decide to check in, where the fuck have you been? your mother was worried sick!" i was just totally welcome. "please stop back anytime. it's encouraged. maybe even stick around awhile, if you'd like." i would like. i would like very much. but i'm prone to wandering, so at the moment i am going to content myself with trying to check in more often. maybe i can at least handle that. i mean, five seconds after this happened, i was all pissed at the person in front of me for driving wrong, so. you know. baby steps.
and that's the beautiful part. it's always there. it's always been there. all i have to do is reach out and touch it. i don't have to achieve some level of sanctity or whatever in order to be granted access to it. it's there all the time, should i have the presence of mind to use it. even some fucked up basket case like me is always welcome. that's so cool. i've been riding this pink cloud all week. it's awesome. i'm giddy happy and annoyingly excited about life in a way i haven't been, maybe ever. and it was not the clouds parting and a bearded man with a big booming voice and lightning bolts. it was a chill ass hippie dude in an empty room in my head, on my way to the gas station after work.
this whole sobriety thing
*tolkien analogies in italics
i think i might try to start posting my AA stuff on here, just because i would like to have a place to put my thoughts and progress, and this seems a more suitable venue than facebook.
current status: i have a sponsor. i make it to as many meetings as possible, but tuesday night and friday night men's stags are my mainstays, as they fit into my schedule well, and i like the stag meetings. since i started my job, going every day has not been an option. not even close. even the monday night meetings with david have stopped, but i do talk to him on tuesday nights at least.
to sum up briefly (i may come back later and edit):
if only for the next five minutes, ten minutes, an hour, a day. don't worry about forever, or even tomorrow, just don't drink today.
fix the spirit first - the mind and body will follow
don't think your way into right living, live your way into right thinking.
pick the god that you want to be in charge of your life. if you're giving all control of your life to god's will, it should be a god that you're comfortable entrusting with it. (my god laughs at fart jokes) gandalf
pray. all the time.
establish a routine. ask for guidance in the morning (and remind yourself who's in charge while you're at it), say thanks at night.
be honest. completely, brutally, painfully honest. about everything.
be cognizant of what's going on between your ears. motives behind activities are important (WHY you're doing something helps determine whether or not it is advisable to do so).
don't let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT)
be honest, open, and willing (HOW)
alcohol is cunning, baffling, powerful. the one ring
you have a disease, which is why you see others (who don't have it) drinking with impunity.
be of service. be available to help. look to be used for god's will.
it's pretty simple, really. i was just making shit unnecessarily complicated all this time. might not be easy, but it's simple. and it permeates everything in my life, whether i like it or not.
sleep like a baby...
i never understood that. people say sleep like a baby when they are trying to describe a peaceful, restful sleep.
babies wake up and cry every couple hours. doesn't seem very restful to me. not to mention the whole having to eat, then burp, then throw up, then rest in your own excrement. i'd cry too. definitely not something i would consider in any way peaceful.
also, this is pretty cool:
the varied states of corn
i never really considered how being friend-zoned basically implies that (assuming the friendzoner is a lady, and the friendzonee is me) it is somehow the fault of the lady for not being into me, as opposed to being my fault for being into her.
as much as it always seems like "i just can't help the way i feel about you," why is it suddenly so bad a thing that she just can't help the way she doesn't feel about me, you know?
don't get me wrong, ladies, i'm still a pathetic romantic with more emotions than i know what to do with. but i'll try better to not hold it against you for not being interested in such a hot mess. not that i blame you in the slightest, and not that i don't feel awful in the rare event that i'm the friendzoner, but there still is some residual subconscious resentment and awkwardness there. and that is wrong.
the more things change, the more they stay the same
*greetings from michigan:
my first lengthy stay away from home has come to a close. i haven't touched any alcohol in two weeks. i still don't know what the hell i'm doing with my life. and i already miss tahoe.*
i'm beginning to remember why i really didn't miss having the internet that much.
i don't need to know about your stupid kid, or what you're having for dinner, or the 10 reasons you belong in house baratheon.
i really don't.
the only time i missed it is when there was some silly piece of trivial knowledge that i couldn't remember, or i had to file an important form, or needed to pay a bill.
that's basically it. maybe watch videos, or steal music from somewhere, since i'm online. download shit to make my laptop work when i invariably fuck it up and delete something i wasn't supposed to.
not spend hours poring through meaningless babble about shit that doesn't really matter, in the lives of people who i haven't seen in years, who are only trying to make themselves look as accomplished and successful and happy as they possibly can. apparently it's working, because what started as mild curiosity - purely for the hell of it - proceeded into nostalgia, and eventually progressed to the inevitable "what have i done with my life?!" there are also a few unfortunates thrown in that (i would assume, in the light of those apparent successes) have resorted to more of a cry for help or attention, because they are at least honest about how much life can suck sometimes, combined with buying into everyone else's bullshit.
the sad part is, it is so enticing still. sure, i don't NEED any of this stuff, but why not enjoy some diversions, right? i'll read the entirety of that blog, just because i can. i guess it was marginally entertaining. enriching my life? no. i suppose, if nothing else, it kept me occupied for three hours. and that's something. maybe. i don't know. depends on what your time is worth. and what you choose to spend it on.
time to be more discerning about what it's spent on, rather than finding ways to burn it.