43 Days and Counting

I’ve been sober 43 days today. This was prompted. To get that story, you have to subscribe to the newsletter. The email is blasting out soon, so don’t delay.

Substance abuse has become a part of my identity. My self-image is in part a wild man. A teetotaler is the opposite of a wild man. A teetotaler, if anything short of a professional fighter, is a geek. I’m not a geek. So therefore, how can I be a teetotaler? 

I got drunk for the first time at 13 years old, and stoned not much later. I loved both of them from the beginning, and I did them as much as possible. I did my best to avoid ever going a day without. There was never a reason not to in my mind.

Substance abuse has become a part of my identity. My self-image is in part a wild man. A teetotaler is the opposite of a wild man. A teetotaler, if anything short of a professional fighter, is a geek. I’m not a geek. So therefore, how can I be a teetotaler? 

Wild man aside, I just always need something to take the edge off. Life as it is, isn’t enough. It’s too boring. As I got older, and need less wild, I just wanted a little something to take the edge off.

I built a playlist in the works to accompany an ode to drugs and alcohol. I never wrote it, but I imagined going off on how it’s my favorite thing in life. Nothing makes me feel better than getting drunk and high. But the playlist didn’t only have my favorite songs romanticizing drugs. It started with sad songs lamenting addiction or sobriety.

My favorite on that list, maybe not a coincidence, is Fine Again by Seether

I zero in on two lines.

“It seems like everything is gray and there’s no color to behold.”

That’s life sober. Somebody said something interesting in the meeting. They reiterated the importance of taking one day at a time by saying that thinking about going the rest of your life sober is like getting out of debt. I have been in debt a few times, and that’s the feeling. 

And this, again from Seether, a million times this:

“I feel the dream in me expire and there’s no one left to blame it on.”

My dream of being an artist, a creator, a writer, is slowly slipping down the drain of the tub. 

My response to get through these 43 days has been to create. You haven’t seen much in that time, but I am writing. I’m also recording. I promised Expat Chronicles Radio seven years ago. I just completed Episode 1. You’ll hear it soon.

I don’t know how long this round of sobriety will last. I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I’m just laying off and consuming the literature. For the real personal insights, you need to receive the emails. Subscribe now!

Here is the getting high playlist. After music are the film recommendations.

Fine Again

Perfect Day

Lou Reed said this song was not about addiction at all, but its brilliant use in one of film’s best scenes ever (Trainspotting) has coopted it forever.

Comfortably Numb

Apparently not about substances either, but it’s hard to listen to and not think about opioids.


I am so fucking bored. Nothing to do today. Let’s sit around and medicate. Beautiful ode to pills. Lyrics just hit the nail on the head.

Your friends are high right now.
Your parents are high right now.
That hot chick’s high right now.
That cop is high right now.
The president’s high right now.
Your priest is high right now.
Everyone’s high as fuck right now and no one’s ever coming down!


Ignore French Montana and focus on the Weeknd’s lyrics. He’s screaming it, I’m a highly functional user. What could be wrong?

Lust for Life

This marks the end of the mopey shit. This makes it fun, with America’s greatest rock singer.

Needle and the Spoon

Of all these artists, I relate most to the music, personality and message of Skynyrd. It’s been a red line I’ve respected in life thus far, but sometimes I feel, if I don’t get it under control, I’ll end up banging up smack. Very dangerous right now because I don’t even think they sell pure smack anymore. Only its synthetic incarnate, which I inadvertently tried as anesthetic for surgery. It was absolutely lovely.

That Smell

Skynyrd gets two. Look what’s going on inside you!

Lit Up

I fucking love cocaine. I send this meme to people when they include me on group texts that just won’t stop. Then I say, “Whoops, sorry wrong group disregard that.” That gets the group to lay off, and I think it’s hilarious. Is that normal?

Five on It Remix

From the high school soundtrack.

Half on a Sack

Cocaine Blaine, that’s my dog.

Purple Pills

Em’s done rehab. Now has more than a decade sober apparently.

I Wanna Get High

If I had to quit one, it would be cannabis. Honestly. I can sit on beer. I can refuse a drink. I can’t sit on weed. If it’s in the house, it’s getting smoked, vaped or ate, whatever. It was my first love. I drank first, and learned to love it, but weed was my first love. First time, first sight.

I don’t know if they have cannabis meetings. I can’t help thinking of that movie Half Baked, where Dave Chappelle gets up and says he’s addicted to weed, and everybody shouts him down. Boo this man!

But I know that people go to gambling meetings for scratch-off tickets, and sex meetings for porn. So maybe cannabis is the scratcher tickets and porn of substance abuse. It is the one I really don’t have power over. 

Don’t Worry; He Won’t Get Far on Foot

Great film about 12 steps which you must see if you’re curious at all. It’s a good watch even if you’re not, with an A-list cast featuring Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black and more, based on the true story of John Callahan, who only became an artist after sobering up. 

Permanent Midnight

Great flick from early in Ben Stiller’s career.

Manchester by the Sea

I’ve watched this several times. It strikes a chord. Something inside that fears that substances will lead to some life catastrophe.

What are your favorite songs and films, lamenting or celebrating the timeless art of getting fucked up? Leave recommendations in the comments.


  1. Good for you! A lot of people think weed is no big deal, but it definitely can be and is for some ppl, and it’s a lot stronger now all over the place.

    I’ve been lucky, always a partier since 13 or so too, but never too over the top. The pandemic time and the social isolation due to ppl getting really shitty about politics has definitely driven me to do a bit too much partying by myself at home, but I think I’m ok. I’m definitely starting to chill out a bit recently.

    Writing sober is probably definitely the ticket. You’ll sort it out. Get the pen on the page daily even just for a bit – it will come.


    1. Pandemic ramped up my drinking, then the smoking. Here in St. Louis, I drive 20 minutes across the river into Illinois and it’s legal. Pre-rolls, gummies, WAX.

      Wax fucks you up. However many pounds I’ve smoked in 30 years, my neural receptors are ground down to nothing, but wax takes me back to being 13 years old. Eating four or five gummies can come close. There’s a built-in limit with smoking, by how much your lungs can take. But you can get in trouble with gummies.


  2. I just finished a 21 day break from drinking over a week ago and have been at it again having a bit of rum after having moved to a new place a week ago. I’m about to go on another 3 week break until Mexico’s independence day and my birthday before I’ll cool it again.

    In the meantime, I’ve been back at a lot of the music I’ve always listened to when drinking. Sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish, sometimes in other languages. Perhaps it be just reggaeton viejo.

    Here’s some typical ones I turned on depending on the mood.

    If you want something truly depressing while drinking, some Russian Doomer music works well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcaZcbain2s

    You can actually find “doomer” music playlists on Youtube from many nationalities (many Latin American ones too). For more positive vibes, replace “doomer” with “bloomer.” So, when looking it up, just type something like “doomer/bloomer music” of whatever country.

    For something more Latin American and more relevant to your experience in Latin America, I found some Peruvian ones.

    Peruvian doomer music playlist 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJDRBdzyJeg

    Peruvian doomer music playlist 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIRkplPLf2U

    Peruvian doomer music playlist 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clOqvz3pcrI

    For something more positive, I couldn’t find any bloomer Peruvian music but such playlists do exist for Mexico, Brazil, Paragauy, etc.

    Mexican Bloomer Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIvDLeQHF9c&t=77s

    I could go on with some actual Spanish language songs I have in my actual playlists but let’s cover some English language songs that seem relevant from my English language playlist:

    Low by Cracker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYdlqjiQPAc

    Space Dreaming by Steve Roach (you might enjoy this while smoking or meditating or whatever): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FA-w9waS06s&t=15s

    The Memory by Steve Roach (same with this one): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1oKsctL5Yg

    Lifes a Bitch by Nas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxKleuLBRcw

    The Package by A Perfect Circle (and the entire album that song is from): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2Yhn6-jJPE

    Marooned by Pink Floyd (more suitable to smoke to perhaps): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-TKul0pfPQ

    Try Try Try by Smashing Pumpkins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_0d01XbXg0

    White Trash Beautiful by Everlast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj4OgWq5OmE

    What it’s like by Everlast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qA1nGPM9yHA

    Who Will Save Your Soul by Jewel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wBDDAZkNtk

    Man in the Box by Alice in Chains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAqZb52sgpU

    Would? by Alice in Chains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nco_kh8xJDs

    Run Run Run by Velvet Underground: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9ufOljsFZQ

    Change by Deftones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPpDyIJdasg

    Any Color You Like by Pink Floyd: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-mGcfWXe0Y

    Sweet Jane by Cowboy Junkies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fa9nN3G2CSg

    Paradise by Meaf Loaf (a little different but I like it when drinking): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C11MzbEcHlw

    Every Breath You Take Remix by Puff Daddy and Sting (not so much about drugs but missing someone you know who died): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmHuc2XErjE

    Angels by AQVOL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXBls_cQtVg

    Monkey Man by Rolling Stones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZJaCqrxCT4

    Junkhead by Alice in Chains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4EV2OTBh7Y

    Down in a Hole by Alice in Chains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E17hqs4Un-k

    Dirt by Alice in Chains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfmatjm2NdU

    Janes Addiction Jane Says: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7Q_8q3XXrQ

    Show Me How to Live by Audioslave: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVXIK1xCRpY

    Sunshiine by Atmosphere: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AckhnLpwceM

    Summer Madness by Kool and the Gang: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SFt7JHwJeg

    All the Ghosts Tracks by Nine Inch Nails are pretty good (much more than in this link here): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnVgwSmfNbE

    For something more depressing from Nine Inch Nails, check out their album The Downward Spiral: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htofkr4Fh3Q&t=774s

    In terms of Latin American music, I don’t think I have too many relevant songs that I like but obviously any reggaeton viejo could work.

    But, in terms of smoking, I think you might like the band Azymuth.

    They have some good songs that would be good to smoke to like Last Summer in Rio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVTNgs_C5hc

    Maybe you’ll like this remix of Azymuth’s Que Bom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPr9tpaSi-Y

    I have a lot of Latin American music outside of this but none of which seem relevant to the topic (though maybe you’d still like it).

    Anyway, that’s all I found on both of my playlists that I guess kinda somehow have a relevance to the topic (or, if some don’t, I just happen to like listening to them while drinking myself).

    But a lot of the music above is a bit sad, isn’t it?

    I could throw in a shit ton of “feel happy” music that is part of my English language playlist (and my Spanish playlist has quite a few salsa music videos of hot chicks dancing to be a good contrast to depressing music) and that’s probably better to end a night of drinking on.

    So here’s one last song to end it on — Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin

    Here’s some songs I love listening to while having a drink (like tonight as I type this and am listening to them now).

    They’re relatively more positive than the songs I included before:

    Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver (god damn I love this song): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0dvabcWVo0

    Rocky Mountain High by John Denver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGcqPnz9nxc

    The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3LFML_pxlY

    America by Simon & Garfunkel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo2ZsAOlvEM

    El Condor Pasa by Simon & Garfunkel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pey29CLID3I

    Jackson by Johnny Cash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3NJC18Oi04

    Times a Wastin by Joaquin & Reese (from Walk the Line covering Johnny Cash’s life which, in terms of a movie that covers drugs and drinking, does a good bit on also. For a less sad movie with some comedy that has an alcoholism theme, Bad Santa is something I like): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NiyhRJDph0

    Oh Sweet Nothin by Velvet Underground: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhwSPRY51gs

    Like a Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwOfCgkyEj0

    California Dreamin by Mamas and Papas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU6uUEwZ8FM

    Monday Monday by Mamas and Papas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h81Ojd3d2rY

    Heart of Gold by Neil Young: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3IA6pIVank

    Old Man by Neil Young: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAtDrFdomN4

    Hello its Me by Todd Rundgren: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwx849ymo1c

    Eurotrash Girl by Cracker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2K2teeclbR4&t=405s

    Slow Dancin by Johnny Rivas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tW_Wzs87Tpg

    And finally, in case of hangover, I like this song a bit if the hangover is absolute shit. Something relaxing about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Y8ZXJiH3X0

    Among so many other songs that serve well for having a good drink to. But that’s all for now.

    Congrats on the 43 days and all the work you’ve been doing. Take care.

    PS: As one last song to add to the songs I provided, I can’t believe I forgot this classic since we are talking about songs regarding drugs, drinking, whatever else.

    I Drink Alone by George Thorogood and the Destroyers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4E9ydw_aDMg

    The classic song on drinking, huh?

    And I forgot to include the link to that Be Happy song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU


  3. Thanks. I got into old Russian songs for a hot minute, shanson music, which I understood from the Lithuanian who introduced me to the genre that most songs are about getting out of prison.

    Jane Says is an all-time favorite!


    1. Lol is it about getting out of prison? My sister listens to some of it sometimes also so maybe I’ll tell her. It’s nice to know now what they are kinda talking about finally. I always just enjoyed it with a good bit of vodka. Thanks for letting me know.


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