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Posts Tagged ‘alcoholism’

On the day my sister Kay woke from her coma and left the hospital – the same hospital still holding her mother and grandmother captive – the movie “Lost Weekend” was playing at the local Scranton movie theatre. I can see her now, in the back seat of a car, looking at the marquee and thinking to herself, “I lost a whole month.”

The Flapper’s automobile accident had been on the Fourth of July, and Kay was unconscious for a whole month. She’d “lost” the first month of summer picnics and ballgames. It’s a humbling feeling I’m sure to wake up and discover the world went on without you; dogs were fed, gardens watered and someone took care of the baby. No child at fourteen should have to care for her younger brothers, her crippled mother, and a ten month old baby sister. But that was her misfortune, her karma, our Year of Living Dangerously.

This week, the first hazy, hot and humid day of the summer, our air conditioner died and I felt like I lost a whole day.

Bob and I went out to run some errands and returned to a very hot house. The HVAC people who had installed a tankless water heater just a few months earlier, were booked solid. Temps would hover near 90, but they said they could come “tomorrow.” The Bride kindly offered us dinner in her freezing cold house, and of course we accepted. She wanted us to stay in her garage apartment overnight, but we said no thanks.

That night, we opened windows, found a fan, and attempted to sleep. After all, we are both stoic. We grew up without air conditioning, and we never needed it while we lived in the Berkshires.

The next day a young technician arrived and spent four hours troubleshooting our combo gas furnace and electric air conditioner. It was installed in 2015. Would I sound like an old codger if I complained about planned obsolescence? It does seem like major appliances used to get “fixed” when we were first married, and now more often than not, something needs to be “replaced.” Lucky for us, we only needed a new capacitor.

Still, our crooked crystal cottage could hold the heat in her walls. It took many hours for our unit to cool the whole house to a comfortable temperature. I don’t remember much of that day – trying to plant outside in the shade, refilling Ms Bean’s water bowl and checking her breathing to see if she was still alive. Animals are smart about the weather, she switched into hibernation mode immediately.

The 1945 movie Lost Weekend was about an alcoholic. Ray Milland plays a writer who goes on a “four day bender.” I’ve never experienced a blackout while drinking, I was always told I’m a lightweight. But these last few weeks of men debating a woman’s sovereignty over her own body have made me want to pop open a wine bottle again. And over this past weekend, our country experienced FOUR mass shootings…

I’m exhausted and tired of this fight, in a country where barely 1/3 of the population gets to impose their rules and religious beliefs on the rest of us . They want the freedom to carry guns, without a permit, like it’s the wild west. They want to legislate our wombs.

The problem with overdoing alcohol is the next day you pay. I heard Jane Fonda say she doesn’t have many days left in this life, and if she drank a martini tonight she would lose the next day. So I’ll pop open a Pellegrino and keep writing. I’ll try to stay grateful for all the little things in this life, like the Love Bug graduating from elementary school.

I don’t want to lose another day.

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Have you ever heard strange sounds in the middle of the night? Not like squirrels in the chimney, or mice in the walls. And not like thunder and lightning followed by a deranged dog trying to crawl under your bed. More like footsteps out on your porch at 4 am?

Well, that’s how our weekend began. Someone was clomping around on our porch – but let’s start from the very beginning.

On Friday I really wanted to see the Groom. We’d called, texted and Zoomed and Facetimed, but he was finally out of the Tower and back in the bosom of his family. I had to make sure he was doing well and warn the Bride not to expect too much; he needed to rest after all. Covid can take a lot out of a person. I mean just walking to the mailbox could be exhausting.

But you can’t keep a good man down for long because on Friday he had already been teaching the Love Bug how to ride a bike, setting up their “tiny school” at home, and then he took the dogs on a 30 minute walk! So I rewarded my Son-in-Law’s enthusiasm with a big plate of chicken parmigiana that night. As we were leaving, the Bride began to take the Grands blood for a study at the university.

We have at-home kits to take blood, but not to test for this virus?

As we drove home from our socially distanced dinner on their front porch, we passed a long Catholic parade on the streets of Germantown. An official Bishop-type led dozens of priests and altar boys carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary adorned with flowers, there were at least a hundred people following the procession – the Assumption of Mary. Many of the women wore a lacey head covering, but virtually nobody wore a mask. Everyone was singing!

As I opened the car window and looked on adoringly, thinking about all those years at a Catholic camp singing with nuns in the woods on our way to a grotto, Bob yelled, “Wear a damn mask!” breaking the spell.

And that was the night, or actually early the next morning, we heard the intruder on our porch. Bob immediately went downstairs and I immediately thought to myself, “My phone is plugged in downstairs, what if I need to call 911…”

Then I heard Bob’s voice, he was talking to somebody. Prompting Ms Bean to leave her cozy bed, she led the way downstairs; so much for our little guard dog, she never uttered a peep, not a growl or a bark! Bob had already locked the door and sent a young man, who was surely a drunk tourist, on his way.

“What did you say?” I asked him.

“I asked him what he thought he was doing here,” Bob said. Sometimes the NJ vibe just cannot be contained. I was stunned. What if he had a gun? What if What if What if…..

Once before, in the Blue Ridge, a large van pulled up to our house at around midnight. Bob got up and looked out the window to see an elderly man standing there, putting on a jacket. We opened the front door and the man said, “We’re here for Mr Young.” Now Mr Young was actually an older gentleman farmer and former UVA professor who lived down our country road a piece, and he had died in his sleep. The van was from the Cremation Society of Virginia.

Would it be wrong to say how relieved we were – that the van wasn’t coming for us? We were living on 14 acres in the middle of a forest, still Bob wasn’t scared. And he had no fear in the wee hours before daybreak on Saturday, in fact, he went back to sleep! While I stayed up replaying all the different scenarios in my head. Maybe we should move out of the city? Should we start looking for a beach house, again?

When in doubt, cook! Yesterday I sent Bob to Whole Foods for tahini because the Insta people voted on Baba Ganoush as an appetizer. Although zucchini season was done, Bob’s elegant Japanese eggplants were just getting started. I haven’t made this yummy hummus-like spread since the 70s and it was a major hit at our party for two.

How many lives do we humans get? I survived a car accident in 1949, the Groom survived Covid in 2020. I wonder if our democracy will survive this political pandemic season.

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Fair warning. I’m going to talk about marijuana, simply because it’s in the news this week. Recreational sales of weed will be increasing the tax revenue of the state of Colorado by many millions of dollars. The prohibition is over; the plant grown as hemp by Jefferson and enjoyed in colonial days has finally come out of the college closet with a grow light. And it’s high time too!

Here we are, in 2014, beginning to realize that non-violent, drug offenders are clogging up our prisons and it’s time we treated addiction like the public health issue that it is. Let’s regulate and tax our fellow citizens, like we’ve done with alcohol and tobacco. And finally, everyone is confessing to a dalliance with pot in their past. After all, even our President wrote a book about his youthful indiscretions.

But most notably, the semi-conservative NYTimes columnist, David Brooks, copped to his high school experience with weed, where he felt like a loser in English class in his article, “Been There, Done That.”

He was forthrightly mocked: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/03/david-brooks-pot-column_n_4537463.html

Well I don’t know about you dear reader, but virtually everyone I know has tried pot. Yes, they inhaled it and proceeded to empty out their parent’s pantry. But then again I’m one of those Baby Boomers, our mantra was “Why not?” May I remind you that the Big Chill went to Woodstock… 6020_1115890693726_5811966_nThen again, we were older. In high school we were clueless.

My friends in the next generation, a decade younger, were introduced to weed earlier, and I have to admit, I think it’s tantamount to child abuse. The still developing adolescent brain can be damaged by all that dopamine, and IQ just may be affected. Who wants their kids living in their basement forever? Pot is not supposed to be physically addictive, but it can be psychologically addicting. It can develop into an expensive habit. Albeit, one that leaves you feeling very zen most of the time.

What if someone started smoking daily in high school and didn’t stop until they had a baby? That’s more than 20 years! I asked my Pulmonology Fellow SIL about the risks of cancer and heart disease for long-term pot smokers. He said since weed has been illegal, there haven’t been many studies addressing these problems, but I found one out of California, naturally. http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2012/01/11282/marijuana-shown-be-less-damaging-lungs-tobacco

So my advice – brownies! Now that all those Rocky Mountain High dwellers can just go down to their local dispensary and order up some King Tut Kush for $45, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sfl-colorado-marijuana-20140102,0,4217222.story why not make some ghee butter and bake some brownies? Thereby avoiding any possibility of future respiratory disease.

You’ve all seen the ACLU graph about African American kids being three times as likely (I repeat 3x) to be arrested for possession of marijuana with or without the intent to distribute than White kids…which amounts to a type of apartheid in this country. ACLU_5_0Even Chris Hayes fesses up to carrying some weed into a Republican convention in his eyeglass case, and realizing he was not arrested because of the cop’s perception of his privilege.

http://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/chris-hayes-i-was-nearly-arrested-for-weed-106355779668

I believe that about 10% of the population may develop a problem with weed. Because that’s about the same number of recreational drinkers that may become alcoholic. In other words, they go from having a couple at parties, to binge drinking in college with an occasional blackout, to hiding a bottle in the garage and drinking every day. They lose their jobs and their families, and end up in court over a DUI. Their life goes downhill slowly, over many years. They change jobs, they move, they repent; but they never blame the bottle, they keep drinking.

What will a marijuana addict look like? That 1 person out of 10 people lighting up legally for recreational use. Well, he’ll probably not drive fast, in fact he may be picked up for driving too slow. He or she will most likely be similar to the alcoholic. They will suffer years of recrimination, rejection, and reprimands for a life that somehow was derailed. But he or she won’t be thrown into jail and become a caricature on Orange is the New Black, they will avoid that path. The double standard inherent in our justice system will cease to exist in Colorado.

Now let’s share our recipes for double fudge brownies with our Denver friends. Rocky Mountains, the Blue Ridge salutes you!

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