Category Archives: human pair bonding

Thank You

In real time, Happy Thanksgiving, if you are American.  Happy Thursday, if you are not.  I have some news items to share at the end of this post.

Day four in Australia.  Day four?!  It felt like I’d been here forever, in a good way.

We alighted from our bus for sunset viewing of Ularu.  I walked around snapping photos of other tourist vehicles. I have spent many hours in these heavy-duty Toyotas in Kenya and Ethiopia.

There was this crazy sardine-mobile, some kind of motel on wheels.  I’m all for budget accommodations, but this beat even the bunkhouse for the claustrophobia factor.

There was this dusty, Mad Max BMW motorcycle.

A group of barefoot Aboriginal women sat on the pavement selling paintings.  I felt a sharp, uncomfortable contrast as Meg poured sparkling wine.

But then I was distracted by food.  “This is kangaroo jerky,” she indicated, “this one’s emu pâté  and this here’s croc dip.”

“The kangaroo is delicious!” I commented.  “It’s like venison.”

Heidi didn’t touch it.  “I can’t eat it. The kangaroo and the emu—they’re our national animals.”

“They’re animals that can only go forward,” explained Heidi.  “Like our country, I reckon is the idea?”

“I guess I wouldn’t want to eat a bald eagle,” I replied.  Well, all the more emu and kangaroo for me!

The members of our group began introducing ourselves.  Trevor and Gwen had immigrated to Australia from Nottingham, England, 20 years ago.  They were here with their 14-year-old daughter, Tiffany.  Kris and Melanie, a young Swiss couple, never spoke unless spoken to, so I didn’t get to know them at all.  Brenden and Stefanie were another young couple, from Canada.  Johannes and Sandra were a middle-aged German couple who took elaborate tripod-assisted selfies of themselves jumping for joy in front of every landmark.  Mia and Nora were also German; both were around 22 and they were student teachers in a German school in Melbourne.  There was a Chinese couple—father and daughter?  Lovers?  They stood apart and avoided all eye contact.  Another couple, Darren and Kylie, were also a May-December pair.  They said their names and that they were from Melbourne, then also kept to themselves.

I spoke with James, a 30-something Korean guy who spoke confident but almost-impossible-to-understand English. He was an out-of-work cook from Adelaide, blowing all his savings on a last hurrah in Australia before going home to an uncertain future.  He reminded me of Vince.  Because he was a cook, but mostly because there was a soulfulness about him.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it doesn’t involve decorating the house inside and out, buying presents, or any Christmas/Hanuka dilemmas.  You just eat a lot with your family or friends, then fall asleep in front of the TV watching The Hobbit for the millionth time.

Thanksgiving is about—as the name implies—giving thanks, and I have a lot to be grateful for this year.  As I sit here at my writing desk and look out the window at the grey sky and freezing drizzle, I am grateful for a warm home.  I am healthy.  I have friends and family.  I got to spend a month in Australia!  I wish I was there now.

And, some big news: I quit my job last week.  More on that later, but I already feel 10 years younger.

And another big development: Vince and I started this blog together four years ago.  We just published the first year of the blog as an e-book.  It chronicles his time in prison, his recovery, and my ride along with him.

Besides providing insight into why people turn out the way they are, we’ve been told by many readers that it’s just a good read, a page turner.  So if you’re looking for something to binge read over the weekend, or holidays, consider buying a copy.  Only $3.99!

Breaking Free: A Mother And Son Journey From Addiction, To Prison, To Redemption https://www.amazon.com/…/B…/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_AbI9Bb9K1SXQM

Please feel free to share this on social media, and thanks for reading—we know it can be difficult stuff but addiction and all its consequences, including imprisonment, are a reality for hundreds of thousands of people every day.

A Good Sport

Lest you conclude from my last post that I hate men and think they’re all groping, drooling, creepers, that’s not the case.  In fact I joined a dating website recently.  I’m not optimistic about my prospects.  I will let you guess which of the photos below are from the ads for the company, and which are actual personal ads once you join the site.

Now, you know me—I’m not one to judge.  But 85% of the men on this site are looking for a woman to share their interests, which are hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and watching sports.  So they’re not really looking for the 85% of us women who have no interest in those things.  They’re looking for a buddy.

I don’t expect a man to go thrift store shopping with me.  In fact I wouldn’t be caught dead with a dude who would shop where I shop.  But if I can put myself in men’s shoes and know—in general—what they would and wouldn’t be interested in, why can’t they?

And here’s a tip: Don’t use a handle like “qualudes57” or “weirdo2u” or “chestypuller.”  What the hell? 

Looking for a nice backdrop for your personal ad photo?  Why not use a $1.99 plastic shower curtain from Walmart?

It’s nice to know there is someone out there who takes worse photos than I do.

This website is called Our Time.  It should be called Ouch Time.

But I tried. You never know.

The weekend after my day trip into London, I met up with my friend Heidi.  Heidi is Australian and has lived in London for over 15 years.  She teaches Under 5s, which we in the US would call preschoolers.  She’s also a never-married female, although she’s 15 years younger than me so she may still stand a chance.  We met on the way to Greece, where we went with another Australian woman and Sam back when I lived in the UK.  Since then, she and I have met up in France and Berlin and she visited me in Minnesota.

Heidi had to return home to help her parents out, but she was in the UK to take care of some business with her flat and her job and just enjoy the English summer.

She messaged me to ask if I wanted to go to Wimbledon.  “Uh, no,” I replied, “I’m not a sport person.”

“But it’s the scene, Annie!” she messaged back.  I’m so glad I gave it a go.

Heidi and I met at Putney station, from whence we took a bus, then walked to the venue.  We were handed a queue card with lots of instructions front and back, most importantly, “Queue jumping is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The alcohol limits were “one bottle of wine or Champagne (750ml) or two cans of beer (500ml) or two cans of premixed aperitifs per person. Bottles of spirits or fortified wines will not be allowed into the Grounds.”

These limits were per person, and there was alcohol for sale on site.

It was a rainy Thursday afternoon so there was no queue, which Heidi seemed a bit disappointed about.  Apparently that can be a scene of its own.  The Centre Court tickets were £58.  We bought the £20 lawn tickets.

The rain held off so we were able to watch the youngest and oldest players in exhibition matches, which were fun.  The two “oldies” were Aussies nicknamed The Woodies.  They kept up an amusing banter which kept the crowd laughing while they played.

I was fascinated by the officials’ uniforms and stances.

We walked up to a high lawn where in theory you could watch the super star players on a big screen.  People queued up politely to look over a hedge at the screen.

We spread an oil cloth and plunked down on the ground to drink talk.  We never saw the big match, but we had a nice view of London in the distance and the people watching was good.

There were men in pale yellow suits and hats and women wearing flowery dresses, so I fit right in.

It was a fun day with my buddy Heidi. I guess I do watch sports!  But I draw the line at hunting.

 

 

My Day With a Dentist and Thoughts About A Lawyer (Almost)

VINCE

 

I have been waiting for this day for about five years. I was working in a Mexican restaurant, eating a delicious burrito when I crunched down on something very hard. It was a fork. I felt kind of like an idiot because I’d been eating food by myself for roughly 30 years at that point and thought myself quite capable of using a wide variety of utensils without any trouble. Well at that time I felt my teeth with my tongue and discovered that my number nine top left front tooth had broken off. Shit. I was already self conscious about my smile although my teeth aren’t too terribly bad, and this just made things worse. I had no insurance and all of my money at that point went to drinking, smoking weed, and gambling, and nothing would change that for quite some time as you may have read.

 

Flash forward to the future! A.K.A. now. Ugh. This computer keeps freezing up. Anyhow, I took the morning train to Minneapolis to the U of M School of Dentistry where I laid back in the hydraulic chair and let my student dentist practice making a plastic tooth in my mouth for about two hours. I felt pretty cool because she let me be in control of the suction wand thing but I still ended up drooling on myself quite a bit, not uncommon to any other day, right? I asked, I believe more than once, if we could make teeth other places like on my forehead or in my armpits. We laughed at that and a few other ideas I had like sticking the suction wand in my nose. Actually, that may have been in my head. In the end, she did a great job and I give her complete credit for my new smile which I plan to show as much as possible. I love to laugh and smile but for five years, I simply wouldn’t open my mouth to do either. I was embarrassed, and I thought about my appearance constantly. I’m happy. Thank you, Lauren. Someday when you’re a REAL dentist, you can help me put gold teeth on cats. Gangster kittens!

 

I had discussed my blog and my history with her on previous visits and again today and I decided to let her read one of my posts, Camp Heartland. It is, in my mind, a very moving post, and I could see her reacting to it as she read. The first time I had seen that first hand. As far as reacting to me telling her about my history with drugs and alcohol, she acted as professionally as I could have hoped for. She was inquisitive and sympathetic. It was a good day at the dentist.

 

I also told her about Chelsie Toaster, who I will now call by her real name, Mollie. If you haven’t read the post The Toaster Situation, Mollie is the girl I met and have been doing my best under my restrictions to see as much as possible. We have been limited to seeing each other on our way to and from and at meetings because all of my visitors need to be approved and that takes some time. Well today at work my agent, whom I had asked on every visit previous about the status of her approval, walked in and said, “Mollie is approved, Dude!” I threw my arms up in victory.

 

Mollie is sweet. As I’ve said before, she is the first female that spoke to me at a meeting, and I hoped she would talk to me every time after, and she did. She’s smart. She’s a graduate of Wm. Mitchell School of Law and takes her Bar exam in February. We joke about me needing legal advice in the future. I hope I don’t… She’s from Tennessee, and you can tell because of her ridiculous accent. And, she is beautiful. I haven’t been in a relationship for years. Too many years. I don’t want to push things or move too quickly, but I know that I like her, and I will do what it takes to keep her in my life.

 

Also, she’s a ginger.

Scattered thoughts of a recovering addict

VINCE

I’m staring at the screen and nothing is coming to my mind.  I’ve started a few paragraphs and then erased them.  It’s almost 10pm and I’m very tired.  get up at 6:30 to get ready for the day by drinking coffee and making my lunch for work, then head out at 7:30 to catch the bus then the train for my ride in.

Yesterday the first thing I did at work was smash my foot under a very heavy (we guessed 3 maybe 4 hundred pounds) spring loaded loading dock ramp because the truck I  was going to unload supplies from was filled to capacity and when I pulled up the ramp from the floor and it went where it was supposed to but I couldn’t move.  I tried to move my other foot as it smashed down but there wasn’t room so I actually had to step on the ramp itself adding my weight to the pressure.  I have not experienced that much pain for as long as I can remember.  At that point I thought for sure that I had broken it.  I felt the urge to throw up from the pain, something I have never experienced. I got my foot from under the foot-wrecker and took a few limps around the production floor.  It was the seeing spots kind of pain.  I didn’t want to look like an idiot so I went back to work trying to hide the limp as best I could.  I told my friend about it and he was quite sympathetic to my injury.  Fortunately for me the pain dissipated within a few hours and when I got home and pulled off my socks I still had all five little piggies.  There was blood around my big toe and the one next to it (does that toe have a name?) and a little purple bruising but that was it. That’s the whole story.

Starting to build any kind of relationship while on I.S.R., especially the one I’d like to have with Ms. Toaster, is difficult.  My life is so restricted right now that the times I do get to go anywhere it’s for a specific reason.  I get to see her at meetings, and if I go out for shopping or during my exercise time.  Tomorrow I’m going to run with her, I think that’s a very healthy way to be alone with her, but again, it’s only for an hour and she’s not yet allowed to be a visitor at home.  On the flip side, I think it’s a good thing to not be together every waking moment in the beginning of a relationship.  Not that I would get sick of her, but it adds the elements of anticipation and excitement in seeing each other, if only briefly, every other day or so.  The other day she came to meet me after work just to walk me to the bus stop.  I thought that was nice.  I mean, she walked from her place and back just to see me for maybe 20 minutes.  It made me feel good.  Somebody desires my company, something I haven’t thought in years.  Thank you, Ms. Toaster.  I can’t wait to see you tomorrow.

Alright folks, that’s all for tonight.  I’m tired and I’m going to bed.  Thank you to all of my followers and readers for your feedback and comments.  If I don’t reply, it’s because I don’t know how.  I will figure that out someday.  Goodnight everybody.

The Toaster Situation

VINCE

I met a girl.  I actually saw her at the very first AA meeting I went to a few weeks ago ( For that reason and the fact that we already have an inside joke, I will from this point on refer to her as Chelsey Toaster.  (Her pseudonym).  I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her.  Somewhat unprofessional in a meeting, but what could I do, I’d been away at camp for a long time.  I couldn’t be certain, but she seemed to either catch me a couple of times looking at her, or she was checking me out too.  (Very unprofessional, Ms. Toaster.)  I shared about my recent release from boot camp, and my struggles with anxiety and how everything seemed to be moving so much faster out here.  When the meeting was over, she came up to me and said that she had also just been released from prison.  I said, “Really?”  And she replied, “No, I wasn’t.  I just wanted to make you feel better.”  Hmm.  A jokester, I think I like that.  And that was all.  Well not quite but the rest was recovery related so I don’t talk about it because it was at a meeting.  Very professional, Vince.
So I kept seeing her at meetings, and I kept my eyes on her.  She is beautiful, smart, funny, charismatic, and I kept thinking about her, and she kept letting me talk to her after meetings, which was great because I was having issues with socialization when I first got back to reality.  I have never pursued or dated anybody in recovery.  It’s not that it’s a bad idea, it’s just that it never happened.  So I asked her for her phone number, which she gave me.  And ever since, we’ve been talking, and seeing each other whenever possible on my limited time out of the house.  We went for a walk yesterday after I got off of work and it was really nice to walk hand in hand with somebody.  And today she accompanied me while I ran my errands.  It’s been a very long time since I have had the company of a woman who wasn’t strung out or drinking heavily.  So that’s my introduction of the lovely and brave Ms. Toaster. I don’t want to rush into anything on many levels, but I have a feeling that many future posts will involve her.

I haven’t had any kind of a relationship in years.  Even before prison.  It’s not that I didn’t want one, it’s that I was a huge piece of shit for so long and I knew it and I knew that any real attempt at securing a girlfriend would probably have meant that I would have to curtail my alcoholism and addictions, something I was not willing to set aside for anything.  And although I’m fresh out of the clink, I believe I’m in the best position in a very long time to, at the very least, see if I’m capable of starting and maintaining a healthy connection to another human being.  So, I have that going for me, which is nice. 🙂
In other news, I went in for an eye exam today.  Thank you Lisa!  You know who you are.  The optometrist told me that my eyes are more football shaped than globe, which she could have just called astigmatism, and I wouldn’t now feel self-conscious about.  I mean, what gives her the right to tell me my eyes aren’t normal other than her being an eye Doctor?  What are her qualifications?  I bet she doesn’t even have her G.E.D.  Well, anyhow, I have contacts now but I still keep pushing on the place where I used to have glasses sliding down.  Now it just looks like I’m pointing at my head.  I’m sure that will go away in time.
And finally, I got to see my uncle and his family today.  He and his wife brought their two incredible children whom I had never met due to my substantial absence.  My mother baked a chicken, and I made roasted garlic and squash soup and a chocolate cake with caramel-butter frosting.  And we sat around the table and caught up.  I’m really starting to like this family thing.  I still feel guilty sometimes, but I know I’m forgiven for my absence.

Next up on the blog: Camp Heartland– An eye opening experience.

Until then…..