• Alcohol and Sobriety

    Where We Take Our Smoke Breaks

    “That’s where we take smoke breaks,” Anna pointed toward an E-Z Up under the Eucalyptus, several yards from the facility’s cafeteria. The dust was high on the dirt roads, the decrepit blue van billowing trails behind us as we carted around various brooms, mops, buckets, rags and cleansers. That was our job, to clean. Housekeeping, they called us, as if we serviced an upscale hotel instead of rehab. “I don’t smoke,” I said. “Good, that’s good. I should quit. These things will kill you.” After a few hours at the Ranch, I had anticipated her response to my smoke-free existence. Everyone reiterated the same sentiment in their own words, different summaries of the…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety

    The Long Walk Back

    I couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day off work. Sky so crisply blue it seemed tangible, clouds high and fluffy, temperature in the low seventies. A perfect North County day, as all the days seemed during that spring so many years ago. Right after the other girls in the house went to work cleaning cabins and raking leaves, I dressed, filled my water bottle, and set out on the two-mile walk to the train station. On my various walks to the Target or the Stater Brothers or the bank, I would shuffle through the music my boyfriend had loaded on an iPod he gave me for Christmas. Sometimes the playlists grew stale…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety,  Depression is a Bitch

    I’m Going to Talk About Suicide

    I woke up on my 27th birthday on a shitty mattress in rehab. The December light speckled in through the gritty window, and I lay there for a few minutes and thought about him. Of course I did. He had been 27 when he died. He had been an addict too, like me. So was Jimi and Janis and Brian and Jim, all dead at 27, but I mostly thought about him. When I was a young teenager, Kurt Cobain was very important to me, like I suspect he was to a lot of teenage kids. He wasn’t just a rock star who killed himself. He was a mythological figure.…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety

    New Year’s Day

    New Year’s Day, 2010. It was still dark when the act of coughing up sludge awoke me. Shit, I thought. No cough syrup available because of the alcohol content. No soothing Benadryl or Tylenol PM to rock me gently to sleep despite the lung ratting. We couldn’t even take allergy medicine with antihistamines, which would cause a dirty result if the director decided to randomly drug test us. Thankfully I had the room to myself. I’d have hated to wake up a roommate before 8 AM on one of the only days off we got here. I kept hacking, regretting the cigar I smoked last night to ring in the…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety,  Family Dynamics,  This is Me

    “What do you want to do for Christmas this year?”

    “What do you want to do for Christmas this year, hon?” I felt myself jump, even though I know I didn’t actually do it on the outside. We were driving home from dinner, and I mentally cursed the twenty minutes on the freeway ahead of us. Twenty minutes of what would very likely be a Marital Dispute. Someone, probably God, was punishing me. Faster than you could say “Let’s change the subject, sweetie,” the memories of the past few Christmases wheeled through my mind. Like last Christmas, when family members didn’t cooperate with my ideas and Mike and I opened presents alone. I felt guilty for forcing my plans on…

  • Alcohol and Sobriety

    A Harmless Little Lie

    It was just another run of the mill Monday at rehab. Like always, the first item on our housekeeping list was the New Beginnings House. Run by the county, New Beginnings facilitated supervised meetings between parents and children when the children have been removed from the parents’ care. Victoria and I volunteered to clean the nurse’s station, the small trailer about fifty yards away where they did physical check-ups on the children in foster care. The nurse’s station was an easy task, as it was infrequently used. A light dusting, bathroom wipe down and vacuuming took care of the little space. Lugging the vacuum down the slope was probably the…

  • Medical Money
    Alcohol and Sobriety,  Deadly Diseases

    A Trip to the Hospital: Part II

    See here for the first part of the story. – – – My mom and I sat side by side in hard plastic chairs, listening to the social worker go on about why I didn’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. Mom had driven down to take me home so I could convalesce before going back to rehab, but first thing’s first – the bill of services. Hence, the social worker. “I’ve been sober for thirteen days. I’m in rehab. I have nothing. Who is going to pay for this?” I asked everyone from the epidemiologist to the nurse who changed my IV fluid. Any time I repeated this question I…

  • Me at the Ranch
    Alcohol and Sobriety,  Deadly Diseases,  Depression is a Bitch,  This is Me

    The Bravest Thing I’ve Ever Done

    I’m not a terribly brave person. If anything, I’m rather cowardly. Exhibit A: I flee from confrontation Exhibit B: The thought of a spider crawling across my arm sends me into apoplectic shock Exhibit C: A crowded room makes me want to crawl into myself and disappear Exhibit D: I’m not into extreme sports like cow tipping or, to my husband’s eternal dismay, skydiving Exhibit E: It took me about a decade of writing experience before I summoned the bravery to share my work with others That’s a lot of evidence against me, enough for me to write myself off as a cowardly lion, which I’ve always done. But as one of my favorite…

  • No Insurance
    Alcohol and Sobriety,  Deadly Diseases

    A Trip to the Hospital

    “I’m okay,” I said, taking a gulping breath. The counselor tilted her head slightly, looking at me quizzically. “Are you sure? You look like you’re having trouble breathing.” “Yes,” I said. I took another gulping breath. “Well, okay then. Let me know if you want me to take you to the clinic.” I nodded. I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. I’d never had insurance – preexisting conditions, you know. It was probably just a bad case of bronchitis, but luckily I could go to an online Canadian Pharmacy to find medicines for this. I could live with that. May,* the head counselor of the women, continued to lead…

  • light-bulb
    Alcohol and Sobriety

    Because I’m in Rehab

    When I was in a rehab, which was as good as the delray beach rehab, I made sure I mentioned that fact to everyone I met. To the checker at the grocery store down the road: “Could you double bag this 24-pack of soda? I have to walk, because I’m in rehab.” To the passenger next to me on the Coaster: “I’m very excited to be taking a day trip! See, I’m in rehab, so I don’t get to go out much.” To the gas station attendant, where the cigarettes were cheaper: “Do you carry Marlboro 100’s? They’re not for me – I don’t smoke. I’m buying them for a friend.…


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: