Journaling on a Friday night in mid-August (on my friend’s mortality, plus an update)

So it’s been 8.5 weeks since committing to stop drinking. That’s really good, and I’m proud of myself on this. Demonstrating my will power to choose to do better, for all those out there who, for whatever reasons, like to downplay the significance of will power. Can’t claim to comprehend what those folks are talking about there, seeing as how we’re always presented with options and even people with a whole lot working against them that one might imagine would never succeed have proven they could rise on the right occasion. When they made up their mind to do so and backed it with determined effort. I take inspiration from such people.

Yesterday happened to be my mother’s birthday. Decided to send her a text today, to which she replied saying she’d received flowers from the man she’s dating now. We haven’t interacted via text in several months prior to this exchange, per our norm. Yesterday also marked the day I decided to give up smoking herb for a solid couple of weeks. Hadn’t been partaking in it much since quitting drinking, but I still worry about replacing one crutch for another. So I simply decided to take a hiatus from that as well. Will be good for me. Might bore me into going to bed earlier and actually working out more than twice a week.

Hadn’t been inside a bar in about 2 weeks until today (where I ordered iced tea, of course). There I ran into a female friend and her ex-husband (those two remain close friends), having not seem either of them in months and him specifically since long before his last heart attack back in May. Might’ve been before Christmas since he and I last spoke. So I asked questions and he shared what all he’s been going through with that, plus he filled me in on details about his last heart attack 12 years ago as well as his mini-stroke 11 years ago. Also, he had underwent having a pacemaker put in back in March, which is what likely saved his life during this latest heart attack. Though when he collapsed he managed to fall and hit his head hard, resulting in a concussion that caused periodic bouts of dizziness for a month or more. They say he might live another couple of years at the rate he’s going. He’s now 61 years old, thankful to have healthcare coverage, currently living off the remains of his 401k while waiting for acceptance on disability coverage, with plans to file for early retirement next year so as to collect social security benefits. He had always worked up until the events of this spring, but now he’s unable to fulfill the duties of his job.

He spoke of the medications they have him on and their side effects, the doctors visits and body scans, and the insomnia he’s now plagued with. But what really struck a chord with me was when he talked about their young grandson and how he’s spending as much time as he can with him and letting him know how much he loves him. Says he can’t take anything for granted anymore. I got pretty misty-eyed listening to that portion of his story.

Mortality. The hardest part seems to be knowing that your days are numbered. His father and grandfather both suffered heart attacks and died relatively young, so he’s not counting on outliving them by much. Not that I can blame him there. He has to reckon with this to the best of his ability based on the information he’s being confronted with.

He’s a good man. Very sweet and caring. A good provider and overseer for his family, despite the divorce. Told me that he’s always adored me as well, and the feeling is mutual. A part of me does love that man, just because he has a good spirit. He will be missed, but like he said, we shouldn’t mourn him when he’s gone, we should celebrate life and living.

Wish I could make it to his eclipse party later this month, but I’ll be busy working like always. Will think of him when that eclipse does darken the sky midday on August 21st, knowing how excited he is to experience it during his lifetime (said it’d been 99 years since the last one that was viewable from coast to coast). He does love to watch the heavens for activity. In fact, he and his ex-wife were the first ones to point out to me the space station moving past overhead a couple years ago. I’d probably have never noticed otherwise.

Does make me a little sad to see him still drinking despite his heart condition. He said he knows he probably should quit, but he’d also like to enjoy what time he has left and drinking is a big part of their lifestyles. I didn’t say much to any of that since it’s none of my business. Just worry for him is all, but I don’t need to state that out loud to him. It’s his life, and who knows what the future holds. Conventional wisdom doesn’t prove correct in every individual case, so sometimes you just gotta let the dice roll.

Their family has been through a great deal this year, from his failing health to their son’s apartment burning down due to an electrical fire, etc. She said their son is taking his father’s health problems pretty hard. I imagine. It’s a sad situation. But nothing can be done about it. Death is unavoidable.

Something else this man said that troubled me: he’s not worried about dying so much as who’s going to have to be the one to find his body. He’s worried for his family members being put through that trauma. Yeah, that’s heart-wrenching to deeply consider, knowing all of them and imagining how hard it would hit them inside. All I could do was just pat his leg on that since there aren’t words to comfort somebody wrestling with such thoughts. Then he broke into a bit of a joke about dying on his riding lawn mower. He’s a truly sweet-spirited person who thinks about everybody else first. Couldn’t change his nature if he tried.

We told one another to not be strangers, and I do hope to see him again sooner rather than later. Told my female friend goodbye and I left. That’s all the heaviness I could sit with in that hour.

I didn’t mean to walk away, but it felt like I needed to once all had been said that needed to be said for one day. I miss him a little bit already. Only met the man a couple years ago but he’s one of those sweet souls who leaves a positive mark whether he means to or not. We got along right off the bat, which is saying something since I’m not known for being compatible with just anybody and everybody. Told his ex-wife, my friend, that she can call me whenever she wants to talk and that I’ll be here for them. And I mean it. That family was really good to me when I met them by random chance a couple years back during a particularly bad depression spell. They befriended me and have remained kind toward me, even when I wound up pulling away over the last year so as to tend to my own matters. Now is a good time to reconnect and to find ways to help out as needed. I do need to make an effort at that, to not let it slide as if there’s always enough time. Time runs out. People grow old. Health declines. The only thing that really matters in this world are our people, however we might define that. Our relationships are what matter most. Everything else just winds up fading away without a second thought.

We just kept hugging each other. Communion in its truest form. He didn’t seem scared about all of this, but I know he’s afraid of leaving people who love and depend on him. But he’s likely still got time, maybe another year or two or more. Never know. But I know I need to step up as a friend and be around more instead of retreating to my home. And I’m going to. Been wanting to for a long while and now it feels very necessary.

What I really ought to do is make them dinner or snacks to take over sometimes. And we really ought to do game nights again like we used to. Those were always fun. Make a few more good memories while time permits.

Spoke to my former partner on the phone tonight and told him about all of that. He’s met them a handful of times in the past. Then I cooked spaghetti with a side of steamed green beans for dinner. Worked out earlier in the day with my gym trainer. Have an early morning tomorrow, so for the rest of the night I intend to relax.

The latest audiobook I completed (coincidentally) and really appreciated was Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman. A very worthwhile book. Currently re-listening to A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine.

Styxhexenhammer Time

“Trump Assaults Congress’ Personal Healthcare Subsidies”:

Strongly agreed there!

“Blind Enrollment: The Alternative to Affirmative Action”:

While I can’t get behind Styx’s optimism toward Trump’s presidency, I continue to find his channel worthwhile.

Alice Cooper quit alcohol too

Didn’t know much about the man other than enjoying a few of his songs (a couple of which were showcased in the “Dazed and Confused” and “Wayne’s World” movie soundtracks in the ’90s).

Alice Cooper’s real name is Vincent Damon Furnier (for those of us who didn’t know). Currently age 69. And he’s been off alcohol since the ’80s.

Reportedly considers himself to be a born-again Christian. Interesting. An excerpt from that linked article (published Tuesday, 28 March 2006):

Though some have questioned combining his faith in God with his rock-and-roll background, Cooper doesn’t see a conflict. “I’m the first one to rock as loud as I can, but when it comes to what I believe, I’m the first one to defend it too,” he said. “It has also gotten me in trouble with the staunch Christians who believe that in order to be a Christian you have to be on your knees 24 hours a day in a closet somewhere. Hey, maybe some people can live like that, but I don’t think that’s the way God expected us to live. When Christ came back, He hung out with the whores, the drunks and miscreants because they were people that needed Him. Christ never spent His time with the Pharisees.”

[…]

“I used to celebrate moral decay, the decadence of it,” he admitted in the KNAC.com interview. “I can look back on what I did then and what I’m doing now and they’re two different things. But at the time I was the poster boy for moral decay, you know. So yeah, I’ve got a lot to be forgiven for…out of ignorance, I thought I was doing the right thing. I was totally in agreement that every guy should sleep with every girl and drink as much as they can. I don’t believe that now. I don’t believe in it, because I see how destructive it is.”

Spiritual awakening is happening around the world, Cooper believes. “It’s obvious humanity is craving for answers directly born of awareness,” he said. “That’s the healthiest thing I’ve seen in a long time because there is something better and everybody’s gotta find it in their own way. People aren’t feeling fulfilled by how many cars they own or the size of their stock portfolio. Even the addicts are saying, ‘It doesn’t matter how many drugs I take, I’m not fulfilled. This isn’t satisfying.’ There’s a spiritual hunger going on. Everybody feels it. If you don’t feel it now, you will. Trust me. You will.”

Worth reading in full.

Far less interesting, though, is he’s now into golf.  But to each their own…

Learn something new everyday. Finding out more about this man has given me greater appreciation for him.

But I never forget his cameo appearance in the movie “Wayne’s World”:

Hehe   bow   cool

Late-night journaling in early July

Now 3.5 weeks into my commitment to stop drinking and feeling fine. No big problems thus far. The cravings come and go, but they so far haven’t proven too difficult to resist and move past (other than that one snafu night a couple weeks back, but that being the only one — feel like I have to note that for full disclosure purposes — keeping it real, heh). But yeah, so far so good. People drink around me sometimes but it hasn’t really bugged me much. One night my former partner’s beer started beckoning me, so I prepared my stuff to leave and let him know I felt a bit tempted, then I wound up reverting my attention to a National Lampoon movie on the television and forgot about it.

Though the cravings do remain and are very real. Just that they’re not as difficult to combat as I’d imagined they would be or as they were during previous times in trying to quit drinking alcohol. Still do kinda miss a big frosty mug or pint glass in my hands, but not too much. My beer can fetish is easily enough remedied by toting my Schweppes seltzer water cans around instead. Fizzy yet no calories. Goes down easy and keeps me distracted from the barley pop. Obviously lacks any kick, which I do sometimes miss, but I remind myself promptly what all tends to accompany that kick. All it takes is a trip down memory lane (even memories from this year alone) to cure me of wanting a repeat of any of that. So not worth it.

Been spending a lot more time online lately, seeing as how I have a good bit more time on my hands. Watched countless videos by Kevin O’Hara on his AlcoholMastery channel over the last three weeks, all of which have proven helpful. His calm demeanor and Irish accent is very soothing while the information and experiences he shares really resonate with me. Also wandered onto other channels on YT to listen to others’ experiences on quitting drinking, including a few millennials. Good to see so many of them recognizing the problems with that lifestyle so early in life, though I’m saddened to hear the sordid details of some of their tales. Can relate to plenty of that too. They tend to refer to their issue with alcohol as “binge drinking,” but like my former partner pointed out earlier tonight, that’s what older and heavier drinkers refer to as “novice drinkers.” Which is to say that every drinker starts out with bingeing; over the years it develops into a more steady (and generally daily) habit. It’s a progression.

Very glad to have come to my senses finally. Been knowing I had to get to this point sooner rather than later, but I struggled with it over the last couple years and wouldn’t give up the drinking. Not until I got seriously pissed off, at both myself and a good many of my fellow bar patrons. This is one example where getting angry really paid off. If one can harness it, that is. Which I finally did, partly by choice and partly because I was going to blow my lid otherwise. So sick of some of the losers I found myself in the company of at these various watering holes over the years, culminating in me arriving at the worst pub I’ve ever set foot in. But I’m grateful for what major assholes some of those people proved to be — made my decision so much easier finally. Gave me a terrific wake-up call like no other. Showed me what lay in store for folks who give in to that lifestyle and take it too far. Also showed me what a bunch of bitter jerks we can be when our lives wind up reduced to shallow indulgences that do us no good. So, for these reasons, I’m glad I waltzed into that joint earlier this year and took time to get to know those assholes. They definitely made an impression on me, and I’m pleased as punch to keep putting distance between myself and folks like them. Full-on misery loving company there. Good riddance.

Not that assholes are limited to that one watering hole. Assholes abound all throughout the barscene. I don’t doubt I was an asshole too. Kinda goes with the territory.

And I’ll probably remain an asshole-of-sorts. Just glad to no longer be ingesting a chemical that messes up my mind to where I say so many of the wrong things and frequently enough can’t even recall what they even were. Tired of feeling guilty about that. Also tired of dealing with idiots who love to get a reaction out of more emotional folks like myself. Too difficult for me to check my emotions and remain level-headed once I’ve had enough to drink. I tend to get far too reactive and mouthy. Irritated by disrespect and unnecessary bullshit, or I create it. And we’re all so prone to talk over one another’s shoulders and misunderstand each other’s intentions. They react, I react, and all communication bogs down. Hence why they prefer to keep talk so light and stupid, thinking that will stave off reasons for people to argue. But it doesn’t work that way for me. Their attempts at light and stupid tend to grate on my nerves. Just don’t possess enough patience any longer to deal with all of that. Something went snap in me over time and I no longer wish to put up with my fellow barhounds’ bullshit. Went beyond stupid, beyond depressing even. Became downright pathetic. And I do include myself in that assessment as well.

It’s all still on my mind day to day as I adjust to this new way of being. But more and more I find myself thinking about other matters and letting the bad aftertaste of dealing with those jokers slowly fade away. Will take time though. Dealt with those sorts for too long. Became one of them, at least so far as I was able to. And now that’s over and there’s all kinds of new terrain to explore.

Been re-listening to some of my audiobooks lately, including Taleeb Starkes’ Black Lies Matter and Dr. James Hollis’s What Matters Most: Living A More Considered Life. Put the last bit of volume 1 of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago on hold a few weeks back, with plans to finish it soon enough. Picked back up my print copy of Otto Rank’s Art and Artist: Creative Urge and Personality Development now that I have nifty reading glasses to aid me. Already mentioned on another recent post reading Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. A couple weeks back I listened to The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault, which was just okay. Before that I listened to A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History by Nicholas Wade. And also The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis, which was an interesting story. And a couple other titles that slip my mind right now.

Yesterday afternoon I rented 3 of the remakes of The Planet of the Apes films, in preparation for watching the newest one coming out later this month. Don’t know much about these movies, having only seen bits and pieces of the originals. The storyline sounds interesting, so hopefully it lives up to the expectations. Thinking of cooking up spaghetti Friday evening and nestling in to begin this series. A friend of mine also wants to see them, and my former partner said he too might try to sit through one of them (not much a movie-watcher usually). Might be fun. (Might also finally break out the new popcorn popper I received as a gift months back.)

What else? Trimmed my hair this evening. It needed it. The bleached tips are drying out and in need of gradual removal. Oiled it up tonight with argon oil (and coconut oil on the tips) after putting my usual drops of jojoba oil in with my conditioners. Managed to create a nice layering effect in the back this time around. Took some time and patience but I like the result. Been trimming my own hair for a couple years or more now and so far so good. Thinking of dyeing it again sometime soon, though I can’t settle on a shade. Went with black with reddish copper tips last time, but the black dye faded all throughout pretty fast. So much for Garnier Nutrisse being a permanent dye. The black dyes I’ve used in the past were steadfast, but not that stuff. So nevermind that brand. Leaning with going for a golden medium brown to slightly lighten my original color a bit. Done it plenty of times before to nice effect. But I’m also toying with going more amber, though it seems everybody is going for red hues these days. But solid black looks flat, and my hair is already dark brown. Burgundy shades are out since they too are all the rage right now. So medium golden brown it probably will be. Avoiding the frosting this time since it’s so damaging to my hair. Been dyeing my own hair since I was a young teen, rarely opting to go the salon route, and I’ve been mostly pleased with the results. Saves money to do it oneself, plus I’ve had my hair botched worse by stylists than by myself.

Little pretties like that make me happy. Still meaning to get around to doing my complete pedicure and possible manicure. Been lazy lately though. Have to stick with neutral shades when I do it myself since I don’t have the skills that the Asian nail tech ladies possess. Best to leave the application of dark and bright shades to them. Someday I’ll be able to afford their services again. Just have to catch up my finances for a spell before indulging in such luxuries.

That’s about it for now. Taking it easy, relaxing when not working, exercising occasionally, still staying up late most nights but aiming to wake earlier, sharing meals pretty regularly with my former partner (he’s been particularly generous lately in inviting me over for dinners — probably part of the reason I’ve yet to lose any weight these past 3 weeks), and keeping the alcohol out of my mouth (in the words of Kevin O’Hara). Oh, and on the 4th of July my former and I went on a walk to observe the local fireworks, which was nice. We rarely walk together much anymore, so that was good. Didn’t bicker too much either.

Tuesday evening turmoil (journaling on the recent wreckage)

Still thinking about my loved one’s son’s car accident I mentioned in my last vlog:

And the boy is still avoiding his father as of this evening. Probably best to let his father settle down and cool off a bit.

Drinking and driving and crashing. I wonder what the consequences for him will prove to be in the end. Still haven’t driven out to see the accident scene. Will do so by Friday at least. Curious to see what wall he hit and how he managed to do so.

Could’ve really hurt himself, which, in turn, would’ve crushed his mom’s and dad’s hearts. Could’ve hurt somebody else too, which also would’ve been a huge tragedy.

I wonder if he’ll learn from this. Or if he’ll keep on until he has to learn in some harder fashion on down the line…

Don’t know the kid well enough to say. We never became close. Just were around each other a few years back and now rarely run into one another in passing. Not really certain what all he’s up to these days. Didn’t know he was drinking already. Also learned that some bar downtown I’ve never heard of before had been serving him alcohol despite him being underage. And I have half a mind to go say something about that out in public. Shouldn’t be allowed to keep your liquor license if you’re knowingly serving minors, though I know of other bars that occasionally do so. Ticks me off. Yet another reason for why I have grown so damned disenchanted with the barscene. Most bars and bartenders only care about money — to hell with all else. Witnessed this type of bullshit in many forms over and over and over again.

Tough love is on my mind right now. Not because I like to see young folks punished but because I don’t wish to see this behavior tolerated. To me, he’s not proving himself mature or responsible enough, so I see no reason for his parents to continue paying for his college costs, especially now as he’s about to set off to the university an hour away this fall. Perhaps he needs to go to work to save up money to pay his own way until he can get back in his parents’ good graces. My cousin has had to work his ass off to put himself through a university program without his parents’ help, and he didn’t even do anything wrong to receive that sentence as a punishment. My aunt and uncle just believe he’ll respect his education more if he funds it himself. I have mixed feelings on that, knowing how high the cost of education is currently, and also knowing my cousin is a competent young man who could’ve used more family support, both emotionally and financially. But he has still managed and done well for himself, and I’m proud of him. Perhaps this other young man who feels free to crash his car into brick walls while drinking underage would benefit from a similar sort of treatment. Or, more accurately, why should his parents spoil him if he’s only going to take their help for granted?

But that’s the way my mind works. And I don’t have kids so they say I’m not at liberty to tell everybody else how to raise theirs. So be it. Knowing his daddy and mom, they’ll continue to finance his schooling because they want better for him than they had. But I’d caution them to not let themselves be taken advantage of or to inadvertently bolster bad behavior by seeming to tolerate it. Does nobody any good to go that route.

Either way, I have little power in this situation other than to share my thoughts with the father. Wouldn’t dream of mentioning anything to the mother since undoubtedly she’d consider it a private matter that doesn’t pertain to me. Fair enough, though I am still around and likely will remain. She’s upset enough right now and has heard the father’s input already. None of them spoke with one another today.

I wouldn’t know how to raise a kid in this day and age. Would’ve likely screwed it up had I attempted to do so since I was drinking my damn self. But I know these two parents care a whole lot about that boy and want no harm to come to him. They want nothing but good things in his future and tried to give him what they could throughout his life. He has a big extended family and is well-loved. And yet, he’s acting up now. What can be done about that? I’d personally like to see members of the family speak up and address him directly with their thoughts and concerns, though I doubt they will. Too private of people most likely. Hard for me to understand that since my own family likely wouldn’t hesitate to roundly chastise me from all angles if ever I had been in a similar situation, as much good as that might’ve done. Would’ve hurt coming from my grandparents and embarrassed me coming from my uncle or stepdad. But I still got into the drinking lifestyle despite their disdain.

So what can one do? I don’t know. How do you talk sense to an immature youth about responsibility on this level when we can barely talk sense into people 30 and over? Like myself up until recently. Can make us feel awfully guilty, and yet we still don’t act right consistently. Not sure what can be done about that other than what’s already in place (e.g., the threat of being locked up and charged, DUI/OWI fines and penalties, license revocation, etc.). If that, along with the threat of winding up mangled and/or mangling somebody else, isn’t enough to scare people straight, what is?

Alcohol is a hell of a drug. No joke. I’m wrestling with its influence everyday still and will continue doing so for likely many moons to come, reflecting on the past experiences and now committing myself to ending all of that. Then this young man picks up the habit and runs with it. Lost one, gained one. Sad as that is…

Maybe he’ll learn his lesson. Maybe looking upon the wreckage that his car became will jolt him awake. Totaled. Not worth fixing. And so shortly after his father bought him new rims to replace the ones damaged in what he claimed was a slide in the ice over the winter. Not that his father believes that story any longer.

When his father went to look at the wrecked car, he said the first thing he did was inspect the brakes to check out his son’s claim that they had gone out. Confirmed that wasn’t the case immediately. The man’s a mechanic — why tell a lie that he can so easily inspect to confirm or deny? Explained to me how the rotors would show a marking on them had the brakes locked up. He fixes wrecked cars all day, every day. Said he can envision, based on the damage, how the car hit and how it likely leapt up in the air a little bit while going sideways over the curb. Can approximate the speed based on the damage since it’s a former cop cruiser and built to handle more jarring (and repeated) impacts on certain parts than ordinary civilian cars. He’s reconstructed the accident in his mind and has a good idea of what happened, and he’s very angry, for which I can’t blame him. Was a very stupid stunt for his son to pull. Could’ve really hurt himself had he hit that wall straight on. We’d be visiting him in a hospital most likely had that been the case. He better know how lucky he got that evening. Because Lord, his father would’ve fallen to pieces had his son been seriously injured or hurt somebody else. That fact, along with all the rest, really unsettles me this week. I hate to imagine it.

If I could say something to him, I’d tell him this: Kid, you’ve had a good life. Had so much given to you by two parents who love you dearly, plus the rest of your family. They aren’t perfect, but they’ve cared tremendously for you. And now you’re fucking up, which is like a slap in the face to them and to all the others out here who’ve given a damn about you. You’re in school, said to be making good grades. You’re working. You want to have fun, I get that, but this is no good. This is dangerous to everybody around. If you continue down this path, you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself. You really have been afforded so many opportunities in life. Why waste them? Why piss them away? Nobody wants to see you hurt or to see you facing charges in court because you hurt somebody else who didn’t deserve it. You’re supposed to be a smart young man, but that’s not how it’s looking this week. Do better than this. You know you can, and we all know it too. You didn’t come from the muck, you weren’t abused and mistreated, so why the apathy? Going to hurt yourself the most in the end. There’s no upside if this lesson doesn’t burn into your mind and steer you in a better direction. Want to be reckless and act a fool? Then don’t be surprised when others start treating you as such. That’s the way life goes. The sooner you can learn this and take it to heart, the better.

Not that he’d probably listen to any of that, and not that I’m likely to run into him anytime soon. Just thoughts that come to my mind. Wishes really. A prayer.

______________________________

Update on 6/29/2017: Drove by and saw the boy’s car yesterday. Was worse than the pictures I’d seen. The entire front end is destroyed and the passenger-side front tire is completely bent. His father said the wreck snapped the tie rod or ball joint (or whatever all that is, I can’t keep up with these mechanical parts). Looked really bad. Surprised on seeing the wreckage that his son walked away unhurt.