Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Blogs for Katrina Relief 09/01/2005

I am inviting all my fellow Bloggers to join me in Blogging for Donations for Hurricane Katrina Relief.

Click here to find out more.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I'm More Fun Than Disneyland!

I've been a little whacked out lately. I take Zoloft for depression. (Or, more accurately, sertralina, which is the same stuff, except in Mexico I get it over the counter at a fraction of the cost.) I went off it for a couple months when I first got sober this year, at my shrink's suggestion, and was a complete wreck. So I went back on it, with breathtaking results.

So anyway. The last few weeks I was starting to run out of the pills, didn't feel like making a run across the border, so I started skipping days here and there, to stretch out the supply. Then last week, I suddenly asked myself why I've been feeling so lousy lately. Well, duh. I went and got my supply, got back on my daily dosage, and I'm already feeling better. I know it was a problem because I get some funky side effects as the seratonin level builds back up in my brain.


My poor son got some brunt of both the depression/anxiety hanging on and the side effects of insomnia and its consequent irritability. So I was a little impatient with him this weekend, and not energetic enough to keep him from being bored. To be fair to myself, I have to admit he brought his own behavioral characteristics into the picture. Such as, getting into everything he can reach and attempting to get into everything he can't reach. Then, when I tell him not to, he grins at me and continues doing it. Repeatedly. Or, saying, "want cookie!!" continuously for 20 minutes. I lost my temper with him a few times.

We had fun, anyway. One of the things he likes best now is this little trick: I lay on my back with my knees up. He leans against my knees and grabs my hands. The I lift him up with my legs, so he's straight upside-down above me, then I grab him under the arms and flip him down to the floor on his back over my head. He loves it! I'm more fun than Disneyland!


I'm worried about my sponsor. He's a terrific guy, one of the best friends I've ever had, and he's been a great sponsor, helping me through some pretty rough spots. He's been particularly beneficial helping me explore my spirituality.

This is his situation: he had eight years of sobriety, after getting clean and sober in prison. Then he relapsed for 18 months before coming back in. He has been very serious and focused in his sobriety, and has 30 months this time around. He did rehab, then a group recovery home, and now is in sober living apartments. His deadline to move out is coming up in the next couple months. He had lost his license, he's gone through all the hoops to get it back, and now is just waiting for the state to process paperwork. So, things are coming together for him: ready to move out, and live and drive among the Earth People. It's a tremendous accomplishment for him, and I respect him a lot. On paper, this guy is a lost soul; in life, he's an inspiration, and a nice guy with a great sense of humor, besides.

He started playing around with online matchmaking sites. That's cool, he's avoided dating until he felt ready, and now he's ready to move, ready to drive, so why not ready to date? And I met my wife via AOL, so I have nothing against meeting people online.

Here's why I'm worried: he's smitten with a girl in Russia. I should say, alleged girl. He's been corresponding with her for maybe two months, and she says she coming to visit him, at her own expense, in two weeks, and staying for a month. She says she's a gynecologist in a town outside Moscow. She sends a lot of pictures, and she is absolutely gorgeous. A lot of the pictures are clearly professional.

Let's assume, for the moment, that this is completely on the level, and she somehow navigates the thicket of DHS and State to get a tourist visa in time to turn up here in two weeks. My sponsor's plan is, at that point, to explain to her he's a recovering alcoholic, can't drive, and she can't stay with him at the sober living apartment he lives in. I made a comment to him about keeping a lot of secrets from her, but he responded that this plan would work fine. It bothers me a lot that he's ready to dive into this relationship, but is unwilling to practice "rigorous honesty" at the outset.

On the other hand, let's assume the obvious: this thing is a scam. He's convinced himself it isn't. He believes it's legit because she says she's ready to pay her own way, and she reports all these things she's doing to get her visa. So, in the next few days, when she reports, say, an obstacle that requires him to wire her $1000, he's going to do it. Even though I, and everyone else he's told about it, has told him, don't send her any money -- if you want to help her pay for her ticket, give it to her when she's here. Maybe I'm just too cynical, but I think he's going to end up taken for money he can ill afford to throw away; and, even worse, he's going to have his heart broken.

And all of this makes it hard to focus on my steps with him...


I've been goofing around with my template. I haven't gotten into web site stuff this much since I did a site for a Playboy cover model. (It seemed like a perfectly normal thing to do when I was drinking... Sweet girl. But she kept gaining weight and using worse and worse photographers...) Is anyone having funky stuff happen with the reader survey? How about links to other blogs? I tested it all with IE6, Netscape7.2 and Firefox1.06 and it seemed to work okay. The only problem I found was that IE blows out sometimes if I do a mouseover before all the jpg's load -- I'm trying to find a solution for that. If you had problems, other than that, more than two days ago or so, it's probably fixed -- I had to do several quick template republications when bugs cropped up, and I apologize if one of the bugs caught you, or if I blew you out with a republish.

So, please let me know if my "improvements" are still causing problems for you. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Blog Site Development

My blog site development is going really well. Here is my latest version.

Maybe it's time to quit procrastinating and go to the laundromat...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

As a Concerned Parent...

I want to draw your attention to a scandal of Alaskan proportions. I was horrified to read of a Sunday School teacher tormenting preschoolers with terrifying visions of death. I can only be thankful my own toddler has not been subjected to such a monstrous ordeal.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Around the Blogs in 80 Seconds

I've seen some very cool stuff the past week or so in the blogosphere: thought-provoking, gut-wrenching, inspiring and funny. I've wanted to respond, but haven't had many chunks of time to do more than cursory reading.

My son has been with me all week, and he's had a bad cold, making him pretty cranky, short-tempered and bored, and needing a lot of attention. He's feeling much better today, and I'm taking him to LA to his mom's tomorrow.

For the moment, I want to highlight a couple things:
  • Welcome to Rusty! Dryblog promoted her blog the other day. She has a great-looking site and has a lot of good things to say about her first 5 months of sobriety.
  • Logan is trying to get an online meeting site going. He's moving to the sticks and has limited choices for real-world meetings. Anyone know of any other online meeting resources to recommend to him?
I hope to clutter a bunch of blogs with my comments in the next couple days, and probably call out a couple here on my blog. In the meantime -- happy trudging to AAers, happy beast-taming or whatever the hell you AVRTers do, happy seeking to those still drinking/using (you can find a way to stop), and happy living to those blessed with addiction-free lives.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Gratitude: 200-Some Days

Scott wrote this in his blog entry for this "tag" thingy that's been going around:
1 Year Ago: 269 days of sobriety. Not working. Just enjoying being sober. Working the steps. Here is my gratitude list from that day:
  • For 269 days of getting more than I expected
  • ...
  • To, day after day, sit with those whose greatest wish is that we all succeed
  • That everyone who comes into the rooms makes us stronger
  • That hope, given enough respect, becomes a comfortable reality
  • To improve on not judging by appearance
  • For those stronger than me who let me hold their hand
  • That when I am not thinking of God I need not worry because God is always thinking of me
  • For growing pains

Wow! I'm a big fan of Scott's gratitude lists, and this one really resonated. A year ago, Scott had 50 or so more days of sobriety than I do now. This list articulates, better than I can, a lot of things I am grateful for today.

A year later, you can see so much more depth and richness in Scott's daily gratitude lists -- reflecting, I think, the depth and richness of his program, his sobriety and his life. I daresay he seems less surprised by his sobriety today, he enjoys his life thoroughly today, and the little undercurrent of fear I detect in this list is completely absent today.

It gives me hope and optimism to see so much of myself in where Scott was just a year ago. He's one of the guys who has what I want. It inspires me to recommit myself, once again, to sobriety, surrender, faith in my Higher Power, humility, service and responsibility, so that my life may be as rich and happy as Scott's is today.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I've Been Tagged!

Logan got tagged, now he's tagged me. Here's my first go-round -- I may add more or modify it later.

10 Years Ago Today:

I was a consultant, based in Chicago. My client was in Honolulu. For six months my schedule was, roughly, ten days in Chicago, ten days in Honolulu. Got to the point I was the only one on the plane dreading going to Hawaii. I was in a zone beyond jet lag. Needless to say, I was drinking far too much to appreciate paradise!

Five Years Ago:

Married almost two years, this was a period when I wasn’t drinking so much, but it was starting to accelerate again. Marriage was in a rut, work was in a rut, but I was hopeful both would get better. They didn’t.

1 Year Ago:

One year ago today, I relapsed. I had gone to my first AA meeting two weeks earlier and stopped drinking. I had to have another 3-week fling with my old lover, Miller Genuine Draft, before saying goodbye forever. “Forever” lasted until December, when I relapsed again. Since January, I’ve been saying goodbye for today, every day, rather than goodbye forever.


Lazy day. A little self-pity, a little fear, a little resentment, a lot of procrastination.


Church, step study meeting, chores, working Step Two.

5 Snacks I Enjoy:

1. Quesadillas
2. Doughnuts
3. Celery with cream cheese
4. Carrots with ranch dressing
5. Ice cream

5 Bands That I Know the Lyrics to Most of Their Songs:

1. Bach
2. Brahms
3. Joan Osborne
4. Talking Heads
5. Beatles

Yeah, I’m pretty out of it. :P

5 Things I Would Do with $100,000,000:

1. Pay off debt
2. Buy real estate: home for me, home for my wife, pay off my mom’s and sister’s mortgages, buy investment property
3. Educational trust funds for my son and my niece
4. Establish a foundation to, among other things:
  • Endow a chair in 20th century history at my alma mater;
  • Establish an international institute for research and projects to promote diplomacy, economic development, investment, cultural development, education and political reform in the Americas, named for my son’s great-great-grandfather, who is known as “the Rousseau of the Mexican Revolution.”
5. Retire to manage my real estate investments and to consider and nurture worthy proposals to my foundation

5 Locations I Would Like to Run Away to:

Hmmm… I kind of like where I am!

5 Bad Habits I Have:

1. Smoking
2. Eating like a teenager
3. Watching too much television
4. Letting my apartment look like a pigsty before cleaning it
5. Never washing my car

5 Things I Like Doing:

1. Reading
2. Spending time with my son
3. Hanging out with AA friends
4. Worshiping
5. Sailing

5 Things I Would Never Wear:

1. A tattoo
2. Anything requiring piercing
3. Wife-beater undershirt
4. A mullet
5. Neck chain

5 TV Shows I Like(d):

1. Nova
2. Seinfeld
3. Judge Joe Brown
4. CSI
5. Law and Order: Criminal Intent

5 Movies I Like:

1. A Day at the Races
2. Dr. Strangelove
3. Independence Day
4. What Dreams May Come (I may be the only one in the world who liked it)
5. Chinatown

5 Famous People I Would Like to Meet:

(I chose these for being not just remarkable, but probably fun to spend some time with! Also limited to dead white males, so I don’t have to embarrass myself by admitting I’d like to meet Madonna.)

1. Abraham Lincoln
2. Bill Wilson
3. St. Augustine (I know he’s dead and male, not sure about white)
4. Benjamin Franklin
5. Winston Churchill

5 Biggest Joys at the Moment:

1. My son
2. AA
3. Church
4. My cats

5 Favorite Toys:

1. Computer
2. A camera, which I want to get soon!
3. My son’s tricycle

5 People to Tag:

1. Bossco
2. Smussyolay
3. Scott
4. DAAve
5. Andy

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


A blogging friend just closed down her blog and started a new one, withholding a few previously-known details about her identity. Why? She got into a jam at work, because someone read some things on her blog they didn't like.

Some other blogging friends have received poison-pen comments from people identified only as "anonymous," without any links.

Still others have deleted posts or felt constrained to explain or apologize for posts, because a friend or loved one didn't like the post.

All the bloggers I'm talking about are in Alcoholics Anonymous. Anonymity is a big thing for us AA's, and I think it's completely misunderstood by many unfamiliar with the Fellowship.

When I first came to AA, I thought everyone was anonymous so no one else inside AA would know who we really are, and that we were supposed to keep our alcoholism a complete secret from everyone outside of AA. All very sneaky because we are so ashamed of our alcoholism. We are supposed to hide.

Boy, did I have it wrong!

Anonymity in AA has two purposes. First, it protects the confidentiality of what another alcoholic says to us. For instance, my sponsor is not supposed to stand up at a meeting and say, "Listen to what Phil told me about in his fifth step..." There is, however, nothing to stop me, if I choose, to stand up, give my full name, address, phone number and social security number, and share my entire fifth step. We respect others' anonymity; we choose whatever level of personal anonymity we want for ourselves.

The second purpose of anonymity is to prevent anyone from setting themselves up as public spokesmen for AA, at the level of "press, radio and film" (and this now includes television). This keeps any of us from using AA to pursue personal power, prestige and wealth; and keeps AA from being hijacked by a self-willed dry drunk.

There is nothing about shame, sneaking or hiding in our anonymity. It's about respect and humility.

The first blogger -- let's call her Mata Hari -- disclosed enough information about herself to be identifiable, but well within the AA tradition of anonymity. And she is very honest and forthright in her "sharing" -- it benefits many of us. Who knows how many people, a little worried about their drinking, have found their way to her blog, identified with her words, saw a kind heart in her picture, knows someone who once lived in her town, has a fondly-remembered great-aunt with her name? And thought, hmmmm, maybe I'll try going to an AA meeting.

Now, because someone with a little power over Mata Hari didn't "get" how important journalizing and sharing are, to her and her readers, she has to be a little less honest, a little more anonymous, a little more remote from her readers. Because something Mata Hari said rubbed the wrong way.

The poison-pen anonymous commenters are simply contemptible, in my opinion. Their anonymity is fearful, ashamed, sneaky and hiding. There is nothing resembling respect or humility in their anonymity.

I'm sad for the bloggers who have been forthright and honest in their words, and in identifying themselves to people close to them, and have those people not "get" what's going on and feel they have to delete posts or explain or apologize for them. It takes courage to put yourself out there, and hurts when you pay a price.

I've chosen to be fairly anonymous in my blog. I don't share many identifiable details and I have told hardly any friends about the blog. I admit this is primarily out of fear. I don't want anything to come back and bite me. I admire those of you who choose less anonymity than I have chosen, and it irks and saddens me that some of you have suffered for it. And the people who hide behind cowardly anonymity to attack and inflict pain make me angry.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Serenity, Soil and Search Engines

I tend to blog about things in my life as they relate to recovery. There's been a pleasant, quiet day-to-day-ness in life and recovery lately, so I haven't seen much blog-worthy stuff going on. I'm eager to start on Step Two again with my sponsor this week. I'll have to make some decisions very soon about whether to move to LA or stay where I am, and therefore whether to move, and therefore where to find a job and start working. The future of my relationship with my wife remains uncertain and stressful. Fairly big stuff, actually. I'm nervous about it, but, by the grace of God, neither fearful nor anxious. I see a lot of things I need to do in my life and in my recovery, but, for the moment at least, they are not overwhelming me.

My son went back to LA with his mom on Saturday. He was with me most of the last two weeks. My mom and her husband were visiting from Chicago for a week, especially for my son's third birthday last weekend. My wife actually threw a party for him and invited us. All of it -- the time with my son, the time with mom and "dad," the party -- was great, we all had a wonderful time.

It's been busy and eventful, but has felt quiet and serene. I'm not used to that. :)


There was a meditation in 24 Hours a Day last week that alluded to the parable of the sower. Some seed fell on stone, some on shallow soil, some on thorny soil. But some fell on good soil and yielded a rich harvest. I see my spiritual state today as thorny soil, too easily choking off new growth with the thorns that became deeply rooted over the years. Day by day, the thorns are slowly being uprooted, and the good seeds are slowly taking root. God is preparing the soil in my life. In God's time, if I am diligent in tending the garden, the soil will be good enough to yield a bountiful harvest of His blessings. I'm trying to be patient and diligent.


Ever take a look at some of the search engine results that lead to hits on your blog? Take a look at who's number 4 of 230,771 for "information on the book the summer of my german soldier." As of this post, at least. Sheesh, enough of you click on the link here, I'll be up to number one.

I hear you can generate a lot of hits to your site from search engines if you pepper it with sexy phrases like, say, "Separated, codependent single mom available for dates in Los Angeles now!" I'm not going to do that, though. I want to keep this blog on-topic.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Comment From Anonymous

This was posted today as an anonymous comment to an old post on this blog. I want to highlight it here, hoping the poster will read this and benefit from any advice other readers may have.

Here's what our friend wrote:

This is my 36th day of being sober. Well, it depends on who you talk to; maybe I’m just a dry drunk.

I went into detox, obtained a sponsor, and completed steps 1, 2 and 3.

Since my release I have been attending 2 to 3 AA meetings a week, attending an aftercare program and have stayed sober. Still, I am harassed by my sponsor that I am not attending enough meetings and just making excuses. He said that AA comes before EVERYTHING! Is that really the case? He said that there has to be a substitute for alcohol, whether it is coffee, cigarettes or AA. If I AM making excuses and need a substitute for alcohol, does my daughter not count? Before I even started this program, I had commitments with my daughter.

I’m supposed to be married in November, should I just scrap the whole thing and start going to AA 7 nights a week. I really don’t think that is practical is it? Maybe to some that is there only option.

My life has never been out of control. There has been some bumpy times, but certainly not unmanageable by any means. I went into this program on my own, no trouble with the law or anything. I paid for it on my own, insurance wouldn’t cover it. I just felt that it would be a good thing for me to do, for my health, and my family.

Now I’m feeling very good about myself. My problem is with the way I have been treated by my sponsor. Nothing like “good job for staying sober for 30 days”. Nothing but belittling me. That doesn’t feel very good or rewarding.

I let my sponsor go last night and will be looking for a new one. I’m not counting out AA at this point; I want to give it another chance. Just not sure what is expected of me.

For the record; the ONLY time I really wanted a drink during the past 36 days was when I felt pressure from that sponsor. That’s pretty sad when you think about it.

First, I'll say: Congratulations on 36 days! It IS something to celebrate! Congratulations on going to meetings, getting a sponsor, and working the steps. These are all GREAT things to be doing.

It's not uncommon to change sponsors early in recovery. You need a sponsor you can work with effectively. It's also common (universal, maybe!) to resent and be pissed off at your sponsor sometimes. You're the only one who can determine if you have the right sponsor. Based solely on what you've said, my gut says stick with him for now. He's doing the steps with you, he's got you going to meetings and encouraging you to be involved in the Fellowship -- this is all "by the book," classic sponsor behavior, and it's gotten a lot of sponsees not just sober, but happy, joyous and free.

If your decision to dump your sponsor is final, get a new sponsor RIGHT AWAY. Make sure your new sponsor is committed to continue working the steps with you.

I don't know what your relationship is with your fiancee. November is a long way away. Make no mistake -- you are not just a dry drunk, you ARE in recovery. If you continue working your program with the commitment you have so far, you will see a very different man in the mirror in November than you do today. By November you may feel closer and more in love with your fiancee than you can imagine right now. On the other hand, you may feel that marrying her may not be the right thing to do at that point.

The way I look at "AA comes first:" if I decide to have a drink, I will get drunk, and I will continue to get drunk, and I will lose everything. When I was 36 days into sobriety, I didn't really see clearly how much I had already lost and/or thrown away by drinking, or what thin ice I was skating on. Just six months into sobriety, I have already seen some things restored to me, and I have more hope and optimism than I've had in decades. AA gives me tools I need to stay sober; I have to stay sober to keep from sinking into, at best, suicidal misery, and losing everyone I love and everything I care about; I WANT to stay sober because of the blessings and happiness I've received already and the promise of more to come. Put it all together, and AA is the lynchpin, or keystone, I absolutely have to have. It HAS to be my priority.

You wonder if your daughter counts as a substitute for alcohol. I've gone through a similar thought process with my son. I had a period of focusing on my son as motivation for sobriety, a substitute for alcohol. Essentially, my son was my Higher Power. I had it backwards: he's a tiny boy, and I have a responsibility to be, in very tangible and concrete ways, his "higher power." My Higher Power has to be God. It's my responsibility (and, I've discovered, a marvelous gift from God) to do my best to be a conduit of God's purpose, God's love, God's nurturing for my son.

For me, the God of my understanding, my higher power, is the substitute for alcohol. God works with me, teaches me, and shows me my purpose, through my sponsor, through AA meetings, through working my steps, through my son, through myriad ways each day -- to the extent that I am diligent in maintaining my spiritual fitness, and have adequate humility to receive the message and not short-circuit or overwhelm the message with my own agenda.

What's expected of you in AA? "The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking." Anything else anyone says (including this post you are reading now) can be taken as a suggestion or an opinion. Your standing as a member of the Fellowship is exactly the same as anyone else. You are not required to go to meetings, do the steps, believe in God, have a sponsor, have AA commitments, or anything else -- they merely represent the successful experience others have had staying sober. Each of us is free to make AA what we need it to be for us to stay sober.

God bless you, and may He grant you many more days of sobriety!

I welcome and look forward to reading what others have to say.