Archive for March, 2012

Posted in Snippet with tags , , , on March 31, 2012 by sethdellinger

More proof that the New York Times is better than your newspaper:  the lead-in to their article on the winners of the stupid-huge lottery thing that just happened:

“What is $640 million divided by three? More math than jackpot winners in Illinois, Kansas and Maryland will ever have to do again.”


My 71st Favorite Song of All-Time

Posted in 100 Favorite Songs with tags , , , on March 30, 2012 by sethdellinger


“Life Wasted” by Pearl Jam

One of my main “recovery anthems” (and the only one released after I got sober), “Life Wasted” as well as the band Pearl Jam in general, have played a major role in defining who I am today and how I live.  I once wrote this blog entry about how it has affected my life.

You’re always saying that there’s something wrong,
I’m starting to believe it was your plan all along.
Death came around, forced to hear its song,
and know tomorrow can’t be depended on.
I seen the home inside your head,
all locked doors and unmade beds,
open sores unattended.
Let me say just once that
I have faced it,
a life wasted.
I’m never going back again.
I escaped it,
a life wasted.
I’m never going back again.
Having tasted,
a life wasted,
I’m never going back again.

The world awaits just up the stairs.
Leave the pain for someone else.
Nothing back there for you to find,
or was it you, you left behind?
You’re always saying you’re too weak to be strong.
You’re harder on yourself than just about anyone…

Why swim the channel just to get this far?
Halfway there, why would you turn around?
Darkness comes in waves,
tell me, why invite it to stay?
You’re warm with negativity, yes, comfort is an energy,
but why let the sad song play?
I have faced it,…  A life wasted,… I’m never going back again.
Oh I escaped it,…  A life wasted,… I’m never going back again.
Having tasted,…  A life wasted,… I’m never going back again.
Oh I erased it,…  A life wasted,… I’m never going back again.


Posted in Memoir, Prose with tags , , , , on March 29, 2012 by sethdellinger

Those folks who I’ve known only in the post-sobriety portion of my life (which, at this point, is actually the majority of people I interact with daily) often have difficulty imagining me as troubled.  This is not to suggest I live a perfect life or that I’m a paragon of emotional stability, but to all but a handful of my friends and relatives, it’s difficult to imagine me anything other than generally contented most of the time, in a way most people are not  (nevermind my temper, which can be practically elemental under the right circumstances). This leads the folks who have known me nine years or less to occasionally comment doubtfully upon my past as a pillar of depression, substance addiction and general misanthropy.  “I don’t believe it,” they say.  “You’re just so not like that.”

And they’re right.  I’m not.  Not anymore.  The lion’s share of my time, I spend marveling at how unoffensive  existence is.  Granted, I don’t exist on the improbably happy “pink cloud” of early recovery; my happiness is not super-human nor is it impervious to the ups-and-downs of the normal course of human life, but it is certainly a more even-keeled and consistent satisfaction than I witness in most of those around me.  I don’t often think much about it, or question it.  It’s just the way I’ve been since the moment I “put the plug in the jug”, as the old-timers in AA like to say.

Last night, for whatever reason, I had a moment.  Just…a moment.  That somehow clarified or confused my perceptions of happiness and sadness or whatever you want to call these dualities of human existence.  I was working the overnight shift, for just one night, which is always an eclectic combination of emotions and sensations for me.  Waking at dusk, just as the last of the day’s sun fades from view; dressing and primping myself as that evening’s prime-time television shows play in the background; driving to work as the other cars passing the other direction are heading home to their various comforts, and arriving to work as just about everyone else is leaving.  These aren’t all depressing facets; some of them leave me feeling a kind of ownership of the world, like I’m sailing alone on a ship on a vast, empty ocean.  A little bit sad, a little bit amazing, these moments before an overnight shift certainly make me feel different than usual, and perhaps a bit more receptive to epiphanies.

Last night, I left for work half an hour early.  And not on purpose.  By total accident.  I didn’t realize it until I was halfway to work, and by then it was too late to turn back.  But instead of going to work early, I opted to spend half an hour walking aimlessly through the Wal-Mart that is near where I work.

Perhaps it was the unique mood created by the preparations for the overnight shift, but I was not at all emotionally stable when I walked into that Wal-Mart.  Immediately inside the front door, there was a smell.  You know what I mean.  It doesn’t smell like anything you can put your finger on, like wet dog or cantaloupe, but instead, it just smells like your past, like a very specific day or time period or phase of your life that you can’t pinpoint or immediately recall but you know that it makes you feel a certain way and that you had never expected to smell it again and you’re amazed at the amount of feelings and sensations that it brings back.  Well, that is what I encountered immediately upon entering the Wal-Mart; a smell that brought back acutely the absolute immensity of what sadness used to feel like for me.  It was crippling.  I hadn’t even been that happy as I walked into the Wal-Mart, but the difference between what I felt like now and what I had felt like in the days of sadness was tremendous. I quickly was able to discern what the smell was:  stale cigarette smoke in a cheap motel room.  Just what the smell had been doing in the Wal-Mart entryway was certainly a mystery, and it was gone just as quickly as it appeared, but it’s job was done.  I was transported, and I would remain transported.  For years, I’d remembered as an undeniable fact that at some point in my life, I’d been terribly sad, for a long time.  But it had long since ceased to be a feeling I could remember.  Sort of like a war story an old man has told so many times, he no longer remembers the memory, but only remembers past tellings of it.  Now suddenly I felt it again, and not the memory of it, but it.  Not twenty feet into the Wal-Mart, I was looking at merchandise on shelves not as the self-sufficient thirtysomething who loved historical novels and art museums, but the twenty-three year old who couldn’t roll out of bed without a snort of gin, who couldn’t muster up the energy to shave even after he’d been threatened with lost wages if he didn’t just shave once a week, who stunk and was getting stinkier, who was convinced that he didn’t deserve anyone’s love, and he was dying—slowly, methodically, painfully.  The world felt shut off to him, and so now suddenly it felt shut off to me, too.  These Ritz crackers in front of me—such a simple, unimportant item—I couldn’t afford them, and even if I could, they weren’t for me.  They were for people who were fully of this world, fully in the world, full citizens.  I felt like I stunk, like I was unshaven, like I had 5-day-old bender breath and onion armpits, like I was staggering even before I drank, like I was being looked at, watched, judged at every turn, unworthy of even the simplest of life’s luxuries, like bubble bath or RC Cola.  I’d remembered plenty about this era of my life, many times over before, but this pure sensation of human uselessness and dismal despair had been shelved since the last time I truly felt it.  After a minute or two, I managed to push it back out, put it back in the past where it belonged, but it was an intense few minutes, to put it mildly.

For the next twenty minutes, I roamed the Wal-Mart trying to piece together what had happened after I smelled the smell.  Mostly, I was intrigued by the idea that purest happiness and utter despair seemed, for that moment, so close to one another.  Like a thin veil of this material world separated them like a silk curtain.  The curtain was pulled back, and while I remained in the same time and place, one extreme version of me became another, however briefly.  And, I thought, now that I’d witnessed it, I could almost will it into happening again, if I chose, for whatever strange reason a person would choose such a thing.  And to think that we must all be walking around, all the time, right beside that veil, able to peek around it or rip it down if we could just figure out how to.  If you’re sad, just throw back the curtain and be happy.  Or if you’ve been happy as a damn idiot for nine years and need a refresher course on what brought you here in the first place, move the veil aside, smell your bender breath, and be reminded.

Very soon (April 3rd) I’ll be celebrating my ninth sobriety anniversary.  I’d been waiting until the day itself to figure out what I would write (if anything) on the day, but I think now that this entry will stand as my anniversary entry, because those few minutes in Wal-Mart after the smell made me realize that, more than anything, what I celebrate on that day is having traded sadness for happiness.  Pure and simple.  My happiness may not resemble most people’s.  It doesn’t involve spouses or kids or houses (although Cheerio to you if yours does).  My happiness is selfish and aloof and not the type of thing that you make movies about starring Channing Tatum or Reese Witherspoon.  But, to the guy on the other side of that veil, looking at Ritz crackers like they were golden nuggets, it is everything he would have imagined, if he’d even dared.

My 72nd Favorite Song of All-Time

Posted in 100 Favorite Songs with tags , on March 27, 2012 by sethdellinger

Click here to see all previous entries on this list.

…and my 72nd favorite song of all-time is:

“Pepper” by Butthole Surfers

Really, who doesn’t like this song???  Although, with apologies to Tony Magni, I must say I’m not much of a fan of the rest of their music, but “Pepper” just makes me happy.


My 73rd Favorite Song of All-Time

Posted in 100 Favorite Songs with tags on March 23, 2012 by sethdellinger


“The Mariner’s Revenge Song” by The Decemberists

You might not think you like The Decemberists at first.  And maybe you don’t.  But they tell such vivid, unusual, captivating stories; if you can manage to pay attention to whole way through (and have open in a seperate window) I’m willing to wager you may be a convert.


The Big Vermilion Departure

Posted in Photography with tags , , , , on March 21, 2012 by sethdellinger

You have GOT to click on the first one, then click on it again after it re-loads, to see the full-page version.  I crapped my pants when I took it.  Notice the mourner at left.

First Day of Spring in Erie

Posted in Snippet with tags , , on March 20, 2012 by sethdellinger
%d bloggers like this: