Jym’s Story: Harp Playing from NY to SF

by Bree L.

Went to see a Dr. John show at Battery Park in New York on July 4th, drunk as a lord. I went to buy a tall boy and ran into a policewoman working the bar for charity. She was the prettiest cop I’d ever seen. She looked better in her uniform than any of New York’s finest. It fit her perfectly. I started rapping a bit with her and she fell for it, hook, line and sinker. 

I hassled her and asked, “When are you off?” Then I gave her my number and said, “I want to see you again.” Meanwhile her sergeant gave me a look that said leave her alone, so I made a quick escape. I never, ever expected to hear from her, but she called. Our next date was to an arty movie. I can’t remember the movie’s name, but her name was Sylvia. That was the last and only time she saw me drunk.

I’d been quitting my drinking and failing for a while. In New York, at that time, you couldn’t buy liquor on a Sunday, so I’d buy a fifth of tequila on Saturday night. The shopkeeper would say, “You know we’re closed tomorrow,” as a warning to stock up. I’d buy my liquor in different stores, so they wouldn’t know how much I was drinking. 

Jimi had no Y, so I traded in my I for his Y

There were many episodes where I tried to stop but always went back. But when I met Sylvia, the cop, that was it. I had no interest in drinking from that day on. I stopped and went to meetings religiously. When I had about two weeks of sobriety, I saw that same shopkeeper on the avenue. He waved me over wanting me to buy something, but I told him I wasn’t drinking. Guess he thought I’d be back as in the past.

The first year I went to a men’s group. It became my home group. They met once a week and that first year I went to 51 of those meetings. Figure I went to 360 meetings that first year. The one time I missed was when we went out of town. Sylvia made sure I went to meetings. She’d take me and wait outside.

Collect a couple numbers every meeting and call that person to tell them thanks

Sylvia was a significant harbinger of my future sobriety. We got along wonderfully for a long time and then we didn’t. It was one of those come here, go away relationships. We’re still friends but she has her life back east now and I have mine.

photo credits available upon request to thepoint@aasfmarin.org

Two years ago, I had an aortic dissection. It’s a miracle I’m still alive. UCSF saved my life. I had been in a blackout out on my floor for three days with a broken shoulder earlier this year and my neighbor found me. I had surgery and am now better. 

Today I don’t attend as many meetings as in the past, but I still go. My highest week was 16 meetings including Al-Anon and A.A. I sponsor people. I’m not a helicopter sponsor but I collect a couple numbers every meeting and call that person to tell them thanks for giving me their number. 

It’s not what I did but what I do today

My professional life is more interesting than my sober life. I had a weekly radio show as a rock journalist and did a bunch of specials. I did about 60 shows a year, writing and producing. I hung out with rock stars mostly through my work and as a “harp player” (playing my harmonica). I’ve played with many of the best rock musicians and interviewed them as well. I took my name Jym in honor of Jimi Hendrix. Jimi had no Y, so I traded in my “I” for his “Y.” 

My sobriety date is September 9, 1999 (9-9-99). As my son now tells me about my drinking, “That’s what you did, but not what you do today.” This keeps me in the present. Today I’m in an entirely new place and thankful.

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