60 days until my birthday. 25 years ago, in honor of my sobriety, I got this tattoo. It was my first one. In Madison, WI, it was all the trend to get a tiny quarter-sized tattoo on your shoulder. Drinking is self-destructive. I wanted to something that was symbolically the opposite. The tattooist said, “You think this is all you’ll ever get, but you’ll be back.” I said, “naw…..”Read More →

Fifty years, twenty five sober, my birthday is near, and here I am, all full of reflection. Continuing the theme of influential books, and these books are all about power… The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is like the Bible; I have internalized its principles, incorporating them into my breath. When I say “like the Bible,” I mean that I haven’t read the Big Book the way most Christians haven’t read the Bible: not often enough, not fully enough, and without as much mindfulness. The book is too historically specific and cumbersome to make it all the way through, so I cherry pick. Nonetheless, itRead More →

… so slip inside this funky house. It is a fact of age that home has replaced voice as the central metaphor for my life. Lately my blog has added home as a new theme to my various motifs. “The home” has always been in my thinking and writing, but it’s surfacing differently these days. This is a year of symmetry and reckoning for me. I reckon fifty years of life, twenty five of them sober, one of them divorced. I lived in my house just a year, now, with it as mine alone. Poverty forced me into transience, from place to place for thirtyRead More →

If you look up practice in the dictionary, you get lots of definitions. You will see there that the word derives from the Greek and Latin sense of “practical work.” Gratitude as a practice is indeed practical work. It takes work. It takes practice. As such, it connotes the many meanings of practice found in the dictionary. Think about gratitude as you read these definitions, because it might change the way you understand gratitude. It did for me, or at least it reminded me of some old lessons. Gratitude is a proficiency that must be practiced. It is a habit, a custom, a customary performance,Read More →

My college journalism professor decried the birth of USA Today and its “circus spread” style of layout or design. This format, he explained in disgust, spelled the doom of modern civilization, because it showed the strength of television’s influence over newspaper. Television turned the news into a circus. I lasted only a semester as a journalism student. My professor’s point makes sense, though. Media inherit aspects of their previous forms, finding “shape” for them, as Marshall McLuhan was quick to point out. I remembered the “circus spread rant” when I bought my first copy of Generation X by Douglas Coupland. The book’s shape is decidedlyRead More →

In my first days of recovery, the hole poem helped me as a meaningful metaphor for rearranging how I wanted to move through the world. I had a conversation with the kid last night about the difference between being a victim and a survivor. I hadn’t had that conversation in a long time. It provided a nice opportunity to take stock of changes. Today, I drift between chapters three, four, and five. There are some holes that are habits, and very hard to change. Sometimes, negotiating the holes on the street has become easier, and for the most part I do take a different street.Read More →

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood has always been special to me. As a kid, I watched it all the time. I was introduced to the show when it moved to PBS. Although I was older than the target audience, I loved it anyway. As an adult, after treatment for alcoholism and drug abuse, I started watching again. People in AA meetings encouraged watching because it promoted affirming, feel-good life lessons that alcoholics need to hear and practice. It always made me feel better regardless of what was going on in my life. My all-time favorite character on Mr. Rogers is Daniel Striped Tiger. Amazingly, Fred Rogers voicedRead More →

I know the whole world eagerly anticipates my detailed description of my garbage, so I will appease your curiosity. Ten things I found today in my file cabinets (some of which were trashed and some kept) 1. My very first D&D character. It was actually AD&D, generated some 15 years ago. 2. Papers from my undergraduate years at UT – Austin. 3. Reading packets from my undergraduate years at UT-Austin. 4. Pictures of the first time I went to Disney. 5. Hershey’s leash (my very first dog “inside” dog; he rescued me from my insanity; I love him and still miss him). 6. My “relapseRead More →