Recovery: When Everything Goes Topsy Turvey on an Oregon Road Trip!

Lorrance Herring
9 min readApr 8, 2021


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What do you do with a drunken sailor? What do you do with a drunken sailor? What do you do with a drunken sailor, early in the morning?

Especially, when you are in the land of Goonies, loonies, seafood, and seamen? Poetry and comedy helps. The fact that April is national poetry and comedy month is a great reminder of what to focus on while learning to navigate in life while in recovery from alcoholism and relationships gone wrong.

I met a new friend from New York who is nice, fun-loving, and independent. She’s new to my area and asked me if I’d like to go on a road trip to Astoria, Oregon. Although I’ve lived my entire life in Oregon, I’d only been Astoria once before and thought it might be fun to visit again. The fact that “The Goonies” was filmed in Astoria only adds to the intrigue of the place. Besides, I grew up in the coastal town of Florence, Oregon so getting back near the ocean, fish, fish tales, whales, fishermen, Barnacle Bill and Old Stormy is something that helps me feel connected to my roots. My dad was a Marine and a hardworking lumberjack who taught his kids how to fish, hunt, and forage.

My Californian husband encouraged me to go. He often encourages me to make new friends, take a few risks, and he knows how important it is to take breaks from the mundane pressures of everyday life to enjoy a different environment.

So, I looked forward to a time of refreshing my spirit, refreshing my soul with a relaxing experience full of plenty of rest and relaxation.

The best way I can describe this trip is to chalk it up to one of those “lessons learned” types of adventures into the land of the Seven Deadly Sins not to be repeated anytime soon. It was one of those “fun” times that left me needing another vacation in order to recover from the adventure:

  1. My new friend smokes. I do not. Breathing second-hand smoke was not “refreshing” for me and it did not enhance my ability to enjoy the car ride, the motel balcony, or my efforts to be as toxin free as possible. However, I know how hard nicotine can be to quit; it is a legal drug in the United States, even if it is a nasty habit that will eventually cause detrimental outcomes to those who engage in smoking nicotine. My mother died from strokes and health complications due to “legal” addictions to nicotine and the willful ignorance of her society and time period. So, this trip was “smokin’ hot” in more ways than I can count without cracking jokes about butts and ash-holes. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…I pray for protection because I must!
  2. My new friend eats foods that I do not enjoy and cannot stomach without getting sicker than a dog. I will not eat certain foods due to ethical and moral issues, and because I have been educated about the dangers of certain chemical nightmares our society passes off as “food” when it has NO nutrition whatsoever involved in the manufacturing and packaging of it. My funds were very limited, so I did my best to choose economical meals such as soups and salads, vegetarian options, and I made do with the Bob’s Red Mill oatmeal and walnuts provided by the motel in the mornings. I splurged on an egg sandwich with some bacon one morning at a coffee shop; my friend splurged on some alien-looking squid one evening at an Italian restaurant. To each their own. What one person can stomach, another person might keel over and die. I believe if we eat as healthy as possible, as often as possible, that should allow for those splurges on special occassions.
  3. I am in recovery from ever drinking alcohol. Alcohol and I do not mix well. My body can build up a tolerance to alcohol and somehow it lends itself to building up a tolerance to becoming abused and taken advantage of by those who use alcohol as a tool to make it easier to be controlled and then blamed for almost dying and not being “perfect” or “pure” or for being an “embarrassment”…the list goes on. I am too sensitive and emotional as it is, and I do not need the confidence boost to let loose my flying monkeys when someone violates my sense of dignity, self-respect, or safety. I don’t need alcohol to deal with ape-shit crazy people, or speak like a fishmonger’s wife anymore. I can out-cuss a sailor, a pirate, a police officer, a military person, an English professor, and a teenager full of nothing but testosterone and locker-room mentality…I can even out-cuss a presidential leader. I’ve been trained by the best, and inspired by twenty years of dealing with an abusive narcissistic hypocrite who used the police and other professionals to hide his own bad behavior by merely pointing his finger at me. It’s called “gaslighting”….and, some men believe their butt-gases smell like roses while their wife farts like an elephant. Today, one of my favorite subject materials for comedy is talking about how I once upon a time could drink everyone under the table and then dance upon the top of it in ballet slippers stained with blood while delivering a biblical sermon on the seven deadly sins as a Sunday school teacher. So, absolutely NO alcohol for this Mermaid and shapeshifter!
  4. My friend, however, was free to drink as much alcohol as she wanted…especially since I insisted on driving while she relaxed and enjoyed herself. Alcohol is legal in America, so long as everyone drinking is an adult and is responsible for whatever outcomes unfold after ingesting a toxin that could kill you, or someone else, if anyone drinks too much. So, in some ways this trip reminded me just a bit of the scene from “Pinocchio” when the lost little kid was introduced to the “grown-up” world of smokers and drinkers living it up in a Jonah type of Fairy Tale. In fact, I might just make some popcorn and watch that movie tonight as a reminder of the lessons I learned in childhood and all the school mates who are no longer alive on this earth.
  5. My friend has a weight issue and snored all night long. She apologized as it is something she can’t help. A lot of people have snoring issues depending on how exhausted they are, or how their breathing system is set up. Extra weight does not help. I hadn’t even thought of needing to bring earplugs with me, so the first night I did not sleep much at all. No worries. I figured I’ve ran on very little sleep before, so I would just muddle through the next day and ask for some earplugs at the front desk of the motel. The front desk had no earplugs. No problem. I’m a resourceful woman with a few brain cells left in my nutshell. I’d find some earplugs as we enjoyed browsing in the whimsical and delightful touristy downtown. Astoria, I discovered, does not provide very many “practical” store options, and the one convenience store that sold travel-size toothpaste for tourists did not have any earplugs. My friend spent quite a bit of time on her phone connecting to other friends as she enjoyed the sunshine and the beautiful coastal environment, so I was left to my own devices as I tried to figure out how to take charge of my own needs for self-care. I drank enough morning coffee to give me a false boost of energy and afternoon peppermint tea to cause me a slight bit of anxiety when waiting in line at the few and far between bathrooms open to the public. We had skipped lunch. My friend had leftover squid to look forward to at the motel. I was doing my best to maintain a pleasant attitude and not become a grumpy bitch. Afterall, this was supposed to be a fun getaway for both of us. I was determined to have a good time in spite of the situation not being ideal…”I’m just a worry wart” my friend told me. “You need to relax and not be so uptight,” she commented.
  6. The sun began going down and the cool breeze lowered my body temperature to the point that I was beginning to become miserable and very cold. Even with a coat on. I’m on the thinner side and needed to get some food in my stomach, some warm water on my skin, and put myself under some blankets. I desperately needed some sleep to feel rested, healthy and functional. Finding some damned earplugs and eating something hot superceded any fun I could be having in this particular moment of my relaxing getaway. My hands felt as if they were getting frostbitten as I watched the circulation disappear as my fingers turned numb and white. I might have inconvenienced my friend, but I insisted that we stop at whatever stores looked like they might sell earplugs and whatever restaurant looked like it might provide something hot, nourishing, and to go. I was not going to go through another night of no sleep, and I wasn’t going to starve myself in the name of being “polite”…my friend had to go to the bathroom, but she was a big girl and could figure out bathrooms at the stores or the places I stopped to get some food, she was left in her vehicle doing the potty dance or on the phone to her friends.
  7. So, the Seven Deadly Sins discovered in Astoria left me with a sense of Happy Pride…I am proud that I did NOT drink any alcohol, even though I was pissed to the Seventh Heaven by the time Easter Sunday rolled around. I am proud that I got myself ready to head back home, picked up all the messes in the room, stripped the bedding and blessed the housekeepers with some unexpected help while I maintained my composure in the face of an emotional storm brewing inside. I am in a fucked-up situation involving missing out on seeing my precious children after asking and being ignored the entire month of February, only to be given ONE day’s notice on Easter Sunday that I could see them on the following Monday morning over Zoom when I *would* be out of town without my computer…that, and giving a couple of druken sailors a ride to their boat on Saturday night as an “unexpected” taxi service that ended up being a NOT fun shit-show by 3 a.m. after I watched my friend and the two nice fishermen go on a drunken bender with SOBER me behind the wheel being taken for a ride as the “reasonable” voice once again not being listened to…the best part of Saturday evening was an amazing hug given to me by a decent gay man who was not after anything other than some human kindness and a healthy, friendly hug. I needed that hug. In fact, I’d be tempted to drive all the way to Astoria just for that hug alone. It felt like a hug from God Almighty while I was being tossed among the high seas full of greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. I did meet someone named “Caveman” who told me he’d been in Astoria for over 3,000 years, along with his fellow travelers in the bar, most of whom had biblical names. We swapped jokes and stories while he introduced me to his friends. He was quite impressed when I told him I was the Morrigan come back again and had some news to share with him from the other side of the foggy pond. Meeting him was almost like the deep, dark caves of Oregon Looney-tunes calling to the deep, dark caves of my Celtic imagination and Pagan Greek heritage…storytellers have been laughing all over the Seven Seas since before the fourth century…afterall, it was one of my great-great-great ancestors who helped build Noah’s Ark and kept the entire zoo safe from Neptune and the Kraken! Except the Unicorns…they became Norwhals. Epona turned the rest of them into My Little Ponies and Rainbow Carrots grown in our Victory Gardens.



Lorrance Herring

Oregon born, Bardass Poet, Bat-Shit Crazy Stand-Up Comedian, Entertaining Social Activist, Mamadadaist Artist of 8 kids, Weirdo Wonder Woman, Narc Researcher