Milk instead of coffee

Had a conversation with my flatmate Dean on the back porch a few days ago, the strangest and easiest talkin' we've ever had.

He didn't tell me about un-salted butter, didn't talk about what he'd cooked at the restaurant and how everyone had loved it. He only talked about the trees in our neighbors' yards, with long and amazing silences between his slurred sentences.

Dean's a heavy drinker, and I'd seen him intoxicated, sure, but this time he was drunk and still drinking, with two glasses of what he said was vodka waiting on the porch shelf, and an almost empty glass of it in his hand.

He finished that glass and started on the next as we talked, and then I said toodle-doo and he let me walk away without trying to trap me into more conversation.

First time that's happened, ever. Vodka makes Dean the opposite of Dean? Have another shot, mate!

♦ ♦ ♦ 

The work schedule at my new job clashes with this weekend's breakfast with Mom and the family, so I re-scheduled the get-together for Wednesday (yesterday). That was two days after Monday's disastrous cheese sandwich hobbled me for hours.

The belly rebellion has happened twice in the past week, so I'm worried about whatever's causing it.

Between those two painful and terrifying incidents, though, were normal meals that went into and through me without any intestinal horror. Picture me making Tucker Carlson's perpetual "I don't understand" face.

Here's my three-part no-doctor strategy for surviving whatever this is: ① Drink enormous amounts of water 24/7, to break down anything that might be clogging my innards. ② Eat only one light meal every second day, to give my guts plenty of time to do their work, then rest and recuperate. And ③ No snacks, for the same reason.

And I'd already decided, at breakfast with Mom I'd have milk instead of coffee, and order the mildest thing on the menu — a plain omelet, without even any cheese.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Walking to the bus stop, my other flatmate Robert was waiting for the same southbound #99. If Dean had been waiting, it might've been awful unless he'd been drunk, but Robert is no Dean. 

Robert is Christian but rarely talks about it, has a history of mental illness like me, and unlike Dean, he lets other people take half of any conversation. I don't hate him, and actually, for the past couple of years I've been thinking I ought to take Robert to breakfast one fine morning. And maybe I will, when paychecks start rolling in.

At the bus stop, we chatted for five minutes waiting, and then we sat together and talked for the fifteen minute ride to the end of the line.

Mostly, Robert talked about Dean's drinking, which amuses me. He shared a couple of drunk-Dean stories I hadn't heard before.

Once, Dean came home with a take-out pizza in a box, put it on the kitchen table, lost his footing and knocked the pizza to the floor, and then Dean tumbled onto the box, making it pizza stew.

And another time, less funny, he passed out in his bedroom while cooking something atop the stove, and 9-1-1 was needed to put out the flames. 

Dean's been known to fall asleep while cooking, setting off the smoke alarm once a month or so, but I hadn't known we'd invited the Fire Department. That's our Dean, world's greatest cook, according to him. Have another vodka.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

There were five of us at breakfast — Mom and my sis Katrina, Clay and his wife Karen, and me with a glass of milk.

As always but perhaps even more so, the conversation was superficial. Everyone knows I've been desperate to find a job, but nobody asked how that's going, so my hiring at Walgreens never came up. And thankfully, other than Clay and Kathy holding hands and bowing their heads before the meal, nobody mentioned God.

When the waitress brought my plain omelet, I took one bite of plain egg, checked the time, and waited 15 minutes. If the horrid pain was going to start, just one bite's worth of pain would be enough. 

Instead of a second bite, I talked with Katrina about her retirement, and with Mom about her walkers, and with Clay and Karen about his son the anti-vaxxer and his wife, trying to adopt children when vaccinations are required.

A quarter hour later, I took a second bite of the omelet. Eating was going OK, so I cautiously started on the hash browns and toast.

Usually I scarf food like a starved coyote, but breakfast lasted an hour. Slowest meal of my life, and everything was cold by the time I'd finished, but who cares? Hooray for no pain, even on the bus ride home and all through the day!

Is optimism allowed? Maybe I'll survive? Maybe I'll be able to hold the job at Walgreens, at least long enough to pay next month's rent? And maybe after a few paychecks, I'll take Robert to breakfast at Mrs Rigby's, and start having a friend in this world. 

But for any of that to happen, I gotta go to the job, and keep the job. My first shift starts this afternoon, so it's time to stop typing and start peeing, then brush my teeth, step into pants and shoes, and walk to the bus stop like a working man.


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  1. Pouring multiple glasses of alcohol for yourself seems like a threshold I have thankfully never crossed.

    1. Yeah, I don't get it either. I was never into booze or drugs (else I could've been a great writer, I guess) but it seems inefficient. My serious guess is, it's a mental role-playing game -- pouring a big glass would be admitting to a drinking problem, but pouring the same quantity into three glasses is just relaxing with a few drinks.

  2. I thought I'd crossed all the thresholds (now sober for something over 25 years), but I thought that's why god made big glasses. I was never able to drink anything straight, so using the bottle and forgoing the glass wouldn't work. But why not one big glass? I bet they sell big glasses at CVS and Christmas is just around the corner.

    And congrats on your first day of work.

    Unsolicited advice: I don't know whether you drink milk, but cutting that out of my diet helped my stomach recover. Also living without a fifth of bourbon a day, but that one isn't on your menu.

    Off to Sis's for the day.

    as always,


    1. I switched from cow milk to almond milk years ago, just for the savings in calories, but I've always found *either* helpful for an upset stomach. Ain't it a natural antacid?

  3. Sounds like acid reflux, more common in heavyset and older folks, but I had it too, very nasty. You have to change your eating habits in many ways, and don't eat ANYthing within three hours before you lie down. I have it totally under control now, had to eliminate most fruit, except some juices and jams. Meanwhile, I got tremendous relief from acid reflux with omeprazole pills, which are inexpensive and quite safe. I can't eat hash browns, or any other potato dishes either, because of the high starch. Bananas are REALLY bad for me, even though gastric "experts" claim they're perfect for this ailment. I think it's all the starch in 'em that gets me. Or, you might have developed lactose intolerance, but I'm hedging my bet on acid reflux.

    - Zeke Krahlin [zekeblog.wordpress.com]

    1. It *does* sound like acid reflex, I've googled it and my wife had it, but what's different is that internally, the pain was centered at my sternum instead of my stomach. It hasn't happened since last Monday, so I *think/hope* what I'm doing is working.

      Haven't much altered what I eat, only how much. All through my unemployment over the past couple of years, I've been eating from boredom more than hunger, large quantities and too often. Since the Day of Pain, I've been eating one meal every second day, normal-size meals like normal people eat, and with no snacking.

      As yet, the fasting hasn't led to hunger, there's been no pain, my poops seem to be moving better, and I'm probably losing weight, which has to be good for me though it's not my main intent.

      I appreciate the suggestion and info, Zeke. Medical advice from friends is the only medical advice I can afford. If the pain hits again, I'll try the omeprazole.


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