Monday, January 5, 2009

Things I Have Learned, Part I

Be honest--like me, on January 2, you participated in and heard the collective sigh of relief: It's over, hallelujah. We bid a not-so-fond adieu to 2008 and look to the new year with hope, wonder and trepidation.

As many of you know, I'm an alcoholic and addict who has not needed to drink or use drugs in almost 18 years. This never ceases to amaze me, and I can say with total candidness that I don't know how any of this occurred. I don't know if my chromosomes or environment are to be held responsible for my ailment, and I don't know why I have, so far, managed to stay clean. The former is of no import. I do not blame my parents or grandparents; my immediate surroundings both as a child and as an adult are innocent. The latter--sobriety--is far more meaningful and interesting. I think I have managed to stay clean through a regimen of fear, avoidance and faith. And a bunch of varied sayings and adages I've picked up over time. So, as we start a brand new year, I thought I'd share a few of these with you. Some are self-evident, others, I hope, will provoke some thoughts. Enjoy!

Things I Have Learned

1. I can be right or I can be free
2. People do the best they can
3. Nobody ever woke up and said, “I think I’ll be an asshole today.”
4. My first reaction is always wrong
5. Not every day has to be the best day or worst day of my life
6. I can’t erase the past but I can turn the page.
7. I’m powerless over alcohol, no matter who it’s in.
8. The less I mess with my future, the better it gets.
9. Faith is not jumping from A to B. It’s jumping from A.
10. I may be powerless but I’m not helpless.
11. Stop putting quarters in the jukebox if it don’t play your song.
12. It’s not whether we get it, it’s whether we do it.
13. Live in the process, not the goal.
14. Normal people tailor their behaviors to their actions. Alcoholics tailor their actions to their behaviors.
15. Don’t stand in the idiot spotlight.
16. You can’t work it every other day at a time.
17. No matter how far down the road you go, you’re always the same distance from the ditch.
18. Drinking is for reward or relief
19. Acceptance is not approval.
20. Honesty is having one story.

21. Crying doesn’t pay

And just in case you're still reading, here's installment 62 of Wasted Miracles.

Chapter 16

The door was still open ten minutes later when Joe the Cop walked in, a broad smile on his face. “Hey, Colin! I’m glad you’re home, I wanted to tell you about--Jeezus Christ what the hell happened to you!” Joe stood in the doorway. He sniffed the air. “Oh man, it smells like a distillery in here. You OK? Did you...” He let the question hang.
Colin was on the couch. His head hurt and he was rubbing the back of his neck. “Just fine, and no, I didn’t.”
Joe’s eyes were wide, taking in the tipped over Monkey Ward machine, the weight plates on the floor, the puddle of water in the kitchen. “Holy shit! What happened?”
“Had a visit. Two black guys, wanted information about a dealer called Herbie.”
Joe looked blank.
Colin continued. “Herbie was Josie’s boyfriend, except that he’s dead. I’m pretty sure it was the guy in the paper. These two guys seemed to think I knew him. I didn’t. They didn’t believe me.”
“What two guys?”
“Don’t know. Ever heard of someone called the Zulu? They were his people. He’s got Josie.”
Joe went to the kitchen. “Jeez. What a mess.” He foraged in the refrigerator, came out with a quart bottle of ginger ale. “Zulu. That rings a faint bell. Listen, you OK? Want me to take you to the hospital or something? You look kinda rocky.”
“They tried to pour some vodka down my throat.”
Joe came closer, inspected Colin’s face. “Oh jeez. That’s shitty.” He peered closer. “How’d you feel?”
Colin tried to smile but it hurt his face. “I think that if I’m going to have another drink, I’d prefer to pour it myself.”
Joe nodded. “Yeah. So. Want to go to the station? Try to ID them?”
Colin shook his head. “But can you go there and hit the computer? Search for Zulu, maybe find out who he is? I don’t understand any of this, why they would come here, how they’d know we’re looking for Josie... It doesn’t make any sense. Only people who know about it are you, me, Catherine and her husband. And that girl, Mollie Catfish. And the limo guy, Dioh.”
Joe counted in his head. “That’s what, seven people? Hard to keep a secret. You told the African guy? Shit, there it is. He probably told the other spade. Simple as that.”
Colin thought about it, decided against. “I don’t think so. Me and Catherine saw him. He’s straight.”
Joe looked doubtful, stood. “OK, I’ll check. Zulu. That’s Z-U-L-U. I’ll look under the AKAs.” Halfway to the door, he turned. “Almost forgot. Wanted you to see this. Maybe it’ll cheer you up. It goes into the record books.” He pulled a newspaper clipping from his notepad, found his reading glasses, put them on his nose. “Today’s Post. Listen to this. ‘A man driving a stolen car was shot to death early yesterday by a man apparently upset that his frolic in an open fire hydrant was disrupted by the car’s presence on the street, D.C. police said. Blah blah blah. The gunman and a woman who disrobed to join him were enjoying the rush of water from an open hydrant blah blah blah. A short time later, a 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier that police later determined was stolen drove onto the street.’ This is where it gets good. ‘Police said witnesses told them that the man enjoying the water became upset at the driver. He got up and took a handgun from a man standing nearby. The man walked to the car, fired several shots into the windshield and then fired several more through the passenger window. The driver was dead at the scene.’ Can you imagine that? Running around naked with your girlfriend in front of a hydrant and just offing another guy. You gotta admit, that’s rich.” Joe folded the clipping, replaced it in his notebook. “I’m keeping that one, nobody would believe it.”

1 comment:

  1. In response to today's post, I thought this went with it ...

    Sweet Darkness

    When your eyes are tired
    the world is tired also.

    When your vision has gone
    no part of the world can find you.

    Time to go into the dark
    where the night has eyes
    to recognize its own.

    There you can be sure
    you are not beyond love.

    The dark will be your womb

    The night will give you a horizon
    further than you can see.

    You must learn one thing:
    the world was made to be free in.

    Give up all the other worlds
    except the one to which you belong.

    Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
    confinement of your aloneness
    to learn

    anything or anyone
    that does not bring you alive

    is too small for you.

    ~ David Whyte ~

    In a commentary by Whyte, he recognizes that we often make people/things too small for us by the names we give them.