Shoulders: An Epitaph

It’s interesting how we use elusive words to describe death. We use adjectives that dance around the finality – “passed away”, “gone”, “not here”, “moved on” – as if avoiding the bluntness of it somehow makes it more bearable.
It doesn’t.
I received word last Friday that my father died. There are so many emotions and memories boiling on the stove right now and I can’t even process it because the pot’s too hot. My father is dead, and as much as I should accept the comfort being offered right now, it’s more like something I tolerate out of a sense of…something. Duty, maybe?
Hell if I know.
What I do know is this is a moment that makes me swallow hard. He’s gone (there’s that elusive verbiage again) and I feel a mixture of guilt, wishing that I’d spent more time, returned more calls, kept more promises. Knowing fully the shame of poor choices and taking the man for granted. Feeling anger at the know-it-all teenage me who was such an ass at times to this good and decent man. Stinging from t…

How Gregg Allman Ruined My Drinking (Sort of…)

Gregg Allman, circa 2011 (New York Times photo)The first time I got drunk I was 13 years old. I had no idea who the Allman Brothers were because I was already in denial of my southern roots at that early age, leaning toward “smarter” music like Elton John, Queen, and others. By the time I was 18 I was a certified anti-southern rock snob. I was also well on my way to becoming an alcoholic, drinking with purpose and abandon. Morning “skull-busters”, 16-ounce Budweisers, occasionally served as breakfast for a friend of mine and I and as we became regular drinking buddies, he turned me on to something that would blow my mind: marijuana and the Allman Brothers. There was a July 4th weekend on St. Simons Island in 1977 when a random party broke out around a whole lotta Buds and a whole lotta bud, and my friend was determined to break me of my apathy toward his beloved Allman Brothers. After we’d achieved a remarkable high from a copiously fat joint, he put “Dreams I’ll Never See” on the ste…


“I know when to go outI know when to stay inGet things done…”- David Bowie, “Modern Love”For awhile now my recovery has been drawing on an account mostly built up during the first two years of my sobriety. I was in the comfy, cozy confines of a long-term residential men’s treatment facility – initially to get sober, then staying on as an employee. Working on my recovery wasn’t difficult there. It was a kind of recovery field test, and I could safely make mistakes, learn from them and make the necessary corrections. I had a routine of prayer and meditation and it worked very well for me, yet it has proved to be more theoretical than practical, and certainly not tempered with enough real-life experience. That’s because of a lack of transference. The skills I committed to developing there aren’t being pursued with near the same fervor as when I was desperate and hurting. Now, out here in the big, bad ‘ol real world I have more things clamoring for my time. I have a job with a mercurial s…


For the last few weeks now, I’ve been relying on support from my A.A. friends as I go through an embarrassing and awkward separation and eminent divorce. I am grateful to have that support, but I am frustrated by how much more I need to change. It is like having the imposter inside exposed for the ruse that he is, and I must confess that I have let my life get away from me. Not by drinking or drugging, but by failing to handle my affairs the way sober people ought to, with honor and integrity.I think we alcoholics are guilty sometimes of calling ourselves ‘works in progress’ as a way of justifying the slowness or lack of change. We don’t consider that stupid and hurtful actions on our part can cut to the quick in moments and take years to heal. We are surprised that our apologies can be brushed aside by angry recipients tired of waiting on us to grow the hell up and we don’t consider the fact that, damn it, our actions do affect others in very real and painful ways. We want justice wh…