It Could Be Worse, And Will Be If You Don’t Stop Crying

Not a bad beer, actually.

Not a bad beer, actually.

Right now I’m drinking a protein shake that I ruined by putting in some sort of green algae superfood powder.  I tried to make it more healthy, but I made it too healthy.  Now it tastes like shit.  Like a chocolate, metal, and grass smoothie.  I can taste every one of the essential whatevers in it.  The traces of Boron.  Copper.  Molybdenum.  Chlorophyll.

Fuck it.  At least I’m not actually eating grass.  I’m not having to eat grass because the Cossacks have burned the crops and raped our cows.  So it technically could be worse.  See how I fixed that?  “It could be worse” is like a magic wand.  Now this shake is delicious!

That’s at the core of my survival mechanism.  “It could be worse.”  Instilled in me from my parents.  And I guess one more thing I should appreciate them for.  I don’t know if it’s a Lithuanian thing.  Seems like it.  I’ll ask some friends.  I’m pretty sure it is.  At least from the war refugee crowd and their off-spring.

It was the closer for any shit storm my family had to go through.  Somebody would say, “It could be worse,” and we’d call it a night.  Clock out.  At least now you could brush your teeth and go to bed.  I imagine it’s a form of gratitude.  At least some distant cousin of it.  It doesn’t work so good in jail.  But sometimes you can use it in a hospital emergency room.  Tie up the evening’s festivities with an “It could be worse.”

“The more you bitch, the more God will give you something to bitch about,” was another of our cozy sayings.   I still stand by it.  It seems to be true.  At least in my personal experience.  I don’t know if it’s some cosmic truth.

Like “Nobody likes a pants-pisser in their bomb shelter.”

As insensitive as that one may sound.  There’s some folk wisdom there, albeit of the rough-hewn and gnarled variety.  Basically, panic begets more panic.  And then nothing gets done.  To fix things.  You have to keep your head and not cave into The Fear.  That’s how they made it through the war in Europe.  That’s how they made it here when they came.  They didn’t shit themselves.

They Didn’t Shit Themselves;  An American Success Story.

Anyway, it’s a tradition I’ve tried to uphold.

It’s a lot easier now that I’m not drinking my weight in beer. You know, deftly navigating my ship, The Rocinante, through the Stormy Seas of Destiny.

And holding my mud.

I’ve actually gotten a little braver without alcohol.  It’s taken some time, and then even more time to see it, but I think I’ve made progress.

It’s not like I’m ready to hold the pass at Thermopylae, but I don’t have to drink a six pack before opening my bills anymore.  Or need to drink eight beers to prime myself for the next beer run.  And now (may the heavens tremble at my might) I can kiss a girl with no beers at all.  I mean for me.  She’d still have to be hammered out of her skull.

So yeah, it’s nice, this whole not being too-drunk-to-deal-with-it-all deal.  And, no matter how terribly I may being dealing with it all, at least I’m not dealing with it drunk.  Because chances are my sober fucking-up would look like water-walking compared to my drunken version.

Of dealing with it all.

It’s an advantage a recovering alcoholic has over the normal person.  No matter what our shortcomings, if we stay sober we always have some golden straw to grasp.  Right?  At least that.  At least I’m still sober.

Have some normal person throw that one out.  See who golf claps him.  Big deal.  Shut up and have a drink.

Of course, there’s always the chance the recovering alcoholic will succumb to his/her fear, and then totally destroy their life in a final drunken death dance.

And that, my friends, is where the normal person regains the advantage.

By not doing that.

When things get tough.

Lucky fuckers.  That’s a good advantage.

However, if I do manage to stay sober, well then…I’ve shaved the house’s dice, haven’t I?  C’mon lucky seven, Daddy needs a new pair of pants.

He’s crapped this pair.

(See what I did there, Pauly?  Craps.  Pair of dice.  Pair of pants.  Nice, huh?  I like it)

I don’t know how many of my readers are in some sort of recovery, most probably only from last night’s barf-a-thon, but it’s one of those things ex-addicts and ex-drunks have to do.  We have to be grateful we’re not fucked up on our choice of magic carpet ride.  You take anything for granted long enough, be it a relationship, a car that runs, or some money in the bank, and chances are that something…is going to slip away.

Sobriety is just one of those things.  If you don’t pay enough attention, she can slink off.  Her high heels clacking away into the night.

I really don’t want to go back to drinking.  So I try to be grateful.

I figure that life can be hard enough just regular.  Look, in my own half-assed, duct-taped way, I try to work a program.  I pray to the Unifying Intelligence That Binds Creation, meditate on the perfection of The Silence, contemplate the goodness of all souls, work to be less selfish, admit when I’m wrong, try to be a good listener, help when I can, surrender when I can’t, lift weights, stay away from grains, and get enough Molybdenum .

Basic stuff.  And for the most part, I live a life filled with a lot of wonder, laughter and joy.

But sometimes… old demons stop by the pad and ask to use the bathroom.  Next thing I know, they’re camped out, ordering pizza and pay-for porn.  They’re not leaving anytime soon. Then I find myself treading shark-filled ocean, trying to keep my lips just above the water line.  I’m barely making it.  Barely.  And I’m not even drinking.

The last thing I need right then is a bowling ball necklace.

Let’s see how I do with crippled critical thinking.  After I impair my judgement.  Enough to tap into some creative problem-solving.  Become a drunken genius.  Now I can save the day with a master stroke.  Employ some bold solutions.   Just the thing for delicate problems.  A sledgehammer.  And the blind faith to use it.

So yeah.  It could be worse.

And if you’re drinking to solve something, all you got to do is keep it up.  And you’ll see.

Because it can always get worse.

And probably will.

So cheers to that.

Sorry for the buzz-kill.  I’m out of here.

–By the way, this fucking shake is growing on me.  It’s got a weird tang to it.  And I appreciate that from a chocolate shake.


Stopped crying.

Stopped crying.

19 responses to “It Could Be Worse, And Will Be If You Don’t Stop Crying

  1. Well said, or in park bench terms “fuck off wanker”. I’m so glad we’re not on the brew together. Hubble-bubble and all that. I celebrated my 8 month anniversary this month – by getting slaughtered. Oh well, could be worse. Start again. Some you win, some you lose. All that counts in the end is, that no matter how many times you fail, just don’t end on a loser.

    • Hey, it happens. It actually makes sense to me to celebrate your sobriety by getting drunk. I’m not kidding. There’s a part of me that thinks that’s just the most natural and appropriate thing to do. I mean, it’s not, right? There’s something wrong with it. Right? I just can’t think of why now…
      Oh yeah, because of the whole not-drinking thing you’re celebrating. Especially early on, some buddy would hit some time milestone and my first thought was “gotta take him out to get hammered.” WTF? Old habits die hard, I guess.
      If I had a time-machine, Johnny Boy, I’d set it to 1985 and come out to England in search of your mohawk. What merrymaking we’d make. Then again, we might not have survived it. So it’s better this way. For the record, my bet is on you ending all this on top of your well-earned summit. Without you realizing it, you have found favor among strange gods. They have your back.
      So do I.

      • Not the Circle K, dude. That’s all the way over in Moorpark. I don’t want to drive all the way over there. There’s a shopping center over hear by Lakeside. It’s got a Trader Joe’s Market and a 24 hour Fitness Center. Right off Carmen Drive. Anyway, land over by the pet center store and I’ll meet you. What time? Just not between 2pm and 4pm, because that’s when I take my nap. But any other time I can juggle things around. Cancel paid training appointments and such. Also, do we have to calculate the eight hour difference? You’ll have to handle that, my math is remedial these days.

  2. My mother was born in Lithuania, which i guess makes me a fully sober half Lithuanian. Perspective feels huge in recovery, and tougher to feel that gratitude sometimes. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Fully sober half Lithuanian?!! Oh man, that’s great. Bravo. So much better than a half-sober full Lithuanian, eh?
      I think for me perspective is “tougher” than gratitude because I take a more active role in gratitude. I can do it, so to speak. But perspective is more like something that just happens. It’s a state of consciousness. Those seem to be harder to Will. Oh shit, if I could just Will a desired state of consciousness, I wouldn’t have needed the alcohol. No, perspective is like realization. We have realizations all the time, but they seem to just happen. It’s not like I was taking a shower trying to “realize” something and it happened. I was taking a shower, and then I realized something. It comes from some Otherness.
      I think proper perspective is like that too. It just happens. Otherwise, I could just think, “I shouldn’t be pissed about this,” and my anger would go away. Which…is not like how it is for me. Yet. Sometimes it takes a series of well-orchestrated events to experience, in just the right way–to get there. Sometimes a lot of things have to happen before the anger lifts and love replaces it. I don’t know what those things are, so I shouldn’t get too freaked out as they unfold. Don’t worry that something wrong is happening to me. Here’s what’s happening to me. God is Happening to me. The whole thing is God happening to me. The sooner I can grasp that, the sooner I can really fucking relax. In the meantime, “there’s lots of other ways to relax,” he says, going behind the bar to mix the young lady a cocktail. Canned jazz coming through the hi-fi. Ascot askew.

  3. That was blister-in-the-sun damn fine work there, Kungs Gustaitis. My magic carpet ride was fairly threadbare by the time it crash landed on Her Majesty’s Secret Service (aka the local constabulary). And lovely aside to yours truly there – the Bard himself would have lauded you with fine feather quills and tossed rose petals your way. Double entendres and puntastic phrases always delight me, and you find a way to knit them into your tapestry. Bravo indeed!

    Great topic, as I am at work and on the inside having a little hissy fit (the type with tattered pigtails and rolling on the floor doing the chicken shake). Dealings with nonsense at the workplace. Silliness. Both what is going on, and in my reaction. Not like me, but even normal people have bad days, don’t they? Or are they in a non-alcoholic bliss that we are never going to get the Executive Key to? So your post comes with the timing that only the Gods In the Trees could muster. So I thank you for getting me to take a look at things with different goggles. Or Googles, as I had to look up “Thermopylae”. (See how I did that one, MG?) Crazy Persians knew their place, didn’t they? The Greeks had too many flasks of ouzo to contend with outside of the hoards of Empire soldiers at their hot gates.

    I am still trying to find that balance that you speak of, where milkshakes taste like aluminium foil and life is a series of reflection, action and gratitude. I do my best. Sometimes too much reflection makes Paul a strange cat (like Boris). Working the program and not have it work me over is best, methinks. Let the demons stain my silverware, and clog the toilet – that’s fine, as long as they don’t change the course of the ship. And doing what I have to do daily helps keep the course on target.

    Anyway, I thought you dug deep here – past the shale and limestone kind of deep. And you struck gold. Lovely stuff, Marius. You make me want to write. Or have chocolate. My other magic carpet. Fluffy with marshmallows. Airborne.

    Work calls.


    • Quite a pep tonic you just served up there, fine fellow. Indeed. Thank you for the infusion of vigour. And just a splash of vim. To make it tangy. Help rouse me from this deadening stupor I’ve been in. For serious, man, what an awesome response. By the way, another pal complimented you on your writing. I was talking to him on the phone, John “The Mystic Man” from New York, and he referenced one of your comments and spoke highly of your skill of quill. So there.
      I suspect we bought our carpets at the same bazaar dealer. Mine crash landed too. Made the evening news.
      Here’s one of the other things I love about Canada, besides it being full of Canadians, you guys get apprehended and taken into custody by the constables, and over here we just get busted by the cops. Your version sounds much more civilized. Like more TV and magazines. Vending machines with treats kind of a deal. I try not to let my envy turn to resentment of you people. But it’s hard sometimes.
      So what’s going on at work? Chicken shit irritating things? All I can say is don’t be pissed about being pissed. Like this guy, Bill S. told me, “Just because you’re sober doesn’t mean you don’t have to be human.” Ugh. How dreadful and demoralizing.
      But liberating too, if you spin it right. In other words, I may fuck up, but I’m not a fuck up. Something like that. A sharp discernment makes a handy scalpel.
      To cut off the tumors growing on our self-worth.
      I’m going to have to try it out. Which way do I hold it so I don’t cut myself?
      Anyway, Google Goggles, I will catch you on the flip.
      Let’s make a promise not to trip.
      In the meantime.

      • There are some other things we say in Canadianese (which is similar to Pekinese but without the dog part) that you might dig. In hockey parlance, we speak highly of the agitators and the Lunch Box Larry’s on the ice, who are referenced as having “grit and determination”. The ol’ G&D. And for those flashy ones who can’t buy a goal, we talk about “All Swedish and no Finnish”. You get it.

        I wondered if that was you at the bazaar. Strange. But the good thing is that we’ve landed softly in a new and strange place, the place where we actually feel feelings. And I guess I will have to contend with the “human” part like I contend with the old ladies who insist on paying for blue hair dye and expired kitty litter with nickels – with a concerned, yet bemused, eye.

        And as for the now utterly finished day, yes, work was chicken shit stuff, yet felt like Godzilla Hummer – Sized Vomit Chunks. Perspective, eh? Gave medallion out tonight, so now emotionally drained. Need a martial arts film and Doritos to detox. The cheesier the better, on both counts, yes?

        Tell the Mystic Man muchas gracias for me. Sounds like a solid chap. Maybe we’ll all go skeet shooting and play Yahtzee one day. Man stuff, you know? Hillbilly high steppin’. The good stuff ya like.

        Sandman come and take me away.


      • Metallica plays a mean Sandman song. Not quite a lullabye though. Hey, I was just talking here in the comments to Christy from and she seems to think we have secret language. Dude, you’d tell me if we had one right? You wouldn’t be doing your own thing, having a secret language or whatever, without cutting me into it, would you? I mean the deal was 50-50 of everything.
        Ah, I’m just busting your balls, Pauly. I know you’re on the up and up. You’re Canadian. You guys can’t help it.
        Look into this secret language angle though. See if we can’t make a little scratch. The health shake experiment went bust. So I’m out of ideas.
        We gotta collude our brains and come up with a big caper. One that has us farting through Egyptian twill. By tomorrow.

  4. You and Paul have your own secret society language thing going on, very cool.

    Fully sober half-Irish here. Does that trump Lithuanian–at least as far as being sober?

    Green Goodness drinker… Never tried it with chocolate though. That could either greatly improve the green taste, or completely screw up the chocolate taste. Either way, it could be worse, eh? It could be prune juice.

    I was always told “stop crying, or I’ll give you something to really cry about.” Well not always, and only by my grandfather–my Irish grandfather–but it generally shut up my crying. Still have a mad desire to say it to others who are whining on and on, but then I remember something about stones and glass houses.

    What I guess I’m trying to say is I really liked your post. ~ Christy

    • Christy, I don’t know if it’s a secret language. It might be a tad intuitive. That would explain the weird. Hard to cleave a gap between intuitive and weird sometimes. I don’t think either of us are being intentionally cryptic. Nobody is getting all James Joyce up in here. Not on my watch, at least. Say, wasn’t James Joyce…Irish?
      Yes, I think Irish sober trumps Lithuanian sober, but not by much. Lets put it this way, I wouldn’t want to be a survivor of a drinking match between the two. Could you imagine? Like some televised event. World Drinking Championship. Russians, Irish, Germans, Poles, French, The feared Finns. So easy to sell advertising to something like that.
      Sometimes my genius never sleeps.
      Anyway,my powdered pond scum came in the form of Greens First, with 49 super foods. It says right on the label, Tastes Great/Gluten Free. C’mon. Says so right there.
      Regardless of their proclamations, the grassy taste does ruin any chocolate flavor. Big time.
      I can’t believe you mentioned prune juice. I barf a little in my mouth when I even see the words. The worst. Especially as a kid, having it with tonic water instead of real soda. Yeah, you pushed a painful button there, girly. Is that it? You wanted to watch a big touch guy cry? Well, I hope you’re happy.
      Okay, I’m done crying. Please don’t hit me.
      It’s unfortunate that crying is so often intentionally stifled in our young. What’s this? Some natural form of catharsis? Fuck that. It makes me uncomfortable hearing it. Beat it out of them. Make them seek it in something else. Something more hard and dangerous. More quiet and hidden.
      Pretty fucked up.
      I guess what I am saying is thank you for reading, and liking. Means a lot.
      Marius the Crybaby.

      • Put me down for 15,000 Rubles on the Ruskies. They sweat vodka – and that’s just the non-drinkers. The real deals perspire fighter jet fuel. Probably smell like that green drink you enjoy with Lindt chocolate. I’m all in on this one.


      • I have to agree with you, Paul. I talked to some Lithuanian friends, drinkers, that went to Russia. They said the Russians took drinking to a new level. Drinking stuff that needs to be filtered through slices of burnt toast type of level. Maybe it was fighter jet fuel. I can’t remember.
        Here’s what freaks me out. You and I know, that drinking like that will make you miserable ANYWHERE, but they get to be that miserable…in Russia. Talk about hitting the bonus round. Here’s a fun thought-Detoxing in a freezing Soviet-era prison. Don’t think it’s never happened. Somebody got to take that ride. While working in a salt mine.
        North Hollywood was bad enough for me.
        No wonder they sing such sad songs. And have such sad eyes. Sad vodka eyes.

      • Ha, nothing like a good laugh before bed, thanks!

        Prune juice… See…? Things can always be worse.

        Please don’t hit you? Like really? Or like in a “please don’t throw me in the briar patch” way? I’m a pacifist, no worries. 😉

        Cryings okay. I try to do it often. Expels extra water weight and bloat that way. That’s my story at least.

        And oh, if Russians enter the drinking contest, I’m backing out. Russian trumps everydamnbody at drinking. Irish folk aren’t dummies!

        Though maybe we could beat them at drinking grass juice.


        Secret society. Like the Illuminati Dan Brown crazy stuff. It’s okay, I won’t tell. 😉

        Have a great night! C

      • Ya, Russians trump all. I have to agree. Besides, I’m a beer boy. That was my favorite poison delivery system. Drinking just the straight stuff–straight was a little too direct. I preferred a slower drip into drunkenness. So I could acclimate myself to the different levels on my plummet downwards. I could take better notes.
        That’s not to say I didn’t break my little rule now and then. And go for the pure grain-alcohol fueled adventure. The Rocket Ride.
        You can say good-bye to control and enjoy.
        And for God’s sake, do not tell anybody about the Dan Brown crazy stuff. Those guys are dropping like flies. Some guy I know passed me this parchment map with some weird sayings and all kinds of crazy numbers I can’t add. It’s the Key to Consecrating the Green Man, back to life, he tells me. He says if anything happens to him to meet a priest at Rosslyn Chapel, in Scotland or some shit. Give him the scrolls. I’m looking at this guy like, Really? Look I can’t even make it over to the oil change place, when it’s 2,000 miles overdue. How am I going to swing a sober flight to Scotland to meet a priest?
        “It’s to save civilization,” he tells me.
        “Just don’t let anything happen to you, is all I’m saying.”
        I don’t know what ever happened to the guy, but I still have the scrolls. Somewhere in the den closet I think.
        I’ll save civilization when I get around to it.
        In the meantime, I will continue to do the next indicated thing.
        Fond regards,

  5. You’re funny – loved this & your fucking shake! !

    Sober awesomeness. I’m only early days myself and see the benefits, but also still recall warmly that delight of fuzzing out – out, out, out with the lights. But more starkly do I know of wasted creative time, feeling tired at work, drudging through the day and feeling aimless.

    Love this post. Gutsy.

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed this little effort. And you’re right, life is better this way. Fuzz, fuzz, and fuzz away really is awesome. But it comes with a steep price that seems to increase exponentially, until it’s just not worth it. Driving to work in the morning and using a Burger King bag to wipe off some upchuck is gnarly. Too gnarly. As for creativity, alcohol at first was a very good springboard. Loosened the girders/girdles of this soul. Then it murdered it dead. I’ve written more sober these past two years than my entire 40 years of drunken life. I’m 51. That’s a lot of wasted time.
      Maybe not. Maybe I wouldn’t have all this shit to write about, if I was sober. Who knows? Find them and have them tell me.
      Thank you again. Much love,

      • Thank you for being so real with me, Marius. I’m 47. Lot of wasted years too. I sort of marvel how I don’t have brain damage (am I on the verge of it?) from teens to 20s to 30s, drinking. It does not have that glow and allure to me it used to. It looks like a ragged old man, barefoot, knobble-kneed, with a shiny suitcoat thrown over him. I see it completely well, and the odd occasion I have had a drink, it is just a sad waste of time.

        Presently I’m doing 100 days sober. I am REALLY going to attack this challenge. Sometimes you try, you try, but this time I’m really attacking it. Never upchucked before work, but felt the depths of my worst depressions like clouds over me all day.

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