Saturday, December 27, 2008

falling in the gene pool...

I know I say this every time I travel, other than that time I almost died from food poisoning in darkest China, but I'm definitely moving to Ireland. I've always been partial to winter and wonderfully, it's winter here year round. Maybe it's the scarves. Tuesday morning, we left Dublin on the train bound for Cork. Much like winter, I'm also partial to trains. I've been raised to appreciate them, risking a disinheritance should I refuse to share in my father's greatest passion. Those of you that know "train people" will know what I'm talking about. Train people collect time tables and ticket stubs, train buttons and train stickers. Train people take trains places not to get to the destination, but to try out a train they'd yet to experience. Train people can find each other at parties, much like I imagine NAMBLA members find each other, hinting at their forbidden love to those they suspect as kin. My father is a train person. Which is how I ended up on a train to Cork.
Irish trains are far more sophisticated than our ghetto Amtrak. Our names appeared on little screens above our seats and a woman comes down the aisles selling food and tea, just like in Harry Potter! My brother and I played cards and traded iPods for most of the three hour ride, in between our "testing out" the confusing round bathroom and snagging salt and vinegar "crisps" from the food car, which much to my simultaneous delight and sadness, had a bar.Once we arrived in Cork, Dad and Alex went off to pick up our rental cars, gone for a solid 90 minutes while mom, my Uncle Bill and I loafed around the Cork train station. I can report they're very big on egg salad sandwiches here, available in the bottled water section of all convenience stores. I can also report that the public restrooms are highly acceptable, several school children threw a chocolate Rolo candy at me and my mother, now that I'm not drinking, couldn't give less of a shit that I smoke in front of her. I feel quite brazen lighting up on the sidewalk or sneaking out before dinner, but she can sit there with her Chardonnay and I can't, so she's treating us as even I guess.
I'd rather have the Chardonnay.
Dad and Alex finally returned, Alex pulling up in "our car," a very Euro black VW golf. The grown-ups got a Ford Escort, I think. After lots and lots of discussion over maps and agreement that "this is NOT A RACE" we were off. Alex and I know our parents and we were certain they'd spend the two hour drive to the house in tense silence, my mother constantly gasping and my father nervously forgetting on which side of the road to drive. Alex and I, on the other hand, calmly navigated ourselves through the Irish countryside and succeeded in not only winning the
 forbidden race, but getting along famously the whole way. When mom, dad and Bill arrived, it was clear the same could not be said for them.
The reason we're here, literally out in the middle of nowhere, is because our family friends, John and Betsey bought a farm house and restored it so the outside looks like it should be in a period film and the inside looks like a cross between the Restoration Hardware and Sundance catalogs. There's actually coal and peat in the fireplaces, muddy Wellington boots left in the foyer and those curtains that are too longs and bunch flawlessly on the floor. We're in a village called Ahakista (I think) and the closest metropolis is Bantry, approximately the size of Mill Valley as far as I'm concerned.
After unpacking and naps, dad and Alex made dinner followed by heated games of the Christmas tradition, Pit. Alex and I share a room upstairs which is fine with me. We travel very well together and while we can't go 24 hours without annonying each other in some form or another, we drive each other the least nuts of everyone else. Neither Alex nor I have really adapted to the 8 hour time change, and at 3:30am I woke up to read downstairs. Alex joined me an hour later.
We headed into Bantry on Christmas Eve Day where we'd made a pact to buy all of our Christmas gifts, instead of carting them across the Atlantic. Bantry is very cute and was packed with people doing last minute shopping. Alex and I wandered around, spotting my father hustling down the sidewalk with a huge (dead) turkey in his arms. We had chicken curry pies in the street and picked out presents, answering the same questions in every store. "Yep, we're from America. Nope, we don't have family in Ireland." It seemed like they really wanted us to still have family here, like the potato famine wasn't really that bad and our great-grandparents were making a big deal out of nothing.
Ahakista's Christmas tradition involves everyone jumping in the bay after Christmas mass. Thus, Alex, Daddy and Bill found themselves in swim trunks, shivering in the fog down by the pier with about 50 townspeople, passing out whiskey and towels. I have no problem identifying myself as a huge wimp, much less as one unwilling to wander around a strange town in my swimsuit diving in the freezing Atlantic when I won't even get a shot of booze afterwards. The boys literally jumped in, screaming in the frigid water and leaping out just as fast as they leapt in. 
You can see my videos of this freakshow HERE and HERE and HERE.
Anyway, Christmas was lovely and the next morning, Alex was off to join his friends a day early in Cork. If you'll recall "The Lads", my brother lived with three Irish fellas in college who spent a Thanksgiving with us. Alex is hell bent on getting in his Lads time and I can hardly blame him. 
Stuck with the grown-ups, the folks, Uncle Bill and I spent a day doing nothing. I chose to sleep in while the family decided to go on a "walk" with a bunch of people from town. I guess they read about this in the church newsletter and wanted to mingle with the locals. After I woke up, I threw on a sweater and a pair of John's Wellies and started to wander the countryside. I was relatively fine, hiking up hills and making videos in case I got lost. I occasionally wondered what the folks and Bill were up to, but mostly I was worried about Alex, navigating the roads by himself. 
You can see my little hike messages (mostly for Mel's benefit) HERE and HERE.
When I finally made it back to the house, no one was home. 
Hmmm, that's weird. I hope no one's dead. 
Finally, Rob and Alex called to announce that they were together, safe and sound. I relaxed, made some tea and a fire and read my book. Just before dark, which is around 4:30 here, the folks pulled up and mom slowly came to the door, motioning for me to come outside. 
There my Uncle Bill was gingerly helping my father out of the car. It seems my family, now known in Ahakista as "the Americans who fell" had a bit of a rough time on their trek. 
Apparently, they had a choice between an easy walk to the water and a more challenging hike up a mountain. In an attempt to represent the USA, they went hardcore and paid the painful price. It's 24 hours later and I'm still hearing about this "horrendous trek" over "rough terrain!" 
"Beth, there's no way you would have done this."
"You would have turned back."
"It was the worst four hours of my life."
My father is so injured, or at least claims to be, he actually found a cane. When I offered that he looks like an idiot limping around with a cane that's too short for him, I was informed, "It's either this or an umbrella."
"Dear God. Do you need to see a doctor?" I passive-aggressively asked, hoping to put his slip down a hill into perspective. 
"Well, it's Saturday. If I'm still in this much pain on Monday, we'll have to go to the hospital."
I love my father a great deal, but "we" will not be going to hospital. As I pointed out to my mother, this is what they mean by 'in sickness and in health.'
On and on, they told of their story. They're still talking about it right now. I can't help rolling my eyes, as the miles involved and pinnacles reached grow greater with each retelling. 
One day, they're going to meet one of the 18 people who escaped from the top floors of the World Trade Center before it collapsed and they'll say, "You think that's a story? Let me tell you about this walk I went on in Ireland."
May I present my father's extremely shortened version of the events:

He survived the night, thank God and we've made it to Cork, meeting up with Alex at our hotel before a big party at Rob's folks' house tonight. I predict the walk talk will be repeated at length this evening, the poor O'Halloran's and McCarthy's politely listening to my family as my father balances on his purloined cane. It's not so much being in Ireland that makes me desperate for a drink. It's my mother screaming for directions in the driver's seat as my father balances a cane on his lap while giving her incorrect guidance...

Monday, December 22, 2008

i now have a brogue...

As were checking in at SFO, pushing our way past the peons in the "Economy" check-in line, I noted that ahead of us in the "Winner" line was a lone woman apparently in charge of 3 children all of whom were strapped to car seats and placed inconveniently on the floor of the San Francisco International Airport. As if that weren't enough, she must of been in possession of, hand to God, 20 or so suitcases and boxes, all of which were piled on some sort of trolley and being handled by a very patient percer. (Do we still call them percers? I'd hate to use an inappropriate term for the help.) All of her documents were in a forward facing fanny pack and she wore a straw hat, which we all know is the international symbol for "I'm on vacation."
My greatest concern, other than being desperate for an explanation of this spectacle, was the obvious. Would they be seated near us?
My love affair with upgrading mirrors my father's love affair with collecting frequent flier miles. He paid for both my college education and my rehab with his milage plus card soley for the purpose of collecting said miles. Anyone who's breached that glorious curtain separating those that survived the Titanic and those that perished knows they can never go back. Flying coach after flying anything else is like getting evicted from your mansion and watching other people move in. Whenever I'm forced to do the walk of shame to steerage, past pre-seated smug-looking lucky bastards, I can hardly blame them for looking up at me struggling with my carry-ons on my way to the back of the us. Yes, I want to say. I know how to give that look too.
Alas, those precious miles my parents work so hard to maximize are wisely used only for long flights, because unless someone else is footing the bill, we can suffer a maximum of 4 hours in coach. After a rather difficult red-eye from England to South Africa with the 4 of us huge Americans seated in the middle row of the back section of a 747, a silent pact was made.
Never again.
Upgrading for us means Business Class, archaically named for the traveller who's company wanted them to travel in more comfort than your average flier without overindulging, what with live entertainment and flaming baked Alaskas in First Class. Turns out, businesspeople don't fly Business Class. Cheap people with frequent flier miles fly Business Class. Like us.
Which brings me back to Straw Hat Fanny Pack and her school of spawn. Could they be onto our scheme of abusing the frequent flier system to it's absolute limits? Could, God forbid, this brood be seated amongst us and our glasses made out of actual glass? As far as I'm concerned, children should be sedated like dogs and kept with the luggage instead of taking up a seat, much less a leather one. So you can imagine my relief to find Straw Hat Fanny Pack et al march their non-exceptional asses back to coach. I don't know how she finegled getting in our winner line, but that was neither here nor there. I'm seated with my warm nuts and laptop, tossing out my smug look I've been practicing all year.
Naturally, once we reached cruising altitude, the seatbelt sign went off and we were free to move about the cabin. No sooner had I removed my shoes and applied my complimentary slippers than Straw Hat Fanny Pack came confidently walking down the aisle and into the Business Class restroom.
I was silently hysterical.
As far as I'm concerned, someone from coach using a Business Class bathroom counts as a breach of security. Excuse me, you in the straw hat even though it's nighttime and raining. Shouldn't you be back there having no choice in what movie you all watch together whilst savoring a cold, tasteless rectangle of cheese? I looked around for an equally appalled upgraded face. Nope. No one cared. 
Can I be the only horrible snob headed for hell on this plane? Where my gays at?!?
This is the curse of frequent flier miles. The glamor and mystery of poured champagne at 35000 feet is gone. Anyone can upgrade if they fly around enough, make a couple of big purchases on credit or perhaps, have a drunk for a daughter. We're all in sweat pants and iPods, my father the only one keeping the dream alive in his sport coat and sleep mask. But everyone else? My god, they don't even care if someone breaks into our bathroom and purloins some of our United Airlines scented hand lotion.
My mother of course, monitored the situation.
"You see that woman in the straw hat?"
"Yeah, mom. She was the one..."
"With all the luggage and children. Alone! Well, get a load of this...her husband is in First Class!"
What!?! "What!?!"
"I eavesdropped on her conversation with the stewardess."
"Flight attendant."
"Whatever. Can you believe that!?! All those kids and baggage? My god, the flies first class and his whole family's in coach!"
"Merry Christmas, asshole."
My mother was outraged in sisterly solidarity. I was outraged this poor women couldn't tell her husband what's what and as a result, was using our restroom.
We're now in Dublin, Alex and I wide awake at 5am. This morning, we're taking the train to Cork, where we'll "hire" 2 cars and head out to an old farmhouse in Bantry Bay for Christmas, far away from civilization and somehow closer to Jesus. My uncle Bill has joined us from Savannah and apparently, we'll spend the next week roaming the moors in Wellies and raincoats, throwing more peat on the fire and helping my father acquire the one thing he wants for Christmas; a goose. Quite frankly, I'd like a cocktail and a manicure, but I'm guessing both of those are out of the question.
As luck would have it, I brought my Flip video for the sole purpose of recording incredibly boring videos much like the following...

just touched down in london town...

For the past week or so, Alex and I have been asked if we were excited for our trip. Yes, yes, we'd reply. We just want to get on the plane. Just get us on that plane, watching movies and reading trashy novels. Once we're in the air, oh how excited we'll be.
Folks, be careful what you wish for. I just emerged from a 10 hour trip in a tin bird and by hour 6, my head was between my knees as I groaned, "Dear God Almighty, get me off this thing."
I don't know what my problem was, other than my being...me. It's not like we had to suffer in steerage. Everyone else seemed to drift off to sleep after our very dry short ribs, while I was wide awake, with ants in my pants and 452 Diet Cokes.
Maybe it's because those bastards got to drink. 'Oh, port with dessert? Don't mind if I do!' I, on the other hand, sat there in unflattering sweats asking for more water. The flight staff probably thought I was pregnant.
I watched a couple of movies, I tried to read but the more I tried to relax, the more I bounced off the walls. Mom, Dad and Alex all slept like babies, waking refreshed and pleased with themselves. As we prepared to land and just as I was about to slit my wrists, Alex pointed out I was wearing two different socks, a fact my family still find hilarious.
I don't find it hilarious. I find it fucking stupid. They look the same! Both socks are white ankle socks. Big deal.
We're now killing time at Heathrow where I've noticed a lot of people have what 4th graders refer to as a "staring problem." Why don't you take a picture, Nigel. It'll last longer. Our flight for Dublin leaves in 2 hours and I simply cannot wait to land, get our bags, grab a cab, check into our hotel and crash. I haven't slept in 24 hours (exactly. I just did the math.) and I am definitely, not that it's rare, in no mood...

Friday, December 19, 2008

yeah, but i could spell UPDATED...

My family gathered for dinner together last night for reasons beyond me since we’re all about to spend 2 weeks traveling together. I say we take as much alone time as we can in the remaining hours before departure.
Anyway, after dinner and hanging out in the living room, I made the mistake of asking my parents a question I already knew the answer to. My younger brother Alex has always maintained that other than an unfortunate stint during his difficult puberty, he got the looks and I got the brains. My mother, not disagreeing, always responds, “That makes me feel bad for both of you.”
But that didn’t stop her when I inquired last night, “When Alex and I were both 5, who was cuter?”Without the slightest hesitation, both parents answered, “Alex.”
I may not have been able to complete the entire sentence, they were so confident that my cherub-like, green-eyed, blonde-haired baby brother emerged from a rosebud like an Anne Geddes photo.
I, on the other hand, looked like an androgynous Ellis Island reject, a slingshot emerging from the back pocket of my boys’ department overalls and booming voice demanding more and more attention, attention it seems better spent lavished on the perfect, Aryan, mellow, smiling male heir.
Yeah, this is going to be a great goddamn vacation…

*My mother, gloriously plagued with guilt over this post, found pictures of us both at 5. What the hell happened in photo technology from 1983 to 1988? Mine is clearly a historical relic and Alex's could've been taken yesterday...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

finally...

Awwww yeah! My Wednesday Culture Blog is BACK!!!

why god, why...

Ages ago, Dallas filled me in on a Mayor candidate down in his red-neck of the woods. Jennifer Gale was a homeless transgendered former Marine running for office. Apparently, she ran elections for Mayor of Austin and Dallas, eventually throwing her hat in the ring for POTUS. You can check out her website HERE.
So a year and a half ago, I decided to e-mail her and ask her opinion of our fair mayor, Gavin Christopher Newsom. She responded right away, the subject of her e-mail reading, "Beth Spotswood for Mayor!"
Hi Beth,
I have heard nothing but good things about our San Francisco mayor. I am running for President of the United States. I may be contesting the race for Dallas mayor. Our "Official Newspaper" referred to four candidates as "Also-rans". Then they didn't include us in other articles. I have walked from Sausalito to San Fransisco. I was there for the Green Bay Packer playoff game. I think it was 1999.
Thank-you for saying Hi.
Jennifer Gale
May 21, 2007
Dallas informed me mere minutes ago that Ms. Gale was found dead this morning on the front steps of the church where she was staying. This is incredibly sad and I'll keep you posted on any details of this tragic turn of events. For the record, any candidate who e-mails back with the speed and enthusiasm as this fabulous tranny is a class act in my book. Rock on, Jennifer Gale. I hope your awesome he-she wings take you straight (heh) to heaven...

Monday, December 15, 2008

i went from aa to aaa...

Tragedy strikes again!
But first, yesterday. I could barely sleep Saturday night, I was so excited to graduate from rehab. Every morning, we're woken up at 6:30 via a loudspeaker above our bed, with Jim the counselor proclaiming, "Good morning! It's a great day to be sober!" I jumped out of bed and immediately started packing, removing the beautiful letters and cards from my wall and stuffing my clothes in one of my many suitcases. I stripped my sheets, packed up my comforter and pillow and begrudgingly took the gorgeous white roses Hastings brought me last weekend and threw them away in the kitchen. 
My last day as Senior Peer, I led the morning check-in and reminded everyone to be back at 9:15 for my medallion ceremony because, "I'm outta here, suckers!" I spied my mom through the window running down the hallway with a dress for me, throwing it in my room so I could change for the ceremony. 
Finally, Emmanuel and Steve came up to me, each holding white roses. 
"These are for you!"
"Wow, thanks guys. Did you find these in the garbage can?"
"Er, uh. Brian found them!"
My roommate Debbie lost it. "Those were hers! They've been in our room for a week!"
Oh, rehab. The only place where men give you flowers from a garbage can someone else gave you a week ago.
Much like a bride getting ready for her wedding, the girls crowded in my room and helped me stick flowers in my hair and rub self tanner on my legs. And my roommate Debbie managed to smuggle in a tiara which she gave me, making my medallion much like a Miss Rehab pageant. 
My folks and brother were joined by KG and her husband, SG and they were all allowed to watch through the window as 30 drunks and junkies stood in a circle and I stood in the middle. Darvin the counselor gave a little speech, throwing in a Gavin reff. which I thought was klassy. Then I had to make intense eye contact with everyone as they each put their mojo into that little gold coin which is magically going to keep me away from cocktails. Finally, Johnny was the last one to get the medallion and he walked me back to the center of the circle, where he spoke unexpectedly sweetly as he gave me away. You get to pick who gives you away, and I knew Johnny'd do an awesome job. Listening to a 25 year old soldier from Texas speaking about a 30 year old fag hag from San Francisco cracked me up, particularly as he discussed my personal life, decent into booze and what he feels the future holds, plans which include some "lucky bastard" as yet undiscovered. 
Johnny and I hugged, everyone clapped and I was off! I didn't waste one goddamn second getting the hell away from my nearest and dearest rehab friends. Dad took us all to brunch and then I went home. 
Home! 
Sirens! Skyscrapers! Hobos! How I've missed you.
I raced home to dump my luggage and change clothes, meeting Melissa at the mall for non-alcoholic shopping, eating and a movie. A month or so ago, Mel and I would spend a Sunday lingering over lunch with a bottle of wine, moving onto cocktails and then some lavish dinner before drinks till the wee hours at Le Club. 
Alas, those days are gone. It's just a little hard to get used to. As we ordered burritos in the food court of the Westfield Shopping Center, I remarked, "My craving is about a 7."
"Oh, really?" She seemed surprised. "Is that how you rate it?"
Everyday in rehab, we had to fill out a form, ranking among other things, our craving booze or drugs on a scale of 1-10. Movies and eating and shopping for most people mean Diet Coke. Not me! I wanted a bottle of Smirnoff and some Crystal Lite. 
Which is when Mel asked me a very good question. "What do I do if you really insist on ordering a drink."
"Oh, golly. I don't know. I guess tell me if I really need a drink, I can have one tomorrow. It's that whole one day at a time thing."
"Yeah, but what if you're really persuasive and you get all angry?"
She stumped me. I have no idea. Because I can totally see myself doing that. "Screw you! I'm 30 years old and I'm getting a goddamn cocktail, you judgemental bitch."
Quite frankly, she should just remind me of the myriad of occasions I called her in the middle of the night, drunk and hysterical, sobbing on the floor of my living room over a rough episode of Designing Women, followed by my trying to get myself to work the next morning, blaring crappy music so I'd stay awake on the freeway. I don't know if any of you fine people have ever been there, but I have and it's a place I have no desire to return. 
We went to see Doubt, because nothing perks up a rainy afternoon like pedophile priests. What a talent that Meryl Streep is! And I could be off here, blinded by some type of natural high I'm unfamiliar with, but is Philip Seymore Hoffman attractive? Just a little? I'm torn. 
Exhausted, I dropped the Missus off and came home, ate some Chinese food and watched Law and Order with my roommate and crashed. Sunday was exhausting and I delighted in snuggling up in my own bed and wondered what it's like to snuggle with Philip Seymore Hoffman. I bet you'd have to listen to him pontificate on the merits of live theater versus film, which you'd then have to pretend to be interested in and regret you ever started snuggling with him in the first place. 
"No, no. I totally agree. It's all about feeling the energy of the audienzzzzzzzzz..."
I woke up this morning at 6am. 
Well shit. It IS a great day to be sober! 
I blew out my hair, threw on my cutest little jumper and headed out into the wind and rain with my new mittens and plans to beat everyone to work, just to display how clean, sober and professional I am now. 
Which is when I discovered it. 
Rhonda the Honda, cleaned and repaired by my sweet father, had a fucking flat tire. I don't know my Bible as well as say, old people, but I'm pretty sure this was one of those tests from God. 
Calmly, I called AAA and was told I'd be rescued in an hour. I grabbed a cup of coffee, an Esquire magazine and watched my phone run out of batteries. An hour and 15 minutes later, I called back. 
"Um, Hi. I called a while ago for a tire change?"
"Oh yeah. I apologize. It'll be 60 minutes."
"16 minutes?"
"No. 60."
"Listen to me." I willed my voice not to crack. "My phone has 2 minutes left, I just got out of rehab yesterday and this is my first day back at work. I am doing my 10 deep breaths and it's not working."
"Oh my god."
"I'm trying to accept the things I cannot change but I will do anything to get this tire changed."
"Okay, hold on. Let me see what I can do."
Which is when she disconnected me. 
I marched back to my house in the rain, my bouncy hair now a dripping rats nest, and woke up my roommate, John. "I have a flat tire and I need your phone."
Actually, I could really use a Bloody Mary right now. But instead I shall patiently wait, then go purchase a phone charger, new tire and get cracking on my new cross addiction. I can't decide if I'll become a hoarder or plastic surgery addict, but any more tests from my goddamn Higher Power and I'm going to become addicted to murdering tow truck drivers...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

tick tock, tick tock...

18 hours to go!
Some of you may have completed marathons, cured cancer or climbed Kilimanjaro. But I survived rehab bitches so suck on that! Tomorrow morning is my little graduation ceremony, called 'Medallion' where "Johnny" is giving me away. My parents and brother must peer through a window from the hallway, as the ceremony is supposed to be private. We're very exclusive here in rehab. Only drunks and junkies can attend.
Yesterday, I was forced to read a "goodbye letter to alcohol" to my entire group. Upon completion, I looked up from my little notebook to 7 concerned faces.
"You seem to romanticize vodka."
"It's like a relationship that you're not over."
"How can you possibly go back to your life and not drink?"
Thanks guys. Thanks. First of all, you've obviously been drinking cheap, hobo vodka to wash down your Valium, you fucking hypocrites. Otherwise, you would know how goddamn wonderful it is to sit alone at a fabulous bar and sip the glory that is Belvedere. Second of all, I'm still pining after Vinnie from kindergarten and my favorite fragrance, Night Rhythms that was discontinued in 1993. I will mourn forever. Why the hell do you think I wear black all the time? Finally, Mr. X has informed Gina, the owner of Le Club (at the fabulous Le Club Holiday Soiree that I missed) that I'm in the clink and it's all her fault. Thus, if the high priestess of San Francisco watering holes knows of my delicate condition, I should be fine and dandy with my diet coke. Somehow, my group thinks that people will be shoving Gibsons down my throat, dismissive of my recovery. "What about peer pressure, Beth?"
Silly rednecks. Everyone in the big city is wildly familliar with rehab. I don't plan on being embarassed saying, "Sorry, I don't drink." And I'd regard anyone presurring me to drink as an asshole and most likely, a 17 year old. Wouldn't you?
Smack, however, is a different story all together.
Anyway, I'm very excited about my Medallion tomorrow, which is a big gold coin passed around the room in a silent ceremony while I stand in the center and wonder what the hell kind of fucked up energy these deadbeats are putting into my Medallion. Then Johnny gets the Medallion, walks me to the middle of the room, says all kinds of fabulous things about me and my recovery, then hands me my coin and I get to bail! The best part of Medallion, I imagine, is when someone who you don't like very much has to pretend to shove their fake good thoughts into your medallion and you just get to look at them, smiling and knowing you get to go home and they're stuck here, trying to get relish out of a packet and onto last week's hot dog.
Emmanuel's reading over my shoulder now, desperate to get on the computer to research his internet quest to become a male escort. (You think I'm kidding. Think again.) If ever you find yourself in the San Diego area looking for companionship, lemme know.
Anyway, I am now 28 days sober, which doesn't sound like very much, but if you told me that'd be the case a few months ago, I would've told you to get your head checked.
San Francisco, here I come!
xo,
Betty Ford...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

i had to come to rehab to excel...

Picture, if you will, 29 drunks and junkies on a hospital bus (The Druggy Buggy), swathed in subtle red safety lighting on a 35 minute drive through the wine country to an AA meeting in Napa singing every drinking song known to man.
The back row, made up of (they selected their own names), Emmanuel (booze, drug, sex and rage), J.R. (beer, beer, beer), Stephan (Jersey boy addicted to alcohol and weed) and Sweet Mike (booze after he lost his son in the Iraq) screaming "99 bottles of beer on the wall" while Izzy (crack, heroin, coke, speed, meth, etc.) danced down the aisle, clapping her hands and trying not to fall as we speed down the highway.
Sitting next to my number one rehab gay, Ansel, I turned around to take in this image and thought to myself, "Shit, my Flip Video camera is at the office." Ansel was having none of it, screaming "Shut the fuck up!" to the ceiling as he cries went unheard (or ignored.) Christmas songs, a Neil Diamond Tribute, TV theme songs; they sang the whole way there, rarely making it through a song with all of the lyrics in tact.
Sadly, they didn't let that stop them.
"Bethy Baby!" Emmanuel screamed. "Request something!"
I pulled my iPod earplugs out, spun around and yelled down the aisle, "Sweet Caroline, motherfuckers." I think they made it through one verse before switching to "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Frosty the Snowman" which may have evolved into "Bethy the Snowbitch." I stopped listening.
Ansel threatened to take a $60 cab ride back from the meeting, but I wouldn't let him. I wasn't suffering through another 35 minutes of that shit alone. I should also point out that the Napa meeting is the AA meeting with "Hot guy." Stephanie and I made the mistake of expressing to Johnny that we found "Hot guy" hot. So upon his entrance, Johnny and his fucking Texas drawl turn around and yelled, "Hey Beth. Your boy's here!"
I wish I could report that love blossomed over the Oreos and non-dairy creamer. It did not.
By the time we got to "The drunks on the bus go slosh, slosh, slosh" I was ready to make a run for it. Alas, I can't. Why? Because I'm Senior Peer!
Once a week, the staff selects a "senior peer" to lead meetings, show the rookies around and bring complaints to the staff. C'est moi. My mother's having bumper stickers made.
"My child is Senior Peer at Rehab."
I wonder if I can put this on my resume...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

maybe we can go to meetings together...

I have 6 days of rehab left!
Hell yeah, you hedonistic drunks. I'll be returning home next week to point how how you're all killing yourselves with your unhealthy ways. (Hold on, I need to sneak another cigarette.) This means that only 6 days remain for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Christopher Newsom, whose birthday I have never forgotten, to send me some type of alcohol related gift basket.
Gavin, in fact, was given the perfect opportunity to inquire as to my well being when my father interviewed him last Tuesday night, which you can read all about HERE.
The folks came up to visit me today and as we dined on lunch, I got the scoop on the interview and here's how the conversation went:

Oh my god, Daddy! you forgot to tell me about interviewing Gavin!
Oh yeah. You didn't read my article?
Er, uh, well...I'm focusing on my recovery. Back off. Anyway, spill.
It went great.
What did you call him?
Gavin.
Really?!?! Not Mayor?
Hmmm, nope. I called him Gavin. I usually call small town mayors "Mister Mayor."
Did he ask about me?
No.
Not once?
No.
You know he's in recovery.
I know.
So he didn't ask about me and my courageous struggle?
No.
Was he drunk?
No.
Okay, well what did he call you?
I can't remember. I don't think he called me anything.
So he was rude, basically.
No, no, no. It was very professional.
Was he rude at all?
Not at all. I had a list of questions, Beth. It wasn't like we were hanging out.
Okay, okay. But you don't think it's a little rude not to ask how your family is doing?
Actually, we spoke about his father.
Oh, terrific. I'm in rehab, somewhere Gavin claims to have been, and he can't say a little, "I hope that drunk daughter of yours is enjoying the clink."
Apparently not. Just read my column.
Didn't I tell you to back off? What was he wearing?
I have no idea.
I'm sorry. What?
His usual, I guess.
Oh, the blue tie. Figures. What'd you ask him?
(insert political questions about statewide issues.)
Was anyone else there?
A couple of guys and two cops.
This is awesome. Way to go, Dad! I'm just glad you were able to forget all about your only daughter suffering alone and sober, miles and miles away from this momentous occasion.
Me too.
I really think it's bullshit he didn't even give me a shout out.
Ragone asked about you, though.

YES! PWR, I will not forget this gallant gesture. In return for the huge Spotspoints you just earned, I won't call you Bjorn for one calendar year, either privately or publicly.
In other City Hall news that's made it all the way up to rehab, Matthew Goudeau continues his reign as my favorite gay person of power in Room 200 (or thereabouts. I always get lost up there.) Matthew helped nix Yelp Day because Yelp won't let reviewers shit on businesses who supported Prop 8.
Yelp's argument is that you can't review a business if you haven't patronized it. Matthew's argument is basically, Yes you can, motherfuckers, if that business supports hate. I mean, seriously. I'd want to know if my $35 chicken was helping fund bigotry. (I also love Matthew because he's a snappy dresser, has the cutest giggle on Earth and if you google him, my love pops right up.) So way to stick it to the man, Matthew! Or rather, way to stick it to Nish.

6 days! Let the countdown begin...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

i wonder what the view's like from colombian rehab...

Because God is an ironic freak who enjoys messing with my sick, twisted mind, the view from my room at rehab is of the rolling vineyards of St. Helena. This is where I go to contemplate what a horrible drunk I am and wonder if I'll ever touch the devil's juice again. Thankfully, I've got the only room with a deck that wraps around to the left with an enjoyable view of the Emergency Room entrance.
My desk in said room is covered with letters from my fabulous friends, which I've tacked to the walls leaving permanent holes I plan to fill with toothpaste upon my departure a week from Sunday.
And upon my bed, atop my comforter I dragged all the way from home, lies my favorite item I received in an action packed care package from KG, which they made me open up at the front desk, lest she tried to mail me a bottle of Skyy. I knew what it was immediately! She made me a Gavin doll!!!!! There are regular friends, and then there are the friends that actually make you a doll of the Mayor of San Francisco when you're in rehab. I hope Gavin knows that his likeness currently rests upon my pillow as I struggle through treatment for alcohol dependency. I hope he takes some time to think about that. And then I hope he sends me flowers.
My number one rehab gay, "Ansel" (he made me pick a name, as he refused to select his own) and I spent this evening watching an hour-long MTV documentary about Britney Spears on this lone rehab computer. Occasionaly, we'd have to pause and attend an AA/NA meeting or similar, and by the time we'd returned, someone else would be bogarting the technology.
Pacing up and down the halls and rolling our eyes at someone daring to interupt our screening, something finally occured to us.
"This is what we've been reduced to, Beth. We are standing by a pay phone waiting for someone to get off the computer so we can watch Britney Spears' ruined life and feel better about ourselves."
Ansel is my age and works at a hospital for the criminally insane. Obviously, I love him.
In a recovery related update (I'm saving the high drama, for those of you not on my e-mail update list, for my fabulous memoir), I told my story to the entire group last night at an AA meeting, a relatively big deal as only a handful of us step up and spill.
Afterwards and post-congratulatory hugs, I was told I mask my pain with humor. Please. Those bitches were laughing. Hey, I enjoy seeing someone break into hysterical tears as much as the next drunk, but I don't cry on stage. At least not for free...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

take the stairs...

While we were all "enjoying" this past holiday weekend, some of us more than others, some poor dude's dead body was trapped in an elevator shaft in what I like to call, the House of Shields Building.
I guess in my naive youth, I thought soap operas had proprietary reign over people falling down elevator shafts. Apparently not, as this is the second (yeah, second) time in recent months I've heard about someone falling down an elevator shaft, or at least that's what a dinner companion claimed. He might have just been blowing me off, but that's one hell of an excuse for being late.
How exactly does one fall down an elevator shaft? Because if I was standing on the 86th Floor of the Spotswood Media Corp. Building and pushed the button summoning the elevator (or rather, had Tucker, my Rhodes Scholar, J. Crew model assistant push it for me) and the doors opened, I would not trustingly step my Manolo-clad foot into a sea of darkness and filthy cables, assuming that perhaps the carpet, lights, wood paneling and uniformed elevator operator, Mr. Honeycutt were all under construction. "Oh, Tucker, cancel my Friday reservation at Spruce as Oprah's in town and she detests their mixed field gree ... AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
It's got to take a certain concentrated obliviousness to blindly march right into a black hole to certain death, much less on a holiday weekend when poor Tucker and I wouldn't be found for 6 whole days, our lifeless but finally entwined bodies ignored while you assholes scarf down your turkey with cheap beer and football you pretend to care about.
Anyway, be careful out there kids. And perhaps look before you leap...