"[My relationships were] like I was in these movies where the script was only half-written. When I’d get to the end of this half-script, the other actors wanted me to ad lib. But I had never gotten the hang of that. That’s why these movies were always box-office failures. Six of them in the past twenty years. I always blew the lines." ~ from my horrible first novel "Learn How To Pretend." (unpublished)(obviously)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tweet by Dalai Lama on Twitter



Dalai Lama (@DalaiLama)

 on Twitter
"When we develop a sense of concern for others' well-being then the very basis of anger is no longer there."
Sent via Flipboard


~Rick Raab-Faber

(Sent from my awesome and indispensible iPad)

Worry v. Faith Smackdown!


Today, worry is kicking the shit out of faith and showing it the door.

A brew, a pretzel, and a friend

At Il Vicino for a beer with a friend. It's been a rough day, but the booze (a scotch earlier and a beer here) is smoothing it out.

NOTE: I never got the pretzel.

Speaking of Mental Health...

Were we?

Feeling sorry for disgusting people

Today I woke to the sound of a guy in a neighboring apartment coughing, choking, dry-heaving, and/or vomiting. He does this almost every day and it's really... revolting. It's like a long drawn out coughing fit that ends with a throaty phlegmy "ahahahaaaa...." That is followed by something resembling an bellow.

Every time I hear it, I think, "Dude, see a friggin' doctor!"

At first I thought it was that morning smoker's hack that I remember so well from my smoking days -- that one I'd get after spending an evening in a smoke filled bar, surrounded by smokers and smoking two packs myself.

Like I said, it's annoying and disgusting.

But today.... today I looked at the guy with compassion. Not that he didn't bring it on himself (maybe -- I don't know) but that's not the point. The point is he is suffering and if there is some way to alleviate that suffering, he in unaware of it... or unwilling, or unable. And I can place myself in those shoes. It's that walking a mile in someone else's moccasins from the fakey native American  proverb. Or like the image I posted a week or two ago that reads "Don't expect everyone to understand your journey, especially if they've never had to walk your path."

It's pretty easy, I'm sure for people to tell me to pull my shit together. Most of them can relate to the pain I'm dealing with due to the separation, but so much of the other shit is stuff they can't. Even if someone has gone through the depressive episodes I have, if they are under treatment, it gets harder and harder to relate.

As I thought about my neighbor in terms of compassion -- not pity, but understanding, even if I couldn't exactly get into his head, I could relate to a fellow human who was stuck in a shitty situation. We all get there.

No. Wait. Pause that.

Whether we all get there is not the issue. The point is that I've been there and that gives me the right to feel compassion.

And as the disgust began to fade, I thought I heard someone say, "Have you got another oxygen tank?"

Each morning


Saturday, September 29, 2012

My name's Rick and I'm not an alcoholic: I just drink like one.

Yeah, that's a genuine styrofoam cup of AA coffee. MMmmmmHurlllllllll.
I did it. I went to my first meeting. Not sure what I was expecting, but this was about it. This was a 12-step meeting, which made me think of the Steam Donkey's song, "She's Twelve-Steppin' Out On Me."

Yeah, I had a drink before I went. I did some grocery shopping afterward and when i got home, I had another drink. And now I'll have another.

I don't know. I told my wife (A) today that I was going. I told her mother too. Their reaction was.... I'm not sure. I was trying to figure out if it was condescension-- So, you filed bankruptcy and now you're an alcoholic? or if it was doubt that I needed to be going. A even double-checked to see if I was still going to be seeing our counselor. I'm not blaming every thing on drinking, as I've explained. It's just one more base I'm covering, one more avenue I'm exploring in my attempt to return to sanity.

OK. I said I wasn't going to get all evangelical about this shit. I'm not going to become a shiite alcoholic.But I just want to say that I realized -- especially after a long talk on the phone with support group member, CD, that the times when I most needed to sit and talk with A, or just to sit and hold her, were the times I (we) turned to getting drunk. Not that that is always wrong, but it was wrong often enough in our relationship that it was damaging. A told me I was too passive, and I can see that it was the drinking that allowed that.

We are not as strong as we think we are

A most wonderful song by the late Rich Mullins. One of the few Evangelical Christian who I think really got it. This song, to me, reflects the reality of relationships. I particularly like the lines about "our hells and our heavens" being "so few inches apart" as well as the whole thing about "if you can make me laugh."

Well, it took the hand of God Almighty
To part the waters of the sea
But it only took one little lie
To separate you and me
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are

And they say that one day Joshua
Made the sun stand still in the sky
But I can't even keep these thoughts
Of you from passing by
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are


We are frail
We are fearfully and wonderfully made
Forged in the fires of human passion
Choking on the fumes of selfish rage
And with these our hells and our heavens
So few inches apart
We must be awfully small
And not as strong as we think we are

And the Master said their faith was
Gonna make them mountains move
But me, I tremble like a hill on a fault line
Just at the thought of how I lost you
Oh, we are not as strong as we think we are

 
And if you make me laugh well I know
I could make you like me
Cause when I laugh I can be a lot of fun
But we can't do that I know that it is frightening
What I don't know is why we can't hold on
We can't hold on

 
When you love you walk on the water
Just don't stumble on the waves
We all want to go there somethin' awful
But to stand there it takes some grace
'Cause oh, we are not as strong
As we think we are

Meditate This, Pally.

The tall pines outside of Zimmerman Library at UNM.

I've tried meditation before and, like most people, found myself failing miserably. This week I had bit of enlightenment. For those of us that seem to think that meditating is someplace you arrive at, or that you fail at miserably, the secret is that... there is no secret. "Follow the breath" they tell us, and if our mind strays, "simply return to the breath." 

And you know what? We'll fuck that up left and right. But it's OK, because when we try to spend a few moments doing it (comfort really is the key -- forget the lotus position if you are, like me, a little ungainly) even if our thoughts drift and we notice that, we are noting that we are intending to meditate, and that's a wonderful start.

I've bben doing something along the lines of a meditation the past three or four days. After my morning classes are done, I take a break by sitting out beneath the trees in front of Zimmerman Library at UNM. And the meditation is, for the most part, simply me breathing. Not worrying about 2-beats in and 4-out. Just breathing and feeling the breeze and the sunshine. Being aware of all that is going on around me, but not focusing on any one thing.

And you know what else? When I hear a commotion, I open my eyes and check it out. Then I go back to the breathing. and after 20 minutes or so, I feel well rested.

I've found another benefit here. I incorporate the breathing more as I'm just walking around. And when I encounter students walking UP the DOWN staircase, I just breathe. I breathe through it.

But more betterer? (I'm a Creative Writing Major -- I can say shit like that.) The breathing when I encounter things that would normally make me angry -- or snarky (see elsewhere) like some kid who thinks her hair really does look good dyed green, or a guy in a faux-hawk and a Hollister shirt -- My mind recognizes that little bit of snark developing (the shenpa that Pema Chödrön speaks of) I am able to stop, breathe, and look at them with compassion. They are, after all, just trying to fit in. Regardless of what they say, they are trying to be assured that they are human, that they belong.

It's been nothing short of amazing. When one practices a martial art in the studio the intent is that it will be developed in the streets (or in competition.) I think the same is true of meditation. Learn it in solitude, but practice it in life.

My life still is full of... life, but its becoming more doable by the awareness that I am getting with even half-assed meditation. 

You should try it. Get comfortable. Breathe. Embrace failure.

SITREP


Hey, yo! FYI!!!

That's right, bitches!

Friday, September 28, 2012

My first A.A. meeting.... sort of.

Cheapass Motherfucking Scotch. That's right. I went and bought this shit with the intention of drinking it before going to a motherfucking AA meeting? Can you dig it? Insane, right?
As promised in a post from earlier this evening, I went to the store and bought, among nothing else, a bottle of Scotch. The reason? Because I was planning on heading to my first A.A. meeting down at St. Michael's and All Angels' church. That was the plan anyway. 

No. Seriously. I was going to have a few drinks because that's just what I do going into a new social situation. I just need to take the edge off of things. I had every intention of going.

So what happened? Well, my friend, Cody, for one thing. He returned a call I'd made earlier. I was inquiring about his frame of mind -- after a rough patch he'd hit earlier in the week. We ended up talking for a while. Let me state that in more realistic terms: I ended up crying a lot and Cody ended up listening. Poor bastard.

We talked well past the time when I needed to leave for the meeting. But that's OK. It's not the end of things. It's not like I'm planning to quit drinking anytime soon. More like I'm acclimating myself, seeing how I feel about the temperature of the water. I'll go for a while. I'm sure as hell not going to pour out a bottle of perfectly good  budget Scotch just yet.

But, you know.... maybe I will. Maybe I'll lose the attachment.

See, in my conversation with Cody this evening, I realized that I'm attached to drinking -- the Scotch aspect particularly -- because that's who I've become. "The guy who drinks Scotch" has become part of my identity much in the same way that "Husband, Father, homeowner, friend" was part of my identity prior to the breakup. Removing these last four items from my life was like ripping off a huge scab -- HUGE. In the same way, removing the alcohol is removing a personality scab. The dude who could drink has been a part of my life since my early 20s. There were breaks from drinking, but....

I don't always drink, but when I do, I look like a functional alcoholic.

Not sure where I'm going with this. Let's consider it a SITREP. I spent time discussing the situation, the issues. The next meeting -- the one I'm seriously considering, it Tuesday at 6.   Let's see what happens, shall we. 

Anyone want to place a wager? Make it interesting?

OOOohhhhhhh,... and, point being, that I talked to Cody instead of going to AA. Huzzah! or as they say in Mexico, JuzzaJ.

Shenpa. You cotched it.

This is from a classic teaching that Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön, does on the concept of Shenpa. I've been listening to her lecture, "Getting Unstuck: Breaking Your Habitual Patterns and Encountering Naked Reality," over the past few days and this concept really resonates with me. I think I'll be referring to Shenpa later, so let this serve as a definition/introductory point.

This is a teaching on a Tibetan word: shenpa. The usual translation of the word shenpa is attachment. If you were to look it up in a Tibetan dictionary, you would find that the definition was attachment. But the word "attachment" absolutely doesn't get at what it is. Dzigar Kongtrul said not to use that translation because it's incomplete, and it doesn't touch the magnitude of shenpa and the effect that it has on us.

If I were translating shenpa it would be very hard to find a word, but I'm going to give you a few. One word might be hooked. How we get hooked.

Another synonym for shenpa might be that sticky feeling. In terms of last night's analogy about having scabies, that itch that goes along with that and scratching it, shenpa is the itch and it's the urge to scratch. So, urge is another word. The urge to smoke that cigarette, the urge to overeat, the urge to have one more drink, or whatever it is where your addiction is.

Here is an everyday example of shenpa. Somebody says a mean word to you and then something in you tightens— that's the shenpa. Then it starts to spiral into low self-esteem, or blaming them, or anger at them, denigrating yourself. And maybe if you have strong addictions, you just go right for your addiction to cover over the bad feeling that arose when that person said that mean word to you. This is a mean word that gets you, hooks you. Another mean word may not affect you but we're talking about where it touches that sore place— that's a shenpa. Someone criticizes you—they criticize your work, they criticize your appearance, they criticize your child— and, shenpa: almost co-arising.

Read the complete teaching at Pema's website, at Shambala.com.

Laugh it up, boozers!

This shit is funny cuz it's true. I used to see people going to drop their glass of at the recyclers. They'd have, like, two empty wine bottles and an empty 12-pack of Michelob Ultra. Then I'd get out of my truck and unload two or three trash cans full of beer, wine, and liquor bottles.

OK, There's a whole other story there and we didn't drink ALL that booze. But still, the looks I got from people!

Reistance in Not Futile, per se

Resistance to Change = Suffering.

It's Just the Booze Talking

Ha ha! The funny things that we attribute to the booze talking.
We always tend to think that the things we say and do when we've been drinking are not really things we would normally do, that, somehow, the alcohol makes us do it. But it that really the case? Is the anger and violence that is unleashed really not something we would do? What about the passive things we do then?

I've never been a violent drunk. I've been a happy drunk, a crying drunk, a dancing drunk, a singing drunk. I've seen videos that my ex took of me drunk. God they were funny. I mean, they were funny! We laughed about them for the longest time. Like the one where I got on my son's electric 4-Wheeler and rode it down the driveway, losing my shoe in the process. And I weighed too much to drive it back up the driveway. It was hilarious.

Hilarious in the "America's-Funniest-Home-Videos-Guy-Takes-a-Baseball-Bat-to-the-Nadgers" kind of funny.

Which is to say, when you think about it, not funny at all. It's more of a reaction to a scene. What is funny (funny queer, not funny haha) is that the drinking on that particular evening started as a result of a very rough (read "borderline traumatic") Thursday afternoon/evening with our oldest -- the one I've mentioned that has a variety of psychological and behavioral disorders. We eventually got him settled down and into bed and we set into drinking. A lot, despite the fact that we both had work in the morning. We were loud and laughing and having a great time. But....

But we were also self-medicating. We were running from the problem. What was the alternative? We might have talked about it, but neither of us were emotionally equipped to do that. We might have laid down on the bed and held each other. There must have been something we could have done. But I was afraid to do that. So we drank, and we talked shit about the boy. Called him a "dick" behind his back. It was a release. It was a diffusing of the issue. It was running away.

I look back on this now and I can identify this as a huge failing in our relationship. I can see that this is the type of situation where boozing hurt us. Had our marriage not failed, I might not have seen this. But the fact is it's just one bleary piece of a puzzle.

And it's something I have to not beat myself up over. And it's something I have to remember is not entirely my fault. We were complicit in this and other acts where we abused substances to mask our fear and pain.

I don't want to have to quit drinking. That's the requirement for AA though, that desire to quit. I realized today that drinking is part of who I am. The past two months have already been enough of that for me, that stripping away of my identity. Why would I continue that pain? I don't know. I don't know if I can do it.

But I do know this:

I'm going to the store in a minute or two, and I'm not coming back empty-handed.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Word to the Wise

I stole this from someone who clearly stole it from someone else.
 

Quote of the Day


When we think in terms of vegetarianism for moral reasons, we neglect this basic fact of the nature of reality. Refusing to participate in this complete cycle eliminates us from the stream.
Heaven and Earth give themselves. Air, water, plants, animals, and humans give themselves to each other. It is in this giving-themselves-to-each-other that we actually live. Whether you appreciate it or not, it is true.

–Kodo Sawaki

The Support Team Report.

In case you were wondering – I know you weren’t, but you can’t tell the players without a scorecard. Dig? These are the people who have listened to me piss, moan, whine, wail, rail against God, cry like a baby, and laugh like a drunken fool.

CD. A friend from grad-school who is about a year older than me. We’re at a similar place, headwise, in regard to our religio-philosphical beleifs. CD was raised an evangelical Christian, and I came to it for a brief time later in life. These days we both reject the rigidity of the ‘faith’ and tend to lean toward Buddhist philosophies—from a Christian perspective, I guess. We both have some fucked up issues regarding past love-relationships/marriages. CONTACT: Phone and over a few beers.

TT. A guy I’ve known for some 20 years. A devout right-wing Christian. Believes in guns and republicans. Very anti-every other religion (though seems to have no qualms with a Mormon president.) Despite that, the man has a wide-open heart. He’s spent the past 15 or so years living outside the U.S. as a missionary in electronic media. CONTACT: Email.
LG. Actually, she’s now LK. I had A huge crush on her when we worked together back in the late 90/early 2Ks. LK is also a Christian and for some silly reason maintains a faith in God. CONTACT: Email.

EM. Former co-worker whom I’ve stayed in touch with. 30 some years younger than me. Had a huge crush on her. A HUGE crush on her. She’s a grad student on the east coast now. We share a lot of neuroses. Despite the lingering crushiness, I know that is stupid. CONTACT: Primarily Words With Friends chat.

VD. Known this guy the longest – since high school days. We’ve led these weird parallel lives since he moved to  Maryland. Getting married, having kids, finding and losing Jesus, getting divorced. I can say just about anything to V. CONTACT: Mainly by phone and a stupid blog we co-edit, though haven’t updated in months.

Fatten up for the Slaughter!

Well, it's clear I've gone off on a tangent and am spending all my time reading Married to the Sea comics. Well, this is it! Tomorrow is (please, sweet merciful jesus!) my first payday as a professional non-TA teacher. This will (should) mean that I can begin on the more healthful diet -- that is to say, a roughly Primal diet. Initial goals are to eliminate the majority of grains, eliminate most fructose, eliminate processed food, and eat the hell out of some meat, boiiiii.

Or as Smokin' Joe Mercola says in an article about a dietary treatment for RA (which I suspect will help with Gout as well):
I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of this aspect of the program. It is absolutely an essential component of the RA protocol. Following these general guidelines alone will go a long way to dramatically reduce your risk of developing any kind of problem with chronic inflammation:
  • Eliminating sugar/fructose and most grains
  • Optimizing your gut flora with the use of high potency fermented vegetables and/or probiotics
  • Eating unprocessed, high-quality foods, organic and locally-grown if possible
  • Eating your food as close to raw as possible
  • Getting plenty high-quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil
To read the full article, go to this place here - aka Mercola.com

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Addiction unlike any other...

Of course, this can be a problem if we feel like we have no joy in our lives. But we can still refuse to engage in the negativity -- even that which is presented as good humor. (See my previous post on snarkiness.)

My old friend, Suffering.

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.
–Thich Nhat Hanh
Calligraphy done by Thich Naht Hanh, courtesy of our friends Shambhala Sun.
 
From Parabola's Facebook page.

A quote from Pema Chödrön on change

THE DREAM OF CONSTANT OKAYNESS

"It’s not impermanence per se, or even knowing we’re going to die, that is the cause of our suffering, the Buddha taught. Rather, it’s our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it’s called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness. Another word for that is freedom—freedom from struggling against the fundamental ambiguity of being human."

(From Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change)
And thanks to our friends at Shambhala Pubs for the always insightful Heart Advice of the Week!)
 
So, I really like this thing she says about Resistance to change = suffering. In relation to my issues of codependency (this blog IS all about ME after all) and it's relative fear of rejection, rejection in a relationship is change and, resisting that change puts one in a state of pain and suffering.

It reminds me of when kids know they are going to get a shot at the doctor's and set to howling and screaming before the shot is even given. It's the fear of the pain and suffering that's worse than the actual shot. Likewise, it's the fear of change that is worse than the actual change.

Quote of the Day

There comes a time when the pain of continuing exceeds the pain of stopping. At that moment, a threshold is crossed. What seemed unthinkable becomes thinkable. Slowly, the realization emerges that the choice to continue what you have been doing is the choice to live in discomfort, and the choice to stop what you have been doing is the choice to breathe deeply and freely again. Once that realization has emerged, you can either honor it or ignore it, but you cannot forget it. What has become known can not become unknown again.
- Gary Zukav

The View From The Mountaintop

I know. Right?! Views from the mountaintop are usually supposed to be all bright and cheerful-like. And, in a way, this is somewhat optimistic.

See, from the mountaintop I've been able to see things with an unusual clarity. I've also been able to see the big picture problem-wise. I've seen it and it's fraught with danger and... and big, nasty, pointy teeth!

The fact is, I'm in sad shape. 

Of course if you've read anything else on this blog you'll probably already know that. Seeing/admitting that you're in bad shape is the first step. Understanding what's wrong comes next. I've been to the mountaintop. Now comes the hard part. I need to go down to the valley and deal with it. Fight with it. Fight for it.

I really hope that someday soon this blog will be a cheerful uplifting place to be. But until then, we'll just keep on with it, one friggin' day at a time.

Zen, Yoga, Gurdjieff- perspectives on inner work: The presence of God—II

Zen, Yoga, Gurdjieff- perspectives on inner work: The presence of God—II:


In Sermon number 2, Meister Eckhart says:   If someone were to ask me: why do we pray, why do we fast, why do we all perform our devotions and good works, why are we baptized, why did God, the all highest, take on our flesh?—Then I would reply: in order that God may be born in the soul and the soul be born in God.

 I live in the world, and I see something of God in the world. In this way, I see God as relative to the world; the world is not God, and God is not the world, but there is something of God the world. Or, perhaps I think there is something of the world in God. So I think the world is godly; for I think that God is worldly.

 Yet there is nothing but God in the world. The world, and all the works we participate in, are not relatively like God, or do not have "something to do" with God. The world is absolutely God; and God is absolutely the world. Every manifestation is absolutely the manifestation of God. And it is this absolute quality, this inseparability, that escapes me.

Read the rest of this insightful article here at the Zen, Yoga, Gurdjieff blog.

Train Yourself to Succeed in Your Relationships?

Lumosity is a brain-training program that uses puzzles and games requiring quick thinking to solve. I have it as an app on my phone and ipad, but apparently you can do it on their website at lumosity.com. The following article came from an email I received from them and looks at five personality traits and how they relate to relationship success.

Scratching your head over the mysteries of relationships? It's possible that romantic success can be explained and quantified by science—to an extent.

Numerous scientists have studied the personality traits that make relationships more successful. In a 1999 study from the  Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, researcher Stephanie Nemechek found that couples with similar degrees of conscientiousness were better adjusted in marriage.

Conscientiousness is one of the "Five Factors" of personality. By this social psychology model, human personality traits can be broken down into: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

Our openness to new experiences is another personality trait that may lead to relationship success. Each partner's degree of openness has been found to be connected to satisfaction in dating and married couples, and it has been posited that more open individuals are better at communicating and working out conflicts.

And openness may be trainable, according to new research from the University of Illinois published in Psychology and Aging. Out of 183 older adults, those who underwent cognitive training increased their openness to new experiences. After the training, which featured pattern-recognition and problem solving, these same participants also improved inductive reasoning skills.

The study is particularly surprising because Five Factor personality traits such as openness were long thought to be stable throughout much of the lifespan. Although much research remains to be completed regarding the links between openness and relationship success, the Illinois study raises a fascinating possibility—that integral life traits such as openness can be altered through cognitive training, even later in life.

If you're interested in trying out some reasoning tasks on Lumosity, why not try By the Rules or Word Sort now? Much work remains to be done before we can say whether cognitive training can make you a better partner, but you can definitely take steps towards becoming a smarter one. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tips for Staying married

From a TED talk. Jenna McCarthy gives some tips on marriage success. Including why you shouldn't win a Best Actress Oscar.

And vice versa

And even if they have walked it, after the passage of time they might cease to remember.

Quote of the Day


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Embracing Change?

 “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”— Sri Ram

Today was.... not as tough as it could have been. But it was tough. It was my youngest's birthday. We had a party at a miniature golf place. It was my wife and son along with a few neighbor kids, a couple who are among the few that we socialized with who had kids the same age as our kids, and the in-laws.

It was almost as though nothing had changed, like we were living three months ago. Almost.

I think I dealt with it well. Of course, I did have a few drinks beforehand. Which was stupid. But I NEEDED them. I needed to soften the edge. If things are going to change, the change must begin with me. Where our relationship--where our family life--needed to go is where I need to go. I need to be the person I need to be. That is, I know my issues that need to be dealt with and I know the issues my wife needs me to deal with. It's not until she sees that change in me that we can come back together. And, it maybe that those changes won't bring her back, but that's not my problem. The changes I make I need to make for me.

And, I guess, more to the point, I need to master the change. Not embrace it, per se, but rather, to paraphrase Walker Bobby in Taladega Nights, I need to make that change my bitch.

Co-De-Pend-Ent.

Remember when everyone was codependent? Remember when everyone was making fun of the book "Women Who Love Too Much"? Seems like a long time ago.
A dear friend sent me this graphic yesterday that strips that book down to its essentials.
I've gone through it and, it's scary how apropos it is. I meant, if I look at the major problems of this broken relationship, Almost all of these fit me. And almost all of them fit my wife. What the fuck does that say about our relationship. Oh. Right. That we're co-dependent.

She talks all about A.A.

Today's title comes from a Robert Earl Keene song, but I keep it in mind as a warning; If I ever go into AA, I'm not going to get all evangelical about it.
It's not just self-medicating, it's a work of art. I call
this piece "Scotch on the Rocks on a Rock."
Which leads into the fact that I actually did some research yesterday, looking for some meetings around here. Am I an alcoholic? Am I ready to give up booze for life? Ummm. Yeah, probably not so much on the latter. Maybe so on the former.

It runs in my family on my mother's side. There's been deaths, several, because of it.

[[[[Eeerie side note: As I'm typing this, that Kenny Chesney song, "That's Why I'm Here," which is about a guy going to AA and going through the steps is playing.]]]]
[[[I should also note that I began drinking Scotch at 2pm today--with a three hour break--and I'm on my fourth drink of the day. It's nearly 10 pm and I need to go to bed because I have to get up for work. I'll probably pour myself another little splash.]]]

And so... This is hard. I mean I don't have those issues of alcohol interfering with my work. I don't get drunk and fight or drive or do stoopit shit. Well, I do do silly things, but not the sort of thing that jeopardizes my family or self. People laugh when I'm drunk and I'm not in denial when I say they are laughing at AND with me. If I'm an alcoholic, I'm a functioning one.

But I have a drinking problem. I hide my drinking sometimes. In the past few years I've taken drinks early in the morning on a handful of occasions. I've brought home a bottle of booze and put it in the cabinet while, at the same time, stashing another bottle so when I ran out of the first one, I'd have a back-up but I didn't look like I was out buying another bottle in a week.

Yeah, there's a problem. The real problem is that I can't stop at one. One's never enough. I don't even feel one. Two is good. It's nice, but, really, if the others are having another I will too. Once I get into three I have a hard time stopping myself.

Let me clarify what I mean by "one" drink. My standard glass for Scotch has been an 8oz tumbler. Filled with ice, it takes in about three to four shots of booze. So, on an evening when I have three drinks, I may be taking in 9 oz. or more of alcohol.

That's a problem. My estranged wife commented on more than one occasion that I may have a problem. Do I think that it had anything to do with our break-up? I don't know. I don't think so. Not in a blatantly obvious way. I think those issues that were at the center are what I call "pre-Scotch." I've only been drinking straight liquor for about seven years which, if you think about it, is a long time. My point is that the issues go much further back.

If I just drink beer, I'm fine. I get a little bloated, but (unless I'm in a bar) don't get really hammered. Wine? I'll put down a bottle in an evening and have a nice little buzz. I won't go beyond a bottle. But Scotch? I remember the... party(?) after my wife's dad's funeral. I was drinking hi-ball glasses of Dewar's like there was no tomorrow. And I threw in shots of various other things as well. I recall engaging in a rather untasteful act later that evening. Point here is that if I just stuck to beer I'd be OK.

But that is hard and right now it seems that maybe, all things considered, it might be good for me to spend, like six months or so drying out. Or, as the AA's say, "One Day At A Time."

Fuck.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Give it up to get going

I got this from a friend on Facebook. I'm not sure of the original source, but, like the previous post, this is a laundry list of my inner demons.Oh, I see it's something related to Stephen Covey of Highly Effective People fame. Bleah. I hate shit like that. Self-help books and the entire concept of "Highly-Effective."

Nonetheless, I can't knock this list. These are probably 90% of the roadblocks to me living a non-neurotic life.


20 Things You Shouldn't Tolerate

This is from the blog Marc and Angel Hack Life. It reads like a laundry list of why my relationship failed. That is to say -- these are things I tolerated for the most part, despite knowing they were wrong.

This is the stripped down list. For the full discussion, read the article here.
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1. People who bring you down.
2. A work environment or career field you hate. 
3. Your own negativity
4. Unnecessary miscommunication.
5. A disorganized living and working space. 
6. Your own tardiness. 
7. Pressure to fit in with the crowd. 
8. An unhealthy body. 
9. Fear of change.
10. All work and no play. 
11. People or beauty ads that make you feel inadequate.
12. Not getting enough sleep. 
13. Doing the same exact thing over and over again. 
14. Personal greed. 
15. A mounting pile of debt.
16. Dishonesty.
17. Infidelity.
18. An unsafe home.
19. Being unprepared. 
20. Inaction.

Quote of the day

"We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart."
Pema Chödrön

Depression: A Deal With the Devil?

Depression: A Deal With the Devil? | Psychology Today
By Emily Deans MD
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201208/depression-deal-the-devil

Clinical depression is a problem that we know affects tens of millions of people in the United States alone every year. We know there is a genetic vulnerability to getting depressed, along with environmental contributors such as childhood trauma and recent stress. But why are humans vulnerable to depression?  It doesn't seem to be a very adaptive trait, after all. Hard to imagine a depressed hunter-gatherer making it for very long, raising children, collecting food.
However, there may well be a genetic advantage that comes with the vulnerability to depression. It became important more so when humans began to live with animals in large groups, leading to the spread of infectious disease. But infectious disease has caused strong selection pressure on the human population in the recent millennia, so these genetic vulnerabilities could easily become widespread.
The paper I reference today is available full text online (from a Nature offshoot, Molecular Psychiatry) with the provocative name of PATHOS-D. It is really an amazing paper. If you are of a scientific bent, go over and take a peek.
Here is the theory.  Depression*, as we know, is associated with certain types of inflammation in the brain.  There are certain red immune system flags we see with the syndrome of depression quite frequently, most specifically increases in the cytokines TNF-alpha, IL-6, and C-reactive protein.    These chemicals found in the blood and spinal fluid tell us a brigade of our immune system is on high alert, kicking a** and taking names, so to speak.  Problem is, when there are no invading a**es left to kick (or the invaders are too clever and elude our defenses), our brains get the full onslaught and neurons die and then you can't concentrate, and you avoid social activities, and you may find yourself crying a lot, and your primary care doctor might recommend that you see a therapist or someone like me.
And we certainly know that genes in combination with stress will predispose us to depression.  But some folks are bulletproof.  They won't get depressed in the most dire of circumstances.  Other people seem to be far more vulnerable.  All it takes is a bit of a mismatch between temperament of parent and child and we have major psychopathology.  A predisposition to depression is hereditary, therefore it must be encoded in our genes.  But what genes?  The PATHOS-D authors would suggest that the genes that predispose us to depression also protect us from infection.
Infection?  All of us humans in the brave new modern world have endured 10,000 years of agriculture, which brought with it dense population and massive infectious disease. Tuberculosis, for example, is said to have killed most humans who have ever lived.  The same genes that might give us a genetic advantage against infectious pathogens may lead to vulnerability to depression.
Inflammation, like an army, is a double-edged sword.  People with trigger-happy immune systems are more likely to survive many infections (though a tricky beast like the 1919 flu killed the young adults with the most robust immune systems via massive pulmonary immune reactions and septic shock).  Since infections in the developing world tend to preferentially kill young children, there is strong selection pressure for genes that will save you when you are young, even if those genes have a cost later in life.  The selection pressure would have to be strong, as a clinical depression has obvious survival downsides, for both the person affected and his or her offspring.  Depression tends to be chronically recurring and also will strike folks in 20s and 30s, unlike, say, Alzheimer's or most cardiovascular disease, thus selection pressure against depression alleles would likely be significant…unless those same alleles protected against something even more deadly that often strikes even younger, like infectious disease.
Cool theory, but where is the evidence?

......Read the entirety of this excellent article at psychologytoday,com

Copyright Emily Deans, MD




(via Instapaper)


~Rick Raab-Faber

(Sent from my awesome and indispensible iPad)

Friday, September 21, 2012

And now for something completely different.


I found this in some notes for a novel I was trying to start. It was actually something I wrote in an email to a woman I'd met online who lived in Amarillo who I had a huge lust-crush on, but who scared the hell out of me. I guess, in effect, it was a bit of a sext. This just show a difference in my mental state then. I'm guessing this was from 2006. Warning, this gets more than a bit risqué
 
This other Joe Bonamassa song, “Down By The River,” has got this real slamming rhythm, perfect for the kind of sex that makes you understand why they call it “banging.” It’s a slow rhythm, but hard-driving, deep and wet, with biting of each others lips, nail scratches across the ass and woman’s head pulled back by her hair. This is where you get those “third-commandment breaking” cries. This is pure, primal, guttural sex. Blood is drawn on both sides and when you are done, you are laying in a puddle of sweat and cum. There is no sense trying to move off the wet spot, because the entire fucking bed is a wet spot. It’s the kind of song that induces the kind of sex that makes you drink tequila shots when you are done, just to bring your heart rate back to something resembling normal. The kind of sex where when you are done, even if you don’t smoke you want a cigarette (“sex so good that when you are done, the neighbors have a cigarette.”) Sex that, when you are done, makes you go get in a beat up 1965 Chevy pickup truck, half-dressed, at 11:00 on a humid July evening and just drive off into the country. You’re not going anywhere, but when you get there, you laugh your crazy heads off because you know that you’ve just crossed some sort of boundary in the annals of sex. That while you will continue to have sex and have it be great, you just pulled something off. You just had the kind of sex that made Hemingway blow his brains out in an Iowa cornfield because he could never have that again. It made Van Gogh slice his ear off after that kind of sex drove him insane. It drove Janice Joplin to drink, it made Buddy Holly force the pilot to fly the plane into the ground. It drove Fidel Castro to Communism. It drove Billy Graham to Jesus. You want so badly to reproduce that sex, right here and now, but you know that your body is depleted of fluid. And in the end, you stand up in the back of the pickup, in the middle of a field, arms around your lover, and you yell up to the stars, “YeeeeHawwwwww!!!!” and “Holy Fucking Shit!!!”

That’s the kind of sex this song is perfect for inducing.


RSAD? REPOST

This is a repost from 2008. It's interesting to note that I talk about August as being a depressive month for me and, this year, 2012, I had two huge crises in my life.
 
So I went through a slight bout of depression a few weeks ago. I can always tell when it's a clinical depression thing because I see the things that upset me and realize they are totally irrational. I got to thinking, though, that I have had it happen quite often over the years during August.

So what if I have something like Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder? Instead of being bummed out by the lack of sunlight, I'm bummed because of its abundance? When you live in a place like Newer Mexico where there are, like, 748 average days of sunshine a year, you tend to get a bit fried (literally and figuratively.)

I used to live in around the Puget Sound, and I was never one of those people who was bothered by cloud cover. I always look forward to the monsoon season here. In fact, the day that I started feeling better -- it seems -- was after an evening when we had a pretty good downpour.

I do, on occasion get SAD in the traditional months of February and March, but that is because -- also -- it has been sunny non-stop for months on end, AND brown because its winter, and cold, also because its winter, and windy because... well it just is.

Take a look around.

Good point. I've been there before.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Do They Ever Think of Me?

An interesting article from Thoughts magazine about what happens to those who were in our lives. It seems to be more about close childhood friends than ex-partners, but I think the end sentiment works perfectly well....

....things happened. And one night, you found yourselves at the rough, tattered end of a conversation that spanned several hours and had clearly been overdue for weeks. You had both said things that stung, that made you question whether or not this was all some sort of mirage, that you could have imagined such a beautiful interlude out of such a crippling need to feel loved in some way. You can feel the tears welling up and burning the corners of your eyes, but had promised yourself a thousand times before arriving that, no, you would not cry tonight. But you do cry. And they cry. And you hold each other and cry. But in the morning, it’s still over. It’s gone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

you had to be there

This is a repost of something I wrote a couple of years back. Apparently it's Lindsay Lohan, but I didn't know that then. The hope expressed isn't entirely gone, but for right now it's MIA.

This photo came from elsewhere. I don't know who she is, but the picture reminded me of a certain smell of a certain brand of cigarette on a certain day -- decades past -- with a certain humidity and a certain lighting and a certain hopefulness in the air due to a certain glance from a certain girl; a certain feeling that life might just turn out alright.

Putting Off for Tomorrow What You Put Off Yesterday, Too. (The Next Day's Not Looking All That Great Either.)

Yup. I'm procrastinating right now. There are a dozen things I could/should be doing, but I'm blowing it all off.

I believe that my procrastination is from a cross between my PTSD and my Clinical Depression.

This poster from Very Demotivational would be funnier if it wasn't so truthy. I would totally do shit like this instead of what I should be doing.

Last night I had three screens going. On my iMac, I was grading papers (and alternately checking Facebook.) On the desk in front of that sat my iPad where I was reading Flipboard and contemplating watching a video where the Mentos/Coke connection has the addition of a Durex condom taped to the top of the bottle. Just off to my left, Netflix was streaming a 15 year-old episode of The X-Files on the TV.

I couldn't figure out which to pay attention to, so I asked people on Facebook. of course, grading the papers never came into play.

Part of all that is that I've not slept much in several weeks. When I go to bed I generally am right out, but I'm up too late and, on days like today, am wide awake at 5:30.

See, I'm even procrastinating about writing about procrastination.

It's not a healthy thing, but I also don't think it's a thing where I can just say "I'm not going to procrastinate any more." I think there is a solution though. I am hoping it will come with lifting the depression naturally.

My Manifesto v1.5 UPDATE

REVISED Sept 19, 2012. I came across the first section of this a month or two ago when digging through some files. I don't recall writing it, though the file creation date was around May of 2011. It was pretty interesting. I've added to it a bit, specifically the addendum.

My Manifesto v1.5

  1.     I am not who I have believed I was.
    2.     I am neither Canadian nor American. Though papers indicate my birthplace as Canada, and though I’ve lived in the United States for nearly fifty years, I have no allegiance, nor real affinity for either. I don’t belong anywhere where I live nor long to live.
    3.     My name is not Richard Raab-Faber. My name is not Farfale Runkelrübe.
    4.     I am neither religious nor irreligious. Neither believer nor atheist nor agnostic.
    5.     I am all those things.
    6.     I am not a victim; the bad thing does not keep happening to me.
    7.     Evidence to the contrary, “this” is not “happening” to me.
    8.     There is no luck; I don’t keep catching a bad break.
    9.     I don’t keep fucking things up. I do them as I do them. There is not good nor bad, right nor wrong. They are as they are. I see them and move on. Another time I will do them differently.
    10.  I am not lazy. I don’t do things half-assed. I leave things neither complete nor incomplete. When I am done with something, my part in it is finished.
    11.  I always get where I’m going. I always get where I’m going. This is not the same as saying that I get where I say I’m going, or where I believe I’m going, or where others believe I should be going.
    12.  There is no destiny; therefore what I perceive as bad or good is illusory and has nothing to do with me.
    13.  Allowing myself to be bothered by the insanity of my situation is to imply victimhood. I refuse to participate in it.
    14.  I am not the person who is annoyed by my life situation.
    15.  That was then. This is now.
    16.  I am not a conflict avoider. I am not a peace-keeper. I am not a peace-maker. I am an observer.
    17.  I’m not a distracted person. My attention goes where it will.
    18.  I am not artistic. There is no such thing.
    19.  I am not creative anymore than any entity is continually creating.
    20.  I am not the son of a German immigrant. I do not suffer the sins of the father.
    21.  I am not the grandson of the town drunk.
    22.  I choose not to react. I will always react.
    23.  I choose to accept. I can never accept.
    24.  I am revolted by racism. I am racist. Hell is The Other.
    25.  I despise classism. I am classist. Hell is The Other.
    26.  I have no sense of humor. What makes others laugh is my reaction. They are not laughing at me. They are not laughing with me.
    27.  I will have no fear. Lack of fear is illusory.
    28.  Fear is nothing more than a chemical reaction in my body.
    29.  My body and I are not the same.
    30.  Karma is just another word for baggage. The baggage I carry is from my accumulated karma.
    31.  I don’t need to carry the baggage if I choose not to.
    32.  Desire for purpose in life is merely desire for recognition. That is to say, desire for ego gratification.
    33.  What’s so bad about ego gratification?

    Addendum:

    1.     “Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it.” - Christopher Morley
    2.     “The best things in life are not things.”
    3.     "I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul."-Rumi
    4.     “Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe.” The Hollies
    5.     “If there is truly nothing that you can do to change your here and now, and you can’t remove yourself from the situation, then accept your here and now totally by dropping all inner resistance. This is called surrender. There is great strength in it. Through surrender, you will be free internally of the situation.” Eckhart Tolle.
    6.     We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.”
    –T. S. Eliot from "The Cocktail Party."
    7.     "When things fall apart in your life, you feel as if your whole world is crumbling. But actually it’s your fixed identity that’s crumbling. And as Chögyam Trungpa used to tell us, that’s cause for celebration. "
    ~Pema Chodron

    8.     “The logic of worldly success rests on a fallacy: the strange error that our perfection rests on the thoughts and opinions and applause of other men! A weird life it is, indeed, to be living always in somebody else's imagination, as if that were the only place in which one could at last become real.” ~ Thomas Merton
    9.     When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.
    10.  "The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves and not twist them to fit perfectly our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." ~ Thomas Merton
    11.  How to behave better:
    • a.     Remember that you don’t know
    • b.     Learn to care
    • c.     Say thank you
    • d.     Wear your heart on your sleeve
    • e.     Insist on talking face to face
    • f.      Follow the life of an idea
    • g.     Speak frankly
    • h.     Take your time
    • i.      Be maladjusted
    • j.      Toast
    12.  Things are not as they appear to be. Nor are they otherwise. ~The Lankavatara Sutra.
    13.  “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlights reel.” ~ Steve Furtlick
    14.  “If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.”
    ~ Lao Tzu
    15.  “As Schopenhauer says, when you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect. So I have a theory that if you are on your own path things are going to come to you. Since it’s your own path, and no one has ever been on it before, there’s no precedent, so everything that happens is a surprise and is timely.”
    ~Joseph Campbell
    16.  “Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. So love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.
    17.  Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That’s where you came from. That’s where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Messy Love. Sweaty Love. Crazy Love. Broken Love. Whole Love. Infused with Divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often. You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering.
    18.  The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
    ~Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

    19.  “The good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” ~Lao Tzu