Productive Saturday afternoon

Just got in from working out with my trainer. Told him about how my nerve pain is back in my left hip and calf, probably due to not exercising enough over the winter months, so we did some yoga stretches at the end of our session. Gonna start doing those at home again as well. Only thing that seems to reduce that pain in the years that I’ve been experiencing it. So that all went well.

Just put in a load of laundry, bedding this time around. Removed all the empty cans and bottles I’d bagged up. A Bosnian guy drives through most weekends to pick these up so as to collect money for recycling them, so I typically set them out in front of the dumpster for him. He’s a nice guy. Been coming around here for a few years now. Gotten to where the neighbors invite him to sit for a beer on their outdoor patio area when he does arrive. I’ve always kept him well-supplied with empty beer cans, but nowadays he’ll have to settle for Schweppes cans and La Croix bottles. Not that it matters any to him. He’s remarked on my drinking in the past, due to the amount of cans I’d haul out. Back then my partner stayed at my place a great deal though too. Been dwindling the last couple of years since I returned to the barscene. But now it’s picking up again since discovering the joys of seltzer water.  cheeky_smiley

Sorted my shoes a bit since they’re taking over my spare room. Most of which I haven’t worn in years. Should probably donate a good many of them to the Salvation Army.

My best guyfriend bought me another vacuum cleaner yesterday to replace my old one that gave up the ghost finally. Amazing how a cheap Dirt Devil under $50 lasted as long as that one did, so we found a similar one to take its place. No use spending a lot of money on a machine like that. A more expensive Sears brand vacuum cleaner I bought many years back wound up having the shortest life out of all of them. Anyway, nice gift from him. Appreciate his help.

Last night I ventured down to a bar I rarely get out to. It’s the one that was taken over by one of the former bartenders from my old bar (the one that closed back in March of this year). She’s a nice lady whom I’ve worked for in another capacity last year when serving legal documents. Very ambitious woman. Anyway, she hired on my favorite bartender from the old bar for Friday nights, so every once in a while I like to mosey on down there to say “hello.” Drank a couple glasses of orange juice before they informed me that they had fresh brewed unsweetened tea with free refills. Switched to that for the rest of my time there and wound up highly caffeinated to where I was up all night watching youtube videos, but ah well. Was worth it. Had a nice time. Listened to music and saw some folks from the closed bar that I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Was a peaceful, easy evening. My favorite bartender is a really nice guy, very funny and takes good care of us. He actually quit drinking for nearly 6 months a year or more ago and was a positive influence on me wanting to follow in suit. And he comes from a whole family of heavy drinkers and has told me his story about growing up with them. Plus, he’s always worked in restaurants and bars, so he had a lot of pressures working against him. Yet he still prevailed for as long as he did and proved to be a good example. I’ve met a few of his family members over time and can attest to how much they can put down. Wooh! Serious drinkers. He also became a vegetarian years back and lost a good amount of weight as a result. Told him about the videos I’d come across by Kevin O’Hara (AlcoholMastery channel on youtube), in case he’d care to check out his stuff.

Probably doesn’t sound smart to put myself back in the belly of the beast so soon, but I knew I’d be in good company there. That bartender has observed my struggle with alcohol over the last couple of years and we’ve talked at length about the whole process he’s struggling with as well. He congratulates us when we cut down or quit, unlike most bartenders out there. Because he knows we’ll come see him and tip regardless. He’s just that popular. Good guy. Also showed me some photos of his expanding gun collection, which I’m rightly jealous of. Will have to catch up to him one of these days. He shoots at the shooting range I’ve been looking into joining, soon as I complete the courses and background check needed to attain my concealed carry permit (must have either that or permit to purchase to use that range, and my permit to purchase has already expired — might as well pony up a little more money eventually for a 5-year permit instead). He’s a libertarian too, so we’ve always gotten along well.

I’ve been holding out on going down the gun-toting route because of my struggles with drinking and the money that’s zapped from me. But eventually I will have my affairs in order and be able to finally engage in that activity instead of just pining to join in on the sidelines. Still haven’t been out shooting since last year when I was down in Mississippi. Been coming around to the idea of someday purchasing a semi-auto handgun for carrying purposes since they have a slimmer profile. But time will tell. Nice to think about though. Keeps me looking forward to a sober future, shooting being a fun hobby I’d like to become more involved in. Just have to get myself right before I can allow myself to partake in it. For safety’s sake and all else. For now I’m content with my revolver expressly for home protection purposes.

What else? Ran into a buddy of mine last night who was walking down the street when I was driving by. Pulled up and chatted with him for a few minutes. Been taking time away from him due to needing to get away from alcohol and everybody in the “raunchy pub” barscene (as I refer to that little bar nearest to my home). He says he’s been avoiding it too, mostly because he’s working so much lately, but also because he’s tiring of that environment. They truly do run off a good many women up in that joint. It’s a boys club basically, or at least that’s what the aging men in their 40s and 50s who frequent the place like to treat it as. Tired of them and haven’t set foot back in there in at least 2 weeks, and won’t. Fuck that place. Worst bar I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve been to plenty of seedy bars over the years. No wonder most folks I know refuse to go in there, including nearly all the patrons of the closed bar who drifted elsewhere, like to the place I visited last night. What shall we refer to last night’s joint as on here? Hmmm…  Let’s call it the “G bar,” because it’s a good bar with familiar and good people in it and also because it’s actual name begins with a G. Simple enough. (And that’s not to be confused with the third bar I refer to as the “calmer bar” that is also in my direct neighborhood, where the older lady works whom I like to chat with sometimes.)

Bars have been a part of my life for so long that I almost don’t know what to do without them. They’re a gathering spot, a place to re-find old acquaintances and hear about what’s been happening. But I’ll be careful in my dealings with the two I’m still interested in occasionally frequenting. Both have orange juice and sodas, now that I know to stay away from non-alcoholic beer. And both places will let me be without putting any pressure on me to drink along with them. If that changes, I’ll cease stopping by. But I know I’m welcome on Friday nights at the G bar, which is nice since it helps me to still feel included among people I’ve grown used to being around.

And it was nice. Didn’t even feel much temptation to drink alcohol. Was perfectly content with my iced tea, a favorite beverage for me anyway. Was just good to be back around people I hadn’t been around much in the last few months. Though, there is a lot of truth in how drinkers can become annoying really quick when you’re not drinking along with them. Mostly because they can get so loud. But I also saw another buddy of mine I hadn’t seen since March. Helped him to get in touch with my former partner to have a belt looked at on his truck. That man’s still drunk as a skunk, as to be expected, but he says he’s been working more lately. An electrician. Always been friendly toward me, but it’s sad to watch him go down. He says he got to drinking badly after his wife passed away, and then his mom died a year or so back and that too devastated him. Doesn’t have kids so I think he feels set adrift, as if nothing really matters, so he turns his focus toward perpetual partying. In his 50s now, so I get to wondering how much partying he has left in him. But he has a big circle of friends and family members who care about him. Hopefully he’ll be all right in the end.

There’s the upside but there’s always the downside too. Bars might seem like more fun when you’re in your 20s and around people near your age. But then we all grow older and life takes a toll on us as the years pass. Hard to watch it all play out sometimes. I only wish to observe that abyss on occasion these days, not too often as I had done before. Because it’s no good past a certain point. Just drags you down with it. For all the talk of people wanting to quit drinking, it’s the rare individual who actually does in that scene. I know this. Been watching it all unfold for many years now. And I’m not getting any younger either.

Anyway, time to tend to laundry.

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Update a few hours later: Saturday productivity continues. Finished three loads of laundry (remembering to put dryer sheets in this time). Tidied up a bit in the kitchen, including cutting those 6-pack plastics people worry will strangle ducks and geese if left intact (my former partner got me started on doing that). My lazy ass had accumulated a pile of them awaiting being scissored. Carried out ALL of the bags of cans and bottles to the parking lot. Not most but all this time around. Took a relaxing shower and then oiled my hair with olive oil (haven’t done that in a long while). Gave myself a bit of a mini-pedicure (not a complete one since I didn’t feel like polishing today), then rubbed my feet with an emollient lotion and put a pair of snuggly socks on to lock in the moisture. Then swept the floors and loaded the dishwasher.

Oh, and found a mattress topper I’d purchased in Mississippi last year that was still in its original wrapper. It’s like Christmas when I get to cleaning — rediscover all sorts of stuff I forgot I own. Since all the bedding is nice and freshly laundered, I even made up the bed. Nothing fancy, but it looks nice. At least a change from how out of sorts it usually looks. My cat adores playing in freshly laundered sheets, so she’s probably still back there rolling around in the warmth of the bedding. Poured her fresh cat litter too.

And I sorted some of the mail that’s been gathering on my kitchen table, throwing out most of it. Found my most up-to-date proof of auto insurance cards while at it.

Simple stuff, yes. But I’ve been putting a lot off in recent times. Been doing the minimum to get by in a lot of cases. Why? Because I never felt good. Haven’t in a long time. Would regularly wake up and look around at the chaos that is my woman cave and then hurry up so I could leave it for the day. Sad but true. Doing dishes and the minimum amount of laundry necessary to function day-to-day was typically my gameplan. Hence why my laundry has piled up. Yep, not a domestic goddess.

While putting away some of my winter clothes I also rediscovered a stash of tupperware containers in a box in the spare bedroom. Hmm. One of these days I shall return these to my people! Heh!  Eventually. Hopefully. My home is where other people’s tupperware comes to die.

What else? Been putting a cream on my face the last couple of nights that really feels nice. Owned it for a while now but had neglected to use it. Also dusted a wee bit. Need to do a lot more of that soon. And need to try out the new vacuum too. That can wait until tomorrow.

Back up on my horse

Not happy with myself at present. Last night was a step back, creating a false start in my progress. Helped absolutely nothing and only added stress in the end. No point offering up any excuses. Just have to double-down on my efforts going forward.

I knew there was something strange about my cravings being so mild this past week. Was too good to be true. Were just biding their time apparently. And the end result was as expected… I feel bad emotionally in particular, but also have a bit of a headache too. And it cost money, which I cannot afford to waste right now.

Really angry at myself today. Very frustrated. But all I can do now is pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. That was my lapse and it’s the only one I get this year. Wasn’t worth a damn. Just created more disappointment.

So anyway, here I am today. Can’t let that happen again. Getting cagey and stir-crazy in this apartment isn’t an excuse. Have to find other venues, other options to occupy my time. Trying to sort out my finances today since they’re all up in the air. Everything’s tight and won’t improve unless I improve. This is most definitely crunch time in terms of pulling in the money needed to cover all the bills and to begin saving so as to pay on other things that must be tended to. The bar is like a black hole — money goes in and nothing of value comes out. Can’t even enjoy it anymore anyway since I’m so stressed about drinking. No point in even walking back in there anytime soon. And in the future, if I do, I’ll order an orange juice or soda. No more of those non-alcoholic beers. All they do is increase the temptation for the real thing. Noted.

Father’s Day and Tuesday’s gone… (personal update)

One week into my new commitment to go a new way and leave alcohol alone. Also happens to be the Tuesday after Father’s Day, the day my Papa passed away 6 years ago. Thought about him some today, but then I thought about him all week. Think about him regularly enough regardless. He’s never far from my heart and mind.

It’s been a reasonably good day. Didn’t have much work to tend to, then went to the gym for about an hour. Unfortunately though, I came home and checked my bank account and found out someone had made two fraudulent charges through my debit card. Took over $250 out of my bank account, and I don’t have money to throw around these days. Called my bank immediately to dispute the charges, so my debit card is now deactivated until a new one arrives. Their site said that they offer “zero liability” protection for those of us subjected to fraud, meaning so long as we report the incident shortly after it occurs they will dispute it on our behalves and cover the fraudulent charges. One was to a website I’ve never shopped at, the other I have no clue about — don’t even know what type of company it is. Lady on the phone said maybe my debit card number was picked up by a card reader on a gas pump since that’s apparently a new fad among criminals. Told me to go inside to pay for now on instead. The matter will hopefully be resolved within 2-10 days.

Of course I can’t afford that right now. But what can I do? Some asshole decided to create havoc, and I’m surely not the only one being targeted. My former partner wonders if it had anything to do with that raunchy pub, but I’ll have to wait for my bank to sort it all out. Don’t know. Doubt his speculation seriously though. They’re low there, but I doubt they’re that smart. Either way, we’ll wait and see.

So that wasn’t good. But other than that, the day went fine. Overall, still not a day worth pitching a fit over. Financial matters can be remedied. My stepdad texted me earlier this morning to thank me for the letter I sent to him for Father’s Day. Decided, since he basically owns whatever he wants (or can at least afford it), and also since he has a young one now he probably doesn’t have free time to read books (typical gifts for one another), that I’d write down 10 areas where he had a positive impact on my life. This list included the music he exposed me to (sometimes inadvertently since I’d dig through his collection when he was out of the house), his decision to not subscribe to cable television (leading me to not subscribe to it either most of my adult life), the interesting books he provided us access to (particularly the science books, as well as the comics like Calvin and Hobbes and The Farside Gallery), his role modeling by working hard to become a successful professor, his thriftiness (which didn’t rub off on me much but is still a worthwhile example since few others in my family ever knew how to save any money), etc. Tried to keep it relatively light-hearted yet honest. Felt good to write that all down. Thought about doing so for a couple years now but never worked up the nerve. This past week felt like the right time to go ahead. Especially now that he has a 16-month-old baby to rear up with his new wife. Made me happy that the letter made him happy.

Called my Grandma on Father’s Day since I figured she was thinking about Papa too. And she was. Not too positive of thoughts though, as to be expected. Those two had a tumultuous relationship over the 50 or more years they were together. But it was good to talk to her. I don’t mind listening to some of that since it’s on her mind and she doesn’t have many people to talk to about it. But I still like to remember Papa in my own way, as who he was toward me and not just how everybody else in the family viewed him. He was a good Papa. Not perfect, but he loved me and it showed. And I love him very, very much. Always have and always will. That’s another reason for quitting drinking when I did, because I wanted to be sober this time around in honor of Father’s Day and his passing, knowing what all he went through with alcohol and understanding that he never meant for me to follow in suit.

Ever since he died Tuesdays have almost become sacred in a way. A day of remembrance and change. Like I can leave Tuesday to the past and move forward in a new way. At least that’s how it’s come to feel for me. So I took hold of that sentiment once again and decided this was the right time. It’s a good time. Two years ago I started to attempt the same thing, but I wasn’t straight enough in the head yet. Apparently hadn’t plunged quite deep enough yet. But this time around feels different. I feel ready. My resolve is strong now. To honor myself, to honor Papa and his memory, to show love to the rest of my friends and family, and to not contribute reckless nonsense to society in an unnecessary way (at least this form of it). One step at a time though. One day at a time.

Surely there will be more problems on the horizon. Always are. But now I can confront them and hopefully manage them better than before. It means the world to me that Papa would be proud. I want to be proud of myself too. Desperately need to be right about now, but only for good reason. I know my friends will all be supportive once they know. Preferring not to talk about it with most people until I have more of a handle on the situation and have more time under my belt to demonstrate how serious I am. They will be glad. Some of them don’t know the half of what I’ve put myself through, but they might have an inkling of an idea seeing as how this has been difficult to conceal. Gone on too long. Been down too long. They know I haven’t been living right. Hence why I tend to stay at a distance more and more with many of them.

Missed a galpal’s wedding reception this month. I didn’t even call to let her know I couldn’t make it. Just spaced it until after the fact. She might be upset, but I don’t know since I haven’t reached out to her yet. Waiting for the smoke to clear a bit first. Once I have money again I’d like to get her a little wedding gift, considering I’ve been an absentee in recent months. Little regrets like that keep adding up. Hard to smooth them all over. She might not even wish to speak to me anymore on account of that, which I’d have to understand. Not much of a weddings person myself, but apparently they mean a whole lot to other folks. And I knew better. It’s nearly all she’s been able to talk about over the last year.

Tonight my former partner invited me over for grilled hamburgers. That went well and we got along just fine. Watched some television afterward and tucked him into bed under the cool fan. Rubbed his belly a bit to help him relax since he had a long, hot day at work. On Father’s Day his son took him out to dinner, which he enjoyed. Doesn’t get to see him as much now that he’s grown up and is attending college. Soon he’ll be moving an hour away to attend a university.

These close men in my life I’ll always be loyal to, even if I haven’t always done right by them. But I do love them all. We are family, whether we were tied together by blood or bonds. I wish to become more upright for them too. All we have is one another in this life. It’s all anybody has, if we’re lucky.

I have been blessed. Lots of weird blessings in disguise, but blessings just the same.

Went on a bike ride with my trainer yesterday and didn’t get as winded as I usually do. Perhaps because he had to ride a bit slower due to recovering from blood clots. Perhaps because I had a little more energy as well. While on the bike trail we passed a George Carlin-look-alike riding a unicycle. lol  Shit you not. Only place outside of California (and maybe Colorado) where you’re liable to see something like that.

While out walking yesterday I came across a dead Monarch butterfly in the street. Not sure why that stuck in mind but it has. Just a random observation.

Anyway, it’s been an interesting week. Not too busy. Mellow yet odd-feeling, but still it’s been all right. Cravings aren’t kicking my ass, which is good. Watched my former drink in front of me twice this week and it wasn’t a temptation. Simply don’t want to go back down that road. Already know well enough where it leads. And it feels good to not be conflicted. Didn’t expect that. Figured it might be hell to quit, but so far it’s not a loud nagging. Though I have been noticing how much alcohol advertising is frickin’ everywhere out in society. The cravings are there, but they’re not overwhelming at this time. So I just pick up and walk on and refuse to focus on them.

Finished up listening to the audiobook The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault after putting it on hold this past week. It was all right. Fairly interesting. Honestly turned out to not be my cup of tea, but Dr. Charles Murray recommended it in his (audio)book The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life, which I listened to before that. He’s an agnostic but his wife became a Quaker and he sees the value in adopting a religious belief system. There was value in Cynthia Bourgeault’s book, though I’m not sure it was the right message for me at this moment, as an agnostic myself. But some of the historical information and differing interpretations were new to me and provided food for though. Currently re-listening to Dr. James Hollis’s What Matters Most: Living a More Considered Life, a personal favorite.

That’s about it for now.

June tunes

“Never Going Back Again”:

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Lindsey Buckingham kills it in that live performance. Never tire of watching it. Comes to life for me in a new way this week…

“Useless” by Depeche Mode:

That isn’t one by them I ever paid much attention to until the other day while out walking and listening to my mp3 player. It’s in my collection, yet I never really listened to its lyrics before now.

Depeche Mode – “A Pain That I’m Use To”:

That was their 2013 live performance at Austin City Limits.

I’m not sure
What I’m looking for anymore
I just know
That I’m harder to console
I don’t see who I’m trying to be
Instead of me
But the key
Is a question of control

There’s a hole in your soul
Like an animal
With no conscience
Repentance unknown
Close your eyes
Pay the price for your paradise
Devils feed on the seeds
That are sown

Can’t conceal what I feel
What I know is real
No mistaking the faking
I care
With a prayer in the air
I will leave it there
On a note full of hope
Not despair

Continuing on, here is Depeche Mode’s “Stripped”:

Depeche Mode — “Never Let Me Down Again”:

“John the Revelator” by Depeche Mode:

Yet to ever tire of that tune.

Examples of drunks and late-stage alcoholics

Kevin O’Hara, showcased in the last post, suggested we do a search on youtube and check out examples of alcoholics, particularly late-stage. I widened the net a bit, but here are a few results that came up:

Charley reminds me of a couple people I know in the neighborhoods bars…

That last one was powerfully emotional to watch. Very sobering to imagine being in his family’s predicament.

Goes to show there’s a difference between being a heavy albeit problem drinker versus being a full-blown alcoholic. But, then again, it’s a process getting to that extreme that first began with creating (or giving into) a habit of drinking regularly.

That’s enough of that for now.