Journaling on a Wednesday evening in August 2017

Been a good week so far. Hit the gym hard the last 3 days with plans to continue doing so tomorrow and Friday, in hope of making this a regular M-F routine. So nice having my trainer stationed at a nearby gym once again, plus I’m now saving money in not needing to pay him for training on the side. Determined to lose several pounds since I put so much back on over the last year (particularly the winter) after his gym closed down. Slowly but surely I am doing so, though now I’m kicking my activity up a notch, once again. Feels good. Nice and tiring. Haven’t lost my strength gains either, which is wonderful. And, come to find out, I haven’t lost any balance and flexibility either (demonstrated during last night’s yoga session). So…onward and upward there.

Currently in week 10 of my commitment to stop drinking. All is going well there. It’s gotten easier with each passing week. Less often do I drop into my favorite local watering holes nowadays, and when I do I’m only there for a short spell. Still nice to run into folks I haven’t seen in a minute and to chat and catch up. And I do like playing the Megatouch machine — got a rolling competition with a couple people across a few locations that’s been going on for years. Waste of money, sure, but I’m spending $5 or less usually when I do go out now (a far cry from what my outings used to cost me!).

Been successfully squirreling away money once again. Most of it is earmarked already, but it’s great to see my finances improving. Amazing how much money one saves by not blowing it in bars. Also picked up a new business contact whom I start working with tomorrow, so that too will help in giving my finances a boost.

Went grocery shopping for some healthier meal and snack options today. Not been doing terrible in that department lately, but wanting to tighten up on the reins a bit when it comes to carb intake. Still preparing pasta regularly, and that will likely never change, but I’m turning my attention more toward veggies and leaner meats. A couple nights ago I whipped up a Mediterranean-style omelet with cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and spinach. Delicious. Plan on having that again tonight.

Cutting down on my coffee intake since that made me jittery. It helped for right after I quit drinking alcohol, but then it began creating an interference of its own. Even caused me to post up a couple videos on YT where I was visibly hyper. Ha! So I switched to part-decaf and reduced the amount I drink each day. Feeling fine with that decision. Tea is typically more my speed anyway. Still drinking the heck out of seltzer water…good stuff.

Was invited over to my former partner’s place for tacos last night, which went well. We went 5 whole weeks without seeing one another after our last fight, but then we started back talking on the phone and last weekend decided to get together once again. Guess we’re fated to deal with one another indefinitely, and that’s fine, so long as we manage to get along better. He’s been sweet lately so I can’t complain. Wish we’d get our shit together so that out friendship isn’t so rocky, and hopefully we will. Obviously enjoy one another’s company when we are getting along.

What else? Oh, I stopped by a local independent bookstore on Monday and picked up a copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals. Why? Because I want to know what protesters are being taught out there. Doesn’t strike me as wise to employ the same methods, but I’d at least like to learn about them. Currently resuming listening to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. I — one long-ass book. Interesting to learn about Soviet Russia though. The other print book I’m still reading in when time permits is Otto Rank’s Art and Artist (another long-ass book). Actually sat outside yesterday afternoon for about 45 minutes reading it, allowing the dog a little extra time to run around in the yard.

As of today, I’m working on training a puppy to walk on a leash. So far, so good. He’s a fairly fast learner, aside from his terrible teething phase. It’ll help the owner to get his energy out since it’s difficult for her to walk him far. Learning to heel on the right so as not to trip her up is the current challenge. We’ll get it — just takes time.

Sorted more of my books a few days ago and redecorated one of my bookcases. Improves the feng shui up in here.

Headed out to catch some rays at the “beach” with my best guyfriend on Sunday. We also dined at a Mexican restaurant we both like. Was a nice afternoon.

Not much else to report on at this time.

Urges will remain into the indefinite future

Had a dream last night. In it I was at some small, out of the way bar I had never been to before, accompanied by a few friends, and decided to order a drink. The beer I had ordered arrived, but it wasn’t beer. Someone said something about the drink containing vodka, but it tasted like a sweet white wine. I recall the way the bartender looked at me very curiously. And I took the small glass and sipped its contents. Felt rewarded for a moment. Inside my head began the struggle between enjoying this one libation and throwing caution to the wind and going ahead and drinking my fill for the evening. Seems that in the dream I opted to carry around the cup rather than down it and refill it. There were a bunch of vehicles around, including some that didn’t appear capable of running, like we were out on somebody’s private property. I can’t recall who the friends were who surrounded me, but I heard us laughing. Then I woke up to the alarm blaring.

The urges remain, as they likely will continue for a long time. Nothing I can do about that. Though so far I haven’t had many dreams about drinking alcohol. Just every once in a while one pops up into my imagination. Habits die hard. But this dream contained no profound insights or interesting events. It was humdrum and felt typical. The only part that really stands out to me about it was being presented the clear, slightly fizzy concoction in the small cup that looked nothing like beer with the unknown bartender looking at me in a peculiar way. Though I can recall feeling a rush of release, the sensation of the floodgate coming down when I give into temptation. Experienced that feeling many times in the past and know it well. It feels elating, pleasurable, welcome — the opposite of holding myself back and restricting my access. But with the latter comes a greater long-term payout: increased satisfaction with myself and my decisions.

Not much more to it than that. Decided to record it here regardless since most dreams evaporate within a few short hours if I don’t trap them in writing.

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.

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.

Back to music in mid-February 2017 (plus thoughts for the evening)

Had a nice evening. My former stopped over for dinner (the first time in many months since he’s been over here) and to spend time with the kitty. She adores him. They have their own little games they play that I just can’t recreate for her in as exciting of a manner. Tonight I decided to try my hand at a recipe I haven’t attempted in probably 5 years now: Chicken Pot Pie Stew. It comes together in a crockpot cooked on low for about 5 hours. Into it went two skinless/boneless chicken breasts, 1 can of cream of chicken, 1 can of cream of potato, 1 bag of mixed frozen vegetables, a small bag of tiny potatoes cut into halves, seasoning salts, fresh-pressed garlic, nearly 2 cups of milk, onion powder (should’ve added more of that), salt and pepper — served with biscuits on the side (went with canned biscuits — will leave making homemade biscuits to my Grandma, great as hers always are). Turned out well enough. Not fabulous but pretty darn good. Easy meal for a winter night (though it doesn’t feel like winter here lately, crazily enough for this month when we’d normally be knee-deep in snow).

Headed back to his place for a few brews while watching the show Cops. Heh  Yeah, we’re super-cool like that. cool  Chatted about memories from Memphis and New Orleans trips and he reminisced about his run-ins with local cops back in the day (nearly two decades ago). Casual Friday night chit-chat before he headed to bed to rest up after a long, hard work-week. And now I am back home with a few tunes on the brain, per my norm.

One that keeps running through my mind this week is Moby’s “One of These Mornings”:

Beautiful song. Comes back across my radar from time to time.

While over at his place I did read a couple articles in last week’s newspaper, and come to find out the two main stories on the front page both relate with a woman I used to volunteer alongside in that Quaker peace-community organization years back. She’s a Hispanic woman from a South American country (if memory serves me right) who offers counsel to other local Hispanics (who make up our largest minority in this city and state). There’s local talk about trying to turn our public schools into “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrant students. These are K-12 schools, not colleges as I’ve heard about in states like California. But one article stated that the agreement they arrived at does not block school officials from cooperating with federal immigration officials if ever contacted by them, though they have yet to ever be contacted by ICE officials, the article reported. So it appears to mostly be a symbolic gesture in that regard, which I don’t have a major problem with so long as it’s not taken too far beyond that. I’m cool with the Hispanic residents we have around here and have never had trouble of any sort with any of them. Seem like fine people to me. Many of them work very hard and aim to stay out of criminal mischief, so that’s good. BUT problems do arise when it comes to the question of receiving government aid and whatnot — it’s a matter that will have to be reckoned with and sorted out as time goes on. Just so that it can be resolved and handled in an effective manner, hopefully.

Anyway, there was a fairly large protest staged downtown recently, come to find out, where reportedly hundreds of migrant Hispanics and Muslims and their allies showed up trying to press for more “sanctuary” measures in this state. Heard about it the other day but rarely go downtown and so didn’t see the protest myself. This woman I used to volunteer alongside with is proving to be a focal point in these stories because she provides legal and social aid to Hispanic immigrants, some of whom she claims are receiving more discrimination “over the last 9 months” (to quote from the article) than ever before in this city. Hard to imagine since I’ve never heard anyone here locally express anything but respect toward our Hispanic residents (and people do seem to love to tell me their racial grievances behind closed doors). Have heard some grumbling about some of the Muslims here, but that’s obviously a separate matter since they belong to completely separate cultures and religions. The concerns she relayed didn’t sound terrible. No beatings or attacks. Claims of some bullying in schools, whatever that might amount to. We’re a relatively crime-free area, particularly on this side of town, and so I’m imagining some classmates probably said some rude stuff to one another over the Trump election. As is to be expected among youths. We weren’t any nicer toward one another in the ’80s or ’90s, I promise you that much.

Still, I can see where she’s aiming to make her organization and her position within it seem more relevant in light of current mainstream media hysteria. Not that she seemed to have many local stories to work with or at least didn’t describe specific cases where we might become alarmed. All this pushing for “sanctuary” protection from the federal government is kinda odd though. Our state has been good about taking in refugees in the past, and we’re overall a pretty dang friendly community. Lots of caring people around who aren’t squalling to have people deported — quite the contrary. Myself included, when it comes to law-abiding Hispanics in particular. So when she says that some of her people don’t feel as safe here anymore, I’m wondering how much of that has to do with their perceptions changing due to current events in the news. Because locally we seem to be very abiding and helpful and not looking to sabotage these folks’ interests for nefarious reasons. Probably couldn’t ask for a better community than the one we’ve stumbled upon here. I know my gratitude has been growing since relocating to this area a little over a decade back. Good economy, plenty of job opportunities, friendly residents for the most part, low crime rate (compared to plenty of other big cities), greater respect for social freedom (in terms of choice of religion, political views and sexual orientation, especially compared to small towns in the Deep South), good quality utility companies and road crews and the like, etc. PLUS the cops and city councilpersons interviewed in the articles expressed care about hearing from their ethnic communities and stated they shouldn’t be afraid to report crimes regardless of their immigration status. This is probably the best a lot of us out here can hope for, so why people keep complaining over every little thing they can find to niggle about (on the front page of the local newspaper, no less) remains a bit of a mystery to me. Not saying that in anger, just in earnest.

Sometimes we’re better off counting our blessings. For they too might be gone one day…

Returning to music. Ground Up’s “People”:

Footage there was from my last South-bound trek back in 2016. Probably already posted that song on here before, but it’s still playing regularly in my car.

A song I have yet to entirely tire of, Red Rider’s “Lunatic Fringe”:

Lunatic fringe
In the twilight’s last gleaming
This is open season
But you won’t get too far
Cause you gotta blame someone
For your own confusion
We’re on guard this time
(On guard this time)
Against your final solution …

We all contain gremlins. Bad ideas, bad inclinations. Troublesome desires at times. Rage and wrath. Comes with the territory of being human. Good to ponder on that during calm moments too.

“Lord Have Mercy On Me” by Junior Kimbrough:

Another playing regularly in my car in recent months. Never tire of that one in particular. A prayer in a song.

“Burnin’ Sky” by Bad Company:

That one plays in my car regularly too.

Another personal favorite, “Ride With Yourself” by Rhino Bucket:

Footage there shown from my 2013 South-bound trek.

Another good one, “It Keeps You Runnin'” by The Doobie Brothers:

“Song to the Siren” by This Mortal Coil:

Very pretty song. Solemn and humbling. Like a prayer unto itself.

“Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve:

Loved that one since it came out in the late ’90s. Never tire of it.

I can’t change my mold. No, no no …

Have you ever been down? …

Another I rarely tire of, “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles” by Captain Beefheart:

Far as I can see she loves me …

I can’t see what she sees in a man like me, but she says she loves me …

Hmmm…

“Mea Culpa” by Enigma:

Sometimes we prove to be the “bad guys” in other people’s lives, whether we set out to do so intentionally or not. Stupid decisions can leave marks for many years, come to find out. Doesn’t require an external authority to teach one this lesson either. And sometimes our pain winds up being our best teacher. Hard lessons learned can prove to be a godsend.