Foreshadowing, circa 1992

Foreshadowing, circa 1992

In the fall of 1992 I’d just declared my major in English and was taking a few literature classes as well as a 200 level poetry writing class.  I wrote the following poem about my grandfather and his battle with the bottle.  Little did I know that 20 years on, I’d be struggling with the same problem.

Keys Clunking

Hunched over the typewriter,
I speak to those after me
On the paper.
The breeze blows
Through the window,
Cooling the sparse room,
With its pair of beds
And that junk in the corner.
I recall the image
Of the old man over his machine
In the dining room of the old house
Where mom grew up.
A gray cardigan sweater
Draped over his body
Nearly touches the Camel, unfiltered
Cigarette burning in his ashtray.
Hints of bad whisky,
Whatever was cheep at the “sto’e”,
Mingle with the smell of smoke.
Only a drop of the poison remains
In the bottom of the shot glass
No matter how hard he tries
That final drop always dries
In the glass when the pint is empty.
In this house there’s not a sound,
Save the clunking of the keys,
Invading the silence.

Intention provides meaning

Intention provides meaning

Two months ago today, I walked into the old sanctuary on the grounds of a local Presbyterian church.  The worn but functional building is no longer the main place of worship and now serves as a meeting place for a variety of groups and activities.  I was there for the Wake Up East meeting of AA.

I’ll never be able to fully express the sheer terror that I felt as I sat there, defeated and worn out like the floorboards of that hall that are covered in places with blue masking tape.  I knew that I’d reached the end of the line. As I sat there before the meeting started I felt completely alone.

I was no longer willing to hang on to the idea that I might be able to moderate my drinking.  The past several years had already proven the impossibility of that plan.  I was starting to accept that reality. And still, abstinence seemed impossible.

Continue reading “Intention provides meaning”



I grew up in the country and spent my formative years close to the land. Everyone I knew hunted and fished. Friends lived on farms and had livestock and horses. After school and on weekends, my time was spent outside, usually with a bb gun and a pair of boots.

Farms were a big part of life. It felt like everyone had a pickup, usually with a gun rack in the window. My first jobs were on farms — bailing hay, painting barns, painting fences with creosote, splitting wood, and shoveling shit. The woman I lost my virginity to lived on a pig farm.

Continue reading “Escape”

I am @SoberCyclist. I stand on my feet. I don’t crawl before anyone.

I am @SoberCyclist. I stand on my feet.  I don’t crawl before anyone.

Yesterday, after a couple of days of agonizing debates between the committee members in my head, I changed my handles on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

After I started posting about going to an AA meeting publicly on this blog, I began to have some misgivings.  These misgivings are rooted in two things: a sense of self-protection and the debate around anonymity in recovery.

I’m really new to this and I don’t know how people will react — although the cat is out of the bag for the most part.  Continue reading “I am @SoberCyclist. I stand on my feet. I don’t crawl before anyone.”

Surrendering to saying, “I’m an alcoholic”

Surrendering to saying, “I’m an alcoholic”

After going to that AA meeting on the 23rd of September, I decided that I needed to commit myself to sobriety.   I knew that this meant getting past my angst with the first step.

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

See, I truly didn’t believe that I was powerless over alcohol.  And I was positive that my life was not unmanageable. As I mentioned in my last post, I had not lost anything.  I wasn’t “at the bottom.” I still had my wife, my house, my car, my job, my son.  I had everything.

Continue reading “Surrendering to saying, “I’m an alcoholic””

“It’s taken a long time for me to get here”

“It’s taken a long time for me to get here”

I haven’t written about this yet for a couple of reasons.  First, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t put any artificial time limits on myself — I didn’t want to declare that I was taking a 30/60/90 day break from booze.  Secondly, I wanted to see how this worked out.  Finally, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame.  I’ve learned that I don’t have to be ashamed because I’m taking positive action to make my life better.

I’d been suffering for a long, long time and I secretly knew it was time for a change, but I couldn’t bring myself to make the change.  On September 21 of this year, I woke up full of regret.  The night before, I’d had several glasses of bourbon, several beers and half a bottle of wine.  I didn’t count my drinks anymore, but I knew it was a lot.  The recycling told the story.  I was fuzzy on the details of the night before, but I knew we’d had some family over for dinner that I’d cooked and I was reasonably sure that we’d had a good time, that I hadn’t been an overt ass or hurt anyone, and I didn’t burn dinner.  I may have served steak that was so rare it was blue in the middle though.

Continue reading ““It’s taken a long time for me to get here””

Out in the woods

Out in the woods

I finally got out in the woods yesterday.  I’ve been longing to get out in the woods for a few weeks.  I had high hopes that this would be a family event, but that did not come to pass.  I spent some time at Patapsco State Park near Elkridge, MD yesterday afternoon.  The smell of the decaying leaves, the earth, felt good in my nostrils.

I took an easy hike starting in the Avalon Area of the park, over the swinging bridge, and north on the paved path until I came to the “Forest Glen Path.” I took this path which ascends from the Patapsco valley toward Catonsville, MD.  I saw a few other walkers on the path but it was far from crowded.  Just what I needed — a bit of solitude and time alone.

The weather was a bit cold for mid October in MD, but I was happy for it.  Also, there seemed to be a front moving through and the sky alternated between cloudy and sunny.  There was a brief period of light rain.  I was glad to be wearing my new  Gore-Tex shell.  I have Mrs. TKD to thank for the reminder to take it as I left the house.

When I got to the end of the trail, I found myself in an area known as the Hilton Area, and there was a really cool playground made of used tires there.  I plan to bring Mr. Grey back to see it.  I showed him pictures of it on-line last night and he said, “I should have gone to Patapsco with you.”  I thought to myself, “yeah, buddy, you should have,” but I kept that thought to myself.

I wish we lived closer to some wilderness.  The fact that we have to get in the car to find some empty spaces really wears on me.  Growing up I had open spaces right across the street from our house.  I could go out and be in farmer’s fields in as little as 100 yards.

I enjoyed playing outside in the fields for hours upon end.  Sometimes I saw wildlife.  Sometimes I climbed up trees and hung out in them until the sun set.  Sometimes I ate wild raspberries.  Sometimes I got poison ivy.  Sometimes that happened in February (the poison ivy).

There was an old abandoned house that was nearby, tucked back in the woods.  I usually didn’t remember that it was there, and didn’t go to find it very often, but every now and then, I came upon it and was always surprised to find it.

Things were different when I was a kid.  I roamed around those fields and woods alone for hours at a young age, perhaps 9 or 10 years old.  I can’t imaging letting Mr. Grey out in the wilderness on his own.  And then again, I wonder if it would be really good for him.

It probably would.