Archive | May, 2013

B side. Books: found and to keep

30 May

Mitch Albom.  The Time Keeper.  The inventor of time becomes its keeper until freed when he brings a sad teenage girl and an ill mogul back from the brink.

Rudolfo Anaya. Bless me, Ultima.  The curandera, Ultima, comes to live with her relatives and the youngest boy becomes her attendant.  Eventually she tangles with the father of some local witches by saving a young man who had seen too much of their antics.  It was a pretty good movie too!

—–.  Randy Lopez Goes Home.  More thoroughly mythopoetic than Ultima.  Randy comes home to build a bridge to cross over to Sofia after having lived among the gringos.

Mary Austin.  The Land of Little Rain (1903). The Owens Valley as far as to Bakersfield.

David Baldacci.  The Innocent.  Hitman Will Robie and 14 year olf Julie Getty figure it out.

Dave Barry. Tricky Business.  The tongue-tied guy gets the girl.  What’s with the font?

Josh Bazell.  Wild Thing.  The appendix is a good summary of our failure to cope with environmental collapse/global warming.

Peter S. Beagle.  The Last Unicorn.  As plausible as any fairytale and surprisingly moving.

Beowulf (Heaney trans.)

Lawrence Block.  A Drop of the Hard Stuff.  pg 56 Buddha:  It is your dissatisfaction with what is that is the cause of all your unhappiness.

—–.  Hit Me.  The assasin Kellere specializes in colonial stamps.

Marie Brennan.  A Nautral History of Dragons.  A la Victorian era woman on an expedition.  Lovely depiction of marriage.

Simon Brett.  Blotto, Twinks and the Bootlegger’s Moll.  Over the top upper- crust high jenks.

George Washington Cabel.  The Freedman’s Case for Equity.  Pro-integration late 19th c.

Humphrey Carpenter.  J.R.R. Tolkein: A Biography.

D. Chamowitz.  What a Plant Knows.  Senses of plants — all but hearing.

Drew Chapman.  The Ascendant.  Internet spy thriller.

Wu Cheng-en.  Monkey (Waley trans.)

Lee Child.  The Affair.  How Reacher’s military career ends.

—–.  81 Hours.  What does Reacher look like, vis p 230.

—–.  Never Go Back.  At his best, Reacher is at his most emotionally engaged.  An LA daughter, the woman on the phone in VA, a couple of attorneys — good portrayals of women.

Classical Hindu mythology: a reader in the Sanskrit Purāṇas (Dimmitt and Buitenen trans., Temple U.)

Andre Codrescu.  Bibliodeath.  First an intersting psychological history of his writing and publishing, then a sudden leap to pathological dislike of computer technology.  Too bad.  I’ll read a bit farther, but don’t expect to finish it.

Tom Coyne.  A Course Called Ireland: A Long Walk in Search of a Country, a Pint, and the Next Tee.  Coyne walks from course to course around Ireland.  Very light hearted, frequently funny.  He often plays in the rain, spends time drinking in the clubhouses.

Robert Crais.  Taken.  Joe Pike, Elvis Cole; honorably not depicting violence against women while employing it to denigrate those who are.  It seemed dangerous to trust him to do so.

Charles Darwin.  Origin of Species. p 127 “Natural selection acts only by the preservation and accumulation of small inherited modifications.”

Philip K. Dick.  Ubik.  Re-reads very well.

The Diné: Origin Myths of the Navaho Indians (Aileen O’Bryan, BAE Bull. 163, 1956).  Told by Sandoval (Hastin Tlo’tsi hee), trans. by Sam Ahkeah.  How is this available for inexpensive purchase?  The place of emergence into the present world (the 5th) was a lake near Pagosa Springs

Genesis.  (R. Crumb’s illus., he does like the farm girl too!)

Rubén Darío.  Selected Writings.  (Penguin)

Neil Gaiman.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  A normal boy and Lettie Hempstock send unwelcome mythic beasts away.  A plausible description of mythic action and pleasant descriptions of a seven year old boy’s world view — ‘… I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I found joy in the things that made me happy. The custard was sweet and creamy in my mouth …’

—–. Stardust. Tristran Thorn travels into Faerie to get a falling star who turns out to be the object of his travels. “…while Septimus wore a black doublet and hose, a black hat with a black feather in it, and looked for all the world like a foppish assassin from a minor Elizabethan historical play.”

Gilgamesh (Mitchell compiler).

E. H. Gombrich.  A Little History of the World (ca. 1938).

Dave Goulson.  A Sting in the Tail.  British bumblebee natural history and preservation.  A cliff-hanger in that the restoration efforts had only just begun when he wrote the book.

Sara Gran. Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead.  Surprisingly affecting solution and denouement.

John Hansen.  Fadeout.  The first of the Brandstetter mysteries written in the 1970s.  Wonderfully frank description of serious homosexual love affairs.

—–. Death Claims.  I never would have guessed who knocked him on the head and drowned him.  Brandstetter’s emotional life continues to evolve.

Nick Harkaway.  Tigerman.  Posted to a backwater as a Consul, the Sargeant and his young side-kick kind of save the day as Tigerman.

Robert Harris.  The Fear Index.

M. John Harrison.  Nova swing.

Michael Harvey.  We All Fall Down.

Dana Haynes.  Ice Cold Kill.  Thriller in which we learn not to set up people like Daria Gibron.

Robert Henryson.  The Testament of Cresseid and Seven Fables (Seamus Heaney trans.).  Swell fables!

Illiad (Mitchell new trans.)

Kevin Jackson.  Constellation of Genius 1922 Modernism Year One.  The news of Modernism by day then European capital.

Michael Koryta.  Envy the Night.  I don’t know about the title, but the characters were pleasant and the outcome was satisfying.  An unlikely young woman bodyshop owner and revenge-seeking young man stumble into a violent bunch of people.

Susan Krinard.  Mist.  Valkeri challenges Loki for Earth.

Benjamin Kunkel, How Much Is Too Much?, London Rev. Bks.  3 Feb. 2011.

Donn Kushner.  A Book Dragon.  1987, testament to Max’s notion that kids’ books can retain their appeal.  Especially pleasant portrait of a mother dragon.

Tony Kushner.  Brundibar.  Maurice Sendak reported that this was his favorite book.  Kids need help to chase off a bully so they can sing for milk to heal their sick mother.

John Lardiner.  Northwest Passage.  A clear and affectionate description of the US deployment to Australia, New Zealand, and PNG at the start of WWII — light hearted until near the when he meets the nurses who evacuated Bataan.

Patrick Lee.  Runner.  Sci-Fi, esp and the friendship between a teenage girl and a ptsd warrior.

Percival Leigh, “The Chemistry of a Pint of Beer.” Household Words No. 47 (15 February 1851): 498-502.

Elmore Leonard.  Raylan.  Author as an indigenous speaker p 163 [break] “What Raylan did the next morning, he watched the house where Carol was staying from a patch of trees in Woodland Hills, kept watch close to two hours before the limo arrived. ”   I wonder how vernacular American English sounds in Delhi.  And Rita is so nice to Pervis.

—–.  Valdez Is Coming.  Internal dialogue makes this book,  also the woman Gay Erin.

Elias Lonnrot. Kalevala (Bosley trans.)

Lumino Press, Santa Barbara.

Caroline Preston.  The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt.  Lovely 1920s graphic novel based on Preston’s collection of debris from the era.

Lisa Lutz.  Trail of the Spellmans.  Best of the series for her affection for the characters.

Julie Mars.  Rust.  Touching sketch of attachment and affection.  Margaret has Rico teach her how to weld.

H. L. Menken.  Days trilogy, American Library.  Lovely prose.

Jason Moran & The Bandwagon.  Improve trio w. recorded Spanish phone conversation.

Walter Mosely.  Inside a silver box.  Lorraine and Ronnie work together to overcome the Silver Box and its maker, Laz

—–. Merge and Disciple.  Extra-terrestrial mind-melding.

Ryu Mitsuse.  10 Billion Days & 100 Billion Nights.

Niebelungenlied (Hatto trans.)

Odyssey (Fagels trans.)

Robert B. Parker.  Rough Weather.  Spencer, Hawk and Susan; Rugar kidnapping.

—–.  Sixkill.  A flawless private eye procedural novel.

Thomas Perry.  The Informant.  The Butcher’s Boy meets Elizabeth Waring DOJ.

Alice and Martin Provensen.  Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm.  Arguably one of the best books to read with a toddler at your side.

Barbara Pym.  Excellent Women.  A gentle and perceptive description of a near spinster Anglican woman in London shartly after the war.  The protagonist, Mildred, observes men’s limited capacities to communicate in emotional and social spheres .  “I went on my way feeling a little less confident than when I has set out, though the interest of hearing about Allegra Gray help a little to take my mind off my appearance.  I felt more kindly disposed towards her now that she was removed from us and did not grudge her the flat in the best part of Kinsington or the three unmarried priests.  I had no doubt that she would eventually marry one of them.” p 250.

Stella Rimington. At Risk. Liz Carlyle and her boss, Charles Weatherby, ever get together?

—–.  Close Call.  Liz and Peggy save the soccer match, but a moment of sadness along the way.

—–.  Rip Tide.  Realistic espionage

Gillian Royes.  The Goat Woman of Largo Bay.  Set in small town Jamaica, an outsider spends time isloated on an island recovering from the death of her college age daughter amidst the local scene.

Thomas D. Seeley.  Honeybee Democracy.  Princeton 2010.  Bees reproduce by swarming.   Seeley describes the science of discovering how they decide on a new hive and how they get to it.

Shakespeare. Much Ado About Nothing.  Joss Whedon’s movie was wonderful, modern setting, b&w.

—–. Romeo and Juliette.  Royal Shakespeare Company.  I always wondered who Romeo’s first love was.  So, Romeo just walks up to Juliette and starts kissing her while her nurse stands by?  If Juliette had told her nurse what she was doing Romeo would have lived.

Robin Sloan.  Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.  Gerritszoon’s type font.  What a goofy adventure.

Wallace Stegner. Wolf Willow. Autobiography laced history of Saskatchewan. p 17 “I half suspect that I am remembering not what happened but something I have written.”

O. Steinhauer.  Nearest Exit.  On conspiracies, p 237, “The CIA couldn’t have pulled it off; not JFK, not 9-1, not Katrina.”

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas.  The Hidden Life of Deer.  of monarch butterflies: “struggling on with their astonishing, important lives.”

—–.  The Social Life of Dogs.

—–.  Tribe of the Tiger, Cats and Their Culture.

Leo Tolstoy.  the Law of Love and the Law of Violence.  My early pacifist leanings would certainly have benefitted from this.

Ferdinand von Schirach.  The Collini Case.  German legal procedural — short, clear, relevant to WWII.

G. Willow Wilson.  Alif the Unseen.  430pages, but describing it to people as you read it is a series of fun misdepictions.  The attraction the being Sakina has as a cat to Alif, the hero, is interesting.

Laozi. Dao De Jing.  aka Lao Zu, Tao Te  Ching.  Lovely translation and commentary by Charles Q. Wu.

A side. My alkie story, part 2: Getting well.

29 May

I stayed in the detoxification unit of Woden Valley Hospital for six days. At one point, I was the only “garden variety” drunk in the place–everyone else was a heroin addict, talking about all the places they had robbed in my neighborhood. Really? What was I doing in this place?  But there I was, being checked on every night to make sure I wasn’t having a seizure, spending days in lectures about alcohol-related brain damage (that scared the bejeesus out of me!), and–as the only one eating, because the heroin addicts weren’t–eating horrible food. I spent the week sweating, shaking, and crying–amazed that I really was having physical withdrawals from alcohol. My God, I really AM an addict!

The second night I was there, people came from Alcoholics Anonymous to talk to the detox group about “Living Sober.” One young woman who came had been in the detox unit the year before, and was coming back to celebrate one year of sobriety. She looked great, radiant with accomplishment, while others who remembered what a mess she had been before congratulated her. I was still sick enough to think, “wow, if I could just have one year of not drinking, then I could probably drink again.” I was still resistant to the idea of AA, still fighting. But why were these people coming to talk to us about how to stay sober? What did they get out of it? One of them drove me to a meeting, took one look at me, and said, “you’re having trouble with the God stuff, aren’t you?” He stopped the car, got out and picked a flower and handed it to me. “Just think about that flower,” he said. Then he gave me a copy of the Big Book, and told me not to worry about what didn’t make sense to me, just keep coming to meetings. I still have the book he gave me, 17 years later. I can still remember the first stories I heard at meetings, and what I was wearing, what I was reading.  It was making a dent in my willful psyche, that’s for sure.

I went to meetings every day. I looked and felt horrible, but I listened. At one woman’s meeting, the leader was an enormous Aboriginal woman–a known activist, a formidable presence I had seen before. She saw me, shaking and sweating, and gave me a big hug–because she understood what I was going through. I often share that story now as a powerful example of how all differences disappear in AA as everyone works together for one single purpose: to stay sober and to help other alcoholics stay sober. I was impressed and overwhelmed with the simple acts of kindness and caring from these people, who would then tell stories of their own drinking escapades, some with which I could  identify, and some that were way beyond my experience–but all of them carried the same message: stay sober, and life gets better, no matter what your circumstances. I was told to “look for the similarities, not the differences.” One of my greatest inspirations was a tough little guy named Dougie–with tatts of “LOVE” and “HATE” on his knuckles; he’d been in jail, he was bipolar, he had very little in life. But he was trying SO HARD to stay sober! I thought, “If he can do it, so can I.” Back at detox, the halls were filled with little plaques with inspirational sayings. At the moment when I finally let go and stopped resisting, one of them caught my eye: “I alone can do it, but I cannot do it alone.” For some reason, that one got through to me on that day: “Solid, I can do this.” So I accepted the FACT of my alcoholism: I wasn’t a bad person, I wasn’t immoral, I was just an alcoholic and I couldn’t drink like normal people.

When I got out of detox, I knew I didn’t want to come back to detox ever again–if for no other reason than the food was execrable. But I had learned enough that I knew if I drank again, I would end up back there. So I started going to meetings, I found a home group, I took a responsibility to the group (I washed tea towels), I took people’s phone numbers (even if I didn’t call). At one of the first meetings I went to after getting out of detox, I saw sitting in the crowd FOUR of my former students, including Greg, one guy who I had once had to kick out of class for being drunk.  We all just laughed at the irony of it all (“So you’re one of us, too!”), and learned an important lesson in anonymity: who you see and what you hear in a meeting stays at the meeting.


I was very, very fragile those first few months, and the whole AA pattern was so new to me! I had always been impatient with meetings, with belonging to groups, I was extremely skeptical of about any talk of spirituality/religion/God, and at first I couldn’t understand why I had to do the Steps or how you did them.  In those first meetings, I sometimes had to sit on my hands to keep me there. The whole counting the days of sobriety was so weird, as if I were in some kind of race that would have a finish. But I was WILLING–I was desperate, and I needed the help of people who had been there.  Slowly, I began to accumulate the wisdom of the people in the groups: a priest who told me if religion alone could have gotten him sober, he wouldn’t need to come to these damn meetings; an ex-nun who gave me good practical advice about how to deal with situations where alcohol would be; and lots of those like me who were still trying to intellectualize the process, to find fault with the mechanisms of getting sober in AA. But I kept coming back, and going against the very fiber of my being, I started to see the wisdom of “doing” the Steps. Not just thinking about it, but actually trying to do them to the best of my ability. I got a sponsor to help me figure out how to consider my part in all my drunken behavior, and then to forgive myself. She also helped me figure out how to make amends to all those people who had been affected by my drinking. My family, of course, came first on that list, and especially my son. But rather than just come out and say “Hey, I’m sober now, so I’m sorry for all the things I did while drunk,”  I knew I had to make “living amends”, to just take it one step at a time, and not to drink one day at a time.  The happiest day of that first year was when my son said, “I’m so glad you’re not drinking anymore, Mom.” It still makes me cry when I think about it.  I said the Serenity Prayer, I participated in meetings by speaking up–something that at first was surprisingly hard for me to do. As a lecturer, I could easily speak in public on any topic, but in meetings, I found myself quite shy–because this was about sharing my feelings and my behavior, being ruthlessly honest about my shortcomings and confronting the fact that all the will and intelligence in the world couldn’t keep me from becoming a drunk. I teamed up with a guy whose story was completely different than mine, and we went back to detox to do that “Living Sober” night many times.  We made a good team, because we could cover all objections to the program!


After a year or so, I felt strong enough to have dinner parties again, and was amazed to find that other people had never drunk like I did–there was wine left in the bottles at the end of the meal!  We took our first trip since I quit at the time I celebrated my first AA birthday–and so I was in a room in a church in Melbourne, with 200 strangers. I shared my story, and that whole room, whether they had had the same experiences or not, understood and welcomed me.  I have never felt more safe than in a room full of strangers, all trying to stay sober one day at a time.


That’s how it works: just people getting together to share their stories, trying to stay sober. Period.  All the other stuff–the spirituality, the Steps, the prayers–are all just tools of the trade.  NONE of it is “required”–as one of the Traditions says, “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”  And somehow, I still don’t know how, it works for lots of us. I still go to meetings, and I still marvel at the power in those rooms.  And as Roger Ebert says in his wonderful little essay (, I have no desire to get into any arguments about AA. If it doesn’t work for you, then fine, it doesn’t. But for this incredibly recalcitrant alkie, it has worked for 17 years so far. And I learn something new about life every time I go to a meeting.  And yes, things got much, much better–not perfect by any means, but much better.  I think I’ll keep coming back!

A side. My alkie story: the drunkalog.

29 May

Recently I have been reading an AA friend’s first draft for a book on the process of recovery, and how she experienced AA to get sober. This made me realize that I had never written down “my story,” although I’ve told it in bits and pieces at many, many meetings and in many, many variations.  So I decided that perhaps I should get it down in writing, for posterity, to go with all the other “how I got sober” stories out there.  So here goes:

One of my earliest memories–not THE earliest, but the earliest scary memory–is of being in the car with my little sisters while my mother is trying to get the car keys from my drunken father so she can take us all away. My youngest sister was just a baby, so I must have been about 6. I have no memory of returning home, but I think my father came to the friend’s house the next day, remorseful, and we all came back.  She never did that again, but we spent many insecure days and nights dealing with my father’s alcoholism. He was never violent–he was a gentle, sweet man, and everyone loved him–and up until the end of his drinking, he always had a job, but there were arrests and some dangerous behaviors.  Meanwhile, my mother was hysterical a lot of the time, and we all just figured out ways to get away from home as soon as we could. It wasn’t until I was in detox and saw a film about Adult Children of Alcoholics that I fell apart, realizing how dysfunctional my family had been–as children, it’s the only world you know, so you think it’s normal.

I buried myself in school–I figured if I was good in school, they really couldn’t complain about me. I went away to college, willful, certain that I wouldn’t be like either of them. I really didn’t drink much at all in college–I was an egghead and a priss until I finally discovered sex when I was 20, in the Woodstock summer, when anything went, and I tried it all. A year in Europe was my great revelation–everybody drank wine there, I had my first real relationship, and I came back from that year quite the sophisticate, radicalized politically, and cured of my prissiness for good.  While everyone else was doing dope, I became a drinker. I lived with a guy for a year who was a chef–and an alcoholic. I was going to “change” him, but of course, the only thing that happened was he taught me how to drink in bars.  Despite a few rather promiscuous years, I was still working hard at academics–got a professional degree, got married, and began the life of a gypsy scholar.  We both drank, but it was still fun. Lots of parties, lots of great dinner fetes with wine, good stuff.

I can still remember the first time I had a blackout–at a friends’ house where we were staying in Washington D.C. After a night of vivacious conversation, I couldn’t remember what we had talked about or how we had gotten home. I repeated the same questions I had asked the night before, and people were perplexed that I didn’t remember what we had all laughed about.  I was perplexed, too.  A few years later, when I was pregnant, I didn’t drink for that period, and had no problems with not drinking.  But pretty soon I was back to a routine that would be my pattern for several years: a few Scotches after work, then wine or maybe more hard stuff until we went to bed. By the time I had completed my Ph.D., we were living in New Orleans, and my father died–quite unexpectedly, only 57, after being sober for ten years.  This was the beginning of a three-year period of deaths, deaths, deaths:  My father, my grandmother, my mother, and many, many friends from cancer and AIDS. We had by this time moved to Wisconsin, where I taught at Lawrence University–in a small town, with not much else to do beside the college. It was about this time, I now know in retrospect, that I crossed some line from heavy drinker to alcoholic. I was still able to function and be quite productive–I wrote all my lectures for all my classes, we were happily raising a kid. But it was about this time that the report came out on what constituted “moderate drinking”, asserting that no more than 2 drinks a night was OK. I remember being in a state of shock and dismay by that statement–I had never, ever had only two drinks at a time in my entire drinking life.  I began to try to control the drinking–and found it nearly impossible to do.  If I started to drink, I wouldn’t stop until I was very far gone–and I started to have blackouts all the time.

In the summer of 1987, I went to Germany for a month of research, with very little money and on my own and lonely. I found myself thinking of ways I could find more liquor, and began carrying a flask of Scotch with me.  I already knew this was not a good sign at all, but I dismissed my concerns with all the excuses that all high-functioning alkies use–I still had my job, I still had my family, I had never been arrested, no DUIs, etc., etc. But I was starting to be so hung over most days that I was depressed and in bad moods.  Only booze would help that!  I began when in my cups to make phone calls around the world–and not remembering what I had said in the morning. A real big case of telephonitis! I spent my 40th birthday in a hotel room in Washington D.C. (I was at a conference) and proceeded to drink the mini bar dry–then had to explain my expenses to the dean when I returned to the college.  Ooops.

No one ever said anything to me about my drinking–no one.  I started myself to seek out those people I knew who were recovering alcoholics, to listen to their stories, but still afraid to admit to myself that I had to do something about how much I drank. I thought about it all the time. I think I even mentioned to people that I was drinking too much. I finally went to a counselor–the first thing I said was “I don’t want to go to AA!” Now what person who doesn’t have a drinking problem thinks that way??  This counselor, who was herself a recovering alcoholic, was very kind–she put me into a group therapy session, filled with other people like me who obviously had substance abuse problems but wouldn’t go to AA. I lasted a few sessions, and gave up. I also tried controlled drinking again, but this just led to elaborate self-deceits: I decided that we couldn’t have liquor in the house, but it was OK to drink if we were on trips. So I would come up with the most absurd excuses to take a trip somewhere–and head IMMEDIATELY to a bar, where I would have that craving sated at last. I also tried the “marijuana cure”–a joint would be alright, wouldn’t it? But that just made me want to drink all the more.  So controlled drinking went by the wayside, as it inevitably does with any alcoholic.  I was licked, but it took many more years of this exhausting cycle before I finally gave in.

In 1990, I did what I now see was on one level a gigantic “geographical” –the term we use in AA to describe the belief that if you just move to another place, all your woes will be over. We moved to Australia! I got a position at a major university, and the whole family up and left the country for our new life.  Academe is the perfect place for a practicing alcoholic to continue practicing: as long as you can pitch up to that podium and give your lectures, and you turn your grades in on time, no one really cares what you do. And what a place Australia is for drinkers!  By this time, I was having blackouts nearly every night. Early in our time in Australia, I decided to go to an alcohol counselor–if I could just figure out the trick, the catch, and control all the drama in my life, I thought everything would be fine.  The counselor was a very nice man–he became our friend–but I just wasn’t yet ready to give it up. At one point, when we had decided that I would give up the grog the next week, I arrived to tell him that my sister was coming to visit, so I couldn’t possibly stop drinking then!  And what if I won the lottery and they came to my house with a bottle of champagne?  I actually said that.

So it continued. I was starting to have physical effects of all that booze: I had a colonoscopy and gastroscopy because of intestinal pains, I had gastric erosions, I looked awful, and at one point I taught all my classes wearing sunglasses because my eyes were so swollen and red.  I never went anywhere at night–including parent-teacher conferences–because I knew I would be drunk.  At one point I checked myself into a “safe house” for addicts and alcoholics–only to leave after two hours because the people scared me so much.  I immediately went out and bought a bottle of wine.  Our garage was filled with empty bottles because I didn’t want the neighbors to notice all the empties in the garbage bins.

Finally, after two disastrous Christmases that I couldn’t remember because I was in blackout, I knew it was just not going to get any better. I waited until my son was out of the country visiting his grandfather back in the States, and I wasn’t teaching. I thought I could make a reservation at the detoxification unit of the local hospital–like it was a spa.  But I checked myself in on a Sunday–having gone out the night before on “the good stuff,” just to make sure I was good and miserable when the nurse took down all my information.  And so my husband left me there, a baffled, confused mess. All I had to read was the Big Book and my diary, in which I wrote, “How did this happen? How did I get to this point?”  I was still amazed that this is where I’d come–a hospital detoxification unit.