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Learning to Listen

I had a really long and powerful session at acupuncture last night. I can’t really explain it in words, but we talked for a long time before the needles even went in and then walked home together afterwards. I felt so much relief and today, although my headache is present, the pain is not as bad as usual. I’m beginning to really believe that my emotional and mental state directly impact my physical well being. To help the physical pain subside I will start listening to myself, to what is really hurting inside. Not so that I can fix it (which of course is my immediate reaction to a problem) but so that I can just be aware of reality. I’ve spent so much of my life avoiding or escaping reality, I have trained myself to believe things that have never been true. Even in sobriety. Especially in sobriety. I know my 4th step will help me with this as well. It’s nice to be able to breathe today.

Look out for a special guest post from Alicia on Friday!

What helps you listen?

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My Recovery Kitties

Happy Friday everyone!! I am itching to get out of the office early today. Leo and I are driving up to New England tonight to spend the the loooong weekend with his parents. I can’t wait! We’re going to my most favorite state ever…I guess it should remain anonymous but…Live Free or Die, friends. Unfortunately for us we will be studying all weekend since our big exams are ONE week from tomorrow. But he’ll get to play a few rounds of golf while we’re up there and I am hoping and praying we get to go to the beach for a few hours. We’re also taking Tuesday off from work so we don’t waste our Monday sitting in horrific traffic on our drive back to the city. I hope nobody else has the same idea…

Part of what happens when I go away is that I need someone to watch Crazy and The Dark One. For weeklong trips I have friends do a “stay-cation” in my apartment. I’ve had two of my besties in the program do it for me! And for a lot of weekends, an AA friend in my apartment building feeds them. But for holidays (like this one), I ask Kathy, my cat-sitter to come. My friends shouldn’t have to work on holidays! Look how lady-like The Dark One was last night?

She always crosses her legs when she sits like that. It’s hilarious. And adorable. 

Crazy only looks adorable when she’s a sleepypants. Otherwise she is fierce, loud and whiny.

I miss them whenever I leave though. It’s always nice to come home to love and affection even if it means The Dark One bites/nips at my arm when she wants to be petted. They are my recovery kitties. They’ve never seen me wasted or high. They’ve seen me cry. They’ve seen me laugh. They’ve seen me alone. They’ve enjoyed the company of Leo, their “Daddy.”

In their short lives (almost 4 years) they have been lived in 4 apartments and 2 houses, 2 states. They have slept on many beds and couchs. They love me unconditionally. They usually love me more when I have treats to give them, at least Crazy does. Crazy once faked an injury so that I would give her more treats. Once she ate them she had no trouble jumping and walking again. Leo and I have given them a bath once…that was a huge mistake. Never bathe a cat. It doesn’t end well.

I might end up an old cat lady some day, but for some reason I am ok with that. I love them and they love me. They helped me stay clean in those first few months of my sobriety. I knew I couldn’t just leave them at home alone for more than a few hours at a time in their young fragile state. They depended on me to be responsible. I couldn’t let them down. They have helped me get through a lot of really hard times in my recovery and I am eternally grateful.

Do you have pets?

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A New Meeting, A New Feeling

I was adventurous last night. I’ve been stuck in a rut of only going to 1-2 meetings a week lately and mainly I just stick to the Clubhouse or Maiden Voyage. It’s not great for me to go to that few meetings. I may have 3.8 years sober but I’ll never be cured. Going to a meeting is like taking medicine for my disease…you can’t just take it whenever you feel like it and expect to feel good all the time. It’s optimal to go daily, but when that is too much, go more days than you don’t go. ASL and I agreed that I should be going to 4 meetings a week. That seems like a lot to me, but I went to a meeting every day during my first year. Why should this year be any different?

So yesterday I decided I would go to a new meeting and found one on the Upper West Side that was only 2 stops away from my apartment on the subway and started at 8:15pm! Perfect. I would have enough time to get there after physical therapy and enough time to study before bed. To my surprise, it was a small meeting -maybe 10 people max? I like the intimate meetings – not many distractions. In addition, it was a Living Sober meeting which is when everyone takes turn reading paragraphs in one of the chapters in the book: Living Sober. Last night’s topic was the Seventh Step “We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.” I’ve never read Living Sober, so it felt refreshing to hear something new.

I felt like a newcomer. I didn’t know anyone in the room and I’d never heard the literature before, but I felt totally comfortable being there. I even shared. I have never gotten close to the seventh step, even in NA. But I do know what it’s like to feel humbled. It was also nice to go to a meeting where I didn’t know anyone. Because then I get to sit peacefully and focus on my recovery rather than wondering what my friends are thinking or if we’re going to get coffee after the meeting or what movie we’re going to this weekend. I haven’t been “alone” with my recovery in a meeting in a long time. I didn’t know anything about the people who shared until they shared. I didn’t have any sort of outside information about what is going on in their lives like I do with my friends. It was nice, my brain got to rest.

Going to a meeting outside of a service position or social agenda is exactly what I needed. It’s always nice to go to meetings where I know everyone, but it becomes repetitive and I hear the same people share about the same things week in and week out. New meetings present me with new people, new ideas, new lives. I am glad that I went. And then I went home, called my sponsor, talked to my brother on the phone, watched 16 & Pregnant and went to bed. I feel good this morning. My headache from yesterday is gone. Sometimes we all just need something different.

What makes you feel rejuvenated?

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Service Keeps Me Sober

It’s a dreary Tuesday here in New York City, kids. I left my apartment prepared with my Hunter Boots and ‘Brella though, thank goodness. Despite the weather Tuesdays are beoming my favorite day of the week! Why? Because Acupuncture is on Tuesday nights! Hopefully it will help get rid of this raging headache I have.

On to the main topic of today: I have a new service position! I am the treasurer for the clubhouse meeting I chair at. I will not chair for the next year, but rather take on treasury duties. For those of you who don’t know, AA works like any other organization except no one is “in charge.” People take on service positions that reflect certain responsibilities to the group. At the clubhouse, we have a Secretary, Literature Chair, Overall Chair, Treasurer and every night of the week we have two co-chairs to run the meetings. So although the Overall Chair of the 10:30 clubhouse meeting runs the business meetings we have each week, she is not “the boss.” Her service position helps keep all of the group members on track to keep the meeting running and carry the message to the newcomers. It’s pretty cool actually that no one is in charge as addicts/alcoholics tend to rebell against authority….surprising, I know.

As the Treasurer I am responsible for collecting all the 7th Tradition money, paying the rent for the space we use, and paying for any group expenses (including flowers and cupcakes for our Anniversary meeting). It’s a perfect role for me since I work with money for a living. For the “normies” out there the 7th Tradition states that “we are to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.” That means that we pass a basket at a certain point in the meeting for people to put in a dollar or two to help pay for our expenses. We don’t want any money from anyone who is not in AA, so that we don’t end up straying from our primary purpose which is to help the alcoholic who still suffers. NA works the exact same way. I would imagine most 12 step programs do. We don’t accept government money, or corporite donations, or anything. We are fully self supporting. Which basically means that the service we offer to the newcomer is FREE!! Think about all that money you spend on therapy when you could get better in a 12 step program for FREE! When I was a newcomer, I just put in the basket whatever change I had and if I didn’t have any money, no one minded. I was always told “We need you more than we need your money.”

And the money we collect mainly goes to rent (it’s steep in this city!). We also buy literature as a group and offer it to the newcomer for free and old timers pay whatever it costs. For instance, I bought my very first AA Big Book last night for $8 at the clubhouse. That book was originally bought with the groups money and I am repaying them. It’s an easier way to get literature compared to going to a recovery bookstore or amazon.com! We also host an Annversary meeting on the last day of every month and we buy small cupcakes and flowers for the celebrants – usually about $30 or less each month. If we have left over money we donate it to NY Intergroup – which is the larger organization that helps to keep all the NYC meetings in tact.

Being of service to others is an important part of staying sober and helping others to stay sober. Most of us in active addiction/alcoholism were incredibly selfish people and we only cared about ourselves. To do service in AA or NA is to take the opposite action. Whether it be making coffee or supplying a meeting with cookies, chairing a meeting, accepting when a chairperson asks you to speak, answering a 12 step call or simply showing up and talking to a daycounter. We are here to serve others and in turn we  slowly grow into better people. Being of service also helps you to get out of your own head. When a newcomer calls me or asks me if I would get coffee with her, I always accept. Not only does it make me feel good to help someone else, it allows me an hour where I don’t have to think about the million things going on in my own life.

I have gotten many emails from people struggling with sobriety who have stumbled across my blog and thank me for being of service with my words. I never imagined when I started SATC that I would be able to help so many people so far away. It is such a blessing to be sober today and to give away what I have been given.

What service positions do you have today?

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A Diner Saved My Life

Ok, so it was more the people at the diner who saved my life. Any good recovering addict knows that in order to recover, it requires letting people into your life. This does not simply mean showing up to meetings and spewing out all the crap that has been bottled up inside you for many many years, it means really allowing another human being to connect to you. I told you about my first sponsor yesterday. She is the one who first suggested that I begin fellowshipping. What the heck is that?, the normies are asking themselves. No, no it’s not church-related. Fellowshipping simply means hanging out with the winners outside of meetings. You mean I have to socialize with these strangers in addition to the 60 minute organized timeslots everyday? Yes, in my humble opinion, it is imperative to fellowship.

A lot of people get help fairly quickly because they embarrass themselves in front of their friends or family or they end up getting arrested or ODing or something horrendous (hi, every celebrity addict). I was a devious one – only a few people knew that I used and none of those people saw me on a daily basis. My parents had no idea. My fantastic talent for lying, manipulating and hiding my problems kept me sick. As a middle-class college student athlete doing lines in the bathroom stall during German class every day, I was leading a double-life. Not surprisingly, I never managed to find any friends who really “got me” if you know what I’m sayin’. The friends that I did have, I lied to constantly. Sure, I drank boys under the table at college parties and eventually I found some drugged out mall employees to hang out with, but in the end I was alone in the small world of self-destruction known as my basement. And when I did choose to not be alone, I met some pretty shady people.

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The bouncer I was sleeping with  using with at the end of my active addiction cut me off before I got clean. He had tattoos up and down both arms, his sister had killed herself a few years before and he didn’t keep booze in his house because he knew he would drink it. He was a part-time bartender though and somehow it was OK for him to drink while not at home. He also did a lot of blow. Even he recognized how incredibly screwed up I was when he was clearly fighting his own demons.  He was a sad soul I had latched on to, determined to save him, when in fact I was the one who needed saving. We haven’t spoken since he cut me off. His memory still haunts me sometimes. I hope he’s in the rooms somewhere, getting the help that I got. Needless to say, before I came into the rooms even disastercases didn’t want to hang out with me.

I had gone from having no one to suddenly having a room full of people wanting to take me out for coffee. Desperate for help, I accepted the invite. The Villa was a local diner and the hostess knew our crowd well and had the smoking section reserved for us every night. Yes, you could smoke in restaurants back then. We took up about two or three booths and would sit there for hours drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and sometimes we would eat or play cards. I learned that eating french fries dipped in ranch dressing is quite possibly the best thing in the world.

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In the beginning, certain people sat with me at The Villa every night for weeks, sometimes until 2am because I was too afraid to go home. As the clock struck 12 they would watch me say goodbye to another day clean and welcome in a new one. They made me laugh, they let me cry.  They taught me how to to be honest with others and with myself. I cannot explain in words what it was like to have a 100% honest conversation for the first time after lying through my teeth to everyone I knew for 7 years. They beat me at Spaids and Uno. They called me on my bullshit. They were never surprised when I told them some of the horrible things I had done. For the first time in my life, people understood me and they liked me, the real me. It was earth shattering. More importantly, these people were successfully staying away from drugs and were going to teach me how to do the same.  I will always be grateful for nights at The Villa.

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Today my post-meeting diner visits are less frequent, but we do have a requisite AA diner on 9th avenue. I should probably go more often than I do, but I try to see my sober friends for coffee or dinner as much as I can. I should be making the same effort with newcomers. If you know someone who is new or struggling, take them out for coffee or some french fries with ranch dressing. You never know how much it will mean to them.

What’s your favorite diner?

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Ticket Success

I usually don’t blog on the weekends but since I am at the office on a Saturday doing some work, I decided to report on my recent concert ticket purchases:

Death Cab for Cutie (Bowery Ballroom – June 1st)

I am sad to report that getting the DCFC tickets was quite the process. I was told online that if I bought a fanclub membership I would get access to the special ticket presale. But the darn tickets sold out in less than 30 seconds on Wednesday! I was so disappointed, especially because I spent money on the membership solely to ensure getting the tickets early. Basically I just end up with an expensive T-shirt. Luckily when the tickets went on sale today at 12pm I hopped on Ticketmaster and got them! Leo is very excited.

Guster & Jack’s Mannequin (Central Park Summer Stage – August 8th)

While perusing Ticketmaster I found out Guster and Jack’s Mannequin will be performing in Central Park! Guster is a favorite from growing up at summer camp in NH  – I saw them live at NYC’s Beacon Theatre last year. Leo sat down as I danced around during the whole concert, so not sure he will be accompanying me this summer. Jack’s Mannequin is actually a spinoff of the band Something Corporate. Does anyone remember them? God I miss high school emo music. I used to listen to them as I mulled through all of my teenage anst:

Let’s get drunk
You can drive us to the harbor
Wish upon a star but
Do you know what stars are?
Balls of fire, burning up the black space
Falling from the landscape
Exploding in the face of God

I hear sound echo in the emptiness
All around but you can’t change this loneliness
Look what you’ve found, I’ve fallen down

Taste the saline rolling down your cheekbone
Tell me that you’re alone, tell me on the telephone
Feel your heart it breaks within your chest now
Try to get some rest now, sleeps not coming easy for a while, child

Hopefully they will perform some Something Corporate tunes if that’s even allowed…if not I will settle for the emo-tastic voice of the lead singer.

Happy Saturday Kids! I’m off to get my bridesmaid dress altered and then to P57!

What concerts are you going to this summer?

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Bridesmaids Giveaway Take II

Another chance to see Bridesmaids for free! Leo and I will be in Connecticut on Sunday and therefore I cannot take advantage of this awesome offer from movietickets.com.

The offer is for TWO free tickets at the AMC 42nd Street theater in NYC @ 5pm Sunday March 27th.

If you want the tickets, comment below with your best/worst bridesmaid experience.  If you haven’t been a bridesmaid but have a funny wedding story – you can enter the contest too! I will choose a winner on Friday night and email you the info!

What’s the best/worst bridesmaid experience you’ve ever had?

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Here Comes the Rain

Low and behold I raised the shades in my apartment this morning and it’s RAINING! Not a surprise in New York City. It’s been precipitating almost nonstop since November. This was the worst winter I’ve experienced in the city. So. Much. Snow. Now that it is 40-50 degrees outside the would-be-snow is rain. sigh. I don’t mind the rain when I’m all curled up on my couch watching some heart-warming movie. But when I have to walk fifteen minutes work in the morning- that’s when I would bribe the rain gods to make it stop.

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This morning’s rain was not the typical heavy drops streaming directly to the ground. It was this light almost misty rain that constantly changed directions. I like to call it Confusion City Rain. It’s the kind of rain you aren’t quite sure how to block with your umbrella. Hold it over your head, tilt it slightly to either side, hold it straight out in front to block the oncoming side-ways spray? No matter what I tried this morning the method was never good for more than a few seconds and I would have to readjust again. Does this rain exist outside of major cities?

And now you’re thinking – you live in NYC, why don’t you just take a bus, subway or cab to work?

1. Well friends, I live in a transportation blind spot when it comes to the subway. I would have to walk a few blocks north to get on the subway only to go a few blocks southeast to get to work. It doesn’t make sense, it costs $2.50 now (thanks M.T.A.), I really hate waiting underground and commuting via subway causes my trip to be twice as long as walking.

2. I could take a $4 cab, but when it’s raining you spend so much time trying to hail one, you end up getting wet anyways and the trip also takes twice as long due to bad weather traffic.

3. Don’t get me started on NYC buses…I have yet to figure out that system – I welcome all bus-riding tips in the comment section!

Due to the above, I always end up walking. And that’s just what I did today. What saved me from being completely drenched by the time I got to my desk?

My Hunters and My Umbrella (ella ella ay ay ay)

If you haven’t discovered the magic of Hunter boots…please get a pair. I’m pretty convinced they are indestructable. Unless of course you throw them in a big pizza oven, in which case I’m pretty convinced they would melt. They come in a variety of colors and they allow you to step in 12 inch puddles and stay dry! Plus you can buy these handy fleece liners that convert the Hungers from rain boots to snow boots:

I love you Hunters, thank you for saving my feet, pants and shoes from all precipitation and subsequent puddles. Thank you, Mother, for the best Christmas gift of 2010.

The ‘brella? It’s nothing special. Just your typical $4 completely destructible bodega umbrella. I think I buy at least 5-6 every year because they always break or I leave them in various places around the city. Heaven forbid I buy a legitimate umbrella…maybe I would keep it for more than a week?

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The irony of this morning? Playing on my iTouch when I walked out the door was this: A Beautiful World by Tim Myers

The children outside all are laughing under perfect skies
The shapes and patterns in this season make me feel alive
 
So despite the actual weather I was feeling quite spirited. Also I found out this week I’m going to see Rain in April with Leo’s family!
Can anyone count the number of times I used the word Rain today?

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Free NYC Movie Giveaway!

Hey all! I go to so many movies that MovieTickets always seems to send me free passes to movies. However, they seem to be at inconvient times for me. Anyhoo – the first person who comments about this wins the 2 free passes to:

That’s right: Bridesmaids!

It’s showing at 1pm (arrive at 12pm) tomorrow – March 4, 2011 at AMC Empire 25 on 42nd street. I really wish I could go since I’ll be a bridesmaid twice in 2011. Look for future posts on the subject!

I will forward you the pass via email as soon as you comment noting you want the tickets (2)!

Note: Must be in NYC to take advantage of this offer!

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Lunch, Day 4

Lunch, Day 3 Recap: The hummus, cheese and celery wrap was a complete success. It was filling and I loved the fresh crunch of the celery!

Today – Day 4! I’m so proud of myself for getting this far and without stress in the mornings. Today I went with the turkey, pesto and deli flat sandwich with one new addition: cheese. I decided it would be delicious to add cheese and pop this baby in the microwave for 30 seconds right before lunctime to make a turkey pesto melt!

The other option for today’s lunch was going to be leftovers (thanks Theresa for the suggestion!). I was at work until 9pm last night (boo) for the second night in a row and I decided I would have my company buy me dinner. What did I choose? Shredded Chicken with Garlic Sauce! My firm had this place cater our Friday lunch a few weeks ago and it was delicious! Droid pic from last night:

Yummy! And yay, for figuring out how to put a full-size picture on my blog – sorry guys…I’m still new at this thing.

I decided against eating leftovers of this meal for lunch today in case I’m here for dinner again.

Ok, so my Bring My Lunch to Work Challenge is going to come up against a loophole for tomorrow and I would like to get your thoughts. Every Friday my firm has lunch catered for the whole office. It’s usually something good with pizza always as a second option. So the question is – do I bring my lunch tomorrow as I have been doing all week OR do I enjoy the lunch paid for by the firm?”

Weekend side-note: I discovered that there is going to be a PB&J exhibit this weekend as it is National Peanut Month. So in honor of PBFingers I think Leo and I will be in attendance on Sunday!

What should I do for Friday Lunch?

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