Writing on the road to recovery: Axes and Ales

Writing on the road to recovery: Axes and Ales

 AXES & ALES, 349 East Avenue, Rochester NY, “Thor” [Photo: David Kramer, 2/20/20]

Recently a friend of mine – “landing like Dorothy” —  moved to Rochester, a city she hasn’t lived in for over 50 years. As part of her recovery, she writes of her experiences and impressions. So far, “Rochester feels exotic to me, what I imagine Oregon to be like minus the ocean. Grey skies and friendly people. I bought a new bicycle and have high hopes.”

Writing on the road to recovery (FULL TEXT BELOW) is her first installment. Today she offers part 2.

AXES & ALES, 349 East Avenue, Rochester NY [Photo: David Kramer, 2/20/20]

When my mother uses my addictions in her writing, I feel horrible. I wish she wouldn’t. She doesn’t ever mention the way I was abused as a child under her supposed care. She says that I don’t want a good “normal life.” How the fuck would I know what a normal life is, let alone “good?” I am so angry. I have no idea what to do. I have no skills. Nothing. Nada. The fucking Sisyphean misery. I can’t do anything until I’m rid of it. I could have been anything and I never knew it. My beamish boy calloo callay. I am so lost this morning. Why don’t I write? I have to write. I feel so lost today. So scared. I want to drink this pain away… it curbs the darkness inside of me. My nail polish is called rule breaker. Psychic detachment. Mine. Everything for me, my entire world, is longing. Longing. Longing. Richard Ford said psychic detachment. Miles to go before I (you) sleep. And my soul is stirred by a bar down the street. A bakery/bar called caramel. Why oh why??? When I’m 64. Why didn’t, surely anyone could have seen that I was in trouble from a very young age. Even in the Neanderthal 1970’s my mother should surely have seen that I was in need of help beyond shipping me off to my stepfather’s sister in Albuquerque. I needed more than anyone could willingly give. I still do. I need some Chanel #5 and some Quelques Fleurs. Soon. I want to drink them. I’m walking past a bar called axes and ale and my heart starts racing. Why I think, haven’t I ever done that? I want to have an ale! I want to throw an axe! I walk passed though, lamenting the nordics drinking their mead. I want to hang with Thor but I can’t. I’m here to get sober.

Outside and inside AXES & ALES, 349 East Avenue, Rochester NY [Photos: David Kramer, 2/20/20]


Writers & Books, 740 University Ave, Rochester, NY [Photo: David Kramer, 2/17/20]

Waiting for my outpatient orientation. Shit, I’ve done this before. I’m right back where I was last year. Just a different city. Another different city. I’m trying to be grateful but I am hating that my meds are making me gain weight. I’m going to stop taking the Zyprexa. It makes me calm but fat. I can’t stand being fat. If I start to feel crazy, I’ll go back to it but I don’t want to. I should be happy to be calm, not sedated but calm. I’m scared that the shift I’ve had in my perception of AA is due largely to the med. I’m supposed to use every tool I can find to stay sober but being fat?

I’m sitting in the waiting room across from a bar called Axes and Ales. Now that sounds interesting. I’ve never thrown an axe. A bunch of Vikings is what it sounds like and I find myself being pissed that I can’t enjoy drinking an ale and throwing an axe. Shit. Another  life experience that I’ll have to miss. Can I not focus on how much better my life is at 45 days sober. A month and a half ago I was throwing up into a waste basket and unable to walk. I have never been that sick and I’ve been pretty sick. I couldn’t even drink. I’m craving it today probably because of the unseen Norseman across the street.

The people in the waiting room are making me sad. Especially the fat girl sitting next to me who is lonely and awkward and breaking my heart. I don’t want to be sad but she keeps asking people if they want gum and then whispering “my name is Jennifer.” Now she’s kind of crazy and talking to no one in particular. So many lonely people. I don’t want to be like these sad and lonely people. I don’t look like them or sound like them and yet I’m just like them. I’m just like them.

Sometimes I just miss drinking. Stopped the Zyprexa, thank god. I couldn’t take getting fat. I’m going to go to bed and watch Dirty John. Making some tea. Chai with milk. I was imprisoned in the wilderness of my addictions. Alcohol and drugs and men and fear. I was addicted to fear and now I find that I have none. Do I really believe this? I do today. For today I will believe this. My father had a friend who could walk a whole block on his hands. He could balance chairs, one in each hand, on their legs. He was married to a woman whose mother carried her money in her vagina. My father knew some interesting people.

Writers & Books, 740 University Ave, Rochester, NY [Photo: David Kramer, 2/17/20]

I am so depressed that I never went to school. Never accomplished anything. Anyfucking thing. Am I stupid? I’m afraid I’m limited. How do I write something good? Something real. When my mother uses my addictions in her writing, I feel horrible.” Why don’t I write? I have to write.


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About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

1 Comment

  1. Thilde

    Wishing you friend all the best on her recovery journey. Thank you for sharing!


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