Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day two hundred and sixty three ... Not by a long shot.

It's 10:07 p.m.

I'm soaking my  feet in hot water and epsom salts while I wait for the knock at the door that signals my Chinese food feast is about to begin.

For those who are/were curious about my battle of the bulge, I had put on about five pounds during the last week and a half of my aunt's illness. All she was able to eat was coffee ice cream and I couldn't just let her eat it alone.

I have to admit that it was funny, every once in a while, to open the front door and come in and see her with a half gallon of ice cream, a spoon, a paper towel, and a smile on her face.

She was a good smiler ... it's a family trait.

So, anyway, I have managed to drop said bag of sugar over the last week and a half and am now stuck at 206.

It's still eighteen pounds from where I started back in June, which I'm very pleased at. I still plan on losing another twenty, but I gotta take things slow right now.

And when I say that, I don't just mean in a philosophical way ... I mean I can't physically move very fast.

Let me explain.

Two mornings ago I awoke to begin my weekend of performing my band, Drunk Stuntmen's, original rock score to the 1924 silent film version of Peter Pan. We were commissioned to write and perform the score back in 2000 (revisiting it again in 2005) at the Academy of Music, here in 'Hamp, as well as MASS MoCa in North Adams, and Real Artways in Hartford. It's a lot of  music to a long film (102 min.) and thanks to our keyboardist, Scott Hall, we were able to put it back together in a short span of time with plenty of other stuff going on both personal and work related.

The show is/was put on in Hartford this time and I had a plan to just drive from Mattapoisett where I had spent a few days freaking out (see the last couple of entries). 

As I mentioned in one of my recent posts, I was wondering what kind of penance I would be handed for my pharmaceutical indulgence. While I'm not even close to what one would call a religious man, I am very superstitious and believe in the power of karma above all else.

If you do the right thing as much as you can ... a lot of times, it shows up in other places of your life.

I can't prove it, but I can't disprove it either and that's fine with me.

One other thing about karma. You may not readily notice positive outcomes from your actions, but when you screw up, the retribution becomes quite apparent, almost immediately ... as I was saying.

I got my things together as best I could and made it out the door at 8:15 a.m. to begin my trek to Hartford.

Oh no.

Not today.

Not on a day I really need to be on time.

Wouldn't you just know that there would be one god damned flat tire on my car, sitting there, slumped on one haunch like a pup with a nail in its paw.

Okay, I can handle this, it's just a flat tire. Let's just take my amp out of the back and remove the jack and take the spare out and jack up the car and take the old tire off and ... 

Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwccchhhhhh!!!!!!!!! ... my back ... my poor, abused, overworked and battlescsarred back.

Oh boy.

You know when you know your body well enough that you can properly gauge how much damage you just inflicted and how long it will take to repair itself.

Oh, excuse me. My food's here.

Whew! That was tasty.

So, I knew exactly what I was in store for, and it wasn't going to be pretty.

It's ironic when I stop to think about what they prescribe those little, round, white pills for ... and then I think about how I had used them.

So, anyway, I threw out my back and had to change the flat, but I was done and back on the road in fifteen minutes flat. I was pretty impressed with myself--it's an awful habit.

With the help from a few Stuntmen I managed to get to the gig on time, have someone pick up my notes from Northampton, and lend me enough cords to play my guitar with.

This withdrawal is a lot worse than I thought and my brain is definitely not where it should be, even now, at a week clean.

It's nice when you show up at a place you haven't been to in eight years and they have pitchers of Bloody Marys and donuts to greet you. I enjoyed a delicious coffee, something I've become increasingly fond of, much to the chagrin of my better senses. But Real Artways took great care of us. Hell, I even took a shower there. It's a new thing I do--not really the showering part. I've done that all my life--but if there's a shower available to use (like on Leno) I'll take advantage of it. I feel complete ... and clean ... and just a bit more comfy. 

The show went well. It's kind of hard to describe it because it's so involved, but basically, we wrote different parts and themes for different characters which pop up in various pertinent places in varying keys, feels, and lengths. Then there's all the other music that has to go on underneath it all because it's a silent movie. If we're not playing, or Steve's not narrating (which, he did a fantastic job taking the reins from Mike Flood who had done it in the original) then there's just action on the screen. Some movies can get away with that; not this one.

Dave, our drummer, had a spot of trouble getting there which provided a lovely dose of stress.

But, at the end of the afternoon, the show was over, and we could depart knowing we had at least brought it to completion. 

I came home, ate the rest of my pre-packaged Oscar Mayer honey turkey and crawled into bed.

At 7:30 p.m. I fell asleep.

I woke up thirteen hours later ready to do it all again.

This time I took Dave with me so his car could be spared the abuse.

Today's show was even better and the crowd was definitely into it a bit more, which is always nice.

Dan Richardson, our sound man extraordinaire, did a fantastic job mixing the show.

After the show there was a big bottle of Jack Daniels and more Bloodys for the boys. My coffee was delicious and went fine with a piece of banana bread.

And now, a huge and seemingly insurmountable task on my docket can be successfully checked off. As much as I love this project, and as good as it sounds, it came at one of the most inopportune times of my life and I wish I could have enjoyed the process more. Instead I was a ball of stress; shaky and tired around the eyes.

I spoke to a friend about my recent malfeasance with the pills.

He said, "Man! And you almost made it nine months."

And I said, "Well, it's not the worst thing in the world. I could have drank, or done other things, but ... well ... I guess its not exactly 100% sober now is it?"

To which he replied, "Not by a long shot, Al. Not by a long shot."

And he is right.

And I know now, even more than I did when I had just made my decision to go public, and sort of got all huffy about what I'm going to call what I'm doing now and almost getting mad before I got any grief from anybody ... I kind of didn't realize how badly I had fucked up my insides, both my brain and the rest of my body.

But I didn't start this blog on day one of my sobriety, either.

I started it on the first day of 2008.

It is a note on the passage of time, not the means to an end.

The way I see it, I can have my cake and ice cream too, if I so please. I just have to keep my ice cream in the freezer a bit longer while I enjoy my delicious cake.

December 27 is the last day I had a drop of alcohol.

That milestone will still stand, until--god forbid--it has to change, and I won't be shy in the least of starting my clock all over again. I had easy access to booze over this last week and I chose not to drink. In fact--and some of you may not believe me--it didn't even cross my mind. It used to be that I wouldn't take pills without booze because I didn't feel like I was doing it right. I felt like I wasn't giving it my all. 

That's crazy talk.

Those thoughts did not enter my brain for one second, and it's only a few thousand seconds to the closest package store.

But that is what alcohol--and I can safely say that it has mainly been alcohol--for 22 years has guided my decisions and driven me to do stupid and unconscionable things. It has been what has led to failed relationships, untimely terminations, poor social skill usage, and other embarrassing situations I'd rather not discuss.

So, I'm going to agree with my friend that I can't really lump that last week into the last eight and a half months as being "sober." But, once again, this blog doesn't start with my first sober day. And, as of right now, there is no end to it in sight. It's just a way of me to express how I feel and what I've accomplished, and that, along with the support I have gotten from so many people in my world recently, shows me that it is worth it, to just keep on my journey of making music, making friends, seeing the world, and staying clean and sober.

Oh, so that thing about karma?

I hadn't had lunch by the time we got back (about 5:30 p.m.) and I was hung-ry.

I stopped into the Gallery to put in a few hours working downstairs.

It was weird to see my boss's car there, after hours, along with  a couple others that I didn't recognize.

I went up to take a look and there were about 150 people up there schmoozing.

I found out later that it was an Obama rally where you paid $300 for a few lectures and some bruschetta, brie, and portobello and maybe a chicken spear if you're lucky, like me.

No wonder I was getting funny looks as I filled up a couple of plates of food in my jeans, t-shirt and bandanna and adjourned where the non-tweedded reside.

I got to eat (something I desired), because I went in to work (something I dislike, but felt was necessary).

Karma works ... I do it for the benefits.

So, my penance may be over. Only time and my own actions will tell.

All I know is that I don't want to ever feel like I did last week.

And each day, I make a little progress in achieving that goal.

But there is no trophy to receive.

There is no giant oversized check to be given.

There will be no call from the President.

But it will become apparent when something changes and the dreams become less foggy and more like I remember before the reception started to get all fuzzy and distorted.

It will be clear.

It will be still.

It will be simple.

It will be everything I want.

I just have to want it bad enough.

And I do.

Thanks for reading,


PS: Oh yeah, my fortune cookie. I almost forgot.

"You will enjoy good health. You will be surrounded by luxury."

Hot damn! I think I like the sound of that.

Tune in next week when I get the results from my doctor on my cholesterol and my new HDTV gets installed.

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