Opinion: COVID new norms

Perhaps I just need to keep this to myself. However, I have found when I have such deep thoughts about such subjects it is best to get them off my chest. We now live in a different world then we did at the beginning of 2020. Yet people are still ignorant over protections put in place for everyone.

This pandemic has ravaged our world. Hundreds of thousands of died. Perhaps if people would take this pandemic seriously, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are in today. But I also realize I can’t force others to do something they are not willing to do whether educated or not. What drives me mad are two things: complete disregard for others and blaming others who have no control of the situation. Let me explain.

Locally, the only news I read about the pandemic are “exposure alerts”. Everyone knows where I work, so my exposure is potentially very high. However, my employer has gone above and beyond to ensure the public is protected to the best of their ability. On the other hand, there are other places of business that continue to disregard their own mandates. Other businesses, whom I’m sure go through hoops, make things happen to appease the public. Yet people complain afterwards certain standards weren’t met putting blame on the owners.

A local convenience store/gas station was put on notice of potential exposure just the other week. As with many other places they have notices posted clearly on the front door, “Masks are required.” Yet, the other day I passed by and saw three people go threw the front door without a mask. To make matters worse, the employee behind the counter had their mask under their chin. I was absolutely appalled. Still today I’m conflicted if to do anything about it. Do I become just like those I speak of when I don’t do something about it myself?

As I listen to a local country music station, they mentioned a recent concert in which attendees didn’t abide by “social distancing”. The organizers most likely wouldn’t have been given permission to put on such an event unless certain standards were met. Some are calling for actions against the organizers of the event.

In reality, this is going to continue to years to come. Something I’ve learned in sobriety is responsibility and accountability for no one else but me. I didn’t like wearing a mask as a certified nurses assistant nor do I like wearing a mask especially now working as a overnight stocker. However, in order to protect myself and others I wear a mask no matter where I go. It’s just become natural for me to grab a mask before I leave my house.

Ignorance is just another name for complete stupidity. Don’t point fingers at anyone else. Look yourself in the mirror.

A New Experience – Finally

For those reading this blog, you have read about my experience with the complete removal of my top teeth back in January to February. Today, I had the last appointment walking out with my new upper denture. This is going to be a new experience for me.

Like my mother, we both had problems with dental hygiene because of our smoking and coffee drinking. Back in 2000, most of my front teeth were crowned to prevent further decay. However, in 2018, it was determined the crown were failing, I had some loose teeth and it would be best to just pull them and get a full upper plate.

After a series of oral survey appointments, I sat down for my impression for my upper plate. Then COVID-19 struck. I was left with no upper teeth. I thought I would be embarrassed having a hard time eating, talking, etc. In reality, I had to change my diet a little (soft foods only) but managed as best I could day by day.

After a series of more appointments when the office recently opened, I finally received my upper dentures today. As mentioned by the dentist, I have to learn how to eat, how to speak, etc. I can’t even say my last name without slurring the words *chuckle*. One nice thing about these dentures is they aren’t like the old dentures requiring any adhesive. I just put them in, swallow and they’re in. I took them out to sleep and I won’t wear them at work just yet. I should only have to wear them periodically until my gums get use to them otherwise I may get sores.

So now this chapter in my life is closed. Honestly I’m not sure if I’ll return (except for adjustments) to the dentist for further work. He appears to be like others who treat managed care recipients one to do extreme work when its not necessary. But that’s another story.

I’m just glad this whole affair is over, yet a new one begins.

Where I Came From

It is very rare I think about entertaining the thought of a drink. But it happens. Like any chronic illness we all have a good days and our bad days. I just woke up, so I haven’t even started my day, yet the thought is still there. Today I have a choice. If I continue to entertain this thought – I am going to drink. When I forget my last drink, how it felt, where I was going, all those lies and deceit – I’m in trouble. Fortunately someone (who will remain anonymous) drank, wrote about it and perhaps may save my life. So I’m going to share this part of my story with everyone ‘cus apparently I need to remember why I’m sober.

My first sobriety last ten years. On Dec 1, 2007, I was unemployed, three months late in rent, no food in the house and in the midst of a nasty detox of two days. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t sleep, the tremors were inescapable, I had no one to talk to – I actually thought the first time in my life suicide was the answer to all my problems.

Out of the blue, a friend of mine contacted me on Yahoo!Messenger. I hadn’t spoke to her in a very long time. She asked, “Hey, I haven’t spoke to you in a long time, is everything okay?” I just laid it into her. I told her exactly what was going on. I had no beer, I was literally going insane, I could be evicted any day, I had no where to go, Winter has just started with a couple inches on the ground, I had thrown my cat across the room because she was in heat and I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I was a mess.

The short of the story is during our conversation I had told her where I was living – my physical address. Honestly, I don’t remember that at all. Suddenly there is a knock at the door. What? I don’t know anyone – I live in the boondocks? What the hell! It was a New York State Trooper “checking on my welfare”. After an hour and a half conversation he offered to take me to a local detox in a city I’ve never been to. I made no hesitation in saying, “Yes, take me.” I cried all the way there like a baby.

I was put in the back of the emergency room in Room #11. They gave me something for my constant shaking (tremors). A gentleman came to see me saying, “If you stay here a little while longer, I’ll get some help for you upstairs.” I was scared out of my mind. I literally was talking to the three white walls around me. I put my right hand on my back pocket thinking, “I have two dollars in my wallet. I could leave and get a beer somewhere. I don’t have any idea where I am but we’ll deal with that later. Or I can sit on my hands and wait for him to get me the help I needed.” I was absolutely done with drinking. I couldn’t do it anymore. It controlled all aspects of my life; it was the only think I thought about all day long. I had to have some to function every day. I couldn’t live like this any more.

After four days in a detox, thirty days in a rehab, three months in supportive living, a couple of years in an extended supportive living environment and living independently for a few years, I managed to put ten years of continuous sobriety together. On the outside, I did well doing what I was suppose to do – a job, paying the bills, etc.. But on the inside I was only lying to myself.

In February 2018, I started drinking again. I had moved. Strangely enough almost around the corner from the place I started my sobriety ten years earlier. I was at it again and going downhill fast. I couldn’t stop myself no matter how much I tried. I knew what I had to do but I didn’t know where to go.

Then it all hit me. I had walked off of my job. On my way home that night, the brakes in my car failed – I couldn’t drive it anymore. My life, I thought again, was at an end.

One night I ended up walking 25 miles to Elmira, NY to get the help I needed. It took ten hours through back roads of rural Chemung County, NY. I walked up to a treatment center with no appointment. Without saying a word the woman said, “Son, just sit down. I’ll get someone to talk to you.” Unfortunately, it was a Friday and they couldn’t get me in a inpatient rehabilitation center. Luckily, they called a Peer Advocate who drove me home.

Two weeks later, I had run out of money. I had a room stacked full of beer cans but no where to return them. I called a place who came and gave me money for them at my house. I ran to the gas station to get my beer. On my way home, all I could think is, “I can’t do this again.” Without a thought I took the 12 pack of Budwiser I had bought and threw it in the river while passing over a bridge and didn’t look back. I was willing to do anything to get sober again.

When I got home, I was surprised to see a voicemail on my phone. It was the treatment center. They had arrange transportation to a inpatient rehabilitation in Ovid, New York the next morning. I sobbed, I cried, I wailed sobs of joy. Lastly, I looked above and said, “Thank you.”

Back to the present. Wait, what was I talking about (**scrolls up**)? See how that works? The thought of drinking has passed. As I wrote this, I had tears coming down my cheeks. It’s a painful experience which today I have a choice. I don’t have to drink. If I do (drink), there is no expectation this MIGHT happen, THIS WILL HAPPEN AGAIN. Do I really want a drink now?

Both times I stayed sober I have to give credit to Alcoholics Anonymous. I recognize AA is not for everyone. AA was the exact right match for me. For me, they have taught me “way of living” where I can find no place else.

The process I went through is described in our book, The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Chapter 5, “How it Works”. While the whole passage is important, I would touch on only two for now:

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps.

AA Big Book, Chapter 5, How It Works, pg. 58

AND

Remember that we deal with alcohol—cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us.

AA Big Book, Chapter 5, How it Works, pg. 58 and 59

If I hadn’t done what I did right now, I know I would have drank. I could never do this alone. At all points I drank again because I said, “F**k it!”. What comes to mind are three key things my first Sponsor said to me before working with me (which kept me sober for ten years):

If there is anything you get out of our program from the start it is: honestly, open-mindedness and willingness.

Joe T (1941-2018)

So to end, let me say a couple of things. Sobriety just doesn’t come at the end of a magic wand from a fairy and poof you’re life is changed. I thought I wouldn’t get sober EVER. Sobriety is hard, especially at the beginning. I eventually did what I was told to do with a lot of hard work. It takes work on a daily basis. Some days it comes naturally. Others, like today, I really had to put some work into my sobriety to stay sober.

I’m glad I did too! Thank you to those that choose to listen.

Any comments, questions and/or concerns are always welcome.

P.S. After I wrote this I wanted to link things only to find out, I really do need to update this site. I have pages that don’t exist. Links are broken. Everything except the blog is out of date. Ha! The project I need right now.

See how sobriety works in my life?

My Hardest Work Week Yet

This week by far was the hardest work week yet. We’re experiencing a dramatic increase in workload each night with a number of call offs from employees. It doesn’t help when the boss puts our team on this pedestal – then it becomes an expectation.

We have a meeting before we start each day. Lately we’ve been praised by making the impossible possible. My personal opinion – I don’t believe a word of it nor do most of the others. While I haven’t been lazy, like others, I have put my best effort each night to “make things happen”. Some nights it happens, others its not so good.

I know for me, I’m just exhausted. Each day, I had to dive hard into maintaining my sanity. Thankfully, I’m almost there – just eight hours.

Enough of work . . .

I installed a full 16GB of RAM into my new computer. Honestly, I can’t see any real difference. I was expecting it to zip along after replacing 4GB with 16GB. Switching to Windows 10 was my real test. It passed but it doesn’t zip along like I expected. So did I just waste $80 on something I could do without? Oh well, it’s done.

There are still two last deliveries I’m waiting for – a new webcam and a replacement for my DisplayPort to HDMI Adapter. Why the webcam? I’ve been using my tablet for Zoom meetings. During the meeting I would have to hold the tablet up so people can see me. My arm felt dead by the end of the meeting. Also, I have a 32″ computer screen. Unless I increase the font on webpages and documents everything is still fuzzy. The DisplayPort is a connection which acts like, but is not the same, as a HDMI connection so I can see it on my TV. Thus, I had to purchase an adapter but they sent me a female to male, instead of a male to male. After those two are received, no more spending.

Which brings me to another topic – finances. At present, I’m good. However, I have outstanding student loans (in good standing) and some collection issues (from my old drinking days) I would like to get taken care of. I’m balking. It’s quite a large chunk of cash I would rather save for a future car. Yet, I could pay more off my loans and/or pay the collections off and in two years see a better credit report. But I’m not going to finance a car ever again. I’m done with any type of credit. I’m going back to basic in finances – if I don’t have the cash to pay for it, I’m not getting it. Besides I have a 401K to think about too!

This weekend I’m simply going to relax. It’s getting really nice out with a chance of rain showers. I’ll have to monitor the forecast because I would like to physically get out to actually enjoy it. Not sure where I’m going to go but we’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Things are going well. It’s been a long journey and there is still a lot more ahead of me.

Which brings me to a song I can’t get out of my head right now:

For those of you returning to work this week – welcome back! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Let’s get ‘er done!

Living Life – Not Enduring

When the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous were open my Sponsor use to say, “In sobriety we are meant to live life, not endure it.” Today, those words stand out like never before. For me it is only through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous I have found a sense of peace and serenity in my life no matter what difficulties are laid at my feet in the present.

The first thoughts are those during the days I was drinking and gambling. The endless struggle of making ends meet day and day. Forever wondering, “When am I ever going to get ahead? Is this ever going to end? Why me? What now? Do I have go through this again?” Never again do I have fears – whether I’m going to have a job at the end of the day, whether bills are going to be paid, what or where I’m going to eat next or always looking over my shoulder because I screwed someone over to get what I want only to have it all ripped away in the end. The constant battle for a sliver of sanity. I never imagined I could exist any other way.

Then I met people just like me. Our struggles were the same. Yet, they somehow managed to come out of the never ending dark tunnel. Perhaps not unscathed, but not ripped open, torn apart and beaten down to a pulp struggling to stay afloat in our own shit. Something was different. They described a way of life incomprehensible to me. Yet the said, “It’s a simple program for complicated people. You just have to do some work.”

It wasn’t easy at first. I was stubborn – set in my old ways. I didn’t want to do this or that. This isn’t for me. You have got to be kidding me! But after a while, I really had to answer the question, “What do I have to lose?” As hard as it was, I simply did what they told me to do without question.

To my surprise, my life changed.

Today, I have problems. We all do. It’s called life. Life isn’t all “peaches and cream”. There are ups and downs. Someone once said, “If life was constant – you would be dead.” A straight line is a flat line. It’s that simple.

I can sit here writing today writing this with no worries on my mind. I’m free of any fear of what’s going to happen at work tonight. I’m not worried who is going to call me next on my phone. I’m not worried about a knock on the door. I’m not worried how much is in my bank account and checking it hour after hour to make sure it doesn’t change.

Instead, I can gaze over at my TV watching beautiful scenes from around the world pass on my screen listening to soothing tunes as the world happens outside. I’m grateful to have people in my life who check on me in these unprecedented times asking, “How are you doing?”, knowing they really care about my welfare. The lights are on, there is food in the refrigerator, a roof is over my head and I’m more than comfortable sitting with my feet up enjoying life.

Then it hits – damn – I have to work. So be it. I’ll survive another day.

Life today is as it should be – enjoyable.

Something’s Off

Yesterday was a nice productive day; I actually got things done I had wanted to do in a long time. Even though a project, installing blinds in my windows, was a bust, I didn’t let get my down. But something is still off. The magnitude of living independently is starting to overwhelm me.

For the last year and a half I’ve lived around people who I was in direct contact daily. Whether sober or not, I had human interaction. Now I don’t. Part of me misses it. Even though it was very frustrating at times, knowing when someone was going down a wrong path, I learned to accept it for what it is – their life.

An old roommate of mine moved to his own place too. We made plans so I could help him with a couple of things. When he didn’t call, I called him to find out what was going on. Something was off. He wasn’t the same. Then he mentioned a couple of people he really should avoid if he wants to stay sober. But my intuition tells me – it’s already to late, he probably drank or did something worse. When you’ve been around long enough, you just “know”. It’s hard to explain. He was suppose to call me today because he was “busy” yesterday but didn’t. It’s not like him – at all. Recovery has taught me to trust my intuition which I recognize as my Higher Power talking to me.

As mentioned, the window blind project is a bust. Perhaps just stalled. I don’t know. I bought a horizontal blind. It fits. However, to manually screw in the screws in that border surrounding the window is impossible. I can’t install them inside the window either because there isn’t enough room. I really need a power screwdriver to get the job done. So for now, I think I’ll just buy a covering and in it up – its easier.

I try to keep myself busy but I tend to get bored with one thing or another rather quickly. For some reason I’m not willing the play my game I have a monthly subscription. I just get bored with it. There isn’t much conversing with people in-game during the hours I’m on despite its played all over the world.

This is all a new adjustment for me. I feel like something is off because I’m not consumed with the activities I use to be when I had people around me. I have more time. So much time I become bored with myself. I recognize this is only temporary. As time passes I’ll develop a routine.

I knew this whole experience was going to be uncomfortable for a while. It actually reminds me of when I got sober. I had to change things. But as a reminded a friend the other day, “Alcoholics don’t like the following saying, ‘Time takes time…’. I should listen to my own suggestions.

All Settled In – The First Real Weekend

Technically, this will be my second weekend in my new home. Last weekend was filled with a lot of confusion, running around more than I wanted to and getting use to my new surroundings. So I’m pressing the reset button. I have a few small projects I need to get completed.

First, I need to install at least one window shade, if not all of them – all eleven of them. I have three in the kitchen, three in the living room, three in the master bedroom, one in the entry way and one in the bathroom. Right now I have sheets covering them in the bedroom and two pillow cases covering the one in the bathroom. I’m going to do the horizontal blind route. There are approximately $10.00 each at Wal-mart. Besides, this is something out of my comfort zone. If it’s not computer related, I typically have someone else do it.

According to city records, this house was built in 1904. The windows are the sliding wood (with a pull cord back in the day). It’s been painted over several times. So I’ve measured the windows. Nine of them at 27.75 x 52.25 inches. I can’t mount the blind inside, so I’m going to mount them on the outside but there is another 3.75 in border on each side. So, if I do my math right, I figured a 34 x 64 blind should fit. We’ll see. I’ll just buy one, try the install and if it fits and looks right, then go back and get the rest.

Project #2 is not going to get started this weekend because I was deceived by my own faults. I have a very old laptop, Windows 10 is almost useless but I run Ubuntu which makes it doable, except I can’t watch videos. So I bought a Dell OptiPlex 3010 SFF PC | i5-3470 3.2GHz | 4GB RAM 250GB HDD computer last night for $150.00. It’s a desktop but I can upgrade it easily (I can add memory, graphics card, etc.). It’s a step up. I thought it would arrive on Tuesday, instead it won’t arrive until next week. Damn that small print. But it’s okay, I still have this one to work with for now.

The point of this weekend, Monday and Tuesday for me, is just to relax. I thought perhaps it would be pleasant outside like today. It’s over 70°F but drops back down to 50°F tomorrow with passing showers. Bummer for me but I’ll manage. I also have other small projects like creating a budget, genealogy and some other things in mind. So all won’t be lost.

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. My starts in 13 hours! Oh, am I counting each hour right now!

The Wait is Killing Me

Yesterday’s move was uneventful, thankfully! But then I waited around for delivery of my Spectrum Internet modem which never came. Finally hit the bed around 10pm, then woke up at 7am this morning. Delivery is schedule for “by the end of day” by FedEx. The wait is going to kill me.

Monday was a fiasco. Honestly, as previous noted, it was expected. First I received a text message someone would be over at 10am. They ended up moving in someone upstairs, so I knew there was going to be a delay. I waited until 11:30 am, “Are we going to meet anytime soon?”. The reply was, “Sorry got delayed, do you want to meet later today or tomorrow.” At this point my blood is starting to boil. All this was arranged last week. Key word here = was.

The next message I get is, “When are you going to move”. Now I’m hotter than a hot potato. Seriously, I meet with them last week when I signed the lease. I gave them an option of either Monday or Tuesday morning. We were going to meeting on Monday morning to finalize the move. I just gave up, throwing in the towel for Monday. Instead I took charge – something I rarely do these days.

“Well meet tomorrow at 10am, sign all paperwork and move.” It was agreed. Come Tuesday, there was a slight delay but eventually I got all my stuff over to the new place. Then I had to go back to the hold house to sign “paperwork”. Technically I didn’t because I’m not covered under any legal obligations (i.e. probation or parole, or any other organization requiring my “completion”). I simply did it as a courtesy. Instead, I wait another two hours. During the final interview when asked, “How would you rate the program? Did you receive the services you felt you deserved?, etc. I made a polite and calm statement, “The client declines to answer the question.” Instead of being ready when the staff member came over, we spent a good hour or more with her saying, “Let me guess or I know, ‘Client declines to answer question, right?’ with a slight agitated nod of my head.” I have nothing against her personally. It how inadequate the program runs, how clients are treated and in my opinion, their program is a complete and utter failure to the recovery community because of their incompetent staff (again not all).

After a few prayers on my way home, I said a few prayers leaving things up to my Higher Power. I’m not going to hold a resentment. It’s over and done with. It may not sound like it from what I just wrote but it really is gone. I haven’t thought about it until I wrote this now and I’m relieved it’s over.

Problem one was tackled, now I had to move on to the second problem. As I was waiting for my modem from Spectrum I checked with FedEx on the status – “a shipping label has been made” with an expected delivery date of Monday “by end of day”. Yet it hadn’t moved since the morning. ARG. In the meantime I put my bed together, sheets on. I arranged most of what I had where I wanted them. But it was getting late. I wanted to keep some sort of sleep schedule. I just assumed it wouldn’t be delivered so I went to bed.

I was right, as I looked at the status today showing it was on the truck for delivery by end of day. So I’ve been waiting. Everything in my house has been put away. Somethings have been moved here and there. I’ve smoked a cigarette almost every hour. Every truck that runs through I’m running to the front living room to see if it’s FedEx. Bat crazy, I know. The wait is killing me.

2:00 pm EST…

The saga continues – Grrrrrr

Finally got modem. Installed, accepted agreements, yada, yada…can’t connect. Noticed outside the line upstairs was disconnected physically. Called Spectrum asking for a technician to come out. Scheduled between 4 to 5 pm. Went to see a friend, coming home around 3:30pm and the tech is already at the house. Apparently all lines to second floor were cut. So he’s got to do his job and I’ll be all set.

4 pm EST …

Finally online. Now to catch some zzz’s.

It’s Moving Day

Quite note:

All things have gone well.

The point again is:

If you don’t expect things to happen YOUR WAY, you won’t be disappointed!

RIP Joe T (03/28/2017)

All things are packed in the van ready to go. FedEx should have the Internet modem delivered by end of day. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get any sleep ‘cus I still have roll the bed out after I move all my stuff. And I haven’t had dinner – cooking meal in new home at some point. It’s been a long year and half plus but no the real challenges start. I’m looking forward to my new life in sobriety!

See ya’ll on the flip side . . .

Last Night – I Hope!

Tonight should be the last night in this house. Tomorrow if all goes well I’ll be moved into my new home. Then again, I might sleep here tomorrow night depending on circumstances. One thing in sobriety I have definitely learned is – I have no control.

Part of me still wants everything lined up just right, all my ducks in a row, to make sure things go smoothly. However, when I do and things turn out differently I’m terribly upset. This is always the case. Instead, I can make plans but I don’t expect anything. It’s interesting this comes up because two years ago today my old Sponsor passed away unexpectedly. He was the one who said all the time, “Mike if you expect things to happen you’re way, you’re only going to be disappointed.” Those words still ring bells in my head all the time.

I’ve made arrangements to have a staff member help me move (just drive) all my stuff in one trip to my new home. Already I’m thinking if things fall through I’m not going to be a happy camper. Matter of fact I’ll blow up at ’em all! I have to keep telling myself, “Don’t get yourself in a tizzy about something which hasn’t happened yet.” It’s an old behavior, actually a really annoying behavior, I’m working on to change. But change does take time. I can hope tomorrow’s events go smoothly.

Besides I still have my current place to fall back on for a couple of days. First, I haven’t received my Internet/cable box at the new place. If it arrives tomorrow, I’m set. Honestly, I don’t want to be stuck in the new place without some entertainment to keep me busy. On the other hand, I bought a bed-in-a-box which needs to be taken out and “rested” so it fills out. After I move it to the new place, I can pull it out of its box and let it “rest”, sleep at the old place, then Tuesday night say my goodbyes to the old place. I rather not sleep on the floor at the new place on the first night either.

I’m ready to go. Let’s hope for a speedy and smooth move to my new home. But if there are bumps along the way I’m just going to have to handle them one at a time. All I can do is hope for the best.

I’m actually surprised my anxiety is going through the roof!