Thursday, March 29, 2012

Things I Love Thursday - Part 32

I just got to walk back from my doctor to the office on a beautiful day in Chicago.  And DAMN let me just say I LOVE MY CITY. 

This Marilyn statue is next to the Wrigley Building.  It's huge.  And I still don't know how I feel about her. 
 It is a treat to be able to live, work and play in this gorgeous city.  My doctor is in my old neighborhood, right off Michigan Avenue, or the Magnificent Mile, as people like to call it.  I lived in an area called Streeterville.  I lived in a high rise, more like a hotel really.  After running away from a relationship and living situation I stayed in way too long in 2005, I finally got out on my own at 32 years old and lived on my own for a few years.  It was odd in that it was a tiny studio apartment that I paid way too much in rent for, but I had to get out on my own and I had to do it in a place that was available NOW. 

While I was walking back from the doctor today, I saw an old (she says with all respect) woman who lived in my building walking down the street.  She always had a huge smile and was cute as a button, and I was so happy to see her, I gave her a huge smile and may have scared her a bit.  It was just nice to know she's still out and about and enjoying herself. 

What this TILT is really about though are the feelings I had while walking through that area.  From smiling to crying in one block, I realized how grateful I am for my home and my family today.  I talked a bit about being homeless for a while in this Fancy Pants Big Shot post I did last week, but I don't really talk about that much as I feel like it was another lifetime for me.  However, when I walk around and encounter homeless folks who clearly have many issues going on, I feel among them.  They are my people.  I wonder if that will ever change?  I hope it doesn't, as it keeps me firmly planted in my reality.

My reality is if I drink, if I don't carefully watch my sobriety and do the things I need to do to maintain a spiritual program of health, I will lose everything and wind up homeless again.  I am of these people. 

I then got to thinking about my husband and our home.  Our little apartment that is so full of love and fun and safety that I got teary eyed.  As I go through this journey of trying to have a baby with my true love and life partner I am so filled with gratitude that I am exactly where I should be and with exactly the right and only person for me.  I never had that feeling my entire life.  I didn't have it with the man I married once upon a time a long time ago, and I never had it in any other relationship. 

Having a roof over my head is a gift I never take for granted, not for one second.  Having a home with a man who loves me so much and helps me feel that love and partnership every day, is a gift I still can't quite believe is happening to me sometimes.  I know I'm worthy, it's not that I feel unworthy.  I just can't quite believe that I have all of this love and security in my life.  We can lose everything, and we might, any day - we just don't know.  But for right now, in this moment, I am cherishing what I have and who I have and feeling such gratitude my heart is bursting.

And yes, I am a bit emotional lately.  Smiles.  I love every second of this life and I am so grateful I am alive to see what happens next. 

And there is my bus!  But I'm going to walk a bit.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On a Day Like Today

On a day like today, I feel F.I.N.E.

I feel anxious and sad. 
I feel nervous and scared. 
I feel excited and tentative. 
I feel hope. 
I feel gratitude. 

On a day like today I feel bitter and resentful. 
I feel angry. 
I feel lost. 
I feel overwhelmed. 

But the very best part of all that emotion is that I FEEL.  On a day like today I FEEL.  And it's all going to be OK. 

It's all going to work out in the end, if it hasn't all worked out, it isn't the end. 

I needed to write this little reminder today.  I needed to share it with people who understand.  Just because I feel all these awful and wonderful emotions doesn't mean everything sucks.  It doesn't.  We are a wide range of emotion.  We can feel so very sad and yet so hopeful at the same time. 

To FEEL is the greatest gift sobriety has given me.  And for that, it all goes back to gratitude.  Gratitude keeps me sober another day.  One day at a time. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Things I Love Thursday - Part 31

Meeting People is Easy.  Thanks Radiohead*. 

I LOVE being excited to meet new people. It still terrifies me, and being on no anxiety drugs or alcohol or smokes anymore causes me to be a bit, shall we say, AWKWARD about meeting new people.

I have the honor of meeting some fellow bloggers this weekend at the St. Baldricks Baldathon. Sheila from Mary Tyler Mom (who's lovely daughter Donna is the inspiration for her starting all this raising money for Pediatric Cancer business); Deb at The Monster in Your Closet; Karin at Pinwheels and Poppies; Chris at From the Bungalow; Nikki at Moms Who Drink and Swear and Sam from Tripping While Standing Still (She is interviewing for a new jobby and can't shave now, but all monies still go to the charity.  Blog in construction, but stay tuned, it's good!)

Kids with Cancer are the reason we've all gathered together, and some are shaving their heads and we have worked TIRELESSLY to get money donated.  I've given money and I will continue to give money and shout outs and share this info as much as I can because it's so important. 

So, we know what the real mission of this event is.  Now, on to the totally superficial part of it.  I've never met these folks in real life.  I'm mortified when meeting people I admire, especially writers because I FREAK THE FUCK OUT.  I geek out for writers.  I met Augusten Burroughs and I squeeeeeed my underpants.  Seriously.  Just a little bit, but still.

"Katy, Live well and Best Wishes"  SWOON.  One of my "grab if building is on fire" possessions.

I am awkward in person you guys. Sure, I can be witty and cute online, but when you meet me in person, I am a spaz and a half.  I know it's hard to believe.  Now, I've read a ton of people telling Sheila that she should have a drink to calm her nerves at the event.  I don't have that luxury, so it's going to be full on spaz and sheepish drooling over meeting some of these writers and humans I admire so much.

Here's the scene, here's how it's going to go down.  I meet Sheila and the Gang (fresh new musical group!) and I WILL be sweating profusely.  I will have my ecig in my hand at all times, cleverly hidden so that no one will know what it is and may get nervous it's some kind of illegal camera or something. 

"Can you speak up please?  I can't quite hear you."
 I WILL stutter and say, "NICE" a lot.  Repeatedly.  I will hug and touch your hair.  I will want to lick your face.  But I won't do it. I will want to hook arms with you and walk around.  I will want to pet and stroke your hair.  I will drink 8300 Diet Cokes.  I will have to pee constantly.  I will tell you how much I admire you and how beautiful you are.  Even the boys.  I will pet and stroke your bald head after it is shaved for this great cause.  I will want to giggle and whisper secrets and be best friends forever.  I will cry.  I will.  Then, I will act all cool and aloof and charming and sexy as hell a la Joanie Holloway in my new leopard print dress I bought for the occasion.

So, if you survive all of this and still want to be my "friend" and read my work, I salute you.  Here's a tip, you may want to bring your dog whistle to call me off you or your friends. 

This event is going to be great you guys.  It's a bonus to be excited to meet great new people I admire.  You could say it's a THING I LOVE THURSDAY.

*Man, I love me some Radiohead.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I am a Fancy Pants Big Shot

Look at this nonsense. 

that girl right there is a big shot. She makes all kinds of important things happen with important people.  Mostly though, she makes an important but happy fool of herself.  Blurrily.  OH EM GEE.  FANCY BATHROOM SHOT.

I've been living large for two days at a conference of Global Leaders that my boss leads.  He's a really big shot,  I'm just a normal sized big shot. 

We are here:
GENTLY SPARKLING water.  I can't even begin to tell you how much that full on sparkling water grinds my gears.
The Peninsula Chicago.  It's a super fancy schmancy hotel in the city. 

Now, I grew up having nice things and my dad worked really hard in order to take us on nice vacations and we stayed in fancy places and ate in fancy restaurants and we got to experience a lot of really high class stuff, for which I'm grateful.

HOWEVER,  when I became a classy drunk, I became homeless and desperate and lived in a public park for the better part of a year.  So I feel safe in saying that I've lived the extremes.  I know we had more than most growing up.  I also know I had less than nothing as an adult, and now am somewhere in the middle where I am more than comfortable, and so grateful for everything I have.   I talk about gratitude a lot. Because I never take any of my life for granted.  Not for one second.  

ahem ahem ahem.
I have had a team of 5 people waiting hand and foot on my ass for 2 days.  There is one dude, who literally hustles up these stairs at least 3 times an hour.  He is constantly sweating.  He is awesome.  He says, "I love my job!"  with a big grin on his face every time he gets to the top of the stairs as he looks at me and the least I can do is give him a big grin back.  

The guys here at the meeting are all big shots in their particular part of the world, and we are kind of like my favorite ride, IT'S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL ride.  Did I ever tell you about the time I saw Sir Paul McCartney on that ride?  I did?  Oh well, never mind then. 

I love my job, that is no secret.  I love my boss.  That is the key.  But some of these other dudes are fascinating.  I watch them come out each break to get on their phones, run down the stairs and pace back and forth to make their important calls, some in other languages and all very very URGENT. 

My boss comes out and chats with me and has some of my macadamia nuts here on my little desk the entire time.  DAMN YOU MACADAMIA NUTS AND YOUR DELICIOUSNESS DAMN YOU STRAIGHT TO HELL.

and these chocolate rock candies:

that are EVERYWHERE.

These guys at this meeting infuriate me and make me sad at the same time.  I have a soft spot for them because my dad was a business man who travelled all the time and worked really really hard to provide such a good life for his family.  But he was rarely home.  And I see these guys doing the same thing.  Some are so sweet and crazy about their kids, it melts your heart.  They want to show me pictures and tell me all about soccer and mathletics and Jimmy getting his driver's license.  Other guys are just all business.  They don't have a chink in their armor.  I can respect that.  I am that way a lot of the time too.  I don't show my cards.  If someone sees my phone with the picture of Eliza and Sally and a Christopher on it, I don't give away that they are my most favoritest creatures on the planet.  I almost don't give away how fucking desperate we are to have a baby because everyone asks and then it gets uncomfortable. I don't give away that I drink diet coke with lime instead of wine at dinner like everyone else in the room.  That I walk out to the ladies room and suck on my ecig for a moment of grace and sanity and serenity among the craziness that is just another dinner for most of them.  I guess what it comes down to is I love my job, but I am not OF my job. 

I have learned much in my 10 years here.  I don't have to fight every battle. I wrote about that here.

I can appreciate and see these people for more than what they project as an image.  My husband would say I probably give them more credit than they deserve, and maybe I do, but life is a lot easier that way.  And isn't that the goal?  Life is hard enough.  We can all cut each other a break.  Sigh.  Can you feel that?  Maybe it's all the pampering and delicious food I've eaten the past two days, but damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.  Wait.  What I mean is it feels good to just go through my days lately without the anxiety and the justified anger I used to carry around like a lead weight.  Without the need for the constant defending of myself and what I think you need to know about me.  To just exist feels pretty damn liberating.  To feel confident about who I am and the work I do is gratifying.  I've worked hard to get here.  Yeah sure, FIGHT THE POWER and DOWN WITH THE CORPORATIONS and all that, but really?  Thank you for my job and my paycheck and my benefits.  I don't need to fight this anymore.  It is so much more gratifying to accept it and be thankful for all I have been given.

All of this is to say, I am no big shot.  I don't want to be a big shot. It tickles me to say I'm a big shot because I am a tiny little cog in the machine.  And that suits me just fine today. 

I save my fabulousness for my real life. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

That Drowning Feeling

That overwhelming feeling of too much to do and too much to pay for and too much for your body to endure.  Work is overwhelming.  Trying to have a baby is overwhelming.  That drowning feeling.  That feeling of being SO GODDAMN SOBER.  I don't want to drink.  But being this sober, all the god damn time is a bit much. That release and feeling like nothing mattered at all, that is what I crave for about 5 seconds.

A nice Irish Whiskey sounds so lovely.  And then, I remember.  I play the tape out.  I know that one drink for me leads to a cheap gallon of vodka.  And losing control.  And losing EVERYTHING.  My home, my husband, my job, my cats, most of all my self respect.  And I lose it all QUICKLY.  I cannot afford this luxurious thinking that I can have a nice Irish Whiskey.  I can have the thought, but I have to play it all out.  I've learned this.  I do it all the time.  And it works. 

I am grateful I am sober.  More grateful for that one fact than anything else in my life.  Without sobriety, I have no life.  I would be dead or worse.  Hospitals, Institutions or Death.  Death would be easy.  The other two are hell on earth.  I've been there.  Jails and looney bins.  No place for a nice girl like me.  And yet, there I was time and time again. 

So yes, I am so grateful.  But there are some days when it seems overwhelming to just live life on life's terms.  I can't figure out the answers.  I don't know the questions.  I cannot do every single thing I want and need to do immediately and perfectly.  These are High Class Problems.  These are not the problems of a blackout drunk who doesn't know how she wound up in jail, in detox, in the psych award, yet again. 

This is the good life.  I am reminding myself as much as anyone reading this.  Life is so good when I have a choice.  Before I got sober, I had no choice.  I had to drink.  I had to maintain.  I had to self medicate.  Now, I get to live.  I get to choose what I want.  That doesn't mean I always get what I want.  In fact, it's about 50/50.  But I have some say in how I handle the outcome. 

When I feel this way now, I go to a meeting.  I talk to other Alcoholics.  I talk to my husband.  I talk to my family. I do my own version of praying to a Higher Power for wisdom and patience and guidance.  Above all, I reach out and help someone else.  That is the key.  HELPING SOMEONE ELSE.  And, simple as those things seem, they work.  Over and over and over.  They work.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Things I Love Thursday - Part 30

Show me an American woman who does not have body issues of some kind and I will show you a Unicorn.

I'm always a bit wary of posting about losing weight as it seems to have a backlash.  And honestly, I'm one of the people who would lash out about someone bragging about losing weight if I felt bad about myself.  So what to do, what to do?

I don't work out every day and I don't eat completely well every day. I do try to be awesome every day though.
I have done the work, so I am going to say what I love today is feeling proud of myself.  To quote that little kid in the video who was so proud of himself, "I feel happy on myself!"

It's not about a number on a scale, it's not about being able to fit into a certain size.  It's about feeling good and healthy.  I still over eat sometimes, but I manage it better.  I am not taking a pill, I am not starving myself.  FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I AM NOT TAKING A SHORTCUT.  I am simply eating well and doing moderate exercise, and guess what?  All that bullshit about exercise and eating well making you feel better?  WELL GOD DAMMIT IT IS TRUE. 

Mentally, this is huge for me.  As a fat kid, I had issues from the very beginning.  My mom (who has always been thin, but has food issues as well) would ask me, "Do you really need to eat that?" about everything I put in my mouth.  And she did it from love and wanting me to be healthy, but I still hear it.  Add that to about a million other voices over the years telling me I'm not good enough because I had extra weight.  The voices are still there, still telling me that I don't have breasts, I just have fat.  That I don't matter unless my stomach is flatter.  That my huge thighs will never ever look good in a pair of jeans.  That's why I wear dresses all the time.  That voice never really goes away.  But I can choose to not listen to it, or look at the facts and say, but I DO like the way I look - and more importantly - feel, today.  So I win today.  I WIN MOTHERFUCKERS.

I snuck food from when I was really little until about last summer.  My mom gave me wheat germ and carob and all natural nonsense and I snuck to the neighbors house and ate their sugar cereal.  I snuck junk food from the vending machines at the ice rink when I skated all those years.  The shame of that is something I never ever wanted to talk about.  It was easy for me to admit I snuck booze because I admitted I was an alcoholic.  But admitting to sneaking food is just degrading to me.  How screwed up is that?  I can admit to sneaking booze, but not food.  Because I was still engaged in the behavior of sneaking food until relatively recently.  I take away the power of the secret by admitting it.  Ah yes.  You would think after 10 years of 12 Stepping I would get this shit.  I need to be hit over the head many times before I change.  This food and being healthy thing was no different.  Sure I was vegetarian for 20 years, but that was completely about not wanting to eat animals, not about my health. 

Being able to fit into clothes that a year ago I couldn't fit into is just affirming that I am doing something right.  The vanity driven side of  me loves that feeling of being able to buy smaller clothes and having people tell me I look great.  The softer, more vulnerable side thinks, "Oh my god, I must have been disgusting before."  I've been wanting a baby for the better part of 3 years and it got the best of me.  I didn't focus on myself at all, just the wanting to get pregnant.  

Last June, I made the decision that I wasn't going to let everything pass me by.  I worked with my trainer and friend, who I will always credit with starting this whole process, and she got me going. 

It's true what they say, once you get going, it just gets easier.   I don't work out a lot, I don't always eat right, but I do try to be awesome every day.  I want everything in my life to be driven by wanting to be better.  And I needed to put down the self pity and the fear and the ICE CREAM - MY GOD THE ICE CREAM I HAVE EATEN - in order to do that. 

We women help each other out by inspiring each other to be better.  To be kinder to each other and more accepting.  By not giving the head to toe scan when we greet each other.  It's fun to be fashionable and pay attention to what makes us feel good physically.  The smile is what we all should be focusing on.  The great big smile of confidence we can beam at each other.  But it really all starts inside and it's such a metaphor for living a spiritual life.  You have a good center, a good solid core, and it reflects on the outside - TO the outside.  It infects everything and everyone in your life.  Just as having a negative core, or no solid center can infect everything around you in a negative way.

I LOVE that I know without a doubt that being skinny does not equal being happy.  When I was at my bottom from drinking, I weighed 110 pounds and was homeless, broke and drunk.  The saddest I've ever been.  And yet, I loved how thin I was.  I thought for a long time, why did I quit drinking just to gain weight?  Well, I know now that getting sober is the single greatest accomplishment I will ever achieve and that staying sober means being healthy inside and out.  Including not being skinny, but being healthy. 

I LOVE feeling good. I LOVE that I know how to quiet that still small voice in my head and heart that tells me I'm not good enough. Because I am good enough. And I want to be better.

I don't strive for happiness.  I strive for living honestly and happiness comes as a by-product. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Straight from Sally Boy's Big Mouth

He's a boy.  His name is Sally.  Sally Lou Kitty, or Sally Boy or Sayee as we pronounce it. 
Kitty Yoga.
He is a total goof.  He is super sweet, but love bites and licks.  It's his thing.  He runs around and cries like a baby, LOUDLY, when he has to poop.  I will never forget the first time my now husband was at my place when we started dating and he met the cats for the first time.  I heard Sally running around crying all loud and I just started laughing, and said, "It's what he does when he has to poop.  It's the poopin' cry."  Chris just laughed and laughed.  I knew he was good.  Sally's like the ambassador of cats.  He is way more like a dog than a cat.  I don't think he knows he is a cat.  Even people who don't like cats usually like him.   He's got some issues.  Who doesn't?

Here's the story.

I got sober in October of 2001.  I lived in rehab and a women's halfway house for 6 months after that, so around July of 2002, I returned to Chicago.  No job and just trying to stay sober, I spent my time outside in the backyard reading and going to meetings. 

One afternoon an orange tabby came into the yard and unlike most stray cats in the area, he came right up to me meowing.  LOUDLY.  Not only that, he jumped right into my lap and started drinking my iced tea!

Here's the thing.  Where I was living at the time, we already had three cats.  My lovely Eliza Jane Doolittle being one:
So, day after day this orange cat would wander into the yard and sit on my lap and read with me.  I wandered around the neighborhood asking if this was anyone's cat.  I put up signs.  He looked super healthy and talked so damn much, I knew he had a lot to tell me.  But he also seemed so friendly, that I thought for sure someone had to be missing him.  I fed and watered him and he just kept coming back. 

One day though, everything changed.  He showed up, jumped in my lap and I was petting him only to find a penny sized hole in his chest.  It was shocking!  I cleaned him up and put an ace bandage around his chest and we were done for the day.  I sincerely kept thinking he had to be someone's cat.  The next day he came back and the bandage was all askew and the hole was there, gaping, looking at me.  If I didn't take care of this, who knew what would happen. 

I convinced the guy I was living with that we needed to take him to the vet.  And as a side note, if I took him to the vet, we were taking him in.  I had looked long enough for someone to claim him and nobody did.  This was the last straw. 

We went to the vet and turns out SOMEONE HAD SHOT HIM WITH A BB GUN.  My poor, loud, obnoxious, overly friendly and super needy boy had been shot.  The vet got him all patched up, put on antibiotics and sent us on our way.  He told me that I had brought him in at just the right time, as infection was setting in and had nothing been done, he would have died. 

If you ever meet Sally or have met him, you know he loves to talk about being shot. He acts like he's all gangsta and shit about it. He says something like, "Dudes, I lived on the streets and I got shot. Hey dudes, did you know I got shot?" We have heard these tales over and over. I have to remind him that I was there. He is the sissiest little guy, but he apparently did live on the streets in the city and he was shot. So there you go.

My Sally Boy.  Who I thought was a girl when I took him to the vet, turned out to be a boy.  As sissy like as he is, he survived being shot by some punks I would love to get my hands on.  He came to me for help.  He found me when I was newly sober and needed him most.  To say we have a bond is silly to some, I know.  But we helped each other. 

We have a happy little family today, as my dear Dumpster Husband fell for Sally and Eliza immediately.  I'm so grateful that we never had to deal with him not loving my cats.  They are his now too.  Eliza and he have a relationship that makes me jealous sometimes.  They are in LURVE.  I like to think Sally is my boy, when in all truth, he would love anybody who showed him attention.  So I live in denial.  Which is just fine with me. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Things I Love Thursday - Part 29

Most days I have no problem coming up with a Thing I Love.  If anything, the problem is narrowing it down.  Today, though, I needed a bit of help.  Then my friend Klonnie at The Klonopin Chronicles said, what about music?  Too broad?"  And yes, it is broad.  We all like so many different things, and there's so much out there.  I am so random in my tastes that it can vary wildly, but today I choose to focus on one artist in particular. 

Mr. Ben Folds.  My darling, my sweetheart, my soul.  I told my husband the other night, "almost the greatest gift you have given me is Ben Folds".  And it's absolutely true.  My husband has given me many gifts of the emotional sort, most of all his gift of being the funniest person I know, but THIS? This is special. This doesn't happen very often.

I was late to this party.  I never knew Ben Folds.  And when DH and I got together in 2007, that very first night, he sat me down and had me listen to some songs.  I immediately knew 2 things that night, that my life was changing forever with this man I would soon marry, and that I found another new love.  Another soul connection in this Ben Folds person.  So yeah, that was one helluva night for me. 

DH had the lyrics from this song framed for my Soberthday a few years ago.  It lives above our bed. 
Google this song and listen if you don't know it.  And I am the luckiest. 

Ben Folds Five was the group years ago and they are equally important.  Do yourself a favor and listen to well, all of it.  The group and the solo stuff. 

I won't go on and on about how Ben Folds gets me and gets life and struggle and emotion and the music just reaches my core instantly.  I won't go on about how he's a fucking genius and cannot even be explained.   I won't say that he is funny and smart and nerdy and sings his experiences in life and love and the music - my God.  How does a human come up with this incredibly beautiful and poppy music?  My tiny brain cannot grasp this.  My life is incredibly richer because of him.  I will say, I am entirely grateful that he deemed us worthy of his gift.

Here's just a tiny sample.  First killer to the core beauty:

Onto angry break up song.  SO GOOD.  Give me back my black t-shirt:

Then astute observation:

You know how to use the Google.  Go get lost in him like I do.  I get lost in all these and I have every single song on my ipod. 

So I thank my dear Dumpster Husband for that one night, that fundamentally changed my entire life.  My soul and my heart and even my head have been so much better off due to those few first hours.

***EDITED to add that my friend Chris is doing a music challenge, and I posted this before I knew about it.  SO this will have to do as my entry.  I am confident of it's heft.  Go check out From the Bungalow please!