Tag: sobriety is boring

Chapter Five, Quilts, and Other Little Matters


The rain we’ve had for the last few days has been wonderful.  It’s cleaned the air and made everything come to life.  The sound of it has been soothing and happy.  I went to the grocery store on my scooter in the downpour and before I got out into it I was dreading getting soaked but once out there I remembered how much I love being in the rain.  It makes me laugh out loud.  I like to run around in it.  I always have.  When it’s dry for such long periods I forget how good it feels on my skin.

I haven’t lost any more weight in a week.  I knew it would slow down but I still find it discouraging.

Yesterday I worked on chapter five more.  Mostly I rewrote Markus Crane as a black man because I finally realized that’s what he IS.  Smith is going to LOVE having a black partner to replace Hesse*.  I am so enamored with Crane.  He’s a man out of time.  He wears 1940’s style suits and fedoras even in the backwoods of Oregon.  Film Noire meets future western.  He is fast on his feet and is the only federal agent in the west who doesn’t carry a lethal weapon.  He will only use tasers or tranq guns because he doesn’t believe in lethal force.  He is frequently underestimated by his peers and adversaries to their detriment.  He is tough but never loses his sense of humor.  Plus, you know, he’s gorgeous.  I was influenced by my recent Alias binge watching so he looks a lot like Carl Lumbly with high cheekbones and dark skin and those amazing eyes.  But he has dimples and is younger than Lumbly.

Meanwhile I’m working madly on catching up with my quilting projects and obligations long  neglected.  I finished making a quilt for a little girl named Lili and now I’m finally working on the quilt I started 5 years ago.  Next up is making the quilt from the quilt top Pam (of Pam Kitty Morning fame) made for me 5 years ago.  I’m really enjoying the quilting and am super excited to have some actual extra blankets around here for guests and for when we get really cold.  Hahahaha.  You know, in the arctic temps of northern California.  But seriously – everyone should have extra blankets around in case of emergency.  We have only one extra blanket left and it’s a super shredded antique quilt that is barely holding together.

I’m now officially one third of the way through my temporary period of sobriety and it’s dull as dishwater but I’m still completely committed to this because I know it continues to be what I needed to do for myself.  I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage in a month and while I don’t feel that makes me the least bit virtuous or “clean” – I know my liver thanks me.  Or, at least, I tell myself it does.  I’ve been a lot more prone to headaches since not drinking.  I don’t know what it’s from.  Maybe decaf black tea doesn’t actually agree with me in large quantities?  It’s all I have to drink in the evenings that I find remotely satisfying so I hope that’s not it.  I probably have a brain tumor.  I haven’t gone a whole month without a drink since I was pregnant.  I think, honestly, what’s most important about not drinking for a while (other than weight loss) is to rediscover that I don’t NEED to drink to get through an evening.  I do need to constantly have beverages at my elbow and if that is a pathological habit then I’m okay with it.  But it’s important that I know I don’t need it to be alcohol.  I’m doing this whole thing because I wanted to reboot myself.  “Recalibrate” is the word that most frequently comes to mind when I think about what I’m doing.  And it’s working.  I knew it would if I could just make myself do it.

Although the counseling and disulfarim didn’t turn out to be part of this experience – I think what made me actually DO what I knew I needed to do was going through the humiliating process of admitting to professionals that I needed help.  It was a spur in my side inciting me to action, a threat to my mental and emotional safety that brought me to the starting line.

I told myself that if I felt like a month was long enough once I got there – I could end my imposed sobriety.  I told myself that I trust I’ll know when it’s okay to drink again.  At the month mark now I still believe I need to take this thing all the way to the three month mark because I think it’s going to take that long to truly be comfortable with the new habit of not drinking.  When I bring alcohol back into my life it has to be in a moderate way and so I need to feel completely solidly able to go many nights without alcohol, without feeling that I need the alcohol to calm me down or make things feel alright.

My head is messier.  It shows in my dreams which have become more vivid even than usual.  Richer in detail.  It shows in the disorderly way I approach each day and I haven’t been able to focus enough to figure out food to make ahead of time.  I have not been tired at night but then sleep in.  I don’t like this but my mind is buzzing all the time.

My friend Elizabeth asked if my nightmares have  changed at all since not drinking.  I said they hadn’t – I’ve been getting as many of them as usual.  I forgot to mention that they are more richly detailed than usual.  I also brought up insomnia, saying that it hasn’t been as bad as it usually is when I don’t drink.  I realize now that I’m writing this that that’s because I have simply been staying up longer.  I have been going to bed between 1am and 3am every night which is how I used to deal with insomnia.  Stay up until you can’t.  If I was trying to go to bed by 10 or 11 I would probably be awake in bed for two hours before falling asleep.

What I want is to go to bed by 11pm and get up by 5:30am so I can write in the early morning hours.  I am as far from this schedule as I can be.  Truth be told, the two nights I stayed up until 3am this week I wasn’t even tired when I made myself get in bed.  My head was wide awake.  It was full of images and thoughts and noise.

One thing at a time.

Time to get back to chapter five.  I am looking forward to saying I’m working on chapter six.

*Among Smith’s other dubious charms such as being a chauvinist asshole is that he’s a racist son of a bitch.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #25 and #26


#24 Reason not to Drink: good example for kids

(#24 is brought to you by Stephanie Douglass)

“I think it is good to for my kids to see me not drink. Now it is probably not good for them to hear me complain about it, so I keep it to myself. But having the kids (now adults) not think it is totally weird that someone is not having a drink with dinner, probably not a bad thing.”

I agree that it’s good for Max to see me not drinking.  I don’t care if he hears me complain about it though.  It will show him that I’m choosing not to do something I really enjoy for the sake of my health and well-being even though I would really like to be doing it.  I haven’t complained much (mostly on Friday nights) because it hasn’t been that hard over-all.  I’m also not raving about how awesome I feel because I don’t feel very much more awesome than I did when I was drinking.

#25 Reason not to Drink: more creative ways to hang out with friends

(#25 also brought to you by Stephanie Douglass)

“I love seeing my friends and I network and attend a lot of social and work events. And yes I am able to enjoy myself with a glass of seltzer water. But really, it is not quite a great to be at a loud bar or making your way through a crowd of strangers without that glass of something nice. So I found that not drinking forced to me to find other ways to spend a little time with my friends. A quick drink after work is easy and I still love it as a fast way to spend time with people. But there are other great options. I get pedicures every month – I like nice toes, I hate sitting still while they get nice. The time spent on this grooming is more fun with someone there to talk to. It is nice to go for a run or to a yoga class with someone. Or even a walk after work instead of getting a drink. Not drinking makes me more creative in setting up mini-dates.”

I don’t really have any more reasons left not to drink.  I have been getting behind because I pretty much just keep thinking of rehashes of the reasons I’ve already stated.  My sister thinks I should keep this series up because it’s good practice.  I think I’m going to drop it because how many times and ways do I need to state losing weight as a reason not to drink?  Stephanie has a couple more but one of them is saving money which I’ve already listed as a reason not to drink.  The point of doing this exercise was to reinforce for myself the reasons I’m doing it.  What I hope to accomplish and to keep myself feeling strong about sticking to it.  Turns out I don’t really need the reminder or the reenforcement.

I’ve lost 11 pounds in 26 days.  That is what is currently motivating me.  I wanted to lose 10lbs a month for three months.  I figured that if I lost 24lbs in 3 months I’d be doing great.  At this rate I may lose 30lbs in that time.  Maybe not.  The point is – the single most important reason I’m not drinking is to lose weight.  To get my metabolism moving and to get down to where I don’t feel like throwing up when I see my image in a shop window.  I need to get down to where my body isn’t getting in my way and depressing me independently of everything else in my life.  Because when I get down to a regular size, I will not have so much trouble making healthier decisions for myself.  Self discipline becomes a matter of maintaining a feeling of well-being and I’m pretty good at that – or was – in general.  I said from the beginning that what I needed to keep me going to reach my goals was to see the scale counting backwards fast enough to feel that the efforts I’m making are making a difference.

I will keep not drinking because it’s working.  I’m not sleeping better and I don’t look better (yet) and I honestly don’t think the whites of my eyes are any clearer.  My skin isn’t clearer – as a matter of fact, those little tiny red veins all over my cheek bones that I’m pretty sure are from drinking too much have not only not gone away, since stopping drinking they have become MORE noticeable and some rough patches have developed that look like some of those little veins have burst.  Whatever.  I don’t feel more energetic or clear minded.  I don’t feel more moral or “clean”.

But my clothes aren’t quite as snug.  My face isn’t looking as bloated.

My evenings are more boring and I pee way more often than I used to.

My friend Lucille, who finds my urination habits mucho perplexing, will find herself even more confused than ever.  I can drink a few beers and not have to pee very much.  It absolutely depends on the time of evening it is.  I drink a lot of decaf coffee in the mornings and don’t have to pee too much.  I have to pee the most often when I think I won’t  be able to pee for a while, like when I’m getting on a bus with no bathroom.  Or if I know that the only bathroom that will be available to me for a couple of hours will be some nasty one in downtown San Francisco or San Rafael.  The minute I plan to get into bed I have to pee at least three times.  I can be reading in bed and already have peed three times but the minute I turn out the light I have to pee.  The thought of sitting in a movie theater for two hours makes me have to pee.  I dread having to get up and pee in the middle of it.

It’s what I call “pee fear”.  The fear of being in a situation where it will be challenging or impossible to find a place to pee.  I’m on an airplane far from the bathroom and the second everyone is seated and the flight attendants tell us not to get up – I have to pee.  It’s a psychological thing.  It’s uncomfortable and deeply irritating and causes me tremendous anxiety.

If I know I have access to a bathroom and it’s earlier in the evening, I can go long periods without having to pee.  Except now that I’m drinking 2 or 3 cups of decaf black tea in the evenings I seem to have to pee constantly.  Black tea is a diuretic.  So obviously that’s the reasonable explanation.  But I thought coffee was a diuretic too and it doesn’t have the same effect on me.

Philip tells me I can have as much decaf black tea as I want.  I find that comforting.  The only thing keeping me from having, say, four or five cups a night is that I would probably spend all night peeing if I did that.  Who has time for that?!

I haven’t been nearly as hungry since quitting drinking.  I’m still eating a really large breakfast.  But last night I had a banana, tea, and buttered toast with jam for dinner.  I thought I was hungry later so I cut some cheddar to eat with some crackers but after a few crackers with cheese I put the rest back.  Do you know how many times I have put cheese back that I intended to eat?  That’s right, never.  I did NOT put it back because I was worried about calories.  I had eaten such a small dinner that I had plenty of calories to spare to eat all the cheese and crackers and still remain in a reasonable calorie range for the day.  I just wasn’t hungry.  I didn’t feel like eating.  I wasn’t exactly full either.  I just didn’t need any food.

This is a huge and important change from the last few years.  It’s how I used to be all the time.  I have always been a hearty eater but not a person who over-eats or snacks when not hungry or eats out of boredom or stress.  Not until I broke my hip and was bed ridden and had very little to do all day for three months of immobility.  That was the first time I ever snacked out of boredom.  If only I had recognized what I was doing and where it would lead me – ach! – that is not a useful train of thought.  Anyway, I believe in eating well but not in eating when you’re not hungry.  This is the first sign of my old and previously good habit of listening to my body and following its actual needs.

It is clear that I am a beverage obsessed human being.  I must have a beverage at my side at all times or I feel unsettled and weird and unhappy.  Doesn’t have to be booze.  Long before I became a real DRINKER I drank coffee and black tea and water all day long and then herbal tea at night.  Right now I have an almost empty pint of water at my elbow.  I will drink at least two more of these, maybe three, before moving on to decaf black tea.  I think that when I’m ready to bring alcohol back into my life I will only be able to do it if I establish a routine of having maybe 2 drinks and then moving on to decaf black tea for afterwards.  A little like some people drink wine with dinner and then drink coffee afterwards.

Not drinking feels pretty normal at this point.  That happened a lot faster than I expected.  On Saturday I went out to dinner for the first time in almost a month to a place I have never gone without drinking before.  It was fine.  I can’t deny that I wasn’t very excited to go out and it wasn’t nearly as nice as when I can order a couple of pints of beer but I still had a fine time hanging out with my guys.  I drank root beer.  One of the few sodas that don’t make me want to choke.

For the first time in a long time I got back to sewing (as mentioned in a previous post) and am making swift progress on it.  It’s great to get a project going like that.  This evening I will start basting the layers together.

A freelance writing job has come up that I truly want and I’m struggling to come up with a clear way of presenting my pitch.  This would be a dream freelance gig so it’s important I do it right.  That makes it much harder to just DO IT and apply.  I have an idea and I think it’s a good one but how to package it and start it.  I have to do a sample post with pictures and I know what I want to do – so why does it feel like such a loaded thing?  I can do this!  It’s exactly what I would love to do and I believe it will work well for the site that’s hiring.  So, wish me luck.  The deadline to apply is February 14th but I want to apply in the next day or two at the latest.  I think I’ll write out some of my ideas longhand while drinking my tea tonight and watching something on Netflix.  Then tomorrow I’ll execute.  Then submit by Wednesday.  That seems like a solid plan.

So there it is.  I probably won’t keep up with the 90 reasons series unless you readers have some that you want to submit that aren’t the same as any of the ones I have already listed.  (So if you are going to submit any to me – be sure to read all 25 reasons that have already been posted).  I will continue to discuss this topic but I’m ready to talk about other things again too like writing, pop culture, politics, and things that piss me off.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #23 and #24

Lili quilt fabric

(The fabrics I am using for Lili’s quilt.  She says she likes pink, red, and purple.  I could not find any worthy purple fabric so I chose black as the third color.  I believe that all little girls benefit from having some black in their lives.)

#23 Reason not to drink: because it’s working

It’s been 3 weeks now and I’ve lost 9lbs.  That doesn’t feel like a lot compared to how much total I have to lose, but it’s down to 104lbs from 113lbs – and that’s not nothing.  I’m almost done losing all the weight I gained this summer and early fall and that feels great.  This rate of weight loss will not continue forever.  It will slow down at points (as it always does) and then pick up again.  But right now, it’s perfect.  It’s enough to keep me motivated to see this whole thing through.

#24 Reason not to drink: so I have time to make Lili’s quilt

I have a lot of quilt making to do, starting with a quilt for a little girl named Lili who is irresistible and smart and getting older every day.  Drinking beer on a vocational level takes up a lot of time.  I can’t do other things when I have a beer in my hand, at my elbow, or promising to be more delicious than, say, cleaning the house.  I want to get Lili’s quilt made before she graduates from high school so instead of drinking beer last night I cut out strips of fabric for her quilt.  Today I will start piecing them.  It feels great to have time to do other things now.*  An hour’s worth of picking up bottles of beer every night really adds up.  Think of it like this: 365 freed-up hours = 15 extra days a year to get stuff accomplished in!

*Author is in no way admitting to a belief that hours spent drinking beer are wasted.

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #20 and #21

little veins

If you ever said or thought for a second that I’m a vain individual you better TAKE IT BACK RIGHT NOW.  My God!  The errant brow hairs, the eye bag, the eye veins!

#20 Reason not to drink: whiter whites of your eyes

#20 reason not to drink is brought to us today by Stephanie Douglass who says that not drinking alcohol will make the whites of your eyes whiter.  So I took a really up-close picture of my eye to see if it’s true.  It’s hard to tell because the lighting isn’t so great right now and I had to brighten it in photoshop.  The white parts might be whiter?  But damn, not drinking sure doesn’t get rid of those veins in the whites that look like tiny red rivers on a map.  Stephanie has some other reasons not to drink that I will share later this week.  Have you ever noticed that when you don’t drink the whites of your eyes get whiter?  Please share your observations here.

#21 Reason not to Drink: beverage variety

I love that there are about a billion different alcoholic beverages one can drink.  I love how much variety there is in the beverage world.  Just don’t visit that variety shit on me when I’m not expecting it, like Monday through Sunday.  I drink beer.  When I can’t afford good beer I drink cheap wine.  Then every once in a blue moon I’ll knock back a couple of gins and tonics.  That’s it.  I like that there’s variety available for OTHER PEOPLE, just not me.  So based on the concept that things you’re forced to endure that you don’t like build character (or really potent phobias and aversions) – this is an opportunity to suffer for the good of my character.  And boy is my character getting MUSCULAR.  Last night I had a glass of mineral water with Angostura bitters.  It was okay.  Then, just before I went back to drinking decaf PG Tips which is my new evening beverage that I don’t ever want to deviate from, I tried a drink Philip made that our friend Chelsea told us about: ginger ale with bitters and lime.  It was better than the mineral water with bitters.  Now I can’t find decaf PG Tips around here.  I went through a whole box of the stuff in three weeks after having had the box for two years.   So tonight I’m trying out another Chelsea recommendation: decaf Typhoo.  CAN YOU SEE MY CHARACTER BUSTING OUT OF ITS TOO-SMALL CLOTHES?!

90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #11


#11 Reason not to Drink: to build character through misery

One thing I constantly worry about is not having enough character.  Sometimes, if life doesn’t throw you enough character building experiences, you have to create them yourself or remain a wishy-washy creature limping along with a tattered exoskeleton instead of a proper spine, no practical understanding of pain or misery, and probably a limp handshake.  All my life I’ve been waiting for these character building experiences people are always talking about to happen to me.  I know that to be a good writer you need to have a close personal relationship with misfortune and unhappiness.  Yet misfortune continually passes over me for other souls.  I used to cry at night about it.  I used to pray that I might break a bone or lose a job or have to give up smoking so that I could be a fully realized character.  Well I’m not waiting around another day – today is the day I do something to make myself unhappy and become the writer I’ve always dreamed of becoming!


Apparently Fridays are going to continue to be difficult without anything special to look forward to.  And by special, I mean beer.  I could try to replace it with all kinds of other treats but most treats that aren’t beer are sweet or super fatty or worse for me than beer.  I think I just need to live with the doldrums of deprivation.  Learn to be ALL UP IN MY FEELINGS about my depressing Friday night sobriety.  Like right now.  I’m definitely all up in my fucking FEELINGS right now.

90 Reasons for not Drinking for 90 Days: #4

money pit

#4 Reason not to Drink for 90 Days: Save Money

All the beers I like to drink are expensive compared to Coors and other stank beers.  It costs a lot of money to buy good beer.  We have a much bigger rent than we used to.  In fact, this week is going to be a mega-squeeze and we wouldn’t have been able to afford to drink beer anyway.  We would have resorted to drinking two (and a half) buck Chuck which we do when we’re really low on money but we always end up going back to beer the second we can afford it.  We really can’t afford to drink good beer now.  Even when 3 months is done we won’t have a lot of leeway so this is better.  We may as well get used to taking beer out of the regular budget.  At least, not in the quantities we go through it.


So I haven’t had any beer for 3 days now.  Why haven’t I lost 10lbs already?  How  come my skin isn’t magically more clear and my eyes more bright?  How come I’m not farting fairies and riding on the backs of angels?  WHY IS EVERYTHING STILL EXACTLY THE SAME EXCEPT MORE BORING?

Don’t answer that.  I just feel like shouting at people who are always extolling the magical benefits of sobriety as though it will instantly transport you to a better place.  It’s the same kind of evangelical fuzzy talk that paleo-diet people try to sell you.  Same as the anti-gluten crowd who believes that everyone is allergic to gluten and just haven’t discovered it yet.  Obviously your blood isn’t transformed in just three days.  Magical benefits of all the great health crazes take time.  I know this.  It’s just that I feel like yelling right now because I’m neither madly craving beer nor feeling the least bit  virtuous or physically better for not having had any alcohol for three days.  The chest cold is certainly holding me hostage for the time being.

A little later.

My dinner was disappointing.  The mediocrity of it offended me.  It was a Thai curry.  I used a curry paste I bought from the Thai market the other day.  I’ve already confessed my true feelings about Thai and other Asian food traditions here.  I don’t like them very much in general.  I’m a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food person.  But I love Asian markets and Asian culture so I feel that I should love Asian food.  Plus all the people I know who love it – but we’ve already had that conversation.  Anyway.  It’s Friday night and I’m not having beer.  I’m sick, so it’s not like I really want it.  My body can do without it.  But having a disappointing dinner means that there’s nothing else to look forward to tonight.  There’s no Friday fun.  No festive beverage.  So I just bitched and moaned about it for an hour on Facebook.  Having a disappointing dinner made it seem extra depressing that I’m not having any beer.

I’m on a bit of a downward spiral.  How does one look forward to drinking tea?  I can drink tea any time of day I want.  I can drink as many cups as I please any time I want.  There’s nothing special about it.  My resolve to not drink is in no danger of cracking.  But that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it, do I?

I’m also incredibly grouchy because for 24 hours now my throat and upper chest have been scratchy and itchy without any relief.  Usually ricolas help and they have, a little bit, but not enough.  I got almost no sleep last night.  I clear my throat about 10 times a minute and try to cough to relieve this awful feeling.  But it won’t go away and it’s freaking me the fuck out.  When I cough it makes me want to gag.  This being sick gig is messed up.  And now Max thinks he’s getting sick.  So – major bummer.

So there’s nothing to look forward to any more except morning coffee.  Which, as I’ve said a hundred times but will repeat in case anyone has missed it, is 2/3 decaf because I can’t have much caffeine or I get palpitations.  So it’s not the caffeine.  It’s the great flavor that I love so much.  Hot black coffee with no sugar.  3 cups a day.  And I can’t drink coffee in the evenings.  Again, not a caffeine issue.  I just can’t.

I had a whole huge rant in this post that I erased.  It would have irritated at least 10 people I know.  I didn’t have the energy to smooth it out and shape it and curate the points I make like I often do.  It’s a small miracle I even got dressed today.

The nothingness of my evening stretches out in front of me.  Or, at least, I think it does.  It’s hard to see what isn’t there.  I guess I’ll go check on my kid and then maybe I’ll crawl into bed and not sleep.  It’s only 7:45pm and I haven’t slept much for 3 days but what else is there to do?  If I don’t get into bed my catatonic stare will seem more weird.

When there is no beer I hate evenings.  I hate them.  This is good, actually.  This bitter enmity I feel about the hours between 5pm and midnight.  It means that I will retreat to bed and begin staring at the wall much earlier than I’m used to and eventually (I hope) I may just train my body to get to sleep earlier so that I can get up at 5am and start writing.  Training myself to sleep earlier didn’t work when I was a kid, nor when I was a teen, nor when I was a young adult, nor when I was an older adult.  So it’s a stretch to believe that I can train it to change its feelings about early sleep times in my middle age.  But this is what I’m going to cling to right now.  This hope that I can make my evenings almost non-existent and instead enjoy my quiet down-time at the other end when dawn approaches.  It’s a magnificent time.

Alright, off to stare at the wall.