Four Years of Sobriety Down

True to form, I missed my soberversary again. Maybe it’s easier to keep track and remember this stuff when you go to AA and get coins and all the flair. Whatever.

Feels like it has been longer than four years, though, although I’m not sure how much of that is because everything since President Dollhands entered the national conversation seems longer. Still don’t miss drinking at all and wouldn’t go back to drinking if you paid me, but I’d say once or twice a year- usually on the first really nice day of the spring- I’ll be driving home and think “I’m gonna sit on he back porch and get hammered.” Well, not really think it, I mean I think it, but it’s more like one of those random ideas that pop into your head stream of conscious style when you’re driving along and not really thinking and sort of just driving and listening to music. And then I snap back to reality and say “Oh yeah, I don’t drink anymore.” And then that’s that.

I’ve learned a few things, too. When people offer me a drink, I no longer blurt out “No thank you, I am an alcoholic,” because that sort of blunt reveal unsettles people and then they spend time feeling bad and apologizing, and that’s not fair to them. Not to mention, it means they will keep talking to me to apologize, and that’s just self-inflicted punishment. I just say no thank you and move on. I guess I really haven’t learned that much after all.

Honestly, I don’t know how I afforded to drink as much as I did. I guess I switched from a drinking problem to a house and backyard problem with a little canine cancer to spice things up.

But here’s to a few more years of sobriety, at least until I finally stroke out because the person driving in front of me stops when they have the right of way to wave someone into traffic or I finally see one too many people leaving shopping carts in the middle of the parking lot and shift off this mortal coil. Because I know that is how I am going to die. A spontaneous explosion of suppressed rage.

82 replies
  1. 1
    rikyrah says:

    Congratulations, Cole.👏👏👏👏

  2. 2
    Sandia Blanca says:

    Happy anniversary, John! You’ve used these years well.

  3. 3
    The Midnight Lurker says:

    Congrats, boss.

  4. 4
    Hkedi [Kang T. Q.] says:

    Massive Congratulations!

    I would also say that the fact that you forgot your anniversary is actually a good thing. Love and hate are two sides of the same coin. The real enemy of passion is not caring. It’s nice that you have lasted longer than a lot of college entrants, but the real victory is the “oh, yeah that happened”. You have moved on.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    chopper says:

    jesus, it’s been four fucking years?!

  7. 7
    Yarrow says:

    Congrats, John!

  8. 8
    jacy says:

    Many happy returns, Cole!

  9. 9
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    That’s one way to go, but perhaps a more Cole-ish way is this that I have on a coaster: “I would like to think I will die a heroic death but it’s more likely I’ll trip over my dog and choke on a spoonful of frosting.“

    I never can predict what silly thing will appeal to me as a souvenir, but that dumb coaster makes me smile every time I see it.

  10. 10
    Mary G says:

    Congrats, John. I haven’t had a drink since August 16, 1989 and it’s nice that I never think about it any more.

    For giggles, here is a link to the judge’s order in the case where the government deported an asylum seeker and her son to El Salvador despite the fact that she had an ACLU attorney and a legal hearing pending. The judge was pissed and said they had to turn the plane around immediately and that if the plaintiffs weren’t back in America FORTHWITH, Sessions, Nielsen and several officials would have to show cause why they shouldn’t be held in contempt:

    Judge Sullivan's order requiring our clients to be returned to the United States and indicating that Sessions, Nielsen, and others will be required to personally appear in court and face potential contempt sanctions if they do not comply— Omar C. Jadwat (@OmarJadwat) August 9, 2018

    I would love to see the elf and racist Barbie jailed for the weekend, but that’s probably too much to ask. They will just plead incompetence rather than malice and that’s unfortunately all too believable in one way.

  11. 11
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym: (slapping forehead) While fighting with the autocorrect every other word, I totally forgot the most important part: Congratulations!! Well done!

  12. 12
    Redshift says:

    This is unquestionably a good thing, and we need all of those we can get. (Except for the stroking out part.)

  13. 13
    MLC says:

    Congratulations, and thank you for this blog. I post rarely but read daily. I appreciate your and your front-pagers analysis, humor, compassion and critters.

  14. 14
    kindness says:

    I’m glad you’ve been able to do it John. More power to you.

  15. 15
    EZSmirkzz says:

    Way to go John!

    If you would develop a winning personality like mine no one will offer you a drink anyway. Of course you’d no longer be the nicest guy on the internet anymore either.

    So how’s your ass anyway?

  16. 16
    lahke says:

    Congratulations, John, but I think your prediction is off. Because “suppressed” rage ain’t what we see on this here blog.

  17. 17
    m0nty says:

    Well done John. Particularly admirable under the Trump administration.

  18. 18
    Redshift says:

    @Mary G: Yeah, I was listening to Rachel Maddow read that transcript and thinking “NOW does everyone get why abolishing ICE isn’t an extreme position?”

    Those racist chuckleheads were under a court order not to remove these migrants, and thought they could just ship them off anyway and it would make the problem go away. If there were actually any policy of “zero tolerance” for lawbreaking, lots of ICE personnel would be in jail.

  19. 19
    Ohio Mom says:

    Happy belated anniversary, John, and many more.

    This announcement of yours makes me realize how many years this blog has been in my life, first as a lurker, then as a participant. I date back to the beginning of Rosie. I don’t know when that was but obviously much more than four years because she arrived long before sobriety did.

    Everybody needs a hobby, I guess Balloon Juice is mine.

  20. 20
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Congratulations, John. And thank you for this blog. I can’t imagine not having it in my life.

    And yay! Nym and email remembering is happening!

  21. 21
    HumboldtBlue says:


    Good for you, John. Much respect.

  22. 22
    NotMax says:

    The willow is too close to the sober guy.


  23. 23
    Ohio Mom says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Don’t get too excited, the nym and email remembering isn’t consistent (yet).

  24. 24
    Raoul says:

    I bought a few peaches a couple days ago. Just ate the first one that was starting to soften from a stone. It’s soooooo good. I forget from year to year. And I have some bad ones, peaches that are flavorless. Or, ugh, mealy.

    Oh, and well done, John!!

  25. 25

    Congrats Cole, it’ll be 8 years for me next month.

  26. 26

    Good job, J.C.!

    I haven’t had a drink since Thanksgiving 2015. Used to binge it up good, but in the last twenty or so yrs. I stopped solo drinking & tapered from the high-proof bourbon to a few beers if out socializing. Now that I’ve given up socializing …

  27. 27
    Mary G says:

    @Ohio Mom: I was also a lurker, since the Republican days, and waited to post forever. Advice to current lurkers: come on in, the water’s fine.

  28. 28

    @Ohio Mom: It looks like the checkbox seems to be persistent now. PROGRESS!!!

  29. 29
    SectionH says:

    You Go John!

  30. 30

    @M. Bouffant:

    Now that I’ve given up socializing …

    I gave that up too, I’m much happier…

  31. 31
    CaseyL says:

    Congratulations! It’s a BFD even if you don’t think of it that way – all the better that you hardly think about it at all.

    …the idea that you traded drinking for This Fucking Old House and Cole’s Tribe of Spoiled Critters makes me laugh, and feel very happy for you.

  32. 32
    Yarrow says:

    @Raoul: Had such a good peach season this year. Ate as many as I could, gave away as many of the rest of them as I could and still have a freezer full of peaches. So good.

  33. 33
    MisterForkbeard says:

    Congratulations, John! That’s another real milestone, and we’re all proud of you. Well, except Major^4.

  34. 34
    Cowgirl in the Sandi says:

    I don’t post much, but learn so much from this blog. Thanks to you John for hosting and congratulations on your continued sobriety!! Well done!

  35. 35
    H.E.Wolf says:

    Congratulations, and best wishes for many more good years before the shopping-cart malfeasants do you in.

  36. 36

    @Yarrow: Madame believes that peaches should be hard as a rock, they have no taste whatsoever. Growing up, we had peaches in our back yard; I guess I’m spoiled having eaten fresh from the tree(AND RIPE) peaches when I was growing up.

  37. 37
    SectionH says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: OT, but the other night, I caught a friend’s post of some of her husband’s latest astronomical photos – pretty cool. I thought I’d drop the link to his website for you… oh well, that probably sounds like a cat thinking the mouse she’s bringing as a present to her ppl will be appreciated. But wth, you might like the intro page image…

  38. 38
    Ruckus says:

    Congrats. When offered I just say I don’t drink. I don’t need to explain my reasons to drink or not to drink, it’s really not anyone’s business. I explain not eating sugars/candy more than not drinking alcohol.

  39. 39
    sukabi says:

    Congrats John ☺. Good on you.

  40. 40
    jayjaybear says:

    Congratulations, Cole! I’m about seven months into smoking cessation, myself, and I can only be happy that I did, given how bad my health is without that additional burden. Wishing you many more forgotten soberversaries!

  41. 41
    SectionH says:

    Nym is still saved, info still in there. I’m trying to remember if that ever hasn’t been the case…

    Trying to edit, however, was srsly weird – I could see the edit window, but it was overlaid on my original post. Tried twice, same result.

    I have no idea if this helps anyone, but I’m guessing neither Alain nor M4 has gotten a similar bug report. Has anyone had that before?

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: California peaches are the sad bad awful exception to great fruit.

  42. 42
    Jay says:

    Congrats John,

    In other news, now that a Hard Brexit is assured, a bunch of the Brexit Billionaires are fleeing Britain and another bunch are selling Corporate relocations to the EU services.

  43. 43

    @SectionH: I grew up in the LA area, the peaches were wonderful off the tree. The edit window is borked and Alain and M4 know about it. Did you have a link that you wanted to share?

  44. 44
    cbear says:

    Good work, Cole.

  45. 45
    hugely says:

    @cole: hey bud dont know you but we are same demo (pasty white and own a dag righteous CD) but want to encourage to stay sober and listen to jazz in place of dag or drinking. Happy productivity and enriching our lives. Good on you and your mom is right sry

  46. 46
    Ruckus says:

    Once you stay on the wagon long enough, you forget that you’ve been there. At least for me. Took me a while to remember that it’s been around 15 yrs. I do remember when I stopped drugs and pot though. Drugs has been 40 yrs and pot 34. But this getting old shit, that I haven’t forgotten.

  47. 47
    SectionH says:

    Nope still can’t edit, but I still see the ghost of the edit window.

    @SectionH: Sorry, my stupid, I squirreled about the edit window trying to add the link.

    Let’s try this.

  48. 48
    John Cole says:

    Thanks everyone. Off to bed.

  49. 49
    hugely says:

    @Ruckus: thats an every day thing no? Fucking eyeglasses and crackly knees

  50. 50
    westyny says:

    @Mary G: Congratulations to you and Cole. I’m 11/26/89 myself, but, hey, who’s counting, amiright? I was fortunate to flop into a great meeting full of hilarious, smart, and deeply generous people. AA isn’t for everybody, but that group has sustained me for this long. It however you do it just get it done. There’s a lot of people around me who happily don’t know what they’re missing. :D

  51. 51
    Matt Smith says:

    “No thank you, I’m an alcoholic” should be a perfectly normal thing to say. Some of us are alcoholics. Some aren’t. It doesn’t have to be this big uncomfortable moment.

  52. 52
    westyny says:

    @westyny: typo there. Gaah. Too late. : /

  53. 53
    James E Powell says:

    it’s more like one of those random ideas that pop into your head stream of conscious style when you’re driving along and not really thinking and sort of just driving and listening to music.

    I get that with smoking. Sometimes driving along it’s almost like the Marlboro is in my hand, waiting for a light.


    California peaches are the sad bad awful exception to great fruit.

    I’m in SoCal and I can’t find decent peaches to save my life. The halfway decent ones have a edible period of about an hour between hard as a rock and flavorless mush.

  54. 54
    Ruckus says:

    Had laser surgery in 95. That ended almost 35 yrs of glasses for me. Until about 2003 when I had to accept that readers were a part of life. And then, as of this fucking year, I’m wearing distance glasses again for night driving. But that’s because of eye issues caused by, you guessed it, getting fucking old. And knees are the least of my problems, bottom of the ever and rapidly growing list.

  55. 55
    Steeplejack says:


    [. . .] but I’m guessing neither Alain nor M4 has gotten a similar bug report.

    Jesus Christ on a pica pole, they’re getting multiple reports/​complaints on practically every thread. Trust me, they’re aware.

    The problem seems to be that a lot of conflicting updates have been made recently to FYWP and various plug-ins and they’re all fighting one another. Alain and Major^4 are working on it.

  56. 56
    Steeplejack says:


    Link or source?

  57. 57
    Ruckus says:

    @Matt Smith:
    It may depend on where you live, the responses are different in different parts of the country. I’ve seen what John is talking about in some areas. I think that some people get uncomfortable when they hear that word, alcoholic. Maybe it hits a bit too close to home.

  58. 58
    Elie says:

    Congrats and love to you John

  59. 59
    rikyrah says:

    @Mary G:
    It was so dramatic as Maddow read the transcript tonight 😄

  60. 60
    Msb says:

    Congrats to John and all the other sober BJers. One day at a time.

  61. 61
    SectionH says:

    @Steeplejack: Of the overlay thing? I haven’t seen that msg posted here. I’m sentient enough to be typing right now, of course I know all the obvious “bug” reports. They generally say “Can’t edit.” FFS, an actual description of a weirdness no one has ever reported before may or may not be helpful, but you can just back off. It may not be meaningful, but it’s a better bug report than most I’ve seen.

  62. 62
    SectionH says:

    Also too, nym and email were there for follow up comment. And then they weren’t.

    Info I should have out in the bug report above, old MacBkPro laptop running HS 10.13.6

  63. 63
    Brachiator says:

    Congratulations to John, and to others who walk down a similar path.

  64. 64
    columbusqueen says:

    Congrats, blogfather.

  65. 65
    Steeplejack says:


    People have reported the “overlay” thing, as well as the temporary workaround that you can press the Esc key to make it go away. Just because you haven’t seen something in your reading doesn’t make it “an actual description of a weirdness no one has ever reported before.”

  66. 66
    Steeplejack says:

    @SectionH, @Steeplejack:

    Also, another solution is to open “Click to Edit” in a new tab. That gets you a functioning edit window.

  67. 67
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Mary G: I don’t want “Carmen” and her child to suffer any more than the already have, but a traitorous tickle in the back of my head would really really enjoy the site of Sessions, Nielsen et al. declared in contempt and tossed in a holding cell for a few hours.

    Congratulations, Cole. If 18 months of Hair Furor hasn’t driven you back to drink you’re probably impervious.

  68. 68
    p.a. says:

    A spontaneous explosion of suppressed rage.

    Isn’t that a rotating tag here?

    p.s. congrats!

  69. 69
    DavidC says:

    Congratulations, John! Hardly ever post, but BJ is my #1 go-to blog. I think you have fans everywhere – out for a walk last weekend and a woman ran by with a t-shirt that read “I <3 BJ."

  70. 70
    satby says:

    Congratulations John, Mary G, BillinCA, Ruckus, M.Bouffant, Matt Smith, westyny, and others in your sobriety. I know from living in a family where alcoholism gallops that it’s a huge achievement.

  71. 71
    chris says:

    Congratulations, John, it’s a big deal.

  72. 72
    Haroldo says:

    Nicely done, John. I likewise have alcohol in my past and none in my present. It’s a glorious thing.

    P.S. You capture the unbidden thought of wanting a drink very, very well: it comes, for a fleeting moment you contemplate it, then realize it’s not you or your life any more, and then it disappears.

  73. 73
    Bostondreams says:

    Happy anniversary! Keep on keeping on!

  74. 74
    Betty Cracker says:

    After the first couple of years, I could no longer remember the date I quit smoking cigarettes. I don’t even know what year it was, though I think it was 2013. Anyway, I think that’s probably a good thing, at least for me — cigarettes aren’t squatting in my brain rent-free anymore. Beating back an addiction is tough, and people who do it successfully have to find their own path. Some folks need to make recovery a central part of their lives on an ongoing basis, attend meetings, evangelize to others, etc. Kudos to them if it works. Others approach it differently. The important thing is to find what works for you, and you did. Congrats.

  75. 75
    Jim says:

    Keep on keeping on, John. As for AA, good program but whatever works for you is what matters. And you’ve found that.

  76. 76
    TomatoQueen says:

    Congratulations john and well done, and the same to all who fight this good fight, foreground or background or right in the middle.

    (Click in name and email boxes yield nym and email, IE 11, vpn, Flint, Puerto Rico, Okeechobee, Yemen, amen)

  77. 77

    @Ruckus: That makes sense. I mean, it’s a cultural thing that gets people uptight, and culture can vary with geography. I’m just sick of people treating normal human behaviors/conditions/situations like something to pussyfoot around. So many of us have been abused, there’s no reason to load it with so much shame and taboo. So many of us have had addictions. So many of us have mental health issues, or physical health issues, or behavioral issues, etc etc.

  78. 78
    The Pale Scot says:

    Dude, we’re at the age when you can just say “no thanks, I’m on medication”.

  79. 79
    Damned at Random says:

    Congrats on 4 years John,

    When my stepdaughter came to us from her addict family (Mom on meth, stepdad alcoholic) I bought a 6-pack to drink while I watched the Stillers – I’m always good for a beer or 2. A week later she said, “it’s been a week and there are still 2 cans of beer in the fridge. I’ve never seen that happen before.” I really never gave it a thought, but she was paying attention. Sometimes you teach kids things without even intending to

  80. 80
    StringOnAStick says:

    Alcohol abuse can be such a far reaching thing. My dad’s side of the family were all alcoholics going back generations, but socially acceptable at that time because they could hold down jobs, act responsible, etc. My mom’s family were all teatotalling protestants, but my mom and all her siblings took to alcohol in an aggressive way. My mom passed in June, after rapidly creeping dementia and depression had her hitting the booze hard starting first thing in the morning. By that time my dad had quit drinking because it screwed up his blood sugar badly (Type II diabetic, probably from a lifetime of heavy drinking); he watched her decline with no idea what to do about it so he hid out in his office, working. It’s almost like watching her deteriorate so quickly and having to quit himself has changed him more than a little. He’s still a right winger but the intense anger and willingness to go straight to yelling to “win” the argument (that he always started) seems to be gone; I suspect the quick and nasty temper had a lot to do with the booze. Don’t touch the stuff myself because I’ve seen the damage and the extent of it in my family.

  81. 81
    MazeDancer says:

    Big round of applause, John! Congrats!

  82. 82
    SWMBO says:

    Well done, John!

    You aren’t going to stroke out over shopping carts. It will be watching football and seeing the Stillers lose to one mediocre team after another.

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