Friday, August 30, 2013

"Like" My Ignorance!

Tuesday night, I was deep in thought at work when two servers came in to drop off plates and silverware. I overheard one saying to the other, "...I don't know. It's that whole rebellion thing against Disney I think. She's just trying to break out of that image."

It was a Miley Cyrus discussion. This was Tuesday night...there had been coworkers talking about this for two days now. TWO DAYS. I had spent the two days thinking over what I just posted. That's quite a jump from "emotional and mental struggle" to "OMG she kept sticking her tongue out!"

On Facebook, I saw a status update that said to shut the hell up about it already. I agree. Then I saw another one that said, "Enough about the VMAs! There are way more important things to talk about!"

Hm. Are there? I mean, I understand there are more important issues going on in the world. And I think there are way more important things that CNN could be covering instead of becoming Miley Cyrus' promotion machine.

But I ask you, is there anything actually important being discussed on Facebook? Is there really? I don't mean links of articles, blogs or posts that one might find informative, I mean discussions and comments from friends or their friends. I personally wish there was an app that blocked comments on every YouTube video, news article and blog update I view online, because nothing brings out ignorance and hate like the lack of restraint people have behind their phone or computer.

It's also that we like to talk out of our ass with very little knowledge or research of what we're bullshitting about. Some of the discussions I hear on the bus or at work are just...sad. I'd rather them talk about the flavor of the week pop singer or who is going to play a comic book character as opposed to, say, Syria.

(I strongly believe that hate cannot be defeated by hate. I also understand we can't invade Syria and give Bashar al-Assad a hug and fix shit. It hurts to read about possible chemical warfare used in that country, and how we're contemplating air raids. And yet, we apparently don't mind slaughter in Egypt as we don't want to intervene with a western ally. We shouldn't be comfortable with the deaths of civilians, regardless of their religion, political affiliation and regardless of the methods used by military power to kill.)

Now, when I think about Syria, about Egypt, the last thing I want to hear or read are the opinions of some of my "friends" and coworkers who recently vocalized their opinion passionately regarding little white girls twerking.

It's nice to be distracted by meaningless crap. I think it gives you a break from all the horrible things that go on daily that make you feel like you've lost hope in humanity. I get that feeling...and then somebody posts a video of a cat trying to fit in a tiny box unsuccessfully. "I needed that. Sweet. Okay, back to it."

I encourage everyone to keep themselves informed about what's going on in the world so that, if anything, we can maintain some perspective in our lives. Yes, I have anxiety issues and I need to over-analyze strange thought patterns and feelings I have, but I should be thankful for what I don't have to go through on a daily basis.

I also encourage everyone to keep themselves informed so that you don't sound like a moron who knows more about Honey Boo Boo than Edward Snowden.

But I think the bottom line is, I'd rather people talk about meaningless stuff they know about vs important stuff they don't know about. It's easier to ignore.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Good Talk.

Thank you for listening to me. I don't really need advice so much as someone to just sit there and let me work out all these thoughts rattling in my head. You don't know me that well, so I think I can be completely honest and spill it all without trying to censor myself. Also, you can be objective since we have no real past history.

I have been sober for almost a year now, and I am not currently dealing with "cravings" or "desires" for alcohol or drugs. I'm dealing with my overactive brain and inconsistent emotional states. But I'll tell ya, I'm not struggling with "what does it all mean." I am trying to figure out "what I mean." Why do I react the way I do in social situations now? Why do I not connect like I want to? Why do I reject or fight the possibility of intimacy?

One thing at a time.

When I am out at a comedy show or even my work party I went to recently, I do okay conversing with a few people I know or like. But if I get caught up in a conversation that I did not initiate I feel like I have completely forgot how to talk to someone. It's not so much anxiety as I get hit with an extreme irritation with small talk, and I just want to end it quickly and walk away as if it's a complete waste of my time. It's bizarre, because I've always been social, even before being a boozehound. It's like I have to find something fascinating about the person or group or people in order to engage them at all. I remember thinking once this past week as I was in the middle of a discussion, "Why am I talking to this guy? He could care less about me and I prefer not to hear anything he has to say. No offense, guy, but you bore the shit out of me."

Drunk or buzzed people are difficult to communicate with because I'm on a different wavelength. The sober people I've been around tend to talk about being sober which is fairly annoying to me now. And normal people, those who aren't in recovery or drinkers, I perceive them to be too conventional to really connect with.

All of what I just said is judgmental, and I'm lumping everyone in three general categories in order to write off having to come out of my self-imposed isolation. It's unhealthy. But that is what's going on in my head right recently. There is a fourth category of a select few people I find unique and who "get me" on some level. I believe I have a desire to find more people that fit in that fourth category. The problem with this is that I have set up self-imposed criteria that are almost impossible for new people I might meet to match up to.

At least I recognize I'm making assumptions of others and putting unrealistic expectations on them. And at least I'm not telling them I'm doing this to them. How big of an asshole would I be then?

"I'm sorry, I'm going to have to interrupt you as I see no point in finishing this conversation. Good luck with talking about yourself at length in the future."

"No, I don't have a sponsor, thanks for asking. Do you genuinely care that I don't have one or is the idea that I've been sober longer than you make you feel self-conscious about your own program? You are aware we could talk about other things than the 12 goddamn steps, right? Or not. I'm going to go get more coffee."

You know what I've told more than one girl before? "Don't fall in love with me." How arrogant is that shit? And I was genuine when I said it, because at the time, all I could think was, "I dig you, but I don't see me falling for you, and if you fall in love with me I'll only hurt you. And I don't want to hurt anyone anymore."

Intro to Psych analysis will tell you that because I have been hurt in the past, I'm avoiding intimacy because I don't want to get hurt again. Man, I wish it was that simple.

I have a history of being in a relationship too long when I know it's over, or maybe I don't try hard enough? Regardless, I don't want to be without that person, but when I'm with her I'm unhappy and unfulfilled. I get complacent and eventually end the relationship and hurt her because I won't communicate.

When you take that history and magnify it with knowing what true love feels like...and I do...what happens is I refuse to even remotely develop a possible relationship if it doesn't "feel" like I think it should. Am I still in love with Her? I think I'm still caught up with the concept of Her. The problem with memories are they aren't true history...they're remember what you want to, so the longer you hold on to old memories and want them again the more they change and the more they aren't genuine. However, it doesn't change that I was in love. Now I'm not. And if I don't feel that "thing", it feels like a waste of time.

Completely unfair. I should be lucky anyone finds me appealing. Anxiety-ridden exjunkie alcoholic comedian with baggage. "Ooh, sign me up." Really?

There's a painting by Oskar Kokoschka called "The Tempest (Bride of the Wind)" which shows a man and woman post intercourse. She's sleeping soundly and he's wide awake, almost tortured with way too much going on in his head. I can relate.

By the way, that's the first time I've said all that shit out loud...and I'll be posting it publicly too. All I have is honesty about my thoughts and feelings. I will hopefully let go of the Her concept, treat the memories of Her as fond memories, and maybe images of Her won't keep visiting me in my dreams. As for reality and the present, I just have to take it day by day, and don't mindfuck myself out of enjoying today. I need to be mindful of today and just deal with these issues as they arise. Give myself a chance and the time to make a connection on whatever level. I think that makes the most sense.

Breathe. And shit.

Wow, okay, all that is out there. I feel better. I really appreciate you sitting there patiently while I poured my heart out.


(pets resident outdoor cat) Meow indeed. You're right, it isn't always about me. Good talk, kitty.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What's My Motivation Here?

I wrote that down about 4 months ago. These are still goals of mine. Once I pay off probation by the end of the year, I will add a new goal, which is to save money to move into my own own room, at least. Bob is a great roommate and all, but I don't want to get used to another alcoholic snoring when I try to sleep. No offense, Bob.

Side note: I don't suppose anyone would be interested in a CD called "Natural Sounds of a Recovering Alcoholic Snoring" as a sleep aid? Get back to me on that.

I rarely think about "goals" or "long term" because I am working on embracing the Buddhist concept of "being present". It's just like the Ralph Waldo Emerson saying, "Life is a journey, not a destination." I don't want to be living so much in the past or the future that I miss out on the present moment. It's hard not to think like I used to, regretting or longing to correct or even relive the past and fearing the uncertainty of the future.

I had to change my thinking to change my behavior to change my life. For those of you worried about me dealing with the temptation to drink again, that's not what I struggle with. I struggle with old thought patterns and talking myself into taking it easy and being complacent. This is a daily battle. So far so good.

The other night, one of friends asked me, "What do you want? Like deep there something you really desire that you currently don't have?"

Yeah. There is.

I figured out the reason...the motivation for wanting to move forward. It's why I want to pay off Travis County and get my own living space again. It is also something I didn't share in group or individual counseling...mainly because it more than likely would have lead to more counseling.

I want to be a cat owner again.

This is not a joke. I really miss owning a cat. I miss having a furry ball of disinterest occasionally pay attention to me because they're hungry or bored. I don't feel right having all these black shirts and black work pants without any hair on them. I miss the meowing alarm clock. And the sense of entitlement in an adorable package. I even miss having a box of shit.

(For the record, there's nothing in the sober house rules that says I can't currently have a box of shit in my room. However, a random container of feces and litter sans feline is not satisfactory.)

It's why I like every damn cat picture posted on Facebook. I own a cat vicariously through my friends. By the way, you guys are slacking. There's more pictures of children in my Newsfeed than cats recently, and I'm not happy. Please help restore the balance.

Yes, yes, I also want to grow as a human being, make people and enjoy life and give back to others and blah blah blah...I want a kitty.

That's my motivation.

Miss you, Lucy.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pulling The Age Card

(Out of curiosity, I googled "pulling the age card" and found a blog of an 18-year-old who said she was sick of people thinking she didn't know what true love was because she was young and defended her relationship of 4 months. Two months later was a blog post titled "Forever alone" about the pain of being single again. Awkward...)

I've been working on making assumptions about people and jumping to conclusions. A friend of mine and I talked about this just tonight...making a snap judgment about a person for whatever reason (age, cleanliness, facial tattoo, wearing a fedora). Even if I'm absolutely right and the person turns out to just like I thought they would, that's not the point. I need to give people a chance like they should give me one. We all deserve the opportunity to completely screw up first impressions.

I do, however, fully agree with Louis CK's bit from his new special "Oh My God" that if you're older, you're smarter. "If you're in an argument with somebody and they're older than you, you should listen to them. It doesn't mean they're right, it means that even if they're wrong, their wrongness is rooted in more information than you have."

With that in mind, I don't pull the age card on people often. But I had to once about a month ago. I was going to let this thing go that a 21-year-old had said to me, but it was the third condescending thing he had said in about an hour. He was talking down to me essentially because of a lack of information about me, but he knew that I'm on probation and I wash dishes...and I don't think he really was doing it on purpose. Rather than try to burn him in front of other people to satisfy my ego, I talked to him alone to express something to know, to be civil...and to satisfy my ego.

This is what I said to him:

"Hey listen, there's something you need to understand. I know right now you have a lot going for you, and your life is starting to take off. You're 21 years old, and you have the energy and cockiness of your age. When you're 25, you will look back at how you are now and you'll say, 'Wow, I was kind of an asshole and thought I knew everything. I know so much more about life and who I am now.' 5 years after that, you'll have an established life, be financially stable with a family most likely, and you'll look back and say, 'So much has changed, and I really didn't know what I was doing sometimes, but I made it. I'm glad I make better choices now and settled down.' Well, I'm 10 years older than that second you in the future. So don't fucking patronize me, kid."

I don't necessarily recommend that approach, but it cleared up his tone quite nicely. As in, he doesn't talk to me at all now. I'm comfortable with that.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


The Travis County treatment program I was in (SMART) lasted 140 days. We were able to have outdoor "recreation" for about an hour a day. The multitude of activities available to us were horseshoes, volleyball and a walking track/path that was .9 of a mile long.

Side note: what is it with sobriety and fucking volleyball? When 12-step groups have an event they always have it. You'll find a volleyball court at every rehab. What happens is you get a bunch of alcoholics/addicts together with nothing going on in their lives because they're newly clean, so they get really invested in the stupid volleyball game, and they channel all their frustrations into being super-competitive. In other words, almost everyone becomes an asshole. Fun.

Because some SMART big wigs were visiting, they wanted to make the rec area look more presentable. So they went with pouring cheap gravel over the walking track...those big white driveway rocks. This was beneficial, because instead of the same ol' walking or running a mile routine, now we got to play the game "Who Can Exercise With the Least Amount of Foot and Ankle Injuries." We walked around the gravel, killing the grass and creating an outer track of dirt. If you'll look closely, all Travis County programs have a second track outlining the intended one...metaphorically speaking.

Anyway, recreation. I spent that time exercising some, but mostly keeping to myself, watching the sunset when it was evening recreation and a little walking meditation. In the rock track, I found a small, round rock that I could roll through my fingers like a coin. I would do this or just rub it in my hand when I walked around every day. At the end of rec, I would stash it in the same spot to be used the next day.

At first this confused the staff watching us, because they were keeping an eye out for anybody hiding notes, medication or whatever for someone else. I was asked a few times what it was I was retrieving from my spot. Seeing it was a rock, they would give me a puzzled look and then let me go on my way.

I told myself I would carry the rock every day, and then when I left the SMART facility, I'd take it with me as a reminder of the 140 hours of the outdoors I spent in 5 months...a nice reminder in the future to not put myself back in a place like this. It became important to my routine...something I looked forward to, especially close to the end of my time there. One day, a couple of my friends hid the rock from me and left a ransom note in its place...yes, we were that bored.

One guy asked me what I would do if on my last day the rock was just gone for whatever reason? Would I be upset? I thought about this and about the time invested in it and what it represented to me. And then I said, "Nah, probably not. It IS just a rock, after all."

I do still have it, by the way. It sits right in front of the Buddha candle on my dresser, and every day it reminds me of that time I was "on vacation from life." I also think about that answer I gave, too. To me, that little stone also represents aspects of my material world...not just money and possessions, but also my perceived role and status in life and my public image. It is easy in our society get caught up in trying to find happiness in our things.

And I know that you probably are aware that "money can't buy happiness" and all that shit. However, at least for me, knowing this and living it is retarded hard. I get comfortable with my life and what I think I need in skateboards, clothes, iPod, my reputation in the local comedy scene, my job, my local hangout, my routine. And if I lose one or all of these things, I feel like I lose part of what makes me happy. But yes, Tyler Durden, I am not my job or my skateboard or my reputation. And yes again, it IS only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.

But all extreme alter-ego fight cult mantras aside, if I lose that job...if I lose that thing I think makes me happy, I have to realize that no, I make me happy. That regardless of what that lost thing is, it is just a rock, after all.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Request to Travis County Regarding Early Treatment Completion


I was asked by my counselor Don Davis to write a request for early graduation from the SMART Continuing Care program. In order to do this properly, I need to provide a little background.

Since 2003, I have been on probation for almost 7 years. For 70% of the last decade, I have been under supervision of Travis County, and you would think that the fines, classes and conditions of probation would have been enough to make me change. At least change a little?

The fact is, I didn't want to. I knew I was smarter than most people on probation...that I knew what I was doing, and that Travis County wouldn't put me in jail...they needed my money. What had to happen was I had to fail enough, to screw up enough, to shatter all denial that I had about my addictions and the overall path of self-destruction I was on.

Receiving a public intoxication arrest at the end of June 2012 and then being chewed out for my self-centered awful behavior by a dear friend less than a week later were the catalysts for turning everything around. I made the decision to quit drinking. Not just stop drinking until I completed probation, but for good.

It was a few weeks afterwards that I found out I needed to turn myself in due to a motion to revoke probation. I had been living in San Antonio for over a year. One of the best decisions I've ever made was to refrain from drinking or drugs before doing so. Most people would say it wouldn't matter, because you're going to be locked up. But by staying by my commitment to be sober, I went to Travis County Jail with the right frame of mind and right motivation.

I stayed in county jail for 6 weeks, and then I went to SMART for the 140 days. Because of that initial decision for change, and because I'd been to treatment before, I wasn't starting from the bottom. I already had a foundation of what recovery is, so I focused my entire time at SMART towards changing my life and relapse prevention.

I left the SMART facility on March 11th, and I moved into a sober house. I obtained a breathalizer, attended class on Mondays and went to meetings.

That's what it shows, on paper, that I've done. This is what else I've done since entering Travis County Jail:

I've changed just about everything in my life. I read 30+ books in 6 months, and I read at least an hour every night. I'm feeding myself spiritually for the first time through meditation and studying eastern philosophy and religion. I'm eating like a normal person, not like a college freshman. I skateboard everywhere as it is my main transportation, along with Capital Metro. I'm wearing a nicotine patch daily as I'm quitting smoking for good. I exercise daily. I write. I write a lot.

I have a renewed motivation to be genuinely a better person, and not because I "have to", but because I need to. It's been "all about me" for a long time. I am working every day to improve and be a better person. To be better, you have to get out of concern for others and for the world. I want to grow every day and avoid being complacent. I like the new me, and I have to continue to work on myself in order to avoid old habits which could lead me back to the old me.

I enjoy Don's class on Monday night. It's healthy to review and share your week, and then become renewed for the upcoming one. However, it is time for the next stage for me. It's growth, and I will need to replace the Monday class with a meeting and do my own weekly review and goal-making session.

I wanted to communicate that I'm on a new path, and that it's no longer lip-service. I would like to request that I be allowed to complete Continuing Care early and proceed to my next life stage.

Thank you.