A detailed breakdown of a day in an AA treatment facility and the life lessons I learned while there

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Photo by Marlon Lara on Unsplash

I entered treatment for alcohol abuse on Nov. 15th, 2019. The first few days were spent at a detox facility eating all the junk food I could stomach, sleeping and ingesting a steady supply of Librium to make sure I didn’t have a seizure and die. I was in a haze, partially from the Librium, partially from the drunken stupor that I put myself into for the flight to Austin, and mostly due to the fact that the month before was a cocktail of divorce papers, fights, plastic bottles, and friends basements. On the third day, I learned that I wasn’t staying at the detox facility for 28 days but was in fact going to a men’s 90-day treatment center owned by the same group. I wasn’t in jail and had the choice to leave if I wanted to but at that point what better option did I have? I got there, signed my divorce papers on my second day (which was also my 35th birthday), and settled in for the long haul. The thing about treatment is they want you to get into a set regimen pretty quickly, 25–30 guys doing the same thing every day can build up some strong habits pretty quick. …

How “The Silent Christmases” for 30 years in Cuba can teach us an important lesson going into Covid Christmas 2020

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Photo by Lynda Hinton on Unsplash

I grew up in the restaurant industry, running behind the bar to make Shirly Temple’s and dropping the glasses in racks in the dish pit when I was done. Rolando, a charismatic, transcendental man from Cuba worked for my family doing a multitude of jobs, sometimes dishwasher, sometimes sage but mostly dishwasher. It seemed like every time you ran into him he would grant you a hearty ‘Merry Christmas.’ After some translating and digging I eventually learned that he said it so much because ‘Castro took away Christmas and I have to make up for all the ones I lost’

How Cuba Lost Christmas

Following six and a half years of fighting, the military dictatorship of President Fulgencio Batista ended on Dec. 31st, 1958. Taking his place was the ever charismatic revolutionary Fidel Castro. Western movies, newspapers, and books went out the door pretty quickly, not too surprising because the whole US trying to constantly assassinate him. What was surprising was the ex-communication of Papa Noel or Santa Claus in 1959. Castro and his crew felt the Christmas holiday couldn’t be more of a personification of American capitalism with Coca Cola Claus at the front of the train. Initially, the festivities were moved to Jan. 6th (the feast of the Epiphany) with the presents coming from the Three Wise Men. …

After pulling out of a kamikaze life dive, how I’m trying to write on Medium and sell on Amazon to support my new life

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Photo by Tim Schramm on Unsplash

You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life — Rocky Balboa

There I was, sitting in my best friend’s basement apartment, crying because I didn’t want to let my brother into the bedroom to see me the way I was. The way I was, well the way I was, was something I didn’t even want to see. In reality, I was 60 lbs overweight, unemployed, homeless, and hoping that if I didn’t go pick up the divorce papers, maybe it would all go away. My brother was there from St. Louis after I had done a pretty good job of isolating myself from family to the point when they had to call my ex-wife to figure out what I wanted for my birthday in a few days. That’s when they found out we had been separated for a month, more accurately she left me a month before. …

Navigating through COVID restrictions to visit Zagreb

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Photo by Sara P on Unsplash

Beautifully set at the base of Mt. Medvednica, Croatia's capital city Zagreb is located in the northern mountains not far from the Slovenian border. The extraordinary coastal towns of Rovinj, Zadar, and Split are a short drive away and usually inhale the huge numbers of western tourists that visit Croatia each year. This leaves Zagreb’s unique atmosphere of cafes, public parks, and cobblestoned historic districts lightly touched by those who would rather try and glimpse Jay-Z’s yacht along the coastline.

This year has impacted Croatia and its crucial tourism sectors just like the rest of the world, with over 50% of tourism from 2019 not being able to return. In late summer 2020 Croatia made the dramatic decision to break with the rest of the EU and allow Americans to travel there with a few regulations in place for safety. Here is my experience getting to Croatia in Sept. …

A Pandemic Weekend in Oregon

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Photo by Zack Spear on Unsplash

Originally when plans were made to head to Oregon in late July/early August the thought was that surely the pandemic would be winding down. We were obviously all too optimistic about that happening by Easter but late July, climate change and weeks of triple digits was finally going to show COVID-19 who was boss. Well that didn’t happen and to throw a nice cherry on top of it a bunch of Moms in bike helmets were getting the shit kicked out of them by storm troopers at a Federal Courthouse about 6 blocks away from the hotel we were going to be staying in. …

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Photo by Jaunathan Gagnon on Unsplash

The Toad King was old and ugly. Full of warts and twice the size of the average toad in Toad Land. You don’t become king without being old and ugly at least that was the way it seemed.

It seems odd that he was Toad King since no one particularly liked the Toad King. He just sat in the good mud with the good flies and grumbled about this or that. The other toads would just hop by and take amusement from his size and appetite.

That is until the spring when the rain was heavy and far more tadpoles than usual emerged from the pond as new toads. The young toads started taking up the mud and flies in Toad Land as young toads tend to do. There’s always enough mud and flies in Toad Land but when there’s a lot of young toads it can be slim pickings for the first week or so. …

My first 24 hours in Mexico City during COVID and Día de Muertos

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Photo by Salvador Altamirano on Unsplash

I’m sitting in an Airbnb apartment in the neighborhood of Condesa exactly 24 hours after arriving in Mexico City. The city opened my eyes to endless possibilities in the last day and given me some anxiety that I don’t have enough time in my week here to fully experience everything (I took some time to accept that fact at about 10 am this morning).

Getting there

I live in Austin, TX right now and was able to grab a direct flight (1hr40min airtime) from San Antonio for about $300 a few weeks ago. Due to COVID restrictions, you can’t drive into Mexico right now but flying is fine with a completed health waiver. I landed at 3:40 pm and quickly called an Uber from the airport. The airport was bustling but not overcrowded by any means and I was from plane to Uber in 20 mins. A good friend recommended Uber as he had gone the taxi route about a year earlier and it ended up running him about $40 USD, this was advice that my Airbnb host Huberto double-downed on in our initial communication. The drive took about 30 mins, inching through busy Mexican traffic and I arrived right at my doorstep for $6.87 …

rediscovering joy in sobriety

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Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

The first time I drank was an experiment. What is this thing that so many people have fun with, that the ballgames I watch are sponsored by, that I’m not supposed to do? I found some acceptance the first time I drank, I was able to go through my sister and get booze, and all of a sudden I was in control of the party with other kids at high school. It let me escape the brain of a nervous, hormonal kid that wasn’t sure if anyone liked him. I also found out that I was good at it, I could drink a lot, and that it gave me the courage to ‘be myself’ which people surprisingly liked. …

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Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

Is it possible that systems of government can break, become manipulated for selfish gains and you can’t accept that because it means you’re being used?

Is it possible that you can’t admit you made a mistake so you become defensive and aggressive to defend your ego?

Is it possible that you accept the current distribution of wealth because your ego tells you that one day you’ll reap the spoils as well?

Is it possible that you can’t accept the severity of COVID because you can’t control it and it scares you to death?

Is it possible that the ‘American dream’ can evolve but walking through the unknown is too terrifying for you? …

coming from a dude who rocked the red vest

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Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash

Well, it's time to go to the Big Boy Hardware Store, might as well go step out in front of a god damn city bus, am I right. Not so fast there guy (or gal), take a step back and let me give you a little advice on how to navigate the Thunderdome of retail. I spent some time wearing the red vest (took me a month to earn it NBD) and I think I might be able to give you a little bit of help here.

Either go before 10 am or a Monday at 1:30 pm

Can’t find someone to help you? Let alone someone that knows what they’re talking about? Those seem to be the biggest concerns people bring up when heading to a Big Box Store. For the most part, all the specialists work the morning shift and the reasoning is that they’re there to help you, the customer. If you are there in the evening more likely than not you’re gonna be running into newer employees who are being utilized to restock and get the place set back up for the next day. Anytime after 10 am and you’re gonna start seeing those specialists heading to lunch and that means one red vest covering 2–3 departments. If you are looking to talk to a manager or department supervisor (this comes in handy for later hacks) try and get there at 1:30 on a Monday. The weekly manager meeting (The Lowe Down) for the entire company starts at 2 pm on Mondays. So for the most part you’re gonna have every department supervisor, assistant manager, and the big hoss store manager in the house before they get together. Little side note, a supervisor or ASM would probably jump at the idea of ditching the Lowe Down to ‘have’ to help a customer. …


T.H. Lee

Trying to not figure it all out

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