November 30, 2011 (this day)

On Thanksgiving, I learned how to knit.  It took me pretty much all day because (A) I’m not really very good at things like this and (B) my teacher, my daughter, is left-handed, and I am not.  I’ve been crocheting for about two years, I think, maybe longer.  I know I’m not good at it because I see people who learned after me surpass me in skill by a long shot.  Of course the pesky job I’m still expected to do Monday through Friday gets in the way of my fiber arts, novel-writing and learning to play the guitar.  I’m almost finished with what I will have ready to give for Christmas and then I will seriously try to knit a rectangle.

I took my mother to the airport this morning and now it’s back to just me and Carole.  The house is a wreck from Thanksgiving, me learning to knit, Christmas present wrapping, cooking, and multiple cat visits.  Carole and I are giving each other half a Roomba for Christmas, and it is charging in the corner right now.  Since the addition of our very long-haired cat (named for Ebby Thatcher), the living room carpet can be furry, seriously, an hour after it’s vacuumed.

I finished my 50,000 words for Nanowrimo and, as I sit here, Carole is reaching her 50 thousand before midnight, she thinks.  I could not stand that pressure!  My “novel” is terrible but I had fun.  I think I will keep going with it for a little while, then take a look at what I’ve written over the past two years in terms of making a decent, stomachable story.  Again, the pesky job limits my time.

I get to tell my whole entire story Friday at a meeting.  Saturday is my home group, and Sunday our puppy sitter is coming over for pizza.   And some time before then, we will try the Roomba.

What Have You Gained from the Program?

I’m afraid some of these lists get repetitive.    What I’ve gained from the program is everything in my life, and my very life itself, from May 1, 1984, until now.  So that encompasses quite a lot.

More than that.  A plan.  I love that the program gives me a plan for my life, something to strive for, a way to evaluate things, and infinite help understanding and interpreting all that.

Hope.  I haven’t really faced anything hopeless since I got it.  Everything and everyone ends, I understand that to some extent, and it frightens me to some extent.  But I have hope I can survive these things, including my own end, with an amount of serenity I couldn’t imagine without the program.

The friends of the program are better friends than I can imagine anywhere else, and I don’t think that I, personally, had I somehow managed to survive, would have had friends anything like them.  I know for sure I wouldn’t know nearly the number of people that I do as intimately as I do.  My understanding of people must have been multiplied a million times by AA.

Serenity.  I don’t have tons of it.  But what I do have I owe completely to AA.  And each and every time something is disturbing me, I have the knowledge that I need to change, I have a way to figure out what and how, and a seriously good chance of changing for the better, at least a little bit.

November 25, 2011 (this day)

I’m a little worried about my mother, because she went to the mall with one of my kids, supposedly got handed off to the other kid, and should have been home a long time ago.

This morning, my mother, Carole and my daughter went Black Friday shopping and I stayed home and had a very bad dream about an old AA friend of mine.  I will call her soon.

Then my daughter went to bed, my son arrived, and he and my mother went to the mall.  My daughter got up and went to the mall, Carole went to bed, and I practiced knitting.

Now Carole and I have done our Nano for the day.  The end is in sight!  But my mother and daughter still aren’t home.  I’m guessing my mother is not going to want to play Wheel of Fortune on the Wii with us.  Carole bought it today hoping my mother would play.  Either because of that, or because she’s still embarrassed that I beat her last night at Wii bowling.

I also think Super 8 may be in the mail box, but I’m going to look, because I hate the mail.

Tonight, my daughter will out, and I will worry a lot until she’s home.  Tomorrow she will leave my house to go back to school and while I’ll be sorry to see her go I won’t mind saying goodbye for now to her two cats.  With her two, my three, and my son’s two foster kittens, there were seven cats in the house yesterday and that is about five too many.

Compatability, Of Course (Step Twelve contineud)

Compatibility, of course, can be so impossibly damaged that a separation may be necessary.  But those cases are the unusual ones.  The alcoholic, realizing what his wife has endured, and now fully understanding how much he himself did to damage her and his children, nearly always takes up his marriage responsibilities with a willingness to repair what he can and to accept what he can’t.  He persistently tries all of A.A.’s Twelve Steps in his home, often with fine results.  At this point he firmly but lovingly commences to behave like a partner instead of like a bad boy.  And above all he is finally convinced that reckless romancing is not a way of life for him.

Included, again, just to be thorough.  I can’t help but think that this was a far different time.  I’ve been reading the stories included in the first edition of the Big Book, and it looks like people stayed married through far more than they do today.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but there it is.

November 22, 2011 (this day)


Last week, when I was taking a shower, it occurred to me that I am getting old lady arms.  I looked at the under part of my right upper arm and noticed it was flabbier than it had been.  I’m OK with that.  Truly.  Most of the time I am very glad to get older.  Of course I don’t like the bodily deteriorating I’m doing, and I really don’t like being closer to the end.  Other than that, it’s a blessing and one I try hard to appreciate all the time.  It’s always here.  Each day, I’m older.

Well this past Saturday in the shower I noticed my arm again (and I didn’t look at it in between, not because I only shower on Saturday, but because I try not to look at myself).  This time I took a peek at my other arm and sadly, I had to admit I had a lump on the right arm.  Or a mass.  Something bad.

So that was Saturday night.  I spent from then until Monday afternoon, when I went to the doctor, practicing feeling what it would feel like to have something awful.  I really would, momentarily, think about hearing that not only did I have cancer, but I was full of it, and had not long to live.  I also practiced hearing that I’m fine, and I spent time thinking about what I know of cancer treatments and some brave folks I know who have gone through it and are going through it.

And most of the time between Saturday and Monday I really tried not to think about it at all, but to go on with my life.  I think I’m fairly good at that.  AA has taught me how to stay in the present, I’ve had many years of practice.  That is a very useful and practical skill.

The doctor and the student doctor said it is a harmless something or other, and that I don’t need to do anything about it unless it bothers me.  Which it will, mostly niggling a little at my the edge of my mind worrying that the doctor is wrong.  My next thought will be that it looks kind of yucky, I hope it’s not too obvious, and it’s a good thing I don’t do sleeveless regardless.

Carole wasn’t very brave about all this, but she tried.  One thing I thought about during it is that I’m very grateful she’s there.  She complains that I won’t let her take care of me when I’m sick, but I’d hate to think of having a major illness all alone.  I know people do it every day, and one day it could be me, but I’m glad that right now she’s here.

Carole gave me the funniest thought, though.  We went to a meeting on Sunday night and at some point, in the car, I don’t know what I said and she probably doesn’t either, but she said to me, “I’m trying to cherish you.”

I know I make that difficult often.

Well, my Monday morning work problems seemed awfully small yesterday at work.  I love that about being scared.  I really want to carry that forward into next Monday.

And I was thinking about it.  When I was drinking, there were truly times that I wanted to die.  I never feel that way now.  I love life and I want more.  Another gift of the program.

November 19, 2011 (this day)

I have no time to post because my life is too full of good things.  I want to take a look at the next passage in the twelve and twelve, but in just 15 minutes Carole and I will sit down to Nanowrimo, then bathe, then go to our meeting, then go to the meeting after the meeting, then (depending on what time it is) a used book store that’s open late.  Today we took the dog to a wash-your-own-dog place, came home and have been cleaning for Thanksgiving.  My mother arrives Monday and my daughter (and her two cats) arrive Tuesday.  Life is very good at this moment, and soon enough all will be over and I will get back to that wonderful Twelfth Step.

November 15, 2011 (this day)

  • Nanowrimo ate my lunch
  • I’m at 28353 words at the middle of the month
  • My “novel” is very bad, maybe even worse than last year
  • It’s still fun to do
  • Of the people I talked into doing it with me, only two are still doing it, and one is my wife.
  • Menopause is not for wimps
  • For the first time in over 15 years, my critters have fleas
  • I was tempted to write out “fifteen,” because that would count as one word
  • The weather has been really nice this fall
  • At a meeting on Sunday night, I heard (for the “first” time) that one should check one’s life against the promises when one finishes Step Nine
  • I don’t like to use the passive voice when writing
  • I also found out that at least that night, I had the most time in the room
  • I hate when that happens
  • I only talk about my hatred of it to Carole and here
  • Along with my hatred of that, I also always feel, when it comes to my attention that it’s true that I have the most time in the room at any given meeting, I always feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude, and a little bit of fear
  • And tremendous, not enough, but a tremendous amount of gratitude

The Thorn in my Foot (words to live by)

With the help of the thorn in my foot, I spring higher than anyone with sound feet. ~ Soren Kierkegaard

I have a little photo thingy I keep on my dresser.  It has ….. many many pockets where one is meant to put a photo, and to flip it whenever, so as to display many photos rather than just one.  I have long accomplished that by having many pictures in one frame and rotating them.  But anyway, I received this thing when I was a teenager or even younger, and so a long time ago I put sayings in it rather than pictures.  I’ve flipped the sayings every week or more frequently for I don’t know how long.  Many, many years.  I think I had this thing before I even ever had a typewriter.  Then I hand wrote the sayings I liked.  Then I typed them.  Then when the typewriters were gone I went back to handwriting.  It is more efficient than trying to work a printer.  Why are printers so difficult?

I have the above saying from before I had the typewriter.  So, for a very long time.  I don’t know what it meant to me when I hadn’t ever drank.  I was in every important way an average alcoholic waiting to drink.  I knew my life was especially bad and I was especially special.  I thank God I found out how wrong that was in time to not waste my entire life suffering from my uniqueness.

The main “thorn in my foot” I have thought of when I’ve flipped to this saying through the years is my alcoholism.  And to me, the cure is so much better than the life I imagine I would have had without the disease.  I mean, I truly believe that my life is infinitely better because I have suffered the blessing of alcoholism and the recovery of Alcoholics Anonymous than my life ever could have been if I had been a “normal” (what the hell?) drinker.

So the image of the quote, jumping higher because of the pain, just fits the whole story really well in my mind.

All that is easy.  So I’m sitting here on Sunday night and wondering how I can extrapolate this into a more peaceful work week ahead.  My alcoholism and recovery has helped me immeasurably at work.  I deal with people and I deal with them all day long and under sometimes great pressure.  That AA helps me deal is really very old news for me.

But how can AA, my knowledge of it, my character defects and my quest for greater humility help me (I typoed “heal” me) know peace and serenity through the thick and thin, the mundane stuff and the mundane crises?

And even if it can do all that, can it help me through an upgrade of our electronic documentation system?  : – )

What Do You Do To Stay Sober?

  • write this blog
  • go to, at the very least, one meeting a week, usually more
  • actively engage with the Steps
  • pray and meditate
  • read recovery books and blogs
  • share at meetings, over the phone, in writing and in person
  • service (mostly taking lots of turns running my group’s meetings)

For this month and this day, I will also say I practice gratitude.

Someone at work shared this shocking truism with me:  The only difference between an optimist and a pessimist is that the pessimist is better informed.

This is not clever!  This is not true!  The optimist is practicing gratitude, noticing, thinking about, enjoying, appreciating what is good, and right.  The pessimist is doing the opposite.

I am extremely grateful that the program I follow makes me cultivate gratitude as a habit, a way of thinking that has become part of my being.  I need to do this to stay sober.  I need to stay sober to live.  And I’m grateful.

November 6, 2011 (this day)

A regular at my meeting is dying.  This man stopped drinking for good a few months after I did, so we are both from the class of 1984.  He was over 50, and I’m now almost 50.  Now, as his death approaches, he is over 80, with 27 years of continuous sobriety.  Truly a victory over alcohol.

It has been comforting to me to have him at meetings with me, someone else who stopped drinking the same year I did.  And for other reasons, because he was a good guy.  But for that reason most of all.

Because really, it’s all about me, right?  Well this blog is, and those are my thoughts today.