Nearing The End of Sober June. What Have I Learned?

June 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

This is my 33rd day of sobriety.  Over a month without a drink.  It started as a challenge without expectations to go the entire month of June without having any alcohol and the end is nigh.  At midnight of Sunday morning, it will be July 1st and I’ll be having a pint of Racer 5 at 12:01.  Why wait?

I am not an alcoholic.  It would be disrespectful to actual alcoholics to call myself one because while I yearned for a beer, I did not need one.  I never came close to wavering or thinking to myself, “I can’t take this anymore!”  I never had night sweats or withdrawals and I never found myself in a room with friends and family as they told me the following ways that my drinking is affecting their lives.

I just like to drink.  I like the taste of a great beer and yes, I also like the feeling of getting tipsy.  I like sitting outside on a 90 degree day and putting down a solid 12 pack with limes and good music.  I’m just your regular average Joe except maybe I drink a little extra, but to be fair I’ve got a lot more body mass than your regular average Joe.  I don’t hydrate as easily as you, Joe.

By Sunday morning I will have gone 35 days without a drink and I am positive that I could do 35 more but I am choosing not to.  I think I’ve proven my point.  Sure, I had a few dreams where I broke down and drank some booze, but that’s normal right?!  In just a day and a half the long national nightmare will be over and I’ll be somewhere between one and three sheets to the wind, and thank goodness for that.

But the last month has definitely taught me a few lessons as I’ve strayed away from booze and spent more time getting to know Me.  As it turns out, I can be a pretty boring guy!  How did I adjust to my first booze-free months in over three years?  Well, here are a few things I learned:

  • Trader Joes has amazing candy.

Being without booze sometimes led me to finding other ways to indulge myself.  I had a little extra money to spend and I wouldn’t be downing 2000 calories of Hefeweizen, so I felt that I was basically playing with house money at this point.  Like any overgrown child that realizes he is an adult and doesn’t have to ask permission to get candy, I went a little nuts:

I went to Trader Joe’s because I felt that if I was going to indulge, they would have some flavors and savory treats that I wouldn’t normally see at a grocery store.  I go to either Albertson’s or Von’s (Safeway) at least four times per week and I grow very tired of it but it’s the cheapest and most convenient for filling my everyday eating needs.  I’ll hit up TJ’s maybe once a month and each time I’ll usually get the same things but I rarely go overbudget or outside of my normal healthy realm.  But on this particular day I said, “Fuck all that” and got whatever I wanted.

It’s funny that even as an adult my first thought with candy tends to be, “But it’s $4 and Mom will never allow it!”  Probably because candy reminds us of childhood and the things that we couldn’t have.  Imagine if you had given yourself at seven the same amount of money you have now.  $4 for candy is expensive relative to candy, but holy crap it’s such a small amount of money relative to money.

Now that we’re adults, we can just get basically all of the shit that we wanted when we were little kids and it’s soooo cheap to do so.  Sometimes you have to indulge your childhood self and ignore your adult self.

And yes…  The chocolate covered potato chips were delicious, mainly on the strength of some very tasty chocolate.  The potato chips weren’t very salty (I was hoping for a bit more) but provided the perfect crunch in complement with the chocolate.

The toffee was amazing because it’s toffee, but I was not getting a strong flavor of pistachio which disappointed me.  The dark chocolate element was also very good and I have very few complaints about the toffee overall but would have liked the pistachio to come through stronger.

The winner of the day however was the chocolate covered toffee popcorn.  Holy shit, that bag of goodness should be banned from everything.  My adult self really has to step up and tell me childhood self to go easy on that popcorn but the childhood self hits me in the balls with a whiffle ball bat “on accident” and ultimately wins out on the toffee popcorn.

  • I’m apparently very interested in what happened on the set of Flatliners.

I guess me being sober has made my mind run all over the place and one of those places is in an imaginary world where I know exactly what happened behind the scenes of the movie Flatliners.  If you haven’t ever seen Flatliners, what are you waiting for?

Joel Schumacher, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Billy Baldwin, and Keifer Sutherland.

I feel like this series will be a good challenge for me but also give me a whole lot to work with on this set of actors right around the time that they were all becoming famous.  I mean, this one movie is probably the reason that we even have “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”!

  • LA has all of this hiking and junk?

I went on my first hike in LA ever on Sunday.  Apparently, this is like an “LA thing to do” and I never even knew it.  We hiked into the San Gabriel mountains, 2.5 miles up and 2.5 miles down and it was not a bad experience at all despite the fact that I am an old man who has like old man feet with sore toes and other stuff that you don’t want to know about.

It was well worth it when I reached the top and could see all of Los Angeles at once, minus the 75% that was covered in smog.

Tomorrow we are hiking into another part of the San Gabriel Mountains that has a waterfall at the end because I don’t care what TLC says… I am going to chase those motherfuckers.

  • There’s more good TV on Thursday and Friday nights than I had given credit.

Because Shark Tank is a damn good show and so is Sweet Genius/Chopped.

  • I am really scared of dying!

I couldn’t help but reflect on my own health while I embarked on this journey of not drinking for a month.  Alcohol doesn’t really get a lot of traction in the whole “Death” department, but according to the World Health Organization, it causes almost 4% of deaths each year worldwide and is the leading risk factor for death among males age 15-59.

Hey, I am a male age 15-59!

“Worldwide, about 11 percent of drinkers have weekly heavy episodic drinking occasions, with men outnumbering women by four to one. Men consistently engage in hazardous drinking at much higher levels than women in all regions,” the report said.

You mean that I was only part of the 11%?  I was hoping that it was much higher than that.  Wah-wah.  Damage to the liver is well-known and I was thinking about how much of a favor I was doing for my liver by taking over 30 days off of the sauce.  Also by not doing a bunch of stupid stuff when I’m blacked out, like testing out the theory that the best way to get off of our second story balcony in case of a fire is by jumping into the nearest tree.

I’m far less Jackie Chanish when I’m drunk.

Then I started to get super existential when I was considering my life in general and thinking that when I turn 30 later this year, what if I’m over 50% done with my life?  I feel like if you live to be sixty you get a “Good effort!” sticker in the afterlife.  Then my internal struggles with “what is afterlife?” really got deep.  Much deeper than I ever get on this blog.

But it definitely fucked with me.  Fucked with me enough to the point where I’ll probably feel some sweet relief when I tip that glorious Racer 5 to my lips in 36 hours.  And I will be tipping that drink, despite how much I’ve learned and possibly grown over the last month.

Despite the fact that I could flourish a little more with an alcohol-free life, I choose not to live a completely alcohol-free life.  I am not an alcoholic and I do not have a problem.  I will cut back my drinking for monetary and health reasons but I don’t have a very addictive personality as it is, so I’ll happily indulge myself with some of those bitter beverages on occasion and enjoy my life while I have it.

Thanks to alcohol and thanks to my month without it, I’ve learned that there’s a lot more to appreciate in this life while I have it and I’ve learned that our time to enjoy it could be fleeting.

So drink up!


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