Three and a half years

Evening, and the fog is glowing from city lights.  Last night I looked out the window at three or four a.m. and saw a star–one star, fog swirling all around it.  It’s hard to stay in touch with the forces of nature when you live in a foggy city of 700,000 people.

I’ve just come from dinner at the house of a friend who has a wood-burning stove.  My husband built a crackly fire that burned down to orange coals radiating heat, so warm and cozy.  When we left home, I was anxious and in pain.  Now I am mellow and content–without wine!  I took along my usual seltzer and lime, a little uneasy that I might be tempted, since she and my husband always drink wine when we’re there and tonight I was feeling raw and edgy.  I had a whole scenario worked out in my head about where to retreat if it got too bad, but I needn’t have worried. As soon as we got there and began talking and noshing, I started to relax, warmed by her hospitality.

The mood was from a bunch of things:  pain, disappointment that something I tried hadn’t helped, anxiety at the unexpected and shocking news that my son-in-law is going to be laid off–all things I would’ve drunk over in a heartbeat.  But tomorrow it will be 3-1/2 years since my last drink, and it’s no longer the first thing that leaps to mind–wouldn’t have tonight if we hadn’t been going somewhere wine would be served.  And the thought wasn’t, God I want a glass of wine, it was, How am I going to handle it IF I want a glass of wine.  Big difference.

My son-in-law’s company is laying off 1,000 people in California. He’s worked for them for over five years…not that he liked the job.  It was actually a pretty horrible job, and he’s not sorry it’s ending, which is a great attitude if only something good comes out of it, but–I’m biting my nails here–it’s a really scary time to be out of work.  Makes me feel, in Dylanese, like we’re only a pawn in their game….

…which people must be feeling the world over these days.  Latest in the news is Spain, where there’s a 25% unemployment rate–50% among young people–and dumpster diving has become a national pastime.  Not that it hasn’t been for a long time in most countries in the world outside of Europe, North America, and the United Arab Emirates, but it seems like only yesterday that Spain was prospering. Ireland, too.  Dumpster diving isn’t exactly rare in San Francisco, either.  Some businesses, and residences too, have locks on their trash cans to prevent homeless people from going through them.  Grocery stores haul their slightly past perfect produce and out-of-date food to the dump every day instead of leaving it overnight, because it’s “a public health hazard” for people to take it home and eat it.  Like going hungry isn’t.

And meanwhile, only a half hour drive down the peninsula, America’s third richest man resided until recently: “His prized possessions include a private yacht, private jet, numerous exotic cars and a Woodside, CA estate, inspired by ancient Japanese architecture….Ellison’s unique property spreads over 23 acres, includes a 7,800-sq ft main house, 9 other buildings and sits on a 2.3-acre, man-made lake.” (Lauren Rieflen, “Homes of Titans Who Rule the Tech World,” posted on Zillow)

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth.–Rex Stout




We live in interesting times. Best to stay sober through them.

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8 Responses to Three and a half years

  1. what a great post to wake up to and congratulations on 3.5 years….wonderful. I also love how your words can transport me to the west coast and the part about managing ‘god i want a drink’ to ‘ how will i deal with it’. I lived in a place for 15 where wood stoves are necessary …hoping to return after grad school. Best of luck for your son-in-law during this transition…

  2. Dawn says:

    So sorry to hear about your SIL. None of us are secure in our jobs anymore. Such an uneasy feeling! In an ironic twist,, the current state of economy has placed a demand on my job industry (drug treatment facilities) .. So many have succommed to their demons as a result of job loss and the pain and circumstances that go with it. The second factor is returning soldiers and their PTSD. Though we have improved our ability to serve these men and women, it is still very difficult for some to reach out for help.

    Anyhow, didn’;t mean to get off on all of that. WTG on your steadfast sobriety. Just our change in thought is oftentimes the answer to sustained sober time!! Hopefully you’re having a pain-free day!

    • sswl says:

      SIL is right, Dawn…and I do hope he won’t be heading your way! He seems to have a really positive attitude about it. If he can find work, it’ll probably last, but things are tough, as you know.

      The kind of work you do can be so draining–I hope you take good care of yourself.

  3. Dawn says:

    **BIL Brother-n-law

  4. Nancy says:

    Dear Susan, I love your writing; you paint pictures I can see and feel. I’ve lived with wood fires a lot of my life and enjoy everything about them – gathering the wood, chopping the wood, building the fire, enjoying the fire, drying damp socks on the fire, heating up my towel or flannel nightie on the fire.
    I hope the news about your SIL means something he likes better is around the corner.

    • sswl says:

      Nancy, you make me want to rush right out and get a wood-burning stove. Here, though, there are all kinds of restrictions and many days you’re not allowed to use it because of pollution problems. Hope I haven’t missed my window.

      Lovely to see you here.

  5. cleo says:

    My brother has been out of work for almost a year now. I know how stressful it is. Hope things work out for your SIL. Where I live homeless people go though my trash as a matter or course. They wait for the trash to be put out on the pavement so they can be the first to go through it and get the choice pickings. Sure makes one think about what you throw out. Now I find myself keeping more and more stuff in my fridge until its the day to put out the trash – so that the “trash” is fresh! What a world.

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