the before time

teaching kindergarten

It turns out that I am not really that good of a Kindergarten teacher.  I am learning to forgive myself for this.  My wife gave me a great piece of wisdom she learned.  During this period in our lives our goal is not to become good math teachers or coaches or cooks or whatever it may be that has put us so far out of our comfort zone and crammed it into one building.  Our goal is to maintain our relationships.  I’m learning to try and do this.  Is it hard for anyone else, as it is for me?

the before time

The world changed on a dime and I didn’t see it coming.  One typically loud day I was planning, scheduling and reserving my time for people, places and things.  The next day I was completely focused on only my family, my friends and their health.  My 6 year old daughter calls this – the before time.  The time when we went to school.  The time when we went to work.  When we worried about traffic and deadlines and being the best.  You remember the before time, right?  We got mad when we had to wait 10 minutes for a table at a restaurant.  We were annoyed when the guys in the middle of the row at the game kept making us stand up so they could go get beers.  We had the privilege to take our children to see animals at the zoo.  We were lucky enough to be able to hug our parents, our siblings our friends.  We were able to mourn those we lost in person and together.  You remember, don’t you?  The before time?  But did we know what we had?  I’m not so sure I did.  Certainly not always.  I mourned my uncle last year with family, I don’t take that lightly.  I can tell you I didn’t appreciate the freedom to be annoyed with someone who continually got up during the baseball game either. That feels like a lifetime ago and I dont see it ever being the same.  I expect to one day be at a baseball game again but just….different.

the now time

What I know about the now time is that I AM a teacher, a cook, a coach, a parent, an employee, a spouse, a friend, a therapist and so many more things.  If you are also all these things right now just know, as cliche as it sounds, you are not alone.  I mean physically, besides your people, you ARE alone but in so many other ways you are not.  It is ok to say its hard and it sucks because at times it does.  For me, focusing on positives is the key.  So many things I once put so high on my lists of worries, things to do and care about have faded into the background.  I hope I can hold on to the gratitude I feel for things I no longer have.  I know I cant be a teacher.  Actual teachers are angels and miracle workers.  I’ve always thought so but now I have a new found respect and love for everything they do.  But I don’t have to be a teacher, I just have to help when and where I can and help get to the next school year without anyone in the house killing each other.  Love can win here.  Keeping our relationships is the goal and maybe, just maybe we improve a few things.  Who knows what the ‘the next time’ will look like.  That is not in my control.  Let’s get through the now time still loving each other as much or, possibly, even more.  Anything that happens beyond that is beautiful icing on a cake made of stress and anxiety.  If you promise to stay strong I promise to do the same.


I want to end with a poem that has kept me going and feeling positive about what we, as humans, have been doing.  I am not sure who wrote it but it has meant a lot to me.

and then the whole world

Walked inside and shut their doors

And said we will stop it all.  Everything.

To protect our weaker ones,

Our sicker ones, our older ones,

And nothing, nothing in the history of humankind

Ever felt more like love than this.


Stay safe everyone.  I love you.


why i won’t go out with you

lonely, in pain and a brilliant mindalcohol3

Secrets, incredible acting and a magician’s ability to divert attention.  My ability to lie took so much time to develop and gain the confidence to do so, but eventually lying could not mask the pain anymore.  When I was drinking, I thought about alcohol all the time.  I wanted drugs all the time.  My drug of choice was always ‘more’ (I did not invent this phrase, but I believe it to be brilliant in the ways of an addict’s mind).  So many people walk around every day and the idea of a drink or a drug never even crosses their mind.  How different we are.  This feeling never completely goes away, I still have numerous moments where somehow the idea of drugs or alcohol enter my mind, but over time I have built up a defense system equipped with support.  Nevertheless, sometimes, undeniably, crazy thoughts can pop into my head.  Now I mean fucking crazy thoughts.  Please remember, as an addict I have a brilliant mind.  I am somehow smart enough to know I couldn’t have a drink even if I wanted to.  When I drank, I was sloppy and obvious and it was undeniable.  So I’d never get away with it.  Hear that?  “Get away with it.”  That’s my first consequence on the chart.  Get away with it how?  Not go to jail?  Not die?  How insane it can be to be this way.  I recall these type of thoughts:  “So I drank a fifth of vodka alone in a night, so what?  I didn’t do anything stupid this time.  No one even knew, all good.”

-Yes I did this and yes, I thought it was “cool”.  It is not cool to drink a fifth of vodka, especially alone.

That is the point here.  My mind works differently.  Liver failure, DUI, jail time, killing someone, killing myself.  So many people look at those consequences and decide to avoid the things that could allow these items to happen.  Some of these items don’t even enter certain people’s minds.  Why would they?  Well the honest to God’s truth is that NONE of them EVER stopped me from drinking.  Some nights I prayed one or the other would not happen to me out of fear, but I still kept going.  The instant that first drop of alcohol hit my lips and then my stomach, the feeling was pure bliss, I thought.

The very second I felt that alcohol, that fire hit my belly, I was gone.  I was happy (sure I was).  Start the race.  My new goal until I passed out was to find and pour as much of that liquor down my throat as I could.  I do not have the best ears in the world, but I could hear a bartender call last call from a mile away.  Last call at a bar for me involved three completely necessary tasks.  Task 1: Get to the bar quickly and order myself two drinks, usually each a double (unless on the off chance they had cut me off, which happened a few times see addendum A – Finding a friend to get a drink for me).  Task 2: Figure out the plan to drink more after that bar, even if it meant at home alone.  Task 3 (optional): Hopefully find someone to take a shot with (on top of the two doubles I had ordered).  If you wanted to see me frustrated and quietly angry, you should have seen me on days, where Task 2 had no prospects and my wife insisted I come home and go to bed.  This meant drinking time was over (see addendum B – Convincing the wife to have a drink when we got home.)  Yet this was all my normal world and it made sense somehow.


i am insane

This blog is my place to speak my truth.  I don’t speak for alcoholics or addicts.  I find these pieces allow me to stay honest and are just another piece that helps me not drink today.  I have had some amazing people support me and talk to me after a piece and I am eternally grateful for that response.  I love to hear from people on either side of the fence and welcome a discussion.  Pardon my language here, but those who have never experienced addiction have no fucking clue what it is like.  I make jokes that I still do tons of things alcoholically, like eating a full sleeve of cookies or exercising as much as possible for a few weeks.  These things are true.  However, that is not true addiction.  Addiction is being late to an important meeting because you have to stop home and get high.  Addiction is using money you need for dinner but using it for drugs instead and consciously making that decision and feeling as though it was the right one.

I was poor as fuck in college, but I was still stoned every day and blackout drunk often.  Waking up in strange places not knowing why you are there is a feeling you keep with you.  A rooftop comes to mind.  And it’s ok to smile or laugh about that but also realize that there was pain and problems with something like that.  Laughing about some of the stupid stuff I did is also helpful.  But as much as I hated the idea, eventually, the party had to end…


the end of the party

This is the part where they put the disclaimer up ‘Viewer Discretion Advised’.  I do not presume that April 2010 was my rock bottom.  I PRAY that it was, but in this world of addiction, filling my head with grandiose ideas of never drinking again is a very unhealthy and, at times, overwhelming way to feel.

My body wants more and more and more of everything.  I did not handle traveling home after vacation very well.  On vacation, I went all out, all the time.  I blacked out and do not remember entire evenings.  I puked so much I literally could puke no more.  Even alcohol poisoning, or as close as one can get, two nights in a row, in Vegas and vomiting blood everywhere didn’t even make me think for one second that I should cool it on the drinking.  After the first night of walking the line between passing out on a bathroom floor and being takin to the hospital, I went with my fiancé to breakfast.  Well, I could not even eat.  All I could do was drink straight vodka out of a water bottle while holding back the spits with a hotel hand towel.  Even then, there was ZERO thought of quitting or that I had a problem.  The only thought was of getting enough vodka back in my system that I could function and be normal.  That is the truth of the matter.  I really believed that if I could just drink a full water bottle of vodka at 11am on an empty stomach, that I would feel normal again and thus, it was ok.  Many hours later I could be seen walking through Old Vegas with a full wine bottle in hand.  You might be thinking that after drinking for another 20 hours and coming severely close, again, to death, this must be the story of the end.  Unfortunately, that story happened two years before I quit drinking.  I was hung over for a month though.  Seriously.  One month, yet I did not give it up.

Finally, when we lost Dave in January of 2010, I could no longer stop the train racing towards the cliff.  The last normal for me was secret drinks at work, snorting anxiety medication just because and smoking weed as if it were a second job.  But mostly, my normal was unhappiness.  I did not genuinely smile much during those few months.  I am brilliant so I made the best appearance of “I’m getting through it all.”  But deep inside, I wasn’t.  In my thoughts, I was too cowardly to kill myself, but I secretly hoped the booze and medication might eventually do it, especially if I used them to excess.  And I am talking a level of excess I had yet to achieve to this point because I had some genuine fear of death.  But take away that fear of death and mix it with an alcoholic’s downward spiral and you’ve got a recipe for one serious disaster.  I don’t mind meeting friends at a bar occasionally, I like a good party for a few hours, I’ll even entertain my best friends sometimes until midnight or so if I’m feeling generous.  But for me the party has ended and I couldn’t be happier about it.  I love a cup of coffee and a conversation any day over watching people trip over themselves or try to tell me, in slurred speech, that they are proud of me.  Avoiding a given event or party isn’t about the fear of relapse, it is about the desire to not go back and visit the prisons I once inhabited.

I was lucky.  My disaster was pretty big.  It was very hard.  But I survived it and I am here today and writing about it and you are reading it and still talking to me.  You must understand how insanely impossible this reality would have been to comprehend back then.  It could not happen, yet it did.  If you wanna talk about addiction, lets talk.  If you wanna know more, I’ll buy you a coffee and tell you more.  If you hate this blog, well, luckily there are other options out there.  But most importantly, I just want to say to anyone reading, thank you.






the day after christmas

Living in a constant state of anticipation would make a person go mad.  So, we have the long buildup to a holiday or celebration, then we have the payoff, the big finale!  But what’s that feeling after it happens.  That day after when we are standing in a pile of trash and the sun is coming up and we’re tired?  The same holds true for going on vacation or selling a house.  (I just so happen to have done all of these things within three months.)

For now, I’d like to focus on my recent move.  Let’s dissect the insanity, if you will journey with me down another road inside of my psyche, otherwise known as the scary place, mostly to me and anyone out there who may be actually paying attention to these riffs I project into the cosmos.

moving, what a dumb thing we do

Life is a constant state of moving on.  One grade to the next, one friend to the next (if you’re lucky you hang on to some) one house to the next.  We move from one year to the next.  That one goes a lot quicker than I realized when I was younger.  Let’s focus, a hard task for me.  Stay on point and understand we are trying to talk about moving from one house to the next right now.
Well, it took about a year from start to finish when I think back.  The conversations started about more space, better neighborhood and so on…  so let’s go for it.  What they forget to mention is that selling your first house isn’t like buying your first house.  (Ok, our wonderful real estate agent not only DID mention it, she stressed it and asked if we were certain we wanted to do this.)  So, you spend time and money and you make your house so nice that you question why you’re selling it in the first place, at least wondering why you didn’t live this way in the first place.  Then the ups and downs.  Then the offer and counter offer and counter offer and inspections and why the fuck are we doing this I’m losing my fucking mind part…


when you see a gun, and other emotions that are super!

I believe in signs and I try to listen to them when I believe I see them.  Before we moved I saw a sign that gave me pause.  I never felt in danger or scared where we lived, but I am also aware of the world around me.  As I was enjoying one of our last Sundays in our house with my children, I noticed a neighbor’s teenager in his car, outside my house, holding a gun.  He just had it.  Had nothing to do with me.  But that was it.  It scared me.  I’ve had a gun pointed at me before and it is not something I particularly prefer.  So, I walked outside, pretending to clean up or something, just to show them that I was aware of their presence, and these kids, mostly politely, decided to move on from that location.  But I decided in that moment that we had made the right decision.

Back to the sold sign on the door.  The date is set and now it’s time to hurry. Find a new place, pack it ALL up, everything.  Figure it all out, and oh don’t forget to, well, live your fucking life and take care of your everything else during this process too.  Kid starts kindergarten, sure, why not throw that in.  Then the date draws closer and you forgot you had other emotions besides frustration and anger and anxiety.  You have sadness. You see the spots where things happened.  You see the spots where kids learned to walk, talk. You see where you grew up and had late nights and fun days.  You see the summer projects you worked on together that you hope the next people appreciate on some level.  You see where you last said your goodbyes to your puppy.  (I still miss him so much.)  You begin to feel everything, maybe even question again, but for another reason…  but it’s time to move on, as we started this saying.  It is hard for me because I see the memories in the places they happened and, however crazy, fear that when I leave that place behind that the memories may stay too.  So we moved.  That last day I believe fate gave me the last moments alone in that house and I took them.  I walked the rooms and I wept like a baby.  Oh, it was an ugly cry for the ages.  But it was necessary.  I couldn’t have let go without it.  And that’s that.  Besides the redesigning your entire life in a new place.  But that’s moving for me.  I hope your tougher than I am if you take on this adventure.

permanent fixtures

We have some permanent fixtures in our life. We just very well may have the illusions of permanent fixtures as well. You might say there is a limit and that might be unfair. I am not suggesting that we can only have 3 or 5 or 20 people in our life that cling on tight and never let go. But some do let go….and you let some go…. Yet, if you are lucky, you have some permanent fixtures, people who stick with you even when they find out you are an ass. They even possibly love you for it, or at least, in spite of it.
How hard is it to have a desire for someone to join your select group, yet know they won’t or can’t or shouldn’t? I’d say it difficult. People say you know when you know.
I’ll know when I know. What does that mean…. It;s on odd feeling when something is put in your life for a good reason but you come to realize that the “good reason”, while it is good and positive and looks like homerun on paper, has actually turned into the greatest stress of your life. Good reasons can sure mean a lot of different things. Let me try an analogy. Lets say you want to help homeless animals, you want to do something that benefits the world and benefits your soul. You find a wonderful dog that you think is great and just needs to be nursed to health and then he will be ready to be adopted by a loving family. So you house the dog, feed him, love him. He becomes a vibrant pup once again and the messages come flooding in wanting to meet him. The good idea you had and the good reason you envisioned has come to fruition and now a family is ready to take him away. End of story with the perfect happy ending.
Not so fast. We have a problem. During this process you didn’t realize it, but you can’t live without the dog now. He means more to you than you ever dreamed and the thought that this little guy is going to live somewhere else, even though it would be a constant, love filled existence for him, is so gut wrenchingly devastating that your good reason has turned your life into a daily grind of stress and agony thinking of losing your puppy. The dog was put in your life for a good reason, a reason YOU wanted. Then the good reason, in your crazy head, became much more about your need for the dog and the dog’s love and acceptance of you. And THAT good reason was NOT what was placed in your life and is not available to you. The whole process makes you want to wish none of it ever happened, but then you never met your dog. Then, you never knew a life with something that made you float on air. So then, what do you do. Well I don’t know. I DO NOT KNOW. I just know that you’ve got stress and heartache now and all you wanted was happiness and serenity…..

So what’s my point?  Well maybe today, right now, I have no point.  Maybe just sharing a feeling, suggesting something sucks sometimes is just good enough…. Whether another person reads this or not, I know when making a point isn’t the number one reason to write something down….