Clean-up on Aisle 4! Today’s 12 Step Boogie Lesson

Just celebrated a Sobriety Birthday. Took a chip at my fave Reno meeting; sponsor and friends cheering me on. Feel free to have a drink in my honor.
Will be there in spirit(s).
Join me in a double espresso if you’re stopping by the house.

sober humor rachael TK

Currently working on Step 4:

“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”

If you’re familiar with 12 step programs you’ll know that this particular portion of  the journey is considered to be the most frightening, emotional and difficult. The point of working The Steps is to bring a person to freedom and happiness.
The freedom of bondage from self. Or self-will run riot as the 12 Steps say.
Or, the freedom that allows you to happily live in your own skin, as I say.
Knowing an ease of living which allows the organic occurrence of self will to spill naturally: the pursuit of helping others, recognizing the joyful incidents in life,  and by being an example to those who seek guidance and help them to recover from the disease of alcoholism.
The book Alcoholics Anonymous states that upon completion of all 12 steps the addict will find a ‘spiritual awakening’.  I’m an atheist so that phrase doesn’t resonate with me.

Freedom from my own past mistakes, guilt, blame, the ability to keep from repeating the same idiotic decisions over and over, and the selflessness resulting will allow me to be of maximum service to others. To stop hating myself.
By helping other people we get out of our own problems. It works both ways. Good deal.

Instead of following the suggestions of this program verbatim  I re-configure the phrase ‘spiritual awakening’ to reflect what we’re all looking for: Replacing the fear and anger which cause selfish acts and self-loathing with acceptance,  gratitude, humility and helpfulness to others. We have to fill the void left by self-medication to dull life and pain. Believe I read somewhere that nature abhors a vacuum. Or cats abhor them. Eh, either way.

I don’t believe Alcoholics Anonymous should be considered a work inscribed in stone.   The flatline in membership over the past few years can surely be traced to the rigidity of many local groups, and the General Services Council. Recently both Toronto and Kansas City threw out the agnostic/atheist meetings previously listed on their schedules.

There are as many specialized meetings available (in larger cities at any rate), as there are diverse groups in society as a whole. If you Google for a local meeting schedule you’ll find fellowship groups geared towards LGBT, Pagans, Doctors, Lawyers, Men Only, Women Only, Teens and many other special or minority interests.

The idea that being an agnostic or atheist precludes a person from finding sobriety, and doesn’t belong in 12 Step literature, meetings and groups is frightening. It’s not just showing prejudice, it is showing ignorance and most importantly it keeps people away who want help.

The ‘Big Book,’ as we alkies refer to the tome Alcoholics Anonymous, explicitly states that we are a fellowship and
The ONLY requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

Big Book Thumpers (think religious fundamentalists and zealots) make me deranged. You’ll find them all over the world. “By the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of Alcoholics Anonymous I am sober today!”
Holy crap Batman.
Not my style. A huge turn off if you are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Pagan and particularly non theist or deist. Importantly, being physically sober doesn’t make you happy. It doesn’t cure your woes. Without tools to aid us we’re just dry drunks. You know them. Sober but still all kinds of fuckered up, inherently unhappy and pissed off at the world.
Why bother then?! Unless you dig that whole cross and nails thing.

The salient point of Step 4, and finding peace and sanity, is making an inventory.
In writing.
This is similar to what any business owner must do annually. If you’ve ordered items that don’t sell you’ve got to let them go.  I’m having a fire sale this month.

Step 4 is a literal inventory of character defects as opposed to an inventory of the items in a store. Such as that pallet of board games which turned out to be one of the dumbest purchases you’ve made that season.
Don’t ask me how I can relate to this metaphor so well.

I hear virtually all of you saying “Surely not! Miss R? Character Defects? Blasphemy!” Yes it’s true.

In order to be happy joyous and free (but still cheap nyuk nyuk nyuk) life has to be lived with rigorous honesty. Except with the IRS. I’m not talking about ‘cash register’ honesty. Have always had that.
This rigorous honesty has to be with myself. Which sucks. No more two day pity parties complete withblack balloons, Ben and Jerry’s, fabulous playlists of my favorite depressing music, and of course the number one offender: Not seeing my part in most past bad situations.

As a veteran of the sobriety wars my original 4th Step was completed 17 years ago. Think there must have been at least 140 items on the list. Today that list consists of less than 30 items, probably closer to 25.  Mercifully all of the years I was clean and sober did some good and a lot of information stuck.

Making the inventory list begins with writing down ALL persons, places and things which piss you off. You’ll start out thinking there are just a few. Suddenly your pen will begin flying as if possessed. Weird but true.

Next, you’ll make a second column describing the situation which brings up such commendable memories and thoughts -she said in her best snarky voice-.  The last column lists WHY you feel uncomfortable, agitated or pissed off at the items on your inventory list.

Once again, seventeen years later, it’s apparent that Fear is the basis for my discomfort. Fear translates into anger, self-pity, and blaming others. Including ourselves. There are a lot of items on my 4th Step list which are the result of outside influences. Letting go of unnecessary guilt is part of the process as well.

Going to stop today’s 4th Step dance lesson here. Hope you may have an idea now of what your friend, family member or yourself, is dealing with when talking about the 4th Step. They’re surely losing their friggin minds at this point.

It’s scary to look at our deepest fears. To see on paper every minute, agitating, horrifying detail ranging from cruel verbal outbursts to sexual conduct that has left us feeling like worthless pieces of human crap.

I’ll tell you what I know to be true for me in a brief overview:

Step 1:  We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. –yeah I got that!

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity –I’ll try anything at this point. Even AA as a higher power-

Step 3: Turned our will and our lives over to God, as we understand Him. –Wait. Back up. WTF?!

Note the last portion of the above step. It’s in there to ‘help’ us poor misguided agnostics and atheists and pagans to give up their idea of controlling the universe. I got over this hurdle by realizing that if there is no God, then I couldn’t be Her. Replacing the word God with your idea of a Power Greater Than Yourself can be a slippery semantic bitch. So, I use another technique as well; break it down to it’s essence. This is acceptance. We are not in control of life. I don’t mean give up.People have free will. It is refers to material problems. You have no control if your car breaks down, you get cancer or your neighbor pisses on your rose bush during the night. You DO have control over how you handle the situation. Act instead of react. Accept that a rain cloud has decided to storm over your life that day. Don’t take the anger and frustration out on other people. Or yourself.

Step 3 is really about Acceptance, not God. By using critical thinking it is possible to divorce the wording, divine the purpose of the step and learn how to use a new tool. Works wonders in lowering your blood pressure as well.

It’s hellish as a non-Christian to sit in a room full of people who happily recite God this God (with a capital G) that and all you hear is framed in Christian context. The Alano club (a building or room dedicated to hold 12 step meetings) where I hang out has a lot of murals painted on the walls. One shows a bar with people portrayed as ducks. Hell if I get the duck thing but that’s not the point. There’s a newbie pictured -falling off their bar stool. There’s an old-timer pictured -holding his big book and grinning. There are several other characters depicted including a duck labeled atheist. He has horns sprouting from his head.
I shit you not.
First time I noticed this I burst into laughter. Then thought about it and mused over the non-Christian who may have seen this, left the meetings, and died of this disease. All because a fellowship (NOT a program despite what too many members say and believe) cannot or will not accept anything not of their understanding. Particularly if it is not written down in the book.

For a group that bases virtually all of it’s tenets on Acceptance, this is some tough food for thought.

The 12 Steps DO work, if you work them with rigorous honesty.

For more than twelve years I practiced their principles in all of my affairs and led a bountiful, fun, laughter filled and generous life.
Do I have problems with AA as a whole? Clearly. Are their answers? Yes. Can people find sobriety if they truly want it and work these steps in order? Yes. If you are willing to go to any lengths to stop the pain, and find serenity.

Never said it was easy. It’s also not the Only way to get sober and find peace. It is the only way that has proven that sobriety and happiness can be mine. Hundreds of thousands of other 12 Steppers will also attest to this. Hundreds of thousands have shown that they achieved sobriety and happiness using other means. Statistically, AA seems to be the choice with a lower recidivism rate.

On that note go out and enjoy a great day, bring merriment to the masses, and set a steel-spring trap under the roses.
Currently, your intrepid writer is convalescing at mom’s house in northern California. Came for a four day visit. On the final evening my gallbladder decided to attack, caused itself and the rest of my body to be rushed to the hospital ER, and was then removed.

A CLASSIC! Can't believe this is out of print

A CLASSIC! Can’t believe this is out of print

Three hours of surgery, lots of IV Fentanyl and Morphine and two days later I’m back at mom’s house recovering. I’ll share my Norco with that espresso I got going on the stove.
Back to Reno on Friday after having stitches removed.

If you’re going to become ill, suffer pain so horrible and intense that you wished a large rock was in reach -to bash yourself into unconsciousness-  while on vacation, then make sure to do so at mom’s house. Especially when she is an RN. Especially specially when she knows your favorite childhood dishes. If you’re an addict or alcoholic it also provides plenty of time to finish writing out that pesky 4th Step.

Pack your Xanax though. There’s a reason we leave our parents to begin with.

~Miss R

Is It True That..? -OR- Burning Man Points of Interest

The True and False Section

It seems out of control for most people: False.

There was NOTHING that shocked me. Of course that probably doesn’t say a hell of a lot considering the source here
2. It’s a bunch of Dumbass (bareass) Naked People: False.
Not even many topless gals with the exception of Critical Tits and Spyder Monkey from Camp Stalker. She rocks. Gotta find that gal again.
3. Sex Sex Sex! False and True.
Well I’m sure that there was hella sex happening. As a woman I couldn’t walk 10 feet without getting hit on. Very flattering; “Will you be my Playa girlfriend?” but have to say that with the exception of a case of crabs in college I’ve avoided STDs my entire life. Thought that I’d keep it that way. I did receive a great sample of lube from the guys at Camp Penguin though. They also were the fine purveyors of red wine and home-made dark chocolate. Gah what goes better than those three things? Nuttin honey.
4. Everyone at Burning Man is a fucking hippie: False.
I am not a fucking hippie. Although I do enjoy fucking I also enjoy regular bathing and attempting to pay my bills. The great thing about Burning Man is that NO ONE gives a shit what you do for a living, or even asks.
5. There are too many under-age folk: True.
Not sure what the hell was up with this. I’d kick my daughter’s ass. I will say that the average age of Burners seems to be early to mid 30’s though.
6. It’s nothing but drugs out there. False.
It’s nothing but booze AND drugs out there!

Okay not really.There are two great sober camps, both Camp Stella and Anonymous Camp.
7. There are no Glow Sticks left in any store within the 100 mile radius of Reno. True!
Every damned one adorned a person on the playa.
8. You can go to Burning Man with nothing but a tent and survive. True.
You would not want to though. This defeats the entire purpose of sharing, meeting and being self-reliant.
9. It’s too dusty and you’ll hate it. True AND False.
It IS friggin dusty but you will not hate it. Dust storms are part of the family sharing process. I did find out that two of them this year were the worst in recent memory. Woo hoo.
10. You have to bring trinkets to trade. False.
You don’t have to do so. I thought to bring stickers from the old inventory and the night of the Bigass Dust Storm gave away at least 20 ‘Nature is Pissed’ Stickers to people who helped me out, smiled or showed kindness. I also received some totally cool gifts including a necklace that looks as if it’s made out of a small femur bone. Got this from a Canadian who could not find his way home one night. I was less lost than he was. There’s a scary thought.
11. Don’t accept a drink or food from anyone because you’ll get dosed. False.
Hell, I WISH!

12. You don’t need a bike because there are ‘public’ bikes. False.
I never saw one of the alleged public bikes during my stay. Bring your own bike for the love of allah.

Continue reading

Happy Birthday Cate

So this morning I’m waiting for someone to come and take a look at the Jeep.
They wanted to come by at 8:00 am, then 9:00 am and they just called and will be here by 9:30 am.

Hey. I’m busy here you know? Sheets and towels to wash, cats to comb (as opposed to a catsacomb), regrets to obsess on, noon meetings to attend and exercise to put off until the last possible hour.

Wish I’d had time to vacuum the damned car out. And hose it down. Oh well, at least it did get washed last week. I rarely drive the damned thing but here at “Rachael’s My Parking Lot Is Deteriorating and Turning Back into Dirt Faster Than Your Parking Lot” the dust and debris accumulate quickly.

Today is also Cate’s Birthday. Day before yesterday I wrote that it was um, yesterday but it WAS late at the time. Since I was in labor 29 hours does that count towards forgetting what day it is?
Just so you know: Today is August 17, 2007
Set your watches accordingly.

Continue reading

Boston Uncommon

rever gravestone

So I’ve been procrastinating on writing a blog since my triumphant return from the whirlwind tour of Boston. Meetings with the Kennedys, the Kerrys and the Cardinal took all of the stamina and fortitude I could muster.
Oh wait that was a dream. Something about donuts and snakes too but that’s not important right now.

Got an email this morning asking if Boston was nice this time of year. Well, define nice.
I’m sure that in comparison to the Amazon River basin this time of year it qualifies as spectacular.
Otherwise the weather can best be summed up by the following metaphorical blathering:
“I woke up, soaked a heavy woolen blanket in warm water and after showering and dressing wrapped said blanket about my body. Then I walked around the sauna until dehydration indicated admittance to Mass General.”

The weather reminded me in precise terms why living on the east coast in the summer became anathema and I’ve been back out west for the past few years.

Having slammed the humidity I will also add that in this Hades-reminiscent climate I ran in a 5K along the Charles River one morning.
The shocking thing (besides my actually getting up at 6:00 am to perform any kind of exercise –excluding strenuous sex of course) was that I did not finish last in my age group, and this was in a field of exercise-obsessed sober cardiologists, anesthesiologists, shrinks and dentists. They’re all whack-jobs.
I kinda felt at home.

After finishing the race I walked back to the hotel to find my lovely daughter still sound asleep in our room. I threw my soaking wet (and now mildly aromatic) woolen blanket over her reposed figure and said “Cate Honey… get your lazy teen-age ass out of bed and go find mommy some coffee before she becomes homicidal.”
She was not amused.
But I was.

My days in Boston were filled mostly with AA meetings and lectures given for physicians to obtain their CME credits. The free time was spent exploring every nook of historical significance I could find. I walked miles and miles, mercifully burning off the calories from the exquisite meals I’d been indulging in.
Did you know that Boston Common is Boston’s largest unmarked grave? There are more than 10,000 bodies buried there and not one tombstone.
Graveyards from the 1600’s, a night tour of haunted Boston, delicious seafood, sober doctors, ala-teen kids running amuck, lectures, bad banquet food, a fab evening listening to mystery writer/physician Michael Palmer speak, cannoli at Mikes Pastry, standing outside to have a smoke, buckets of coffee, my family, and general disorder.
In a word the trip was…. Surreal.

Here’s proof below. It’s my daughter, myself and my dad in front of the Revere House.

my daughter cate, myself, and my father

The one meeting I looked forward to was a bust. It was a lecture given by an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard, and the subject was:
Treatment of Bi-Polar Disorder in the Alcoholic and Addict Population.
This is a subject near and dear to my heart, and other parts of my anatomy such as my liver.
Sadly the doc delivering the lecture was possibly the lamest speaker it has ever been my misfortune to hear. I looked at my dad and he leaned over and said “My God this is the lamest speaker I have ever heard.”
My suspicions were confirmed. The guy was bad.

Unfortunately I learned nothing new. The poor bastard didn’t have any more info than was already available, to both lay persons (that would be me) and physicians and psychiatrists (that would be my dad).
For instance; the rate of suicide for persons suffering a dual diagnosis (addiction and bi-polar) is far greater than that of the general populace or a patient diagnosed with one or the other.
Whoa! No way. This guy is a fucking genius.

No new treatments were discussed, no new meds, no new anything. The speaker was unorganized as well. If I want unorganized there’s always my life to review.

After the meeting I had a cup of coffee and considered heading over to Cheers, on the other side of Boston Common. Where I could have a drink and ponder all of this and of course,
everybody knows my name.

~miss r

Boston Tomorrow

Well my bags are packed. I’m ready to go.
Jesus I hate that friggin song.
Almost as much as: Please come to Boston in the…

So my bags are packed and I am off to Boston at 4:45 am.
The plane allegedly leaves the ground at 6:00 am but I called the cab company to come and pick me up at 4:45.
As you do.

Couldn’t bring myself to go out to the storage unit and get an actual suitcase, it would have been too depressing. All of the Cabin Fever inventory is in there, along with my books, antiques and other memorabilia.
So I did what was necessary; crammed clothes, toiletries, etc into two carry-on bags. Nice.
Got ironing boards?

It won’t be too bad where I’m staying. Not by a long shot.
Behold the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.

Built in 1927 and looking absolutely gorgeous and classic from the website.

The downside? I’m going to meet up with my family. Oh god THE HORROR.
Not really.
Here’s the horror…
It’s an AA convention and conference. Yeah really.
My dad is an M.D. and has 25 years clean and sober. My step-mother is a black belt Al-Anon. I’ve been to this particular event before. Different city each year which is fun. International Doctors in Alcoholics Anonymous.
Oops. There goes the fucking anonymity thing.

My daughter will be there as well. My dad has paid for Cate (aforementioned daughter/demon seed) to attend as well. There’s an entire schedule for teens.
I have not seen my daughter since May when I sent her to live with her dad for a while.
I miss her. Every damned day.
I miss my dad as well.

He’s 75 and I last saw him at Thanksgiving. He looks like an aged gnome.
What the fuck. When did my parents get old?
This is so not right.

So I sit here, xanax at the ready in an attempt and get some sleep before the cab arrives.
It could happen.
So sayeth Miss Insomnia.

My plans for the week? Spend time with my daughter and father, when they are not attending meetings, CMA classes (for dad to keep his medical license accreditation) and other AA related stuff.
Other than that I plan on doing a lot of walking.

There’s a great Edward Hopper exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts this month. I’ve never been to Boston and I plan on taking full advantage of the historical sites, museums and maybe a trip to a brewery museum. Or two. Or three.
Oh yeah there’s the restaurants. Mmmm gimme that sea-food diet baby.
Thank Goddess there’s a gym at the hotel.

Alright kids see you in a week.
Don’t wait up but do say a prayer to the tree of your choice.
TK you can still meet me there.
John thanks for being a friend.
Gonzo thank you for watching Lizzie Borden. And being a friend. You’re the bestest. BTW the porn is under the TV in the bedroom.

~Miss R

hey… I could be YOU!


Tune in Tonight at 8:00 for this week’s episode of ‘Acceptance!’

Swear to Goddess I am fucking baffled and bemused by life.
I had to send my daughter to live in Mayberry with her dad.
I’m bankrupt (financially and morally but not intellectually) and for the first time in 15 years live in a fucking apartment and not a house that I own. My Jeep is going to disappear any day now.
All this after 11+ years of NOT drinking.

I have more issues than a newsstand so at least there’s still that whole literary thing going for me.

Started back to meetings on Monday though. Eeeesh.
God grant me the serenity to not kick your ass for mentioning Jesus again.
Oh well it’s what I can do to shut my head off for an hour.
So here I sit at 4:00 pm writing in my chemise sipping a glass of club soda, as opposed to Max who sips diet coke and vodka. Maybe I can go to the embassy and claim Dipsomaniac Immunity.

Luckily all hope is not gone: There ARE worse things.

1. I could be my ex-husband. Either one!
    a) Lucky Ex-husband Number One: graduate degree with an MBA from Baruch. Makes 10.00 an hour as an assistant manager of a market in a tiny resort town. His troll wife is an evil bitch, as opposed to an everyday/garden variety bitch such as myself. Their daughter is mildly autistic. Okay there is no MILDLY autistic. The kid is totally sideways. So are they for not admitting it and taking steps to help the poor child.
    b) Lucky Ex-Husband Number Two: An utter sociopath with the charm of a Prince, the looks of a rock star (no NOT Mick Jagger a good-looking rock star), an astute and true eye for detail, color, and craftsmanship and a deep appreciation of American history and nature. Of course he has also been known to eat roadkill, break my nose, bake squirrels in the oven for his dinner, alienate every person he initially charms and befriends, and is about to marry a woman with FOUR –count ‘em FOUR!- young children. Heh. Oh yeah his house is being repossessed because I no longer support him.
2. I could be dead. Uhhhh I may have to re-think this one.
3. I could be this total dumbass who drowned while trying to grab his cell phone out of a storm drain. He weighed 300 pounds and got wedged in. Call for Mister Darwin. Phone call for Mister Darwin.
4. I could live in Florida! Right there I got a smile out of myself.
5. I could weigh 300 pounds AND live in Florida.
6. Okay there is no number six but maybe I’ll come up with something later.

Life goes up and down. It’s the lows that make it hard to get though the days and nights.
God I fell asleep at the computer last night. Nice. The last email I’d sent got such a laugh out of TK that he has threatened to keep the damned thing. It’s a mishmash of misspellings and repeated and half finished sentences. I never proofread or spellchecked it. Grrrrr.

Can’t get ahold of Tinfoil Hat Client today so I’m clearly not going to get a check this week,
Guess it’s back to work at the Wild Orchid as a stripper. Luckily the management is cool there and lets me work two shifts.

The fine gentlemen throw money on stage along with my clothes and yell

“Hey babe! Put it back on! Put it ALL on!”


~Miss ‘blaze starr’ R

How Much Would you pay for my soul?

Have decided that the weekends are my own and I’m under no obligation to answer slews of emails and phone calls from unnamed clients.

A current client sends a minimum of 25 emails each day along with 4 phone calls, all of which I am expected to answer right then goddammit. This is not a high-paying gig. At all. This has become a dance with death. my mouse

Things to consider while contemplating this matter:

  • Yours Truly has 12+ years of experience doing what I do. That would be for a living you perv. I’ve 30 years experience in the other department but am now too old for anyone to actually PAY me.
  • Somewhere in the past is an utterly useless but fairly expensive college education.
  • I am funnier and far more amusing than my clients or employers. Darker too which adds another 1000 points to my High Score.
  • Am going through a horrific period of acute depression via my close personal friend bi-polar disorder (oh yeah I’m bi. I speak Spanish. Into S&M too ‘cause I can speak Spanish and Mexican).
  • The bank account is depleted
  • I am a whack job of paramount distinction

So what we have here is a conundrum: I am too fucked up and distraught to stop weeping or concentrate for longer than 20 minutes at a time but need to support the demon child and myself.


Continue reading

I’m 11 Years Old in Sober Alcoholic Years Today.

December 29 2006

AA sobriety medallion

Today is my 11th AA Birthday. 11 years without a drink, hit of weed, or street drug of any kind. Not even a decent addiction to a prescription drug.

Pretty boring eh? No wonder I’m such a whack-job.

Okay I’m not all that good and perfect. Difficult to believe yes? One sin is continuing to tell people that I stopped smoking 8 years ago. This then leads to the amusing admission that I am still addicted to Nicorette, well Commit actually but you say tomato I say, uh, Commit.

addictive commit lozenges

I quit smoking a year after I quit drinking. Using my Big Brain for good, instead of evil as is it’s normal function, I calculate that the last cigarette was 10 years ago not 8.

Continue reading

Luddites, Psychiatrists, Alkies and Going Home for The Holidays

Hey all,Off to Idyllwild tomorrow morning. Will be there for a week to spend time with my dad and wicked stepmother. She’s not really wicked. Now his second wife, that bitch was the anti-christ. Idyllwild, California is in the San Jacinto Mountains and sits above Palm Springs. 6000 feet above Palm Springs. It’s a tiny village of about 2500 people year round, and probably 5000 people in the summer. A lot of folks in Palm Desert, Palm Springs have their summer homes in Idyllwild.

This is the view from the deck of my old home in Idyllwild.

Haven’t seen my father in almost two years, although we talk weekly on the phone. The trip is my birthday gift.He has a beautiful Knabe concert grand piano, and you can bet I’ve packed some sheet music. Am working on two songs right now and debated packing the only copies of those pieces that I have. Threw them in. Decided if my baggage is destroyed it’ll be a sign that the music sucked. Continue reading