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Posts Tagged ‘alcoholism’

25 years ago at Thanksgiving dinner at our family friends’ house in a suburb of Detroit, I took my last drink of alcohol. I’m sure I had a glass of wine at least. More than one glass? A beer? That I don’t know. I was never picky. I loved all alcohol. If the occasion called for wine, that’s what I’d be drinking.

I remember driving north, probably on I-75, then I-94, to their house. I have no idea what suburb. Was it still Southfield where they lived or had they moved on? I remember the barren fields, the low winter sun, the flat landscape on the highway. Did we pass the huge tire on the side of the highway, did we pass one of the first super-flashy moving digitized billboards I’d ever seen in my life?

My mother lived in Farmington Hills, Michigan at the time. Paul and I would drive up on the weekends and visit her, stay in her ranch condo, rent about a dozen movies from the arty-farty video store a mile away, lock ourselves in the den and watch movies all weekend. Sometimes we would fight, inevitably we would have sex, sometimes we’d go out to eat, even if just for lunch, sometimes take a walk in the sterile “neighborhood” that was like all of the other hundreds of condo neighborhoods in the suburb I grew up in for a few years when I was still in elementary school. The condos and sprawl came later, after my family moved away to a suburb of Toledo.

I had skirted around AA for about a year, hanging out at Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings with another friend of mine from college. After the meetings, we’d go out and get drunk at one or two of my favorite townie bars in Kent.

When I finally went to my first AA meeting, after being invitied by a woman who I banquet waitressed with at a sprawling restaurant in Hudson, Ohio, I felt happy and at-home right away; not like I felt when I was around the dragged-down energy of the people in the ACoA meetings. The alcoholics were a happy, gregarious lot; the codependents were pissed off and low.

It only took me a month to know why I was so comfortable in the AA meetings. These were my people.

Last drink, Thanksgiving Day, November 1987.

And that’s all she wrote.

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In 1983, I was a sophomore living in the dorms at Kent State University.

Some time that year, we got the diagnosis that my father had colon cancer. Now that I come to write about it, I realize I don’t have many details. He had surgery to remove part of the colon and when they opened him up, they found that the cancer had metastasized to the liver.

My parents were living in Sylvania, Ohio at the time.

Some time in 1984 or ’85. Our good family friends in Southfield, Michigan, lent me a giant, dark-green Ford so that I could commute back and forth from Kent to Toledo while my father was dying. I spent the summer drunk, screwing a number of non-boyfriends, dancing to reggae bands upstairs at Mother’s Junction (above Ray’s), and going to see the Numbers Band at JB’s down.

I can’t remember what job I held. I do remember the heart-wrenching misery of driving to Toledo every Friday night and returning every Sunday. The long dark road, I-80, where deer/car collisions were a regular occurrence and the tail-end of the Appalachian range flattened completely by the time you’d reach Northwest Ohio. Some damn ugly land. I remember how everything in me screamed not to go. If I didn’t go home, would he not die?

Richfield, Ohio, Kita Lyons’ property. I had written in my book that this is July 13, 1985, 2 days shy of my 23rd birthday. One of the necklaces I’m wearing belonged to my Tante Nelli, but she died in May 1986. I wonder if she gave me some jewelry earlier than I remember.

My father died in August 1985.

I decided to make my pilgrimage the following year. My mother bought me a used, silver Toyota Corolla/Tercel, a model that they made for only a short time. I think it cost 4 thousand bucks. I have no memory of how many miles it had on it. I do remember going to someone’s house to check out the car, how their driveway looked, dark black asphalt. I would pay my mother back from my aunt’s estate when I received that money. My father’s only living sister, Nelli Landau. She died 9 months after him. I know it was a broken heart, for she loved my father and had no husband or children of her own.

I decided first to drive east. I would be staying mostly in youth hostels, but also had a few connections to stay with people I’d never met. Friends of friends. I miss that spirit. I miss it.

I am not sure any more all of the places I stopped. Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where I stayed in a governor’s mansion because my friend’s friends were the caretakers. The wife was a New England blue blood, going back several generations. She was a fiber artist, had a studio set up in the house.

They steamed mussels we picked up fresh from a little fish shack in town. I’d never eaten mussels before. I learned what a Widow’s Walk is. I toured the rose arbor in the back yard. The wife’s name was Sydney. This is how people name their children in New England.

One night, we drove past oceanfront mansions, stopped on the damp ocean beach, got high, and watched the sunset.

I next stopped in Cherryville, Maine, the famed place of an annual blueberry harvest which gathers hippies, loafers, stoners, and other back-to-nature types for seasonal farm work. Now I realize that there must be real migrant workers who go there, not just the educated white children of middle class families.

The hostel was really an old hippie commune. My first of so many things, again. I used an ATM machine in the quaint town. I got poison ivy (sumac?) on my legs. I stood in a circle with a couple dozen other people, stoned, holding hands, swaying, singing om om om. I learned what a Clivus is and determined that some day I would have one.

Maine, Bar Harbor, a little boat trip around some of the islands where I saw seals and puffins. The first time I heard the word shoal. Acadia where I walked on some barnacled rocks for a few hours, did nothing else, and left. I met a guy at the youth hostel. I remember eating a meal, walking around the town. Saying Bah Haba like the locals over and over, laughing, tschoke shops, lobster everything everywhere. I gave him a ride to the Greyhound station in Boston. A kiss in the rain. I didn’t even like him, but he was friendly. Dark hair, not too tall.

One very clear memory is of driving on the interstate in Massachusetts and the giant granite rocks on either side, with their trees and lichen, roots, gray and yellow stains. I think of it still when we go to Boston on I-90. I remember.

I started this post thinking about every car I’ve ever owned because my 2000 Toyota mini-van is up near 160K miles and creaky.

Let’s call this Installment One of Old Girl, the story of the first half of my cross-country trip after the death of my father.

♦ ♦ ♦

Hey, I’m not saying I like this, but I went to see them live a lot back in the day. The first video is kinda shaky to start, still good to see them looking good and playing after all these years.

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I still use a spiral-bound appointment book for keeping track of important dates and appointments

I take most of my writing notes in a notebook with a pen

I do not have an iPhone (Smartphone, Blackberry, etc) yet

as a family, we share one cell phone, an old-fashioned one without texting capabilities

I have never texted and no Twitter for me

I have been on Facebook for 4 years and think every change they’ve made since I joined has been a change for the worse

I have never printed a digital photo

I have never scanned a photo (but Hubby has done this for me)

I still own three 35mm cameras. One of them has film in it from 2 years ago. One, a Pentax, I’ve never used.

I still have fantasies of using my oldest camera, a camera my mother was given before she immigrated to the US in 1958. It is a simple and beautiful camera, a Retina, made in Germany (by Kodak in some roundabout way–follow the link). It doesn’t have a full range of f stops. It came with a hard-cover book for learning to use it. A hard cover, bound book. Can you believe it? The camera is all metal and a bit of leather. No plastic. It is fucking awesome to hold and to behold, to play with, to turn the dials on, to feel the clicks and grooves of metal-on-metal.

I used to use the Retina, even with its limited settings. It was my go-to camera for black-and-white photos. Beautiful. I miss it and I miss real black-and-white photos. I never mastered it as I wished because I switched to a (not so great) 35mm Minolta that did everything for me. I completely stopped using the manual settings even before I had kids. After kids, forget it.

I used to love to hand-crank the film in order to rewind it

Remember flash cubes? I love that.

My family never owned a Polaroid camera as far as I remember, but I confess, I did own a Kodak disc camera in high school.

I love the old black-and-white square photos from my childhood, the date right in the white border. Classy. God I love those.

In college, I took 3 semesters of film in the Art Department with the great instructor and filmmaker, Richard Myers. That was an amazing time. We would all smoke in class. Unfuckingbelievable.

In high school, we had a smoking area outside and we were allowed to smoke on school grounds (I think we needed to be 16 and have a permission slip).

My first cigarette was from a sample pack sitting on the edge of the built-in bookshelves in my father’s office. It was a pack of Kools. I went into the bathroom and watched myself smoke. I remember the cough and the headache, the menthol and the buzz.

Until college, I smoked Marlboro Greens. I eventually became a pack-a-day smoker. I quit smoking, cold turkey, at least 2 times (once for about 4 months, once for 8) until I quit for good many, many years ago. For a number of years before I quit, I had switched to Marlboro Light 100s.

I had smoking dreams for years after I quit. Those were very, very, very satisfying.

This reminds me that I also used to take a bottle of red wine to a lot of high school basketball and football games. I carried a large purse that could fit a whole bottle with ease, would down half a bottle in the bathroom stall and share the other half with my pal in the stall next door. Look, it’s not as glamorous as Larry Craig, but that was me, the budding alcoholic at 15. Where did I get the wine, you ask? Stolen (sometimes given to me by my mother if I was heading to a party, no jive) from my parents’ supply from a constant stock of cases.

I can’t believe I remember this shit.

Yes, thankfully I never had sex in a public bathroom. But did you see a movie called Captives with Tim Roth and Julia Ormond? Because that movie was not good, but it had the sexiest sex-in-a-bathroom scene that I have ever seen. The scenes between Tim Roth and Julia Ormond should convince any heterosexual woman that a man need not be good looking, tall, or have good teeth to be smolderingly sexy. Just try it. Tim Roth makes me melt. He deserves his own twinklysparkles‘ blog post.

I have never seen American Idol or Survivor, nor any of the current reality-dating shows, though I did see about 20 minutes of one once (these have been airing for about 10 years, right?). I have watched a little bit of Dancing With the Stars twice and I liked it.

I do love a good TV show, but I only watch on Netflicks.

Remember I said I would never tire of Led Zeppelin’s version of In My Time of Dying? Well, my kid played it in the car on the way to New Haven last week and guess what? It was once too many and I finally heard all of the silliness of Robert Plant’s singing in the third quarter (or is that the fourth fifth?) of the song (I still love the song and his pleading, but I had an epiphany).

I can tell that the labyrinthine pathways of neural connections in my brain don’t work like they used to. I don’t miss my sharper mind, but I can’t understand math or complicated instructions about mechanical things any more and that I don’t like.

When I took my One-to-One training section with Kevin, the blue-shirted Genius at the Apple store, he told me, “keep learning new things” when the subject of the elderly and technology came up.

Kevin was especially cute and kind, so I will take his advice and will try to learn Italian and fencing, African drumming and African dance. First, I have to get the damn taxes done, finish taking One-to-One classes for my Mac, continue to organize our finances, finish raising my kids (4-and-a-half more years ’til the little one is done with HS), apply for that new, less evil and less expensive credit card, continue my new exercise regimen, build my iron stores, make sure I don’t bleed for the next 6-8 months so help me god….

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Before you think I don’t wish us all well for the new year,

★ ★ ★ Happy New Year!!! ★ ★ ★

Also, in case you think I’m in some sort of seasonal crappy state, like last year at this time, here is a dashing couple to put those fears to rest:

I have been uninspired of late. Should I stop blogging (for now)? Was this just an enjoyable one-year experiment? Do I really want to continue Music Monday on a regular basis? What about posting poetry? Will I continue to participate in Poetry Jam? Do I have anything that needs to be said or is it just more ether? Should I continue to link [some of] my blog posts to Facebook?

I am not one for resolutions per se. Two years ago I started taking regular yoga classes. This had been something I’d desired for YEARS. I have done a little bit of yoga my whole life and finally, in December of 2008, I knew I could commit to regular classes. Last year, I decided to start this blog. I didn’t make a resolution; I was simply ready. I do like the idea of a new start, but I don’t like to box myself in. As an alcoholic, rigidity tends to make me rebel; I try not to set myself up for failure (as if I can always see where I’m going–wouldn’t that be nice). Rather, I like to give myself the best chance of success. That can be tricky to discern, but I do okay.

I am already making some of the changes I want for 2012. Nothing difficult or life-altering, just small things that need attending to and to which I can attend because my children need it, our finances need it, I need it, my house needs it, &c. (HA! The first time I’ve used an ampersand with a c on the end on my blog, maybe even the first ampersand on my blog. I promise not to do it again for at least a day).

For today, a video of Tim Eriksen from a couple of years back. If you read the notes below the video on youtube, he gives a little background on the song. It is one of my favorite Sacred Harp songs, one which I can actually lead (not always so easy with more complex songs). I do love the sound of the bajo sexto, but could do without the spinning around of the camera. Still, I hope you enjoy this. It was either this or my kids and I were going to sing Sacred Harp #162 for you via the Mac. But the light is SO bad in my kitchen and my face so sunken. I wouldn’t have chatted, though, only the song. Maybe next year….

Obviously, it was a lot colder a year ago this time of year, though it’s predicted to go into the single digits overnight this week, lots of low 20s and wind in the day.

Today, I was driving down my little street and the wind was whipping the leaves around. It seemed to be snowing broken leaves, but then, I saw real snow. The snow lifted up from the ground, I swear it wasn’t falling. It lasted all of 2 minutes.

No matter what happens, I’ve been happy to blog. Now I wait for snow and the return of the light which is happening some days. Other times, it seems so strangely overcast and blustery that I can’t tell what season I’m in, where I live, when the days will change.

Look, I can tell that you are not convinced about my well-wishes. Time for another New Year’s photo to let you know I’m serious:

If they can do it, why can’t I? I could immerse myself in non-alcoholic bubbly, right?

Best to you and yours, with love and kisses,

♡ twinkly

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A little late today….

I may have hinted at it and I may be repeating myself, but I am grateful for my family and home and for living in Western MA. Nothing like a trip, which included 700+ miles on the road and about 1000 miles in the air, to remind me of what I love and of my many blessings.

Back in Ohio, I was able to catch up with many friends who I hadn’t seen in a lot of years. I attended my 30-year HS reunion in Sylvania. It was strange and surreal and heartening and fun, a blast and really groovy overall.

Really grateful to be sober.

While in Kent, I visited my friend who owns and runs a frame shop. I bought a couple of black squirrel glasses, poked around her new space. Back in the day, I had many things framed by her (when I used to earn a buck and could afford it). She is the best framer I know and runs one of the best businesses in town. Unbeknownst to me, another friend of mine was cutting mats in the basement of the shop right then, so I got to see her as well. What a fabulous surprise.

I got to visit an old roomie of mine, finally see his house and meet his kids (though I met the oldest when she was a baby). He played the tabla for me right next to the newly-created pond that he built for his wife. It was all just so good.

I miss my old life because of those folks.

What else? I attended a wake, unplanned, that. I did get to see my friend from New Mexico who I hadn’t seen, we calculated, in about 17 years. Despite the circumstance, her mother’s death, it was great to be able to see her.

Back in Sylvania, I had the great fortune to stay and hang out with one of my oldest friends. I can’t put into words what that all meant to me. The overarching feelings are just these, gratitude and love.

You know Judy Collins’ does the Sandy Denny song “Who Knows Where the Time Goes,” right? You could play that right now. Or you could listen to this:

Lastly, and more fun than a barrel of monkeys, is that I got to do something I’d wanted to do since I turned 40 and that was a nude photo shoot. A friend of mine recently got a new camera and I volunteered to be a body for her. As it turned out, I wasn’t naked for a lot of it, and Kathy wisely brought some different draping fabrics. She is the professional after all.

This was another full-circle experience because this friend was an attendant and photographer (pre-digital!) at both of my daughters’ births. I am now at the other end of my fertility and she took photos of me again. It was a great experience–educational, fun, and empowering. Not as empowering as having a baby without drugs, but less painful and more fun. For the most part, I wasn’t even naked, just wrapped in gauzy Greek goddess fabrics.

Now go out and get to your next HS reunion and don’t be afraid of getting naked when you’re old! ‘Kay?


photo: ©kgfarthing2011

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