Poetry/Prose

Now, Decide

photo credit: mine

photo credit: mine

Right now is a live wire.

You may think only something (maybe boring, maybe not, but limited by what you are exposed to) is happening.

When really everything is, now.

From the outside to sit still may seem pointless–but it is in doing this that we boil ourselves down to nothing and feel everything at once.

A massive speck, sitting there.

You might be in a little room with just yourself yet you know a whale is traversing the sea, a baby is being born, someone is digging through garbage, a businessman is clinking a glass over a million-dollar deal and you sit there and just know.

And on and on and on.

It’s electric, and you have so many options, how to perceive, right now.

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Poetry/Prose

Heart + Soul

Me, giving myself a hug, like I do every day.

People practice yoga for many reasons. I am starting to think that mine was so I could give myself a really strong hug, every day.

A draft/scrapped stream of consciousness submission to a love book, which runs from grounded factual almost-narrative to ethereal, philosophical mumbo-jambalaya (I submitted another piece so just share this one in case anyone likes it–it’s a “true” story).

I guess if I were to sum up what I have learned in one sentence, I’d say this: love—I mean really loving—is inherently risky when you think of yourself as separate from its bounds (but my point with this piece is to argue with great gusto that you are NOT). There are so many other things you can say like “yeah, but there’s always another chance at love,” etc. But I want to focus on the perception of risk.

I want to drill deeply into the idea of risk, because it is by doing this that I feel I have learned to love more deeply than I ever thought possible. I have learned to move–or rather dig, like one would try to dig a tunnel through the Earth herself and emerge on the other side to, surrender, lie down and look up at the stars–through the risky stage into the more mature stage of embodying love more fully than ever.

These days, love, to me is not even a contract. It is a purpose and an impulse that is a highest birthright, a deepest refuge and an unlimited source of courage and power.

(One quick aside: meditation has been the key to me discovering and focusing on the concept of risk as a critical key to loving more freely and deeply. Sitting still on a regular basis kinda makes you brave like that.)

My story is grounded in the fact that about 12 years ago I left the comforts of my own culture to date, marry, divorce and again continuously date and have relationships with men from countries and customs quite different than my own. People ask why I have trouble going back to American men and I will say this: once a man from another culture stretches your perception of the way love can be, you have trouble going back to a more predictable pattern.

After my first breakup with a Turkish man, I was completely devastated. The idea of finding something like that seemed preposterous. So I lost hope. I met another Turkish man after that who showed a tendency to commit so, in one unconscious, default, fearful-foul swoop, I married him when he asked.

I loved him, but not in a way that was risky.

Not in a way where I felt I had something really to lose. He’d never leave me. Not because I was me, but because he was dogmatically locked in somehow. Marriage was more important as a container than as an experience and a daily stream of choices toward intimacy, organic behavior and interpersonal evolution vs. guarantees and automatic behavior.

I have not married since.

There was something so settling yet uninspiring about that marriage. We were together three years—two of which were minus any sense of physical passion given that there was only a modicum to begin with.

When I began practicing more yoga and moved us to another country, as a leading spouse with an overseas job, the shifts within me were too great. I realized I was stronger than I ever knew before and gained a sense of the fact that I could survive alone. I broke out of the marriage and into an international scene of men, many of whom were Arabs.

My first experience after divorce was with a Pakistani man, then an Egyptian, then a South African, then an Indian and then, for a year and a half, I settled down with an Iranian professor who specialized in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. We seemingly had a very nice run, but then one day, out of the blue, an expert at studying and testing the real vs. the artificial, he said he couldn’t be with me because I wasn’t Iranian. So many messages we humans make up to say a simple thing: my soul doesn’t run in parallel with yours anymore.

Needless to say the last five years of my life, post marriage and in the thick of dating, have been a character-building exercise. The breakup with the Iranian was especially disillusioning and yet profoundly sobering because he was a) the first person to ever break off a relationship with me and b) he retracted his love–confirming several times that he never meant the words he said every day until that point. The words “I love you,” suddenly became somewhat obsolete in their subjectivity.

Someone could get really jaded by all this–but I found it an opportunity. A chance. To get real.

When I look back, this was a massive turning point in my process to learn how to love more closely to what my ideals of the feeling truly are. The key word being: feeling. Countless memes, books and self-help guides circle back around the concept of loving yourself. But to really get down to this at the experiential level, for some of us, takes going through pain and loss.

These are the only types of experiences that we engage in to understand ever more deeply our ability to survive them. Some people may not engage so fully as try to medicate these sentiments. But when you engage them, when you burrow deeper and deeper into the pitch-black caverns of pain and loss, you start to notice a pattern that the more deeply you loved, the greater the depth inside you reached when these sentiments call you with them.

This is where risk comes in. When it’s real, when it’s deep, you know it can—and will, by death, breakup, circumstance, eventually—be taken from you yet you must proceed. Through the pain, this fact becomes matter, and the experience of your deepest levels come in so handy as anchor points for you moving forward.

Because you know, it’s going to get really dark sometimes, but you also know something more important—you will and do survive. This is the other side of the coin of loving. It’s a coin that is constantly rotating in the air if you can only keep your heart open.

Closing the heart–by either nailing down a relationship that may not be based in love or by avoiding the pain that love promises–will freeze that coin in mid-air. A dullness will take over your life. You will be an observer of love rather than a subject to its whims.

By nature, when you are separate from it, love is totally risky. Deep, true, honest, passionate and vulnerable love carries risk. Yet the fear of losing it is far greater a risk in the end. And even fighting that risk and defeating that fear cannot protect you from the pain of someone leaving your life. Still, what if you could see these situations from a different kind of dimension. A dimension where you are all one in the same and just moving in and out of these mirrored rooms and experiencing all these experiences and losing but gaining before losing again but one is related to the other?

In the end, diving in, pushing against all of your fears, against all the perception of what is gambled, means diving deep. And the deeper you go the closer you are to the wellspring’s source inside–yourself.

Once you get a load of that, it’s like you see this massive light on the ocean bed. Nobody else can see it. Nobody else can reach it. You know it’s your secret. You know it’s inside you. This light. And you just kind of shift.

Voila! Risk no longer applies.

Instead of tightly fisting the good and loving times, obsessing and over-analyzing how you can make them last, you open your hand and let them come and go. You are enough. You are love itself. As is everything else that makes that inspires that love to grow and expand. And as it expands you realize something—that everyone that ever loved you, every love you ever shared, EVERY EXPERIENCE WAS AND IS FROM THE SAME SOURCE. YOU.

This drops your shoulders if you let it. It introduces fear to its dead end, when you remember. If you return to this thought, really let it sink in, you begin to feel the futility of being anything but fear’s opposite: loving.

You are not threatened. You are suddenly operating from a center instead of reacting to external realities. You are highly mobile, never stuck, never trapped, never abandoned. YOU ARE LOVE. And you know how and where to move when you admit this–flow away from what is pain and toward what is joy.

If nobody is around to share it with, you are bathing in it–you find you have so much of it inside. You just do.

It’s time to stop getting so confused and distracted about the source of love–right behind, under, above your nose, 24 hours a day, every day of your life.

Acknowledge and fuse love as it is: the gift of life itself, coursing through you, offering you constantly a breath, a view, a sound, a taste of it. Poised and held surely at the very breast of life itself, you are life’s baby: alive, tended to, and if you should be open to it, loved.

Sometimes I drink my smoothie in the morning and imagine I am at the breast of the universe. Isn’t that weird? Well. It’s true and it makes me happy.

You woke up, you can read this, you have food to eat, you can interpret this with electric intelligence–when did you forget this meant that you are always, always, so, well, loved!

And from this place, the love you extend from yourself is like honey from a bee of your mind, flying flower to flower, processing experiences, self assured in its flight, landing, natural, purposeful. Being alive is a calling, and it’s enough.

Stop struggling against it by creating things you want that you don’t have. Just be … just buzz. Love is its own reward, a luxury, a risk, a gain, a loss, until you realize it is actually you. And the fibers of your being begin to insist on this. You start to realize you are gold.

You are pure gold and you deserve to be protected, cared for, respected, alive. Boundaries start forming around this, naturally and cognitively. You start to study, how to care for this love that is yours. You discover things that cause you to move toward or away from others, effortlessly, without a second thought … it doesn’t matter because you are and have enough: love.

And you don’t need to be around people who promise to be the source of that love and can’t. In fact, you just won’t.

Again, risk starts to reduce as a consideration, in a practical sense this time.

Finally, I will say it hurts sometimes. It does. Because, as the adage proclaims, change is the only constant in life. But that feeling you keep trying to avoid happens whether you engage in loving or not. You suffer less to understand how it works–that it is you at its source, that it is inspired and mirrored by others in a magical mix of ways, but to begin with, it’s YOURS.

Today, I have a lot going on in my private life and nothing at all. Depends on the day. Bottom line: I love myself, I integrate everything every lover, every friend, every family member, every ONE gives me that is good for me and throw the rest in the burning garbage can labeled “past tense.”

Risk is an invention of the mind. Love is natural, organic, resourceful–nothing experienced could ever be a net loss.

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Poetry/Prose

You Would Have Been Lions

photo credit: mine

photo credit: mine


Cubs

What can I say?

When I can’t lick you

I know

You would have been lions

My mind is part of nature herself

All twisted and dressed

In cement

And male ambition

My mind is part of that nature too

And it got made up

Still, I want to lick you

Cubs

Both of you

You are still here

You would have been here

You will be here

And yet

You would have been lions

Cubs

Everywhere

Every moment

Every chance

I think of you

You are still here

You would have been here

You will be here

And when you are

I will never let you out of my life

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Poetry/Prose

Only Natural

Rural Nepal, 2012

Rural Nepal, 2012

Ask yourself

What is natural?

Walk into the forest

Of your sensibilities

Buzzing with life

Action

Reaction

Stillness

Disguises

Realities

Is it poisonous?

Or is it a mimic?

Nature

Mind blowing

Sit there

Go into your nature

Walk slow

Feel the bottom of your feet

Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss

The Earth

Holding you up

Infusing all of you

Always

Ask yourself

What is natural?

When you are walking through doors

Sitting at desks

Driving your car

Fantasizing

Talking on the phone

Imagining

Neurotic about social media

Worrying

Crying about a memory

Pining about the future

Pumped on inspiration

Choosing to be bored

Is it natural?

Is it?

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Poetry/Prose

Just Be Fame

fame1And I think you know it’s rare.

For someone to see.

You.

Facing insecurities.

Out of control.

In control.

In between.

Waiting in lines.

Wondering.

Crying in secret.

Chewing cheap gum.

Fumbling with your iPad.

Like everyone else.

How could you not?

When I saw you, I saw a person.

Not a picture.

Not a title.

Not a name.

I looked at you.

Heard your voice.

Answered your questions.

Wondered what you were hiding.

Because you had to.

Heard what you were hiding.

Despite you.

What you assumed about me.

It wasn’t.

Projected–it could only be you.

And I loved it.

The mysterious gap.

That revealed everything.

You thought you hid.

I spoke with you.

Measured.

Sincere.

As if you were a merchant.

And I tended to you.

As if you were my fleeting customer.

And I think you know it’s rare.

For someone not to care too much.

But just enough for you to know.

I do.

For someone to trust nature.

More than temptation.

To put you higher.

Than human.

There is no fame in a moment.

Unless I am famous too.

And when I turn around.

I see all the layers.

That separate you.

From everyone else.

And I wonder why.

Anyone would want this.

Fame.

And I sense.

You’re the kind who never wanted it.

As much as it wanted you.

Like a mother wants her child.

To come in and wash his hands.

And sit at his place at the table.

As much as it challenges you still.

To believe something it tempts you not to.

That you have nothing to prove.

Don’t worry; I see, and your secret is safe with me.

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Poetry/Prose, Yoga & Spiritual

2014 (I Have Learned)

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 9.45.10 PM

And if you did not care deeply for me

In moments when I needed you most

Indeed you helped me find

The deepest place within

From where these calls for care rose

From here

I see now

I needed you

To help me find it

And when I saw it

The anchor dropped

The sand settled

Softly, perfectly

Around and around

My own limitations

And those of others

Now all I have to do

Is feel the current rock me

For I am always tied

To myself, most deeply

This sea is mine

And the sky is now the limit

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Poetry/Prose, Sugar Free

Sometimes (The Spiral Stairwell)

What I have come to know about life is that it’s like a stairwell

You grow to understand, you climb it alone

Sometimes it smells like roses, is lined with velvet

Sometimes memories hang on its walls

Haunting you

Delighting you

Teasing your obsession

Sometimes all you want

Is to keep looking up

At that point

Where it turns

The invisible beyond

You see out the windows

Shout to the psychics

Tarot cards flutter in the air

Their colorful, suggestive pictures

Whisper and hint

You will never be sure

Sometimes it’s musty

Or so sophisticated

Clean

Like Handel

And a book

And some tea

At times it’s alienating

Like the private schoolyard

And your poverty

When it’s warm

For a moment

You can’t remember

Difficulty

Before again

It’s raining

It’s a rainbow

It’s freezing

And all you can do

Is smell the cold

Feel the Jack Frost mirage

Grab your mind

Point your eyes

To your crying toes

Sometimes it will feel

Like a warm embrace

From a long-lost friend

From many lives

The wells divide again

And it will feel

Like the indifference

Of a 1.5 year lover

Deciding on a seeming dime

He didn’t love you

And by the way

He never really did

Or, more importantly

Like a breathtaking gesture

Of a friend

Who drops thousands of dollars

And a weekend

To help you

Without your asking

This place offers you ecstasy

In its many forms

That never last

This place will feel

Like contractions

Pushing you through

Everything

You didn’t know

You could survive

And we all know it

It can be to some, sometimes

So fucking cruel

The walls

Pock marked with bullet holes

Spattered with blood

Pieces of bone

Soft, spongy white hints of brain tissue

Sometimes it’s slippery

You fall, break yourself

Are forced

To slow down

Remember your feet

Reframe your journey

Sometimes it’s on fire

You have to drop everything

Run for your life

Sometimes it feels

Like you are falling down

Moving backward

Sometimes you think

It will always be this way

But it will never be, always

It will always be sometimes

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Poetry/Prose

What’s the Matter, Superstar?

Oh little-big boys

I finally get it

That’s what draws me

More than anything

Your effect

On my imagination

You make me see

It’s good

Not to matter

To someone who matters

Once in a while

Your indifference

Pushes me down

And the question rises

So we meet in the middle

Egg and sperm

The sweet supernova

Before the zygote

It breakdances in front of me

Grabs me by the collar

Pulls my hair

Aw come on

Give me a break!

Aren’t I down enough?

It gets pissed off

Slaps me across the face

For the love of my life

I open my eyes

Look around

So what!

I don’t matter to you

But do I matter to myself

Thanks for the reminder

Zeus and Co.

Another star in the sky

Somehow it just grows louder

And louder

Like my cries must have

On the first days of my life

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Poetry/Prose

You Decide, Little Baby 30+

Image credit: beirutnightlife.com/editing credit: mine

Image credit: beirutnightlife.com/editing credit: mine

I’m not thinking about your success

I’m thinking about your decisions

 

I’m not listening to your words

I’m listening to your decisions

 

I’m not gawking at your car

I’m gawking at your decisions

 

I’m not mystified by your art

I’m mystified by your decisions

 

I’m not annoyed with your behavior

I’m annoyed with your decisions

 

Anyone can love you madly

But they’ll stay with your decisions

 

 

 

 

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Poetry/Prose

Shut Up, Sit Down and Feel the Pain (stream of consciousness)

This is a cat that graced my life for a year, named Mooncake. He was deaf and pure gentleness. I think of him and feel the sweetest pain in missing him.

This is a cat named Mooncake. He was in my life for a year. He was deaf and pure gentleness. I feel the sweetest pain in missing him.

For this to make sense, you have to get to a point where pain is not some taboo part of your thought process or a step child you blow off. Pain is not “bad.” Pain just is. And it’s here to stay. So why not ponder it, shed light on it, stop being so dang scared of it.

Automatic pilot

Massive waves

Predictability

 

You’re supposed to be fine

Everything is functional

Why not you?

 

Because in all this ease of use

You are no longer friends

With pain

And it scares you

Deep inside

It does

 

 

Give me the 2nd or 3rd world

Forcing life upon me:

Flexibility

Innovation

Execution

The ground

 

It’s nerve wracking

Ego fraying

Relative

Good times

 

What was life

A hundred years ago

Infections

Lost limbs

Childbirth

No anesthesia

 

No matter

 

It doesn’t matter

When you live

Where you live

How you live

Whoever you are

You will know pain

 

As everything becomes “easier”

Pain’s roots defy logic

But pain itself, never

If it’s not beside you

It’s around the corner

You see?

 

A society with its share of grit

But without that

Pain rebrands itself

 

Neurosis

Paranoia

Anxiety

Alienation

Autoimmunity

 

It niggles, constantly

A water torture

But where is the tap?

 

We’re fine

Pain

In the flow

Pain

On top of the world

Pain

 

Like a fly you can’t swat

 

Everything works well

So …

… what am I doing?

 

At the gross level

Making plans

Shaking hands

Getting stuff done

Spinning wheels

Flying high

 

But everyone has to land

Sometimes

 

At the subtle level

The bigger project

 

As it all gets louder outside

We gotta sit down, shut up

 

Or we’ll never trace it

Explore it

Set it free

This pain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Desert Updates, Poetry/Prose

Shameless

Image credit: Sodahead/Edits: mine

Image credit: Sodahead/Edits: mine

It’s all relative around here. Once you land, figure out the power outlets, find a cute little Persian rug knockoff at the grocery store and get a load of the valet service and your first paycheck, you sink deeper and the place just starts wrapping its tentacles around you.

You still feel like you control your appendages … your thoughts, your wherewithal.

Only when you’ve been operating in the arms of this friendly but powerful sea monster of a society for quite a while–and a new person comes, naked, wide-eyed, dumbstruck drifting down past you eye level–do you get a sense of what has happened to you.

The person floats there, looking around, the hairs dancing above their head, their cheeks buoyant. And then up behind them comes a shadow. The water between your eyeballs and the leviathan’s procession grows thin. You witness: the same moment you remember so long ago happening to them. You remember: when it first touched you and eased itself around your waste, curled its tentacle tips atop your head and into your palms, ran its smooth skin along your calves and placed its tender micro suction cups atop your feet.

Some days, you do realize, somehow, you can’t move as freely as you once did, but in other ways are strengthened to ten times your original ways–it all depends on what it sees in you, what it lets you do, helps you do and prevents you from doing, this society here.

It’s not some small, benign member of the deep sea world, this one. It’s got some heft. But underwater, everything becomes kind of relative to how elusive it can make itself, how well it navigates and commands it endless turf, how deeply it spends its time.

And a power like this runs deep–what with its tribal history and its recent run into riches. It lays low and reaches out only for the select of us who somehow saw it for what it was, once upon a time, when we dove in head first, toward the shiny objects related to this expat experience.

Again, we are not privy to the view of what is actually happening to us, until the occasional new person gets gripped before our eyes. They look at us, watch us, wonder about us.

They seem to ask us: How can we go on like this? Don’t we have any shame, about those designer shoes, vacations, electric guitars, speedboats, lovers, self reinventions and “I won’t be in today, my flight is delayed from the weekend in Moscow.”

We look at them like cats, wrapped in tentacles, turning our attention just for a moment from our fancy feast dishes.

No. Actually. No we don’t.

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Movie Reviews

Review: Saving Mr. Banks

SAVING MR. BANKSThis is definitely one in the ‘wait for it’ category. It’s got some stuff working against it–big budget, Disney, stars who usually ride the integrity line but have been know to trip over it–but word on the street prompted me to give it more consideration and even a rent click last night.

In short: Tom Hanks (The Man with One Red Shoe) and Emma Thomas (Dead Again) star in this big budget tale of the making of Mary Poppins. Yeah, I know, you don’t know those movies … or maybe you do and are seriously tickled by nostalgia now. Anyway, allow me to digress away from digression to continue this review:

I’m writing about this one because:

a) It manages to take a true-life story and surgically carve out a plot that keeps the audience suspended in the beautiful, colorful, cheerful elements of a time period–indeed, we are warmly invited behind the scenes to witness a process around creating a children’s movie inspired by an incredibly dark childhood

b) Like the protagonist, I (and many others) experienced the disabling reality-check of losing a parent when young as well as the side effects of an alcoholic parent

Basically, this film was so resonant, so earnestly crafted and yet so light-hearted that I can hardly believe it exists! It was like eating a bag of marshmallows without the sugar low … like someone invented very nutritious marshmallows.

Saving Mr. Banks draws its strength from colorfully masking the drama of an emotionally-paralyzed genius author (P.L. Travers) being forced to reconcile her past baggage with the help of a sing-song Los Angeles creative team and interactions with Disney himself. We witness the contagion of her deep despair as the Disney artists fight against her controlling, heavy, relentless adaptations to life itself.

We see that the film in essence documents the power of human love, vision and dedication to turn one woman’s incredible misery into a movie that would bring joy and laughter to millions of children (Poppins, incidentally, was the first film I ever saw in a movie theatre!).

Through its very basic interspersion of past (20s/30s Australia) and not-so-past (1960s LA and London), the film helps us easily into the shoes of all of the characters, with particular focus on Disney and P.L. Travers (the author of Mary Poppins). Moreover, filmmakers today have discovered a way to ride a line between fantasy and reality given camera angles/lenses, makeup and high definition technology so that you experience something just beyond real, in a way where you can detach, enjoy and let the deeper elements of what is being expressed slink around your defenses.

The next morning you might wake up, like I did, into a dream, of highlights you remember from a film like this. Deep thoughts about your own life that suddenly other people understand, all-to-well … what few would be able to say directly, and many would join together to convey in a film like this: that the hardships we face, in early life or anytime in life, are opportunities to find grace, and in more intense cases opportunities to make something so deeply touching to countless other people. Everything we see as a weakness has the potential to be our greatest strength. If we’d only have the courage to step forward, firm-footed, letting go of our fearful grip on the past.

But is it really that simple? Never.

We see how difficult if not impossible it is to let go of the past for Travers as it was absolutely essential that she didn’t in order to write her masterpiece! Her father preached to her young ears that  life is an illusion, supporting her deepest motivations as a successful author of a fantastic, pseudo-fictional tale of Poppins. But it could never be totally fiction, and life could never be completely fantasy to a girl who lost the love of her life at such a young age–watching her father’s slow-motion, horrific, and eventually lost battle with alcoholism. The rest of her life, clearly, is spent creating–through incredibly consistent displays of extreme control of herself and every conversation and interaction she took part in–scenarios that prevent any possibility of such loss, ever again, even if it meant extreme isolation even in crowds (the bar scene in the movie might cause people to wonder why it’s even there, but it’s perfectly essential to the outline of her character).

Disney and Travers, Disney and Travers … but to me, the most important character in the film is her driver, Ralph, by (Paul Giamatti). He provides a striking contrast to how one handles extreme disappointment.

Over the course of the film–through her ice-cold, demanding, correcting ways–you see that he doesn’t expect anything from Travers and moves with a lot of grace around her rigidity. It’s as if he understands her but has not taken such an approach on life himself and doesn’t at all realize that his approach is far, far more functional. Indeed, through the film we realize he more than understands her, because–due to his daughter’s disability–he is on an almost identical path.

Just like Travers, Ralph has had to reconcile extreme disappointment related to the disease* of a loved one. His path, however, doesn’t allow him to control anything because his daughter is alive and needs him to continuously let go of himself and his idea of the way things ‘should be’ so that he can love her. He has been on an underrated path of grace since the moment his daughter was born. By that comparison, the death of a loved one would be a cake walk, only marred by a person’s sense that they can control everything thereafter in a perfectly futile attempt to ensure that nothing like that could ever happen, again.

 

*Alcoholism, beyond addiction, is a disease folks–alcohol is widely known among toxicologists as the only drug so powerful that, when you are deeply addicted, you need a bridge drug (barbiturates) to get off it without dying.

 

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