A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

When my brothers and I were growing up my mother had certain sayings for various occasions … “I’m not you’re personal slave,” when we left a mess for her to clean up; “Would it have killed you to pick up a phone?” when we came home late without calling; “I guess I just can’t have nice things,” when once of us broke something that she considered good rather than everyday.

But while our breakage of one of her complete collection of NFL glasses acquired after a year of fill-ups at the neighborhood ARCO station was an accident, there are those people who for reasons I am unable to fathom take perverse pleasure in deliberately disallowing others to have nice things.

This is the situation in which I find myself.

It seems I’ve picked up a parasite.  Not a tapeworm or a bot fly or some other such wee beastie that Trojan Horses its way into your body, coursing through your blood stream like it’s on a flume ride until reaching your brain which it uses as its own personal hatchery, releasing millions of its demon spawn to short circuit your neurons and drive you slowly insane, but an insidious creature none the less.

Mine is of the human variety, and rather than invading my organs, blood or brain she is determined to infiltrate my life.  The whole story isn’t important (and frankly it’s too long to tell), but just to be clear this isn’t a “someone I’m just not interested in dating” situation, this is a bonafide stalker situation.  In fact, after learning her real name (and she uses many) I found another woman’s blog post from 2008 who’d also been victimized by my “obsessed fan.”

To the best of my knowledge she no longer knows where I live, so I believe I’ve blocked any physical access she has to me.  Unfortunately, before I became aware of her true nature we had a brief friendship on Facebook and I gave her the URL for my blog.  She still sometimes finds ways to access my Facebook page, contacts my friends and family and pulls various stunts to try to gain my attention.  She also checks my blog a couple of times a day to see if I’ve posted anything new; which is why I haven’t lately.  She lurks.  I know she’s out there, waiting to pounce on any little tidbit, some little crumb of information about me.  And all I want is to disappear, become unable for her to find.

Aside from not wanting her to have access to my life, she more than anyone else least deserves to enjoy my stellar writing, sharp wit, charming personality and deep insights.  So it’s with resentment, disappointment, a heavy heart and a measure of satisfaction at cutting off yet another avenue of access that I’ve decided to abandon my blog.  So to those of you who read me (except, y’know …) and especially those who offered their support during my brief comeback tour, I just wanted to say thank you and let you know that all is still on the right track.  I’ll miss this and miss all of you.  It’s been a pleasure and I wish you all the best!

Oh yeah! The picture, almost forgot …

I Don’t Want To Belong To Any Club That Will Accept People Like Me As A Member

In my last post I talked about people who upon learning that I am an atheist either feel the need to discredit or demean my beliefs by bragging about the perceived superiority of theirs, or want to shine the light that leads to Jesus. The discrediting, demeaning people are close-minded douchebags and I don’t want to talk about them. Although I suspect I’ll end up doing just that because they piss me off and I’ll eventually say something clever and sarcastic about them that they probably wouldn’t understand anyway since they tend to be more literal than literate (and so it begins …..).

What I want to talk about are the people who try to convince me of the existence of a higher being or persuade me to adopt some religion, or as some have said, to change my religion. While there is some debate over whether or not atheism is a religion, I fall in with those who argue that it is not. So as far as I’m concerned I’ve got no religion to change, and I also have no desire to adopt a religion.

I don’t pretend to be baffled by why they do these things. I understand that for some it’s a very simple equation: disbelief is bad + belief is good = get heathen to believe. I imagine that others have such a strong, ingrained belief that they can’t fathom a life without God in it and probably think I’m just an empty, soulless husk of a person who can only benefit by being filled with the light of the Lord.

It’s also possible that my take on atheism … I don’t believe a God exists because I’ve never seen proof that one does … may be a factor. It’s not unusual for someone to hear this philosophy and attempt to totally blow my mind by hitting me with something profound that I’ve never heard before like, “What about trees and oceans? Aren’t they proof that God exists?” Uhhh … No. They are proof that trees and oceans exist. It seems that these folk fail to hear the first part of my statement: I don’t believe a God exists. Not I might believe or I could believe, but I don’t believe. It’s not a maybe and I’m not looking for answers. It’s a statement of my disbelief. Period.

Which brings me to what I really want to talk about, which is the assumption that attempting to cram ones beliefs down the throats of others is acceptable behavior. I know this is not a new topic and that it is neither confined to religion nor practiced by all religious people. However, for the sake of convenience I’m going to generalize and may lump people into groups they don’t necessarily feel they belong to in order to avoid the need to qualify every statement and opinion with the assurance that “I know not every group/religion nor every person in it does this/feels this way.”

I am of the opinion that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want to believe. Further, I respect your right to your beliefs and unless in the midst of a debate or discussion, I don’t feel it’s my place to challenge or question them. Obviously, respecting your right to believe whatever you want to doesn’t mean I agree with you or that I don’t think some of your beliefs are silly. For instance, I believe that food is food and calories are calories and that there’s no harm in eating after some arbitrary magic o’clock. Unless you’re a Mogwai of course. Also, you are perfectly free to believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. I would tend to disagree with you however because DINOSAURS!!

So while our opinions may be at opposite ends of the spectrum, or logic writhes and squirms in my brain trying to claw its way into words, unless asked I will keep my mouth shut … and I think it only fair that you give me the same consideration. Because it seems to me that failing to realize, or worse, to care that I might take exception to you encroaching uninvited into my space with your philosophies and beliefs teeters on the edge of dangerous territory where you might also feel comfortable acting in ways that infringe upon my rights or beliefs. I don’t know if it’s human nature, or maybe just human behavior, but when standing behind strong beliefs we’re terribly adept at justifying even the most unjustifiable acts as long as we can find a way to rationalize that what we’re doing is right. For instance, I know at least one of The Ten Commandments says thou shalt not kill, yet it takes only a couple of mouse clicks to find a plethora of pictures of hooded, white “christians” proudly posing under Strange Fruit trees.

So I wonder what the rationalization is that justifies clean-cut Mormon boys on bikes and groups of JayDubs knocking on my door trying to sell me on their brand of religion, or various other Christians trying/hoping to convince me to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, while many of these same groups are getting their panties all in a wad and railing against the evils of Homosexual Recruitment? Why is it okay for them to recruit but not us?

But let’s set the record straight first, shall we? Religions recruit … you know it, I know it and they know it. We’ve all had the knocks on the door, looked out the peephole and pretended not to be home. We’ve laughed at the jokes told by comedians. We’ve been handed pamphlets and been preached to by well-meaning friends. I don’t know if it’s a pyramid thing, or they earn prizes or get a better seat in heaven, but I know a lot of them are really eager to sign up as many new members as they can.

Now, when have you ever been approached on the street, at school, at work or in a social setting by someone inquiring as to whether you’d like to cross over? I’m not talking about flirting or mistaking you for the wrong orientation … we’re all hit on by people we’re not interested in and we just say “no thanks” and move on. I’m talking about someone really trying to convince you that gay is the better way. And have you ever answered a knock at your door or emerged from a grocery stored or your preferred house of worship to find a crowd of gay men and lesbians waving copies of The Advocate in your face and asking if you’ve taken Ellen or Anderson into your heart? Yeah … I thought not.

Gays do not recruit … and we especially do not recruit children. Know why? Because we don’t have to. Parents all over the world, the overwhelming majority of them heterosexual, are producing enough gay babies to keep our numbers at sufficient levels. Also, we have a temporary volunteer program that operates quite successfully on its own with almost no effort at all on our part.

I can’t speak for the men, but the women’s program works something like this: you’re having a conversation with a straight woman and at some point she says something like, “I’m not a lesbian or anything …” and a little internal alarm goes off because this is generally the cue that she may be on the verge of volunteerism. Now, she may go on to tell you about an experience at camp when she was fourteen or a drunken college experiment, which is generally just her way of relating to you and letting you know that she’s cool with your non-hetero-normative ways.  Or, she may end the sentence with “But I’ve always wondered/thought about what it would be like to be with another woman” (oh, quit looking around all innocent-like … you know who you are and you know you’ve done it).  This is the point where in my head I do the ‘How I Met Your Mother Barney Stinson breaking the fourth wall “Oh yeah!” grin’ (sorry, couldn’t find a YouTube clip – you’ll have to watch the show if you don’t get the reference).

Like I said, I’m not exactly sure how it works with the men but I imagine it might go something like this:

Straight Guy:   It’s not like I’m not gay or anything …

Gay Guy:   *internal alarm*

Straight Guy:   But I always thought a dude would be better at sucking dick ’cause they’d know better than a chick what feels good to another dude.

Gay Guy:   *Barney Stinson*

While I get my share of potential volunteers, I accept only a select few into the program because not all who sign-up do so simply because they’re comfortable with their sexuality and are looking for new experiences. Women also volunteer because they want emotional intimacy, or they think they might be gay or they’re being pressured by a boyfriend/husband to find another woman for a threesome … the list goes on. So although I’m quite willing to sleep with a straight woman if she just wants to give lesbian sex a whirl, and I’m not opposed to participating in the occasional healthy, we all want to do this and we know our boundaries threesome, I’m not a predator and I do my best to assess the situation to make sure she’s volunteering for the right reasons, because I don’t want to take advantage of someone who’s in a vulnerable situation.

Well, it seems my Adult Tangential Tendency (ATT) Disorder has run amok and I’ve lost all control of this post and the point I was trying to make. But I think it had something to do with understanding and accepting that not everyone wants to join your club, no matter how awesome you think it is; that it’s hypocritical to accuse someone of doing something you say is wrong while you’re doing the very thing you’re condemning them for; and, that there’s a big difference between doing something because it’s the right thing to do and doing it because you’ve rationalized that it’s the right thing to do.

And on that note, I’ll close before I digress yet again.

There’s Only You & Me And We Just Disagree

I am an atheist.

These are the twelve steps of the original anonymous program:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
  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.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  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.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Anyone else hear the theme song from The Odd Couple playing in their head?

While it tickles me that in an effort to make it very clear they weren’t trying to tell anyone how to believe, the people who developed the steps emphasized not once, but twice, a “God as we understood Him” (the myriad of interpretations of which is nothing short of mind-boggling), I don’t actually have a problem with with all the God, Higher Power, prayer business in the program … anymore.

Since my initial introduction to the anonymous program back when I was but a wee pup, I’ve gone through phases where I was convinced that something with so much God in it couldn’t possibly work for a non-believer like me, decided to ignore the parts of the program that refer to God or a Higher Power (effectively turning a 12-step program into a 6-step one) and bitching about the hypocrisy of the third tradition (in addition to the steps the program also has twelve traditions) saying, “The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking” and the rest of the book (we have a book too, which we call “The Big Book,” but that’s not really the title) essentially saying, “But you won’t stay sober without a Higher Power.”

But then I took a closer look at the first two traditions:

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

Our common welfare”, “AA unity”, “our group purpose”, “our group conscience” … before they ever get to the part where all I have to do to be a member is have a desire to stop drinking, the traditions mention the group, the program, four times. It occurred to me then that perhaps AA and the people in it and what’s been working for them since 1935 might just be a little bit bigger and a little more important than me getting my nuts all in a twist over this whole God thing. And I decided to shut the hell up about it.

Because while I do not believe in God or a Higher Power, I do believe very strongly in the power of the program. So if the group wants to have a loving God as its ultimate authority, what’s it to me? It’s not like they’re calling down the vengeful God from that cold-blooded shit in Pulp Fiction that Samuel L. Jackson says to a motherfucker before he pops a cap in his ass. I am, however, currently committing said prayer to memory so that in the event I mention being an atheist while I’m sharing, prompting some smart-ass yet again to ask me to close the meeting with a prayer of my choice – Our Father and The Serenity Prayer being the perennial favorites – I can throw down with some Ezekiel 25:17 and really fuck with him.

But despite my current acceptance of and comfort with the religious and spiritual aspects of the program, as mentioned above I do occasionally find myself at odds with someone who seems to have a problem with me not having a problem with not believing in God. It’s neither my intent nor my desire to be contradictory, confrontational or controversial so I don’t run around with my atheism flag always flapping in the breeze, but when I do mention it in a meeting more often than not I can count on someone who shares after me to share at me. Usually this takes the form of them going on and on about their relationship with their Higher Power, whom they choose to call God (or sometimes Jesus Christ), and how wonderful it is and how they couldn’t possibly stay sober without it … all the while looking at me with their sad, sincere “I feel sorry for you because you’re going to get drunk and rot in Hell” eyes.

Then there are those whose minds somehow translate the words “I am an atheist” to “Please help me find God” compelling them to corner me after the meeting and encourage me to hang in there because they had trouble believing at first too; or tell me that even if I don’t believe in God, God believes in me. They also look at me with sincerity but rather than sorrow at believing I’m doomed to eternal drunken damnation, in their eyes as I see hope as they take my hand and reassure me, “I’ll pray for you.” Because I am a kind and polite person, I just smile and say, “Thank you.” Because “Whatever floats your boat! But while you’re at it, you might want to put down your Bible for a sec’ and flip open a dictionary ’cause I don’t think you’re really grasping the full meaning of atheist here…” just seems a bit of a harsh thing to say to someone who’s only trying to help.

I recently accepted a friend’s invitation to attend a meeting called Celebrate Recovery, which I knew was held in a local mega-church and thought was attended by people who were just more Jesus-y than those in most meetings. To say I was unprepared for the degree to which these people were Jesus-y would be an understatement of epic proportions. As I posted on my Facebook page once I recovered from the shock, it was something akin to AA meets Saved! meets Up With People. Complete with thumping music, flashing lights, meeting leaders cheerleader-pep-rally running up to the stage with big praise the Lord smiles plastered on their faces, over-the-head-”come on everybody!”-hand-clapping to welcome the terrified newcomers … it was stunningly, overwhelmingly cheesy in its theatricality and as I sat there wide-eyed and slack-jawed just one thought kept running through my mind over and over again: “What the fuck?” “What the fuck?” “What.The.FUCK?”

It was only later that I found out that while based on the 12-step concept, Celebrate Recovery is not actually part of the recognized collection of anonymous programs. It’s a separate entity that accepts only Jesus Christ as a Higher Power, believing that AA’s concept (which, as you’ll recall from earlier in our discussion, is “God as we understood Him”) is too vague and open to interpretation.  It was founded in 1991 by Rick Warren, the Pastor at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. You may have heard of him. He wrote a book called Purpose Driven Life. I do not like Rick Warren. Rick Warren is a hypocrite and a homophobe, which is why I haven’t provided you any links to his church, his book or his recovery program … you’re on your own if you want to go to his websites. I will however provide you with a link to this page which shows the content he had hastily deleted from his church’s website in 2008 when his views were deemed to be a bit too bigoted for the person who was to be Barack Obama’s inaugural pastor.

I felt a little bad telling the friend who’d invited me, and a few others I’d seen at Jesus-palooza, that I wouldn’t be going back again the following week.  They had that hopeful look in their eyes, as if my attendance meant I’d seen the light and was taking my first tentative steps along the road to conversion; and I could tell they were disappointed when I said I’d only gone to the extravaganza meeting because I’d been invited.  But seriously, what could they really have expected?  I mean, just because you go to a Christmas party when you’re invited doesn’t mean you believe in Santa Claus, right?

Sign, Sign, Everywhere A Sign

I got a DUI on July 10, 2010. By that time my drinking had reached the point where it was a concern (and becoming an annoyance) to the people in my life, but this was the first time it had drawn the attention of outside parties. In addition to local law enforcement, the outside parties included firefighters, paramedics, emergency room doctors, surgeons and nurses because I obtained it in rather spectacular fashion.

I’d gone to one of my favorite dive bars to hang out with friends and see a band we all liked. They played once a month doing mostly rock covers from the 70s and 80s, including a killer rendition of Heart’s Barracuda that I just loved. My Ex (who, with a great deal of thought and creativity, I chose to refer to as Mary in Recipe For A Break Up) had always been the designated driver in our relationship, but since she had run off with Jane (another thoughtful and creative name change) less than three weeks earlier, this was my first night out where I had to drive any considerable distance on my own.

Aside from being sans D.D. and knowing that my ability to moderate my intake of adult beverages was somewhat wanting, I was also terribly tired that night. It was a Friday and I’d gotten up early for work after not sleeping well the night before … or the night before that or the night before that or the night before blah, blah, blah, etc.. It had been just eighteen days since my seventeen-year relationship crashed and burned; and aside from the expected emotional toll something like that takes on a person and the normal disruptions to their regular routine, I was exacerbating the situation by throwing alcohol and drugs at it. So, as a consideration to those of you who may not be fluent in Obvious, I’ll just say that I was in no shape to be doing anything that night but going home and going to bed.

And it’s not just in hindsight that I’m aware I had no business being on the road that night. The signs were all there, as gaudy and glaring as the neon ones flashing at me from all four walls of the bar from which I couldn’t stay away. I simply chose to look the other way whenever one popped up:

Sign #1 – My Facebook status update when it occurred to me that I was too tired to go out: “I’m wondering how my best intentions will stack up against my natural instincts…”

Sign #2 – My Facebook status update when it occurred to me that I didn’t care if I was too tired to go out: “Know better, doing it anyway!”

Sign #3 – The short exchange between my friend Jim and I when the band broke into Barracuda five minutes after I walked into the bar: Jim – “Hey, your favorite! Good thing you made it!” Me – “I know! I’m so tired I shouldn’t have come, but just hearing this is totally worth the DUI I’m probably gonna get on the way home!”

Sign #4 & #5 – Two people were concerned enough about me that they offered to let me sleep it off at their house and bring me back for my car in the morning. I turned them both down because they were leaving too early and I was still having fun, i.e. drinking.

Sign #6 – My Facebook status update when it occurred to me that I was probably too drunk and too tired to drive, but also too nervous about sleeping on the street in my car at 2:00am: “Houston, we have a problem!”

According to Google Maps, my house is almost exactly forty miles from the bar where I’d been drinking. The point at which my alcohol indulgence and lack of sleep converged was approximately thirty-eight miles from said bar. Those in the know agree that most car accidents happen within five miles of home because once they’re in their comfort zone many drivers let down their guard; and, while it was definitely the lesser of three evils, this was also a factor in what happened to me. I’d been fighting to stay awake for much of the drive and as I approached the off-ramp I remember thinking “oh thank God!” and feeling a huge sense of relief because I knew I’d made it and I relaxed. Big mistake.

The next thing I remember is a jarring thud. I could tell that the car was still moving but it was dark and I couldn’t see anything. The sensation was almost like flying, or falling. I was also immediately aware that I had no control over what was about to happen, only that it was likely to be very, very bad. I didn’t think the words “I’m going to die” or “This is it,” but there was the realization that I might be experiencing my last few moments of life. I’m relating these thoughts and feelings to you in a linear fashion; but in actuality, between jumping the curb and slamming into the concrete block that eventually stopped my forward progress, there wasn’t time to think that way. It was more like getting hit by a thought grenade … that also happened to be packed with a heavy load of terror shrapnel.

Again, for those not fluent in Obvious, despite feeling that I might be about to die, I did not. I did however shatter my right ankle (the doc theorized I may have tried to hit the brake, my foot colliding with the floorboard when it was jammed up into the driver’s seat leaving my knees uncomfortably around chin level) and tore up my left leg requiring a number of stitches. I also had the delightful experience of having an airbag prevent me from impacting the steering wheel. Which, while very likely saving me from more devastating injuries, I can only describe as taking a hard, well-placed punch to the face while someone simultaneously fires a large-caliber weapon next to your ear. The accident was very loud, the aftermath almost completely silent.

Since it was around 3:00am and I was off the road in a bit of a ditch it took some time before anyone noticed me there. I remember a man finally shouting to me from the middle of the street (he seemed hesitant to come too close, maybe he was afraid of what he might see) that he had called for help. Soon the street was filled with an army of emergency personnel and a variety of vehicles with flashing lights. A tarp was draped over me while firefighters used the jaws-of-life to pry the door open in order to extract me from my crumpled little car.

I took my first ride in an ambulance and laid half-naked on a gurney in the E.R. where, while a doctor kneaded my ankle, grinding the bones together and refusing to giving me pain meds until he determined I had neither head trauma nor internal injuries, a CHP officer administered a breath test and informed me that I was under arrest for driving under the influence. He also said he’d decided not to take me to jail, which I thought rather generous of him considering the doctor had just told me that I’d be going into surgery as soon as a room opened up.

That accident scared the fuck out of me. The idea that I could have been killed was bad, that I could have hurt or killed someone else was infinitely worse … and a very real possibility. I was incredibly lucky that I fell asleep/passed out after leaving the freeway. It has a wide, open median that I easily could have drifted across and into oncoming traffic. I was also fortunate that it was so early in the morning and I live in an area where the streets roll up around 8:00pm so traffic was light. I knew there was no way I could live with myself if I ever hurt an innocent person or took a mother/father/child away from their family. I didn’t promise to stop drinking, but I swore that I would never drink and drive again. That DUI was my wake up call and it would be my last.

Until April 15, 2012 when I got my next one.

Slip Sliding Away

The picture below is interesting.  Okay, maybe not interesting.  It’s not even very good.  The colors are somewhat muddled and it’s a fairly generic shot of a California sunset.  However, it’s unique in that taking it is the last thing I remember doing before slipping into a blackout.  There are countless times I remember the last thing I remember before not remembering anything else; but this is the only time I have documented photographic evidence of the last thing I remember before losing the ability to do so.  It was Monday, January 2 at 5:16pm and I was standing on the side of the freeway (that’s what we call highways out here) taking a picture of what looked to me at the time like a very beautiful sunset.  And perhaps it was, and I am just a very lousy drunk photographer.

After stopping to take the picture there is nothing until very early the next morning when I was in the emergency room (again) at a local hospital.  And by ‘nothing’ I don’t mean bits and pieces or hazy memories.  I mean nothing … just taking pictures – blink – emergency room.  Ten-plus hours had gone by, granted I had probably slept through some of it (psssst … that’s code for ‘had passed out’), and I had absolutely no idea what had happened or why I was in the ER.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, there are two types of blackouts: fragmentary and en bloc.  With fragmentary blackouts you may remember some events, but be unaware that there are things you don’t remember until someone reminds you of them.  With en bloc blackouts, while you’re intoxicated you can remember what just happened for about two minutes, but that’s pretty much it.  For example, you can carry on a conversation, just not a very in-depth or coherent one.  But when you emerge from the blackout you will have absolutely no ability to ever remember what took place during it.  So no matter how many times your friends go, “Okay, come on now … we were at VonDouchenbergers?  Those bikers were playing pool?  Remember??  You jumped on the table in the middle of their game, pulled down your pants, poured a pitcher of beer on yourself and challenged everyone to a wet panty contest?  How can you not remember that shit??” You cannot remember that shit.  It’s a bit like having your brain coated in Teflon: nothing sticks to it.  The memories simply slide off never to return.

This concludes the education portion of our post.   We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging …

I am a blackout drinker of the en bloc variety.  Which, while having it’s drawbacks, such as surprise games of “Mystery ER Visit” and “Who’s That Sleeping In My Bed?”, can also be a bit of a blessing in that I’m spared the burden of carrying around memories of many of the stupid, humiliating, degrading and thoughtless things I did while under the influence.  But though I have a propensity for this type of blackout, there have been occasions when it failed me miserably.  Such was the case when, while in the midst of some social drama, I drunk-dialed my younger brother crying about the bitter injustice of the friend whose three-way curiosity I’d so generously helped satisfy and who was more than happy to be there while ‘I had her boyfriend’s cock down my throat,’ but who didn’t seem to have the time of day for me now that I was the one who needed her.

It was a regrettably memorable phone call and one I’d prefer to have forgotten.  And though I’ve never asked him, I’m quite sure that if offered, my little brother would opt to en bloc the conversation as well.

I don’t know how much I had to drink that day, but I bought a fifth of vodka for the drive … the 45-minute drive.  I know it was vodka because A) it can be transferred from its original bottle to an empty water-bottle so you look like you’re simply re-hydrating along the endless, arid SoCal freeway system and B) vodka is what we tend to drink when we’re hitting the skids.

I know this because in the anonymous meetings when people tell their low-bottom, down-and-out stories they might say something like, “So I’m sitting there in a crappy motel room, totally alone, except for my bottle of vodka …” and everyone smiles knowingly and nods because they’ve been there, when a bottle of vodka was the only friend they had left.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s cheap or because it does the job fast or because we think people can’t smell it on our breath, I just know that for so many of us vodka ends up being the booze of last resort.

Before vodka, Jack Daniels was my drink of choice; and that, coincidentally, is often the indicator of the period when a person still had their shit semi-together.  So inasmuch as someone talking about their bottle of vodka (and it’s almost always just ‘vodka,’ never Smirnoff or Seagrams or Absolut … I know, but we drink for the effect not the taste) signals the end, when a person says, “Of course, I was still drinking Jack at that point …” they’re generally talking about a time when they still had some control over their drinking.  And no one really talks about Jack (those of us who were fans feel we’ve contributed sufficiently enough to the company’s bottom-line to have earned the right to be on a first-name basis with their product) with disdain or contempt, either.  Rather there seems to be an attitude of respect and fond remembrance.

As for myself, although I now catch only the occasionally glimpse on a store shelf, when I see a bottle or hear the name I feel a little like Scout and half expect to feel The Reverend Sykes nudge me and say, “Miss Urethra. Miss Urethra, stand up. Jack Daniels’s passing.”

Sometimes I think about how short my posts would be if I could get my ATT (Adult Tangential Tendency) Disorder under control …

Anywayyyy, I have no memories of the period between taking the picture and being in the emergency room. I do, however, have cringe-worthy police and hospital reports, as well as third-party accounts from the friend whose house I was going to (whom I’ve spoken to since that night, but never of that night … I know only what she told my parents and what they relayed to me; and that is quite enough).  It seems she was instantly aware of my intense inebriation and invited me to leave immediately.  I apparently wandered around, perhaps lost or unable to remember where I’d parked my car five minutes before, until finding a friendly telephone pole to which I clung and cried until the police arrived.

I don’t know who called the police – my friend or a concerned (i.e. freaked-out) citizen; I don’t know who took me to the hospital – the police or the EMTs; and I don’t know to whom I expressed suicidal ideations.  What I do know is that at some point the decision as to when I would leave the hospital was no longer mine.  I was about to play a brand-new surprise blackout game called “You’ve Been 5150ed!”

A 5150, or 72-hour hold, is a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code and is a means by which a person deemed to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to him or her self, and/or others and/or gravely disabled can be transported to a designated psychiatric inpatient facility for evaluation for up to 72-hours against their will.

It was not my favorite game.

I’m Ba-aaack!

I imagine if you’re like most people I imagine, you’ve been sitting around since November gnawing on your fingernails until they bleed, glancing anxiously at the clock every few minutes and wondering just where the hell I could possibly be.  And I imagine if you’re like other people, those who have a life where I am not the center around which it revolves, you may not have noticed that I went missing late last year.  While I shudder to think of the emptiness of a life without me as the nucleus of its existence, I do take some comfort in knowing that at least those people didn’t have to suffer the pain of being forced to survive over half a year without being able to read me.

To those whose lives have been affected by my absence, I offer my most sincere apologies.  While it was never my intention to be gone for so long, I know that doesn’t make what you’ve been through any easier.  I can only ask for your understanding and hopefully your forgiveness.

In order to warm up to the tale of my whereabouts and wanderings, I refer you to an earlier post called “How To Lose Friends And Alienate People” where I disclosed that I was prone to doing some fucked up shit when I was fucked up on some shit.  The post wasn’t a laundry list of intoxicant induced embarrassing events, regrettable rendezvouses and sordid situations. Rather it was an attempt to understand and reveal myself, why I am the way I am, and where it had gotten me at that point; and, looking back, I think it was fairly accurate and spot-on … all except the part where I wrote, I don’t have a disease or an addictive-personality.”  As it turns out, my pseudonym is Urethra and I’m an alcoholic.

Or maybe it doesn’t “turn out” because that would make it something previously unknown.  It could be that some of you or one of you read that earlier post and thought, “Who the hell does she think she’s kidding?”  I know it’s no surprise to me and it hasn’t been since I first went to rehab back when I was 22.  But when I wrote that post, as awful as I felt about losing my friends, I still wasn’t ready to say I was the a-word yet.  I didn’t want to be sober and go to meetings, I wanted to drink and go to bars.  I’d been an alcoholic and it was boring, I wanted to keep being a drunk and having fun.

You know what’s really boring though?  What’s really boring are people who have stopped smoking, started exercising, lost weight, gotten sober, had a baby or found religion and instantly lose their sense of humor and their ability to talk about anything other than how AWESOME their life is now that they’ve stopped/started/had/found ‘X’ in a way that subtly (or not so subtly) suggests that you and your life are crap and will continue to be crap until you stop/start/have/find ‘X’ just like they did.

I am not one of those people.

Did I stop drinking?  I did.  Have I given up eating handfuls of Vicodin like they they were Pez?  I have.  Do I still sit at home alone with a pile of cocaine because two 8-balls just doesn’t seem like enough to share?  I do not.  Is it true that I quit crushing and snorting a two-month supply of Ritalin in under a week?  Indeed it is.  Am I popping half-a-dozen Lunesta just to relax?  I am not.  Is my brain now free from all mind and mood-altering agents?  With the exception of the medically-approved pharmaceutical cocktail that keeps my bi-polarocity from teeter-tottering out of control; and nicotine and caffeine, which you can have when you pry them from my cold, dead, well-manicured lesbian fingers, it is.

Will my writing now be limited to the joy and wonder of being clean and sober?  Nope.  Am I going to tell you what step I’m working on or what words of wisdom my sponsor spoke?  I am not.  Are you going to start seeing inspiring quotes or cliched slogans from the anonymous program popping up in my posts?  You aren’t.

The bottom line is I stopped writing because my life face-planted so hard that keeping up on my blog was the furthest thing from my drug-addled, alcohol-soaked brain; and I stopped drinking and using because things got bad … really bad.  Not “danced on a table and threw up on my date” bad, but cops, emergency rooms and psych-wards bad.  And now things are getting better.  Not “I’m back at home and all is right with the world” better, but “selling my house will pay off some of my massive debt and it looks like I’ll get to do house-arrest instead of jail” better.  But now that the pickling and addling are in the past and the brainium in my cranium is getting back up to speed, I’m feeling ready to pick up where I left off.

So prepare yourselves to be awed and amazed by tales of recklessness, rehab and redemption … minus all the happy, sappy crappy stuff.  Look for “Welcome To My Nightmare 2 – Electric Bugaloo” where my parents run across a steamer-trunk full of porn at my house (why does your lesbian daughter have gay male porn? I don’t know Ma, ask Julianne Moore and Annette Benning … ); be sure to read “Who Tied Me To This Gurney?” as I wrestle with the question of whether to send a ‘thank you’ or an ‘I’m sorry’ card to the friend who had me carted off by the EMTs; you won’t want to miss “You’re Such A Good Listener,” the heartwarming story of the telephone pole that cared and supported me as I tearfully told it my troubles until the nice officers came and took me away; and in “The Rehab Reality Show” I’ll tell you what it’s really like to live in a house with six total strangers for thirty days … minus the cameras, paycheck and appearances on TMZ (also, stealth masturbation strategies when you realize you’re going to have a roommate and little or no privacy for a month).

It’s been a long, strange journey my friends … one that I’ll share with you in the weeks and months ahead. And while I know in all seriousness that my disappearance was hardly a blip on the radar, I do think it’s rude to drop off the map without so much as a “see you later” or “tootle-loo,” and for that I do apologize.  I’m looking forward to catching up on my favorite blogs, keeping up on mine and seeing what’s new out there. I’ve missed this and all of you … it’s good to be back.

Pursued By A Douche-Nugget

I realize that I’ve been somewhat remiss in my blogging duties lately. Although I’m still feeling a bit blog-blocked, I couldn’t resist sharing this e-mail exchange between myself and man on the internet dating site I belong to. Except for a couple of notes I added for clarification and to make it less abundantly clear exactly where I live, nothing has been changed.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, this man actually exists! And knowing that makes me feel really sorry for all you heterosexual women who have to swim around in the dating pool with guys like this in order to find someone normal. You have my most sincere sympathy.

Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 24, 2011 10:29 PM
Subj: some sugar!!!

please neighbor!! i need some sugar!!!!! meet me at ralph’s [Note: local grocery store] if you want see what happen’s if you like then sex it is!!!!!

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 24, 2011 10:34 PM
Subj: nice!!!

ready for me alright!!!!!

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 24, 2011 11:00 PM
Subj: funny!!!

get this knock knock!!

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 24, 2011 11:06 PM
Subj: sweet!!!

come on neighbor!!

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 24, 2011 11:08 PM
Subj: hi discrete!!!

hi!!

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Sender: UrethraFranklin
To: checkmate2000
Date: October 24, 2011 11:34 PM
Subj: RE: some sugar!!!

I’m heading to Ralphs right now. I’m wearing a silver thong, low-rise jeans and a Foxy Lady halter top. Meet me in the produce department. I hope they don’t think you’re shoplifting a banana . . . LMAO!

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 25, 2011 12:42 AM
Subj: hey!!!

i looked for you!!

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 25, 2011 12:48 AM
Subj: hi!!!

what happen at ralph’s were you there or not!!

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 25, 2011 12:56 AM
Subj: come on!!

please let me fuck you you owe me i went to ralph’s and you were;nt there!!!!!

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 25, 2011 1:07 AM
Subj: yaaaaaaaa!!

fun -fun- fuck -fuck -please!!!!!

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Sender: UrethraFranklin
To: checkmate2000
Date: October 25, 2011 1:16 AM
Subj: RE: come on!!

Which Ralphs did you go to?

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 25, 2011 1:33 AM
Subj: RE: RE: come on!!

come on girlfriend!! went to [street name] and [other street] ralph’s!! you got me!!!!!

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Sender: UrethraFranklin
To: checkmate2000
Date: October 25, 2011 1:28 AM
Subj: RE: RE: RE: come on!!

That explains it. I went to the one on Ima & Lesbian. Guess I should have been more specific.

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 25, 2011 1:47 AM
Subj: hi!!!

WTF please let me fuck you!! what ralph’s did you go to!!!!!

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Sender: UrethraFranklin
To: checkmate2000
Date: October 25, 2011 2:20 AM
Subj: RE: hi!!!

10 Things You Need To Know

  1. Women tend to go for the bad-boy type. Try being a little more dangerous and a lot less desperate.
  2. I’m a lesbian.
  3. Begging women for sex will get you laid 0 out of 10 times.
  4. I’m a lesbian.
  5. You don’t have a picture on your profile. Most women agree to have sex with anonymous, faceless men an average of no percent of the time.
  6. I’m a lesbian.
  7. You should spend some time reading a woman’s profile and not just looking at her pictures. You might learn important things about her.
  8. I’m a lesbian.
  9. I didn’t go to Ralphs.
  10. I’m a lesbian.

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 25, 2011 2:31 AM
Subj: cheer’s

I won’t ask no more just let me fuck you one damn time!!!!!

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Sender: UrethraFranklin
To: checkmate2000
Date: October 25, 2011 3:04 AM
Subj: RE: cheer’s

I checked the Lesbian Rules & Regulations handbook they gave me when I signed up and apparently having sex with men is grounds for having my membership revoked. They do make certain exceptions though. You don’t happen to be Mark Wahlberg, Johnny Depp or Justin Timberlake, do you?

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Sender: checkmate2000
To: UrethraFranklin
Date: October 25, 2011 2:31 AM
Subj: RE: RE: cheer’s

ok I am an ass!!

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Sender: UrethraFranklin
To: checkmate2000
Date: October 25, 2011 3:04 AM
Subj: RE: RE: RE: cheer’s

Nope. Just Wahlberg, Depp, Timberlake and a few others. Headquarters doesn’t appear to make exceptions for asses. Sorry.

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Sadly, I never heard from him again and that’s a shame. He provided such excellent blog fodder!