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...