Day Five: Smoke!

The San Rafael Canal leading in and out of the Bay. I need to find a dock to dip legs in. You cannot see it, but the small sloop to the left in front is named "The Bill Murray".

Around these haunts, pretty much everyone smokes except me. I man I have the pipe Jan gave me for Christmas, but I typically smoke it once a week at best. The acrid smell of cigarette smoke permeates everything at every place. It is rumored that in the far left corner of the main smoking mezzanine here at the shelter that wifi works. I’d try, but I wouldn’t be able to see the screen through the white-bluish haze.

Not that I don’t understand cigarette addiction. In fact, I hear withdrawals from tobacco are worse than heroin withdrawals (maybe Lennon was singing ColdTurkey about cigs), I am just glad I don’t have it. Some of it is pure boredom, some social…but mostly an acquired addiction.

Where do they get $7-$14 a day to but a pack or two?

I suppose where I use to get the same amount for alcohol. Too bad they cannot kick tobacco in a few days the way I have alcohol.


It’s Saturday so I have basically made it through my first week. There is not much to do today as all agencies are closed. I will get my Food Stamp card on Monday, which is interesting as you’re not allowed to store food here.

On the other hand, (your tax dollars at work), I can buy some of my favorite Cowgirl Creamery “Red Hawk” cheese and some nice whole wheat crackers to have back at the shelter after dinner, or some 72% Cacao chocolate bars. I feel like a bit like the guy in Stalag 13 (Hogan’s Heroes) who has all the goods to trade and barter with.

What would I barter for right now? Quarters for laundry. I have been given no quarter. Friends are afraid to give me any cash as they fear I may use it to purchase a nice Pinot Grigio or, perhaps a –liter box of Carlo Rossi. Fact is, a recovering alcoholic is gonna find a way to drink if they want to it. It is one of the top ten misnomers about the disease of alcoholism (the others are equally presumptions and wrong-headed).

The fact is I have no desire to drink alcohol today, and that is all that is necessary. If I do get thrown a curve, I have backup meds (which I have not been using because I have not needed to). The “Depakote” the doctors gave me in Monterey has kicked in and has, for the first time in my life, given me what they described as a “level playing field”.

At another time I will describe the other nine misnomers. They are pervasive and wrong-headed not in my view so much as by professionals or people in AA.

The thing to remember is a recovering alcoholic has accepted his or her own fate, hopefully without shame or blame. It is what it is. Whining about it is a waste of energy and a bit sophomoric.

Marin Pandemic

The pandemic in Marin is not alcohol (and cigarettes are mostly for the poor, ironically). The real problem is methamphetamine and heroin use among the rich youth. When things atch up with them (and they do quickly) their parents simply ship them off to a $15,000-$30,000 a month facility, visit once or twice and figure that is that.

They fail to see that, like most addictions, it is a family disease where everyone’s life has to change and be realigned (at the very least). Throwing money at the drug situation is no different than the old “well just have some will power and stop drinking!” idea.

That is not reality. Alcoholics outside of recovery have more will power than you will ever have.

People wonder about me (given my intelligence and self-knowledge), or perhaps pity me, Don’t waste the energy. Would you do that with someone who had leukemia? No, thank God that I can daily be in remission, and possibly live three more full and robust decades. My most creative and productive days (and I have certainly been no slouch up till now) may be ahead.

Or it may kill me off. Diseases work that way.

Okay, now I have to go and double scrub the toilets.


I was just kidding about toilets. What the chances I get men’s bathroom duty out of 32 different chores?

Apparently pretty good. That’s exactly what I got. As I cleaned them I thought of several women I have been in relationship with who would enjoy this moment far too much.

It’s a good and sweaty 1:15 of work and now I smell like I have splashed on Eue de Simple Green.

So, what to do on a Saturday alone and broke? It is here that you can get in dangerous territory with as active a brain as mine.

I’ll spend it at Starbucks. It is too bad it is nearly impossible to get to Borders (I can SEE it across the highway). My only reading material is my Bible, and I already read the ending so I know how it comes out.


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