Thursday, February 24, 2005

Gawdawful N.U.I.

Hi All!

I've been experiencing a state of being that is worth naming: N.U.I.;

N umb
U ninterested
I idleness.

I have assigned it degrees from Mild to Gawdawful.

During the past week or so, I have been experiencing the most serious form.

What follows might sound like a fine white whine. Not really meant to be. I'd throw a Pity Party but what if no one came?

No, this is just a sharing that is meant to be self-therapy rather than a projection of misery.

I've tried to order my days with scheduled activities. What has happened so far is that I picked a couple of chores -- loading and unloading the dishwasher and uncluttering/straightening and have become compulsive about them. I am also fattening up on pop, snacks and frozen entrees.

I think part of it is physical -- the liver damage keeps me low-functioning and easily tired. The meds and antidepressants probably play a role. A fair part is certainly due to the incredible void in my life left with the departure of beer, brandy and vodka.

The fact that I am confined to quarters, the place where I did 99% of my drinking, seems to be creating a perverse sense of loneliness.

It may also be that after 5 VERY eventful months during which I received gobs of attention, wanted or not, I am suddenly "back home" where the cards, letters and visitors have dried up. My support system is probably as burned out with me as I am myself.

It's gotten so that the arrival of the junkmailman and the phone calls from telemarketers are exciting parts of the day. I even look forward to Breathalizer Guy. Hey, a visitor is a visitor.

I've been slow to be honest about it, but the electronic House Arrest is getting to me. It's not so much that I can't get out to run errands or play NTN Trivia as it is the very unsubtle cigarette box-shaped transmitter strapped securely to my ankle and the mysterious black box hooked up to the phone reminding me that I am a convicted criminal and a really bad person.

As once quoteth Randy Moss after his own run in with the law, "Life ain't all peaches 'n cream."

I feel better already.


Friday, February 18, 2005

Breaking the Ice

Hi All!

Week two of house arrest. I can't tell you how much I savor the two periods per week that I can stray too far from the squawk box attached to the kitchen phone; Thursday from 8:30-2:00 for my LIOP (Low iintensity Outpatient Program at a place near KSTP on University called Avalon) and Sunday from 7:30-1:30 for Mass and AA.

I have 60-90 minutes of slop time to get to and fro the appointed rounds. I really have come to enjoy and appreciate Metro Transit. Even more, I relish the walk between bus stops and destination -- I often get off a stop or two early or late to get some extra exercise.

A forgotten joy I have rediscovered lately on these walks is the strangely rewarding feeling of breaking off the shelves of ice that form along the streets and sidewalks. When I was a kid, I would look for the biggest, toughest one and jump repeatedly in the effort to break it off. At 290 lbs, this is no longer as much a problem.

I've also found that there is endless virgin ice to crack. When I was a kid, it was hard to find them, since every other kid that had passed by had taken a stomp.

The confinement has also turned me into a cleaning freak. Tore into 15 years of business records from the company, Access Data, Inc. that I started in 1979 and let fade away as my specialty, Wang small business computers, faded in the face of the PC revolution. My last billing came in '94, the year I started my ill-fated foray into politics.

I filled over a dozen boxes with check stubs, invoices, bank statements, correspondence, contracts, sales literature, ad museum. I amazed myself with just how much paper I had produced and filed. It was, and continues to be, a very cleansing experience in line with my determination to let go of the past. Somewhat contradicts my learning that the past is but a thought which doesn't exist. It exists alright, in long forgotten filing cabinets.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Wog Blog Block

Hi All!

This starting a new life thing is presenting some interesting challenges. In the past, I did some of my most "creative writing" under the influence. WWI -- Writing While Intoxicated.

Now a clear head feels like an empty head.

I have been excavating my basement. It is starting to look like I'm adding a new addition. I'm sure glad I have lived to throw all my crap out myself -- I would have hated to put my survivors through that!

Love note to the Minnesota Department of Revenue. Electronically filed on Sunday, the refund turned up in my checking account on Tuesday! Who says government is inefficient?

I'm sure you all waiting me to start casting pearls here. Be patient -- Wog won't be rebuilt in a day.


Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Breathalyzer Guy Cometh

Hi All!

I just had my first visit from Breathalyzer Guy. He's been gone for awhile now, but I am still almost hyperventilating! Had an O'Doul's last night (all right, spare the lectures AA guys) and really had nothing to worry about, but I had a major anxiety attack seeing him pull into the driveway and emerging with his apparatus.

Blew a clean zero.

Feel like laying down for awhile.


Friday, February 11, 2005

House Arrest

Hi All!

News from your friendly incarcerated blogger.

Sorry for not posting sooner. I turned myself in to the Ramsey County Workhouse on Monday. Every indication was that my fear of spending a couple of nights there was warranted, but my high-buck lawyer finally did something for me, and with a few pulled stings I was out by mid-afternoon.

A plainclothes cop arrived at my door after dinner and got me hooked up to my 75-foot invisible fence.

Let's see now. I have 2 months left on a stayed order of commitment with frequent visits from my case worker. 6-months at St. Peter or Willmar if I mess up.

I have 90-days of house arrest with random visits from field workers to administer breathalizer tests. If can be perfect till the eleventh hour of the 89th day. "Celebrate" early and, it's six months in the workhouse.

I need 60 more days of sobriety to be considered for the liver transplant list.

My drivers license is suspended until May 27.

I guess those are enough strictures to keep this stubborn independent in line for awhile. I look at everything as a golden opportunity to work on my new life. I try not to focus on the restraints, but to work at getting better on my own, as if the outside influences aren't even there.

I have spent the last few days adjusting to the cigarette pack stapped to my ankle. There are sure alot of routine things I never thought twice about doing. Now I have to remind myself that I can't. No walking over to Buffalo Wild Wings for Trivia and the refillable pop cup. No bringing mis-delivered mail to my next door neighbor. No hitting Cub for bread and milk.

They let me go to treatment, church, AA, medical appointments and that's about all. If I was employed, I could certainly go to work.

I wonder how Hailie Selassie felt. I hope I don't die in custody under suspicious circumstances, but it my always being underfoot may drive my long-suffering wife to consider dire actions.

This blog is going to be one of those newly discovered "politics free" much as I can help it anyway.

I will be telling tales gleaned from the remarkable life I've led since I went to St. Joe's emergency room on October 3, 2004.

In closing today, I offer a bit of wisdom gleaned from treatment this week. Don't worry, I won't become another Jack Handey, but I think this is kinda cool.

I will try to capture the gist of what I gleaned from one of my many teachers, a dynamic fellow named Sheldon Lightfoot, a black guy from Ohio, who emerged from years of hell and started his life 18 years ago at 40. Now he runs Alliance Clinic, a methadone treatment center on University just west of KSTP. My continuing care meetings are held in the building under the moniker of Avalon Prospect Park. Enough of that. Here's Sheldon:

"The past is damned done been and gone. It's only a thought and you can blow it off. The future ain't happened yet and there ain't a damned thing we can do about it. See, the past and the future ain't real. The only place we should be in -- the only thing we can control, is the present. You know why they call it The Present? 'Cos it be a gift from God -- and what we do with it is our present to God. Am I makin' any sense?"

Makes sense to me, Sheldon.


Monday, February 07, 2005

The Worst Day of the Rest of My Life?

Hi All!

I am waiting for my ride to the workhouse to turn myself in.

Rumor has it that Ramsey County plays games with electronic monitoring prisoners by keeping them in jail for a couple of nights while they "process" your paperwork. Hope that's not true, but when I wave my bag of prescriptions at them, maybe they'll want to kick me today.

If I don't post for a couple of days you'll know what happened.


Saturday, February 05, 2005

F.E.A.R. Factor

Hi All!

As my appointment with the county jailer draws near, I have been haunted by F.E.A.R., an acronym that I picked up in treatment which stands for False Expectations Appearing Real. It's a nasty preoccupation that we all experience at one time or another. It can drive one to distraction.

I am visualizing all sorts of bad things that will or won't happen to me on Monday. The solution is to live in the present and take the future as it comes, but I am still learning to do that.

Better success has been achieved in unburdening myself of the past. I can surely visit it but I refuse to live there anymore. Guilt, shame, remorse and regret are drawn from obsessing with what's done and over with

Each moment in time is the only thing that is reality. The past doesn't exist except as a thought. The future doesn't exist at all.

These principles, which I may have botched a little, are drawn from a fairly new addiction treatment modality called HR -- "Health Realization."

I have embraced the practices of HR as the best way for me to live out what life is left for me. It certainly has helped me keep sober. For example, I was waiting for a bus at University and Snelling last week. Northbound Snelling stop is in front of a liquor store. Why not stop in before the bus comes and just get a mini-bottle. That's the moment. That's real. I can choose what to do in that moment -- continue to wait for the bus and let the thought go, or act on thought. Once the former is chosen, the latter goes away.

Am I making any sense? Well, I am a neophyte in this stuff, but whether I am describing accurately or not, whatever it is, it has really been working for me.

You may be wondering how A.A. fits in with this for the "recovering" addict. Unfortunately, I suspect it may be treated as heresy by the Big Book Thumpers.

I have been attending AA and NA meetings, trying to find "the right one" for me. No doubt that these fellowships have helped millions, but I am wrestling with the "one size fits all" attitude that seems to by taken as Gospel Truth by the true believers.

As time goes by, I will get further into this. I also have about a hundred pages of journaling to scour for blog material. Lots of stories, sad, funny, serious. Hope you will check in often and don't hesitate to leave comments.


Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Life Under Reconstruction

Hi All!

After 120 days away from home, I arrived last night for an understated, low key return. Slept like a baby and woke up this morning to enter the next phase in my journey.

I have to turn myself in at the Ramsey County Workhouse next Monday to get fitted with the electronic monitoring gear. Apparently they often drag out the "processing" for a day or two so one can get a little jail time.

I'm hoping that when I plop my ziploc filled with 11 prescription bottles on the counter, that they will want to get rid of me fast, so they don't have to do all the paper work of checking them in and administering them.

The coming 90-days of virtual house arrest is something I can't but dread, but by living in the present and keeping myself busy, I'll get through it. For someone who has always been fiercely and stubbornly independent the past months and the next three will have broken me down pretty well.

By May, when the trees leaf out and I celebrate my 49th birthday and 24th anniversary. The shackles will be gone and I can start my new life.

It will take awhile to get used to blogging again, but it is part of my sober therapy and I intend to publish worthwhile reading material.

Stay tuned....