Category Archives: Parenting and marriage

On longterm sobriety

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be an alcoholic and/or an addict in longterm recovery, I can shed some light on the subject. My credentials: six years of sobriety down, a lifetime to go.

It’s when the novelty of being newly sober wears off and the reality of being sober from now on sets in. “This is it!” turns into “so this is it, then.”

It’s having dreams that you drank or used again & waking up in a cold sweat thinking that you have to reset your sobriety date & start all over again.

It’s avoiding menu items with a “wine sauce” or “bourbon glaze” because even a hint of alcohol will make you feel like you’re breaking the promise you made to yourself. Quietly asking the server for a flute of water for the champagne toast at your cousin’s wedding. Feeling like a jerk when you have to turn down the kahlua truffles your teammate made for everyone. Choosing alcohol-free vanilla extract or mouthwash at the store because yes, even that bothers you. Realizing that obsessing over not drinking has replaced obsessing over drinking.

It’s turning down the painkillers you legitimately need for an injury because you don’t want to get too attached to the way they make you feel. Not even letting yourself buy a damn bottle of nighttime cough syrup because you understand your potential to abuse something so simple, something that normal people don’t think twice about taking when they need it.

It’s fumbling over a response to an invitation from a new friend to “go grab a beer sometime” or deciding how to answer a request to buy you a drink. Making excuses and being vague or potentially making them uncomfortable by being frank. Avoiding parties or happy hour meet-ups with old friends who eventually stop inviting you to hang out any time alcohol is involved (and alcohol is pretty much always involved).

It’s having to explain to people you haven’t seen in awhile that you still don’t drink or use. It wasn’t for a diet or a challenge or to get a job. It was to save your life, and it still is. It was to get your shit together & to keep it together.

It’s laughing off your friend’s joke “don’t worry, I’ll drink enough for the both of us!” even though it’s really not funny at all (& maybe a little insensitive, and maybe a little sad). Feeling uncomfortable about the saying “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink; when they wake up in the morning, that’s the best they’re going to feel all day” because you know how true it really is. Feeling weary when someone makes light of their own drinking, but knowing how it will be received if you say something about it.

It’s yelling at the TV every time that stupid Passages Malibu commercial comes on, the one with the smarmy bastard who smugly proclaims “I should know. I was an addict for 10 years, and now I’m not.” You yell because you know it’s bullshit, that addicts can change their habits but not their personalities. That choosing not to drink or use does not mean you are magically cured of who you are, who you will always be. Knowing that no fancy rehab resort can change the way the addict brain is wired.

It’s understanding that if you like something, you will end up loving it so hard that it scares you a little. You’ll latch onto whatever it is and make it your new obsession. You’ll wonder if it’s just passion for something awesome or if it’s your addict brain doing what it does best (or worst).

It’s never having a crutch again. No social lubricant, no escape from reality. No pick-me-up, no nightcap, no reward for making it through the day. Your reward IS making it through another day. Your reward is functioning like an adult without trying to check out for a bit mentally when it gets too hard. And it does get hard, because life is like that and you used to have an escape hatch that could temporarily take you away from the anxiety, the stress, the depression. You know logically it never really took away any of that, it just numbed it all for a bit. Knowing that you can never numb it again is exhausting sometimes.

But you keep on doing it – or rather, not doing it. One day at a time. Day after day. Year after year. The same thing, over and over from now on. It will always be this way, because this is what life is like when you are sober.

Knocked flat by the flu



I was hoping to have updates on recipe writing and trail running adventures, but I have spent most of 2014 knocked utterly flat by the flu. I haven’t been this sick in nearly 20 years.

My goals and my training plan have been temporarily put on hold while I recover, which is a bit frustrating. I have a half marathon in 6 weeks and I haven’t been able to run since the Jiggle Butt 5K (I got sick that day). However, we had an absolute blast there and I even got [rather blurry] photographic evidence that my sweet husband will run if asked by his girls:


Hopefully next week’s update will be a bit more lively. In the meantime, cuddling with Ginger, watching Netflix and hunting for sewing projects on Pinterest are keeping me sane-ish. Take care of yourselves and if you haven’t gotten one already, go get a flu shot.

Midnight Mile

As 2013 drew to a close, I kissed my sleeping husband, deactivated my Facebook account and hit the trail for a midnight mile (1.11 miles actually, which was unintentional but pleasantly significant to my pattern-loving brain).

It was 39 degrees and crystal-clear – the sky a canopy of constellations.  I ran without music, listening to my breath and my feet and the fountains in the neighborhood lake. I was the only one on the trail, the only one who saw the Christmas lights reflecting off the water’s surface in kaleidoscopic swirls as 2014 came racing in. I love that feeling – knowing I’m experiencing a bit of magic that nobody else will ever see.

When I was done, I laid in the grass and looked up at the stars, thanking the universe and the power behind it for a blessed old year and offering up my promises and goals for the new year.  I stopped referring to them as resolutions last year, but I remain resolute in the best sense of the word – unwavering and determined.

Here’s what I plan to do in the new year.

  • Reevaluate and reorganize how I spend my free time: I deactivated my Facebook account for a temporary and as-yet-undetermined amount of time. Without that massive time suck (which is, admittedly, my favorite place on the internet), I can accomplish my other goals more quickly and completely.
  • Publish my first book: I’ve been creating/testing recipes for the nutrition-conscious and for athletes with dietary restrictions for a few years now. I’d love to share them in a beautiful book full of well-photographed dishes interspersed with colorful anecdotes and pictures of my derby and running adventures.  I plan to include a companion booklet full of advice for new athletes (particularly Fresh Meat, as I feel that there are not enough off-skates resources out there for the budding derby athlete), some basic sport-specific starter workout programs and a training log.
  • Start a YouTube Channel: with the help of a filmmaker friend, I’ll soon have my own YouTube cooking show. You’ll get simple, healthy recipes prepared in typical Pyro style – light on grace and poise but heavy on clumsiness and sass. Tune in to see if I drop a knife on my bare foot or just spill the sauce all over my dogs!
  • Run my third – and possibly fourth and fifth – half marathon, while training for my first full 26.2.  The upcoming half is Cowtown and I’m running for ALZ Stars to raise money for Alzheimer’s Association.  If you’d like for the name of one of your relatives to be honored/commemorated, please email me or comment below – the names of my grandmother and grandfather will be written on my race shirt, as well as the names of friends’ loved ones who are battling or have battled the disease. (If you’d like to make a donation, no amount is too small – and I will match it and add your name to my “gets a free cookbook” list)
  • Settle into a church home and find volunteer opportunities within the organization: this is potentially happening already, and I am as excited about this as I was about falling in love with my husband. I have a big crush on a church that feeds hundreds of local families from its gardens and mobile food bank, hosts a 5K to benefit youth mission trips and has a dynamic children’s Sunday school program and a passionate, enthusiastic minister. We’re obviously still in the honeymoon stage – but then again, I still feel that way about my husband 5 years after finding him. Sometimes you just know.
  • Be the best mother, wife, sister, aunt and daughter I can be: this sounds like one of those vague resolutions I dread, but I have a very specific set of subgoals that will help me fulfill this promise to myself and to my family. Some hinge upon each other, like retiring from derby (that one was checked off early thanks to herniated discs and nerve damage) so I’l be free to attend my daughter’s soccer games and other activities. Some have already been stated above.  Most are listed only in my head and in my heart, and they are referred to multiple times a day.

I’m incredibly excited about the Year of the Green Wood Horse – 14’s my lucky number. 🙂  I hope this is a wonderful, fulfilling year for you all.

How a homeless pibble rescued me

A few months ago, we added a member to the Pie pack & our lives changed forever. I talk about her constantly on Facebook, but I wanted to share her story with our family/friends who don’t spend every waking minute checking my updates. This is the story of Ginger, my snuggly little rescue girl.

I was leaving the skating rink after helping Assassination City run offseason tryouts, saying my goodbyes & trying not to cry (I’d retired from contact a few weeks earlier due to a spine injury & I was still pretty emotional about it). When I reached the parking lot, Salem was petting a dog who’d wandered up to her: a small female pit bull wearing an ill-fitting collar, no tags. She was emaciated, engorged with milk and covered in disturbingly symmetrical & deliberately placed wounds and scars of varying size all over her body and head. The burn between her beautiful butterscotch eyes (about the diameter of a cigar or car lighter) was almost more than I could bear to look at.

If asked what caliber of man my husband is, I can answer the question with the following exchange. I called Micah & said, “baby, we found a lost dog & I don’t know what to do. She looks like somebody’s been hurting her.” Without hesitation, he replied, “bring her home & we’ll take her to the vet in the morning.” I would’ve married him again on the spot.

Deathcake & I loaded the dog into my backseat, plying her with peanut butter provided by Castro. I spoke to her in a soft voice the whole way home, calming us both and gathering my strength as I rambled about her getting to meet my family. I had no idea how she and Duchess would react to each other. Duchess is a very friendly dog, but she’s spoiled, easily excitable and was a week away from having knee surgery. I didn’t want her to get too wild and I didn’t want our guest to feel threatened.

I needn’t have worried – this little dog was so shellshocked & timid that she barely reacted to Duchess. She ate two bowls of food, curled up on the couch close to me & fell promptly asleep. While she snoozed, I cruised rescue sites online, seeing hundreds of pitties in need of homes – no homes eagerly looking for abandoned/abused pibbles, though. I looked over @ her about two hours into our new adventure & told Micah, “her name is Ginger.” He just nodded in agreement and said, “yeah, it is.” We both knew she was ours pretty much the minute I brought her in the door.

The next morning, we took her to our vet, who confirmed that she had no microchip. I wouldn’t have returned her if there had been identification, though. Nearly all of Ginger’s injuries were inflicted by a human. She had some bites around her muzzle & on her hocks, but the majority of the wounds – scroll on past this bit if you are as sensitive to animal cruelty as I am – were burns, razor slashes & welts from a belt or cord. Her tail had been fractured near the base and had healed a bit crooked.



Our vet estimated that Ginger was around 2 years old, had possibly been used as a bait dog, and was almost certainly dumped shortly after whelping a litter (seems to be common in this area). I still think about those puppies and worry about where they ended up.

Sweet Ginger was covered in fleas and hosting a bevy of parasites, including heartworms & roundworms. The next couple of months were spent treating our little hostess with the mostest for her various issues – we’re still waiting for the all-clear on the heartworms, but she’s past the hardest parts.

The next couple of months were also spent working through her attachment issues, separation anxiety, housebreaking and general training. In the beginning, loud noises & sudden movements scared her. She watched us very closely to see if we’d hurt her, but she never hid from me or cringed away from my touch. She became my shadow, following me everywhere & snuggling in bed with me when I was laid up with migraines/neck pain. She fell in love with our kiddo & Duchess.


Her wounds have healed & her fur has almost completely grown back over the scars. She’s also about 30 pounds heavier & pretty darned content.
She still has moments of apprehension, particularly when she senses anger. I find myself saying, “it’s okay” to her and smiling a lot, which has a calming effect on both of us. In general, she has made me a calmer, more patient person.

I can’t help but feel that Ginger came into my life at exactly the right time. And I can’t get over the fact that she is exactly the kind of dog I would’ve chosen if I could have hand-picked her personality. It’s like we were meant for each other. It breaks my heart to speculate on what sort of hell she lived through before she found us, but I am so thankful for the opportunity to make the rest of her life as heavenly as I can.