Sober, Sometimes

The difference between me embracing the drunken life and someone who is an alcoholic is that I am not suffering from a disease. I do not need to drink, I choose to. There is no emotional trauma from my past that I am using alcohol to escape from, and I am not empty inside. I am not trying to commit suicide by liquor. I simply enjoy being drunk and I want to be happy as often as I can. I never need to drink. I can have a beer or three and stop drinking alcohol after that, but I rarely choose that path.

I did fear that I was going to have trouble with sobriety a few years ago after I had an alcohol related hospitalization. I was drinking nearly every day from my teenage years right up until I was in late my forties. There were an odd day here or there when I was sober, but I was most usually drunk. I would drink in the morning before school or work, drink during the lunch break and once the responsibility portion of my day was complete, the heavy drinking would begin. Somehow, I managed to graduate high school and work full time jobs, all while being inebriated. The two longest relationships in my life were with women who only drank moderately, or not at all, but tolerated my being a drunk. There were some periods in my life when I did not get drunk, not by my own choice but because it was impossible when I was in a place where there was no alcohol available, or I was sick. There were other times when I would take some time off from drinking, just to prove to myself that I could do it, but I find sobriety boring. I love the chaos of the drunken environment. The daily drinking came to an end when, in my late forties, my stomach exploded like an old and worn out tire on a freeway. I had been ignoring an ulcer and went to the hospital vomiting blood. The three days that I was in the hospital were enough for my body to rid itself of all of the alcohol in my system, so I never suffered the delirium tremors of withdrawal. What scared me was my work schedule. Could I work the night shift without drinking until I passed out every day? The answer was yes, but not without the help of medication. For the past few years, instead of alcohol I am knocking myself out with alprazalom.

After the bloody vomit scare, I spent a few weeks sober and was fine when I was home alone, but the one thing that I enjoy doing for social entertainment is going to see live music and it was not as much fun for me without the alcohol. Also, it annoyed me to pay as much money for water in a club as for liquor. And, most of the time I am going out alone and the only person I will talk to all night is the bartender. I hate to see a bartender lonely.

When given a reason to, I will stay sober. Sometimes, someone will request that I remain sober while I am in their company and I will do so. I would not spend all of my time with someone who only wants to be with me when I am sober, because I would miss being drunk too much. I have never met anyone in my life that was worth the sacrifice of giving up alcohol forever. I was drunk in my mother’s womb, and I hope to be drunk on the day that I die.

Drunk

When I warned my co-worker that I think he might have a drinking problem it was in no way hypocritical of me, even though I drink excessively and often. He was excitedly looking forward to taking a night off from work so that he could get drunk, alone in his apartment. In my mind, that is a waste of valuable time off from work. It is bad enough when we get drunk alone in our homes on our regular days off. Taking a special day off to do this was what concerned me about him. I have enjoyed approximately 40 years of drunkenness and whenever I skip work to drink it is with other people and usually for some event that was scheduled for a time that conflicted with my responsibilities.

I have, of course, missed work on occasions when I have sickened myself from too much drinking while I was off from work and did not have enough time to sober up. Some people would say that being sick from drinking means that I have a drinking problem, but I do not think so. I did not think that my drinking was a problem when I was drunk all day every day, which was from the late 1970’s until the early 2000’s. Nowadays, I drink only on my night off from work, and usually not both of my nights off during the week, just one. Compared to my younger self, I am a lightweight. My posts and comments on social media would make it appear that I am drunk most of the time, but that is because my drunken adventures are the things that are worth writing about. When I am sober, life is boringly relaxed. Some of the things I write about are stupid and crazy enough that you would assume that I was drunk when I wrote the words, but that is never the case. I can not write when I am drunk, and everyone on the internet is surely grateful.

The decision to live my life as a drunk was a conscious one. I clearly remember the day that I asked myself, “Will you live as a drunk?” and I chose that path. Being happy when I am drunk was one of the few things in life that I could understand, and that I can share with other people. It is one of the few things I have in common with the human race. Loving music is the other one. Drinking alcohol and listening to music is how I spend time with my friends, and how I make new friends. It is my favorite way to entertain myself and I stopped doing things that I do not like to do a long time ago. Another reason that I have a reputation of being drunk most of the time is because my friends only see me when I am drinking. When I am sober, I am at home alone or doing something with my son.

Being a drunk has often made me a lousy friend, family member or employee. It is a selfish way to live. I am focused on having a good time, as often as possible. Drunk people are notoriously unreliable and absent minded. When you add my having the Asperger syndrome to my heavy drinking, it is purely dumb luck that I have any friends left. Many of my drunken misadventures have ended with me in some sort of legal or medical trouble. There are some nights when I know in advance that I am going to dive head first into the darkness, not knowing what will happen next. Those nights are becoming more uncommon now that I am growing older. It takes me much longer to heal up now after a night like that, and perhaps I am becoming more mature in my old age. Most of the time, when I start drinking there is a certain level of inebriation that I wish to achieve and then I try to stay there until it is time to sleep. Even with all my years of experience, alcohol will sometimes surprise me and I am drunker than I originally planned to be. When you see me drinking shots of Jagermeister, you will know that it is one of my bad nights.

Just writing about drinking has made me thirsty. Meet me at the bar in about half an hour.

Asperger syndrome

When I read about Asperger syndrome for the first time a few years ago, I felt like I had just been struck by lightning. I have this syndrome. Everyone has always known that I am crazy, and they have been telling me so for all of my life. The psychiatrists at my grammar school did not know what was wrong with me because this syndrome only became popular knowledge after I was already graduated from high school and barely functioning as a member of society.

I have never shared the same thoughts feelings as the people around me and have always been confused by how they feel and act. I can relate to the concept that I am living on the wrong planet, or in the wrong place and time. I am often told that I am not a typical “American”, but since I was born in America, where is it that people like me come from?

I am not just a drunken asshole. It is the Asserpger syndrome. I am often accused of being unfriendly, but the truth is that I am very shy. I do not engage in conversations with people because I am afraid that we will quickly reach the point where I do not understand what the other person is talking about. People often misunderstand what I am trying to tell them. I am happier when I am alone and I spend most of my time that way.

The dreams and ambitions that other people have, I do not have. I have never wanted to buy a house. I only became a parent because it was the dream of my wife. I never desired to be the father of anyone. The only goal I have ever had in life is to be happy. I want to be happy as often as possible.

 

 

Leaving Levittown

Money moves us. I was born in one town and my parents rented apartments in two other towns before buying a house in Levittown, Long Island in 1973 only because it was a town that they could afford to buy a home in. I grew up there. Those were my formative years. I would have stayed in Levittown with my family and friends if I could have found a job that paid me enough to continue living there. The only reason I moved was to be closer to where I worked. If you can live close enough to your job that you can walk to work, you are one of the lucky ones, especially if you can not drive an automobile and are restricted to either walking or public transportation. Public transportation on Long Island sucks.

I moved away from Levittown in four steps westward towards New York City and then past New York City, crossing two rivers. Gradually, I started visiting home less often. Once a week, once a month, once a year and now I have not been in my hometown in about 20 years. Is it my Aspergers syndrome? I think so. I am easily distracted by fun.  There was nothing bad that ever happened in Levittown that keeps me from returning.

One of my friends once reminded me that I am always welcome in Levittown, as if some bad memory is the reason that I always choose the more exciting entertainment available in New   York City rather than returning to my hometown to talk about all the fun I should be having in New York City. Most of my best Levittown memories are of things that did not happen in Levittown.

Still, Levittown is in my blood and made me the man I am today. I only left physically, not spiritually.

The Happy Family

Just because I only complain about her does not mean that I fight with my room mate every day. If that was the case, I would not continue to live with her under the “Peace Treaty” that we bargained in 1997. That was when we both agreed that we were a terrible pairing and that we never should have gotten married, but we would stay together to raise our son. Originally, I was going to move out. I was looking for an apartment and had found a girlfriend, but I took a long look at myself in the mirror and saw that I did not want to be the father that left his son behind. There is a terribly sad song called “Seasoned Glove” by the band Paw, which I listened to many times during those early years of living with a woman that hates me.

It has not been easy, but it has been worth it. I think that raising a child is also hard on couples that are in love, not just broken marriages like my own. That year, 1997, was memorably painful. I might come across as cold hearted about my broken marriage but this is after having had 16 years for my heart to heal. I felt like a failure in 1997, and I hate being a loser in anything. The marriage was something that I had wanted to be successful, but I was only beating my head against a wall in a hopeless situation. I am pretty certain that I suffered a few nervous breakdowns these past 16 years.

Throughout his childhood my son did not know that the marriage was broken. We kept our problems hidden from him and we acted like a married couple. We did not introduce him to our lovers, or at least I know that I kept that promise. I am not sure about her. He did not see us fighting. I would have to look back on my blogging to remember the exact date that the cracks started to appear for him. I do remember the shock on his face when he heard his mother tell me to “Fuck myself” over some minor disagreement that we had. She was the first one to break the no fighting and cursing rule, but I have since launched the majority of the F-Bombs since then. Once she started taking our son on vacations with her family, and leaving me home, the illusion of the three of us being a family was gone. I am not in any of the family vacation photographs, and it pains me to see them when those pictures appear on her computer as a screen saver.

Last year I only lost my temper with her twice, and any sane person would have done the same. There was the unexpected tax bill when I should have been getting a refund because she had kept secret from me an inheritance that she received when her father passed away. I was not mad about the secret, but that I was expected to pay taxes on money I never knew about. She settled that with me, out of court, after a few weeks of brawling. I was happily surprised that we did not have the same argument again this year. I fully expected to discover that I still owed that tax, but apparently she paid it off out of the inheritance money which is what she should have done in the first place without my having to suggest it. The other fight was when she ruined my birthday dinner, and that was my fault because I never should have invited her. What was I thinking? This year, we did not have the tax fight and she did not fight with me after I refused to celebrate her birthday. That should mean no fighting between us this year. Am I ridiculously optimistic?

All I wish for is that we can co-exist as room mates. Two room mates that are not friends, with my son being the third room rate that the other two love.  My ex and I have nothing in common and agree on very few things, but we do both want to provide a happy future for our son. I think we have been fairly successful at that so far.

Not easy to be hard

Doing what I knew I had to do did not bring me any pleasure. I love a party and I would have loved to celebrate the birthday of my ex, as she passed the goal of living for 50 years. But, she ruined my birthday six months ago, and that was also my 50 year milestone. It was one of the two fights we had last year. I mistakenly invited her to join the dinner celebration of my birhtday with our son and she acted like it was something she could not wait to get over and done with. She treated my birthday celebration like a diarrhea expulsion.

To balance the scales, I should have ruined her birthday too but I did not. I took the high road. When she woke up, I wished her a happy birthday and then I spent the rest of the day in our usual routine of ignoring one another. At least she was able to have a nice dinner with our son. I ate alone on my birthday, staring across the table at a chair that was not empty but full of ghosts from my past.

My ex is the most self centered and selfish person that I know, by far. It was only on her own birthday that she might have thought about how badly she treated me on mine. She attempted to reach out to me, but I am no longer here. She was only trying to be friendly on a day that is all about her.

She does not know, and can not even imagine that it hurt me to have to be hard hearted and cold towards her. I wish that things were not the way that they are. Wishing is all that I can do, but I can not ignore the fact that she is the reason for most of the unhappiness in my life.

The Passenger

Contrary to what many people think, the reason that I do not have a license to drive has nothing to do with my love for alcohol. It is a vision problem. I am not blind, but I can not see well enough to drive. I could drive really slowly, but I have no depth perception or long distance vision. I was born with amblyopia, more commonly known as lazy eye, and when I was a teenager I damaged the good eye. A glass bottle was thrown against a wall and some of the glass got into my eye when I instinctively turned after hearing the glass break. I did at one time have a learners permit to drive but it was a bad idea. The roads are safer for everyone else without me driving on them.

Not driving does free me up to drink excessively. That is the only good thing about not driving. No one takes the bus if they had the option to own a car instead, unless you live in a city. The public transportation outside of a city is inconvenient. Grocery shopping is limited to how much I can carry home. I have to use a small handcart to bring my laundry to be laundromat or on the odd occasions when I purchase something to heavy to carry. All of my neighbors have grown used to the sight of me walking around town, but very few of them know that I am vision impaired. When they see me carrying home a case full of beer, they probably assume that drinking is what keeps me from driving.

Where are you?

There will be times when you and I will have enjoyed an adventure together, but later when you read about it on this blog there will be no mention of you being there. The story of the adventure will be told as if I was alone, or I might mention that a friend or friends were with me if it is necessary for the story. I will not mention you by name, unless we have talked about it in advance and you agreed. My friends never have to fear that I will expose them publicly. The craziest adventures, I might not even write about or I might have to wait until the statute of limitations has expired.

If you know me from work or from partying with me, you can usually guess who the subject of my Twitter posts are about. You all know who I love, who I have loved, who I am lusting after and who I am angry with. The majority of those angry tweets will be about my ex, but not all of them.

My ex does not get to remain anonymous, and neither does my son. They would prefer not to be written about, but it is too bad for them that I am a writer and some of the stories from my life are about parenthood. Some of the stories and rants will be about my failed marriage, and living with the woman who destroyed the family I was trying to create.

For many years I refrained from criticizing my ex in public, but a few years ago I changed my mind. She was telling her family all kinds of lies about me, so I started to write my side of the story in a blog that all of the world can see, including her family. If you want to hear her side of the story, you can read about it on her blog titled “My husband is a drunken asshole”, or something like that.

Why do I work nights?

When I first got hired by the USPS it was to work a day time schedule, and they were vague as to what my hours would be. The guy who hired me was also incorrect about what my job duties would be. I was told that it was office type work, with “Light” typing. The job was actually as a keypunch operator and I had to type quickly for so many hours that my hands hurt. I was lucky that I had taken a typing class in high school, and that I had wasted so many hours with my lousy guitar playing. I had to type ridiculously fast just to pass the 90 day probationary period. They hire twice as many people as they think that they will need because half do not type fast enough. You can imagine how much stress I was under during those 90 days, having quit a job to take this one and having nothing planned for if I failed.

How did I end up at the USPS? During my high school years, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a job. I was working during my last few years of school, part time, so I knew that I did not enjoy work. I just took whatever job that was willing to pay me. I got lucky when the father of one of my friends got me a job working on Wall Street, for the Paine Weber financial firm. This was my first good job. That was my goal, to get a “Good” job. A job that I could work at for the rest of my life. A job with a clear career path. I screwed up this opportunity because I was too young. Looking back, I should have moved into the city and gone to night school. The commute back and forth on the train from where I lived was time consuming, and all of the other commuters looked so miserable that they were not who I wanted to be when I grew up.

After I quit that job, to pursue my artistic vision and bohemian lifestyle, I bounced around for a few more years before getting another “Good” job, working for a defense plant, Sperry. I worked there for about 10 years, but the plant closed down. It was a “Good” job while it lasted. I sold the next 10 years of my life to a bank, the Bank of Tokyo, but that “Good” job also became “No Good” when the bank was absorbed by a bigger bank. The USPS seemed like a “Good” place to sell my hours to. My sister was already employed by them and seemed happy enough, and there was no risk of the USPS closing down or being absorbed by another firm. Well, no risk of that was apparent in 1997. Now, I am not so sure.

My first year with the USPS was insane because I was a “Flexible” employee, waiting to become “Regular”. This meant that I had no fixed schedule. I did not know what my starting time or days off were going to be, they changed daily. I worked under these conditions only because I knew there was the reward of becoming “Regular” and the torture would end. When I took the job, I did not consider that I would be working for a company that operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I never expected to be working on Sunday, because I knew that the mail does not get delivered. It never occurred to me that someone would have to be working to get that mail ready to be delivered, and now I was that guy. When I did become “Regular” my hours and days off were set, until management decided to change them, which they often do.

 

I only know that I am contracted to sell the USPS a forty hour week of my life, but I do not know when those hours will be or even where they will be. In my 16 year career, I have worked in 3 different buildings and with all sorts of different starting times and days off. None of those schedules were pleasant or family friendly.

Near the end of 2000 the job I had originally been hired to perform was abolished and I had to make a choice. Work the overnight shift, or quit the USPS. I curled up in a fetal position and cried. I did not want to work nights, but I also still thought the USPS was a good idea.

Some nights, I am not so sure that I made the right choice, but it is way too late in the game now.

Living with but not sleeping with the enemy

Working different schedules will kill even a healthy marriage, but it is perfect for a guy like me who wants to see as little as possible of his ex wife. If I loved someone, I would want to spend some quality time with them every day. Working different schedules, with different days off, I rarely see my ex wife. If I did love her, I would be tortured by rarely seeing her.

I tell the married women that I work with that their husbands must not love them as much as I would, because I would not send them out to work all night with me. The person who works the night shift is the one that is shortening their life with every night that they work. It is unhealthy. It is better to be the day time worker.

If I did want to spend time with my wife, it would only be enjoyable when one of us took off from one of our jobs. Otherwise, our time together is limited and can only be increased by how much sleep we are willing to give up. Do any of you think that my ex wife ever stayed up late to spend time with me? I was always the one who had to make the sacrifices.

When I get home from work, my ex and our son are leaving for their daily lives. We are in the house together for 30 minutes, on the average. If I wished to see them, I would wake up early for work. I would sacrifice how many hours of sleep that I wished to exchange for spending time with them. In the past, this is what I would do. I would wake up when they got home from their daily routine. I stopped doing that several years ago because as much as I wanted to spend time with my son, it was tainted by the presence of his mother. Now, I wake up and leave for work. Most days, I do not even speak to my ex and when I do, it is short bursts of necessary communication. We are not even friendly room mates.

I work on their weekend, and I spend both of those days watching the fights that were televised the night before. They sleep late and basically ignore me when they do wake up, just waiting for me to go to sleep. In the past, I would sacrifice my sleep and spend time with them in their afternoon. They could never understand that I might be tired and grumpy after the time that I would normally go to bed. Their afternoon is my midnight hours. Again, I stopped doing this several years ago when it became apparent that they did not want to spend time with me anyway. I was sacrificing my sleep just to become aggravated.

It is on these two days, Saturday and Sunday that I have to tolerate the noxious atmosphere that my ex creates with her hatred of me. When he was younger, my son used to wake up and watch the fights with me, but that stopped a few years ago because now he would rather stay awake late at night playing Xbox with his friends. I suspect that he often has just gone to bed as I am on my way into our house.

My ex and I share a bed but we are never in it at the same time, and we both sleep on our separate sides of the bed even though we are alone in it. On the infrequent occasions when we both are going to want to sleep at the same time, the person who is not working that day sleeps on the couch. I will sometimes fall asleep on the couch on my nights off, if I have been drinking alcohol. She will often nap on that couch during the afternoons when she is off from work.

On the nights that I do not work, I will usually have already left to go and see live music before my ex gets home from work. If I am not going out, I will sleep until it is time for her to go to bed, just to avoid her. Many times, I have woken up, realized that she was out there, outside of the bedroom, and I have chosen to go back to sleep rather than endure being around her. On the nights when I want to watch a live sporting event, they treat me just like they wish that I was not there. They are not exactly enjoying each others company either. They will be ignoring one another, or arguing.  Instead of enjoying what I wanted to watch on television, I become the referee in their contest.

There is no way that I would have been able to tolerate living with someone that hates me for the past 16 years if I was not working the night shift, and I never chose to work the night shift. I was almost forced to. The Lord works in mysterious ways.