Saturday, April 26, 2014


Click here for the story: "Fat & Thin," by Anton Chekhov

The fat and thin man know each other from their school days.  They meet accidentally.  Not having seen each other since they were boys, they begin trying to catch up.
The thin man loves to talk -- mostly about himself. He tells the fat man all about his family and work. And then the bomb drops. The thin man is a head clerk in the civil service but the fat man is now a privy councilor, an even higher official.
The news is too much to digest for the thin man.  All he can do is compliment the fat man and stoke his ego.
The thin man now feels like a failure. He is comparing his accomplishments with the fat man and there's not much meat on the bone.  What we get with the thin man is a lot of superficiality.  He is not very deep.  His whole life it seems is mainly show and the inner happiness and satisfaction is not well-developed.  His body is thin and so is his soul.
The fat man is proud to be a privy councilor but he doesn't stand on his rank. He prefers for his old friend to treat him as an equal. You get the sense that he is a decent man and well-rounded (no pun intended :-).   In fact, the fat man never brags about his accomplishments and only tells the thin man he is a privy councilor when asked.
The fat man is more content.  He has achieved more in the civil service.  Maybe his personality helped him move forward or possibly his success has given him comfort.  Either way, he is now in the position of being charitable to those less fortunate.
The thin man might have wanted to get ahead too much, and like an overzealous salesman turned people off with his runaway ambition.  Not attaining his goals has left him bitter and jealous of those who have 'made it'.
The fat man could've helped the thin man if the thin man was honest.  The thin man's fawning obsequiousness was too much for the fat man to deal with -- so instead he walks away leaving the thin man with the stress of failure.  Or his 'apparent' failure.
Apparent?  Yeah, because, meanwhile, the thin man undervalues his greatest possession, his ace in the hole, something which the fat man may be missing --  a family.
Who wins the 'game', the fat man or the thin man?

All the more reason to shoot your TV and go play with your kids...

Monday, March 10, 2014


My first overnight stay in jail was in 1984, when I was a sophomore in college, 20 years old.  The charges were DUI, although I blew less than the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit on the Breathalyzer.  Fortunately, at that time in Kentucky, the BAC legal limit was 0.10%.  I blew a 0.09%.  As most people know, the nationwide legal limit has since been lowered to 0.08%.  

It was the Saturday night before Easter, and my fraternity had a formal dance in Louisville.  This is sort of like the high school prom, where the men wear tuxedoes and their dates are dressed in formal evening gowns.  My date that night was one of my best friends from high school, who was attending UK.  My college was near Lexington, KY (I won't name it to preserve my anonymity for this blog), and it was ca. 50 miles each way from campus to the hotel in Louisville where the formal was held. 

Anyway, after eating dinner with my date in the Lexington area (I confess, I took her to my college's dining hall, as every Saturday night was "Steak Night"), and borrowed someone's meal ticket for her to use.  After dinner, we bought enough wine coolers to fill a cooler and then drove to Louisville.  I was drunk by the time we got there, and I remember it was raining a bit, and just after crossing into the city limits my car spun out and jumped a median. 

At the party, I drank a lot of Scotch, and got really drunk.  Even my fraternity brothers had not seen me this drunk, but my date was a real "party girl," and she had a good time.  A few days later one of my best friends in the frat said, "Damn, you really got drunk and made an ass of yourself."  Yeah, I can vaguely remember telling his girlfriend some dirty jokes.  He and his girlfriend didn't drink and were very religious, by the way. 

Anyway, I was chugging Scotch straight from the bottle, and spilled a lot of it on my tux.  So not only was I really drunk, but I smelled very strongly of Scotch. 

Sometime around midnight, my date and I left the formal and drove back to my college.  About halfway there, in Franklin County, KY, I decided I needed a cigar, and these were locked in my glove compartment.  I was trying to get the key to the glove compartment off my keychain while driving, and was apparently weaving too much, too obviously, on the interstate.  Then the ominous blue flashinig lights appeared in my rearview mirror. 

The cop asked me why I was weaving, was it because I had too much to drink?  I told him, "No officer, I was trying to avoid the puddles on the interstate."  He didn't buy that answer and made me take the field sobriety test.  I personally thought I passed the test, but nevertheless he smelled the Scotch on my tux and then arrested me for DUI.  My date had to drive my car back to campus, and since she didn't know how to drive a manual transmission, she drove the remaining 20 miles back in 1st gear.  She crashed in my room, which was amusing as me and my roomate shared a bunk bed, with him on the top bunk.  Probably worth mentioning that my roommate was a conservative religious type like my other friend in the fraternity.  He didn't even sleep with his own longtime girlfriend, to my knowledge.  Anyway, he thought it was funny. 

As for me, I was hauled in to the Franklin County State Police barracks for a Breathalyzer test.  I was fortunate, because the cop didn't really know how to set up the Breathalzyer correctly, and it took him about an hour before it was working.  I think this was enough time for my BAC to drop below the 0.10% limit.  So, I blew a 0.09%, which meant I wasn't legally drunk, but I was put in jail anyway.  I can't remember if I called my parents to come and bail me out, or my date called them.  An interestig connection was that my date's father worked at the same company as my dad, and they were pretty good friends. 

So, remember that I'm coming back from a formal dance, which meant I'm in a tuxedo, and since I liked being 'different', instead of the customary black tie, I wore a hot pink bow tie with a matching cummerbund.  I think I made quite an impression on the inmates, as one of them offered me his bunk, after I sat on the floor for a couple of hours.  The jail was severely overcrowded that night, the cell was designed for 16 inmates, but there were 62 inmates crammed into it, including myself. 

Monday, March 3, 2014


Jihad means 'struggle', and I interpret jihad in this sense as my personal struggle, my own private jihad, against alcohol, and to a lesser extent drugs.  In 12 step meetings, various lengths of abstinence are celebrated.  Continuous times of being sober/clean, total abstinence.   We generally give out poker chips, or tokens with the serenity prayer on front and some recovery slogan on the back. 

Generally, the colors have a meaning.  The poker chips symbolize that we are gambling with our lives.  The first chip, or token, for a beginner with only 24 hours sobriety or less, is a white chip.  White symbolizes 'surrender', like waving the white flag.

The chip for 30 days is generally green.  To symbolize the money we seem to have more of now, that we're not wasting it on alcohol, or drugs.

The toughest, hardest chip I ever earned was the 90 day red chip.  Red symbolizes the 'blood we've gotten back into our alcohol system.'   I got my first red chip on November 29, 1989.  It was the first time since I was 13 years old that I'd gone 90 days without drinking alcohol, and no drugs either.  It was a very very difficult time for me but also an incredible journey, considering how fucked up I was when I stopped on August 29, 1989, a totally wasted loser.   Only 3 months later, my mind had cleared enough to understand my classes in my last semester of college (actually a repeat from 1986's true last semester which the results were I failed all of my classes, I never went back to classes after Spring Break).  And so this was a big deal, the college professors who had given up on me were now showing a bit of respect, impressed at my mathematics senior board exam score, the 2nd highest that year, although I was only a math minor.  My major was physics, and I wrote an illustrated (with 4-D spacetime handdrawn diagrams) on "Cosmic Implications of General Relativity."  I also finally grasped a good understanding of quantum mechanics and particle physics.  3 months earlier, as the semester started, I could only show up and stare blankly at the chalk board during classes, my mind was totally foggy.  

Fast forward now to 2014, 25 years later, and I again got a 30 day chip tonight.  Unfortunately, due to too many to count relapses over the past 25 years, I've gotten several 30 day chips.  Enough to make a tambourine with, LOL.  I hope this is my last 30 day chip, and I hope I can stay sober/clean for the rest of my life.  The binge I was on in January, only 10 days long and only drinking wine, was severe enough to nearly kill me.  Even 4 days after my last drink, I almost collapsed at the health club and had to be taken by ambulance to the emergency room.  I was so poisoned by way too much alcohol.  My blood pressure taken in the ambulance was only 70/30.  Nearly dead.

So I will be on a lifelong jihad, living 24 hours at a time, praying each morning for the primary goal of staying sober.  I pray because ultimately rely on Allah to help me in this jihad against alcohol.  So far Allah has been listening to my prayers.  I pray for sobriety and for the knowledge of Allah's will, and the strength to carry out His will.

I pray to Allah to help me find the power within, and to free my imprisoned spirit.  I pray to Allah that I may keep my eye's trained above the horizon, so that I may complete this journey successfully.

InshAllah, MashAllah, Amen...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I am grateful that I completed another 24 hours without drinking alcohol or using drugs.  I am grateful to God for this accomplishment.  And I pray that I can go another 24 hours without alcohol and drugs.  So, living for the day, and not letting my ego get in the way, which causes me to fear for the future, to fear I won't have enough money for whatever, to buy status symbols maybe?  More Lacoste shirts, a new BMW, and the things I valued so highly when I was so unhappy and so in need of chemically numbing my sadness.  I once lived in a 6 bedroom 'mansion', with a high-paying prestigious job, and found myself one Saturday driving through town, steering my car with my knee so I could uncap the bottle of pills for a few 'hits' and then pour vodka in a cup to wash it down with.  A Saturday morning, when my son was a few months old. 
I'm grateful for my son, he's 10 now, and he gives me all the happiness I need and so I don't need alcohol or drugs, just my son.  And his mom has taken him away, to somewhere I don't know, and changed her phone number, despite nearly 2 years of little or no drinking and very hard work to rebuild my career.

And this loss, right at Christmas last year, was so painful that I couldn't take it.  So to numb the pain, I went out just before the stores quit selling alcohol for the night, at 10 til midnight, and bought some alcohol.  And numbed the pain.  I did not drink to get a buzz.  I don't even think I feel these so-called 'buzzes' anymore.  I only drank to forget this immense pain.  And I drank to pass out, and just kept doing it, until I came to 10 days later and was poisoned.  I ended up in a local hospital, with a blood pressure of 70 / 30.  Nearly dead. 

Today I am sober, and don't feel the need or desire for any chemical mood changing.

I'm not totally happy, still wanting to see my son.  Worried what he's thinking, too, as we were 'best buddies' for the past 10 years.  Does he think I am the one who forgot him?  I can only pray and hope...

Saturday, February 22, 2014


I went to an interesting 12-step meeting last night.  The discussion topic was, "What was the craziest thing you did while drinking?"  That was the first time in 26 years of these meetings that this was the topic, usually the topic is kinda generic, kinda boring, and mostly when I share I go off-topic anyway if it's the usual boring stuff.  The usual topics are things
like denial of one's addiction, resentments, one of the 12 steps, etc.  This was a very good topic and a very good meeting, and a very good group of recovering addicts & alcoholics.  I'll go back to the same group meeting next Friday for sure.  But, I was a little surprised that my 4-5 craziest things kinda shook the group up.  There were about 10 of us there, spanning the age range from 20-somethings, 30s, 40s, 50s, to a guy around 60.  There was a young woman there, kinda cute, and maybe 9 men.  I didn't count them, I didn't know I'd be writing about this later though.  Really, I was surprised my 'crazy drunken acts' kinda shocked them.  I knew I did some really fucked up stuff, but over the past 26 years of 12-step meetings, and 6 rehabs, I've heard worse.  I told my number 1 crazy drunk action only once, in Rehab #5, in a group session.  One woman cried, most of the others were a bit shocked at the sheer horror of it. 

Everyone who shared at the meeting had some real horror stories, and hearing the others tell some of theirs really helps me to remember how fucked up we can get, we addicts & alcoholics, when we drink and drug.  These meetings only last an hour, I waited until I was last, after 50 minutes.  What I shared really shook these people up.  I'm not insane but I do some insane things, especially when I'm really drunk.  Just totally out of character.  All alcoholics and addicts do though.  Or it wouldn't have been the discussion topic.  But I'm just so completely different when I'm wasted that I'm really completely not myself.  Like a Dr. Jeckyll to Mr. Hyde transformation.  One of the crazy stories I remember was from a guy in his mid-30s who went to Vegas with his buddies.  Right after they arrived at their hotel in the early afternoon, he went off by himself to gamble and he also got very drunk too, and in a few hours he lost the entire $3000 he took with him.  The guy still had $3000 in the bank, so he called his bank to approve his withdrawing the rest of his account, all the remaining $3000, and the bank approved it.  But the guy promptly lost that gambling too, while getting even more drunk.  So within his first 8 hours in Vegas, and he was there with his buddies for a week, he had lost his entire savings!  And then he only had $10 to his name which he used for a cab ride back to the hotel where he and his buddies were staying.  It was only around 8 pm, their first night in Vegas, and he's completely broke, and his buddies who apparently weren't alcoholic like he was and they were just then going out for the evening.  But this guy couldn't go, he was too drunk and also broke.  He just went to bed.  I can't remember how the rest of his week went, but I'm sure it sucked and maybe I didn't want to hear it and tuned him out. But this was really screwed up and really sad.  Despite this, after I shared my stories later on, this guy was kinda shaken up by what I shared.  I know this because he said so.  But he thanked me, he said to me and the group that hearing my tales will really help him stay sober, he just doesn't want to go down that road,  Damn, am I that fucked up when drunk? 

So what did I do to shake these people up, none of whom were newcomers by the way, they all seemed to have been in the group for some periods of time.  Probably had heard a lot by then in the meetings.  Anyway, I'll list the things I shared, in no particular order except the first one was the worst by far, the rest I consider just equally crazy.  I'm not proud of them, in no way am I bragging, but sharing them helps me stay sober when I see in writing just how fucked up I can get when drinking too much.  I am very grateful to God and my Guardian Angel to still be alive after some of them.  I could have died in a few.  Here's the list below:

The absolutely most insane thing:  When I was 17 years old, on a Sunday night in November, I was drunk and passed out, and my dad was drunk too.  He was mad at me for coming home drunk so came into my bedroom and started a fight.  It was a very violent fight, with a lot of my bedroom furniture getting smashed, and I was losing, so I jumped face-first through my bedroom window, and ran away, it was cold and I didn't have a shirt on, and I somehow ended up at my girlfriend's house, 20 miles away, at 1:00 a.m., covered in blood and bordering on hypothermia.  This was by far the most insane thing I've ever done while drunk.  Imagine, diving face-first through a window.  I had a long scar for a year afterwards, barely missing my left eye by 1/4 inch, it went from my forehead down to near the corner of my mouth.  I wouldn't come home for nearly a week, I stayed with my grandma, and when I came home there was no offer to take me for stitches despite the huge gash, and really it was never even discussed again.  The only change was that my dad never beat me again, he ignored me for the most part.  This made some women cry when I shared this in rehab group sessions, and one of the counselors seemed to be a little shocked.  I just look back at it, I have no real feelings or emotions when thinking about this or discussing it, I just think, "What didn't kill me made me stronger."  And I could have died, I should have gotten hypothermia with the blood loss, fatigue, and being in cold weather, it was November and I vaguely recall the temperature was in the upper 30s or lower 40s.  I was outside in this cold weather, bleeding and no shirt, for maybe 3-4 hours, and had walked-jogged several miles too, so I was exhausted.  Thanks Guardian Angel!

In no particular order, all are maybe equally insane, the rest of the list:

- When I was 23 and in my 5th year of college trying to get a 4 year degree, I went into a redneck, biker, topless bar and after the bouncer, in my opinion, seemed to have an attitude problem towards me I got up to leave, picked up a chair and threw it across the bar, smashing some things.  I ran out the door across the parking lot to the bar where my brother, sister, brother-in-law, and friends from college were, (where I was supposed to be until someone told me that just across the parking lot was a redneck, biker, topless bar so I just had to sneak out to go there).  This was very dangerous, I had just barely gotten too the other bar's door, and this was some preppy college hangout and we're all dressed in Lacoste and Polo clothes, but one of the redneck bikers caught me as I was opening the door but fortunately one of our friends was this huge football player from my college, and in the nick of time he came out and pulled the redneck biker off me.  We went inside the preppy college hangout and locked the door.  I had literally caused a riot.  A bartender at the college hangout called the police, and 5 police cars showed up.  Me and my friends and brother / sister / brother-in-law tried to go out the back door, but there were several redneck bikers out back too!  They were ready to fight too, these big ugly leather-jacket wearing hillbillies, maybe 20 or 30 of them, out back and out front swinging chains and clubs, and I'm sure some had guns and knives.  Luckily, the 5 cop cars and maybe 10 cops got there before these outlaws kicked one of the doors in and luckily they of course thought these redneck bikers were the instigators, the troublemakers.  Who would have thought a bunch of preppy college kids, no long hair or beards etc., would start a barroom brawl and riot.  So this all ended, no one was hurt, and some cops escorted us to the football player's car, he was a non-drinker, and so he was our little group's designated driver.  Afterwards we laughed about this, and this story made the rounds all over my college, they thought I was a real badass.  If I'd have been 1 or 2 steps slower, I'd have probably been beaten to death, at least beaten to the point of hospitalization.  When I think about this night I kinda shudder, just 1 step slower...

- I allegedly threatened to shoot 2 Atlanta cops with an AK-47.  So I ended up in jail charged with 2 felony counts for threatening to shoot 2 cops.  Plus a misdemeanor for not answering the door, which these 2 cops were beating on late at night.  What happened, without the background of why these 2 cops didn't like me, was that they were knocking (actually beating) on my door on a Tuesday night, when I was home alone and sleeping (passed out) on my downstairs TV room couch.  Before that, I'd never been in trouble with any cops in my life except for a supposed DUI in Kentucky, which was reduced to reckless driving after my breathalyzer test indicated I was below the legal DUI limit.  In fairness to myself, the Atlanta and other area cops were known to have several rogues on the force.  I was dealing with some of them that night.  And also, in fairness to myself, although I'd been drinking beer that night, and really I can't remember if I just fell asleep from being tired or passed out, but anyway I was in my own home minding my own business.  And still being fair to myself, these two cops really were not on my property legally.  We found out that they got a judge the next day to backdate a misdemeanor summons for me to appear in court.  When I did show up 2 months later, it was at a traffic court and my name wasn't even on the docket.  Apparently they were too stupid to ensure the backdated, fake summons, had the correct legal system followup.  The judge dismissed it.  But I was still in trouble for the alleged threats to shoot the cops.  Anyway, these 2 felonies were dismissed without any trial, not even a preliminary hearing, because my attorney told the D.A. that he was going to make the central point of my defense the fact that these 2 cops were there just to provoke me.  And he had the facts to back it up.  The case was dismissed.  But I'm including this in the list, had I not been drinking a lot of beer, I'd probably not have gotten so riled up as to talk about my AK-47, which was really only a semi-automatic AK-47 lookalike.  Thus I consider this to be something crazy I did while intoxicated.

- The last time I visited my family (family here means my parents & siblings) in my hometown, due to a long-running feud with my brother, and to a lesser extent my brother-in-law, I threatened my brother, although in a general sense, and then threw a propane tank through my brother-in-laws back porch glass door.   In addition to the feud with my brother, which is over the sad way he treated my youngest brother who died from the consequences of alcoholism, and really also neglect by his family there, I was stoked into these 'crazy' actions by the way I was treated, like a dog, by my severely dysfunctional parents.  They insisted I come and stay with them due to the fact that me and my wife were arguing way too much all summer.  It seemed like they really cared about me, wanted me to get a break from my wife, and wanted me to visit too, I'd not really been there in 4 years since my brother's funeral in October 2007.  But despite this seemingly 'concerned' invitation to come up to their house to get away from the stress of a very unhappy marriage, as soon as I arrived they treated me really poorly.  The last time I saw my dad, I had to hold him up during my brother's funeral, he was really gonna collapse from shock and grief.  I really did hold him up.  When I walked in his bedroom 4 years later, cheerfully saying, "Hi Dad!" he looked at me, shook his head in disgust (at what he considered to be my too long hair) and looked down.  Then he looked right at me and said, verbatim, "You look awful.  You need to go get a haircut.  You can't come here looking like that."  I was really very shocked at this.  And being a mature adult just kinda said, "OK" and was cordial to him after this, the next few days.  He continued to bitch about my hair, to me and to my mom, and she joined in, starting to bitch about it too due to my dad's bitching.  After 3 days he just started to ignore me, in the mornings I'd say, "Good morning Dad!", and he'd just look back and not say anything.

And I'm sharing this now, about that last visit to my (former) family, because it has been a very toxic resentment that I've not been able to come to terms with.  To this day, almost 3 years later, I really cannot believe this happened.  That I was treated so badly, there's more besides the idiotic long hair nonsense.  I was going through a rough period in my life, just wanted a break for a few weeks, and this break turned out to be much worse than if I'd just stayed in Atlanta and put up with my wife.  At least she largely kept to her side of the house.  We literally lived on separate sides of the house for a couple of years, and I'd wait on my side until she left each day for work before I'd go downstairs which was considered 'neutral territory.'  It had been a very unhappy and dysfunctional marriage for years. 

Last night, I may have shared more stories of doing insane things while intoxicated.  I can't remember now.  Maybe what I've written above is enough.  I'm kinda tired of thinking about it now anyway, as it's another day and I like to start my days with a prayer and a positive outlook.  And for a change it's sunny outside too.  I'm hopeful. 

Am I insane?  Not at all.  I've taken the MMPI twice, and the CPI once.  These are common psychological tests.  I always score in the normal ranges on these tests.  Every psychiatrist I've seen, and I've seen the nation's best, the top ones from Harvard, they all have told me  I'm OK, except for ADHD.

They all assure me I'm normal, and will remain so, provided I do not drink. I pray I never drink again, it's just too much insanity. 

Friday, February 21, 2014


I have struggled with alcohol, and addiction, mostly abusing alcohol but sometimes drugs,  since I was 12 or 13 years old.  The first time I got drunk was the Easter Sunday when I was 9 years old, the first time I smoked marijuana was the first day of 7th grade when I was 12, the joint was laced with angel dust too.  By the end of 7th grade I was paying my friends to steal Valium from their parents and then I'd take it at school.  So, there have been many many times, too many, times that I've really fucked up, big time.  To be fair, when I've been abstinent for long periods, and I've gone without alcohol or drugs for as long as 4 years, and 2 years, and over a year a few times, and during these times I've had some huge academic, athletic, and career successes.  Made the news paper several times, and I was even on CNN and the BBC in 1998, as I was a UN nuke inspector getting ready to go inside the Chernobyl plant, and well there just happened to be a news crew there that day who interviewed me on camera.  So there's hope, and that's one reason I don't just give it up and end it all.  Not that I haven't considered suicide as a real option though, during the darker times.

Just a comment on suicide, it's been in the back of my mind as an option since I was 15, and the closest I came was one sad lonely night when I was 22, at college, and during finals week realized I was gonna fail all my classes.  It was my senior year and after spring break, I just came back to the fraternity house, spending the rest of the semester skipping classes to play basketball on the court out back during the days, and my nights were spent drinking and 'being' with the wrong girls.

One of these girls, the most wrong one of all, although I kinda think I'm not one to judge, well I had gotten her pregnant and she had an abortion.  Would I have been man enough to be the dad?  I don't know, she didn't tell me until months after she had the abortion.  I've been haunted by some guilt over this ever since, anyway.  A year later, I tried to talk to her and make it up to her, after all it was partly my fault, but it didn't work, the damage was done and she never spoke to me again.  I still feel guilty at times.  And she wasn't the only one, there were 2 others, they both had abortions too.  All three times I've gotten girls pregnant, I was under the influence during the whole time I was with these girls, including during the sex.  This was many years ago, once when I was 24, the other I was 35, and I felt bad about those also, still some guilt.

One of these pregnancies was with a girlfriend, we were both 24, who after almost a year realized I was losing interest and she admitted she got pregnant on purpose so I'd marry her.  I wouldn't marry her after she told me she was pregnant, but to be somewhat fair to myself, I vaguely remembered that I offered to be the (potential) kid's dad.  She said no to that, I had to marry her, or she'd get an abortion, and when she asked me to pay for it I said no.  So she got an abortion.  What was sad about that was that she was my best friend's (at the time he was my best friend and my number one drinking buddy too for a year) sister.  Somehow, he forgave me for this, and invited me to his wedding 3 years later.  And we haven't talked for 23 years, he went on to get elected to a state representative office and now is an assistant District Attorney in a big city.  At state lawyers' conventions he still asks my brother and brother-in-law (both are attorneys) how I'm doing.  I'm very grateful for his forgiveness, we were very close when we were friends.  I still feel the guilt though.

Those are just examples of how alcohol causes me to fuck up.  It's not just car wrecks or going to jail.  My fucking up has fucked up some lives.  I feel guilty and always will. 

Over the years, parents, brothers, sister, teachers, friends, bosses, co-workers, and mostly myself, wonder whether I've just fucked up (as in the verb 'to fuck up' meaning to make a mistake or fail), or whether I AM a fuckup (as in the noun 'fuckup' meaning someone who just can't get it right.

But I've come to realize, that I am NOT a fuckup, just someone who tends to fuck up when I'm intoxicated.

Curiously, when I've been abstinent, or sober, or dry, or clean, whichever term you choose, and I've had several long periods without alcohol or drugs in my life like I wrote earlier, but during these times I may have made some mistakes, but I've never really fucked up.  And during those periods, I've actually had some phenomenal successes.  Made a lot of money too.  At one point I can say I was wealthy, whether that's a relative term or not.  I really did live in a huge, really huge, house at one time, with rich neighbors and prestige, etc.  And interestingly, I was probably the most screwed up in terms of alcohol and drugs during this time.  I remember driving back to my huge house one Saturday morning around 10:30 a.m., with a newly filled prescription of Adderall when at that time I really abused a lot, and while I was driving I was pouring some vodka into a cup of orange juice using my knee to guide the steering wheel through town.  And my son was just recently born, a wonderful little boy whose birth was really a miracle, there were so many complications during this pregnancy,  and the previous attempt a year before ended in a miscarriage. 

I don't live in a huge house now, I live in a hotel. I don't mind, I've learned not to be so arrogant and worked hard on corralling my ego.  In fact I'm kinda happy, content, although currently I don't have a job.  I'm alive today, and sober.  I pray each morning and thank God for my son, my health, my life, and my sobriety.

I hope I never drink or abuse drugs again.  And the last binge was so poisonous I ended up in the hospital four days after it was over, barely alive with a blood pressure of 70 over 30, which I had to be taken to the emergency room by ambulance.  I kinda collapsed at the gym, four days after my last drink, and even during this 5 day hospital stay the blood tests told the doctors I was going through alcohol withdrawal, and really this was shocking, because when the doctors asked me about this it had been nearly a week since my last drink.  The last binge, I'd gone 47 weeks without drinking and then was feeling really depressed, and instead of calling my friends, I just isolated all day until midnight and went on a 10 day spree of drinking of 5 or 6 bottles of wine each day.  That's just an estimate, I may have drank more, but I was really out of it and don't remember much after day 1 of this binge.  When I was too sick to get out of bed, much less go by more alcohol, on day 10, it was an agonizing day of physical, mental, and emotional pain.  The worst day of my life.  I think (I hope) it was so bad that I'll never forget this pain and this will deter me from ever taking a drink again.  I can say that during this binge I never felt any of the usual 'buzz' from the drinking, I was drinking to forget whatever was making me sad.  I drank it fast so I'd just pass out quickly.  When I came to, I'd just repeat as needed to dull the pain.  There was a convenience store within walking distance, and by day 10 I'd nearly drank all of their wine, and bought some beer too.  Beer makes me puke, I've drank & puked so much beer over the past 37 years that just imagining the taste has literally made me puke.  I can really make my self puke at will, just by imagining the taste of beer, wine, or liquor.  I think that's a good thing, though, and gives me some confidence that the thought of the taste of any kind of alcohol makes me puke, and also that it doesn't give me the feel-good 'buzz' anymore.  I've gone to one 12-step meeting each day since I got out of the hospital, sometimes 2 a day.  And call my friends each day.  There's hope, I'm cautiously optimistic.  I pray every morning too, for God to watch over me and keep me sober.  I am sure the next drink, and resulting binge, will kill me.  I just know it. 

I'm still alive, and I'm grateful for that.  I'll see more successes, I'm sure.

I'm not a fuckup, I just fuck up when I'm intoxicated.

One more drink and I truly believe I'll end up dead.  I pray my Guardian Angel watches over me, and I pray that it's God's will that I live alcohol and drug free for the rest of my life. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

REHAB #3, and some other thoughts

Picking up from where I left off, the story of Jail #2, which led me to Rehab #3.
So after I got out of jail, in December 2005, and lost my security clearance, which means I was suspended from my job (with full pay though), I ended up in Rehab #3.

This was at the urging of one of my attorneys, which my main attorney for the 2 felonies thought was a great idea to help me get the charges dropped, as I was under the influence of alcohol when I threatened (allegedly) to shoot the 2 cops banging on my door.

So it's March 2, 2006, and I'm checking into Ridgeview Institute, in a suburb of Atlanta called Smyrna.  It's a nationally known center, especially for treating professionals such as doctors and nurses who are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs.  Greg Allman, of the Allman Brothers, was one of their famous patients, as were a few NFL players, I don't know which ones, I met one though.

And one thing about alcohol/drug rehab, most of them anyway, is that they also have patients there for psychiatric problems.  And my first night there, there were no beds in the chemical dependence detox facility there, so I had to stay with the psych ward patients.  Wow!  They are really some messed up people, but who am I to judge, I was pretty messed up too.   They really do have padded rooms, where the wilder patients are put.  Most of the psych patients are heavily medicated.  And maybe once or twice a week, one of them goes berserk and tries to escape by breaking out the windows or similar acts.  So over the course of my in-patient month long stay, we'd periodically see an ambulance from another hospital at the doors of the psych ward, and someone strapped in a gurney on their way to a more serious psych ward.  Scary stuff.  I had a few conversations with some psych patients though, and maybe due to their meds they actually could converse quite well, seemingly normal except for when they'd explain what they did to get them admitted, some bizarre stuff.  Again, who am I to judge?  Threatening cops with an AK-47 is kinda 'out there' too.

And then after one night in the psych ward I'm moved over to the detox unit, a kinder and gentler area.  Mostly, alcohol detox patients are given a mild tranquilizer called 'Atavan' to ward off the shakes.  I went through the usual sweats and chills as the poisons left my body.  Every 2 hours we have our blood pressures and temperatures checked.  We're encouraged to drink lots of Gatorade and fruit juices, as our bodies were used to getting lots of carbs from the beer and wine.  Hard liquor has no carbs by the way.  I mostly drank beer but often drank bourbon with it.  I drank a lot leading up to Rehab #3, as I was home all day and not working and still getting paid.  But I felt like my life was ruined.  Suicide was an option in my mind.  I was gonna go hiking way way out into some woods and shoot myself in the chest, hoping no one would ever find me.  Just an option though, always in the back of my mind.  I never told anyone at Rehab #3 about this option.

My attorney in fact told me to say very little in the event he couldn't get the charges dropped and my Rehab hospital records were subpoenaed for a potential trial.  Fortunately he got the charges dropped with no trial, but my records were obtained by the government security clearance department.  They were fairly innocuous records, but the clearance 'experts' made a big deal of anything not positive, which in reality there are always non-positive things in a Rehab patient's records or we wouldn't have to be in Rehab.

But I was only in detox for 3 days.  I had a really good doctor, a psychiatrist who specialized in addiction, he seemed very impressed that I was a scientist and we got along well.  He was my doctor also in Rehabs #4 and #5.  And my counselor was very good too, a former addict.  So, after detox, I'm still on Ridgeview's grounds in the Men's Residence.  There were about 30 guys in there.  A few doctors, lawyers, some black guys recovering from crack, a dentist, and just a slice across the spectrum of society.  My roommate was a fireman who was a pot-head.  I never thought pot was addicted, and in 26 years only saw one other person claim to be addicted to pot.  But if he said so, and his doctor agreed, and rehab helped him, then more power to him.  His wife and kids would visit, they seemed like a very ordinary nice family.  He was a successful 'graduate' from the program. 

And for my first 2 weeks, I was on the 'buddy' system.  This meant anytime I left the Men's Residence I had to be paired up with someone else.  Even for the 3 minute walk down to the Day Hospital.  Every morning by 8 am we had to be out of the Residence, and our bed's had to be made.  This was enforced fairly strictly, the Residence had these Counselors who'd police the bedrooms after we left, and if we got too many 'strikes' against us for unmade beds, or walking across campus without a 'buddy', etc., we'd lose some privilege.  Cell phones were forbidden, but each of the dorm rooms had its own land-line phone.

Each day, we'd go to the dining hall for breakfast, and the food was really good.  All 3 meals were really good, I gained a few pounds in Rehab.  Remember, this is Ridgeview, one of the nations best Rehab Facilities, it was somewhat like a country club, with a pool, tennis courts, a gym with a basketball court and Cybex workout equipment, Stairmasters, exercise bikes, nice locker rooms, even a softball field.

After breakfast, we'd have a morning 'spiritual' service at 9:00.  Rehab philosophy is that addicts are spiritually bankrupt in addition to being physically dependent, and thus try to infuse some non-denominational spirituality into the programs.  I personally liked this, most patients did.  And at 9:15 some lectures about the nature or physiology of addiction or similar topics.  Addiction by the way is a physical affliction.

As for the psychology of addiction, there is not much really that one's psychological makeup adds to the picture.  One exception is that most addicts have some form of abuse during childhood.  Either physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.  My dad brutalized the hell out of me both physically and emotionally, I was bound to be fucked up.  I have been all my life.

But the root of addiction, plain and simple is that addicts' brains react differently than normal peoples' to alcohol or drugs.  We just get our synapses flooded with mood and pleasure regulating neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA and some others, when alcohol or drugs enter our systems.  Normal people just get a small increase of these and feel just a little pleasure from a couple of drinks or a hit of coke, and they can walk away after the weekend parties with no cravings, living a normal life.  About 90% of the population is normal, which puts me in the 10% minority of addicts.  It's a genetically transmitted disease also, and all of my male relatives are/were addicted, mostly to alcohol.

I say 'addict' instead of 'alcoholic' in that I think that's a more accurate way to explain the disease.  If I couldn't get alcohol for whatever reason, well I'd abuse the hell out of Zanax or Klonopin, or Adderall.  In Georgia, they don't sell alcohol on Sunday.  So, one Sunday I instead took so 10 hits of Adderall, so much that I started hallucinating.  I didn't hear anything but I was driving around and the fire hydrants were 'waving' at me.  10 hits of Adderall could have caused my heart to overspeed until I had a heart attack.  Just an example of why I call myself an 'addict', if I can't get booze then I'll still find a way to get a chemically altered state of mind.  I'd use Zanax and Klonopin to come down from Adderall, and sometimes for days at a time I wouldn't drink alcohol but do Adderall and Zanax.  Just a fucked up way to live.  I'd always go back to the alcohol though, I loved that feeling.  Sometimes, on these Sunday  'no alcohol sales' days in Georgia, I'd drink a couple of bottles of Nyquil, it has 10% alcohol and also a drug called dextromethorphan, which I eventually grew to dislike, the DXM made me feel too weird.

Stocking up with extra alcohol on Saturdays never worked, it would be gone by 6 am Sunday.

Anyway, despite my main attorney's advice to say as little as possible, I did get a lot out of Rehab, especially the daily group sessions.  The patients are divided up into groups of about 10 patients each, both men and women, and we just share our 'issues' in a group setting.  But to be honest, I mostly used these sessions to tell jokes and make funny comments.  I was kinda serious about Rehab, grateful for the opportunity to help me stop drinking, but kinda thought it was too much fun at times, like a frat house without booze, probably the country club atmosphere.  But maybe it was good we can laugh again despite the circumstances?

One thing that helped was that the patients all sort of bonded.  There were some really awesome people in Rehab.  My favorite was this woman named Magdalena.  She was 38, had a husband and 2 kids, and was really funny, and very pretty.  She liked me a lot, thought I was too hilarious.  She was in Rehab for an addiction to Adderall, and was in some pretty serious legal trouble for forging prescriptions for it.  As for myself and Adderall, I can take it or leave it.  But Magdalena was hooked.  I never saw her again after that and I always worried she was gonna do some jail time, she was just a typical suburban mom, very sweet.  She was really cool too.  I wished I had a wife like her.

As for my own wife, she was supportive.  Every Sunday was family visiting day from 10 am until 3 pm.  My son was 2 years and 10 months old.  He would run to me every Sunday and jump on me, we'd just hug each other, then play some games or ball for 3 hours.  He never cried when he left at 3 pm, but he looked very sad and asked me why I wasn't coming home.  A big reason I try to stay away these days from alcohol and drugs is for my son.  It's for myself too, but he's my main inspiration.  I cannot say how many times I haven't been there for him, even when I was there, due to being intoxicated.  He's 10 now, he's very smart, and over the years he'd find a hidden bottle and take it to my wife, he knows alcohol is what killed my youngest brother and it's in his mind that drinking alcohol is inherently fatal.  Once I ordered a beer in a restaurant when he was with me, and my father-in-law.  He almost cried to see me drink one beer.  So I have this powerful motivation to stay 'clean'.

In the medical checkup at Ridgeview, on my 1st night in they took blood samples and did the usual tests, I was told I had liver damage, the related enzymes were 10 times the normal levels which indicated some damage.  Curiously, I went to my family doctor 3 weeks later for a physical, and these enzymes were at normal levels.  I always thought that there was something special about my physical makeup, because I was able to play full court basketball during Rehab #3 against the 20-somethings and did very well.  I played soccer and track in college, I'm just lucky to have played sports and worked out most of my life.  This was when I was 42 years old, now I'm 50, I don't know what kind of shape I'm in now, and surely I've damaged my body as I've since gone out and drank after Rehab #3, as recently as last month.

I was in the hospital 3 weeks ago, I just almost collapsed at the health club.  After being totally abstinent for 47 weeks, I went on a 10 day binge and drank really a lot those 10 days to the point I could not get out of bed on day 10.  That's how my binges end, I'm so poisoned I cannot walk or function.  But 4 days of sobriety and I'm overdoing it at the gym and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital, my blood pressure was 70 over 30.  I was exhaustion, dehydration, detoxing, and diabetes.  I was in from Sunday night until Thursday afternoon.  On Tuesday, the doctors looked at my blood test results and from some chemical imbalance, they figured out I was detoxing from alcohol.  So they started giving me Atavan every 3 hours.

Even just a 10 day binge after 47 weeks clean, and then 4 days sober after the binge, my body was really screwed up to the point my blood tests told the truth: I was poisoned.  And so when I'm at the store and see a display of beer or wine, I look away.  I just see it as poison.  I cannot say for certain I'll never drink again, it's a very very tricky addiction.  But in 2012 I only drank on a 4 day binge in February then an 8 day binge in March, then no more until February of 2013, a six day binge and that was it until January 19th 2014.

Honestly I can say I'd rather drink cyanide, and I'm being honest here, than drink one beer.  It's just that I know one drink is too much while 1000 isn't enough.  And to have hurt my friend is all the more painful emotionally, she was my favorite person after my son, and now who knows.  I just pray each day she'll understand what happens to me when I'm under the influence, a lot of alcohol, and when this happens I'm just not myself and do & say (& text) things that way out of character.  I'm just not myself when intoxicated.  I hope my friends understand.

I hope one very special and dear friend in particular understands and she forgives me, and we can be friends again.  I pray for this everyday, down on my knees. 

So Rehab #3, after 30 days in the Residence I could go home, but had to come back for 3 more weeks of outpatient group sessions and lectures.  I paid for this, plus part of the in-patient, out of my own money, about $20K.  It was worth it.  And I actually 'graduated', they have a little ceremony for those completing the program, we get a 'coin' with the Serenity Prayer on it:
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

I say this prayer at least once a day.  

And I was sober for 13 months after completing Rehab #3.  One thing which important to recovering from addiction is family support.  My wife supported me pretty well through this, she was really happy to have the 'normal' me back in her life.  But my parents, brothers, sister, etc., not really.  And on my first visit to my hometown, 13 months later at Easter 2007, well just the way they treated me like a dog, and the feeling of discomfort to be around them, I couldn't take it and relapsed.  I don't blame them for the relapse since I poured that first drink down my throat, no one else.  But they're very dysfunctional and since then, for the past 3 years we've just had zero contact, no phone calls, mail, email, or visits.  I just cannot be related to them, especially my parents.

So when my dad died 2 months ago right before Christmas, I felt no sadness whatsoever, and didn't go to his funeral.  In a way I'm glad he's gone, he mostly brutalized me when I was growing up, always referred to me when talking to my mom as "Your son."  She's not much better, and no love lost between she and I.  But I miss my 5 nieces and 2 nephews and my Godson who's also my cousin's son, he's named after me.  In fact my brother and brother-in-law had me put in jail the last time I visited, which was Jail #3.  So the verdict from the judge was to ban me from my Kentucky for 5 years and ban any contact between me and my family with the exception of something unusual like a funeral.  So rather than beg my brother-in-law, the county's prosecutor for permission to come back for my dad's funeral I just didn't go back.  But even without all that, I probably wouldn't have anyway.  I just didn't care that he died.

What's bad though is there is a toxic resentment I've been carrying around since that last vist to my (former) family.  And this resentment, plus some other issues, kinda led me to my relapse last month.  I was really treated like crap by the whole bunch, and the reason to visit was to get a break from my wife, who bitched all summer of 2011 about minor things, like the dog I got for my son.  It was really threatening my abstinence, and so going back home these people treated me like an outcast, a loser.  All of them, my dad and mom included.  And I realized, this is how they treated my youngest brother, Chris, when he went home to try to recover from his alcohol problem.  They treated him like a loser and outcast.

Chris actually spent a few years there, I had to go to San Francisco to persuade him to come home, he was in kinda bad shape there after losing his job in 2001.  I thought if he was around his 'family' he'd bounce back.  Wrong.  Chris came home to some seriously dysfunctional surroundings, he had never failed in his life, was always the favorite kid in our family, and suddenly he's treated like some lowlife outcast.   He also was put in jail by my brother and brother-in-law.  They actually told my mom to get him out of town, when they should have put him in a rehab.  So with her 'help' he ends up in Lexington in some dingy apartment way out on the outskirts of the city, with no car.  He had to sell his car and he at least had the common sense not to drive, he had gotten so many DUI's that if he would have gotten 1 more it would have been a felony with a year in prison.   But, to me he was always the same kid and I treated him that way, unlike the others.   And he really appreciated this, I'd go visit him when I'd travel through Kentucky.  I regret not doing more, we always regret not doing more when someone dies tragically.  I should have had him live with me.  I should have paid for him to go to Ridgeview.  I've been a lot less selfish since he died, largely due to some guilt over not doing more for him.  I knew he was gonna die young, he was only 33 when they found him drowned in the river, not far from my (former) parents' house.  And he'd suffered through this bullshit for nearly 6 years.  Which is why we still don't know if he jumped off the bridge to kill himself, or fell in the river by accident, or someone killed him and threw him in.  The autopsy showed a very high blood-alcohol content, and the last person to see him alive was a bartender who refused to serve him and said he just staggered out the door. 

I don't know where Chris got his money, I suspect my (former) mom enabled him.  During his last days he'd go down to a local convenient store and buy some beer or wine and just stay in the basement drinking until he passed out.  Then repeat it, day after day.  My (former) parents just ignored this, they're that dysfunctional.  They simply just let it go on as if it were nothing.  To my credit I warned them to do something a few times up until he died, I told them that something bad was gonna happen.

And I'm happy in a way that he doesn't have to suffer anymore.  I can only imagine the hell of being treated like he was, my (former) family is cruelly dysfunctional.  I even think that some of them are glad he's dead so they can party without guilt.  Seriously, they're that bad.
And getting this terrible resentment out of my consciousness is gonna take some work, it's almost as toxic as the alcohol.

I can only pray the Serenity Prayer and hope that God gives more serenity, courage, and wisdom...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Being addicted to alcohol isn't all 'fun' at Rehabs, you know the daily basketball or softball and bullshitting around in lectures or group sessions.  Most of us have at least 1 stint in jail.  Two of the hallmarks of the addiction disease are:  1) we cannot stop after 1 or 2 drinks and 2) we do really stupid, sometimes insane things while under the influence.  I use the term 'under the influence' instead of drunk, because sometimes after just a few drinks, not even at the  0.08 blood-alcohol content, we can do these out-of-character things.

Jail #2, was in Atlanta, in December 2005.  Without too much background, just the facts, for some reason the cops there didn't like me.  In my defense, the Atlanta and DeKalb County cops are known to have a few rogues in the force.  Unfortunately, I had to deal with some of these rogues.  And as I'll discuss, the fact that they were on a 'rogue' mission out to my house at 11:30 p.m. one Tuesday night in December is what saved me from being convicted or even going to a preliminary hearing for 2 serious felonies.

So, getting to the point, my wife is out of town with my son, and I'm home drinking and cleaning some of my guns for storage in the attic.  I would not bring any guns inside the house while my son was home, he was only 2 at the time and it's just not a good idea in my opinion to have guns in the open with a kid in the house.  Even with no ammo.  I did always have a hidden pistol for protection, it was hidden inside a fake clock on the TV room wall, with the clip out of the gun but inside this fake clock.

And so, I'm on the TV room couch and cleaning this particular gun, it's a Romanian copy of the AK-47, it's technically called a WASR-10 (photo at right).  It functions the same as an AK but it's not fully automatic.  And I'm drinking beer, and maybe around 10 or 10:30 pm I just fell asleep or passed out.  I was definitely under the influence.  And at 11:30, I didn't know the time when it happened I'm woken up by this pounding on the door.  It wasn't a light 'rapping' as one opposing counsel wrote.    There was a Metro stop 10 minutes away, just bordering what we'd call 'urban areas'.  The neighbor to the left, between my house and Emily's  (Emily of the 'Indigo Girls' click here to see her on Letterman)  had a bicycle stolen out of his locked garage, and maybe 7 houses to the left, that neighbor told me recently he'd had 10 break-ins in the past few years.  This pounding on the door continued, again this was not knocking or a doorbell ringing, it was loud and forceful.  And I woke up, and heard men talking.  And I'm thinking,
someone is trying to break in.  Really, at no time in my life has anyone ever banged on my door late at night.  And my neighborhood has experienced several burglaries in recent months.  It was a typical Atlanta suburban neighborhood, mostly attorneys and CDC scientists and doctors, even Emily, a Grammy-winning musician, who lived 2 doors down, click here to see Emily on 'Leno'.

So yeah, of course banging on the door and men talking, even a flashlight shining through the window, I'm thinking someone's gonna break in.  And I called 911.  The 911 dispatcher was kinda confused too, but after 7 minutes, she' radioing the cops on her beat, and all the while more pounding on my door, and my WASR-10 is setting on my TV room coffee table.  And I'm getting agitated and tell the 911 dispatcher that I have an AK-47, and I'm gonna use it if these guys break in.  I was under-the-influence but lucid and fluent, it was the adrenalin thing, it sobers you up really quickly.  And I remember this very clearly, almost 10 years later.  I'm thinking I need to tell that I'm armed with this gun, although I was going for my hidden pistol while talking, and putting in the clip, but I said AK-47, who knows why, maybe if I fired off all 6 rounds and missed I'd grab the WASR-10 and fake the criminals out although it had no ammo.  So if the cops responded and see a guy with a weapon resembling an AK-47, I'm thinking yeah they'll know I'm the homeowner.  It was a confusing thing, being woken up late at night in these conditions and my mind simply flooded with adrenalin and so I just reacted to the situation.

It turns out, the dispatcher told me after 9 or 10 minutes, there were not some criminals outside but 2 local cops who she said were there to 'talk to me'.  Yeah, right, some cops decide at 11:30 pm on a Tuesday they needed to 'talk to me'.  So, I got really angry now, the adrenalin was flowing, and told her I'm not coming to the door late at night to talk to any cops.  She never mentioned any warrants or summons, only they were there to 'talk to me'.  I said some profanities, exactly which ones I forget but told the 911 dispatcher that these cops better get off my property since I'm 'locked and loaded'.

I hung up.  I probably drank a couple of beers, then went back to sleep.

And the next day, being hung over, I called in to work and told my boss I was sick.  And just watched TV all day.  It was December 7, 'Pearl Harbor Day', and I remember watching the History Channel all day.  And I really didn't think much of the previous night's visit by the cops.  Anyway, I drank beer all day, and around 4 pm went upstairs to take a shower, and fell asleep in my bed.  I was woken up at 5:30 pm by my wife and 3 cops in flak-jackets, one of them pointing his pistol at me.  Not to seem too 'cool', but I didn't panic or anything, I was surprised mostly to see my wife, I thought she was gone all week.  And I'm saying, "What's up, what's going on," just matter-of-factly.  And my wife said the cops called her and told her to come back and let them in since they had to arrest me for threatening them the night before, they said I threatened to shoot the 2 cops with an AK-47.  So I do the 'perp walk' down my driveway in handcuffs, wearing a ski jacket, jeans, Lacoste shirt and shoes.  Not your typical weekday scene in suburbia.

In jail (photo at left) I'm one of 4 white guys of 500 inmates, a real 'snowball in the coal pile'.  And the black thugs are all asking me, "What you in for, Dog?".  And I'm lying to them, said I'm in there for fighting or for a DUI, but really I was unsure of the charges, I was after all still hazy and somewhat under the influence.  At the police station an hour before I blew just barely under a 0.08 on the Breathalyzer.

I'm feeling kinda foggy, and really tired.  So I just told anyone who asked, "I was fighting," or "I got a DUI".  They didn't believe me.  When some of us were standing in line to get officially booked in, the officer read out what I was charged with, and the black guys behind me apparently overheard, "Threatening to shoot police officers with an AK-47".  So, I got some instant thug respect.  I mean, clearly I seemed like some violent dude despite the Yuppie Lacoste clothes, Rolex watch, and ski jacket.  They mostly kept away from me, referred to me the whole time as the "White dude with the AK-47."

Then the 'thugs', mostly "wanna-be-thugs", you know all talk and no walk, were all asking me why I was gonna shoot the cops with an AK-47.  But I just said simply what I thought was the truth, "Because they were knocking on my door late at night."   I think this made me some kinda 'serious thug' in their minds, like I was some real criminal.  They were in there for mostly bullshit offenses.  Most of the black guys were in due to their girlfriends for whatever reason called the cops on them.  But yeah, some armed robbery suspects, I don't remember any murder suspects or really violent offenders but I tried not to talk too much to the others.

One black guy, a young guy with dreadlocks, I kinda bonded with him as we were shackled together for our bail hearings.  I felt sorry for him, he was an armed robbery suspect, only 25 years old, and on the van ride over to the courthouse he just put his head in his hands and complained, "Damn I'm just some punk-ass nigga gonna go do 10 years."  If I'd been able to think clearer I'd have paid my attorney to represent him, I didn't think about this until the van ride back to jail.  I had the money then to spare for this, was kinda financially well off in 2005.  I always wondered about him.  It's one reason nowadays I'm quick to offer help, financial or otherwise, to someone in need.  Just hate feeling regrets like this when I could have helped somoeone in need.  Maybe he wasn't guilty anyway?  Just a young guy with bad luck.  Maybe could have been a 'soldier' in the Revolution to come.

And I'm in jail overnight  & all day the next day.  My cell mate was this 18 year old Hispanic  kid, busted and sentenced to a few days for marijuana possession.  Apparently he was afraid of me, he took the razor blade out of his shaving razor while we were locked up, but I didn't threaten him or anything.

My wife bailed me out around 4 am on my 2nd night in jail.  I remember this one 19 year old thug, who recently moved to Atlanta from L.A., and the entire time in there he talked about 'gang-banging' with the Crips and Bloods, kept calling me 'Nigga' the whole time, and he really was one of those wanna-be thugs.  His grandma bailed him out, and so I'm walking to my car with my wife while he's walking with his grandma, and he's saying, "Please don't beat me Grandma!", and she did actually whack the kid.  Talkin the talk, not walkin the walk, what would his Crips homies think of that scene, getting whacked by his grandma.

So what happened?  I got suspended from work and lost my security clearance.  I had a really good attorney, he got the charges completely dropped on the basis that the cops were at my house without a warrant or summons very late at night, in his words, "Clearly to provoke me."  One of the deals with the prosecutor though was that I'd go to an Anger Management class and then Rehab, which is how I ended up in Rehab #3.

So, that's basically the story, but I never got my clearance back.  I have an arrest record with 2 felony arrests on it.  Just an arrest record, but employers check these out sometimes.  I had to get a new job in a new industry, which was a long and hard ordeal.  But I did it, with God's help, and I was again successful after a few years.  But it was a trying time.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


My youngest brother died in mid-October 2007.  I think the 16th or 17th.  Since I'd been engulfed in the addiction myself for nearly 20 years, and probably attended over a thousand 12-Step meetings and heard a lot of tragic stories by then, I had some intuition since 2001 that Chris was going to die tragically.  He'd just lost his high-paying yuppie investment banker job due to the dot-com bust of 2000, and he couldn't handle what he thought was a failure, although all of his friends were laid off too.  He took it personally.  Chris was a somewhat moderate drinker until then, and was considered the "white sheep" of the family.  But he just gave up on life, and started to drink his days away.  I told his girlfriend in 2001 that it would likely be me who'd have to I.D. his body in some morgue.  Six years later, when he really did have to be I.D'd in a morgue, it had to be done through his dental records.  I'm really glad I didn't have to do it.

Anyway, my mom called me on a Wednesday afternoon and asked if Chris had called or contacted me.  Chris was missing since the night before.  I was living in Atlanta then, and was the only family member who treated Chris decently.  So my mom thought maybe he called or texted me.  The bartenders at the local bars told my brother or brother-in-law that Chris was in their bars and really drunk, could barely walk out.  He tried to charge some drinks to my cousin's tab at one bar and the bartender wouldn't allow this.  So he staggered out, and that was the last time anyone saw Chris alive.  It was maybe 9 pm on a Tuesday.

And yeah, when she told me he was missing, I knew he was dead.  And so, she called back on Friday, and Saturday, and talked to my wife, she was frantic by then, he was missing now for 4 days, and no emails or texts to anyone.

On Sunday afternoon, my other brother called and my wife answered, she told me it was my brother and he needed to talk to me "right now."  He simply told me, "Chris drowned."  And I wasn't too shocked, but in a curious way I was relieved.  I asked him "where?", and "how?"  He was floating in the river right by our town, 100 yards from this river park which had benches and where steamboats docked to unload tourists to our town.   The river park is a block from my parents' house front door.

I was relieved that he was found, because imagine if he simply went missing for a long time.  That would be hard to deal with, no closure, only uncertainty and anxiety every time the phone rings or someone knocks on the door.

And at this point in my life, I'd lost a few friends who died young, and my long experience with addiction I had expected Chris to die tragically, and I was somewhat prepared for it emotionally.  I didn't cry, and really, my feelings the entire next week were relief that Chris didn't die a violent, painful death.  And I could handle stoically going back to my hometown, the funeral, the cemetary, the day after all this.  Everyone else in the family were crying all the while.  I wondered during the funeral, were these real tears?  They really treated Chris like a dog, like a loser, for the past 6 years.  I treated him just the same as when he was the superstar at Georgetown University.  I really did.  And I had to do most of the "dirty work", had to be the one they called to drive him to the detox centers 2 or 3 times, the one they called when he came in and got into fist-fights with my dad.  The family just didn't want to deal with the issue.  I'm not complaining, I was just helping my brother out.
But I'll never forgive my brother, sister, parents, brother-in-law, cousins for treating Chris like a loser, an outcast, a pariah.  In the right setting, in a more normal family like the ones I saw so many times come to the rehabs to support their loved ones, instead of my pathetic dysfunctional family, Chris would have bounced back, and gotten back on his feet again. 
And this is largely the reason I don't have a family anymore.  We basically just told each other in 2011, my last visit to my hometown, that I will not be your brother or son anymore. It's a little more involved than that, what was said and done then, but the gist of it is that I don't have any family now other than my son.  But I have some of my friends who I consider my real brothers.
That's how I 'lost' my so-called family.  I don't miss them.  
And in 2011, I went back home, the first time really since October 2007 for Chris' funeral.  I went down to the river park with Chris last friend, a guy named Brian who was a recovering crack addict.  I needed to get some closure on the issue.  Brian and I discussed how Chris ended up in the river.  My opinion is that he fell in.  Brian thinks he jumped off the nearby bridge, suicide.  My family thinks he got in a fight with someone down there and they beat him up and pushed him in.  We'll never know for sure.  
That's how we lost Chris.  I really miss him...

Monday, February 17, 2014


I don't know what my dad's problem was, but he just didn't like me for some reason.  It's hard to know why other than he himself was from an abusive, dysfunctional family and his dad would get drunk and beat him.  Maybe this is some sickness that some people just need to perpetuate.  Thank God I am breaking the cycle, I cannot yell at my son, and certainly could never spank him or hit him.  I'd rather cut off my arm than hit my son, and I really mean it.
But my dad just couldn't lay off me when I was growing up.  I got whacked over the head once, but mostly the beatings were across my back while he was smacking me down the hall to my room.
Of course, I eventually put a stop to the abuse when I got big enough, a senior in high school.  I was really in great shape going into my senior year of high school.  All summer long I ran several miles each day, lifted weights, and worked the hard manual labor on farms.  Of course many hours of basketball, on the rough local playgrounds.  My house was only a block away from what we called 'the hood' in our town.  Yeah, I really did get into some slam dunk contests with my black friends.  My favorite opponent, he was stabbed to death that year only a block away, in 'the hood.'  He was cool, and this was the first time someone I knew closely was killed.  I only weighed 160 but I looked like 200 pounds, just pure muscle, no fat.  Really good shape.  And I was really wanting the best basketball season ever, bad...

My senior year, we were supposed to have been our absolute best basketball team ever, 3 returning starters from the previous year which was our best season ever.  As a junior, and starter, on the previous year's basketball team, we won 20 and lost 6, and one of those wins was in the final game of a tournament, our school's first ever championship trophy.  Even 33 years later, that trophy dominates the hallway, right outside the school lunch room.  There's a picture of our team by it, the starters in front, we're down on one knee.  Around my neck is one of the nets we cut down.  Our best player graduated and went on to play Division 1 college ball, and for a while he was one of the top 10 scorers in the country.   Not bad for a little Catholic high school with only 92 students. 

And so, I cannot figure out why my dad never liked me.  Not only was I a basketball and baseball star, a junior starter on the school's best team ever, but I scored very high on the National Merit Scholar test my junior year and got some award, in the 5 county area I was the 3rd highest scorer on this test, and it made the papers.  For this accomplishment, the principal, teachers, and even some parents, thanked me for 'putting the school on the map.'

I never got in any trouble either growing up.  I smoked some marijuana, rarely, but generally did not like to smoke as I didn't want anything 'polluting my lungs' and slowing me down in sports.  I drank the usual amount of beer, however much that was, maybe a few during the week and a 6-pack on Friday and Saturday nights.  Just like all the guys at school.  But no DUI's, no arrests, no drugs, no trouble.  Behind the scenes, it helped that my family was politically connected, because in high school I got pulled over 3 or 4 times when I was under the influence.  The cops just looked at my license, realized who I was, and told me either to go home or simply to be careful.  Giving me a ticket, yeah they knew it would have been 'fixed'.  Once I was pulling into a gas station while chugging a beer, and a cop standing there at the gas pumps, looking right at me.  He pulled me over a few minutes later and told me to 'Have more respect for the law'.  He didn't pay any attention to the big cooler setting on my car's back seat, full of beer. Yeah, officer, this Bud's for you!  These days it's a lot stricter. 

My dad stopped harassing me on November 10, 1981.  A day I'll never forget, a nightmare come true.  And it was a Sunday, my youngest brother's birthday, and my middle brother had a basketball tournament championship game that day, across the street at our school.  His team won, he did pretty good.  And my girlfriend was in town, her best friend's boyfriend was in the local theatre and it was the last performance of whatever play they were doing.  And so, after the basketball tournament, and birthday party, she and I went to his house for the cast party.  He was one of the town's super wealthy, lived in a huge mansion, and it was a really lavish party.  I drank too much, yeah that happened some times, and that day I was in a good mood, and just overdid it.  I remember a lot of expensive liquor, which then I couldn't handle as I mostly drank beer.  So I drank a lot of this liquor, and my girlfriend drove me home around 10 pm.  It was Sunday, and a school night.
I walked in my house, and my parents had some company still, usually after ball games at school across the street the coaches and some parents would come over to our house and have a little get-together.  Sometimes, the priests from the parish rectory across the street would come over too.  I just walked in, said "hi" to whoever was there, and went right to my bedroom.  Took off my shirt and just plopped on my bed, and passed out.
Some time later, the guests left, my dad had been drinking, and he knew I was drunk when I walked through earlier.  He was really angry as he thought I had been driving my car when I was drunk, but the reality was my girlfriend drove me home.  She was smart enough not to let me drive when I was really drunk.
So my dad comes in my bedroom, and I'm passed out, and he yanks me up and starts yelling in my face, and I really don't remember if he threw the first punch or I did.  What's interesting is that 33 years later I can remember some of this like it was yesterday, despite being so drunk that I passed out.  So whoever threw the first punch, I'll take the credit or blame, maybe it's irrelevant, but 10 minutes later my room looked like a hurricane came through it.  My desk chair was smashed, and 2 drawers from my dresser pulled out and really just smashed.  And I remember thinking I was gonna lose this fight, my dad was really tough back then, he was a former sergeant in the army.  And my mom called the cops, she and my sister were screaming this whole time.  It was really a violent, shocking thing.  I don't know how the furniture got smashed though.  And so, this 'fight or flight' instinct kicked in, and my brain chose 'flight.'   The only way out of my bedroom was the door blocked by my dad.  So I literally jumped headfirst - actually facefirst - through the window and landed in the back yard.  From there I could see the police lights flashing on the street out front, I jumped out just in time.  Of course I would have been taken to jail, not my dad, the instigator.  Fortunately, despite the 6 feet drop from my window to the ground, I landed somehow that I didn't get injured.  And there I am, in my backyard, on a cold, damp November night, no shirt and blood all over me.  Jumping through the window left a huge gash from my forehead down to my cheek.  The glass missed my eye by 1/4 inch.  So I ran...
Maybe it was like a scene from 'Rambo', I ran through the town maybe 2 or 3 miles, ducking into the shadows whenever a car was coming.  And I got another couple of miles to where the city ends and the country starts, thick woods.  I was half jogging, half walking.  Whenever a car's headlights were approaching in the distance, I'd jump into a ditch by the road, ducking under the bushes or trees.  I was going to my girlfriend's, she lived several miles away, and this was the insanity of the situation, she lived so far away and I'm thinking I can get to her house on foot.  And so maybe 2 more miles, I don't know, I came to a backroad off the main highway, and thought I knew where I was, I thought maybe this was a short cut.
And at this point, it's probably midnight, about 40-something degrees cold, damp, foggy, I have no shirt on, I'm covered with blood, and still bleeding profusely from the gash on my face.  I forget the details around this point, where I turned onto the backroad, but I was probably walking-jogging through hell for maybe 2 or 3 hours. The backroad, it turns out wasn't a shortcut, and I was lost. I should have gotten hypothermia from the cold exposure.  I saw some headlights coming after wandering this backroad, and just gave up, I stood in the road and waved the guy down.
Fortunately, it was one of the local redneck pot-heads, who the hell else would have pulled over and gave me a ride?  This guy didn't know me but he knew my girlfriend's dad, since her dad owned a farm supply store.  He lived not too far from her.  I asked him to give me a ride to her house, and he agreed, what else could he say to a bloody, half-drunk, shirtless, shivering teenager?  I don't remember what we talked about, but 20 minutes later we pulled into my girlfriend's driveway, it's maybe 1 am.  I rang her doorbell, she came to the door with her mom, they saw me and kind of screamed, saying "Oh my God!" and you know, the usual stuff girlfriends and their moms say when you ring their doorbell covered with blood and no shirt at 1 am.  I can vaguely remember they wiped the blood off my face, and my girlfriend's mom talking about hypothermia, hospital, stitches, whatever.  They covered me up with blankets after cleaning the blood off and bandaging me, and the next day my girlfriend took me to my grandma's.  I stayed there for a week, I refused to go home.
I remember my girlfriend was kinda in shock over this for most of the winter.
When I finally did go home, my room looked the same as when I jumped out the window, only they covered up the broken window with plastic sheeting.  It stayed like that all winter.  They never took me to get stitches, and my whole senior year the scar ran visibly from my forehead down to my cheek.  Now only a small scar remains, 1/4" away from my left eye.  I am so lucky I didn't lose my eye.
And I missed basketball practices due to this, right before the first big game of the year, and the coach made me sit on the bench the whole game.  The next day I took my uniform over to his office and told him I didn't want to play.  I was really upset that he wouldn't let me play that game, I was going to go head-to-head against the leading scorer in the state and there were a lot of college scouts at that game.  Even today I have dreams about playing high school basketball, it's just something unresolved, deep inside, that I never got over.  These dreams are rarer now, once or twice a year maybe.  Even without me the team had a really good season, they went the farthest ever in the state tournament our school had ever gone. 
I credit of course my Guardian Angel, this night could have ended on a more tragic note, I could have died somewhere on that backroad, after losing so much blood, no shirt, on a cold November night.  My dad never harassed me again, in fact he largely ignored me after that, until the following summer when we were visiting prospective colleges. 
And that's how it is, to walk (& jog) through hell...


Today is my 50th birthday.  I should not be alive.  I've come close to death many times, 99% of those times I was under the influence, usually alcohol.  Aside from too many spin outs in cars, both as a driver and passenger, I almost drowned twice.
The first time was in Cancun.  Me and my girlfriend played some really hard tennis early in the morning, it was the only time that the temperature was below 95 degrees, the rest of the days that month, July 1995, were around 100 degrees or so.  And I basically sweated out all of my body's electrolytes.  And then like was our daily routine, we went out to the beach to lay there while ordering 'buckets of Coronas' which is just what it says:  a bucket full of Corona beers with ice.  And so, after a couple of these buckets, I was ready to show off, by swimming out 100 yards to a coral reef, a little island out there in the ocean.  And so, being really intoxicated I just jumped in, and 75 yards out I just suddenly lost all my energy.  I mean, I felt like I was drained of any strength, could not move my arms or legs.  It was due likely to replacing my body's electrolytes with Corona.  Not a good idea.  And I was going down, I was sinking, and I remember I inhaled a big breath of air to stay buoyant.  That was all I could do, and I looked back at the lifeguard, who was WAY back, too far to do me any real good, and I was sinking again and down to where my mouth was underwater and I couldn't yell for help, but I could wave for help.  I remember the lifeguard stood up as though he was gonna jump in, and I had barely the strength to wave for him.  Then my ego kicked in, I mean damn, I really would rather have drowned before I'd wave for help. 
This is my fatal weakness, I cannot reach out for help, cannot.
I didn't see my life flash before me like some people say happens right before death, but I had a brief vision of my funeral and my family sitting there crying.  And then all the shadows underwater seemed like sharks.  It was really a terrifying few moments.  Very scary!  Really!
Suddenly it was like WHAM!  I just seemed to get some burst of energy ... or was I being pulled?  Somehow I ended up on the coral reef.  The lifeguard sat back down.  I was really
terrified by this, and I stayed there just sitting on the reef, I was too afraid to swim back to the beach.   A half hour later, yeh, I barely got the courage and jumped in and the waves mostly carried me back to the beach.  And another bucket of  Coronas to drown the terror.  My girlfriend asked me why I stayed on the reef so long, I lied that there were some cool fish out there I was watching.  I was really shaken up the rest of that day.
Today, 20 years later, I cannot swim in the ocean farther out than 4 feet deep.  If the water gets up to my neck I start to feel panicky.  I'm glad I didn't drown that day, my first real brush with real death.  It's terrifying.  I used to joke about death, like "Ha ha, I'm not afraid to die."  No, I am very afraid to die and I can only thank my Guardian Angel for pulling me to the reef.

My 2nd brush with death, I wasn't under the influence or anything, I was sober.  I was under the influence of my ego, though.  Kinda showing off, the ego thing.  And so this time I almost drowned, at Great Falls in the Potomac River.   It was my first kayak lesson, the instructor was an 18 year old kid but he was good enough to try out for the Olympic team.  And there's this one rapid, right where the water comes over the fall, it's called "The Hole" (photo at right).  What the "Hole" really is, it's a white-water phenomenon called a 'hydraulic'.  These are very dangerous to mess with, only for expert kayakers who paddle into the hydraulic barely, which causes their kayak to stand up on the front end and then get 'spit' back out.  It's called 'surfing the hole."  It's really dangerous to be sucked into a hydraulic, even the most buoyant logs can be held under for minutes at a time, and so of course a person with wearing a life preserver vest wouldn't stand a chance.
So, I had only had 2 hours of lessons, my first time in a kayak, and aside from paddling around the only notable skill I learned was how to bail out when my kayak goes upside down.  I surely didn't know how to do the 'Eskimo roll' where you basically do a complete rotation under water and back up again.  I still can't do this, I get stuck upside down & bail.
And my instructor and I for some reason decide we need to go 'surf the Hole'.  Remember, 18 year old expert kayakers don't always have the best judgement.  But he surfed it a few times, and said to me, "Now it's your turn."
18 year old kid daring me... hell yeah I'm gonna do it!  I'm an idiot.  I should be dead.
And I paddle into the 'Hole', and immediately turn over, and I bail out underwater, and the Hole spat out my kayak, but not me!  And yeah, I'm going under, and pop up and under again, and pop up again, and I looked at my instructor who by now had a horrified look on his face, I think he was thinking I was gonna drown.  He paddled in, and I popped up enough to grab the front of his kayak, but slipped off, and he's yelling, "Grab my boat and hang on!" looking even more scared now.  And I grabbed the front end of his kayak and again slipped off.  And one more time, and grabbed his kayak, and finally held on tight enough, he back paddled out away from the hole.  Yes, it was terrifying.  Being upside down underwater in a kayak in the Hole.  And 2 decades later, yeh I can get in a kayak, but only on calm water.  But, the slightest ripples and I get this panicky feeling.

Some other brushes with death?  Hmmm, I nearly overdosed a few years ago.
I wasn't trying to die but I didn't care if I didn't wake up.  At the time life really sucked.
And late one night, after 25 drinks, I took a handful of Klonopin pills,  maybe 25 of them.  I don't know why I did this, other than I knew this would really put me to sleep.  At the same time, I knew it was dangerous to mix Klonopin with alcohol.  And I felt like my life sucked.  My wife left with my kid a week before, I don't know where they went, she did this 2 or 3 times a year.  And I didn't have a job.  A lot of things sucked.  Anyway, it was very dangerous.  Klonopin is a tranquilizer, of the benzodiazepide class of drugs.  A lot of people die from mixing benzo's with alcohol, due to an effect called 'synergism'.   Basically, it means 1+1=3.  Benzo's interact with alcohol and they intensify each other's effect, to the point one's respiratory system shuts down.  I didn't really want to die, but I didn't care if I didn't wake up.  That's as basic as I can explain it. 
I didn't die, but 15 hours later I woke up.  And went to the liquor store.
And that night I drank even more alcohol and took even MORE Klonopin.  And I still woke up the next day.  Again, I didn't want to die, but I also didn't really care if I never woke up again.  I knew then about benzo-alcohol synergism, they teach us these things in Rehab. 
This 'flirting with death', in 3 days I went through 100 Klonopin pills and gallons of booze. And really it's a miracle I survived. 
I shouldn't be here today, celebrating my 50th birthday.
I'm going out now, to a 12-Step meeting, which I should do every day, forever.   

I'm pretty good at attending these when I get my head back on straight.

Like it is now.

I'm glad I'm alive.

I think my friends are glad too.

I'm sure my son is glad too, wherever he is.

Thank you so much Guardian Angel! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014


One thing that us with alcohol or drug problems do, is break our loved ones' hearts.  Our family, friends, anyone close enough.  We just say and do these things while under the influence, that we'd never say otherwise.  And we come out of the fog and realize this, it breaks our hearts too.  During the last binge, I hurt someone who is very very dear to me, and one of my favoritest people of all time.  And a week ago, when my mind could think somewhat clearly, I realized I hurt her, and a tear ran down my cheek, and then another...   Because she means very much to me.  Realizing I hurt her feels worse than breaking my heart, it feels like tearing my soul.