no way to break the spell [or is there?].

Day 34 | Dry as a Nilla Wafer | The Snickers Are Acquiring a Nice Coat of Dust Beneath the Dryer

A girl and her black Lab walk into a trendy happenin’ deliciously-cool bar on a hot summer afternoon [in Barcelona].

The girl and her black Lab walk right back out into the heat.


This place is located in Barcelona. Take note of the Lab’s screwy eyeballs—he’s had a few.

Wanna know my secret at thwarting temptation?

I haven’t been in a bar or a restaurant in 34 days.

Not in Barcelona, not in London, New York or even nearby Beantown.

Whenever I’ve tried to pull this stunt before—quit the drinking, the eating—I’d psyche myself up into thinking I could face the shiny bottles of booze and the baskets of warm, delectable pillows of baked goodness and oil at Bertucci’s—without caving into temptation.

But what about on a Friday night?

You know, Friday. Night.

Husband’s there, sitting opposing me, looking his handsome self.

He’s relieved the work week is through.

It’s a full moment, settling into our seats. A reprieve.

Breathe out the stress. Breathe in—

[The soft light cast on the bar]


How wonderfully enticing, comforting, the bar appears.

The bottles—blue, green, amber, clear.

Clean, sterile-like.


A giant bottle of Grey Goose [that won’t fit in our freezer, I’ve tried].

A cute little bottle of Chambord.

The bartender.

The bartender.

The bartender.

The ice crunching in the cocktail shaker.

Cocktail shaker.

Cocktail shaker.

Cocktail shaker.

I can fight it, I’d say to myself.

I can fight it, I’d say louder.

I can fight it, I’d clamor and hit my fist against the table.

“Welcome to Bertucci’s, first time here?”

“I’ll have a Ketel martini with a whisper of brine.” A pillow of goodness protrudes from the side of my mouth. “Three olives.”

[I grimace] “Right away. [nod] Please. [ease into a smile] Thank you.”


Keeping out of a bar and a restaurant for 34 days may seem extreme.

But, it’s working.

tamed by the pressure.

Day 31 | Dry as the Heart of a Haystack | Down 14 Pounds, 52 to Go

She crawled on her hands and knees across my ass.

No, really.

The massage is a treat for my 30-day milestone [the cost equals a bottle and a half of 1.75L bottles of Ketel One, a 3-week supply].

I say to the therapist, “my gluts and lower back are tight from hiking ‘the Pipe’ at Callahan.”

She cocks her head.

I provide more detail. “It’s so steep, it’s nearly an inverted climb.”

A question mark appears in a call-out balloon above her head.

I rub my back side with both hands. “My ass muscles feel like open wounds.”

I reached her this time. She chuckles. Then she tells me to take all my clothes off and the smile runs away from her face.

Big and naked I lie.

Her tiny fingers are razor blades. Honing and kneading into my connective tissue.

I breathe through my nose the entire hour.

Send out flairs and pop red smoke for a break, some gesture of comfort.

Take short inhales, long exhales.

Whistle the air out of my mouth.

It helps mitigate the pain.

This morning, my ass doesn’t hurt anymore. It’s a bit sore, but it’s not bleeding. My shoulders are so loose, they feel as if they may rotate out of their sockets and fall to the floor. The back of my neck feels as if it’s not even attached to my head.

A body rototilled has its benefits.

It’s my reward, right?

[Yes, Ginny, it is your reward. 30 days without a fucking drop of booze. You’re on fire.]

Hell, yea.

Kudos to you, Mark Garrison. I finished Guts ‘N Gunships and loved every second of it—learning a combat helicopter pilot’s perspective [and terror] in fighting the VC—and rescuing Americans so they could get home.


the sooner the better now.

Day 29 | Clean as a Rose After Rain | Those Smells from Pizzeria Regina Are Killing Me

I lost my mind.

I overheard myself talking in an interview to a silly and vibrant girl who reminded me of SJP in L.A. Story. At Liberty Mutual in Back Bay. I sounded bright. Like, I knew what I was talking about. Silly Girl was talking about this enormous, kludgy system, “the project,” and when she stopped to take a breath, she said, “what do you think?” As in, what is my opinion on how to tackle the problem.

I wasn’t nervous. I was confident.

One word comes to mind, I told her.


As in architecture. Creating a map or set hierarchy in which to roll out the project.

I hadn’t lost my mind here, you see.

I gained it back.

Whaddya mean?

I wasn’t overwhelmed or worried about saying the wrong thing, tripping over my words.

My head was clear.

Not bloated from eating a bag of Green Mountain Tortilla Chips with Chex Mix mixed in; no lasting effects from drinking the amount of alcohol the night before that could anesthetize a wild boar.

I am a clearheaded, educated individual.


An hour later, Silly Girl led me and the dog to the bustling reception area and took my hand in hers.

“Nice to have met you,” she smiled.

“See ya, sister,” I said.

I wanna fly all night.

Day 28 | So Dry I’m Spitting Cotton | Down 13 Pounds, 53 to Go

“How ’bout doing the wild thing,” I say, as he slips into the bathroom. My nose is sunk deep into Garrison’s Guts ‘n Gunships.

“After I shower.”

Hot diggity.

I toss the book aside, snag our implements from the bedside drawer, strip off my shirt and hit the light.

Hell, it’s been a month.

It’s been since….I stopped drinking.

Husband arrives “flesh and fluffy” and goes to town.

Tongue to hoo-hoo.

[pause for perspective]

Twenty-nine days ago and beyond, I’d be frisky at bedtime. Waggle my eyebrows at hoo-hoo guy, begin disrobing [in the confines of our teeny room at Ted and Sue’s]. Miraculous—considering the amount of alcohol in my system—typically a 6-ounce vodka martini, 3 or 4 glasses of 14 Hands Hot to Trot, a shot of two of ginger cognac. All consumed in about 3-4 hours.

[Food in the stomach gives consciousness longevity.]

To the bedroom we’d go where Husband would immediately fall asleep [pass out] and I’d employ my Pocket Rocket [“a girl’s best friend”] for up to an hour hoping, praying and straining for rapture.

I’d be lucky to experience a pang the size of a wavelet.

[fast forward]

Husband. Tongue. Hoo-hoo.


Still high on the fading reverberations, Husband mounts me. The shot of Jamison’s hasn’t effected him in the least. He does his thing, dismounts.

Hell, I’m still feeling tingly.

Apply Pocket Rocket to hoo-hoo.

My forearm encounters Husband’s abundant pool of ick.


He tissues it off.

Not really off, just sort of spreads it around my hip. And forearm.

I go at it.

It happens again.

And again.

Husband gets out of bed, returns with a handful of pretzels. He’s doing the assist and crunching in my ear. It’s distracting, but I don’t want to be a jerk and say “get out of here, will ya?”

I’m going for FOUR times. It’s a record.

An all-time one.

I subtly push the pretzel-muncher from my flesh; he begins tossing the pretzels in his mouth from his cupped hand.

Sex and pretzel-munching?

At 52 and 65?

I concentrate on the job at hand.

I’m getting a headache, straining.

The rise, the flare, the pang.

It’s number four.

Husband falls asleep with his head and arm wrapped around me in the same way my mother gripped my niece to her bosom after her father hanged himself on Thanksgiving Morning.

I get a crick in my neck.

But he’s happy and I’m happy he’s happy and I’m happy I’m happy.

He’ll eventually turn over, anyway.

the sugar the dripped from the violin’s bow [part 2].

Day 27 | Dry as Grandma’s Turkey + Will the Skin Between My Thighs Ever Have Clearance

My mom’s always asking me, like it’s the plainest, simplest situation in the world, “Don’t you want to get thin again?”

No, Mom, I love being fat.

I love that I have to get on all fours and leverage myself up off the floor with my hands like a retard because my ass is so huge.

I love when I walk by a piece of furniture, my hip catches it.

I love that I don’t fit in comfortably behind the wheel.

I love…aw, shit.

One day recently she asked me why I put on all the weight. This is a line of questioning that has the qualities of a needle-stuck-on-the-record.

Usually I say nothing and shrug.

This time I told her I’m frustrated with life.

She had no response.

I actually stumped her.

She got on the bandwagon and started the HMR diet last Tuesday. Yesterday I watched her eat three hot dogs at her dining room table. Well, 2 1/2. She offered me one over my matchbook-size HMR entree then gave the other half to my brother. As she indulged, she said what she always says when she’s eating something good.

“I haven’t eaten a hot dog in so long.”

She ate a hot dog at my place 28 days ago.

Then over my father’s birthday cake it was, “I haven’t had a piece of cake in so long.”

Last week, Mom. You had a piece of cake last week at Husband’s 65th birthday bash.

“How ’bout a glass of wine, Ginny?”

My sister, who I rarely see and haven’t know in forever, gave my father a nice bottle of Cab.

“No thanks, Dad. No alcohol on the diet.”

[that’s my pretend excuse for the bigger picture]

Not sure he heard me. He went to rest in his chair—you know, the cancer.

I revert: “Don’t you want to get thin again?”

In her brain, does my mother actually think I think like that?

I want to prevent anything and everything in order to stay fat and not be thin.

A few weeks ago she told me no one is going to hire me being so heavy and accompanied by a [service] dog.

Why can’t I say, what the fuck is wrong with you?

If I’m your daughter and you care for me, why do you talk to me like that?

You realize that you’re talking to yourself, don’t you? A case of projection? You’re well over a hundred pounds overweight. Hello?

Why did YOU gain all the weight?

She was riding my dad hard yesterday, over nonsense things, and he something back at her incredibly poignant. I had to suppress a smile and giving him a high-five.

“It’d make you happy if I were invisible, wouldn’t it?”

This is the same woman that sat next to me a week ago as I explained the HMR diet and she said, “I’m scared about your father, he’s not doing good.”

Lash out, lash in.

I don’t fucking get it.


under a bus with my fingers crossed.

Day 26 | Ain’t Misbehavin’ | But How ‘Bout a Fried Bologna Sandwich

How Sunday mornings used to be:

Head: heavy

Body: bloated

Music: Bossa Nova

Frying pan: eggs over easy, turkey bacon

Oven: home fries [“homes”], toast

Keurig: hazelnut coffee with yummy cream from a cow who’s utterly respected and nurtured

Dog: drooling

Cat: sitting on counter seeking scraps

Bunnies: Husband indulging with bits of fruit


How Sunday mornings are now:

Light in the head and body.

Bossa Nova Music (Karrin Allyson is a favorite)

2 servings of HMR vanilla shake

Coffee with HMR shake stirred in [yuck]

Dog and cat sleeping; bunnies have SADLY been re-homed due to unforeseen circumstances.

This is a sacrifice—the going-without.

Is it worth it?

And, why, did I dream of Soren Kierkegaard?

To Google, I go.

“Much of Kierkegaard philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a ‘single individual,’ giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment.”

First the orange balloon, now this Danish dude Kierkegaard.

It’s another affirmation.

Manifested just for me.

Kierkegaard’s August 1, 1835 journal entry:

What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find a purpose, to see what it really is that God wills that I shall do; the crucial thing is to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die.


One must first learn to know himself before knowing anything else. Not until a man has inwardly understood himself and then sees the course he is to take does his life gain peace and meaning; only then is he free of that irksome, sinister traveling companion — that irony of life, which manifests itself in the sphere of knowledge and invites true knowing to begin with a not-knowing (Socrates) just as God created the world from nothing.

Did Kierkegaard find his truth, I wonder?

No academic could answer this, but my inquiry seemed to derive an answer along these lines:

For Kierkegaard Christian faith is a matter of individual subjective passion, which cannot be mediated by the clergy or by human artifacts [I love this]. Faith is the most important task to be achieved by a human being, because only on the basis of faith does an individual have a chance to become a true self. This self is the life-work which God judges for eternity.

I’ve got to have faith—complete trust and confidence in the going-without—and watch for those little affirmations manifested along the way.

Thanks, Søren.




the colour of our times.

Day 25 | Clean as Blood of Babes | 10 Pounds Down; 56 to Go

Today is my dad’s seventy-ninth birthday.

He was given 6 months to live a year-and-a-half ago. About 2 1/2 months into those 6 months, my nurse practitioner (female), who I see instead of our semi-retired family doctor (male), walks into the exam room where I’m perched on an exam table with a paper johnny. An abundant breast pokes out through the opening.

She doesn’t smile hello or quip her usual I never know if I’m going to walk in here and find you thin or heavy and says, “I’m sorry your father is so terribly sick.”

Dad yesterday: taking a break from helping Husband with exterior house repairs.

Forget about the HIPAA thing.

My dad didn’t tell me about the cancer that our semi-retired family doctor missed diagnosing—despite my father’s complaints of pain for three years—until two months after learning his body had been ravaged by it.

That means if Dad hadn’t yet told me, Nurse Practitioner here would have spilled the beans and instead of my gasping and hiccup-sobbing and hysterically crying out it’s not fair at work, where he called me with the news amid a densely-populated cube farm, I could have caved/imploded/carried on in front of her.

Now, the HIPAA thing.

I told Dad I wanted to sue Mr. Semi-Retired Family Doctor; I called malpractice attorneys, found out what’s involved. Mom was into pursuing litigation, but as the notion sunk in, my father decided we didn’t have any chance of winning any compensation.

“It’ll cost too much to pay the lawyers upfront and hardly anyone ever wins these type of cases,” he said. “It’s too tough to prove negligence.”

The type of malpractice attorneys I was talking to proved negligence and won these type of cases.

For big money.

Around the same time, Dad advised me not to pursue a small claims case against our former landlord (who happens to be a recovering alcoholic and shacked up and dependent on her second live-in recovering alcoholic boyfriend) because chances were, we’d collect nothing.

[Underlying facts that lend character to the matter at hand: Our landlord’s first live-in recovering alcoholic boyfriend who was not in fact recovering, produced fruit with our landlord—a temper-tantrum-throwing horned melon, adding to three other “offspring.” The horned melon appeared by name in my documentation attesting to Breach of Quiet Enjoyment.]

We kicked my former landlord’s ass in Small Claims [her futile “defense” to each of the five breaches being a shaky-voiced and overwrought exclamation to the magistrate, I love and live for my children!] and pursuing a malpractice against Mr. Semi-Retired Family Doctor made my salivary glands go wild.

I couldn’t, however, pursue malpractice litigation—not being unemployed—and without, of course, Mom and Dad’s buy-in.

But, here’s the thing.

Dad has been compensated. With time.

And in relative terms, lots of it.

If the choice, you see, is between a few Mil or Dad’s presence with a decent quality of life, I’ll take the latter.

It seems, then, we’ve won.


see my windows wiping clean.

Day 23 | Holding Out | Where’s My Inspiration [oh, here it is]

Watching Possessed.

There’s something I didn’t tell you.

I had been watching the movie weeks ago, under the influence. The film remained stuck in pause mode; one of many recordings listed on our Tivo. Two days ago I had gone in searching, under the weather, craving a TCM Classic thriller I hadn’t yet seen and the title Possessed, appealed.

The movie had been run three-quarters through. Had no recollection of this. I backed it up a bit, still had no memory of it. Backed it up more; the same. Nothing.

If this appears glamorous, it’s because she’s not cocked.

[drunken chronicles]

The full length of the movie is a bit over 1:45 hours. I paused it at the one hour mark which means I had sipped through the entire 6-ounce martini [a 30-minute duration] and was into dinner [or right into chips] and wine.

Fifteen [itty-bitty] minutes into consuming the martini, I’m stoned and begin losing track of time [cognitive function]—what I’m watching on the screen no longer penetrates my brain. When Husband and I are “engaged” in a series on Netflix and Husband is drinking alongside of me [he drinks wine like his body spouts holes], we have to repeat watching the same episode two or three times before we can move onto the next.

And even at that, we retain half the details.

[Do you remember this? No. Go back.]

And reading my favorite subjects?


Last night, we were watching Bloodline. We’re re-watching the second season because the third season was recently released and well, we can’t remember watching the second season while we were blasted, so we had to go back. And the episodes are long [but totally worth re-watching—Kyle Chandler is a major hunk and the plot of the story is riveting].

This morning before opening my eyes, I did the check-inside-the-body thing.

It’s 23 days. Remember watching Bloodline last night? How ya feeling? Isn’t clarity something? No heavy head, eh?

I recalled the details of watching Bloodline. But my body didn’t respond. No tiny voice brimming with joy either.

When I opened my eyes, though, I was stunned.

An orange balloon, a remnant of the party from the weekend, had crept its way to my bedside from deep inside the dining room and adhered itself to the back of the fan. The thing moved gently with its rotation. A curly ribbon dangling from the knot, holding what remained of the helium inside of it, giving it life.

To Google, I go:

The color orange is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.

Here in these days of writing everyday and unemployment and going without what takes the pain away and feeling misplaced and displaced and unplaced, a profound message is sent.

The orange balloon.

It’s 23 days.

the sugar that dripped from the violin’s bow.

Day 22 | Husband’s Eating Cake and Drinking Beer

What’s worse than having the menstrual period of a fertile 18-year-old woman at 52?

No alcohol to numb the cramps inside the cob-webbed filled womb of a 52-year-old woman.

That little renown pinch flared deep in my core yesterday afternoon.

We had just finished up a 3-mile hike at Callahan State Park. It had gotten too late in the day with the type of hot heat that drains the life out of ya. I hadn’t eaten and didn’t have my usual freedom—just the dog and me in the woods by our lonesome.

I had invited Husband along.

On a subsequent errand, we happened upon a drive past a full half-mile’s length of the HEAVENLY aroma of barbecue. To say it beckoned my senses [stomach] is an understatement.

Wiping the drool from my mouth and chin, I dashed into the store for peanut butter [dog] and pretzels [husband] and to get a refund on a party-sized $60 “Greek” salad that lacked any Greekness [me].

At home, frenzied in desire for consumption—fingers knuckled around a serving spoon—I gobbled down an HMR entree the size of a matchbook. Husband devoured a fluffy and colorful 4-inch-square chunk of birthday cake and a beer.

There was conflict in my head. No voices, no synapses misfiring, just an overwhelming sense of desire and lack thereof. I persevered—a hangover of caving in would manifest in irrevocable measures—tossed the entree container with bits of gravy to the floor for the dog, showered, got in bed and watched Joan Crawford act out the same frenzied and overwrought performance in Possessed

The end of the movie. Raymond Massey found he still loved Joan even though she was possessed and a compulsive liar in the name of being scorned by conniving Van Heflin, and was going to pay an exorbitant amount of dough for shrinks to rehabilitate her.

I then got halfway through Massey and Bogart in Action in the North Atlantic and sunk [into sleep] along with the Merchant Marines that got torpedoed by the Germans.

Unlike the Marines, I escaped the day unscathed.

deliberate provocation.

Day 21 | Clean | Snickers Are Still Under the Dryer | 8 Pounds Down; 58 to Go

In casual conversation, no daredevil tactics intended, I mentioned Michael yesterday. In passing, placing some context around another person, a place in time. I sat, looking at my mother, watching her expression carefully.

There was a brief hesitation on her face; a blink of recognition. But no conflict. Her brow didn’t even scrunch together.

I kept talking, moving it along. Smiling to myself.

And I later wondered in the night if dropping his name was a bit of a trigger in her night; bringing her back to sitting in the chair, next to my bedside and already 20+ pounds lighter in 3 weeks time from the moment I defied her—Michael and I aching to be alone and silly, and engorge ourselves into one other’s bodies—”it’s just a little snow, Mom.”

The defining line, the aftermath of the storm of the century—this clash between two rapidly moving masses of considerable proportion—mother versus daughter.

A bit of irony.

I don’t want to bring her back to that time. It’s not about payback. I don’t want to punish her. I know she’s blacked it all out anyway—the trauma—just like other raw, unfathomable moments that brought her human condition to excruciatingly unbearable.

But inside me, there’s a tiny voice that wants to talk to her tiny voice, on a different plain, an all-knowing spiritual one that miraculously provides understanding—perhaps, in one tiny whispered word.

I made the discovery of unresolved grief in February:

The impact of loss scars the heart and you go on living your life ’cause you’re young and have to conform and can’t fall apart and you don’t realize those wounds are still there, throbbing raw, the fibers of tissue meshing over that open gap of mess. You don’t realize you mask that pain with the alcohol thirty fucking years later, that there’s a reason why you drink until the TV and the stand it rests on becomes unhinged. You write and write and write. For seven years, straight, you do nothing but write and you’re told your writing has no depth or meaning. You keep writing because you’re still madly and blindly driven to it despite having lost all your assets and pockets are filled with nothing but dust and lint. You’re there writing, looking up the definition of a word online, fact checking, and you read, alcoholism is a well-documented pathological reaction to unresolved grief and glance down at the billionth line you just put in black and white and Jesus, the whole goddamn story comes clear.