Archives for September 2011

Monday Dare: Clearly, I’m a terrible friend

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. You can click on the link if you’d like to see the full list of Monday Dares or learn more about its origin.

This week: Thank Joe

I remember one birthday and that’s Cal’s. It’s probably because I gave birth to her (and it hurt a shitload), but it could also be because she’s my favorite small person. Those two things may be related. My favorite big person is Harv. I’m not writing that out of obligation, but if it furthers my cause of getting the complete set of Chevron toy cars for Christmas, then hey, I’m not going to fight it.

My friend Joe’s birthday was last week, and I forgot to wish him a Very Happy Birthday. Again.

I love Joe for so many reasons. He’s a good listener. He’s an awesome travel guide. He’s a ridiculously gifted Settlers of Catan opponent. And Joe made a difference in my life when I needed it most.

For years and years, I was addicted to drugs. At my very lowest point, I remember snorting one line of coke after another, challenging myself to see how much I could do before I passed out. I didn’t care if I died. I rationalized that everyone had to die at some point, and I’d much rather die from doing drugs than from anything else. I just….I just didn’t give a fuck.

That’s when I met Joe. I didn’t know quite what to make of him at first. Because I didn’t want to face the severity of my problems, I only kept company with fellow addicts. But Joe- he was good. He was normal. And I didn’t know how a normal, happy, functional person was supposed to fit into my life.

He wanted to do normal things. I’m not sure how I felt about that. Why were we going to eat frozen yogurt? There were drugs to be done! Alcohol to be imbibed!

Once, while we were chatting, I expressed an interest in learning to play chess. He taught me. Or, at least, he tried to teach me. We sat for hours, over multiple nights, as he explained the same rules over and over again. My concentration and memory were shot so we didn’t get far. But he never lost his patience, and he never once stood up and announced that I should stick with something a little less involved, like quarters.

On another frozen yogurt excursion, he casually handed me a packet of papers: information about drug addiction, resources in finding help, and questionnaires for assessing whether there was a problem or not. I laughed at the questionnaire. But later that night, I sat down with a pencil and filled it out. The whole thing. Page after page of difficult questions and answers. It was really the first time I could see in plain text how much trouble I was in.

The thing is, I didn’t quit right away. But it opened my eyes to a truth I wasn’t ready to see yet.

I don’t think Joe knows what a difference he made or how much I love him and thank him for it.

Happy Birthday, Joe. Thanks for being my friend.

Do you have a Joe in your life- someone’s who’s made a difference when you needed it most?
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I probably shouldn’t be allowed outside

I resist taking advice. As a kid, when my mom told me I needed a sweater, I would roll my eyes and counter that I didn’t need one because I was a hard-ass motherfucker, and small inconveniences of nature like 40 mile-an-hour winds didn’t affect me. Then, I would call her an hour later because the “slight breeze” ripping through my spaghetti-strap tank and nylon shorts was making my teeth chatter. She would shout, “Too bad, sucka!” and hang up the phone.

Luckily, I’ve grown out of this ugly habit. Mostly.

I carry very little cash with me because when I have it around, I can never remember where I spent it and half the time, I think I’ve lost it and walk around in circles, checking pockets, turning purses upside down, and slipping my hands into all sorts of cracks and crevices looking for it. Harv thinks it’s best for me to stuff twenty dollars in the glove compartment…just in case. This, of course, makes me more determined to show Harv that my own system works just fine.

Usually, I just carry around my drivers license, a debit card, a credit card, and my Costco membership- because you never know when you’ll be in your car and suddenly think “Hot damn, I need 120 ounces of ketchup and 98 rolls of toilet paper RIGHT NOW.”

This worked just fine until last week.

There may have been an incident involving a parking garage. I may have called my husband during the middle of a workday asking for a five dollars. Harv may have asked why I needed this money, and I may have admitted that I was stuck in a parking garage with a broken ATM and no bank nearby to withdraw any cash.

There may have been an uncomfortably long silence on Harv’s end of the phone. Then there may have been some snorts and muffled laughter. I may have heard Harv speaking to no one in particular, “God, why me?” but this hasn’t been verified.

The only thing I’m sure of is that Harv must have felt pretty lucky in that moment to be married to someone who isn’t afraid to ask for help. I think that’s the sign of a really strong person- someone who is willing to disrupt her husband’s workday and ask him to drive across town to bring five dollars so she can escape the clutches of a parking garage.

Harv, you really scored.

Have you ever been woefully unprepared?
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