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    1. #261
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Friday, November 10th 2017 (Other Peoples' Shows)


      I'm still in the cave. This will be my last post here. I wrote all of my posts here in the old journal until my internet was finally cut off and I was forced outside. It's got to the stage now where I am glad to be leaving. I'm looking forward to getting on with shaping my new life. I have lots to look forward to with Lindsay, so I do. When I think about what life in this cave has been like in the fifty months I've been here, especially that period between the winter of 2013/14 to the time I sobered up and stopped smoking weed, it really is a completely different world now, a completely different internal world, and so it is fitting that a completely different external world should accompany it. This is exactly what appears to be happening.

      This week I have been joined by Barry the Bullet but he won't be out with me this morning for every second Friday is when he uses a government pen to sign his name on the dotted line at the job centre. I'll be out there on my own. This week we have not come close to hitting the heights I did while working solo last week. On Wednesday this week we started at half past ten after complications with Barry's bus and a fuck up. We ended up doing less properties than I managed on my own a week ago on Wednesday. Yesterday had a similar feel to it and we struggled to get going, especially in the afternoon. It's getting much colder now. The mornings are okay but after lunchtime it can get a little on the chilly side.

      This morning I am going to get some work done but I also have one or two things to do today as well, things I'll have to finish work early for. One of them is obviously to go to the council office to hand these keys in and sign away my rights to live in this cave. The other is a trip to the college. I have to finish off and print off some interview questions for Lindsay that I thought I had taken a copy of but haven't. I'll need them for Saturday when we go to the hospital canteen to do our interview for my college project. I have to interview three people about a subject of my choice and I'm using the NHS as my common theme. Lindsay is doing the ''On Site'' interview and giving the student's perspective of NHS; mum is coming into the college on Monday morning to do the ''Studio'' interview and give the experienced employee perspective; and Gillon will be answering his phone when I call him from the college phone on Monday morning to do the ''Phone'' interview and give the patient's perspective of the NHS. These three interviews combined will make up my Assessed Show 3.

      I managed Assessed Show 1 weeks ago and did Assessed Show 2 – the pre-recorded one I did with a 60's theme – the other week and it passed and aired on the radio last Tuesday, and I completed Assessed Show 4 (record a live show while interacting with social media) on Tuesday this week. These interviews mean that I will have completed the four Assessed Shows. Besides them there are two practical tasks which I've already done as well as three podcasts which will be the next things on the college To-Do list – the only things left to do in the first semester. I'm way ahead of the game and looking forward to what I can perhaps get up to once I've done all of this stuff to hone my skills. Some extra time in the studio would be nice. We'll have to wait and see how it plays out once I complete all of these tasks.

      The lecturer carries around a large external hard-drive and once an assessed show or practical project has been passed and signed off her will being it round to us and have us copy our projects onto this drive, likely for use for the Scottish Qualifications Authority but also probably so that they can demonstrate our work to local radio stations when they come asking for samples of what the local new talent can do. The last time I was asked to put something onto this drive it took a while loading up and someone else needed the lecturer's attention. I find myself sitting with the drive hooked up to my workstation. When it loads up and I have uploaded y project into the relevant section I notice a large number of my peers' names sitting there. I sneakily copy onto my own little drive their work so that I can get a little listen in on the competition.

      So the other night, while I'm lying on my sleeping bag on the floor, I am listening in on the other projects done by class members and I have to say that the quality is very mixed. I think that it's no surprise to find that those who mess around the most tend to do all of the things in their shows that we are told not to do and miss out many of the things we are supposed to. I have to continue to keep my own standards higher than this competition although I have yet to get copies of those I consider to be the better students. Then I will know what I'm up against. I have to say, though, that the competition is nothing too startling from what I've heard so far.

      So today I have a few things planned. I will be heading out for a solo morning mission cleaning windows. I will then be heading to Gillon's with my bag to leave at his until I am ready to go to Lindsay's tonight. Then it's to the college to copy what I need for my interview over the weekend before heading to the council office to hand in the keys to the cave. Then a debt-collecting mission this evening, pick up the bag of tricks from Gillon's and catch the bus to my new home.

      All in a day's work.

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      Stevie

      Posted at the cafe in the town centre at lunchtime.

      1062

    2. #262
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Saturday, November 11th 2017 (Six Weekends)


      Ah, good morning! How nice of you to join me on this wonderful Saturday morning – the best morning of the week. I am now living with Lindsay officially. It was pretty hectic yesterday and I could feel the regret and fear and uncertainty and doubt when I was handing the keys over to the woman at the council office. It's done now though. I now live with Lindsay and have no independent cave in the other town the town I work in and attend college in.

      We're getting rather short on weekends left of 2017. Christmas is looming now. Shops are beginning to really get in the mood for it and while I am still to hear a festive song on the radio I know that they will be on their way. To put it into perspective it will be the 23rd of December exactly six weeks from today.

      Last weekend we were in Edinburgh watching that god (of my understanding) awful Jigsaw movie and having some dinner, looking around the shops, just getting out of Fife for a while. It was good. The weekend before that Lindsay and I booked our trip for my fortieth next year and went to the church closest to us on Sunday morning. THREE weekends ago I shared at the top table at a meeting I'd never been to before; went to Dundee with Lindsay, and went to church with Robert from AA. FOUR weekends ago we had the removal van booked and used it to get all of my stuff from the cave into the spare room. We went to an AA meeting where a huge argument broke out, went to St. Andrews on the Sunday, and I went to my old home group in the evening – the first time I'd been there for over a year. FIVE weekends ago I spent the Saturday with Lindsay in Barcelona and spent the Sunday lounging by the poolside as we enjoyed our last day in Spain. SIX weeks ago we were counting down the hours until our plane took off and I went to the local AA meeting where I bumped into someone I know outside of the rooms. SEVEN weekends ago. . .I can't really remember, plus – I named this post ''Six Weekends'' and so to add a seventh would be unnecessary. Moving on. . .

      It makes it feel as though there is still a lot of time to get ready for this festive break but I know how these things can sneak up on us. Six weeks ago I was leaving for Spain – six weeks from now and it will be the 23rd of December. We'll be back in Edinburgh for the Christmas Market. It'll be fucking freezing!! (although it's getting there already.) I also know that the magic of Christmas is in the build up and so the fun actually starts in around three weeks from now and dies out around the time I'm speaking about, six weekends from now. What I will be doing for Christmas is as yet unknown. Will I be seeing my brother and the nieces? Who knows? Will I see my mother over this period? Again, I don't know.

      The Metallica tickets fiasco was pretty telling. While it is true that getting our money back through selling tickets we had purchased was handy it was not as if we would have starved had it not happened. I know that one of the main motivators in me trying to get rid of them was that I still did not feel ready to speak with my brother. Not like that. Not just being forced together through some planned event. It would feel too awkward. For me anyway. When these tickets were purchased months ago I had no idea that I would not hear a peep from my brother or sister-in-law since March. I had figured that by the time this gig arrived we would be back on speaking terms. It's not as if we're not on speaking terms – no one has done or said anything ot upset the other, that I am aware of – it's just that we don't communicate any longer. I saw my nieces back in August but haven't spoken with Gary other than the odd meaningless Facebook communication since March, around eight months ago. Almost as long as I've been quit smoking for.

      So is it fucked up that I got the four of us (Gary, Scottish Sarah, Lindsay, and myself) tickets to see Russell Brand for April 10th? I figured it would be a decent Christmas present but I wonder if I might be risking the same things happening again. Perhaps Christmas can show me once and for all that it really does have the power to unite family and bring about good will to all men and use it to find a way of communicating with this part of my family in plenty time for this event. Just a little over six weekends and we will know.

      I have to admit that I am looking forward to Christmas already because of e greater likelihood of me spending some time with my nieces. Again – there are Facebook things galore to look at, Scottish Sarah seems to use social networking as some kind of platform to show them off as though they are little glittery toys that she has made, but it all seems so meaningless. I can see clearly now why some people feel that social media has alienated people rather than connect them. It does the opposite of what it says on the tin. It makes it easy to not bother connecting. I could quite easily try to convince myself that I do have a connection with my nieces by following them on Facebook. There would be no connection though, which is my big problem in life.

      Lindsay and I will be heading to the hospital at some point over the weekend to record our interview for my college show so that should be fun. Mum is coming into the college on Monday so I'm looking forward to that too. It's the international break for the final round of world cup qualification and so there is a diminished football program this weekend but when it returns next Saturday we will be hitting that lovely congested festive fixture list.

      By that time there will only be five weekends left.

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      Stevie

      Counting down the weekends till he sees his nieces.

      1096

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    4. #263
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Sunday, November 12th 2017 (Families)


      It's often tough knowing how best to stop this journal from sounding too repetitive. There are only so many things I can really write about as there are only so many things a Stevie can get up to in a week. There's the newly established routine of going to college on Monday and Tuesday while working Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The weekends I like to keep routine based also.

      This weekend has been good so far. Work through the week managed to afford me the privilege of being able to contribute another one hundred bucks into our holiday fund for next year's trip to the Canary Islands for my fortieth in April and so that leaves us with a little over four hundred to pay. I went for what has become my usual morning trip to the Golden Bite for a full Scottish breakfast and got a few supplies in. I am happy to say that the town centre does not yet reek of Christmas desperation with only a select few retailers having trees in their windows. I love the season but it's still far too early yet for it to be motivated by anything other than human greed and desperation at this stage. I did notice that on the 25th November – two weekends from now – there is a little something happening to help us get in the mood. Online it says this:

      ''
      Saturday 25th November. Collect your lanterns from 3.00pm. The parade starts at 4.30pm outside the Mercat’s main doors on the High Street – and finishes in the Town Square where there will be a special performance of Christmas song ‘Bringing The Light’ – followed by a magnificent firework display. The Christmas lights will also be switched on. Free glow sticks and LED tea lights will be handed out – but supplies will be limited so get there early!
      ''

      I think we are to be going to that. It will not be as advertised. It'll likely be quite tame, but I'm sure that there will be plenty of people there.

      Lindsay and I last night went out to dinner with her brother and his wife. Oh – and their little boy who's gonna turn three soon. Although I've been with Lindsay now for way over a year I have yet to bond in any meaningful way with any of her family. I know – I attend sessions with a clinical psychologist for this very reason, I can't connect with people due to my defensive schema modes, but to be honest I just haven't seen all that much of them in the time I've had this connection to their family. Things went pretty well I thought and her brother plays ice hockey in the league on Saturday nights. I decided to fire along and watch.

      This town I now live in is infinitely more interesting than the one I just left and especially when it comes to sports. Not only do we have here a professional football team but we also have Fife's premier ice hockey team as well. I arrive just after face-off, around quarter to eleven at night. The first thing I see is someone I know from Restoration going around and cleaning up after all of the fans who were here earlier to watch the pros in action. He started working at the Ice Arena a few weeks ago and admits that there are much worse things he could be doing on a Saturday night. I think it's great when anyone from Restoration finds work and sticks to it. Sitting around in ''recovery'' is never a viable long term solution for staying sober and clean. When I arrive the score is 2-1 to the guests. By the time I leave it is 14-2 to the guests. Lindsay's brother's team are destroyed. Maybe I am a jinx.

      I haven't been getting rapid enough responses from the sound production students and so my ideas of involving them in my podcasts are waning. I think that instead I am going to record much longer interviews about the NHS and use some of the recordings for my Assessed Show 4 interviews and the rest for the podcasts. Killing two birds with one stone, as it were. In this way I can be finished all of the Semester One work by the end of this coming week, maybe next week at a push and if I want to put a lot of work into getting the best out of it as I can, which I do, so we'll go with habding in the podcats around Monday, November 27th at the latest. I'll have the first semester in the bag three weeks before everything is due in and eight weeks before the official end of that period.

      Lindsay and I are at the hospital yesterday afternoon to conduct her interview and I notice my old sponsor sitting at one of the tables across from us. There are no indications he has seen us. Towards the end his partner arrives and they get up and head to the little shop inside the hospital grounds. They don't seem very close. When they head into the shop it is Stu who leads and he swans around the isles while she saunters behind. They are a strange couple indeed. I guess Lindsay and I are too.

      In order to turn my interview ideas into a podcast mini-series to fit the college brief I will have to do a little more than just record a couple of interviews and so I am currently thinking of things to do to help create thirty minutes' worth of usable recorded output. After the ice rink I pop along to A & E, hoping to get into the thick of some juicy stories and get some atmosphere recorded. Alas – things have changed in Accident and Emergency. The place is dead, even though this is just before midnight on a Saturday night. There is a new structure in place that helps things run more smoothly.

      I was on Facebook earlier and saw that my brother was online. I decided to ask him if he was free for an interview. He wants me to call him tomorrow afternoon. He finishes our mini ''conversation'' by asking what my year has been like.

      Gary – ''My timetable is making mine suck. 6 classes first term but only 2 2nd. So badly organised. Would arrange a catch up. Feels like I've seen no one for many weeks.''

      I don't know if this is what Dr. Bacon would perhaps consider to be the equivalent of my brother reaching out but I decide to jump on it. We'll speak more on the phone tomorrow when I call him from the college studio.

      Things are looking good.

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      Stevie

      Enjoying his weekend thus far.

      1150

    5. #264
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Monday, November 13th 2017 (Favourite Pastimes)


      It's going to be an interesting day at college today. First thing I'll be handing in my Assessed Show 3 – the one I recorded last week where I had to do a live show while demonstrating that I could use social media and interact with it while presenting – and then at half past nine Gillon is expecting a call from me from the college studio to go about a little interview for my coming podcast and Assessed Show 4. Around half past ten my mum is coming into the college to do an interview as well and then in the afternoon I am speaking with my brother, also from the studio phone, about his experience of the NHS and the service it provides. After today I will be much further on with my assignments than I am at the moment. That is the plan anyway.

      It's also going to be the first time I will have spoken with my mum in over three months and the first time with my brother (not counting superficial and relatively meaningless social media ''conversations'') since March time. I've also seen a lot more from Gillon in the last couple of weeks – largely due to the fact that me moving away from the area has filled me with concern about not seeing anyone – and so this has been good. I haven't seen English Sara and Dennis for a while either and so there is a good chance that I will do that once college finishes for the day. They stay pretty close to the college and will also have some things to say about the NHS so I will go armed with my little digital voice recorder and ask if there are any things they want to say.

      The Assessed Show with the interviews will be easy. I'll have enough good footage after today given Lindsay's interview at the weekend and after speaking with Gary and mum. Gillon and English Sara and Dennis will go towards the podcast, as will extra footage from the others I don't use for the Assessed Show. Since I have the software at home and on this very laptop I can spend some serious time next weekend ensuring that I get the editing process to as high a standard as I can. By this time next week I hope to have several minutes of my podcast polished and sounding as they currently do in the confines of my head.

      I have to make a couple of appointments actually. I could do with making one for the GP and one for an eyesight test at my local Specsavers. I plan on recording my interactions with both while making these appointments this week to use as potential footage for my podcast as they will go some way to talking about waiting times at the NHS – one of the big criticisms of it in the last few years. It will also show how friendly and helpful staff can be as well as give me the chance of getting a few questions in there in the hope of getting some good answers I can use for next week's editing session.

      I've been away from my cave now for only three days but the thought of heading to the next town and not having anywhere to call home is still awkward. I feel a little naked in that town now. It'll take a bit of getting used to. Those days when the weather is bad and I'm feeling tired I will have no option but to grin and bear it and get on the bus back to Lindsay's rather than taking that once easy option of being able to take the short trip up the road to the comfort of the cave and lay my head for the night. I think this will prove to be a good thing though. I feel as though there was something about that cave that brought out the very worst in me. For whatever reason I could not find ways to care about myself as much when in there as I do now that I am out. I found it more difficult to do the simple self care practices that are essentially the cornerstone of any respectable sobriety.

      I can imagine that after today I will be seeing my nieces again soon. Assuming that my brother answers his phone when I call him from the college studio, which I am sure he will, then we'll arrange something for the very near future and I'll be paying them a visit. That is something I can really look forward to. Lindsay and I don't spend enough time with our families. She sees her brother once every now and then and it's been pretty bad between my own brother and me for the best part of eight months now. The night I moved in with Lindsay (Friday just passed) she had bumped into someone she knows and had ended up going back to her house for coffee and chat. This is a good thing too as Lindsay doesn't spend enough time with friends. We met these guys at a wedding over the summer and had said that we'd visit them since finding out that they stay just around the corner but never got around to it. We have both been invited next Saturday night and so I'm up for that. Socialising. It's not my favourite pastime but I am beginning to see how doing it every now and then can have tremendous benefits for our mental health and wellbeing.

      Our once good AA friend Ann has also been in touch with Lindsay. She acted as something of a matchmaker with us last year when we started dating and Lindsay and I used to visit Ann for dinner every so often. Ann is in the process of patching things up with her ex-husband and so that's where she's been hiding.

      Apparently she has not been hiding at all though. She had been to AA meetings and is very active in SMART Recovery and so on and so forth for the last few months. I'm almost surprised that I haven't bumped into her but then I remember that it is actually I who has not been attending these things. I was at an AA meeting in Dundee (not a local meeting for Fifer's like myself) a few weekends ago but before that it has been a while, especially since I was at a meeting locally. I have also not been to a SMART meeting for several months, not that it's my thing.

      I won't be going to the usual (or what used to be ''usual'' anyway) Saturday night AA meeting if Lindsay and I are to be visiting with friends next weekend.

      But I promise the weekend after that.

      If going to watch the Christmas lights get turned on doesn't get in the way.

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      Stevie

      Trying to get into socialising more often.

      1177

    6. #265
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Tuesday, November 14th 2017 (Day of Interviews)


      Speaking of socialising – which I was yesterday in this journal – it looks as though there are going to be two Christmas nights out. There will be the one with Restoration where we go for a buffet at a local restaurant, this will take place (or is at the moment scheduled to at least) on December 14th (four weeks on Thursday) in the afternoon meaning that I will miss work for a bit, which is fine for Christmas dinner. The other is a college night out which will be happening (as things stand but will likely change) on December 09th (three weeks on Saturday) and so there is lots to look forward to. Nights out socialising with fellow radio students and afternoon buffets bantering with fellow alcoholics. It's all good Christmassy fun.

      I notice that the calendar is filling up a little. Having friends and a partner tend to make things a little more interesting. I remember Decembers gone by, and not too long ago actually, when there was nothing happening from the 01st right up until the 25th and even then there were a couple of years when I ''decided'' that I could not face the world. I'd been like a little drunken hamster and hoarded food and drink and cigarettes and weed for the month so that I need not leave the cave for the entire festive period. Then I would ride it out and hope that I came out at the other end with as little emotional scarring as possible. This way is much better. We have an Opeth gig in Glasgow on Thursday night and then a bunch of Christmas things happening next month including two nights out and a trip to take part in the turning on of the town's Christmas lights.

      Yesterday I was connecting with people through face-to-face interactions and over the college studio telephone motivated by my college assignments which have seen me seek out people's opinions on the National Health Service and telling me about their experiences of it. I had mum come into the studio to do an interviews since she has been a nurse on the front line for more than thirty years and I spoke with my brother – actually exchanged words spoken and not written – for the first time in months. I also spoke with Gillon, English Sara and Old Dennis. It was a day of communication and connection. Dr. Bacon would have been proud. In fact – he will be when I meet with him for our next session a week on Thursday!

      Mum knows her stuff. I'll happily concede that, and I got some really good comments and answers from her. Thirty years of working for the Health Board has given her some very interesting insights into the changes in nursing practices over the past three decades. Her experiences working in Al Ain – a little town not far from Dubai out in the United Arab Emirates – gave her insights into not just what we do differently here in terms of nursing, but also how different we are culturally. She reckons that people in the Emirates recover more quickly, or at least did back when she worked there in 2001 – 2003, due not just to the quality of nursing but also because of family participation. She says that in the UK we seem to be too busy to look after our families and our older generations grow old alone and isolated. That this is not the case in the UAE. They get involved. It's much more relaxed and they benefit from this approach.

      I think Gary is struggling at university. This is the first of me getting to speak with my brother in months and this shows no sign of letting up over the next two weeks. He's swamped with work at the moment and feels like life has consisted of nothing but university work for the last three months. I'm two years below him in the educational hierarchy and couldn't imagine having an easier time. Shows what a jump in level the years will turn out to be. I had better get used to working as I am at the moment – keeping myself ahead of the game. He breaks off for the Christmas holidays on the 01st December so we're going to work something out for around that time. At the moment he seems to barely have enough time for his family. What was it that mum was saying earlier about the people of Dubai!? Short term effort for long term gain, I guess.

      Today I will begin the editing process. Which parts of these interviews do I want to keep for my podcast series and which will I use as my Assessed Show 4 interviews? Assessed Show 4 will be completed this afternoon and submitted. That'll be all four of them done and dusted leaving only the podcast work to do. This I will put much work into over the coming weekend. I think that Lindsay and I are going to be taking it easy this weekend so as not to spend. We've been busy in recent weeks so a chilled out couple of days will do us good. I can work on the spare room, work on things that have been neglected this week. I haven't been on a decent walk for a while either. I haven't really walked much at all since returning from Spain last month. I should get out there and put the steps in this coming weekend, just to get back into it a little. Don't let's get complacent now.

      I still feel as though I will need more for my podcast series. I need half an hour worth of material and much of what I already have will be edited and chopped up, shortened and culled. I'll need more. I think I'm going to go to Accident and Emergency and get as close to the front line as I can get my little digital recorder. There's only one real way of going about that. I'll have to go in as a patient. If it's not busy I will suddenly develop chest pains and go have them checked out. I won't be putting anyone at risk by doing this. I'll get a chest X-Ray and will get to know how my health is. It might be a little irresponsible to take up the time of a nurse and facilities that wouldn't be just sitting around idle – they'd still have plenty to be getting on with – but if it's quiet then I don't have a problem with getting a little once-over. I'll be forty in less than six months so a heart scan and blood pressure test would do nicely, thank you.

      Anyway – back on with it. I had better get running for this bus.

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      Stevie

      Running for the bus.

      1165

    7. #266
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Wednesday, November 15th 2017 (His Presence)


      If it wasn't so damned cold then this idea of going out and cleaning windows wouldn't be too terrifying and quite so altogether undesirable. As it stands we've seen a rather large reduction in the number of good degrees in the air over the weekend and into this week and a huge increase in the number of bad degrees. It's getting colder on the hands now. This is the sixth last week before we break off for a fortnight of festive fun and frolics and I will have to man up and bear some pain if I want to feel as though I have earned them when they do arrive, which I do, so I am grateful that Barry the Bullet has answered the call and is willing to accompany me this crisp Wednesday morning.

      There is still four hundred and forty quid to pay for next year's trip for my birthday and the last three weeks I have been paying one hundred quid off my earnings from window cleaning from the Wednesday to the Friday. This week is colder and I know that coming home with money on the Friday evening will become more and more difficult as the weeks pass by with darker nights stepping in and weather depreciating constantly but I hope to get through each week between now and the Christmas break. This is the start of the fifth last week of window cleaning and so I should be able to pay off the holiday by just doing as I'm doing. There should be a couple of weeks left over and this can go towards the Christmas fund. I think I'm doing okay in terms of Christmas planning. Much better than in previous years anyway.

      We're not quite reaching freezing temperatures during the daytimes yet. Overnight, yes, it goes below zero, but during the day it is still kicking around three to seven degrees and so I am hoping that this year will be a little on the mild side. Last Thursday I could feel the pain in the hands when we were finishing up at around a quarter past four and it was starting to get dark. The pain is coming. It's not here yet though. The news is saying that we are to expect the worst winter since 2012 but this is likely just bullshit. It's to create a panic-buying mentality.

      I've been looking through a couple of AA books recently, preferring them to the actual meetings these days (I do plan on getting myself to that Saturday night meeting again at some point very soon but it won't be this weekend or next, definitely the one after that), and the Daily Reflections book is this morning talking about meditation. It says this:

      ''
      Step Eleven doesn't have to overwhelm me. Conscious contact with God can be simple, and as profound, as conscious contact with another human being. I can smile. I can listen. I can forgive. Every encounter with another is an opportunity for prayer, for acknowledging God's presence within me.
      Today I can being myself a little closer to my Higher Power. The more I choose to seek the beauty of God's work in other people, the more certain of His presence I will become.
      ''

      What does this mean, exactly? They say all the time in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous that God speaks through people. I guess that this little reading is reminding me of this. How do I get on with my fellow men and women? Do I feel connected to them any more now than I ever have? I don't just mean in terms of Lindsay and that kind of connection. I mean in general. Do I feel more as though I am a part of my community? Like I have a place here? Like I fit in any better? Working with Dr. Bacon is supposed to be showing me all of the ways in which a healthy adult would get on in the world, and to some extent it is working, but I don't feel as though I am anywhere close to being fully there yet.

      I am still drawn to the ideas of meditation. I always considered it to be AA practice for those a little more advanced than I was. Those who had a few years of sobriety behind them and who were in advanced stages of recovery chose to start meditation as a means of deepening their connection with their Higher Power. I have to also admit that while I used to think about my own Higher Power often and try to figure it out, get to know its essence, try to understand the concept, I don't give it my every thought now. There are days go by when I don't even think about the ideas of a Higher Power at all.

      I do like the ideas though. In terms of keeping things calm I can think of no better way. It doesn't work just to use this as a tool for when I feel stressed and agitated – restless, irritable, and discontent – but it is more a case of if you practice these methods regularly then the odds of you ever getting agitated and angry are on the decrease. You can never stifle human nature but you can point it in the direction you wish for it to travel.

      Rather than throw myself into hours of meditation I quite like the ideas of people acting as spiritual guidance. Every meeting with another human being is a chance for me to feel the work of a Higher Power. That's pretty cool. Rather than sit thinking about it here though, it would be better if I could pause for a moment to remind myself of this while I am in a social situation later on in the day. That is my mission for this cold but relatively sunny day: try to acknowledge His presence at some point throughout the day, especially when other people are present.

      With that in mind I will go and prepare my lunch and flask for the day. I plan on getting started at a decent time and hope that Barry the Bullet can meet me there. It's getting to the stage where we can't really work after ten past four as it just gets too dark. The mornings are still light but even this will be changing very soon.

      I don't know if darkness makes His presence more difficult to feel.

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      Searching for His presence.

      1104

    8. #267
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Thursday, November 16th 2017 (Opeth Day)


      Today should officially be known as Opeth Day. It is in my little world anyway. Only one more shift to work in the cold before we are off to watch this most special of bands at a world famous venue that for all of the acts I've seen over the years have yet to set foot in. 2017 keeps ticking off all the right boxes. Long may it continue but we are starting to run out of weeks now. For someone who has watched Pink Floyd perform Comfortably Numb live; Van Morrison singing Have I Told You Lately?; Michael Jackson performing Thriller; U2 playing One; R.E.M performing Losing my Religion; and Elton John singing Your Song – I think it's about time I added Ghost of Perdition performed by Opeth to the list. I know that some people might think that this is a silly little addition to an otherwise quite interesting list but that just shows what little they know about music. Opeth are as sophisticated as any of those mentioned above, and perhaps then some.

      First things first I have to go and pick up a hire car. A2B Van Hire were great the last time when we rented the van for moving my stuff from the long forgotten cave (this is now the sixth day away from there) and so we'll go with them again. Dealing with alcoholics is never easy and I've had to make a few changes this time to ensure that renting a vehicle is possible. For a start – my driver's license had an out of date photograph and address on it. For some reason the company chose to overlook this and rented their van out to us anyway. This time everything is above board and legal. The only issue I can see is that it is not my own bank card that is paying for it and so Lindsay is coming with me so that she can sign off for it. We were fine the last time and I'm sure we'll be fine this. I'll be working for a few hours and then we'll be driving off to Glasgow for a night of metal fun. I'm getting a little long in the tooth for these kind of mad nights so I intend to soak this one up.

      Lindsay has her placement in. She starts on Monday. This will be her last chance of getting the hours needed to graduate – to transition between being a student to actually being a nurse. She'll do four weeks and then will be off for two for the Christmas break. Then she'll return to complete the final (either eight or twelve) weeks until her time is made up. Rather than being on a ward where twelve hour shifts are the norm she is day shift, nine to five (or eight until four) which suits her much better. This feels like it's going to be the placement that carries her over the line. She'll qualify sometime in the first quarter of next year. It's been a long haul but the end is in sight. I'm proud of her. Our little trip abroad for my birthday will also be a celebration of this achievement.

      I'm kicking the ass out of the college at the moment. Tomorrow morning I have my auntie coming into the college for an interview for my podcast before I go to work. I'll be late in starting anyway since I'll (hopefully) have a car to return to the A2B Van Hire headquarters. Barry the Bullet can either start without me or come through for work later on and meet me so that we can start together. Personally I would prefer the latter. Having all of the equipment in my sight keeps alive this feeling that I am in control of things work related. I can't get back into the trap of having to rely on Barry showing up so that I can go to work in the mornings. Those days have to be over. These new days see Stevie leading the way, being assertive, and getting things done.

      Once this interview has been recorded I will have loads of good stuff to use for a podcast series. Once I get this working week over with I have to get on with editing and creating these things. I am way ahead of the crowd at the moment (and I mean WAY ahead) and will have the first semester completed the moment these three podcasts have been passed by the lecturer. The others will have until January 31st to do theirs (and all of the other assessed projects and shows) but I can't see anyone doing any work over the Christmas period and so before we know it this deadline will be upon us. It's no wonder that Gary is struggling with his university year if he has gone straight from college, where the work ethic is as my peers seem to feel it should be, and then he's thrust into a high demand, high focus environment and told to get on with it.

      Assuming all goes well in renting the car we will be at the Barrowlands this evening and from what I can tell by looking through the band's recent set lists from gigs played over the last couple of months (you can easily find these things online) they are to be playing a mixed set but with the emphasis on newer, less growly stuff. It's a quieter set list than I might have wished for in an ideal world but I'll take what I can get at this stage of their career. I guess it's just a part of getting older. They're in their forties now and so the musical horizons are a-changin' for them, as they should be with the fans, but, as is the case with every metal band's fans, some people just don't grow up and want to hear the same stuff they were hearing them play twenty five years ago when they crept onto the scene. I am perhaps somewhat one such fan.

      We'll be back late tonight but I'll be up in the morning for a long day of returning the hire car, meeting my auntie for an interview, working in the afternoon and then having a debt-collecting mission in the evening. It might be a couple of days before I speak with you next.

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      Opeth Day

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      **Friday, November 17th 2017 (The Barrowlands Ballroom)**


      It was recently voted the second best small venue in Europe, which is pretty amazing actually, and the best in the UK. This was my first time setting foot in the Barrowlands. It's the most intimate gig I think I've been to that has involved a major band. I could practically see the fillings inside Akerfeldt's teeth. The venue holds just over two thousand standing but I would say that there were around fifteen hundred people there. Opeth are not very commercial (to say the least) and it's rare I ever meet someone who has heard of them, let alone knows any of their stuff. Think Yes, Rush Camel and King Crimson in terms of prog influences and then mash them up with metal influences such as Slayer, Iron Maiden, Celtic Frost and Death, and you kind of get the Opeth sound.

      I was taken aback by the average age of the audience. Progressive stuff does tend to attract all of the weird and wonderful but I wasn't expecting so many of those in attendance to be much older than me. I was one of the younger fans there at thirty nine. I was beginning to fear that this might be one of my last of such gigs. You can't be rocking it out in your forties after all. Turns out that you most definitely can.

      We had no problems in renting the car (one of the new fiestas) and it did the job. I was a little nervous about driving us through to Glasgow but we managed it with just one or two little hiccups. The satellite navigation took us pretty much directly to the front door but coming back we went a little off course. I have to sometimes remind myself that I am essentially an isolated alcoholic but with a little life experience now and it is good to get thrown in at the deep end sometimes – get a little reminder that if I try to overdo it the world will remind me how big it is and how small I am. Lindsay and I managed to hold it together and we had a good night – something that seems to be happening quite a lot with us recently. Being a bit of a rock chic she has been to the Barrowlands a few times before but this was my first time. She knows her way around and with this being my Christmas present I was happy to let her take me by the hand and lead me into the crowd.

      On Wednesday Barry the Bullet and I worked out that it was one hundred days since I had set foot in the Charity Shop Cafe. I used to work there (volunteering) every Friday morning but left after a change of chairperson and management saw the charity turn into a money-orientated business. It was getting further and further away from being a community based service and turning into a money-spinner. Barry and I wondered if I should bite the bullet on this one and go check it out, see if my friends were still working there. In the end we settled for the burger van. Today is day 102 since I set foot in that place.

      I think what swung it for me was bumping into one of the other volunteers at the bus station that morning while I was looking for Barry's bus to come in to the stance. This guy is, as so many of the volunteers at the charity shop are, mentally challenged. He's on his way there just now for his shift but he is leaving too. He's hoping to get work at a charity shop down the town centre. The reason? The new management. He then lists people who have either left already or have started making plans to find something else. It seems as though I was the first of many out of the door. I hope it struggles to survive now.

      It was English Sara who had got me into thinking about the cafe again when I visited her on Monday night. I don't ever know if Sara means some of the things she comes out with or if she's just spouting for the sake of it but having heard about the unrest from another source I am inclined to believe her. I have to say that I notice every time I visit with her now that English Sara seems a little poorer in health. A little more overweight, a little shorter of breath, a little older looking. I hope she quits smoking soon and takes initiative with her life but I can't really see it if I'm being brutally honest.

      So rather than go to the Charity Shop Cafe, Barry and I go to the burger van. It's swarming with school children. I wonder about our future actually, given how some of them seem to be. Were we really this fucked up when we were kids? We probably were but then maybe not. I don't remember my friends ever making such a mess as these guys do – the litter once they have returned to school that has been left lying around is astonishing. We had some respect, even if just a little. Barry reckons it's because they are parented by internet search engines these days rather than real people.

      My Critical Parent schema mode is always noticeable when I see schoolchildren together in their droves. This is one mode that Dr. Bacon and I have not spent any real time looking over and so I never know whether to trust it or how to react when it gets started. He did say that it would be quite a tough mode to conquer and so I imagine we'll get better into it at some point. My next session with him is this coming Thursday. It's fortnightly until Christmas after that. When we get into the new year I don't know what will be happening with our appointment schedule but I do think that we'll start doing a lot more of the work I signed up to do. At the moment we are still trying to build awareness and spot patterns. Soon we will be trying to stop these patterns.

      This morning I will be returning the car and then my auntie is meeting me at the college for an interview for my podcast. I recorded my Assessed Show 4 on Tuesday afternoon so as long as that passes when I submit it on Monday morning then the podcast series is the only thing I have left to work on as far as college is concerned.

      It's seeming awfully like an ''Onwards and Upwards'' type of scenario for our narrator these days.

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      Still on the ascent.

      1147

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    11. #269
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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Saturday, November 18th 2017 (People-Watching the People-Watchers)


      Thus begins a weekend of relatively little excitement and spending (I hope). I'm looking forward to it. Thank you for joining me.

      That's been a week I've been out of the cave now, a week I've been living with Lindsay. It's been good but then one week isn't long enough really to miss the cave. I have to admit to it feeling a little strange not having somewhere to get away to if need be. It can feel a little claustrophobic if I think about it. Best not thinking about it then. Overall though there are no complaints at this earliest of stages. No regrets thus far.

      I 'spoke' with AA friend Vanessa on the social media the other night and was asking her how the Tuesday night meeting was getting on. She says that there are a bunch of regulars that haven't been going recently but that this tends to happen a lot – people always come back. I wouldn't be too sure about that, Vanessa. While I often think about popping down to an AA meeting some time soon there always seems to be something more interesting happening when the time comes. She tells me that she had to apologise to Hamish after the meeting for having a go at him from the top table. I think that Vanessa was chairing the meeting and Hamish was doing his usual things where he spouts anger and she has called him on it from the top table. I wonder why, at twelve weeks sober and clean, she is even allowed up at the top table. Guess the meeting is not as 'professional' as I had once figured but I found that out a long time ago. With regards to Hamish – oh dear. I wonder if the term we use ''unfortunates'' might also refer to those of us already sober but just not finding a way to live outside of the rooms.

      When on my way through here after collecting last night I was joined by Harry from Restoration who got on the bus with his dog at a stop just outside my former home. He sat next to me and we chatted a little. The Christmas night out will actually be a lunch and has been booked for the 14th December. I will get myself to the church soon to pay my ten pounds. As we are talking it dawns on me how out-of-his-face Harry actually is. I don't know what he's been doing with himself this afternoon but he's taken something. He's popped something to take the pain of living away. This is one of Restoration's volunteering staff I am speaking with. He's been refused his latest sickness benefit on account of failing his fitness for work assessment and so he's likely having a little relapse to not have to deal with that situation. I get it. It really does suck. Especially if you've been out of work as long as Harry has been.

      But we've got to be stronger than that. A lot stronger. I guess that this is one of the things that AA taught me – we can go through shit in our lives and not have to drink and use. Harry hasn't had this advice at Restoration. He's learned nothing really about his condition. Just that it'd fine to have a relapse every now and then, that relapse is a part of recovery: a message I just do not understand. I have learned that when things get shit we find another way through it and don't regress to old habits. We no longer take a bad situation and turn it into a terrible one. We have to find new ways of dealing with disappointments and I don't think Harry is there yet. It's a shame that some people don't give Twelve Step programs the effort. They say that they can't buy into the ''God'' thing and don't go. I won't be found in a meeting very often these days but there was a time and a place when it was valuable. I wish him the best.

      First thing I'll be doing this weekend is the first thing I like to do on most weekends and that's to fire down to the Golden Bite and get some breakfast down me. I also have one hundred bucks to pay into the travel agents for next year's trip and I could do with getting my hair cut. I'm starting to look and feel like some teenager – living up to my student status. I like sitting by myself at the Golden Bite on a Saturday morning. Last week one of the women who works there was stacking up dozens of plates to clear the tables for the next customers and there was one old woman sitting watching her. She was thinking the same thing as I was: is this girl going to actually be able to carry all of this stuff without dropping it all over the floor?

      This old woman and I have something in common. We like to watch people. But then I notice something a little different about us. Once I know this about her I am more concerned with watching her. I'll watch the others too but she takes up most of my interest. She is a people-watcher but I am both a people-watcher and a watcher of people-watchers. I watch those who watch others, while I'm watching others. The people-watcher of people-watchers, so I am. She seems not to give me the same respect and concentrates only on either the women stacking up the plates or a really smelly old guy (stinks of piss, the poor sod) who is there just about every time I am.

      I am hoping that sitting at the Golden Bite might be a sign of things to come for this weekend. I was shattered when I got back yesterday. It felt as though I had been trailing around all day, which I guess I had been. The college is certainly a lot easier than the window cleaning is. There was a nasty wind yesterday afternoon and it didn't help Barry the Bullet and I keep our hands warm. In fact – there won't really be anything to help us keep warm from here on in. It's getting to the business end in terms of the window cleaning seasons.

      How could I not be grateful though? Beyond things like being able to pay for next year's holiday and so much more I find that having something to keep me busy during the week keeps me healthy. More than this I am finding myself even enjoying it – even despite the coming cold. Weird. I guess that the reason it hurt so much before is that this was all there was. I only had more window cleaning to look forward to.

      Nowadays there is so much more. Which I guess makes the hard parts of working life seem like much less of a big deal.

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      Stevie

      Has so much more now.

      1187

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      Re: The Sobriety Experiment: Chapter Two

      Sunday, November 19th 2017 (Talks in the Hire Car)


      Dr. Bacon says that me writing this journal could be an example of me sometimes stagnating and not getting things done. I disagree although there are certainly things I could be doing right now in place of typing here. Fair enough – I have all day – but I really would like to get on with my first podcast. I have lots of recorded audio to plough through and find out what I want to use and where and I can't do this while I'm typing this garbage. But type I do. . .

      We did really well for cash last week, Barry the Bullet and I. One of the reasons for this I believe could be related to the idea of a Higher Power. At first Barry is not so convinced.

      Stevie – ''It's because we stopped to help that guy on Wednesday afternoon.''

      Barry the Bullet – ''You think?''

      Stevie – ''There's no doubt about it.''

      We helped a guy go up his roof to check on his solar panels. It was obvious when he asked us that he would not be able to pay anything and so this was a risk: just after lunchtime and we're trying to get back into the swing of things and we're stopping to do favours? When we were leaving he did give us something though: he wished us the best and hoped for us that we made enough money for ourselves this week.

      Barry the Bullet – ''Yeah, he did say that.''

      Stevie – ''And so we have.''

      Barry doesn't get it but the way I see it things have worked out with that stoppage and if we had not stopped then the day would have been different. We would have been a little ahead in terms of where we were on the run at that time. Some people who paid us might have been out earlier and so we would have missed them. This would have an effect on our schedule on the Friday evening debt-collecting mission. It also had an effect on where we started on both the Thursday and Friday mornings. Had we not helped we would have been a little further ahead and so would have started at different properties. All this would have butterfly effected the result of the week.

      Barry does not buy into the idea of their being a Power greater than ourselves at work here but this is perhaps an example of fate being altered. One of those billion crossroads we face in life that alter outcomes in such a seemingly insignificant way that we tend not to pay them any mind but in truth these could add up to the important decisions in life. We all like to think that we are in control of our lives and our big decisions but these ''big'' decisions only come about because of a billion little decisions that are made by our subconscious and our past experience. We are just passengers in this regard. We are not in full control. He is. Whoever He might really be.

      Lindsay and I did a bit of chatting in the hire car on the way to see Opeth the other night and I wanted a little time to let some of it sink in before I started blathering my thoughts about them onto these virtual pages. One thing she was alerting me to was how well she is getting to know me now. I have always had problems with people knowing me, getting to see what is inside, but I have to admit that it is becoming difficult to hide certain parts of me from someone I spend so much time with. Living with someone is always going to do that – makes hiding much more difficult. She says that while I like to keep control of the level of my voice at all times she is now learning to pick up on other cues as to how I might be feeling. She tells me that I must remember that voice is only ten per cent of communication and that the rest is in our body language and so she is learning how to read my body better now that we know one and other that little bit more. I have to admit that my first instinct still is to up my efforts in hiding rather than being open and allowing myself to be seen. Dr. Bacon would understand this but he will be expecting more.

      Another thing she was talking about was her trip to her pal's last weekend. She's pregnant and it's making Lindsay feel a little broody. In Lindsay's eyes she is getting close to reaching the end of her fertility and, at thirty four, must start thinking about whether or not she ever wants to have another child. I'm thinking that she does. I'm not sure where I stand on that. I have two already and look at how that has worked out. I haven't seen either my son or daughter in years. I have no idea who they are or what they like. Now I am asked to start thinking about how I might feel about having another one. I'm not sure still. She did mention this on the last day in Spain. We were sitting by the poolside at a table soaking up the last of the sun – or at least what would be the last of it for us – and she found a way of getting onto the subject. Sometimes I wonder if it's something she thinks about often but doesn't know how to bring it up. We were at that same pal's house last night for a game of darts and a banter. It was good.

      Well – on with the day. I should get on with my podcast series – the only thing I have left to work on in this first college semester. I had a little listen to Shaun's podcast effort. He was one of the sound production students with me last year and he's doing the same now as he did back then: he's doing enough to pass while not actually putting any real effort into it. I think he could do a lot better but he's getting results and so why do more than you have to? I want my own effort to be as good as I can make it in the time allocated. That's not actually true – I want my own effort to be as good as I can make it in the time allocated by myself. I do want to hand these assignments in long before Christmas even though the deadline is the end of January but I am in a position where I can think like this. I won't get cocky but I will remain focused.

      This focus has been absent these last few days with work and the Opeth gig taking up my brainpower.

      This focus will return today.


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      Getting on with the first semester.

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