Manifest Destiny

Posted in Uncategorized on January 24, 2023 by Ruby

I did not wake up this morning expecting to write a blog post for the first time in over a year. Nope nope nope. But, I suppose I should’ve seen it coming. It went a little like this: January 1st came and went and I never made a resolution. Say what you will about this oft-mocked tradition, but I love it. This year was the first in many that I failed to come up with something, anything. So on January 19th, I decided on a retro-active resolution: Journaling. I’ll give you a moment to roll your eyes. All done? Great.

Despite the pros of lovely, tactile, physical journals (and my unhealthy obsession with my own handwriting), I journal on my computer because I’m clinically incapable of being succinct, and my hand cramps up at the mere thought of writing more than two paragraphs. I started journaling back when I quit drinking as part of an exercise in a book I was reading. But, as rereading those journal entries reminded me, that whole exercise quickly transitioned into rejoining the blogosphere, because, at the end of the day, journaling just felt like talking to myself more than was mentally healthy.

Anywho, I’m also incapable of picking something back up without first refreshing myself on the past (as evidenced by my traumatic trip down blogging memory lane that I did before rebooting this thing in 2021 where I reread the 2009-2013 years. Never again), so after I reread the 2021 journal entries, I felt compelled to reread the 2021 blog entries. And rather than say, “Whew! Okay, glad we’re all caught up, time to move on,” I instead found shit I felt the need to comment on. A fucking rabbit hole, this one.

Why leave the past in the past when you can write a follow-up years later that no one asked for? *Cracks knuckles* Let’s do this.

1. Sobriety Update

Still going strong. It’ll be two whole years in less than a month from now! I came upon this paragraph in a post I wrote at 10 weeks sober, about how I hoped to feel at 20 weeks sober: “I switched from carbo-loading in preparation for Netflix marathons to pre-gaming my runs with yoga. Lately, I’ve been vibing on some light rain and loon calls for sleepy sounds. The mocktail du jour is fizzy Blueberry lemonade. I’m writing this while taking a break from drafting tomorrow’s blog post, which has nothing to do with sobriety and everything to do with my latest obsession: making windchimes for an aural assault on my nemesis neighbor. I have no idea what my sobriety day count is — not because I threw it all out the window, but because I don’t need to know. Life is life, and life is good, and I no longer feel the need to dwell on something I’ve put aside and moved on from. Cheers.

I think I manifested a pretty nice scene for myself, and reality is not that far off.

2022’s New Years Resolution was to take up yoga. Some important details to take in here: 1) I had always strongly resisted yoga because it felt like something “everyone” was doing, and I didn’t want to be “everyone.” There are reasons I’ve never seen Star Wars, never been to Cape Cod, and never read the Twilight series. This is one of those reasons. (I didn’t say it was a good reason). 2) The last time I’d done anything remotely resembling exercise prior to January 2022 was… maybe May of 2020? And I work from home. Meaning I can’t even pretend that the 5000 steps I got walking to my car and back counted as something. I was lucky if I hit 3000 steps on a given day. (Fun fact though: I still managed to lose 50 pounds in that same time frame. Thanks, sobriety! I’ll be writing my soon-to-be-best-selling diet plan book any day now called Lose Weight While Eating Whatever You Want and Never Working Out. (Spoiler alert: it’s just one page, and all it says is, “Never drink alcohol again.”))

I say all that to say this: Expectations of Resolution Success were looooooow. So you can imagine my shock when… I liked it? And stuck with it? And did more than I had initially set out to do? And now I’m one of those obnoxious people who stretches a lot in public, follows way too many yoga accounts on Instagram, and am set to go on a week-long yoga retreat in Panama in August. Who am I?

Meanwhile, the obnoxious neighbor is still obnoxious. If anything, he’s deteriorated over the past year and half. Louder, weirder, more confrontational to other neighbors. He’s the worst.

And as for my sobriety, no, I don’t count days (or even months, really) — just years. It’s not something I think of on a daily basis, but it’s always there, and I’m fine with that. I wear it as a badge of honor (sure helps that society seems to be moving ever so slowly into a sober-friendly direction with ever-increasing offerings of NA beers and wines and mocktails and such). Still never felt compelled to attend any meetings (socializing with strangers?! Perish the thought), but I also don’t find myself wishing that I never have to think about it again. If anything, I find myself having forgotten why it was so polarizing, so emotional. It’s just another thing about me, like having red hair or loving cats or hating olives.

2. Not All Manifestations are Good

I also came upon this line when rereading 2021’s posts: “I legit have a coworker who’s been with us over five years and is my direct peer, yet he’s never once pronounced my name correctly; he’ll likely go to the grave with that distinction.” Guys. I shit you not: that coworker died two months after I wrote that. Freaky. And, no, he did not learn the correct pronunciation of my name in those two months.

3. Rhett Update

One thing I mentioned in my big 2021 update was that while many things in life had changed, Rhett had not. Welp, I’m here to say that that is no longer true. Nay, that motherfucker Ian killed my Rhetty-roo. Luckily for Hank and me, that was the real extent of the damage we suffered from the near Cat 5.

Speaking of cats, we grabbed ours and got the hell out of dodge the night before the storm hit. People here think it makes for bragging rights that they stuck around; evacuating is for pussies! Okay, but we literally have three pussies, and if I have the means to keep them from having to hunker down in the eye wall of a hurricane for eight whole hours, I’m going to do that. Not to mention the real risk of storm surge that could’ve rendered our house unlivable for said pussies. Luckily for us, the flood waters stopped about 1/16″ from the threshold of our front door. Not exaggerating. I have photos of the flood line. Fucking insane how fortunate we were. Sadly, Rhett was less so, given that we had left him in the driveway to fend for himself (houses here are built up on mounds to raise the elevation, thus driveways are on an angle that slant down to the road, a lower elevation. Rhett ended up mostly under water).

Progressive paid out a decent amount for him, and I put that money in the bank. No need for another car when I rarely leave the house. Yup — for the first time since I was 18, I do not own a vehicle.

4. Work From Home Update

Also seen in a 2021 post: #WFH4EVER. Yeah, about that…

Seems if I want to manifest that into reality, I may have to move. Lest I get too ragey, I’ll leave it at this: they’re calling us back to the office for two days a week starting in April. I shall inform them that I have no car, and will thus be remaining at home. If that poses an issue for them…

5. Moving Update

I can’t commute to the office if I don’t live near the office. Loophole: acquired.

You would think that 1.5 years’ worth of time, reflection, and general peace of mind brought to me by many hours of yoga would have resulted in a mindful conclusion on this topic. You would think wrong. I guess I already know what 2024’s resolution will be: meditation.

I still have no real clue what I want. If anything, Ian reminded me that our time here is limited. The storms will just keep coming, stronger and more frequently. We got lucky this time, but one half inch more of water, and that whole story would’ve had a much different ending.

I wouldn’t mind living in New Orleans again (you know, just not in a flood zone), but the issues I pointed out when last I spoke on the subject haven’t changed: there’s just no way to get a house the same size (or larger!) with a driveway, garage, pool, lanai, etc. At least not without going over $1M. Sure, we could likely find something in the suburbs, but then what’s the point? I want walkability and community. Not another neighborhood of manicured lawns and psycho neighbors with Akitas. So we remain at an impasse. Eventually, something will give–either my need for space, my need for warmth, or my need to avoid hurricanes and return to office mandates.

6. Disney Update

We’ve definitely gotten back into the travel swing of things, thankfully. I’d missed that. Last year, we made it to Hawaii, New Orleans a couple of times, NY, Massachusetts, New Hampshire a couple of times, Philly, and even to Peru (fucking amazing–one of the best trips I’ve ever taken; luckily, we made it there about a month before the current political woes). Disney World? Not so much.

I know, I know, you’re shocked. The sad truth of it is, with increased crowds and the removal of free FastPasses, they really killed off my way of Doing Disney. Gone are the days of popping up for a weekend, FastPasses booked weeks in advance, waltz in, leisurely wander around, do your three rides, and then move on. Now it’s… fight crowds? Hope you can find one ride with a line shorter than 30 minutes? Get frustrated? Move on. So, we largely have. As it is, Hank no longer has an Annual Pass. Mine expires in March, and I’m not entirely sure I’m going to renew it. My Mother, Lizzy, and co are coming for a big family trip there in February, and that may or may not be my last hurrah. The irony is that ever since Covid, Disney isn’t selling new Annual Passes. They’ll allow you to renew, but not buy new. Meaning if I don’t renew and then change my mind a few months later, I’m shit out of luck. And if there’s one way to almost guarantee that I’ll want something, it’s telling me that I can’t have it. Damn those evil geniuses. So we’ll see what happens there. Though, an Annual Pass won’t be all that useful to me should I move out of state…

7. Cat Update

Cats are awesome. Duh. Marshall is amazing. Most days (months, even), I forget entirely that he has FIV. Hopefully it stays that way for a good long time. Cash and Wynton continue to be wonderful. I’d tell you that they say hello, but that would be a lie, as they’re both passed out on the day bed next to me and care little about what I’m typing.

They would likely care if I had to go back to an office to work. No, they wouldn’t like that one bit. Then again, I’m not sure they’d like moving somewhere if it meant no more lanai to run around in (despite the fact that Wynton fell in the pool for the umpteenth time just last week). It’s a tricky situation we’re in, spoiled me and these spoiled cats, all looking to maintain the lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to.

Conclusion

I suppose that’s about it. Nothing earth-shattering. But it’s nice to kick this dead horse every now and then, right? For now, I’ll stick to my “journaling,” (well, I’ll try to, at least. With the exception of yoga, most of my New Years Resolutions usually have a shelf life of about four months).

Now can you imagine if I had hand-written all this in an actual journal? *Shudders*

Talk to y’all in 2025 or something.

New Orleans brings out the best in me… and the worst

Posted in Uncategorized on June 14, 2021 by Ruby

In case anyone was wondering, I’m invincible. How so this time? Well, I’ll tell you. I made it out of my house, on a plane, on another plane, and into New Orleans with ZERO panic symptoms. I KNOW. I’m shocked, too.

Maybe you’re like Hank and wondering, Wait, I thought that’s why you’re bothering with the whole super fun ‘not drinking’ thing — no more panic? Well, yeah, no more panic — under NORMAL circumstances. But in abnormal circumstances? Like, say, getting on a plane and leaving the state of Florida for the first time in over one point five fucking years? I’d say that’s fairly abnormal. And to say that I was having a bit of anxiety about having anxiety would be an understatement. I’ve pretty much spent the past month keeping myself up at night worried that I’d have a major panic attack and ruin my whole New Orleans weekend and then convince myself that I’m physically incapable of ever travelling again. Thus you can imagine how thrilled I am to announce that I wasted that whole month of sleep for no good reason. Bring it on, world — I can do anything now.

Wait, you chose New Orleans as your first foray back into the rest of the world as a fledgling sober person? Sure, why not? Why run the 5k when you can sign up for the marathon with no prior training?

Okay, fine, so maybe I wasn’t that cocky. Maybe I was a little nervous about how it’d all go. All in all? Not too shabby.

Turns out, I only really miss drinking when I’m not at a bar. Let me explain. Previous trips to New Orleans always looked like this: bar, bar, bar, restaurant, walk around, bar, walk around, bar, bar, bar, restaurant, walk around, bar, pass out, repeat. When you remove all those bar stops, you’re left with a LOT of free time. What to do??? I can only eat so much. And while I love walking around (and did plenty of that this trip), that, too, gets a little old. And so it was that Hank and I would find ourselves playing the “what do you want to do?” “I don’t know; what do you want to do?” game a few times a day. And it was during those times that I’d sullenly think to myself, “if only I drank… I know what we could do right now.”

But all the times we actually were at a bar? I was fine. Turns out sitting there drinking a diet Coke isn’t all that different from sitting there drinking a beer. Ditto for wandering around aimlessly — as long as I have a beverage in my hand, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much what it is. Guess you could say I stayed well hydrated.

I even tried a non-alcoholic gin for the first time ever! Hank wanted a night cap at Columns on Saturday night, and rather than order yet another DC or club soda, I asked the hipster craft cocktail professional to whip me up a mocktail. And whip he did! Out came the zero-proof gin and a bunch of other random shit. I’d hesitated to try the stuff before because I figured it was just an easy way to spend money and calories on something that would NOT give me a buzz, so why bother? Turns out it’s just a way to spend money — no calories — and not get a buzz. Tasty, though.

Speaking of tasty, I still somehow managed to take in almost double my daily allotment of Weight Watchers points each day without consuming alcohol. Makes me shudder at the thought of what I was consuming on previous trips.

My goal this trip was to drink as much good coffee as humanly possible. At the end of it all, I only managed to get in two or three cups a day, but the only souvenirs I bought myself the entire trip were six bags of coffee. No art, no jewelry, no decor. Just coffee. We’ll see how long that lasts me at home.

Ultimately, the real goal of the trip (other than to get me the fuck out of the house and reintroduce me to the rest of the country) was to explore all of New Orleans and start to consider which neighborhoods we may want to move to. And if, in general, we’d want to move to New Orleans.

It’s a whole long, convoluted thing, but the short version of that story is that now, thanks to working from home becoming permanent, we can live wherever we want. And maybe that place isn’t Florida. Or is it? I DON’T KNOW. Here’s an idea: maybe we shouldn’t be asking the bat shit insane girl who, depending on the day, is either going stir-crazy with cabin fever from being imprisoned in Florida for over a year, or she wakes up and identifies as partially agoraphobic and would rather not leave the house for longer than an hour if humanly possible. And then, to fully douse that campsite in kerosene, let’s not forget to mention that regardless of her mood swing that day, she’s still struggling to understand how life is supposed to work when you don’t have a chemical crutch to help you over every speedbump. Yeah, LET’S ASK THAT BITCH TO MAKE A MAJOR LIFE DECISION THAT IMPACTS HERSELF AND OTHERS AND WILL LAST FOR YEARS. Genius.

Where was I? Oh yeah. So now that I wasn’t going to be drinking all day, it seemed like a good time to rent a car. And see all of New Orleans. I thought you lived there for five years? How have you not seen it all? Look. I was there from the ages of 17 to 23. You know who aren’t known for their critical thinking skills and worldliness? 17 to 23 year olds. Also, recently sober agoraphobic people begging to get out of the house. But I digress.

Nay, turns out that Haley and I really didn’t take proper advantage of living in New Orleans. We thought we were. Oh lordy, we thought we were the shit and that we lived like queens. Turns out we lived like queens who never left the same two neighborhoods and frequented the same three bars and three restaurants over and over. As I drove Hank into the Lakefront neighborhood Sunday morning, I’m ashamed to admit that my tour spiel went like this: “This is the Lakefront. I’ve only ever been over here two or three times before. To go to Joe’s Crab Shack.” JOE’S MOTHERFUCKING CRAB SHACK. IN NEW ORLEANS. It’s a small miracle I wasn’t banned from the city for life many moons ago.

Other places we drove around Sunday that I’d never been to before: Gentilly (would not recommend), Bywater (adorable), Ninth Ward (less adorable), and Algiers Point (adorable but on the wrong side of the river).

Much like this blog post, the weekend saw us meandering all over the place with no real plan or agenda. We ended up in Mid-City like, four times. Four times! That’s about four times as many as I’d typically venture over there in a single year when I lived in New Orleans. As we sat the first night at Tracey’s in the Irish Channel (home turf) and discussed potentially driving ALL THE WAY to Mid-City, I was shocked to look at Waze and see that the restaurant we were targeting there was just three miles away. Let me tell you: in 2004, those three miles felt like 30. And 30 may as well have been 300. Way too fucking far.

Not only would we not drive anywhere beyond our little bubble, but fuck — we wouldn’t even walk anywhere. We would drive to our neighborhood bars every time. Granted, this probably had more to do with our choice of footwear back then than it did with our general level of laziness, but still. We were very lazy. Hell, I remember sometimes skipping a class if I couldn’t find parking close enough to the building. I’d circle the block five times and then say, “welp, I tried,” and go home. We were the worst.

I know. But anyway, are you more or less inclined to move back to New Orleans after this trip or what? What part of “let’s not let the crazy girl make decisions” was unclear to you? Sigh. I don’t knoooooow. I’m so torn. On the one hand, I still love New Orleans oh so much. But on the other, I love the home we’ve made for ourselves in Florida. The sad truth is that any item in the pro column for New Orleans doesn’t exist in Cape Coral, and vice versa. There is no common ground. New Orleans = walkability, liberal happiness, urban living, diversity, charm, amazing architecture, tons to do, tons to eat, amazing community spirit. The Cape = quiet, affordable, friends, beaches, boats, Disney World up the road, our house, our pool and lanai and garage (not sure the cats would approve of a house with no outdoor space and not sure Hank would approve of a house with no storage space).

Suffice it to say, I’m not sure this trip moved the needle all that much for me on where I may call home in the future. But at the very least, I’ve learned that I’m invincible, learned that I can hang in New Orleans without needing to drink, and learned that the Bywater is super cute. All of that will have to do for now. And in the meantime, I’m looking forward to getting home to my cats and my large house with a garage. And then not leaving it for awhile.

Feeling pretty negative about the positive

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2021 by Ruby

Of all of the topics you thought I’d pull out of my ass, I bet you weren’t expecting this one: Cat HIV. You and me both.

Last Thursday, Marshall had his second round of vaccines, and at that time, they also ran the standard test for FIV and FeLV. The former came back positive.

There I am, sitting in my running vehicle, watching Rhett go from 20 miles DTE down to 5 (no, I had not gotten gas yet; no, it didn’t really occur to me that keeping the car running while parked would use that much gas; and no, I did not think of the environmental impacts — I just thought I’d be parked for a whopping ten minutes while they jabbed my kitten a couple of times and then sent us on our way, also it’s Florida and it’s hot out). Gotta love the new Covid-friendly practices of never having to get out of your car, enter a lobby, or be amongst the unwashed masses. Anyway, it was not my kitten that they returned to me a whopping 30 minutes later, it was a confused vet tech attempting to answer my questions, failing, and then ultimately the doctor coming outside to talk to me (my summoning powers were in point that day).

The gist of her message was this (legal disclaimer: do not quote me nor quiz me on any of this; I am not a medical professional nor person who pays attention all that well): like Covid testing, there are two kinds of tests for FIV: one that is rapid and looks for the presence of antibodies, and another that is fancier that looks for the presence of the virus itself (thus far more accurate). The test they ran was the rapid test version. As such, the fact that he was positive for antibodies of FIV could very likely have been thanks to his whore of a mother who passed the antibodies to him through her milk, and he just still has them lingering in his system. The vet suggested we not panic and retest him at six months of age to see if they’d cleared yet.

But what to do in the meantime? Should we keep him separate from the others? If so, uh, that’s a long time to be imprisoning a kitten. (For the record, he’s only 10 weeks old right now, so we’d be looking at mid-September for this second test to be run). The doctor recommended imprisonment quarantine. I immediately reach for my go-to solution to everything: throw money at the problem. “What about the fancy test? Let’s do that!” For the first time ever in my life, I was talked out of forking over more cash to a business by the business. “It’s really most likely a false positive. I wouldn’t want you to waste money for no real reason,” she said.

And I was about to leave it at that when I texted Hank to tell him about the situation, and he immediately said to spring for the test. So I actually got out of my car (I had turned him off ten minutes prior anyway, as I now had no gas and a guilty conscience from idling for over an hour), donned a mask, and headed inside to find someone to milk my cat of his blood. That I did, and then we were on our way home, via a gas station.

They told me that the results would be available within three to five days, so I decided to simply assume that I’d thrown hundreds of dollars away for no good reason, it would be negative, and that we weren’t likely to hear anything until today anyway, so I’d enjoy my weekend without another thought about it.

That plan was promptly destroyed when the doctor called on Saturday afternoon to tell us that the results had come in: Marshall indeed has FIV.

What is FIV and why is this a big deal? FIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, is the cat version of HIV. It means a likely shorter lifespan and a potential for health problems including dental issues, kidney problems, urinary tract problems, etc. It means being hypervigilant to any little illness that may pop up, as he’ll be unable to fend it off like a normal, healthy cat, and it could quickly spiral out of control and kill him. And it means the potential that he could transmit FIV to Cash and Wynton. Typically, FIV+ cats are to never live amongst FIV- cats, and if at a non-no kill shelter, they’re most often euthanized.

The vet asked us what we wanted to do, and when I said I didn’t know, she said she’d give us the rest of the weekend to think it over and call again today to discuss next steps.

Cue simultaneous crying and panic Googling.

After a few hours of both, it seemed like maybe it wasn’t as gloom and doom as it seemed? There was certainly plenty of evidence to suggest that more contemporary views on the matter consider cohabitating FIV+ and – together to be a relatively non-issue. The only way the virus could be transmitted from Marshall to the others is through a VERY deep bite (and unidirectionally — Marshall would have to be the one doing the biting). We’re talking the kind of bite that would require medical attention even if it came from an FIV- cat. I’ve had cats my entire life, and I’ve literally never had one bite another like that. And there was also plenty of anecdotal evidence that FIV+ cats could live long, healthy lives if kept indoors (which we obviously would be anyway, regardless of virus status) and well taken care of.

So maybe we could keep him after all?

But there’s still a risk. A small one, but a risk. Marshall could be on his best behavior every moment of every day of his life, and all it would take is one bad second to screw it all up. And we could take the bestest care possible of him, but there’s no guarantee he wouldn’t end up with some weird cold that could outright kill him at five years of age.

But what’s the alternative? How are we supposed to find him another home? Who’s rushing out to adopt sick cats? And if we bring him to a shelter (obviously a no-kill one), he could end up spending the rest of his life there because again, why bring home the sick kitten when you could have a healthy one?

And maybe you’re thinking, “Ruby, you’ve only known him a month — you need to think of Wynton and Cash.” Well no shit, and I AM thinking of them. But I really do love that little Marshmallow. He’s pretty much the greatest kitten I’ve ever known. (This is no offense to either Wynton or Cash, as we adopted them when they were a bit older; I’m sure they were amazing kittens as well). I’m just not sure I can kick him out to lord knows where because there’s a small chance he may not live to be 17 and an even smaller chance he could deliver Cash or Wynton to the same fate.

Hank seems to be of the mind that we’ll be fine, and he’s fine, and everything is fine; no need to shut down the economy and triple mask. Oh, wait, no, that was a response to a different virus. Regardless, to each their own on risk acceptance and risk avoidance, I suppose. Sadly, I’m farther on the AVOID AVOID AVOID end of that spectrum. But that runs contrarywise to my YOU’LL PRY THAT KITTEN FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS spectrum. I’m on many spectrums.

So yeah. Here we are. I think we’re keeping him. I think Wynton and Cash will be okay. I think the bigger risk is Marshall getting sick at some point eventually, but he’d have that same fate no matter where he ended up, so why not be with us? We have the means to take care of him. We love him dearly. He’ll have a good life. I may not be able to predict any kind of future when it comes to taking risks and how they may play out, but I can guarantee he’ll have a good life.

And now we wait for the vet to call. And to see how much judgement I’ll have to bear there.

Well that didn’t take long

Posted in Uncategorized on May 19, 2021 by Ruby

I’m referring to, of course, my utter and total abandonment of this here blog revival. I can’t quite put my finger on it: is it a lack of interest? A lack of anything worth writing about? ADD? Maybe a combination of the above? I do have to admit, I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing here. As in, what am I supposed to be writing and why and for whom? There are literally five of you that read this (and I appreciate each and every one of you!); if I had something to say to you, I could probably just email you. I hardly think of this as some waiting in the wings trove itching to be discovered by masses of content-hungry strangers; who’s out looking for random blogs to read these days (or ever)? So let’s face it: this is just for me. And if it IS just for me, what do I want? An archival look at my life that I can return to and reread ten years from now? (Recent experience would indicate that that is NOT a fun time, but here’s hoping these years are more stable than the the facepalm-inducing content of 2009-2013). Or is this just simply a way to pass the time that is only slightly more rewarding than binge-watching TV series that I’ve already watched in their entirety three times over? Again, probably some combination of the above.

Oddly enough, some of these theories actually conflict with one another. When I was forcing myself to reread the dirty laundry of the past, I found myself hating the super long-winded rambling posts. I found the shorter “I have a story to tell, here’s the story, okay bye the end” posts far more entertaining and consumable. And yet, if I’m writing this because it’s the actual act of creation that I’m enjoying, well, baby, I looooooove to ramble. Sorry not sorry?

To take the pressure off of me today, how about we find a compromise: how about I make each topic its own number. That way, if I’m reading this in 2028, I can simply think of each segment as its own mini post. That’ll trick me, right? Sure. I bet 2028 me is super gullible. And as for the five of you, well… there’s always the comment section to weigh in on what, exactly, you’d like to see (or not see). As equal equity shareholders in this endeavor, your opinions go a long way.

  1. Wedding Fun(?) Times

The wedding is back on. Oh, you thought I was already married? Sure I am, but who doesn’t like throwing massive, expensive parties a year after the fact to really drive the point home? Plus, presents.

Nah, it’s simply the same plans we had for 2020 but now sans pandemic. Mostly. Go vaccines! So yeah, we’ve set our new date — an attempt to be as close to the actual wedding date as possible but still on a Saturday. And now I’m thrust back into a mindset that I abandoned a year ago by simply throwing my hands in the air and boxes full of obsolete invitations under a bed.

The rereading of the Old Blog Days (OBD?) reminded me of just how much I hated weddings and how I vowed to be different when I had mine. No expensive dress that you only wear once and then allow to take up precious space in your closet forever after! No awkward ceremony where you force your closest friends to also buy expensive dresses that they’ll only wear once and then likely give away to Goodwill or wear ironically as a Halloween costume some years later! No blowing what could be the sizeable down payment on a house on a single fucking party (I love that this is an actual Netflix show now; and here I said my blogs weren’t waiting-in-the-wings-troves of valuable content — clearly someone out there’s been reading!)! No creating unnecessary stress for anyone and everyone involved over what should be a fun, joyous occasion!

Well, I managed to check some of those boxes. No clue what I’ll be wearing to the party. Ceremony’s already done (and was done in a dress I bought in a dive shop in Key West for $60 — true story. Hank wore a Mickey Mouse Hawaiian print shirt that he promptly spilled a drink on less than an hour before the ceremony, and Lizzy was modeling a lovely number from Kohl’s). No bridal party. But the rest of it… well… turns out that food and drinks cost money. I can skimp all I want on floral arrangements, table decor, videographers, live bands, string quartets, cheese fountains, caricature artists, or whatever the hell else is considered de rigueur these days, but it’s hard to get away with not feeding your guests, and in the case of our guests especially — providing an open bar with wells deep enough for everyone in attendance at Coachella.

As for the stress… I see now why wedding planners are a thing. If I want to strangle people whilst attempting to do the bare minimum, I can’t imagine what a real, full-blown wedding entails. Hard pass.

(Snark-free disclaimer to My Mother: I’m not complaining! The wedding will be fun and lovely and way better than it would’ve been in July of 2020. Things happen for a reason.)

2. Travel Fun(!) Times

I’m vaccinated! Whee! Friday will be my two-weeks-after-the-second-shot day. To celebrate, I shall… probably do nothing. Let’s face it: quarantine has kind of allowed me to live my best life. I spend my days wearing sweatpants and hanging out with my cats. I have built-in excuses to avoid any and all social situations. I can even avoid errands. Why would I want to throw all of that away and leave my house? I look gift horses straight in the eyes, never the mouth.

Though, I do have several trips lined up. I suppose I can make exceptions if leaving my house entails something more exciting than staring hatefully at anti-maskers in Publix and trying in vain to find gas stations that still have gas available.

a) Disney World next week (assuming I can find gas by then — Rhett is currently showing 20 miles til empty). It’s sort of a combo trip of my usual monthly trip/my last trip for a good long while/100 days sans booze! So, a celebration, a non-celebration, and a goodbye. Not in that order. Depending on how you look at it.

Anyway, yeah, typically, I try to get up to Disney once a month. But since its reopening last July, it’s slowly gotten more and more crowded to the point where it’s just fucking unbearable. I started last November attempting these mid-week trips, capitalizing on my ability to work wherever there’s wifi, hoping that avoiding weekends would help with the crowds. At first, it wasn’t bad. But it seems even school days are no longer sacred. I decided to try one last time (and splurge on Wilderness Lodge for my remote office as a gift to myself). But after next week… yeah, I don’t know. I get that revenge travel is a real thing, and I’ve been pretty fortunate to be able to continue to visit Disney this whole time — it’s other folks’ turns now. But… can they, like, get these trips over with in the next couple months and then allow things to just settle the fuck back to normal? I NEED MY DISNEY, AND I NEED IT WITHOUT HOMICIDAL RAGE.

b) New Orleans in a few weeks. Just a long weekend. Like I attempt to hit up Disney once a month, Hank and I attempt to hit up New Orleans once a year, and that obviously didn’t happen last year. WE NEED CRAWFISH, STAT. This will also be my first time on a plane and the first time leaving the state of Florida since December, 2019. Craziness. Anyway, as a newly sober person, I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do on vacation in New Orleans other than eat myself silly, but at least that’s a good starting place, yes? We also plan on renting a car to drive all around to parts of the city we’re less familiar with (what can I say? I may have lived there for five years, and we do visit regularly, but we always hit up the same areas; we like what we like).

In addition to simple exploration, this may or may not also be a scouting mission for potential home-buying locations. We’ve been talking for awhile now about relocating to New Orleans. And since I can officially work from anywhere, and since the housing market here in SWFL has exploded, that time could be soon approaching. We shall see. Nothing’s happening super soon, but it is highly entertaining to open my morning Zillow emails and see houses around here that are piece of shit dumps thinking they can fetch $150k more than what they’re really worth. And succeeding. Pass the popcorn.

c) New Hampshire to see MY MOTHER in July! Much excite. Many lobsters will be eaten. They’re like crawfish, but bigger, and you don’t suck the heads.

d) Vegas in July. Because that’s the perfect time of year to visit Vegas. And I have a real knack for picking sober-friendly vacation destinations. That and Hank’s nephew is competing in an American Ninja Warrior type thing there, so we’ll be there to cheer him on and question our life decisions that led us to not being even remotely able to complete even the simplest exercise on those courses.

3. Cat(!!!) Updates

Marshall is a doll. A screaming doll, but a doll none the less. He’s getting along well with Cash and Wynton. They both enjoy rough housing with him. Perhaps a little too roughly, but seeing as Marshall just bolts straight at them for more, I guess they aren’t hurting him that bad. Sure, it may look like they’re beating the ever-loving shit out of a tiny creature a mere fraction of their size, but apparently he’s not said the safe word yet, so. Open season.

And, really, the screaming is only around food time, so I can relate. I internally scream when I’m hungry, too.

4. Help (not of the mental variety) wanted

Anyone know a seasoned tech writer looking for a job? My most senior-level guy just gave his notice to go work for Amazon. Pfft. Like they’ll last. I’d really rather not have to do his job and mine, so I’m hoping to replace him as soon as possible. Added bonus: you can work remotely from Disney World if you want to.

5. Okay, maybe some mental help wanted

The whole not-drinking thing is fine. I guess. I’m pretty much just mentally twiddling my thumbs. I’m bored, but I’m not pulling my hair out and screaming externally, so… we’ll call it a win? Like, life and my outlook could probably be better, but I’m also not crying on a daily basis or at risk of saying “fuck it all,” so… “yay”? Hopefully as time progresses, I’ll just come to be used to this ho-hum status quo, and it’ll no longer feel so hollow. Again, I’m not at risk of throwing it all away and falling off the wagon. I’m not worried about myself in New Orleans, or Vegas, or alone at Disney World, or alone in my own home for days on end. I’m just wishing the wagon were a little more pimped out and a little less Oregon Trail no frills.

I think part of how I know I’m not teetering on the brink of self-sabotage is that when I picture drinking again, I picture DRINKING again. I don’t want to go off my vegan diet to tastefully enjoy a shrimp cocktail; I want to butcher a cow with my bear hands and lick its blood off a dirt floor while wearing its hide as a toga. Now, maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “um, Ruby, the fact that you’re thinking like a manic coyote may actually indicate a slight problem here? Not a reason for relief?” False. When have I ever wanted to butcher a cow or any animal? In what universe would that ever actually happen? And at what time during my meat-eating career did I ever do such a thing? Never and none and never. So we’re safe. It’s when I start wanting “just a simple shrimp cocktail, please,” that we need to worry. Get it? Good. Makes perfect sense to me.

Let’s talk about anxiety and balls

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2021 by Ruby

A pretty miraculous thing occurred within days after my last drink. The anxiety that I’d been suffering from for the past 20 years (which got worse and worse until it was literally unbearable; you know something must be damn near water-boarding levels of torture for me to quit drinking in order to make it stop) just *poof* went away. Gone. As if I’d imagined the whole thing.

(Now, I gotta say: from my research and listening to others’ personal experiences, I know that this is not always the case when kicking booze out of your life. For some people, it even makes anxiety worse. And all I can say is that my heart goes out to those individuals. Seeing as I stopped because of anxiety (for the most part), if that had made it worse, you can pretty much bet your retirement fund that my abstinence would’ve lasted all of 48 hours. There’d be no new blog posts. No shirley temples. And I’d still be on season two of Homeland. I’m not always great at gratitude, but I can dedicate a whole year’s worth to having my anxiety getting the fuck out of my life*.)

* <– This leads me to today’s thoughts. The anxiety is gone, yes. But, that’s not to say I don’t have nerves. I’m still human. But here’s the thing: see, before I stopped drinking, any kinds of nerves would just explode into anxiety and panic attacks. Like, for a normal person, if your boss emails you and says, “we need to talk,” your heart rate may go up a bit. You may wonder, “what the fuck did I do? I’m a model employee who never takes lunch breaks in the pool.” For me, it was a panic attack. For a normal person, if you get cut off in traffic and have to slam on your breaks, narrowly missing the guy in front of you, your heart is now squarely in your throat, and you may be a little shaky for a minute. For me, that would probably have been a heart attack and the end of me as we knew it. In other words, any tiny cause to raise my heart rate even aflutter would result in a panic attack. It was as if any time I experienced any kind of heart rate increase for any reason, a man was paid to come kick me in the metaphorical balls.

The man has since been killed off, so you’d think I wouldn’t worry about any nervous situation exploding into a panic attack of testicular sadism, but c’mon — I’ve been kicked in the balls consistently for over two years. That’s not the kind of Pavlovian response you just shake off after a few weeks of ball safety. If I get a little nervous, I brace for impact. No panic attack comes, no balls are harmed, I breathe a sigh of relief, and I move on. Until the next nervous situation arises. How do I know that the ball-kicking man didn’t bequeath the responsibility to someone else upon his death, and they’re just waiting for probate to wrap up before the new guy starts kicking me square in the junk?

It’s going to take a bit longer for me to fully relax and trust again. Until then, I still don’t care for nerves. I require my life to be 100% smooth sailing and worry-free, mmmk? Totally reasonable, right? Great. Glad we’re all on the same page. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s noon, and the pool calls.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming: cats

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28, 2021 by Ruby

Yesterday morning it was time to finally meet Unnamed Cat #3. Seeing how picky I was being about feeling a “spark” with a kitty and finding just the right personality, you can imagine my apprehension over agreeing to adopt a cat sight-unseen. The universe better not be fucking with me on this one.

And given that my biggest fear in life is confrontation (I legit have a coworker who’s been with us over five years and is my direct peer, yet he’s never once pronounced my name correctly; he’ll likely go to the grave with that distinction), I think we were all but guaranteed to come home from this “meet and greet” with the kitten. The short list of what would’ve forced me speak up and say, “thanks but no thanks” was likely limited to:

  • Kitten was actually a large palm rat
  • Kitten was actually a small possum
  • Kitten was actually a stuffed animal
  • Entire setup was a trap to ensnare us in a multi-level marketing scheme selling taxidermized kittens

At this point, the worst-case scenario was meeting the kitten and thinking, “He’s fine, but I’m just not picking up the right vibe. However, I’m mentally incapable of looking a human in the eye and saying, ‘sorry for texting you non-stop for 48 hours, but I’m just not feeling the spark'” (more flashbacks to my 20s) and thus we end up with a kitten I don’t really want but hey, I hear you can offload them on local FB groups so at least there’s that. Hopefully Hank won’t notice he’s missing.

Thankfully, none of that occurred. Nay, I think we got ourselves a good one. Phew.

He’s sweet, he’s playful, he purrs. He doesn’t hide. He’s not afraid of us. He likes to be brushed. And he’s already taken to the litter box. This kid’s a winner. So far we have him quarantined in our guest bathroom until he gets his first round of vaccinations and is given the all-clear to return to the office interact with Cash and Wynton. As for me, I’m typing this while camping out on a cushion on the bathroom floor, where I’ll be working until his all-clear means I can go back to my office — across the hall #WFH4EVER.

Speaking of Cash and Wynton, they haven’t officially laid eyes on their new brother yet, but it’s hard not to hear the little cry baby through the door. Cash’s reaction was to hiss, growl, and then smack Wynton upside the head, assuming it was all his idea to cause Cash yet another personal grievance. Wynton was thoroughly confused but apologized anyway. He may be part Canadian. And as such, he DGAF about the kitten. He’s such a sweet pumpkin, my Wynton. Cash has since calmed down. He’s hot and cold, that one. He may be part me.

As for Unnamed cat #3, we’re currently going with the name Marshall. You see, it started out that all my cats had to have jazz musician names. Hence Dizzy and Bird and Wynton. Cash was supposed to be Kermit until after 24 hours of calling him that, he, in typical Cash fashion, informed us that we were fucking idiots, and that that was not his name. Cash it was. And thus the jazz-only requirement was dead; we were now open to all types of musicians. Before we brought Marshall home, Hank suggested we name him after a rapper. I’m still not convinced that he’s not a Lil Wayne. But since I’ve been binging How I Met Your Mother nonstop, the name Marshall was on my mind. I suggested it to Hank who mused, “yeah, I like that…” “… as in Marshall Mathers… Eminem,” I clarified. “I LOVE IT. HIS NICKNAME CAN BE SLIM SHADY.” Insert my facepalming here. From that point on, we were pretty sure he’d be Marshall. And so long as he doesn’t get any legal advice from Cash and make a last minute petition for change, I think it’s going to stick. But it’s not too late to be Lil Wayne.

I’m sexy and I know it

It’s raining cats and cuteness

Posted in Uncategorized on April 26, 2021 by Ruby

Saturday we headed out around 10 o’clock to journey inland to the vast, green expanse that is Hendry County. What can I say? They have the best animal shelters. While we were willing to be quite flexible (about cats and counties), our ideal checklist for Unnamed Cat #3 was:

  • Male
  • Solid gray
  • Purrs louder than a lawnmower
  • Likes us
  • Can keep up with Cash and Wynton

Whether or not we actually came home with a cat and how the hell we’d know which one to pick… I couldn’t tell you. I was just going to follow my gut. Ultimately, we were looking for the universe to point us in the right direction.

We were about halfway to our first of three destinations, ARC (the same shelter Cash came from), when they called me to tell me that our application had been approved. Duh; we’re awesome. Then they asked when we’d like to come in to browse the goods. “We’re actually on our way right now! We should be there in 30.” And that’s when they informed me that they had moved to an appointment-only system. Thanks, Covid. So we set an appointment for the next available time: Sunday at 11. Fantastic. The only thing better than spending a whole day driving out to the middle of nowhere is spending two whole days driving out to the middle of nowhere.

Regardless, we kept on the path, now skipping destination #1 and heading to Destination #2: LaBelle (where Wynton came from). After passing more Tractor Supply stores than I’ve seen in the past calendar year, we arrived. The Caloosa Humane Society is a small, squat little building nestled between various other rural government buildings. You can adopt a dog, meet with your probation officer, and play a round of canasta at the senior center all in one fell swoop. Convenient!

We waltzed on in (appointments?! Unnecessary! Masks? Who needs them! (Well, everyone, so we’ll still wear ours, thank you)) and were shown straight on in to the kitten room. And OH MY CUTENESS. Five kittens, all of whom pounced on us like we were, in fact, chopped liver. The purring was deafening. I was in my happy place. I even almost forgave ARC for not making the whole “Appointment Only” thing in bigger font on their website.

“There can be only one panther”

Alas, as wonderful as it was to be enveloped by kitten love, we opted to pass. Of the five kittens, only two were boys, and they were both all black, just like Cash. We promised Cash that he had dibs on being the only panther in the house. The three ladies in the room were all tuxedos, which, I don’t know… could be too soon for me. RIP, Bird, my love.

Though, I will say: those girls had a leg up on the boys when it came to throwing themselves at us and begging to be taken home. Really reminded me of my 20s. Kidding! (Not really).

After also meeting and greeting the tweens, teens, and adults in addition to the babies, we bid everyone adieu and headed to the next destination. I will say this for anyone reading and looking for a cat in no man’s land: Caloosa’s cats are the FRIENDLIEST. Seriously. No skittish fraidy cats in there! Everyone was a love bug. It was hard to walk away sans cat.

Destination #3 was actually back in the Cape. I had done my homework and knew that they had two gray tabby kittens — one boy, one girl. As we walked in, we queued up at the front desk behind an elderly woman and her granddaughter, haphazardly assembling one of those cardboard cat carriers, about to bring home their new baby. Something in the back of my mind simply whispered, “they took the gray boy…” And sure enough, as we were told to follow them back to the kitten room, up up and away went the gray male tabby. Though, if I must say, his sister proved to be the far more entertaining of the two. She was a laugh riot. (Once again… those females… really pushing me to rethink my personal cat philosophies).

But again, there just wasn’t that spark with her or any of the other residents at the Cape shelter. And with that, we called it a day and trudged home to float in the pool in defeat. Pity us, please.

The Cap’n will find a home in no time, I’m sure of it. Maybe at Sally’s farm?

Sunday we were up and out and back at it again. Once at ARC and being led to the kitten house, our guide mentioned that they only had two real little kittens at the moment, only one boy, and he was, of course, a ginger. However, she was sure, based on how wonderful his personality was, that we would be going home with him. And sure enough, Cap’n Crunch, as he was called, was pretty fucking cute. And spunky. And would be running circles around Cash and Wynton. But again… there was just something missing. Hank accused me of being a cat racist and turning down the little dollop of joy based on coloring alone, but that wasn’t the whole story. I never once heard him purr. And he seemed far happier running around the lanai, chasing the other cats, than he was acknowledging us (what? I like my cats to pay attention to me! The LaBelle ones did 😒). I just didn’t feel that elusive spark.

Again, we visited the rest of the cats, just to pay our respects. And again, I found myself enjoying the company of a female far more than I thought I would. This one was named Spice, a gorgeous 9-year-old calico that had just been brought in because her owner had gone into hospice. You could tell all she wanted was to be held and be on someone’s lap, probably what she’d been accustomed to her whole life thus far. My heart broke a wee bit for her. However, given that she was hissing at all the other cats, I didn’t think she’d much prefer coming home with us to two young boys who would want nothing more than to harass her for the limited years she had left.

“Me? Jump on an old lady? Never!”

Our guide mentioned that there were 30 kittens currently in foster care that would be ready in a month or two and to check back then. And with that, at about 11:25, we headed home, empty handed and a bit despondent. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t 100% sure I wanted a third cat as we started this expedition on Saturday, but coming home that disappointed on Sunday, I realized where my heart truly laid.

As we drove home, Hank tried scouring Craigslist and Facebook, looking for outside-the-box options, but nothing appeared. An hour later, we were sulking in the pool again.

And that’s when Lisa texted us a link to a Cape FB group post. A kitten needed a home. A solid gray, tiny, six-week-old boy kitten. The post went up at approximately 11:25. The universe had spoken.

I immediately texted the woman to express interest but also to ask for some more information. Apparently the little guy was just found in a stall in her barn, born to a feral mama who hangs out around there. I was initially hesitant to have anything to do with a feral anything, as my only experience agreeing to adopt a tiny never-been-handled-before kitten was Dizzy, and that turned out… interestingly. But I reached out to a friend who fosters kittens and attacked her with a barrage of questions about the age and socializing and yadda yadda. She assured me that at his age, he should be just fine. And so now we’re tentatively set to meet this woman and the little baby tomorrow evening. Only time will tell if he’s really The One, but we’re optimistic thus far.

I had no sooner texted My Mother and Lizzy that the universe was telling us that this was our kitten when Hank walks in the kitchen and says to me, “you realize that this is the universe telling us that this is our cat, right?” Yup — coming in loud and clear.

“Please save me!”
“See? I like humans!”

10 weeks and counting

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2021 by Ruby

Today officially marks ten weeks alcohol-free. Sobriety, like spandex, looks different on everyone. For me, the following is a high-level glimpse of what those first ten weeks looked like in Ruby-colored glasses (spoiler alert: it looks better on me than spandex).

Week 1: Remind me again why I’m doing this

Anyone who tells you that they fall asleep every night without the help of at least two fingers of whiskey is either lying to you or substituting the whiskey for snorting Ambien. There is no other explanation.

How the fuck am I really supposed to never drink again? Sure, today I can manage. Tomorrow, too. But on vacation? What if I travel to Italy! How am I supposed to go to Italy and not drink wine?!?! Obviously, I’ll have to make an exception for Italy. And probably France. What about Scotch in Scotland? Tequila in Mexico? Vodka in Russia? Any day of the week in New Orleans? We’ll have to come up with a system.

Week 2: Ruby Clouds

Everything is awesome! Everything is new and shiny! Did you know that food tasted this good? Or that you’re allowed to eat this much of it and still not be consuming as many calories as you did with booze? Or that sleep could feel this nice? Or that you could have this much energy in the morning? Or that you can now leave the house without mild panic flare-ups?! Or that you can laugh hysterically without four margaritas? Or that forming sentences with your mouth while on a meeting didn’t have to require stuttering and forgetting the word “program” even though it was right on the tip of your tongue? You have a new super power, and it’s FORMING MOUTH WORDS!

Week 3: I recommend hibernation — pretty much for any scenario in life, but also this one

Soooo… now what? Research tells me I’m likely to be “triggered.” What is safe? Where can I go? Should I avoid watching TV shows that predominantly take place in bars? Should I not predominantly take place in a bar? I guess it’s a good thing I decided to do this during a pandemic. Whole lot easier to avoid boozy situations when I’m trying to avoid them for other reasons as well. Too bad I live in Florida, and it did NOT get that memo.

Week 4: JUST DON’T THINK ABOUT IT

If “Gee, wouldn’t this moment be made better with a tequila shot, and let’s face it — what moment wouldn’t be, am I right?” crosses your mind, ABORT. Think of anything else. Pick up your phone. Scroll through Instagram. Remind yourself to unfollow #DrinkingAtDisney. Scroll through Twitter. Remind yourself to unfollow most all of your friends. Scroll through Facebook. Allow your blood to boil thanks to the hateful, ignorant things posted in your neighborhood group. Remind yourself to unfollow any local groups. Scroll through Zillow. Probably just easier to move at this point.

Week 5: Actually, on second thought, let’s think about it

But, like, think it all the way through. If I were to take a shot every time I thought that was a lovely idea, then what? Then I’d be tired. Then I’d likely be too lazy to cook dinner. And frankly, I just drank my calories anyway, so there ya go. And then if we watch Homeland before bed, I likely won’t remember the second half and need to rewatch it tomorrow, meaning I won’t be caught up with it until 2022. And I’d end up asleep before 10. And then I’d wake up hungover the next day. And continue to be hungover all day. And be back to stuttering during work calls. All because I wanted a shot of tequila that lasted two seconds on my tongue and maybe, if I was lucky, 20 minutes as a buzz until the rest of my feelings were just swooshy and dulling and resulting in impulse purchases on Amazon that I forget about until they show up on my porch. Not exactly what I’d call worth it — neither the shot nor the shoes that are guaranteed not to fit and that I have nowhere to wear them to.

Karen Walker and Carrie Bradshaw and those assholes on How I Met Your Mother and everyone else in fucking fiction land are fucking fictional liars. Not sure who’s actually consuming drink after drink after drink and still acting like they could recite the alphabet backward, looking that refreshed, and not suffering from any wee sloppy-ass side-effects whatsoever. It’s horse shit. Three scotches in, and you know Ted Mosby would be slurring the fuck out of his “woe is me” spiels. There’s no point in getting jealous of these folks, because not only do they not exist, but that kind of limitless fun, zero repercussions experience with booze doesn’t exist either.

Week 6: I’m bored

Okay, so I’m not triggered. I don’t need to avoid boozy situations. I don’t need to avoid my own brain. And I can watch whatever decades-old sitcoms I want without fear of hysterics or wanting to swat drinks out of Hank’s hands. Now what? Maybe invent some new mocktails. Or find some new fucking TV shows. Either way, I need something to spice up the routine. I liked it better when everything was awesome.

Week 7: Gee, I wish I could make it to that, but I don’t want to

The books I’ve been reading talk a lot about being selfish in your nascent sobriety. As a naturally selfish person, this speaks to my interests. Apparently I’m now allowed to cancel plans, leave events I’m not enjoying myself at, and otherwise do what I need to do to put myself and my sobriety first. I was born for this.

Likewise, they also talk a lot about doing whatever brings you joy, spoiling yourself, almost bribing yourself into sobriety. So, to that end, I’ve been baking Nuts & Bolts on a monthly basis (this is outside of its strict two-weeks-before-Christmas-only time period that is normally allowed for this treat), I drink way more sugar-free Shirley Temples than any adult has a right to, I bought a sleep sounds app that allows me to program different nature sounds to fall asleep to (I enjoy water lapping on a shoreline along with some rustling leaves, thank you), I take my lunch breaks in the pool, and when I’m back to work, you can usually find Friends playing on one monitor (okay, so I have yet to find new TV). So far, I could get used to this approach to life. But should I? 🤔

Week 8: Pro-tip: if you need a mind-altering substance to enhance your evening, sounds like your evening sucked

Huh. I kinda forgot I stopped drinking. Not in a “oh, was I not supposed to be sipping on this bourbon?” kind of way, but in a “oh, was that a thing I used to do? Weird!” kind of way. Man, I guess I blew my opportunity to blog about a major new life change to being sober — it’s old hat now! Maybe I can try that vegan thing again…

JK. I’ll never leave you again, cheese.

I’m even finding myself getting annoyed at others for drinking. Not in a teetotalling “OMG that’s so terrible how dare you” kind of way, but in a “oh, we have to pause this road trip because you have to pee AGAIN?” kind of way. Like, stop interrupting the regularly scheduled programming for your random impulses. We were in the middle of something.

It’s how I used to feel (okay, STILL feel) about smoking pot. Since that was something I just never got the appeal of and thus never joined in on, it always annoyed me when people felt the need to pause an evening to find the pot, pack a bowl, get it lit, pass it around. Like, was this rousing game of Uno during a Will & Grace marathon not entertaining enough for you?! You needed something else? Ugh.

If anything, at least things are looking up for my ability to travel to Italy and not feel compelled to drink there. Like, if exploring fucking Italy isn’t enough for you, I don’t know what is. Definitely won’t be inviting you to Uno night.

Week 9: What were we talking about again?

Oh shit. I think I forgot why I quit. I mean, like, I think I had a drinking problem? I don’t really remember. It was awhile ago. Hank still drinks. He’s fine. My friends all drink. They’re fine. Why wasn’t I fine? I can’t quite put my finger on it…

And that’s when I have to go back to earlier journal entries (if only there was a blog back then!) to refresh my memory. And hope to hell that enough details were captured back then to thoroughly do the trick. I’m not usually one to skimp on the words (she types, into a post 1,932 words long), but you never know just how hard you need to dial-up that saturation level in order to trip balls on your own flashbacks.

Week 10: Now what?

If my recollection is that hazy after nine weeks, how’s it supposed to be any better in six months? Or six years? It’s scary to think that someday, I won’t be able to adequately remind myself of my “why” and then all of this will start over. Honestly, my fear of relapse isn’t falling off the wagon because of temptation or a bad day; my fear is that one day I’ll consciously choose to drink because ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ The last hurrah I never had? I think I can handle one weekend? I just fucking feel like it? I’m running out of things to blog about? Because It’s a Tuesday?

There’s something to be said for what sustainability looks like. Eventually, I need to stop eating Nuts & Bolts every day. Eventually, I need stop being selfish. Eventually, I need to watch new TV. Eventually, I need to get off my ass and stop using the “but I don’t feel like it, and if I don’t feel like it, then I don’t have to do it!” excuse when it comes to exercise. Eventually, I’ll stop counting days and weeks, just focusing on months, maybe years. Eventually, I hope to not have to worry about random urges to drink on Tuesdays.

In a perfect world, ten weeks from now would read:

Week 20: La vita e bella

Italy was fantastic. 10/10 highly recommend. In other news, I switched from carbo-loading in preparation for Netflix marathons to pre-gaming my runs with yoga. Lately, I’ve been vibing on some light rain and loon calls for sleepy sounds. The mocktail du jour is fizzy Blueberry lemonade. I’m writing this while taking a break from drafting tomorrow’s blog post, which has nothing to do with sobriety and everything to do with my latest obsession: making windchimes for an aural assault on my nemesis neighbor. I have no idea what my sobriety day count is — not because I threw it all out the window, but because I don’t need to know. Life is life, and life is good, and I no longer feel the need to dwell on something I’ve put aside and moved on from. Cheers.

Until then, I’ll be on the couch happily watching How I Met Your Mother if you need me. (Sure, I’m currently out of Nuts & Bolts, but I’m taking that one day at a time.) As you can see, this Tuesday is quite thrilling enough to not require any booze to spice it up.

70 days and counting…

“Meow” –Alexa

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2021 by Ruby

As I mentioned, we may be adopting another cat. I think this is mostly Hank’s way of attempting to have his own lap cat, but he’ll deny that until he’s blue in the face or Cash decides to be cuddly–whichever happens first.

My rationale for adding a third cat to the mix is Why the Fuck Not? That personal philosophy hasn’t steered me too wrong so far, right? (Don’t answer that.) We have the means and space. Three cats isn’t an insane number. And we have the time at home. Plus, it’s kind of now or never–Wynton’s still young enough that he’s not going to be a grumpy butt about it or be all territorial. If anything, he’ll LOVE having a new kitty to pal around with! And honestly, I think Cash will enjoy a Wynton reprieve.

Could it end up being two against one and poor Cash now suffers double the harassment? Sure, it’s possible. But you know a good way to keep annoying little brothers at bay? Sit on your damn human’s lap and have them protect you. YOU GOT THAT, CASH?

But I digress.

“Paws” for random cat-related intermission: Want to scare the crap out of yourself, anyone else in your house, and your cats? If you have Alexa, simply say, “Alexa, meow.” You’ve been forewarned.

/Intermission

So, tomorrow we will make the rounds to the local shelters and do some meet ‘n’ greets. As we’re not desperate to add to the fam, we will be highly selective. And given that the last two cats we adopted pretty much picked us (only one of whom was a con artist), we’ll likely stick with that approach. Highly selective but will take the first thing that throws itself at us–another one of my personal philosophies that has never steered me wrong! Hey-o.

Ideally, the fur ball who throws himself at us will be a him (no offense to the ladies out there, but I’ve never had a great cat relationship with a female cat; go figure), younger than Wynton (bonus points for Total Kitten Cuteness), fun, loving, spasmatic, doesn’t look like either Cash or Wynton (I mean, they’re gorgeous, obviously, but let them have dibs on their lewks, ya know? The freshman should have his own style), and preferably isn’t a pathological liar, but who are we kidding, we’ll open our hearts to those, too.

Wish us luck!

Coming out of the sobriety closet or: Why I stopped drinking and learned to love metaphors

Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2021 by Ruby

I’ve been slow to publicly announce the whole not-drinking thing, but I’m getting around to it. In a way, sobriety is kind of like a pregnancy. You don’t just run out and announce it to the world.  First, you gotta make sure it sticks.  Nothing worse than a “JK” update to your alumnae newsletter, no?  

And let’s back it up: how did you even come to be knocked up in the first place?  Were you trying to get pregnant, or was it a real “oopsie” moment?  Are we congratulating you on this life achievement or sending our condolences?

Will your pregnancy be a real shock to your friends and loved ones, or have you always talked about your penchant for screaming babies and a lack of sleep?  If the former, are they likely to be supportive of your new path or do you assume they’re currently creating a betting pool on what day you up and change your mind about the whole thing (the over/under is whether this phase lasts longer than the time you went vegan)?

Let’s pretend this is a wanted fetus, and we’re now past the first trimester and everything’s looking good: now you need to figure out how to tell people.  You can’t just update your Facebook status.  You need to actually pick up a phone and call the people closest to you*.  And text the people next closest to you.  If My Mother were to learn of this new life development via a blog that I haven’t updated in over seven years, she may be a little hurt**. And then there are all the questions they’re going to ask — how do you answer the questions?!

*HAHAHA no. I don’t do phones.

**Apologies to Amanda who did, in fact, find out via this blog because I forgot she was a subscriber before I had a chance to text that group. Whoops. Also, I kind of assume you told everyone, so I didn’t 😬

So here we are. I started the sobriety announcement world tour last week, and I think I’ve pretty much covered everyone I need to. I’ve yet to blast it on social media, but given that this is a lifestyle change and not a baby, I think I’ll refrain. Plus, depending on my mood, I either feel like it’s a private matter or I liken it to someone formally announcing they’ve given up gluten. Either way, I think I’ll keep it off Instagram.

So far, no one’s reaction has been, “FINALLY. Guess we can go ahead and cancel the intervention we had planned for next Wednesday; thank you for saving us the money we had all pooled together for your first 28 days at Promises Malibu.” Score one for me and my ability to pretend I’m FINE, JUST FINE THANK YOU. Nay, most everyone has been pretty cool and supportive with it. I think I’ve only had one or two folks who don’t seem all that pleased.

For the most part, the reaction when I tell someone that I quit drinking has typically been some form of the following: “Why?”

I find this to be a semi-interesting response. On the one hand, it signals to me that it’s not 110% obvious that the answer is “HELLO–raging drinking problem, DUH.” That’s always nice to know. On the other hand, it makes me wonder what kind of response folks are looking for. Are they genuinely at a loss for explanation and will nod understandingly if I reply, “just trying to cut calories!” Or are they 99% sure the answer is “raging problem,” but they’re looking to me to confirm that before they start telling me about the now foiled intervention? Kind of like making sure a pregnancy is a wanted one before you start offering recommendations for your favorite Planned Parenthood location?

And then there’s always the third option: they ask because they want to compare their experiences to mine. If my response to “why?” is “I’m sick of waking up in dumpsters with no clue where my pants are,” they can rest easy that as long as they can’t relate to that, they needn’t worry about themselves. Real bummer for them when my response is, “it wasn’t taking me where I wanted to go anymore.” Yeah, try and measure your personal risk level against THAT cryptic scale! (Spoiler alert: if you have to wonder…)

Sadly enough, I actually suck at answering “why?” It’s not that I don’t have a million reasons; it’s probably because I have a million reasons. And picking just a few and eloquently and succinctly stating them when confronted and looking for a one sentence answer is way too much to ask. I spent so many weeks mentally rehearsing my spiel as I laid in bed, trying to fall asleep with only melatonin to help me, you’d think I’d have it down pat. But instead, depending on who asks, the answer seems to morph.

The truth is, I’ve always looked at Drinking versus Not Drinking as two sides of a scale. When I started out drinking (17 and hitting the bars in New Orleans, baby — no time wasted!), it was as if I had all the reasons in the world to love that life and pile them all on the Drinking side of the scale. It was how I made friends! It was how I experienced the city! It was how I overcame my crippling shyness! But as time went on, reasons started to pile up on the side of Not Drinking. And some of the reasons in favor of Drinking disappeared. Eventually, the scale became kinda tied. And then, one day, it tipped in the favor of Not Drinking. And that’s when I stopped.

HAHAHAHAHAHAH Psych!

Nah, the scales tipped in the favor of Not Drinking probably a fucking decade ago. But rather than take my cue, I decided to do my best justice impression, donned a blind fold, and kept on at it. I was like an Oscar winner delivering an acceptance speech that went on 20 minutes too long. The orchestra played over me until they eventually ran out of music. We cut to commercial break, came back, and I was still thanking my high school drama teacher. They tried to fashion a giant shepherd’s crook out of a boom mic and failed. That shit just needed to play itself out until I was finally done.

Try as I may to ignore every obvious reason to stop the insanity, that Not Drinking side of the scale just kept getting heavier and heavier and heavier as time went on. Eventually, there was just no more denying it. I was a functioning drinker until I wasn’t. I just had to stop. There was no last hurrah. There was no grand plan. I was done.

That all occurred the weekend of February 14th, 2021: I ripped the blindfold off. Okay, so I wasn’t trying to get sober, but now that I am, I’m glowing; we’re going to keep it! And I said, “Finally, I’d like to thank the Academy. Good night.” Exeunt flourish.

Or, yeah, it wasn’t taking me where I wanted to go anymore. That about sums it up, yes?