Friday, March 15, 2013

Lowest Common Denominator

Okay, so yesterday I wrote about where I've been, and I covered serious matters. This is about a "trivial" one. I use quotations because most would consider entertainment trivial, but it was important to me at the time.

I was in the SMART Program, which is Travis County's treatment thingy for offenders like me who repeatedly screw up. I still don't know what "SMART" stands for...I figure it's meant to be ironic.

I was able to get the most out of the program I could, but it unfortunately was lacking in activities. Luckily, family and friends sent books. I read about 30 over the past 6 months and am now a Douglas Adams and William Gibson fanatic.

I wasn't expecting to be busy...and I sure wasn't. However, I was encouraged to find new hobbies and activities that are prosocial and healthy. They pushed this...and then they sent me back to the tiny dorm with 6-7 other guys with the TV for 6 hours a day (12 a day on Saturday and Sunday). The good news: DirectTV, with limited channels, but including the Science channel. The bad news: TBS, USA, Discovery and History channel show the same shit over and over. After 5 months, you've seen every episode of "Friends", "Two & a Half Men", "Rules of Engagement", "King of Queens", "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" in the morning, and all those Tyler Perry shows. Fuck Tyler Perry. TBS...'Very Funny' my ass.

And you don't get to watch the Science Channel because the asshole who hogs the remote says there's not enough chicks on that channel (I didn't make that up). Then he watches "Big Bang Theory" for the girl and doesn't get the jokes...but keeps it on.

And fuck "Pawn Stars". I GET IT. You need to buy things that will sell at next to nothing so the seller can pay off gambling debts or drug dealers, and so you barter with him. You don't have to narrate to the camera what's going on every minute. It's also annoying because they are taping that narration way after the deal has happened: "This is a really nice item...and I'd love to have it in the shop. But he's going to have to come down on that price." Wait, slow're losing me. I'm not sure I grasp the complexity of buy low sell high. Oh, and you don't have to ramble on about the entire history of said item like a fucking Wikipedia article, egomaniac. We know a lackey looked all that up (probably on Wikipedia) and then gave it to you to recite like an expert.

It's hard to ignore the TV and read when someone continuously changes the channel, too.

Me: Please stop changing the channel.
Him: I don't like commercials.
Me: So the alternative is you watch 2 to 3 things incompletely? You have the attention span of a gnat on meth.
Him: What do you care, you're reading.
Me: Trying to read. I almost tune out what you're watching then you change it and it impedes my shit.
Him: Whatever, man...I ain't trippin'.
Me: If you have to say it, it means you are.
Him: Huh?
Me: Exactly.

So yeah. I'm no rush to get TV time at the sober house. I'm good.

And any music I've heard was on Hot Jams channel. I watched the Grammys and I knew who everybody was for the first time ever. "Oooh, Bruno Mars is nominated...Ugh, I need some Radiohead."

I'm better now.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

6 Months.

My back and shoulders are killing me, and I'm exhausted. It's the end of an 8-hour shift of dishwashing during SXSW, and it's my first night at my new part time job. It's official...My ass has been kicked.

I'm perfectly comfortable with it.

For the past 140 days I've been in a treatment facility run by Travis County...not a privately funded rehab, but a weird mash-up of jail, alcohol/drug seminars and daycare. Before that I was a trustee in Travis County Jail downtown for a month and a half. 6 months of no internet, cell phone, cigarettes or real coffee.

I've been out of the loop.

Last summer, I was arrested for public intoxication at the end of a 14-hour string of alcohol consumption during my 20-year high school reunion. Arrested in Luling? During the Watermelon Thump? It was a dream come true. It was shortly afterward that I quit drinking...see my August 7th blog (or don't...your web surfing is your business).

Karma came calling. FYI, you shouldn't get arrested when on felony DWI probation. Motion to revoke probation, so I turned myself in. I left for what I thought was a couple weeks...I haven't been back to San Antonio since. That was September mother drove me...on her birthday. I changed my sobriety date to 9-12, because I want my 1-year to make her next b-day better than the last. That was just shitty.

In jail, I became resentful that I was waiting around for multiple weeks to go to a 5-month treatment when all they needed to do was put an ankle monitor on me! I only had a year of probation left. I've been doing really well...if you ignore that whole "heroin addiction" thing and drinking.

I lucked out and had great counselors in that treatment center. Despite being run inconsistently and sans logic, I worked on myself, my control issues and my fucked-up thinking. I thought I was ready to go back to my life...and then 4 weeks ago I found out I would be staying in Austin.

Fear hit me. Hard. All the old memories, old hangouts...14 years of craziness, and I'd be right back in the middle of it. I wasn't happy.

But the more I thought about it, I needed to face this city, my history and the burned bridges. The old drug contacts were gone, I'd be under supervision and I'd have some serious support. So I mentally prepared myself, and so far it's working out. I've never lived in south Austin before, and I moved into a sober house on S. Lamar. (The term "soberhouse" means "the state of smoking cigarettes in awkward silence with other guys who have fucked shit up as well".) This city has changed in 2 years...and there's a bunch of things here I never checked out in my previous lifestyle. It's like a different city...or a different perception of this city.

I've always been honest about what's been going on with me, so I wanted to explain the last 6 months. Sure, I didn't relapse on needles...but I went back to booze like that wasn't a bad thing. Socially acceptable self-destruction is still self-destruction.

I have to complete 6 months of meetings and probation. I have to use this time to develop the clear-headed me, and I'll have help: good friends, family, a portable breathalizer, classes, meditation (I'm Zen as fuck) and desire. I have some work ahead of me. Expect to see me out and about as you drive around in south Austin. I'll be the skinny older guy on the skateboard.

Don't know what else to tell you. I need to look for more work, play some chess, learn some Tai Chi, smoke less, pay off Travis County, read, write...