Last Call program review (www.drinklessnow.com)

If you Google “stop drinking”, this is the first site that comes up.  I found it one morning, hung over and feeling guilty, and after checking it out on other sites (forums, user comments), thought it was a good product.  Pricey ($800+) but worth it if it works.  This will be my story, experience with the program, an unbiased review by a desperate alcoholic who does NOT want to go to AA or any other therapy.

(CONCLUSION: Bottom line, in case you don’t want to read the whole thing, is that the program DID work for me at first.  I was able to stay sober for 30 days or so, but I gradually started drinking again and now I’m back where I started.  I think the program gave me hope; maybe it’s a placebo, maybe it works on other people, maybe I’m just not meant to be anything but a stammering drunk.  I am slowly making progress, though, but it’s now been so long since my last dose that I can’t attribute it to the program.  Anyway, details diary-style are below…)

The package arrived in a plain brown box, with lots of little bottles in it:
Last Call package picture
Last Call package picture

You’re supposed to take 4 droppers full of the “Sobrexa”, 6 times a day (!) for the first week, and 4 droppers full of the “Kalmaro” 3 times a day “as needed”.  The Sobrexa is supposed to re-program your brain so you don’t have that alcohol craving; the Kalmaro is just some calming herbs.  How do they taste?  Something like a mix of honey, cough syrup and grass.  I found that squirting them in water makes it a little more palpable, maybe like semi-putrid, flat rootbeer.

Week 1: I’ve been taking the dosage, as perscribed, but so far no affect on my cravings. I still come home from work and want to drown out any memory of my life. The instructions say that it takes usually 3 weeks to kick in.  The Kalmaro works great; gives me a kind of relaxed feeling all over.  So, we’ll see…

I also decided since guilt is what’s driving me to drink, I’d better address that too (see my other post The Husband Drinks) so I just ordered a couple of books on dealing with guilt.  I have to say one thing, I’m impressed with the quality.  I’m extremely sensitive to vitamins and perscription medicine.  Most synthetic (read: cheap) vitamins make me feel “high” or they hype me up and then stop working after a week or two.  I don’t feel that way with this product at all.  Either it’s doing nothing at all, or it’s doing it gradually.  Like good (read: expensive) vitamins that don’t have mega-doses of a few ingredients, but include the whole complex, so your body doesn’t use up all of its trace mineral reserves, but builds everything up slowly, evenly.  That’s the feeling I get when I take this product.  And I’m getting used to the taste, too… putrid flat rootbeer is an aquired taste…

Week 2:I think this stuff is starting to kick in.  I’m a couple of days into week two.  Yesterday I felt on edge all day long; kept realizing I was all clenched up, needed to remind myself to relax.  I called and ordered three more bottles of Kalmaro (at $30 a piece – holy cow!) because I’m almost out already.  Now it’s Saturday, and that usually means by lunch time I’ve already downed several shots of whiskey, but actually, I’m in a really good mood and I’m not “thirsty” (my code word to my wife that means I’m going to go buy beer).  So, I still feel a little hyped up, but hopefully that will wear off, and we’ll see.  I am determined to get through the full 8 weeks even if I think it might be making me a little crazy.  It’s definitely not doing nothing at all…  for weeks 2 thru 8, I’m taking 4 droppers full, 3 times a day instead of 6, per the instructions…

I tracked my drinking over the past few days:
Last Call package picture

On the 12th, I took a half-day off and promised my wife I wouldn’t drink until late, so that’s the only day I didn’t drink as much. Hoping I could keep that up, but from the looks of the bottle, I drink just about the same amount every day. Takes me 5 days to finish off 1.75 liters, so that’s 350 ml, or a fifth & a half per day. My goal is zero; I’ve had enough of forgotten evenings, morning headaches and remorse. I would be truly happy to never have a drink again…

Update 6/20/12: For the last few days I have switched from whiskey to the “Four Loco” type drinks.  They’re 12% alcohol 24-ounce cans, so that means I went from roughly 12.7 oz of 80-proof whiskey (5.1 oz of alcohol) to 24 oz of 24-proof malt liquor (2.9 oz of alcohol), so I’m moving in the right direction.  Last night I drank one, but I wish I hadn’t.  It’s like the program is taking all the fun out of it; felt good for a few minutes, then I felt like crap.

“Getting drunk: I love the journey, but hate the destination” 😉

Update 6/22/12: Sober day #1! 🙂 I didn’t have any alcohol at all yesterday for the first time in weeks.  Just the thought of drinking booze makes my stomache churn.  Even though I went through a horrific evening – stayed up until 2am pacing while my wife & daughter were in the ER getting my granddaughter checked for suspected sexual abuse – I still managed to restrict my coping to puffing on an e-cig and taking droppers of Kalmaro.  It’s still too early to call this program a success, but progress is progress. (I cannot tell you how incensed I am at the idea that someone would abuse a child who’s not even two years old yet; if it’s true, I hope the guy has lots of time in jail to rethink his life.)  I’m running on empty today, with few hours of sleep, it’s Friday, and along with the recent stress I have more than enough excuse to just get totally wasted and not much energy to fight it.  God willing, I can stick to the program, despite the huge hurdle He just put in front of me… expecting visits from CPS and a detective in the next few days and some REALLY angry suspects… I feel like a bowling pin… Set me up, knock me down… Set me up, knock me down…

Week 3: Well I’m on day 5 of week 3, and haven’t been able to stay 100% sober yet.  One day, yes, then small amounts every day since, except for last night.  I stupidly bought a 12-pack at the store expecting it to last a week, thinking I had all this self-control and will-power now; today there are two beers left and my head is KILLING ME.  I don’t crave alcohol as much, but I still can’t handle having it in the house.  The family drama didn’t help matters, and my stupid ecig broke, so I really had no other way of calming down, and once I got a good buzz on I just kept getting one more, just one more, until I fogot who I was and passed out… God forgive me for being such an idiot!

Update 6/29/12:I have to say I’m a bit disappointed.  Today is day 2 of week 4, and I honestly don’t feel a thing.  From what I understand, that’s not unusual, but I’m starting to think that this was a rip-off.  I can’t control my drinking at all; no change what-so-ever.  I am on the same try-to-quit-switch-to-beer-cut-back-get-stressed-buy-whiskey-give-up roller-coaster that I’ve been on for the past year.  I desperately hope that I’m just a late bloomer; any amount of stress drives me to drink, and with 4 kids, there’s ALWAYS stress.  The jitters I mentioned earlier were temporary; they went away after a couple of days, and may have to do with the fact I haven’t had any nicotine in a week (ecig broke).  I may end up in a detox hospital after all … just a little bit less rich than I was.

Like I said before, I will go ahead with the program, the full 8 weeks, and give an honest report of my experience here, good or bad.  This might still prove to be the magical cure I’m hoping for, or maybe there just isn’t an easy way out for me.  We’ll see… hope to bring good news next time…

Update 7/5/12: I’ve completed 4 full weeks of the program now.  I can’t find the words to express how monumentally depressed I am, how despondent I am over my lack of progress, how engulfed I am by my own ineptitude and lack of will-power.  If anything, my drinking has increased; I can’t control it.  If I’m not asleep or at work, I’m drinking.  It’s taken over my life.  Yesterday, I had the day of for Independence Day, and I did everything I could, sit on my hands, play with the dog, go for a walk, bang my head against a wall, and I could not, would not, did not make it past 11am without my first drink.  I totally suck.  I’m afraid of what lies at the end of this program.  If I survive, after 8 weeks, it’s going to be a crushing blow if nothing has changed, if I’m still a hopeless fool with a great job, great wife, family, house, cars – I may have all of the depression and stress that’ll fit inside my empty skull, but I have all of the worldly treasures too – and I’m still drowning away my health and what little happiness remains inside me.  I pray to God He would save me from this body of sin and death.  So far, no good.  Sorry guys.  It’s looking more & more like a total waste of nearly a grand… I’m halfway through my how to escape toxic guilt book, and I’m going to order another one, Kick the Drink, it’s supposed to be real good, but I’m barely holding out any hope for myself.  I’m just so trapped.  I don’t really feel like I have a say in my life, I’m stuck on a ride that won’t stop, and unending downward spiral that I can only helplessly watch, falling deep into despair while I watch my hopes, dreams, and happiness fade into oblivion…

Sorry to be such a downer, but that’s how I feel.  God help me…

Update 7/8/12: Nothing like a little near-death experience to motivate you.  Friday night I hit the bottle, hard, threw up, my wife almost called 911, I was unresponsive, I spent the whole day Saturday drinking water, taking headache pills and praying for death, and so far, 5pm Sunday, no alcohol.  My hands stopped shaking a few hours ago, and I’m about to take some Benadryl; I figure, if I’m asleep, I won’t drink.  I don’t know if anyone is reading this or not.  The Sobrexa and Kalmaro seem to be helping, but I’m staying sober today out of sheer will; I do NOT want to be a drunk any more.  I want to feel happy and motivated and enegergized, like I used to be.  I have done nothing all day except pace back & forth, smoke my ecig, drink Cokes, eat junk food and repeat to myself, I can do this, I think I can, I know I can, I’m going to kick your butt, you stupid brown bottle of crap!

Be careful what you ask for.  God works in mysterious, painful ways.  Judging from when my son got delivered by a friend a couple of years ago, unconscious and unresponsive (ended up in the emergency room horribly dehydrated) I must have been at a BAC of around 0.3.  Wasn’t quite as bad as he was (0.4%) since he had been sitting by the pool all day in the summer heat drinking Vodka.

DAY 0: Last thing I remember is my son came to visit, and my wife brought the bottle of whiskey out “Do you feel like sharing, Mark?”  Next thing I remember is waking up with a horrible headache the next day with a vague recollection of having thrown up.

Day 1: My head & heart were pounding all day.  I took pills all day long and drank about 10 bottled waters, scared my heart was going to explode.

Day 2: Woke up, took my Sobrexa with shaking hands.  That, along with some Kalmaro and new resolve, got me through the day without any alcohol

Day 3: No more shaking hands, puffing my ecig like it’s going out of style, alot of pacing, back to work, actually got a faint glimmer of hope that I can kick alcohol’s ass!

Day 4: Well, I’m not sure how I feel today.  I feel … empty.  I haven’t had a drink since my near-death overdose on Friday, and it’s Tuesday night now.  I just don’t know what to do with my time if I’m not buying booze, sneaking a drink, planning my next “dose”.  I don’t crave it as much as I did yesterday.  It won’t be a problem to stay home and not get a nightcap.  “Just one” should be tatooed on my hands, with a circle and a red line through it… No more, Mark, no not one…

Day 5: (7/11/12) I hate my job.  I’m stuck in a cube working for a large corporation that every day adds to its unending list of rules.  I feel like I have a sword thrust in my side.  Someone said, Why don’t you take a vacation?  like that’s going to solve the problem.  Here, let me pull that sword out for two weeks, and then I’ll shove it back in again.

I’m still sober, though it’s still early in the day, anything can happen.  I think my cravings are dissipating. I’m starting to get mad that I don’t have the time or money to do anything else but go to work, which is an improvement over just laying around waiting to die.  I think I can make it to the weekend… I think I can I think I can I think I can… WOOO-HOOO!  chug chug chug chug – NO MARK NO MORE CHUGGING!  I got the Kick The Drink book in the mail yesterday. 300 pages??? ugh.  I’ll be retired before I read that whole thing.  My wife reads fast; I gave it to her for now.  She says it’s real good, I should read it.  I should.  Just like I should stop drinking, spend more time with the wife, spend more time with the kids, spend more time visiting my parents, spend more time with the dog, and if there’s anything left over, be sure and sleep 9 hours a night – after all, you don’t want to get stressed out – it’s not healthy!

Day 7: (7/13/12) I’m beginning to think that maybe this stuff is actually working, though it’s not the magic potion as advertised.  It’s an herbal thing; takes a long, long time, and the change is gradual.  Not like a powerful pill from the pharmacy.  My drinking has gone like a toddler starting to walk: up, up, up, STANDING! CRASH! recover, then repeat.  *sigh* it’s an endless struggle.  If I can make it though the weekend, where I have all day long to ponder how easy it would be to buy a beer while my wife is napping, and still resist, then I’m going to have to call this program a success.  Today is day 2 of week 6, if you’re keeping score.  And yes, I’m completely sober, at the end of the day it will be a full 7 days 🙂 The ecigs help – a lot.  Stay tuned…

Update 7/15/12: I am not proud of myself today.  It’s Sunday and I have an enormous hangover.  Just couldn’t take it any more.  My daughter came over with her car spitting & sputtering.  Dummy (her baby-daddy-boyfriend-fiance) thought it was the intake gasket, so I said I’d fix it while she was here.  Spent all day Saturday taking it apart, cleaning & putting it back together again; didn’t fix the problem.  The best I can say about it is, at least it’s not worse.  I couldn’t handle it.  Not only did I buy & drink copious amounts of whiskey, but I lost control, threw a fit & broke my space heater (it’s bent all to hell), scaring the heck out of my wife & kids, but I took a sleeping pill to calm myself down and could have easily died.  Thinking about it now, I almost wish I had.

So, I would have to say that the last call program sucks.  Maybe it works for some people, but I have larger issues.  I need to be in a mental hospital before I kill myself…

Update 7/17/12: Today I am officially a non-drinker.  This morning I poured $20 worth of whiskey down the sink (boy that stuff smells bad when you’re not drinking it!).  I’ve had it with this crap.  Sure, the TV makes you think everyone is having a blast as busty young women serve beer on the commercial to groups of happy, laughing friends, but that’s not reality.  In the real world, it turns you into a fat, lazy, stumbling, stammering fool.  I’m done with embarassing myself; I’ve had it with this shit.

Sorry for the cussing.

I’m told it takes 7-10 days for the alcohol to completely get out of my system, and after that I’m home free.  I’ll wait until then to make a conclusion on the last call program; for now, I made a decision that I WILL stick with.  I just don’t want to drink any more.  Ever.  And fuck you, alcohol, for making me think you could solve all of my problems!  Fucking liar!

(sorry again … it just sort of came out…)

7/19/12: Still sober 🙂 Feeling the effects of withdrawal a little, but not too bad.  Alcohol created this void, and it wants me to fill it with more booze, but I’m not going to.  It feels good to wake up and not have a head full of regret and pain… but I’m a little shaky and expect to be that way for the next five days or so.  Went out to eat last night, my son had two margarita’s, they were on sale for $2, and I was not tempted at all.  The only time I felt weak was at night when I got tired & felt the thirst… but I’m OK, I really am …

7/22/12: Still sober 🙂 Sunday Morning and my last whiskey bottle is in the recycling bin.  Woo-hoo!  I made it through six full weeks, but I ran out of Sobrexa.  It’s $120 for two more bottles, but I can’t affford it, besides I think the program worked already.

7/25/12: Depression has set in as my mind grieves the loss of an old friend turned enemy.  I have trouble forcing myself to go to work (actually, I always have trouble doing that, but more so lately) and when I get home, I don’t want to do a darn thing.  I stare at the clock, puff on my ecig, and force myself to eat something while I wait until it’s time to take some Benadryl or something to make me sleep, .  I’m sober, and not longing for alcohol, but wishing my old energy & drive would come back.  It’s been over a week now, so at this point it’s a mental problem, not physical.  I didn’t make it 8 weeks, but I did finish all of the bottles. I guess I squeezed the droppers too hard & took too much or something.  Anyway, the program works, it’s not a scam, at least it worked for me.  Scroll to the top where I put my “conclusion” so people wouldn’t have to read the whole thing… and thank you to everyone who has encouraged me over the last couple of months…

7/30/12: I’m not an alcoholic.  It’s starting to irritate me that people can’t understand that I’m not hooked on that drug any more.  It’s been drilled into our culture that drinking booze is normal and if I stop, then something must be wrong with me; I’m supposed to be miserably for the rest of my life, pining away for the poison that used to bring me such pleasure.  Bullcrap!  All it ever gave ME was headaches, hangovers and embarassmment.  It’s been nearly two weeks since my last drink, and the ONLY reason I’m keeping count is so I can tell people how long it’s been, so maybe they’ll believe me that I really did quit and am actually happy about it.  My daughter even suggested a new church that had an addict’s club.  I said, Why should I go there?  I’m not an addict any more.  I could teach, maybe, but I don’t need to be around a group of people that are talking about how miserable they are without drugs and how they have to take it one day at a time and avoid temptation and exercise self-control.  Once I stepped outside, I could see the cage I was in, and I really, really don’t want to go back in again.  It doesn’t take self-control to resist something I don’t want.  I have no problem in the world resisting boiled pig snout, because it doesn’t tempt me, and it’s the same way with alcohol.

Update 8/16/12: Still sober, almost a complete month, if you don’t count last Saturday.  Last Saturday I found the whiskey bottle that my wife had hidden from me in the closet, and I drank it.  Not sure why; it made me feel horrible.  I guess it’s just a habit, I wanted to see if I could control it, see if it’s actually possible to drink just a little bit, then stop.

NOT!

I started out OK, but just kept going back for more, just a little bit more, then what the heck, let’s finish it off so it won’t tempt me any more.  Golly, that was a bad hangover.  Lasted the entire following day.  I learned that I can’t control alcohol; once I get a buzz, IT controls ME.  Lesson learned: if it’s in the house, I will drink it, period, so I will never buy alcohol again, because if I do, it’ll take me where I don’t want to go…

8/19/12:  Extra credit.  It’s what the world rewards.  I can do perfect at every task at my job, finish jobs flawlessly and never miss a deadline, but if I don’t go the extra mile, if I don’t participate in two company-sponsored community events, if I don’t donate time or money to a company-approved charity, if I don’t reach my “stretch goals”, then I get an average score; not an A+, not an A, but a C.  Other people who do mediocre work, but do extra credit, get the big raises, but doing your job just isn’t good enough.

What good has ever come from having good credit, not being in debt, and driving the speed limit?  Self-centered jerks all around me have new cars, bigger TV’s, and zoom around me, making me feel like a pathetic loser in what shouldn’t be a race, but we all know, traffic IS a race, the workplace IS a competition, and to the rudest go the spoils.

It’s the same way with marriage.  So what if I always take out the trash, go to work every damn day, never miss a bill payment, and spend every spare moment helping out around the house; as far as the world is concerned, that’s a C-average performance.  Want romance?  Well, then you’d better come up with some extra credit: flowers, weekend hotel, date nights, gifts, vacation days; otherwise, it’s just a “thanks” and a good nights rest.  Alone.

And finally, it’s the same way with alcohol.  If I kick the alcohol habit, if I sacrificially give up and work so hard on adjusting my mind and body to NOT consume poison, what thanks do I get?  None.  Zip.  Nada damn thing.  “Well good.  You SHOULD stop drinking.”  No reward.  No bonus.  Nothing.  It’s actually an embarassment to admit that I ever had the problem in the first place.  I’m left with just painful nights of stress and depression that I longer know how to deal with.  The one thing, the only selfish, rebellious thing that I ever did to assert myself, to declare my independence from everyone’s expectations, is to drink alcohol, to say Fuck You to the world as I raise my shot glass in anger, and there’s nothing to take its place.

I don’t want to drink; I don’t want the guilt, remorse, headaches, fatigue, and all the bodily harm that comes with it, but I’m about to go back to the store for a thick shot of liquor.  I don’t know what else to do.  I’d love to be a selfish jerk, get raises at work, cut people off & run them off the road as I zoom by in my sports car, and get laid more often than a rooster on steroids, having absolutely no remorse or even knowledge that I’ve hurt someone else, be a big bully & care about nobody but me and getting what I want, but that just isn’t me.  I’m the nice guy, that doesn’t even finish last, because I’m never even in the race.

Church is that way too.  I can’t stand church any more.  I have never been and will never be in the “in” crowd.  I have always been a loner, silent and ignored, in school, at work, at church, and it will never change.  When a close relative was sick recently, I prayed, and was going to donate, but before I could, the holy righteous church members had already given, and the poor girl was miraculously healed because of the prayers of the faithful; there was a Thank You For Your Prayers! post on Facebook, and I didn’t even have to read the list to know I wasn’t on it.  I never am; I’m invisible to everyone, even God, it seems.

I can’t think of what else to do to make all of the “should” voices in my head shut up.  I am tired of spending hours and hours and hours, waiting for some attention, some adolation, someone to recognize me for my good behavior and sacrificial living, but it doesn’t work that way.  To quote a movie line, “I’m tired of being poor.  Let’s be assholes and get rich.”  But I can’t.  I’m not an asshole.  I’m just a nice guy that one day everyone will lament as they lay me in the ground, the first, last and only time anyone ever garners me any attention, as they make grand speeches and show off their finest suits, and give everything I have to someone else, because “He would have wanted him to have that…”

8/20/12: Well, that went as expected.  Two malt liquors, abandoned by my wife (who seems to have decided to just leave as soon as the can or bottle opens up instead of waiting for me to start showing signs of being drunk), woke up with a hangover & new resolve.  Looking at my calendar, I made it 4 weeks before my first slip, and then I’ve had slips on both of the previous weekends.  I’m going to order two more bottles of sobrexa; maybe I SHOULD have (gosh how I really hate that word) finished up the two last weeks after all (if you remember, I ran out of bottles, but figured I was cured after 6 weeks … guess not …)

8/26/12: I’m sorry.  I wish I could report over 45 days of sobriety today, but I can’t.  I fell into a bit of a relapse, so I ordered two more bottles of Sobrexa.  Pricey stuff, but since I only finished 6 weeks of the program, I’m going to give it another couple of weeks.  I modified my conclusion above.  Somebody pray for me so I can start being myself again… it’s 8am and I don’t want to face the day… starting to wish for death again… life is just too overwhelming…

8/28/12: OK I took my last drink ever (again) and I’m committing (again) to never drink again (again).  Anybody still believe me?  I used the excuse of “I’m back on Sobrexa, this is my last chance” to go through a bottle of Jim Beam over the weekend; it wasn’t as bad – the wife didn’t have to leave with the kids, she even said she had a hard time telling I was drinking – but I managed to depress myself immensely as the whole weekend was shot.  I was supposed to fix my car’s air conditioner (it’s horrible driving in 95 degree Texas heat with no a/c) but just couldn’t get up the gumption to do more than piddle around.  Looks like for the first time since I bought her brand new, I’m going to pay someone else to fix her up.

9/5/12: Went all day & night yesterday for the first time in a week without a drink.  I’m so mixed up now.  I don’t know what to do.  I’ve gone through one Sobrexa bottle, I’ve got one left, but when I get home, I’m hot, I’m tired, I’m stressed out, and I want to just drown out the world.  It’s the only way to point the finger skyward and say FU to the world.  Ugh… hope to have good news next time…

9/15/12: Updated conclusion above.  It’s 9am and I’m already tipsy.  I don’t want to quit drinking; I think that’s part of the problem.  When I stopped for 30 days or so, nothing changed.  Sure, I didn’t have the BAD side effects of drinking – the headaches, nausea, guilt, embarassment – but nothing GOOD happened either.  I didn’t really see anything in it for me, you know?  I’m not sure what I was hoping for, but I just felt empty, like I do now, and I eventually went to fill that emptiness with booze, like I’m doing now.

So, I would hope that this program works for someone else; for me, it just bought me some time.  Maybe I’ll try something else, maybe I’ll get sick and die, maybe I’ll get in a car wreck or fall on a pitchfork, who knows…  Good luck to you all…

Update 11/23/12: Happy Thanksgiving to all… nothing has changed… I go through a large bottle of Jim Beam and several beers or liquors a week.  Just had a physical, and my liver is still OK, but I’ve given up on giving up.  I’m so depressed, I feel jealous when I see a funeral.  I’m just trying to make it through life, overloaded, overwhelmed, overtaxed, overburdened and just plain tired.  Just one day at a time… Jesus, I’m ready whenever you are… The sooner the better ………..

Update 12/13/12: My heavy drinking started when my wife got cancer.  I could not imagine why God would give such a loving, beautiful creature such a horrible, deadly disease.  She (we) made it through surgery, chemo and radiation, and she’s fully recovered, got her hair back & all, and now she has diabetes.  Then just as I was wondering what God had planned for me next, He hit my wallet: first the dog ate a bottle of my wife’s medicine ($600 vet bill) then the car that I just bought for my daughter ($3000) burned up its transmission ($3000) and with Christmas just around the corner, I’m going to have to leverage my credit card to make it.  I DID have some company stock (sold it) and I DID have some savings (spent it), but now I’m back to timing my bills to when the paychecks hit the bank.  And all of this happened after my computer died & I built a new one ($1000) and I finally bought an amp for my bass ($900) that I am forcing myself to keep, lest I send it back and bring on even more woe-is-me depression.

Anyway, my wife and son have inspired me.  First, my son has taken a passion to something called Bar Starz.  It’s a work-out system where you do pull-ups, muscle-ups, planks, and all kinds of stuff.  He’s only 13, and he can hang upside down from a bar, do the “human flag” from a pole, upside-down pushups, all kinds of crazy stuff.  Meanwhile, I’ve gotten a pot belly and the doctor keeps changing my meds to try & get my blood pressure under control.  Then my wife has attacked her diabetes with a vengance: she has medicine, but she uses the blood kit that I bought her several times a day, she measures all her food, exercises with a pulse monitor as she works out every day, and her numbers are slowly coming down.  It’s a total role reversal: I used to be the one with the big muscles and the “atheletic heart” but not any more.

So, I did manage to do a few things.  The first thing I did is put my favorite picture of my wife up in my room.  It’s in an antique-looking frame, and she’s 18 years old, holding our oldest son in her arm.  She has long, brown hair, beautiful eyes and the same sweet smile that she wears today.  Every morning I blow e-smoke rings at it and think, I can’t let her down.  I have to change.  I just have to.  That, and the fact that my blood pressure is spiraling up out of control, plus having her & my son show me up, I started going to the gym.  It’s been less than a week, but I’ve gone Monday and yesterday.  It feels good to be exercising again.  AND, most importantly, I have NOT bought any whiskey in 2 or 3 weeks.  I drink the equivalent of 4-6 beers at night, usually the cheap-n-nasty 4-Loco crap.  I know it’s still too much, but I wait until my job is over, we’re home for the night, and I allow myself to indulge just once a day – well, maybe a noon-time beer on the weekends – and I don’t go nuts, I don’t scare the kids, I just feel the buzz & watch TV.

I’m not perfect; never claimed to be.  But, this is an improvement, and at this point, I’ll take it for what it is – a step.  Maybe not out of the woods yet, but I can see the meadow… sort of…

12/16/12: Relapse.  Depression.  I can hear my blood thumping in my head.  Word of advice: NEVER mix dark Porter beer with whiskey.  Owwww…

12/19/12: My new plan?  Every day on the way home I buy a 4-loco drink.  12% alcohol in a 24oz can.  It’s the only booze in the house. I take it, hide it in my room, and don’t drink it until I know I’m home for the night.  Just knowing it’s there for me calms me down.  I don’t care if the corner store people think I’m a drunk.  For some reason, those drinks affect me differently than whiskey does.  Maybe it’s the sugar.  But no matter what I’m doing, like yesterday I was trying to finish up a kitchen project (build a face cover for the trash compactor), but as soon as the drink hits my stomache, I turn into a zombie.  I go, sit in the front room and watch TV.  I’m buzzed but not crazy.  I don’t want more & more & more like I do with whiskey, and I don’t go nuts & punch walls or scream or talk to my kid’s friend on the Kinect pretending to be his “evil brother”.  Then I sleep, and boy do I sleep.  I wake up and it takes a minute to remember what day it is.  It’s not much progress, I know, and far short of my goal of sobriety.  I don’t care; it works for me.  It’s probably throwing me into mild sugar shock.

I dread the holidays.  I’m at my worst when there’s a whole day or more of nothing to do but think about drinking.  Maybe God can give me some strength to make it through the celebration of His Son’s birth without throwing the tree into the Nativity scene.  I started listening to Bible studies in the car.  I don’t know.  I never know.  One thing I’m sure of is I’m probably wrong almost all the time.  But I’m OK with myself if I can just stay OUT OF THE LIQUOR STORE for a while.  Don’t know why that’s so hard for me to do… I’m so sick of the mind games I play with myself.  Whiskey is cheaper per ounce of alcohol and if I measure it… I can control myself this time… All evidence and a dozen empty bottles to the contrary…

God bless you, whoever you are, reader.  I pray you would have more strength than I do.  And Merry Christmas!

2/6/13: Not much to report.  I have to say, I’m beginning to understand how Christian gay people feel.  I am ashamed.  I sneak the bottles into the house, hide them in my room.  I throw the empty bottles in the trash instead of recycling them so the neighbors don’t know.  I’m nervous around church people and feel like I can’t attend because I’ve got this huge problem.  And yet, I don’t want to quit.  I like it.  I’m drawn to alcohol and look forward every day to my secret sin.  I am, for all the cliche it evokes, in the closet.  I keep waking up swearing that was the last time, then spend the afternoon watching the clock until I can leave work and go get drunk again.

I am so sick and tired of apologizing, of feeling ashamed, of feeling unforgiveable.  People expect the world out of me.  Everyone loves me.  I do everything I possibly can to please everyone around me, at home & at work, and drinking alcohol is the only way I can shut myself off, shut down, go into my own little world, make myself unavailable so I can have a few hours of peace.  I’m really on the fence here, lately.  It’s clear that alcohol is going to be a part of my life; even if I manage to quit, I’ll have to deal with the temptation for years.  But it pisses me off that everyone expects so much out of me, and to maintain this level of performance without a crutch, a help, a distraction – it’s ridiculous!  I feel like joining a Drunk Day Parade, with a Jim Beam T-Shirt on a whiskey float, demanding the right to be respected, damn it, because I’m sick of this closet shit, of people looking down at me, judging me, for doing something that’s totally legal; just because it’s not THEIR problem, they can point the finger right at ME.  I don’t judge gay people; it’s a sin to have gay relations, just like it’s a sin to drink to excess, but unless I have no sin, I can’t judge anyone else.  And that will never, ever happen, and if it does, I’ll have the worst sin of all – pride.

Update 5/5/13:

Good news! I’m off the whiskey!  After a particularly bad episode in early April, after which I noticed on my cell phone that I had talked to someone from work and couldn’t for the life of me remember what I said, I decided to make a change.  Since April 7th, I have not had any hard liquor, not a drop.  So how did I manage to stop drinking the good stuff and ruining my life?  Here’s what my plan was (and is):

Step one: Only beer.  If I want to drink something, I have to go to the corner store and buy it, and only what I plan to consume.  No 6-packs, or kegs, or cases, in the name of saving money.  I’m not going to quit.  Tried it.  Been there.  Done that.  Doesn’t work.  One 24oz beer a day, or I’ll feel deprived.  Just doing that is a huge improvement over coming home and guzzling hard booze every day, then barely being able to function at work.

Step two: I don’t go into the liquor store.  Ever.  I can’t handle the temptation.  Just like if there’s more beer in the house I’ll find an excuse to drink it, if I go to the liquor store I’ll see myself as giving up again and go back to old habits.  No event is so joyous (or painful) that it justifies getting drunk on whiskey.  If I want alcohol, I have to go buy it from the corner store.  Period.

Step three: I promised to forgive myself.  The goal is only one, 24oz light beer a day.  Some days are worse than others.  I’ll come home after a hard day and just want to switch myself off; get so buzzed I can’t hardly walk.  So some days it’s two 24oz beers, others its a Four-Loco or some cheap “high gravity” stuff; It’s OK.  I can make a mistake, I’m allowed.  Every day is a new day; every day starts over, and I don’t beat myself up over drinking too much the night before.  As long as it was in a can, and it came from the corner store, it’s OK.

Step four: I started exercizing again.  I’ve been working out at the gym in the mornings; it’s the only time I can really call my own.  I’ve tried stopping at the gym on the way home, but I’m always tired from work and sometimes I have to work late.  Getting up at 4:20am was rough at first, but I did it.  And it makes me feel good about myself, and by the time I get to work at 7:30, I’m relaxed and ready to go.  At first it was awful, dragging my lazy butt to the car, half-asleep, then coming home barely able to move & getting ready for work.  But as I get better at it, and I don’t have a hangover, and I don’t let my pulse get over 130-135, it gives me energy instead of draining me.  Haven’t lost any weight, but I think my muscles are stronger … a little.

So a typical day goes like this:  I get up, splash water all over my head (so people will think I just took a shower), head to the gym, do 20-30 minutes on the elliptical machine (pulse around 125-135), then two sets each on four random weight machines, come home, shower & go to work.  Then on the way home, I buy a beer (or two if it’s been a rough day) at the same convenience store (I know they probably think I’m an alcoholic, but I don’t care), say hi to the wife & kids, lock myself in my home office, playing a video game, drinking my beer, and puffing on my ecig, until the stress of the day is gone, dozens of zombies are dead, and I’m ready to relax and be with my family.  If I feel the urge for more beer than I bought, I either check my BAC & then go get some, or lately I’ve just been taking Benadryl to make me sleepy.  An hour after that and I’m asleep…

That’s it.  I know I’m not perfect.  I know I still have a problem.  But I’m improving.  I’m not drinking half as much as I used to, and my kids never see me go crazy, my wife never has to take them away for fear of their safety, and the worst that happens is I stumble a little on the way to the bathroom, or fall asleep in the recliner.  Maybe someday I’ll be totally sober, but not today; today I’m happy that I’m better than I was yesterday, and that’s good enough for me.

The Poverty Gap

I have never known so many people on government assistance.  My grown 21-year-old unmarried daughter is pregnant with her second child.  If it weren’t for Medicaid, which only applies to children and pregnant women, she wouldn’t have any insurance at all.  True, the Affordable Care Act allows me to keep her on as a dependent as long as she’s 26 years old or less, but my granddaughter couldn’t get on my company’s health plan, and it was just easier (and cheaper – no co-pays) to have them both on Medicaid.

Dummy, her boyfriend, has a seasonal job.  Sometimes he works, sometimes he doesn’t.  Right now, he’s on unemployment.  He earns a fairly good salary when he’s working, so his unemployment is pretty big, and if he got a low-end job at McDonald’s or someplace like that, he’d actually LOSE money.  He got laid off before my daughter learned she was pregnant, and at their current income level she qualifies for Medicaid.  Dummy got a new job offer recently and had to turn it down, because it paid too much money; it would have disqualified my daughter from Medicaid, but it wasn’t anywhere near enough to pay for health care, especially since she HAS to have a C-Section (hips too narrow, last time the baby wouldn’t fit, good thing too because the cord was wrapped around her neck TWICE, and besides it’s been too soon, she can’t deliver normally or the incision might rip).  So, what would she have to do if Medicaid dropped her?  No insurance, no pre-natal care, go into labor, end up in the emergency room, and HOPEFULLY get a C-Section, but who knows, might get a doctor that thinks she can have the baby normally, which wouldn’t work, Mom rips open, baby is under stress, then an EMERGENCY c-section, big huge vertical incision up her belly, lots more recovery time, medical bills for the rest of her life … it just ins’t fair.  She’s stuck now, because I can’t put her back on my company insurance until AFTER the baby is due.

I have always thought lowly of people who “worked the system”.  I have a lot of pride.  I’ve managed to teach myself computer skills, and I have a good job at a large company with excellent benefits.  But what about people like my daughter?  In order to make the leap from government-assisted medical care to private or company-provided insurance would require an astronomical increase in salary.  Private insurance would cost more for them than their house rent & utilities (which they barely afford now).  And what about my 25-year-old unmarried son?  He’s still on my insurance plan, but when he turns 27, what’s he to do?  He works at a pizza place, as a manager, but they keep him at 39.5 hours a week.  Why?  So they don’t have to classify him as a “full-time” employee and give him benefits.  So if he needed health care, first of all he wouldn’t even think about it until he was sick and then couldn’t get a policy anyway, but even if he wanted to be pro-active, getting that extra 0.5 hours a week in his paycheck will cost him hundreds of dollars in medical plan charges.

There is an enormous gap between the poor who survive on food stamps and Medicaid and other forms of government assistance, and the successful, that are able to get a job with a company with benefits, pay for those benefits, and still have enough money to pay the bills.  We’re talking going from a $25K annual salary to a $60K salary – who does that?  And you can just forget about starting your own company.  I wanted to do that, had a fairly good product, sold alot of them, wanted to quit my job and work for myself.  But I can’t.  I’m tied to my job because of the health plan.  I can’t quit until I have already made a fortune on my business, which I can’t do anyway because my job takes up 95% of my energy, or I have to wait until my children are all out of the house and start up a business with my savings, hoping and praying that no-one gets sick before I can actually afford a medical plan.  And in point of fact, that would be impossible, because my wife had breast cancer last year, and no insurance company on the planet would consider giving her a policy.

I am totally against a government-run health care system, it would be a miserable, inefficient, costly, poorly-run stepchild of our current system, and the individual mandate that the Supreme Court recently passed (force people like my son to buy health care, which he won’t be able to do, so basically just raise taxes on poor people – stupid, stupid idea) but I don’t see any good options.  I would love to see health plans and company benfits split apart; that would make it SO much easier to change jobs, start a new carreer, open up a store, buy a franchise, any of a thousand different ways to make money, but I am tied with a ball & chain, stuck coming to work every day of my stupid life, living 95% of my waking hours in my cubicle, worrying about my kids and their future…

I understand poverty now like I never have before.  There is a gap, an enormous chasm between the government-dependent unskilled worker and the middle-class employee.  Something has to be done; I don’t know what, but as it is right now, it just plain sucks.

-Mark

Obama Hates Texas

CONTENT WARNING!

I am not a liberal.  I am a conservative.  If you are a liberal, please don’t read this because you’ll get all upset and send me nasty emails or comments; just go back to throwing darts at your Ronald Reagan poster and let me express myself in peace…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is getting ridiculous.  Every move that Obama makes in the Lone Star State shows his utter disdain for the South.  First, there was the oil drilling moratorium.  Yes, BP made several mistakes, resulting in a huge oil spill.  For one thing, Obama took his good sweet time even coming to do a fly-over and see the damage.  “Obama’s Katrina” is what the news media called it, although they mentioned it in passing instead of hammering at it for weeks on end like they did with Bush.  But instead of immediately shutting down all BP deep-water wells until the cause of the leak could be determined, which would have made sense, he shut down ALL drilling.  So, if Toyota gas pedals get stuck, should we close down all public roads?  C’mon, it was an opportunity to stick it to Texas, put hundreds of people on the welfare rolls, and punish an industry that the Left hates.  Oil is evil.

Then there was the space shuttle.  The day before the announcement, the Nasa guy said that the retired shuttles would be placed in cities that had strong historical ties to the space program.  So one shuttle went to the Smithsonian, which makes sense, then another to Florida, where they launched from, but then the other two went to California and New York.  New York?  What the heck?  Their claim to fame was they had an aircraft carrier that launched from New York to go pick up the Mercury astronauts after they splashed down.  Houston was not only deprived of the shuttle, but they actually removed some artifacts from the space center and put them in the more liberal museums.  All of the shuttle families live in Houston, they all trained in Houston, all shuttle missions were controlled from Houston.  Then a day or two later the story changed again.  NOW the criteria is, what cities have the most visitors so the most number of people can see the shuttle.  I guess they had to figure out a way to justify their decision so it doesn’t look like Obama hates Nasa.  Oh, and Obama also said the mission of Nasa is to reach out to Muslims (huh?) and you know that great big telescope they’re working on? Cancel that.  And cancel that trip to the moon, and whatever else is supporting the local economy.  Jerk.

Now Texas is in the worst drought in recorded history and thousands of acres are burning wildly out of control.  The governor went to ask Obama for a disaster declaration so Texas could get some help, twice, and was turned down, twice.  Want another example?  I heard this one on the radio, so I’m sketchy on the details, but the EPA put new carbon emission regulations on the coal mines, which is going to cost a ton of money to comply with, but for some reason exemptions were given to almost identical facilities in the Northwest.  Hmmm, wonder why.  West Texas coal mining companies I guess are also evil, but the ones in Oregon aren’t.

The latest news is the “Fast and Furious” ATF plan.  The idea was, let’s get the Texas gun dealers to sell tons of guns to the bad guys so they can take them into Mexico, and the ATF will track the weapons so they can find out where the drug cartels are.  That’s a terrible idea to begin with, and besides the fact that it didn’t work, some of those guns ended up in the killing of American tourists and those two embassy guys.  So how does Obama react?  Let’s see – what’s on of the Left’s biggest pet peaves?  Gun control!  So now, right after pushing as many guns through the South as possible, there’s a new presidential edict that the gun shops in Texas and a couple of other states have to report anyone that buys more than one assault rifle in a 5-day period.  That doesn’t apply to any other state – just Texas and a few of the other southern states that Obama hates so much.

It’s not just Obama, either; it’s all liberals.  Like the story of the water reservoir in California I think, where security cameras caught a guy peeing in the drinking water supply.  They decided to drain all that water, at a loss of several million dollars, because it just didn’t seem right.  Never mind that they drain that same pond for cleaning every once in a while and find all kinds of dead animals and feces and bones and mud in it; one pint of urine and the whole thing is ruined.  Fine, whatever – they can waste perfectly good water if they want to, but the guy said at the very end of the article, If this had happened in Texas, he would have made a different decision.  What???  So, Texans routinely drink their own pee or something?  He just couldn’t resist that little jab…

I’m sure there are many more examples, but the truth is that Texas is doing much better than those so-called superior liberal states, despite Obama’s best efforts.  More fortune-500 companies have relocated to Texas than any other state, and you know why?  We have lower taxes.  Duh.  People – rich people, the evil ones that we’re supposed to tax to death because they must have done something bad to get more money than everyone else – are fleeing the big liberal cities in droves.  Glen Beck is moving to Texas.  In that article, he said he’s renting a big place in the suburbs, although he’ll keep a studio or something in New York at least for now.  The article also mentioned that he was at an outdoor screening for a movie, on the lawn with his family, and was heckled with calls of “go away conservative scum!” and “you’re not welcome here!” or something like that.  Glen said he was surprised to see such bad behavior from the “social elite”.  Liberals hate anyone who isn’t like them – it’s a tight club, I guess.  Then at the end of the article, again, the author had to take another jab at Texas, mentioning that since Glen still had the New York studio, he’d have to come back occasionally to mingle with the REAL social elite, meaning of course that Texas is full of tobacco-spitting boot-wearing beer-drinking stupid rednecks that shoot endangered species with assault rifles just for fun and have pickups that spew thick black smoke as they drive from the dirty coal mine to the bar after work before they head home to their ten kids at the trailer park to watch some Nascar while the wife cooks dead cow meat in the kitchen and brings him another cold beer…

Stupid idiots.  Maybe Texas should leave the Union.  We’d be better off without all these liberal ninnies trying to ruin our lives…

-Mark

The Sober Song

The inspiration for this song came from the longest period of cold-turkey alcohol abstinence withdrawal misery of recent history: 26 days!

Sing to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas:

On the first day of sober my body gave to me…
The worst headache of my whole life

On the second day of sober my body gave to me…
Two shaky hands
And the worst headache of my whole life

On the third day of sober my body gave to me…
Three nightmares
Two shaky hands
And the worst headache of my whole life

[you get the idea – here’s the last verse…]

On the twelfth day of sober my body gave to me…
[big breath…]
Twelve prayers for beer
Eleven chest pains
Ten pounds of fat
Nine squares of Chocolate
Eight fruity Rolaids
Seven cups of coffee
Six pack of water

Five panic attacks!

Four flashbacks
Three nighmares
Two shaky hands
And the worst headache of my whole life!

(true story, more or less)

the “I Won’t Grow Up” song

Sing to the tune of Peter Pan

I won’t grow up (I won’t grow up)
I don’t wanna go to school (I don’t wanna go to school)
Just to learn a profession (Just to learn a profession)
Or obey some silly rules (Or obey some silly rules)

I won’t work, or have a job
I’ll just stay at home and live with my mom
Won’t grow up, never grow up, no sir – not me!

I won’t grow up (I won’t grow up)
I’ll just live under a bridge (Live under a bridge)
I’ll break in people’s houses (Break in peoples houses)
And steal food from their fridge (Steal food from their fridge)

I’ll stand on the corner with a cardboard sign
Take their money and go buy some wine
Never grow up, never grow up, no sir – not me!

I won’t grow up (I won’t grow up)
I’ll feed pigeons in the park (Feed pigeons in the park)
Then I’ll pee in the bushes (Pee in the bushes)
And put cans in my cart (And put cans in my cart)

I’ll get drunk and throw up on myself
Mumble and cuss and think I’m someone else
Never grow up, never grow up, no sir – not me!

I won’t grow up (I won’t grow up)
I’ll just live on my own (I’ll just live on my own)
And I’ll freeze to death in winter (Freeze to death in winter)
Or get sick and die alone (and get sick and die alone)

At my funeral there will be one man
Dirty and with a shovel in his hand
Never grow up, never grow up, no sir – Not me!

-by an American parent with teenagers

The Time-Share Scam: My Disney World Story

In 2002, I took a trip to DisneyWorld.  I wrote about it, sent it in to the author of “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World”, and he published it!  Even got him to sign a copy & send it to me.  Anyway, the original text is below. He parsed out most of it, mainly focusing on the time-share fiasco.  Last time I was in the book store, I was still mentioned briefly as “Mark from Texas.”  It’s my 15 seconds of fame, I guess.

-Mark

Disney2002

These are just some notes on our recent trip to Disney/Orlando in 2002.  We left mid-January for 7-day trip.  Our plan was to buy 4-day hopper passes for Disney.  We figured we’d spend a half-day in Animal Kingdom, then a day in Epcot, and a day in Magic Kingdom.  We also wanted to spend one day at Universal, and then return to one of the Disney parks for our last day there.

Travelling with 4 children, ages 1, 2, 11 & 14, was more difficult than I thought it would be.  We left Houston around 8am, and driving East on I-10 pulled in to the Howard Jonson in Tallahassee just after midnight.  That’s 16 hours for 600 miles or so!  Wow.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if they would have slept in the car at night, but as soon as evening came, “Waaaah!  Waaaah!  Me want out!  Waaaaaaaah!”.  On a dark road, out in the middle of nowhere, tired, and trying to focus on the hypnotic lines in front of me, I couldn’t handle the crying and fussing.  My two older kids were fine, though.

Pulling in to Tallahasse, we booked a room using a coupon we had that said “children stay free”.  They have those coupon books all over the place.  We picked up 3 or 4 at the Florida state line rest area.  The best prices were in the one called “Traveller”, which they have for each state.  The room was spartan and boring.  Typical motel.  We had a bathroom, two double beds, and we added a crib for $10.  The baby took the crib, my oldest boy slept on the floor, and I tossed & turned all night with the other baby while my wife snored with my daughter in the other bed.  How exciting.

There was a continental breakfast the next morning.  Complimentary donuts, cereal, apples and toast, if you don’t stand in line next to the Hungry Greedy family.  But, we did manage to eat a little something & we were on our way.  Note to self: don’t stay at the Howard Johnson next time.  There’s gotta be something better than that.

That was Saturday.  On Sunday, we travelled to the Disney information center at Ocala, where my 2-year-old got real excited.  “That my Mickey!” he exclaimed to the giant figure in front.  As far as he knew, this WAS Disneyworld.  We could have turned around right then and he would’ve been happy.  We checked on specials for hotels inside Disneyworld, but were disappointed at what they had.  Best deal for a family of 6 was $150 a night in the Contemporary IF we bought at least one season pass.  No thank you.  Also asked about the crowds in mid-January.  “Not too bad, except for tomorrow being a holiday & all.” “Holiday?”  “Yes, its’ Martin Luther King day tomorrow.”  Darn!  I don’t get that holiday off, so it’s not on my calendar.  Note to self: double-check holidays before planning Disney trip.

We paid our $850 or so for four 4-day hopper passes, and walked back to our overloaded Suburban.  We were feeling dejected and disappointed.  Most of the in-park hotels were full because of a holiday we didn’t know about, and even the ones with rooms available wanted a fortune to stay there.  Oh, well.  My wife had a whole lap full of coupon books open in no time.  We were intent on finding a nice place to stay, and were certain there were several good deals just waiting for us in Orlando.  After thinking about it awhile, I was glad we didn’t pay the extra dough to stay inside the park.  You still have to drive to the gate, or might as well because it’s quicker to most parks, and since Sept. 11th, there’s no more early entry or staying late.  That was the whole advantage of staying IN, so we could be there without the crowds for awhile.  No more.  Blame it on Bin Laden.

On our way down south, we kept seeing these signs.  You can’t miss them.  Florida vacations for less!  Fifty percent off hotels!  Discount tickets!  Big, huge signs in red, white & blue.  We thought, what the heck, let’s see what they got.  We took the exit, saw a humungous sign that said “Right here!” in the same color, and pulled up next to the porch of a trailer which was totally dwarfed by its billboard.  My wife went in, and a few minutes later said “They have this good deal for a hotel and tickets, but you have to see a presentation they have on timeshares or something.  You want to do it?”  “Heck, no!  I’d rather lick a lava popsicle!”  And I meant it, too.  Voluntarily walking in to a den of hungry salesmen was not my idea of a fun vacation experience.  We moved on.

Going down the Florida Turnpike, we saw those same type of signs again.  Florida welcome center – discount tickets!  Best hotel rates!  Save 50% or more!  Disney packages!  Universal packages!  Well, we still didn’t have our Universal tickets, so what the heck – let’s give these guys a try.  We found the place, no bigger than your average Indian formal eveningwear specialty shop for women, but at least it didn’t have wheels under it.  They had a deal we couldn’t pass up.  Sounded awesome.  Universal tickets for 4 people was $205, or if you take this deal, you can get TWO-day tickets to Universal for $125!  And, they have a beautiful 2-bedroom suite, with jacuzzi tub, king-size bed, full kitchen, porch, kid’s room, three TV’s, and 7 heated pools with tennis, boating, fishing, fitness center, beautiful location, on the water, right next to Disney, for $100 a night. (Normal price: $350)

What’s the catch?

You have to listen to a 90-minute sales presentation on timeshares.

Nooooooooooooooooo!

Why not?

I would rather volunteer for severe burn cream testing.

I hate those presentations.  Still, I felt compelled.  It was at a place called Westlake Resorts, and it was beautiful, and it was in our price range – right on the high limit, but still in the range – and my oldest was already upset about not staying on Disney property, and gee it sure looked good, but I don’t know about that presentation.  I hate high pressure salesmen.  Oh, no, it’s not like that, they’re very nice, they’ll serve you breakfast & show you around, that’s all, no pressure at all, very nice people.  Hmmm.  The kids sure would love to stay in a place like that.  OK.  Yes.  I’ll do it.  I’ll stay at the mansion and suffer through 90 minutes of torture to get a discound.  Sounded like a fair deal to me.

We were pleasantly supprised when we arrived.  Beautiful, huge place.  I think it must span 3 different time zones.  Two bedrooms with all the amenities like the lady said.  No problem so far.  Even came with dishes.  I hated the tile floor everywhere, because the babies would slip on it & get hurt, but couldn’t complain.  Oh, and there’s no door between the master suite and the master bathroom, so you have to kick everyone out to take a shower.  Still, not bad for the price.  Not bad at all.  Of course, I still didn’t believe it.  I was sure they were going to “get me” somehow.  Maybe they’ll say I broke something, or stole something, and put $1000 on my credit card.  Oh, well.

Having 6 people in our family, we didn’t make it to Animal Kingdom as early as we wanted to, but it wasn’t crowded at all.  We were delighted to see all the Disney characters come out right before the gates opened up, but being behind a couple of hundred people gave me just a sporatic view of Goofy’s ears flopping around.  Even more delightful was the box of hissing cockroaches that my 2-year old was shown by a well-meaning park employee.  Yech.

We took the book’s advice and went on the safari tour first.  Compared to the other rides, it was boring.  Compared to 16 hours in a car with screaming babies, it was amazingly tranquil yet thrilling.  Kind of like driving around a zoo, but there aren’t any cages.  The ride we all liked the best was Dinasaur.  My wife laughed through the whole thing.  She loves being jostled around while being attacked by prehistoric monsters.

Being the suburbanized idiots that we are, we figured there’d be no problem finding food at a theme park.  Our mistake, actually, was not eating at eleven, but waiting until everything was good and crowded before we decided what to do for lunch.  Can’t say that I very much enjoyed my grump companions as we spent over an hour in the rainforest cafe waiting on some $10 hamburgers, but hey, they had moving monkeys!

Epcot was terrific.  My older kids were complaining alot about the slow (boring) rides at Animal Kingdom, so we were happily anticipating something with a little more pizazz at Epcot.  Our first venture was over to Test Track, which was crowded, so we got some fast-passes.  Those things are great!  You swipe your tickets, pocket these receipts, and when you come back between the times shown, you walk right by a bunch of moody riders that stare at you with that “he’s cheating” look.  I would’ve felt guilty if I didn’t enjoy walking through miles of twisting lines so much.  We did the normal Epcot stuff, the cranium thing, the land thing, the ball thing, and were very impressed with Test Track.  Child swapping is easy, too – just walk up to the line attendant and mutter “child swap – uh, what do I do?”  They’re very nice.  The just put you on a bench at the exit, and when your kids come out, you make them watch the babies so you can ride again with your wife.  No problem.

The next day we spent at the Magic Kingdom.  (We were trying to hit the tamest parks first.)  This place was more crowded than Animal Kingdom.  This was on a Tuesday, after the holiday was over.  We still didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes on a ride, except for the little kid rides.  There was a long wait for the dumbo ride, it’s a small world & peter pan, but still not too bad; 15-20 minutes tops.  The kids enjoyed Space Mountain best (Splash Mountain was down), while the little ones liked the look-and-see rides better (since they could actually ride!).  We made another dumb mistake and decided to stay in the park for lunch.  Epcot had closed at 9pm, and we left a little before that to avoid the crowds around the lagoon fireworks, but we felt like taking the monorail to the tram to the car to the hotel & back would eat up all our spare time & we only had until 6:30, when the park closed.  Thankfully, we caught Mickey out front for a visit and didn’t even venture into tune town.

The next day, we swore we’d take off for lunch and give ourselves a break.

NOT!

We’re too dumb, I suppose, and can’t see ourselves wasting so much time when the operating hours are so short.  We arrived on Wednesday at MGM about 30 minutes before open, got our daily double mammoth stroller rented & hooked it around the park.  We hit all the rides on the list, one after another, just like the book says.  We skipped walking tours of the back lot from pure exhaustion, and rode the movie ride twice.  It was great.  Even though the line was 20 minutes long or better, just to be able to sit down and have a place for the babies to run around instead of wiggling out of a seatbelt or lap bar was positively heavenly.  My favorite ride at MGM was definitely, without a doubt, the rockin rollercoaster.  I just loved the speed, the music, and just the whole idea of racing through the streets of LA to a concert in a fast, fast limo.  Cool.  Like I said, we stayed there for lunch, eating a really nice (uh, expensive) buffet & character meal.  There were so few people there that Goofy made the rounds several times during our glutanous trips down the serving line.  Hadn’t eaten a decent meal in several days before that.  It kept us in good spirits until late afternoon, when we reached walking zombie stage & resorted to ice cream treats trying to keep the babies happy.  We got comments from several people admiring our cute little children.  “Have you seen their faces?”  “Oh, my God!”  Some just snickered and pointed.  OK, so the ice cream turned into a kind of face & body wash; so what?  They were happy!

By this time, my older kids were making plans for lifelong birth control and wishing they were just a little older or with real people instead of parents.  We ended the night at the fantasia fireworks, and that was awesome!  Love the way they project stuff onto the water spray like an overhead projector screen.  I thought they did a little too much on the evil side.  My babies were scared as time and time again, witches or dragons would appear and laugh menacingly, and then occasionally a “good guy” would come out & wave from a boat.  Come on, are there really ten times more bad guys than good guys?

The next day was our day off: Thursday.  We just had to sit and listen to a short 90-minute sales presentation with a free breakfast, then we’d all order a pizza or something and take a much-needed family nap.  No pressure, no problems – a nice easy day!

NOT!

Note to self: learn to make better decisions so you don’t say NOT! so much.

We sat down with a very nice gentleman, richly dressed and not intimidating at all.  We had our youngest with us; we figured our kids could watch the 2-yr old for only 90 minutes in the room.  They were just all watching cartoons anyway.  So we sat down, made some cordial introductions, and made our way into the buffet line for free cold eggs and raw sausage.  (Hey, free food is free food.)

Back at the table, we were pleased to discover that we accidentally ended up with the best timeshare salesman in the whole company, maybe the world!  He told us all about how he used to be a professional soccer player, and he’s raising his son by himself, and he works from 7-noon everyday because he’s so successful, and he closes 57% of the deals, and he showed us a certificate he got recently, and how he just won this contest.  And, believe it or not, we also found out the resort we were staying at was one of the best in the world!  Everyone was going to want to stay in our timeshare, because everyone wants to go to Orlando.  The company is debt-free, there’s thousands of resorts all over the world, they’re all 5-star wonderful places like this one (the book actually says it’s a 3-star, which is probably closer to the truth).  It was looking like a really good deal.  The baby started getting fussy after about the first two hours, but Mr. TimeshareSalesmanOfTheYear was being so pleasant and interesting.  He explained all about how if we wanted a vacation home, we’d have to spend $500,000, then find timeshare people to stay there when we weren’t there, then there’s upkeep and taxes, and isn’t this hotel better, and you can trade with anyone and stay in Alaska or Israel or Peru or California no problem, only $129 for a whole week, you build equity, isn’t this better, oh yes, and if you tell someone else about it and they buy one, you get $300, and here’s this lady that’s retiring early and sending her kids through college on referrals, it’s so easy, now let me show you around our property on this nice little golf cart.

We rode on the cart.  We walked around.  We saw the mickey-mouse shaped pool, and the massage room, and the exercise room, and behold, it was very good.  Then we went into a room full of tables, where happy vacationers were sitted with their salesmen, each being interrogated – eh, interviewed – about the wonderful opportunity.  So Mr. MakeMoreMoneyThanMe finally shows us the price card.

TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS?????!!!!!!!

There’s no way.  He wanted a $4900 down payment TODAY, then $450 a month for 10 years!  I tried to work those numbers out, and near as I can tell that’s in excess of 20% interrest rate.  So, I told him so.  No way.  There is no way we can squeeze that kind of money out of our budget.  Forget it.  He looks hurt, but he’s a gentleman and tells us to wait right there and he’ll see what he can do.  Then his sister, the manager, sits down and tells us she has one available for $8800!  Wow!  What a break!  I can’t believe it!  How lucky can you get?!  The best resort, the best salesman, and now the steal of the century!  Over half off!  Unfortunately, we didn’t travel to Florida with plans of making a real estate purchase, so we didn’t have either the $250 down payment or the $150 a month in our budget.  And unfortunately, we had to make a decision that day, no buts about it, can’t go home and think about it or ask your realtor if it’s a good idea.  Boo-hoo.  So, another lady comes over, named Scooter (no kidding, that’s her real name).  We explain to her that it sounds like a good idea, but we need to think it over and maybe we’ll come back with money to put down and we can work a deal that way.  OK, she says.  We’ll just keep this offer open until next time.  So, just give me $250 now, plus $50 a month, and next January you can stay here & buy the time share.  No?  How about this, you give me just $50 now, then $100 the next month, then $200 the next month…

At this point, 3 hours since our little no-pressure look-see started, the baby was crying and fussing and we were feeling like a hamburger on a grill when you squeeze it down and the juice comes out and catches on fire and the flames totally engulf it and you singe your eyebrows or maybe burn the house down, so my wife finally said, we have to go.  We’re worried about the kids, this has been more than 90 minutes, we need to get back, we can’t decide this right now.  OK.  We finally got through to her.  She grabbed the paper away from us, wrote “Refused offer.  Refused to come back” on the bottom and told us each to sign it.  “Most people don’t travel all the way from Texas with less than $50 to spend.”  “So, what does this mean?”  “It means you refused the offer and you can’t come back.”  And with that, she left, we took the crying baby to the gift shop to pick up our tickets to Universal, and vowed never to ever ever ever ever no way in heck forget it never ever EVER go back to that place again.  There’s no way we would get that deal now, after the way they treated us.  Yeah, a 90-minute no-pressure sales presentation, followed by another 90-minute high-pressure torture session.  And I figured it out when I got some time.  In rough terms, for the cheapest timeshare they had, we would be paying $2000 a year for a 1-week stay, or we would be sending all our now-friends soon-to-be-enemies as referrals to pay for our 3-star tourist torture trap.

That set us in a foul mood for the rest of the day.  We decided to spend the next day at Universal, then get the heck out of this awful place.  We washed some clothes, watched some TV, got some rest; it was nice.  And that was our Thursday.

Friday came.  We were wiser.  We were rested.  We did something smart for the first time on our vacation.  Instead of all of us going to the park, and the babies getting fussy and tired, and the kids getting bored, and us parents getting exhausted, we split up.  I had tickets for Universal’s Island of Adventure, and I went about 30 min before open with my two older kids.  It was great!  Four people made it into the park before we did.  We walked right on to the Hulk, then walked right back on & rode it again.  We walked right onto Spiderman.  Then we walked right on to the twin towers of fear.  Then we went to the other side of the park & rode the twin dragons, sometimes in the front seat, sometimes in the back, about 6 times until I started getting queasy.  By this time it was 10am or so, and we decided to watch the Pseidon Adventure, even though there was a line.  To tell the truth, it was nice to be still for awhile.  Then we headed to the exit, but not before we rode Hulk one more time.

Back at the Hotel de TrickUs, we had lunch, then everybody got in the family meat wagon & headed back to the park.  We were refreshed, the kids got the roller coasters out of their system so they didn’t feel jyped, and we could take our time admiring the scenery.  I think that was our favorite park.  One of my favorite things about it is, all the roller coasters are 4-seaters.  We didn’t have to split our group of 3 up to go on any of the rides.  And they’re so smooth – they won’t bang your teeth out like the old wooden ones did.  Island of Adventure wasn’t too big either – you could walk all the way around the lake without a change of clothes and a 3-day food supply.  Our favorite ride there was the twin dragons.  It was faster than the Hulk, and it’s so totally cool the way it looks like you’re about to collide with the other coaster.  The babies loved Dr. Seuss land.  They could ride several things there.  Both of the babies loved the Cat in the Hat.  And my 2-yr old supprised us by absolutely LOVING the unicorn roller coaster.  We rode with him, and were supprised at how extreme it was, for a baby coaster.  I was afraid our little rugrat would be scared to death, but he jumped off at the end of the ride and yelled “Ride again!” as he ran back to the line again!  And everybody had a fun time at the dinosaur camp.  My older kids kept shooting each other with water while the babies explored caves.  We had to force them to leave so we could see something else.

We ended up staying there until close, then started the 3-mile journey back to the car.  It’s so cool.  They have moving sidewalks and music playing all over.  They had superhero’s come out on 4-wheelers to the comic-hero area.  Everything is decorated and fresh.  The only thing I didn’t like was going to & from the parking garage, oh and maybe getting lost & stuck on the turnpike on the way back to the hotel.  Took me an hour to figure out how to get back on I-4.  But the parking garage is really, really far from the front gate.  You feel like you’re going to die by the time you make it to the ticket windows, and I swear I was 3” shorter when I left there with my 30lb son on my shoulder.

Checked out the next day from Villa de Ripoff, and originally intended to head home (Houston), but the kids & wife & I enjoyed Island of Adventure so much, we decided to go ahead and use our other day’s worth of tickets and go back.  It was awesome.  No pressure to see everything & get our money’s worth, we got there around 10am, it was a Saturday so it was a little crowded, but still didn’t wait more than 10 minutes for any ride.  My wife got on some of the coasters and absolutely LOVED them, and the kids re-rode their favorites, and my little boy ran to get on the Unicorn coaster he enjoyed so much.  My wife especially liked being jostled around and scared by comic book characters on Spiderman.  I hope Disney takes a good long visit over there, and learns how to make a truly enjoyable family-friendly park: not too huge to see everything, 4-seater smooth rides, attention to detail.  If it wasn’t for Mickey and some nostalgia about Disney World, we might think about skipping those parks and just spend all our time at Island of Adventure next year.

So here’s my fool-proof 10-step plan for a family of all ages to enjoy a trip to a Florida theme park:

  1. Go to a theme park in Texas during July or August.  Stand next to 8,000 sweaty bodies for 90 minutes waiting to go on a disappointing ride.  This just gets you in the mood for your real vacation, which you will enjoy much more now, knowing what you’re missing.
  2. Book a vacation at one of these timeshare places for the off-season.  Brace yourself for the sales onslaught, and promise yourself you’ll retain your dignity.  Meditate before your arrival, or repeat 100 times “It’s OK to say no, it’s OK to say no” in the car on the way down.
  3. Check in to the hotel.  Do not feel out of place, even though there are 6 stretch limo’s in the parking lot and more slick-haired salesmen than all of Florida’s car lots.  Do not be self-conscious in your shorts, t-shirt & baseball hat.
  4. Drop the bags off in the hotel room.  Do lots of Oooh’s and Aaaah’s.  Say “Wow.  This is nice.”  Forget to tip the guy that showed you where the room was, but remind yourself that you’re not used to fancy places like this.
  5. Leave the mansion, wave at the security guard on your way out like you’ve been living there for years.  Go exploring and find places to eat (preferrably buffet’s) and a plain grocery store.  This will prevent you from spending a fortune later on food & dining.
  6. Get up in the morning & go to your presentation.  Be cordial and nice, then say, you know, at first I liked this place, but it’s not as nice as my other vacation home.  I was hoping to upgrade, but I guess I’ll just stick with my Maui timeshare and my condo in Aspen.  Thanks anyway.
  7. Go back to the hotel room, pick up the kids, brood about how awful they treated you, how much you hate salesmen, especially realtors, what a ripoff their stuff is, then revel in how little you’re paying for them to have you in their lair, and how proud you are of sayin no and resisting their mind games.  Bwoohahaha (sorcerer’s evil laugh).  Eat out & go to the grocery store, swim in the mickey-mouse shaped pool, watch the 983” tv, etc. etc. etc.
  8. The next day, send one adult with the teenagers to the park.  Get there early.  Ride every ride that might make you throw up, twice.
  9. Go back to the hotel, eat, pick up the wife & kids, go back to the park but be smart and bring your own stroller so you don’t break your back.  Enjoy watching your kids ride little stuff like Cat in the Hat or Its a Small World or a carosell.
  10. Leave when the park closes, go out to eat again, put the kids to bed and collapse on the couch.

After our short day at Universal, we got in the car and headed back to Houston.  This time, we tried a different Talahasse hotel, the Holiday Inn Select.  Not much better.  I couldn’t sleep there, either.  Even resorted to taking a nap in the car, until some noisy partons woke me up in the parking lot.  But they did have a nice fitness center, which I used the next day.  I drove straight into Houston, arriving at our doorstep at 1am or so.  It was a long day of driving, but I couldn’t stay another night in a cramped little hotel made for two.  It felt good to be home.

Overall, I’d have to say our vacation was an adventure.  We came.  We saw.  We spent money until the little magnetic strip on our Visa card wore out and everyone had to type the numbers in after trying it a dozen times and looking aggravated.  It had its fun moments, it’s times of stress, sleeplessness, disappointment, anger, tension, fatigue, and the occasional terror of being hurled skyward or dropped or spun or yanked this way and that.  But isn’t that what vacations are all about…

The money song!

Sing to the tune of the Sound of Music.  I wrote this several years ago when I was just getting used to having a wife, kids, job, responsibilities, bills, etc.

-Mark

Dough, the stuff, I need more of

Raise, the thing I never get

Me, the one, who gets dumped on

Far away I go to work

So, I never see my kids!

La-de-da I’m going nuts!

Tea, the drink I can’t afford!

Because I don’t have enough dough, dough, dough, dough…

Too scared to shoot…

Under the Constitution, I can buy a firearm to protect myself, my family and (in Texas at least) my property.  The government hasn’t been able to take away guns, but it has taken away any use they may serve.  How?  By making it so incredibly painful and downright frightening to ever pull the trigger.

Here are a couple of examples of how this works.  One, the building where I work is maintained by a real estate company.  Over the last couple of years, about half of us have had items stolen from our cubicles.  In my case, it was a company-owned $6000 industrial laptop; others have lost personal items, such as a digital picture frame, and one person was so upset about his $400 PERSONAL Dyson fan going missing, that he put up a flyer in the kitchen area, asking for it back & warning others about the theft.  So how did the real estate company react?  Instead of investigating the theft in this card-key access-controlled video-monitored 24-hour security building, they took down the fliers and sent an email to everyone that only APPROVED flyers or posters can be put on the walls.  Nobody ever recovered any stolen items.

Another example is the southern border we share with Mexico.  In this case, just like the real estate company, when the government didn’t do its job securing the border, a couple of groups – Minutemen, the Arizona police – tried to help, take matters into their own hands.  They didn’t even do much else besides survey the landscape & notify the immigration agents when they saw someone trying to cross.  So how did the government respond?  Did they double-up on border patrols, send more agents down, build a wall, call the National Guard?  No, of course not; they got a team of lawyers and sued anyone who dared to try to do the Federal government’s job.  The fact that the government is NOT doing its job is beside the point.

Now we have someone who has the right to carry a gun, and took it upon himself to do what the police didn’t: make his community safe.  George Zimmerman should be called a hero.  He took the initiative to patrol his own neighborhood, and from what I gather, ended up shooting someone in self-defense after the punk tried to beat him to death.  Maybe he profiled the kid, maybe it’s bad to confront someone just because he fits the description of the thugs that have been seen committing crimes, but Travon was no angel, and he proved George right by pummeling him with his fists for daring to disturb his walk.  So how is this hero treated?  Public ridicule, calls for his assassination, death threats, and eventually arrest & charges for murder.

The real estate company, the Federal immigration administration and the police department do NOT want you to do their job for you.  Even if they suck at it, you’re supposed to just sit there with your blinders on as your personal items are stolen, illegal aliens set up a crack house in your neighborhood, or your friends & neighbors are robbed & burglarized.  Sure, I can buy a gun, but I know that if I ever use it, I’ll lose my job, my reputation, my friends and family will leave me, or I’ll have to go into hiding, and the “victim” or HIS family, along with the government and media, will crucify me in public, I’ll be arrested, charged, and even if I EVER clear my name, I’ll be scarred for life.  I even heard a lawmaker this morning on the radio wanting to take away a person’s gun & carry-license if he shoots someone, until the matter is investigated.  Great.  So a gang member breaks down your door, you shoot him, the cops take your gun and now the rest of the gang wants revenge and KNOWS you’re now unarmed.

The only situation I can think of where a gun would be useful, without the fear of this horrible guilty-until-proven-innocent prosecution, is during complete anarchy, or during revolution.  And then I’m sure a 12-gauge shotgun is going to be real useful against the government tanks, F16’s and trained military.  Or, to protect my family, I would go ahead & shoot the bad guy, then call the cops & turn myself in, confess that yes I used deadly force, no I’m not a trained professional, yes I know I have the right to remain silent, yes I realize my skin color is different than his so this’ll probably be a hate crime, no I don’t want a jury trial, I trust a judge better, in fact, let’s just cut to the chase & you can shoot me right now, my life is over anyway … see ya up in Heaven, kids …

-Mark

Funny one-liners

I have a silly little game on my Iphone called Restaurant Story.  I know, it’s lame, especially for a dude, but I’ve come up with some funny little posts to make.  In case you missed them, here’s a compilation: (my restaurant is called beefnbeer – who doesn’t like beef and beer?) One or two I heard before, but the rest are all original.

-Mark

  • Teacher said it was dain bramage
  • My wife says I never finish anything. I don’t know what she’s talking
  • I ALWAYS have trouble being consistent
  • I told my wife, “I love U! It’s my favorite letter!” and she got mad! Women are just crazy
  • deja vu: the feeling that you have deja vu
  • I used to think girls were nice to each other. Then I saw an episode of The Bachelor. Now I’m scared of ’em…
  • My favorite bumper sticker says HONK if you love Peace and Quiet!
  • I’m not heterosectual; I’m a lesbian trapped in a man’s body
  • My last post was just a joke. I’m not a lesbian in a man’s body. No offence; just wouldn’t want to be one; I’m afraid of scissors
  • I once gave a speech at a morgue. It was recorded before a dead studio audience
  • My wife says I’m sarcastic. Right. I really want to say one thing and mean another; I want people to thing I’m crazy. Phft!
  • I flunked out of spy school. They told me I had to learn to hold my tongue, but I couldn’t; it’s too slippery
  • Favorite sign: “I HATE being BIPOLAR! It’s AWESOME!”
  • I hate judgemental people. They should all be thrown in jail because they’re all bad!
  • “Hoe-Down” (noun): when a hooker trips & falls – modern Texas dictionary
  • Straw Poll: standard dance equipment in rural strip clubs
  • My wife says I’m nice but a little immature. (Teeheehee! She said “butt”! Hahaha!)
  • I don’t need a degree to be rich; college dropout & I make six figures … wait … do the ones after the decimal point count?
  • My wife said, These new shorts make me look skinny. I said Yeah, too bad it’d just an optical illusion. She almost hit me…
  • Philosophically speaking, if a man says something, and there’s not a woman to hear him, is he still wrong?
  • I recently bought a dolphin because I felt like my life lacked porpoise
  • Someone asked, on a scale of 1-10, how stressful is it with a wife & 4 kids? I said, is AAAAAAHHHH! a number?
  • I hate it when they fly the flags at half-mast. Every time they do that, somebody dies.
  • I didn’t win the lottery.  My wife said you have to buy a ticket – I KNEW there was a catch!
  • I’ve heard computer hackers make alot of money.  I have a computer; now I just need a hammer & a chainsaw.
  • People in dreams never stay dead because the subconscience mind knows: there is no death; have a Good Friday
  • Before I went shopping, my wife said check my BAC. I wasn’t drunk yet, so I got more beer. Thanks Honey! I love you..
  • Happy Easter! Jesus was dead and Satan was happy, then Jesus was alive (!) now Satan is mad. Yay! Let’s eat!
  • I love my Camaro. I named it Kellie, after my wife. Now I can’t yell at her, or I’ll be insulting my car!
  • I tried multi-level-marketing once. I was supposed to enroll all my friends, but neither one would do it!
  • Is it gravity, or does the earth just suck?
  • I know why it’s called “daily grind”. I feel like one of those cocoa beans that’s been plucked, dried, roasted, crushed and scalded!
  • My wife said stop drinking, so I started smoking. Now she says stop smoking. So I did! Sappy Hatuday evrywon!
  • At my funeral, everyone in the 1st row get $20. Back row owes me $5; it’s only way I’ll ever get any money from my brother!
  • “Kids, When I was you age I wore all black, smoked pot and listened to heavy metal.” “Aw, Dad, you’re so old-fashioned!”
  • God, you gotta give us a break. I know you made Adam and Eve perfect, but after centuries of in-breeding, we’re all messed up!
  • I may look young, but I’m just an old fart. I came out of a sumu wrestler in 1978. I’m such a stinker! Been driftin’ ever since…
  • Sometimes I let my wife drive. It’s amazing how the fear of death can improve your prayer life.
  • I don’t have a hangover. I just drank beer last night and now I have a headache and my stomache hurts. Just a coincidence.
  • I’m very loyal.  I’ve had the same mistress for 5 years!
  • I don’t have a drinking problem. In fact, I can’t even REMEMBER the last time I got drunk.
  • I fell on my butt and made love to my wife on Mother’s day. I guess that makes me a badd-ass mother f…..
  • Marriage is all about give & take. She gives me orders & I take them. I give money & she takes it. See? We’re totally equal…
  • Geek-Land: where “Dumping a log” is both common and painless!
  • “Break a leg!” (Step one in the Loan Shark’s Collection Manual)
  • Marriage tip: forgiveness. My wife forgives my many faults, and I forgive he for not having any (which can be VERY annoying!)
  • Fortune cookie: “That wasn’t chicken”
  • Oxy-Moron: two words that should never go together, like “Nice Boss”, “Fun Job” or “Happy Monday”

The husband drinks

I’m an alcoholic.  I’ve been drinking on and off since I was 18.  I’m 46 now.  I started drinking heavily when we went to visit my grandparents in Louisiana.  The drinking age at the time was 18, so I told my parents I was going for a walk, snuck over to the liquor store and bought several large bottles of Jack Daniel’s & stuffed them in my suitcase.  I would hide them in my closet and take a sip every now and then.  I drove drunk; wrecked my car once, at the mall, weaving uncontrollably and sliding over the curb at Denny’s, wiping out the sprinkler and my left front wheel.

I’ve had issues with guilt.  I think that’s part of the problem.  My dad used guilt to control and punish me.  School used guilt to control and punish me.  I was a straight-A student, valedictorian of my class of 750, until my senior year when I just couldn’t take the pressure any more.  I graduated, Mangum Cum Laude, or whatever it’s called – I actually hated the school so much that I skipped the ceremony – and dropped out of college after one semester.  I’ve had it with school.  I’ve even stopped going to church because they also use guilt to control and punish you.  Now I can’t do anything without feeling guilty.  My weekends are filled with guilt.  I can’t get anything done because I have this huge weight of guilt on me, and the only thing that makes it go away is alcohol.

Several things hit me really hard.  After home-schooling both of my children, taking them to church, praying over them, they ended up getting their GED’s and basically floundering.  My son spent the $10,000 I gave him, for college, that I’d been saving up for his entire life, at $50 a month when I could barely afford it, on classes that he didn’t finish or a laptop that he lost or partying with friends.  He wrecked the car that I got for him, then talked me into co-signing on a brand new car, made one payment, then wrecked that one too.  He currently owes me $14,000, over and above the college money, which I will never see.  Then my daughter took her turn, doing all sorts of things.  She huffed paint, cut herself, attempted suicide, spent a week in a mental institution, and ran away to Mexico with her boyfriend.

The thing that really got to me was cancer.  After all the stress of life, plus all the crisis that my kids put me though, when my wife got cancer I freaked out.  She’s over it now, got checked the other day and the cancer hasn’t come back, but I just gave up.  I don’t want to live any more.  I’m much too big of a whimp to kill myself, so I just drink & drink until I pass out.  My wife has had to leave the house several times with our other two little boys.  I never drink before work, but I go to work hung-over and barely able to think.  I have high blood pressure, acid reflux, a hernia, migraine headaches – any stress-related illness, well you name it  I got it.

At this point I don’t really care.  I’ve tried to quit.  Went 26 days cold-turkey once.  I tried switching to beer, then malt liquor, then back to whiskey again.  Had to switch from Jack Daniels to Jim Beam because it doesn’t upset my stomache as much.  And, so far, my liver is fine.  My doctor gives me regular blood tests and it always comes back normal, except for my chloresterol, but I take pills for that.  In fact, I have a whole basket of vitamins & drugs that I take on a daily basis; probably the only reason the drinking hasn’t killed me yet.  My latest thing was to try and use nicotine instead of alcohol.  I ordered some electronic cigs online (http://www.v2cigs.com) and I puff away on that, but it doesn’t help very much.  I end up drinking whiskey and chasing it down with my coffee-flavored nicotine vapor.  Maybe it’s helped a little, I don’t know.

Today, I’m going to try something new.  I just ordered the “last call” program (http://www.drinklessnow.com/) which is insanely expensive but looks like it might do the trick.  We’ll see I suppose.  It’s over $800 but just one DWI would probably cost me that much.  I go through one 1.75 liter bottle of whiskey a week, plus a few beers usually, and at $30 a bottle maybe, if this stuff works, it’ll pay for itself.

I have lost so much of my faith in God.  I still believe in Him, I still tithe, I still read my Bible on occasion, but going into a huge fancy church with a big “Give money for our new building” banner makes me want to throw up.  I did everything I thought was right – I got saved, married the church girl that led me to the Lord, joined a fundamental, Bible-believing church, went on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesdays, plus any other time they had a special function.  I was in the church band, helped out in the nursery, taught a class once.  But, the pastor, who officiated at our wedding, ran off with the lady who sang at our wedding, and the piano player divorced my best man, who turned out to be gay.  The church finally folded.  All of that effort home-schooling, then paying for private Christian school, and I thought my kids got saved, really, truly saved, and I naively thought that the in-dwelling Holy Spirit would keep them from all the typical sins of the teenager.  It didn’t; if anything, they were writing down all those sins on a to-do list for later.

I shouldn’t complain.  I drank, did drugs, ran away from home, quit school, got a girl pregnant (she had an abortion).  If anything, I believe in Karma.  I think God forgives me for all of my sins, past, present and future, but my first two kids couldn’t help but repeat the sins of the father; I had it coming.  Hopefully, that took care of the Karma, and my two little boys have seen how much their older brother & sister go through, barely scraping by, always needing help, begging for money, maybe they’ll actually make something of themselves & get a decent education or training or SOMETHING so they can support themselves; a career, not a job at fast food joint.

So, we’ll see how this stuff works.  My wife has threatened to have an intervention or force me to go to AA or Alanon or even a hospital treatment.  I do NOT want to go to some place called Alcoholics Anonymous where you have to tell everyone your name and everything about yourself.  Anonymous my ass…  I’ll post back after I start taking this junk & let you know how it goes.  This will be an honest report; I don’t get anything from these people, I’m not going to post a referral link that would get me a little money; I just need a place to record my experience.  Maybe, if it works, then someone else will read this & get help too.  But for now, I’m going to TRY and make it at least until 4pm before I drink again.  That’d be an improvement for me…

-Mark

ps I didn’t make it to 4pm.  I started drinking when my wife took a nap yesterday at about 2:50 in the afternoon.  I don’t remember much about yesterday.  This Monday morning, I looked at the bottle and there’s about 3/4 inch left.  That bottle was completely full when I bought it on Friday; I don’t know how it happened.  “Just a little more.  Just a couple of more swallows.”  I don’t even get a glass or attempt to mix it – just up-end the jug and guzzle it down, just like a drunk bum.  I can’t wait for that stuff to arrive.  I’m going to document my experience here; I hope hope hope & pray that this works… Stay tuned…