Alcoholism – Worth Repeating

Ten Simple Clues

            In all the years that I’ve written a newspaper column “Out My Window” and now this blog of “From Out My Window”, I’ve repeated but two columns.  One of Lilacs on Memorial day, and now this because two people have told me that my ‘questions’ were eye-openers for them, and that just maybe they might do the same for another.
            And there’s one more person I meet occasionally, a delightful person, but who, I’d be willing to bet, will become, or already is, an alcoholic.  I wanted to talk to him, but didn’t, for there would have been anger, and I’d have been told, truthfully, that it was none of my business.  But at one stage of my life I was active in AA, and while not alcoholic myself, I learned an awfully lot.
            One was this list of the following questions and I’ve used them in many ways over the years because they were true then and are just as true today.
            If you answer ‘Yes’ to even one of them, the chances are you have a problem, and if you answer “Yes” to three or more, you are an alcoholic.  It may take years before you admit it, but the course of the disease is relentlessly down-hill and continues to worsen until admitted and faced.
            Don’t tell your answers to anyone, but for your own sake, answer truthfully to yourself, and oh how I wish, hope, that even one person will read, and act.
            1. Do you ever take a drink in the morning?
            2. When people mention drinking do you walk away in anger, thinking they were speaking about you, and wish they would mind their own business?
            3. Have you ever felt that your life would be better and easier if you stopped drinking?
            4. Have you ever said to yourself, “I can stop drinking anytime I want”, and then poured yourself another drink?
            5. When having guests or going to a party, do you ever pour yourself a secret drink, before hand, just to ‘get in the mood’?
            6. Have you ever decided to stop drinking for a week or two, and then found yourself drinking again within one or two days?
            7. Does your drinking ever cause trouble at home?  At school? On the job?
            8. Do you ever have black-outs? Partial memory loss?
            9. Have you ever gotten drunk when it was the last thing in the world you wanted to do?
            10. Have you ever switched from one kind of liquor to another in hopes the change would keep you from getting drunk?
             Simple, aren’t they?  But that simplicity is deceiving, and all the disbelief in the world won’t change the truth of them.  Or your answers.
             Take Question 8.  A blackout doesn’t mean ‘passing out’.   Blacking out means that you were on your feet, talking, laughing, dancing, but the next day you can’t remember one thing of what happened.  You ‘blacked out’ and it’s a mean thing, for no one there would have seen one thing odd in your behavior.
            Now, it doesn’t help if a spouse or parent recognizes these traits and tries to help by telling you.  The one who has the disease will fight back, maintaining ‘there is no problem’,  (See No. 4) and, anyway, ‘living with you would drive anyone to drink’.
            And if No. 7 is brought up, it will always be someone else’s fault.  Always, always, always, and never, never, never, theirs.
            But thank heavens today we all know about alcoholism from TV, internet, radio or magazines.  You will find AA meetings in your own neighborhood, across town, or if you wish to be truly anonymous, there are groups which absolutely insist upon it.  Anyone’s Last Name is forbidden from use and Nick-Names only allowed.
            It’s not an easy journey, but the sooner the alcoholic recognizes the disease, and only then, can it be controlled.   And, as I once learned, it is not a case of just the alcoholic needing help, but everyone whose life has been closely touched also needs help.  Which is why meetings for the non-alcoholic partner, teens, adults and even for adult children of alcoholics are well attended.
            It’s a mean, progressive disease, and if someone recognizes the disease and stops drinking, but, years later decides one small drink would do no harm after all this time, they’ll find it  one  horrible mistake, for the disease progresses whether you drink or not, and that ‘first drink’ doesn’t react as it did years before, but in a far more terrible way, and stopping far harder to do.  It’s nothing to play games with.  At all.
            As I said, I’ve had requests for these words to be repeated, and I hope that the one I meet so briefly, will get the help that is now so easy to find.  Miracles do happen, you know, and my trust in such is why I repeat my words, at the beginning of what is usually a time of heavier than usual drinking, and that they might help at least one such person.  Cross your fingers.  Mine are.

The Holiday is a Catalyst

But aren’t Catalysts great?

          I swore I would not get caught up in the Thanks we see and hear all over the place at this time of the year, and yet, here I go.
          And I started my gratitude back in childhood when I lived, with my family, of course, on a small farm.  Five acres would seem big for the average family home-place today, but then it was what I say, a small farm.
          I remember the peace and quiet of it all, and didn’t even recognize that stillness until I was older and sought to find it again, and could not. Wherever we live, today, there is little silence.  Sound, is everywhere.  Cars, radios, Cell phones, TV, and people.  Dogs barking was a common sound back then, but now one must listen for it , and the sound is so welcome.
          I am thankful for such a childhood.  I ‘lived’ in a tree I could climb today (well, mentally) with a book and pocket full of raisins, and if not there, and it was summer, I was out in the tall, corn field with the same companions.
          Alone, but never lonely, and I think that reaching out for that same kind of life is why, today, I am a ‘hermit’ and a member of “Raven’s Bread,” an international organization of ‘hermits’, with some living in busy cities, some apartments, others scattered around the world, and Ethel here in Murray with her wonderful neighbors.  We don’t need a desert to live the eremetic life, but seek it where ever we live, and I am thankful.
          I’m thankful I was able to earn my daily bread by writing, which is a done in solitude, and retired, can now continue and use this blog to reach out.  Sometimes pleasing, sometimes making others wonder, and sometimes angering one or two.  I have no anger, for I have learned to love all, even the upset ones.  That’s Ethel.
          I’m thankful for my two sons, John and Bill,  and all they’ve brought into my life.  Each one has brought love and joy and I thank The Source for them.  Grandchildren and glory be, now two greats.  Thankful????  What do you think?
          I’m thankful for my home.  A cottage, but it’s on land that has been home to no one but native Indians with their teepees and Bradfords, and my home sits on what was a barnyard, and the north wall to the barn’s lower level still sits in my back yard. 
          Thankful that the home is mine and, the way life works, I’ve been alone since 1969 (what a long time ago, when I print it out) and have never had a mortgage to pay.  It’s just mine and I’m thankful for it.
          I’m thankful for the people who allowed me to develop what I have, and paid me for it.  Jim and Bette Cornwell, though Bette, bless her, is no longer with us.  Good people.  Don Robinson who helped me whet my writing skills.  Bob Prince, (also now one of the missing) who taught me mechanics of the paper printing world, and Stan Youngblut, my first long-ago boss who introduced me, as a comptometer operator, so kindly into the business world when I was but a teen.  Opened my eyes to the world, and I’ve never shut them since.
          So thankful to my son Bill and his wife Nina, who live next door and make my solo life so much easier, especially as the two of them are experts with computers.  And so thankful for computers, for what would I do without email to span the globe with?  I quell to think what my life would be without email, and I say thank you over and over for it and to Bill for getting me my first one when I thought all I needed or wanted was a new typewriter.  Books, blog, meeting people? How naive I was and I say thank you.
          There are people in my life I could not have dreamed of when I sat in my tree or cornfield.  Maria now in our valley, and Corry, in Holland, where they both were born.  Tom of Chicago;  Laurel of Sun City, AZ; and Wayne of Mesa, AZ;  Barrie of Cedar City;  Sandy of St. George;  Sylvia of Seattle,  and on and on.  All because of the wonders of email.
           And my final (but it is never final) thank you is to The Source for giving me a good body, to use, use, use, and when in need of repair, it heals and is ready to use again. 
           Thanksgiving?  This holiday has been the catalyst to remind me of all I have.  Love you all.   Ethel

Sex, Same Yesterday As Today

But now, the details just get published sooner

          During the last dozen years or so, every bit of news tells us of some person with some high title has been found guilty of sexual misconduct. Generals, Presidents, coaches of great colleges, world-wide newspaper owners, etc. They resign after bringing ‘disgrace’ to their families and whatever organization they have controlled.
          We wonder if we have looser morals than by-gone times, or the media has found that there is big money to be made in gossip, and they want it.
           Now, this could be a long, long list, but I’m going to be picky and start with George Washington, our Country’s Father.  He never had a child, ’tis said, probably sterile, but, if his sperm had been ‘good’, it’s also said that, as a young man, surveying the wilderness and often with native Indians, that there would be many an American Indian with his DNA, just as there are  African Americans with Jefferson’s. 
           Thomas just happened to not be sterile.  He also lived at a time, when loving Sally Hemings, a woman who, as his black slave was frowned upon, but most ordinary.  She went to Europe with him, had his children, and at his death their children were freed and Sally lived with his lawful daughter, not as a servant or slave, but as a free woman.
           There are many ‘big’ ones.  Lyndon Johnson was right active and half in anger said, “I had more women by accident that Kennedy had by appointment.”  Jealous, see.
           Okay, get down to the ones that today’s scandal sheets would love. 
           Buchanan never married and openly lived with a male former U.S. Vice-President for decades.  Of course, we all know that J. Edgar Hoover, the first overseer of the FBI was gay, and his employees, per his orders, dug into the sex lives of powerful people, (as JFK’s) and blackmailed them to keep their silence about him with threats of telling the public of what he knew of them.  Yeah, a real nice guy.
        Poor cuss Bill Clinton publicly lied about his problems and almost got impeached, not for the sexual stuff, but for the lies.   Wilson, the WW I ‘preacher’ president, had too many year’s ‘friendships’ with two separate women.
        Okay, Cleveland fathered a daughter while Prexy, and she later made a good living with a book about her life as his daughter. Eisenhower, according to his WW II chauffer and mistress in England and Europe was practically impotent, but loved her and he wrote to his boss General George Marshall, that he planned a divorce.  But General and Prexy Truman, his bosses, gave him hell, not for loving the young woman, but for wanting a divorce and told him to forget all about a divorce, and get busy with his Job of taking back Europe from Hitler, or else! And he did.
          The two Bush Prexies enjoyed illegal sex all around the world and from three (more?) nationalities.  The son learned from the Father who had a Chinese mistress from way back when he was stationed in China, and the son, openly had a Black woman, many others, and finally his wife smiled and sat with him, only for the cameras.
          Reagan’s Hollywood days were the same as those of young men-about-that-town today.  Nancy, his wife and Frank Sinatra were a ‘thing’ and he, along with Jack Benny and George Burns, spent many a pre-presidential time with the ‘weed’, marijuana.  All just good clean preparation for a weekend of sex.
          And there’s a good joke about Calvin and Grace Coolidge and a chicken farm, which is too long, and I am a nice lady, but was laughed (roared) at, and told (not written) by every reporter there.  Yeah, pious as ‘silent’ Cal looked, the two knew the variables of sex well.
          Andrew Jackson got bad publicity for marrying a woman before her divorce was final, and the rumor (?) persists that Harding’s wife put the poison in the fish dish that killed him, after finding out about his 15 year old daughter who was not her daughter.  The speedy burial was performed within a day, as they traveled in the northwest U.S. on their way back from Alaska.
          Get out the books and laugh with me, for I’m tempted to go on and on.  But as I said, I’m a nice lady and just grin when, with today’s instant news, it’s all told in Bold Face, 10 pt. print.  Nothing’s any different than centuries ago, it’s just that today, we know the details almost as it happens.
Oh, you say this is Thanksgiving?  I know, I know, but the media makes such a shambles of it, that I celebrate it my way, and write of something else.  Makes not a whit of difference and my words are more fun.

AIDS – It Remains Today’s “Leprosy”

This article was written not long ago
And each word is true
But held unprinted because I did not want
To bring added sorrow to the  grieving family.


             The obituary was but a name, five lines, and twenty-nine carefully chosen words.  Such a small space to tell of a man who had been my friend, and I sorrowed that his bright personality was no more, and was surprised to realize it had been 15 or more years since we had  talked.

             It didn’t say how he died, and it didn’t matter, for to-day we all recognize those short, terse obits and cringe within for, when no cause of death is given,  almost always we ‘know’ that AIDS was the culprit. 

            And my heart ached for the sorrowing family because they had none of the consolation most people have of talking with others over the details of ‘how it happened’.

            We’ve all experienced deaths which have torn us apart, and I’ve been surprised to find how much healing comes from being able to talk about it with others.  How the very act of discussing the illness and death, does miracles in healing the broken heart.

            But getting back to those ‘twenty-nine words’.  I thought that time, and more knowledge about AIDS,  would change our attitude about it and HIV,  but the answer is still the same.  Death by this scourge  remains ‘different’, and met with silence. 

            No one wants to talk about it.  There is fear and those left behind not only have their grief, but the added sorrow of the silence that envelopes such deaths from others.  And also the sad knowledge that, of course, people know and speak to others about it.

              Attitudes, however, do change, for I remember one night as a child and  overheard my parents talking in low tones.  They thought we kids were asleep, but I wasn’t and overheard their words.

              Someone we knew had died of cancer, and hard to believe, but cancer was then a no-no disease, and  it was a good, freeing day when the words “died of cancer” first began appearing in obituaries.  For it showed people no longer had to suffer and die in fear and shame because of one more whispered disease.

              But AIDS remains this age’s ‘leprosy’.  Not to be spoken, and fear strikes our hearts if and when we find that someone we know has the disease, or is HIV positive.  We are torn between, “Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know” and “For heaven’s sake, how could such a thing happen?”

             AIDS is a world-wide disease and near epidemic in some countries.  We’d better get our heads on straight, and the sooner the better, because, if you haven’t already been faced with the disease, and death, of someone you know well, from AIDS,  you will, for it’s bound to happen, and they need our love and hugs just the same as any grief stricken person.

             We’ve long known it’s  not just a Gay disease, and that it does happen to so-called ‘nice’ people.  In fact, it happens so often to just ‘every-day people’ that I never have a nurse, doctor or dentist put a needle into me without the fleeting thought of, “Is the needle clean?”  Too many diseases, and not only of AIDS, have been traced back to some mistake in a medical area.  Never maliciously, just one of those accidents that do happen.

             The obit I write about was for a wonderful person.  We once laughed together, exchanged ideas, and when our pathways went different ways, I wondered how life was going for him.

            Well, that obit told me.  AIDS had entered his life and once that happens there is no time or energy left for anyone or anything else.  Life becomes a cruel struggle for survival, and with today’s treatments, the  person lives longer, but the expense and suffering is terrible .  And  everyone knows what the end will be.  Sometimes sooner and sometimes later, but it matters not, for the end is chiseled in stone.

             I’d like whoever placed that obit to know, that I, too, loved and still remember that man and  thank them for publishing those few lines.  So small a token to mark the life of a lovely, intellectual, once happy man.   Yes, I know that this too, shall pass, but when?  For while we hear less and less about it, AIDS is not gone.  Just ‘pushed under the rug’ and continues its deadly way.

Ordinary, Common, Everyday Lives

But what could be better?

I see ‘celebrity’ magazines with pix of people no one really knows, telling of the exciting lives they seem to live, and wonder why I have no envy for them.

You see, I have an ordinary life, ordinary house, ordinary neighborhood, and yet am so content and have such love for my life and the people surrounding me, that I wonder if something’s wrong with me.  

And so, Ethel being Ethel, I began thinking about my life and wonder what ordinary means, and the dictionary tells me its something so ‘common’, so ‘everyday’, that we take it for granted and give it no attention. 

Getting down to basics, my day begins with one ordinary event that would panic the world if it didn’t happen.  Yeah, the sun   rises and brings light and glorious colors, and in 12 hours, it goes down in another blaze of color, and the world is dark. So ordinary I seldom even look at its beauty, and yet if this happened just once every century, the entire world would awaken to watch. 

The seasons change on a 365 day schedule bringing the differences of rain, snow, warm or cold, and if those very ordinary things change, our planting, harvesting, and entire life style changes, and if severe enough, lots of people go hungry. Or die.

And before we smile in disbelief, look back to the 1930’s when the lack of rain to the mid-land of America was so severe the earth became so dry it was blown into the air and the area was labeled a Dust Bowl. The sun was obliterated, and it became so dark, night or day, that people seriously wondered if the End had come.

Going farther, children are daily (hourly?) conceived, and then are born, age and ultimately, we die.  Such commonplace events, but if death didn’t come, we’d have a world overpopulated and fighting for food, space, and air. Or, if conception stopped, within fifty or so years, the world would become uninhabited because no one was filling the empty places. 

Such ordinary happenings, and the more I searched, the more I found that it’s the ordinary, the loved, the taken-for-granted events, that makes my world worth living.

And what started all this?  Well, on a recent CNN program, a veteran journalist who had talked with the powerful people of the world. 

And when asked if there was one interview that stood out above all others, I expected him to tell of some President, General, Inventor or such, but after a pause and with an odd smile, the retired journalist shifted his body, cocked his head, nodded, and said, “Yes, I do. There was a man whose name is still well  known, and his answer remains with me as perhaps the most important words I’ve  heard.”

And he looked up and said, “It was Clark Gable, the movie star.” He nodded as he saw the interviewer’s surprise, but continued, “See, I had asked him pretty much the same question you are asking me, as to who he had met or what event was the most powerful to him.

 “And his answer struck me to the heart and I’ve wondered if his words, taken seriously by all of us, just might be the secret to solving  many of the world’s problems. Problems that outwardly change, but are ever the same. ”

Clark said, “When I finish my day’s work, and drive home, I know that on the other side of my own Front Door, there’s someone, though also busy with her day, waits for the sound of my key in our door and who eagerly and lovingly greets me as I step in.

“Sorry”, Gable almost apologized, “I’m sure that’s not the answer you expected, but, you see, I’m a very ordinary man. And knowing she is there, awaiting me, puts all else in its place as good, but not vital to my deep contentment.”

The journalist being interviewed, continued, “I’ve listened to many powerful and sincere people telling what should/shouldn’t be done to bring Peace to all, but Gable’s words stay with me,  and I’ve come to see that he had matured beyond ‘ideas’ and into the wiser man, and found the basic need to bring peace to us all. 

“He knew that no matter where he was in this world, people would hurry to ask what they could get him, but he had matured into a man who had learned that ‘all the rest’ dropped into its proper place, interesting and worthwhile, but of little real worth, because ‘on the other side of his own door’,  there was one who awaited the sound of his key in the door, and, together, their love made their entire  lives worth living.”

And I recall how about 2,000 years ago, The Great Teacher, also taught that Love is the answer to all.  And today?  The same words from a movie star? What a wonderful paradox.