Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wild Irish Nights…

“Mrs. Florene? Can I borrow twenty dollars?” I asked sitting in her kitchen late yesterday evening.

We were eating some homemade cinnamon buns she had baked earlier in the day as we drank some coffee. I had plans for the evening and I needed money.  I get so tired of never having a dollar to my name.  I had washed George’s Buick late in the evening and decided to put off washing the Caprice until today.  I almost had an anxiety attack from my exertions and had to quit.  Drinking all that coffee and eating all that sugar as I sat in the kitchen didn’t help as well.  I felt so jittery and nervous last night.  I am a glutton for punishment, but it tasted so good.  It was a hazelnut blend coffee.  One of my favorites and Mrs. Florene had creamed the coffee with evaporated milk.  It was delicious. 

“Sure, baby,” she replied reaching into her purse which was sitting in the chair by the kitchen table. “You sure you don’t need more?”

“No,” I said. “Twenty dollars would be plenty enough.”

“That will be your pay for washing George’s cars,” she told me kindly which made me feel all the better for asking.  I promised her I would be back tomorrow to wash the Caprice and vacuum it out.  It was the first time in all these years that I have ever asked Florene for money.

I had walked over to Mrs. Florene’s house which is really not that far from mine.  About two miles.  I just about can’t drive these days always feeling panicky when I do. Walking is cathartic for me. I donned my backpack and told Florene goodnight.  She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek telling me to come back and eat supper with her tomorrow night when I washed the other car.  She said she would cook something special.  I told her I would love that.

I made my way down to the convenience store which is about a mile down from George’s house.  I stood in front of the beer cooler surveying the offerings after nodding hello to the clerk.  Beer was too ungainly for my purposes last night – too bulky. I needed something smaller and compact with more punch. I reached into the cooler and pulled out four large bottles of Wild Irish Rose.  I was going to sit by the tracks and drown my sorrows.  I was experiencing some especially keen and extreme anxiety last night.  I knew a few drinks would dissolve that terrible knot in the pit of my stomach.  It would relax and calm me.  “You can’t always be on the straight and narrow,” I thought.  I was willing to try anything to get rid of the terrible anxiety I was experiencing. I just didn’t care anymore and I was miserable from how I felt.

It is a pretty good walk from the convenience store to the bank behind which I sit to watch trains.  There were a lot of people out and about yesterday evening.  One black lady stopped and asked me for a cigarette as we passed each other in front of the auto body shop.  She had seen me smoking.  She was tweaking as well.  I could tell by the way she couldn’t stand still as we stood there. She nervously twitched and fidgeted. She also couldn’t look me in the eye as if she was hiding something from me.  I gave her a cigarette and carried on with my way.  Strangely, my social anxieties were nonexistent last night.  I felt emboldened by the couple of large gulps of swill I had drank in the shadows of the side of the convenience store like some wino in a back alley.

The tracks were busy last night much to my relief.  It was going to be an awesome night.  I looked at my watch and it said 3am.  I had only drank one bottle of wine.  I had three left in my backpack.  I settled in for a night of watching trains, drinking wine, and smoking copious amounts of menthol cigarettes.  I occasionally enjoy a menthol from time to time and tonight was just one of those occasions.  I bought two cheap packs at the convenience store.  I had also bought a can of cashews for the munchies and to settle my stomach. Wild Irish Rose can be kind of harsh.

The night was hot and sultry – muggy after all the rain we had gotten earlier the previous day.  I was sweating pretty profusely as I sat there – my body grown warm from the effects of all that alcohol.  The railroad block signal is in downtown West Point just a few hundred yards from where I sat.  It was red and trains began to get backed up and stopped at the signal waiting for the previous train to clear the block.  This thrilled me to death.  I got some close looks at some of the diesel behemoths pulling hundreds of tons of freight.  The signal would turn yellow and the waiting trains would begin to creep forward spraying sand on the tracks for traction in loud hisses.  The mechanical cacophony was music to my ears.

Hours seemed to pass in an instant. Time flew by. This always happens when I drink.  I was pretty proud of myself that I held my drinking to only two bottles of wine.  I slowly sipped completely enjoying the moment and the sweet release from that terrible anxiety I experience.  It did the trick. The extreme anxiety I was experiencing had melted away after I had drank half a bottle of wine.  I then noticed light on the horizon and looked at my watch. It was almost 6am and the trains had long gone.  I pulled on my backpack and walked home.  I have to stay up until noon and then I am going to bed for the day. 


This IS The Fun Part! said...

I still love you, Andrew. But I'm so disappointed!


Jenn said...

I hope you are able to dump the rest out and not drink it. Good luck. I hope you have a pleasant day :)

skinny minny said...

your last posts the past few days had me worried you seemed to be cycling towards a drinking episode.wasn't sure what to say to encourage away from that. but it seems you get a "manic" for lack of a better word right before you have a drinking or other addiction issue and your writing just seemed to pointing that way. Sigh! wish I had had some words or some way to help. but for now... I am sad for you you work so hard I know it gets tiring to keep up the fight and that is a big part of the allure a break from the fight. But everytime you fight and win you DO get stronger. I wish for both of us (and actually anyone who suffers daily) for the rest from the fight for a time that isn't drug ( legal or otherwise) alcohol or sleep induced. hugs

Anonymous said...

I wish I had something to say but I dont. I think that playing with the times of your medication was a bad idea. And I hope you dumped the rest of the wine out, but you are a grown man so the most I can do is pray for you.

Andrew, you know you are a person worthy of respect and honor. I think sometimes you forget(as my husband did) and go the way of self destruction. But remember each day starts anew. You are not the person you were yesterday, nor will you be the person you will be tomorrow.

good luck

PipeTobacco said...


I think you should be APPLAUDED for showing moderation in your drinking, and not rancor or scorn because you drank.

Moderation is a true gift for you to display... for "all-or-none" behaviors of all different sorts are unstable and very difficult to maintain. To show moderation instead of all-or-nothing is a GREAT accomplishment!

* * * * *

So sir, now all you need to think about and decide is... do you wish to return to abstaining from drinking or do you wish to pursue moderation in your drinking. Either pathway has great potential for success. The only non-successful pathway is the all-or-nothing pathway of "drink-all-you-got-until-there-is-no-more" approach... and you already know that is not workable.

You are a smart fellow, sir. Think through your options and you will make an excellent decision.


KathyA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sharon said...

Although I understand the reasons why you felt drinking would help, I admit it makes me sad when you take a step backwards. Still, as others have said, it's a new day. I hope you pour out or give away those other bottles and move on from this experience. We still support you and wish you the best.

forsythia said...

I understand why you drank. It sure does take care of the panic. Sorry it came to this, but you held the line and didn't go overboard.

KathyA said...

I've been thinking a lot about this post, and even left an earlier question about when you will attend your next AA meeting. I deleted that comment and while I'm totally empathetic to you and the pain you suffer, I will not be party to your addiction. Let me know when you've returned to AA and have stopped drinking. Meanwhile, I'll be praying for you.

Beth said...

I'll be frank: I'm disappointed. Anonymous, in a recent comment, was right: you were spiraling towards this, and I believe you knew that. You were very intentional in drinking, and I'm sorry you used Mrs. Florene that way too.

I wish you had called your sponsor or gotten online to talk with others who have problems staying sober at all hours of the night.

You've slacked off on AA meetings either in person or online.

The Professor is right: you have a choice as to how to continue now. Whatever you do, I hope you will be honest with yourself and with your sponsor.

And if your meds are not working, CALL YOUR DOCTOR. Booze on top of psych meds is a very bad combination both physically and mentally, and it impairs how they work in your body.

So what are you going to do today? Which path are you going down?


Anonymous said...

Andrew, I feel bad for you that this happened but it was your decision. Don't understand how you posted this at 3am but were at the railroad yard at 6am. Hmmmmmm....

Anonymous said...

Andrew, if you don't mind, I do have a question for you. How is it that you were at the tracks from 3 to 6, but your text was posted at 3:04am?

Could it be that you are doing what you predicted and trying to drive your readers away? You said a while back that you were posting long narratives for that reason. Or could you be testing the waters to see the reactions of folks before you borrow the $20? Or could you just have enjoyed the virtual journey to the tracks in the night.

Everyone is searching for peace. Physical. Emotional. Mental. It's how we get there that makes the difference. If the first scenario is true and you would be at peace with the blog shut down, then just go to settings and make it private. No one will be mad at you. After all, its your blog and your life. If you want to be free from this self-imposed and reader-imposed scrutinity, shut 'er down. Then take a breath of relief. We will understand.

If the second scenario is true - if you are testing the waters - consider Pipe Tobacco's wisdom.

And, if the third scenario is true, enjoy the mental journey. Just be sure the next time to take us along. Having vision of better days is what carries us through to the next step.

glittergirl said...

aw..... you ended the last post with " this is turning out to be a grand day" and ended up drinking out by the tracks?

i guess this shows how mightily you struggle, and how mental illness can sneak up on you so fast.

along with everyone else, i hope you're ok and getting some help from your doctor or AA.

my mom & i have been reading your blog for years, through the ups and downs... i'm hoping you find some peace...

glittermom said...

You did so well with sobriety for a long time...I hope you will be able to get back there again..did you discuss your problem with anxiety at your last dr. appt? There has to be some medication that will help with that..You may think alcohol is helping you but its really not the way to go...

justLacey said...

I really don't have much to add, so I won't.

kristi said...


Patti said...

Hi Andrew...this is the first time I've commented to you, but I've been reading your blog for a couple of years now.

I just have to say that it is a shame that you used Mrs. Florene's love and generosity in such a negative way.

I do hope you tell her what you did and ask her for forgiveness.

Syd said...

Sorry that you decided drinking was the best way to rid yourself of anxiety. I am not an alcoholic but do know that drinking doesn't seem to solve problems but adds to them. Hope that you will decide to get back into the rooms of AA.

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