So, the plan for today was to write a post about recovery. Unfortunately, I’m in a different kind of recovery mode today—recovering from a sinus infection.

What that means for you, the reader, is I’m going to keep this short. Really short.

I took my last drink 30 years ago, which means I got into recovery in 1989 at the age of 24. As surreal as it is to write or even say, I reached the milestone of three decades of continuous sobriety this past February.

 

You Mean This Stuff Works?

Alcohol solved a lot of adolescent problems for me: asking a girl to dance, anguish over being bullied as an even younger adolescent, family drama. You name it, alcohol helped to numb the pain…for a while.

Thing is, I didn’t realize it was doing something special for me. I just figured that was the normal effect. By the time I realized it was doing something to me, it was way down the line—about ten years down the line, to be precise.

Booze seemed to help for a period of years, and so did the use of a few other substances. Once it no longer worked reliably, I needed something better. Something real.

 

The Recovery Racket

I’ve heard comedian and podcaster Marc Maron refer to recovery as “the recovery racket,” which is always amusing to me—not only because he’s also, like me, in that racket, but also because of the implication that there’s big money being made. Big money is being made, but not by 12-step programs.

Treatment centers, doctors, counselors, even the court system…everybody and their brother makes money off the problem of alcoholism (not to mention the booze industry itself). But the “secret society” doesn’t get rich, because it’s kind of the opposite of a cult. No one can kick you out, you’re a member if you say you are, and the organization collects no dues or fees. They just pass the basket.

In 1989, the average person threw a buck in the basket when they passed it around. And in 2019, the average is—you guessed it—a buck. Not exactly raking it in.

Yet the program continues to work for those who want it and are willing to do the work. There are other options out there, and maybe they’re effective for others. I don’t pretend to know. What worked for me 30 years ago still works today, and I’m grateful for that.

Staying sober is the longest thing I’ve done consistently throughout my entire life. That says more for the program than it does for me, but it’s not an accomplishment. It’s a gift.

But What If I’m Sick?

Last month my wife and I went to Thailand for a two-week vacation. This was my first real vacation in over two years, and my wife Sunny’s first visit back to her family in her country of origin in even longer. So we really needed and, I think, deserved it. And...
creativity

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #5: Creativity vs. Money

One of the most daunting questions amateur writers face is whether they can make money following their most creative pursuits. Are they too non-commercial? Will an agent be interested? Will my work sell at all? The question of Creativity vs. Money isn’t relevant for...
disturbances

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #9: Distractions, Disruptions & Disturbances

This week's blog post has three sections: distractions, disruptions and disturbances, as if they were three unique items—which, of course, they can be. There’s a common “writer” meme that reads, “Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the...
asia

Adventures In Southeast Asia

“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” ― Eugene Ionesco I first began visiting Southeast Asia over twenty years ago, so it probably comes as a surprise to readers that I haven't written about my...

Short Story Contest Part III

Happy Labor Day, everybody! To celebrate, I’m posting part III of a short story I’m including in an upcoming collection. If you haven’t already played along, check out parts I & II from the last two weeks. The person who sends in the most helpful suggestion or...
answer

We’re All Looking For The Answer

Today’s post is a bit of a topic combo, if there is such a thing. What’s on my mind? Elements of a February 2019 post called No More For The Road and the March 2019 post I Survived Catholic School. Don’t worry. I won’t repeat what’s in them. You can read them for...

About Brothers’ Hand

As Sahno Publishing continues the marketing campaign in upstate New York for Brothers’ Hand, I want to check in both with readers and potential readers. Like the blurb on the back of the book says, this is a story about Jerome Brothers, who comes from a small town in...
holidays

Books: Great Holiday Gifts, or The Greatest Holiday Gifts?

I saw a cartoon the other day that features a character who's starting to sing, "It's beginning to look a lot like..." A second character quickly and quietly puts the first character down, saying, "Shh. Sleep now." Dark stuff, right? But hey, these are dark times—in...
repetition

Insanity: Writing the Same Thing Over and Over?

Sometimes I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of those steps. I’ve been really lucky: I’ve had the good fortune to publish and sell four of my novels, and I run a freelance writing and editing business as well. I have great clients who love what I do and send me...
COVID-19

The Scary Weekend I Thought I Had COVID-19

Since March 2020, I’ve lived almost as though there was no such thing as a coronavirus vaccine. You might wonder why, as multiple vaccines have been available since earlier this year, some even before that. I’ll tell you why. My wife is an essential worker who...