Monthly Archives: October 2009

Obese Grandmother Gets Nude In Christmas…

Okay, when I can’t think of a snappy title from now on, my default action will be to grab something from my dashboard that someone googled to end up at my site…..this one was pretty unique (close runner-up was “Pastor Being Fucked”).  My favorite one as of late though is when people type in “unsaved pussy” and get here… guess is they mis-keyed (I was going to say fat fingered….but too easy of a joke) “unSHAVED pussy”.  And I get way more hits with unsaved pussy than I am comfortable with….but welcome to you!

So I’ve been cooking a lot…..trying to find stuff to do with my time during my favorite time of the year that doesn’t include obsessing on getting shitfaced with all of this free time on my hands.  I’ve pretty much got the daily job search streamlined, so it only takes up so much time.  So cooking is something I enjoy, and I can make a passable dinner.  This week has been chicken and noodles, homemade pizza and risotto.  I’ve never made my own pizza dough or sauce, but now that I’ve done it I have no idea why I waited this long…maybe because I finally have a pizza stone I can use.  Biggest revelation was how great sliced and sauteed (in bacon fat) Brussels sprouts can be on pizza, not to mention the combo of Thai garlic chile paste, ricotta, caramelized onions and mushroom soy sauce marinated chicken breast.  The bacon and Brussels sprouts combo will be debuting at the monthly AA potluck tonight…..but not on pizza (UPDATE: the people at the potluck lost their damn minds over those things….they were gone almost instantly, will have to make a double batch next month).  Today I went out and picked up 20 pounds of beef bones for stock. The meat department just got a bunch in this morning and cut them up for me fresh……I’ll be testing my limits tomorrow, seeing if there is such a thing as eating TOO MUCH bone marrow on toast w/some sea salt and a little parsley.  My gigantic stockpot will be chock full, simmering all day tomorrow after I harvest the roasted marrow….and as usual, I won’t have any stock when all is said and done….I go ahead and reduce it until I’ve got about a gallon of demi glace! 

Anyway, enough of the Suzie homemaker crap.  Like I mentioned before, this really is my favorite time of the year.  USUALLY it’s the kickoff of the real party season that slides on through to the New Year.  So this is about as different as it gets.  An alien planet.  I’ll try to keep things on point, especially if I’m going to burn up blog space with these revolutionary AA nuggets on a regular basis. 

Usually autumn just gradually creeps up on me, I take it for granted and there isn’t ever a singular moment that says to me “it has begun”.  This year was a little different.  We were at the movies last weekend doing a I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell/Zombieland double feature (and by double feature I mean walking into the second movie for free), and at some point in the first movie some guys were walking into a bar…..and whammo, autumn was upon me.  No suffering, no booze craving, nothing dramatic at all…just a subtle click in my brain as I pulled up an old image I’ve lived a thousand times; walking into a bar way before it got busy, the air conditioning set to arctic in anticipation of the drunken hoardes, bellying up to the bar and ordering the first drink, chatting with the bartender in the relative quiet, and feeling the first sip work its way into my blood.  That first drink always kicked off a cheesy carnival music version of “The Sound of Music” in my head, as my body welcomed the dopamine rush and I settled into the safety of the knowledge I was on my way.  There’s nothing like that first ka-pow that hits your brain during the first drink…you can follow it up with a hundred more and you never, ever get that first rush of happiness and comfort back again.  Until the next first drink.  So yessiree, the electric crispness of autumn air, comfy in a bar, cruising through the top shelf bourbons for hours….praise God from whom all blessings flow. 

I don’t spend too much time thinking about it, when I do I can’t say it’s torture.  It’s just a reminder of how different things are for me this year, and this is not a bad thing.  I went to a really good noon meeting yesterday that helped put things into perspective when the wandering mind begins thinking too hard about this alien planet.  We talked about the second step, coming to terms with a greater power having the ability to restore us to sanity.  To seek sanity, you have to admit that there was insanity… problem there. BUT much of the insanity was triggered by the religious insanity, so coming to terms with a higher power that didn’t want to crush my spine could be difficult for me.

I can’t say that growing up in a works-based religion MAKES you an addict, but it definitely helps.  By that I mean, once you accept the fundamentalist/Biblical literalist version of Christ…..who IS the loving deity of John 3:16 (at first anyway), THEN it’s time to get to work and make sure you STAY saved, because faith without works is dead.  So even though salvation and grace are free gifts and you could never do anything to be worthy of them on your own, you still have to attach a blue collar work ethic to your faith and cowboy up and EARN it.  That’s a lot of pressure, and is completely at odds with the “Jesus as your personal savior” evangelical banner ad because it creates a system where the WORKS create the RELATIONSHIP instead of any works/growth/learning, etc. happening as a natural and logical result of the relationship.  It’s the red blooded, blue eyed Republican American Jesus phenomenon….if you work hard enough you can have or do anything, and if you AREN’T working hard for it then you probably aren’t really saved.  And that begats the “members only” club mentality, which begats the arrogance, which begats the isolationist attitude and the greatest religious motivators of all…..fear and guilt.  If people can’t accept the definition of God’s love on YOUR terms, then maybe you can scare them into loving him. 

Sorry, I know I go on those religious rants all of the time, but I say all of that to say this….works were always easy for me.  When I was working at a church I could always do as much or more than everyone, and the more things I did to make me feel guilty, the more work I could do to make up for it.  And the more I offset guilt with works and jammed all of those conflicting feelings down deep, the more judgmental I became because everything had to be black or white.  Guilt doesn’t work.  The same goes for my post-pastor life…..I never really had to work THAT hard to get by.  School was easy for me, I was a quick learner at work, and when it comes to people I can generally find a way to get along with or befriend almost anyone….especially if there is something in it for me.  But with booze comes that same teeter-totter effect that is found in the works/faith dichotomy……working harder to get over the issue of drinking too much, and ultimately watching things come to a critical mass that I couldn’t schmooze or intellectualize my way out of. 

This is an example of what a lot of AA’ers call “my best thinking”……the trap of trying to think your way out of the cycle of addiction.  Then you are well into the insanity.  Oh the insanity and all of the tricks you use to rationalize it or just gut it out.  For me, it was falling back on all of the behaviors that made things so “easy” for me in the past.  I’d use my willpower, stoicism, intellect or charm to make it into a period of sobriety….and honestly, most of the time I probably WAS a manageable drunk.  I never fucked up too badly for a very long time, but I didn’t realize that part of the “unmanageability” of alcoholism was the planning that went into it.  So I’d take it too far, go to a few AA meetings and think I could pick up some tips to either drink properly or stop all together.  Hook right, hook left…..switch it up, try it again…..but over time it never gets better. 

So here I am at the end of all of that, during my favorite drinking time of the year, and it was during the aforementioned meeting that something really hit me.  I’m a very visual person…once I can put some kind of picture around a concept I’ll usually be able to internalize it.  Back to the higher power……what is that REALLY?  It’s not the fundamentalist tormentor of my youth, and it’s not some kind of cosmic feel-good fairy.  So how could I frame it in an understandable manner….in a way that it could be some kind of tangible icon to help me into longterm sobriety?  And when did my writing become so gay? 

I’m rambling, so here it is, the visual……when I tried to use all of the tools and tricks that got me to where I was, to no avail, I was like a billionaire with a huge steamer trunk full of cash….on a deserted island.  The money, ego, popularity, charisma, and intelligence at my disposal…..meant nothing.  The God of my understanding was the one standing on my deserted waterfront property going “so where did all of THAT get you?”.  Things can be just as easy as they were before, as long as you surrender all of the old behaviors and replace them as you learn.  It’s kind of like my dog and her pinch collar… don’t have to strangle her to walk her properly, it just takes a little tweak with the collar once in a while.  That’s me now, constantly correcting my mind to put it in check….as long as it isn’t allowed to get too far out of whack, you’re restored to sanity.  I can be all happy now doing a ton of gay crap like being productive and dependable. 

That’s about it, sorry for the lack of depraved humor and unbridled ill-tempered hilarity.  Overall I’m pretty calm and happy, living the dream of unemployment checks, job listings and MySpace Poker.


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Depression Is An Ego Trip…

I was driving home from a meeting the other day and I had one of those lightbulb moments.  I’m in the middle of that hellish limbo right now where I’m waiting to hear if I’m going to be hired to do a job that I’d be perfect for….I’ve had two interviews that went well, but I am reticent to believe that it will actually come through.  So I’ve been a little restless and agitated….that’s what I was focused on before my lightbulb moment.  Financially we’re in the clear for the forseeable future, but this unemployment thing does not sit well with me.  And not having some booze to fall back on is the undiscovered country for me. 

Have I fallen into a deep depression during all of this?  No, not really.  The meds help, I’m sure.  Between Wellbutrin, Neurontin and the miracle drug of sleep aids….Trazodone, I’m pretty even keel.  But I’ve pretty much always been that way……my car explodes and my heart rate remains the same…..if the Publisher’s Clearinghouse van pulled into my driveway my heart rate would remain the same.  I’m damn near comatose in my ability to control my emotions.  BUT if a pot lid falls off the counter and starts spinning around and around and around on its edges, making that racket as it sloowws down and finally collapses……something like that sets me into a homicidal rage.  And if you are on the phone with me and you’re chewing on food…..I’ll clip your fucking spine with garden shears so that you have to eat through a tube from then on.  Bottom line, it’s all about control and anxiety over what you can’t control, and that is one of the main fossil fuels for depression.  So this was going through my mind as I was driving along…..what was it about me that allowed me to keep total composure in the worst of times, and at the same time have no visible reaction when something fantastic just happened to me?  A voice in my head went “well maybe it’s because you’re just not used to good things happening for you”.  And most of the time that would kick off the melancholy piano music and emotional slow burn that would allow me to suck down a couple bottles of wine or just hole up in front of the tv for hours on end.  But not this time.  THIS time another voice followed up on that thought with “oh buuuullllsshhhhiiit!”. 

I don’t have to get into details here, but despite all of the trials of this year, I generally have GREAT shit happening to me on a regular basis.  Big things, little things, and it’s not because I’m some gem of a human, it’s probably just because whatever God is at work up there knows I’m a giant pussy, so he has to throw me constant softballs to keep me going.  So where does all the negative self-talk that fuels depression come from?  In short, I believe much of it can be attributed to ego.  As a disclaimer I’ll say that depression can be a very serious, and sometimes fatal, phenomenon.  And there is always room for a professional to come in and counsel, prescribe meds, etc.  But at its core, it is an ego trip.  By that I mean it is something that allows you to shut down and escape all responsibility.  Like a giant, dysfunctional safety blanket.  Its effect is a lot like alcoholism, so it makes sense that the two go hand in hand.  The more inside yourself you get, the more you shut down, the more looming the big picture becomes, the more detached you become and responsibilities you escape from……the more it is all about YOU.  Whether you’re the manic and egomaniacal frat rat alpha male who wears too much Ed Hardy and uses too much hair product, or the depressed and bookish mole person who weeps to Morrissey and sits in bars alone making a silent scene with a feverishly scribbled little poetry notepad, you are the center of the universe.  You’re as big a cliche as I became, and as big a cliche as every annoying mini-van driving soccer mom.  And I don’t mean that to sound like “get your shit together, whiner!”…on some level we DO have power much of it, but there are usually enough factors out of our control that require some sort of intervention… it professional therapy, group therapy, etc. 

It’s just an easy trap to fall into. The pity party cliche.  I think part of it is the need to regress back to childhood, when you weren’t responsible for anything, and that is not totally unnatural.  We just tend to take it to an extreme.  My ex was someone who I grew to hate because she would willingly fall further down the rabbit hole before she’d reach out for help and get some kind of a grip on her manic depression.  Things had to be burning down around her before she’d take the smallest step towards change.  Control issues, denial… name it, they all play a part in that weird meltdown alchemy.  For me it was the booze and riding the highs and lows good chemistry could provide for me, AND that was my own thing that I wouldn’t get help for until things started to burn down.  Now, I’m not giving the ex a pass here just because I see parallels in our behaviors, I’ll be happy if I never see or hear from her again.  Booze driven depression helps you flex the ego and control muscles….as long as I did my job well enough and my wife never saw me completely wrecked, I was in enough control to give myself a pass. 

At my core I can be a pretty judgmental prick.  Forgive me for stating something so painfully obvious.  It’s something I have always struggled with because I don’t want to be one of those bitter, angry people who live in a plate glass McMansion and hurl boulders at anyone and everyone in order to deny their own shortcomings or failures.  I guess everyone does it to some extent, but addicts are like autistic savants with it.  Self absorption begats judgmentalism….I could be just as big a dickhead as the evangelicals I hate.  Fundamentalist freaks are way more obvious about it, but most people survive on their need to tell OTHER people what THEY should be doing.  Perverted theology creates a make-believe system of rules and regulations that allow followers to point the finger and never understand why everyone thinks they are an asshole (and to believe that anyone thinking they are an asshole must mean they are right in their judgment, because the truth is SUPPOSED to hurt people).  Also, there are the anti-smoking zealots who hold the bad science surrounding secondhand smoke like a little treasure next to their heart, because now they can tell EVERYONE what to do in restaurants and bars….not because they give two shits about the health of the patrons or employees, but because they finally found a way to put legislation around their little pet peeve.  A million examples……people with enough expendable income to make a religion out of being “green” or “organics-only”, me with my giant brain and wild life experiences that make me more knowledgeable and in-tune than everyone else.  We use religion, bad politics and biased ethics to PROVE why our way of thinking is right, we surround ourselves with likeminded individuals to bolster our fucked up worldview, and when the rest of the world refuses to kneel down and come around to our way of thinking…..we use another handy little tool, the bastard child of the psychological beasts, ego and control…….we use guilt. 

Ah, guilt.  God knows I’ve railed about that one both drunk and sober, to an annoying extreme.  Guilt is a fantastic motivator.  If you can’t win them with love, scare them with the fear of hell and their own failures.  From the time we are born, disappointed mothers, angry gods, disapproving teachers and surly employers program us to respond in Skinnerian fashion to that tiny little cattle prod.  Yes, we have to learn the basic differences between right and wrong in our daily dealings with others, but guilt is some shit that can get out of hand quickly. 

The only new thought on guilt I can share here is something that came to me last week during an AA meeting (a different one than the meeting that brought up the ego rant….I go to a lot of meetings).  Yes, there I was surrounded by a group of likeminded people who are convinced beyond all doubt that they have the answer……but I realized there is one big difference.  Okay, a couple of big differences.  First of all, there is real diversity in an AA meeting.  By real, I mean it’s not that fabricated bullshit that is the bread and butter for liberal, drum-thumping academics and highly paid corporate consultants.  Like I have always said, if you want to live the lofty ideal of “diversity”, then go make fucking friends down at the DMV or tax office.  THAT is diversity.  And honestly, the closest I’ve come to witnessing real diversity outside of those two hellholes is in the AA halls.  Religion, gender, race, sexual orientation, income level, you name it, you find it in AA.  And everyone gets along (for the most part), because what brought us there is how incredibly fucked up we were.  The second big difference is that guilt is never used as a motivator to get people to change.  Sure, there is plenty of shit we all feel guilty about from our past, as I’ve mentioned before we aren’t there to excuse ourselves from past behavior.  However, guilt is does not promote real learning or real growth.  And the thing I’ve found the most comfort in, is the very thing that makes every fundamentalist completely write off AA as pure “secular humanism”.  There is no control in place, there is no set leader, there aren’t any paid positions, and most of all……while we all have to believe in and rely upon a higher power, there is no set RULE on who “God” is for everyone.  Oooooooooohhh, spooooooky……..putting your eternal soul in jeopardy by aspiring to be the best and most reliable person you can be without acknowledging you are doing it to escape hell!  I can’t even count the number of sermons, including full-costume illustrated sermons, I’ve sat through that were based SOLELY UPON the premise that “there will be a lot of ‘good’ people burning in hell”.  Sure, I have a Christian worldview and believe in the simplicity of the New Testament’s message, but that kind of guilt is bullshit. And more importantly, it does NOT work.  Case and point, I can tell you that I’ve experienced something completely new for the first time in my life…..being honest and thinking about others just because it is the right thing to do.  There were points during my ministry days when I lived as an absolute hypocrite, drinking on the weekends, going to clubs, you name it……and it was my failure as a Christian and the guilt that came along with it that made me keep doing it.  There are many who would say I’d never really let Jesus into my heart and gave my life over to him, but to them my response is…..your methodology for people to get there is completely flawed because it has nothing to do with personal experience or growth, it’s all about the show, the works people have to perform, and getting socialized enough in that mindset to “belong” to the group.  The driver is guilt and the gatekeeper is a guy who gets PAID to keep the numbers of customers increasing from Sunday to Sunday. 

Now, without the guilt based on a flawed interpretation of the Bible, I am able to feel closer to God, closer to people, way more open to change, growth, servicework for others, and the ability to share my experience without beating anyone over the head. Now, I’m sure there are plenty of assholes in AA who DO preach and beat people over the head (this blog is what I use for THAT), and meetings that don’t encourage new people to attend so that the old timers have it to themselves, but there is a certain bliss for me in being a newbie.  I’m in no way ashamed of this phase of my life.  I don’t wear a damn AA shirt or have a bumper sticker, but if someone asks me why I’m not drinking or has questions about the program or a friend/relative who may or may not have a drinking problem, I’m happy to talk about my experience in a very low-key and real way.  And while I’d like for everyone who is experiencing the hell of addiction to get into the program, I’m not out to recruit or convince them.  More specifically, I’m not going to goad or guilt them, which is pretty much what they are expecting or already used to.  It’s up to the individual to decide whether or not they have a problem, and the only requirement to be an AA member is a desire to stop drinking.  That’s it.  No complicated theology, tithes, grandiose expectations, etc.  The farthest I’ll go is to ask questions like “Can you have just one or two drinks socially and then stop for the night?”, “Do you prefer to drink alone?”, “Have you ever tried to stop drinking, or changed brands/liquors as a way to cut back, and failed?”, “Do you drink for the effect you feel when you are drunk?”……stuff like that, all completely valid things that EVERY alcoholic, if honest, would probably answer “no, yes, yes, yes” to, depending on where they are on the downward spiral.  And from there, all you do is go to meetings, get a sponsor (and your sponsor isn’t there to tell you who your god should be or to induct you into the secrets of AA), begin to understand and work the steps, and if you do that…..correcting the failures and shortcomings that have been fed by guilt and shame up to this point will just work themselves out as a natural progression of the program.

So that’s about it for now.  I found out Friday that I was a shoe-in for the job I had interviewed for, but they had to give it to the person they originally offered it to who protested when their background check came back with a problem.  The good news is they loved me, so when something else opens up there in the near future, it’s probably mine.  Now normally, hearing some shit like that on a Friday would mean I could tear it up all weekend, but instead I went to meetings, made chicken and noodles, went to the Farmer’s market, took the dog to the park, started a Six Feet Under marathon with my wife, ate at an incredible Thai buffet, went on a long nature hike, and of course…..HBO and Tool Academy on Sunday night.  I think everyone can agree that while I sound like a boring old man now, it is a hell of a lot better weekend than it would have been before.  I do apologize that I will no longer be able to entertain you with posts like “Best. Saturday. Ever.”.  I encouraged my sponsor to read that post before reading the one I did a couple of weeks ago.  Great contrast!


Filed under Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Bariatric Surgery, Blogroll, Christianity, culture, dating, Evangelical Christianity, Food, General Thoughts, Health, Healthy Eating, howard stern, Recovery, religion, Tent Revival, Weight Loss, weight loss surgery