I have started going to Al-Anon. Part of “working the program” includes acceptance of the twelve steps, which is not a quick or easy practice. I am an academic by nature; it is going to help me to read everything I can get my hands on about this, think about it, listen to others, and then write my response. I’m going to write my responses here, until such point that I decide not to. In any event, this daylog is going to be about Step One.

Step One:We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

Okay. Here goes:*

We--the plural. I am not in this alone. In the past week and a half, I have experienced enormous relief and comfort to find a loving, accepting group of people who have been through what I am experiencing, and are able to offer help and hope.

admitted--past tense; referring to those who have successfully completed this step before me. As with the we, I find this to be a source of comfort.

we were powerless--If I break it down this way, I have some problems with it. I feel pretty strongly that I am NOT powerless over my own life, but I can admit that even in my own life there is a great deal I don’t control. However, I prefer:

we were powerless over alcohol--okay, that’s better. It’s not that I am powerless over a bottle of beer, but I am certainly unable to do anything about the alcoholic’s relationship with that bottle, or its 23 first cousins. I am certainly powerless over the disease of alcoholism, as it relates to another person.

I am, when we get right down to it, powerless over the actions and thoughts of another human being, period. I may exert influence, sure, but absolute control is beyond me. I am not all-powerful. This (as Martha Stewart would say) is a good thing.

Moreover, I have spent years responding to the alcoholic, during periods of active drinking, in ineffective, unhelpful, destructive ways—allowing my anger and frustration to make things worse. I have “become irritable and unreasonable”; 1 I have contributed to the discord in my relationship(s). A vicious cycle now exists that I have been unable to think my way out of.

Which leads to:

our lives had become unmanageable—Yup. For me, as with many, there had to be a crisis to drive me to this point. There was, and it made it pretty damn clear that things were unmanageable.

At that point, I was very much focused on what the alcoholic was doing wrong, on which of the alcoholic’s actions and behaviors needed to change. I hadn’t really considered the fact that, while I am not an alcoholic, I am suffering from exposure to this disease. Over time, my anger and frustration in this one relationship has clouded my interactions with other people, in other areas of my life.

…we admit that we did not cause, cannot control, and cannot cure the alcoholic, the disease of alcoholism, or the fact that we have been affected by this disease. 2

Shifting perspective a bit, I was able to see that I have grown more negative, less patient, more controlling, less flexible, more guarded, less open. I would like to change that. I am intrigued and encouraged by the fact that the focus in Al-Anon is on what I can control; on me.

”...I have been given certain tools with which to run my life, and the free will to use them. They include judgment, intelligence, good will, and the power to reason. Perhaps much of my trouble stems from having misused these tools. Judgment may have been warped by resentment, my intelligence by failure to face issues honestly. Good will can be lost when we are unable to be tolerant of the faults of others. The power to reason can be dulled when we fail to detach ourselves from the emotional content of a problem.
I pray for the wisdom to understand my difficulties clearly and honestly, and for the strength to do something constructive about them. I know I can count on God’s help in this.”3

I’ll tackle that part about praying for God’s help when I get to Step Two.


*Please keep in mind that many of the ideas expressed here are gleaned directly from Al-Anon literature, including (but not limited to): 1This is Al-Anon © Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1967, revised 1981. 2 How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics , © Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1995, page 46. 3One Day At A Time in Al-Anon, © Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1968, 1972, 2000; page 34. and Paths to Recovery: Al-Anon's Steps, Traditions, and Concepts © Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1997.

Postscript (4/16/03) This whole powerlessness concept is useful for a lot more than just alcoholism. Whenever I get worked up about the actions of another person (poorly performing coworker, irritating man on the street, government officials, etc. etc.) it helps to remember that I'm not in charge of or in control of their actions, just my own. Remembering this relieves a lot of stress, and frees me to work on my own attitudes and behavior.

Related musings: step one | step two | step three | step four | step five | step six The Twelve Steps

I've been in a weird headspace lately.

Work, sleep, work, sleep. Et cetera. Rinse, repeat if necessary.

This has been my routine since I moved out of New Orleans nearly two weeks ago and moved back in with my parents until I'm financially stable. Let me just say, if you're considering it, moving back in with one's parents does not do a whole lot of good for the ego. Generally, it brings feelings of weakness, inadequacy, and helplessness. As a result, I've been ending my workdays with 1mg of Klonopin, 1mg of melatonin, and a 12oz bottle of Smirnoff Ice Triple Black. Such a combination usually renders me asleep within an hour, and has the added bonus of making you not care where you are or the particular circumstances of your surroundings when you're awake, before it knocks you out. When you move in with your parents, these things are good to have around for just such an occasion.

I've been here only two weeks, but I've already got my new driver's license, new license plate and registration for my car, as well as auto insurance. I managed to get all of them for a pittance; for the same items in New Orleans I would've paid approximately $3,000.00 (USD) more. The dot on the exclaimation point here is that during the entire three years I lived in New Orleans, I was driving on an expired New Jersey license plate (which thankfully had no tags), expired NJ registration, no insurance, and an outdated NJ vehicle inspection tag. (I couldn't afford any of them.) I didn't get pulled over or even followed by a police car for more than a few blocks the entire time I lived there. I'm an impatient, heavy-footed driver, but I become the proverbial driver's education teacher when I see or sense a police car nearby. It's kept me out of trouble.

In any case, I'll be in Atlanta this weekend, surrounded by noders and probably drunk for the first time in a great while.

Meanwhile, back in New Orleans, Mardi Gras is kicking into full throttle this coming week, which makes me doubleplus glad I'm not there right now, even though I miss the place. Oddly, New Orleans feels like home, despite all the bad times I had there. That's kind of a disturbing feeling, because it feels like I don't have a home, now. I might end up moving back there late this summer if my boss was serious about raising my pay by about 35% and paying for my relocation back to Sin City.

So, with that, I think I'll finish my bottle of Ice and hit the sack. Assuming I'm not knocked out all day again, I've got to get up a bit early to prepare for the drive to Atlanta. See you there, Shecky.

It's 6:30 in the morning in Las Vegas. I frequently stay up all night in this town. Not that I didn't in other towns. It was part of the reason I moved here. I like staying up all night.

Anyway I'm ready to sleep. I've been reading some great stuff on E2...revisted a writer I randomly rediscovered.

My daylog yesterday wasn't really a daylog. Furthermore I found out you can't link things to a specific write-up. I will still bend the rules of this place to my will. I will.

In addition to more upvotes than I can really believe, I received a couple of comments, too. One told me The Curse "was excellent...why day log it?"

That question made me laugh.

Laugh because the previous days daylog was the first thing I had written on E2 in a long time. And despite it attracting as much of a positive reputation as The Curse it also attracted the attention of a God on E2 who ate a couple of my old nodes.

THAT is why my story is in a day log. But you can't know how I feel about storing stuff, because you can't access MY node heaven.

I wrote about this a long time ago...I was dumb and didn't put THAT writeup in a daylog, and it too is in node heaven for you not to read. Maybe I'll pull it out and stick it in these logs of indestruction. We'll see if I get any more comments.

And now I must sleep.

As mentioned in this column yesterday, Pioneer 10 is gone. Attempts to contact it have ceased, and even if it could send a signal back to Earth we will never hear it. It's on its own, out in the interstellar void, on its way to Aldebaran; stuck to its side is a plaque designed by Carl Sagan, who is also gone. One wonders if the probe would have been better served by sealing Carl Sagan himself inside it; sedated so as to survive the harsh conditions of deep space. Sagan would be the perfect ambassador for the human race - articulate, intelligent, and slow to anger, it would be easy for him to exchange knowledge with alien beings. Furthermore, as a master swordsman, he could defend the probe from space pirates of a type common in the vicinity of Taurus.

The Pioneer and Voyager probes provoke an odd mixture of emotions amongst space enthusiasts. On the one hand they are plucky little explorers, 'the little engines that could', machines that have long outlasted their designed lifespans and which will almost certainly outlast us. The thought of the probes whizzing through empty space stirs the heart, their transmitters faintly sending a few last kilobytes of information as their reactors cool off, having done a job well done. They are a favourite dog. A spectacularly successful favourite dog. They increased our understanding of the moons and planets of the outer solar system by an incredible amount; their cameras saw more and filled more blanks than any other cameras in history.

There is always the possibility that we might see them again; we know roughly where they are, and if an inventor in a garden shed somewhere comes up with a viable, energy-efficient near-light-speed stardrive - perhaps involving a copper bath and some lemons - we could go and fetch them. Would we scoop them up and put them in a museum, or let them be? If we revisit the moon, will we preserve the lower half of Apollo 11 and its toppled flag as they are?

My instinct says that we will never see Pioneer 10 again. It has a big head start and the money has turned away from space exploration. We have mobile phones, GPS and satellite television; with genetic engineering we might one day abolish death, and thus time - perhaps then interstellar travel will be viable, even at greatly sub-light speeds.

There is the minutest possibility that alien eyes might contemplate it one day. Carl Sagan probably envisaged enlightened beings deciphering its secrets, and setting off to visit Earth, to extend to us the hand of friendship that the man on the plaque extended to them. He did not envisage aliens blowing it up for offending their religion, he did not envisage the probe starting off a war over its ownership, and he did not involve it being swallowed by space whales, although all these possibilities are equally valid.

On the other hand, the probes provide useful ammunition for opponents of manned space programmes. If people had been sent to Saturn, or Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite they would have taken even more photographs than Voyager and made even more readings, but at enormous cost, and with the ever-present risk that the shipboard computer might go haywire and murder most of the crew, or that Jupiter might implode into a star. Or that the pilot would go mad, murder his crewmates and send the biodomes floating off into deep space, tended only by two small robots. Even today astronauts have an aura about them; they are going faster and further than people have ever gone. But space will one day lose its glamour, and space workers will be no more exciting than oil riggers or deep sea divers; people will respect them on those terms, as highly-paid tough guys, but not as avatars for a New Age.

And Pioneer 10 is proof that the machines last longer, because they are better. White kids want to be 50 Cent, Michael Jackson wants to be Peter Pan, but I want to be a machine. Impervious and immortal, able to freeze time and replace my arms with better arms. Biology is messy and imprecise, it goes wrong and can't be fixed. Machines do not have these problems. The individual B-52s in America's air force will outlast 97% of the population of this planet by the time they are retired, assuming there isn't a wicked cool massive war that kills lots of people, in which case they will die with the rest of us. Pioneer 10 will just carry on.

The notion of progress itself seemed to fall apart after Apollo, as we hit a brick wall in terms of unknown horizons and undiscovered countries. Was there ever a time when the majority of people in the West believed that the world was going to get better over time? We get the impression today that people in Victorian Britain or in America in the 1950s thought that the world was their oyster, but did they really? I have no idea. There was plenty of dystopian fiction in the 1950s and 1960s, but I believe that was underpinned by the certainty that the present day was too good to lose, and that it would be horrible if that was to happen, because we had a lot to lose.


Rather like Kiss and Pet Rocks and that Elian child, Jesica Santillan was huge in America for a while but made little impact in the UK. Nonetheless her case has been a fascinating one from the dispassionate viewpoint possible on this side of the Atlantic. As I understand it the present system of organ donation involves a waiting list, or a lottery, I'm not sure, and the people at the head of the list get the organs, and there has been some controversy that an illegal immigrant has potentially condemned two American citizens to death, albeit not deliberately. I suspect that, had Jesica been fatter and older and a man, the story would not have been newsworthy. Fat old men die all the time.

If we are to accept that the allocation of replacement organs is essentially a lottery, and that Jesica received publicity and therefore a second chance at life because she was a young, attractive girl, and that news is entertainment and vice-versa, it seems to me that future incidents of this nature could be extremely popular reality TV game shows. There would be a selection of transplant patients, each competing for the ultimate prize; the prize being the rest of their life.

A young, teenage, female 'star' would be the bedrock for the series cast mix. Television audiences sympathise most with women as society teaches us that women are vulnerable and pure of heart. She would be of indistinct ethnic origin; perhaps Latino, as minority groups are also sympathetic because society teaches us that they are oppressed. The most obvious cast addition would be an attractive teenage boy to keep our heroine company. This would be an extremely effective 'hook' for the viewing public; not only because young love is compelling, but because one or other of the parties would be doomed to death, thus leaving the surviving teenager with a bitter-sweet legacy. If the voting system could be arranged in such a way that the teenage boy chooses to sacrifice himself in favour of his partner - because men are, after all, the dominant gender and are expected to pull more weight - that would be superb.

(The producers might baulk at such a depressing ending, in which case a 'Joe Millionaire'-style surprise, in the form of an extra set of organs, could be introduced after the boy has made his choice).

Of the other contestants there could be a stoic old black man who accepts his fate with quiet dignity and who would act as a 'father figure' to the young couple; a well-off middle-aged white woman who would be the 'villain', as she is a spoiled shrew selfishly clinging to life; a fat teenage computer person called Josh who would provide comic relief and a variety of other characters who could be introduced and removed at will. This will come to pass eventually; why not now?

The theme song would be 'Should I Stay or Should I Go' by The Clash; now that Joe Strummer is dead, rights issues should not be the problem they might once have been.

I managed to feel good about my new job for two entire whole weeks.

Until I had a conversation with the girl they hired a few days after me to take care of their accounting. She's in college, and probably more than a decade younger than me.

She found out I wasn't from Columbus, and asked how I'd come to be here in Ohio.

"Well, I grew up in Texas, and went up to Indiana for grad school. I got my MA, worked for IU for a few years, then came out here for a job."

Her eyes widened in disbelief. "You have a Master's degree?"

"Yep. In journalism."

"And you're working here?"

Suddenly I was flashing back to my second day on the job when I'd just been hired on as the webmaster at the Ohio Consumer's Counsel. I was talking to one of the lawyers there about what I'd done before when she looked at me disbelievingly and said "What are you doing in a place like this?"

I'm working, and trying to make a little freakin' money. Thanks.

"I mean, you can't possibly like it here, can you?" the collegiate accountant persisted.

I knew what the look on her face meant. People often assume that employers will fall all over themselves to hire someone with a graduate degree, when the reverse is often true. If your chosen field isn't hiring, even if you have other mad, marketable skills, your "overeducation" leaves you in an employment situation comparable to not being able to get laid in a whorehouse.

"No, I like it here fine," I replied. She was still staring at me with utter disbelief, so I added, "The job market's really bad right now, you know."

"I don't think the guys think you like it here," she said. 'The guys' being my boss and our sysadmin. "I think they think you don't like them cuz you just sort of stay at your desk with your headphones on."

And then I was flashing back to the advertising job I had at IU. My supervisor had brought me in for my first evaluation and said, "Lucy, it's good that you come right in and get right to work, but you need to mix a little more." That job ended up not going well, not because I didn't do my work well, but because my supervisor decided I wasn't a "team player", despite my best efforts to be one of the social butterflies she wanted us to be.

"No, I like you all just fine," I told her.

And I do. But the boss has given me a target of 100 annotated sites to add to the database each day, which is a nontrivial amount to do.

"I have quite a lot of work to do, and I'm always falling behind," I continued. "If I'm not out here chatting with you guys, it's because I'm trying to get my work done."

The look of disbelief never left her face.


... And now for something completely silly, with apologies to The Cure

Picture, if you will, a lonely stretch of beach somewhere between Toon Town and Sin City.

Bugs Bunny lies on the wet sand, bound hand and foot.

Elmer Fudd stands over him, surly and menacing in his Doc Martens and black jeans, his shaved head shining dully in the weak light filtering through the overcast sky. He lifts the collar of his black motorcycle jacket against the chill wind coming off the waves, raises the barrel of his sawed-off shotgun, and begins to sing:

Standing on da beach
With a gun in ma hand
Stawing at da sea
Stawing at da sand
Stawing down da bawwel
At da wabbit on da gwound
I can see his open mouth
But I hear no souwwwnd

I'm awive
I'm dead
I'm da stwanger
Kiwwing da wabbit!

Bugs struggles against his bonds. Elmer stops singing, his finger tightening on the trigger ....

Does Bugs escape, or does the sand run red with acrylic bunny blood? It's your call ....

"I have really never considered myself a TV star," Rogers said in a 1995 interview. "I always thought I was a neighbor who just came in for a visit."

You were, my friend. As many times as you asked, I was always glad to be your neighbor.

"The greatest gift you can give someone is to be your honest self. Human beings are very deep, and very simple...The greatest hope in the world lies in the heart of those who are able to care for others." - Fred Rogers

I mourn, not for Fred Rogers, who I am sure is happy, wherever he may be. I am sad for a whole generation of children who will never have him as their neighbor.

We'll miss you, neighbor.


From http://www.beliefnet.com/frameset.asp?pageLoc=story/121/story_12166_1.html&storyID=12166&boardID=52261:

Canadian Jews, Muslims Unite on Ritual Slaughter

Groups ask government to exempt ritual slaughters from proposed animal-cruelty legislation
Imam Abdul Hai Patel of the council of imams endorsed the Jewish congress's recommendations to the Senate in a letter "as remedies of our shared concerns."
Will someone please explain to me why there can't be more of this kind of cooperation?

Sigh. Off we go to war.

I woke up this morning to the smell of beautiful girl and wondered why it had taken me so long to figure this one out. A year apart from that much of my heart made me someone else, someone who didn't care. Trying to live without her was like trying to build a snowman out of slush; all the required assets were there, but it just wasn't going to happen in any meaningful way. It's been less than a week and already we're speaking in assumptions again.

This is a very good thing for me.

"One who doesn't care is one who shouldn't be,
I've tried to hide myself from what is wrong for me.

And what you were when you were then was what was wrong for me. But what you are now, the who you are who you've become now is what is going my way.

I think it's turning back around, and I think I like it.
I think it's turning back around, though I don't know why it is.
I think it's turning back on me, everything's easy.
I think it's turning back on me, everything's free...

I'm hopeless and powerless and that's damn fine with me. I'm falling loose and open, but I'm smiling.
Goddamn, she feels like home.

Last Night:

TELEMARKETER: May I speak to "Perry Rockett"?
ME: No.


All along, the answer was so simple...so easy...

It was with great sadness this morning that I read of the death of Fred Rogers. It's an event like this that makes me realize that I am growning up. I am eighteen years old, still clinging on to the last vestiges of childhood while at the same time clamoring to be recognized as an adult. As I get older, I realize more and more things:

The world is not perfect.

We live in a world where war can break out at any time.

There are people who are going to bed hungry.

There are entire societies of people whose basic needs are not being met.

Even Mr. Rogers will die.

Now, here I am, on the cusp of adulthood. I want to have the freedoms associated with it, while being sheltered from the bad things in the world. And events like the death of Mr. Rogers keeps reminding me of one thing:

Growing up kinda sucks.

Oh god, what a day.

I woke up about 7, and my mom said she was going back to bed, she didn't feel well. Fine, I thought, and I got up. Got on my computer, went to Google News to print off an article for a Current Event for my U.S. History class.

Mister Rogers was dead.

Mister Rogers, the man I grew up with, singing "Won't You Be My Neighbor" was dead of stomach cancer. I immediately thought I was having a bad lucid dream, and thus tried to will this off my screen, get this horrible awful bad thing away from me. I was not ready for this sort of thing. I crawled back into my bed for about ten minutes, absolutely refusing to face reality.

Ten minutes later, I went back to the computer. He was still dead. I printed the article for my current event and got ready for school, put my clothes on, ate some cereal. T came over, I told him the news. He didn't really react all that much. I suppose Fred didn't mean as much to him. Maybe I was just dreaming after all. We took off to school.

We got to school and I sat down. Someone asked me how I was this morning and I said wait, and I looked in my briefcase and there was the article. Mister Rogers was still dead. I closed my briefcase and put it on the floor and said "He's dead. Mister Rogers is dead" and just absolutely lost it.

I am not the kind of person who cries. I didn't shed a tear when I heard about my grandmother passing, I didn't when I heard about the World Trade Center, I didn't care at all when I heard about our people carpet-bombing cities in the middle-east, nor did I bother much when a wonderful black cat that I had ran away because it was afraid of my sister.

I practically bawled my eyes out, in a quiet sort of way. This man was the very embodiment of everything in the world that I had faith in. My revelation on how people aren't so bad and how love is pretty much all we have is thanks to two people: W, and Mister Rogers.

Someone, I think it was I, said something about how he was an evil child molester because he took off his suitcoat and shoes and changed into sneakers and I absolutely lost it. I don't remember how many times I swung, but I remember connecting at least once, while half-sobbing something between "FUCK YOU!" and "Do NOT fucking speak ill of the fucking departed, motherfucker!" I think I connected once. W and A both tried to comfort me. A talked about how she could understand, because when she first met N, it was N walking up to her and asking her if she thought Mister Rogers was a child molester and she said no, Mister Rogers is one of the best people in the world. W remarked on how I really was a six year old at heart. I took it as a compliment. I was not taking this very well, though.

Eventually the first period bell rang and after a minute or so, I tried to compose myself and walked down to English. I spent most of the period buried in my own arms.

The rest of the day passed as sort of a blur. I was okay by lunchtime, okay meaning that I could walk around and talk to people without bursting out crying. I had History right after lunch. I went to the Co-op with W and H I got some chips and ginger ale, went back to school and wrote my current event.

Someone started talking about how Mister Rogers was creepy and a stripper and it was all I could do to not tackle her and gouge out her hateful, soulless eyes. The class eventually got over and I went and hung out at Mikey's with W, B, and R. D and H came over later on, along with D's girlfriend. We talked for a while, ate chips and salsa, and I eventually went home and did my drivers' education homework.

M was at drivers' ed. and we talked for a while before the teacher got here. P is coming back, he's staying with B and it's going to be good. None of us have seen P for a while.

I got out of drivers ed. and went to the front of the school to get picked up by mom. K was there, having ran all the lights and whatnot for the talent show. She was there this morning and saw me absolutely fall apart and she asked me how I was doing. I told her that I felt like my childhood was over and she stood up and gave me a hug, something that I had needed really badly. If I didn't love W so much, I swear I would fall like a brick for K.

I got home and went downstairs and started daylogging and called W, but she was watching a movie and said she would call back. I wrote for a while, talked with S on MSN for a little while and W called me back. I talked for a little while before just saying that I couldn’t really talk tonight and she said good night I love you see you tomorrow and I said the same and finished the daylog.

I'm now holding back tears, writing this before I go to bed. I hope tomorrow will be better. I hope nobody will die and everyone will solve their differences and be happy.

Please. For Fred's sake?

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