Better Left Forgotten

Today is an anniversary of sorts. Not one that I’m proud of by any means, but one that is somehow unavoidable and unforgettable.

Five years ago this morning, I walked into my managers office, very nervous about what was going to come of our conversation.

The previous Saturday, Green M&M and I had gone to a club in San Francisco to meet up with some friends. There was some sort of event that was supposed to be happening there. I can’t remember the name of the club now but it was some sort of arctic theme which was tremendously ironic to me, because it was hotter than hell in there. Green and I had a couple drinks while we surveyed the crowd trying to find the group of people who were supposed to be meeting there. Forty-five minutes later, when we still hadn’t found anyone we knew, we decided to bail and go to another club we knew of that was likely to be less crowded and not so hot.

We spent four hours at the other club, closing the place down and then it was time to go home. When it was time to go, I did something, for which I remain completely ashamed and disgusted with myself and would give anything to undo.

The club was in San Francisco and Green M&M and I lived in Richmond, California, roughly 20 miles drive. The club was also in the South of Market (SoMa)/Mission Districts and while not a terribly frightening place to be, it was not a place I felt great about leaving my car over night, either. Plus a cab ride home would have cost a considerable amount of money.

I believed that I was fine to drive home and opted not to leave my car behind to be vandalized and broken into. At first it was no big deal. I used to subscribe to the old, “I drive better when I’ve been drinking” philosophy. I now know that the only reason why anyone can say that is because they know they’ve drunk more than they should and they’re afraid, and therefore are far more focused and “present” while behind the wheel… Sometimes.

The problem was, that as I was driving on the highway, and across the Bay Bridge I became increasingly drowsy and was having difficulty staying awake. I was on the bridge though and had no way of pulling over or exiting the highway. And then, for just the briefest of moments, I fell asleep. Fortunately, I was driving in the far left lane of the one way bridge and my car drifted to the left until my wheels hit the curb shocking me back to awareness and causing a surge of adrenaline that woke me up. Sadly, it’s likely that, had there not been any intervention, I probably really could have made it the rest of the way home safely on the adrenaline that was coursing through my veins.

Fortunately, there was intervention. The ruckus that was caused when I drifted into the curb was enough to attract the attention of the highway patrolman that I had passed a few minutes earlier and when I looked up again there were flashing lights behind me.

I was asked a number of questions I couldn’t possibly repeat. I did the “usual” tests. I’m not sure that I failed most of the tests. I never have been able to walk in a straight line, even when stone sober. No one can say the alphabet backwards. But I had no problem touching my nose. After going through all that I was given a breathalyzer test (which I kinda thought they shoulda done first). I blew a BAC of .18 (later lowered to .17 by a blood test) and was hauled off to jail.

I spent five and one half hours in a jail cell before being released “on my own recognizance” on the streets of downtown Oakland, without my wallet or cell phone, both of which went home with Green M&M who was not driving and therefore not arrested. I had to call Green from a pay phone and waited inside the front door of a local movie theater for her to pick me up.

The following Monday morning, I told Douche Bag as little as I had to and still feel like I was being honest. I had no idea what the outcome of the situation was going to be. I didn’t know if it was grounds for termination, but I knew it would be worse for me if he found out some other way. I also, didn’t know what was going to happen with me legally. I was terrified I was going to go to jail.

I didn’t lose my job (dammit) and I didn’t go to jail. I’m tempted to say that everything turned out alright but that’s taking things too lightly. This was a trying and difficult time for me and it has definitely not been worth it.

When I appeared for my court date, I was sentenced to “2 days in jail with time served.” The 5 hours I spent in jail after being arrested counted as one day. The second day was commuted to Community Service, which amounted to six hours on a municipal work crew. I had to pay a $1750.00 fine. And my automobile insurance skyrocketed. Before the DUI, I had an impeccable driving record. I had the very best rating possible with my insurance company, “E”, and after the DUI my insurance rating was “7”, the absolute worst rating. Every July, my record is reviewed by the underwriters and every year that I have no additional blemishes on my record that number decreases. Currently, my rating is “3”. Thankfully, my insurance has gotten far less expensive, but the blow to my pocketbook at the time was substantial.

Five years is a long time, and much of the time, it has felt as though the DUI was a lifetime ago. I’ve become accustomed to the insurance rates, and am only grateful when my rates go down each year. I have done my community service. I have paid my fine. Until last year when I applied to be a Big Brother, I had mostly put it out of my mind. Big Brothers and Big Sisters requires that you not have had a DUI within the last five years, and only have had one in your life. That’s when I did the math and realized it had only been four years.

So today, it is with mixed feelings, that I tick off the five year anniversary since my DUI. I’ll be paying for the damage to my record, by way of my increased car insurance premiums for three more years, but as I stated, I’m accustomed to that. Otherwise, I can finally put this thing behind me. There’s nothing left to stand in my way. I’ve learned my lesson. I know better than to take the risk. I’m glad it’s over.

Maybe now this anniversary can be forgotten after all.

Two Is Better Than One

My latest foray into sobriety was pretty short lived.  Not that it was very whole-hearted.  Or even particularly necessary really.  But I had decided to take a little break from the drinkin’ for a bit.  Certainly only for a little bit anyway, as the holidays are coming up and between celebrating and trying to forget there was bound to be some inbibation taking place.

Anyway, I was down to my last couple bottles of wine in the rack and I just decided to not buy more when that was gone and take a little break from things.  The final bottle was finished off on Saturday and that was to be the end of that for a while.  I thought maybe, I’d only drink a single drink when I was out for dinner, or at a friends (Read: Green M&M‘s since I don’t have any other friends that I socialize with.)  Otherwise I’d just not drink.  For some reason, voicing this decision to another living soul is a little too intimidating for my taste.  So when it was decided that Green M&M was going to come over for our weekly/bi-weekly Dancing With The Stars viewing party I mentioned to her that I didn’t have any wine.  She was going to bring a bottle from home but it wasn’t going to be cold because this conversation took place after she’d already left for work.  Upon further discussion however, it was suggested that she should bring dinner with her from our favorite Tacqueria, Tacqueria Cancun in Berkeley, CA.  They make really excellent Mexican food and sell it out of a restaurant in a really terrible location.

See, I hate Berkeley to begin with.  It’s crouded and poorly laid out.  Getting anywhere in Berkeley, in my opinion, is far more difficult than is worth whatever you may be going there for.  Because of this, I do not go to Berkeley any more than I absolutely have to (which is actually ever Tuesday night since that’s where Insightful Therapist‘s office is.  Fortunately she’s just on the edge of town and getting there and back isn’t too much of a nightmare.)  Green on the other hand grew up in Berkeley, and thinks nothing of the chaos that surounds the burg.

Since Green would be going through Berkeley to get dinner, she’d be that much later getting to my house, which was understood and perfectly ok with me, but then she suggested, “While I’m doing that, you could go to the store and buy a cold bottle of wine.”  I don’t think she really appreciated the humor in that statement.  “…buy A bottle of wine”?  Just one?  Really?  Funny, funny girl!  Why buy one, when you can buy eight?  The wine in question is comparable in price and quality to Two Buck Chuck so it wasn’t a tremendous expenditure.

I went to the local grocery, (real name Lucky, but I insist upon continuing to call it Albertson’s, because Albertson’s has always been the superior brand and I do not like that they reverted all Northern California stores back to the Lucky brand) to purchase the aforementioned vino and then headed home, with just about an hour to chill the wine and clean house enough to make things presentable for the delicate sensibilities of the fairer sex.  When I arrived home I immediately put one bottle in the freezer, and two bottles in the fridge, ostensibly so that it would be cold the next time I wanted wine.

The bottle in the freezer was split down the middle with dinner and we each had our share.  A while back I took to adding diet lemon-lime soda to my wine – a spritzer if, you will.  It was entended to cut the wine and have it go farther but instead it has just made it easier to drink faster.  Anyway, I opened the second bottle after I finished eating my burrito (Carne Asada, if you must know.)  By the time I turned off the TV to go to bed a little before midnight, I had finished off the second bottle.

This doesn’t actually, really concern me all that much.  I mean, it’s not like I “tried” not to drink it and couldn’t help myself.  I just didn’t give it much thought.  And I wasn’t drunk when I finished it.  It takes a lot more than a bottle and a half of wine to get me drunk.  And I didn’t have a hang over when I got up this morning.  Yes, I over slept, and yes I was late for work but that’s because I was up until after mindnight, and because I slept so badly over the week-end.  (I oversleep and am late for work on an almost daily basis, so today is nothing special.)

Maybe I’ll take another break from “the bottle” after these remaining six are gone.  Or maybe I’ll just throw in the towel until January and then give it another shot after the torture of the holidays has blown over…

It’s Just Sex, Right?

I never knew how much fun blogs could be.  There are a lot of different types of blogs out there and I admit that many of them do not hold any interest for me.  I’ve happened across a lot of blogs where people take pictures of the food they have in restaurants and write a journal entry about it.  I have only one thing to say about that.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I have read a lot of blogs where people take trips and write about what they did.  Often those are the same blogs as the ones mentioned above.  I guess the difference between good ones, and bad ones of these blogs is whether the author is really a writer.  If you can write something with a lot of artistry and beauty in your use of words, it barely matters what it is you write about.  On the other hand if you write like you’re writing a Dick and Jane book (See Dick’s lunch.  Dick had good lunch.  Dick cleaned Plate.  Jane had good lunch too.  Jane not cleaned plate.)  (I guess that sounds more like a Tarzan and Jane book, but you get the idea) then your blog isn’t going to be interesting to read.

Some people write their blog entries as a blow by blow report of what they do.  I usually skip over those pretty quickly.  It’s like reading my own writing…  From the 7th grade.  A good blog will recount a tale, or an event, or an experience, but in a way that is interesting and attention grabbing.  It’ll provide all the pertinent facts without boring you with unnecessary details and time tables.

Here’s an example of what I mean.  Back in April I went with a Green to Las Vegas.  Now I could recount the trip thusly:

Our flight was scheduled to depart Oakland International Airport at 9:36 a.m. but didn’t actually leave until 9:50.  We landed in Las Vegas at 10:47.  After we got off the plane we went straight to the bathrooms.  After we finished using the bathrooms we went to the luggage claims and found our carousel.  At 11:37 the luggage started coming out and after a few minutes my suit case came down the shoot.  I grabbed my suit case and we waited for her suit case to come down the shoot.  We waited and waited but it never came out.  Then we went to the baggage office to find out what happened.  They checked the computers and the piles of luggage outside the office, and called the baggage handling area to find out if anyone had the suit case but they didn’t find it.

So Green was pretty unhappy about her suit case not showing up and was worried that they wouldn’t find it.  We gave the lady in the office a description of the suit case and told her we where we were staying and gave them Green‘s Cell Phone Number.

Then, we walked outside to where the shuttles were, found the ticket office and bought our tickets and found our shuttle.  We had to wait in the shuttle for about 20 minutes before the shuttle driver decided their were enough passengers to make the trip.

We were the first stop on the trip and we got to our hotel around 1:00.  Then we walked inside.  Then we went to the front desk.  It didn’t make any sense because they did not have a clearly marked line.  We didn’t know where to go and we though we were in line.  Then an employee came over to us and offered to help us find a line and we got in line.  Then we got to the counter and then we checked in.  We asked if they had any upgrades available.  Then they showed us the options and we chose a room with a “strip view”.  We were excited because we always wanted a room with a strip view and we never get one.  After we checked in we went to our room, but we were disappointed because the view was not of the strip.

Boring, right?  I felt like a little kid while I was typing it to the point that my rhythm of my typing even became very staccato.  Dah dah dah dah DAH.  Dah dah dah dah DAH.  Dah dah dah dah DAH.  Boring!

I could however have told the same story thusly:

Green and I absolutely love Las Vegas.  We are always looking for an excuse– er, opportunity to go.  This year we decided to go in April as a joint birthday celebration having chosen this time because it falls rough in the middle of her mid-March birthday and my mid-June birthday.  Right between our birthdays, but better yet, before the weather there turns to full blown summer and the sun feels as though it will incinerate you where you stand.

We were expecting a great trip, staying in a new (to us) hotel, the MGM Grand, and tickets to Zumanity, the Circ du Soleil show we’d been itching to see for several visits.  After our first visit to Las Vegas, a New Years trip that had a departure time scheduled for 6 something in the morning which we missed resulting in a six hour lay over in Fresno International Airport (and if you’ve ever been there, you know what a joke that is) we learned our lesson and booked our departure for a more reasonable hour.  Our flight was delayed taking off by about 10 minutes but fortunately, as they so often do, the pilots made up the difference in the air.  But the “adventure” was not to end there.

Upon deplaning in Las Vegas we made a b-line for the restrooms because sadly, the very public restrooms in a busy airport are favorable to a cramped, Southwest Airlines jet bathroom, and then headed on down to Baggage claim.  This is always a dicey time because you never know if your luggage is going to make it or not.  Fortunately for me, after just a few revolutions of the carousel, my suitcase came down the shoot just fine.  But as the crowd was thinning and the frequency of the bags passing by slowed, it became apparent that there was a problem.  Green‘s bag was nowhere to be found.

Green immediately began to worry about not having her suit case and not having any of her clothes or toiletries and whether she’d be reimbursed if her suit case never showed up and the $100+ flat iron she had inside was lost to her forever.  We went to the baggage office where we looked at all the unclaimed luggage sitting around but none of it was her’s so we went in to file our claim.  The attendant did her due diligence and searched the computer, the unclaimed bags and called the baggage handlers, but sure enough, Green‘s suitcase did not appear to be in Las Vegas.

The attendant immediately began the process of opening a claim and tracking ticket and we provided her with the necessary information of how to contact us when the suitcase arrived, while answering all our questions and doing her best to reassure Green that they’d make it right with her if the bag didn’t turn up.

Once that was completed it was time for the jaunt to “the strip” where we were to check into our hotel.  We got out to the transportation section and found the booth to buy our fair on one of the many shuttles to the strip, but unfortunately we did have to wait about 20 minutes till the driver felt he had enough passengers to justify the trip.  And while we waited we were fortunate enough to get to listen to the drivers gangsta rap music he had playing over the speakers…  While he was no where around.  Thankfully, the MGM Grand is one of the first stops and we weren’t on the shuttle for long.

Walking into the lobby of the hotel we were immediately impressed with the grandeur and beauty of the place but as we approached the front desk we encountered our next obstacle.  There was a mass of hotel guests waiting to check in, and no clearly delineated line.  We must have looked pretty lost because pretty soon a woman wearing a blazer and a golden name tag came over and asked us to follow her while she lead us to what looked like the next most expeditious line.

When it was our turn to check in, which really did only take a few minutes, we asked the front desk clerk if they had any upgrades available.  They did and she showed us what our options were.  We chose a suite that was on the 18th floor – we prefer to be higher, but all the higher ones weren’t non-smoking – and that had a “strip view”, however when we got to the room we were sorely disappointed because what they consider a “strip view” is a sliver of the back of the next hotel over and a sprawling view of the rest of Las Vegas proper.

Now, I admit, the second version has more words, more paragraphs, but isn’t it more interesting to read too?

I read a lot of blogs, and I hope a lot of people will read mine.  I just hope that mine fits into the better written, more interesting to read, category.

“““““““

Now to the real point.

I do read a lot of blogs and I admit that I’m greatly interested in the blogs of people who write about sexual encounters, be they real or fiction.  They’re usually interesting to read and exciting and quite often get me going.  I believe another term for these entries is “stroke writing”.  But I also admit that I can only suspend my sense of reality so much and I’m often shocked and disturbed by some of the behaviors people write about.  Many accounts of random, anonymous sexual encounters, unprotected bareback sex (I do only read the gay ones) and other forms of complete irresponsibility and frankly, I don’t know what to think about them sometimes.  I wonder, “Do people really do these things?”  “Is this really a favorable way of getting what you need?”  “Do these people not regret or feel ashamed about their actions?”

But I’ll be honest.  They affect me.  And sometimes, when I’m feeling really lonely, and I’ve had a little too much to drink (read: an extra bottle) I think, maybe…  Maybe I could give it a try.

Such was the case this past Friday night.  Halfway through my second bottle of wine and leaning toward my third, I’d read all the “stroke posts” and looked at all the sexy pictures on my reader and I was horny, and feeling lonely, and not as inhibited as I normally am.  So I turned to Craigslist.  I knew I couldn’t be the predatory one, and I knew I couldn’t drive, or “travel” as the post authors always say.  So I posted my own ad, something I’ve never done before.  The post was something about being “newly gay” and needing a teacher, both of which is true.  I put down that I needed to be taught about gay lovin’ but that I would have to be convinced because I was frightened.  And I attached a grainy, unclear, cell phone picture of myself, naked and sprawled out on the floor that was taken some time ago while I was drunk and Green, my former room mate, was trying to get me to bed.  You couldn’t see my face, and I was not trying to hide my physical appearance.  I was saying “Boys, this is what I look like and if I actually see this thing through and you come over here, this is what you’re going to find.”

Almost instantly I got two e-mails from guys who had seen my post and suggested they might want to teach me.  I was emboldened by the vino and I thought, hey this is great.  I replied to the e-mails with answers to their questions and questions of my own.  Still figuring that there was no harm in pursuing this.

One of the guys dropped out after a couple e-mails but the other guy was serious about moving forward.  He was ready to take down my address and head on out and that’s when reality struck!  In an instant my head cleared and the fear took over.  My mind was racing!

Oh my God!  Is this serious?  Could I really do this?”

“Crap!  The house is a mess.  I need to clean the bathroom!  I haven’t changed my sheets in months!”

“I don’t know anything about this guy and while that may have sort of been the point, it’s really risky!  Plus as ‘anonymous’ as I’d like to believe it is, it’s not really ’cause if I do this he’ll know where I live.  He could very well be genuine and sincere, but he could just as easily be coming here to case the joint.  I don’t have a lot that’s worth stealing but I do have some.  For that matter, he could be a serial killer and I would have invited him in.”

“And it’s sex.  Really sex.  Not just I-contemplated-it-while-jerking-myself-off sex.  And that would change everything!  There’s no going back from that!”

And so, I contemplated it while jerking myself off.  And then the “need” had passed and I turned off my computer and went to bed.

The next day I felt like shit!  Two and a half bottles of wine will do that to you, but it wasn’t just the hangover and the headache and the diarrhea and the shakes.

I was ashamed.  Still am a little bit.  I’m relieved ’cause I didn’t follow through. I know I’m still safe.  I know I still don’t have any diseases.  I know that I haven’t opened myself up to be a victim of a crime.  Yes I could still get robbed.  It’s part of life.  Yes I could still be attacked on the street.  That too, is a part of life.  But I didn’t invite a complete stranger into my house and tell him to take a look around and see if there’s anything he’d like to come back for, uninvited.  And I didn’t open myself up, figuratively and literally, and make myself as vulnerable as a human being can be and risk a life changing result from an “anonymous donor”.

Yet, I can’t help being ashamed of myself for having gone there in the first place.  Sex should be a wonderful thing between two people who care for each other.  Right?  That’s certainly a lovely sentiment and I’d like to feel like I can apply it.  But let’s call a spade a spade.  I’m not a social person.  I don’t meet new people and I haven’t got anyone in my life so the likelihood of meeting someone I can feel a connection with and start a relationship with is next to impossible.  Meanwhile, I’m still human.  I’m still male.  I still have needs that need to be fulfilled.  And it is just sex, right?

This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself in some semblance of this situation.  I’ve been on Gay.com many times.  I’ve had on-line chats with local guys while looking for a little “inspiration”.  But inevitably, it always goes the same way.  They don’t want to just talk about what they’d do.  They want to come over and do it.  And it’s always the same thing with me.  I’m horny.  I’m probably inebriated (only time I have the nerve to do anything sexual.)  I’m naked, with my cock in one hand and the computer mouse in the other and I just want to get off.  And then I start to wonder whether I should take it a step farther.  And then they say it!

“Can I come over?”  Cue the thunder clap and the lightening bolt.  The scratching record.  The sudden silence of the crowd.  The dramatic “plot thickens” organ music.  And suddenly it’s not a game anymore.  It’s not just fantasy, or what ifs.  it’s not just masturbation.  It’s an opportunity.  An opportunity for something, I actually really do want…  sort of.

And in an instant, I’m overcome.  I’m sick to my stomach.  I’m shaking.  I instantly go from the “could I?”s to the “how could I?”s.  All the blood drains from my body.  Where I was hot and bothered, now I’m frozen and terrified.  I’m weak and shaking and, eh’hem, everything goes limp, to jelly, turns soft.  And I chicken out.

And in spite of all this, I can’t really decide if I think that following through would be a bad thing, and make me an amoral person, or if I think it would be a perfectly natural thing to do and I’m way over-thinking?  And it doesn’t really matter because like it or not, my sub-conscious won’t let it happen.

Yes, I’m relieved, because I didn’t follow through.

But I’m also kind of pissed.

‘Cause I didn’t follow through.

Just Like Riding a Bike

I wasn’t very good at sex, and if you don’t believe me I’m sure “She” will agree with me. There were certainly some mitigating circumstances, like chemically induced erection rejection and anatomical disinterest that was yet to be detected. I’d like to think that if and when I get another chance, WITH A DUDE, that will change.

But the phrase “It’s just like riding a bike” took on a whole new meaning to me yesterday.

Thanks to the time change, I managed to wake up before noon on a Sunday. More importantly, I woke up before what would have been noon even if the time change hadn’t happened. I decided this was a good time to go out and blow the dust off the bicycle I bought more than a month ago with the intention of getting my sorry ass out for some much needed exercise. I got up, had some breakfast, fed Scared Kitty got dressed and went out to the bike. I took the bike down to the street, hopped on and started peddling… badly.

I haven’t been on a non-stationary bike, in more than 20 years so this turned out to be a much more difficult proposition than you might expect. It became apparent that my tires were under inflated (Even though I inflated them when I bought the bike) and that my seat was too low (I was kneeing myself in the chest with each revolution.) I only rode one time around the block and nearly got myself killed twice.

This is a 21 speed bike which I selected mostly based on the scientific conclusion that it’s orange and I like orange. But I have never been on a bike with “speeds” before. My last bike was a red and silver BMX bike and I was half my weight and two feet shorter then. Anyway, this bike has 21 speeds and I don’t have a clue what “speed” I should start off with and I’m pretty sure I was getting too much speed/distance with each revolution of peddling and I had a lot of trouble controlling my speed (not unlike with sex.) I made a wide turn that almost ran me into a curb (not unlike sex) (OK, even I don’t know what that means.)

When I turned the next corner I turned out in front of an on coming car that almost took me out. By the time I got back to my house I was done! I carried the bike back up to my locked porch, inflated the tires some more, raised the seat and called it a day. I was exhausted and drenched in sweat after only a few short minutes of effort – not unlike— Well you get the idea.

Cold Turkey

Yesterday, I confessed to an addiction.  Today, I’ll tell you about another.

I’ve been a drug addict for six years.  It’s true.  Every single day for the last six years, I have taken mood altering substances that my body very quickly became dependent upon and without which I turned into an unrecognizable monster oddly reminiscent of an enormous ass, but one that would sooner kill you then feel like you’ve let him down or disappointed him in anyway.

I’m not talking about anything you’d snort or inject, in fact, I’d have to check with Ex Con Older Brother to be sure, but I don’t think you could even buy these drugs on the street.  The internet?  Sure.  But not the street.  No, the drugs I’m talking about are the Doctor sanctioned, Government approved, Pharmaceutical Company foisted kind.  Yes, that’s right.  I’ve been taking Anti-Depressants for the last six years.

Today, however, marks the last day of this addictive behavior.  No longer will I assault my synaptic pathways with artificial fortification.  No longer will I ingest these foreign substances to do what they will with my psyche.

[ Gosh, I feel a little like I should be standing barefoot on a couch after an overnight drinking party shouting at my friends about our flaccid penises (peni?) and making deals about losing our virginity by prom night.  And if you don’t get that reference – American Pie – then I don’t want to be your friend anyway.]

Today I am taking back control of my emotional well being.  It isn’t actually, really cold turkey  I made this decision back in April when I was taking 300 Milligrams of Welbutrin and 40 milligrams of Celexa on a daily basis.  I felt like I was in a haze all the time.  I felt like I wasn’t able to access my feelings.  Like I wasn’t having a genuine experience.  And I felt like this ride was never going to end unless I stepped on the breaks and got out of the car.  So I did.

This whole ordeal started a little over six years ago–  Well, really it started 33 years ago with my childhood and my genetics and my divorced parents and my general state of misery, but I don’t have all day to write and you don’t have all day to read and if I tried to put it all in here, WordPress very well might explode, but not before you found me boring and hit that nifty little arrow in the upper right corner to take you to the next random post!  So with that being said…

We’ll pick up this ordeal six years ago.  I had been working for about four months for The Company that Created the HMO and wasn’t really loving it (I was an Administrative Assistant for fuck’s sake) but it followed a nine month period of unemployment where I could barely pay for my car with the unemployment checks I received ever other week, let alone rent and utilities, or assisting Green M&M, who graciously allowed me to move in with her, with expenses.  I had been drinking a lot, and feeling really dejected because I wasn’t able to find another job and I was at a really low point in my emotional cycle.  So when the opportunity with The Company came along, I really had not choice but to take it.

One day I had had a blow up with a co-worker and I didn’t know what to do about it so I made an appointment with the Employee Assistance Program Counselor, ostensibly to talk about work relations and how I could deal with this person.  I sat for an hour with this Counselor who talked to me for five minutes about my coworker problem and then asked me all kinds of questions about my life, my childhood, how I live now, etc., etc., etc.  Then she said, “You sound depressed to me.  Here.  The Company that Created the HMO offers all these classes and they’re bound to fix you.”

OK, so that last part may not have come out quite like that, but all these years later, that’s how I feel about it.  The counselor referred me to the Oakland Adult Psychiatry department of The Company that Created the HMO where I was pared up with a Psychologist that I would get to see once every six weeks (whether I needed it or not, I guess.)  They never did offer me any assistance with the coworker and we continued to have conflict until the day she went on maternity leave and then decided not to come back.

Once every six weeks, I’d go to this appointment with this woman who looked strangely like a Yahoo Messenger avatar making the “angry” face and who always made me feel inferior and pathetic.  She kept urging me to go to this Depression Overview Class that was offered.  It was supposed to give me a better understanding of what I’m dealing with and was a precursor to the eight week Depression Management Class she also wanted me to take.  I resisted it for some time but it was obvious to me that I was not going to get what I needed from attending these sessions with Avatar Face and something had to give so I went.

Up to that point, I had been determined that I was not going to take medication and I did not want anyone else to know what I was going through.  I resisted the class because then people would know.  I gave in and attended the class and one of the things they focused on in this class (not even 2 hours) was the idea of medication, how it works, and why I should take it.  I will acknowledge that it has been six years.  I will acknowledge that I was uncomfortable in the situation and wanted to go home.  And I will acknowledge that I was desperate for someone, somehow to make me better and take all this pain away.

All those acknowledgments being put out there, do not change the fact that what I remember the instructor of this overview class saying was that I’d take meds for two to three years and that while I was taking them, not only would the stabilize my neurotransmitters but it would correct the problem in my brain that causes the imbalance in the first place.  So, OK.  Two or three years…  I can accept that.  Especially if I’ll be all better after.

I set an appointment with a Psychiatrist at The Company and got a prescription from her for Paxil.  The prescription was, take 10 milligrams a day for the first week and then bump it up to 20.  About this time I inquired with Ex Con Older Brother who I knew was also taking Paxil and he informed me that it worked, for him, like flipping a switch.  That he started taking it and almost instantly things changed.  I really wanted that for myself so within six weeks, with the Psychiatrist’s approval I increased my dosage twice, first to 30 milligrams and then to 40.

It took a little while for it to completely kick in but once it did, I felt great.  Best I’ve ever felt.  I had confidence, I enjoyed people, I was in great emotional shape.  It was around this time that Green M&M and I decided that neither of us had anything to lose and so we decided to give a “friends with benefits” scenario a try.  This was when I found out that some of those side effects they tell you about were going to be a problem.  I was having serious sexual side effects and couldn’t’ get past them.

I asked my doctor to help me out with this problem and her solution was to take me off the Paxil and put me on Welbutrin.  Her instructions were to taper off the Paxil over the course of 10 days.  Which I did.  Which is when the aforementioned unrecognizable, enormous ass, monster appeared.

I crack jokes and be obnoxious about this because it’s easier to face, but the truth is, it was an emotionally excruciating, hold on for dear life, MY GOD HE’S GONNA BLOW, volatile two weeks and I really didn’t think I was going to make it.  It’s easier to laugh now.  I’m reminded of a Saturday Night Live commercial parody not too long ago about a Birth Control Pill that would make a woman have her period only once a year.  In the fast talking, fine print they talk about how during that one week-end out of the year you better hold on to your hat ’cause your gonna lose your shit, etc., etc., etc.  It says that you should alert your law enforcement officials as they may wish to lock you up as a preemptive measure.  That’s how I felt.

When I think about these times I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude toward Green as well as some shame over the way I acted.  In truth her actions set me off on more than one occasion but my reactions were out of control excessive and she put up with a lot of vitriol from me during that period of time.  It would probably have been easier for her to just walk away, but she didn’t.  She stood by me and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.

Anyway, once the psychotic episode passed and I was back to “normal” whatever that is, I was on just the 300 Miligrams of Welbutrin.  It’s the only Anti-Depressant with little or now sexual side effects.  What I’ve learned in the recent past is that it’s also commonly know to increase anxiety in those who are prone to it (I am.)

I took Welbutrin by itself for nearly four years, never really feeling like it was doing me any good, but afraid to say anything for fear of what they’d recommend next.  But when the time came that I couldn’t stand it anymore, this image approximates what I was feeling.  I felt like I was standing right down there at the bottom of this mammoth wall of rock, knowing that on the other side of this structure was millions of gallons of water just waiting to burst through and destroy me.  I felt like I was standing at the bottom of that wall looking up at the top, and just watching as the wall slowly crumbled knowing that at any moment the water could break through and all would be lost.

At that point my Psychiatrist recommended adding the Celexa to the mix, and while I’ll admit that it did seem to help for a time, it really just put me on top of the dam.  No longer was the wall crumbling.  No longer did I fear that it would all come crashing down on me.  Instead, I was standing on the road, looking out at all the water, all the feelings and emotions, knowing that disaster lay before me, but then again so did the potential for good.  But either way, I couldn’t get to it.  It was inaccessible.  And if I tried, I just might drown.

It’s strange, but knowing that all that was there, and that I couldn’t get to it had a two fold effect on me.  First it sent me into a deep despair.  On the advice of my therapist I took a leave of absence from work and went into an outpatient treatment program that is offered by The Company that Created the HMO.  I don’t particularly feel like the program itself offered me anything of value, other than time away from work to regroup and collect my thoughts.  But six weeks later when I was back at work full time and I was more in control again, I realized something else.

In a very real way, the meds have been that dam for six long years.  The only reason those millions of gallons of water are back there waiting to crush me, is because I built the dam and backed it up, rather than making an effort to tread it as it flowed through.

I never wanted the drugs.  I never should have taken the drugs.  I will never again take the drugs.  What I needed was therapy.  I needed steady care from someone who could help me to come to terms with my issues and help me to find that I’d be OK all the same.  I needed a life vest and a kayak, and an oar (am I over-doing the metaphor?)

I took the drugs because I heard “You’ll take them for two years and you’ll be fixed.”  I took the drugs because The Company that Created the HMO isn’t interested in dealing with life long problems, they want to send you to a class that amounts to them saying “Suck it up.  You’ll be fine.”  I took the drugs because once I started them, I was afraid to stop, lest I end up in that puddle of anger and tears and desperation on the floor in my closet that I had been during the Paxil/Welbutrin transition.  I took the drugs because I didn’t know how not to.

But I finally made a decision.  The best decision I’ve made for myself in a long time.  I will not take the drugs anymore.  I started this process in April.  I was taking two tablets of each medication.  So starting on May 1st, I took one and three quarters.  On June 1st, I reduced it to one and one half, etc., until today, Friday, October 31, 2008.  THE last day, I will take my drugs.  Starting tomorrow, I will be drug free.  Starting tomorrow the last brick will have been removed from that dam.  The waters will flow freely and I will wade through them until I’ve learned to swim peacefully from shore to shore.  It may be a struggle sometimes.  Some days will surely be worse than others, but so far I’m strong and steady.  The current isn’t that bad.

Bathroom Transformation Days Seven and Eight

I must apologize to those of you who have been following this particular thread (Fixator) for the lapse in updates.

I sort of expected that nothing much would happen yesterday, since it was Labor Day and since Adorable Little Contractor spent all day Saturday here working on the floor.  I took advantage of the long weekend and I did made my bi-wekekley trip to M&Ms apartment to do my laundry.  Because I was expecting Adorable Little contractor to be here around 9:00, I got up and out early.  I arrived at M&Ms house around 9:30 and started my laundry….  OK…  Before I get too far down that road, let me remember that nothing exciting happened.  Around 2:00 in the afternoon, we headed off to Dave and Busters in Milpitas, CA.  I’ve never been there before so it was interesting (and kinda dissapointing – I thought there’d be more to it.)  It was fun enough, but I’m not sure how worth the trouble it was…

I did the Fast and the Furious races several times.  Raced against both M&M (AKA Green M&M) and her sister Yellow M&M.  They both beat me…  REPEATEDLY.  Later we went to a motor cycle racing game….  They beat me theere too…  and NONE of us knew how to ride a motorcycle.

Beaten by girls…  Over and over.  I really am a sissy… 🙂

Green and I watched I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry too.  It was really good, I thought.

Anyway, I got home around 10:30 PM.  The first thing I noticed when I walked in the house was that it smelled kind of like paint.  I wasn’t expecting painting yesterday.  As far as I knew, the floor was going to be grouted and sealed yesterday.  So I went in to check it out, only the new light fixture hasn’t been installed yet so there was no light in there besides the hall light.  The walls appeared to be mint green.  Really bad!!!!

Green said “At least it’s not pink.”

“Um yeah…  Mint Green is NOT good.”  I would have really hated to have had him paint the whole room just to hate the color.  Fortuantely, I realized that was just the primer.  ALC had taken down the thick plastic he had hung and he rehung it from the walls instead of the cieling.  My shower this morning was a little more… intricate than normal.  There was a big gap in the curtain that, had I not been careful, would have spilled water all over the floor behind the toilet.

So it’s clear to me that I need to take my “after” pictures in day light but here goes all the same…

I came home tonight to find this.

I really like the color, but it doesn’t show up very well on the pictures.  Hopefully, in the daytime with full daylight it’ll be clearer.  I was having second thoughts when Whealer Dealer LandLady backtracked on her conditions for me picking the color (I have to return it to “antique white” when I moe out) of paint but now that I’ve seen the final result I’m very glad I didn’t back out.  I’m planning to paint the rest of my apartment when I get the chance.  The vanity is going to look nice once it’s finished and installed.  Things are looking pretty good.  I just wish I had a shower curtain.   Thanks to the painting, the make shift shower curtain has been removed and now I’m either supposed to try and carefully use my handheld shower wand without a shower curtain, or I’m going to have to go back to using the trickle in the basement at work.  Neither one is terribly appealing to me.  I don’t guess I have much of a choice though.  I hope that the new shower rod will be installed soon.  It looks to me, like ALC should be finished in the next day or three with his part of the renovations.