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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Not looking back

So now that my daughter is safely returned to her mother’s apartment it is time for me to look back on the past week and a half as a full time parent and reflect on what this experience has meant to me.

… Ah, fuck that! I’m moving on and looking forward. Yes, I love my daughter and it was absolutely wonderful having her here. The time actually went by really quick and I’m going to miss having her here but at the same time there is a lot going on in my life that I’m eager to getting back to.

I will say that yesterday was a nearly perfect day. The day started with my daughter and I biking to the bus stop. We placed our bikes on the rack in the front of the bus and rode downtown. From there we biked to MCTC where her summer camp is. I dropped her off and headed to Moose & Sadie’s for breakfast and to do some writing. I hadn’t been on my bike in a week and it felt so good to be riding again.

I was also meeting Venus at the cafe for one of our band strategy meetings. Venus hasn’t been feeling the most productive lately since so much energy has gone into all this tax audit bullshit and I completely understand that. Still, I think when she looks back on this year she will see it as I do; a year of great transition and re-birth. I told her that I think she is doing all the right stuff and to just keep at it. Most of what she is doing is focused on herself and her art and less on the band. Venus is really coming into her own and receiving recognition as Venus de Mars, artist not just “Venus of All The Pretty Horses”.

I also told Venus that I would be working more on my own music and my own artistic career. This does not mean that the band is breaking up or going on hiatus or anything of the sort. It simply means that time spent doing band stuff will be carved out of what we are doing with the rest of our lives rather than putting the rest of our lives on hold so that we can be available for band stuff. This isn’t really a change, it’s just an acknowledgment of current reality.

After that I got to have a drink with a friend who I haven’t seen in awhile. She’s one of my favorite crazy/beautiful people who has been going through some shit because she doesn’t fit in with this world and can’t understand why that is wrong. Neither can I.

After that I picked my daughter up from camp and we biked home along the Grand Rounds trail. It’s a fantastic and beautiful ride and so wonderful to get to share it with my daughter.

If that had been my day, it would have been perfect. But I still had to drive to Blaine so that my daughter could take care of her cats. That did me in. I fucking hate driving! By the time we got back I had just enough steam in me to stumble through cooking diner before I crashed.

I’m not letting that happen to me tonight. Yes, I spent all day delivering CityPages but now I’m getting on my bike and heading to the bar. Time to get back to my “normal” life.

Life in the slow lane

I’m still amazed at how exhausting this domestic life can be. Yesterday, I woke up and drove my daughter to her appointment. Then we went to visit her grandparents in St. Paul for a couple hours. I made a quick trip to Batteries Plus to get a bigger battery for my pedicab gig, then a trip to EMI to rent some lights for the benefit show on Saturday. After that I was done in and took a nap. When I woke up I made dinner for my daughter, we watched an episode of Doctor Who and was all I could do. It doesn’t matter how much I enjoy doing this stuff, it just saps my energy in ways that biking and performing don’t. I wanted to do some more writing last night but I didn’t have it in me. Instead, I slept for twelve hours; the whole time dreaming of hauling people around on my pedicab and performing with Venus de Mars & All The Pretty Horses.

Always listen to your bartender

I hadn’t been out on my bicycle in nearly two weeks and I was starting to go stir crazy. Even in the winter, I make bicycle my primary mode of transportation but lately between work, picking up my daughter, helping other people and then snow I’ve had to drive. And it drives me crazy.

Friday was a beautiful day and I was not going to let it go to waste. As soon as I was done writing I hopped on my bike and headed downtown. I went to the bank to deposit my tax refund check. I still want to close that account and open one at a credit union. I was going to use my tax refund to do that but now I need it for other things.

After taking care of my banking I received a text message from my bff. She wanted to know if I was going to Cause Soundbar that night to see Rape Door and Dumpster Juice. I said I wanted to but had a big day on Saturday and thought I should stay closer to home. If I was a normal person, I would totally be there but I have issues and life is hard. Okay, normal people don’t go see bands named RapeDoor and Dumpster Juice but they would be better people if they did. If I did, I would need to crash at my friends place because there would be no way I could make it home on my bike. Still, I didn’t know what was going to happen; my day was in the process of unfolding.

Feeling hungry, I headed to Club Jager for food and happy hour beers. They have great food that’s pretty cheap, wonderful bartenders who take good care of me and a happy hour crowd that is always up for some lively conversations. Plus, it’s centrally located to whatever I might do next. I was still waiting to hear back from a friend who was going through some hard times so I wanted to remain available for him.

After my two beers and a meal of artichoke dip I was ready to figure out what would happen next. My friend had gotten back to me and wasn’t going to be able to meet up. When I’m biking and drinking, I don’t like to stay in one place too long. Moving around helps me from getting too drunk. I had a choice between heading to Northeast Minneapolis for a couple more drinks then heading home or heading south and winding up at Cause where I would be stuck until bar close.

I proposed my dilemma to one of the bartenders. She suggested that I play it safe and stick closer to home. At this point that sounded like a good idea.

Then I got engrossed in a conversation with another bar patron so I ordered needed one more beer. He was having beer and a whiskey. I thought that sounded like a wonderful idea so I ordered a whiskey as well.

When it was time for my conversation companion to leave I took his seat at the bar and started up conversation with my new neighbor. This procedure repeated a couple more times and I had another round of beer and whiskey. By this point I was feeling pretty invincible. I thanked the bartender for her advice but informed her that I was going to head to Cause anyway.

I mean what’s the worst that could happen. I’ve done crazier things and I’ve survived. Yeah, there was that one time when I lost an eye but most of the time nothing bad happens. I have a pretty low bar for success. As long as no one dies, winds up in the hospital or jail – all is good!

Recently someone posted this quote on my wall because it made them think of me.

“I would rather die of passion that of boredom” – Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh may not be the best role model for responsible behavior but I do share his passion for life… and probable some of his mental illness.

By now it was dark out and the temperature had dropped significantly. The ride south was pretty rough. Before I made it to Cause I had to stop and warm up. I popped in at the Leaning Tower of Pizza for a quick beer before continuing the last half mile to Cause. They are only open from 4pm – 2am but I think half time time they are open it’s happy hour. Unfortunately I was there for sad hour. Oh well… I just needed to warm up.

I made it to Cause just before the first band went on. I had a couple of $25 gift certificates for Cause from CityPages so I headed to the bar to see if I could use one of them. The bartender said “sure” but I needed to use a credit card to open a tab. “Fair enough.”, I said and ordered a beer.

By this time the place was filling up and I knew most of the people there. It was a constant barrage of:

“Hey, hows it going?”
“What have you been up to?”
“It’s so great to see you!”
“ I’ve missed you!”
“Can I buy you a beer?”

At this point I was feeling like my Club Jager bartender had no idea what she was talking about. I definitely made the right decision. As I was trying to burn through my gift certificate, people kept buying me drinks. At one point I had three beers in front of me. I had to start giving them away. I completely lost track of what I had ordered or even how much I drank. I knew I needed more food so I ordered a slice of pizza, but to be honest, I don’t recall if I ever got it. I was so “in the moment” I didn’t know what what going on.

Despite what people might think, I don’t go out to have a good time. I’m all for people having fun, but that’s not what motivates me. I’m motivated by a need for survival and a need to make life meaningful. I go out primarily because I need human interaction or I will go crazy but I also go out to make other people’s lives better. You know… to make life suck a little bit less.

Without a doubt I was doing that but to my surprise I was also actually having fun as well. I was enjoying the music and the people and dancing and having a really good time. This majorly depressed person who lives almost solely for other people was, in it’s most pure sense, enjoying life!

Oh yeah, making bad decisions is totally worth it!

Maybe…

The night came to an end and everyone filtered outside. I still needed to take care of my tab so I walked up to the bar with my $25 gift certificate. I presented the piece of paper and asked how much I owed. The bartender seemed irritated and just told me it was twenty-five bucks.

“No, really. How much do I owe you?”

I suppose it’s possible that my tab was exactly $25 but that seemed highly unlikely and her attitude about the situation did not provide me with any confidence that I was getting a straight answer. I wanted to be able to tip her appropriately but that would have taken a level of interaction that I didn’t feel was possible in this situation. I was planning on tipping her at least $10 regardless but all I had were twenties. I would have needed change and I didn’t get the impression that she wanted anything more to do with me. I wish that I had just left a twenty and been done with it, but I wasn’t feeling it. I was feeling judged and rejected so I just left.

I got outside and quickly realized that I was missing my hat; my brand new fancy green & purple sparkly hat that my friend had made for me. I needed to find it. I headed back into the bar to look but was told that I would not be allowed back in. Was it something I did? Was I being belligerent. I usually don’t get out of line when I’m drinking but I guess it’s possible. I had been having a great time, feeling tons of love and now I was being treated with disdain. I was confused, unsure if I had acted inappropriately or if I was simply suffering for the sins of drunks that had come before me. In any case, I wasn’t going to argue. I wasn’t going to make a scene. I knew I was drunk and my band has played this venue on several occasions so I didn’t need to make any more of an impression than I already had. It was time to shut the fuck up.

They were kind enough to let my friend back in to look for my hat. Although she was not able to find it someone else did and brought it out to me. Whoever that was, thank you so very much. It would have been a unbearably cold bike ride without that hat. As it was, the two mile ride was close to intolerable. Temperatures were just above freezing and it had started raining. In my opinion, these are the absolute worst biking conditions. Add to that, drunk and tired and I had good reason for gratitude after making it safely to my friend’s apartment.

I striped off my sopping wet clothes, hung them in the shower and collapsed on the couch. I had made it, I survived; just as I had done so many times before. My friend asked if I wanted a shot of whiskey.

“Sure,” I said. “I’m safe. Nothing bad can happen now, right?”

“Just don’t piss my couch.” she replied.

The smile melted from my face. Oh yeah, that. The most horrifying, embarrassing consequence to pushing myself too far and drinking too much. A reminder of my limits so painful that I have actively blocked it out. But it’s true. I have peed her couch, not once but twice. In fact over the past three years or so I have had two other accidents while sleeping at other people’s houses. It’s never happen at home, only when I’m staying with someone else. I wish that was something that I could keep private. I wish no one else knew about that. I’m not one for keeping secrets about myself but if there was one thing I wish I could keep hidden from everyone, it would be that.

But I can’t keep it a secret because, you see, it happened again. I woke up the next morning and I had wet the bed. I was mortified. I felt defeated, helpless and alone. The only comfort I could take was in knowing that I would survive this. Having been through this before, I knew what I needed to do make things right and that it would not be the end of the world. I knew my friend would still love me and that I could repair any damage I had caused.

I also know that I’m not alone. A quick Google search of adult bed wetting returns over a million results. I know that there solutions but denial is not one of them.

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