December 30, 1999
Nauseatingly Mellow Secra


It seems like just yesterday I was sitting here in front of the computer, wishing my baby sister a "Happy-Birthday-You're-Not-29-Anymore-Hahahahaha (Oh-Wait: Neither-Am-*I*)!" on this website ...

... and here it is, her big day again.

My, how time flies when you're hanging the laundry of your life out on an Internet clothesline.

I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Deb when I was in TicTac for the holidays last week. It was an extremely Tot-intensive trip, for one thing: most of my time was taken up by last-minute shopping with Tots, and watching bad Markie Post made-for-Lifetime movies with Tots, and wrapping presents with Tots, and *allowing* assorted Tots to bring me 7-Up and Kleenex and Sucrets and cold pizza as I lay hacking up a lung on their sofa.

And then, because I was sick, I mostly maintained a discreet considerate physical distance from Deb -- and from The World's Cutest Nephew -- at the annual Family-Get-Together-and-Garlic-Dip Extravaganza at her house on Christmas Eve.  That just about killed me. Imagine sitting five feet away from this beautiful, smiling, juicy baby who I totally adore ... a nephew who I mostly "see" on a computer monitor, or as Windows Wallpaper ... and not being *allowed* to pick him up and sneeze into the brand-new crop of peach fuzz on top of his head. Acckkkk.

But I kept an eye on my sister that evening, from my spot on the living room sofa ... even when she wasn't aware that I was watching her. It was interesting. Not only was this her first Christmas as a mommy, it was also her turn to hostess the annual family Christmas Eve celebration. (There's enough in the way of emotional stressors, right there, to send a lesser woman straight for the VODKA.) She threatened to come unglued, a couple of times ... the gift exchange got fouled up, as usual, and there were some minor problems with conflicting schedules ... but she always managed to rise above it, and mostly she seemed extremely self-possessed and relaxed and cheerful and willing to just let the chips -- and the garlic dip -- fall where they may.

It was lots of fun to watch.

Debi and TWCN ~ Christmas Eve 1999

And she was never more than a heartbeat or two away from that baby of hers. I watched the two of them together all evening. Debi would slowly, carefully, lovingly open one of Connor's Christmas presents for him -- a couple of little rubber trucks, a Sesame Street storybook, a "Baby's Millennium Time Capsule" (in a tin can that was bigger than HE was) -- and set it down in front of him.  (You could actually gauge his level of excitement by how fast the *binky* was being sucked in and out of his mouth. Little rubber truck? 15 sucks per minute. Wrapping paper that the little rubber truck came in? 43,897,621 sucks per minute.)  And then she would just sit there, with him plopped in front of her, and beam at him, like they were the only two people on the planet at that moment.

(I remember doing that. About a bazillion and thirteen years ago. Sigh.)

At any rate, I hope to spend more time with her next time I'm in TicTac ... maybe in February? if I can stay HEALTHY? ... and in the meantime, I hope she's having a wonderful birthday today, and that she knows how incredibly special and dear she is to me. She's eleven years younger than I am, but in a curious twist of fate and upended sibling heirarchy, SHE was a role model for ME, when the time came for me to quit drinking and clean up my act.  And I love her for it.

Happy Birthday, Deb!

Deb & Terri ~ Christmas Eve 1999

And now I have another *Very Big Deal* to announce:

David has been sober for three years this week. Since December 28th, 1996, to be precise.


Again, it feels like just yesterday that I was congratulating him on this website for celebrating his two year *anniversary.*  (Basically, I just can't get over how FAST 1999 went by. It's like somebody pushed the Fast Forward button. Sheesh.)

I remember thinking last year how enormous an accomplishment it was for him to have achieved two whole YEARS of sobriety. At that point I only had a measly three months under my belt -- so to speak -- and two years seemed like this impossibly difficult, far-off milestone that I may or may not ever reach myself. And now a year has gone by, and we're both another twelve months into our individual/collective recovery ... and even though I'll technically never "catch up" to him  --   he'll always be older than me, in sobriety years  --   I feel, more than ever, that he and I are partnered in this thing together ... for good.

I know he would agree with me.

I've said this before: I can't give him 100% of the credit for my recovery. The decision to quit drinking was mine ... as was all the physical and emotional horror that followed, during those weeks alone in the Tree House. I endured all of that stuff by myself. (Looking back, I'm not sure I would do it precisely the same way again. But that's another story for another day.)  But I can truthfully tell you that I might not have stuck with it if it weren't for David, and for his friendship, and his encouragement ... not to mention his persistent, blunt, repetitive, annoying long-distance phone lectures every night. ("It's not going to happen overnight," he was fond of telling me, "but eventually your life is going to get better." I hated it when he said that. *Instant Gratification Secra,* sitting there with her empty fridge and her negative bank balance and her leaky roof, wanted everything to be better RIGHT NOW. But guess what? He was right.)

That's something I can give him credit for. He stuck with me ... even when I was most resistant to his efforts.

He is -- to put it simply -- the best person I know.

Somebody wrote to me once, not long after I'd publicly declared my hope for a sober life, and said "When you fall off the wagon, which I believe your history proves you will do, please don't try to drag David down with you."  At the time it struck me as being this incredibly mean-spirited indictment of my character, by someone who didn't really know anything about me. It hurt my widdle feelings. (It also seemed vaguely insulting to David. Would he be that easily persuaded to relapse?)  I wanted to write this person back -- a scathing e-mail all about how wrong they were, and how DARE they make that sort of assumption, and who the f**k did they think they WERE, and blah blah blah blah blah blah -- but I didn't. I decided, in the end, that the very best way to prove them wrong ...

... was to not drink. (Hello. Not exactly rocket science, is it? And who knows? Maybe that sort of negative energy was precisely the kick-in-the-pants I needed to help KEEP me from drinking. It certainly didn't hurt, anyway.)

At any rate, David is three years sober this week ... and I couldn't possibly be prouder of him, even if I tried. (Well. He could win a Nobel Prize, maybe, or invent a cure for ingrown toenails, or figure out how to make Jennifer Love Hewitt and Celine Dion go away. But I wouldn't be much prouder than I am already.)

The important thing you need to know about David -- the point I'm trying to make here, in my usual blathering, wandering, eventually-everything-is-about-*me*-fashion -- is that he does more than talk about issues of recovery and addiction, and about how we need to live responsibly, and pay our bills on time, and *stretch* ourselves in challenging ways, and try to make things better for ourselves and for people we love, and look for ways to laugh at ourselves: he actually lives what he talks about, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He walks the walk. He sets an example, not only for me but for his family, and for our kids, and for his friends, and for his co-workers -- basically for anyone he encounters -- that is worth more than all the "Just Say No!" bumperstickers and Markie Post Made-For-TV Lifetime Movies put together.

He's the real deal.

So ... happy anniversary, Babe. I'm right behind you ... or right beside you, depending on how you look at it. 

Either way, the view is great.

self-important blurb #1 will go HERE: i know. we hate it when i'm over-the-top like this. we can blame an overabundance of hormones ... and an underabundance [yes, that's a word] of anything going horrifyingly, hideously awry in the last couple of days or so. i'm feeling very, very ... mellow and optimistic about life in general, at the moment.

[plus ... franz is going out of town for TWO WEEKS. let the bells ring! let the birds sing! let the little voicemail light stop BLINKING for fourteen wonderful days!]

besides. i'm sure that once the world blows up tomorrow night, i'll be back to my usual whiney/complaining/life-sucks-and-so-do-Markie-Post-made-for-Lifetime movies self. think you can put up with Nauseatingly Mellow Secra until then?

self-important blurb #2: yep ... i played the piano last night. and yep ... i suck even worse than i remembered. but Nauseatingly Mellow Secra doesn't care!! Nauseatingly Mellow Secra says, "i may suck today ... but with lots and lots of practice, someday i'll be good again!"

[dear reader says: "we hate you, Nauseatingly Mellow Secra! we hate you, we hate you, we hate you!"]

special *howdy* to: the whole wide world! because the world is a beautiful, wonderful, happy place ... and we are all brothers and sisters ... and Nauseatingly Mellow Secra just wants to wrap her arms around each and every one of you!

[dear reader: "and sneeze on us? no thanks."]

a year ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
tell me the truth. is *happy* a good look for me? or do we like me better when i'm contemplating hurling myself out the window?
let's see a show of hands.

amazingly profound thought of the day: To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright. ~ Walter Benjamin ~