How I Quit Smoking

May 13, 2020

I have been smoke free since summer 1992 by combining AA’s spiritual program and a three day method of taking deep breaths and drinking water.

Nicotine is an interesting drug. Unlike alcohol, it doesn’t impair the mind. It doesn’t give blackouts. Smokers don’t cause accidents while smoking and driving, and are not known to assault their loved ones while they’re enjoying a cigarette. For me, a cigarette provided temporary tranquility and relief from stress, and helped me transition to life’s next moment. But a drug is a drug, and my subconsciousness knew I didn’t need to use a drug as a crutch to move on with life.

man reflection in the mirror

Photo by TOPHEE MARQUEZ on Pexels.com

I became a heavy smoker during my drinking years. Smoking almost two packs on a night out drinking, was not uncommon. By the time I got sober and joined Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in 1991, I smoked an average of 10 cigarettes a day and sometimes more if I was stressed out.  The heavy coughing in the mornings, the fear of cancer, knowing that smoking is generally bad for the health, my tachycardia supraventricular, and the financial cost, made me want to quit almost every day, even before I quit drinking. Like with alcohol, I didn’t smoke because I wanted to. I smoked because it was an addiction; I had no control over not smoking. I was powerless, and like some people say in AA meetings, this addiction kicked my ass every single time.

The program of AA made me realize that I could overcome any addiction by working AA’s Twelve Spiritual Steps. Nicotine has a very strong physical aspect to it, however. I had tried countless times to quit cold turkey when I woke up in the mornings, but by late afternoons, I usually had picked up a cigarette again. Sometimes I could quit for a couple of days, but I would eventually smoke again. It was so easy to fall into the habit, specially if someone else was smoking around you. Back in the early 90s when I was in college, there were many smokers around me. Smoking was common in most AA meetings too.

I learnt of a three day method to quit, which consisted of quitting cold turkey and, during an urge, breathing in deeply and out completely three times, and then promptly drinking two large glasses of water.

But it wasn’t easy. The cravings during those first three days of being nicotine free were overwhelming and unsettling. In a similar fashion, the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous (p.58-59) says alcohol is “cunning, baffling and powerful.” I did notice, however, that the breathing and water vanished the craving away, but I also realized that a strong urge could easily throw me back into smoking because it completely erased any willingness to quit. Nicotine addiction is different from alcohol because my whole body was aching for cigarettes and the feeling of total powerlessness was physical, rather than mental.

Before I quit smoking, I had hit a bottom already. It happened during finals that summer. I spent one whole night studying, and as a consequence, smoking heavily. In the morning on the way to the exam, I had a tachycardia episode and ended up in the hospital. Fortunately, it was nothing too serious, just strong stress, and I was released the same day. But this reinforced what I had always known since I started smoking, that I had to stop and should have never started. Let it be clear, however, that no one needs to hit a bottom to quit an addiction.

But what really made a difference was the praying. On my third nicotine free day, during an unbeatable craving, I experienced an overwhelming moment of complete defeat to cigarettes, and I realized I couldn’t stop myself from smoking again. Luckily by then I was already eight months sober, so I knew that only a Higher Power, or God, if you will, could save me from substance addiction, so I prayed to my Higher Power to save me and keep me from smoking. I think I even went down on my knees.

The powerful physical nicotine cravings didn’t last more than three days and I never again had to pray as hard to my Higher Power to not smoke. 

Back in 1991, when I stopped drinking, my sponsor said sobriety was not my own choice, but rather fifty percent mine, and fifty percent my Higher Power’s, or God’s, whatever you prefer. I think that to be true. I cannot defeat an addiction entirely on my own, I need a Higher Power to help me not relapse.

Copyright © 2020 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

abstract beach bright clouds

The Sun is my Higher Power. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Ray Ban Sunglasses

May 7, 2020

It is Friday night. I am sitting with my friend Jack at a table outside the local brewery, located in a park.  We are both graduate students and live in a college town in the Midwest. The warm wind smells like rain and blows the voices of the crowd into the branches of the trees all around us.

Jack gets up and goes to buy himself some more beer. I watch him walk towards the outdoor bar area and join the queue. It is busy tonight, like every Friday night in the summer.

blur eyewear fashion glass

Photo by lalesh aldarwish on Pexels.com

I notice a pair of sunglasses on the table. They are away from Jack’s empty beer glass and pack of cigarettes. I assume they’re not his. I pick them up and observe them carefully in the dark. They are a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses. They must have been expensive. I remember I once owned a similar pair but I gave them away to a girlfriend. Since then I have always bought myself cheap sunglasses and I have kept losing them, precisely because they are cheap.

I try them on and watch through their tinted glass. They have a yellow safety cord which I put around my neck. The glasses clap onto my face well and contour my ears. I feel like a chiseled face in an advertisement. In a moment of self-consciousness, I take them off and hold them up with an obvious gesture, so if the owner shows up, he notices that I just found them. but no one is watching me at the other tables. I see multitudes of wet open-mouthed faces. I place the sunglasses back exactly where I found them. I can’t remember if anyone left the table when Jack and I arrived.

Jack returns with a large glass of beer and sits down. He takes a cigarette from his pack, lights it, and offers me one. I take one and he reaches over, producing a flame with his lighter.  He soon notices the sunglasses, which I had forgotten about, takes them and says “nice” while he starts to open them and look at them before trying them on.

“Yeah,” I say. “I just found them. They were sitting right there.”

“Are you keeping them?” They fit him well. His face looks aerodynamic. I imagine him riding a motorbike, the wind blowing his hair, like another stupid ad.

“I don’t know. If no one else claims them. Maybe whoever left them will be back.”

I inhale smoke and sip my beer. Jack does the same. We come here every weekend night and smoke and drink while we hope to run into interesting women. We might seem indifferent to the people around us, almost discreet, but we look at women with hungry eyes, like vultures.

Two men approach our table. One is in his mid thirties, he carries a pitcher of beer and two glasses. The other man must be nineteen or twenty, no older; perhaps it’s his younger brother.

“Mind if we sit here with you guys? Kinda hard to get a table tonight,” the older man says.

“Be our guests,” I say, knowing Jack doesn’t mind.

I wish two women would have joined us instead but I’m not about to kick them out. They sit and pour themselves beer. They also smoke and they drink quickly. The younger man’s face is distorted and he seems angry. He speaks loudly to his companion. The wind steals his words from my ears. I make something out like “we are only here to drink some beers, relax.” I don’t know if it’s my imagination or if I have actually heard the older man say it.

Jack looks at two women walk to the long lines at the bar. One of them wears tight jeans. It is hard not to stare. Her firm backside hypnotizes us both until she disappears in the crowd. I feel the wind stronger now, and the voice of the younger man sounds menacing.

“They’re obnoxious,” Jack whispers.

“The kid must be on speed or something,” I respond.

“Hey, these sunglasses belong to you guys?” the younger man asks, holding them in his hands.

“No, someone left them here…”

“Really, I’ll keep them!” he states before I have time to finish my sentence.

“Except, I found them first.” I hear my voice quaver but it comes out clearly. I am suddenly very aware of Jack, his eyes watch me.

“O.K.” the younger man says. It dissolves the tension. I feel relieved but he tries them on. He throws the safety cord defiantly on the floor. I feel sweat break in my forehead. I want to appear indifferent and hide my growing irritation.

“I guess I found them first, so if the guy that lost them does not return soon, I’ll keep them.” I don’t understand exactly why I want the sunglasses. I don’t need them but I think it’s unfair for the guy to claim them. It’s the principle.

“So you found them, huh?” The older man says. He takes the sunglasses from his friend or brother, and looks through them without putting them on. He takes his time before he hands them to me. I am waiting like a snake ready to kill a frog.

“Hey, don’t give them to him! I want to keep them,” the younger man says. But I have them now.

“We’ll arm-wrestle, do you arm-wrestle?” he asks me. I look at Jack. He’s smiling. I would like him to suggest something but he’s silent with that “don’t ask me” look.

“O.K. we’ll arm-wrestle.” I’m incredulous that I agreed. The nerve. Maybe if I lose I won’t give him the sunglasses anyway.

black and white people bar men

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

“Are you right-handed or left-handed?” he asks, sitting in front of me, and placing an optimistic right arm on the table. I join his hand with my right before I answer.

“I’m right-handed”

“Well, I’m actually left-handed,” he says.

“O.K then, I can use my left hand.” I let go of his hand.

“No, it’s O.K., I can use my right arm too,” he says. I think he might go back on his word if I beat him. He is slightly taller than I am, and his hand and wrist are a little thicker.

The older man stands to my left, between us, he holds our fists together. The tips of my opponent’s fingers are white and compress white half-moons into my skin. His face is like a knot, his eyeballs are cross-eyed, focused on his fist.

“Hands behind your backs,” the older man says. I try to show Jack that I’m confident. He’s still grinning and his facial expression doubts me. The older man lets go while I’m unready, giving my rival an advantage. He pushes back my arm about 20 degrees. I’m worried. He pushes hard. My hand gives up some more degrees and my wrist swells. I position the right part of my torso and my right shoulder towards him. I will have to use the muscles on my biceps to win. My hand is being pushed down to 45 degrees but my arm and wrist are resisting. I try to align my bent hand with my arm but now he’s really tough and he is leaning all his body weight against me. Somehow I begin recovering although slowly. I manage a straight angle and he groans. Sweat is flowing down from my forehead and I succeed to push his arm all the way down to a few inches from the table. I’ve got him where I wanted, I don’t think he stands a chance now. I suddenly remember all the swimming I did in high school.

“Get him, Rob!” I hear Jack say. I almost had forgotten him.

I slam his fist down on the table and smile. He dares to spring his fist back up, like a swing. I slam him down again and we repeat this a few times. His fist is like a bouncing tennis ball, however, slowly giving up to the laws of gravity.

“O.K. you lost. But, here, take the sunglasses and keep them,” I grab them and place them before him, on the table.

“No! Let’s try with our left arms,” he says.

“Why? I said you can keep the sunglasses.”

“No, I want to fight for them.”

“But why do you insist?”

“Come on! I told you I was left-handed.”

“O.K. have it your way, whatever.” I sit down again and position my left arm. I doubt I can beat him. I’m not left handed but he doesn’t scare me. I know my left arm is very strong too.

“This time I’ll hold your fists together,” Jack says. He looks at me with support and lets go. I’m ready this time and his arm feels weaker than his right arm. I had suspected he was lying. I push his arm down steadily, like the second hand in a stop watch. I get him decisively close to the table and crush his fist down, allowing no nonsense this time. I squash the flesh on the back of his hand against the wooden table as if I were sticking it with glue, and until he offers no more obstinate resistance. He gives up, opening his fingers, exposing the palm of his hand, waiting for me to release him, like a dog with his belly up, offering his testicles to a superior dog and waiting for mercy.

“I guess you lost again, but hey, you can still keep the sunglasses.” I stand up and give them to him once again but he puts them down on the table.

“No, let’s do a hand wrestle this time!” he says and also stands. He grabs both my hands before I can protest and shows me how it’s done. I had never heard of it. Our palms are touching each others’ and our fingers are intertwined. The object is to push forward and up, until the loser’s wrists can’t bend backwards anymore. He amuses me. His grip is again weaker than mine. I push his hands upwards until he grimaces and gives up. He’s lost for the third time.

man in shorts standing near gate and holding another person s hand

Photo by Thau00eds Silva on Pexels.com

“Just take the sunglasses,” the older man now says.

“Keep them,” I’m offended by his assertion. We sit down back at our chairs. Jack lights a cigarette and sips his beer. I echo him. My muscles ache but I feel good. I don’t regret having given away the sunglasses. It was like giving away a responsibility. Jack chuckles.

“You completely humiliated me!” the younger man suddenly shouts. The sunglasses are in front of where he sits. He does not acknowledge them. His eyes are red and holds his beer glass between his face and the table. He sets it down.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“I’ve never felt so humiliated. No one has ever done this to me. I don’t want the sunglasses. It’s embarrassing.”

“Just forget it,” the older man says in disgust and looks away from the scene.

“Hey, you should be grateful,” I say. He shuts his mouth and looks at me, bewildered. “Think of it as a lesson. It’s not worth fighting for anything. Specially not a pair of sunglasses. And on top of it, I let you keep them. Look at it as me giving you two presents today. A pair of sunglasses and a lesson. ” I’m pleased with myself. Jack looks embarrassed and he’s silent.

“So I should be grateful, huh?” The kid says mockingly.

“I think so.”

“Well, thanks a lot!” He doesn’t sound convinced and finally takes the sunglasses. He puts them on and smiles. “I really appreciate this.” He stretches out his right arm for a hand shake.

I shake his hand cautiously.

“Name’s Pete, what’s your name?” he asks.

“Mine’s Rob, nice to meet you.” We all do the “nice to meet each other” ordeal and sit back in our chairs.

Everyone’s silent for a few minutes. Then when they start speaking, the wind tears their voices. Jack puts out his cigarette. I light one up. Something tells me the game is not over yet. I laugh.

“That guy’s some ass,” Jack whispers.

“Hey, I’m forever grateful!” the young man shouts over the table. “Thanks a lot man! Thanks to you!” He holds the sunglasses up in the air, like a toast.

“Can’t believe you gave them to him,” the older man says. I’m unsure if he’s being sarcastic.

“Well, I guess some of us don’t need sunglasses that bad,” I say. I don’t know if they can hear me. Perhaps they’re drunk and want to continue playing.

“Well, I need them! I need them really bad!” Pete puts them on and snickers with his older friend. Pete is more stubborn than I thought. I see their pitcher is empty.

“Maybe we should go,” Jack says and stands up.

“Yeah, let’s go.” I get up. We exchange sarcastic byes and walk away.

As we walk away, Jack says “you were fucking great, man.”

“Really? Why do you think so?” I’m still trying to wrap the whole thing around my head.

“I mean first you beat him arm wrestling, then you let him keep the sunglasses, obviously humiliating him, which he admits himself. And then, on top of it all, you make a complete fool out of him by making him have to swallow his pride. Congratulations!” He laughs. “That asshole won’t forget you that easily!”

“I know, what a jerk. He was angry even at the end. I would have liked to see the true owner of the glasses arrive, just before we left. Imagine that, it would have been the ultimate blow. ”

“Would have served him right. Then again, you sure got him good, boy did you get him.”

“What else could I have done? It’s not worth fighting over a pair of sunglasses.”

“I don’t know, maybe we should have beaten them up.”

“That would have been an alternative, but what good is violence? How does one solve a situation like that?”

“Yeah, what good is violence,” as I hear Jack say this, I wonder if it would have been, after all, more manly to have beaten the shit out of him.

Copyright ©1992 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

grayscale photography of man

Photo by Zuarav on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

Pedalando pela Dinamarca

May 5, 2020

In English. En castellano.

Integrada à ampla rede de transporte público de ônibus e trens, a bicicleta é considerada um importante meio de transporte neste pequeno país escandinavo, que tem uma das mais modernas infraestruturas do mundo para ciclistas. Todo ano, desde 2015, o Copenhagenize Index, um ranking das cidades mais bike-friendly do mundo, coloca a capital da Dinamarca no topo da lista. Se você gosta de andar de bicicleta, a Dinamarca está pronta para recebê-lo.

Uma típica ciclovia dinamarquesa. Fonte: supercykelstier.dk

Os dinamarqueses e as bicicletas

Copenhagen, a capital da Dinamarca, localizada na Ilha da Zelândia, e cujo nome significa “porto de mercadores” no idioma local, tem uma população de 633.000 pessoas (2017) e cerca de 675.000 bicicletas, além de 120.000 carros. 62% da população da região da capital usa a bicicleta para ir trabalhar ou ir à escola, quatro entre dez pessoas têm carro e nove entre dez pessoas têm bicicleta. Na verdade, desde 2016, o trânsito de bicicletas na ilha superou o de carros, sendo que 52% dos domicílios não têm carro. Os dinamarqueses, em média, pedalam 3 km/dia em Copenhagen, 2,4 km/dia em Århus, a segunda maior cidade daquele país; e 2,6 km/dia em Odense, a terceira maior. 75% das bicicletas continuam nas ruas no frio inverno dinamarquês e cerca de 4000 a 5000 delas são vendidas anualmente em Copenhagen.

A Dinamarca é o país dos ciclistas há quase 100 anos e, nas décadas de 1920 e 1930, pedalar tornou-se um símbolo de igualdade e liberdade. No começo dos anos 70, quando a terra de Hans Christian Andersen e todos os países do mundo estavam investindo pesado na infraestrutura automobilística – a qual veio a estagnar com a crise de petróleo do Oriente Médio – Copenhagen apostou alto e exigiu uma cidade no modelo car-free, ou seja, livre de carros.

Lady with front bike carrier
26% dos cidadãos de Copenhagen com dois filhos possuem uma “cargo bike” (bicicleta adaptada para transporte de carga). Fonte: supercykelstier.dk

As crianças dinamarquesas começam a andar de bicicleta antes dos seis anos de idade. Quando mais novas, quase sempre são vistas nas bicicletas dos pais. Tais veículos podem ser adaptados com diferentes peças e suplementos para transportar uma ou mais crianças de uma só vez. Na verdade, foram os dinamarqueses que inventaram o baú frontal para bicicletas visto aqui e abaixo, o qual carrega convenientemente crianças ou cargas, neste que é o país das bicicletas. Na escola, as crianças aprendem a cultura do pedalar, regras e normas de segurança para andar de bicicleta, como parte do currículo escolar. 49% de todos os jovens dinamarqueses entre 11-15 anos vão para a escola de bicicleta.

Cargo bike frontal dinamarquesa
A “cargo-bike” frontal inventada na Dinamarca. Fonte: christianabikes.com

A infraestrutura para pedalar na Dinamarca

O que parece ser muito importante e que justifica o sucesso das bicicletas na Dinamarca é, dentre outros fatores, o fato de eles terem ciclovias separadas, às quais os carros não têm acesso. Copenhagen tem cerca de 400 kilômetros de ciclovias, separadas das vias de carros e dos passeios de pedestres.

Geograficamente, a Dinamarca é uma península ao norte da Alemanha, composta por Jutland, a ilha da Zelândia e inúmeras outras ilhas. É um país moderno e abastado com cerca de 43,1 mil kilômetros quadrados e com 12.000 kilômetros de ciclovias. Os país construiu 13 pontes para bicicletas desde 2017 e há ainda mais três em construção. Recentemente foi terminada uma ponte com vias de 5,5 m de largura em cada sentido e que recebe mais de 22.000 ciclistas/dia (Dybbølbro). Também estão sendo construídas centenas de kilômetros de “superciclovias”, que vão conectar a cidade de Copenhagen a às cidades próximas.

Ponte de bicicleta dinamarquesa
Uma típica ponte para bicicletas na Dinamarca. Fonte: supercykelstier.dk

A rede de transporte público funciona junto às ciclovias dinamarquesas. Os trens de passageiros têm um vagão exclusivo para bicicletas. 20% dos ciclistas dinamarqueses pedalam até as estações de trem e 5% o fazem das estações até seu destino. Em Copenhagen, esses números são 30% e 10%, respectivamente.

ciclovias dinamarquesas
Ciclovias junto às linhas férreas estaduais da Dinamarca. Fonte: supercykelstier.dk

Saúde e meio ambiente

Pedalar reduz problemas de saúde, faltas no trabalho e economiza em custos de saúde ao contribuinte dinamarquês. Estudos dinamarqueses demonstram que, para cada kilômetro pedalado, a Dinamarca ganha aproximadamente $1,10 dólares em benefícios para seu sistema público de saúde. Além disso, os ciclistas de Copenhagen solicitam menos 1,1 milhão em dias de afastamento médico em comparação aos não-ciclistas. Isso se traduz em 215 milhões de euros de economia anual. A cada 1200 kilômetros pedalados, tem-se menos um dia de afastamento por doença. Essa é ainda uma ótima forma de os dinamarqueses saírem para tomar um ar todos os dias e aproveitar as áreas externas, o que acalma o pensamento e reduz o stress.

Os benefícios de andar de bicicleta para o meio ambiente falam por si: pedalar reduz a emissão de carbono, a poluição, os ruídos e os congestionamentos. Pedalar faz uso mais eficiente do espaço público, cria uma vida urbana mais rica e torna as cidades locais melhores para se viver. Na região da Zelândia, uma das maiores e mais povoadas ilhas da Dinamarca, onde fica a capital Copenhagen, o uso da bicicleta significa menos 500 toneladas de CO2 por ano e os moradores da região produzem 92% menos emissões quando substituem o carro pela bicicleta. Os dinamarqueses consideram que andar de bicicleta é o presente e o futuro da mobilidade e do desenvolvimento de uma cidade inteligente. E com mobilidade a baixo custo.

Trem passageiros Dinamarca
Um vagão exclusivo para bicicletas em um trem de passageiros na Dinamarca. Fonte: supercykelstier.dk

Tecnologia dinamarquesa

Os dinamarqueses tentam fazer o uso da bicicleta o mais conveniente possível para poder estimulá-lo. A tecnologia de onda verde, que existiu de forma similar para carros na Dinamarca por muitas décadas, hoje pode ser vista nas ciclovias com sinais verdes em LED. Quando está na ciclovia com onda verde andando a 20 km/h, o ciclista sabe que o próximo sinal estará verde e que não terá de parar. Além disso, quando está chovendo, algumas ciclovias são equipadas com sensores que deixam os sinais verdes por mais tempo. Os dinamarqueses também estão sempre testando e implantando novas tecnologias para melhorar a segurança, como as luzes LED que avisam caminhoneiros sobre a presença de ciclistas, quando viram à direita.

As ciclovias dinamarquesas têm ainda uma infraestrutura urbana com um conforto razoável, como estações de serviço; monitores com todo tipo de informação em tempo real, como previsão do tempo, número de ciclistas, etc.; bombas de ar; apoio para os pés e até mesmo latas de lixo bike-friendly, convenientemente inclinadas.

Apoio pés ciclistas Dinamarca
Apoio para os pés para ciclistas na Dinamarca. Fonte: supercykelstier.dk

As superciclovias dinamarquesas

As chamadas “superciclovias” dinamarquesas, assim batizadas pelo Departamento de Superciclovias (o Sekretariatet for Supercykelstier) daquele país, conectam às cidades próximas a Copenhagen. O objetivo é ampliar os trajetos de longa distância por bicicleta, tornando-os competitivos em relação ao uso de trens e ônibus. Isso reduz as emissões de carbono e, ao mesmo tempo, melhora a saúde dos ciclistas. Outros países europeus também estão construindo esta nova categoria de vias públicas para bicicletas.

superciclovia c-82 Dinamarca
A superciclovia C-82 tem 7,3 km de extensão em um dos barrios periféricos de Copenhagen. Fonte: supercykelstier.dk

Em 2009, Copenhagen e a maior parte das cidades próximas iniciaram um projeto conjunto para construir um total de 750 kilômetros dessas ciclovias até 2045. Já foram construídas até agora um total de oito delas, passando de 12 kilômetros em 2012 para 167 kilômetros em 2019.

Construídas com a meta de manter Copenhagen e suas cidades próximas como “os melhores lugares para bicicletas” do mundo, as superciclovias fazem o match perfeito entre finanças e meio ambiente. Uma pesquisa dinamarquesa apontou que substituir 1% de todos os trajetos de carro por trajetos de bicicletas nos poupa 23.000 toneladas de CO2. O tráfego de bicicletas nas superciclovias aumentou cerca de 23% desde 2012, sendo que 14% dessas pessoas costumavam usar carro. O maior número de ciclistas registrado em uma superciclovia em um dia de semana foi de 29.000, com uma média de trajeto de 11 km/dia por ciclista. Haveria um aumento de 30% no uso de carro, se ninguém da região usasse bicicleta.

As superciclovias vão custar $319,8 milhões de dólares até 2045 e trarão um excedente socioeconômico de $892,3 milhões de dólares. Destes, $667,7 milhões de dólares compreenderão benefícios ao sistema de saúde. Também reduzirão em 40.000 o número de dias de afastamento por doença por ano.

Um estudo feito pela danskindustri.dk descobriu que 10% dos ciclistas reduzem anualmente os dias de afastamento por doença em 267.000, reduzem 6% de trânsito e congestionamentos, além de economizarem $160 milhões de dólares para a saúde pública.

Conheça alguns ciclistas

De acordo com um estudo de um mês feito pela supercykelstier.dk , a dinamarquesa Mette, de 49 anos, que usou uma bicicleta elétrica, observou uma redução de cinco anos em sua idade corporal ao pedalar cerca de 27 km/dia. Ela também viu seu IMC (Índice de Massa Corporal) cair de 24,4 para 23,4 em um único mês.

Família dinamarquesa andando de bicicleta
Família dinamarquesa andando de bicicleta. Fonte: supercykelstier.dk

A dinamarquesa Fiona Weiss, que anda de bicicleta há 50 anos, gosta de pedalar mais no verão. Nas palavras dela, “pedalar nos traz energias boas e me permite descobrir lugares que eu não veria se estivesse no trem, além de manter minhas pernas em forma”. Ela também diz gostar de pedalar mesmo “em um bom dia de inverno, quando eu sinto vontade de sair para tomar um ar, à beira do mar ou em um bosque”.

Bettina Fürstenberg é uma dinamarquesa de 52 anos, que costumava pedalar cerca de 16 kilômetros por dia até sofrer um grave acidente com a bicicleta por volta dos 30 anos. No momento, ela tem três bicicletas, sendo uma delas elétrica. Segundo ela, pedalar é “a forma mais rápida de se mover por Copenhagen”. E “sem poluir o ar”. Ela acha que “ainda são necessárias vias melhores e maiores, com regras mais rígidas para os ciclistas”, como “limites de velocidade”. Embora não tenha se recuperado totalmente do acidente que sofreu, ela ainda anda de bicicleta “para qualquer tipo de atividade, como ir trabalhar, ir ao cinema, a parques, às compras, etc.”.

Área externa de um prédio típico de Copenhaga. Foto: Jorge Carbajosa
Área externa de um prédio típico de Copenhagen. Foto: Jorge Carbajosa

O know-how de ciclismo à moda dinamarquesa

A Embaixada do Ciclismo da Dinamarca é uma entidade local que promove o ciclismo em cidades de todo o mundo. Eles oferecem um filme em realidade virtual, que apresenta um passeio de bicicleta por Copenhagen, uma viagem de estudo de dois dias pela Dinamarca, e preparam relatórios anuais. Os dinamarqueses têm diversos sites em inglês, que promovem o ciclismo e mostram o país. Muitos deles foram usados neste trabalho e estão elencados no final deste texto.

Estação central de Copenhagen
Bicicletários da Estação central de Copenhagen. Foto: Jorge Carbajosa

A Língua Dinamarquesa

O dinamarquês é uma língua de origem germânica falada na Dinamarca, nas Ilhas Faroé (no Atlântico Norte) e por uma minoria na Groenlândia. É uma língua inteligível pelos suecos e noruegueses. Todas essas línguas descendem da língua nórdica antiga. O islandês, outra língua da terra dos Vikings, também deriva da língua nórdica antiga.

Como o português, o dinamarquês é uma língua indo-europeia, o que significa que são apenas parentes distantes. A maioria dos dinamarqueses fala bem o inglês já na mais tenra idade.

Traduzido por Ilka Santi, ilkam@uol.com.br

Leia o artigo em inglês aqui

Copyright © 2020 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

Fontes:

http://www.cycling-embassy.dk/

https://cyclingsolutions.info/

https://Copenhagenizeindex.eu/

https://denmark.dk/people-and-culture/biking

https://www.danskindustri.dk/english

http://www.m-w.com

http://www.bing.com

http://www.google.com

https://www.etymonline.com/

McKay’s Modern Danish – English Dictionary by Hermann Vinterberg, David McKay Company, Inc.

An Introduction to Old Norse, E.V. Gordon, Oxford 1990.

Palm Sunday Seville 1940

April 30, 2020

Email from my father, Ramón Carbajosa-Segura on April 4th, 2004:

Dear Sons,

64 years ago, Franco’s fascist police took away my father and kept him in jail for 6 months. It happened before lunch time. All of my mother’s crying and begging was useless and so was ours (Pepe, Eduardo, Alicia and I). From the balcony of the apartment where we lived crowded together, we saw how they put him inside a car and left. Mom cried all afternoon, waiting for his return, since the police had assured her that it was just for a couple of hours….At 11pm that same day, my mother lost an eight month pregnancy of a boy to a miscarriage, and I being only 9 years old, had to go find a cab driver and a doctor, running down the streets of Seville crying, while my mother lost a lot of blood. 

I will never forget it, I will never forgive it.

All of you know the story already, but it is question of showing the flag every year as a matter of principle.

Read Original Email in Spanish

Copyright © 2020 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

Franco Hitler

Hitler and Franco

Domingo de Ramos 1940 Sevilla

April 10, 2020

Correo electrónico del 4 de abril de 2004 de mi padre, Ramón Carbajosa Segura:

Queridos hijos,

Hace 64 años la Policía de Franco se llevó a mi padre y lo mantuvo en la cárcel hasta 6 meses después. Fue antes de la comida. De nada valió que mi madre llorara y suplicara y que todos nosotros, Pepe, Eduardo, Alicia y yo) hiciéramos lo mismo. Desde la terraza, donde vivíamos hacinados, vimos cómo lo metían un coche y se lo llevaban. Mi madre estuvo toda la tarde llorando, esperando su vuelta pues los policías le habían asegurado que sólo era una cuestión de una o dos horas….A las 11 de la noche de ese mismo día tuvo un aborto de un niño de 8 meses y yo con 9 años tuve que hacerme cargo de buscar un taxista, un médico, corriendo y llorando por las calles de Sevilla porque mi madre se desangraba.

I will never forget it, I will never forgive it.

All of you know the story but it is a question of showing the flag every year as a matter of principle.

Lea este artículo en inglés aquí.

Copyright © 2020 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

Franco Hitler

Hitler y Franco

Resistiré – Spain’s Hymn Against Coronavirus

April 5, 2020

A world famous emotional song of encouragement and overcoming, released by Duo Dinámico in 1988, is Spain’s hymn of resistance against the Corona-virus. The original version of Resistiré can be found here.

Here is the translation:

Cuando pierda todas las partidasWhen I’m losing every game

Cuando duerma con la soledadWhen I sleep with loneliness
Cuando se me cierren las salidas
When all exit doors close on me
Y la noche no me deje en paz
And the night doesn’t let me sleep

Cuando sienta miedo del silencioWhen Silence Scares me

Cuando cueste mantenerse en pieWhen it’s hard to stay standing up
Cuando se rebelen los recuerdos
When memories rebel
Y me pongan contra la pared
and put me up against the wall

Resistiré, erguido frente a todoI will resist, proudly face it all
Me volveré de hierro para endurecer la piel
I will turn into iron to thicken my skin
Y aunque los vientos de la vida soplen fuerte
And although life’s headwinds blow strong
Soy como el junco que se dobla,
I’m like the palm tree that bends
Pero siempre sigue en pie
but always stands upright again

Resistiré, para seguir viviendoI will resist to continue living
Soportaré los golpes y jamás me rendiré
I will withstand the punches and never give up
Y aunque los sueños se me rompan en pedazos
And though my dreams may shatter to pieces
Resistiré, resistiré
I will resist, I will resist

Cuando el mundo pierda toda magiaWhen the world loses all its magic
Cuando mi enemigo sea yo
When I’m my own enemy
Cuando me apuñale la nostalgia
When nostalgia stabs me

Y no reconozca ni mi vozAnd I can’t recognize my own voice

Cuando me amenace la locuraWhen insanity threatens me
Cuando en mi moneda salga cruz
When all odds are against me
Cuando el diablo pase la factura
When the Devil comes to be paid,
o Si alguna vez me faltas tu
Or if I ever miss you

The translation above is almost literal. It has a few adaptations to American-English, for example juncos are reeds, but in the U.S. we would usually associate palm trees to being capable of resisting strong winds, not the stem of a plant.

The literal translation of “Cuando el diablo pasa factura” is “when the devil brings the bill.” Pasar factura means when something brings about negative consequences, when things take their toll, or when someone is asking for a favor or services to be paid back. It’s really referring to those times when we’re being too hard on ourselves for something that’s happened in the past. “The Devil to pay” is of course an idiom that can work here.

In order for this translation to have the same impact as this song, it would have to be culturally recreated and also keep its overall meaning. Personally I’ve heard very few songs whose translations are successful. And that’s because song lyrics are usually very elaborate and pertain to a particular country or culture. It’s almost like songs cannot be translated and should always be sung in their original version.

Every night Spaniards across the country go to their balconies to applaud medical workers. Balconies have become a place where Spaniards unite to display solidarity, and a stage for all kinds of performances, including  the song Resistiré.

Duo Dinámico is a pop band founded in the late fifties in Spain by Ramón Arcusa and Manuel de la Calva. The lyrics to the song Resistiré were written by Spanish journalist and composer Carlos Toro and the music by Duo Dinámico’s Manuel de la Calva.

The song was also made famous in Pedro Almodóvar’s 1989 movie “Tie me up, Tie me down,” where it is sang by Antonio Banderas, Victoria Abril and Loles León. You can see the clip here.

Resistiré has a recent version interpreted by more than 30 Spanish artists to fight the Coronavirus. Many versions that can be found in youtube performed by artists throughout the Spanish speaking world.

brown and pink concrete buildings

Typical condominium buildings in Spain. Photo by San Fermin Pamplona on Pexels.com

Copyright © 2020 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

Sources:

https://elcierredigital.com/cultura-y-ocio/716621110/cancion-resistire-balcones-coronavirus.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resistir%C3%A9_(D%C3%BAo_Din%C3%A1mico_song)

http://www.eldiario.es

http://www.elpais.es

Losing Unnecessary Weight

April 1, 2020

I finally found a spiritual solution to not being overweight. It’s in the first 3 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous:

Steps 1-3 of the AA program are:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Copyright © 1952, 1953, 1981 by Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing

Step 1: I replaced the word “alcohol” with “food.” I am in fact, powerless over food. My eating habits became unmanageable from an early young age. I cannot control how much food I am going to eat but specially, what I’m going to eat. 

In my early teens, I ate and exercised excessively because I erroneously thought food converted into muscle with this practice. At the time, having a muscular body was one of my main obsessions because I had an inferiority complex. I thought having a muscular body would increase my self-esteem.

When I became an alcoholic in my late teens, I no longer exercised and I became overweight because I drank to oblivion with no limits. When I quit drinking in my early twenties, I became obsessed with food; specially carbohydrates. Many people say alcoholics in recovery replace alcohol with food. I’m not sure, maybe I’m just the obsessive type. Either way, for years I obsessed about what to eat and not eat in order to have the ideal weight. I tried the protein diet, praying to the Higher Power to not overeat, replacing whole meals with certain foods, but nothing worked. If I ever lost my extra pounds, they inevitably always came back because of my mental obsession and wanting to control my food intake.

man in brown shirt standing on train rail near coconut palms

Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

Step 2: I believe a Higher Power has restored my eating habits to normal. By practicing the prayer, or meditation “I am powerless over food,” my obsession is lifted and the Higher Power somehow allows me to know when I’ve had enough food, and not eat anymore. I no longer obsess or worry about food.

Step 3: I leave my eating habits and my food intake to the Higher Power. I can even cook cakes, and not eat them, nor feel compelled to. It doesn’t matter what I’m cooking or serving. My Will when it comes to food is left at my Higher Power’s hands and I no longer eat more than my body needs. AA’s twelfth promise comes true:

“We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for
ourselves.” (Copyright of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services)

Not surprisingly, in my last two annual checkups, my doctor told me that my body mass index is very good.

Copyright © 2020 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

Bicycle Riding in Denmark

March 26, 2020

En español. Em português.

Integrated with its widespread public bus and train network, cycling is considered an important means of transportation in this small Scandinavian country, which has one of the world’s most modern bicycle infrastructures. Out of 20 cities throughout the world, and every year since 2015, the Copenhagenize Index has ranked Denmark’s capital, København (Copenhagen), the most bicycle friendly city in the world. If you like to ride your bike, Danmark is geared for cycling.

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A Typical Danish Bikeway.  Credit: supercykelstier.dk

Danskerne (the Danes) and Bicycles

The capital city of København (Copenhagen), which means the Merchant’s Port in Dansk (Danish), has a population of 633,000 people (2017), about 675,000 bicycles, and 120,000 cars. 62% of københavnerne (Copenhageners) cycle to work or school; 4 out of 10 own a car; and 9 out of 10 own a bicycle. In fact, since 2016, cykel (bicycle) traffic surpassed car traffic in the capital region, with 52% of households not owning a car. Danskerne on average cycle 1.9 miles per day in Copenhagen; 1.5 miles in Århus, the second largest city; and 1.6 miles in Odense, the third largest. 75% of bike traffic continues throughout the cold Danish winters, and 4000 to 5000 bikes are sold in Copenhagen annually.

Danmark has been a bicycle nation for over 100 years and in the 1920s and 30s, cycling became a symbol of equality and freedom. In the early seventies, when the land of Hans Christian Andersen and all countries of the world were investing heavily in cars and automobile infrastructure, things took a turn with the Mideast oil crisis and Københavnere, demanded that their wonderful Copenhagen, as the famous song says, be car free.

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26% of Copenhageners with 2 children own a cargo bike. Credit: supercykelstier.dk

Dansk børn (Danish children) start riding bicycles before they are six years old and are often seen at very early ages on their parents’ bicycles, which may be adapted with different parts and carriages to transport one or several children at a time. Danskerne actually invented the front wooden box transport bike seen here and below, which conveniently carries children or cargo in this bicycle nation. In school, children learn cykling (cycling) culture, rules and safety as part of their curriculum. 49% of all børn aged 11-15 cycle to school.

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The Danish Front Cargo Bike was invented in Denmark. Credit: christianiabikes.com

Danish Cykling Infrastructure

Among many other factors, perhaps the most important key to the Danish biking success is that cyklister (cyclists) have their own separate bikeways, which cars cannot access. København has about 249 miles of them, which are separated from car lanes and sidewalks altogether.

Geographically comprised of the peninsula Jutland, Zealand and numerous other small islands, Danmark is a wealthy and modern country of 16,577 square miles, which has 7500 miles of bikeways.  It’s built 13 bicycle bridges since 2017 and three more are under construction. The recently finished Dybbølbro bridge has 6 yard wide lanes in each direction to accommodate more than 22,000 daily bicycle riders. It’s also currently constructing hundreds of miles of “super” bikeways which connect Copenhagen to its suburbs. 

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A typical bike bridge in Denmark. Credit: supercykelstier.dk

The public transportation network works together with Danish bikeways. Commuter trains have a dedicated wagon for bicycles.  20% of Danish cyclists ride their bikes to train stations and 5% from the train stations to their destination. In Copenhagen, it’s 30% to 10% respectively.

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The Statsbaner commuter & subway Trains (State Railways) Credit: supercykelstier.dk

Health and The Environment

Cykling reduces health problems, work absences and it saves the Danish tax payer money on health costs. Danish studies show that for every 2/3 of a mile cycled, Denmark gains approximately $1.10 in health benefits in its medicare-for-all type health care system. In addition, cyclists in Copenhagen request 1.1 million less sick days versus non cyklister (cyclists), which translates as 215 million euros in annual savings. For every 746 miles cycled, one sick day is reduced. It’s also a great way for Danskerne to get fresh air every day and enjoy the outdoors, which clears your mind and reduces stress. 

The benefits of cykling to the environment speak for themselves. It reduces carbon emissions, pollution, noise, and traffic congestion. It uses public space more efficiently, creates a thriving urban life and makes cities more livable. In the Capital region, bicycle usage saves 500 tons of CO2 annually and Sjælland residents produce 92% less emissions when they stop using their cars and switch to cykler (bicycles). Danes consider cykling the present and future of mobility and smart city development. It also provides mobility at a low cost. 

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A bicycle dedicated wagon in a Danish Commuter Train. Credit: supercykelstier.dk

Danish Teknologi

Danes try to make cykling as convenient as possible in order to encourage it.  The grøn bølge (green wave) technology, which has existed in a similar form for cars in Denmark for many decades, are green LED lights adapted for bikeways which, when lit, mean that if the cyklist rides at about 12.5 mph he/she will catch the next traffic light in green, and will not have to stop. In addition, when it’s raining, some bikeways are fitted with sensors that allow longer green traffic lights. Danes are also constantly testing and implementing new technology to improve safety, for example LED lights that warn truck drivers of cyclists, when making a right turn.

Dansk bikeways also have a variety of cykelinventar (urban furniture) which add considerable comfort, such as service stations; monitors with all kinds of real time information like weather, number of riders, etc; air pumps; footrests; and  even bike-friendly tilted trash receptacles.

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Bicycle footrest in Denmark. Credit: supercykelstier.dk

The Danish Super-Bikeways 

Known as the supercykelstier, translated by that organization, the Sekretariatet for Supercykelstier (The Department for Superbikeways),  into English as the  “bicycle superhighways,” they connect the kommuner (suburbs) to København. The object is to increase long distance cykling commuting, and make it competitive to taking the train or bus, thereby reducing carbon emissions, and at the same time, improving the health of cyclists.  Other European countries are also constructing this new category of bike thoroughfares.

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The 4.54 mile in length C-82  Superbikeway in one of Copenhagen’s near suburbs. Credit: supercykelstier.dk

In 2009, most of Sjælland’s suburbs (Zealand, the name of the Island where Copenhagen is) started this joint project to build a total of 466 miles of these highways by 2045. A total of 8 have been built thus far, progressing from 7.5 miles in 2012, to 104 miles in 2019.  

Built with the vision of keeping Copenhagen and its suburbs as the “greatest bicycle region” in the world, the superbikeways make perfect environmental and financial sense. Danish research found that replacing 1% of all car trips in Sjælland with a bicycle, saves 23,000 tons of  CO2 . Bike traffic in the superbikeways increased 23% since 2012  and 14% used to travel by car instead.  The highest number of cyclists recorded on one superbikeway on a weekday was 29,000 and riders average 6.8 miles per day. In addition, there would be a 30% increase in car commuting if no one in the region used a bicycle.

The superbikeways will cost $319.8 million by 2045, and bring a total socio-economic surplus is $829.3 million, of which $667.7 million comprise the health benefits. They will also reduce by 40,000 the number of sick days per year.

A study by danskindustri.dk found that 10% additional cykling annually would reduce sick days by 267,000, decrease traffic congestion by 6%, and save $160 million in public health care. 

Meet Some Danish Cyclists

According to a supercykelstier.dk one month study, Mette, a 49 year old Danish woman who used an electric bicycle, saw a 5 year reduction in her body age by cycling 16.7 miles/day. She also saw her Body Mass Index reduced from 24.4 to 23.4 in one month.

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A typical Danish parent with her children. Credit: supercykelstier.dk 

Fiona Weiss, a Danish woman who has ridden a bicycle for 50 years, cycles mostly in summer and says “it gets the happy vibes going and allows me to discover places I would not see on the train, (keeping) my legs slim.” She also enjoys cycling on “a good winter day. If I feel like going to the seaside or forest for winter fresh air.”

Bettina Fürstenberg is a 52  year old Danish woman who used to ride her bicycle an average of about 10 miles a day until she had a serious bike accident in her thirties. She currently owns three bicycles, one being electric. She says cycling is the “fastest way to move around Copenhagen,” and it “doesn’t pollute the air.” She feels that “better and larger roads are still needed…with stricter rules for cyclists” such as “speed limits.” Although she hasn’t fully recovered from her accident, she still rides her bikes for “any kind of activity, like work, movies, parks, shopping, etc.”

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Outside area of a typical Copenhagen building. Photo by Jorge Carbajosa

Danish Bicycle Know-How

The Cycling Embassy of Denmark promotes cycling for cities throughout the world. It offers a virtual reality film featuring a bike ride in Copenhagen, a two day study trip in Denmark and prepares annual reports. Danes have numerous websites in English promoting cycling and their country. Many were used for this story and are listed below.

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Bicycle parking areas at Copenhagen’s Main Central Station. Photo by Jorge Carbajosa

Danish and English Linguistics

The Danish language is spoken in Danmark, Færøerne (the Faeroe Islands) and by a minority in Grønland (Greenland). It is mutually intelligible with Swedish and Norwegian, which descend from Old Norse. Icelandic, another language that comes from the Vikings, also comes from Old Norse.

The Danish language is related to English because they are both Germanic in origin. The Angles were in fact, Danes, who migrated to England in the fifth century A.D. In addition, Old Norse influenced English because of Vikingerne (the Vikings) invasions of Great Britain in the eighth century A.D. and in 1066 A.D. by the Normans (the North Men) who were also of Viking origin.

Most Danes speak English well and learn it at a young age.

Copyright © 2020 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

I would like to dedicate this article to all my friends from Denmark and specially to Bettina Fürstenberg, Birgitte Borgsmidt, Robert Clarke, Dr. Joe Asbury, and to world cyclists Jorge Balderas and Ignacio Durán.

Sources:

http://www.cycling-embassy.dk/

Cycle superhighways

https://cyclingsolutions.info/

https://copenhagenizeindex.eu/

https://denmark.dk/people-and-culture/biking

https://www.danskindustri.dk/english

http://www.m-w.com 

http://www.bing.com

http://www.google.com

https://www.etymonline.com/

McKay’s Modern Danish – English Dictionary by Hermann Vinterberg, David McKay Company, Inc.

An Introduction to Old Norse, E.V. Gordon, Oxford 1990

Woman from Ghana

March 19, 2020

One time, in my early forties, I was on a business trip to Minneapolis. When I arrived to the airport, I took a cab to the hotel and on the way there, I got into a conversation with the driver, a West African man.

I’m not sure how the conversation became one about his wife and my now ex-wife. I think he was either on the phone with his significant other when I entered the cab, or early into the ride to the hotel, he asked to pull over so he could answer her call. Either way, I do remember him telling me it was his wife on the phone, and that it was important.

Soon we started speaking about our marriages and what he told me about his wife, I will never forget. He said she was the most important person he had ever met in his life, and how she made his life complete and how his wife, who was from Ghana, was the most loving and best person he had ever met. In contrast, although I loved my now ex-wife back then, I couldn’t stay faithful to her, and we had many problems. When he learnt of my troubled marriage, he asked me if I had ever met a woman from Ghana, he emphasized how she was from that area of the world, and how women there were so special. He told me he would never cheat on his wife, ever, because she was too precious for that and she meant too much for him.Jorge Carbajosa
Interestingly enough, now about ten years later, I am married to a woman from, you guessed it, Ghana. She is an Ewe, her mother is from Ghana and Togo and her father from Ghana. And indeed, I have never met a woman like Rejoice, my wife. She’s the center of my life, and my right hand. She built my home, which I’m not sure I’ve ever had before, since I left my parents at age 19. She’s also given me an extended family, which are her mother, her cousins, and the whole Ewe community in Chicago. And she’s made my two children her own.

I now fully understand how this West African man felt and what his wife meant to him.

Copyright © 2020 Jorge Luis Carbajosa

About Cannabis

January 12, 2020

Now that Cannabis is legal in the state of Illinois, this drug is somewhat of a temptation for me, because I am addicted to alcohol–I am an alcoholic–and I was never addicted to cannabis. I did, of course, try this plant in my late teens, and overall disliked the way it made me feel. However, it does pose a question for me sometimes, whether I should take cannabis for recreational purposes.

shallow focus photography of cannabis plant

Photo by Michael Fischer on Pexels.com

But for those of us that go to AA, the answer is very simple. Although taking cannabis will not reflect a relapse to an addict who’s only addicted to alcohol, we alcoholics know we have an addictive personality and all drugs are simply dangerous to all of us. In addition, if I do take cannabis, I will not be able to say that I have continuous sobriety since August 25th, 1991, which is my sobriety date. My sobriety date will be disrupted. Perhaps this is not a problem, as long as I don’t relapse with alcohol, but such a drug could indeed alter my mind and drive me to an alcohol relapse, and that is a very dangerous risk for an alcoholic to take because our addiction is fatal. Like we say at AA meetings, alcoholism leads to institutions, jail and death.

So for now, as much as I favor legalization of marihuana, I will continue to pray to my Higher Power to help me stay sober.

 

Copyright © 2020 Jorge Luis Carbajosa