color is its own reward.

Day -24 | Hammered Every Night | Trader Joe’s Mac & Cheese is a Bargain

Seinfeld must have never gotten his period.

I read somewhere Jerry keeps a calendar on his wall to track his progress with writing. Each day he writes, he marks a red X across the day.

The purpose?

He says it’s a mechanism to encourage him to write every day. That it’s too overwhelming to sit down and write 1,000 jokes at once. The number of days he’s X’d off in a month, tacked to one of his stately walls in Billy Joel’s former East Hampton estate, gives him an illustration of just how dedicated he’s been to the endeavor.

It gave me an idea. Not to track the days I write but the days I drink.

Rather, not drink.

There’s four consecutive red X’s in a pocket-sized calendar that Ted absconded from his employer (he thinks anything free is worth something). January 17-20th. I didn’t drink these days; lapsed on the 21st.

The parallel?

Any girl would recognize it. The dreaded event “Aunt Rose Takes the Red Eye” is plastered in red across four days each month in my Google Calendar.

Back to the intent of the no-drink calendar. I forfeit an hour in writing the day following the nights I drink and two hours in reading the days I begin to drown my intellect at 7:00 p.m. The [five] days I haven’t drank in January, thus far, have bought me fifteen hours of productivity.

I can’t get my ass to Faulkner, but it’s a start, right?

pic-red-crayon-sweatingI got up this morning, didn’t drink the night before (couldn’t bear the thought of rewinding the last two hours of the Pats/Steelers game to learn by which tactics we conquered in detail), fumbled for the no-drinking calendar as if reaching for a glistening cold, pale gold pilsner of Stella Artois, the head on it audacious and bodacious and beckoning, and made my mark. Crayon to paper, tracing the lines back and forth.

Isn’t it nice to be up early? Clearheaded?

I choose a song in which to begin my day, an inkling of inspiration. Today it’s Radiohead’s Codex. Rolling Stone describes the song as an invitation to leap into the unknown. It’s just Yorke at the piano accompanied by what sounds like a very depressed EKG machine; the melody luxuriates in pillowy ache, the lyrics are at once reassuring and creepy.

Bear with me.

Can an EKG machine sound depressing? It beeps and blimps, there’s no heartbeat.

Trust me, I know.

I used to collapse to the floor in the throes of tachycardia and I’m well-acquainted with the sound of an EKG. And if you watch The King of Limbs—Live from the Basement on YouTube, Thom is by no means creating the semblance of song by his lonesome.

Jump off the end / The water’s clear and innocent

Only little Thom Yorke could turn the prompt to kill yourself into a melodic lullaby. Not quite inspirational.

I love it, though, don’t you?

And these days, can lyrics be at once reassuring and creepy? With all the darkness that’s prominent on TV? I don’t think Yorke’s lyrics are creepy. The Rolling Stone writer has Creep imprinted on his brain, a song Radiohead has notoriously escaped playing live for decades.

I digress.

My blood, pumped by my heart and through my uterus, which hopefully is not nurturing a fetus [still no period], is the same color red I scratch down on the no-drink calendar.

cause and effect.

Day -19 | Hammered Every Night | Snickers and Green Mountain Tortilla Chips & Guac Rule | Change-of-Life Baby?

Faulkner didn’t return my call.

Husband dismissed the notion; it probably scared him a bit.

Detox.

But I felt compelled to call again.

Admitting answered this time.

I-am-about-to-speak-to-a-person-at-a-hospital-where-alcoholics-dry-out.

Given meds for withdrawal.

Withdrawal.

I think of a time when I was partying in college, two years after a nasty car wreck when my mother broke up my boyfriend Michael and I because he had been behind the wheel and walked away unscathed as I fought with massive injuries to survive, and lamenting the loss of him, I fell off an open deck to the asphalt below. I got up, brushed myself off and headed back upstairs to the kitchen for another brew. My friends were gathered there, talking and kidding around.

They quieted, staring at my front, jaws gaping.

I chuckled, said, what’s up.

Blood was soaking the front of my shirt. The fall had split my chin open.

Two of my friends, neither one of them sober enough to drive, got me to nearby Mount Auburn Hospital. As the doc sewed up my chin, tears rolled down the side of my face. He said, “Am I hurting you, do you feel pain?”

“No,” I told him. “I’m just ashamed of myself.”

I remember using that word.

“Ashamed.”

And, yes, I did feel pain. But no the physical kind. I was so drunk I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it—the emotional pain—my loss of him [the unresolved grief, the root of my so-called pain of living].

“Hello? Medical Detox.”

Faulkner. The woman on the line.

I hear my voice. I hadn’t told it to speak. “I’d like a bed.”

That’s what the social worker told me to say.

“We’re at capacity,” she said, “but call back after 8:00 tonight. If we have a free bed, a doctor will speak with you and ask you a number of questions relating to your substance intake. If you qualify for the program, he’ll ask you to come in and we’ll admit you.”

I tell her I’ll call back after 8:00.

But I don’t.

I can’t have Detox as part of my medical history.

Fractured bones, a broken heart, and amputated innards is fine.

The stigma associated with detox and being a recovering alcoholic, isn’t.

 

close to the bone.

Day -9 | Still Getting Hammered Every Night | Period Is a No-Show

I pee on the stick.

I’m not sure I’ve ever peed on a stick.

It’s freezing as I sit here in Ted and Sue’s bathroom; Ted’s leafed-through magazines with his filthy fingerprints stacked on the radiator besides me.

I’m gripping the application so tight it’s gonna snap in two.

A change-of-life baby?

My phone rings.

It’s the social worker from my Size-4 doc’s office; she advises I get a bed at Faulkner—3-5 days of detox.

[Me? Faulkner? The MBA, the former seducer of mega net worth guys, the cowgirl, the lover of drink after putting in a hard day—or not?]

My mother will kill me.

Faulkner.

This must mean I have a problem. A big one.

I clear the endeavor with Husband. Don’t mention the peeing on the stick thing. He’s sort of funny about it [self-realization?], but supportive. I figure I’ll keep detox from [the whole world and] Ted and Sue. Be easy, I escape for days at a time from this place. I’m suffocating here. Always red in the face [or feel that way]. Can’t goddamn wait for 7:00 to roll around so I can get my hands on that bottle.

The drink makes it bearable.

How can I go without it?

I call Faulkner.

Voicemail picks up.

I leave a message.