Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Thirty Years In A Thousand Words

Sunday, February 19, 1989 Friends and I go to College Park MD see Maryland play North Carolina in basketball. I drank the night before, so it didn’t take long for me to get the buzz going again. Maryland was getting beaten up by UNC. We were getting restless as the game was out of hand and we were out of liquor. We went to the Rendezvous for beers. A friend was up from Florida, so later we went to his parent’s house as we wanted to drink with him. His folks were away so I grabbed a bottle of vodka from their liquor cabinet and mixed some Bloody Mary’s. I did not want to share this with anyone. Selfishness. Mine only. I passed out and ended up at my parent’s house as my friends went somewhere and just deposited me. That’s how bad I got. I couldn’t control myself anymore. I blacked out a lot.

Monday, February 20, 1989 President’s Day. My Mom, ticked off at seeing me passed out on the couch, drove me to my apartment in DC. I don’t believe we spoke. I was so hung over. I slept, later waking in the middle of the afternoon with my head pounding, stomach aching. I stumbled to the bathroom, threw up and looked in the mirror. What a mess at the age of 27.

I looked awful, felt like crap and decided then I had to somehow end this nonsense. I had to do something about my drinking. Quit. I had no plan, but the phrase "one day at a time" came to me so I decided that was how I would attempt to do this. One day at a time. I would just stop. I got through the rest of the week without alcohol. I skipped happy hours I normally went to. I would just go straight home from work and went to bed shaking and scared. I disconnected my phone as I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I had no idea what the hell I was doing or where I was going but my feeling was I was doing the right thing.

Days went by. I missed the camaraderie of my friends during the weekend. I tried meeting them at various bars and would just sip soda or water. I took a lot of abuse.  Friends would give me shit. I wasn’t used to this. Bartenders who used to serve me beer after beer said they wouldn’t serve me soda or water. I didn’t fit in. It sucked. I stopped doing that. I wanted to drink, the urge to do so was getting to me.  I’m amazed I didn’t pick up. I kept strong knowing I had to take care of myself and clean up my mess of a life.

Confused, I had questions. Why is my life miserable still? I am not drinking, and I still feel awful. What is going on and why? With no experience at this, I did not know how much longer I could continue. Desperate, I ended up calling a friend who had been going to AA meetings a couple years and I begged if he would take me. He said he had my back. I felt scared at first in a church basement full of strangers. I got assurance from my friend and others that this was where I needed to be. I picked up a Where and When booklet that listed every AA meeting in DC/MD/VA. I went back again and again with my friend. Pretty soon I felt confident to go on my own. I met people who helped.  I would go to meetings daily. I was told to keep coming back!

For the first time in my life I shut up and just listened. I met people, exchanged numbers and talked to them over the phone when I had temptations to drink. I read literature. Slowly, questions were finally being answered. I accrued sobriety time, feeling good about myself.  Sober days turned into sober weeks, sober weeks turned into sober months. At meetings I listened and learned. I volunteered and did service work by making coffee before meetings at my home AA group. It was then I felt folks could count on me. The coffee probably wasn’t great but confidence in myself started to come back. No longer was I feeling miserable.

Tuesday, February 20, 1990 I achieved one year of sobriety!

People slowly started to trust me again. I worked the 12 steps, making phone calls to people I hurt with my behavior and apologizing. It was hard, but I fought on and never gave up on myself.

I had a lot of help along the way through friends in the program. Insights, advice, assistance and patience with me have been greatly appreciated over the years. Thank you!!!

Those struggling with this disease, remember to always keep the faith, believe in yourself. It does get better but you will experience good and bad days. That’s life. It’s not easy. Pick up the phone and call a friend. Head to a meeting. I still have days where there is temptation. Doesn’t a cold beer look great in the Summer at a baseball game? One would lead to two, would lead to several.  I think of what could be lost. No thank you.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019 Thirty years sober! Today I am a husband and father. I am not anonymous, but open. I face life’s challenges with a clear head.  I am not perfect and don’t try to be. I just continue to battle, one day at a time.

In sharing my story, I hope I can reach folks struggling. I hope I can assure folks that the sober path they are on is the right path. If one person reaches out saying my story helped…if one person reaches out needing advice then this has been worth sharing. It works if you work it.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Elon University

Elon University, North Carolina
December 29-31, 2017

To close 2017, Ben and I took a trip to Elon University. We like to support college basketball in the District, Maryland and Virginia and with Ben on Winter break, we decided to take a trip south to see the Elon Women's and Men's teams play.

We arrived on Friday, December 29th and after checking in to our room at The Acorn Inn, located near the campus, we drove over to see my dorm. I lived in Hook Dorm for three years and it was great seeing the area again. I had not been back to school since graduating in May 1985 and I was amazed at how much the campus had changed and grown. So I snapped some photos of the campus and both basketball games. Elon Athletics granted me courtside access for the Women's game Friday evening and I sat with Ben in section 5 behind the basket for the Men's game on Saturday afternoon.

Ben enjoyed the games and seeing the campus. Our trip went by quick and as we left today, we  decided we would make another trip back soon. I'd love to go back for a football game in the Fall as I remember how beautiful the campus was during that time.

Enjoy the photos and if you need a place to stay, I highly recommend The Acorn Inn. We enjoyed our stay there and the staff was tremendous.

Go Elon!

Hook Dorm

The view from 2nd floor of Hook Dorm, where I spent many hours thinking about things
and talking with friends. They replaced the parking lot with a basketball court, which Ben took to
immediately. So I stood there Friday afternoon thinking about things and watching Ben.

Hook Dorm Forever. Best selfie ever!

This is Carolina Dorm

The walk to class began here

Alamance Building

Alamance Building

Saw this on the side of Alamance Building

West Dorm

West Dorm

The library was on the right when I was there.
This has since expanded.

Front of West Dorm

Alumni can purchase bricks and leave a message

Whitley Building

The back of Alamance Building

Fraternity and sorority houses near the athletic fields

Why we keep a ball and cleats in the car. Ben took advantage of the nice weather and got some
soccer time in on the football team's practice field.

Statue near the football and soccer fields

The soccer field from the spectator stands

Former Elon Athletic Director Alan J. White Bell Tower.

The entrance to Rhodes Stadium. When I attended Elon, the Fightin' Christians as they were
known then  played their games at the field at Burlington Williams High School

View from the gates. I couldn't get inside. The stadium holds 13,100 for football.
I need to get back for a game.

The pond near the athletic fields. I lived in Staley Dorm the Fall of 1984, my last semester
at Elon. That has been torn down and replaced. Elon sure has grown since I was last here.

Alumni Gym has hosted Elon Basketball since 1950. This is the last season before the new arena
opens up. I played many intermural basketball games here and our graduation ceremony was held
here in May 1985.

Elon Men's and Women's basketball teams will play in Schar Center, opening in 2018

Friday, December 29, 2017: Elon vs UNC-Wilmington.
Elon wins 75-67 to go to 9-3 on the season.

Elon Women's basketball is on the rise.
In 2015 and 2016 they made the Women's National Invitational Tournament.

In 2017 they won the Colonial Athletic Association regular season and tournament championship
to clinch their first ever NCAA tournament berth.

I covered their inaugural NCAA tournament game vs West Virginia at College Park, Maryland.
The Phoenix lost that day but it was a proud day for Elon Athletics.

Saturday, December 30, 2017 the Men's basketball team defeated Drexel 90-75 in their
Colonial Athletic Association season opener.

Here Tyler Seibring blocks a shot by Drexel. The men improved to 9-5 on the season.
Could their be a NCAA tournament berth in their future? I hope so!

Dmitri Thompson scores for Elon

Dainan Swoope scored 21 points leading in the Phoenix.
He is Ben's favorite player as they both play point guard.

For Ben, he was able to follow both games from a close vantage point and
during the Men's game it was great listening to him analyze what was going on throughout the game.

He is a sponge when it comes to this and I believe an experience like this helps him
when he is on the court with his 6th grade team.

Steven Santa Ana scores for Elon
Leaving Alumni Gym this caught my eye.
1980 and 1981 NAIA Championship photographs. Great memories watching these two teams play.

Elon Football now competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
They finished 8-4 this past season after a 28-27 first round playoff loss to Furman.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Message...

It's been awhile since I wrote anything here but had to share this.

Today I drop my car off for service as Ben and I are taking a road trip to see my Mom in South Carolina next week. After I handed over the keys and discussed the work to be done, I request a shuttle to take me to work. A man brings the shuttle around, nice as can be asking how I am, where I was going...So on the ride to work he asks me if I’m ready for Christmas...

I replied back almost, that I have a couple more things to get as I always wait to the last minute. It's what I do every Christmas... So I asked him if he's set and he said no Christmas shopping for him this year... I paused a bit and I said oh?... And he told me his wife had a liver transplant at Johns Hopkins and she is home recovering and that is my gift this Christmas.

And before I met this gentleman I’m silently moaning about how much a car repair is going to set me back. Yikes! After we reached my office I wanted to hug this guy and say all will be ok but we shook hands and I promised to pray for him and his family. Since I drop Ben off every day at Catholic school and there is our church a hundred yards away I'll do so as well as light a candle.

Since I've been at work today I can't stop thinking of this gentleman and his wife. I went to a quiet place at work and just wept. Two years to the day I lost an Aunt after she had a liver transplant. She never got to go home. I don't know, I just feel for this guy and admire how strong he was as he was telling he his story.

I moan and groan about things like the Redskins losing or a driver cutting me off in traffic. Sometimes making them seem like its a big deal when in reality, it's not. Today's encounter was a reminder for me to just focus on health, happiness and love. Sometimes I lose sight of the real important things and get obsessed over really trivial things. I just hope and pray this gentleman and his family will be okay and can continue to be a strong, loving family.

I guess the lesson I learned today is a simple remember to count your blessings today and every day forward.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Last Day of 4th Grade

The last day of school is exciting for all kids. No more early wake up calls, classwork or homework. Go to sleep late, get up late. Travel, go swimming, go to camp, play with friends. Nice agenda.

A lot of hard work this past year paid off for Ben as you will see in the upcoming photos. It was a great school year. I can't believe Ben will be a 5th grader in September!

Ben was telling me his 4th grade reflections before the last walk

Hallway of endless possibilities when it comes to learning. Every day he learns more.

Ben walking up to the altar to receive his 4th grade Good Samaritan award. This is the highest honor a student can receive at his school. He worked very hard this school year.

Getting a hug from his teacher

Congrats Ben!

Caught this shot before he went back to his classroom

The bell rings and the kids are turned loose for the Summer. Ben's pal Dennis is happy!

Ben with his friends

Paolo, Miguel and Ben before celebratory lunch and basketball outing

Big decision: What to top off their hamburgers with

Paolo is happy with his choice

Reward after a lot of hard work this school year