Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

New York, Day 2

Dinos Have CoffeeOur week in New York, continued….

We woke up fairly early — not surprising, considering we had crashed at 6:30 the previous evening — and got ready to head out on the town.  The Statue of Liberty was our destination and purpose on this day.  But our first adventure was discovering I did not pack a hairbrush with which to blow-dry my hair.  You’ll see the results of finger-combed blow-drying in the photos.  We walked a couple of blocks and found a different diner for breakfast.  This one was equally good, and we alternated between the two the rest of the week.  (Yesterday’s breakfast was at The Metro; today’s was at The Broadway.  Spouse recommends the corned beef hash at either.)

Dinos on the Subway 3Then it was time to tackle the subway.  And here’s where we confess we got hustled.  *hangs head in shame*  Spouse and I were standing in front of the ticket dispenser, reading the instructions and discussing whether we wanted to buy a multi-day pass rather than trips when some fast-talking guy jumps up and starts pushing buttons and the next thing we knew we were through the turnstile holding tickets in our hands and handing him $60 cash.  I mean it was literally nearly that fast.  (Yes, we should have known better, but just hold on, there’s more to this story.)

Despite our misgivings, we and the dinosaurs took the train to Battery Park, where we picked up our GoNewYorkCard tickets for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty.  While we were standing in line, I took a few photos of the skyline surrounding us.

It was a beautiful day.

Next we stood in line for the ferry.  Our dinosaurs are very good at standing in line.  And they were well-behaved while riding the ferry, as well.

The ride out was splendid.  We rode on top of the ferry so we could see everything.  We looked back toward the city:

On the Ferry

We looked ahead toward the Lady:

Approaching the Lady 1

The dinosaurs were especially excited to see her:

Dinos Looking for the Lady 3

After disembarking, we wandered all over Liberty Island.  Tickets to get into the pedestal or climb up to the lamp were sold out, so we stayed outside and took lots of photos.  Here are a few:

Me and The Lady 2

Remember what I said earlier about finger-combing and blow-drying?  Yeah.  This was taken while we were still on the ferry, so we’ve got windblown as well.  Not a good look.  Let’s look at something more beautiful instead.

The Lady 2

She’s gorgeous. And she moved me to tears.

Spouse and the Lady
Spouse and the Lady
Dinos View the Lady 1
Dinos and the Lady
Me and the Lady
Me and the Lady

The view toward the city was spectacular, too.

The City and Me 1

Even the dinosaurs loved it.

Dinos View the City 3

Somewhere, Ray Harryhausen is smiling.

Dinos Grab a SliceAfter a couple of hours on Liberty Island, we were whipped, sunburnt, and hungry, so we caught the ferry back. Neither spouse nor I were particularly interested in Ellis Island, so we skipped that part of the tour.  (I mentioned whipped, sunburnt, and hungry, right?)  At the Battery Park subway station, we tried to use our tickets again; and  we confirmed our suspicions that we had been taken earlier.  So we bought the multi-day passes we had originally intended to buy and caught the train back to Times Square where we grabbed a slice.

After taking the edge off our appetite, we went back to the hotel once more to get some rest before dinner; we had made arrangements for one of my internet friends who lives in New York to join us.  I was a little nervous about this because, although this woman and I had been internet buddies since 2002, and had even talked on the phone once or twice over the years, we had never met in person.  Ever.  I know that’s not unusual in the internet age, but it still feels strange to say that some of my best friends are people I’ve never actually met.

Mural in Penn Station (2)At the appointed hour, Annie arrived.  The restaurant near the hotel where we had thought to have dinner was unexpectedly closed, so we followed her lead on the subway and went on a little adventure.  We took a walk through Columbus Circle, wandered through Penn Station (where I shot this gorgeous Art Deco mural), caught this train and that train, and wound up in Korea Town somewhere around 37th Street.

Dinos Try OctopusI tried bibimbap for the first time. The dinos tried octopus. I think they liked the octopus better than I liked the bibimbap, but one must try new things or one’s horizons remain forever narrow.

Angela and Annie 2And, yes, spouse was kind enough to take a photo of Annie and me.

Isn’t she beautiful?  I love her.

After dinner, Annie got us headed back to the right train, and we called it a night.

Whew.  We, and the dinosaurs, were exhausted.  Once back at the hotel, we turned in and were quickly asleep.  Tomorrow would be another busy day!

Dinos Hit the Hay
Sweet dreams, little dinos.

Oh, by the way, we’re not done with the subway ticket story yet.  Stay tuned.

 

Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

New York, Day 1

Dinos 5Spouse and I took the dinosaurs and went to New York for our anniversary.

“Wait,” you say, “took the dinosaurs?”

Yep.  Because dinosaurs need vacation too.

Okay, this all came about because I ran across a Facebook photo of two plastic dinosaurs looking out the window of an airplane, captioned: “Vacation is more fun with dinosaurs.”  Yes, thought I, vacation is more fun with dinosaurs.  So I called them out of the jungle that is our yard (you can see them here, climbing the steps into the house), threw them into my carry-on bag, and away we went.

They were such good dinosaurs, too.  They patiently waited in line for the security check-in.  They sat quietly in their seat for the plane ride.  They helped us get our luggage off the carousel once we arrived at La Guardia.  They suffered quietly in my handbag during the madcap taxi ride from the airport to the hotel.  (Everything they tell you about New York cab drivers is the absolute truth.)

Dinos 11Once we got to the hotel, the dinos inspected the lobby for us.  We arrived well ahead of check in time due to our 6 AM flight out of Atlanta, so the hotel kindly agreed to store our luggage for us until later in the day, and we set out to find some food.

About three blocks down the street from the hotel, we found a little diner and had ourselves a late breakfast.  Over our meal, we discussed what to do with the rest of the day.  We were booked on a bus tour at 4:00 that afternoon, and had nearly six hours to kill.  Out came the little map of Manhattan the hotel thoughtfully provided us.  The place where we needed to board the bus tour was at 43rd and Broadway.  We were currently at 103rd and Broadway.  “Hey,” we thought.  “We have so much time to kill; let’s just walk down there and see the city along the way!”

Native New Yorker
The native New Yorker, back in New York.

Famous. Last. Words.

Thirty blocks later, I was tired.  By the time we reached Times Square, I was dead tired.  After wandering around Times Square and the theatre district for several hours, I was ready to kill something. But I persevered, and more than once just insisted that I needed to sit down to rest, so we made it through until it was time for our tour.

The Tour was fun.  It led by a personable tour guide who told horrible cheesy jokes, and bantered back and forth with the bus.  Yes. The bus. It was a “talking bus”, meaning it had a couple of dozen canned responses that an operator pulled up in response to things the tour guide said. Hokey as it could possibly be, but enjoyable.  We toured mainly in lower Manhattan and had various sights pointed out to us, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Empire State Building, Radio City Music Hall, Columbus Circle (which we had already walked through), and lots more.  It helped us figure out where things were that we wanted to see AND got us off our feet for a couple of hours.

Me and Daniel
Be still, my heart.

After the bus tour, we wandered around Times Square a little more, found some food, and ran into Daniel Craig outside the Wax Museum.  I had my picture taken with him.  I even held his hand.  (I can die happy now.)

By then, though, I was utterly worn out, and spouse said, “Why don’t we take the subway back?”

“Honey, I am way too exhausted to even think about learning to navigate the subway today.”

So we acted like we were guests of one of the hotels near Times Square and had a bellman hail us a cab.  Back we went to the Upper West Side and our real hotel, where we collected our luggage, checked in, and collapsed on the bed in our room at 6:30 PM and didn’t move until the next morning.  We didn’t even eat dinner.

 (More New York adventures and pictures to come.  Stay tuned!)

Posted in Books, Crochet, Knitting, Life in general, Miscellaneous

Catching up: a quickie

It’s been a busy month.

Spouse and I had a fabulous anniversary trip to New York that will be the subject of an upcoming blog post; I acquired new stash and pattern books on said anniversary trip; I’m shaping the sleeve cap on the last sleeve Dinos on the Subway 1of the Wildflower Cardigan; my next two projects are planned (despite my year of selfish knitting “resolution”, these won’t be for me; darn these friends and family members who have the audacity to have babies!); multiple finished books require book reviews…

So much stuff to write. And I’m struggling with the motivation to do so. Ah well. Sometimes you just have to force the words out. Meanwhile, here’s a preview of the New York blog post: dinosaurs ride the subway.

Posted in Crochet, Knitting, Life in general, Miscellaneous

My post was shared, thanks! I wish I could see what you said about it…

I got a notice from WordPress the other day that said something to the effect of “Hey, your traffic is way up!  Congratulations!”  Huh? thought I — because I don’t market this blog worth a damn and a high traffic count is unusual.

Mosaic Afghan 12So I did a little poking around in the stats section to see what that was all about.  As near as I can figure, somebody shared a particular blog entry (about that afghan to the left) on Pinterest and Facebook , and all those folks came to take a look at it.  Nice!  But then I was puzzled, because I couldn’t find details on the sharing itself — what was said when the blog entry was shared, what comments were made on that post, and so forth.  (Comments on the blog entry itself are closed — it’s three years old; and my experience has been that leaving comments open on old entries invites spam, so I close them after a certain length of time.)

I get pingbacks if someone links to one of my blog entries on WordPress or another blog platform like Blogger, but apparently not when something is shared elsewhere.  A cursory search through WordPress Support seems to indicate no one gets a link to where a post is shared using one of the social media “share” buttons; just the fact that it was shared is registered.  I sure would like to be able to take a look at those shares, wouldn’t you?

Something else, though: Askimet does a pretty good job of stopping spam in its tracks.  Maybe I should reconsider the notion of closing comments on old entries so people who see them years later can still comment on them?  What has everyone else experienced in this regard?

Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

*pokes head in*

I haven’t been here in weeks.  Play rehearsal, performances, plus another go-round with bronchitis have all left me with no energy and no time.  I haven’t even read anyone else’s blog entries; it’s all I can do to stay caught up with my friends on Facebook.

Five more performances of Clybourne Park and done.  Then I’ll be back.  In the meantime, here’s a picture of a goose.  Because who doesn’t love a goose?

100_4454

Posted in Knitting, Life in general, Miscellaneous, Yarn stash

Home from Hilton Head, or three yarn stores in three days

100_4231

So I ran away to the beach for a few days with my dear friend Alice.  We left our respective spouses behind and had a nice girlie time, eating seafood, walking around Hilton Head Island shopping districts, and sitting on the beach.

HHI T-stormUnfortunately, we didn’t get as much “sitting on the beach” done as we would have liked because Mother Nature decided to visit Hilton Head in the form of a massive thunderstorm.  Shortly after that picture to the right was taken late Friday morning, thunder started cracking right over our heads and we decided it was in our best interests to get off the sand and out of harm’s way.

And what do you think two knitters do when they’re on vacation and thwarted from their planned vacation activities?  That’s right.  They look for yarn stores.

We had already hit one store on our way through Georgia.  A couple of weeks ago, we learned that Creative Yarns in Macon was going out of business and had marked the entire store down 40%.  Lotus Cashmere Aran Dark Teal 2 Lotus Cashmere Aran Ecru 1 Touch Me Turquoise 2We drove right through Macon on our way to the coast, so we pulled off the interstate and navigated by GPS to the store.  Everything was still 40% off and the store was still well-stocked; it didn’t seem picked over at all, which rather surprised us, given that this going-out-of-business sale had been going on since mid-July.  But we didn’t complain at the bounty, and found some gorgeous yarns at a great price. (100 yards of 100% cashmere in aran weight for $26?  Yes, please.  Plus Muench’s Touch Me in several fabulous colors, of which I purchased only one.  Color, that is.  Plus a Rowan pattern book I had been wanting for quite some time.  By the way, this sale is also available online.  I’m just sayin…)

Brisbane 2We found another yarn store on Hilton Head itself not too far from our hotel that, based on its name, we probably would have bypassed had someone we encountered in another store hadn’t told us it sold yarn.  That would be the Needlepoint Junction, which is indeed primarily a needlepoint supplier, but it had a small high-quality assortment of knitting yarns from which to choose.  Alice found a carry-along yarn she had needed, and I found a couple of skeins of a nice multi-color wool aran that will probably end up as hats, or maybe a shawlette.  We’ll see.   We did a bit of sitting and knitting while in Needlepoint Junction, waiting out the torrential downpour that prevented us from finding a place to have lunch.  Very pleasant and helpful staff.

Frayed Knot 2Saturday morning after we checked out of the hotel, we headed to Savannah and The Frayed Knot.  I had been there before (last year, when spouse and I took a brief trip for our anniversary), and I knew Alice would like it because…the yarn is organized by color.  As a matter of fact, that’s the first thing she said when she walked in: “OMG, it’s organized by color.  I love it!”

Jones St Sable 1We found a few things we liked, but we exercised a little restraint, especially since we had done major damage to the bank accounts throughout the last few days with food and new hats and food and dessert and macaroons and ice cream. I bought only one skein of a local yarn (Copper Corgi), which is likely destined for use with an Alana Dakos hat pattern.

And here’s the whole of the new yarn acquisitions below.

Vacation Stash 3I’m feeling just a tad guilty about spending so much.  But when I pick up the cashmere or the velour?  “Screw guilt,” say I.  Now to decide what pattern(s) are worthy of such loveliness.

Rainbow Dishcloths
Photo Credit: Cathy Weeks, posted to her Flickr account

People who have known me for any length of time know that I unequivocally and wholeheartedly support marriage equality and equal rights (and have done for many years). And so I rejoiced and huzzah’d and cheered and had the biggest grin ever plastered on my face last Friday due to the Supreme Court decision making marriage equality the law of the land.

But along with the general rejoicing all over the social media and news sites I frequent, a peculiar and disturbing “my civil liberties have been infringed by SCOTUS” theme has emerged from some not wholly unexpected quarters.  Republican Presidential candidates, religious zealots, and conservative media dittoheads, as well as certain family members and a few friends — some long-term, some more recent — are spouting the fundamentalist party line that this decision means the next thing will be lawsuits to force ministers to gay-marry people, therefore Christianity itself is at risk, and we better gather up the womenfolk and chilluns because they’ll be coming for your guns and Bibles shortly.

What complete and utter bullshit.

News flash, folks.  The Obergefell v. Hodges decision affects your civil liberties not a whit.  Ministers are still perfectly free to not marry anyone who doesn’t meet their particular denomination’s dogmatic standards.  You are still perfectly free to believe whatever you like, worship however you like, and hold whatever opinions you wish. You are perfectly free to bemoan the “moral decay” you think you’re witnessing. You are perfectly free to rant and rave and quote obsolete and irrelevant Old Testament verses that support your views. And you are perfectly free to call for a Constitutional amendment to override a decision that you find abhorrent.

(Personally, I’d like to see a Constitutional amendment that overturns the Citizens United decision, but that’s a different rant. I wish us both good luck with that, by the way. This republic’s Constitution has been amended only 27 times in the 226 years since it was ratified, and the first ten of those amendments were done only two years after initial ratification, so essentially only 17 amendments have passed muster in over 200 years.)

However, what you are no longer free to do is discriminate against your LGBTQ brothers and sisters with respect to the legal protection of marriage. You don’t have to like it. That’s part of your freedom, as well.  But you have to understand that marriage has very little to do with religion, anyway.

*pause to insert earplugs to block the screams of outrage*

Yes, you heard me.  Marriage itself has nothing to do with religion.

Now I know a lot of people choose to get married in a religious ceremony, with prayer and talk of God and holy matrimony and so forth.  I did so myself;  it was lovely and moving and very special indeed.  But the religious service that constituted the saying of our vows has nothing to do with the facts of our marriage.  We could have just as easily walked down the hall to the office of the Justice of the Peace on the day we picked up our marriage license, had that fine worthy perform the ceremony, and been just as married.  Because what constitutes the fact of my marriage is this:  My husband and I went to the county courthouse, purchased a license, had a ceremony performed by an individual who certified on that license that he was authorized to perform marriage ceremonies. He then submitted that certified document back to the county for the marriage to be entered into county records as proof of the legally binding contract my husband and I entered into on that beautiful spring day many years ago.

Marriage in the United States is a legal contract, and thus it’s a civil matter, licensed, recorded, and sanctioned by the government.  The fact that many people celebrate their marriage vows with a religious ceremony is irrelevant. That means it’s also irrelevant if your religion says homosexuality is a sin, and therefore gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married.  Marriage is a civil matter, and what your religion says has no bearing on the right of consenting adults to marry.

But here’s another thing you have to understand.  Marriage equality is no threat to your church. Hordes of gay folk clad in rainbow-colored wedding garments aren’t going to storm your sanctuary, demand to be married at your altar, and file lawsuits if refused.  Your church’s clergy are protected under the First Amendment and can refuse to perform a marriage ceremony for anyone who is perceived as not meeting dogmatic or doctrinal standards.  For example, a Catholic priest may refuse to marry a divorced person because Catholic doctrine says divorce is a sin. An Orthodox rabbi may refuse to marry a Jewish person to a non-Jewish person because Judaism generally frowns upon interfaith marriages.  Heck, my own pastor very nearly refused to marry my husband and me because my husband is an atheist.

As mentioned above, though, you’re perfectly free to believe homosexuality is a sin, although I would ask you to take a look at a little research on the so-called “clobber verses” that people with those beliefs generally quote to back their position.

And, because I don’t want to stop loving my friends and family who buy into this “my religious freedoms are being attacked” nonsense, I had to “unfollow” a few people on social media in the last couple of days. They aren’t de-friended or blocked, just not followed for a while, until their hateful, spiteful, inaccurate, or ugly status updates die down.

Fallout

Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous

Love wins. Sing glory hallelujah!

Two friends got a marriage license yesterday.

They have been together for decades.  They’ve owned houses together, ran a business together, participated in their community and held responsible and highly visible civic positions; they contribute to charity and take part in fundraisers for local organizations; they have been upstanding citizens of their small Southern city and the very definition of the committed, devoted couple for all to see.

Photo copyright: The Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, 2015
Photo copyright: The Hot Springs Sentinel-Record, 2015
But they couldn’t get married.

Then, yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States decided they could.  And they hotfooted it down to the courthouse and managed to be the first same sex couple issued a marriage license in Garland County, Arkansas.  Take a look at those faces in that photograph.  That’s pure joy.

Congratulations, Alan and Joe!  It’s been a long time coming.  I expect your upcoming nuptials will be nothing short of fabulous!

Posted in Book review, Life in general, Miscellaneous

Wrapping up the High Summer Read-a-thon

High SummerI finished five books. Five! Okay, I started one of them before the High Summer Read-A-Thon got started, but I’m counting it anyway.

First finished was Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. Borrowed from the library, and returned already. I thought it was amazing, but no review yet.

Then came Night Film by Marisha Pessl. I loved this. I have yet to write a review because I’m still thinking about it, but I loved it.

Next was Imago by Octavia Butler. As disturbing as the preceding books in the Xenogenesis series. I haven’t written reviews for any of this trilogy, either.

The Widow File by S.G. Redling was a fun and quick-paced genre thriller. Click the title to get to the review.

And finally, The New Madrid Run by Michael Reisig, a train wreck of a post-apocalypse thriller that kept me reading in large part because the premise was amazing, but I couldn’t believe how awful its execution. Click the title for my review.

The New Madrid RunThe Widow File

ImagoNight FilmAngle of Repose

I find it curious that I was able to whip out reviews for the books that impressed me the least, but am at somewhat of a loss to write about the books that actually made me think. Oh well. If you want to read more wrap-ups of this read-a-thon, click the High Summer Read-A-Thon badge at the top of this post.

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Posted in Life in general, Miscellaneous, Work in progress

23

AisleShotNormally, I don’t get overly personal on this blog because it’s public. But today I’m breaking that self-imposed rule.

Why today?

Because it’s an anniversary.

23 years ago today, I walked into a treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction in Northern California, clutching a pillow and the few shreds of dignity I had left. I walked out four weeks later, clean, sober, and free.

I hear a lot of people say they were born alcoholic. I don’t know about that. I just know that from the first time I drank at about age 15, I liked it. I didn’t drink very often, at least not then, but always enjoyed it when I did. I liked the fuzzy headed feeling. I liked how alcohol changed my perception of myself, turned my short ordinary plain-Jane self into someone tall, beautiful and dazzling.

Three PeasI was a good kid, the oldest of three, brought up by parents who were married to each other — they’re still married, in fact. I went to church, sang in the choir, joined in youth group activities, went on mission trips. I made mostly As in school, twirled a flag on the pep squad, competed on the varsity gymnastics team, graduated near the top of my high school class, and was accepted at an exclusive private college in southern California.

This isn’t to say our family life was untroubled. Far from it. My sister and I fought constantly. Money was always tight. My parents did their best, but they didn’t know what to do with a kid like me, one who liked science and art and books and history, one who was filled with the need to be noticed. All I wanted was a little of their attention. I knew they loved me, but they, especially my father, were distant and unsupportive of the things I was most interested in, impractical things like music and singing and dance. And we had secrets that we didn’t talk about.

Spouse and PhoebeAt any rate, I was in the final weeks of my senior year, more than ready to leave home and attend that exclusive private college, when my perfectly-planned life derailed. The financial aid everyone told me I would get did not come through, and my parents couldn’t afford to foot the extra tuition costs. I allowed myself to be talked out of taking student loans and decided to delay college for a year and work instead. To save money, you know. Oh, the stupid choices we make when we’re 17.

So. I went to work full time at a local department store. And I started dating. I rarely dated in high school — too busy with the books and the pep squad and church activities — but after graduation was a different story. A few months after my 18th birthday, I fell in love. With a bad boy. Who drank and smoked dope and drove a fast car. My parents hated him. I thought he was the most handsome fellow in the world. Unfortunately, he had a live-in girlfriend, so we had to sneak around. I moved out of my parents’ home and became roommates with two of his friends. We turned our little coastal town into our own Peyton Place, at least among a certain age group.

Mom and Steph Easter 2011Two broken engagements (only one of them mine) and a broken heart later, I gave up on the idea of that southern California college — I had never managed to save the money, anyway — and moved north to the Bay Area. I was 19. It was there I discovered I had a talent for theater. I started acting and working backstage at every community theater within a reasonable driving distance. I learned how to party and smoke dope and put powder up my nose with a bunch of other theater folk. But it was still under control. I still got up and went to work every day. I couldn’t manage to fit classes at the local junior college into the work and party schedule though.

It’s funny how, starting at about this point in my life, many of my major decisions or courses of action were connected in some fashion to a man. I moved to the Bay Area to get away from my first love. I switched shifts at my job to avoid the next fellow after we broke up. And I started drinking heavily after the end of a two-plus year relationship with someone I had thought would become my husband. I was 23. This time, the drinking affected my work. I called in sick a lot. I was late. I was grouchy and rude to customers. I quit before I could get fired.

Mom and DadBy this time, my folks had moved north as well. I moved in with them because I couldn’t afford to live on my own. And for the next six years I moved in and out, in and out. I’d get a decent job, save some money, get my own place, get evicted because buying booze was more important than paying the rent, move back home, and start the cycle over. I got drunk every single day for those six years. I lost a car, I lost friends, I lost jobs. One night, while babysitting my infant nephew, I passed out with a lit cigarette in my hand. If the couch had not been fairly new with the flame-retardant self-snuffing cushions, the house would have gone up in flames, taking me and my sister’s son with it. I never knew it happened until late the next day when my mother dragged me out of bed to show me the charred arm of the sofa.

I could tell you story after story about poor choices: stupid decisions, countless men, near-brushes with death, humiliating experience after humiliating experience. I could tell you about the day I finally remembered that secret we didn’t discuss: the one about my grandfather who liked little girls. It all comes down to one fact: I did anything necessary for me to get that next drink.

C70 open 1In July of 1991 I was back living with my folks again. I was 29 years old. I had a part time job as assistant manager at a little bookstore, working for a friend. Every night when I left work, I stopped at a gas station, a different one each time, and picked up two sixpacks of beer, a fresh pack of cigarettes and a bag of ice. I had a little plastic tub in my car. I put the ice in the tub, the beer in the ice, and set off for one of the numerous back country roads near my parents’ home. Once there, I’d find a dark place to park, pull out the flashlight and my trashy historical romance, and sit there, drinking, reading and smoking until all the beer was gone, usually about 1:00 AM. Then I’d drive home and let myself in and go to bed. This way, my folks wouldn’t know how much I drank.

Wrong.

FrontOne day, my mother told me she knew I was drinking. And she told me I had two choices: go to treatment or find somewhere else to live. I wasn’t prepared to live in my car, so I told her I’d go to treatment. But ooooh, I did not want to do that. I didn’t want to face myself. And the truth is, if I’d had even one person left that I could call who I thought would take me in, I’d have gone there instead. But there was no one.

And so, on July 26, 1991, I took my own pillow with me to the treatment center. I must have been a sight, standing there in the lobby, clutching my pillow and looking around with wild, scared eyes, like I’d been brought to the seventh circle of hell. How the staff must have laughed at me later. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep on one of those institutional pillows, so I had my own. That was a comfort.

AA Symbol BlueI was not unaware of the existence of Alcoholics Anonymous. I had even been to a meeting once, about three or four years prior. The people there scared the crap out of me; they were so happy about being alcoholic! I decided I didn’t have a problem after all, and vowed I was never going back. And naturally, the first place I was taken after entering treatment was an AA meeting.

Funny thing, though. This time, I listened instead of judging. I empathized instead of looking for the ways I was different. And I found out a lot of people drank like I did, secretly, ashamedly, telling themselves this was normal behavior and everyone behaved this way when they drank. Those people at the meetings were friendly, and concerned, and genuinely wanted to help. They told me the truth in a language I recognized. They understood me. And they paid attention to me. I felt — validated. And wanted. And welcomed. I can’t remember ever really feeling like that before walking through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous. They loved me, and they didn’t even know me.

Angela and Phoebe 2It’s been like that throughout the years I’ve been sober. I’ve done stupid stupid things in sobriety — again, mostly man-oriented — and come closer to suicide than I ever had in my drinking days. Without the numbness that self-medicating with alcohol provided, I had to face my demons. I had to talk about being molested as a child. I had to talk about that catastrophically detrimental year-long affair with Mr.Married. I had to break down and bawl in meetings. But the love of the fellowship always picked me up, sometimes literally. I remember sitting in a meeting one night, five-plus years sober and at my lowest emotional ebb, talking about making the decision NOT to kill myself the previous night and breaking down in the middle of a sentence. A man at the meeting left his chair, crossed the room, sat down next to me on the couch and put me on his lap, and rocked me like I was a child. That’s love.

No one told me staying sober would be easy. And, at first, it wasn’t. I struggled. I didn’t drink, but I wanted to. Oh, how I wanted to. Still, slowly, gradually, incrementally, that desire decreased; the thought came less and less often…and for the last several years, when trouble has arisen, getting drunk hasn’t crossed my mind. Although that option is always available, I have so many other choices to make, so many other directions to go, so many other steps to follow — drinking is so far down the list it’s not even a contender.

Church RotundaThe best thing about being sober? It led me back to God. I had abandoned the church at about age 19. During those ten years of drinking, I would attend church occasionally, but never felt like I belonged. I was too dirty, too sinful, too horrible a person for God to ever love or forgive. AA taught me my God was too small. I came to understand a different concept of God, a truer concept, and this concept has become the rock solid foundation of my life: Nothing in the world will ever make God stop loving me. Nothing. Not ever. I learned that forgiveness comes when I let go of the hurt or the shame. I learned to love and accept love. And that lesson brought me my beloved husband.

My brother's kidsThe youngest members of my family have never known their Auntie as a drunk. My husband has never known me as a drunk — in fact, sometimes I think he doesn’t quite believe my drinking was ever really that bad. My parents and sister don’t watch me out of the corners of their eyes; my brother has no qualms about leaving me in charge of his children. I’ve had the same employer for almost 20 years, the same husband for more than 12 years; we live in a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood; I drive a convertible (!); we have no debt other than the house and car notes; I wake up each day clearheaded, bright-eyed, and ready to face the world.

Best of all, deep in my heart lies the rock-solid certainty that God loves me. He always had, even when I had convinced myself otherwise. That gift alone makes the journey worthwhile. With the gift of sobriety as well, I am truly blessed and eternally grateful.

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The photographs scattered throughout this blog entry are the gifts that sobriety brought.