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The End of the Interregnum.

21 February 2018

Well, I have about 5 days until my new job starts. I’m nervous of course. I have a large set of new duties and very little knowledge or understanding of the structure of the company. I will go into it consciously unafraid to ask questions, lack insight, and be stupid. I’ll have a lot to learn very rapidly. But that’s one thing I’ve always been pretty good at. I enjoy steep learning curves.

This six weeks off has not felt like a vacation. I’ve been packing, unpacking, driving, working, shopping (for boring necessities), and learning the new aspects of my new city as fast as I can. Even though I grew up in Seattle, it’s changed enormously in the 26 years I’ve been gone. And I lived on a suburb island, not the city itself. So I never really knew the “mainland” as we Islanders called it.

I like where I live. The house, the neighborhood. It’s very comforting and feels like me. It’s a little hipstery, but that’s ok. And there are things I still don’t know how to find that I want, like a little gourmet grocery. Though the basic grocery store at the end of my block is very good. There’s plenty of good coffee.

The AA here is really wonderful. I’ve been asked to speak at my Men’s Meeting already. That’s next week. The attendance is inspiring, the meeting structure is comforting. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the length. Meetings seem to be largely 75-90 minutes. I’m a 60 minute guy. But I’ll adapt.

Tomorrow I think I’m going to a meeting for a professional society. I’m interested and excited about it. But also nervous about entering a room of highly trained professionals in a field I’m only peripherally trained in. But I think it will be interesting to go and meet people and start to make connections.

I’m looking forward to going back to work. I’m ready for a new thing.

9.99 Years.

15 February 2018

Today is the anniversary of my last drink: a double shot of Maker’s Mark bourbon in an airport bar in St. Louis, MO, as I waited to board a plane to go to an inpatient rehab in Malibu, CA. I also had a couple of beers, but that wasn’t nearly enough to get me drunk. Not then. I remember being angry that I didn’t have cash for another drink on the plane. And so that was the last one.

It’s late enough in the day now that my last drink was more than ten years ago. But I won’t really feel it until tomorrow. A decade. And unbelievably long time has passed. A decade of work and joy and fear and love and pain and all the things every normal person has in their lives.

I’m normal now, on the outside. To everyone else. People look at me and see a slightly pudgy 43 year old man with a job and a partner, a couple of hobbies. I do normal things like ride my bike to work, and cook dinner, and go on vacations, and argue on the internet. I’m normal on the outside.

On the inside, I’m better. But I’ll never be normal. I’m an alcoholic. Which means I obsess about myself, and feel aggrieved and entitled. I have to work especially hard at everything to achieve what normal people can do in their sleep. Like open all the mail, or get my car retitled, or ship a package, or get to work on time. All those things can be hugely laborious.

But I’m better than I was. And I’ve come to be glad I’m not normal. I know where I belong. I know who I am. What I do. Why I do it. I love what I’ve become. I’m grateful that I’m an alcoholic, because I’ve learned how to live. How to rise. How to fight, and when not to.

I am a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. And I have been for ten years. Well, 9 years, 364 days. I don’t think I’ll drink tonight. Tomorrow looks good. And Sunday can take care of itself.

The Hill above the Lake.

13 February 2018

I can’t believe the things I’m feeling here.
Bewildered joy infects my cautious heart.
A sudden drop, through spaces far and clear,
and then the bounce, far higher than the start.
We find ourselves unanchored in the stream.
We’ve flung ourselves from harbor to the waves.
But clasp my wrist, and while this tempest heaves,
I’ll hold you; let the howling winter rave.
For there upon the hill above the lake,
there stands a house awaiting to be built.
And board by nail, each shingle, plank, each shake,
we’ll raise our home; a sturdy place. Not gilt
But furnished well with hope and love and light,
We’ll share a place to sleep the starry night.

The Preparations Ongoing.

12 February 2018

BB and I have landed well in Seattle. The house we’re renting is fabulous, and our landlord seems reasonably cool. We have begun our unpacking, and are probably about halfway through it. I got the TV and stereo up and running and the meditation room is already settled. Our bedroom has a bed and a chair that isn’t put back together. The piano is functional but in bad need of a good tuning. The kitchen works and we’ve been cooking.

I found a couple of AA meetings. A Saturday morning 7am, and a Thursday evening men’s meeting. I like them both so far but I’m not sure about the spacing. I may need to switch to another men’s meeting if I can, simply to get myself on a schedule that works for me. Also, the one I’ve found is 90 minutes, and that’s a long time. I like 1 hour meetings.

But I can already feel a positive change. In Philadelphia, I didn’t like the feel of the formats much. I liked my men’s meeting, but other meetings just never quite felt right to me. And so I didn’t attend them. And also, splitting weekends with BB in DC made consistency and relationship management difficult. So I never got into a groove with my meeting schedule that felt natural and good.

Now I have the opportunity to go twice a week again without my relationship suffering or feeling like I was devoting so much time to meetings that I was neglecting my other duties and interests. That feeling is a luxury of long-term sobriety. Early on, we don’t really have any other duties. We can’t afford them. But as we grow, we can take on more things, and some of us feel comfortable reducing our meeting schedules a bit. In my case, it happened naturally, rather than as a conscious decision. Now, I want a few more again.

I’ve also found a gym, and we’ve been running again. Seattle hills mean it. I live up the hill from Lake Union, towards Greenlake, and that’s a small hill in Seattle reckoning. But for me? It’s a major ascent. Just 250 feet in three quarters of a mile, but that’s a long, slow, challenging climb for me. I’ll have to work it out to get fitter. I’m up for it, no question. But it’s going to take some time for me to get back into the swing of fitness.

So, I have two more weeks until work starts. I feel like I want to go back to work now, which means that the two weeks left is a good idea for me to feel truly rested, relaxed, and ready to return. I’m excited and nervous. But I feel good about where I am.

We Are Arrived!

4 February 2018

Well, BB and I have arrived in Seattle and we are settling in to our new home. We do not yet have any stuff. It turns out that the amount of stuff that fills a Subaru Crosstrek to the gills makes very little in the way of a dent on furnishing a two-bedroom house. But we had the sense to pack an air mattress, and so we have a place to sleep. And we packed a pot and some dishes so we have been cooking. And we started a seven-day free trial at a local gym and got a workout in.

The truck with our stuff ought to arrive sometime this coming week. Then will begin a three month process of unpacking. Kidding, of course, but it always takes longer than you want it to. The drive out was amazingly smooth for crossing the country in February. We took five days, starting Sunday night and finishing Monday morning, after leaving BB’s family in Virginia. Including the drive from Philadelphia to Virginia, it was a solid six days.

We had fog in West Virginia, and we had wind in Wyoming, and we had rain in Oregon. But never any ice or snow. The car made good time and decent mileage. And we had a couple of really fun things. We met my St. Louis sponsor for burgers on our stop there. And I finally got to meet MC!! It was wonderful to meet her after more than nine years knowing each other as sober bloggers.

We found our little house and signed our lease. I found a Saturday morning AA meeting that seems like a real winner for me, in a little boat club on the north side of the lake. It’s a mixed meeting, which will be new-again for me. I have been going to men’s-only meetings pretty much exclusively for five years. But I’m looking forward to having the early-morning meeting on a weekend.

In general, I’m looking forward to doing two meetings a week again. When my weekends were the only time to be with BB, I generally sacrificed my meetings for my relationship time. It’s not something I’d recommend for someone in early sobriety, but it worked for me considering it started when I was in my 6th year. Time is not a guarantee of stability or sobriety, but I felt comfortable with my once-a-week schedule.

But now that I’m in a new place and BB and I live together, I’m looking for a weekend meeting and a weekday meeting. It’ll be good to get my schedule established and meet the community and such. I’m really eager to get into a groove that’s comfortable and meaningful for my sobriety, and hopefully be helpful to others.

Now I just have to get back into shape. We started a free trial at a gym, and I’m going later this morning to buy a pair of running shorts because I managed not to pack any. Then we’re going to do a little run on the Burke-Gilman trail and so how our sea-legs are in Seattle.

So Many Things.

26 January 2018

Well, I have left Philadelphia for good. The house was packed up, loaded, and driven away. We expect to meet all of our belongings in Seattle in about a week and a half. In the meantime, we’ve come to southern Virginia to visit with BB’s family. The long process of moving two households is nearly done. The unloading and unpacking will likely be a huge project, but we’ll get it done one step at a time like we’ve gotten all of this done one step at a time.

I had my last AA men’s meeting in Philadelphia. I went to the meeting, and they asked me to lead it. I did. And then the men went around the room and many of them described how I’ve helped them. It was especially nice to hear that some of the things I’ve said helped a couple of men who had been in and out a lot finally put together some longer-term sobriety. Brian, especially, told me that something I’d said once had helped him see that what he thought he wanted, and what he really wanted, were different. Brian had been in and out for 10 years, but he’s almost two years sober now.

Then we went out to dinner. I got to see the core group of guys with long-term sobriety who’ve been my friends for the whole time I’ve been in Philly. It was nice to have that. I’m going to miss those assholes.

We now spend the weekend in South Virginia and then drive west into the unknown. I’m looking forward to the drive and hopeful the weather holds up. It’s a ludicrous plan, driving over the Rocky Mountains in February. But that’s the plan, and we’re going to execute it. We have provisions and warm clothes. We have liquids and flares and a lighter or two and a knife. I know how to change a tire. We’re gonna be fine.

Seattle. A new job. A new life. A cohabitational living arrangement. So many new things and ideas and plans. It’s a lot of stress but a lot of hope. I’m excited and eager. And anxious and scared. But I feel ready for the challenge. I feel capable. It’s new for me to feel this way in my life. Instead of cowering, I’m challenging. I’m rising. I feel like a man.

What a Weekend.

15 January 2018

The past week has been a maelstrom of chaos and the next two will be too. I finished my job and set everything up for my replacement. BB and I flew to Seattle and spent Saturday looking at houses. Every hour on the hour for like 10 hours. It wasn’t until our last stop of the day that we found the perfect place. A detached home in a small residential neighborhood north of the city but south of Greenlake. It’s going to be wonderful.

The house has all the things we really wanted: plenty of open space, a jacuzzi tub, air conditioning. The only negative is no dedicated parking. But I’ve been doing street parking in Philly for so long that I feel ok about doing street parking in Seattle. And the neighborhood we’re in is strict about resident-only parking after 5pm. So I’m hopeful. If it turns out to be a major problem, we’ll get monthly parking in a lot.

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I think it’s beautiful. Walk in closets, finished daylight basement, 2.5 baths. All the vitamins and minerals a growing boy needs. I’m definitely happy, and BB loves it even more than I do. One big selling point for her was the open plan kitchen that blends into a dining/sitting space that comprises the whole main floor.

It’s crazy expensive, but the landlord told us he would’t raise rent for several years in order to keep us there. We are apparently highly desirable tenants. A couple, no kids, good jobs, good credit, etc.. They are eager to have some stability in a rapidly shifting Seattle rental market where picking your tenants is much more difficult.

I think we’re going to like it there. And we’re like 40 feet from a massively awesome farm-to-table fine dining restaurant. Heaven.