Today marks my third soberversary! WOAH.

(Note: you can read last years soberversary post here, and my first one here)

It has been 1,095 days since I stopped conveniently excusing my thoughts, my words, and my actions. It has been three years of conscious self-reflection. Three years of rewriting my story to make the part where I was an lost little drunken fool fit in.

Today is my third sober birthday, and I am damn proud of me.  Conversely, I feel a need to self-deprecate a bit, since our culture finds shame in self-celebration, so I ground my little party balloon by pondering improvements.

Every year on new years, I (like a few million other Americans) set a resolution for myself. Something completely achievable, but not necessarily simple. I suppose 8 months out, on this particular day of personal celebration, is a fair time to analyze my success; if any.

My 2012 resolution was: Question your true motives.

This has actually been a bit of a theme since I quit drinking. After years of drowning all negative skeptical emotions in whiskey, hiding behind a partygirl persona; getting to know yourself is actually really fucking hard. All the standard existential questions apply, times a thousand: WHO AM I??? WHAT DO I WANT?? WHAT AM I EVEN DOING AND WHY???

I’ve said before that I spent the first 6 months without booze in a cocoon, which helped me get my bearings. I sorted through a lot of that maudlin loathing, and learning to love myself (ick. Cliche alert). This year I decided to take it to the next level by getting into my own head.

oh, thats a face.

Truth be told, the most challenging part of sobriety has been interpersonal relationships– learning to socialize without imbibing, and learning to communicate without emotionally dumping, then apologizing the next day “for whatever I said.”  The challenge has lain in finding self-control, patience, and perspective when dealing with others. And to do all this, I have had to take a long, hard look at the things that motivate me.

As a drinker, anyone who knew me will agree, I was rash, impulsive, and unwilling to negotiate. In sobriety, I have found that those qualities cannot be attributed to alcohol alone. It’s hard not to fall back into a depressive mindset when you realize you can be a total asshole sometimes without even knowing it. In 2012, I resolved to be more honest with myself about why I behave the way I do, and I’ve so far concluded only that we humans are petty, silly creatures.

Or maybe it’s just me! I don’t know…

A lot of the time, I find that my root motivators are selfish. My mind wants to act out of desire for personal gain, and react to envy. Which is the worst kind of emotion. I don’t understand WHY. It would be easy to blame corporate capitalist culture, to point fingers at consumerism and society’s emphasis on status. To say I was indoctrinated with the mindset of self-interest from birth, led by a carrot-on-a-stick toward the idea that I always deserve more. But I think that misses the point; and anyhow, becomes irrelevant because, the more you think about things, the more cyclical they become. At the end of the day, it’s not just me, but 7 billion+ humans acting in their own best interests.

So then I hit this catch-22. Where does self-preservation end, and self-interest begin? In the first world, it’s not realistic to say that food and shelter are our only survival requirements. Maslow’s hierarchy confirms, feeling whole in this society means one is physically, spiritually, emotionally, and socially content. On any given day, I would say I’m between 60 and 90 percent there.

Now I am splitting my deeper desires into “wants” and “needs,” it becomes confusing which is which. It’s everyone in competition, so why not get your slice (or 5) of the pie? And then you look around you, and there are all these people with what you perceive as more than what you have. Before you can stop yourself, you’re wondering which of you is really more deserving.

This is when I start to feel like a guilty jerk again. Jealousy is so hard to free your mind from, it grabs hold and gnaws at the frontal cortex. It becomes a motivator, much like one of those parasites that makes snails into suicidal zombies. All of a sudden, you’re in the middle of plotting a bank robbery, and you’re like “wait, why?” Because I need a private jet and my own island nation?

No!

So, I’m working on it. I’m getting better at checking my true motives, and curbing myself when I recognize that I am acting out of envy, rather than self-preservation. I think that’s the best one can do, apart from becoming a cave-dwelling buddhist monk. I’m realizing that life is a constant state of negotiating my “needs” with the “needs” of others, and learning to not get so offended when my toes get stepped on. Sometimes, your lines in the sand need to be just that– arbitrary and moveable. Sometimes you need to compromise on your principles, and pick your battles. Sometimes you just need to stop being such an asshole.

Our lives are not as limited as we think they are; the world is a wonderfully weird place; consensual reality is significantly flawed; no institution can be trusted, but love does work; all things are possible; and we all could be happy and fulfilled if we only had the guts to be truly free and the wisdom to shrink our egos and quit taking ourselves so damn seriously.

[[TomRobbins.StillLifeWithWoodpecker]]

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More Than My Wine

August 17, 2011

(Sidenote: You can read last year’s “Soberversary” post Here)

Two years without booze. That’s two years of designated driving, two years of remembering every night, and two years of occasionally stopping and wondering: “WHO THE HELL IS THIS PERSON, anyway??”

When I quit drinking, exactly 730 days ago, I told myself and those around me “I definitely need a break.” Back then, I guess I would have labeled the decision as “long-overdue.” Now? Not sure there is such a thing.

I’m not one for religiosity, so I wouldn’t go so far as to call my wakeup a divine intervention, but I do firmly believe that my sobriety came in it’s due time. No late fees incurred, no interest accrued. It happened exactly how it needed to. It’s possible there’s even some mathematic explanation, the way theres math for gravity or gambling. Or perhaps there was some astrological tale of new beginnings written just for me by the larger members of the cosmos– planets and stars colliding, converging, aligning perfectly for a moment of profound influence on one tiny spirit within. Regardless, I’m grateful not only for my sobriety, but for every experience that got me here. Lost phones, loud fights, misdemeanors, hospital visits. All of it.

While I was drunk I may have said and done some stupid things; I may have hurt some people, including myself, along the way. But that’s life. With or without alcohol, shit happens, hearts break, the world moves along at a furious pace. I did some things while drinking that I would never have done sober, but just maybe all those things needed to be done. In retrospect, even the “bad” parts of our personal stories seem nostalgically accessible, don’t they?

People have a readiness to dismiss the past as gone, and to denounce who they were. I see this as a critical error in self-understanding. You can’t ever “become a different person.” You are you. You are who you have been. You are the owner of every decision made along the way. 

Like a matryoshka doll, one inside of the next, we become more intricate, complex, and spacious as we grow. But inside, there is always that teeny tiny, roughly painted little you– just as valuable as every other piece. Little matryoshka you might not be as richly detailed as the outer versions, but it doesn’t belong to anyone else, doesn’t complete any other set.

Although these days, the only cocktails I obsess over are fresh juice concoctions, the only going-wild I do is riding my bike without a helmet, and the only hangover I get is from refined sugars; I am still Kat. I didn’t wake up one day, quit drinking, and suddenly become a more socially apt person who fit into a much smaller pair of jeans. Personal evolution is work every single day. Emotional, physical, and spiritual effort. There is no “old Kat,” and the drunk asshole who used to put herself in dangerous and stupid situations: that was me, not some other person who I hardly know. Even if it feels like it.

I am everything I ever have been. My resume includes alcoholic– in big black comic sans font. There is no hiding or denying it. No putting it under a more subtle somber guise. Drunk Kat looked silly, and I need to remember that almost daily. For better or worse. Because I am that person as soon as I let myself be.

Cheers!

O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! That we should, with joy, pleasance, revel, and applause transform ourselves into beasts! [[WilliamShakespeare.Othello]]

Pomp and Pride

January 24, 2011

One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from William Shakespeare, and I have used it on here before. “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

Since reading “As You Like It” many years ago, this phrase has stayed with me as a fact. It resonates strongly with my life paradigm, and reinforces my suspicions about most people I meet. It has inspired me to fill my life with fools, and to recognize my own incapacity to know it all.

I love to learn. As a child, I enjoyed school, devoured books, and relished tales from my grandparents. New knowledge is like food for the brain and spirit. It can change your whole perspective on things.

What I have come to realize, however, is that this seemingly insatiable desire for information is, in fact, hindered by my reluctance to be taught. My distinct inability to surrender the platform of knowledge upon which I stand, and simply go with the flow.

Human ego is a two-sided coin; both our species’ best and worst quality. Ego allows us to be self-aware, motivated, and conscious of societal concern. On the flip side of that, our egos are fragile little pieces of ourselves; parts we work hard to establish and then militantly protect. When creating– whether it be visual art, music, poetry, performance, food, software, whatever– the ego is in it’s glory. As humans, we tend to take some level of pride in the things we do: this is ego.

Throughout my childhood, I recall being asked by nearly every educator to provide two copies of a body of work– one copy of the finished product and, the other a “rough draft.” I presume that this rough draft would provide our teachers some sort of insight into the creative process, thusly ensuring that our spongey little minds were, in fact, the ones producing such masterpiece analyses of “Lord of the Flies,” US governmental structure, and the first world war. I assume the other benefit of such documentation would be to chart a student’s progress between initial thought and end result.

It is only in retrospect that I’ve come to realize that I never handed in a legitimate “rough” copy of anything. At least, not that I can remember. Instead, I wrote (as I do now) neurotically working my way through, obsessively analyzing every word the first time it was used, and created one copy of something I was very proud of. I threw away the scribbled-upon pages of college-ruled note paper as garbage– never something I would consider handing in with my name on it. Once finished, I would carefully contrive some “rough draft” to hand in alongside the final product.

No joke. I just couldn’t bring myself to hand in the real thing– the roadmap to my thoughts. Something about this seemed to violate my creative process; seemed a voyeuristic request on the part of my educators. Nope. What my teachers were handed was an even more carefully crafted version of my final– they read my “raw thought” and, in my mind, were perceiving exactly what I wanted them to. Move a comma, switch a sentence around, draw a few arrows– yes, dear fifth grade teacher, look at all I learned between the first time wrote this and the second time. What a good job you’ve done!

The truth of it is, writing is the only thing I’ve ever felt very confident in creating and, as mentioned before, creation is the physical manifestation of our egos. Inviting another to assess this creation is, in and of itself, an invitation for open season on this prideful sector of self. While this strange unwillingness to subject my thought process for review may not have negatively impacted my word-smithing, I’m able to note increasingly how it has affected other aspects of my life.

For instance, as someone who is almost constantly surrounded by musicians, I have only once, and only for about 3 hours, earnestly attempted to play guitar. With much anxiety, I sat in a room of my friends, most of whom were paying no attention to me whatsoever, and apprehensively took my first and only “lesson.” After a while, I thought to myself “nobody wants to hear me play bad guitar for hours” and never played again. I’ve spoken several times since about purchasing my own instrument and teaching myself, but I’m fairly convinced music is something I am simply not good at– especially in light of how incredible some of the people I know are. It sounds like a defeatist attitude, and perhaps it is just that. But I’m coming to realize that maybe it is my insane inability to forego the preconceptions that I’m supposed to be prideful of something before I allow another to bear witness to it. The old “rough draft” problem.

In light of all this, I suppose it’s high time I at least make an attempt at reforming this aspect of self. Pride and ego stymie creativity, not encourage it, and the more we put out into the universe, the more we are to receive. I know it’s no simple thing– old habits die hard, and my writing will always be a soft spot– but making a concerted effort to be more absorbent of the vast information available to me can only be beneficial to my worldview. Regardless of what value I determine something to have, there is no harm in allowing another to exert their egotism and “teach” me.

I mean, who knows, I might actually learn something?

My Super Sweet 24th

November 30, 2010

This year, I awoke on my birthday from a bizarre recurring dream, quite literally on the wrong side of the bed. Cue the waterworks. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, after 24 Gregorian calendar years, this is the sort of very mature behavior I engage in. Throwing a tantrum in my jammies.

After scraping myself together, with a little help from the most wonderful gentleman a girl could ask for, I managed to get out of the funk and put on a smile. Thanksgiving dinner with my family and friends was mellow and nice, I got my gluttony on, and it didn’t snow– which is a rarity for the end of November ’round these parts.

Most people would probably consider this an acceptable birthday and call it quits; but not this girl. Not only did I close out the day with a good sob, but I, then, woke up in the middle of the night for an encore performance. Not just a couple tears, I’m talking full shudders.

(Yes. On Thanksgiving. I know, I should have been making lists of things I am grateful for, and counting my blessings, and all that.)

Every year, for as long as I can remember, I have cried on my birthday.

Why?

It’s a fair question. One that, until this year, I found myself at a loss for a sufficient answer to. Beyond the superficial triggers, I could only rationalize that some underlying cause was at work; making me feel much less than enthusiastic about my planetary anniversary. Naturally, I assumed it was my human perception of finite time making me nostalgic. Hence, the tears. Birthdays tend to highlight our status as mortal, and thereby fragile, beings.

Ah, yes, perhaps feeling Newtonian in spite of myself. But that sort of philosophical scapegoat never fit quite right. No matter how erudite this hypothesis makes me sound, the birthday tears seem to be caused by something much deeper than superego-fueled aesthetics.

A bit reluctantly, I turned to a more obvious culprit: the little Kat inside me who– even after almost a quarter century– wants her princess birthday. I concede that birthdays are generally underwhelming, and my inner child might have had difficulty coming to terms with this reality. Somewhere, deep inside, I want to wake up on my birthday and have it be the *most awesome day of my life* that it felt like once upon a time. Subconsciously struggling to recapture a feeling I haven’t been capable of since I was maybe 5 years old. A sense of inevitable disappointment 364 days in the making.

But blaming the Id part of myself for the tears didn’t feel right, either. Sure, I guess there is the “perfect” birthday, but I’m no stranger to reality– not any time of the year– November 25 doesn’t really come with much more expectation. What I felt wasn’t really “disappointment” as much as a general desire to absolutely, and inexplicably, bawl.

Some days later, having gotten over whatever trivial matters I let disturb me so, I came to the realization that maybe I cry on my birthdays just because… I can.

Is it “normal?” Or “uplifting?”

Who cares.

“Should” I be crying?

Who cares.

The bottom line is that celebrating our own life anniversaries is incredibly self-indulgent, no matter what. For me, weeping shamelessly seems to roll right into that. Impetus irrelevant.

Peculiar, maybe, but I don’t owe any apologies. With or without the tears, I am glad to be here– another year older, arguably wiser, and still waiting on the maturity I assumed I’d be handed when I “grew up.”

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough. [[AlbertEinstein]]

Only Speak in Pantomimes

September 9, 2010

All too often, I open my mouth and, instead of expressing the poignant conjecture which had only moments before occupied my brain, I find myself stranded in the Gobi Desert of sentences. I awkwardly twist, attempt at backtracking, and tangentially grab hold of any remaining shred of logic before I realize that my foot is now too far down my throat to say anything else.

In this way, I frequently embarrass myself, and have been known to confuse, berate, or offend others. I don’t intend to, quite the opposite, actually. My brand of honesty is just a little too honest. Like an obnoxious game show contestant, I share too much of the process and not enough well-developed thought. My emotions take charge of the rhetoric while my rational mind follows thisclose behind screaming “Stop talking! SHUT! UP!”

This is why I’m best in black and white. Letters, spaces, and punctuation. Structured sentences and fully-formed theses. My mental processes require stringent editing– I need to be cut, deleted, and re-evaluated before I can be taken seriously. And, even then,  my intentions come across botched, at best.

Language is our species’ blessing and curse. It helps us understand, and just as often misunderstand, one another. it can be literal or ambiguous, sarcastic or dead serious. Unlike much of the animal kingdom, our “language” is not based soley in brain chemicals, hormones, or singly interpretive waves. Our methodology is so convoluted, even “yes” and “no”  become interchangeable.

People crave communication. Contact with others keeps our reality consistent. We find comfort in shared experience: if the sky appeared crimson to you, basic instinct would be to seek a second opinion. We just want to be sure we’re all on the same page, or at least still in the same book.

In my human scramble to ensure a cohesive reality, I find myself sharing thoughts that aren’t quite thoughts at all. I express my perception of things as facts when, in reality, I can be rather presumptuous; occasionally all-together wrong.

Knowing this about myself, I will sometimes go so far as to rehearse even a minor monologue aloud before it’s delivery. But in the end, without fail, I say too much. I elaborate some trivial detail; drive home some irrelevant or questionably related point. I see my proverbial foot heading toward my mouth, recognize that I am about to make a fool of myself, and then proceed to either continue making things awkward or flail about wildly making conclusions that sound more like accusations.

I have a fear of the things people find “between the lines” during dialogue, so I fill that space with nonsense. I’m discovering, however, that there is truly greater value in conversational minimalism. Something about the mystery.

This is what I find most encouraging about the writing trades: they allow mediocre people who are patient and industrious to revise their stupidity, to edit themselves into something like intelligence. They also allow lunatics to seem saner than sane. [[WampetersFomaAndGranfalloons.KurtVonnegut]]

A Naive Melody.

July 22, 2010

As a person, I like to fancy myself rather astute. I think most people do. We like to believe that our world is as we perceive it. That we know what is going on with those around us, and where we stand in the bigger scheme of things. We like to believe that we know the people who spend their days (and/or nights) with us. That we are being graciously presented a whole picture of the world by our friends, families, and lovers.

Some of the most powerful human emotions are stirred up when one is left feeling ignorant and foolish. When the rug of perception is pulled from right under our feet. Especially when it seems no accident.

Above and beyond the dramaturgical desire to “save face,” it is a severe ego blow to realize that you’ve been kept in the dark, given the run around, or just plain ruse’d by someone you trust. The closer this person is to us, the more complex the emotions which emerge from a major rift in communication.

There is the initial hurt of realizing your world is much different than you thought. The brain scrambles to catch up; make sense of the new information. There are feelings of inadequacy– wondering why the wool was pulled over your eyes in the first place; what you could have done to be more… more trustworthy, more anything to fit into the (apparent) bigger picture. The deeper the lapse in cohesive reality, the harder it becomes to backtrack, untangle, and make sense of it all. It is harsh, feeling like an oblivious dumbass. Plain and simple. There is no sugar coating the cold bite of reality. There are countless poems and songs about these emotions.

Our culture recognizes the revelation of one’s own foolishness as a very real phenomena.

Mama bear always told me that “A lie of omission is still a lie.” And I am the worst liar in the world. Brutally honest to a fault, even. My stories are told in their entirety and in great detail, regardless of who they are being told to. I am coming to realize that not everyone was raised with my mother’s perspective, but how can intentionally glazing over pertinent information (repeatedly) be seen as anything but purposeful deception?

I honestly just want to understand.

Anyone who knows me in the slightest, knows that I am most likely *the* must gullible human being on the planet.  Is it a little silly to post that on the interwebz? On April Fools Day?(!) Probably. But it’s the truth.

As my blog title purports, I have profound faith in the absurd. The more unlikely something is, the higher the probability of my believing it. Why? Because, art imitates life. The universe trends from order to chaos. The fact of the matter is, most of us couldn’t even make this shit up if we tried!

Uncanny timing, bizarre encounters, cameo appearances, random explosions, long-lost-twin-brothers; I believe every plot twist. The dramatic pauses, the nefarious subtext, the fuzzy-edged flashbacks, the lone piano and entire string section. In my version, they are all there.

Is it naive to be a believer? Perhaps. But reality is what we make it, nothing more, nothing less. Some people live their whole lives waiting for a moment– a slow-mo entrance or blaze of pyrotechnic glory– the moment that quickens the pulse, shortens the breath, or lights the bulb above our heads. A-ha!

For me, life is less “Titanic,” more “Days of Our Lives.” Armed with appropriately witty dialogue and melodramatic backstories, the extraordinary characters in this saga rarely encounter the ordinary. And there are no accidents.

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool. [[AsYouLikeIt.WilliamShakespeare]]

Bonus: check out this gullible girl !