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Sober October - Day 19 - The Black Dog

Yesterday I celebrated seven years of sobriety. It was a perfect day. I took two naps. Worked on Dumpster Fire with Maggie and Sam. Ate sushi and watched the Dodgers game 7 while live-chatting with the community. Friends reached out to congratulate me and catch up. I marveled at how calm and stable my life is currently. After decades of chaos, the fact that my life looks supremely boring and normal is undoubtedly the biggest miracle of sobriety. And there have been many.

But the day after an anniversary is always weird. It’s appropriate that it falls on a Monday this year because it feels like a Monday no matter what day it falls on. Yesterday I woke up filled with gratitude, humbled by how much I have in my life and feeling a sense of connection to the people in my life, God and the community we are building here. Joy. Optimism. Hope.

Today, the black dog scratches at the door. Depression sniffs around, looking for a place to get comfy. Nothing happened that I could pin point. It’s slightly disappointing that neither one of my parents called me yesterday or probably even knew it was my sober anniversary. I don’t need their approval or their accolades, it’s just a painful reminder of this feeling that has persisted since I was a child and followed me into adulthood.


Sometimes I think I’m putting distance between me and that sensation. Other times it’s right there. Like some apparition that stands in the dining room, reminding me of the nights, weeks, years of being alone and trying to figure out how I was going to figure it out. As a child. As a teen. In my 20s and 30s. That age old loneliness and fear. Boo.

Boo fucking hoo. So instead of feeling sorry for myself, I do 10 pushups. It always works to shift the brain chemicals, even if just for a moment.

Then I went on Twitter for all of 30 seconds to promote Dumpster Fire and it made me anxious and unsettled. I felt like an autistic kid covering my ears. There’s so much fucking noise pollution on that site. Toxicity and projection and mental illness on display. Why am I partaking in any of this? Maybe it’s just the time of the year. Getting darker earlier. Winter is coming. I want to hibernate and read and check out. I crave silence.

Dumpster Fire was hard to shoot this week. In fact, it gets harder every week as more and more censorship comes down the pipes and China grows in power globally in our absence and we get closer to what looks like will be a highly contested election no matter what the results. Divided we fall. This is why when people ask me why I give a shit about some semblance of unity— our founders understood that—they understood we had to have some common purpose to keep us from either self-destructing or being overtaken. It’s usually a combination of both when a global power falls. The strange sensation of being on the back end of an empire’s peak, knowing, it’s probably gonna get a lot worse. LA is a physical reflection of this. The city is boarded up. The homelessness and violence and crime and mental illness gets worse every single day. It’s not clear how this situation improves as it’s only deteriorated for the past decade.

The mental illness spreading in America is disturbing. It’s been elevated to the highest offices and positions in the land. We reward entertainers who aren’t well with podcast appearances and money and attention. So that they can make more money and get more attention and continue spreading whatever insanity seems to be infecting the whole populace. Children acting out. Bad behavior being rewarded with attention.

And yet--I can't do a damn thing about any of it. I’m powerless over 98% of the things that concern me. I can control my behavior. My habits. I can reach out to others and see how they’re doing. I look for ways to be of service. Organize my office. Meditate. Read. And do whatever it takes to keep myself sober and as sane as one can be.

So today, after a rocky start, I did what I’ve been taught. Pray. Meditate. I went to a meeting. I shared that I’m struggling with them, and now you. I’m writing. I’ll work out at noon and food prep after that. The beauty of sobriety is that I’m cool riding the waves of anxiety and depression and insecurity and loneliness and fear. Right now in this moment, everything is okay. Hope is sleeping soundly next to me. There is a roof over my head. Everyone in my life that I love is healthy. I’m healthy. I have food and water.

The black dog will move on. And this too shall pass.

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Live Streamed on March 9, 2023 11:07 PM ET
Late Night Check In

I've been crazy busy and just want to check in with the Pham

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Walk-Ins Welcome w/Thomas de Zengotita

I continue my series with Thomas de Zengotita as we go through his book Mediated chapter by chapter. This week the topic is identity politics and we cover a lot of ground. #WalkInsWelcome

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Unedited Check-In 167

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Unedited Check-In #167
December 07, 2021
Unedited Check-In 158

Grandpa's letter home after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

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September 01, 2021
Unedited Check-In 144

Maggie is back! Also: The "No Complaining" challenge.

Unedited Check-In 144

Hello new followers, I hope I don’t disappoint you. I want this place to feel like home, where we can escape the Thunderdome and process the world. Where we can post dog pics and recipes and book recommendations. Where we support each other as we get sober, lose weight, embark on new business opportunities, creative endeavors, relationships and travels. I want this to be your oasis of sanity and laughter in an increasingly mad world. A creative outlet where you can share your spirit with us.

We might not have any control over the news cycle—but we can control our habits and attitude. It all starts with us. And hopefully a little piece of that will start here.

Happy birthday to my mother. Locked, loaded, and raring to go as she started her 94th trip around the sun today. We adore her for being feisty as ever.

I haven't posted in a few weeks so I think I"ll say hi.

My autistic kid told me this recently:
"Dad, no offense but you look like a gorilla"

How could I be offended?

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March 20 - Introvert or Extrovert?
My therapist said I’m an ambivert. My husband laughs at this. “Whatever that means,” he says.

Do parties and crowds fill you with energy, or send you scurrying for peace and quiet?

I definitely get energy from people. Although crowds can be stressful, I love music festivals and concerts at the Hollywood Bowl and conferences like Comic-Con or boondoggles where you can network. Dinner parties are my favorite. I really like events that are about 8-12 people where everyone can have time to talk but can also sit it out entirely and just listen. That seems to be the golden group size for both introverts and extroverts alike.

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March 19 - Menagerie
A Story of Hope

Do you have animals in your life? If yes, what do they mean to you? If no, why have you opted not to?

It’s hard to remember what stories I’ve told and which one I haven’t as we hit 77 days into the daily writing practice that is #writeclub—so I apologize if you already heard this story of how ended up with my dog and why I believe in magic.


It was the end of January of 2015. I was a little over a year of being sober. My friend had recently lost her dog and one night we went to Swingers and she cried and talked about how much she had learned from her dog and how he had saved her. Even though she was in so much pain, I remember being in awe of how much she loved that animal and thought to myself, “Maybe I should get a dog.”

My sister lost her dog around the same time and she was devastated. Her dog had been by her side since college and he was truly her best friend but again instead of being scared off from pet ownership—their grief and love made me curious. In addiction I’d detached from my ability to love anything but there were other reasons I kept dogs at arms length.

We had dogs growing up but, like so much of the other stuff going down, it was dysfunctional. They would get a dog (or two) and then return it for one reason or another. I stopped bonding with them because I knew eventually, they would probably go away. Between the ages of 15 and 19 we had (and returned) six dogs that I can recall. There might have been more that I blocked out but I’m pretty sure that’s the count.

A couple of days after seeing my friend, I returned to my apartment and there was a dog running around the courtyard.

“We can have dogs now???” I asked. The building had recently changed ownership and apparently some of the old policies had been changed—the most important being that no pets were allowed.

“I think I want a dog,” I announced to Maggie later that evening.

“Oh weird you know how much work they are and you can’t just take off and travel whenever you want,” the Voice of Reason reminded me. “And pets are pretty expensive.”

“Yeah, I know but there is something in me that really wants a dog.” I said.

“What kind?” She asked.

“A boxer,” I said, knowing absolutely nothing about boxers other than that they looked fun.

“Oh those are pretty big!” She said. To which I’m sure I launched into my tangent about how little dogs weren’t real dogs or something.

A couple of days later my phone rings and it’s Maggie. “Bridget you aren’t going to believe this but my co-worker found a white boxer puppy today—do you want her? She’s so cute and sweet she doesn’t seem to have any aggression so I think someone will take her fast if you don’t.”

Her co-worker had taken the dog to the local vet to make sure she wasn’t chipped and she said they’d seen her wandering around for about a month. They didn’t pull her off the streets because they said she had a better chance being adopted than if she ended up in a shelter. She was covered in tar and ticks and severely under weight.


Well shit. I couldn’t very well put a request into the universe for a boxer and have it answered a couple of days later and then say, “I’m not ready.” Now could I? So I called Maggie back without much thinking and said I’d take her.

Maggie’s co-worker kept her for the night so I could get sorted. He picked off every single tick. She always loved him for that. I had nothing dog related so I had to get a crate and a bed and all the things. The next day Maggie brought her home from work and we went straight to the vet. She had a messed up stomach parasite and needed food and some vaccinations but overall seemed in good shape.

We went home that night and it was the beginning of me being a dog owner. The first night she slept with her eyes open and it creeped me out. Then I cuddled up with her on the futon and she slept for two days straight. At one point I thought she was dead.


I named her Hope because that’s what she brought me. I was in a particularly dark period of my sobriety and in fact, was struggling to see the point of remaining sober if I was going to continue to be depressed. Because boy was I depressed. Facing the wreckage of my past and what a horrible, selfish piece of shit I’d behaved like for many years, was uncomfortable. I also failed to see a path forward.

Hope grounded me right in the here and now. It was the only place I could be when I was with her and more than anything I needed to be in the moment. One minute. One hour. One day at a time.

I was completely unprepared for how challenging it is to train a feral puppy. I attempted it on my own for a while but by that summer realized I was in way over my head and a friend recommended a trainer—so I sent Hope to summer camp. The timing was perfect because my friend Hani (who I’ve written about before) was dying (and would die in August) and I was moving into a house with a yard with my friend Samantha.


Hard to believe that was eight years ago and now she’s a feisty old lady with cancer. We’ve been through so much together. I realize it’s extremely corny and cliche to say she taught me how to love—but it’s not an exaggeration. When I got sober I didn’t know how to do anything. She taught me how to be a responsible, loving grown-up.

Hope means everything to me and even though it cost me a small fortune to keep her alive—seeing her and my daughter’s relationship blossom is priceless. My daughter’s first word after “mama” was Hope and now she just repeats it all day. “Hope hope hope hope hope,” she says while she crawls around looking for her buddy. There is no husband without Hope. There is no daughter. I’m not sure I would have even stayed sober in those trying early years.

Hope is my everything. As a friend wrote when he lost his dog recently, “Dogs are eternal.”

I sure hope so.



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March 18 - Impossible

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” –the White Queen, Alice in Wonderland.

What are the six impossible things you believe in? (If you can only manage one or two, that’s also okay.)

  1. People are (mostly) good.

  2. Past lives

  3. Psychic powers

  4. Magic

  5. Fate

  6. Ghosts

  7. That I will do 365 of these writing prompts.

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