January thirteenth

I awoke to find an “Add New Post” window open on my computer screen. Only the title field was filled in. It said, “How alcohol saved my life”.

The night before I watched the movie, “Drinking Buddies“. Accept for the part where a drunk bicycle rider gets freaked out at the sight of blood, I found it to be one of the most accurate portrayals of drinking life that I’ve ever scene in a movie. I felt inspired me to write an honest account of the role alcohol has played in my life. I felt like I could finally do it without coming off like I was just trying to justify bad behavior.

But first I had something more important to attend to… my laundry. I’d kept my washing machine hobbling along for the past year or so but the time had come for it to retire. As a result I’d accumulated five loads of laundry so I loaded up my van and headed to Rainbow Laundromat in Uptown. They have free Wi-fi so I figured I could get some writing done at the same time. That never happened.  Washing five loads all at once doesn’t leave a lot of down time but an hour and a half later I had clean sheets, comforter and a fresh new wardrobe. I still felt like I had accomplished something.

I stopped by the liquor store determined to spend the evening writing but by the time I got home my brain had developed other plans. I didn’t want to spend another night at home drinking; I wanted to get out in the world and be with my people. I hadn’t been on my bike since November and this was going to be the night I stopped making excuses. The weather report said that snow was expected but I didn’t care. I was determined.

[It’s been almost a week since that night but sometimes a little time and reflection is helpful to sift out the fluff. Here are the highlights as I remember them now.]

I managed to find my winter biking gear including my ski goggles. It was cold and the roads suck but I was off and riding again. My first top after picking up tobacco at Sarna’s was the 331 Club. I found myself at the bar next to a man who was sitting alone drinking a Miller High Life; the two-for-one special of the evening. He explained that it’s been hard to find work and money has been tight since he got released from prison but he was really hoping to avoid going back. He explained that he would never do anything to hurt another person, except out of honor and loyalty. These were his guiding principles. He was surprised that I had never been to prison; I guess because he’s not used to talking to people who haven’t. I explained that fear has kept me out of prison and in a sense, fear was my prison. He told me that if you want to survive in prison, all you have to do is tell the truth.

He said, “I just tell them that I believe in God. They think that I’m crazy and leave me alone.”

I said, “You want to hear something really crazy? I think that I am God.”

“I don’t think that you are crazy. Not many people are willing to talk to me but you are.”

“That’s because I think that you are God.”

He didn’t believe me that he was God and maybe he was right. Still, he did look like God to me.

Next, I stopped at Club Jager to see if they had anything going on. To my surprise they were setting up for their monthly metal night. I vowed to return and headed off to Grumpy’s Downtown where a friend of mine holds a movie night on Monday’s. He was showing Robocop and Total Recall (the good one). I was more eager to see my friend than I was the movies. We had found ourselves in a three AM online spate recently and I wanted to make sure we were still “cool”. Our argument was over the placebo effect. I took the position that the brain has the power to heal and he was arguing for science and medicine. This is a pretty life or death issue but it’s not like either of us are wrong.

Then it was back to “Metal Night” at Club Jager. I love metal music but mostly I love the metalheads. Seriously, some of the nicest most loving people you will ever meet.

One of the guys I met described himself as a Satanist. He said, “This music is very spiritual to me.”

“A Satanist, huh?” I had to ask, “What do Satanists believe in?”

He told me, “Love.”

“Hmmm, that’s what I believe in as well. Maybe I’m a Satanist.”

The bike ride home was hell. Snow had covered the streets and it was still falling pretty hard. I just kept telling myself, “I can do this, I’ve been through worse.” It was slow going but I finally made it home. I had survived another day!

I woke up the next morning invigorated and feeling alive. I posted the following to facebook:

OMG Last night was amazing. I highly recommend doing stupid things. The world is just one big playground. A playground that could kill you but oh my god, not dying is sooooo much fun!!!

It was at that point that I realized that the day before was just any other day. It was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the day I nearly died; the day of my car accident, the day I lost my right eye. I call it my re-birthday. Every year I celebrate January Thirteenth as the beginning of my new life but this year I totally missed it… or did I?

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A nearly perfect day

It’s always a good sign that I’m going to have a good day when I wake up on my best friend’s couch. Almost anything is better than waking up alone in my own bed. Since my son left for college the whole empty nest thing has really sunk in. I didn’t think it would be that big a deal. He was a very independent teenager and, despite my disabilities, I’ve always been a very active person so we didn’t  actually see a whole lot of each other the past few years. Still, I miss having him  here. It’s a much bigger change and a much greater adjustment than I had bargained for.

So not being alone is good. A sunny Sunday is good. And, yes, I did get out of the house yesterday which is also very, very good. As I was writing my blog yesterday I got a text from a friend whom I hadn’t seen I quite some time. She was contacting me to see if I sill wanted to get together for a beer at the 19 bar. With the way I was feeling I was kind of hoping she would blow me off, as often happens in my life, for which I am grateful as often as I am disappointed. As it turned out though, this was just the motivation I needed to get my ass in gear and hop on my bike and venture out into the wintry tundra. It was pretty cold last night and a 10 mile bike ride to the bar but I didn’t care; I needed to get the fuck out of my house. I had been cooped up in my house for three days without going anywhere. In fact the only person I had seen was Venus when she stopped by to give me my tour check.

The 19 Bar is my favorite gay neighborhood bar. It’s a gay bar for sure but a lot of straight people in the neighborhood go there. It just happens to be in a gay neighborhood. So it’s a gay bar, it’s a neighborhood bar, it’s a gay neighborhood, we could call it a neighborhood gay bar but I like to refer to it as a gay neighborhood bar. I think that’s more accurate.

Like most bars with a numbers for their name, the 19 Bar is named after it’s address at 19 W 15th street. The 19 Bar is also the oldest gay bar in the Twin Cities. Way back in the day, even back in the day I first stepped into the establishment, the only way you would have known that there was a bar behind the door with a 19 on it was if someone had told you. It’s still a pretty discrete location but there is a sign with a pink triangle and I think some neon. I guess that’s progress.

I knew I could get to the bar without any trouble but getting home might be another story. I sent my best friend a text to see what she was up to. She lives in the neighborhood and the 19 is her regular bar and I know I can always crash at her place. Okay, it may sound like I’m just taking advantage of her, and you are welcome to think that, but this is how I survive, by knowing and making use of my resources and these resources have been cultivated through a life of generosity, honesty and love and are received with tremendous gratitude and humility.

So here is my recipe for a nearly perfect day:

  • Coffee – Need I say more. If I’m addicted to anything it is coffee in the morning. Don’t even want to know what life would be like without that.
  • Sun – Especially in the winter I need sun. We simply don’t get enough of it and it totally effects my mood. I need the Vitamin D. I’ve been taking 2000 IU of D3 everyday and it helps but there is nothing like actually seeing the sun.
  • Dishes –  Okay, I love washing dishes. If I wasn’t a famous rockstar and paperboy I would totally want to be a dishwasher. I love washing my own dishes but washing someone else’s is even better.
  • Beer –  I had my two favorite kinds of beer today. My favorite is the kind someone else bought. My second favorite is beer at happy hour prices. Yup, I had both today.
  • Friends – Mean everything.
  • Biking –  I haven’t been on my bike since the 28th of January. That’s so not right. Biking is essential to a perfect day.
  • Pizza – Pizza is the perfect food.
  • Chocolate – No wait, maybe it’s chocolate.
  • Doing something that scares me – I was perfectly happy to have a simple, comfortable, easy going Sunday but really, no day is complete without doing something that scares the hell out of you.
  • Dive bar I was biking by Halek’s bar, as I always do on my way home, but this time I just decided that I had to stop in for a quick one.
  • Music – I love their jukebox!
  • My kids – I talked to both my kids today. They are both doing really well. At the end of it all, that is all that matters.
  • Boobies – Okay, I don’t know why I am including this but yes, boobs were part of my day. If you are trying to have a perfect day there have got to be breasts in there somewhere. Boobs are awesome!

So why was it only nearly perfect? To be honest, it’s because I don’t know what perfect is. Maybe I don’t believe in perfect. For all I know, everything is perfect just as it is. Anyway, perfect is something to strive for, not something to achieve. That would take all the mystery out of it.

A day of beauty

This is a little better. Last night I fell asleep at 8pm, woke up at 10:30pm. Went back to sleep around five in the morning. That’s actually a good sleep pattern for me. I do best when I get and hour nap in the afternoon and six hours of sleep at night. Unfortunately, my schedule (or lack thereof) rarely allows for that sleeping pattern. And waking up from a nap at 10:30 at night doesn’t place me in the most productive hours of my day. Sure, I did do some writing which I guess is an important part of my life these days but after that it was just beer, whiskey and watching TED Talks and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia until 5am. TED Talks are absolutely amazing. I could watch them all day. If you haven’t seen them I would highly recommend it. Highlights from last night are posted on my Facebook Page but there are hundreds of videos available on YouTube.

Okay, I’ve cleared the whiskey from my brain – gotta love coffee. Time to log yesterdays adventures.

So I did manage to get some shit done yesterday. Basically just what had to get done. I had to get my invoice submitted to one of my paper delivery customers. It involves a little bit of tedious paperwork but it usually isn’t that bad as long as my technology is working. This wasn’t one of those days. I recently got a new computer so that I could do this blog and hopefully much more but that means I need to re-install all the office software that I use. Not all of it works the way it used to. This includes my scanning software. I need to be able to scan documents and save them to PDF format to email to the customer. It wasn’t doing that so I went on the hunt for a free app that would. It took a couple tries but I finally found one that will do the job.

I also got my dishes washed. Oh, and a load of laundry run through my busted out washing machine. The rest of my time I devoted to my daughter, making her lunch and playing chess and Othello. I may even be getting better at chess because I totally kicked her ass this time. We had a discussion about parents who let their kids win to build self-confidence and she agreed that was fucked up. I fully expect her to beat me one of these days and she’s going to know that she did it fair and square. We both still have a lot to learn about chess but she is a much faster learner. Othello on the other-hand I’ve pretty much got mastered and I think she will in no time as well. We are both pretty bored with Master Mind by now.

When I got home from dropping my daughter off at her mother’s I realized that I had forgotten to hit the grocery store while I was out. There was no way I was going to go back out in the cold so I wound up ordering Domino’s. I’m not a fan of corporate chains but they are cheap and fast. They had me food in 20 minutes. I tipped the driver 5 bucks; totally worth it and at least I know that money is going to someone in the community who needs it. For many years I wouldn’t buy Domino’s Pizza because of the boycott regarding their support of Operation Rescue. Boycotts are a weird form of protest. I don’t know how often they work but people sure like them. I would rather use my money proactively to support business I like; at least when I have the money to do it. When I don’t, I do what I gotta do. And some businesses you just can’t avoid dealing with so you close your eyes, plug your nose and jump.

So today’s objective is to make myself beautiful – not a simple task. I have really been failing at the personal grooming lately. I need to take a shower (something I haven’t done in days), shave (something I haven’t done in a week), dye my hair (been three weeks) and paint my nails which is something I only seem to manage to do the day of a show.

Looks like I also have to shovel some snow. I’ll probably do that first. At least it’s above  zero degrees Fahrenheit and the wind has died down. It’s not too bad out.

Get Real

Okay. This is where this blog takes form. It would be really fucking boring if I only wrote about my good days. Yesterday was awesome. Well, it was up until my last post which I wrote at the Bad Waitress, a cafe restaurant where my best friend works. They have wi-fi, really good food and beer. I expect many posts will be written from there. Oh, and when I checked in there I became mayor on Foursquare! So yeah, really good day up until that point. My BFF even bought me a beer so totally fucking kick ass!

Except it’s Minneapolis and fucking cold as hell and nothing stays kick-ass for long. My BFF got off work while I was there so I offered to drive her home. I don’t drive often and love to help out a friend when I can. Did I mention it was fucking cold as hell out? Driving is no big deal, right? If you keep reading this blog you will learn about my philosophy on helping and how I think it’s easy and makes the world a better place and that if you are a selfish mother fucker like me you should do it every chance you get.

Turns out my BFF needs cat food too. She doesn’t drive so we have a great opportunity for her to make use of my generosity and have me drive out to Chuck and Don’s in St. Louis Park. All went well for a total of about 10 blocks. Then we ran into a power outage. Not my van. It is thankfully running just fine. No, the goddamn city was in the black. I really have no idea what caused it. I’m sure I will find out. I figure it has something to do with the weather. It dropped 800 degrees in one day. But yeah, a huge swath of the city was without power. No street lights, no stop lights, backed up traffic and no power at the pet store. We spent an hour driving in the dark to accomplish nothing.

Well, once we got back to civilization we did stop by the liquor store and my BFF stocked up on beer so I guess I made some use of the drive. And after all that I figured it would be appropriate to stop in for a quick one. So for the record, this paragraph goes in the good column.

[Got coffee so hopefully I can keep writing]

So now I’m running late for rehearsal. My band leader is always running late so that probably means I’m right on time. Which I am. I get to the studio and Venus is unloading her car. Perfect timing. A good quality in a bass player I say. We get in and get everything set up but still no drummer. We were actually suppose to rehearse the day before but our drummer had apparently got assaulted and slipped on the ice and broke his rib and couldn’t make it. I don’t know exactly what happened. I’m hearing it second hand but I think he should have a blog. Sounds like his life is way more exciting than mine. Anyway, he’s in pain and totally spaced that we are rehearsing. Venus tells him to skip it and we rehearse without him. We are the ones who need it anyway. I don’t understand it. Our drummer always seems to do fine but I suck if I don’t rehearse. Venus sucks without rehearsal. The drummer has just got it but he has other issues. Just saying.

I kind of like rehearsing without a drummer. I wouldn’t say I prefer it. I really prefer having a drummer. Drums are important but there are benefits to not having him there. For starters, I can hear myself. Drums are fucking loud! With a drummer you have to turn up so loud that it’s hard to hear anything. Okay, that is the only benefit. Other that being able to play at a lower volume and hear myself it really sucked not having him there. But rehearsal went fine and we got a kick-ass set put together for our show in Scottsdale, AZ. I guess our studio party on Saturday will be our full band live rehearsal. Damn I’m glad we are professionals. Don’t know how we pull this shit off.

So yesterday was a long day. The kind of day that does me in. The kind of day that doesn’t end. And it didn’t. It kept going. Oh yeah, there is more excitement to come. I left rehearsal wanting nothing more that to get home, have a beer and curl up in my nice warm bed with my kitty cat. Well, that’s not what happened. I get in my van and drive home. I’m listening to Minnesota Public Radio as I often do. I’m a sustaining member. I’m listening to As It Happens and they have a story about this guy, Aiman Youssef of Staton Island, NY who lost everything in Super Storm Sandy. Now he has a tent set up in front of what used to be his house and has spent every day since the storm helping his neighbors. It choked me up. It’s sad, but the best of humanity seems to come out of the worst of situations.

So I’m driving, I’m emotionally engaged, I’m tired and basically on auto-pilot. I pull up to a stop sign before making a left-hand turn not noticing the cop car I just cut off until the lights start flashing in my rear-view mirror. I pull over wondering, “What the fuck did I do?”. And I bet you are wondering, “OMG, how drunk is he?”. Nope, two beers at the restaurant, one at my friends, all many hours ago – I’m sober, just tired and distracted. I take drinking and driving very seriously. I lost an eye that way when I was 21. I consider myself lucky. It’s nothing to fuck around with. I got lucky this time too. The cop just ran my license and let me go after I apologized profusely. I’ve actually had really good experiences with the Minneapolis Police department. Probably helps that I’m a white guy but who knows? Maybe it’s the mini-van with LEFREAK plates.

I get home and it’s time for a beer. Well, a beer and a whiskey. I’ve discovered that I can drink cheap beer if it’s coupled with cheap whiskey. I crawl into bed. It’s been a good day. I watch the Daily Show, make a post on Facebook, comment on a friends post and I’m ready to be done. But no, my friend realizing I’m awake sends me a text, “Can I call u?”. I respond, “No” because I’m a dick like that. Then I called her. We talk from 2am until 4am. I had more beers and more whiskey. I don’t remember everything we talked about but I do remember telling her about how she hurt me years back when we first met. We bonded instantly. I guess it’s one of those things that happens when a real, genuine, honest person meets one of their own. And there was attraction. There was chemistry. To put it bluntly, I wanted to bang her. I wanted to be her friend and I wanted to have sex with her and I even considered being her boyfriend. But that’s not me and she knew it and she moved on leaving me in the dust. Yeah, it was the right thing to do. It was the right thing for her and the time and it was probably the right thing for me but it still hurt. In this life you don’t meet that many people with whom who can really connect on that level and they are not to be taken for granted. But hey, she’s back in my life and all is good. In fact I just got a call from her reminding me that I agreed to meet her and that she has chowder for me. Awesome! I have no food so this is really good.

But my big fuck up of the day was over-sleeping. I left my phone downstairs so I didn’t wake up when Home Service Plus called at 7:44am. They were coming out to fix my washing machine which is leaking and my stove which won’t light. Yup, totally missed that. I’ve been dealing with these problems for a while because I just can’t get my shit together to remedy them. Guess I’m going to be dealing with them a little while longer. It’s all about time. Time fucking fascinates me.

And now it’s time for me to go get me some chowder!

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