MORE JOHNNY CASH
THAN JOHN KEATS
According to John Keats (1795 -1821) the great English Romanticist,
"a thing of beauty is a joy forever" came to mind
a few weeks ago when I found myself sitting in the parking lot
of Smart and Final over on 7th and Clement St. It was there
I decided to take my five minutes of mindfulness for "Founders
Day", June 10th. This place used to be an Italian owned
neighborhood grocery store when I was still in my cups, over
twenty years ago. My attempt at meditation was short-lived,
interrupted by the sight of a huge billboard across the lot
with an ad for St. Pauli Girl Bier. It took me a couple of minutes
before I realized how much I had changed in sobriety, noticing
that my attention was directed more towards the image of the
seductive Nordic blonde than the product she was promoting.
It was here at this very store on St. Patrick's Day 23 years
ago, I and my friend, David G., decided to begin our St. Patrick's
Day celebrations. We bought a big chunk of corned beef, a couple
of heads of cabbage and several cases of St. Pauli Girl Bier
as an appetizer. Our plan was to go home, kick back, have a
few beers, cook dinner and quietly with reverence, pay homage
to our patron saint. On our way back to 4th Ave., we both agreed
that one drink at Max's 540 on Clement St., before we retired
for the evening, was a very good idea.
Two weeks later, we
got a call from the owner of Max's 540 to send someone over
to pick up the corned beef, which was still in the freezer.
"We," she added, "were not to enter the premises
under any circumstances." All I remember from that particular
odyssey is that the SFFD was summoned later that night to our
4th Ave. address to pump out several hundred gallons of water
that had submerged our ground floor apartment. It's interesting
how the young woman on the St. Pauli Girl Bier billboard first
brought to mind the genius of Keats, and the brooding contemplation
reflected in his poetry. It was not Keats, however, I was flashing
on that hot and sunny Sunday morning 23 years ago, as I emerged
from a 3-day brown-out. It was an entirely different poet, Johnny
Cash (1932-2003), from the southern Arkansas hill country, which
better described my condition:
Well, I woke up
With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Cause there is
something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone.
And there is nothing short a' dying
That's half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleeping city sidewalk
And Sunday morning coming down.
FROM OUR READERS
Thanks so much for writing what you do in the newsletter. I
started receiving it a few months ago when my son moved to San
Francisco (on what I think was ANOTHER geographic) and he sent
me your info. I was interested and requested that I be put on
your mailing list. On a recent Friday and Saturday, I drove
to San Francisco to visit him and was very saddened to find
out that he is still using and not doing well. I did not confront
him, however, I did take care of myself and leave early, but
my heart is definitely broken. Not only was I so comforted by
what I read in the articles in the newsletter, I was also reminded
of the fact that my own sobriety and well-being is dependent
on how I perceive what is happening in my life, and that a spiritual
solution is all that I really have in desperate situations like
the one I am challenged with now. Living in the moment - I was
taught in early sobriety - is where nothing bad happens, and
that I can handle anything as long as I am living my life in
the "now". I am also relieved to be reminded that
you guys are there in case he ever wants to reach out and experience
sobriety. I am in such a hopeless state of powerlessness over
the reality that my 20 year old son is in the grip of a killer
disease and that there is nothing that I can do about it, but
thanks to a higher power who works through so many different
channels, my son may obtain help from you guys if he is willing.
His name is Jack if you have any more room in your thoughts
and prayers to shoot one out for him. Thanks for being there.
Kathy C., Los Angeles
Good to hear from you from time to time. I started out my sobriety
at the Dry Dock back in the 90's. My wife and I would drive
up for the weekend and go to as many meetings as we could in
two days before we had to go back to Reno, Nevada which is one
of the hardest places to stay sober on earth. I rode with the
second brotherhood of sober bikers which helped. Hey, if 15
bikers can't keep you on the straight and narrow, no one can.
Everything was going fine until Linda and I bought this house
on ten acres up on the hill in Fernley, Nevada about 28 miles
east of Reno. I went to work for a New York-based plant here
in Fernley building 60,000 gallon stainless tanks for the dairy
industry and she was working for an auction yard herding cattle
on her horse. We spent 70% of our time working to pay for this
house and since the only meetings were at 7:30 p.m. and I got
up at 3:00 a.m., I rarely made them. We were miserable. Last
December 2003, I became disabled and had to quit working for
good and she got fired about the same time. We were going to
lose the house and the car in one shot. All I could do was apply
for disability and vocational rehab. We kept our faith and since
I wasn't working all the time, started going to meetings again.
We continued going through ups and downs and just as we were
about to lose everything, out of the blue, the family stepped
in and paid off the house and car and I get accepted for disability
and vocational rehab and Linda is acing her courses in veterinary
medicine. Fernley is the fastest growing city in Nevada right
now and when we moved here it was still legally just a town
so we figured it was time for an AA Grapevine meeting on Sunday
at 5:00 p.m. and a Coda meeting that Linda started. The Grapevine
meeting signified that Fernley now had a meeting every day of
the week. It took a lot to do it but I was persistent and got
us in the Community Center for (sorry Tony) $40.00 a month.
Twenty people showed up at the first meeting people and we are
going strong. Linda's Coda meeting however, hasn't started off
with the same enthusiasm. Last Wednesday we were sitting there
looking at each other as we tried to conduct a two person Coda
meeting and she started crying. That night at about 3:00 a.m.
we were blessed with a beautiful baby horse. Around 5:00 a.m.,
I saw her standing next to her mother and I woke Linda up and
she started to cry again. We have so much to be grateful for
and we have a tendency to overlook that when times are tough.
If it wasn't for the caliber of sobriety at the Dry Dock (Marina
Dock) back in the 90's and the seed that was planted in me through
your fellowship, none of this would have been possible. Now
that I have a little time on my hands, I am going to come back
to my favorite meeting place very soon. So I will see you when
I get there, Tony.
Dan & Linda, Reno, Nevada
Dear Marina Dock
and Irish Tony,
Thank you for the healing place you provide - my son now has
7 months clean after 25 years of using. He attends meetings
there daily and sometimes twice a day. Your June newsletter
is great. I will be more mindful and join your Founder's Day
Barbara, San Francisco, June 7, 2005
It is with great
sadness that I learned of the death of Peter Allen Sharpless,
age 56. Peter was a long-term supporter and member of the Marina
Dock. He passed away peacefully at his home in San Francisco
June 15, 2005 after a courageous battle with cancer. Peter was
born in Whittier, California and was a graduate of Whittier
High School and a member of a pioneer Quaker family. Peter was
a talented artist who attended The Academy of Art in San Francisco.
His penchant for helping others led to his ultimate career as
a medical technician at San Francisco General Hospital. He will
be remembered for his great sense of humor, his charm and caring
ways. On behalf of the Marina Dock recovery community, we wish
to extend our deepest sympathy to his beloved wife, Denise,
and the entire Sharpless family.
Please email us at:
We, the Marina Dock, must continue
the good work, with your help of course.