Thursday, October 20, 2011

And Now, Another Dispatch From Limbo...

{Cross-posted from Fur Affinity}

It's been about six weeks since I lost my job. The last couple of weeks, my job-searching has slacked off, due mainly to an as yet total lack of interest in me on the part of the companies I have applied to. On top of that, I made the mistake of not filing for weekly benefits within 28 days of my initial claim, which on reflection I should have done -- I would have gotten at least a few checks that way. The only reason I didn't do so was because I was awaiting the result of a fact-finding interview I had with the VEC deputy over the phone two weeks ago. There was, and is, the issue of how I was terminated, and whether or not I would get any benefits because of that. Technically, if the deputy decides I was entitled to the benefits (before I allowed the term to expire), I can re-file the claim and start over without having to go through another interview; the matter's settled. If not, then I'm SOL. All I need is an answer, one way or the other. It should arrive in my mailbox no later than Saturday. I hope.

In the meantime, I have this apartment through November. After that, fuck if I know where I'll be. Should I manage to get some money coming in between now and December, be it full- or part-time work, unemployment checks, or both, I intend to stick around longer. The woman in the leasing office has been far more helpful these past few weeks than I could have hoped for. I have the option of vacating at the end of any month, provided I give 60 days' notice, but I can change my mind within 30 days of the last day if my luck changes; after that, the apartment must go on the market. Having that extra month of flexibility is a huge help, believe me.

Aside from all that, some good news. Today marks my 30th day of sobriety. I'm holding it together. The chocolate cravings are pretty intense, just like in the first two times I went 30 days and beyond. I've been eating at McDonald's on occasion as well, sad to say. And I have the expanding waistline to prove it... Granted, I used to weigh close to 230, and I really don't want to gain all of that back -- too many health problems related with excess weight out there, and diabetes does run in my family. But overall, I do feel a lot better than I normally do when I've been drinking heavily for sustained periods.

There have been a few nights when I got to thinking about buying a six-pack before the stores closed, just to while away the wee hours while playing around on the Internets. That, however, is as far as it goes. It starts out innocuously enough with that one six-pack -- I know this from direct experience. I'm not what you would call a normal drinker; once I get two or three beers in me, I usually want to keep on going until I get tired enough to go to bed, or just plain pass out. That used to work out well enough when I was younger. Hell, I got away with that for years. Used to enjoy it a whole lot, too -- I don't care what anyone says, alcohol is good and evil.

But the problem is, I'm pretty sure I've long since used up all of my "good" drinking days. Those last four weeks of drinking I did during the summer? If there was any good in any of that, I can't remember it. Way I recall, it had four stages: Bad, Worse, Ugly, and the DTs. I just think about what that last part was like, and that's enough to short-circuit any desire to drink I still harbor. Not that that's all I do to stay sober. I go to an AA meeting, on average, every other day, and at some point, if I decide AA is indeed the way to go, I'll get myself a sponsor and start working the steps in earnest. This being the 30-day mark for me, I get to pick up a silver chip to mark this milestone in my recovery. I would hate like hell to have to start all over. Again. Each time, it gets harder than the last. Apparently, there is no standard "chip system" when it comes to Alcoholics Anonymous -- different districts or sets of districts have their own customs. (I hear Narcotics Anonymous uses keychains instead of chips, but I wouldn't know -- one drug has always been more than enough for my ass.) At meetings in the Richmond area, you get a white poker chip with the triangle-in-a-circle logo and the local Intergroup phone number for 24 hours of sobriety. For 30 days/one month, you get a silver chip; for three months, a red one; for six months, a yellow one; for nine months, a green one; and for one year and each subsequent anniversary, a blue one.

I'm looking forward to picking up the silver one later today. And the red one in a couple months. As they say in these meetings, these chips don't help you stay sober, but they do give you one more reason not to drink. Right now, I'm not at all proud of myself -- I lost my job last month thanks to my drinking, and since then, I haven't been myself. But if I can stick with my sobriety long enough to earn a blue chip, or whatever color of chip I get after a year should I be living somewhere other than Richmond? No matter what comes my way? Then I'd have a reason to be proud. I keep thinking about the first time I quit drinking; if I'd just stuck to that the first time, I'd have a year and seven months of sobriety under my belt today. Most likely, I would have kept on making music, by myself and with others. Might have drawn more. Hell, I'd probably still have my job, too.

Instead, I drank. Look what that got me.

Yeah, I'd say my "good" drinking days are long, long gone now. I still have my doubts about AA, especially the part about the Higher Power. Don't get me wrong. I'm open to the idea of the existence of a Higher Power, but the way things have been going these last six weeks, that's a rather difficult step for me to be working. Faith alone has never been sufficient for this old agnostic in anything, and faith alone definitely ain't cuttin' it right now -- I need to see some hard evidence that AA works, and so far, I haven't seen much. I do keep going to the meetings, though, if only because I don't have anything else lined up. Maybe, with more exposure to more fellow alcoholics at more meeting places over time, I'll see the evidence in favor of AA build up. Time will tell.

So... I don't know. You take one day at a time; there isn't much else you can do.

Oh, one last thing, I almost forgot...

One option I've looked into is whether not to pay the local Army recruiter a visit, if you can believe that. I'd heard the Army raised its maximum recruitment age to 41. What a coincidence, huh? Not that I really want to enlist -- just the prospect, however remote, of being sent to a place like Afghanistan or Iraq is horrifying enough. But I thought even a cursory glance at all my options, the army included, was warranted.

Well, come to find out the army is not an option: they did raise the age limit for a while, but as of April, they lowered it back down to 35. My name is on file with the Selective Service in case they reinstate the draft, but that's about it for me and the military, I guess. Oh well.

More later...

* * *

Well, one more last thing, and then I'll shut up.

I have no idea what my next job will be, much less where it will be, or when I'll start working it. But there's one thing I am certain of. My time in the printing business? It's over. I have put in applications at some other printing companies, among other places. But that was before I took a look back on the eleven-plus years I spent at the print shop specifically, and the sixteen years I spent doing factory work in general, and realized that after all that time, all I ever got were two things, one good, one bad. The good one was an education I could put to use in the real world, as opposed to the drill-and-equation-saturated one I got when I was a kid. The bad thing was a drinking problem.

Factory work broke down barriers between me and people who were very different from me, and taught me how to work with people instead of merely alongside them. That was something I never quite got the hang of before my first factory job and the rigid, almost clockwork nature of its operations -- a key part of my real education, something I can easily bring to any new company I end up working for in the future. On the other hand, I didn't start drinking until about a year after I started this sort of work, and while the work served to break down barriers between me and other in the workplace, over many years of drinking, I slowly built walls between myself and others off the job.

And most of those years were spent in the printing business. Running a press on the clock and drinking while off of it went on for so long, the two are inseparably entwined in my mind. I am one hundred percent positive that if I were to go back into printing, sooner or later, I would go back to drinking as well -- and given the way things ended the last time, I'm just as positive things would end as badly, if not worse, the next.

I can't do that anymore. My printing career is closed.


  1. No matter what you think, I AM proud of you for how you've been handleing things these past 6 weeks! M :-)

  2. Just a quick line,I have been reading your blog for over a year,what you went through made me make up my mind to quit,when the DT's hit my partner hauled my ass to the V.A. that was on the sixteen of last month, so far i am good.but i jumped down his throat today over minor stuff,dry drunk but as an atheist and what i been through with aa before,i wont go.wish you well and hope you make it and thanks for making me think.

  3. Damn, it has been a month.

    I'm still out of work. Didn't get the benefits, either. But I haven't been drinking, and aside from the work and financial situations, I'm doing okay. Thanks for asking...


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