Like many people who live near me, I am beset with allergy miseries. It's spring. The wind has shrieked, flinging dust, allergens and debris for about 7 years straight. I woke up, knocked around in search of coffee and felt tearful. "What's this?" I wondered, tuning up some mindfulness skills to check in on myself. Hmm - really high fever. The sort I attribute more to children than to adults. Eyes gooey, nose alternately runny and socked in solid, chest rattling like rusty old chains. Could I be sick? Um, yes, that miserable sensation in my ear suggested I was quite sick. Enough so that I broke down and sought medical attention. Antibiotics - check. Antihistamines - yep. Prescription eye drops - sure. Vicodin? "Do you think I'll really need that?" She thought I would. I had a pretty severe ear infection.The pain was going to get worse before it got better.
I do not care for Vicodin. It's effect on me is a not-quite-enough masking of pain. I still know the pain's there, just beyond my fingertips and I know I'll feel it more intensely before it's time to take another pill. Sometimes this medication makes me slightly nauseous or dizzy, and - oh, yeah, best of all - it makes me sidewinder mean after I've had about 3 doses. I once gave my mother 50 years of what-for in one Vicodin-inflamed telephone spew. I know it does nothing good for my personality and I try to avoid it. Also, there is some spirited decades-long debate within AA about whether one is truly "sober" if they're not drinking but are taking certain kinds of medication. I can see the argument in favor of "lost sobriety" if one takes these babies for pleasure and thrills. Pleasure? Reader, I don't understand one's coworkers who descend as soon as the dental surgery is completed, "Did you get any extra Vicodin? I'll pay you $4 a pill." I decided I would take them as prescribed, prescribed only for me, as needed for pain, by my physician who knows I am an alcoholic. If any deviation from that seemed imminent, I knew what to do to find help.
Settling into bed with books, music, cell phone, paper and pen, wireless keyboard, remote control devices, two cats, cucumber water, a bit to eat and the Vicodin, I set forth on a journey of unequalled brilliance and revelation. I read, I wrote, I dozed, I talked to myself and cats. It would be fair to say I meditated, though I am not formally trained for that. Apropos of absolutely nothing, I resolved several of the world's larger problems, wrote a discourse in florid language on a topic about which I heretofore knew nothing, made astounding discoveries of nature from my bedside, thought about whether it was morning or afternoon when the clock read 3:00. I did some AA 4th Step work which I didn't like at all. I did some Grief Recovery work on a couple of issues I'd not resolved within myself, though they happened some time ago. I liked that even less, so I turned over to sleep for awhile. By the third day, I was more than ready to shake a leg, get out of bed and get to an AA meeting. Yep, I felt like hell. No, I likely wasn't contagious. It wasn't that I felt a need to drink. It was that I needed to see the faces. Those faces. The two old men (old, as in my general age group) who are wordsmiths, like me. We love to tear into the AA Big Book with its 75-year-old language, applying our modern-day linguistic sensibilities to the precepts. "Les, did you bring your thesaurus?" "I did, men!" The (very) young man who comes on Thursdays and Fridays to take in a meeting where he might hear me speak. "I like to hear you share. I feel like we may have walked down many of the same paths." I feel the same, young taxi driver! I returned home feeling refreshed, refilled.
So it happened that this morning, I knew I must clean up the artifacts of the few days during which I'd clearly had more than one transcendental experience. Stack the paper, close the books properly with bookmarks, mail the notes and cards and other forms of communication I'd written, brush cat hair from everything, get the sheets into the laundry. Feeling so enlivened, I wanted to review what I'd written, what I'd highlighted in the ultimate books, what I'd digitally recorded as reminders to myself. I envisioned myself a latter-day seeress, gliding down Newland Avenue on paroxysms of deep truth, hair and garb not unlike that of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Um, yeah. To paraphrase an old shibboleth, "A wasted mind is a terrible thing".
So, my great observation of the natural world: Virginia Woolf's claws click like so many tiny high heels on the hardwood floor as she walks. I don't need to have the lights on to tell which cat approaches. Of course, when Bogey approaches, the earth moves, too. It seemed so profound when I observed and internalized it.
I wrote my de profundis epic opus that would make a rock weep. Oh, I struck a blow on page after page, pouring it all out, my entreaties for the peace that beautiful verity would have brought, though I was only to be smote with one pretty prevarication after another. No sestet, couplet, no iambic pentameter here, this was blooded ink run rampant. A sonnet squared or cubed relating pain, becoming anger. I sense my writing style was affected by the Oscar Wilde study I'd just completed a day before. Carly Simon thought her wrongdoer was so vain he'd probably think this song was about him. I'd submit that some blackguards wouldn't recognize themselves in a mirror. We shall see when I send it, embossed and decorated, to the intended recipient. I believe that all of that falls under the Grief Recovery umbrella.
In my recorded messages to myself, I sound like a rummy - there's really no nice way to say it. My missives look like the flying monkeys wrote them. And I'm really, really still unpleasant. Yesterday, I resorted to deep sighing and eyeball rolling, reminiscent of some of my mother's more unpleasant nonverbal expressions of unhappiness. Oh, it wasn't my fellow AA's fault that she's dyslexic and had only been to the speech location once before, in about October of 1998. It's not her fault that when I offered to MapQuest the place, she said, "No need. No problem." When I allowed as how I figured we were now in Arizona, she became distressed and couldn't tell me even which direction to take. Hey - all the landmarks had changed. Once we arrived, late, I was immediately put off by the first speaker for a reason not fit to print. Then he launched into his one-liners about the inadvisability of dating a "broad from AA". Ahem. Not one, but two, women speakers annoyed me by the word they applied to females. "Women" is a word that usually sits well with me. Certain other words don't fly as effectively and I tend to drift in my thoughts. Women speaking arrogantly about other women . . . And so, one can see I'm still not 100%. Still a little grumpy. Tetchy like. However, I hear no wind and the sun has finally come out and the raspy gacking noises of Virginia Woolf hurling really expensive cat food came from outside, not inside. I think this will be a better day. It'd be a hell of a note if the world ended or something.