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Monday, January 31, 2011


Why me? I have often asked myself that question, as I know others who have found recovery have done as well. Why were we able to quit and others are still out there, pounding their heads against the wall as it were? Some of them have had many chances to quit yet they just can't do it.

Their stories can be tough to take to take: A guy who had been sober for nearly 20 years and decides one day to drink...and wraps his car around a tree that very first night and dies....a true story.

A guy I'd met, who was somewhere in his mid 40's I would say, flirts with recovery for years, has many people who care about him trying to help him...he even stays sober for long stretches of time but just can't seem to find what he is looking for. He gets hit by a truck walking a dark lonely road back to his rent by the week motel.

How about a fellow, a very respected business man in a small  W Michigan town. He stays sober for over ten years, has many friends in recovery...he goes on vacation to his Mother's Condo in Florida, ends up using cocaine (turns out he was secretly using drugs for years but not drinking) and his family finds him after he blew his brains out with a shotgun. I knew him for years....none of his friends knew he was struggling or using drugs, we just didn't know. the rest of us was a great FAKER, he lied his way to his own death...I still can't believed that happened and it's been almost 2 years.

Then there was the 17 nearly 18 year old woman, who was one of the most artistic and creative people I have ever known. She struggled with alcohol and drug addiction most of her teenage life but still, she was an amazing person, a very special soul.

The last day of her life she tried convincing a guy to come out and party with her and 2 of their friends. This fellow was one dude who had done the unthinkable: He had gone into a treatment center a short time before and wasn't drinking and drugging anymore. He eventually lied to her and told her he couldn't com, that he had plans with his mum. She and her friends were killed 3 hours later when the car they were driving hit the car of a retired senior citizen, killing all four....The driver (John) and both of the other two kids (Khalid and Debbie) were all legally drunk/high. The retired WWII Vet was driving home from volunteering at his church all morning.

Her name was Debbie Coleman, she was my first girlfriend and my first kiss EVER, way back when we were in Elementary school. Shortly after the 6th grade, she moved away but later came back to our home town Worthington, Ohio. We starting hanging out again in High School....And yea, I was the guy that lied that day. I carried that damn guilt around for years before I realized in sobriety that it wasn't my fault. I used to dream about that church volunteer ever night...

It is quite common for people to find recovery, get their lives in order, make a new life for themselves only to make the mistake so many do and think they've solved their addiction problem. Typically they drink/use again, often with disastrous results.

I don't know why I have been able to stay sober, ODAAT while others can't. I do know it has nothing to do with me being any smarter or better or more lucky...nope, it's because I surrendered to fact that I am powerless over my addiction and I needed the help of a higher power and other recovering addicts to show me the way to freedom, one day at a time...

RIP Deb...

This And That...

OK, it's the start of a new week and everyone is all fired up and tense about the "Heavy Weather" supposedly headed our way here in the upper Mid-West. If we get half of what they are predicting it's going to be a doozy of a snowfall so maybe I should stop mocking the situation as to not tempt fate, eh?! Huh, naw...i can't help myself...we'll see what happens. But we are kind of do for some snowfall, it's been a cold yet rather mild winter as far as snow is concerned so it may very well be our turn.

I posted late last night about the concept of "loving one's self" and what that really means. It's funny but at the end of the post I lament thinking about such things right before I try to sleep. Often stuff like that keeps me awake. I slept really well (for me) so maybe I need to think about really deep sh*t right before turning in each night...

I should have taken the advice given to me a few days ago in comments on this blog to just pick up and go visit my daughter/grandson's. This might have been the perfect week to do it with the big BLIZ coming our way...

I really, I mean REALLY appreciate my friends, I'm just saying...

No freaking BACON craving this morning so I think I got that one out of my system for awhile...

AS noted in a weekend post: The Super Bowl craziness has indeed started in the sports media world. I do kinda like it...

This will probably warrant a full post in itself a bit later but the stuff going down in Egypt right now is really getting out of control...Very frightening stuff!

Perhaps it's just my perception but any time there is violent unrest in the Middle East it always seems like something truly Biblical, I mean really horrible could happen. I don't know it just seems scarier somehow.

Anyone ever just close their eyes and picture themselves flying? Like over tree tops, wide valley's, over mountains, right down the middle of Times Square?! Er, didn't think so...

Funny, I just realized that I don't have to leave here until 11a or so and it's not even 9a yet. Perhaps I could lay back down for an hour, hmmm...

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Love Yourself...Huh?

What in the world does the term: loving yourself mean? I often hear that is treatment/therapy circles: "Well you cannot love somebody unless you first love yourself"...OK, it sounds good, I'll give it that but what in the heck does it REALLY mean?

Loving yourself, Hmmm...I suppose if I had to guess I'd say feel good about yourself, appreciate who you are, something like that. But I'm not trying to be a smart ass here  but I am struggling w/the concept of LOVING one's self. I'm not poking fun or mocking the phrase but it's one of those things that gets over-said as it were. Yep, it has become a cliche...

In the recovery world I do hear it a lot. When I was in the Psych Hospital, post-suicide attempt, I heard it a bunch then as well but I haven't really ever had anyone explain it to me. Or why it's so important to love yourself before loving somebody else.

In all honesty, I've never thought to ask what it meant and why it was so bloody important so I suppose that is why I am asking it right now...

I do get the concept of feeling good about who I am and caring enough to take care of myself: My health, my living situation, my hygiene, etc. But I know this must be something MUCH deeper then that, this concept of truly loving yourself.

Oh brother, this is great...I'm going to bed with a huge question on my mind. Wonder if I'll get much sleep tonight?!

It's Rad, Bro..

I Got tired of seeing that damn picture of Bacon on the top of my blog so before I sit my fanny in front of the fireplace and TV (a very rare occurrence for me) I figured I'd post a pic of Shaun White snowboarding...My TV agenda is rather eclectic I'd say for sports, I'm going to watch Winter X IV from Aspen got it: Shaun White defending his Super Pipe Title tonight. I will also switch over to the NFL Pro bowl which is sorta boring but it's held in Honolulu, Hawaii so I can dream, right?!

So I got Hawaii and Colorado on at the same time, one is America's Favorite sport, the other is a fringe sport, growing in popularity that boasts one of America's favorite sports celebrities in White...pretty cool I think.

I had given some thought to heading into town and catch up with some of the guys but I need to learn to relax. So I'm staying home tonight...I got  a brisk walk in after dinner.

Fair Warning about my posts tomorrow. Once again the wonderful folks in charge of the National Weather Service are predicting a big time Winter EVENT!, OH MY!! If any one has read this blog frequently you will know that a pet peeve of mine ids The Weather Channel, CNN, Fox News and the like have this annoying habit of turning the weather into a big time "WEATHER EVENT" hyping it for days in advance, scaring the daylights out of everyone, causing a run on the local stores for supplies. The last time they predicted Winter doom for us here in the Coldwater area they canceled schools the night before, the following morning it was sunny and clear by 8am..we got about an inch of snow...

So, I'll believe it when I see it. Good night all...

I'm Bad With Bacon

Ahh...Bacon, the sizzle-snap of frying bacon, combined with the aroma of it wafting throughout the house on a Sunday morning, whoa does that ever bring back the memories!

 I'm actually not a big fan of pork or meat for that matter but once in while I just need bacon, I mean I NEED it! Like gotta have some pork in Bacon form right now or bad stuff will happen...I ordered some the other day when I had breakfast with a friend of mine. I got to yakking & never ate it, I brought it home and forgot about it then had to trash it. Bummer, so I had violated the sanctity of THE BIG PIG-BACON MASTER, the god of pork had to be quite displeased with me that day. I'll eat like half a pound today (sorry my dear vegitarian friends for making you literally HURL right now!) in penance and perhaps find redemption from BB, the FATTY ONE.....

Yes, I know..sick, sick, sick but it smells oh so good...I'll most surely pay for this dietary indiscretion!

No worries my dear friends, I'll eat fruit and veggies the rest of the day....

Huh, Humility, Yea...

I got on a a bit of a tangent last night, didn't I? I re-read the post I Will Be There... that I wrote late yesterday and I was a bit embarrassed by what I had written. Not so much about the subject matter, no I still think those of us in recovery have to remeber what got us here and not turn our backs on others.

No what I didn't care for was the arrogant and self-serving tone of the post as if my shit doesn't stink. Uh, it REALLY does, I assure you. I let some of my anger and indignation come through a bit more then I would have liked.  I specifically state in the post that I don't want to criticize people who are doing their best and that's exactly what I ended up doing.

I really apologize...I did not represent my point of view in the way I intended. I just really wanted that post to serve as a reminder to anyone in recovery (and my self most of all) that we don't want to forget where we came from. That there are plenty of people who need us, right now and we should do our best to make ourselves available to them...I did a lousy job getting that message across and I admit it.

I recently had a rather unpleasant conversation with a guy who had told me that he once spent a lot of time working with others but "he didn't need to do that anymore since he went to church". He obviously GOT we HE needed by going there....That was the conversation that sparked some of my indignation...I let that comment get to me and I shouldn't have. I also want to say that I know he does NOT represent a majority of those in recovery who also go to church and follow the Lord. It was one man's opinion and I probably took it out of context as well...Who am I to stand in judgment of him?!

And I came across as sounding like I was some kind of recovery super man and I am NOT, not even close. I can be just as self-centered and selfish as I ever was if I am not careful...I proved that last night right here.

I simply try and do my best which often isn't nearly enough. Just like everyone else, I make mistakes...often. All I can do is try my best and if I fail, well I just have to try again...and again.

So I admit I didn't do my best last night but I will try again today. I honestly hope I didn't do any damage with my snotty attitude and will give it another shot today.

It's Sunday so I'm off to see the Wizard, I sincerely hope everybody has a wonderful day...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Will Be There...

Holding Hands Love

Week 3 of the church experiment is tomorrow and I rather like going. I haven't felt pressured, awkward or put on the spot. Though I don't necessarily agree with everything I see and hear, I do agree with the basic premise of it all. Any evangelical stuff still wigs me out a bit personally but if that is your choice, so be it. I can accept that...

There sometimes are people who get clean and sober then spend a good  deal of their early sobriety in support groups or clinics and the like working with other newcomers to sobriety. As I've stated time and again, that is where I get my "fuel" as it were to live sober ODAAT.

But after awhile, like me they start to develop a more spiritual oriented life and perhaps they too go to church. I see this a lot, once they get situated in a church congregation, they slowly back away from the areas where you meet newcomers and just hang around with the folks from church. I've heard people actually say that they don't need to work with the newcomers in support groups to stay sober, they have the church...

Whoa, I really try to avoid criticizing ANYONE who is doing their best to stay sober but I really feel like those folks are missing the point all together. yea, maybe you don't need that everyday reminder anymore and yep, the church group does feel safe and secure...but maybe those new folks NEED YOU?! Ever thought about that?

Probably not but I think as people in recovery, we have a higher purpose to share our stories to those who still suffer. My God, I think what if I went to get help and there was nobody there who I could relate too. Just shrinks and church people trying to help. I know, their heart is in the right place and a lot of work those kind of volunteers and organizations do is very worthwhile work. But if that had been what I encountered after I got out of the hospital and was trying to learn how to live a sober and healthy life, I'm pretty sure I would have drank/drugged again so...I'm pretty sure I'd be dead.          

It is my very strong opinion that we cannot turn our backs on those who still suffer   from this disease and let's face it, the majority of them aren't in church. Oh believe me, some are but I think its important that as an addict, I am accessible to anyone who might want help. That's part of the reason that I am in the blog world, though I often wonder if anyone is really reading these posts of mine, lol. But regardless, I'll still continue to share and you'll find that this blog isn't going any where ...

People who sequester themselves in the cocoon of the church and sit and pat themselves on the back for a job well done in getting sober are missing the point. Perhaps they'll drink again because of it, I don't know...I'm pretty sure I would. But that isn't the kind of life I want to live today. Nope, I like being able to give some of my time to somebody else. 

When I needed someone to talk to, to hold my hand through the tough shit that was happening to me, there was always someone there, always...Today that's my desire, I want to be that guy if I can. If you need someone...I will do my best to be that guy. That is my simple prayer tonight, God willing, I will be there when you call....       

America's BIG GAME...

Good news on the Purdue sports front for a change, they won a basketball game beating Minnesota 73-61....Frankly this weekend will be the last time anyone talks about any sport except for football and the Super Bowl, which is played a week from tomorrow in Dallas. Yes it's Super Bowl week and I am mildly amused by the spectacle of it all. It is a uniquely American event.

I often work out on the  while watching the Mike and Mike  ESPN Radio Morning Show (yea, a radio show that is televised, go figure) and then listen on Satellite radio as I go off on my daily morning missions. They will broadcast their entire weeks worth of shows from Dallas, near the site of the game as will just about every sports related show in the nation.

The Super Bowl Week has any kind of event you can think of and I would imagine has become one of the biggest Advertising Marketing Events as well. I wouldn't mind just spending the week before, attending all the events, concerts, TV shows, etc and then flying home to watch the game on TV!

I think this game, the Super Bowl is the ULTIMATE TV EVENT, I really wouldn't even want to watch it in person...I think you'd miss something, lol! From the 4 hour pre-game, to the commercials, half-time show, big-time stars singing the National Anthem. Who can forget Whitney Houston singing the Anthem at the height of the 1st Gulf War....That was an absolutely unforgettable moment. Even in a drunken stupor, I remembered it!!

So Super Bowl week, hockey fans...get your fill tonight and tomorrow because we will hear nothing but solid, wall to wall football for the next 7 days. GOD Bless America!

Hello Today!?

Oh my and the days keep piling up. I'm not getting any younger, uh no! It is odd though, life seems to be going by even faster then I expect it to. Not sure if that came out sounding right...

In the past, I didn't think about time, really. Not in the big-picture life sense of time. I just reacted to whatever was going on and lived for the oblivion that came at the end of the day through drinking and drug use. I planned for stuff, of course...I kept a schedule but only because I had to for work and the kids school activities. But really, I didn't give much thought to it or what I was achieving in life either.

My life, day by day as I saw it, was something to SURVIVE, to endure, get through. Only to wake up and find that I had to do it all over again. There was NO higher purpose to any of it. How does that old saying go: "Drink and be merry for tomorrow we die"...Exactly. That captures my feeling then perfectly...

And as my addiction progressed I became less patient, less tolerant to things that delayed my journey to oblivion on a daily basis. I hurried, uncaring through a third of my life to get to the other 2/3rds where I could chase oblivion through drink, drugs and sleep. And these were the "good years" of my addiction, when I was "functional"..IE: working, raising kids, pretending to be a husband/father...

It became no holds barred CHAOS once I lost the work, the mortgage, the wife, the kids, any responsibility...then I could chase oblivion 24/7 and hasten my journey to what I thought in my twisted mind at that time, was Immortality. SHUDDER....

Ach, it's hard to think about that today, it still really hurts sometimes to admit all this, to "own it" as it were and ultimately accept it. It isn't pleasant to think of yourself as on some kind of freaked out, angel of death trip but it was...exactly what IT was.

My God am I grateful that I have sobriety in my life I don't have to feel that way anymore. I can't really describe how I feel at this moment. Sometimes when writing these posts that tap into the very emotional core of what I was, I begin to feel the pain of it all as it were happening again and this time I can't get back out, I'm trapped there forever. Talk about FEAR....

I know now that it's OK and I really do believe that. And I still believe that this Blog Journey of mine called Shell Shock Serenade is what I am being called on to do. It was difficult at one time in my early recovery to reconcile what had happened to me...I had to have some logical explanation or reason for it...not to justify it but so it hadn't all happened in vain, that in reality there was some higher purpose to it perhaps...

I often will say in a post that I am living this journey right here, right now as I write. The way I feel at this exact moment is why I say that. I'm not just writing about my story of recovery, NO...I'm living it as I type, this is the journey and that me.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Searching For Nothing


SHAME By Chris Peters

I'm sitting up late and I'm feeling slightly uncomfortable. It happens, to me anyway. There are times that I just feel out of sorts no matter whats going on in my life. I am restless by nature and naturally curious. Probably how I started experimenting with drugs and such in the first place. And since I was a restless soul anyway, booze/drugs were perfect because they could change the way I was feeling...and I certainly became fond of that!

No matter how much I enjoy the way I live my life today, I think I'm always going to have moments where I wish I hadn't used up all my extra lives as it were. That I could give IT a go, just one more time...that thinking is absolutely NUTS, considering all that has happened to me. Honestly, it's not like I live a sheltered life now but as I mentioned in a previous post, there are still times when I wish I had more of that super, intense, excitement in my life, as if living an interesting and healthy life isn't enough.

In the past I was always chasing that illusive something that I never could quite catch. Though I looked for IT every single time I drank and used drugs. Like somehow those things created a more exciting and worthwhile life when actually it was just a pathetic day-dream...

Is this all there is? That's a question I thought about a lot as a very young man and it has started crossing my mind again. I thought there would be more....I know when I grew up and had a family, I felt tied to my job because I had a mortgage, bills and countless other responsibilities. I used to wonder what it would be like to not have all that responsibility...then it happened the last two years before I sobered up. And without those daily responsibilities to center me, hold me whole world exploded into CHAOS.

In the end, it turns out it was not some magical opportunity to explore, to be FREE to live some exotic lifestyle...nope, it wasn't any more exciting then my previous existence, nope. I just used my lack of responsibility to drink more, drug more, hurt myself and my loved one's more while hastening the inevitable confrontation with my own mortality.

In the end, I win the WAR...One Day At ATime (ODAAT) by giving up.

On the Road To...

The longer I blog and post daily, the the better I get at being able to take what I think and feel then translate that fairly clearly to the written word. For a while I would read a recent post and it would be obvious that some part of what I was feeling had been lost in that's getting better each time I post.

Last night's entry accurately captured that feeling of vulnerability I have as I'm writing so openly about my life today. And that's great, I was trying to do that and that is exactly where I had intended to go with this blog. What I want to be clear about though is I'm not complaining...this is an OK place for me to be.

I don't want this to come across as if I feel I'm making a mistake and I'm unhappy. No, struggle is an accepted part of this process and I really believe it is important to not only share WHAT I've learned but HOW I got to that point in my life as well. And that must include the hard, difficult stuff in addition to the all positive stuff as well...I've learned that the struggle in reality IS the story. That is where true growth occurs...

I have experienced enough change to realize that the transformation is often bumpy, that self-doubt, hesitation, fear are all perfectly normal reactions to what's happening in my life today. It wasn't uncommon early in my recovery for me to just lose it when I ran in to adversity and struggle, my immediate reaction was to just quit and yea, revert back to what I knew: escape. That's how I used to deal with adversity: I didn't. I ran instead...That (going back to my old way of life) however wasn't an option and thankfully, after some time I'd come back to it and try again. Often with much better results..

Another concern I have is that I do not want to be misleading here...often when I re-read a post I think it can come off sounding not so much like I'm preaching but as if I have this figured out, like: "if you do this, then this will's easy". I DO NOT, trust me, have this kind of life figured out...this is a process that is happening as I write. Often I find I'm just as surprised by what I've written here as the reader is...

I do want to be clear, what I'm writing are my experiences. These things happened to me and this is how I interrupt those experiences. I do not have addiction or loneliness, or fear or resentment, etc. figured out. Nope, I struggle mightily with those things every day just like everyone else.

What I present here is my experiences in dealing with these issues that I have in my life today. Though it is not a blue print as it were for recovery, it is perhaps the road map of my recovery up until today, including the many dead-ends I've discovered and wrong turns I've made along the way.

And so begins today's journey, on the road to happy destiny as it were...

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I no longer feel like I'm not good enough. I feel free from the bondage of my own unrealistic expectations. Holy smokes, you got to be kidding me Bat Man, you mean I actually HAVE self-esteem now. Got that one right, Robin!

I'm goofin' but the message behind the hi-jinks is totally true. As I've proceeded down this path of recovery and yea, self-discovery, I've found myself as it were. Found is a funny word to use because I was actually here all the time. But I really did not know who I truly was inside or what I was about. I'd pretended all my life to be something I wasn't.

Sobriety didn't give me all this positive change overnight but instead made it possible to see "what could be" instead of always just seeing "what wasn't to be". That is what I always did, I focused solely on the negative, I looked for reasons to be defeated instead of looking toward the positive light on the horizon. I was my own worst enemy. I'd become the cliche'...

And man what a change it has been for me...and yes, this change has also been scary because I was entering a realm that was completely unknown to me. The spiritual realm...Ach, I struggled for years with the notion that God and followers of God judged me. I resented them for that and I hated them for it. Yet now I was feeling something I'd never felt before yet I was too afraid initially to open myself up to it.

The last couple weeks I've been tap dancing all around the topic of God, Christianity, coming to believe, etc. For some time I really did not want to believe...I did not want to become one of THEM. I'm still not comfortable openly discussing that subject here...mainly because I fear that I will be judged. I also am afraid I might be making a mistake. So I play the odds, I attempt to play it safe...

Lets face it, it's one thing to make a choice and find out later it was indeed a mistake. Typically it's no harm, no foul and you move on. Since I am living my life "LIVE" as it were on the web, every decision I make is public, there is no turning back, no hiding from it. I feel exposed, vulnerable and totally accountable.

Yes, that was the plan but the reality of it really strikes me particularly hard right now. I fear I'll make a fool out of myself...actually I probably already have. But this is what it's like to seek a higher truth, yet still have reservations, still have doubt. It's a real is happening right now and this is what I feel.

Still it's all kind of cool and yea, it's exciting too because I feel better about myself in general. I'm more positive and more focused then I ever remember being in my entire life...


Popular belief suggests that talking about painful experiences in your life is unpleasant and even unnecessary. I beg to differ on both Points.

I've found the experience (of sharing)to be a positive part of my healing process opposed to a painful one. And as I have stated before: I cannot live a life in recovery if I do not make a real and concerted effort to help others along this same path. I give it away, as it keep it.

The fact of my life is this: The painful part, the shitty stuff has already happened, I cannot take it back and it won't just go away no matter how hard I wished it would. All the fear, guilt, resentment and anger exists...what I can do is make that existence worthwhile by using it in a positive way. One alcoholic sharing their experience, strength and hope with another alcoholic WORKS, I know. It worked for me. I see it work for others every single day of my life now, it's not a joke...

I am sober today because several people took the time and had the patience to work with me. And as I've said many times: I was a terrible mess in all aspects of my life. Physically, Mentally, Emotionally and Spiritually. They helped provide me with a foundation on which I could build a new life. And slowly but surely that has happened.

What angers me today as when I see folks try to bury their past, as if pretending it doesn't exist will make everything OK. That's about as bad as pretending everything is FINE because your embarrassed to admit to friends, family, co-workers...whoever, that you have a problem and need help.

Things like alcoholism do not go away on their own...sorry, they don't...but what may seem awful, impossible to do could save your life. Just tell the truth and ask for help. Your story does not have to follow mine: My Last Day Alive..., you don't need to lose everything before getting help...Really.


Ossuary At Verdun
Verdun...Verdun is the name of a city in NE France. It may sound familiar but most Americans probably don't know much about what happened there: Battle Of Verdun. It is not my intention to teach history this morning, no just merely remember.

Verdun Was a Major Battle of The Great War (Known in the United States more commonly as WWI). It was fought, primarily between the French and the Germans from the Spring of 1916 until late fall of the same year. The casualties combined were over a million killed, wounded and missing.

Bones from Verdun Battle in Ossuary
One only has to walk that Battlefield or visit the Ossuary (picture above) to realize why the French people had a hard time accepting another war with Germany just a single generation after this one. France lost two generations of Men in the Great War and I don't believe they've ever completely recovered from it. The picture above is one of over ten chambers beneath the Ossuary at Verdun containing bones of the unknown picked up from the battlefield over the years...

The carnage and inhumanity that took place in this now, tranquil, forest covered area is beyond comprehension. Most contemporary pictures of the battle show barren, shell cratered hillsides when they picture Verdun. Today those hillsides are heavily forested, it is as if God himself covered those terrible scars with trees....

The area around the city of Verdun was the scene of most of the fighting. The city is essentially surround by large rolling hills, heavily wooded at the beginning of the battle, stripped of all living things by shellfire during the battle and now restored back to it's natural state of heavy forest.

Deep in this forest, near the former site of one of the several little villages that were literally wiped off the face of the earth, stands a small, one room chapel (shown below through a gate over the door). It is simultaneously one of the most beautiful and haunting places I've ever scene. You cannot go there and not feel the presence of so many lost souls. The power there is incredible. Literally the soil, the vegetation and the trees were fertilized with the pulverized bodies of thousands of men making this entire area one gigantic cemetery.

Not sure why this is on my mind today...I suppose I just can't seem to forget those horrible lessons from The History of Humanity and as we all nod in agreement when someone talks about what a dangerous world we live in I wonder: when wasn't it dangerous?
My question is how do we reconcile that with a shared desire to live in peace?Especially when it's obvious that throughout history there is always SOMEONE who does NOT share that what now? I'd say we start with a prayer...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

All REAL- All The Time

I'd like to spice this blog up with war stories about my drinking and drugging days. Talk about all the day to day cravings I still have, how I secretly wish I could still drink or drug.

Problem is I wouldn't be telling the truth. I really don't have any desire to drink and I haven't for ...YEARS. Not even a wee, little craving for a nip or two of beer...NOTHING.

I really believe that the compulsion, the desire to drink/drug has completely been removed from me. And that's really nice not to have that craving, nagging at me every waking minute like the first 9 months or so of my sobriety. Actually it was probably a whole year before I noticed that I wasn't jones-ing for a drink anymore. That I was actually...peaceful.

For 30 years that compulsion to drink and drugged ruled my life, every sliver of my being and was gone. There is no other way to explain it:Divine Intervention. The Creator, GOD took away the desire to drink...I know of no other explanation. It was a mystery to me, at the time and even now I don't question it.

Today my focus is on sharing my experience, strength and hope with others. In person: I meet alcoholics everyday at every possible stage in recovery. Brand new folks, still shaky, mistrustful, folks that have been sober almost as long as I've been alive 48 plus years.

This blog has truly been a gift and I owe a HUGE SSS SHOUT OUT to all who read this little ditty called Shell Shock Serenade. It has given me an excellent forum where I can share bits and pieces of my story and in turn I get wonderful comments and feedback that helps me in my recovery.

I had NO idea how this idea of mine would play out in reality. If there would even be a handful of readers who would even look in, not to mention come back to us on a regular basis...yet you have.

Thank You from the bottom of my heart!

I Followed The Rules ( I Think)

I have been award this Stylish Blogger award and I guess there are some things I have to do if I accept it.

1) Is to thank the person who bestowed the honor on me:

A great big Thank You Very Much to Sunny@ :

2) I have to share 7 things about, OK

1- I smile
2- I fart
3- I frown
4- I'm sober
5- I'm sane (mostly, some might argue...)
6- I'm male (though I am in touch w/my feminine I'm told)
7- I really dislike "chain mail" type tasks like this but since it was Sunny (someone I hold in very high esteem, especially for someone I've never actually met!) who bestowed this on me, I cheerfully accept.

3) Now I have to bestow this award on 15 deserving bloggers:

Guilt No More...

                                    Along A Dark Path By Chris Peters

Guilt is a strange bedfellow. Ever been to bed with guilt? Not what I would call an enjoyable experience....Yet, I used to always lay in bed, wide awake for hours, racked with feelings of guilt. Naturally the best way to avoid that particular scenario, is avoid behavior that causes one to feel guilty. Easier said then done, eh? Yea, because let's face it, we are all human and we are going to make mistakes. I've learned it's what we do then, that makes the difference...

The most humbling yet rewarding way that I've discovered to avoid building guilt is simply to admit I made a mistake. Again, this one was MUCH easier said then done...why? Because my EGO doesn't like to admit that I make mistakes or said the wrong thing or jumped to an incorrect assumption, yada, yada, blah, get it. 

As I was looking at my behavior, after I got sober I realized that I rarely listened to what others were saying. This often led me to come to incorrect conclusions and often, based on that I would say or do something stupid or less then considerate. Later I would realize this yet I'd never go back and apologize or try to make things right.

And that is one way I would build up I posted earlier today, dishonesty promoted guilt. Hey, deep down I knew what I was doing was wrong. I did have a conscience, buried beneath the river of booze and mountains of drugs...but it existed, it was there all along. I knew I was a liar...yet I continued to lie...and feel guilty about doing so.

Today, simply the act of being true to myself, BEING ME...warts and all often eliminates a multitude of scenarios where in the past I would say or do something that in the end I would feel guilty for. When you aren't pretending to be someone or something your not, it is much easier to listen to what someone is saying.  

And ultimately, the simple act of recognizing when I have made a mistake or said something that hurt some one's feelings is key. That makes it possible to follow up that recognition with a simple, sincere apology... and that I have found is the best way to stay true to one's self. Be yourself...warts and all.

Most people don't expect you to be perfect. Yet as human beings, particularly in our society today, we seem to feel the expectation IS that we are supposed to be perfect...that couldn't be more untrue. People are most comfortable when they see that you are human, just like they are. We are all vulnerable and yep, we all make mistakes...

Is this a simplistic way of looking at it, yes I suppose it is. But it is a start...and you have to start somewhere, right? And since I was making wholesale changes to the way I operated (behaved), it was critical for me to lay the groundwork , the foundation as it were for a simple behavioral pattern called being just be ME.

Isn't it incredible that I had to go to so much trouble to unlearn all the phony behaviors I'd acquired through the years, twisted survival instincts really...just so I could simply learn to be myself. Yet that is exactly what happened in my particular case. Once that was done it was much easier to open up and share myself with others. If I made a mistake or said something I regretted...I didn't try to avoid the subject, nope I just admitted it, apologized and life continued on.

Honesty is a road to freedom from fear and guilt...

To Be ME..

I think one of the hardest things for me to deal with when making this profound change in how I live is how awkward it feels to just BE myself.  Profound stuff, huh. That might be hard to relate to for some but I was always thinking about how I came across to others, how I appeared. Why you may ask? Because I was constantly dishonest, I never showed anyone who I really was.

And in my relationships, especially with my spouse and other family, I lied a lot. I just felt like I could not let them really know what I was about. The truth was too humiliating: I was a phony, a fake. It wasn't like a big production of lies but I just developed an inability to be honest, everything was exaggerated, stretched, I built myself up and belittled the accomplishments of others. All to make myself feel better about who I was...

I know now that I was propping up my own shredded self-esteem. But today, it has been a challenge to just be real. The honesty, once I got through the basic changes in my life now comes more naturally, it's almost easy. Truly, it's a lot more work, a lot harder to lie then to just tell the truth. I did have to learn how to do that. I did have to list out all my deficiencies, the defects of my character as it were. And discuss those things...for me therapy has helped a great deal in this area as well.

Once those nasty defects were identified and discussed...I had to let 'em go. And that is an ongoing process because lets face it, that is the way I've behaved all my life. Focusing solely on myself, my needs, my desires..often at someone else's expense. I've had to reverse that focus a true 180 degrees and now focus on the needs of others. Funny thing when you start doing that is that your needs seem to get met anyway..often in amazing and profound ways at unexpected times.

Those are the things I try to share here on SSS. Watching someone who just weeks before was feeling hopeless, now laugh and enjoy themselves. I can't begin to say what an effect that has on me to be a witness to such profound change and in such a short period of time.

It's very cool stuff and well worth the heartache that often can come with this kind of focus as well.

I see I've run out of time this morning so I might pick up the honesty topic this afternoon as well....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What a Disaster!

Ohio State 's David Lighty, right, is fouled by Purdue's D.J. Byrd as he grabs a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, in Columbus, Ohio.

AP PHOTO 1-25-2011

It's funny I was writing the last post which didn't have anything to do with the Purdue-OSU game because the Georgia-Florida game went into OT so the Boilers weren't televised yet. I thought cool the game is on. Then I saw the score....

My buddy Ryan's got it right, time to catch some zzzz's, suddenly I don't feel so good!

Oh GOD...

Can 'ya? Can you hear it, huh? Can you hear what I am trying NOT to say? I'm working very hard, I am at not spilling the beans. Because if I do, spill that is....I worry what everyone else will say. They might judge me and I'm not sure my EGO can handle that right now!

I'm afraid, I am. I fear what I can't even begin to understand. Why me? Why now and why at this place, why? Did I ask for this to happen? I don't think I did yet...perhaps, maybe I prayed for what? This, naw it can't be...

Then again I'm here and so my friend are you...when did you arrive? I didn't notice that you had come in..invited huh, by me? No...I was so afraid. Why but why now, huh? I don't think I can comprehend what this might even begin to mean to me...I'm so overwhelmed, yet oddly,  I am no longer...afraid.

And you, a whisper faint as THUNDER in my minds eye and this began
in a heart so cold but still why? And so begins a journey, this and I know not where I am going. Yet I follow and no longer do I need ask why. I know you, it's you and I see, for once I see the
THUNDER that was a whisper became my PRAYER...

The Blah, Blah, Blah's....

Today was pretty much like any other day...I had a reasonable schedule of things on my calendar, nothing very pressing. I stayed busy, got a good ride on the X this morning, posted another blog entry (I always try to post one first thing in the am), met for some recovery work this afternoon with a few friends, house stuff, more writing this evening and then back in town tonight for awhile to meet some friends...again a typical day day in the life....

Yet everything seemed to move in Slo-Mo all day, it was very odd. It's like it was an interesting day, pretty good but lacking in energy or enthusiasm, as it were. Very strange right? Some days are just filled with energy, emotion, drive and I'm talking about days with a schedule similar to today. And then others...BLAH, BLAH, BLAH...

Yep, today falls into the blah, blah, blah doubt about it. Not sure why because it was a good day...

That is the interesting thing about giving up the drinking and drugging lifestyle. I missed that edge, that feeling of controlled chaos that I always had and life did seem boring in sobriety by comparison.... Today I like it calm and peaceful but I really did have to get used to it. And that took some time...Maybe I'm still getting used to it.

I YAM What I Eat..

Pic: A Veggie Adventure

I received a lot of good information and support for a Veg diet and lifestyle. And I do find it appealing for several reasons, health being the biggest motivation and concern.

Folks, I did some serious damage to my body while drinking/drugging and though up to this point I don't have any serious Liver issues I am aware of, I do have a multitude of issues with my stomach, digestive tract as a whole, intestines specifically...the whole Shebang, as it were. It's all kind of unpleasant to even think about so I assure you it really sucks to deal with it physically every day!

I'm not going to list all that ails me here but I do need to get off my ass and find a physician down here in the Coldwater area to get a physical so I can start to put together a plan to get fully healthy. I've got a couple good leads from friends I just need to make the call and set it up...

Sunrise on a new, healthier lifestyle

I've focused a great deal on my alcoholism/addiction up until now and that's what I had to do, it was simply a matter of survival. Let's face it, with out sobriety...nothing related to health will matter anyway, will it? It's hard to get healthy on the Cocaine and Vodka plus Gin diet for breakfast,lunch and dinner....hey, I could stand to lose a few pounds but there's GOT to be a better way then that!

I would say over the last year or so, I have eaten less and less meat. I've really been avoiding beef and pork while eating mostly chicken and fish. Not so much for any reason other then I could stomach it without feeling sick. That is probably the biggest motivating factor right now...what I can eat with suffering debilitating nausea. I am currently being treated for a severe for acid reflux and other issues so these have been fairly regular symptoms the last couple of years.

I already have a wonderful morning routine of eating fresh fruit (apples and oranges) plus a bowl of Gluten Free cold or hot cereal. That seems to be easier on my system. It's maintaining a nice, steady eating flow the rest of the day that has bee the challenge but I have some ideas, so it will be fun to start trying them out today...

The one thing I truly miss is the health food store I frequented in Holland, MI Nature's Market. We do have some OK stores around here but I haven't found one that I like as much as NM, Holland. It is always one of my first stops in Holland when I visit the area and I'm not kidding, I love that store. I don't think my body would have recovered as well as it did w/out their good solid advice on vitamins and food choices. They are GOOD PEOPLE...(I don't think Hillary Clinton realized that It Takes A Village to Stay Sober too!)

I really enjoy raw veggies, don't care for them cooked so much but I wouldn't think that would be an issue, certainly from a health standpoint. Again, it's stopping during the day to take 10 minutes to cut up an assortment for the day. I think I'll do that each morning, say right after I finish w/this and before I ride the X. ( Oh brother, I just had a really freaky thought: I've been using the Slang "X" to refer to my exercise bike but I've also used it to refer to my Ex-Wife, that makes me shudder when I think of the last sentence I just used....)

I know, I'm a really SICK puppy 8^)....

But it has become quite clear to me that I have to put the same focus on a healthy eating routine that I do on my recovery. And if I really think about this, it IS part of my daily recovery from my addiction. Health and physical Wellness is just as important as the emotional, psychological and spiritual wellness I've been blogging about for the last week or so. Remember Balance and I'm a SQUARE:I'm SQUARE, Your SQUARE...?

So Thanks folks for the hints and recipes you sent yesterday! Feel free to send more but PLEASE no asparagus, my god I can't even stand the smell of the stuff! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

I Want To Be a Vegetarian But..

I have posted lately about my efforts to be healthy and yea, lose this beach ball gut I've got going. For the most part I eat well but not well enough obviously. I know I certainly can do better...

I've given some thought to being a Vegetarian...I don't really have any issue, moral or otherwise with meat. It just sounds healthy. But I don't think I'll ever succeed at being one because I'm too lazy when it comes to cooking.

Every time I hear someone who is a Veg talk about their eating habits, it sounds like way too much work and sacrifice! I just want to eat and go. I'm the type of person who honestly likes to eat a little something when their hungry and typically doesn't want to take time to sit and have meals. I'm too figedy for lingering over a meal, Ach.

I used to go out to dinner quite often but lately I eat so little at a time that it's not worth it. So I haven't a clue how to approach my eating habits and what would be a healthy pattern for me to get into to...

I have had some issues with my stomach and digestive tract, yep old war wounds from the heavy drinking days but fortunately my liver wasn't pickled in the process. Considering I drank enough Vodka and Gin in the last year of my drinking alone to float the whole US Navy, a trouble free (for now) Liver is nothing short of miraculous!

I do think there is some truth to the notion that it's more difficult sometimes to eat well when you live alone. It does make planning meals seem...unnecessary. It's quite easy to nibble and pick...and that's cool if you don't include ice cream and such in there.

I worked with a young man a few years ago who was about a diet that took a ton of effort not too mention discipline and vigilance. I really admired his dedication and his commitment to his principles. It just doesn't make sense to me though. If that is your choice, more power to you...I support your right to choose but frankly I like cheese, milk and meat for that matter...all in moderation.

So I have to figure out what to do with my diet. I have a bunch of fruit and vegetables in the house...and I eat a lot of fruit each day but struggle to eat my veggies. I don't really know why.

Anyway, I'm gonna go slice and apple and think about it for a while...


I am finding that portraying the daily life of a person in recovery is a bit more tricky then I expected. One of the reasons is that I sometimes feel like the subject matter for the majority of posts is "heavy" all the time when my reality is that it's not. But when it translates into the written word it comes off that way. In other words I can say I laugh and have a good time and most folks can understand that. But the deeper stuff requires more explanation, therefore it tends to dominate the posts...

Same with the challenges I face when when confronted with what I should and shouldn't share since the subject matter can cover some rather rough stuff.I think I've done pretty good at honestly portraying my life, maybe too good of a job. I do get hesitant to open up sometimes I I've said before that I feel like I share more then I should. It is my life and yes, I get embarrassed just like anyone else.

But you either choose to do this or not, it cannot be shared only when I feel like it or else it loses it's authenticity. Plus I have to watch that it doesn't come off as sounding sensationalistic. I don't want to write things just to shock, that isn't what this is about...

I think that once again I just have to write what comes to mind an not worry so much how it's going to be received by readers. And I do think that's what I'm doing, I get concerned that no one will want to read it if it's too heavy or sad or descriptive...and that's not the way I should look at this at all. If no one reads it, so what?! The benefit is in the writing.

I have an ego just like everyone else and I guess I want people to like what I do and I do spend a great deal of time and effort on SSS (Shell Shock Serenade). I'm only human after all.

OK, now that I've gotten that stuff out of my system I need more coffee...

I Miss 'Em!

Life is pretty darn good...yep, I feel good about my recovery, ODAAT, good about the spiritual journey I have embarked on recently, Relationships? They continuously need nurturing, work as it were but I am so grateful for my friends and family. Trust has come to me in little nuggets, a little here, a little there but it is all progress. Things all seem to be moving in a positive direction and though progress is never fast enough for me, I really like it this way...

But I miss my GRANDSONS! I miss hearing my name (Grandpa Thom) said 1400 times in less then 3 minutes by my oldest grand youngin, Mason. Grandpa Thom this, Grandpa Thom that....over and over. It never gets tiresome, nope it never does.

And I miss the way Maddy fits onto me when we are lounging like he's an actual accessory. Ach, I'm not very patient when it comes to waiting for the next trip south to see my daughter Chels and those boys.

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system so I could focus on the rest of my day!

I was thinking last night that if they have a choir of Angels in Heaven, that they all will sing with the voices of my Grandson's Mason and Maddox....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Know What A Jasper Is...

Manhattan College in Riverdale NY has a sports nickname that I found rather unusual so I just had to find out what it meant. Now I could have been lazy and just asked my Bro Ryan, author of the blog: Waxed Red Threads what it means. Why Ryan, well my good bloggin buddy works there in the Athletic Department. But I thought I'd impress him and figure it out on my own...

Actually Jasper is the Name Of Brother Jasper, who was the baseball teams first coach and the Students Prefect for Discipline back in the early days of the college. I'll include the College's own link that goes into more detail here: Brother Jasper.

I think the most facinating thing I discovered was that he is the man responsible for the 7th Inning Stretch, a long standing Major League Baseball Tradition. It seems on a hot afternoon during a game the Manhattan Students were becoming restless in the hot and muggy conditions. After the top of the 7th Inning, in his role as Prefect Of Discipline he ordered the students to stand and stretch for a minute. And now we have the 7th Inning stretch....

Can't Count On Cutler

Jay Cutler, QB for the Bears? As far as I'm concerned he's never going to be the guy who picks up his team on his shoulders and wills them to win. It always seems that when there is adversity, he doesn't step up. I'm not saying he isn't hurt but it always seems like he just can't cut it when his team's need him. Perhaps that's unfair...but I'm not a Bears fan and I feel that way...

Well, I got the NFC side of my Super Bowl team picks right. Now let's see if the Steelers pull this one out. I'd really like to see the Jets do it but I just don't at this point... 

Photo By
Charles Rex Arbogast, AP

Laughter: The "Wonder Drug"

I was reading a comment from another blogger Sunny and she made a comment along the lines of: Humor was her kind of anti-depressant. Whoa, that's some pretty profound shit right there!

And I couldn't agree more...some of my Bud's that are also in recovery and I have always talked about the value of laughter in our recovery and it is so true. Life itself is hard enough and when you are trying to cope with other difficult things going on in your life it can be overwhelming. I truly see laughter as a gift...

Certainly humor and laughter will not make the troubles go away, nope...yet there is something comforting about the act of letting yourself go. I've been guilty many times (the last couple of days are a good example!) of taking things far too seriously and not giving myself a break.

I'm not saying we just laugh stuff off and don't deal with it, not at all. I'm just know when I let myself see the humor in life and once once again here's that word again: Balance sets in and I feel more settled in my own skin. And feeling comfortable in my own skin is critical and honestly, it's a foreign feeling for me. But when I am feeling good with who I am, I am much more likely to do the things I need to do when it comes to dealing with the shitty curveball life sometimes throws at me (and at all of us)...

When I am feeling good and balanced I am also more likely to seek the spiritual comfort that has always been missing from my day to day life.

I realize when I post my thoughts like this, it can seem complex, like Thom is thinking about this waaay too much. Honestly, it does not feel like that to me at all. I guess having to explain it makes it seem tedious and perhaps hard to comprehend yet it has come quite naturally for me if I keep an open mind and just as importantly: an open heart.

When my children were little, we used to goof around a lot. And laugh a great deal. I often would "become" the Tickle Monster (both kids were VERY ticklish) and chase them around, catching and tickling them as they squealed with laughter. Often in the last days of my using, when life was painful, things looked bleak and I was so lonely and afraid...I would close my eyes and I could see them and hear their laughter in my mind. I think those memories helped carry me through those terrible times.

And today, when I am stressed out and feeling far outside my comfort zone, I'll do the same thing. I'll close my eyes and I can hear them and that NEVER fails to bring a smile to my face...and a warmth to my heart. It is then that I am in a good place to meditate/pray and let go....

To Be Champions!

Sunday mornings after church, I've discovered is the perfect time for a nap. It almost feels like cheating, you know like getting a second chance at sleep.

It actually read -9 degrees on my car thermometer on my way over to church at 7:45a this morning. It was FROSTY!

Any way, I wanted to pick the 2 Conference Champions today before I snooze until kick-off of the Bears-Packers game at 3p. The Steelers-Jets follows at 6:30p or so...

First the Pack/Bears Game. It's funny but in both of these games today, I couldn't care less who wins. I'm really not pulling for any one though that can change at kick off. I just think the Packers are on a roll and I would be surprised if the bears can generate the offense to beat them. I think Green Bays D is vastly under-rated and they will be the key to this game. Cutler at QB, I don't know, I think he's pretty good but Aaron Rodgers is the hottest QB left standing in the playoffs, not doubt....

Green Bay 24 Chicago 17

The second game is harder, I just think the Boys In Steel are plain hard to beat in these situations historically. I know, the Steelers History doesn't Play tonight but they just always seem to rise up in games like these. I think either team has a good chance but I really think whoever manages to win this game is going to do it somewhat convincingly. Don't ask me why, it just happens sometimes...things will get on a roll. That's what will happen today, the Steelers will open it up in the second half:

Pittsburgh 35 New York 10

I actually wouldn't mind seeing the Jets in the big game and they are probably the closest thing to a team I root for because of TE Dustin Keller (Purdue kid) but I was a long time Cleveland Browns Fan and I'm used to having my heart trampled by these bastards in the Steel City.....

Off To See The Wizard...

I slept very little last night...I didn't get to bed until late because of the Purdue Basketball Game. The B-Boys pulled it out 86-76 and they played really well against a good team. Not sure what's going on w/Sparty? They have great players but they are just struggling to put things together. I have a feeling they'll "find themselves" by tournament time!

The thermometer is reading a BIG FAT 0 this's a tad frosty out, no doubt. This kind of frigid, snowy weather makes my journey out to the mail box to get the paper more like a sprint then the usual sleepy stroll it usually is...

I'm off to see the Wizard as it were...yep, going to Church again this morning. And the "Wizard" reference is quite relevant because that is sort of what I fear: That I'll let myself actually believe in this "God Stuff" much like Dorothy believed in the Wizard of Oz, only to find that in reality it's some old guy pulling all the strings behind the curtains....

Hey, have I told you folks out there that I have a little issue with TRUST?!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Black Dog

The Boilers have a 10 pt lead at half-time and honestly my heart just isn't in the game. It's snowing lightly outside and it's my favorite type of snow: light and fluffy. That's because it's 8 degrees outside!

I posted the picture above because it accurately represents how I feel right now. Slightly out of focus, yet there is something holding your attention. I'm unfocused yet I can see clearly what I need to do...confusing? Oh yea!

 I often go through periods of reflection (some would call it Depression, probably) but I've learned to just roll with it. Nothing to get excited about....and I have discovered that it's a necassary part of the way I process stuff. I think when I am unsettled, I tend to fill up with heavier emotions and I do tend to feel things much more deeply then normal.

I think I sense that I am facing a period in my life where I have to change, er more like I already am experiencing the change.... know I can never stay in one place in my recovery for long nor do I really want to. These spiritual nudges I experience can have a rather dramatic affect on me and I think I'm sort of recoiling from it all. I do not trust new things very easily. I want to but it is very difficult for me to just have faith and go forward with something new. 

I have been flopping around here on the blog the last two days desperately trying to figure out what the fuck is going on knowing full well that it probably will never be clear enough for me to explain to others. I need to accept that and freaking move on to some thing else.

Tomorrow is DAY #2 of the Great Church Experiment and you know what, it's fine. I don't feel much one way or the other. Hmmm...

That has me thinking..I left a comment on my fellow blogger Sunny's Blog: sunny sings the blues about Exhaustion and Emotional Trauma. I really believe that there is a definite relation, when I am writing a "heavy" blog post or dealing with some of the difficult stuff I find myself often barely able to function because I'm so bloody tired.

It sounds simple but I think I put SO much energy into recovery sometimes that I haven't anything left for just plain ole me and my life. That is absolutely related to the balance Issue I have been dancing around the last few days. I'm in waaaay tooo deeeep, on the emotional side. I need to spray the rest of this emotional diarrhea and move on to something mindless, perhaps?!

I know, it's probably been obvious to everyone reading this dribble, yet I'm much too close and really didn't see it. I just try so hard at times to fix everything now but life does not work that's too tidy, too neat. No it will take time and yea, more changing on the fly.

Looks like I timed this perfectly because Michigan State is making a run at Purdue in the second half. I think I'm gonna shut off the computer for the night and watch some basketball. Good night all.....