An old something I wrote

I wrote the following bit last January, shortly before I took up running. I was a little over 6 months sober at the time. I thought about it this morning when I went running past the house with the Peter Rabbit statue. The old house with the mean dogs changed owners and is currently under renovation…probably being flipped is my guess.

I found out the hoarder house belongs to one of two spinster sisters. The other lives in the house across the street with the tangly yard. They both spend most of their time at a vacation home in the Poconos.

You can learn so much in a year.

If you’re newly sober, I’m not advocating that you take up running or being nosy. Reading or rollerskating will do just as well if they keep you engaged and challenged. I’m just grateful I harnessed the restlessness I felt at the time. I think running saved me in a lot of ways.

p.s. I still haven’t spotted those white deer since.

p.p.s. You’ve probably already seen this link on other sober blogs, but a graduate student asked if I would post a link to a survey for married couples where drinking has been an issue of concern. If interested, go here!

Running – January 10, 2012

Every day I do 30 minutes of exercise, but it’s all very old-lady like, so that’s probably why I’m not cut and buff and ripped and all those hard words fit people throw around.In the basement I have an elliptical machine I bought with my bonus check four years ago. It runs on two D batteries and I only ever put it up to level 3 because level 4 feels like trying to walk through sand up to my thighs. It slips off track if I use the arm levers, so I don’t use the arm levers. I read and tread in small, slightly resistant circles for a half hour to work up a fine bead of sweat and then finish up with 120 situps. I know that sounds like a lot of situps, but I do them on a situp bench, which is like doing 10 situps on the ground, only it’s easier.

My preferred exercise is a 30-minute 2-mile lap around the neighborhood behind where we live. It’s the sort of workout your grandmother could keep up with, plus we would have a lot to talk about during our walks.

For about a month, I saw two white deer almost every time I walked. I only managed one fuzzy picture of one from far away, but I swear they were real. I haven’t seen them in months, though I always look.

This is my favorite house to walk past. It’s a hot mess of old cars, plus someone spray painted Ball Star on the basketball backboard. It’s right across from a park where someone defaced a baby swing by painting a cartoonish penis on the front. To tell the truth, I never much noticed the penis until my older kid pointed out one visit that it was no longer there. Where did the penis go? So many mysteries.

Sometimes when I walk, I see moving trucks and feel like I’m losing a neighbor, though I don’t know them and it’s not even my neighborhood. Once I saw a man in his late 50s bring a box of loose this-and-thats out to a U-Haul trailer. I’d never seen him before, but I knew his house because it was the one with the dirtpile backyard and two mean-ass barking dogs tied up to weak-looking ropes. I transferred my dislike of the dogs to the man and imagined his wife finally had enough of his mean ass. I saw a pickup truck pull up and the man walked over with his box still in hand and talked with whoever was inside – an older couple – and I walked on because it was not my neighborhood or my neighbor or my business.

When I turned and got to the end of the next street, the pickup truck drove past and pulled into the driveway of a house I knew because I’d seen the guy walking his schnauzer before and both were very friendly. Days later, I was surprised to see this Peter Rabbit statue in the friendly man’s yard because it used to be in the mean man’s yard.

I wondered if their conversation had been about the statue.

“Jean told us you’re moving out. Patty and I are just so sorry.”

“Yeah, that bitch can go to hell. You want this fucking rabbit? If you don’t, I’m going to break it into a million pieces and feed it to the dogs.”

Though what kind of mean man has a Peter Rabbit statue in his yard? It is possible I snap-judged him wrong.

Maybe you think I’m too nosy, and this may be. At least I’m not like the neighbors who came outside to openly stare when police pulled up and walked to the front door of the house where an old woman lives. I’d seen her many summer nights sitting in a camp chair in front of a one-car garage, which was open and packed to the ceiling with crap. It was all stacked neatly, like some impossible game of Jenga because it was all real stuff like broken chairs and tea kettles and empty wooden frames and folded army tents.

The policeman wore a brown short-sleeved shirt and brown shorts. I had no idea policemen could wear shorts until that night. I was walking past – staring discreetly, not like those neighbors – but I saw the policeman talking and pointing to her open garage in a respectful, almost apologetic way that made me feel equally sorry for him and the old lady. Hoarders is my least favorite show of all time, outranking even The Beverly Hillbillies, so the whole short scene just about broke my heart.

Lately when I walk, I feel like I want to start running. Maybe it’s boredom with routine (though the route has plenty of hills, so it’s challenging) or maybe I’m anxious to get back and get things done (though the down time and fresh air are wonderful), or maybe I don’t want to see any more heartbreak in things.

If I go by faster, things will look different and I will get a better workout. I’m ready for a change.

15 thoughts on “An old something I wrote

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  1. I remember very early on sober driving to work one day – same route I’d used for years and years but I arrived at work and said to a co-worker “The trees are so green” and waxed lyrical about my drive in. He seemed to shrug as much as to say “No more than usual pal, why can’t you be the miserable old so and so you used to be”… I shared this at a meeting to much nodding and laughing – people said “Your eyes are opening aren’t they”.

    I notice a lot more these days, but a lot less too… like I can’t tell you what make, model and age of car my neighbours drive, 10 years ago I’d have listed the entire road and told you which households I thought I had a better car than. Cos that mattered then. Now I can tell you that I’m concerned for one couple over the road, the man is getting more frail, he is finding just getting about difficult and his wife (who has had a heart attack) now does all the gardening. Both my wife and I have offered to help with heavy tasks on occaison. Next door by one have a lovely new granddaughter … funny the total change of what I notice around me and what I don’t now. Progress not perfection…


    1. I like to hear your progression, especially since you have quite a bit more time. Everyone’s different, but I want what you have – especially your compassion and giving nature.


  2. I always thought Elly May was hot. I like to sing the theme song for my wife every once in a while, she absolutely hates it. Actually the cast members were/are a kind of different group with varied and pretty interesting lives before and after the show. Makes me wonder how someone might sum up my life before, during, and after drink. I like to think this last sober part would read the best. Sure seems that way to me anyhow.

    Not so convinced about the (not just one but two mind you) white deer. But I’ll bite, perhaps you were still in your “emotional” stage.

    I am glad you are doing well. Your writings have been a great help to me and I appreciate it.


  3. Aren’t you loving the time passing and the sobriety shifting and changing. Who we were at 6 months sober is different to who we are at 18(odd) months and it will be different at three years and so on. Endlessly fascinating. I love it. I love my sobriety, even when it’s hard and I”m tired and bored and eating crap food and feeling ‘itchy’ (restless, bored? low?)… I still love it. Great post and love your photos too. xxxx


    1. I like hearing how in love you are still with sobriety b/c I too feel this way. I feel dorky at times by how fascinated I find it and everything, really, but honestly wouldn’t want it any other way. xo


  4. Oh, BBB – I get excited when I see that you’ve posted something, and even when it’s something written at a different time, it’s still a pleasure to read. I agree that nosiness and sobriety maybe aren’t the best bunk mates, but at least your nose wasn’t in a bottle of booze. (How did you actually jog and take all those pictures and listen to conversations, etc at the same time? lol). What I got from your post is how we start to see things again when we become sober. We are looking at details, we see big pictures, we see the things we were blind to when we drank. I don’t look at what I don’t have, I look at what I have now.

    Wonderful blast from the past 🙂



    1. Thank you for your kind words, Paul 🙂 I took those pictures while I was still walking. Maybe that’s why I like jogging so much. No pressure to do anything else because I can’t!


  5. I hung on every word my friend.

    “or maybe I don’t want to see any more heartbreak in things…”

    I think that’s one of the reasons I drank. And it was also one of the reasons I then threw myself into running.

    I love the photo and story of the white deer. They are very symbolic, you know. Many believe they are the “highest” and most sacred of our spiritual messengers. And you saw two. Wow! I’m sure there was a special message of transformation there for you, especially at that point in your life.

    Really loved this post!


    1. I never thought of the significance of seeing them, but that was a time of great change. I’d much rather look at it that way and think they moved on to some other soul who needed them more 🙂


    1. Hey Michelle! It is coming along and it IS fun. I should make my word count goal (with some scurrying at the end, no doubt) but I’ve found it’s much harder to write fiction than non-fiction. I feel like I’m learning and it’s been a nice way to dip my toes into writing creatively. I hope it’s going well for you!


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