Monday, December 31, 2007


Quitting drinking is not so hard that you can't do it, even if you're weak and dumb. It's not even painful, the way not being able to smoke is when you're in an airport in the middle of the country, on a one hour layover: you're "free to smoke", kind of, but chance striking one up a respectable distance outside the exterior doors of the baggage claim and you may or may not make it back through security in time for your connecting flight. So you don't, because you got the cheapest tickets you could possibly find on Expedia and there's no refund if you fuck it up. That, my friends, is real emotional turmoil. 

Not drinking is plain. Don't do it. But I want to. Don't. This would be a perfect moment for a drink. But you can't have one. What color should I paint my kitchen. 

Welcome to my internal dialogue. Our leader Bill has talked to us about flat or blunt affect, a very serious psychological condition that affects very boring people. Apparently. Bill says that he always mentions this to his people, because experiencing "recovery" invites all kinds of emotions that you've been numbing with drugs or alcohol forever. Sometimes though, when you stop, what you get is flat. 

This is a theme in his classes and I've been waiting for. "What have I been numbing?". I think of driving drunk 40 minutes down a major interstate highway at least once a week for three years. Or getting gross with wierdos in booths at "adult video arcades". I think of my body image problems, how I get skinny, make out with as many people as possible until I've had my fill, then get fat again. I've been hoping for this moment where it would be like, "WHAT IS MY PROBLEM" And Bill would say, "Your problem, it's this". And bam. There it would be. This is that moment for most of the people who, it seems, are my peers. They all seem to be having it, and good for them. They seem eager to explode into life again ("but not too eager!", as cautioned by Bill. Understand your very current situation before you make any major decision that could affect your recovery. To those who are single: NO RELATIONSHIPS...) 

This is not the side of the coin I expected to find myself on. I figured I'd either be clawing for booze and avoiding calls from people asking me to go out or get crazy back into the things that made me glad to be alive before I started drinking too much; hiking to a place where snow is from someplace where there is no snow, watching the land that I need to survive from a tiny plastic boat at natural sea level when the ocean can swallow me whole at any moment, going to shit towns in the middle of nowhere by myself, determined to find the one thing there is to love. Always, it was the thrift stores, or the chainsaw art monuments in the weird public parks to the current mayor or an Indian Chief or a grizzly bear that someone attacked and then, BLAMMO, the town was born. Later, it was the bars in these places. It was exciting to go someplace alone, a shit small logging town, and I'd chat up the locals. This was unsustainable, though, because I could not catch a buzz and safely drive down shitty highways alone for very long, so I stopped driving very far or going to too many new places. 

And now, there's this third side of the coin I didn't expect. I'm not diving into the old things I loved or fighting urges to do the dumb things that kind of wrecked me in the first place. I just have a lot of spare time on my hands. I'm obsessing about the color of my kitchen. 

It's NYE, and I'm spackling. I am painting the trim tonight and preparing the walls for tomorrow. I need some kind of something, so I've had 10 shots of espresso over the course of six hours. It made me a little euphoric at times, but mostly I'm just focused: THESE WALLS CANNOT BE RENTAL EGGSHELL. NOT ANYMORE. 

Tonight made me anxious days in advance. I made plans with nobody, and most people didn't invite me anyway, being kindly aware of my situation. A couple-buddy invited me to their hot tub party featuring shrooms. I kind of wanted to go in costume. Like a scientist with a zany mustache observing their activities and making notes. But more than anything I wanted to change my kitchen. 

So I bought paint, taped all the trim, antique knobs, antique handles, the glass, the baseboard heater, and I painted a door. I stared at it for awhile and for real, it looks cleaner than it did before. 

I am hyped up. Sexy new years espresso shots are pumping through me. 

I'm done. I'm not doing anything else. New Year's fireworks just exploded downtown and I don't care that I wasn't drunk at a friend's house or a bar. I also don't care that I was sober. I'm just angry that my kitchen isn't painted yet. 

A dry drunk is a personality type that Bill also likes to discuss. We're all at risk, he says, and I'm in danger, I know. 

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