Ivonne shot me a link yesterday of Neil Gaiman’s thoughts and advice to prospective writers. Say what you want about Neil Gaiman, or, more to the point, about Amanda Palmer, but the dude knows how to write a story.  American Gods is one of the best and that shit is just compounded by the rad-ass show, but I digress.  His point is well taken: The only way to get good at something is to just fucking do it.

Shut up, Nike.

I took that pretty literally when I was able to look back on the last  year of my life and really see that simply picking up your shit and making it happen has been proven true.  I’ve lost a lot of weight.  I’ve become healthier in mind and body.  I’ve been instrumental in making my marriage even that much better.  None of this was through complacency, but a lot of hard work and insistence on action.

Writing is no different.

So as I sit here on the cusp of starting school to get my undergraduate degree in English, I say to myself that, while my goals are lofty yet attainable, nothing gets done without action.  I know there’s a part of me that’s waiting for the hard work to begin to start harder work – and that’s ok, too, ’cause I’m not gonna kick myself in the ass over knowing how I’m motivated – but if I get in the habit now of quota and word count then fuck, all of a sudden, I’m gonna have some shit that’s useable.

Like my boy Neil said, “When you go back and read what you’ve written, you’ll never know if it was during a moment of inspiration or part of the daily slog.”  Something like that.  And he’s right.

If I wait for inspiration, nothing will get done.

It’s right fucking there.

 

First, let’s start with Gratitude.

  • I am extremely grateful for my wife.  The reasons are too numerous to mention, frankly, but the fact is that our heavy lifting has not come without strains and soreness; we work on our own unpacking while we support each other on our shared journey and these things are not easy, especially when one suffers from anxiety and depression.  I’m listening now, not just hearing, and I’m grateful for the chance to not only show these advancements but to be appreciated for them.
  • I’m appreciative of the support I’ve received from the handful of people with whom I’ve truly discussed my alcoholism.  It should be, but it’s not easy to talk to someone about something that, unfortunately, we view in a negative light.  It does take a lot of strength to see the need for change and then actually do those things.  I couldn’t have done it without Ivonne and my therapist.  Straight up.
  • Those are kind of general things, sure, so let’s make it a bit more specific.  I’m thankful that I can fit into old clothes that I saved for just such an occasion.
  • I’m glad to be able to help Reza with her homework every Sunday, even though I might not be in the mood.
  • I’m lucky to have amazing friends that I get to chat with daily.  I’m luckier to have old friends watching from afar.  TK, I’m looking at you.
  • I’ve got a couple trips on the horizon:  One to see my brother in Kansas City in January, another to Santa Rosa to visit Faith and Jillian in December and a tentative plan to go see Styles in Connecticut.  Ivonne and Reza will be in Mexico in mid-December, so, honestly, I’m looking forward to the solitude.  Sometimes, you just need some time to yourself.  I’m glad all these events are coming up relatively shortly.
  • Finally, I’m thankful that I’ve got some advil to help with this headache.  😀

OH!  Let’s move on to Yoga.

So, I can finally put my heels on the ground during Downward Facing Dog.  It only took six months.  HAH.  I’m taking the time lately to really fine-tune my positioning in every pose.  Fuck, is this ever hard, but again, worth it.

With that in mind, last time I checked, I lost 46 pounds.  That looks fucking insane on paper, but in reality, it doesn’t feel like a lot.  Just kinda goes to show how much work I really had to do.  What it’s given me, though, is the perspective on goals – as in, I can kinda have them now.  For now, I’m gonna shoot for another 40.  Why not?  I mean, it’s doable, that much is sure.  I’ve just gotta keep the drive going.

The last few weeks, maybe even three weeks, have been kinda slacky.  I’ve been eating worse and not following my rules relative to what I ingest.  I gotta get back to that.  And frankly, I haven’t been doing yoga as much as I should be, either.  I got to a point where I thought I needed to scale it up a bit.  Personally, I think I need to re-commit to doing it every other day, no excuses.  Let’s rock that for a month before we start making advanced plans.

And, with that, I find myself losing steam.  Long day.  The last couple days have been pretty draining, not gonna lie.  I’ll write more about that tomorrow.

 

I was born to beg for you.

This, yes.  All of this, yes.

 

Yeah, I’m not going to be able to put this one into words.

Just, when you come back and read this, remember sitting on the concrete steps, how her legs felt pressed up against yours, how the neighbor introduced himself and Reza fought us, as usual, about going to bed, among the dissolution of the last vestiges of pride.  Remember the tone of your voice, the stream of consciousness, the tenor in which you finally stopped talking and began to speak.

Remember what it felt like to hear the words, ‘you are responsible’, that you are the one who created this place.  Remember who told you, the man who said the words.  Remember the legs that carried you there and how they felt, corded and sinewed, as she finally sat down to rest.

Remember reading her texts over and over and over again, refusing to allow self-righteousness and deflection to protect the parasite in your heart.  Remember how those punches to the gut felt.  Remember how winded you deserved to be.  Remember how you struggled to breathe.

And when she walked up the sidewalk to the porch, she hugged you.  She of a thousand cuts.  Remember how she bled on you, and you bled on yourself for the first time in years, saving it, holding it, letting it run through your fingers without smearing it on anyone else.

Remember the commitments made to each of you last night, because they will be remembered with joy or regret, and that the choice is mostly yours.

And when she bleeds again, and when you bleed again, when those old heavy stones are removed from her lungs and her spine and her heart, remember that you are bound by love to accept them, no matter how heavy.  You will hurt.  Remember that she’s carried them, alone, for years, and you have the privilege to share this burden until time and forgiveness cracks them, erodes them to pebbles then dust.

Then, you will look back at the musculature of the new body the two of you have built from scratch, transparent and beautiful, and you’ll be thankful that you were given this opportunity after a night on the concrete steps, with her legs pressed up against yours.

 
  • She’s done enough.  More than enough.  And she’s done it for me and she’s done it for us and this is enough.  I didn’t want this to be a pyrrhic victory; I didn’t want this to be a war at all, but it’s felt like it at times.  Yet, I’m thankful that we’re in a spot that we worked very hard to achieve, despite the cuts and bruises – and I’m grateful that it was with her.  If anyone is worth the effort, she is.
  • I’m once again amazingly glad that we had a couple weeks of time together outside our normal spaces, routines, and distractions.  I knew this vacation was going to turn out to be one of our most important ever, and for me at least, it felt like a tangible reminder of what it feels like to be in lockstep, of what to shoot for when we’re back to real life.  That kind of connection.  And I’m thankful that we’re getting there, too.
  • As fucking terrible as it felt, I’m grateful that she felt comfortable enough to give me some visibility into to some shit that happened a while ago that she’d been holding on to.  And again, it’s not about me, it’s about how she felt and how I made her feel.  I’m just so beyond thankful that she held on even after that, and as painful as it’ll be, I’m hopeful that she feels that she can work with me on other things like that in the future.
  • And finally, I’m thankful for the work that I’ve done.  There’s been a lot of growth, a lot of movement, and a shit ton of positive personal development.  Some of it was latent, simply waiting to be activated.  Some of it is brand new, things I didn’t know or realize before that have become parts of my framework.  Regardless, I’m stoked that it’s happening and glad that I’ve come as far as I have:  It makes the roads I’m going to travel that much more exciting.
 

I am absolutely heartsick.

Got some information today that rocked me, things that I said in the past that hurt the one I love the most.  I am… disgusted and distraught and completely sick to my stomach.

And to think the disgust that I feel about myself right now is how she thought I felt about her then.  And she carried this for years.

My god, I am so so so sorry.

 

Whoa, things have been crazy the last few days… I got home from Japan to work being done on the house which turned into a cleaning nightmare.  Suffice to say the last three days didn’t go even remotely as planned:  I had so many things I wanted to do that were totally derailed by the time I needed to invest in simply keeping my home livable.  But!  I have a home!  And that’s where we start today.

  • I’m totally god damned grateful for the home I have, the city in which I live, the fact that I’ve got a good job.  Look, all the things that I’m able to do with my family and friends are due each of those things.  I tend to overlook the foundational things that we build on, and having a good home with amazing people is the core of it all.
  • I’m ecstatic that Ivonne is coming home today.  It’s felt like a very long week.  Having been through this recently, I know what the next few days are going to be like for her, so I’ll be here to help however I can.
  • I’m thankful for … loving cats?  Jesus, man, Reza needs to get back quick, ’cause Gomez is a needy motherfucker.  God damn!
  • Oh, I’m super thankful I bounced right back into Yoga land.  I was a bit worried for a sec that I was going to have regressed a bit, but twice this week now and I’m right back in the saddle.  We’ll see how I fare over the weekend – ’cause I really need to get out on my bike – but for now, so far so good.  I don’t think I did much damage while I was gone, and I’m definitely down a full pants size now (as opposed to the wishful thinking of a couple weeks ago) so yeah, super stoked on that.  There’s more where that came from.

I’ve got some shit to get done in the next few hours before the girls get home, but really, that’s the theme of the day.  The girls are coming home and I’m fucking complete once more.  Hallelujah.

 

You know what’s funny?  That word has such a stigma attached to it.  Sobriety.  Like it’s a facial deformity that gets you turned away from the club.  It’s always present, you’re always aware, and even though it’s not top of mind, it’s an ever-present attachment.

The moment you tell people that you don’t drink anymore – or a bastardization of that theme, but I’ll cover that in a second – they give you this look of, really?  You?  And then they shirk away just a bit, or drop their chin ever so slightly to look at anything but your face, and catch themselves.

“That’s really cool!  Good for you.  What prompted this?   Health reasons?”

I usually agree.  Health Reasons.

___

It’s only been four months since I quit drinking for good.  I’m easing my friends into it.  “That’s all you; I’m not drinking for a really long time, so have at it,” has been my go-to phrase lately.  I know I’m being a bit deceitful because while it’s technically true, it’s not up-front-and-clear, and I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing or not.

I had a really hard time with it in Japan.  Nobody knew, of course, but I did.  From the moment we got on the plane – free beer! – to the moment I stepped onto the jet bridge from the return flight, I was being pulled in ways I didn’t like at all.  Oddly enough, when I bought a couple bottles of sake as gifts – one for a friend, another for a co-worker who saved my ass right before we left – I wasn’t even remotely bothered:  I didn’t have that Constantine moment where I was gonna crack open a bottle and drown in it, which is both unsurprising and a litmus test relative to my mental state and determination.  Those are good things.  But even while I took extra special care to make sure that I wasn’t drinking – the last night in an Izakaya with Bee’s homies comes to mind – it was still present.  More than I expected.

I’ve been plowing through a bunch of positive life changes lately, every single one of them a tough yet uplifting transition.  Ivonne shared with me a few things that I didn’t know – perspectives and viewpoints that were punches to the gut, yes, but things I needed to hear – about my drinking habits, things that will stick with me like the story of the old woman licking the vodka from the tile of her kitchen floor.  I need those things to stick with me.

Because I think I’ve figured out that this process is different this time because it’s permanent.  Every other time I’ve ‘quit drinking’ I knew in my heart that I was going to be back at it, be it months or years later.  I was going to try to control it, control myself with it in me, and I thought that by learning hard lessons, I could catapult those into positive behaviors while being able to keep what I want.  The ultimate selfishness, really.  Sometimes it’s hard not to think that way again.

This time – in this moment, recently – it’s been hard.  Not hard in that I’m-going-to-go-get-the-half-bottle-of-tequila-still-in-my-cabinet hard, but in a very real, this-is-truly-not-part-of-my-life-anymore hard.  Like a legit breakup.

So, I wanted to talk about it here because I’m using this space for positivity, now, and for accountability.  I realized recently that I have so much more to be thankful for than not, and even though I got to this particular party pretty late – after leaving a wake of destruction behind me – I’ve also understood that most people who get to this point have done the same thing.  And as I forgive myself, I’m being given the opportunity to repair and make things stronger.  Not everyone is given that chance.

So anyway.  I’m marking the four month milestone to acknowledge the difficulty and how far I have yet to go, sure, but to appreciate where I am now, ’cause I’ve done some good work with much more to come.

 
  • Not gonna lie, I’m really happy to be home.  My mom asked if Japan was a place I could live, and I know I could, sure, but this is home and it always will be.  There’s a reason why I pined for San Diego all those years I was away.  Of course, visiting places, being away for a while makes you long to return – and I took it for granted once.  Never doing that again.
  • I’m thankful that I learned a very valuable lesson tonight:  I suck at seasoning shit in a pressure cooker.  The fucking pot roast I cooked tonight tasted like a Shawshank Special, and I’ve got a Broccoli Beef Chinese dish on the horizon.  That better fucking work, or I’m going to… be grateful that I have something to eat, won’t I, JC?  That’s right.
  • I’m thankful for Trader Joes at 9:00 AM.  That shit is fucking tight.
  • I’m grateful for the opportunity to get back on the physical activity horse with a bit of yoga tomorrow morning.  I’ve gotta get back in the habit – with additional instances – to start seeing more results.  Believe it or not, I’ve got joining a gym in my head.  I’m pretty close.  Glad that I can say that, too.
  • I’m thankful for my cats.  Dude, these michos are something else.  Gomez has been all up on my shit today and Judas finally figured out I was home during that hour of non-stop-headbutting.  Pinche mujer.  Sometimes I feel that they didn’t bond with me that much, and when I’m the only one around, they’ll take what they can get… but I feel the love.  It’s pretty rad.
  • I’m grateful for clean clothes, although I haven’t folded them  yet.  Tomorrow.
  • Oh, I’m super stoked that I found someone that can fix my headphones; gonna see if I can drop those off tomorrow to get them fixed.
  • I’m super glad that I had a quick opportunity to FaceTime with Ivonne and Reza today.  I miss their faces.
  • And finally tonight, I’m grateful for what I hope with all fibers of being will be a good night’s sleep.  I’m going to accentuate nature’s process in a few ways to ensure said slumber, and yes:  It’s gonna be fucking taaaaasty.
 
  • I’m sitting here alone in the Narita airport grateful that I’m sitting at the gate an hour from getting off the ground.  Travel days are always long – even longer when you’re trying to get home – but I’m glad I’m here, resting, and ready for … inaction?  10 hours worth anyway.  Works for me.
  • I’m terribly sad that I’m not sitting here with Ivonne and Reza, but I’m increasingly thankful that they get to spend an extra week with family.  Jealous?  No, ’cause if I’m honest, I’m ready to go home, but I’m thankful that Ivonne gets to spend more time with her sister.  To see the two of them together is indescribable; Bee is phenomenal at reminding Ivonne of what’s important outside of the drawers of her heart, while Ivonne brings Bee a reminder of the world outside the village.  It’s a beautiful sisterly dance and it makes me happier to know that she’s going to be with her again in December, even under trying circumstances.
  • I’m leaving here knowing, once again, that we need to be here much more often, and I’m thankful that I feel right at home on the other side of the world.
  • I’m grateful that Ivonne and Reza took the time to see me off at the train station, today.  I didn’t expect them to go all the way to the Shinagawa, let alone Ivonne helping me with the bags onto the train.  They stood on the platform as the train rolled away and left my heart with them, but I’m thankful knowing that she has it.  It’s in good hands.
  • Finally, I haven’t put it down on paper, but putting feelings into words has been very hard for me lately.  This isn’t the norm.  But I’ve been trying to stop and be observant, pay attention, listen and understand, notice the way things make me feel rather than simply seeing them as items around me, and because of that, I’m seeing a shift in how I process the things around me, especially the words, tones, phrases, and inflections of the voices of the people I hold most dear.   Instead of expectations, understanding grows.  It’s hard.  But it’s working.  I’m thankful for that.
  • Ok, now finally:  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.  But this opened something in me.  She did this at the Meiji shrine.  I wasn’t there.  For this, there are no words.  It’s not that I can’t find them:  There simply aren’t any.