Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oops ...

Okay ... Blogspot just changed their setup ... will have to feel my way ...

After four "perfect" days of drinking (i.e. any kind of drinking that did not include hangovers, blackouts, fighting or rolling brownouts), on the fifth day, I overdid it. Not horribly, but enough that my mood was off compared to my husband. I woke up this morning feeling hungover and depressed. Sometimes you gotta wonder ... why drink?

 Except that it's so damn much fun. I'm so relieved to be walking past restaurants, patios, liquor stores, knowing that I'm "normal" again. Even so ... there are still these problems. I hold myself to such high standards when it comes to drinking now that even the smallest slip-up can really upset me. And - comparatively speaking - this wasn't a slip-up. This was just my own private knowledge that I'd had too much to drink yesterday.

btw - have you ever heard the saying that you should never pluck your eyebrows when you're drunk? Is that an actual saying, or just words an old friend used to live by? Anyway, whatever the case, it should be saying. And you know what you can add to that list of things not to do when you're drunk? Trim your pussy.  Nuff said.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 28 - Booze Toob

Yayyy!! Last day!! Holy Christ, thank God ...

So I mentioned we watched a Charlie Chaplin flick the other day and, as it turns out, it was about an alcoholic millionaire who kept forgetting he knew Chaplin when he was sober. It wasn't the only entertainment that was alcohol-related over the last couple days. It's amazing how much of what we see on TV and in the movies revolves at least partly around drinking.

Over about the last 24 hours this is what I've seen on the booze toob:

"Rescue Me" - My husband's been watching this dark comedy since it started but I just got into this season. He mentioned that the whole series has basically been about dealing with alcoholism. First, the main character, Tommy - who's been on and off the wagon so many times, he needs a transit pass. His sister, also an alcoholic, now chairs the A.A. meetings - after a lifetime of making a drunk ass of herself, apparently. Even the priests get in on the fun, their cupboards packed with more booze than they would've needed at the Marriage of Cana. Most recently, the drama has revolved around Tommy's teenage daughter who's taken to the demon spirit in a massive way. Tommy (who's OTW by the way) is so concerned about his daughter's drinking that (after trying to drag her to an A.A. meeting under the guise that it was a party), he took her upstairs to the altar and proceeded to "baptize" her with about six bottles of booze poured into the font. He pushed her head under the liquor several times and held it there until she finally almost drowned. The show is so dark and unsentimental, I thought for sure he'd killed her. But all he managed to kill was her taste for drink. By the next episode, she puked whenever she so much as looked at a bottle of wine.

I think cleansing is a lot easier (and more fun in the long run) than near-drowning in a baptismal font, but that's just my opinion.

2) M.A.S.H.: Random repeat episode had Hawkeye and B.J. waking up in the first scene with Asian-sized hangovers. Empty bottles and silk stockings abounded. Hawkeye said his head hurt from his ankles up. Obviously, another fun night in the mess tent.

3) "Blind Date" - this forgettable 1980s romp featured Bruce Willis as a horrible workaholic and the lovely Kim Basinger as his blind date who ruins a corporate dinner (and a lot of things) because she can't handle her booze and goes berserk whenever presented with a swig of champagne. Bruce himself isn't much better, either.

4) "The Last Picture Show" - a 1971 American coming of age flick takes place in the heat of the Texas boonies. A beyond-pretty Cybil Shepherd is mesmerizingly aloof trying to both protect and lose her virginity. Booze figures heavily in the pool hall where everyone hangs out, but the scene that wins in the drunk department is when the two main characters come back from a bender in Mexico so sweaty and passed out from all the beer and tequila that they can barely focus on the fact a recent death has changed their small town forever.

5) "The Hour" - a new British series about a news program in the 1950s. Last night, a less-than-impressive debut of the program found the otherwise hard-nosed producer in tears. The only thing that could bring a smile to her face was when a colleague snuck into her office proffering a half-full bottle of scotch and two glasses. Ah, booze. It makes everything better.

6) "Blue Hawaii" - Elvis Presley is sexier than hell in this harmless 1960s classic. The King plays Chad Gates fresh home from the army. His mother - turned out Broadway-style by Angela Lansbury - throws him a big welcome home party. Mai Thai's and other umbrella drinks figure heavily. Very heavily.

That's all I can remember for now. But that's enough - considering I wasn't even looking for booze-related plots. And this was just in the space of a day. Suffice it to say that there's barely a piece of entertainment we watch that doesn't somehow feature liquor as either part of the story itself or as a celebration or crisis in the plot. No wonder 95% of all people drop out of A.A. before the first year is up. How on God's green earth could one handle all that exposure to booze without being able to enjoy it?

But that's a key word. "Enjoy." So many people suffering from dependence no longer feel joy at all - not even enjoyment of booze. Or at least, if they do, it's so fleeting it barely qualifies. Which is why we always need more and more and more and more ...

Which is why cleansing works. Because it forces us on a regular basis to live with less and less and less and less. So that when we do have alcohol in our lives again, our systems are functioning more normally, without the drawbacks of addiction. We can actually enjoy drinking again. Just like we can (finally) enjoy being sober.

I know I'm enjoying being sober right now. Day 28 is probably the best sober day of the year ... The happiness, sense of accomplishment, pride, astonishment and gratitude that 28 days have past. The cleanse is all but over. Five months of basically normal, fun drinking are ahead of me. Where I won't have to sigh longingly every time I pass a restaurant, a liquor store, or see a shot of someone celebrating on TV.

Now that brings me a lot of joy. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 27 - The Tramp Champ

Strangely, last night was all about getting drunk. Despite the fact I didn't have a drop.

It was because we watched Charlie Chaplin in "City Lights." I've never been a huge fan of Chaplin's until now. I thought his comedy was too broad and banal for my sophisticated 21st century sensibilities. Of course, I don't think I ever watched one of his movies in its entirely until last night so I'll just have to plead (enormous!) ignorance.

Chaplin was born in London on April 16, 1889. I find this entirely bizarre because yesterday - the first day I watched one of his movies from beginning to end - was his birthday (he would've been 123!). Both his parents were in show business and he started tap dancing and acting professionally as a young boy. By 1910, he was a vaudeville comedian and had moved to the U.S. where his genius ensconced him in the very upper echelons of Hollywood royalty. In 1999, 22 years after his death, the U.S. Film Institute ranked him the 10th greatest male screen legend of all time.

The high points I knew. But the intricacies of his talent were lost on me until yesterday. Because both my hubby and I are suffering from colds, we made it a day of couch-surfing, including taping whatever random old movies were on obscure channels we never watch. The hubs had recorded "City Lights," the 1931 film written, directed and starring Charlie Chaplin. It was a silent movie and my hopes weren't high when it began. But within a couple of minutes ... I was laughing. I mean, laughing-out-loud-laughing. Not just sort of "look at the funny old black-and-white people, honey, how quaint" laughing.

Chaplin was playing a down-on-his-luck hobo during the Depression who falls for a blind girl (who he helps gain her sight of course). During his misadventures, he meets (several times) a wealthy older man who seems to have a penchant for booze and wild parties (i.e. there were plenty flapper dresses flying, put it that way.)

Chaplin was hilarious, drinking and making merry with the old millionaire (who promptly forgot his new friend every time he sobered up). But what really got me was the universality of the drunk acting, especially Chaplin's. I couldn't believe that - almost a hundred years ago - Charlie Chaplin was pulling off a drunkard so well. The hiccups, the unsteadiness, the loss of focus, the volatility. One minute he'd be pulling off his jacket waiting to defend someone's honor and the next he'd be smiling and patting them on the back. I thought ... have drunk humans really looked the same ... always? There's no trendiness to being drunk? No fashion or "type" of drunkeness? It's all just ... zigging and zagging and stumbling and giggling? Cool. I guess it's why we human like it so much. :)

At any rate, I'm so delighted that Chaplin's oeuvre is now open to me. The subtleties of his expressions. The depth of humanity in his eyes. The tenderness in his smile. As I just learned, his father died at the age of 37, of alcoholism. Though the two of them had never been close, according to Charlie on the times they were together, he watched his father (as all young boys tend to watch their dads) "like a hawk." Maybe that's why Charles Jr. could play a drunk so well ... A cute drunk, sure, but a drunk just the same.

I'm definitely going to toast his career, his charisma and his comic brilliance when I can drink again ... which, thanks to cleansing, I'll be able to do in two short days. :)

Sources:

Brightlightsfilm.com
Ednapurviance.org
Charliechaplin.com
Wikipedia.com

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 25 - Good Ship Down

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the great ship Titanic, I was trying to think of a drink-related topic. Like how many bottles of wine went down with the ship. According to Jim Sadur, who collects facts about the fallen ship, there were 15000 bottles of ales and stout on board; 1000-1500 bottles of wine; 850 bottles of spirits; and 1200 bottles of minerals. I bet these would be some pretty valuable vintages right now.

I've spent a good part of the last few (sick) days watching Titanic Week on National Geographic. James Cameron going down on the old girl for the umpteenth time. He said he wanted to dive the wreck even more than he wanted to make the movie.

Another program about Dr. Bob Ballard - the man who discovered the Titanic in 1985 - trying to ensure that the site remains as undisturbed as possible, a losing battle since now there are literally thousands of small sub-mariners that can visit the wreck in the North Atlantic. For a mere $60,000, you can even go down and see her on your own.

There was also a doc about how hard the technical crew had to work trying to keep the ship afloat as long as possible so that more people could escape. Below deck, in the engine room, the men who'd been shoveling coal for days continued to work even faster to put those fires out. If the cold sea water reached the super-heated furnaces, it would've created a thermo-nuclear-type explosion that would've blown the whole ship and everyone in it to smithereens.

Wow. This is getting depressing.

Can you tell I'm on my last legs? Five more days of the cleanse. I've been sick with the worst cold I've ever had for exactly one week now. I haven't been out of the house in God knows how long. Haven't been able to eat or work or sleep or workout normally. This will not go down in history as the best cleanse ever.

Good thing I've had all those Titanic stories to cheer me up.

Kidding. I'm really a Titanic fanatic and want to add my silent prayers to the the memories, the stories, the mysteries, that still haunt our hearts one hundred years later ... hope ye all continue to rest in peace ...

Source: keyflux.com

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 19 - Free Parking

We're into the double digits! Only 9 days left on the cleanse. Luckily, these are the fastest, easiest and most "healthful" days of the whole cycle. Thank God.

It was so hard putting the apartment back in order after we got back from New York. I don't think I've ever been so exhausted in my life. Now I think all my busy-ness has lead to a cold. Unfortunate, since my (almost-always works like a charm) cure for colds is to have two big glasses of wine, a couple of aspirin, some Vitamin C and then bundle up in blankets in bed to sweat it out for a few hours. Alas, the cleanse precludes wine. :(((((

(Very sad face.)

I haven't much energy right now, but I have to mention last Thursday. We took the subway to the Guggenheim that afternoon (museums and galleries are always great on cleanses), only to learn that Thursday is the one day it's closed.

But it was a beautiful sunny day so we took an unforgettable walk through Central Park, where all the private school kids were scurrying about in their uniforms, the flowering trees were in bloom, and the tiny sailboats were out in full force on the Boat Pond (or Conservatory Water as they officially call it).

New Yorkers started inkling for a public park in the mid-1800s, hoping for their own version of the gloriously landscaped outdoor spaces of London and Paris. The upper classes would have a civilized place for carriage rides and to show off their Sunday best. And the poorer classes, believe it or not, would have "a healthy alternative to the saloon."

I can definitely attest to that. The park was a lovely alternative to drinking that day. Disney World has nothing on Central Park in the spring. With all the families and flowers and dogs running about, it felt like the happiest place on Earth ...

Though I can't wait to go back and have a glass of wine overlooking that pond. Now that's what I call progress.

Source: Centralpark.com

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Day 14 - TGIH

Thank God I'm Halfway!!

NYC continues to bubble away with cafes, bars, restaurants & wine stores around every corner. Sigh.

Even so, there have been many great moments without booze. I guess I'm learning more about traveling on a cleanse than I ever have before. Here are a couple of new travel tips:

1) See a show/band/movie: Even while traveling, if you're on a cleanse, there still seems to be more hours in the day. A good hint is to do things that take a good chunk of time out of the day or, especially, night. My husband and I went to see a band at the Beacon Theater. Devotchka and The Magnetic Fields were playing, both of them sort of avant-garde college bands, despite the fact the Fields have been kicking around for many years apparently.

To me, the theater itself was the star of the show. Impossibly ornate and beautiful, full of gilt carvings and velvet, the walls seemed to be telling an unending story of glamour and grace.

It wasn't a thrill passing all the bars they had set up serving everything from wine to frozen daiquiris. But I took my deep breath passing each one and I thanked my lucky stars that I didn't have to "abstain" forever. At one point, I was so overwhelmed with the challenge, with the gratitude, and with the beauty of the place that I literally took my husband around the neck and felt tears come to my eyes: "Thank God I don't have to do this forever," I told him. "Can you imagine the people who do?" And I felt such sympathy and compassion for them. I was so grateful I had a drink at the end of my own tunnel.

2) Shop: As you'll discover soon enough, you'll be saving plenty of money on a cleanse because aas wel all know, booze is not (usually) cheap. We spent the afternoon in SoHo, wandering the streets and boutiques. I only ended up getting a cute little tank top from Madewell, but I appreciated browsing through the SoHo Bloomies, the affordably chic Aritzia, the impossibly casual and glamourous Ralph Lauren, among others.

I imagine most cleanse traveling will happen for people on business trips (because vacation traveling would be pointless as far as I'm concerned if you're on a cleanse). If that's the case and you have some extra time, use some of that drinking money you've saved and get a great new tie or statement necklace. Buy a business or trade book you've been meaning to read and lock yourself in the hotel room or a coffee shop somewhere. Breathe, breathe, breathe and remember it's not forever.

3) Enjoy new non-alcoholic drinks: Don't get me wrong, cranberry & soda is really yummy and I enjoy it. But if you're drinking nothing else on a cleanse, it can get boring. Luckily, here in NYC the selection of virgin drinks is almost endless, from streetside fruit smoothies to homemade sodas.

For instance, the hubs and I stopped for lunch at the lovely Mercer Kitchen in the Mercer Hotel on Prince Street. I had a delicious omelet and the hubby had a chicken sandwich. Everything was fresh and beautifully presented, even the handmade potato chips in a little raised cup.

But the real treat were the homemade sodas. I really have to try to get the recipe for them. I had the Lemon-Ginger soda and my husband had the Blackberry Yuzu. Both of them were the perfect combination of sweet tartness and absolutely refreshing. I sincerely didn't (really) miss a glass of wine, especially since the majority of people in the crowd must've been on business lunches because most people weren't drinking at all.

Mind you, I did look longingly at a table of four chic women sipping martinis and chardonnay. I smiled to myself and thought ... soon enough ...

3) Appreciate everything: This isn't hard in New York. Every corner has some historical building or casually artful vignette. I even appreciate the cobblestone streets in the Meat Packing District as if they were carved by DaVinci himself. I imagine the horse hooves that have clacked across those bricks. The carriage wheels. The Tin Lizzies. And the Carrie Bradshaw's tottering about in their Manolos. A death-defying act, I'm sure. So learn to really pay attention to all the wonder and beauty around you. This may not be as easy if you're at a convention in some lackluster backwater, but even then, look at the repro's on the wall, the twisted polyester in the carpet. Interact with people in a fresh, curious way. Really engage with every aspect of the day and night, ignoring nothing and taking nothing for granted.

Speaking of that, here's one thing you won't ever take for granted again once you start cleansing: the freedom to drink.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 13 - Sober and the City

Here's a tip for you when it comes to traveling on a cleanse.

Don't.

I'm in New York City and for the first time in my life, checking into a hotel has not included an exploration of the libations in the lobby bar. In this case, we're at the funky Maritime Hotel in Chelsea. It's a vintage-liner-themed place with round porthole windows, dark wood walls and, yes, a lobby bar that beckons the drink-lover like a lighthouse across a dark sea. Lots of books. Low lighting. Comfy-looking tables and booths. Sigh ... how I wished I could've cuddled into one of them with a nice big glass of PG.

Alas, not even halfway through my cleanse, vino bianco was not an option. So instead, after unpacking (also something much more enjoyable to do with or after wine), we took a stroll through the Chelsea Market across the street for fruit that marked our arrival in NYC. The market is wonderful - a sort of trendy 18th century fishmonger's mall with exposed bricks and ductwork and some of the coolest little restos and snack bars around. Many of which, yes, had art students and other neighborhood locals out for a glass and/or pint. Instead, we stopped for fruit and bottled water for the room.

Yawn.

I'll be serious here. I'm not having the best cleanse ever. There are a few reasons. It's not just the travel - because I normally wouldn't have booked a trip on a cleanse. But we're having our windows replaced and it's such a dirty, messy job that we had to move out for at least three days. My hubby had some biz in New York so we thought WTH, we'll do that, cleanse or no cleanse.

So it was my first midday flight without a drink. I had to watch the drink cart clatter by without putting up my finger and saying, "White wine for me, please, thanks." I drank water instead and nibbled my snack bar. Double-yawn.

We had dinner at Bottega here in the lobby, a yummy, upscale neighborhood Italian place. I had cranberry & soda which was okay, but after everything we'd already been through ... it would've been nice to have a glass of wine or two.

Or six.

There have been reasons that this cleanse has been more challenging. It started out great. But then preparations for the window replacement had to happen and it was a hell of a job. We had to move everything we own into one corner of each room and cover it all with plastic and hoarding, taping everything down because without windows, the wind would've been too strong and blown the plastic away, leaving our belongings open to the dust and dirt. So it's been days and days of preparing the place, plus packing for the trip. And this time of year in NYC - or practically anywhere, actually - you can never guess what the weather's going to be like so you had to pack for two seasons. Which means it's been non-stop chores and work for what feels like weeks. I know I recommend people keep busy on a cleanse but as I've just discovered, you can be TOO busy. And it can really make you miss that "wind-down" reward drink at the end of the day. Or - better yet - in the middle of it.

Anyway, all the busy-ness has also meant that I haven't been able to blog as much as I usually do on a cleanse. I think not being able to chat about it like this has also put a strain on me. I recommend people journal or blog when they're cleansing, just to get the emotions out and log your progress. But because there's been so much to do lately, I haven't blogged as often as I normally do. And I've missed it. And you.

So, as I said, this has not been the easiest cleanse so far. But we have three more days here, so maybe I'll have some more positive tips about traveling and cleanses before it's over.

Wish me luck. Almost halfway finished. Almost.