Friday, April 11, 2008

Day one hundred and two ... Arf, arf, arf ...

I have to admit something.

I've been relapsing.

And I haven't put a damn thing inside me that I shouldn't.

It sounds weird, I know. But, as I've mentioned in a previous post, a relapse is a process, not an event. It is everything you do leading up to the regrettable impasse, the mistake, the lapse.

So, I repeat. I've been relapsing.

It's quite a common occurrence, actually. Happens all the time. What with all the TV ads and the radio spots and the bars that I perform in. Not to mention it's baseball season. I mean, who could turn their nose up at sitting on the porch on a sunny afternoon with a sixer of Pabst listening to the game. Maybe lounging in a rocker with your feet up on the ottoman and a guitar on your lap. A tall Grey Goose on the rocks would look nice on the coffee table, with the ice popping every now and again to remind me it's thirsty.

See how it starts?

Baseball games have long been one of my more creatively productive backdrops. I think it's the rhythm of it all-- long periods of near silence followed by a burst of activity and fanfare. I don't know, it just works for me. Plenty of riffs and song structures have been put to my tape recorder with the faint rumbling of the AM broadcast in the background. When this whirlwind of a ride I'm on settles down, I plan on sifting through the many cassettes I have to piece together an album's worth of material to record. All in good time.

It's a scary thought, though. Relapse. The mistake, the error, the strike out.

At this point it seems like it was just as important when I had 3 days of sobriety behind me as now with sixteen weeks.

In the halls of AA, the old timers will tell you that no matter if they've been sober for 10 years, or 20, or more, that they have as much time as the newcomer: one day. Twenty-four hours to stay clean, say your prayers, close your eyes, and sleep until morning, then wake up and do it all over again.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves when we try to corral our sobriety in a pen-- when we try to show it off and admire it like so many championship Corgis.

Look at them all. One hundred and seven of them. All jumping on their hind legs, yipping and snapping their snouts open and shut in an attempt to get a little attention. All almost identical, yet unique in their own way.

And in the pen they will stay, if we are steadfast, until another one arrives and takes up a bit more space, a bit more food, a bit more newspaper, a bit more attention.

Until one day, which we can only hope is far in the future, when, god forbid, we wake up and wonder why we're sleeping in our work clothes. When we open our eyes and our head is throbbing a familiar throb, and our tongue feels like a mouth full of dry Cheerios, and the phone is ringing and it doesn't sound right, and the answering machine picks up, but the outgoing message isn't your voice. That's odd, who could have changed my outgoing message? And then, you realize it's the same voice that you remember hearing on the other side of the phone, the person who, last night, asked if you wanted to come over and "hang out." And you realize that same someone is yawning on the couch and rubbing their eyes. That old friend. That same old sight-for-sore-eyes who speaks the language you used to; someone who feels as awful as you do, but doesn't have the perspective you had, and so, they just feel normal. And then they look at you and smile a familiar pained smile, so much as to say: "Welcome back, pal. We've been waiting for you."

And the barking outside has stopped.

And you have to make a choice.

Do I enjoy the quiet?

Or do I swing by the pound and pick up a new noisemaker.

Right now I'm going to say my prayers, close my eyes, and sleep till morning.

I have a lot of things to take care of before I fly to L.A.

Man ... that sure is an awful lot of barking. I swear it's louder than it was last night.

Thanks for reading.



Libby Spencer said...

Now that the novelty is wearing off, you're bound to have some sore temptations to slide -- just once. Especially when you're in LA and everyone else will be partying.

My thoughts are with you my dear. Hope you have a wonderful and wildly successful trip to LA and that the demons don't sweettalk you into giving in.

Anonymous said...

Hey Alex--I think you're on a plane right now. I hope it's a great trip and I hope you have some folks to lean on while you're out there. I'm sure Ken would be happy to seek out those famous frozen yogurt places or shop for shoes with you, should you need a distraction.

It sure was nice to see you yesterday. When I first saw you, I thought, "Hey, there's Alex..." You got half way down the block by the time my brain signaled my mouth to form the word DRIVING! Congratulations on everyday.

Me, I was comin' from my gig with Jason rockin' the elementary school, headin' for the Tasty Top :)