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GOD & SOBRIETY

I have been sober since 1991, which directly led to my belief in God. I'll explain that later, but first some background music. I have always been spiritual, but haven't always believed in "a God." In fact as a young man in High School I used to argue the existence of God with the hardcore Christian kids in class. I don't know if it was as much to argue and sharpen my mind, as to how I really felt about the Almighty. I enjoyed putting pressure on them, to see what they really believed, or what they simply regurgitated from their Mother & Father. I was allowed as a child to make my own choices about my beliefs. My Mom asked (i.e. made) me go to church a few times, but didn't really press the issue. She never said, "This is what I believe, so you should too!" She was my only parent growing up, after a very bitter divorce. Looking back I really appreciate her letting me discover my own belief system- not being tied to a "family religion." The hand full of times went to Church at y Mom's request (Baptist with my sister, but not my Mom), I instantly saw hypocrisy. The people, though nice enough, would listen to the preacher, half fall asleep, then perk up for the tea & coffee break out in the Church courtyard. In the courtyard I overheard on several occasions ladies dressed in their Sunday best, blasting some neighbor or family member as "A Hussy" or "Tramp" or who was cheating on who. It was social, it was gossip, but it didn't seem spiritual. I was only 11, but could already see between the lines. I told my Mom what I was seeing and said I'd rather not go back to that Church. "No problem," she said. Fast forward several years. My Mom worked at a health food store and one of her regular customers taught yoga. She wanted my sister and I to take classes with them in their house, which they called an Ashram. My Mom warned me that they wore turbans and had different beliefs, but were good people. I later found out that they were Sikhs. The yoga we learned was Kundalini. I felt a spiritual connection to these people, who were Americans, but didn't believe in anything I had been exposed to in America before. They seem enlightened in some way, almost above all the day to day crap that everyone else constantly complained about. I studied with them off and on until I was in my early teens. My Mom bought a book from them, The Teachings Of Yogi Bhagan, which she later gave to me. It has been a constant source of inspiration. Especially later in life, when I was looking for answers and fighting my alcoholism.

So fast forward a few years. My first punk band broke up, my first marriage broke up, and I started drinking more and more, occasionally adding LSD or Meth to the mix. It got worse and worse through my twenties. I thought getting out of Southern California would be a change for the better, so I packed up and moved in with my Grandma in Waldorf, Maryland, some 45 minutes drive from D.C.. With in weeks I was snorting coke (something I hadn't been big on in California) and drinking more than ever. My intention had been to get a little more sober, help Grams out since Grandpa had passed away 3 years before and eventually save up and move to New York. NYC was a music/art scene with some real heft. I even day dreamed about going back to college. So much for good intentions. During my stay with Grams, I felt Grandpas presence in the house much of the time. I don't think it was his spirit, more like his spiritual imprint. Grandma hadn't made a whole lotta changes since he had passed. She kept alot of his stuff. This made me grow spiritually in many ways. Looking back I can almost see my spiritual roots taking hold. I heard about a book called Life After Life by Raymond Moody. That book turned me onto The Tibetan Book Of The Dead- a scary and enlightening text that made me feel my own mortality down to the bottom of my soul. No amount of reading made me want to stop drinking. I was living the musicians lie, getting fucked up to live a self destructive lifestyle and be like my heroes- Darby Crash and Jim Morrison. The thing is as you get mired in the booze and drugs, your creativity becomes less focused, making you more frustrated and leading to yet more booze and drugs. Soon the well almost dries up. Instead of writing complete songs I began writing segments and meticulously cataloging them on tapes and in notebooks. More frustration and more booze. During this time I was able to hold down two jobs and had very few bills. I bought tons of musical gear, a new P.A. System, a Sampler, Drum Machines and Keyboards. I thought I was moving up in the world, but I wasn't playing in a band. I did alot of daydreaming about moving to New York and getting a "the cool band" started. Of course that didn't happen. I did meet some cool guys in the band Trisect Deafen. They had a Skinny Puppy style sound and played around the D.C. area quite often. I did sound for them a few times (using my new P.A. System) and felt like I was better off than I had been in California. My drinking was getting severe. If I didn't have a few beers after work I would get irritable and nervous. Friends tried to talk to me about "a possible drinking problem," but I'd just laugh, "Yea...sure. I don't need to drink, I just like it."

(to be continued)