Monday, December 29, 2008

island life

I am in Singapore and everything is good. I am on the patch, surrounded by more family than I have seen in many years, and I am managing some pretty decent behavior thanks to (a) The Patch (b) the Singaporean lifestyle of eating every 20 minutes and (c) my mantra of this trip, and maybe of 2009 is AA: not Al-Anon, but Acceptance and Affirmation.

Little Brother and I had a long chat the night before I left on this trip. I was freaking out because he's not here with us yet--joining us in a few days--and I wasn't sure I would be able to handle it without him. I have big issues with my parents because I feel like they can't accept me as a person, that they only see who they want to see, and are upset at all the things I'm not. I told him how I wished we could have the kind of relationship I see that so many of my friends have with their parents, and he pointed out that Mom and Pop just aren't like that, and that I'm guilty of the same kind of thinking--being upset at them for not being who I want them to be, and that I have to accept them for who they are.

Like, whoa, Little Brother. How did you get to be so damn smart?

So that's what I'm doing on this trip with my folks, and it's actually a perfect time, because I'm seeing them in their natural element, and realizing how weird it is that they live in Illinois, after growing up in such a lush little island filled with people who look and talk just like them, where it is 80 degrees and there are delicious things to eat all the time. I mean, what the hell were they thinking moving to Chicago? Whenever we come here, I can't help but wonder what a different person I would be if I had grown up here. I wouldn't wander around feeling so out of place all the time. I probably wouldn't have this perpetual fire under my ass, running around looking for that perfect place where everything would feel comfortable and fine. I would probably be one of those people who've never left Singapore my entire life. I would speak this language that everyone else in my family speaks. I'm just beginning to realize how out of place I've always felt, even in my own family.

Neither of my grandmothers recognized me. It's been nine and three years since I saw either of them. The other one was unexpected.

I greeted her, hugged her, and had the following exchange:

She said, "Seriously? Is this Seriously? I don't recognize you!"

"What? Really?" I said. "But I called you Ah Mah (grandma)!" (and she has only one granddaughter)

"I just guessed!"

I had to laugh.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

home again

I'm back in the Chi, and it is even colder and snowier than the NY. I was stranded at home without snow tires, so I was thwarted from my hotly-anticipated day of hanging out with New Crush, which was a big letdown, but I went took the train downtown to wander around in the slush and see E, which was marvelous.

I was so charged to get out of the house today that I embarked on a three-mile walk to get to the train station. Let me tell you that this is no small order of business in my town, but being at home makes me crazy. The bickering with Mom & Pop has been steadily escalating since sobriety happened, and I'm crazy anxious about the massive amount of time we're going to spending together. We haven't spent this much consecutive time together in about a decade (yep, that's right). It makes me want to gnaw through my wrist bone. Somehow I will get through this, and somehow I am going to do it without (a) drinking (b) smoking and hopefully (c) a murder-suicide. It's a lot harder for me to handle my parents dead sober.

WonderWoman told me that I've lost at least one blog reader because I've gotten too depressing. She also asked me one night if I was bored, because I seemed bored, thus pandering to two of my worst fears about sobriety, that I would become boring and depressing. I know she didn't mean to do this, but hey, there it is. I don't know what to say to that. I hate the idea that my adventures in booze are so much more entertaining than my repetitive battles with reality.

I've been distracting myself by thinking of how I'm going to de-stress following two weeks of vacation with M&P. I've become totally obsessed with the idea of going to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. I really want to go to the desert, and have some kind of near-death-by- dehydration experience. I know this is totally specific, but I envision this as being a kind of natural high, and remember that I'm totally fucken sober, and I could really go for some kind of out-of-body experience. I imagine that almost dying of thirst in the desert would get me very close to the kind of high that I need lately. Maybe I would have some kind of epiphany. I am a big fan of epiphanies. I would be like "Oh my god, everything is going to be okay. No wait, everything is okay." That is the kind of epiphany I want. That is what, I think, my adventures in booze gave to me most nights.

M&P do not think it is a good idea for me to spend a week camping by myself in the desert. This is understandable, because I've only been camping a handful of times in my life, and always in the company of some burly dudes. But this lack of faith, of course, makes me hate them. This is why I hate coming home. Instead of having a dick and flying a plane, I am like a eunuch without a driver's license. Everything I've done in the past fifteen years evaporates and all I want to do is run away from home, or smoke cigarettes in the bathroom and read comic books.

But, back to Big Bend. I talked to Ex the other day, as I waited for my flight home, and he was interested in coming camping with me. Camping with Ex is fun. In fact, most of my camping experiences have been with Ex. He's been to Big Bend before. He would be a great sherpa. He would probably make sure that my near-death wish doesn't accidentally go 100 percent.

Or maybe I should come home to the NY. I miss it already. Funny when you realize a place has truly become home. Even when you don't really want it to, because it's so cold. Then you go someplace even colder.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

newest crush: life

After a twacky morning with Detox Doc numero uno, I spent the day with Joe, the human tranquilizer, and for the first time in ages, felt...relaxed. Joe and I are in this weird place of dating-land that I have never been in before. It is nice. It is totally no pressure since we have been doing this for so long. We hung out all day at his house while I worked on secret plan 437b, and I took portraits of his roommate's dog. I'd almost forgotten how soothing animals are. I think my anxiety levels dropped 90 percent. Then I came home and slept seven glorious hours.

Today, awaiting the arrival of WonderWoman, I decided to throw an impromptu dinner party so I can spend the day indoors, cooking my favorite foods. In a bummer turn of events, some of my favoritest people cannot make it, so I invited a slew of random inviduals, including New Crush. Let's talk about this for a moment. Yes, New Crush broke my heart several weeks ago when he dropped the g-bomb, but I won't let that stop me from admiring him, because he is so fucken cute! Every time I see him I can't help but...stop breathing. I kind of love it. Anyhow, last week he made a pointed issue of asking when I'd be in the Chi, and getting my number so we could hang out there next week. I'm so excited for our dedicated day of hangout in the Chi! I'm convinced that I misconstrued the g-bomb situation. I haven't heard back from him, but that's okay. Gap model and Curly are coming, which will be nice. I haven't seen them since Red's going away party. I was thinking that I probably wouldn't see them anymore because Red was a crucial organizer in that crew, but this makes me happy.

Speaking of romantic intrigue that has nothing to do with Joe, I almost had a heart attack Tuesday after leaving the Guggenheim (the Catherine Opie exhibit is great) because Love Affair called me and we are meeting up tomorrow for coffee. I haven't seen him since my golden birthday. It's very exciting. It will be nice to see him.

Sobriety has been good to me this week, despite the sleeping problems. Yesterday when I was working on secret plan 437b, I had a not-so-minor flash of understanding about what life was all about, and it had to do with the tiny slivers of reality that can be brutal and painful, but the more we deal with them, the more we can appreciate this struggle between love and freedom and the desire for a Viking funeral.

Monday, December 15, 2008

subway catharsis

I've made it through finals, a month of travels through Soberland, and was blessed by a weekend visit from two of my guardian angels, Girlfriend and Sharp. I don't know how, but somehow I have collected some of the most loving, devoted people on this whirling ball of carbon. I had been hotly anticipating them coming, but kind of not believing that two people unrelated to me by blood would love me enough to fly across the goddamned country for the weekend just to lay eyes on me and make sure I was doing okay. It kind of freaked me out when I got home Friday morning from my yoga class and there they were. The confusion almost made my head explode.

The takeaway messages from the weekend were that (a) I am abnormally harsh on myself, (b) Undoing this is a long and arduous process (b.1: but I AM GODDAMN WORTH IT!!!!!!!!!), and (c) I absolutely cannot do this without my friends.

I spent about an hour and a half crying on the subway yesterday, 45 minutes with Girlfriend as I rode with her halfway to JFK, and then another 45 minutes on my way home from yoga class. There is something deeply satisfying about crying on the subway. You are in public, you are moving, and you are crying. It's like you get to disperse your emotions through the crowd, leave them somewhere else, and get off somewhere else, refreshed.

When I got off the train at 181, this dreadful station on the 1 line where you are forced to take an elevator to exit the station. This is the stuff that my worst nightmares are made of, because if you are a control freak like me, you like to have stairs that you can run up and down in case of emergency. Like I was telling Doll the other day, I grew up not being allowed to wear flip-flops on airplanes in case the need to run should arise. Well, as I finished crying and neared my destination, the nightmare came true. The doors opened at 181st and we walked off into a haze of smoke because the fucken station was on fire. At first everyone just calmly covered their faces with their hoodies and scarves and walked toward the elevators, but then someone screamed "FUEGO!!!! AIIIEEE!!!" Then, of course, people started to run and scream and push.

There was a part of me that wanted to self-preserve, that wanted so much to make it out of the smoke and up and out and onto the street, to live and to breathe and to be okay. When Sharp asked me one night how I've suddenly gone from Detox Doctor's estimate of 56 drinks a week to zero, I shrugged and almost cried in front of Duff's. As I nimbly made my way through the smoke I suddenly recognized what was keeping me going, because it was kicking into especially high gear at that very moment: a desperate, adrenaline-filled part of my body that I suddenly recognized as what has been what has been keeping me alive during the past few weeks, in the absence of booze and drugs, in tandem with pharmies, and it is also what is making it difficult for me to sleep at night. It is hard to turn off. Survival instinct! So strange, so natural, so unconnected to brain, just body.

But as we choked on smoke as a motley crew of men and women and children the color of the rainbow, my brain mostly thought "I am going to die down here and at last I will be at peace."

Detox doctor says: we will work on this.

Monday, December 8, 2008

happy distractions from stress

I have been so damn good this week, nay, this MONTH. Tomorrow is my one-month anniversary of being drug-and-alcohol free.

How does one celebrate without drugs and alcohol? God, what a conundrum. I can't even think about it. Tomorrow I just hope that at the end of the day I will somehow end up passed out like this corgi:

So what if he looks stiff like a board, at least he's unconscious. And smiling. And fuzzy. And--unless that's his paw, I think he's got a hard-on.

I'm going to be done with $chool in about 52 hours. I can't believe it! I've been charging through everything so hard. It's kind of crazy. I've been writing-bullshitting-researching pretty hard for the last week. This is what finals week is like. Thank god I'm on this marvelous drug cocktail or I think I would have lost my mind.

There are other things that are making me happy right now. In the absence of the extreme releases of stress caused by boozing, I am experiencing this structural shift in my brain to contenting myself with prolonged contentment instead of instant gratification. It's pretty stressful because instant gratification is so fucken great, right? I've kind of gotten grossly addicted to bikram yoga recently, which isn't gross in and of itself, but gross because it's kind of expensive to do it, and kind of a pain in the ass, with mats and towels, and they'll charge you for everything, even water. But I've become addicted to the high, because...that's all I have left in life. (bwahahaha.)

I am also super addicted to Joe lately, which is a really crazy prolonged high that I will have to explain sometime, because after all these months I've suddenly realized how great he is and it is both awesome and disconcerting. Let's just stick with awesome for the time being. I got to see him for a minute this weekend and he made me go "aw..." inside because of something so simple. When he saw me he said something like, "Hey, that's the shirt you were wearing when I first met you."

I'm excited to see him in about 52 hours, when all of this $chool shit is over.

K lucho, feed me. I'm starved.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the lighting of the candles

I am so stressed that: (a) I went to the driving range to hit golf balls with my dad yesterday even though it was snowing, (b) my period is so late that I'm beginning to think I'm pregnant and (c) I searched "stress" and when this link came up, this photo to the left came up with a caption that said something along the lines of, "A severely stressed person will find many differences between these dolphins jumping out of the water when in fact they are identical," and it took me several moments of severe inner reflection before realizing that some people out there think it's funny to toy with people who are on the brink of losing their minds.

I have embarked on my 8 days of serious business. It is that time of year when I want to give up on things like (a) the five classes that compose $chool, (b) attempts at self-reformation, and (c) geniality. I become generally unpleasant. I don't know how I got through this last year...and last year I had quit smoking at this time. I have lost a lot of faith in myself I guess. When I looked at that cow and that dolphin and really doubted myself, I knew I was in trouble. It's funny when you go through big life changes and instead of feeling proud and strong, all you can think of is that you sure weren't as smart as you thought you were. It makes me wonder if I know anything at all.

I have been thinking a lot about Joe lately, but I can't call him or anything. Of course not. This is part of the lack of self-trust that's happening lately. In the absence of any high for my mind to latch onto, it seems to want to glom onto Joe really fucken badly. When I think about him, it kind of has the same effect on my brain as the fond recollection of a seventh beverage. I'm starting to really miss the love-inducing feeling of The Booze. Without it, I guess I get like this. All self-doubty and dolphin-and-cow-y. I'm getting all weird about everything now. Everything feels strange. Dolphin. Cow. Dolphin. Cow. Dolphincowdolphincowdolphincow.

I have decided not to go to Miami with ACLU lawyer. The dates turned out to be a weekend off kilter, and I want to try out being good to Joe now. I know I said that I thought I was going to marry the lawyer, but like I said, dolphincow.

Or, like this dude said to me on the plane last night, "I'm trying to be honest in my relationships now, and part of that is giving relationships an honest chance."