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Dear Drunk Driver

ImageDear Drunk Driver,

You’re probably going to think I’m over reacting. You’re probably going to think I’m being dramatic. Probably. I’m okay with that. I’m okay with you not liking me anymore. I’m okay with your ego being bruised.  I’m okay with this getting really, really uncomfortable, because you know what? none of that even compares with what you’re doing when you make the decision to drink and then get behind the wheel of a car.

I could tell you terrible stories. Stories about dead friends, dead coworkers, dead family from drunk drivers. I could tell you of a few friends who made the choice you make, and drove drunk and of the heartbreaking and life changing consequences they experienced. I could tell you about the funerals, the jail time, the broken families that that a stupid and selfish decision resulted in, but you don’t believe any of this could happen to you. You’re different from everyone else, right? You’re careful. You drive better when you’re drunk maybe? The police won’t stop you. You won’t injure or kill anyone, that only happens to idiots who are really drunk. You won’t get a DUI, lose you car, your livelihood, your freedom. That happens to other people.

Except it doesn’t.

Keep it up. Drive to the bar when you know you’ll be drinking. Get angry when people tell you not to drive. Let your ego determine what you do. Don’t give a single fuck about consequences, or about what your friends and loved ones think, because this is about you! Don’t consider taking a cab, that’s not cool. You show them. Drive anyway. You’ll make it home. That’ll will show them. When someone speaks up, get defensive. Tell them that hey, nothing happened. Make them feel like an idiot for even questioning your actions, because this is only about you. You’re showing people exactly what you value when you do this. What’s important is your ego. you self image. And don’t forget you’re a great role model too.

You could get away with this for quite some time. Years maybe. Or maybe not.

Maybe tonight some last minute shopper happens to get in your way; some family coming home from a Christmas party; someone coming home after working late gets between you and your car and your goddamn right to drive yourself home no matter how much you’ve had to drink. Maybe there will be kids. Maybe you’ll just hit an electrical box and cut power to neighbourhood, because who the fuck cares about how this could inconvenience anyone else.

Remember this is about you.

Or maybe you’ll just get pulled over by the police. Maybe you’ll just get a DUI, just lose your licence, just get fined, just go to court. Maybe you’ll just lose the respect of your friends and family. Maybe you just lose your job and your ability to support yourself. Maybe that’s all that will happen.

Either way, if you get caught, or you don’t. If you hurt someone, or you don’t. If you kill someone, or you don’t. Either way, we can’t be friends. Period. I can’t tell you what to do with your life, but I can decide who will be a part of mine, and if you drink and drive you cannot be part of my life. Period.



and so this is Christmas


And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun   – John Lennon

And so it is Christmas and I  won’t be spending it with my son. Today I took him to the latest facility, to the latest attempt to save him. He won’t be home again for awhile, if ever.

We’ve been in a downward spiral for weeks (months? years? a lifetime?), and this could be our last chance at helping him. After this I’m officially out of ideas / money / hope / whatever.

and so this is Christmas

We’ll have just two stockings on the fireplace this year. I know we’re not the first family to go through something like this, but it is our first go at it.

and what have you done

I packed his bag this morning and took him in expecting a fight, expecting him to be a jerk. He wasn’t. He opened the advent calender I got him, and ate his chocolate while sitting in the waiting room. I don’t know if I’ve seen anything sadder. When it was time to go he just said thank you. I would have been easier if he had been an ass. He hugged me and I left.

Another year over
and a new one just begun

Last night I bought outside Christmas lights. Something we haven’t had in years. I bought suet wreaths for the birds and gave money to the Salvation Army. I’ll set up the lights today, hang the little wreaths and start decorating the house. It seems insane on one level to be doing anything at all, when what I want to do at any given moment is curl up and wish this all away. But life’s not like that. You keep living. You keep loving. You keep moving forward, and you keep hoping and planning for something better.

And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun

adventures in dating


I decided to start dating. Actually dating. First time at it (save for 2 absolute disaster blind dates) since the 80’s.

What am I thinking?

What I am thinking:

  1. I have spent decades taking care of other people.
  2. I have put other people’s needs before my own my entire life.
  3. My life is never going to say, hey, you take some time for yourself now, we’ll all be fine. I’m going to have to take that time for myself.
  4. I’m not getting any younger.
  5. I’m a lot of fun.

Last week I joined an online dating site. I wrote a fairly irreverent and silly description of myself which included references to Monty Python, Shakespeare, The Princess Bride and a semi-naughty poem. I posted the insanely flattering professional photo of me that makes me look like a movie star. I also posted photos of me after a Warrior Dash, in a yoga class, messing around with my kids, and a couple of my feet in interesting places to make me look worldly and slightly mysterious. Then I started looking at the men the site suggested.

I am new at this, but I do have a few suggestion for men on the site:

  1. Don’t say you’re athletic and toned if you’re not – seems obvious, but…
  2. Those pictures of you holding the big fish you caught, all ten of them? Yeah, not a real turn on.
  3. Posing with various weapons? Ditto.
  4. Shots of you with animals you have killed? Double Ditto. (or I might not be your demographic)
  5. I’m very flattered you think I’m hot, but maybe there could be a few more things you could mention in your note to me?
  6. The picture with your ex where you’ve blurred out her face? Not so endearing. Get a friend to snap a picture of just you with your phone.
  7. Selfies in the bathroom – just don’t, I’m not ready to see your toilet yet.
  8. I realize you love your dog/cat/kid/kids but no more than a couple of pictures of them, they’re not why I’m here. (also your dog who died last year? why would you put up that one?)
  9. Why are you wearing sunglasses in all your pictures? Where you burned by acid?
  10. Why are you wearing baseball caps in all your pictures? Do you have hair or not, just let me know one way or another, I can deal with it, really.
  11.  That’s a very nice sportscar / motorcycle / sports utility vehicle, but maybe you could save all those manly photos for the guys who would probably be very impressed by them (again, I may not be your demographic).
  12. Spell check, spell check, spell check. No, really, it’s important.
  13. Don’t send me your address, I’m not going to come over to your house, even if you offer me presents.
  14. Try to write something that doesn’t involve the words soulmate, sunset, long walks, holding hands, sensitive, loving, or true love (unless you’re quoting the Princess Bride, and then bonus points).

In spite of this list I have met several wonderful men. No soul mates, but I wasn’t looking for one.  Something about dating in my 50th year has given me a freedom I never had before. If  I like someone, I’ll have a coffee with them, if I don’t, I won’t. I chat with who I like, and don’t take it personally if someone decides not to see me. It has turned into great fun. I had a much better face and body in my  20s, but my 49 year old mind is a much happier and much more secure one.

Onto to week 2 and more adventures.

Gratitute, bah, humbug!

Scan.BMPGratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies,those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
John Milton

It’s American Thanksgiving today and for the entire month of November I have been surrounded by ‘Gratitude’. People have posted everyday about what they are thankful for on Facebook and Twitter. There was a gratitude challenge at my yoga studio. Just about everyday people offered the ‘intention of gratitude’ as a focus for their yoga practice.

So much damn Gratitude. I hated it all. I removed all of the ‘Gratitude challenge statements’ from my timeline, I stopped following people on Twitter, and I never, not even once, made a ‘I’m so grateful for…’ statement, on social media or in real life.

Why am I so Ebeneezer about this? Why am I not stating daily how grateful I am for the thousands of blessings in my life? Why am I not all dewy eyed about other people’s Gratitude?

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.

Henry Van Dyke


To live your life with constant gratitude is a profoundly spiritual way to live. To be continually humbled by the innumerable blessings in your life, and to share them and to live to help others is one of the best aspirations we can have. To remain grateful in times of sorrow, heartbreak and frustration is the way to live through these difficulties with grace and equanimity.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.  John F. Kennedy

And there’s part of my problem with being ‘Grateful’ in November. It’s like children being well behaved in December for Santa. It’s a show. It’s fake. It’s not real. It’s pretending to be something for a short while. Making gratitude statements in November cheapens and trivializes gratitude. It’s not something that we list in November up to Thanksgiving and then drop on Black Friday and start shopping. Living in gratitude is how we should be living every moment of everyday. If you are reading this blog you are one of the most fortunate people on this planet. You can read, you have access to a computer, you very likely have more than enough food and somewhere safe to live. We take so much for granted. Our homes, our health, our safety. Everything is a gift. I love David Whytes poem about, well everything

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

— David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You 
©2003 Many Rivers Press

To be grateful for the soap dish, for the window latch, for the pots is to acknowledge you are part of something bigger, so much bigger and grander than yourself. That you are not alone, but part of the greater community, that the world is open to you and that everything is waiting for you.

So today. Today, I am grateful. Today, I know I am part of something greater and more fundamental than myself. Today I am grateful to feel that love as the greatest gift that is bestowed upon me and one that I send back out to the world.

Archie Bunker, Wendell Berry and the Buddha

I’m recycling some posts because I think what what they say still needs to be heard.

I don’t when it will happen, but sometimes I get into my car, or arrive somewhere and I just sit. I don’t drive, I don’t get out of the car. I just sit and stare; sometimes I cry, sometimes I just sit and stare at the steering wheel.

Most of the time I think “I’ve got this”, but lately I know, at best, I’m keeping a stiff upper lip. I keep calm and carry on, because to admit you’re not okay invites inquires and I’m not always up to telling my story. This morning I thought I was, but then had to sit in my car for 10minutes waiting for the urge to put my head on the steering wheel and cry to pass.

 God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change

the Courage to change the things I can, and

the Wisdom to know the difference

Carrol O’Conner did a Public Service Announcement after he lost his son to drug addiction. It was well before I had kids, but his face and voice stayed with me, and when I feel like giving up, backing down or running away I think about him and I keep going.

About his son he said:


“I should have spied on him. I should’ve taken away all his civil rights, spied on him, opened his mail, listened to telephone calls, everything.”
 “Nothing will give me any peace. I’ve lost a son. And I’ll go to my grave without any peace over that.”
“Get between your kid and drugs any way you can, if you want to save the kid’s life”
In his eyes, I see so much pain, remorse, grief, and also I see resolve and courage to make this statement in hopes that it would help. Help save someone’s child. And now it is helping with my own son. I hear it when I am so tired I want to give up, give up and run away, when I want to give into my own increasing cynicism and cut myself off emotionally. I hear it when I am sitting in my car, staring at the steering wheel and seeing nothing. When I don’t want to go into my own house because I am not up for the next conversation I must have. 
Damn you Mr. O’Conner, this fight is too hard. I want to give up. I want to stop deciding where to draw my line in the sand and then stay there no matter what happens. Drawing the lines are hard enough, standing firmly by them can tear you apart. Then I hear him again, and I get out of the car, I stand my ground and I don’t run away. One day at time.

Not everyday is hard. Some days I have my son back, and he’s goofy, loving, helpful, and kind, but I trust those days less now because I have learned that he lies best when he is being kind and sweet, when he looks me sincerely in the eye. I’ve learned not to drop my guard and think this is the turning point, now things will get better, because invariably I discover missing money, that the sincere face was there to manipulate and lie to me. This used to feel like a kick in the gut, a betrayal. Now, it’s part of my life, and that I’ve become used to it is the thing that makes me the saddest.

Here is where I must remember to hate the disease, not my son. Addiction is a disease and its symptoms really, really suck, but my son is still there, even when his disease has him by the throat. I must remember this, but sometimes I don’t and then I have to forgive myself for not being perfect.

I find peace where I can, like now while I write this, or in the times I sit in my car just counting my breaths staring at nothing. I meditate, do yoga and hapkido, I go to parent groups and talk to other parents like me. These things help, while I’m doing them, but in the end I still have to go home and stand by my line.

I love Wendell Berry’s poem, ‘The Peace of Wild Things’, and in nature is where I find the most peace. But even here I find my cynicism creeping in, and it is hard to remain peaceful for more than a moment.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

 — Wendell Berry 

“if you want to see just how much control you really have, try raising teenagers, several at a time”– my tweet 

I’m not a very good Buddhist these days (good thing I have Unitarian Universalism to fall back on), being so affected by things outside of my control (ie EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE who isn’t me). I get to control my own thinking, not necessarily my first thought, and absolutely not my emotions, but what I choose to think after that is up to me. Suffering comes from attachments, from ego, from clinging to hopes and dreams and not living with what is in front of and within you right now.

 At this point I would like to point out that the Buddha never had to raise teenagers, he became enlightened only after abandoning his wife and child. 

 I need a teacher who has managed to practice Buddhism AND live with children and teenagers, someone with a regular life. I can detach from my ego, recognize how my pride is making me envious, angry, resentful… piece of cake. Okay it took a long while and I’m still working on it, but try to detach with teenagers. When does parenting stop and enabling begin? How do my expectations of acceptable behaviour become attachment to future outcomes? How to I Be Here Now when there are forms to fill out, appointments to organize? How do I, or should I detach myself from my child’s self destructive behaviour?

 Being a parent is work, trying to be a good parent in difficult times is something the makes Atlas’ job look easy. Being a good enough parent is scary, joyful, funny, heartbreaking and utterly exhausting. It breaks your heart, but I think the only way to live with an open heart is by breaking it open, and that takes suffering, and pain, and that takes love, all the love you have. It isn’t pretty most of time, but it is worth it ( I hope….).

bullshit about bootstraps

ImageToday is overwhelming. Today I am Barney Rubble and I’m mean and mad. Today I am thinking totally unkind thoughts about so many things. Not fun. I’d love a little break, to move forward. Every time I think, yes! now I can move on, now I can make plans a new and worse reality comes bashing down. This month I was going to be back in school. Working at something I liked. But instead I’m caring for my ill child. Does that make me sound heartless or what? Truth is I’m tired. I’m tired of every time there is a glimmer of hope and I think, ah… now things will get better, it turns out to be nothing.

This week we had the insurance company say that they wouldn’t pay for my son to get the treatment that his medical professionals said he needed. Last week he was in really bad shape, last week he had an emergency hospital admission. Last week he was ready to die.

But hey, everyone knows that with a couple of days of treatment you get over that, right? That mental illness is something people just do for attention. I mean come on, people just need some willpower, to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get on with life and stop being so goddamn dramatic. Honestly. We need to stop coddling these ‘mentally ill’ drama queens, right?

Except, no. 

So, here I am, again. Life on hold again. No job, and I’m not sure if I can even get one because my days will be spent watching over my child. Well, except for the few hours a day that we still have coverage for, and I imagine those will be cut off soon enough. So yeah, I’m overwhelmed, unimpressed and really have no bloody idea how to cope with this. We are appealing (doesn’t that sound like groveling? interesting word use there) – or more accurately, we  are fighting to make the soulless insurance company assholes live up to their fucking obligation and provide coverage when it’s required and not put someone’s well-being at risk because all the insurance companies care about is the money, and if they say differently they’re lying.

Yeah, I’m a little pissed. I want to help my son. I want him to get well enough to function with some independence. I want him to have some hope for himself and believe that he has some sort of future to look forward to.

I also want a pony.

There are programs that would do him a tremendous good, that could help him. There is no coverage for such programs so they might as well not exist for us.

Did I mention I wanted a pony? Right, not getting either am I?


rules from the nuthouse


The first rule of the Nuthouse is no one talks about the Nuthouse.
(they give you papers to sign saying the Nuthouse is nobody’s business)


The second rule of the Nuthouse is that you can’t call it a Nuthouse when Anyone Normal is listening, but you can call it that very quietly in a corner of your mind while your teetering on the edge of completely inappropriate laughter.


At night the Nuthouse is guarded by a small woman with a platinum blonde beehive and bright red lips named Jean. If you want and if she’s not busy, you can chat with Jean, and she will tell you all about her son and his tours of duty, his divorce, and the Polish woman she hired to take care of her mother after the strokes, and how she was sometimes mean to her mother. Jean will ask you the secret ‘password’ that shows you know someone in the Nuthouse, and if you get it right you get bright yellow Visitor’s badge so everyone will know you are visitor and not a patient.

Jean will always be polite and basically cheerful,because the third rule of the Nuthouse is everyone is happy, or at the very least, smiling, pleasant, and healthy looking. 


Once you say goodbye to Jean, you wait with other people who got the passwords correct and have bright yellow Visitors badges on until someone efficient and smiling and carrying a clipboard comes collect all of you and escort you through the sets of doors that lock as you pass them.


The fourth rule of the Nuthouse is only people with the Special Cards can open the very sturdy doors.


To visit at the Nuthouse all pockets must be emptied, cell phones and jackets turned over to the very polite and efficient staff. If you bring anything for patients the polite and efficient staff will inspect it and if it is acceptable, bring it to the patient. You cannot keep the bag in the Nuthouse, also you cannot have drawstrings in your pants or shoelaces in your shoes.


You can visit for an hour at the Nuthouse, sometimes twice a day, but only if you know the password. When you visit be sure you don’t laugh too loudly or the polite and efficient staff will come and ask if everything is okay. The fifth rule at the Nuthouse is everyone is calm during visits.

And then it is time for you to go home, and you wait for the person with a Special Card to escort you through all of the sturdy doors, and only when you make it outside, and that tiny part of yourself that wants to laugh until you cry is poking at your sleep deprived brain with a sharp stick, do you finally mutter out loud “The first rule of the Nuthouse is….”  

and on the way home they will play Brain Damage on the radio because the universe is not without a sense of humour.



and currently trending

In the last few months I have broken up with my step-father, my mother, a few friends, and last week, with my job.

I believe I’m trending.

The advantage of going through very stressful times is that it takes so much out of you that you only have energy left for what is important, for what serves you. At least that is how this has worked for me. I simply don’t have time to play games any more. I don’t have the energy to keep trying to hang with the cool kids. I’ll be 50 in a year, and I was, until this last year or so, still trying to hang with those I thought were “cool”. Of course I generally defined “cool” as those who wouldn’t want to hang with me.

“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”  Groucho Marx 

I used to care what people thought of me. I used to really, really care, and would spend my time morphing from one pleasing personality to another. I would be whatever I thought people wanted me to be. Do that enough and you start to wonder who you actually are. When I was a kid I learned to walk carefully on eggshells and to constantly assess the emotional temperature of a room. That’s what you did in my family. I thought that’s what everybody did. Then you grow up still figuring that you need to walk on those eggshells, that the only way to be safe is to wear that mask you made. That at any moment of any day you will be rejected and abandoned. It’s a shaky foudation to build on.

Shane Koyczan is a Canadian spoken poet, he wrote these words.

“So we grew up believing no one would ever fall in love with us

That we’d be lonely forever

That we’d never meet someone

to make us feel like the sun

was something they built for us

in their tool shed”


“… could describe to you in detail the way the sky bends in the moments before it’s about to fall”


Kids can be cruel. So can families.

“we decided to smash all things we used to be   ….

… believe that they were wrong … we stem from a root planted in the belief that we are not what we were called”


So. My life lately has been a lot of giving up what I was told I was. A lot of moving on. I don’t know where I am going, but I am moving slowly forward.





how not to help


warning: I’m worn out and pissed off.

how not to help

  1. ask if there is anything you can do, and then do nothing.
  2. ask if there is anything you can do, and not mean it a word of it.
  3. ask if there is anything you can do, and then gossip.
  4. ask if there is anything you can do while wearing a fake smile and (literally) walking away (body language – it’s not always subtle) – yes, this has happened, a few times.
  5. hang up on me after you asked what was going on – loved this.
  6. hang up on me, and then send multiple 6 word emails asking for information – love this even more.
  7. drop me as a friend.
  8. tell me “I did something right” because my girls are doing well. Was I ‘doing right’ 66.6% of the time? or perhaps, just maybe this ‘doing right’ is crap, and I got lucky 2 out of 3 times, and if your child is doing well, you’re pretty damn lucky too
  9. give up on us – thanks mom, (and others) you’re the best.
  10. talk about your ‘problems’ figuring out the right college, or what car to buy, or which European country you’ll vacation in this year – I’m sure these things are important to you, but maybe you could find someone else to tell about it?
  11. look at me with pity. your pity doesn’t help anyone.


how to help

  1. talk to me like someone who has a very ill family member, because that’s exactly what is going on. I have an ill son, who could die from his illness. If you think this isn’t an illness then I have nothing to say to you. Ever.
  2. be kind to my girls.