Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. Envy. Anger. Work. Emotions. Laughter. Love.

I had originally started this journal post by writing that I love talking to “Normies,” but that is a lie. Normies drive me crazy. Every once and awhile, though, the planets align in such a way that the most irritating of conversations actually allows me to walk away with a renewed sense of appreciation for my alcoholism. Yesterday was one of those days.

I won’t rehash the whole conversation, but here is how it ended. Her- “I always say it’s all about moderation. Moderation is the key”

In my mind, I imagine the response I am confident every alcoholic or extreme person thinks when someone suggests moderation as the answer, “You have zero idea what you are talking about. Clearly you have never struggled with addiction, or you would not have the audacity to speak such a ridiculous and near sighted idea.”

A few minutes later, I was driving home on the freeway (I do my best thinking on I-10), and a new emotion happened upon me. I realized I felt a little pity for my moderate friend. What is moderation? It sounds like no fun at all.

When I got home, I typed “moderate” in my online web browser. This is the definition that appeared:

Definition: Average in amount, intensity, quality, or degree.

Synonyms: Average, modest, medium, ordinary, common.

“Average in intensity” really spoke to me. Nothing about alcoholism is average in intensity. That would negate the entire point. But is it not just with alcohol that I lack moderation. I have zero conception of what it must feel like moderate anything.

                 Alcohol.

                               Drugs.

                                                Sex.

                                                               Envy.

                                                                           Anger.

                                                                                           Work.

                                                                                                          Emotions.

                                                                                                                          Laughter.

                                                                                                                                          Love.

But there is another side to extreme living. There is no doubt in my mind that when I have leave this planet, I will have lived an intensely felt life, a life that was thoroughly fun, undoubtedly interesting, and dramatically depressing.

I think that’s true of all alcoholics. Because we aspire with our whole body, we drink to forget the disappointments. Because we dream with all our imagination, we envy with all out might. Because we love with our whole being, we hurt to the same degree when that love is discounted. Maybe it is just me, but if you asked me to trade all that for an average or ordinary life, well… I think I’ll just decline.

 

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Dark Waves Crash and Retreat

Lydia walked along the quiet sands of Jamaica Beach. There was a lingering stillness in the air that attracted the feeling, not of nostalgia, but that this was a moment from which nostalgia is made. From trillions of miles away, the light from the stars was just reaching earth. Dark waves crashed and retreated on the beach. Abandoned white foam yearned to be reunited with the ocean.

There is a certain sadness, Lydia thought, to perfection. People strive so laboriously to find just a single moment of peace, that when it finally comes, they are so terrified of losing it, they cannot enjoy it. Peace is the most elusive of emotions, always within sight and yet just beyond one’s fingertips. Lydia sat down on the sand and pulled her legs up close to her body. She rested her head on her kneecaps and watched as sand sifted through her long fingers. She wanted to remember this moment, remember the smallest of details, so when she would retell it in later years, she could do so with enough exactitude as to elicit winsome approval of innocence and burgeoning adulthood from her audience.

From behind her, Lydia could hear the sound of the party. It sounded far away. Not uproarious, there was no music blaring nor people screaming. Just the tinkling sound of distant conversation dispersed with mild laughter. The girls had driven out from Houston earlier in the day. They had spent most of the afternoon sunbathing and playing in the cool gulf waters. The boys arrived later in the evening and with them, a trunk load of alcohol. At first, the girls played demur, denying drinks, as the rules of the game required, but the boys were persistent and the girls eventually relented.

Lydia turned around and looked back up at the house. They all seemed to be enjoying themselves, enjoying the last hurrah before they each left for their respective colleges and universities. Lydia smiled. In the moment, they all looked so promising, so vital, so handsome.

It stuck her as odd that she would ever be considered a part of this accomplished group. She was, of course, a part of it. It was her station in life. Her friends were the children of her parent’s friends. They had been raised together, went to the same schools, joined the same gymnastics and swim teams and respective scout troops. It would be unthinkable for Lydia to not be a part of this group. And yet, she didn’t feel a part of them. To Lydia, they were all sure of themselves, secure in their place. She was just there. Never quite invited or uninvited. But it all rang untrue. All of it. As if life were somehow this massive fictitious illusion where everyone puts up with everyone else because they don’t know what else to do.

Except, somehow, for Tuck.

Lydia met Tucker the first day of kindergarten. Her father had explained to her the day before that when one meets new people, the thing to do was to stick out one’s hand and proclaim in a loud, clear voice, “My name is Lydia Wilder.”

Then the other person would say, “My name is yadda yadda. How do you do?” Several times, Lydia and her father practiced the routine. “My name is Lydia Wilder.”

So, when Lydia entered the classroom she went directly up to the teacher, stuck out her hand and proclaimed, with an air of certitude, “My name is Lydia Wilder.” To which the teacher replied, “My name is Mrs. Leigh. How do you do?”

Confident, now in her approach, Lydia looked for another person to introduce herself to. Off to the side sat a fat cheeked boy in a striped shirt and Oshkosh jeans. Lydia walked over, “My name is Lydia Wilder.”

The boy looked up at Lydia, and then shifted to look around her. “Your shoe is untied.”

Lydia continued looking down at the boy, waiting for him to introduce himself, while he continued leaning off to the side to look at the rest of the class. “Umm, Lydia? Can you sit down please?”

Lydia turned around to see if she could see what the boy was seeing. Students were filing in. Moms were crying. Kids were crying. Some were wearing Sunday’s best. Other looked like they had dressed themselves. Slowly, Lydia backed up and without taking her eyes off the show, sat down on the floor next to the unnamed boy. Lydia took her hand in his, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. He looked at her and nodded, and then both of them turned their attention back to the room in rapt concentration.

For the next twelve years, never would one see Tuck without seeing Lydia in close proximity.

 

“Hey, Lydia. Where did you go?”

“I just needed fresh air. Tuck, you ever get the feeling that this is the best it’s ever gonna get?”

Tuck sat down next to Lydia, put his arm around her shoulder, and drew her closer to him. “No, Lydia. This is not the best it gets. This is just the beginning.” They sat there, as they were want to do, comfortable with each other’s silence. “You wanna get out of here? Go for a drive?”

Lydia nodded her head, and together they walked off towards the car.

 

 

Of course, I would have people read more.

Hi Mrs. Ann!
Here are the questions. Thank you again for helping me out!

Questions:
1. Do you think that there is too much hate in today’s society?

I do think there is too much hate, but I think any hate would be too much. Hate is a powerful word that carries strong connotations. Hate is not annoyance or irritation. Hate is anger and fury and spite.

2. Do you think there is too much love in today’s society?

I have found through the course of my life, a surprising amount of love on the planet. It sometimes appears from the unlikeliest people and manifests in ways that never cease to amaze me. But, if you ask me if there is too much if it… No, I think we could probably do with a little more.

3. Is there any personal experience that is behind your opinion?

A little over seven years ago, I can to the realization and understanding that I was an alcoholic. My life was very sad. And especially lonely. I did not know what to do. I think now, that I could have probably gone to my family and asked for help; my family is kind. But at the time, that idea seemed too far-fetched, too humiliating, too debilitating.
So, I turned to complete strangers for help. These people, AA, showed me that I could live a better type of life. They taught me how alcohol manifests from the worst part of my psyche. Then they showed me how to be happy. I hated myself and who I was. I hated that I was a failure. That I let so many people down. But the women of AA “loved me until I could love myself.”
And they still do.

4. In general, what are some examples of too much hate and too much love?

I think one just has to look around to see examples of hate and love.

Drive down one of Houston’s freeways. You will see drivers cut one another off. Some drivers speed dangerously, swerving in and out of lanes, because where they are going is of far more importance than another’s safety. You will see drivers slow down to see if the accident is a fatality.

But you will also see people let others calmly merge. You will see people stopping at accidents to call for help and then stay to serve as witnesses.

5. Why would people in today’s society show too much hate towards others?

People have always had a fear of the unknown. There is a philosophy that says that people cannot know themselves. All one can know is what they are not. In other words, I look out in the world. You say, Ann what do you like? And there is too much of everything. How am I to know? Where do I begin? So I start by trying something, taking something, listening to something, seeing something. I say, I do not know what I like, but I know it is not that.

I think this philosophy is right.

People look out in the world and it scares them. And they see someone of a different race, who has a different culture. Rather than exploring or learning or understanding, they say, I do not know what I am, but I know I am not that. That mentality, the fear, that’s what spreads hate.

6. How would you think of solving this problem?

Of course, I would have people read more.

– Victoria

P.S Based on the answers you give me, I may make up new questions for my paper… thank you!

Freeway Thinking

I drive a lot. Houston requires one to do so. And I drive on a lot of  freeways. I try to limit myself to the span of I-10, going as far west as Katy, where I work, and as far east as the Heights, where I love. But not a day goes by where I am not shocked and amazed at the sheer number of cars on the road. Now, this is not an ecological, environmental article where I make you feel guilty for driving that huge pick-up you drive because you feel the need to work from the pretense that you are an outdoorsman even though we all know you secretly cried at the end of The Notebook. No, this merely an observation about my daily existence.

Every day, I drive. And every day, I think… In every one of those cars is a driver worried about money. And that’s about it. I could add that almost every car is also worried either about their relationship (or that they are not in a relationship) and is struggling with greener grass issues. I could say that almost everyone in those cars does not like their job and dreams of vacations on a remote beaches.

But mainly, I think about them thinking about money. I think knowing every single person worries about money, somehow, humanizes the cars to me. When I am cut off or someone does not use their blinker, I am more apt to forgive them if I think, “Its okay. They are lost in thought, worried about money, rent, car payments.

I wonder what would happen if, just for a day, instead of worrying about money, we worried about the lack of music programs in schools. Or maybe we should worry about if we, as individuals, still have honor.