September 19, 2001
Sliding Doors

 


 
The only thing worse than waking up hungover ... is waking up hungover AND sick. Especially when the world is coming to an end.

I wasn't planning to drink last night. I've had bronchitis for almost two goddamned months now, and I'm afraid that if I don't start taking better care of myself, it's going to blossom into pneumonia again. And I absolutely positively can NOT afford any more time off from work: I'm already on my third attendance probation this year. (Or I will be, after I call in sick this morning.)

I was going to come straight home after work last night  --  run a small load of laundry, pick up the place a little bit, heat up a can of Beefaroni for dinner  --  then take some Nyquil and go to bed early. That was my plan, anyway. But as soon as I got home I turned on the TV, and of course it was more news about the attack on The World Trade Center and the Pentagon  ...  more bodies being hauled out of the rubble, more Tom and Dan and Peter and Ted  ...  and that was it. That's when I said "Screw it."  Stan left a quarter of a bottle of Smirnoffs in my freezer on Friday night, so I dumped that into a pitcher of old Minute Maid and drank anemic screwdrivers for a while. When the vodka was gone, I walked around the corner to WorldMart and bought two six-packs of Saxers and (even though I know I shouldn't smoke right now) a pack of Salem Slim Lights. I had to use the last of the grocery money, but I can live on Beefaroni until payday. It's only eight days.

Mixing vodka and beer was just asking for trouble, of course. I know better. Fortunately I passed out before I could throw up on anything that can't be cleaned. I figure that if I just sit here quietly this morning and type for a little while -- just until the worst of the nausea passes -- I'll be OK.

If I can just quit coughing, that is.

This has been a horrible couple of weeks all the way around. Not just because of the terrorist attacks -- although that's been bad enough, all by itself -- but because I can't seem to connect with anybody who givesthree-quarters of a damn about the terrorist attacks. I haven't talked to Stan in a couple of days: he and Sharyn are "trying to work things out again," apparently. (That'll last until his next bender or until she hacks his e-mail account again  ...  whichever comes first.) There isn't anybody at work to talk to: the women hate me, I owe money to most of the men, and my boss is a raving lunatic who snoops through our computer files while we're out to lunch. It's been even worse online. The conversational pickings there have been extremely slim lately. I took a run through the chat room last night, early in the evening, and there was a fairly interesting discussion going on -- about where everybody was when they first heard the news about The World Trade Center -- but the vodka and the beer were already starting to hit me by then, and I couldn't type fast enough to be as witty or amusing as I needed to be. So I went to straight i.m. conversations, but even that sucked.  No one good was online  --  no Edmund, no MsBobo, no Feef. Or if they were online, they were avoiding me. I saw Ю僱êrvØ¡ twinkle onto my Buddy List at one point, and I fired off a quick Hi howya been! message, just for old times' sake ... but he either didn't see it, or else he just didn't bother to reply. A minute later he signed off. 

(Fuck him. I'm glad now that I never went to visit him in California. Fucking pompous asshole.)

Eventually I wound up in a private room with that guy from Toledo again, talking about Viagra and thong underwear. Around midnight I gave him my latest phone number, and I guess we talked for a couple of hours after that. I don't really remember the exact conversation. At the time it seemed like a good idea, but now I'm going to have to put up with another four weeks of his relentlessly horny messages on my answering machine before he finally he gives up and goes away.

And I still haven't really gotten to talk to anybody about what's going on in the world right now.

Sigh.

Calling The Tots is out, of course. Jaymi would just hang up on me again. She doesn't answer my e-mails or my snail-mail, either. And although I could probably get Kyle or Kacie to talk to me -- especially if I bribe them with cigarette money or a CDNow gift certificate or something -- I'd have to go through The Ex-Husband to get to them. And right now I'm trying to figure out a way to tell him that I don't have the child support for this month without him going balistic or hiring a hit man or threatening to drag my ass into court.

My mom did send me an e-mail the day after the hijackings. We spent the day glued to the TV set, she wrote. I don't have to tell you what the feelings are. Giving blood, hanging a flag, donating to the Red Cross--not much else we can do and it feels so inadequate, but at least it's something!   It was actually a pretty friendly e-mail from her, under the circumstances ... and for a couple of minutes I even thought about answering it ... but I know that if I do, I'll get sucked into another one of those God grant me the serenity/No one can help you until you help yourself/Yadda yadda yaddaconversations. And that would be worse than not talking to her at all. So for the moment I believe it's better that we continue maintaining *radio silence* ... just until I get my life straightened out a little. (Or until the holidays. If she wants to pay my airfare to TicTac and back, I'll pretend to listen to her recovery blather for a few days ... but just until Christmas is over.)

In the meantime, I'll admit I do feel more alone than I want to be right now. And scared about what's going on in the world. And sick: I'm coughing up blood now, along with all of the other disgusting bodily fluids I regularly cough up in the morning.

And ugly.

I looked in the mirror a few minutes ago. Jesus. I'm serious when I tell you that I have never, EVER looked worse in my life ... not even after the car accident last year. I look like I'm about a thousand months pregnant, for one thing. The only pants that fit me are the ratty black Bend Overs I bought at Goodwill last summer, and even my Size 16 blouses are starting to feel snug. My breasts feel like bowling balls, and I have more chins than a Chinese phone book, as Stan would say. Simply climbing the three flights of stairs to my apartment last night, with my grocery bag full of beer, left me flat-on-my-back/gasping-in-pain winded for half an hour afterwards. But it's not even so much the fact that I'm fat and out of shape and my hair is a mess and my eyes are bloodshot and I have no decent clothes that makes me look so awful: it's my skin. My skin is the color and the texture of old Silly Putty. I look like I have some hideous fatal disease.

Which I do, of course.

It's called alcoholism. And it's killing me, and I know that ... and furthermore I accept that. There was a time when I thought I could save myself -- a time when other people tried to help me save myself -- but I've long since moved past the idea that I can do anything about it.

Ironically,  the last time I tried to "save myself" was almost exactly three years ago. Three years ago last weekend, in fact -- September 15, 1998 -- I dumped that glass of wine down the kitchen sink and I said That's it. I'm done. And for a little while that really was it, and I really wasdone. I endured a spectacularly brutal physical withdrawal, alone in my apartment  ...  that was back when I was still living in the Tree House, before the fire and the eviction  ... and for a while afterwards, I honestly believed I was going to stay sober. I started thinking about the future. I started making plans, even: I was going to clean up my act, look for a better job, pay off my bills, save some money, write on my website every day. For a little while it sort of looked like Ю僱êrvØ¡ and I might have something going, until I fucked that up.  Life was going to be all about "making amends" and "karmic restitution" and "taking responsibility for my life and my health."

What a laugh, huh?

No ... I think it's better this way. I really do. With the world in such chaos and disarray, who could possibly blame me for wanting to relax a little bit in the evening? At least I've got the comfort of those few hours of *liquid escape.* And at least I'm living honestly. Instead of pretending to be something I'm not  --  sober, successful, happy, living up to my potential, blah blah blah  --  I wake up every morning and I face up to exactly who and what I am: a fat, sick, divorced forty-three year old alcoholic with no friends, no family, a crappy job, $17.83 in the bank and a Pending Disconnection notice hanging on her doorknob ... watching the world come to an end on a shitty little black & white TV.

And if people like Ю僱êrvØ¡ or EdmundKaz or my children think they're too good to talk to me these days because of it ... that's their loss.

I'm happy just the way I am.




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