The Gonzo Journals
January 29th, 2023
Yesterday, I passed my nine-month sobriety landmark, and it didn’t even cross my mind! If I was the kind of alcoholic who attended meetings, I’m sure they would’ve reminded me of this and gave me some type of token or keychain. I’m not downing people who need this sort of encouragement, but I’m the kind of person who’d much rather climb inside my own head and wallow in self-pity.
I had my first drink at age 13. Obviously wine coolers – or, as they called it in the eighties during the less politically correct times, cheerleader beer – I would skateboard around my apartment complex while drinking one. I was under the false impression everyone would think I was cool. Trust me. I was skinny, buck toothed, and sported a chili bowl haircut. I needed all the help I could get with looking cool.
(For the record, it was called cheerleader beer because that’s who it was marketed toward. The cutesy little females weren’t very fond of whiskeys and beers, so the perverted rich men who owned the liquor companies invented something sweeter and more attractive to, well…little girls. Because capitalism.)
The military days during my early to mid-twenties were where I learned to perfect my craft. If Uncle Sam taught me anything, it was how to guzzle a twelve pack without even tasting it. Who was I to argue with Uncle Sam? Whatever put me to sleep every night was fine by me, especially since that meant I wouldn’t need to lay awake, stare at the ceiling, and wonder who in the Hell my wife – at the time – was screwing. Alcohol was my best friend in a land far from home.
After I exited military service, I didn’t think much about alcohol. Living in my super dry hometown of Greenville, Texas (insert banjos here) meant you needed to drive fifteen miles to even get a simple can of beer. Greenville was once known for having the most churches per capita than any other city in the United States. Wouldn’t this mean that alcohol would be more readily available? Gotta get those kids liquored up so they’ll say “yes”, right? Fifty ‘no’s’ and a ‘yes’ means ‘yes’. That wasn’t the case until 2008.
Yes, if my calculations are correct, the bustling burg of good old Greenville, Texas was dry as a bone for an entire century! Some of the old money and religious fanatics died off and an election resulted in beer and wine sales on every corner. My dormant addiction, now fueled by yet another wife who couldn’t keep her legs crossed in a ‘who pisses last’ competition, returned with a vengeance.
It got out of control after my next inevitable divorce. I was traveling for a living, had zero responsibilities after dark, and no one I personally knew was around to judge me for being a drunk. It was like a horny stud dog being off the leash in a pit of bitches. Then, the unexplained medical problems began.
Come to find out, none of my ailments were the direct fault of alcohol abuse, but I’m sure it didn’t help things much. I managed to stay sober for a total of ten whole months without cheating. I even journeyed to my local bar every Friday night for karaoke, trading my signature favorite beer for unsweetened iced tea. The bitterness helped me surpass the cravings. Also, watching every other drunken patron approach the stage made me realize how much better my own life seemed.
Then, the pandemic came…
Now living in the big city and remarried, my anxiety peaked when all Hell broke loose around the world. To make matters worse, my writing career hit a bit of a snag and the January 6th riots depressed me greatly. I turned to the only true friend I knew would never let me down. It began with beer, but I soon graduated to straight whiskey. I was on a collision course with death once again.
I never really told many people this, but, before getting remarried, my ultimate goal was to get my youngest child to graduate high school, move to New York City, write daily, and drink myself into an early grave with zero witnesses. Drunken, depressed artists are the absolute worst, aren’t we? All the great ones leave too soon.
Luckily, my wife brought my eventual downfall to my attention, and I made a suggestion to trick myself into sobriety. Knowing damn well I’d never do it for myself, I encouraged her to command me to stop drinking altogether. I didn’t love myself enough, therefore I had to promise sobriety to someone I truly cared about.
And here I sit. Sober as a priest on Sunday, or at least a good one.
I’m working on month ten now with nowhere to go but up. I’ve successfully managed to quit using tobacco cold turkey over two years ago, and now I’m nearing my first year of no alcohol. To add misery to my person, I decided on New Year’s eve to cease carbonated beverages for good. I’m running out of vices, and somehow, I’ve managed to write about sixty thousand words since the beginning of 2023. Is sobriety the key to success? Hemingway and Hunter Thompson would disagree…if they weren’t already dead.
What’s next, oh great life of misery, pain, and heartache? Where do we go from here? What’s the score?
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