Sunday, February 17, 2013

Whatever you do

When JoAnne was staying with her mother in Issaquah, her mother insisted that she go to AA meetings. Every day. It was pretty dramatic, because all the guys there, and they were all guys, for some reason, all the guys were her father's age, and, not only that, but some of them actually knew her father. And they would ask: How’s Bud? How's Bud?

            And they would even tell stupid anecdotes about when her father was drunk and she was only this tall, or whatever, until one day JoAnne said listen, every time I think about my father I think about heroin. So that shut them up.

            JoAnne says that was one of the worst parts of living in Issaquah, not as bad as her football-player brother beating her up and calling her a fat dyke, even though she weighed like a hundred pounds, calling her a fat dyke and throwing her down on the bed and punching her, just because that's what he thought was fun. But JoAnne says the worst part was the drive with her mother over to those AA meetings and it was so embarrassing, she couldn't believe she'd put herself in a position to be stuck in a room with all these asshole talking about God and how they were going to turn their lives around.

            JoAnne isn't an atheist like me, I mean she doesn't think religion is the stupidest thing in the world, just most religion. So these guys at the meeting would say God or a higher power or whatever, and JoAnne would think Goddess and her own power. She says: I know that's not enough, that there is so much more filtering and figuring out that I need to do, but I got used to the meetings, at least they got me out of the house, they became familiar, something to do, a ritual.

One of the first things JoAnne did after she moved in with me was to go to an AA meeting in East Boston. She said it was kind of like the meetings in Issaquah except everyone was poorer and not everyone was white but then as soon as the meeting ended, all these guys wanted to walk her home and that creeped her out so she decided to find the lesbian meeting, even though beforehand she said she didn't want to see any lesbians for a long time, lesbians just made her want to shoot up.

            But then she found that lesbian meeting in JP, and I guess she started to like it because now she goes the few days a week, especially when I head over to Ned’s. She says it makes her feel more confident that she's not going to do anything stupid just because she's lonely. So whenever I spend the night at Ned’s, she even stays the night over her sponsor’s house. Her sponsor is this older dyke who wears overalls and smokes cigars and live in a big old house she renovated herself, sounds kind of like her daddy in San Francisco, the one she used to shoot all the drugs with, but when I asked about that she said oh, no – Tina is nothing like Brenda — and she started laughing hysterically.

And then a week later, she came home and said guess what, I slept with Tina.

You slept with your sponsor?

Yes, Mattilda, she said, and started laughing again.

But isn't that against the whole program?

Mattilda, JoAnne said, I go to AA, and I drink almost every day. I'm lying about everything. What's the difference?

Well, I didn't know what to say to that — I've only been to an AA meeting once, and that was just so I could forge someone’s signature to get general assistance and food stamps. But, I thought the point was that you aren't supposed to replicate the same dynamics of your alcoholism, right? Although JoAnne isn’t even an alcoholic, somehow she finds it comforting listening to people talk about how alcohol destroyed their lives, made them lose everything, brought them to the brink of death, somehow listening to all of this makes her proud that she's not shooting dope, that the cocktails she drinks with me are part of the healing process and she is almost at the four-month point, so that's pretty incredible. I guess like they say in AA: whatever you do to stay sober, right?



james said...

OH my! I have found time to read carefully all of these blog writings about living in Boston... Miss JoAnne you write about must be the same person on the dedication page of "So Many Ways to Sleep Badly".

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Same JoAnne, yes – although, this writing I'm doing now is much more fictional. For example, JoAnne never really moved to Boston, unfortunately… But, now I can imagine!

Love –