Shamelessly copied this idea from KJ's blog

A is for Age: 48 years old. Sometimes I look in the mirror and am so shocked by what I see. This woman looks much older than I feel on an emotional level, but is I'm afraid pretty accurate in physical terms. The me inside myself is about 30 I think.

B is for Beer of choice: I don’t drink. Not any more anyway. When I did I drank far too much and when I tried to stop I couldn't ... which meant I really had to stop and stay stopped. Pretty much any beer was fine with me but most of all I liked Hoegaarden and Geuze.

C is for Career: I'm an industrial systems engineer. Currently I work as a quality/production engineer in a hydraulics company but my background is more electro-mechanical. In my next life I'm going to be a watch mender or a car mechanic ... or maybe a carpenter.

D is for favourite drink: Tea. Without my bucket-sized mug of tea in the morning I grump grump grump all day long. I'm lucky that I like all kinds of tea. My favourite is Lady Grey which is extra citrussy compared to Earl Grey but similar. At work the guys like builders tea which is strong stuff ... I like that a lot too.

E is for Essential item(s) you use everyday: Umm the shower? Toothbrush? No, OK a personal item then. Some time ago a lovely friend of mine gave me a stone. It's a special stone with a 'significant-to-me' history attached to it. It sits on my bedside table and some days I carry it in my purse. I touch it every morning when I wake up. It's there to remind me to be present in the day. It works pretty well most of the time.

F is for Favorite song at the moment: Sweet Sir Galahad - Joan Baez. If I can't be a car mechanic in my next life I want to sing like her ... shit I want to sing like her anyway!

H is for How About Whatever Favorite I Choose: Okee dokee. Lemon meringue pie. I'm not much of a dessert eater but I could eat a good lemon meringue pie all day long. (Can I have a Thai green chicken curry first though?)

G is for favorite Game: I don't like games of chance and am woeful at games involving any element of bluff. My poker face is atrocious ... even playing Snap with little boys taxes my abilities in this regard. I like chess, but generally I'm not much of a game player.

I is for Instruments played: I fumble along more than play. I can't make my mind up which to focus on and so I play a few instruments very badly indeed. Listening to my fiddle playing has been likened to torture ... and with good reason!! I like bashing the drums for stress busting, I also like playing the guitar for it's lyrical qualities. I have been learning the bass guitar as it is way cool ... I like the mandolin because if you play the fiddle they're the same fingering except with frets and you finger pick instead of sawing away with a bow ... I like the piano and am learning GymnopĂ©dieso 3 by Satie ... I like the harmonica because it fits in my pocket but I get confused about the breathing sometimes ... and I like the clarinet which I am learning with my nephew to keep him company. He's already better than me though.

J is for favorite Juice: Breakfast blend (orange and grapefruit) .

K is for Kids: Nope, but I am an auntie, and a godmother, and a sort-of friend.

L is for Last kiss: William (my youngest nephew) this morning on my way out the door. Normally it would be my husband but I was over at my sisters place last night.

M is for Marriage: 16 years co-habitting and not far off 3 years married. I'm not one to rush into things!

N is for full Name: Jocelyn.

O is for Overnight hospital stays: When I was 19 I had a virus which kept me in hospital for a few nights. When they tell you it's a virus what they mean is "we don't know what's wrong with you". I got better regardless.

P is for Phobias: Dogs ... and loads of other 4 legged creatures. I so want to not be a scare-dee-cat namby-pamby but it's hard-wired. When I hear a dog barking nearby or suddenly come upon one unexpectantly when I'm out and about I get really frightened and often have to stand still for ages to recover. It's not a logical thing but is based on a childhood experience which left an indelible mark.

Q is for favourite Quote: Too twoo (true) oh wise one. It's something my mum says ... and it's the highest form of praise when said in response to ripostes on issues under debate between us.

R is for biggest Regret: The death of Charlotte.

S is for Sports: I love swimming, hill walking, body boarding, snorkeling, badminton. Despite this I am an Olympic sofa surfer because I love reading more than anything else.

T is for Time you wake up: Around 5am usually

U is for color Underwear: Yeah right ... like I'm going to notice what colour I'm putting on at that time of the morning! We bought a load of silk underwear when we were in Hong Kong many years ago. My fave combo is bright red with orange zigzagged through it ... I wear them on days when I think I'm going to need super-powers to face whatever is daunting me.

V is for Vegetable you love: I love asparagus, sweet potato, red onions, purple sprouting broccoli and corn-on-the-cob best. I can't say which I like best best because it depends.

W is for Worst Habit: Procrastination ... that and indecisiveness.

X is for X-rays you’ve had: there are other words that begin with X surely! Xenophobia for example. I am quite scared of people generally. Not specifically foreigners or strangers ... just people. So people and 4 legged creatures ... other than that I'm fine!

Y is for Yummy food you make: I make pretty good curries, I'm OK at cooking except desserts and baking. My best dish is Thai Green Chicken Curry which is my all time fave main course.

Z is for Zodiac sign: Pisces. I don't read my horoscope but I did once read what the typical characteristics of a Piscean were. I was quite amazed at how these traits aligned with my character. I was born about 6 weeks premature so would have been an Aries or perhaps a Taurus I can't remember which. Would my character have changed the further on I developed in the womb? I don't think so.

A coldish day at the office

This prolonged adolescence is coming to an end
thankfully I need not adjust my many abnormalities
as I am segueing quite nicely and without interruption
into what we euphemistically like to call 'the change'
which might be considered a bit of a blessing really
coming hard on the heels of baby steps into adulthood
so perhaps once I'm through this I might eventually
settle into something resembling normal grown up-ness

In the meantime I now have carte blanche to misbehave!

Isn't getting older fun? No, not today it sodding well isn't
can we open the darn window please it's too hot in here
all the men around me jump to it, overly eager to oblige
which tells you not so much that they are well trained
although I permit myself some small satisfaction on that score
clearly though I have been a less than a cheery manager of late
to such an extent that even the more moronic outer fringes
have become aware of this now not so secret alteration

This strange inner altercation with outward ramifications
soothed only by an endless stream of earl grey tea
and kind words regarding the minor gale blowing
through the office orifices or is it orifi I wonder
I can't seem to keep a straight thought in my head today
and don't get me started about the trips to the loo
I am thinking of setting up a second office in there
which would be wholeheartedly seconded by my team

Oh well I suppose we all have to grow up sometime
it's such a shame we have to grow old on the outside though
wouldn't it be more sensible if we just turned inside out instead
which would save all that ferreting about in the darker corners
of our psyche in search of our much vaunted inner child
but then I've come to believe that this prolonged adolescence
may well be due to an overly active inner child in the first place
how else to explain the various idiosyncrasies of this mid-life woman?

Over you

You think you're over it
but on picking up the phone
hearing that voice
and opening your mouth
to say something, anything

your mouth dries

So what did I say?
banalities that's what
I listened in horror
to the shake in my voice
meaningless words tumbling out

and I knew

Time is elastic that way
snapping me back
to re-living events I'd thought
gone if not forgotten
but of course my heart

is nowhere near over you.

200 Days

What's different this time? I have been asked this question a few times now. I mull over the possible answers.

Me I guess. I am different ... or becoming different anyway.

Years of dallying with drugs, then more years of heavy drinking followed by 3 or 4 years of efforts to cut down interspersed with spells of sobriety. What has changed? What is working now that didn't before?

... and will it keep working if I stop trying so hard?

The sunny days are sunnier that's for sure. A clear mind is better able to distinguish between the wood and the trees. Life feels simpler and less out of control. But the hard days seem just as hard as ever they were ...

... except they're not. Even the hard days don't seem to be filled with the darkness of despair that I experienced in my drinking days. I don't miss that. The rehashing of difficult memories and emotions, constantly trying to find a way to make the past better than it was. The inability to see beyond pain to the futility of these efforts. The inability to see the cost. To others. To myself.

I do miss the release.

I miss the anticipation of release too. The planning, the deviousness, rebelliousness even ... the feeling that I was doing something a bit deviant ... something just for myself and nobody else ... for no better reason than to make me feel good. I miss the ease of transition from one mental state to another that one finds with drugs and drink. Basically I miss getting wasted. How pathetic is that?

I guess part of the difference is that I do now see that as being pretty pathetic. Not so much the urge itself ... after all ... having experienced chemically enhanced euphoria you can't "unknow" how that feels ... how it suspends reality ... how it reconnects the disconnected feelings inside a person. It's just that it isn't real. Or sustainable. And eventually it blinds you to virtually everything else. To the point where nothing seems to matter much any more.

Addiction bequeaths nothing more than an impoverished life at best. But to see that one must first look from a perspective freer of the effects of the addiction itself. And how does that happen? How long does it take? How does one know to what degree addiction is still working on our own thought processes?

I guess by looking for inconsistencies. And that strange semi-logic that so typifies addictive thinking. Wishing is far far easier than doing. Such logic would appear on the face of it to be perfectly straightforward. Intuitive even. Somewhere in the addictive psyche that message seems to get muddled though.

It feels like wishing should be enough. It feels unfair that it isn't sufficient. We might spend years wishing our lives were different without ever lifting a finger to make it so because the addictive mind is in some ways addicted to what feels like stasis but is in fact decline. We don't see this decline ... or if we do we deny it ... or when it becomes undeniable we add it to the list of things we wish were different.

The problem with growth is you can't pinpoint single factors in subsequent changes that take place. A series of decisions made a long time ago started the process but at the time it didn't feel like the start of recovery at all.

It's tempting to focus on the slowness of the growth rather than the fact of it happening at all. Some habits are hard to break and if at the root is a fundamental lack of self belief then much inner work has to be done before outward changes are even the tiniest bit noticeable.

Despite the low feelings of late I am grateful to see 200 days sober. It is not a long time. I know that. Even so I am thankful to see outward manifestations of inner changes. To be on this journey of discovery and on a path that leads away from the dark days of my past.

Nature laughs

Nature will have it's way
whether through our neglect
or in it's thwarting of our futile
attempts to tame it
glorying as it does
in it's own abundance
unmindful of consequence
it has the complete abandon
of that which has no conscience
oh such freedom it has

Is good synonymous with natural
that which comes from nature
or is good an outmoded notion
clung to by the overly meek
or those of us whose narrow focus
blinds us to all but the blindingly obvious
even with my dim vision I can see
that the trees adorn themselves
with no thought towards vanity
and are all the more beautiful for it

It can be tempting to think
that underlying nature is no structure
but that is not the case at all
although to describe the systems at play
takes us on a journey of discovery
whose boundaries lie on the outskirts
of knowledge, or in my case far beyond
a lack of understanding however
is not the same as insufficient evidence
it evinces solely my own limitations

What then does nature have to say
on the thorny subject of morality
except that it seems an irrelevance
in the wide sweep of the universe
so can we now ignore it altogether
learn lessons from the vast bulk of creation
or is this to deny something singular to us
for whom morality is more than minutiae
are we thus in danger of thwarting
our own intrinsic nature

It seems that there are times
when hope triumphs over experience
or faith leaps over empirical evidence
but what if this is in fact just nature
interweaving itself with what's already there
to gradually pull us towards
what would be there if only
we were to let go of our preconceptions
about pretty much everything really
nature enjoys a good joke it seems

6 Month Blues

6 months on Saturday just gone. Personal best territory ... at least for the last 15 years or so, which has got to be good news hasn't it? So why don't I feel better? Why do I want to drink so much right now? To celebrate? To commiserate? Since when does a drinker need a reason to drink?

There is nothing more insidious than addiction I guess. It's like an internal bit of me that shouldn't be there but refuses to leave. However many times I turn my back on her still I hear her carping away at the back of my mind. If you invite a monster into your home how can you do anything other than blame yourself for the mess and other less than savoury consequences that result from such rank stupidity?

It's not like I didn't know. Oh I knew all right. Liquid drugs, how brilliant is that? And it's legal. Expected even. Just get around the taste problem by trying this and that. Forget about those earlier experiences because I'm older now right? Wiser ... right? So just work on developing a palate. Ha! Yeah cuz it's all about the taste right?

There's a huge risk with milestones. I've seen it so many times in the last few years. Every reason under the sun is given as to why it's OK now ... every justification explored, turned inside out an upside down ... intellectualised even, and for what? So that we can feel OK about going to get smashed. We don't call it that though do we? We call it choice. But we know how it's going to end up.

Denial is always easier than facing the truth head on. As an addict I can never drink again. And I am one. I know it. I hate this particular truth more than I can say but that doesn't mean it isn't true. Ah poor Jos deprived of her fun.

Fun? Well yes there was some fun ... about maybe 20% of the time if that. And the rest? Shall I remind myself again about the other 80%? At the heart of it what is it that drives this desire for oblivion? I wish I bloody knew the answer to that one. I could make a mint.

Earlier I was thinking about those pills I stashed away. Wondering how many it would take to float off for a while. Seems my desire for oblivion is far from dead. Shit. I thought I was getting better at this sobriety lark. Must go and flush those tablets away. It's not safe for me to have them here. I'd forgotten how sneaky that part of my mind is. Stashed them away against recurrence of back pain but I can always go to the doctor to get more if the need arises. This isn't need, this is want. Big difference.

Self pity is sooo unattractive don't you find? (shrug) Yeah well, me too. Funny day in my head. Got the 6 month blues I guess. Most days I can work up some gratitude ... some days it even happens spontaneously. Springs from a good place within. It feels real and right in a way that drugs never did. I love those days. That's the way it goes. Up and down. Hey ho ... one day at a time as they say.