Archive for January, 2012

rocked on through the weekend

January 29, 2012 2 comments

Its Sunday night at 9:22. I’m pretty tired but mind is spinning a bit. I made a jar of sun tea and put in one pack of the Organic Nighty Night tea that was snowing me. I also put in a ginger and a couple of chai. Thought it might be good at night. Thinking about a doctor’s appt. on the insomnia. There is a sleeping pill called Trazodone, a tricyclic anti-depressant they mostly use as a sleeper these days. It builds up a level in your system so it doesn’t have the problem of tolerance and dependence that goes along with all the other sleepers and why I even use the tea sparingly.

I’m tired though and expect to sleep well. Got a load of laundry done and another on the line and pretty much caught up on that front. I don’t have a large array of dress clothes. This week the big night will be Thursday with the Chamber candidate forum and a Legislator forum where I will have to try to meet people at the Library. It will also allow me to see what to expect when I do mine with the League of Women Voters.

I knocked on about fifty doors today. It was sunny and in the 50s I think. I was in a jacket some, in a sweater some, and put both on for the final push. Didn’t win a lot of commitments but had lots of positive interactions and only one “We’re not interested” before I got half way up the driveway. I think they thought I was a Jehovah’s Witness or something.

I’m a little congested and feel like I fought off a cold or the flue. Tomorrow I have a site visit at work with the Missouri Institute of Mental Health so I need to go in a little early and pull some charts and do a quick walk through. It’ll at least be a day off  the grind. Monday night is big night, doors if I can swing it, phone calls to local power brokers, follow up calls to the weekend doors, and need to write my intro and closing.

I got up early today and made bean soup. Its vegetarian and a little bland. It seemed better at lunch. Jeff brought homemade bread that was just incredible, better then Uprise, and Vicki made an apple pie from scratch. Trevor and Lisa made a nice salad so it was the deluxe spread. Long meeting afterward. Think I used up all my focus up.


Categories: community, cooking, politics

wow, what a day

January 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I didn’t post yesterday. I hit a wall, stymied by trying to complete a campaign ethics report online and then navigating through establishing online banking for the campaign account. Ate up my day light and I didn’t get to talk to any voters. It was a stressful day at work, with a tight frenetic pace and no longer have the option to just work a little longer to wrap it all up. But if going the extra mile were easy it wouldn’t be a commandment and everyone would do it.

Today was a good day. I went to bed early last night not even finishing my absinthe, served classically. Thanks John for the absinthe spoon, a rarely used but much appreciated kitchen gadget. If you don’t know you serve absinthe by pouring the shot over a sugar cube which rests on a slotted spoon that has a little bump to go over the edge of the glass. It clouds the water in a particular way and hard on the liver I hear so I drink sparingly. Last night I had the barest sip before deciding to hit the hay and let the glass sit on the counter. Left the house smelling like licorice and I finished it tonight after canvassing.

Woke at 4:00 and felt pretty good but lay in bed and pretended to sleep until 6:30. I got dressed, business casual, that’s probably reason enough for my work to be proud I’m running, finally dressing like your supposed to. Creates a hurdle to engage with folks who are more ghetto for lack of a better word. Poor people make assumptions about people in ties, usually correct ones. Now people are surprised when I talk about my sister who is addicted to crack (3 years clean though, so no shame there, nothing wrong with being an addict just doing drugs. some of the best people I know are addicts.) They used to take it as a given, I was more like them.

April 4th I go back to being me.

Today I put on slacks (long johns underneath for canvassing), dress shoes, dress shirt and cardigan. Debated the tie and realized it was Saturday. I made the call as all the city staffers and managers were dressed in their business casual/fancy casual except the deputy manager of a department who was filling in for his boss. He had a suit cuz he didn’t know. The Ward 6 candidate was in a tie, he didn’t know either. I sat next to him and we related as candidates.

His opposition is closer to me politically. It was nice meeting her and getting her perspective. I also introduced myself to the conservative council person who came even though he’s not up for re-election this year. He told a funny story about goofy constituent calls where someone complained about the parking enforcement double parking while they wrote him a parking ticket. The councilman brought up the beer trucks that block the street willy nilly servicing the bars downtown. “Well I like beer trucks”.

I heard presentations on city government by the city manager, and all the department heads and the municipal court judge. It was really informative and I am largely impressed with how the city is run. Columbia is the best governed place I’ve ever lived (with apologies to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place Monroe, Michigan; Berkeley, California, and Toledo, Ohio. Honorable mention to Rossford, Ohio because I didn’t know enough to follow local politics in my 19-20 years).

I learned that at our current funding for street repair we will repave the streets every 57 years. Streets last 30 years. We also have big pension underfunding issues, a storm water situation that is not getting the resources it needs and revenue is flat to down. We’re going to have to be really smart with what we do with our little dollars.

I was most impressed with the city manager who is personable, smart and a good leader. Seems like he is taking the city in a good direction. I am also impressed that we have maintained good reserves which has cushioned us through the tough times except for transit which is going to need some additional revenue or major cuts to services.

Neither of my opponents showed up. In a way it was cool, allowed me to relax and be treated as the heir apparent. I also learned one of my opponents had voted against GetAboutColumbia a $4.3 million (this year) Federal grant for non-motorized transportation as a Parks and Rec Commission guy because some people don’t like it. Its controversial, blow back by motorists who feels bicyclists are getting uppity or something but damn, that’s got to be a majority issue, even if you hate trails that’s a lot of jobs to be against.

I got interviewed so imagine I’ll be in the paper. Hope my professional head shot got in to the paper in time, although I like the unflattering float trip pic. they pulled off Facebook for the first story. Keeps me humble being a homely mug with a giant melon. Canvassing and staying on my dog walking schedule is going to have me looking good by April. I’ll have to come up with a scheme to keep it up.

After the interview I grabbed some Indian food, delicious downtown and hit the streets to canvass. The new flyer is out and looks a lot better with the new photo. Tomorrow I need to schedule another photo shoot, get the dog in the picture. I let him out and then canvassed until dark. I had a brief hiatus to wait for flyers but some down time was appreciated.

Had some good houses today. Met an anti-obesity community organizer and talked quite a bit. I went to one house and no one came to the door even though only the storm door was closed. A kid came up with a scooter and I gave her a flyer and asked her to give it to her parents. She said, “I don’t have parents, just a mom. I had two moms but one moved out.” I was thinking I was sorry I missed her as with a story like that it has to be someone I know and sure enough I heard Mike, Mike shouted down the block and got caught up with an old friend.

I’ve hit 126 doors. Not to shabby though I am off pace. It may not be realistic. I am going to try to recruit a driver to speed the process. I made my follow up calls. I talked at length with an older couple about the state of the neighborhood and they are going to talk to some neighbors and may gather a group to meet me. They live in the same block as the sweet old lady I talked to at length about not knowing her neighbors when she didn’t come to the door. When I left a message for one she had specifically mentioned she did not know I mentioned the possibility of a meeting.

I have this dream where the older folks meet the newer folks and everyone feels a little safer and a little more neighborly. To rekindle our cross-generational interactions. It might start on Garden Drive. I’ve been praying for that little old lady. After that did some business and looking to wind down and get some shut eye. Tomorrow morning is my own, you can’t canvass before noon on Sunday as you are supposed to be in church. If its at all nice I will walk Fido to the dog park and try to chat up some dog people. Fido has been getting his walks but its been after dark and he needs to see more dogs to have as much life satisfaction as i would like him to have. John was sweet enough to remind me that even with being busy Fido has a better life then most.

I know that. I got no room for guilt. I’ve been working hard all day, every day and get to sleep the sleep of the just. Its a good thing to work hard and try to help. There’s a lot of mess out there but there’s a lot of room for growth if you’ve got a little hustle and a lot of compassion.

an experiment in selective visibility

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

Hello friends, I am assuming the only immediate readers of this blog will be my subscribers as I have made the blog private for a few months.  So for now, thank you for reading. I am honored that someone would take the time to subscribe or find what I have to say interesting enough to read regularly. Or at least appear in a folder to be considered reading. I’m assuming this will still go out in notifications. If you would like to be added as a user so you can use links or look at old stuff send me an email or make a comment and I will add you.

If you haven’t heard I am running for city council in my town and I don’t want to make my worthy opponents’ opposition research to easy. Of all the things I have done for the campaign thus far including devoting all my waking hours, giving less attention to my dog, asking strangers for money, asking my friends for money, getting a haircut, giving up tennis shoes and t-shirts, showering and dressing up every day, shutting down my Facebook account, neglecting my yard, cutting back on cooking, eating more fast food, driving more, and the stress and troubled sleep, giving up my blog is the hardest thing I’ve had to do.

This seems like a nice compromise. I can still pour out my experiences and some day they will go back out to the wild world. I’m just hoping to lay low for a while and not get tarred for having had an interesting life and daring to share my adventures with the wide world. If it all comes out it won’t be terrible. I would defend any thing on here but we are trying to shape a campaign message around majority issues to shape a consensus to improve our neighborhoods.

I feel I owe it to the folks helping me to not take prudent steps to reduce the chance of causing unnecessary distractions from the issues that will help us win and make the city a better place. And I got a cell phone. Shewww, I must love Columbia. I’ve been cell phone free for 3 years and I like it. Occasionally inconvenient but mostly I don’t want to talk on the phone when I’m not home or at work. Plus beaming EMF radiation through your ear whole is a dubious past time when no one really knows the long term effects of that behavior.

I need it for fundraising calls. People want to reach me too. I guess I can deal for a few months but then its back. I don’t feel like cell phone people are ever totally with you. I notice this in session. They all have to look and see who it is. I always say “go ahead and take it, its alright”. People are quick. Most cell phone calls are “where you at?” “I am here?” Like a dog barking “I exist, I exist!” If you don’t tell people to take calls then the person calls back in 8 seconds. And then again.

Everyone who drives by me at a high rate of speed inches from my shoulder when I am walking is talking on a cell phone. Well that’s not true, some of them are texting. My throat is scratchy. I am trying to ward of sickness through positive thought and drinking fluids. Maybe I’ll take Nyquil tonight. Two bad nights sleep in a row. Got some hard sleep late but was still tired. Not much at all the night before.

Will try to wind down a little earlier tonight. Calling in sick and laying around all day wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. I am committed to doing some campaign banking and canvassing unless I am sorely laid low.

Been thinking about my mom. Jane who did the photo shoot, thanks Jane said my mom must be proud. I bet she is. I was talking to John tonight about that and if she were alive she would like the haircut and dressing up and being in the paper but until I was on TV looking competent she would be wondering if it was all a fool’s errand.

I met someone like that, nothing like my mom this guy was a dismissive jerk but the same kind of respect for the tube. “Ah I’m not into that” after I give my opening spiel. I offer a flyer not entirely sure what he means by “that” since I know he is an April voter, a political elite in modern America. He says “I don’t want that. Why aren’t you on TV?” I started to argue, I was nonplussed by this arrogant passivity. I felt like I was defending Democracy. “That takes a lot of money, I don’t have that.” “You could go to Council Meetings”.

True dat. Next one I will.

Categories: community, politics

they don’t make ear muffs anymore

January 21, 2012 1 comment

Its been another interesting day. I slept good last night which I was grateful for having a couple of bad nights previously and really being tired yesterday. I got on stuff early starting the dishes while I was waiting for water for coffee and kept to a pretty good pace all day. Had to do a load of laundry because I needed the shirt I wore yesterday for pictures. The coffee was good, medium/dark Ethiopian I’d roasted yesterday over lunch. The benefits of a little hustle. Coffee really does hit its peak the day after a roast.

I remembered to water plants and ran some errands. Got some more inclement weather gear. Went to the Alpine Shop to try and find ear muffs. Its to cold to do nothing and a stocking cap just doesn’t work for what I’m trying to do these days, though there’s nothing better on a cold day. I have 3 I regularly wear depending on how cold it is. Only the gray one matches my coat but until very recently and only for a bit I haven’t cared a rats ass about such things. Function over fashion as much as I can get away with.

I had gone their last night but arrived shortly after close. I hit Walmart though I am not a fan because they were open and I also needed butter. When you need ear muffs and butter Walmart is your place. But no ear muffs, though I did get BGH free butter, go figure. So back to the Alpine Shop when they’re open and voila no ear muffs. Try the Tiger Store(University memorabilia)  they recommend which seems like a good idea. They did have a rain jacket. I lost mine some time ago and have been looking not finding one I like. More then I wanted to pay but a solid jacket that looks sharp so I got it.

Stopped at another memorabilia store. “Do you sell ear muffs?” “Nope, just stocking caps.” Everyone agrees stocking caps are the shit. At the Tiger store no ear muffs either. “Well we’ve got these” and they’re these little ear caps that pop open slide over your ears and then you pop them closed. Seemed ridiculous but I was thinking that maybe they don’t make ear muffs anymore. Apparently things go out of style and you can’t buy them in stores. Weird. I know the internet has everything all the time, flea markets and such as well. I am shopping for a sieve. They have gone the way of the ear muff, but I’ll find one because there’s no hurry. But it was cold today and the headband I borrowed looked cheesy on my receding hair line.

So I bought the “ear buds” I thought she said, I wore them out of the store and never really looked at the packaging. Didn’t see anything like them on google image search for buds and muffs. They’re kind of cool though, certainly keep your ears warm. Of course there’s a Tiger on them. Could be worse I guess, they could be tiger ears or something. They worked.

I wish I could have worn them when I got my picture taken. When it was 60 a week ago an outside shoot seemed like a fine idea. Less so today at 30. Jane took a lot of shots some outside some inside and we got some nice ones. All head shots, one in an open shirt and cardigan one in a shirt and tie. Should’ve worn the suit coat, it was cold. Between that and being outside I got a little chilled to the bone and tired.

I took Fido to the shoot to play with Jane’s dog Ursual, a 13 month old Pyrenees. The played pretty good together. After Fido got comfortable he started some chase and they had a good time. He’s sacked out at my feet curled up by his Christmas donkey. Its always fun getting your picture taken. Makes you feel special, important. I’ve been lucky enough to be in more then my share of them for being a homely fellow. Glad Fido got some good play in though, it was his day to walk and I didn’t do it. Will tomorrow and a bath too. He’s starting to smell like a dog.

Still went out for dinner with Amy and her friend. Went to La Siesta, always a terrible name for a Mexican restaurant. The nap is not inspiring as far as cuisine goes. Better name for a hotel or something. It was fair. I had the carnitas which wasn’t very spicy. Wasn’t bad and had some Dos Equis on tap. Now I’m ready to crash. Looking forward to finally getting the Christmas tree down tomorrow. No popcorn and cranberries this year.

long week

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Wow what a week. I have been on the go in a way that I wouldn’t have imagined was possible. I have made pervasive changes to my life and moved into a, if not frenetic, a one thing after another from rise until bed kind of being. I have certainly been this way before but not for a long time. Feels good in some ways, put a pep in my step, but had a hard hard week at work and its left me a little rung out.

I’m tired, which is good. When you don’t sleep and your not tired, that way madness lays. Fido misses me. He was acting out, chewing leaves off the kiefer lime tree. Yesterday I walked him to the dog park and spent a fair amount of time there for a cold day. There were the regulars and I am getting much better at introducing myself to strangers and chatting people up. People like to be listened to and everyone has ideas about how things ought to be better.

Chris, a guy with a Great Pyrenees named Harry (he had another Chester but he passed on recently) had tried to walk an older lady down the side of the ravine but she couldn’t hop across the icy rocks to get across Bear Creek. I asked if he was heading back that way if I could walk with him always wondering if there was a back way in. Gave us a good chance to talk and he told me about the history of the park. It used to be all an off leash areas. The city at one time wanted to fill in all the wetlands and put in soccer fields but the neighbors organized and stopped it. But eventually they rounded the dogs up into a smallish fenced in area. Probably good for the water fowl and such but we could use more space and some solar lights perhaps.

The trail was pretty cool, snakes through the woods leaving the dog park following the creek. The river crossing was a little hairy with one rock completely covered in ice so a little leap was involved. Probably wear my water proof shoes next time and I won’t be so nervous. When John and I were kids we would go down to “the creek” [actually a drainage ditch to my adult eyes, memory is a funny thing, or maybe kids just see better] and play on the ice. We often stayed until one of us broke through and we got “a soaker” and we would have to wrap it up. It was always a cold walk back to the house with one or two wet shoes in the winter. Now there’s goretex.

This morning I went to a legislative update with 3 state reps. I introduced myself to Chris Kelly who is my favorite Missouri politician. He was a judge and I was in his court a number of time with clients and he was always funny and fair. He used to be in the state legislature and when term limits devastated wiped out the population of experienced legislature he came out of retirement to show the kids how to pass law. He’s a democrat in a state with a Republican super-majority and he still got a committee chair. He’s the master of the political compromise. They just passed a cap on spending bill so that if revenues go up again the extra goes into rainy day and school funds so we get out of this boom or bust cycle. He got some nice concessions from the Republicans and was the only Democrat to support it. He’s that kind of guy.

In his speech he railed against the Governator (Nixon of all people, Missouri’s funny) for his 12% cut to higher ed this year even though Nixon’s a Democrat. He praised the Republicans in charge and then raised the question why he’s not a Republican. Then he said “the crazy train” is leaving the station and they will pass laws about prayer, guns and bullets even though no one is threatening those so they can hide the fact they’re selling out the state to big corporations. None of the Republicans countered it. It was amusing.

I also introduced myself to Joe Bechtold of “Truck Stop Missouri”. I told him I was a fan before he had a reality show and told him about Dad being a truck driver and we would visit there and sometimes stay in his hotel, go the restaurant and bar and make a weekend of it. He seemed touched even though he carries himself like a bit of a rock star.

After work I went out for a happy hour at Ragtag with Trevor and an improbable assemblage of former Peace Corps Zambia folks (five, would have been six if Lisa wasn’t baby sitting). I had a Schlafely barley wine which was really good. Since I probably only slept a couple hours last night I was spun on a glass. We had good conversation and I chatted some people up. Got word on a possible housemate. An artist and hipster gal I think highly of. Might to a full or partial labor swap and see if I can advance some projects. Might not, you never know and Fido and I are pretty content.

Well Fido’s not. He just pulled the squeaky out of his cheap ass donkey I got him for Christmas. Its been leaking stuffing all week. Gonna have to take him toy shopping soon. I have had two offers to hang out with him. I should brush him. I have a photo shoot tomorrow and I am going to take him to see if he will play with the photographer’s Newfoundland puppy. Maybe he’ll get his picture taken.


Gepetto, I want to be a real boy

January 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Good morning faithful reader. Here in Missouri we had a beautiful weekend of weather and I unexpectedly had a little time on my hands. Yesterday I got some serious time in the garden and completed the cold frame. It was sunny in the 60s and it was too windy to finish raking the backyard. I also futzed around with the big compost bin and remembered to leave it open before the big rain last night. I finished shoveling the cold frame bed and pulled out the grass clumps because the biggest chunk of it was yard prior to the Fall.

I planted lettuce and leaf lettuce. I was out of seed, the seed catalog sitting on my counter unread, so I added some broccoli, cabbage, and peas figuring I would eat the little plantlings in salads. I didn’t have much luck with keeping the deer out of them to growing to adulthood. That sort of thing is supposed to be really nutritious and I would like to eat more salads.

Its been strange living by myself. Its hard to cook for one. I’ve been making a big meal and then eating it for days until it is gone. I made this bowl of dressing that has been two meals thus far with many to come. It was really quite delicious. I took my stale bread crusts, mostly whole wheat store bread, some whole grain white, some wheat/rye made slow to stretch the yeast (14 lbs of flour with the yeast pack) made in a clay oven in the woods in a 19th century camp out by my friend Jeff, and some holiday bread from my sister Betty that got stale on me.

I had sliced and all that dry, I keep a dish of it going through the winter and make dressing when I get a bowl full. I had frozen some Thanksgiving turkey and the drippings and I added that. I also added a bunch of celery, 1/2 red onion, yellow onion, 6 cloves garlic, maybe a tsp of thyme, 1/4 tsp mace, and the rest of my dried white sage from the garden I had dried last year (maybe 2 tbsp).

I baked it in my biggest glass mixing bowl with foil for an hour and without file for 1/2 hour at 400 degrees. Let it cool and yum. The mace really sets it off. Its a powerful spice. I added lots of fresh ground pepper as I didn’t put any in to cook. For left overs I sliced out a piece and baked it in the toaster oven with some smoked gouda and served it with a couple of farm eggs over easy. Will likely do the same for lunch. Better think about dinner, maybe salmon patties and a salad.

Saturday I took Fido for a hike. We were at the dog park but it was such a nice day everyone was there and there were to many big dogs for Fido to relax and run. So we walked down to the trails by Cosmo. Actually that was Sunday, yesterday felt like Sunday but it was Monday being MLK day yesterday. Saturday I did campaign stuff all day. I have two plans to go forward with and am awaiting someone else’s decision which created this space. I also closed down my Facebook account. Hadn’t realized how much I relied on it for pseudosocialization. Maybe I will go out and be a real person instead.

step one part three

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Welcome back faithful reader. Its been a busy week and I am to tired to work on the campaign or clean house and the rabbit ears only get in the Christian channel tonight, its encouraging me to tell people about Jesus. I do want to talk about God. I’ve been excited about my literacy project of breaking down the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) into simple, concrete English, with hearing references removed. Its my second pass at the subject, the first in writing and I feel its going well. Glad to have good feedback from my sister Brenda who is steeped in recovery. As a full disclaimer I am not, I am a treatment person not a recovery person but knowing the steps is a good thing for everyone. I feel like a good translator in that I haven’t agreed with everything personally but am trying to capture the spirit of the test which is powerful and has more beauty then I first gave it credit. (I prefer the AA Big Book for sheer literary power).

Anyway I was talking to Chris about the project as an NA guru and genuinely good guy I appreciate his input and I was telling him I had to throw out Higher Power when I was getting down to concrete English and explained God was concrete but Higher Power is abstract. He said “OK, just so you tell him God is other people”. Early recovery people identified Higher Power to make it more accessible which is cool and essential for a lot of folks. But when people believe it just makes it easier to stick to the more real “God”. Its early so I hope to finish the first step tonight and still give my DVD player one more shot at playing a movie.

If we think we are our problems and don’t see our problems are part of being sick we won’t be able to see things right. Addicts are overly sensitive to what is going on. We can’t leave things alone. We have problems because we want to know stuff and fight for stuff but we believe things that are not true. We forget how confused we were when we started to use drugs. Forgetting stuff, confusion, and having trouble doing stuff is normal when we first stop using drugs even if we used to be good at stuff. We get back into life when we stop being confused.

What we see and how we feel is still controlled by drugs when we first get clean. People in NA say, “Give it up to God”. “Take it easy”. “Keep coming until God heals you.” “Keep coming back”. Things like this help us not to be selfish and to accept life as it is.

Recovery helps us live. Recovery is like food. We get into trouble when we don’t let people be free. Addiction keeps us from seeing that what we do makes what happens to us. Recovery is looking at the world as it is. We stop fighting and life is fun and interesting. We can finally be happy because it seems real. Not looking at the world as it is keeps us sick. Only if we admit we are powerless over drugs and give it up to God can we feel better. People who plan on using drugs and won’t admit they are powerless over drugs will keep on lying to themselves. Some people are not addicts and they should get help somewhere else. Addicts can learn about recovery at NA.

Addiction has been around a long time but recovery is pretty new. At first it seems normal and right. In meetings we see other addicts who have stopped using drugs. Then we have doubt and think it is to good to be true. We are trapped because we are afraid to change. Doing drugs makes us think bad things about people, gets our feelings hurt and tells us we can’t be better. Everyone in NA goes through this. We give things to God and then go back and act like we used to. If we don’t want to use drugs we figure out what is going on before we use drugs. If we stop wanting to be clean we will use drugs. If we use drugs we have to  get back in recovery.

What we say and what things mean to us makes us do stuff. When we give things to God we don’t have to act on our desires. Going to meetings and hanging out with addicts makes us stop thinking like a drug user. We can look at things in a new way because we are living different. In recovery we try to be sane. Early in recovery we do what people suggest because our thinking is crazy. We need to trust more. We have to accept other people to be in recovery. Then we start calling anything that keeps us from God “crazy”. If we feel bitter about the past we have to make it better. We have to separate fixing ourselves from trying to fix other people. We have to have peace about the past.

Peace can’t come from other people but they can help us have peace. We are a tool of God when we care about other people. We feel like we are connected to people again. Being sane is letting God do things we cannot do. When we run away we take our problems with us. To really escape we have to change.

When we change better things happen to us and we learn new ways to do things. One person said, “We are thankful for this step it means hope, commitment, honesty and freedom. We have to understand this step to understand NA. Knowing God is important in NA. NA makes us free to learn.

If you have problems you can call someone in NA for help. Try not to get discouraged or feeling like you are not doing enough. Ask questions to more then one person. Talk to everyone and learn from everyone. How you understand this step and NA is up to you. You have to own it for it to work.

Every step has helped us understand better and we want it to be great for you. If you get angry or depressed or want to be a rebel, pray, go to a meeting, make list of things you are thankful for, or call someone. Thank you for joining us in recovery. We love you totally with no exceptions.




step one part two

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Living alone has forced me to really think about food. Its really inconvenient to live by yourself if you like home cooking. Been making tasty soups I can eat for days and days and realizing I need two thing, because I can’t eat lunch and dinner. The minestrone soup has been good. For lunch on my late day I made hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes so I added some peas, corn, and brie and am baking it for shepherd’s pie.

I have as long as it takes to get done to post. I am going to go back to my paraphrase of the NA Steps in clear, concrete, simple language with all references to hearing removed. Original text is also beautiful, spare and powerful,  from Cyber Recovery. I read the first part to get into the flow and it sounds really good I think. Maybe I’ll strip down all my writing, its kind of powerful and adds to clarity of thought.

In recovery what we call success changes. When we were using drugs we were planning to get high or getting over being sick from being high. Success was staying out of trouble. In recovery success can be staying sober and going to meetings. Some people just do that for a long time. Staying clean is success. Working the steps can be success too but really its about knowing God. That way we can get clean physically, mentally, and spiritually. If we know God we learn how to live. We are honest, help other people, and learn how to love. We love people who don’t even love themselves. Going back to school or getting a job can be success too. Some people think money is success. Recovery does not depend on what we have or what we know. Recovery is being free and not thinking about drugs or wanting to do drugs.

Being sad over not doing something we said we would do teaches us about failure. Being curious about what we can do helps us grow. If we can let ourselves fail we can try to do stuff. When we are clean we have to be brave and try new things. Thinking things are better then they are or worse then they are is like when we were using drugs.

Wondering what other people feel and think, especially about us looks  like a problem. This helps us think things over and get advice. It helps us learn about God. Learning more about what is good and what is bad helps us know God. We don’t believe old lies we heard or be afraid of things we don’t understand. Learning about God is important in NA.


getting tired, looks like there will be a step 3. Thanks for checking this out and sharing it if you do. Its cool stuff and I am blessed to have been asked to get to know it more deeply. Your comments are requested and appreciated.

step one part 1

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment


I’ve had the great pleasure to get to teach the 12 steps of recovery, specifically Narcotics Anonymous over the past year or so. I am a treatment person not a recovery person so I do not usually presume. The Steps are supposed to be worked by a Sponsor. Someone experienced in The Program who has worked the steps themselves. For people with multiple challenges Recovery can be an arduous path and unique accommodations must sometime be made.

If an individual speaks only a foreign language or is deaf and only speaks sign both NA and AA graciously make interpreters available but only for meetings not to meet with sponsors. Using deaf as an example you also have the unique challenge of concrete thinking, translation, and lack of all reference even through metaphor for hearing. I just looked the steps on line(cyber recovery)  and translated. And its been cool. One of the most interesting therapeutic approaches I’ve ever tried. Has made me really have to understand the text.

Someone requested I write it down for them. I told them it would be a lot of work but it may be of general interest so I would share it.

Step 1

“We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable”

Not understanding the first step makes people use drugs. Addicts have other problems besides using drugs. People in NA can only help others by caring about them and living life as it is not how we want it to be or fear it to be. NA just focuses on not using drugs.

Using drugs makes you selfish and step one helps that. If we are powerless we don’t have to stick up for ourselves or try to do stuff we can’t do. When we used drugs we tried to hurt ourselves, not because we wanted to but because we were sick. Our sickness is because we can’t remember what has happened or learn from other people. We lie to ourselves and can’t see how things are. Sometimes people wait to make decisions until they’ve been clean awhile and they’re better. Recovery is confusing in the beginning and waiting to make decisions helps. We can’t do that forever as we get better in recovery if we want to grow.

We can’t give it up to God without understanding other addicts. We do what other addicts who have been clean longer suggest. We read, study, and ask questions when we can. We share with others so we don’t plan to use drugs. We try to understand we are sick and can’t get better alone. The most important word in the first step is We. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable”. We are not alone we are in a group in NA. We don’t have to do this step alone.

When we were using drugs we felt the strongest when we were making our biggest problems. Sometimes it almost killed us and ruined our life. We thought we were strong but we could just make people do stuff we wanted. Other times we felt weak and nervous. When bad things happened we would admit we have a problem and things would get better. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable”. Then we can keep getting better forever, unless we decide we’re powerful.

Most ask “Tell me how it’s done? Show me what to do. I am afraid to try.” In NA we see people like us who have gotten better. We wonder if they are like us how can they do good? They do things we don’t think people can do. As we get better we learn that how it was when were using isn’t that way anymore. We are no longer dazed by drugs. We have meetings to go to. We learn new positive thoughts.

We learn to catch ourselves and slow down before getting caught up in things. Almost anything, even important things can wait five minutes. Taking time to think doesn’t mean we can’t do some things. It helps us not to feel hurt. Sometimes we don’t have to do anything and we can give it to God. Then we think of good things to do, people to call, and good things happen when we pray.

Some things remind us of drugs. Sometimes it does and we don’t see it and we don’t know why we want to use drugs. Some people make us think about when we were kids or when bad things happened or like they are the cops and we want to get away. This keeps us from getting better. Learning more about what reminds us of stuff lets us change it. Intense anger, fear, or shame for no reason shows you have a problem. We have to give everything in our life to God. When we remember we are not in control problems go away. Without giving it to God we can’t get better and we will do what we used to do. Part of giving it up to God is remembering we made our lives small. We did bad things and bad things happened. We get confused because we did drugs and need other people to help us. All addicts feel nervous sometimes but they help each other.

We have to look at what we do in recovery. We do stuff for a long time and we don’t think about it. We don’t remember why we do stuff we just do it. The longer we are in recovery we can do things better. We ought to think about what we do especially the stuff we were doing when we were using drugs. They make our life like it used to be. We are afraid at red and blue lights because of the cops but we aren’t breaking any laws and don’t have to be afraid.


had hoped to finish but will call this part 1. The steps can seem daunting but they are front loaded with length and depth. Most of it is really clear. Occasionally I am lost by a thought. In talking with a translator I was told “clarity” was the essential quality. I am curious of what people who know this material better then I think. I enjoy abstraction but its been cool to lay it down for awhile. In the concrete there is room for God but not a Higher Power. If the New York Times said God is dead  in the 60s for this exercise Higher Power is dead killed by vagueness and abstraction.

Vermin Supreme

January 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Had the great pleasure to meet New Hampshire presidential candidate Mr. Vermin Supreme back in 1995, I believe. He was as big a character then as now but had not yet taken to wearing a boot on his head or identifying himself as a “friendly fascist”. He was still a vocal proponent of a mandatory tooth brushing law and was carrying around a giant brush at the time. He was pretty funny and supporting himself largely by being a subject in pharmaceutical testing. I feel for his mom having to live on his kidney. My favorite Vermin line from some flyers he gave me was: “They say we cannot have both guns and butter. I say if we have the guns, we can take the butter.”