drinking.

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Thirty

Published February 10, 2019 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I’ve been watching my brother die since I was nineteen years old.  

That’s putting too fine a point on it; I’ve been in the audience watching my brother die.  

My brother and I used to be very close, especially when we were children

Even when I was kind of an embarrassment, like when we were new at All Saints and I peeked into the Seventh Grade class window and everyone laughed. He looked out for me when we were the only Hispanic kids at Casa Manana.  Seriously, we took acting classes and I think we were the only Mexicans some of these kids had seen outside of the garden.   He looked out for me when we went to high school.

My brother was the best big brother.

And then he wasn’t.

Sometime between my sophomore and junior year in high school, my brother started drinking.  

I’m not going to waste time explaining how easy it is for underage kids to get alcohol. (It is.  It is very easy. In fact during my junior year of high school, one of my classmates died while driving drunk.)

I do not know when my brother’s drinking became a problem.  I do know that when my homecoming date was walking me to the door, my brother was also being dropped off. My brother was drunk and had a concussion after leaning out of the car to throw up.  

We were slightly less close after that.

We went to the same college and had the same major.  My brother threw parties that were legendary because of the happy chaos.   

It was still fun to watch him be the life of the party.

He was an incredibly gifted actor. He won several awards and the respect of his peers. As our school competed in American College Theatre Festival, everyone was eager to see what he would do.  The roles he played ranged from the Mayor of Tobiki  to a guitar playing snake handle.  He played a depressed suicidal outcast, the devil himself and one of the  most overlooked underdogs in Shakespeare’s  Much Ado about Nothing.   

That last role took all the way to the stage of the Kennedy Center.   

From there he went on to a conservatory program where he wasn’t allowed to smoke or drink, just train and perform.  Even though I didn’t see him for that whole summer, I think this is the happiest he was. 

But he came home. Things started up again. He worked, drank and went from one toxic relationship to another.  (I don’t blame any of the women in his life, except possibly the first one.)

His acting career continued to be impressive. He drank, but when he had a role to focus on, it didn’t seem as bad.   

And then it was.  There was a long stretch of time where he would go to rehab, go home, be ok and then it would fall apart.  The time I remember his sobriety.  The best was  a three year stretch where he was sober and we able to work together.  I produced and directed him in Of Mice and Men and in the Grapes of Wrath.  I think this was the finest directorial work I have ever done or possibly will do. He was sober the whole time.  

I remember when he started drinking again.  We were watching a band. I saw him go to the bar and order a drink. Then he gave me his wallet because he didn’t want to spend too much money.  I then left because I just couldn’t watch this happen again. 

After that it was up and down. I kept hoping he would sober up and be my brother again.  Then my grandfather died. 

My grandfather was a saint on this earth. My brother was the first grandchild and only grandson. He and my grandfather were very close.  My grandfather’s death is where we started to lose my brother.

This talented, hard working actor and artist began to unravel. It started with him sleeping on my mom’s couch because he didn’t want to go home. Then it got to where he couldn’t really take care of himself, so he lost his home. Then he stayed in my mother’s spare room. He kept drinking.

This was sixteen years ago. In that time, he has been to detox innumerable times. He was in court ordered rehab once. He’s been on probation twice.  He is now a diabetic and dependent on insulin. He is also diagnosed as bi-polar.  He has had numerous warnings and health scares and has been on life support.

Yet he still drinks. I have spent every weekend for the last six months waiting for my mother or father to call me and say that he’s in the hospital again. The last time gave him a permanent scar on his face. I hear that he as a black eye now.  I know my mother is weary. I know my father is heartbroken.  My soul feels like someone kicked it in the stomach  (Yes, my soul has a stomach.)  There’s nothing I can do but wait. In five days it will be the sixteen years since we lost my grandfather. I’m feeling tense and sad. I’m waiting.  But I won’t be surprised.

Because I’ve been watching my brother die since I was nineteen years old.

Another rage based incident averted

Published December 29, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

All of my friends weigh in on bing worthy shows.  I am always looking for a reason to sloth around,so I decided that since I spent most of my weekend trying to stave off panic attacks and keep from having a full blown gonzo nervous breakdown, I thought I might try and chillax by watching a whole bunch of something on the Netflix.  ( I was going to watch a bunch of stuff on the Hulu, but for some reason it’s loading all glitchy, I know I know, first world problem.)  So at the behest and encouragement of many friends and my housemate, I have been watching Jessica Jones.  That is I’m on the third episode.

True, being whipped up into a frenzy by your nerves and latent psychoses is not the best frame of mind in which to start something new, but I can’t wait for the next storm to pass, so I decided to give the show a try.

I had heard the show was gritty and grisly and a bit gory. So far all I have seen is a whole lot of muscley pretty people boning each other. And talking about how well matched they are at said boning.

Now this is the time of year is tension inducing to say the least, but Actor Boy can’t make it home at all and I really miss my nieces and there’s no way I can see them this year and the last thing I need to see is the pretty people having vigorous sex leaving me to wonder if the point of the show is to see how amazing Krysten Ritter’s lipstick is, because it hasn’t smudged despite the boning, the ass-kicking or the drinking.

I quizzed my roommate, because he was one of the people who recommended the show to me. He told me that the show gets much better after this point.  I’m going to give it another shot. Except, as I was writing that sentence, there was more vigorous boning happening.

I am more than willing to suspend reality to buy the world in which the Marvel Universe exists.  I believe that Ms. Jones can drink like a sailor, kick major ass, and still maintain fresh make-up and a non-bloaty tummy, even though I can’t move from one room to the next without my make-up smudging. (It could be that there is a ghost who is envious of my artful application) And if I drink more than two servings of alcohol in any form,  I feel like there is a small bicycle tire  making itself to home near my liver as it tries to fill itself to full tumescence.

I sure hope we get to some real action, Jessica. I can only get so much calming delight from using the word, ‘tumescence’.

So it’s going to be like this, is it?

Published July 1, 2015 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

Author’s note: If you know me on the allegedly real plane of existence, rest assured that I am fine. Nothing illegal or expensive happened.  I would appreciate keeping the mockery to a minimum. 

I’m older than I ever intended to be. This is my favorite line from the musical Chicago.

It’s not just my recent birthday that has me feeling this way.  I don’t feel any older and I think my psyche is quite young.  There are clues that I am, indeed, aging.

Case in point: I had my birthday events all planned out. I even planned my ensemble around my new boots. Now, because I’m not stupid, I knew I would need to break in my boots and plan a walk around my tile floor just to make sure I don’t slip and bust my ass in front of a very nice  restaurant on a Sunday evening.  As I was sashying around my house to one of the many songs on my special birthday playlist, I started busting some of formerly fly moves.  (What actually got me started was the title song to My One an Only. My feet remembered the basic tap routine I learned in college. The rest of me was delighted and proceeded to contiune in my my my my boogie shoes.  Then my iPod decided to throw me “Jump Jive and Wail” followed by “Get Low.” Two very diferent songs and I was a bit giddy with delight at my eclectic tastes. I was starting to sweat and told myself I should take a break after the next song.

In the process of Getting Low, I pulled a muscle in my back.

Which leads me to the next part of the adventure.

As you may remember, I lost my dear friend Steve a few years back.  We lost several friends just prior to his illness and he was proclaiming that he was going to be next.  I turned to him and said, “How do you know it’s not going to be me?” He didn’t miss a beat and boomed, “You had your chance and you didn’t take it!” So now, apparently, I have to go back to the end of the line.

I think of this little tidbit whenever I complain about getting older, because some always invariably chimes in “Well, it beats the alternative!” It may not, depending on what Mr. Steve has doomed me to.

It just so happens that my neurologist’s NP piped up with that when I relayed the biggest events of the last year. (The whole teaching by fire thing, with all of the problems and triumphs therein.  But first she asked me what Anti-anxiety meds I was on and did I want something stronger.

Why yes, yes I do. So I kind of let the alternative state go by that.

So I breezed through my last few days of being 45, mostly because I didn’t want to spend those days being a grump. (And I did have the new exciting meds.)

Then we came to the the birthday. Let me say my friends and my family helped me celebrate and it was quite lovely. Actor Boy got the ball rolling with a phone call at 11:59 so he could be the first one to wish me a happy birthday.

I had breakfast with my Amanda Friend, AOG and Tall Boy.  We had sausuages and cinnamon rolls with orange icing. Then I went home and took a light nap before I benumbed my hide with Icy Hot so I could go have dinner at the luxiurious restaurant of my choice. I even got chauffered.

Those of you who know me may be wondering if the wait staff turned into the spriniting undead and began to claw and bite the patrons, or if perhaps I got food poisoning or tucked my skirt into the waistband of my undewear, thereby mooning the entire Sunday dinner crowd.

No, my dinner was lovely. I spent time with my family (I really like my family. It’s a blessing and a curse.)

I came home and watched TV trying to decide if I wanted to sling myself the half block to the Dive Bar that features Sunday night Karaoke. I was in good mood, so I changed into my non-slippy shoes and comfy pants. My friend, let’s call him CB was planning to meet me there with a friend of his, so I wasn’t doomed to a lonely night holding up the bar while the caterwauling commenced.

I was full of steak and other birthday treats so I didn’t have the room or inclination to drink like a monster. I did have a lot of club soda which made me burpy, but there were no unforseen belching into the microphone moments.  Things were going well. (Here’s the part in the horror movie where the audience is beginning to clue in that there’s going to be a jump scare very soon.)

CB’s friend is a very pretty girl who is young enough to be my daughter, yet still old enough to drink. (It burns! It burns!) CB likes the pretty girl. The pretty girl likes him back. At that moment, it is last call and two of the strangest looking young men I have ever seen come rolling in. (Just imagine. Someone that I think is strange looking. And I know strange.)  According to CB one of them is very interested in pretty girl. I don’t know which one, so I immediately start to run interference. I challenged one of them to arm wrestle. (It’s nice to see that I’m just as stupid now as I have every been.)

Anyway, the bartender wanted to go home, so we all went out to the parking lot.  I walked CB to his car because he was very angry, Marvin the Martian angry, and friends don’t let friends get all whipped up into a rage a.nd  drive.  There was quite a bit of time spent of CB in his car texting wildly. Pretty girl got into the car with the guys. CB gunned the engine. I got out of the way and got lightly bumped by the fender.  I’M FINE. I just twisted my ankle and scraped up my knee. I have given myself worse injuries trying to shave my legs.  Pretty girl and the Boys (World’s worst Strip club.) asked me if I was ok, I assured them I was and I got in my car and drove the half block home.  I immediately called CB and screamed into the phone

“You hit me with your car, you dick!”

But my back doesn’t hurt anymore.

And we’re back.