I looked at the blank “update journal” screen, reached over to my left, and picked up a pen, ready too…
Ohshit. I looked at the screen, then at the pen in my hand, and gently put it down – and as I am the only one in my apartment, I looked around with a sheepish, silly grin, hoping that I didn’t notice what I just did…
The not drinking thing has lasted almost two weeks, and save for once where I *really* wanted one (which, for me, means one bottle of Jim Beam), it has been quite simple. All it really took was a decision, and then simply saying “I don’t drink.” – and believing it. This is the first time since ’92 since I have done this, and then, living in NYC and still a wee pup, it was much more difficult. I mean, fuck – what was I – 24? I then chose to go to AA meetings, which now seem quite rediculous to me. “Hey – let’s quit drinking, and then go to meetings where the main focus is just that and all the pain and difficulties we’re having with it. Let’s *focus* on booze, drink shitty coffee, and smoke like chimneys sitting in metal chairs under the glaring flicker of flourescent lights!” Nah. May work for some people, and certainly did for me at that time – but since then I’ve remembered a few things, been through some shit, and realized how strong I can be.
I’ve taken to going on midnight rides around the city on my bike, when it is almost cool enough to use more than one muscle group at the same time without breaking into a sweat. These rides have been cleansing for me.
I’ve also found that I needed to change my perception of New Orleans, and instead of letting myself be devastated and frightened when I see the destruction from Katrina & the flooding, i look at it – need to look at it, in a different light.
I see a father & son across the street painting their house, I ride by people sitting on their stoops in the warm summer night, wave to them, and – without fail, they smile and wave back. I see piles of what were once homes and posessions literally on every block I ride down in my new neighborhood, and see people rebuilding their lives, refusing to give up even with a new hurricane season upon us.
I smell the Jasmine,
I look at the Moon,
I see all of the destruction, but
I feel the strength and hope of this city, as well.
I try not to tilt my head back and look up at my wall, which at one point is about four inches away from where it should meet the cieling – knowing that with one more good storm it is coming down. I can push it out an extra inch with one hand. I’m afraid to try two.
Instead, I look out the window at my Willow Tree, or out another window across a beautiful, poorly manicured lawn at the ferns growing in a huge, high clump on the ground. i was out there today looking at them, and saw four butterflies – big, beautiful, black with aqua spots on the back of their swallow-like tails – two pairs of them, actually, mating in their erratic butterfly way. What a pain in the ass it must be to be a horny male butterfly. “Hey – c’mon! Just LAND ON SOMETHING already!”
Occasionally I see a Cardinal resting in the branches of the trees that shade the ferns.
This is what I see now. I also see mornings, and welcome them…
But like I said, this Beam-less existence is much easier than I initially thought it would be, especially in this city, where, as Todd put it so well, “Even the air is 40 proof.”
The challenge just isn’t what I was expecting it to be, so I did me some thinking over a cigarette, then another cigarettte – and i realized that smoking just isn’t as fun or satisfying as it was with the hootch. On top of that, in the few times I actually entertained (& acted upon) the idea of quitting, there was always the “Except when I’m drinking” clause, which of course led to going out more, and soon enough, of course, the whole thing was blown to shit.
Well, now. Here I am. Not drinking, and up for a new challenge, a new test of will for myself. This one just may be a bit more difficult, seeing as I can count the combined weeks on one hand where I haven’t smoked in the past 20+ years.
Goddamn. Am I that fucking old?
Last night, I bought my last pack of cigarretes. With intention of this being the last pack I ever buy I fed the quarters into the machine at Mojo’s, opened them, Said hello to the wonderful Raven as we watched the many ways the world might end on the tv, went to EnVie, and would have written this there had it not been for D. coming in, sitting down at my table, and thinking I wanted to hear all the mundane shit he had to say about nothing.
When my mood of beautiful solitude and peace was effectively scrambled, he left, and though I couldn’t get back to writtenblather space, I *did*, with a chuckle, pick up the pack of cigarettes, take off the bottom cellophane, and write “LAST PACK” all over them – just so there is no doubt in their mind. Today, as an added fun to this game, I actually numbered the remaining cigarettes on the tip of the filter, so I can count them down – then added a little more decoration to The Last Pack. It will take an honored seat next to The Last Bottle on my windowsill.
It’s just a game – a test of will – and I’m going to win.
Just try me.
(And oh, I expect that you will…)