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Well, some of these days are like that.

May 3, 2020
Retired guy, thinking.

May 2, 2020

A shitty day.  P. and I are not getting along.  Last night I drank a bottle of wine after she went to bed, then I took a 30-minute hot bath.  Then got light-headed.  Result was I crawled around our room in the dark and she was upset that I was drunk.  Not like a pirate, but like bozo.  In short, I fucked up.  I scared her and disrupted her sleep.  I fear Covid-19 pandemic will kindle some alcoholic relapses in others, too. Thanks for not judging me. I’ll do you the same favor.

Earlier today I said to P. that part of recovery from alcoholism is relapse.  She practically spit out her coffee.  I don’t think she had heard that one before.  Okay, I am an alcoholic.  My trouble is not a rare and I am in good company.  My dear aunt drank too much Jack Daniels nightly.  Sometimes, after everyone else turned in, her jolly self turned to tears and anger and she paced around the house cursing. 

My drinking ended up with me taking hot baths, then getting light-headed, in danger of falling.  Anyhow, I wouldn’t be of much help to anyone if there were a late-night emergency when I’m drunk.  And such emergencies do happen, but I won’t talk about those because it’s nobody’s business.

Remorse is part of relapse is part of recovery.  Remorse.  In copious amounts.  I’ve joined the club of sad old guys.  Wait.  I’ve been a member of the club for years.  Now I get to wear the hat, recite the creed, give the secret handshake.  Not the handshake, no.  Covid-19.  

I’m retired.  I do occasional work, mostly manual labor, semi-skilled.  This can make staying sober challenging these days.  Superman is a mythical guy.  Sometimes my best strategy is going to bed early.

My pharmacy co-worker, Phil Minnick, once told me that he was always amazed how things look better after a night’s sleep. 

Today as I write I get to sit in on grandson Josiah’s creative writing class.  This class at Sarah Lawrence College is being held on line via computer video conference.  They are critiquing each others’ short stories.  They are collected together from many parts of the country. One of the students is speaking to the group while driving to Minnesota. I am impressed with the generosity of spirit expressed by the group toward each other.  They encourage each other.  They find themes and literary devices in each other’s work that I didn’t know existed.  

In my head, I am thinking some of the stories are boring, and that’s a literary device I am familiar with because I used to employ it.  I quit when I told stories to sixth graders in Lame Deer. I couldn’t afford to bore them. But that’s the topic of another post.

I noticed the instructor did not criticize any stories for being wordy, although some of the students tactfully suggested compressing parts [of the boring] stories.

Cojiah printed out all of the stories for me before class.  Actually, I read some of them only part way.  Some were long, long, LONG so I gave up on them.  

However, the longest piece of the lot was not boring.  It was a first hand tale of a young person with bipolar disorder confined to a mental hospital.  It had a frank, honest tone, a great voice.  Well, I wanted to keep reading because I had questions.  The story didn’t disappoint because it had answers.  Honest answers.  Like about doors that didn’t open, windows that didn’t look outdoors.  Time that seemed to not move because there was no place to go.  People in a mental hospital know about such things.

Unfortunately that one didn’t get a critique because the instructor spent the class time demonstrating his knowledge of literary devices.  And I was impressed, like I said.  Highly impressed that his job is teaching writing at Sarah Lawrence College.  E.L. Doctorow and other distinguished sorts also taught at Sarah Lawrence, encouraging youngsters like my grandson.  Cojiah’s work did not come up for critique this session, but he encouraged the others.

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  1. Blaine Ackley permalink

    Dan, Many a person is going through such trials and tribulations, Dan. Even Ulf Varg thinks he may be too sensitive to be working for the Department of Sensitive Crimes. One good tactic that I have learned because of my back pain is getting outdoors and walking, Now I know that you and Penny do a lot of this walking stuff but just start expanding your Gunther walks and focus on the beauty that is around you, living with you, and inside of you. My daily walks usually take me about 90 minutes to two hours. I feel rejuvenated and refreshed upon my return. I have even experienced successive days with no back pain (3 days this past week) so I think that slowly but surely I am getting better and better everyday. As Ringo and George sang to us all this many years ago, “It don’t come easy.”

    Keep on writing. It is therapeutic and you are an accomplished writer.

    You are THE MAN! :)B


  2. Thanks, Blaine. We encourage each other these days.

  3. Wow! I am so amazed to read whatever you write.
    I didn’t know about the alcoholism & I appreciate your openness in sharing. Like all addictions, they
    wait in the wings ready to take center stage at
    any opportunity.
    And then the story of your grandson’s literary class
    at Sarah Lawrence. I like what you write because
    of your honesty & it seems like you learn something
    after it’s written, & I do, too. Thank you.

  4. Thank you. Your accolades are appreciated. As you know, we are racked with self-doubt and nagging internal voices that we swim against like a proverbial spawning salmon. Encouragement is worth a lot.

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