Fat pants, booze and the boy from New Jersey

fat pants The BF and I must be happy, because we are fat. Fat and happy, fat and happy, go together like a pee and nappy.

Only like most things, it's not as simple as that.

He is fat because he has been working 16 - 20 hour days on a hamster wheel of stress, pushing pixels for the Man, eating whatever carb-y thing he can grab in between worsening his carpel tunnel. He is fat because the writers and the actors and the directors are going to do big battle with the producers next spring, and there are too many dependents in his trust for whom the words "strike" mean nothing, but who require food, clothing and health insurance, nonetheless.

I, on the other hand, am fat because I quit acting. I am fat because where I once ran my thespianic ass all over the 25-square-mile playing field that is Actors' Los Angeles, I, too, now park it in front of a keyboard for the bulk of the day.

But he is also fat because of the Lexapro, or whichever of those SSRI dolls he's on to officially correct what he used to self-medicate. Whereas I am fat because, here it comes, I have been self-medicating. One, two, sometimes three glasses of hooch per evening. The creep has been slow but steady, a match reverse of my dip into the Valley of Monotony. And it's time to stop before I have to Stop.

Last night, I dreamed I went to an AA meeting. Because it was a dream, it was probably unlike any AA meeting in existence (I've never actually been to one): there were a lot of forms to fill out for newcomers, and once I made it into the meeting (already in session), it looked more like I imagine a Cuban refugee camp might, with little clusters of people building shacks, playing card games, cooking over open fire.

It was an interesting dream to have last night, because of the day I'd had before it: work, rain, reading...and abstinence. Apparently, the perfect storm for creating self-awareness. A day just as long, filled with just as much work and solitude, but devoid of alcohol or the desire for it. Here's what I'd sussed out as of this morning:

  • The work was engaging. I got my hands a little grubby with code, but went slowly and broke nothing. Knocked a big item off my to-do list, and felt pride of accomplishment on a lot of levels.
  • The rain gave me permission to stay inside and do it. One of the dastardly things about this relentlessly "perfect" place is the tyranny of perpetual sunshine. I've never liked the outside so all-fired much, but there it is, 24/7, postcard-perfect and in my face. No wonder Bukowski drank. L.A. should go fuck itself, sometimes.
  • As much of a powerhouse as I think I am, the truth is, I amn't. I need rest and reading and quiet and solitude. I need space for puttering and play. The BF was two hours late to a rendezvous, we had promised to help celebrate a very important birthday, and as I'd passed them with a spectacularly engrossing read, I was sanguine. Well, for me, anyway. So QED.

And then, because I can't possibly be expected to get it all myself, I was visited this morning by the Archangel Ira Glass, who sang a song of a 19-year-old saint from Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Since I gave up TV about a year ago, there are some gaps in my cultural knowledge. Everyone and his brother has seen the Nike basketball commercials starring freestyle sensation Luis Da Silva and heard his amazing story. (If you haven't, here's an extended version on YouTube. And here's Luis all by his fantastic self.)

Just like that, the other piece of the puzzle turned up under the sofa: find that passion. Find it find it find it, and then keep a holy shrine to it in my heart, and on a screen saver and a bright-yellow rubber bracelet and any other talisman-reminders I need. When I'm plugged in, the rest falls into place. Good days, bad days revert back to plain old time, which I'm spending doing the thing I'm Here to Do (plus some attendant side tasks and the daily chores that keep me from being a callous monster.)

It seems pretty simple in the cold, clear light of day: find the thing I love, work hard, take breaks, get a refreshing night's sleep, wake up happy, do it again. Abstinence takes care of itself when I take care of me. Fat pants and booze are the symptoms, not the root issue.

Thank you, Ira and Luis, for reminding me.

Thank you, Sofka, Leslie, Pema, Jack, Julia and Jiddu, for telling me in the first, and second, and third, and-and-and, place.

Thank you, dear reader, for keeping me honest...

xxx c

Image by sidereal via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.