you are waiting for your big break [fiction]

*your comments and suggestions definitely act as motivation to keep me going*

You are waiting for your big break [fiction]

The bookcase isn’t your first messy, unfortunate event. Of course it isn’t. It’s not even the beginning of your story. But the narrator knows that a dramatic opening is required to hook people in. Readers like to start on page one and skim a few lines, then think: “well at least I never tipped a bookcase over.”

As if that matters.

– –

You sort through dirty clothes on the floor, pick up a shirt and smell it. Something grey on the front, some kind of stain, but it could be food. You work in a kitchen, so that might pass as food, right? Maybe today will be a busy day, lots of tables, hefty tips. Someone will notice how smart you are, invite you to come work for their Silicon Valley start-up. You are waiting for your big break. It’s coming. You can feel it. You will totally drink less (or none) once you’re discovered.

On your way to work, you drop off a bag of laundry at the corner place that does those things. That woman at the laundry, she’s a bright light. She knows that people live in small apartments without washing machines, that they’re tired, that they’re running behind – I mean, you’re giving her your dirty underwear after all, she knows you don’t have the brain space to do your own laundry – and because of this, she has breakfast sandwiches pre-made, in the fridge, you can help yourself, she adds them to your bill.

For this, you are grateful.

You take an egg muffin thing from the fridge. She pours you a large coffee in a biodegradable paper cup with a panda printed on the side. She hands you the receipt for your laundry. But really, she knows your name, you don’t need a receipt. Your name is something gender-neutral like Beet or Rain or Mackenzie, so that the reader cannot determine gender, and can therefore more easily think that this story is about them, if not in specifics, then in themes.

Homemade Egg Muffin Breakfast
as told to the narrator by the smart entrepreneurial Laundry store owner

toasted English muffin (homemade if you can get it)

salted butter (you don’t have to be fancy, margarine works)

chipotle mayonnaise (mix some diet Hellmans with the light blue lid with some ground chipotle spice, and add a bit of lime juice – you want the recipe for this mayo concoction too or can you just wing it?)

an oven baked egg, with Greek spices and a bit of cream (you want instructions on how to bake an egg?)

smoked cheddar – Applewood imported from England, or Cows imported from Nova Scotia (don’t let the fancy fool you, cheap Kraft singles work just fine)

~

 How do you vote? more food in this story? less? recipes or not?

new project? can’t tell yet. [fiction]


*and your comments and suggestions definitely act as motivation to keep me going*

You’re Having Some Kind of Personal Problems [fiction]

My goal for February, you write, is to drink less. Only weekends, only special occasions, only if I’m not alone, only if there is a really, really, really good reason.

There’s a bookcase. It’s tipped over. The books and the folders of slides and the scraps of paper and the dust hidden behind are all together now, a clutter soup. Calling it a ‘jumble’ would be too pretty. It’s a shitshow (the Urban Dictionary assures the narrator that this word is defined as ‘chaotic disorganization’).

I don’t know how it got like this, you say. And you mean it both literally, as in I don’t remember how the bookcase got pushed over, and you mean it as in I don’t know how I got to this place in my life. This isn’t a good place. I don’t feel good. This isn’t good.

You think, God it’s so overwhelming, the mess. Why is there so much dust behind a bookcase, behind each book, why do I have to look at it now, all at once, vomited onto the floor like this. Fuck, those slides were in order. And the books, too, alphabetical order. I can get my books in order but (clearly) not the rest of my life.

There’s a sharp buzzer. You think it might be the microwave. Or maybe it’s an alarm on your phone. You rub your face with both hands. The apartment is suddenly too hot, close, smaller than it was yesterday.

Then the bell again, oh it must be the doorbell, though it sounds completely unfamiliar. You don’t want to open the door, you know who it is, it’s the neighbour. Your apartments have a shared wall. Not a terribly well-constructed wall. Not a soundproof wall. You hear their television, and they hear your …

You open the door, she’s in your face:

“Hate to ask again — and I don’t mind saying that I’m tired of asking politely. It might be time for something a bit more direct. It’s too fucking loud over here.”

She’s a bit of a bitch, this one. Big boobs crammed into a too-tight shirt that she probably thinks is ‘sexy’ but instead it’s broadcasting ‘I got this at the expensive store, marked down, so that I can say that I shop there, even though — clearly — I’ll buy anything, including clothes that don’t fit, just so I can take a selfie and post it on Facebook and talk about what a bargain hunter I am …’

Neighbour: “… you’re having some kind of personal problems.”

Really, is she still talking? You’re not listening. You’re looking at your watch.

What time is it? you ask, perhaps not wisely giving away the fact that you can’t tell if it’s 7 p.m. and February dark dinner time, or if it’s 7 a.m. and it’s February dark morning.

~

Question: What would the neighbour say next?

Audio: I Want to be on the Rich Roll Podcast

This is Sober Podcast Episode #196 for my weekly sober podcast series.

I want to be on the Rich Roll podcast.

If you don’t know who he is, he’s an ultra-endurance runner, previous over-drinker. He’s a vegan athlete now and he has a podcast that is very popular. He talks to people about health and wellness, not just about recovery (although when the person he is speaking to has an over-drinking history, that will often become at least the subtext of their conversation).

I figured someone in my group probably knows who he is. Either you live in LA, or you know him, or you know his wife, Julie Piatt, or you know his cafe (Joi Cafe).

I’d like to be on his show because I think that I have an interesting perspective to offer, particularly as I just listened one of his recent episodes, where at the end, he and the guest — and the guest was another over-drinker, marathon ultra-endurance runner — were discussing how do you reply to people who email and say, “you’ve inspired me, I want to quit drinking, what’s your advice?”

The two of them come to it with different approaches, of course. As I’m listening I think, “gee I would say a totally different thing that will reach a whole other group of people that these two responses don’t reach.”

Below i’ve posted a 3 minute extract from near the beginning of the podcast, recorded while i was out walking to breakfast.

HOMEWORK
Do you know Rich Roll or Julie Piatt or Joi Cafe? Short of irritating him with multiple emails, do you have an idea how I can get on his show? Do you know someone who knows someone? I think the idea of a sober trial needs to be shared more, and we need to spotlight the newly emerging internet-based, anonymous, private, AND portable supports for sobriety.

 

 

 

Download the audio podcast episode 196

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

 

Comment:

BG: “I don’t know this guy but I hope you get on his podcast. You have a lot of important information to get out there in the big boozy world.  My favourite part of the podcast was being in the cafe with you (at the very end). Loved that you read the menu to us. It’s that Harriet The Spy feeling. Do you know that book? It was one of my favourite’s when I was a kid. The fly on the wall. Being able to observe without being observed … Love listening to you Belle.”

MJP: “What I heard in this podcast is: you don’t have to wait for a lower bottom. A lower bottom for me could’ve been death or disability.”

===

small print.
read this FAQ on how to leave a comment on the blog.

Audio: “Keep It Exciting”

This is Sober Podcast Episode #186 for my weekly sober podcast series.

So, what does it mean if you have a boring stretch of time in your sobriety?

Well, the answer depends on if you’re on day 7 or 77 or 700.

Below i’ve posted a 3.5 minute extract from near the beginning of the podcast. the full thing is 28 minutes long, but this chunk here stands alone. if you’d like to listen to the whole thing you can use the link to download at the bottom of the post.

HOMEWORK
Have you had a ‘my sobriety lacks sparkle’ time? Did you hear anything in this podcast that would help you if it happens again?

 

 

 

Download the audio podcast episode 186

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 48 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

it was a baseball bat

from my inbox:

this is from B (day 299).

“I used to think that booze was medicine, that it would help me with life’s ills. I was compelled to drink because if I didn’t then something terrible would happen – I would have to face real life sober.  Even if I didn’t feel like drinking, I would still drink because I had to take my medicine or I would get sick from the full force of my life.

I was terrified of getting sober, of how I would cope with the world without my medicine, and it has been really really hard sometimes because the full force of life can be harsh. But fucking hell it can be amazing too, this sober life!  … and of course I have realised that booze wasn’t a medicine at all, it was a baseball bat that I would hit myself over the head with, over and over again until I fell unconscious. As I enjoy the real privilege of a sober life, of being fully present and being able to work on myself to become the best version of me that I can, that suddenly seems like the saddest thing in the world. I don’t do that any more. I have learned to take care of me.

Recently I’ve been passing through a time when I’m far enough away from day one to have forgotten what it was really like. The hangovers, the shame, the health fears, the isolation, struggling through a work day, struggling through any time that I wasn’t drinking, worrying about how much I was drinking, whether people could tell how much I was drinking, which shop to get today’s booze from so I wasn’t rumbled as a boozer, hiding the recycling, hiding my drinking, hiding my best self. I’ve been going through a phase where I have been remembering ‘the good times’, like a relationship break up where you start to remember the fun you had, conveniently forgetting all of the stuff that led to the break up.

Well that’s all bollocks. If there ever was a time when booze and I got along, that time passed a long time ago and won’t ever come back again. But I don’t think there ever was a time when it was ok – it’s all just stupid Wolfie lies.  I am through with believing that bastard Wolfie, if I hadn’t clung to my sober supports I know I would have been sucked in, and I would be sat here now all alone, without you, without my self esteem, right back to where I was, feeling shit about myself and my life.

Emailing you, Belle, every day has been my number one sober support. Knowing that you genuinely care and getting your replies and suggestions (which are always right of course because you are a genius) has been the thing that worked where nothing else did before. And looking at the stuff you produced in your early days and the stuff you produce now and seeing how far you have come gives me real proper hope. And hearing about you having difficult things happen helps makes it all feel real and doable.  Imperfection is required – booze is not.

Love to you Belle, and all the gratitude in the world to you for standing by my side while I go through this amazing transformation. Your virtual hugs keep me going 🙂 ~ B”

 

Audio: BBC Radio 5 Live with Emma Barnett (May 3, 2017)

This is Sober Podcast Episode #192 for my longer sober podcast series.

This was my first experience ‘explaining’ sober coaching and quitting drinking to someone in the media who doesn’t know anything about it, is perhaps skeptical, and wonders why we quit. I didn’t realize, of course, that asking provocative and slightly confrontational questions makes for better radio. I think I was expecting something more touchy-lovely 🙂

i have to say thanks (again!) to Bemmy Girl and Sarah for coming on the show with me. brave souls you are. braver than i would have been if the roles were reversed.

Below i’ve posted the entire 17 minute podcast. usually i just post a clip but today, thanks to some really lovely donations to the Sober Good Works fund (thanks!), i’m posting this audio for everyone to listen to – even if you’re not a paying podcast subscriber.

HOMEWORK:

after you listen, post a comment and tell me how you would have addressed Emma’s concern about whether it’s ‘ethical or not’ to be a sober coach for people who could be ‘in denial’ (her words) and who should see ‘a professional’ … so tell me, what would you like Emma to know?
after 48 hrs, I’ll pick one comment and that person will get a present. 

 

 

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 48 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

dear alcohol: you lied to me

from my inbox

email from TickleMeShelmo (day 26):

“Dear alcohol,

Firstly, this is the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but make it I must. It’s over. We are finished.

For years I thought we were amazing together. Life with you made the world seem more colourful. You made me feel whole, feel important and feel loved by those we met. You have me the strength to do things I’d never have done without you. 

There was a reason for that.

You lied to me, all of this time. Lie after lie after lie. You told me I was funny, but I wasn’t – I was attention seeking and shaming myself and others. I would share secrets and inappropriate and intimate details because you said it was ok. You told me I could do what I liked – but the casual sex, the flirting, the drug taking – it damaged me more than I’ll ever know. You told me that responsibilities were bullshit – and now I’m trying to sort out years of debt and irresponsible decision making.

The whole time I believed you were showing me real life. Life in glorious colour; busy; hectic; fucked up; hedonistic. But it was a lonely, sad life of hidden pain and selfishness.

The things you told me were just bullshit lies to keep me with you. There’s an odd feeling of achievement in the little things in life; clean washing, an early night, a monogamous relationship, a well cooked meal, holding hands with someone you love. Life without you is calm and peaceful. Don’t mix that up with boring – it isn’t. It’s fun. It’s reliable. It’s better.

So this is goodbye. It’s not me – it’s you.”

[update: she’s on day 618 today]


 

links:

Audio: “I’ll Take the Stairs”

This is Sober Podcast Episode #185 for my weekly sober podcast series.

What do you say to someone, who believes that while the booze elevator may only go down, “if it does reach bottom and the elevator door won’t open, and I’m stuck there – then I’ll take the stairs.” What do you say to that? Are there stairs?

Why does wolfie think that going down further before we quit is a ‘good idea’? I talk about bravado, not using your supports, and the voice that is (always) trying to convince us “to keep on drinking, it’ll be fine,” no matter what.  and really, if it’s hard to quit now, what’ll it be like to quit later?

Below i’ve posted the entire 21 minute podcast. usually i just post a clip but today, thanks to some really lovely donations to the Sober Good Works fund (thanks!), i’m posting this audio for everyone to listen to – even if you’re not a paying podcast subscriber. I’ll leave this link up for 48 hrs, so have a listen now.

HOMEWORK:

after you listen, post a comment and tell me how long did you know you were over-drinking to the point where you knew you were going to need to do something about it, and then how much longer AFTER that point did you keep on drinking, cuz wolfie said “quit later…”
Yeah, me too.
after 48 hrs, I’ll pick one comment and that person will get a present. 

[ link has been removed ]

 

Download the audio podcast episode 185

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 48 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a present funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

Audio: Empathy for Addiction

This is Sober Podcast Episode #184 for my weekly sober podcast series.

TrixeeK sent me an audio question … what do you say to friends who want to quit drinking but don’t listen to your advice? How do you deal with frustration when people relapse? What do you do when you’re tempted to say “try harder”?

Recorded with a live audience, this longer podcast (28 mins) talks about empathy, how to be helpful, and the tricky question of boundaries.

Below i’ve posted a 6 minute extract from this longer audio, and this clip starts at the very beginning of the podcast.

You can listen to this extract now 🙂 And leave a comment  … have you had an experience like TrixeeK explains in her audio question? what would you do differently now that you know what being sober is like?

 

Download the audio podcast episode 184

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a Sterling Silver “Stay Here” Bracelet (value $52), funded by the Sober Good Works donations.

Audio: Magic Potion (part 1)

This is Sober Podcast Episode #182 for my weekly sober podcast series.

There is no magic potion. you can spend $100 on vitamins if you like. You can read one book and then be disappointed that it doesn’t solve all of your problems.

To be sober, we need to apply an attitude of ‘layers of support’ … adding in things, to find the right combination that works. And to learn to resist the “this program solves all problems,” and to do more than one thing at a time, because perhaps it’s the overlapping combination of things that works.

This was recorded as a live broadcast, and so it was long enough to split into two parts and make two separate podcasts.

Below i’ve posted a short extract from Part 1 of this longer audio.

You can listen to this extract now 🙂 And leave a comment – what do you hear in this audio? Can you rephrase it in your own words? hugs from me

 

Download the audio podcast episode 182

Sign up for the monthly podcast subscription
(1-2 new audios per week, you can cancel whenever you like … but you won’t. more sober tools = good)

(ps, my blog allows for anonymous comments – so you don’t have to fill in a name or an email address to post your comment below).

Over the next 24 hrs, I’ll select a blog comment and that person will receive a copy of month #1 of my blog, read by me, for free (audio is 2.5 hrs long; value $39).