Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Slow Down

In some different universe, I should have tried to start this blog the very first time I became sober after not having any strong sober streaks behind me.  As it stands, I did stay sober for half of 2009.  It was very hard to stay sober then, because I felt immediately and hugely fatigued.  And so will you.  Run down, eyes bloodshot, friends a light year or more away, always coming through in distorted shapes and with overtures that cannot be full recognized until too many moments pass to respond normally to them.  And for now, at least, I'm here to tell you that this is normal.  It is significant though, because it means you need to take care of yourself, and that, for the first time, you're sober enough to realize how haggard you truly are.  The fatigue will pass.  Not immediately, but it will.  You need to stay sober for a full month or more to get rid of this extra layer of mental fat.  Your brain has been drying up and will gain moisture and expand as you treat yourself normally.  Give it a shot.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tip #4

Call someone you've lost touch with.  Call and talk to them, and listen to their stories, and don't talk about yourself that much. 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Year Has Officially Begun

Yesterday was my birthday, so I'm actually counting down now, in a way, until I turn 30 next year.  Not drinking yesterday wasn't as much a chore as I thought it would be, mostly because nobody noticed, and because I stayed busy.  If we were out at a bar it would be a bit harder.  I actually labeled a beer in the closet in green "next August" so that I can partake next year.  How's that for forward thinking?

Mostly, I want to live a fulfilling life and not become an abusive ignorant or egregiously close minded fool.  As easy as it may be to point out instances or people that typify such descriptors, it is much harder to trace their realization over time, and from normal roots.  There's always an insecure little kid inside the most arrogant loudest son of a bitch, but sympathizing with the kid doesn't excuse the adult's behavior.  No matter how clear or precise you may be able to diagnose matters in other people, the attention should be turned toward yourself (the self) in at least a 10 fold magnification--because it is just much harder to grab at simple insights about yourself than it is about other people.  And that's probably why people can go on exhibiting the behavior that they dislike or disagree with in others.  They're simply not aware of how they act.  How to make them aware, or oneself aware of oneself, and how to do so in a way that doesn't trigger immediate defense mechanisms, is the key to the castle, whether it be kafka-esque, or a one bedroom in Queens.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why Not Drink(!) For Goodness Sake!

I find that I have to come up with good and specific reasons not to drink, because the generalized and dramatic reason of end of life and bad health both psychological and physical and irresponsibility toward my significant other just doesn't really come close to the desire to drink on a daily basis. Not everyday, mind you, it isn't that ghoulish or depraved, and nothing is one dimensional, sure, but threats against existence aren't the best ways to get people to act in accordance with a wish/want unless immediate and direct.  So incentivize me!  I don't want to live like a nun.  But I do want to drink some times, and fit in, and there it is folks--I really do want to fit in, and it fits me that I could drink and fit in, and be popular and social and enjoyable and regular.  At the same time, I don't want to fit in completely but to epitomize that which can be aspired to.

Eventually though, I've found that I have to let everything go--my own expectations as played out through paranoia or through expectations that I lay on to other people's eyes as they screen me, my inability to be the best, and face up to where I am now, in my life.  I think that I've largely done that, but let's remember that such things don't just stay largely done.  They need constant attention and pruning to behave and grow in the most beneficial manner, and that takes time and energy and patience.  So I've/You've got to have patience with yourself/myself, because in a way, it is all you can have.  Without it you don't live, you just get deeply frustrated, even nauseous at your own existence, and everybody else around you, and that can actually turn into arrogance if you let it go unchecked, believe it or not--not that you want to care about other people's view of you, but you do want to care in a way that is proportional and healthy without the desperate need to check in and figure out how all of those relationships are interweaving themselves, because the reality is that I/you just want to live and not be hampered down, which is a reason to keep going sober, if it might be allowed for the briefest of moments.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Funny Concurrence

Since I've not been drinking for about two months, my fiance also has not been drinking too much.   When I was drinking previous to that, so was she--she never drank quite as much as me because she's much smaller, but she did drink consistently (every day), and it become routine that we pack on an extra 300-900 (or more) calories a day in alcohol.  Very very easy to do this, and to become used to it, and probably, for a good chunk of the population, to stick to lower levels of consumption, similar to the use of coffee.  The tendency to abuse coffee is out there, and does happen, but after a few huge cups, you generally don't need to drink more than that--if you've ever had too much caffeine, you know that alertness does indeed stop at some point of ingestion.  You can only be so alert before you become shaky and cranky.  There aren't exactly coffee binge parties happening at frat houses either.

Anyway, to disabuse one point.  If I can force myself to feel comfortable at a social gathering (a bit of an oxymoron, force), and get over the first 20 minutes, then I relax as much as the drinkers around me, but maintain acuity.  I may even be more comfortable throughout the night when not drinking, not because I'm always conscious of the drink in my hand, but because alcohol, like coffee, has a bit of a limit too: once you exceed a certain amount you slide right pass socially lubricated to downright sloppy.  The main issue for me, and for a fair percentage of folks, is that the decision to stay in the socially lubricated stage is made when you're already there, and not when sober, so it easy to get sloppier, and then, if you're not aware of it, you know, enter a little place of your own. 

Great Song

 The same thing that makes you live can kill you in the end.

That's Neil Young.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tip # 3

Don't be afraid of eating food.  You don't have to trade in bad drinking for good food the whole time, but maybe your body has become used to the alcohol as food, which means that a lot of the possible food choices out there are better for you.  It also means that it will take some time to transition back to where you should be.

Remember the bliss of childhood?  full days swollen with seemingly infinite time to swim in a momentum of sunlight; to swallow the start of a summer, when school couldn't even exist for years, and the sap ran from trees you scarred with messages of both aphasic and inexplicably translucent, utterly available messages that were special prizes for a day, which was enough. Nothing needed permanence. A journey, really, all the time. Not all of childhood was like this, that's true.  But that's okay.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Car Swerved

First to the right, then the left, then it slowed, dragged down in the fisherman's net, only to dart diagonally right before settling down to float to a parking spot on the right.  It being a pleasant cool evening, with my own pleasant cool demeanor most joyously inclined toward parallel  insouciance, I felt that communication with the driver of this video game car might have crossed communicative threshold, given the ease with which communication could occur, given that we were directly behind and just about to pass him at a sluggish five mph, and so I let my hand flag out the window and promptly indicated in obsequious and fawning tone that the driver might consider utilizing the small yellow lights which, when properly connected, allow for a the minutest of electrical neuronal  impulse to be exceptionally displayed on the exterior of a two ton piece of scrap metal.  I tell you this in all honesty and with no sarcasm--for I was not sarcastic no matter how sarcastic this may seem. His reply: Fuck You, Asshole, at full range of vocal cords embedded within his smallish seemingly prepubescent throat.

Aware of Your Drinking Pattern?

For some people, their idea of having a good time or partying or letting go in relation to alcohol consumption is almost a joke (a good joke mind you): three drinks, four drinks max, and they're tired and done.  They've approached a boundary that, I suspect, is artificial.  They simply haven't experienced more drinking to know where their true boundaries are, because, for the most part, they are still highly cognizant and capable after two or three or four drinks.

I'm not suggesting that people should try to hit their maximum threshold/BAC to "really know" themselves or anything like that.  I'm just saying that when some people communicate about what they think is the same phenomenon, in the drinking context, their intent with regard to quantity may be far afield.  Those lightweight drinkers are smart, because they don't test out their own tolerance (or if they do, they do so infrequently). Heavy drinkers, or people that "really party" know these folks well, because they're boring--at least for heavier drinkers. Why?  Because they enlighten those heavy drinkers that there's an inch of possibility that going out and drinking doesn't need to be a full on booze fest, and that's a bummer because it makes the heavy drinker aware of their drinking.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


A little sturdy oatmeal helps the digestion process.  Or perhaps something else nutritious.  You should have a fall back, a default, for every time you have an urge to pick up a glass, or a joint, or x.  That's why tea makes sense: because you can keep doing it with almost no bad results.  Of course, you'll get a bit jolted from the caffeine, but it's nothing like the waterfall of a coffee binge, and your urge will probably pass by your eighth cup, or you third bowl of oatmeal, if that's the case.  But not candy!  Heavens no.

I've also conjured up a new (and only tangentially related) formula: Foreign + You Can Eat it + Sweet = Loved by Americans.

Tip # 2

If you're trying not to drink, remember that you don't have to try to do everything that you've ignored while drinking. 

The Obsession Market

The goal of not drinking isn't exactly to replace one addictive behavior with another, but to work on the quality of addictive behaviors, toward recognition (at least): triggers, stigma, shame, and compulsiveness.  At first after getting sober, I found a tendency in myself to work really hard on whatever activity I had decided on--and here I'm referring to total dedication.  Exercise might be one example, at least for a few days at a time.  But then I realized that I was exercising compulsively and that there seems to be no activity imaginable that couldn't be done compulsively (nor is it hard to find groups trying to kick the habit).  Can I get some exercise credits for some booze credits?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Alcohol Free, the Premise

There's a bit of a scene in that epic Infinite Jest when one of main characters from the rehab clinic is in the hospital after kicking some major Québécois butt--he's seriously hurt though, taking a bullet in the shoulder, if memory serves (the Canadians are flummoxed by the surprise kidnapping of their dog by another detox center/rehab house inhabitant, in some of the best and most exciting writing I've read in a while, though I won't go further here).  He's in the hospital, this guy, and he refuses pain medication that is scheduled as a narcotic.  Which is to say that he must endure unimaginable pain.  In the book he begins to hallucinate from the pain.  An apt metaphor, perhaps, because, for folks struggling with addiction in both the affirmative/positive drinking/using stage or the restricted/negative stage, they suffer for their addictions.  He must think that the absorption of any addictive substance will lead him to a binge--that complete abstention is the only choice to survive. 

One commenter, though, suggested that, while some problem drinkers (maybe most) adhere to this premise, it is also possible to "keep the line bright by basing the rules on the context of the drinking situation rather than the amount of alcohol. It's fairly simple to construct easy to follow rules that do not require that you refuse a toast glass at a New Year's party."  To which I'd only inquire about how easy it is to follow rules. Perhaps problem drinkers need to have good friends that stand guard against extraneous consumption?  For me, at least, the longer I'm sober the more of a risk it seems if I choose to drink.  It doesn't happen immediately, but it happens.  Allowing some alcohol for special occasions specializes all sorts of occasions--heck, after a while, coming home for the day is a bit of an occasion.   But if I know that x months, or even years, are behind me, it proves a useful deterrant.  When (if) I drank two days ago and felt relaxed doing it, there's not much of a disincentive to abstain now.  Conversely, I'm not sure how I could have a moderate or decent (or professional even!) relationship to alcohol if I didn't have any relationship at all for a year and then decided to start in again.  Is booze the perennial lover, always full of intensity and passion, then remorse and low grade nostalgia?  Should we give in to death and age so that we can approach a mutual understanding, a meeting of the minds, or is it rather the case that, every time we get up close to realize it, to realize where we stand in the ring, we get shockingly unhinged, and swear against it again only to find some wanderlust return to shine the horizon bright again--brighter still because we lay on a bloody floor? I don't mind leaving the footprints, of course, even relish in it, but I'm not sure if there's a start and endpoint they lead back or forward to.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Just a Little?

For dessert, bananas emerged with a syrupy sauce that was part vanilla, part brown sugar, and part rum.  It had been cooked a bit, so there wasn't any risk of consuming enough alcohol for a buzz without also getting an extreme stomach ache, but there was some risk associated with consuming some small quantity of alcohol that I can't deny.  The question here is how strict you want to be at the non-drinking game.  At what level does your system recognize booze and switch from a mildly content but at times irritable person to one that has deeply embedded salivary glands for cognac?  I'm not sure.  I'm not sure if I have to abstain from all alcohol, including cough syrup for instance.  If I allow for specific purpose exceptions, then may I allow myself one glass of wine to congratulate a friend's marriage, or birthday, or etc.?  Have you ever been empty handed at a toast?  It is not too comfortable.  What is stranger, the fact that I point out my problem with booze by not drinking, or the fact that I could be more normal by drinking, even a little bit at a time?  I know, I know, the basic response always clicks right in when needed: You cannot control your drinking, so you shouldn't drink even a little bit.  But what if that is not so true?  And what parameters do I apply to "control" (in all seriousness)?  Should I abstain this weekend because I'm fearful of late September, or of September 2011?  There's probably a balance, I agree, but it just isn't that easy to locate. 

Not Drinking and Others 2

 Last night, I "wasn't drinking" because of upcoming surgery.  To be sure, I didn't extend this example outward for dessert after dinner.  It wasn't even an appetizer, but, by some perfectly ordinarily and deceptively strange swing of chance, the host pulled out a made-for-the-evening punch, with blueberries in ice, and announced the question "everybody here drinks alcohol, right?", which I found funny, since he didn't say booze, or liquor or anything, so that it sounded clinical to me, a disclaimer: I presume at the start of these trials, that you're well adapted to the ingestion of chemical substances containing portions approaching one half ethyl alcohol, one quarter quarter highly sugared crystalline powder based red drink mix, and a dusting of well known psychoactive substance that may freak you out but which is highly acceptable in normal discourse, particularly personal entertainment in circles of the local intelligentsia. Sure, sure, who's not ready to partake?  Well, I offered with a meek hand, as if I might rush to a draft and close a window or change the subject, that I might not be in the grandest of drinking moods on this particular evening anyway, so would prefer water.  It was accepted.

The trick to performing well in job interview is to provide answers to questions that evoke further questions, not out of necessity for competence, but out of excitement.  Similarly, one must proffer some aspect, or tendril, depending on how eagerly a friend may be to hold down the smooth layers of the scene, of plausible rational.  I had nothing, but he had everything: the coming surgery, no?  Tell me about that?  No, don't want to mess around with booze or anything until the surgery is over!  So, when is it?  And my mom has the same thing, or had it, and she too didn't want to partake in my cocktail, which was perfectly understandable, given the nature of doctors orders.

So basically I let a lie maintain relevance, because it was easier.  No big deal.  But I did catch myself daydreaming today about the possibility of having a few drinks on my birthday since it was the technical start date of the none-drinking zone.  Ah well.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tip # 1

The first tip in a long series: find yourself some good black tea, a few lemons, and drink that combination down all day long.  Stay away from coffee--I don't care how assiduously you perch yourself on coffee shop stools for the visual edification of numerous mildly skeptical or partially entertained patrons.  It doesn't matter. It doesn't even matter that your titanium super MacPad dynamically enhances your image through a serious of microscopic lasers that minimize the size of your pores.  It especially doesn't matter that you're special in any way.  Drink your black tea.


And then, about two years ago on my birthday I nonchalantly entered a bar with a friend.  The feature of the bar that was most appealing was that they would provide 10 shots for 10 dollars.  You may even know the bar I'm referring to.  I'd only been in there once before, and it was as advertised.  I'm no expert on measurement, but the ten shots looked skimpy that last time, when some crazy movie in the back blared at me in silence and my fellow compatriots stared off toward the front of the cavernous bar, insouciant as they could possibly be for that moment in time.  And it was filled with college-type folks, just trying to get their groove on.  No matter, for the cost of less than two beers, I'd have some hard liquor.  So when I went in on my birthday, it was maker's mark, their top 10 for 10 whiskey, that I desired.

As a side note, I really enjoy whiskey.  Not something that I used to partake in with any real comprehension.  When I catch myself staring into the boutique liquor store next to my office at the small batch bottles, their soft golden glow coming back to bathe my face, it is hard to fathom not drinking them again.  I have to remind myself at those points that the dream is far more pleasurable than the act.  For, at a not so distant time, I did purchase some excellent whiskey only to be slightly disappointed--there's a lot of context that goes into drinking for someone to enjoy the drink thoroughly and as close to the Platonic ideal as possible.  Timing,status of relationship to other people, level of accomplishment generally, etc.  Drinking does not escape the balancing of moral good in one's mental calculus--namely, that, if I just achieved something deemed objectively worthy, I deserve a drink, or some celebration (same formula for something objectively difficult, etc).  If I just walked out of oral exams to receive some graduate level degree, there would be very little obstacles in the way of drinking until I was bleary eyed--it would even be expected of me.  But perhaps the whiskey in the window was uniquely delicious because I couldn't ever actually partake in it's consumption while at work.  More specifically: the impossibility of drinking that whiskey, from that store, was not about drinking that whiskey at all, but not surprisingly, about blowing off my responsibilities, and the need to plan or control my future.  We all have the opportunity to think about our future/s from a short term to long term perspective, that's true.  But there's nothing like blowing off immediate level reality for a good whiskey binge.

Then again, there's nothing like the romanticized idyllic memory of doing something so stupid, either.

And so it was my birthday, not last year, but the year before.  When they brought us our 10 shots (the person I was drinking with was much smaller and  much less of an experienced imbiber, but expressed a sardonic urge to waste herself on whiskey.  Excuse me, did you just say you'll give me ten thousand dollars?  Let's go.

When the drinks came on a large tray, we started moving them to the table, but when about half remained, I hit the damn thing with my elbow and the drinks all spilled over on the tray.  What was left to do but turn the tray on it's side and guzzle it on down directly, to much laughter from surrounding tables?

We found ourselves a few hours later for a slice of pizza next to a small park.  The park itself isn't anything special, but it did have seats, and so I hopped the miniature fence and placed myself down on the bench.  The inane nature of Park and Recreation officers is almost ineffable, but they did choose that moment to come around the corner on a little scooter type vehicle.  I saw them and thought nothing of it, until they pulled up next to us and stopped.  I still thought that I could convince them that we so obviously placid and stoned on booze and pizza that our benign presence would surely expel any snivelly civil service abusing homeless folks who might come around, that, in fact, we provided a supplementary benefit to the city in this regard, but I was wrong.  So then, I told them it was my birthday. And, then, when they asked for our ids, I asked for their badge numbers and wrote them down in a muttering hand of pure indignation. I still have the oh-so-sorry looking page from that night.  In the end, I wasn't able to prove anything, and we both got tickets, and both decided retrospectively that we should have run for the subway at first sight of the glorified janitorial staff that zoomed around the west village on late summer nights.

The point isn't that you can slurp five shots at a time and get away with it.  The point isn't even that we had a good time.  The point may be closer to the fact that I had passed another good birthday in denial and slobber, blots of whiskey stain on my shirt to prove it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Guilt and Booze

Here's the question: Have you ever woken up after a night of hard drinking to the feeling of horrible guilt and shame, so strong that you feel utterly repulsed by your own [fractured] tidbits of memory?

I distinctly remember a few facts about waking up after a night of drinking, or fun, or going out, etc.  Previously, I'd wake up lazy, head pounding with hurt, and take care of basic priorities: water, rest, nutrition (if possible).  At some point, though, waking up became a shock.  My eyes would snap open and I'd be assaulted by a cascading waterfall of guilt and subsequent panic: guilt because the night would come back to me in wall sized panorama, each pinprick of distortion, almost hallucinogenic in a way.  Memories broken up and sliding on top of each other, unraveling at the edges to connect to a splice from some other scene, a lyric, chorus, response; some facade of relief at going outside into cool air.  After some time experiencing these newer sorts of panic attack hangovers, they started to incorporate previous days' promises not to drink that night, to be supported by even more promises that I'd make not to drink the coming evening.  The next morning would inevitably roll around to announce itself like a punch in the face, as if the day between didn't happen, as if the first five minutes of the morning was the only time I was actually living, or the only time I could reflect, I'm not sure.

But then the aching metaphoric limbs get a little stretched out, some calls are made, a few exercises done (exercise is a guilt killer), perhaps, and some normal everyday functionality is had, and before you can stop to breathe, the night is upon you, and you feel fine, perhaps a little run down like you need a cup of coffee or some fresh air.  And what turns out to be a little fresh air, or a little pick-me-up, is the drink, as only it can be.  Normalcy returns like a flood after the first two drinks.  The old social self is friendly again, a best friend, saintly in gratitude and observance, and intensely aware.  Sensations come back. All the color that had been lost, that you never knew you were missing, return from a long fascinating journey with stories and anecdotes and personal winks.  A favorite album on a stereo you never knew could exist.  And then you're excited again, and participatory, and life sits at your heels, and your friends are all clued into exactly the same reality.  Such relief.  And they all drink, and all of you drinks, shying away from that other self lurking in the corner, ignoring him.  Eventually you signal for the pleasure to end.  Four in the morning.  You wander home through parks with moist cool grass.  You find yourself a freshly printed Sunday New York Times (you even start astutely reading it), and you find yourself home again, the light fading up, when you decide that you're finally tired enough to sleep, after all of the productive behavior you've had, and slip down under the blanket of consciousness.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Not Drinking During Hard Times

It is so easy to drink a little bit here and there to convince yourself that you don’t have a problem at all. You’ll find that you congratulate yourself more frequently, too, about finding a balance in your life, and you’ll wonder who that strange socially awkward person was who tried to stop drinking—why did that make any sense at all? That’s how I felt about myself last September, when I decided, after six months to the day, to have a drink. I decided to take the GRE. In fact, I had decided to try to do a lot of really ambitious things when I stopped drinking that time. For the record, it was March 8, 2009 when I stopped. And it was September 8, 2009, when I started. Also for the record, I’ve been sober since June 25, 2010 until, well, until today, so far—and so good. I didn’t have a drink last night when my friend did. I didn’t have a drink today. What did I do today? Well, it was alright: went to a local MBA program and spoke with entering honors students (the cream of the crop so called)—they were supposed to pitch themselves, individually, in 90 seconds, and then receive feedback (from me). It was a great event, mostly because I had a chance to interact with people, perform some analytical task, and try to motivate people toward something. Not as if they needed motivation per se. They’ve been getting plenty of that. Odd factor was that I have much less experience, particularly financial, than they did, and that was alright by me, after a round. Even got some praise that we were by far the “best group” of critiquers (from the critiquees). Fine. Dandy.

And then we wandered into the “social” part of the event and my colleague went for a glass of wine. Then another. And perhaps a third. He is totally competent and absolutely delightful and great: what I’m saying is his drinking wasn’t the problem. The problem was that I had a particularly hard night last night. A vicious fight spread, gasoline fueled, in less than one minute, for a minor infraction of a code that isn’t written down, and one that I thought I had memorized hard by now. I didn’t, or don’t, and I still don’t know how the situation will be resolved. And, yes, I’m on a tangent. But this whole blog is a bit of a tangent, and that’s just how it’ll be. The rich smell of red wine in clear plastic cups, and the pungency of my sobriety sticking out Pinocchio-like through the room. Of course nobody noticed. I didn’t drink. I left and didn’t drink. But I did smoke a cigarette, which kills me, both literally and figuratively, because I don’t want to turn to an addictive substance when times are hard. That’s kind of the point, or at least some distant cousin of the point, genetically mutated or not, to teetotaling.

And again, drinking a little bit when you feel decent isn’t the challenge, really. Because the last time I stopped drinking I did well on the GRE that day. Better than I thought I would. So I decided to have a drink, then see a movie. Somehow, though, I decided that I had to have two drinks, not just one drink. Why? If I was going to break six months of commitment, I had to get a little buzzed, and one drink wouldn’t do it. Even then, one drink couldn’t suffice (I’m not a lightweight physically, as far as rationales go)—I swore that I would continue to abstain after those drinks, but of course, I couldn’t. A mere three days later a large family type party ensued with much beer, and many happy tidings, and celebration, and, well, I drank it all up—all night long. There goes six months. Bye bye.  Funny.  Because I don't want to keep track of time like that, but it is a practical necessity, I think, now.

And now, hello, again, to the edge of eight weeks. Two months. Holding steady until today, where the windows felt damn thin against the cold air of late summer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dealing With Others

And so, I’m going to Poland and potentially the Czech Republic and plan not to drink beer. “They INVENTED PILSNER there” says a well lubricated friend of mine, who may be historically accurate (I’m not sure), but by commenting about it, he brings up another strong dynamic associated with not drinking: how the hell do you explain this to friends? Also, how might friendships that, while not fully centered on drinking, did involve at least above average levels of imbibing, change? While I can’t hope to answer this in a few paragraphs, I can say that friends will wonder why you’re not drinking. The tricky phenomenon to explain is that, while you’re not quite an alcoholic (at times characterized by an unabashed love of booze over all other things, and a complete inability to stop drinking without help), alcoholism is not a disease that people either just have or lack. It is, instead, a progressive process of annihilation, which means that I may exhibit relatively normal behavior around friends and hold my life together (albeit loosely) in a way that outwardly manifests as harmonious, while internally, it isn’t going so well—and that, without changing current behavior, 5 years from now I will be doing less well regarding alcohol consumption. And of course there are myriad other items that you want to talk about when queried from a friend or acquaintance.

Now you’ve got a problem though, because the friend you’re currently talking with turns out to have about the same consumption patterns that you used to maintain (as of yesterday, let’s say), so their choice in the matter is to take you seriously and think about their own drinking or not take you seriously. At least that’s what I’ve run up against. People don’t generally like to talk about their drinking, especially if they happen to drink daily, over 3 drinks at a time, or have remotely tried to push away any intuition that might swim to the surface regarding their patterns. Beyond that, though, for most people, the act of drinking is also an excuse to fall into a more oblivious socially enhanced mindset, not just because of the booze. You’ve all seen the ultra peppy or egregiously garrulous person appear in some people after a few sips. In this laboratory, inserting actual comment about the activity itself is also likely to be returned with, well, some reluctance, let’s say. That’s to say nothing (for now) of the serious full time alcoholic who has decided to steer completely clear of watering holes on pretext.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Last Time.

I don’t want to have a beer for breakfast. But after a long day of running around, it feels relaxing to have a few. Like three, for example. That’s how my previous drinking moderation kept itself motivated, at least until late June, when I decided I’d stop for a bit. I called in sick on a Friday after drinking on Thursday night. I had consumed a mere three beers. Okay, perhaps it was four. Perhaps they were also 20oz German monsters of hoppy enormity. Sure. Fact was that I drank them faster than I should have, and was wobbly the next morning, when, after almost vomiting into my breakfast, decided to make that call. Or, as history might have it, that email.

The sick day is a bit of a flexible concept, one that might accompany a vacation, or a mental health need, or perhaps, a stroke of spontaneity to leave town and break the drab routine of everyday existence. Certainly it provides an avenue for escape from all that is not desired. The only issue remaining is that, as a sick day taker, you may always choose to break down and go to work should your conscious catch up to the level of guilt you may or may not experience when forsaking some modicum of responsibility like work. I couldn’t go to the office that Friday, no matter what I wanted, and that spurred some minor to medium-level guilt, I’ll admit. Not because I love my job, but instead because it was again time to admit that didn’t control myself.

Control is also a flexible concept though, one that seems regimented and fully applicable upon the first whisks of intention that occur at the electrical-neural level. The three beer idea being within the controllable realm, one that posits greater levels of control for the beer drinker overall, which provides some comfort, and the ability to enjoy the consumption process—i.e. not drink while simultaneously capitulating to the fiendish thought process that one must not, indeed, drink, which may cause further drinking in one sitting. More than, say, a moderate drinker who truly seems to drink slowly, not desire a second glass, and decide to stop drinking upon returning home. That moderate drinker may enjoy the one glass more than the problem drinker enjoys his/her three or four. Maybe.

On that day, the beer was so ultimately delicious in my head on the walk over that there was nothing to do but drink it by the time I arrived. I had gone on tasting the shit long enough. Might as well get the deed done. Somewhere around the third drink I did indeed lose my ability to feel guilty, and that, for a good forty minutes prior to hellishly hot subway ride, certainly felt like an accomplishment.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why I'm Here

I decided to start writing this blog because I don't have many real springboards to turn to regarding conversations about not drinking. I'm about to turn 29, and thought that, since I've had bouts of sobriety earlier in my life (and, ahem, bouts of non-sobriety) it would be a good idea to stay straight and sober for a year, until I'm 30, at least.  I haven't made it to a year before. I'll try to write here every day for a year or more, excluding a two week point in September when I won't have access to a computer, but I plan to take notes and come back to post them. 

So, where to start?  First, I don't know what to think of alcoholics anonymous. I haven't been to a meeting, and I don't know if I will do so.  Second.  I'm not sure what I consider myself in the continuum of alcoholic to casual drinker, but not drinking seems like a good idea for various reasons that I'll explore in future posts.  Third, why a year? Well, I need to set some goal here.  I know it is potentially dangerous to think about this in a block of time, because it sets up a  certain trend of return/reward to drinking type thinking, and before in my life, when I stopped drinking for six months, within two weeks upon the resumption of drinking, it felt as if I hadn't stopped. So, with that said, I don't know if I can start to contemplate never drinking again.  That's probably why the day at a time saying exists--how can you conceptualize the rest of your life regarding a single variable, anyway? 

One thing, though: I'm not going to pretend that this is some existential journey or fantasy. There are real results to consistently drinking too much, and I'm not engaged in a game here.  I am convinced that my drinking is of sufficient depth and range that I'm at risk for further damage (yes, I now assume that drinking changed some of the trajectory of my life, why deny it?). I'm starting this in part so that  I don't decide to drink with any piece of spare time.  With startling self-consciousness, though, I realize that I don't want to confess that I have a reason not to drink.

But I do have a certain faith that not-drinking will cause better events to unfold in the future, and, conversely, keep some bad events at bay. Sheez, see how easy it is to glide down that gentle path and take nothing in the way of responsibility? I also cannot just fill these pages with the longing to drink, so I won't consciously do so. I'll admit that I also want to have something productive to do every day that I don't drink.
And, while there's a ton of chores to do, they're not exactly as soothing as writing some thoughts down,
plain and simple.

As far as commenting, I encourage it, and will try to respond if possible.  As far as posts go, like I said: at least one a day. If for some reason I cannot post, I'll do two posts the next day, jotting some notes down on paper in the interim. Okay?  So, that just about settles that.

On to not drinking.