new years

life imitates art

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image credit… ddmag


INTERVIEWER:

When and why did you start to write?

BURROUGHS:

I started to write in about 1950; I was thirty-five at the time; there didn’t seem to be any strong motivation. I simply was endeavoring to put down in a more or less straightforward journalistic style something about my experiences with addiction and addicts.
INTERVIEWER: You regard addiction as an illness but also a central human fact, a drama?

BURROUGHS: Both, absolutely. It’s as simple as the way in which anyone happens to become an alcoholic. They start drinking, that’s all. They like it, and they drink, and then they become alcoholic. I was exposed to heroin in New York – that is, I was going around with people who were using it; I took it; the effects were pleasant. I went on using it and became addicted. Remember that if it can be readily obtained, you will have any number of addicts. The idea that addiction is somehow a psychological illness is, I think, totally ridiculous. It’s as psychological as malaria. It’s a matter of exposure. People, generally speaking, will take any intoxicant or any drug that gives them a pleasant effect if it is available to them. In Iran, for instance, opium was sold in shops until quite recently, and they had three million addicts in a population of twenty million. There are also all forms of spiritual addiction. Anything that can be done chemically can be done in other ways, that is, if we have sufficient knowledge of the processes involved. Many policemen and narcotics agents are precisely addicted to power, to exercising a certain nasty kind of power over people who are helpless. The nasty sort of power: white junk, I call it – rightness; they’re right, right right – and if they lost that power, they would suffer excruciating withdrawal symptoms. The picture we get of the whole Russian bureaucracy, people who are exclusively preoccupied with power and advantage, this must be an addiction. Suppose they lose it? Well, it’s been their whole life….. reposted from an interview with Conrad Knickerbocker in the Paris Review on NYE 1965 and re-pusblished at dangerousminds.net

i am not clear how much change the new year will see. however i am sure i have changed. having been at my workplace for 4 years has afforded me some peace of mind. i have become familiar with not using for several years and my emotions don’t seem to run the risk of sabotaging me any longer. don’t get me wrong- i am still overly impulsive at times-more than i would like- but my recovery process with regard to those impulses has become like a well-rehearsed swat team. 
in moving forward this year, i hope to regain a sense of security that i misplaced a few years ago. i hope to work the steps again with a new sponsor and gain additional insight as well as let some further unneeded baggage go. i hope to pay off some debt that has been haunting for a few years and become a little less dependent on 2nd and 3rd incomes for entertainment. at this point, i am not sure i will ever write a short book, as i might have incorporated “confidentiality” to a fault in my writing that is public- or perhaps i should just be writing for myself with a privacy setting so no one can read. i know that somehow my spiritual connection to this online journaling has altered.

 i registered for school last fall, however i never did follow up with it further and i would very much like to pursue this. i have considered painting as a form of expression. i have no idea if it is even something i can do, but i am very aware that paintings move me – and abstract and neo-expressionist works seem to grab my gut. 

i spent nye day painting the office in the suburbs where i facilitate a meth recovery group. i enlisted the help of 2 persons whom i have worked with over the years and they came through with flying colors- pun intended. i sincerely hope that the metaphor of putting a new face on life for the new year somehow takes hold on them both. 
i have made a new friend who appeared in my life almost like magic. uncertain of where we might land, i am very grateful for a new set of eyes and ears. and i am very blessed when i meet a new friend in recovery- it’s culturally competent. my intention is that a new relationship or two will continue to flourish within my world.  i am hoping to head to chicago to be with friends and perhaps see “the book of mormon”. i will be ready for a break by that time. i would like to catch up with my cousin who lives in rogers park as well.

these are plans i have and 

deep breaths

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image credit.. ddmag.tumblr

as i consider the events of 2012, i find that my reactions to my life had more impact than the events themselves. this is not surprising- but does continue to humble me.

i wrote a poem when i was 16 years old titled “i am an ocean”.. it’s basic (truly) premise was that we are infinite- and mostly about ebb and flow. i am not sure i can find a copy of that poem anywhere now- i lost track of most of my life and belongings during my meth daze.

but this small poem set the stage for my identity in a couple of ways. i understood on some level the power and the metaphor of the tide- and for someone with a bi-polar tendency this hints of some insight. it also proved to lead to denial. but that’s a story mostly told. writing that poem also revealed to me that i had something to say about life that was beneath the surface. the act of blogging these last few years has allowed me to acknowledge that part of self and to nurture it a bit.

as i look back on this year, i remember my best friends’ mother’s funeral in chicago- so bittersweet. i connected with so many old friends i hadn’t seen in decades, but also had to witness as my bestie flopped like a trapped kite in a tree on a windy day. i couldn’t even hold him and make the hurt go away.

i remember taking a board  position for a local recovery organization and spending most of my free time in the spring and summer planning a rally for september. i slowly came to realize that my hopes for the not-for-profit did not match the other board members’ vision. once my commitment for the september event was over, i pulled away from any connection to it. the response to my letter of resignation seemed so canned and unauthentic that i felt vindicated for my decision. but i realize that i have so much work to do around boundaries for myself.

at the very same time, i asked to transfer positions at my workplace. it was rash and it was swift. the change took place in november and my heart has become engaged like i never would have imagined. on a daily basis  now i encounter people in varied stages of change and am in the process of developing a relationship with 50 or so new people searching for recovery of some sort.

in july, i met with a local probation district in a suburb and talked to them about a meth recovery program that was to start in their town. this was in response to assisting some friends who own an agency and have been struggling with their dui program as their only revenue stream. we have had 6 clients in the meth program thus far. i have felt good about it.

my sponsor of 7 years passed in september which most likely influenced my major decisions about making change. i am pretty sure that walking through conflict, sadness, differences of opinion, even discomfort are not my strong suit. i miss him and i miss his friendship.

my december was the busiest i have had for catering parties and i am pretty pooped as i post this. i realize that there is work to be done. that i have more to do, more inventory to take, more fun to find, and more relaxation to make happen.

i am still aware that i am living on bonus time. that gives me an edge i think. i don’t mess too much with disappointment and regret, because expectation is not really an option.

of all the things i can think of that brought a real and true smile to my face, it is the genius of nicolas jaar. i have listened to so many of his musical cut-ups and found delight, release, and inspiration. and i continue to do just that. maybe you can play this in the background and see if you can find my meaning here. happy new year. all the best. to everyone.

end of the world

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“The magnificence of such objects hardly pertains to the human. They live only in a world of icons and there they participate in rituals which transmute life itself to a series of grand gestures, as moving as they are absurd.” 

― Angela CarterBurning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories

mid-december and the year end approaches. this year has been a whirlwind. i barely remember welcoming it and here is sit contemplating waving good-bye. i have grown immensely these last 350 or so. there were a few standouts. i have managed to help mend some family relationships that had been dysfunctional for some time. i have 2 cousins that are brother and sister, each 6 months apart from my age. we were close when we were young. we spent holiday time together each year and a few weeks each summer we spent at our grandmothers house. there are gads of pics of the 3 of us- mostly giggling and causing mayhem. i followed them to colorado when i was trying to run away from my dependence problems. 
anyway we really have not been speaking very much- and socializing even less. holidays have slipped by without phone calls, maybe a card with just a name signed at the bottom. as i now look i realize how drenched in my own ego i have been. but i have also been working on understanding and having boundaries in my life. and i continue to learn just how families can test boundaries like no others. i have been meeting with each of them periodically this year- usually coffee or with lunch. we don’t giggle so much, and we are still causing mayhem albeit in our individual lives. but the soothing quality of someone knowing my history is palpable. and i am thrilled that a new chapter has begun.
i said goodbye to my sponsor of 7 years. he was consumed by cancer and spent 1/2 the year trying to distill the blow of recurrence and i spent that same time trying to be awake. in retrospect, i see that i had kept myself overly busy, mostly to avoid feeling anything i assume. i was scared to have him see me afraid and i am still learning how to be “in the moment”. i am speechless when i think of how my life might have been if paul had not ushered me into recovery. and i can only wish that i will ever achieve the tenderness and grace he was able to transmit my way.
i learned that my emotions still rule my world at times. i became so frustrated with my efforts and the my perceived lack of response that i changed positions at my workplace, dropped a volunteer position, asked to drop another, all within a very short period of time. the transitions were seemingly smooth, but from my perspective, it seems i started shooting and asked questions later. honestly, i hope to do some work in this area. my instinct tells me that these “abandonings” are related to my heartache and loss somehow. it might be a pattern that is as old as i am. yet here i sit reviewing my actions and accepting them- a sign of significant personal growth for me.
i helped start a meth treatment program in a low-income suburb known for drug and alcohol problems. We have interacted with 5 persons thus far. j don’t expect we will change the world, but i do sincerely hope we will have an affect on more than a few people. the message of hope and recovery is very faint in this burb. my mission is to project that voice. i have met a homeless young man who hasn’t yet realized how lost he seems. he gets glimpses, but keeps blurring the picture so as not to really have to look. damn- can i relate to those tactics. 
i began working as a methadone counselor as one of my quick change transitions. it has opened my heart like a chocolate covered cherry. there are loads of gooey sweet stuff oozing out of me daily. i am learning about change, human nature, pain, coping skills, borderlines, denial in infinite ways.
i’ll take a moment to consider the great loss of those young lives in connecticut today. all the peace and serenity i might have found in my life will have no effect on those families who have certainly lost touch with hope in their hearts. the helplessness is encroaching infinitely. 
That’s great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and 
snakes, an aeroplane and Lenny Bruce is not afraid. 
Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn – world 
serves its own needs, dummy serve your own needs. Feed 
it off an aux speak, grunt, no, strength, the Ladder 
start to clatter with fear fight down height. Wire 
in a fire, representing seven games, and a government 
for hire at a combat site. Left of west and coming in 
a hurry with the furys breathing down your neck. Team 
by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered cropped. 
Look at that low playing. Fine, then. Uh oh, 
overflow, population, common food, but it’ll do to Save 
yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs, 
listen to your heart bleed dummy with the rapture and 
the revered and the right, right. You vitriolic, 
patriotic, slam, fight, bright light, feeling pretty 
psyched…..rem

Good Medicine .. Pema Chodron

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The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months! ~Edward Payson Powell