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After a raucous holiday season road-tripping across Hell’s Half Acre, fighting with family, and imbibing entirely too much booze, Sailor Man and I decided to enact the old “Booze Free January” to kick off our new year.

So, here I am, booze-free for exactly 31 days now. I’ve tried this little experiment before. Unsuccessfully. Now that the deed is said and done, here’s some observations I noticed during my month of respite from the spirits:

  1. Drinking, in some sense, is second nature. The last time I tried this experiment, I was amazed to find myself no sooner walking in the door after a long day and mindlessly pouring myself a drink before I could consciously ask myself “What the hell am I doing?”
  2. In my attempt to be more conscientious about drinking, I could feel a sense of anxiety welling up inside of me. It honestly took me a few weeks to analyze this sentiment, but it came down to feeling as though I was missing out on something by not having a drink. A sense of loss. It’s weird, but I have no idea where this comes from.
  3. Related to the anxiety and sense of loss is also a feeling of paranoia. Why am I feeling this anxiety? Am I an alcoholic? Why am I thinking about booze so much? Do I want a drink that bad? Do I need a drink that bad?
  4. Of course, after the first week, #2 and #3 went away and was replaced by a feeling of indifference.
  5. Celebrations are the single largest contributor to falling off the wagon. Be it a birthday party, getting into a PhD program, football playoffs or some other event that inspires the need to have a party. Celebrations in general just seem to go hand-in-hand with alcohol and it is darned difficult to separate the two.
  6. In declaring my booze-free status on any sort of social media, I immediately was flooded with emails or comments in the nature of “Why?! Are you okay?!” Which then kicked off a stream of responses in making people understand that, no, I’m not an alcoholic, I just wanted to give booze a break for a spell. Also, I had hoped that by sharing my booze-free mantra for the month, that friends would be more encouraging and less apt to tempt me.
  7. Friends who were aware of my drink-free vow were less inclined to want to get together. I frequently heard “Maybe after your month of abstinence is over…”
  8. Without changing my diet or workout regiment, I have lost 6 pounds. Now, I don’t usually drink that much, maybe one drink 5 nights a week, so the loss of those six pounds is mighty telling. I know that when, on occasion I drink a lot, I also tend to snack unjudiciously, but since that happens so rarely, the 6 pounds is something I’ll have to look in to.
  9. Now that the proverbial bar is now open, I find myself less incline to have a drink. I’m actually considering extending the little experiment. I do have friends coming in town next weekend and belated birthday party to attend, so naturally, there will be a glass or two consumed, but maybe I’ll start a plan to save this for the weekends…

With the resolution now resolved, I am left with a feeling of meh. Maybe some time to digest this past month will reveal some new insights. Maybe I’m over thinking the whole thing. Maybe I should just chill-out and have a drink…

As I am not currently spending any quality time in Erie, PA anymore, I think it best to rename this blog.

I have yet to come up with anything good but the current list of “also-rans” center around central Pennsylvania and my PhD program.

I won’t promise that I will clean up my act. It is highly likely that I remain a spotty and uneven blogger writing about whatever the mice in my brain tell me to.

That being said, I am open to suggestions!

Puppy Dog, on the right, staring me down with her intense cuteness

Never put your dog to sleep during final exams if you can avoid it.

I am capping off the most terrible week of my life. Wrapping up projects, final exams, finishing papers, packing to move, mourning my dog and missing Sailor like I never have…

“To grieve”, in the Greek translation, literally means to have been robbed. And no truer words could describe where I’m at right now. It’s been a week since Puppy Dog  passed on and I am sure everyone around me right now wishes I would simply get over it, but it is hard to move on from such a profound loss when I have been conditioned to behave in such a way that accommodates having Puppy Dog in my life.

For instance: the other night I frantically drove home from the lab because I “remembered” I hadn’t let Puppy Dog out. Every time I come home, I still call for her. When I leave, I still close all the doors in the house and put the ottoman up on the leather chair to keep Puppy from crawling up on it. I wake up several times a night because I do not hear her snoring.

And it’s not that I think about these things, I know she is gone, it’s just that this has been my life for 13 years, the majority of my adult life, these acts are second nature to me and changing now seems like a foreign, utterly alien thing to do that also feels very, very wrong.

But every day is a bit better. I stopped crying days ago. I mean, I literally stopped and can do no more. The Opthamologist  informed me that my tear ducts were so traumatized and inflamed that they basically have ceased working.

I basically cried myself dry.

But I’ll recover. I am recovering. Friends have been plying with me with company and alcohol, but I’ve stopped the drinking for now. I certainly don’t need a depressant making me feel worse than I already do. I am surrounded by truly the best possible people to get me through this, except the most important person.

And of course I worry about Sailor being away on a boat, lacking the luxury of indulging in grief as I feel we all must at some point to ever truly get passed it. If I’m feeling this bad, I’m sure he feels worse. Puppy Dog may have been my girl, but she was definitely Sailor’s soul-mate in some way I could never be.

I hope he has the same support around him. I think he does.

So I’m moving on. This old dog is learning something new as much as I hate it being forced upon me and no matter how much I just want my fucking puppy dog back. And I continue to fail in understanding why this can not be.

The brain understands that all things must die and life is a greater cycle, yadda, yadda, yadda, but the heart fails to comprehend and is insanely angry at the injustice of it all. So in the meantime, I’m consoling myself with the memories, insanely cute puppy pictures, and the funny stories that always accompanies this crazy animal I was so utterly blessed to have shared a life with.

I have ceased the tears and resigned myself to an inevitable sigh a few times a day that I’m sure signifies some thing although I’ll be damned if I know at this point what that something is.

Exhale

“She’s gone.”

Didn’t need the vet to tell me that. Her last breath was like the sound she used to make when we rubbed her ears and then she was utterly still; still for a creature that hadn’t had a still moment in her entire long life, even while sleeping.

We’ve been preparing for this awful moment at the vet for months but what you don’t prepare for is coming home that first time and being confronted with the enormous void that now exists in the house.

Sailor flew home to be with Puppy Dog at the end and had to fly out this morning to be back at the boat. So now it’s not only that he is gone, but she is as well.

I’ve never felt Sailor’s absence so intensely. I realize this now because I had Puppy and she was an enormous vessel in which to pour in a lot of love.

But she’s gone now and all this love for her is still there. I wonder where it goes if she is not here to receive it.

I do. I have. It’s made. It’s literally eyeballing me from the calendar as I type.

After an agonizing conversation with the vet and consultations with fellow pet fanatics, Puppy Dog’s time has run out. She’s nearly twice the average age of her breed, she’s traveled far and wide, and she’s had an epic life most dogs could only dream about.

So here’s the rub: this life is being somewhat cut short. She has a good month left in her. Maybe more but that’s doubtful. However, I am moving across state in a month and Sailor is out to sea in a few weeks for the whole summer. So we’ve decided that it is more fair to have both of us with her at the end rather than put her through the stress of a possible move and/or wait until such time that she is in (what has been described to me) what will be excruciating pain.

The vet has been called. An appointment made. Services pre-paid (nothing says heartless like whipping out the credit card after a beloved companion is gone). And a flight arranged for Sailor to come home.

And it’s on the calendar. Staring me down.

It feels unfair. It feels cold and calculated. It generally just feels shitty. I tell myself that if it were me, say, if I had an inoperable brain tumor or some other such malady, I would want control. I would set a time and a place. Make myself comfortable. Be surrounded by loved ones. And hopefully go gently into that dark night.

So Puppy Dog will be given appropriate pills to make her calm and comfortable (she never did like going to the vet). She will have her bed and blanket and her favorite Sailor t-shirt. And she will be with both Sailor and I who love her to the point of insanity.

She will be cremated and her ashes will be distributed amongst Asbury Woods, the island back in Maine, her favorite woods up in Northern Michigan, and I am even sending some to a friend to be sprinkled back in Italy, where I first met and fell in love with her. A little part of her will be in every place she loved even if she is no more.

So I am trying to focus on loving her now rather that starting to miss her before she’s even gone.

First there was the hot and steamy threats of vengeance! and doom! by my yummy, yummy Vladimir when mean, nasty, old terrorists blew up his subway system. But now here’s the soft and comforting arms of Vladimir wrapped around Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as Russia plays kind Old Uncle to a Polish nephew that’s just lost his parents.

I’m telling you, Vladimir’s shaggability factor is so stratospheric right now it can’t possibly be measured with existing human technology.

It’s incredibly touching to see Russia reach out to Poland this way. After years of enmity (Solidarity, anyone?) and taking pot-shots at each other across the fence of international politics, it’s nice to see humanity win out at such a horrific time.

And after all the funereal rites have been performed, the dead planted in eternal slumber, and said Polish nephew has been packed away to a proper boarding school by his kindly Uncle Russia and his inheritance squandered through booze and loose women, there will be only  one thing left to do:

Kiss United States Missile Defense goodbye…forever…

Oh, Vladimir…you sneaky, shaggable bastard you…

The boy is back in town!

…and by boy, I mean man, and by man, I mean my favorite feisty neo-facist dictator, Vladimir. Yes, Vladimir! Lovely, Lovely, yummy-yummy Vladimir…..purrrrrrrrrrrr.

Just when I think Vlad is but a fond memory stored in the dark and scary recesses of my dark and twisted mind, he re-emerges, turning up like the bad penny he is.

Of course, all of this was spurred by the terrorist bombings in Moscow yesterday. And while president, Dmitry Medvedev, said the government would consider revamping anti-terrorism laws to try to prevent further attacks, Putin responds by promising to drag the bombing masterminds “from the bottom of the sewers” and that the “terrorists will be destroyed!”

um, can you say hot?

This is the Vladimir I adore, the tough-talking, swaggering mound of man-pie ready to kill you with his thumbs for so much as looking cross-eyed at him…infinitely more preferable than the stodgy Prime Minister warning about spring floods and a boring, old oil export duty.

Nice to see you back, darling, especially in such fine, fine form….call me

I spent two hours looking for my keys today only to find them in the refrigerator. Normally, something like that would bother me if I hadn’t spent an hour last night looking for a mislaid glass of wine (found in the medicine cabinet), or the fact that I keep experiencing the shock of rediscovery of the perfectly folded black maternity bra that made the mysterious appearance in my car two months ago, and which, I keep forgetting to remove.

Sailor: What’s this?

Me: A nursing bra?

Sailor: Yeah and uh, what is it doing in the tirewell?

Me: No idea.

Sailor: You want to remove it or something?

Me: Nah, I’ll take care of it later.

But of course, later, I forget. I have no idea where it came from. Sailor has been gone and I am the only one driving the car, so it’s a mystery. But the troubling part isn’t the mystery of its origin, but the fact that I keep forgetting that it’s there and still haven’t addressed the issue.

Clearly this is a the product of a stressed existence. Clearly, a little vacation could be in order. Clearly, no such such thing will occur until after graduation….in May.

Every other year, Sailor and I trade off going back to Detroit or staying here in Erie for  T-Giving or Giftmasukah. Whether I prefer to spend time with his passive-aggressive-big-on-uncomfortable-silences-in between-the-food-and-excessive-drinking-clan or spending time with my own personal verbal-pre-emptive strike-force-with-the-pleasing-tendency-towards-the-excessive-imbibing-of-alcoholic-beverages-that-can only-be-described-as-not a holiday-but-a-24/7-“happy hour”-while-waiting-for-a-good-old-fashion-Irish knife-fight-to-break-out, is simply a matter of asking myself what side of the bed did I wake up on.

Sigh….

I really don’t wanna do it this year.

Honestly, aside from our mutual predilection towards sizing up liquor purchases based on the quality of bottle with which to make a Molotov Cocktail, how the hell did I ever come to share genetic material with these people?

Let us review 2009:

Big Sis engaged in a trans-continental verbal smackdown of La Parentsia after Father Unit spilled the beans to Mother Gossip about something or other where Mother Unit invariably spread the word around the hood. They waged a three month war of Celtic-Silence which translates into not arguing with each other but through all the people in their lives over the phone. They apparently came to an accord but until the treaty is signed I want nothing to do with that mess.

Second Son then got involved, don’t ask how, but Irish-Saga-Made-Short is that he thinks the family needs to forgive him for effing up his first marriage with another woman 7 years older and her own epic tale that results in my brother being husband #3 in as much as 7 years…(which, side note, I actually have forgiven him, in fact, I’m rooting for them as a couple for the simple reason that he will stay married to this harlot forever out of stubborn pride and to prove a point he certainly will not remember in another ten years, and quite frankly, my brother deserves the merry hell that woman will give him until he is dead).

Where was I?

Father and Mother Unit simply refuse to believe they have done anything wrong – ever – even in light of the overwhelming evidence of a gaggle of supremely messed up kids. But then, if their measure for this success centers around the fact that none of us are on an international watch list, yet, or by the fact that none of us have been picked up, drunk, singing Christmas Carols along the freeway in June in the last 10 years, well, they should consider raising the bar.

Of course, there’s also Third Son, aka the 30 year old child still living in my parents’ basement smoking everything but his bed linens and who always seems to be just one step shy of attending a Star Trek convention…He’s been unemployed for a while. His last job, where everyone hated him for his ignorant and racist attitude….well, if it were me, if I knew everyone hated me and then mysteriously, one day, I am asked out to lunch where I am offered a joint…let’s just say I wouldn’t be too surprised at returning to work to find a drug test waiting for me….

First Son is in a tiff with me for un-friending him on Facebook. I just figured that he should save his hate and vitriol for family gatherings and not post that shit on my wall.

Of course, I’m a perfect ray of sunshine. I don’t what the hell is wrong with those other people.

Sailor’s family is supremely uncomplicated by comparison. All I have to do is sit next to Grandma E and remind her who I am every ten minutes until I’m drunk enough to forget who I am to answer. A relatively simple evening, geopolitcally speaking.

I’m thinking we should stay put. I have the excellent excuse of having ventured into No Man’s Land by staying with sister for T-Giving…that should satisfy some quota somewhere. But then, there’s something to be said for tradition…

I was really pretty shocked to have read that Henry Louis Gates Jr., professor extraordinaire of long standing at the venerable institution Hahr-Vahrd, was arrested two days ago.

But I wasn’t shocked to have read the context and circumstances of his arrest. Sure, there’s the easy explanation of racism in America (you really will never convince me a white professor would have been treated the same way), but then there’s the even easier explanation that no one seems to be talking about and it is this: the arresting “officer” in the affair is yet another example of a douchebag cop with a Napoleon Complex.

Sure, I have no doubt the cop behaved in a racist manner, but that is an action coupled with a personality trait and that trait being that the he is yet another douchebag cop with a Napoleon Complex.

A professor here at school is a retired cop and relayed to me the different types of people who become police officers:

1. The Fitness Nut: the guy or gal who somehow relives their high school athletic glory days by being a cop. They are all about how they look in the uniform. Being a good or bad cop is strictly a matter of happenstance.

2. The Gun Nut: I think this speaks for itself. The Gun Nut, who is almost always male, is also closely related to the Penis Insecurity Nut.

3. The Righteous Nut: this person has an overwhelming sense of self-importance and truly thinks that the worse they behave towards the general public, the better cop they are.

4. The Drunk Cop: who is actually a pretty okay person who took the job as a way of redemption but at the same time, does not know how to handle the stress better.

Now according to Professor Cop, a police officer can actually be a combination of these varying traits but one is always more dominant than the other. Like the thing about Elvis and the Beatles: you can like both, but you always like one more than the other.

With regards to incident involving Professor Gates, my money is on Cop #3. Then again, I’m not at all familiar with the inner workings of cop-hood and the public perception I have garnered of them over the years is really just boils down to the simplicity of the douchebag cop with the Napoleon Complex scenario.