Tuesday, June 30

Today I am sober. Today I will not drink.

Sometimes I catch myself wondering how it can be mathematically possible for crises to overlap in such a short amount of time. It's more or less experiencing one negative thing over a series of weeks or days and then randomly, one Sunday, things get worse. Silly me. I thought things were going to get better! Ha!

I've noticed when there is a series of unfortunate events in a short amount of time, the last one to occur affects me the most, yet my emotions toward it are very lax and numb. Of course! Why wouldn't this happen? Everything else did. Within the first few moments of the impending crises, my heart is loud and I'm counting my breaths to try to remain mindful. But in the coming days, I'll be very lax when addressed about the situation. Oh, yeah that happened. But why wouldn't it? That's just how things are nowadays. Haha, fuck me, right?

I'm not good at hiding sadness. My face makes it abundantly clear whether or not I've had a good day. I can rarely slap on a smile and tell people that I'm doing okay without having my eyes glass over, knowing that I'm lying and trying my best to hide it. Instead of a Resting Bitch Face, I have a Something Happened Face. I'm not sure which facial features alert others to the fact that something is wrong: my eyebrows, the small crease in my forehead which thickens at the sight of any strenuous situation, the pout made worse by certain lipsticks. 

"I'm fine" is probably the biggest lie I've ever told. I've told everyone this lie, time and time again, no matter how I'm feeling. My entire family could be murdered by a Kardashian, and my response would still be "I'm fine." Keeping my emotions tucked away is partly due to the fact that I don't want to appear vulnerable, as I grew up thinking it was a sign of weakness. I'm assuming this practice was engrained in me by the fact that sometimes when I was crying, I was told to stop crying, as if there was no room for me to physiologically express my feelings. So to save face, my immediate instinct is to lie. 

On Sunday evening, I experienced the biggest craving to drink since I've been sober, mostly due to the overlapping crises I was alluding to earlier. It's a strange thing, wanting nothing more than to drink in the worst way, yet knowing you aren't going to succumb. Around 10pm, I started getting antsy, like I needed to be somewhere but I forgot where exactly. I thought I had forgotten something, but in reality, the liquor stores were closed and Wisconsin was 90 minutes round trip. But the consequences of relapsing outweighed the temporary catastrophe I was experiencing. Crying in bed and texting my mom from under the covers was safer and potentially healthier than sluffing into Spring Street Tavern in a wife-beater and sweatpants for my usual Jameson and Coors Light. I didn't succumb to my demon, and I made up for it in nightmares where I was actually drinking. 

I'm not experiencing drinking dreams as much as I used to. They used to be fairly frequent, especially within the first 60 days of sobriety. Today is Day 136 without a drink. Some of the old timers and those more experienced with sobriety have told me that eventually, I'll stop counting and I'll just BE sober, even though it's not common within the first year. I'll get my next chip at my six month mark, on August 14. From what I've heard, the six month mark can start to get tricky. You start getting comfortable and begin to trick yourself. Maybe I can be sober. Maybe one beer will be fine. But before you know it, you're back to watching all three (four?) Jackass movies in one night between bottles of riesling and cabernet.

I'm a lot stronger than I originally anticipated. Rehab strongly cautioned me that I'll need to stay away from my triggers once I was released into the wild. On Day 12 of inpatient, I was instructed to come up with a list of my possible triggers:

Football games
Holidays/family gatherings
Sunflower seeds
Central Avenue Liquors
Open mics
Comedy shows and theaters
Cinco de Mayo, Saint Patrick's Day, and all those holidays that aren't really holidays
The Monday Night Comedy Show/Spring Street Tavern
Corner Bar/Comedy Corner Underground
July Fighter shows
Hot summer days
The Uptown VFW
CC Club
First Ave
Northeast Palace
Knight Cap
Chicken wings
Friday and Saturday nights
Outdoor festivals
Buffalo Wild Wings
Certain music
Super Troopers
The Bulldog
Drink tickets

I left a few things out of this list for the sake of anonymity, but that's the gist. I've actually experienced most of these things as a sober person, and I really haven't been bothered much by it. What's nice about being sober is that if I'm suddenly uncomfortable, I can always leave. I don't have to worry about where my car is or who I'm with. I can always go home and be safe in my own environment. I'm assuming that although inpatient alerted me to all these triggers, it's possible that it was another scare tactic. You'll surely relapse if you continue doing comedy! Yet I haven't. A little over 12 weeks of sobriety, and I'm out two to three times per week at showcases or open mics. The only trigger I'm afraid to encounter is flying. But like the showcases and open mics, maybe it won't be as bad as I'm imagining it to be. 

They tell you in rehab, "Imagine how much energy you've put into your drinking. If you put that much energy into your sobriety, you'll be unstoppable." I don't feel unstoppable, in the least. But I'm doing much better than I assumed I would be. I made a big decision which impacts me positively, I survived a break up without drinking, and I still have two months of summer. Kitty let me get some sleep last night, and I've been up since 9am, for whatever godforsaken reason. Maybe that's the Wellbutrin kicking in. I have two more boxes to take to the post office, and then I get to play my favorite game, "FIT EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE CAR." I'm looking forward to it. 

Saturday, June 27

You got to love everybody, and make them feel good about themselves.

It's nice to greet the morning with a cup of coffee in bed. Then again, I haven't slept yet, so it's been a very gradual introduction to the day thus far. I rolled over in bed, over and over and over, wrapping myself up like an anxious burrito in the process. One particular bird started chirping and that was that: I'm still awake and technically "up" for the day.

I've taken three of seven boxes of books to the post office. The postal worker who shipped my box today said to me, "aren't you supposed to be moved already?" If only he knew the impending process. I went from thinking I was somewhat of a minimalist with a few flags on my walls and limited furniture. But then I decided to move, and suddenly I had thousands of other things to rearrange, disassemble, cradle, donate, break, and dust. I also picked up a cat carrier for Patrick. Usually cats freak out about small spaces or being trapped somewhere from where they cannot return. But as soon as the PETCRATE PLUS or whatever the fuck was assembled, he sniffed it and immediately went inside. He purred and looked at me from behind the air-holes. "Mam, you got me a box!" Yes, the box that you'll be trapped in for five hours on your way to your new home! Yes, it's all yours! Yes, it's all yours.

Figuring out new jokes for me has always been tough for me. If a new joke doesn't stick the landing on the first try, it's discarded in a pile of premises that might now be considered "hacky." I tried out some new things tonight and received some varied responses. It's got legs, as the saying goes. I'm definitely still rusty from taking so much time off from comedy earlier this year. Working my last job was miserable and I had no energy to do anything except drink in bed and forget about how miserable my job was. I feel like I missed out on a lot by taking time off. I don't know the new names and faces at open mics, and I can tell when someone is just starting out. Cue online dating joke.

I also had an online dating joke at one point, probably because the material was practically handed to you by dudes who don't buy paper towels because they have jean shorts and name their cats weirdo Victorian English names like Angelica or Eustice. Since the groggy days of 2011, I feel like I've matured into material unique to me. We've all had a shitty online dating experiences. Let's go beyond that. I feel the same about comics that rely on their appearance for the bulk of their material. Gabriel Iglesias is one example with the "fluffy" bullshit. And I'm sad to admit it, Jim Gaffigan used to be one of my favorite comics. But the white, hungry, and lazy self deprecating humor became dull three HBO specials ago. I feel too often comics rely on their stereotype to the rest of the world as a crutch. How did lazy comics become so successful? And by successful, I mean selling out casinos in Ontario and getting two lines of dialogue in Magic Mike.

It felt good not to drink at the open mic, however I think it's made me more nervous. All of my reservations are about me when I go on stage. It was my ticket to relax and escape, and now I have Diet Pepsi to make me hyper and nervous. Tonight on stage it almost felt like I was new again, stuttering over my jokes but remembering to move the mic stand. I'm sure it will fall into place, but I doubt it'll be this weekend.

One of the things I realized recently is that I'm never comfortable saying "no" to people. I'm either making up some excuse or flat out ignoring people all together, a bad habit which I'm trying to break. My go-to excuse used to be "I'm too hungover and I can't get out of bed and I just started Twister and I'm really incapable of being a real person today." The word "no" eludes me. I think it stems from the fact that I don't want to let people down or make them think less of me. Why am I so scared to say, "no, I don't feel like it." It's the honest answer, and part of recovery is being more honest with myself AND others. If I was good at one thing, it was lying to myself. I don't have a problem! At least not during the week! I'll get through this! I can stop whenever I want, said the girl who could never drink enough Jameson. I also think that some people mistake a firm "no" with being aggressive, when I'm really attempting to be assertive. The truth hurts some people, and I don't want to hurt people, even though I had a very good yet inadvertent streak of doing so for some years.

I'm really proud of my country today, which is something I've never said, typed, muttered, or thought. Gay marriage is now just "marriage" in the United States. I was curious why it was such a big issue, as it didn't impact me and it surely wasn't going to ignite the wrath of Satan. I always thought to myself, "if people don't want gay marriage, they shouldn't get one." That opinion made sense to me because no one was getting gay married at gun point, and gay marriage never impacted me, either negatively or positively. It just didn't. So why should my opinion have to be a burden for those who are looking for a positive change in their lives? Love is love, but sadly bigoted dads across the nation don't see it like that. Sometimes all you need is love, and that love should be for everybody.

It felt amazing to wake up to good news yesterday. So many people were happy, and I didn't have to unfriend anyone on Facebook. Finally, a morning where I woke up and smiled. It's been ages since that has happened, and it was because our government finally realized love has no boundaries, no laws, and no limits. Except for that guy and his horse in Enumclaw. That got weird.

Wednesday, June 24

The only thing missing from this post is feline AIDS.

I cried in the shower tonight. Not because getting Head and Shoulders in your eyes feels like what I assume Agent Orange feels like when it gets behind your eyelids, but because I'm fucking sad. I had one thing in Minneapolis, one thing that persistently becomes worse as the pitiful conversation carries on day after day. The last time I cried in the shower, I was really drunk. I had a glass of pinot grigio resting in one of the corners of the tub. The more I cleansed my drunken soul, the more hot water splashed into the glass. Watery, sad pinot grigio. I don't even remember why I was crying. It was probably one of those instances where I saw a romantic quote on Pinterest or thought of someone I lost touch with after a considerable amount of time. But tonight, I cried in the shower because I have nothing here.


A small word for something that is so gargantuan and menacing, like a dormant monster. I Skyped with my dad tonight, and after some consideration, I decided to move earlier than I originally intended to. Why prolong the nothingness when I can pack up my life in a reasonable amount of time? I'll have family waiting and my kitty, who I'm sure will think I abandoned him with strange people who in some ways smell like me. He'll probably see my nephew before I will.

For fuck's sake, I like cheese more than I like most people right now. Cheese has never wronged me. Cheese has never given me criticism on my sobriety in a loose yet carnivorous way. Cheese never felt the need to apologize to me.

I'm angry because I feel like I've failed. I feel like moving is my only option. Comedy sucks, people are idiots, and heartbreak is keeping me in bed every day. The longer I stay in Minneapolis, the longer I'm enlivening my suffering. What's the best way to begin a summer? Starting a new medication and hating everyone whom I come into contact with.

I'm crying now because all I really want is to be happy. There's a frightening amount of fog in my head. Whenever someone asks me "how are you" I usually have two options. Tell them, "not bad" or be heinously honest and say "you know, not great. I just went through a break up that I'm still living through each day, I'm depressed to the point of making a sloth look like Usain Bolt, and I'm spending so much time alone that I'm actually starting to talk to myself to revive some semblance of companionship." That's where I'm at right now, and it sucks.

But Liz! Why don't you go for a run? Running. The cornerstone of depression. I love that people who aren't depressed are the quickest to offer up solutions to the sad and alone. I don't run. Period. If the cops are involved or there's free insulin, I'll be lucky enough to speed up to a mosey, maybe even a jog. Otherwise, sleeping until 5pm and eating a meal that I don't have to cook are my options. But yeah, running with no end goal in mind sounds like a real treat.

July 31st won't be able to come soon enough. At least I'll only be separated from kitty for about three weeks instead of the original eight. I have yet to explain to kitty that he'll be in a dimly lit cargo hold for the trip out to Seattle. I'm sure him and his best tummy won't mind. I need to go through more clothes and take them to Goodwill or wherever isn't my closet, and there are maybe a handful of things I absolutely have to do before leaving the state.

I'm not even sure why I'm writing this post tonight. I think I needed to vent to something without a pulse.

Tuesday, June 23

It's like fringe, but worse.


Today there are websites dedicated to all things cringeworthy: creepy text messages, Tinder flops, inexcusable fashion choices that look better on a tiny dog or a doll with severe malnutrition.

Anxiety goes hand-in-hand with depression. As soon as my head hits the cheap pillow I bought at Target with coins and not paper money, I can't turn my mind off. Suddenly, every unfavorable interaction I've experienced in the last 15 years manifest themselves for me to become anxious all over again. Some memories have really stuck with me, whether it was just me witnessing something out in public or my blunder that either could have been completely avoided or handled very differently.

I always get caught up in the first lines of a conversation with someone.

Me: Hey, how's it going?
Them: Not bad, you?
Me: I'm okay, you?
Them: Not bad...

You too!

Most often when I see people, I'll usually just say "what's up" in hopes the greeting will give me some more time to scramble on forming the words that are going to be coming out of my dumb face. Now that I'm sober, I permanently lack the liquid communication skills I relied upon to be friends with damn near anyone. The inebriation lubrication was at an all time high for me, off stage and on stage.

Comedy began to get sloppy. Three beers was usually the perfect amount for me to be comfortable on stage. I could be chummy with the crowd while not being an asshole. But I could never remember my sets, and if I somehow managed to record the clusterfuck I was performing, I was always slurring my words and stuttering through punchlines. It feels good to be coherent and to really be able to revise jokes and take pride in where my jokes were to where they are now. They went from little baby premises to adolescent crowd work. It's interesting to see jokes grow over time. Some jokes die alone and unfinished, some jokes continued to stumble out of the gate time and again.

I'm so hyper aware without alcohol. Every interaction is a deluge of possible fuck ups. I'm right handed, so when someone approaches me and I'm either holding a cigarette or my cell phone with my right hand, I do this little t-rex arm motion with my left hand to not leave them hanging. Instead I look like I lost my purse or that I'm in danger without an adult, like two left mittens trying to hug each other.

These guys know what I'm talking about. 

Life without alcohol is awkward as fuck. How am I supposed to get on an airplane? What else should I be doing at Friday night at 6pm? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO MEET NEW PEOPLE. Some people have told me that I used to be really friendly. Now that I'm more quiet and reserved without my Jameson, some have taken notice. Drunk Me was a handful, crying over dead pets or lost volleyballs. Sober Me is consistently rehearsing preemptive interactions or experiences with other people. I'm basically always on guard to be a real person, or the person I was no longer.

I talk to myself in the mirror a lot, and it's not the "you wanna piece of me" bullshit. It's "I feel hurt by your actions at this time and place." You know, therapy stuff. Use "I" statements! Slap an emotion on that bad boy and really hammer home how you feel. Or even pulling a Costanza and thinking up a comeback to something someone said days earlier. When I was in sixth grade, a girl classmate of mine claimed that "she owned the color yellow." She made statements to the kingdom of junior high that could not be disobeyed: no sixth grade girl is to wear yellow. It was a big year for Old Navy Performance Fleece, and there were a few girls in my class who received a verbal lashing from Princess Monochrome. Sixth grade girls are assholes, but they don't really know they're assholes until high school. At least the girls from the suburbs.

Is it fashionable? Is it expensive? No! It's just ugly.

So I think back to these seemingly insignificant moments in time, but they aren't really insignificant. These memories and feelings and emotions have wedged themselves in my psyche for whatever reason. They had an impact on me, whether I liked it or not. Yellow happened to be my favorite color. The blanket I was brought home from the hospital in was yellow. Big Bird was yellow. Most cheese is yellow. Why should I be banned from the color that makes me feel safe and pleasant and calm all at once? WHY ASHLEY WHY. 

These thoughts keep me up at night because there was no resolution, but I also didn't have control of the situation. I didn't externalize how I felt or addressed my emotions. I didn't take a step back and think, "wait, how is this making me feel right now?" I'm finding myself doing this more often, thanks to my therapist and the loads of professionals I've had the mild pleasure of interacting with over the last few months. Stopping for just a moment to realize how I'm feeling has been beneficial. I'm no longer searching for that word to describe an elusive feeling.

She doesn't even go here.

And yeah, I do have a lot of feelings, but it's going to be a long-term process to learn how to regulate them into my life. Of course, now that I'm not drinking, my levels of sorrow and pain and depression and the tiny joy I experience during the day will be less severe. I haven't called Tom Hanks a "motherfucker" in months!

Friday, June 19

Doctor, doctor, give me the news. I've got a bad case of running away from my problems.

On Wednesday, I had my first psychiatry appointment in over four years. A medical resident from Pakistan, my psychiatrist took down a list of all the medication and dosages I've taken throughout my career in depression. The list was lengthy, a soiled list of medications which used to line various medicine cabinets. I was placed on 100 milligrams of Wellbutrin, an anti-depressant that can also reduce the urge to smoke, in conjunction with the 40 milligrams of Cymbalta I've been taking since 2008. I was cautious of this Dr. Dongry

Doctor: So you're in outpatient treatment?
Me: No, my last day was on Tuesday.
Doctor: Oh, okay. So you're continuing outpatient, then?
Me: ...no. I'm finished with it.
Doctor: What outpatient treatment program will you be participating in when you arrive in Seattle?
Me: I'm done with outpatient. Unless I relapse, I won't be going back to outpatient or inpatient rehab.
Doctor: Okay. So you're done with outpatient?

I had first heard of Cymbalta by seeing a commercial. I laid in bed, depressed, lethargic, and dismissive of all things everywhere. The commercial showed a man in bed with his dog. They watched TV with vacant eyes and heavy shoulders. I turned over under the covers to face Cosmo, my sleepy golden retriever who never left my side while in bed with the deepest blues. A voiceover from the commercial stated, are you depressed? Cosmo sighed. Two weeks later, I was prescribed the medication that was advertised to me during a block of World Series of Pop Culture on VH1.

And I shall call him...Golden Boy.

Today was my first day taking Wellbutrin. If you've been on any type of drug to stabilize your mental health, you know that the effects aren't immediate. At 10am this morning, I took my medication and ate a bowl of cereal. I tossed and turned while the air conditioner struggled to heat up my bedroom. Eventually I fell back asleep and awoke at 5pm, just in time for more laying in bed.

A lot of people have asked me about moving back to Seattle. Usually I respond with a PR type answer that dilutes one of the main reasons I'm moving: I hate most of the people here. A lot of folks don't know when to shut the fuck up, or when to stay quiet, or when to offer sympathy and not some half-assed opinion of what you're doing or trying to accomplish. There were times when all I needed was a hug or even a high five. Instead I got unsolicited opinions and advice that made me feel worse. Of course, there are good people in Minneapolis, and I hope they keep on keepin' on. It's nice to know that if I return to Minnesota, I'll have some people in my corner. But to be brutally honest, most of the people I've interacted with in the last four years have either been selfish, naive, or pretentious.

I often wonder if I'm running away from my problems. Perhaps I am, but I'm doing it for me. I fully expect I'll encounter people in life that I will not care for under any circumstances. This is one of those instances where my expectations of others have been too high. I expect people to treat others with respect, and I've come across one too many people who simply do not show any compassion towards others. Having expectations of others has ruined me, and it's a matter of control. I can only control what I say and do, and not what others say and do. Yet I still harbor anger and hatred for instances where I wish I had the last word, or that I actually won the imaginary argument I had in yesterday's shower.

Rumination is one of the main staples of anxiety and depression. I've stayed awake well into the early morning while dwelling on some stupid verbal transaction from eight years ago. These take place like a carousel before I actually fall asleep, like some shitty slideshow of all of the times where I wished I had actually said something instead of biting my tongue like a mute sheep. My expectations of others were high, and when they fell far short of where I would have liked them to be, I took it out on myself. I blamed myself, developed a sense of self-hatred, and became emotionally and mentally distraught because I strongly believed that their defects of character were my fault.

There are some days where I want to be really brutal and tell everyone my absolute, honest opinion of people. You aren't as funny as you think you are. Please start wearing clothes that fit you. I literally give no fucks about your workout routine. Of course, saying these things will immediately burn the bridges that are only upheld by social media. I suppose some could say the same thing about my posts about sobriety. But the point is that we all have opinions of each other and things and people and places and pizza and music and religion and politics and blah blah blah. However, I believe there's an appropriate way to address, or not address these opinions. And I've chosen to keep my mouth shut in most cases.

While I was in outpatient treatment (as you may remember, the outpatient treatment I am no longer participating in), my group worked on how to address anger and grief and depression. We learned certain skills that would help us acknowledge these feelings in a healthy way as opposed to turning to alcohol or drugs. If I'm guilty of anything, it's drowning my feelings with Coors Light and pinot noir. These skills are largely in the forefront of my thoughts as I encounter interactions in every day life. Example: an acquaintance learned of my recent break up. Instead of lending me a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen, she offered up advice and opinions that were abrasive and negative about my loss. I cannot control what she says or does. Instead, I chose to go deaf to her blabber and smiled and nodded my way out of the conversation. Given my history with this individual, I chose not to address the situation because I would be pouring more gasoline on the already tumultuous fire. She's going to have her opinions, but I cannot expect her to act the way I'd ultimately like her to.

It's ironic with the aspect of control in my life: I want everything to be in my control, but when I drank, everything was no longer in my control. I brought this idea up at my AA meeting this week as our topic was a first step discussion: where we were, and how the first step got us to where we are now. It was a lengthy meeting but again I was enlightened to the fact about how fortunate I was in regards to hitting rock bottom. I made the announcement that I'm moving at the end of the summer. I was pleasantly surprised: no one gave me shit for it. In some ways, I was expecting others (haha, see?) to scold me for making such a huge decision so early in my sobriety. But instead, I was applauded for making a decision that was going to positively affect my depression, my loneliness, and my sobriety. I've also had others reach out to me about meetings I can go to and people I can stay with in regards to my travels at the end of August, so that's pretty cool.

I'm going to have my second bowl of cereal of the day. I had a salad earlier so I think it evens out. Time to snuggle kitty and read this Channing Tatum AMA.

Wednesday, June 17

Getting carded.

I can't sleep. Once the birds start chirping, it's time to give up. I have my psychiatry appointment in 7 hours, and I'm afraid if I fall asleep, hypersomnia will kick in and I won't be able to get up or I'll oversleep. For now, it's just me and the birds. I wonder what they're doing up. They sound like a bunch of women from Brighton Beach, delightfully bickering about polyester blends and which prunes go best with oatmeal.

I started writing cards to people. During my pre-9/11 youth, I received cards for all possible holidays. Birthday. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Easter. Valentine's Day. Saint Patrick's Day. Any holiday my aunts could lay claim to as a result of our ancestry, I received a card. As email and text messages took over, I received less cards. Why purchase a card, address it, scribble a note, locate the address to where it should be sent, and buy stamps just to send it? How long are you supposed to keep a card? I was never really clear on the protocols of card storage. But when I receive a card today, I usually keep it for one of two reasons: the handwritten message is more genuine than the message it was printed with, or because the cover authentically suited me: cats sending text messages, or a photograph of a dog with a strikingly similar resemblance to Cosmo. Today I'll be sending my dad a Father's Day card to be shortly followed by another for his birthday on July 1.

Sending cards all started after I got out of inpatient. I sent thank you cards to my family members who helped me during my difficult time. Not only did I want them to have a tangible thank you, I wanted to show myself and others that I was truly thankful and that I had the emotional capacity to do something nice for others. I sent a card to my step-dad for helping to pay for my new tires which I desperately needed. Uncle Mike received a thank you card because he helped take care of my dad's dogs while he was in Minneapolis for family week. Everyone who has had a birthday in the last four months has received a card.

When I was drinking, I wasn't nice to others. "Nice" is a broad term to use considering how specific I feel about myself and my drinking career. I was nothing short of selfish, even when I wasn't intending to be. I experienced way more consequences than positive nostalgia during my destructive path through friends and family. It feels almost calming to be cognizant of my behavior.

Every once in a while, I'll think back to a time where I was "happy" while I was drinking, or a time where I thought I was enjoying myself. During my last birthday, I went down to Tucson to see my dad and step-mom. Instead of going to a bar to watch the Seahawks game on my birthday, we went to Whole Foods.

Let me explain.

For whatever reason, actually the precise reason probably being Arizona's less than loose liquor laws, there is a bar in the middle of the Tucson Whole Foods. With three TVs and a tiny bar with small appetizers, you could grab a high top and watch football while an old woman shucked around in the aisle behind you in search of organic steel cut oats. The bar had select microbrews on tap, and if you didn't see something to your liking, you could strut over to the liquor/beer/wine aisle and grab something to open for a small corkage fee. The idea was seamless: drink in a popular grocery store chain instead of a dive bar surrounded by drunk and sweaty Arizona Cardinals fans. So we drank and noshed, and occasionally I would skip off to the bathroom to vape. The Seahawks won Game 7 17-3, and later in the week we would also celebrate a win against the 49ers with a score of 17-3. We won! We won. This calls for another bottle of wine and not removing my contacts before going to bed.

Twice in one week, I was trying to hide how drunk I was, and for the most part, I think I did a good job, even though I'm not extremely proud of my terribly high tolerance. I remember choosing my words carefully and trying not to talk because I was slurring my words. Triggers are an important thing to assess in alcoholism: the people, places, and things you must remain cautious of in regards to your recovery. The reason I completely overdid it during my trip to Arizona was because I felt like I had multiple reasons to drink: vacation/travel, my birthday, Thanksgiving, two football games, and spending time with family, all of which are now triggers. I was passing out in front of the television on more than one occasion, finishing off bottles of wine with ease, and making late night Bloody Mary's in giant wine glasses. When I got into town, my dad said "help yourself," which are dangerous words for an alcoholic to hear. But at that point, no one really knew how much I was drinking. I don't blame him, and instead I blame myself for not reaching out to anyone sooner. My dad actually called my mom to inquire about my drinking habits after I returned to Minneapolis. The thought was on everyone's mind, and my mom even considered flying out to Minneapolis to talk with me about it.

I maintain that the hardest thing I've ever had to do is ask for help. Ashamed and scared, I lay in a bed at North Memorial Hospital, contemplating who to call or what to say. I had been on the phone with Nate for most of the day, narrating my every move and thought on my way to urgent care and then to the ER to ensure he knew I was okay. He called my mom for me and told her that I would call her when I wasn't with any nurses or doctors. The initial fear was that I suffered from a concussion and a fractured orbital socket, but my diagnoses came back that the bruises were just severe and that the next few days would be painful. I called her after my skull and facial CT.

"I think I need help."

My mom was elated and proud of me for asking. I felt so horrible, guilty, and hungover. I felt as if asking for help was admitting to failure on my part. I was always so independent and overly proud of myself for being able to handle life's stresses on my own. I was scared, scared of what would happen to me, scared of what my dad would think, scared of the inclement pain of sobriety and detox. It took someone physically attacking me for me to ask for help, and while I don't condone violence on anyone, getting hurt made me realize where my life was heading and that I needed to make fast changes.

I was in and out of the ER within about three hours. After a slew of questions about who attacked me and if I was safe to go home and how much I drank and if I had lost consciousness, I was sent to Walgreens to pick up prescriptions for vicodin, antibiotics, and high dose ibuprofen. The ER said that I'll most likely be sore for the coming days, thus the pain killer prescriptions. While in North Memorial's care, I also received a tetanus shot and follow up antibiotics for a bite on my left hand. The scars are still there, hardly noticeable, and they serve as faint medical reminders of where I was and what my drinking was leading up to: hospital visits and an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame.

My mom flew out to Minneapolis the next day. I stayed in bed, resting and crying because the vicodin and my extensive guilt wasn't allowing me to do much else. Later that week, we both attended a chemical assessment to see when I could get into inpatient at Fairview Riverside. Detoxing Liz started tricking herself after she got put on a wait list. I can do two meetings a day. I can go to online AA meetings. I can do this alone. But that was my fear talking. I was scared to tell anyone I actually had a problem, even though I had drunkenly joked about it from time to time. While I was in inpatient, Nate told people I was in Seattle attending to some family matters. No one batted an eye. Me going back to Seattle? Sounds plausible. Instead, I was three miles away from my home eating my meals off of a tray and reading the Big Book before bed every day for 21 days.

I'm not proud of the things I've done or the consequences I've compiled as a result of my drinking expeditions. I pushed so many people away. I lied to myself and those around me. I became a monster in my own skin. Professionals suspect I had a lot of anger and grief that I never addressed in a healthy way. Instead, I sunk inside myself and drank alone. I remember one Facebook status I posted from two years ago: "It's way better to drink alone than with people you pretend to like." I did 90% of my drinking alone: I was in control of my own environment, no one was judging me, and I didn't have to socialize with anyone I didn't want to. In true addict behavior, I thought I was protecting myself. If no one saw the problem I had, it didn't exist.

But I knew I had a problem, I just never externalized it. When I started my contract job at the lead generation company I worked for, I didn't drink during the week. But once things became stressful, I started drinking on Thursdays. And Sundays. And Wednesdays. I remember thinking "well, it's just Wednesday. Go for it." Six beers later and some shitty vodka version of a hot toddy later, I was on the floor eating cheese and trying to hold myself up while playing Smash Brothers for Nintendo 64. Even though I drank a lot that night, I still remember making that vodka drink. Some leftover vodka was distilling in the cabinet above the refrigerator, the place where my parents used to keep their liquor. I poured it into a pot on the stove and heated it up with honey and some cinnamon. This was a Sunday night, and I had to work the next day. But I wasn't about to pass out knowing there was an inch left in that bottle of BIG RED VODKA.

That was my drinking in a nutshell: once I started, I couldn't stop. People have asked me if I could have a drink in moderation or if I could start drinking near beers, the NA stuff. My answer has always been "no." I know myself well enough now that I know that NA beers would turn into real beers and that moderation would surely lead to getting hurt again or worse. One was never enough. Two was never enough. Three was never enough. Dead would certainly be enough.

It's currently 5:56am.

I'm mostly rambling because I couldn't sleep due to my allergies and insomnia. The birds have quieted down or moved on to do their tweeting elsewhere. Kitty is under the impression he's entitled to more food even though I only fed him a few hours ago. It's no longer dark outside and instead of fighting my insomnia, I'm just going with it. It's just one more thing I can talk about at my psychiatry appointment in 6 hours.

Fuck. I just want to be happy.

Tuesday, June 16

Give me your tired, your poor, your drunk masses yearning to breathe free.

Today I graduated from outpatient treatment. In typical Liz fashion, I woke up at 5:20pm, ten minutes before my session was starting. Traffic was in my favor as I pounded it from Northeast Minneapolis to Cedar Riverside in 12 minutes. Seattle traffic will not be as forgiving.

The friend I have known longest throughout my journey was my first roommate in inpatient. My first day on the inside, she found me using my winter coat as a blanket because I didn't have any of my belongings with me. After quiet introductions, we were able to become comfortable with each other and relate to so many things between our addictions. Today we graduated the program together, and I am extremely grateful for her kindness and strength.

How did it get to this point? I used up all my "drinking responsibly" privileges. Wedding? Free booze! Plane gets delayed? Pour me another, racially ambiguous bartender. Tuesday? Let's get shitfaced. Drinking never helped me: it only hurt me and those around me who endlessly care about me. A lot of folks I've met discovered that their drinking got out of control during college, and they aren't alone. My college was more like camp: we took first in ultimate frisbee and ate hallucinogens in the woods.

I have another chip to signify my recovery. Two praying hands with the words "ONE DAY AT A TIME." There is truth to the one day at a time aspect - I can no longer think to myself Oh god I have to be sober for the rest of my LIFE. If I'm sober today, I am succeeding. Progress, not perfection.

Tomorrow I have my first psychiatry appointment in four months. When I was in inpatient, my medication was blindly increased. I've been on Cymbalta for seven years, and it has probably never worked effectively because I was drinking the entire time. Celexa, Lexapro, Zoloft, Trazadone, Adderall, Concerta, Strattera, and the like never really helped me. Each one made me feel extremely foggy, lethargic, and disinterested in most things. I remember one time I couldn't do my homework for school because I simply couldn't reach my bag on the opposite end of the couch. I'm concerned that my new/temporary doctor will try something similar when I won't be around for him to monitor the affects of my medication. Now that I'm sober and more aware of what I'm putting into my body, I'll be able to address my concerns instead of just taking a medication solely based on the fact that I want to feel better.

Medication has been an on/off issue for me in the past few years. I've always taken it because the withdrawal from anti-depressants and stimulants was no picnic. The last time I went through significant withdrawal symptoms was when I was in New Mexico. At 6,000 feet in elevation, I was nauseous, dehydrated, and emotionally belligerent. I'm scared to go through that again. Withdrawal is almost worse than a hangover, and I've had bad hangovers. The "I'm never drinking again" hangover. The "I can only drink soup" hangover. The "maybe a beer(s) will help" hangover. I'm eager to take care of myself mentally and emotionally. If Cymbalta isn't right for me, I'll most likely take another pharmacological path. And where that path may lead, I'm not quite sure. But hopefully it won't limit me to my bed, to where I'm already limited due to the entangling of insomnia and hypersomnia.

There are a surprising amount of restrictions regarding taking a cat on an airplane. At some point this summer, Patty Fat Stacks and I will be flying home to Seattle. Old home for me, new home for him. After some extensive Googling, I discovered that Alaska Airlines has the most relaxed yet inexpensive policy to fly a feline. I can stick Chubby Buddy in the cargo hold for $100 as long as I'm on the same flight. I also have the option of taking him in the cabin with me, but that service/privilege is reserved for "quiet animals."

At some point I'll need to purchase a new carrier because the one I have was chewed up by a cantankerous chinchilla who was being rehomed from Seattle to Minneapolis four years ago. Somewhere in Wyoming, he was completely distraught and decided he must be free of his temporary plastic home. With the use of his teeth, he chewed a hole in the carrier that was roughly the size of an index card. That's a lot of work considering he was only 800 miles into his journey and only had his mouth to free himself. After some duct tape and little lullabies, he survived the remainder of the trip to the L'Etoile du Nord.

I still haven't gotten boxes. I've been meaning to, but because I have 10 weeks to move myself and my belongings I can't part with, I've been a little more relaxed about it. When I moved to Minneapolis, I think I decided six weeks out that I was going to uproot myself. The ten weeks I'm giving myself to move home was marked by the fact that I'd like my health insurance for as long as possible, and my departure will coincide with the end of my lease. It seems like the perfect time to move.

Throughout the month of July, I'll be making appointments for August and giving away things I don't need. I have highly replaceable particle board furniture as a result of one too many trips to IKEA, some bedding, power strips, and other home essentials. I think that's the Target brand of the power strips, "Home Essentials." I really don't have that many things, but I'll be taking the important things with me: maps, WWII books, avant garde memoirs, little knick knacks I've illegally amassed from Kinder Eggs, and my pudgy cat.

I'm looking forward to getting some Pacific Northwest exercise after my move: kayaking, paddleboarding, and hiking. For whatever reason, I've always been petrified of having a bike and sharing the roads with people choosing to travel via 2,000 pound vehicle. I'm looking for nature to give me the opportunity to be my road, my path, my topographical opportunity. I'm also looking forward to new AA meetings, new sober friends, and a support network that will travel with me, such as r/stopdrinking. r/stopdrinking has been huge for me. Reddit used to be a source of entertainment, but each morning and night, I look to the site to connect me with those who have the same issues I do. I don't completely dismiss the rest of the site, because r/photoshopbattles and r/avocadosgonewild are still fucking hilarious.

There IS something out there for me. Endless drinking just never allowed me to find it. When I graduated from inpatient rehab, we all had to blindly pick a candle from a small box, each candle with a word that should represent ourselves and life going forward. Mine read "success." I need to go find that success, even though every day is a positive accomplishment of not drinking and staying sober. Some of my drunkest friends have commented that "what I'm doing is really cool." And it is really cool: flossing every day, always knowing where my car is (except for tomorrow when I'm going to forget that I had to park two blocks away from my house because of a fucking parade in Northeast Minneapolis), carefully carb counting, and taking care of Chubster McGee. I have him, but I'm all he has. I've already apologized for the imminent trip below deck he'll have to take to Seattle. But I'm sure he'll forgive me.

Saturday, June 13

Romanticizing demons

Alcohol seems to go hand-in-hand with two seasons: summer and winter. I've experienced some cravings as of late due to the long hours of the day and the increase in temperature. These days used to beckon me for day drinking, patio shenanigans, and making friends with complete strangers who had the same objective as I. What's strange is I'm now acting as if it is winter, rarely leaving the house and cuddling with kitty under the blankets despite the humidity. This past winter, I only left the house to go to work and the liquor store. The clerks at Central Avenue Liquors saw me more frequently because I hated my job and needed something to do in my off-hours. When I wasn't at work during the winter, I usually had cracked a beer or two before 5pm, and a call to Pizza Luce was in the near future. During the winter months, I was largely in denial of my problem. Who cares! It's -15 degrees. I'm just keeping myself occupied for the next few months until the trees aren't so naked.

Now that it's summer, I've caught myself thinking back fondly to last summer. Working at a restaurant that specialized heavily in its wine list meant I was often taking home shitty table wine or wine left over from weddings. On nights I was working weddings, we were given one or two shift drinks or shots to keep us going until the wee hours of the morning. I was rarely at work before 4pm, so sleeping in with a hangover never presented itself as a serious issue. Working in the service industry accelerated my drinking because I had access to alcohol and I was getting paid for it. What could go wrong?

I know I won't relapse, but sometimes I think holy fuck, it's 80 degrees and a tall can of Coors Light sounds incredibly nice right now. If I succumb to alcohol, "cunning, baffling, powerful," I'm going to backslide worse than before, and possibly have more problems than a black eye and bruises on my chest and back. I can't do that again, not to myself or those who care about me.

Comedy in the Twin Cities seems to be collapsing at an alarming rate. Not the quality of the shows, but the social dynamic of the community. Fuck, we're all working towards the same goal, yet everyone is exchanging abrasive words about who is funny or who is deserving of time or what is PC or who touched who after a show. In the last 18 months, Facebook has become a suicide mission for so many comics, myself included. What's that? You have a differing opinion than I? To the stakes with you! You will be burned and people will tag themselves with one hand while holding a pitchfork with the other. The lack of positivity and support in the community is bewildering to me. Messages and posts are misconstrued, something is quickly overanalyzed, and counterarguments are smashed into keyboards on a daily basis. To be clear, I'm guilty of taking part of this as well. But it isn't helping us towards the common goal of making people laugh.

My first time down to Acme Comedy Company was during the second week of November in 2011. I walked down the steps wearing one of my pairs of jeans with too many holes. I nervously looked around while a bartender poured some drinks and changed the channel from ESPN to The Simpsons. I had no idea what the fuck to do. Who do I talk to? Where do I sign up? How much time do I get? So many questions.

I went up the bar and introduced myself to a local comic who has been working at the club for some time. He took me over to the sign up list and told me to write and star my name to show it was my first time at Acme. He took me into the showroom and showed me the aisle to walk to the stage and explained I'll get a light at 2:30 and I need to be off stage by 3 minutes or else the mic will be cut. He also explained there wasn't an MC and my voice will get called over the speakers when it was time for me to trot into the spotlight. While I waited for the show to begin, I wrote out a set list and met a few people who would become some of my closet friends in the community. I made it through my set, got some laughs, and felt accomplished while driving home.

But in the last 18 months, I haven't felt that same sense of camaraderie. I'm anxious to see what the Seattle scene has to offer. In the last times I've performed out West, I've been welcomed with open arms, and while the faces and jokes are different, I'm sure they've had equal or similar problems with drama in the community. These days in Minneapolis, you can't say anything publicly without someone getting up in arms or making a shitty, outdated joke at your expense. When I voice my opinion, I immediately get shutdown because, holy shit, they have a different opinion than me or that my choice of words wasn't up to their par. The lack of acceptance in the Minneapolis comedy community right now is appalling. We could stand to be a bit nicer and a bit more supportive of each other. And maybe, just maybe, shutting the fuck up could work in our collective favor. But then again, this is just my opinion, and someone's probably going to have a problem with it.

Every time I log into Facebook, it's the same bullshit. Who is quitting comedy? Whose genitals are up for debate? Who didn't stick to their time last night? Why does that guy always wear the same thing on stage? Who just moved here and is fucking everyone? What open mic is just an excuse to suck each other's dicks? Which open mic isn't worth it anymore? Who advanced in the contest? Are rape jokes off the table? What constitutes as "PC" ? Who is way in over their head? Who moved to LA or New York too early in their career? What break up is almost certain and who is waiting it out? Why was attendance so low? Who had another bad online dating experience? Who had a one-nighter cancel without notice? Who drank too much at the show last night? Back to you, Cliff.

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Easier said than done. Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr have all turned into easily accessible bullhorns for anyone who's anyone with an opinion. We can see each other fall apart in real time, witness public meltdowns between generations of comedians, and become indulgent in someone else's pain. These social media platforms have become catalysts in the onslaught of badgering. Instead of saying something assertively, you can now aggressively attack someone while hiding in your room in your underwear. Why are we fervently addressing our concerns to a profile picture instead of politely approaching a subject on which many schools of thought exist? Because it's easier. We need to spend the time and effort on closing the gap and communicating effectively through human nature instead of being assholes on the internet. And yes, I'm going to share this on Facebook, and it would be unrealistic not to expect some sort of response or argument that is different from what I've stated above. I'm well aware of what I've written and how I'm going to distribute this, just in case a bone is in desperate need of a picking.

Comedy isn't the same here anymore, and it's a part of why I'm moving home. I need to send text messages to people to procure the particular attendance of open mics and get togethers. I now leave right after my sets because sticking around for the backlash of snickering and eye-rolling has become monotonous and tacky. This scene isn't what it used to be, and that sucks. I'm looking forward to new opportunities in Seattle, and those include staying active in my recovery, minding my own business, and making people laugh.

Wednesday, June 10

Chess: think first before you move.

While I reflect back on my time in inpatient rehab, I'm realizing that a lot of the information and "tools for my recovery" were extremely negative. Sort of like a hyper intensive DARE program. I don't think it was necessarily to scare myself and other alcoholics and addicts straight, but the negative information and insights that were fed to me were largely negative. I'm wondering if this is why so many people relapse.

While in inpatient, I had three lectures per day, after each meal. Some were given by a doctor or a scared intern while others were previous patients of Fairview Riverside when it used to be St. Mary's. A lot of these lecturers hammered home the idea that if we don't get a sponsor, go to AA, and surround yourself with sober peers of your same gender, you would relapse.

I'm approaching 120 days of sobriety in a few days. I'm struggling to keep a positive mindset about sobriety because of all the negativity surrounding sobriety while I was in rehab. You'll surely fail if you stray away from these facets of sobriety! Yet I don't have a sponsor. I don't want a sponsor. I already have a slew of people with whom I discuss my sobriety: my outpatient counselor, my therapist, my psychiatrist, my AA home group, my parents, and others who are supportive of my ongoing endeavor of always being to locate my car. Adding one more person who I need to report to on a daily or weekly basis is overwhelming. I also don't want to have to explain my entire life story to someone, yet again. 

I've been reminded on a few occasions that my recovery is mine. I don't have joint custody or share nights and weekends with another person. I'm doing what works for me. I'm guessing that there are people who relapse because hospitals and rehab facilities are under the impression that the same plan is going to work for everyone, similar to those who think organized religion will work for everyone, when really there are some of us who, while respecting those choose to follow the path of a prophet, don't need to be frightened into a corner and blindly accept the guidelines of faith. 

Now that I don't drink, I floss every day. My Facebook posts are of a conscious and direct manner. Tom Hanks movies don't upset me nearly as much. I make appointments and actually show up. I don't wake up hungover. I always remember getting home and what I did the night before. I'm eating less pizza, and Chinese delivery is no longer a staple of my diet. 120 days of sobriety can just as easily be seen as 120 days of responsibility. I want to be able to live my life responsibly, and so far I'm off to a good start. 

In the last few days, I've been reminded that there really are good people and that not everyone is my enemy. I know I've been hiding a lot as of recently, but I'm still looking for opportunities to go out and spend time with those who see me for me and not people who are going to judge me or my past. Comedy can be fun in the right setting with the right people. I've been cautious to stay out of situations where I might say or do the wrong thing, something against my better judgement. I'm protecting myself. I'm looking forward to seeing what Seattle has to offer in regards to comedy. I've only performed a few times in the city when I've been back for holidays or extended breaks. The folks I have met in Seattle are good eggs, and I've stayed in touch with a few on Facebook for the purpose of staying in the loop if or when I return. 

I've started making phone calls and discussing my plans for moving at the end of August. I've reached out to a few people who might need a room in the coming months and to those who have an interest in traveling out West. I knew at some point, I would be triggered by moving. I thought to myself the other day, I need to get boxes to ship my books. I should go to the liquor sto--nope nope nope nope nope. I'm glad I have the awareness to catch myself in these situations. 

I've been largely hesitant to fly anywhere. The last time I flew anywhere was back to Seattle for the Super Bowl. My mom's birthday coincided with the fuck up of a game against the Patriots, so there was a lot of partying to accomplish. Drinking for four straight days took a toll on me. I blacked out during the game and found out the Seahawks lost again later that evening. I've traveled solo a lot in the last few years, which always meant unsupervised and stress-free drinking: I wasn't flying the plane, so who cares? Turns out everyone who is close to me was worried about my drinking. 

At some point, I'll have to fly home to celebrate Ali's moving up to A Union in Seattle. I'll probably have to take the clothes I'm not planning on wearing for the next six months and possibly a cat. To a plane full of strangers, I'm just another passenger. But I need to be the responsible passenger who isn't going to get loaded and black out somewhere over Montana. 

The drive out West will be interesting. Like flying, I'll be unaccompanied and left to my own devices. I'm looking forward to making playlists, researching podcasts, talking to myself, working on jokes aloud as I drive, narrating my trip, blogging, and seeing the drive as an opportunity to grow and not to drink. 

Friend: Why are you moving home?
Me: I'm crazy depressed here and I need to be with my family. I'm looking to be happier in a more stable place. 
Friend: :( that's too bad. Do what makes you happy, lady! Life's too short to be sad. 

I'm going to do what makes me happy.  

Sunday, June 7

Into the (un)known

At the end of summer, on August 31st to be exact, I'll be departing Minneapolis and moving home to Seattle. Strangely enough, I'm feeling surprisingly better in regards to my depression because I've made a decision that will help me and not strangle me. I don't want to brag, but I smiled today.

Where is home? Where your mail is sent to? Your birthplace? Where you make awkward love with your lady? Home can be defined in thousands of different ways, and I define it as where I belong, and I no longer belong in Minneapolis. Comedy became stressful and egomaniacal, relationships and friendships became straining and exhausting, and I'm worried that if I spend too much time alone that I will relapse, and I don't want to purchase a one-way ticket to a place I have no intention of returning from. Instead, I need to go where people have unconditional love for me, a place I feel safe and respected.

Red and green: my first headshot, 2011

I took a long list of my belongings today. Most of my belongings are clothes with holes in them and books on the catastrophes of WWII. There are a few bizarre odds and ends, like my ship porthole turned mirror, a didgeridoo, some artwork I created in a drunken hurry, and my six foot ruler I found after a strange dream about things larger than their actual size and it only seemed right to bring it "home." Aside from my material possessions I've become sentimentally attached to, I have four IKEA side tables, two IKEA lanterns, an IKEA Expedit cube shelf, a tube tv, and my ex-boyfriend's couch, which I've decided to sell and give him the money since we have a similar plans in terms of leaving Minneapolis. The old me would have sold the couch, bragged about it on Facebook, and bought as much Jameson as I could carry out of the store while trying not to look like a complete drunk. But times have changed.

And then there's the bed. The bed I fell in love in, the bed I sleep alone in, the bed that doesn't give me back problems.

Of course, there's the largest list in the world consisting of upcoming appointments, refills, and phone calls I'll have to make before my departure. The reason I've decided to put things into place three months in advance is because I won't feel stressed. When it comes to sobriety, people have told me to not make any major decisions within the first year of recovery. I've politely dismissed this advice as I'm doing something to help myself. As of today, I have roughly 10 weeks to sell some cheap particle board furniture, see a few doctors, and do some major math in regards to traveling expenditures.

The drive from Minneapolis to Seattle is roughly 23 hours and 1,600 miles long. The trip will take me on I-94 West until it merges with I-90 West somewhere in Buttfuck, Montana. My dad has offered to travel with me. However, I'm leaning toward traveling solo. I've done solo travel before on a much grander scale, so domestic travel should just be a really long walk in the park. I'd like to get off the beaten path for a bit, whether that means taking a detour to Portland before going home, or stopping somewhere near Yellowstone.

My route back home. If there's anything of importance to see in North Dakota, I'm listening.

When I moved to Minneapolis, I came with a Subaru and an angry chinchilla in the backseat. Now I'll be returning with a black Soul and a heavily sedated cat. When I was heading east on I-90 outside of Spokane, I remember looking in the rear view mirror and thought "Wait, that's where I'm from..." At least this time, I'll know what's ahead of me. My dad mentioned to me the other day that he enjoys that I've made my life about experiences and not material objects. I mean, I do love the shit out of this weird shelf thing that I hang all my knick knacks on. But when I think back to things that truly make me happy, I was never holding something or buying something. It was simply looking at something, hearing something that instilled a feeling of peace and accomplishment.

This was my first day in Minnesota. The accumulated snowfall was somewhere around 40 inches with the temperature at -10F. Immediately regretting resettlement.

I've lived in this house for three and a half years, the longest time I've lived in one place since 2005:

3848 54th Ave
205 Main Street
612 Galer
4011 40th Ave
3672 Indian Pipe Loop
4342 Overhulse
6312 California Ave
5417 Fauntleroy Way
13547 Evener Way
2530 Dupont,
and here.

That's a lot of moving, but I need to take it upon myself to broaden my shoulders and do it again, but this time, I'm doing it for me: not for college, not for a boy, not for divorce, just me. Naturally my mom is thrilled that I'm moving home because she's constantly worried about me, as she should be. I'm looking forward to knowing where I'm headed without really knowing where I'll end up on an emotional level. Yikes, that's pretty vague. But at least there's a destination that isn't a whirlpool of Jameson and undecipherable text messages.

But seriously, how dope is this shelf?

Saturday, June 6

Triple Crowns and Coffee Grounds

In the past, whenever I felt lonely or became aware of a void needing to be filled, I drank. Boyfriend out of town? Six pack of Coors Light tall boys. Friday night and I didn't get on at open mic? Two bottles of wine. But now that my sense of loneliness has increased, I don't have anything to fill that void. What used to be solved with alcohol is now a stagnant hiatus, a creeping sense of blame and would have / should have / could haves.

I came to realize this week that I've been subconsciously blaming myself for what happened to my better half last summer. If I could have shut the fuck up for two minutes and just went home, everything would have been avoided. Maybe we would have a place of our own, or even be engaged. I was selfish and only thinking about myself and how I only wanted to drink more. And in the last 10 months, that's been incredibly hard for me to admit, and I'm sorry.

Coping with depression sucks. Just get some exercise! Even if I had peace of mind, I still wouldn't be exercising. I would be the same sleeping schlub, sleeping not because I need the rest, but because I want to escape everything. Sleep has become my new drug of choice, and not because of peer pressure or because I can get it for free. Like television or the deep ends of the internet, sleep is my escape, and because of severe depression, I can't get enough.

I have no real sense that I belong anywhere. The friends I thought I had have become egotistical maniacs, thrashers of confidence and esteem. My mom and step-dad are in Hawaii, basking in the rays of a tropical timezone and digging their toes into volcanic sand. I hate that I would have been there, too. If it weren't for my family spending an astronomical amount on their offsprings' fuck ups, we would be taking pictures of sunsets for Instagram and worrying about the SPF in various sunblocks. Instead, I'm sitting here in front of my fan in an old t-shirt and thinking about how I am the person that is solely to blame for my demise. Where do I belong? It certainly isn't here.

The circles I used to feel comfortable in have dissipated. I've desperately needed a hug for days, yet I'm afraid to get one because I know I'll immediately start crying at the thought of someone actually making physical contact with me, and many people see crying as a sign of weakness or vulnerability. Instead I've been spooning with a comforter while kitty sleeps in the bend of my legs. I have no family I can rely on in Minneapolis. Most of my days are spent alone because I'm either asleep or I have no energy. How did it come to this?

When I do have the energy, I've been working on pseudo-side project involving my ancestry on my dad's side of the family. From what I discovered, my family owned an exclusive resort on the Black Sea which catered to wealthy Jews from Moscow and St. Petersburg. When the Russians decided a monarchy really wasn't their cup of tea, tensions arose and my family left Odessa in 1907. In search of a life that was better but not much better, they settled in Aberdeen, South Dakota. After accessing the 1920 and 1940 US censes, I discovered they spoke German while they identified as Russian.

After some Googling and a few quick emails to my uncle, I discovered that many Germans, especially from the area Alsace-Lorraine, immigrated to Russia in the 19th century. "Low German," the language they spoke in addition to broken English, originated in Lower Saxony. My current investigation is centered around the immigration from Germany to Russia: why the move when international tensions were high? I guess I have to keep digging.

The research I've done on my family has provided me with a sense of belonging during a time where I feel like I don't belong anywhere. I don't feel like I belong in Minneapolis, in comedy. It's like finding a dead end when it isn't marked. You thought you were in the right place, and in a swift but predictable turn of events, you're struggling to go any further and need to turn around. But I'm having trouble finding out where exactly to turn to. Clearly alcohol is out of the question and anything else people imbibe, smoke, hit, bang, or dab.

I've already hit rock bottom. So what is this? It feels like a shitty rest stop.

Wednesday, June 3

"You're never alone when you're with Dwayne Johnson."

A few weeks ago, I thought about how some day it's going to be nice to veg out instead of having depression force me into it for 18 hours a day. While in inpatient, I was reminded on a daily basis that there are certain signs to be wary of in regards to relapsing, the main one being isolation.

When you have severe depression, you isolate a lot. You wake up at 3pm and think, "no...not yet" and stay in bed for another four hours. I've been forced into isolation daily, but I don't see it as a sign of relapse. In recent weeks, I've divvied up my problems into two columns: sobriety and depression. Most of the adverse side effects of life are falling into the depression column; I can't work, my sleep schedule is that of a cat, I've cried myself to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, and the smallest inconveniences are followed by a slew of FUCK YOUs and DUDE GET IT TOGETHERs. Guy cuts in front of me in line at Walgreens? War criminal. Woman left her turn signal on for the last two miles? Sex trafficker.

I've been careful about how I've been spending my time in the last few weeks. I've let myself rest, grieve, and ultimately be sad. However, on Sundays I've been taking the time to take myself on a date or do something nice for myself. I've taken myself to a movie the last two Sundays, which translates to sitting alone during the previews, commercials, and coming attractions and wondering if anyone else notices I'm by myself. This past Sunday, I nestled into a seat with a small bag of six dollar popcorn to watch San Andreas. I was curious to see how Hollywood would portray everyone in the state of California reacting to a huge, and possibly biggest disaster.

As someone from Seattle, "the big one" is suspected of never being more than a few years away. We're always "long overdue" or "it could be any day now." During my first earthquake in 1995, I was peeing. My grandmother's bathroom, painted an onslaught of peach and pink with little soaps and fake flowers and praying porcelain figurines, started shaking. If you've been through an earthquake, you'll know that there are different kinds of shaking during a quake. There's "up and down," "side to side," and this rolling feature where if you look thirty feet in front of you and that plane can actually be either higher or lower than you, like a wave. The 1995 quake was an "up and down" shaking, sloshing water around in the toilet bowl and causing praying porcelain angels to violently fidget off the bathroom counter. You can't outrun an earthquake. There isn't any "get to higher ground" or "go into the storm shelter." If you aren't familiar with earthquake safety protocols, you're supposed to get under a table or a desk and protect your neck while holding onto whatever you're under. If there's no flat sturdy surface, find a door frame and hang on. But if you're seven-years-old and actively using the bathroom, your safety choices are limited to hiding in the tub or sit there screaming, the latter of which I accomplished.

The biggest quake Seattle's experienced in the last 30 years was in 2001. Originally a 7.2, the Nisqually earthquake was downgraded to 6.8, and miraculously, no one died. There was one casualty, a man who had a heart attack as a result of the shaking earth after the fact. For months, grainy security camera footage was the first visual you would see at the start of the evening news. The capital building in Olympia was damaged, some of the first buildings erected in Pioneer Square were missing large chunks of their old brick infrastructures, and the Viaduct portion of Highway 99 shifted four inches, a shift that's still largely affecting the daily commute for enraged Seattlites.

During the Nisqually quake, I was in an old rickety building my school called the Art Satellite. Half of my theatre class was blocking for the upcoming production of "The Good Doctor" and the other half were unimpressed by a showing of Woody Allen's "Bananas." A classmate jumped from the first row of seats in the theater to the stage, and understandably, the Depression Era arts establishment started shaking. At first, we all thought that the building was going to come tumbling down due to an active student trying to get from Point A to Point B. But it just kept shaking. Due to the rolling nature of this earthquake, the stage I was standing on to block my amateur role in the upcoming student play was like being on waves, surfing cheap dry wall intended to function as a stage. The entirety of our production panicked. Unfortunately for us, there weren't any tables or desks to cower under and protect our collective necks. Instead, there was one door way. One. Fourteen seventh graders unsteadily ran towards the door frame. We were yelling because one thing about earthquakes is that they are loud. The building you are in, every building around you, and everything in them is either rumbling or falling. We thought we were safe until we saw the piano.

The piano was this old rickety thing that some how could still give off the impression of a good tune and performance. This open doorway, with no door, lead into the prop room backstage. Old buckets of tap shoes and masks from last years art show were falling off the walls, and in the artistic wake of falling memorabilia rolled this monstrosity of a piano right to the doorway, at which point, a whole bunch of seventh graders collectively yelled "FUCK IT" and ran out of the building to the sidewalk. At the time, it seemed like a good idea. And among the falling brick and stage lights, no one was hurt. We were surprised to see our other classmates already outdoors, one of whom was actually lying in the middle of the street despite his visual art teacher screaming instructions for safety.

The rumbling slowly stopped. Traffic lights were swinging, car alarms were going off, and every single girl in my class was crying. In a time before cell phones, no one could call their parents to give a high sign to let them know we were okay. We walked back to the main building of my school to find out the main performance space/conference hall was completely destroyed from a caved drop ceiling and imminent asbestos. My grade was herded into a back parking lot where they provided us with bottles of water and garlic bread. If you want to know what kind of education I received, I received the education where in the event of a natural disaster, they provide heated garlic bread. To date, this might be the whitest thing I've ever written.

I ended up going home with a friend because I couldn't reach my parents. We turned on the TV when we got to her house in time for the breaking news fiesta from around the region. Security camera footage showed bottles of wine falling off the shelves to create a Shining-esque deluge, people at gas stations dropping the nozzle and running away, congressmen and women sitting in session in the capital, unclear whether or not to proceed with their legitimate topics while the ceiling crumbled around them. I made it home later that day after the phone lines were somewhat freed, and picked up the things that had fallen in my room, mostly plastic horse figurines and pictures of real horses.

In the months after the earthquake, I developed crippling anxiety because of the natural phenomenon. I couldn't go to bed without my radio on. I had to tap my foot in bed just so that if a tremor did occur, it would be less of a surprise. If a dump truck or a loud noise could be heard from the street, I would grab the edge of the table to see if it kept rumbling. A few years later, an earthquake hit while I was asleep, probably nothing more than a 5.0 or enough to stir your coffee. I awoke as soon as the shaking stopped. I could see my track ribbons swaying left to right on my wall and my blinds lightly tapping the window.

Earthquakes are like depression: you cannot outrun it, and in a time of imminent danger and loneliness, all you can do is hide and cover yourself to the best of your ability. San Andreas was good for an action movie, and if you like movies strongly consisting of running and screaming and things falling down, I recommend it.