Friday, May 31, 2013

Don't Smoke It!

You can smoke a lot of things. But alcohol? It's a growing trend among university guys, apparently, and it helps keep you slim while you party.

Using bicycle pumps, dry ice and various other paraphernalia, frat boys are going online to show each other that they can get drunk without actually drinking a drop.  This gives you a different kind of drunk - and cuts down on the calories you absorb. Because all growing boys are worried about their waistlines.

However, the vaporized alcohol goes straight to the lungs, bloodstream and brain, bypassing the stomach and liver. Health pro's warn this is more dangerous because the stomach is the body's built-in bouncer. We usually vomit when we drink too much and this helps us from getting alcohol poisoning - something that's a lot easier to do when you inhale booze. 

This overgrown co-ed calls himself L.A. Beast and his video demonstrating the growing trend has had over 2 million YouTube hits in four months! He smokes everything from Veuve to Bud to boxed wine and gets shit-housed doing it. But consider it an anti-instructional video ok? Because there are lots of fun things to smoke when you're in university without resorting to booze bongs!! But, hey, I'm old. 

For the curious, here he is with his #1 hit: 'Dude Gets Drunk Without Drinking 1 Drop ... '  (Warning: Dude must be making a killing drinking and eating things for YouTube. Because I've wasted a lot of my day watching him drink a 20 year-old Crystal Pepsi, then throw it up, eat whole lemons, polish off 6 bottles of pancake syrup ... you get the point.) For the serious, here's the original article about the dangers of smoking the night away.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Under Pressure!

What cleansing has finally allowed me to do is be able to DECIDE about drinking. Take yesterday, for instance. It was a pretty freaking bad day. For one thing, I felt under pressure about a school assignment. Not mine. But my nephew's!!

Have you heard about Flat Stanley? He's a character from a children's book series by Jeff Brown. Nutshell version: Flat Stanley was flattened by the bulletin board in his bedroom one night. Now he goes on all kinds of adventures.

This is where friends and relatives come in. Enter Uncle and Aunt Functional. My nephew made his own cut-out of Flat Stanley - as everyone in his class did - and he sent it to us in the mail. Now we're supposed to take pictures of Stanley at various interesting spots, then write a letter about what he did, then mail the whole package back to the school.

(Bitter aside: You know, when I was in school, we had to do our own work. We couldn't rely on our relatives to do it for us. I think I put more effort into this than my whole last year of university!!)

So anyway, a month ago, Flat Stanley came to visit. And I started to feel the pressure of getting this right for the kid. Flat came to ballet class with me. He went to the Royal Ontario Museum - or at least to the ROM store. He went to work with the hubs. Fine, fine, fine. Over the course of about three weeks, we took ten or fifteen pictures.

Then I wrote a two-page letter making things seem more adventuresome and fun for Stanley than they actually were. I made sure I had everything together - then I double made sure because I didn't want to forget anything. Then I headed out in the rain to develop the photos at Black's. I don't print photos often because I don't have kids - or pets - so I didn't realize it still takes an hour to develop photos in the real world.  I had tons of errands to do, but I didn't bring everything I needed to do them, so I had an hour to kill while I waited for Stanley to develop.

Yes, I considered having a drink. Yes! What a great excuse! An hour to kill!! But then I thought ... nahhhh. I'll be drinking tonight. I'll just wait.

So I wandered here and there, picked up a couple things, stopped in a bookstore to take a look at the latest bestsellers. Naturally, I saw one by Jennifer Weiner because she can write a bestseller every year (at least!). I had the same editor as Jen for my first book, Devil May Care. (I've included this particular review because it's so glowing!) It was a really fun, smart book and everyone thought it would do great - but it basically flopped. As the vast majority of novels do. It was a devastating experience. (btw - I went through this experience on my first long cleanse in 2003. There were hellish parts, but I made it!)

Here's where the grumbling comes in. I saw Jennifer's 10th bestseller on the shelf and it looks damn fun. And she looks damn happy and rich and busy and joyous in her author photo. She probably wasn't even drunk - as I was for my first author photo.

Anyway, I've met Jen and she's a sweet, brilliant person and a talented writer and a very hard worker and she deserves all the success she gets. But I still felt a bit wistful reading all her accolades while it seemed like my biggest pressure of the day was making sure Flat Stanley got off in the mail for my nephew's school project. :(

It wasn't a terrible tug - I'm getting much better at accepting things. But I still couldn't help but feel a little downturn in my mood. Cut to me picking up Stanley's pictures. Cut to me standing outside this Italian restaurant because it's close to the post office. Cut to me deciding whether or not I'm going to go in for a drink while I write on the back of Stanley's photos explaining his adventures or should I just get a bottle of water and do it in the food court. Cut to me being a good girl and getting the water and going to the food court. Cut to me with a stupid marker-pen that smears all over the back of the photos, so that I have to set them upside down on the probably filthy food court table, blowing on them every now and again so they can dry before I stack them back together. Cut to me getting the envelope ready, the photos, Stanley himself. Cut to me looking for that damn two-page letter I wrote!! Cut to me realizing I left it at home on the printer - and it's wasn't accessible on my phone!!

Cut to me looking at the world through misting eyes. Cut to me saying: "I knew it! I knew I'd forget something! I always fuck something up! I'm so useless I can't even do this!" Cut to me standing up and walking to the subway blinking back tears, saying things like: "No, I'm not useless ... everything's fine ... there's gotta be an upside to this ... just think, Ms. Functional, think!"

And then it occurs to me. A thought that immediately lifts my mood like Tinker Bell fairy came by with her magic wand. "I could go to that post office closer to my house and go for a drink at that cute French restaurant right next to it! Maybe I'll even have salade nicoise for a late lunch!"

Cut to me with a bit of a bounce in my step. I come home, I get the letter about Flat Stanley, I put the package back together, I change - because it's not raining anymore, it's hot and sunny - which makes the idea of lunch on the patio at the French resto all that much more inviting.

Off I go to the post office. Get Flat Stanley in the mail safe and sound (I had to over-night him by courier because ... yes ... I even procrastinate my nephew's school projects!). Anyway, I feel a modicum of relief, like handing in a midterm. I leave post office and see French cafe. I'm walking, walking, walking toward it, seeing the tables overlooking the street, thinking 'Should I have white? Rose? Sparkling? Salad or no salad ...?" Walking, walking. Ms. Functional, if you keep walking, you're gonna pass right by that restaurant and there won't be any wine ... Ms. Functional!! Ms. Functional!! What the F are you doing?!!

I kept walking. I walked home. Exhausted from my mental and physical excursions, I made popcorn and tried to finish watching Behind the Candelabra, the biopic about Liberace and his young lover. Liberace is played by Michael Douglas. Matt Damon plays the boyfriend. It was just a random cable-movie-PVR tape and I didn't think I'd get into it. But ... somehow ... I did ... because it's like watching ... I don't know ... not a car accident exactly, but ... plastic surgery! Yes, that's what it's like. Fascinating and disturbing like watching plastic surgery! (In fact, there are a few plastic surgery scenes!).  btw it wasn't  fascinating and disturbing just because it was about gay lovers. No. That was cool. But it was fascinating and disturbing watching Michael Douglas and Matt Damon play gay lovers. Because they're really good at it.  Are you kidding? Gordon Gekko  and Good Will Hunting drinking champagne in a bubble bath? Okey-doke! It just 'does something' to your brain. Anyway, if you think you might enjoy two A-list actors going at each other in a really convincingly hard gay way, it's an interesting pastime. Probably best that Flat Stanley wasn't around to see it.

But my point is ... yes, I sometimes consciously or unconsciously use 'having a drink' as motivation. But, no, I don't always have to have the drink! Cleansing has given me the ability to make conscious decisions about my drinking. Even feeling frustrated and like a loser, even knowing a glass of wine in a French cafe would make me feel better, I kept walking because ... well, honestly? It's healthier. Such a boring answer, but that's the truth. I knew we'd be having wine with dinner ... and after dinner ... and maybe even before. And if anyone knows the risks of drinking too much on a regular basis - both in terms of physical and emotional health - it's Ms. Functional. So I made the decision not to stop for a drink because I knew it wouldn't be a good idea to have wine all - day - long.

It's not always a good idea, anyway. Especially when you've got a gay biopic waiting for you on the PVR at home. The popcorn helps too.  Here's the trailer for Candelabra ... With Flat Stanley below! ;)




Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Stranger in Bed

Here's a different take on rehab. Resentment. Not by the addict - but by his wife.

The Guardian is running a series called A Marriage in Recovery in which an anonymous wife documents the challenges of both living with an alcoholic husband - and then dealing with his recovery. The latest installment clocks them at the four month mark of his sobriety.

You'd think a woman who's had to deal with an alcoholic husband would be delighted that booze was no longer the third partner in the marriage. But she hates it! She hates celebrating his birthday with ginger beer. She hates that he's at the gym or A.A. meetings all the time. She hates that everyone is congratulating him when she's doing everything at home on her own, feeling like a single parent.

This phenomenon is not uncommon. It's called Recovery Resentment and it can put a real strain on any relationship. One woman writing to Al-Anon claims she doesn't even like her hubby's sober personality. His attitude or his strictness. He feels like a stranger to her. What a nightmare! Not only to live with an addicted partner - but then to struggle just as much with their sobriety?

I'm lucky I never experienced any of this resentment when I took my first six-month cleanse - or when I do my monthly cleanses now. My hubs is always so supportive - because he remembers the way things used to be.

Another thing though, my personality never really changed when I got sober. I wasn't looking at a lifetime of sobriety. I didn't have to redefine everything about who I was or what I wanted. I didn't go through the process of meetings or sponsors. My life was basically the same.

I just didn't have the problems of addiction anymore.

Every day that goes by I have more confidence in the idea that permanent abstinence is not necessarily the only way out. My experience proves it. And research continues to show that there's a large middle ground when it comes to addiction treatment - and it's just beginning to get unearthed.

In that vein, there were two posts yesterday, but they didn't both register for email. I talked about Harm Reduction Therapy in the first post and I think it's important for anyone struggling with addiction to know about. Because all treatment doesn't necessarily involve permanent abstinence ... If you didn't read it, here's Harm-less.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

HRT BTW!

If you're interested in talking to your doctor about Harm Reduction Therapy (described in my last post), don't refer to it as HRT! I was just being a glib blogger there and using snazzy short-forms.

Because HRT usually refers to Hormone Replacement Therapy (as you probably know) and is most commonly used to treat the symptoms of menopause. So if you're a woman and you tell your doctor you're interested in HRT, you'll probably end up with a few creams and potions you didn't sign up for. (Though I hear they can put a real bounce in your step!) But no real help for your drinking problem.

Now if you're a guy and you tell your doctor you're interested in HRT, this could be the beginning of a very delicate discussion. One that might end with you saying something like: "Jeez, Doc!! No!! I don't want to become a woman!! I just need help with my -- Oh, forget it! I'm outta here!" And you'd hit the nearest bar for a drink. Or twelve.

So to clarify, for menopause and gender reassignment, it's Hormone Replacement Therapy.

For substance abuse it's Harm Reduction Therapy.

Of course ... you can just keep reading Ms. Functional. I may not be covered by insurance, but I'm also not charging.  So no harm done!

Or at least ... reduced harm done. ;)

Harm-less

I think I've mentioned my sister-in-law. She's a professional therapist - which often comes in handy over a few glasses of wine at family barbecues. ;)

After years of threatening to, I finally sent her the address for Ms. Functional to see what she thought. She knew I'd been cleansing for years - and why - but until recently, I'd been sort of shy to share the details with her.

Turns out this whole type of plan has an official name. It's a Harm Reduction Technique.

Harm Reduction Therapy is a relatively new field when it comes to dealing with substance abuse. Like the name implies, it aims to reduce the harmful aspects of a particular drug - in this case, alcohol - without necessarily removing alcohol from the individual's life completely (though that can be the outcome if the patient chooses).

I've come across the term  harm reduction in my research before, but I've never associated my plan with it. I've tended to refer to cleansing in less professional terms. Like miracle. Godsend. Lucky break? Though at its heart, it does reduce harm. At least it has in my life.

Reduce harm?

No kidding! It actually occurred to me the other day - just out of nowhere - on a sunny walk home from Whole Foods that ... "I would be dead if I hadn't started cleansing ten years ago."

Seriously. The birds were singing. The flowers were blooming. The sun was shining. I'm just enjoying a nice walk and then this morbid thought pops into my head ... I'd be dead if I hadn't started cleansing ... 

So yes, I do think cleansing has reduced harm in my life - in a big way.

But it's not an official Harm Reduction Technique - not one that would necessarily be recognized by professionals. Although HRT is a viable option for many people suffering from substance abuse, to be properly administered, it should be done with the help of a professional addiction counselor or other trained health care provider.

The Harm Reduction Therapy Center  in San Francisco actually specializes in these techniques, guiding individuals toward their own goals when it comes to drugs and alcohol: whether that's abstaining completely or merely cutting down.

If you feel your own addiction problem is beyond the scope of your control right now - in other words, you can't conceive of quitting drinking even on a temporary basis and feel you might need more serious help - you might be interested in HRT. Talk to your doctor about it. He or she should be able to guide you to the appropriate professional.

Man. That was some serious talk. Somebody send me a joke! ;)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Poor Son-of-A ...


First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.
This quote is one of my favorites about drinking. Which is why when I went to see The Great Gatsby yesterday, I made sure I did it at the special grown-up theater where they serve alcohol.

I was pretty excited to see the flick. I remember the novel electrifying me when I studied it in high school. The champagne. The sex. The clothes. The cars. The parties. The houses. Wow.

All mixed together with F. Scott Fitzgerald's timeless prose?

Double-wow.

It was a book dedicated to partying by a writer who dedicated his life to partying. Fitzgerald was dead of a heart attack at only 44 years old. Years of alcohol abuse are said to have contributed to his early demise.

I actually saw the house where Fitzgerald grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. Minneapolis was the first stop on the book tour for my first novel. The author escort (that's an actual job, chauffeuring authors around town when they come for book signings - fun gig!) took me on a tour of all the local sights - including the corner where Mary Tyler Moore tossed up her hat in the opening credits for her show. There's even a bronze statue there to commemorate the spot.

Next on the agenda was a trip across the bridge to St. Paul to see Fitzgerald's old haunt. I knew quite a bit about Fitzgerald because I had loved Gatsby so much. I had heard he grew up in a relatively wealthy midwest family, but that he was a 'poor relation' compared to some of the relatives back east. It's what had fueled his interest in class stories.

When we started driving down the simple street lined with old houses, I was a little surprised to see the brown brick townhouse where Fitzgerald lived. I had expected some Gatsby type spread. It was fairly large - but somehow modest, too. Even with its illustrious history. The photos I've been able to find on the web make it seem quite spectacular, but there was a sense of sadness about it, too. It seemed to have a heavy heart.

The escort also took me past the bar where Fitzgerald got his drinking career started. That too seemed to 'savor of anti-climax.'' (That's a quote from the book that I've never forgotten - not since the first time I read it.) Put it this way, there was not a bronze statue in sight.

Fitzgerald died in relative obscurity as a failed screenwriter. His glory days all seemed behind him. I often wonder what he would think of the fuss we've continued to make over his workNot just studying it in school, but creating orgiastic 3D spectacles like the one I saw yesterday.

I'm not going to review the flick too harshly. But here's a word to the wise, if you want to enjoy Leo DiCaprio in the lead role, do not watch Robert Redford in the 1974 version the night before. Which I did. I loves my Leo but next to Robert, he comes off as squeaky and weak.

It's not just the jaw lines that have changed in the forty years between flicks, either. It's interesting to see what's happened to partying. There's a lot of champagne in the '74 version, but it could never compare to the 3D meta-club vibe of the Baz Luhrmann interpretation. The whole movie begins with several references to how much everyone drank that summer. Prohibition had seriously failed in the 20s and the world was afloat in booze. The new flick captures that - then gives it some tequila shots and a hit of ecstasy.

I don't think either of the films do justice to the original novel, though.  I'm not sure a movie ever could. There's something so 'complete' about the book itself. Makes me wonder what Fitzgerald would've thought of the flicks ...

Bet you one thing.  He would've wanted a shot at the scripts. ;)

Here's more info on Fitzgerald's fatal relationship with alcohol from TheDailyBeast.com. It includes a review of the book On Booze, a 2011 collection of Fitzgerald's writings devoted to his favorite subject. Drinking.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Control Freak

I read another sad story at CryingOutNow.com today. About a woman who's relapsing. She got sober a couple years ago, but she's drinking again. And now she's totally out of control.

"Control" is at the heart of cleansing to me. Because I sit here on the second back-to-back cleanse day this week and even in my clearheadedness, I remember so well what it was like to be out of control. To not be able to stop at one glass of wine. To reach for the wine bottle ... first thing in the morning ...  and then not stop all day - or night. It was uncontrollable. More an instinct than anything. Like the need for air.

And if the wine ran out, that made my plans for the day easy. Because I simply had to go out and get more to drink. It didn't matter how long it took, how hot/cold/rainy it was, how many other things I had to do, getting enough wine into me was my prime directive of the day. I. Had. No. Control. It was like being in a speeding car without a steering wheel ... or brakes. It was terrifying.

And yet ... there was no external villain. There were no brake lines to check. No mechanic to do a tuneup. Because there was no real enemy ... only the booze. Which was both enemy ... and best friend. In that way, alcohol is the ultimate frenemy, I guess. And what this frenemy does is take away all your control.

Not just of booze, but of your life. Because when you're out-of-control of your drinking, you might as well flush everything else down the drain, too. Because you don't have the time, energy or emotional space to deal with anything else. That one lack of control affects everything.

But now to have the conscious knowledge - the proof even - that it is possible to get control, because I did it, that's amazing on its own. But what's even more important is that I feel in control. There's a subtle difference there, between merely being in control and feeling in control.

It's not some nail-biting, will-she-or-won't-she-relapse kind of thing. Because there really is no "relapsing" on the plan - no fear of it, no pressure of it, no feeling that it's inevitable - which is what gets drilled into our heads. Cleansing does not leave you with a feeling of being unrooted or unsure. Instead cleansing leaves you feeling grounded. Solid. And safe. Because it really is so relatively easy. And the combination of freedom and rules gives you a real sense of, that's right! The word of the day!

Control!

Yayyyy!!

That's such an enormous gift because it spills over into the rest of your life, too. You think "Well, if I can do this - get control of my drinking when the whole world thinks it's impossible - then, why can't I do this? Or this? Or that?"

And you realize one milestone at a time, that you have more control over the rest of your life, too. Health. Work. Exercise. Relationships. Diet. Money. Goals. Things may not be 100% perfect ... I haven't retired to Shiny Unicorn Place in the Sky or anything ... ;) but the feeling of being in control again, that's so important.

Especially when you remember being without it.

If you want to check it out, here's the latest story from CryingOutNow.com. It's called "Relapsed and Scared." There will probably be a sequel. Unfortunately, there's almost always a sequel ...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hubby's May-Day!

With all due respect to Queen Victoria (this weekend marked her birthday) and fallen countrymen (next weekend is Memorial Day), there's a side to May long weekends that's a little less thoughtful ...

I've mentioned that my hubs doesn't have a drinking problem - thank God - but he does have a whopper of a first-drunk story. And it happened on the May long weekend when he was 15.

btw, if you're eating, save this post for another time. If you plan on eating, save it for another time. If you don't want to eat for a while, go ahead ...

The hubs was at his best bud's cottage along with his buddy's older brother and a bunch of the big bro's friends. With all those older boys around, I imagine peer pressure ran high and the hubs - who'd only sipped wine with Italian dinners until then - drank more beer than he can remember. 

At some point in the night, he discovered how fun and charming alcohol could make him and began entertaining the gang by flying over the fireplace and breaking his fall in a pile of logs he'd spent most of the day chopping. The stunt earned him the nickname "Superman" with the boys.  For a couple of hours there, he said alcohol made him feel "invincible."

But, in the morning, he woke up with a five alarm hangover, the sun beating down on him through a bare window. When he could finally focus, he saw a boom box the size of a minivan in front of his face. His friend's hand came in to press 'play' and suddenly Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze blasted forth.

LOUD.

At the same time, the hubs realized that everyone at the cottage - friends, sisters, mothers, dads, brothers - were all gathered around, laughing and pointing at him. Some standing in the windows looking as if they felt sorry for what was going to happen next. With Purple Haze blasting in his ear drums, he shot off the couch, ran to the bathroom and upchucked what was left of his spleen.

Afterwards, he said he felt much better (ahh, to be fifteen again) but he still had to endure humiliation at the hands of the older boys who were now calling him "Ralph." 

The hubs thought he'd never be able to live it down, until one of the older brother's friends woke up from an even worse drunken stupor and ran to the bathroom to puke ... everywhere but in the toilet. The floor, the walls, the sink, the bathtub. It looked like a Jackson Pollock exhibit in there. 

This guy was much too sick to clean up after himself, so he dragged himself straight back to bed. Everyone immediately forgot the incident with my husband because it was so tame in comparison. They had a new Ralph now. Plus the hubs won everyone over by making bacon and eggs for breakfast. 

Unfortunately, Ralph had ruined the only bathroom at the boys' cottage and he was too sick to get out of bed to clean it himself. Nobody else wanted to do it, either. So they couldn't bathe or brush their teeth, couldn't even go in there all weekend. And the few times that they'd yell and cajole Ralph into giving it a try, he'd get up and start cleaning ... and then the puke would make him puke again ... and they were right back at square one. 

Ugh.

The hubs thinks that this violent drinking/sicking/shaming incident early on in his life curtailed whatever inclination he might've had to continue to party that hard. Because every time he started to, he said he remembered Purple Haze ... And he just couldn't do it again.

Let's hear it for the people who actually learn something from their mistakes. Where would the world be without them? 

Academic aside: Jackson Pollack, the American painter celebrated for his drip technique, died in a drunk driving accident in the Hamptons in 1956. The hubs and I have actually seen the old farmhouse in East Hampton where he lived and worked, now a museum called Pollock Krasner House. I saw an exhibit of Pollock and the other Abstract Expressionists on a cleanse a couple of years ago at the AGO. Going to museums and art galleries is a wonderful thing to do during cleanses ... or even on a cleanse day. It's a really rewarding, peaceful way to spend a couple hours ... :) 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tipsy Tips

The 7000 angels, I mean - liquor store workers who keep us watered and wined all year voted against a strike last night. Disaster averted! The weekend can roll out without rationing!

So have a fun Victoria Day, Memorial Day or whatever else you celebrate around this time of year. Russians have 7 - count 'em - seven different holidays in May. Everything from Victory Day to Orthodox Easter. Ваше здоровье! As for the U.K., it lists eleven official holidays in May.  And Memorial Day isn't the only U.S. holiday in May: there are 28 potential celebrations and observances over the course of the month (depending on where you live and how lenient your boss is).

Wherever you're celebrating, remember keep the wheels in 'park.' Drunk driving increases the likelihood of an accident by 46%. So if you drink, ditch the cars and keep the speed limit to 3 mph - or about how fast the average person can walk from a lawn chair to the fridge.

For road trippers, here are 15 tips to help recognize drunk drivers. And, no, Reese Witherspoon in the passenger seat didn't make the list. Come on!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Liquor Strike?!!!

Starting tomorrow, Ms. Functional might not be able to buy booze!!!

For those of you in more civilized parts of the world, around here liquor, wine and beer aren't available in nice coolers at the back of convenience stores. Or huge wine sections in the supermarket.

Nope. Except for separate beer stores, we can generally only get our buzz from Liquor Control Board of Ontario stores. These clean, well-lit havens of gleaming bottles and shiny cans are known as the LCBO or "the LC."

The 7000 LC workers are set to strike at midnight tonight. News stories have been warning us to stock up, so every day this week I've been a total beast of burden. But it's worth it! I feel like Tweetybird snowed in for the winter!

I have an alcohol/strike story (go figure - I think I have an alcohol story for everything). Only, it wasn't liquor store workers who went on strike that time. It was my high school teachers.

What does that have to do with alcohol? Well, I was still too young to get a job, so what did I do with all that free time?

I drank instead!

Along with a whole pack of my more irresponsible friends. We hung around each other's houses all day, drank waaaaay too much beer, smoked way too much illicit stuff, and did the Rock Lobster until somebody puked.

Honestly, imagine it never being a school night? I can't help but think my burgeoning drinking problem got a real boost there ... I drank so much beer, I gained ten pounds!

Just a couple weeks before the end of the year, the teachers settled and we went back to class. At graduation time ... we all passed. Every. Single. Student. No questions asked. Didn't matter what our grades were before or after, we all passed the year ... for about two weeks of work.

Talk about positive reinforcement for having fun. I bet if you went back through my class list for those years, we're all dealing with drinking problems, alcoholism, addiction ... plus a lot confusion about goal setting. ;)

Here's the full LCBO story...  Now somebody stop me from posting a B52s video. I'm starting to feel like an oldies video channel here. Come on!! Especially not Rock Lobster! Seriously! I'll have a flashback and I'll be useless for the rest of the --

... damn.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Do You Feel Lucky?

I feel lucky to be alive today. I hope you do, too.

Because chances are, if you've had a drinking problem, you've also had some close calls in your life. Maybe you've driven drunk. Maybe you went home with an unsavory stranger. Maybe you took a tumble down a flight of stairs. A lot of things that could easily have ended in catastrophe. 

I'm relieved that no matter what other mistakes I've made (and survived) when I was drunk, I never got my driver's license ... so at least I've never driven drunk. Right?

Wrong.

Because as I was thinking about it, a distant memory came back to me for the first time in years ...  

I did drive a car - once. And I was drunk when I did it. 

I was at a bar underage with my friends. Some people told us about a party at the local university. Did we want to go? Sure, we wanted to go. But how were we going to get there? The other group had a car but they were clearly very drunk and my friends were all leery of letting them drive. I was drunk, but not stumbling - and I had taken Driver's Ed a couple of years before - so I piped in, "Let me!"

My friends knew I didn't have my license, but they were game anyway. The others just assumed I could drive. So I took the keys and slipped into the driver's seat. Everyone else piled in where they could. 

I don't remember much of that drive except a long, lonely stretch of road that curved ahead of me, glowing in the streetlights. I just kept my eyes where I wanted to go - as I remembered my driving instructor telling us - and we made it safe and sound. Thank God. I had so many young lives in my hands - including my own. 

But there it was. I have been a drunk driver. And I have the nerve to call Reese Witherspoon's hubby, Jim Toth, "dumb" for his DUI in yesterday's post?

Anyway, my point is ... if you have a drinking problem, and you're reading this ... you should feel lucky, too. We should all feel lucky that we're still here, we're still (relatively) healthy and we're safe. It's so easy to make dangerous mistakes when we drink too much ... So remember everything you have to feel lucky for ... and do what you have to do to get control before it's too late. Whether that means quitting, cleansing or some other miracle of your own. 

And remember, no matter what, to feel lucky right now. Right this minute. For your life. For your health. For your family. For whatever else is important to you. Friends, work, your pet, your garden, your bank account, your car, your smokin' hot bod, your glass unicorn collection, whatever! Feel lucky for the things you love ... and for just being alive.

If nothing else, feel damn lucky Dirty Harry isn't pointing his Magnum at your head.

(Though I just realized, being an alcoholic is sort of like having Dirty Harry point a Magnum at your head - 24/7. So just feel lucky he hasn't pulled the damn trigger yet. Punk ;)



Sunday, May 12, 2013

On Ice

hang·o·ver  

/ˈhaNGˌōvər/
Noun
  1. Ill effects caused by drinking an excess of alcohol.
  2. A thing that has survived from the past.

So yesterday morning (Saturday) I woke up with a bit of a hangover for the first time in ages. And yeah, that's including Vegas cuz we really didn't overindulge there. (I don't know whether I'm ashamed or proud of that, but there it is.)

It wasn't the sort of hangover where it feels as if your head is filing for divorce from the rest of your body. But I was definitely more aware of my head than I should be. Under normal circumstances, your head should just kind of ... y'know, be there. Not calling attention to itself in any way.

But yesterday, well ... I knew I had a head.

That's because alcohol dehydrates the whole body (that part most of us know). But your brain is 73% water, so when it's dehydrated, it literally "shrinks" away from your skull, causing a headache. The more booze, the worse the 'shrinkage.'

Since shrinking brains don't really seem to be something to strive toward as a species, keep the overindulging down to a minimum - and drink water, water, water, before/during/after/always/always!

Anyway, I wasn't in pain yesterday. I didn't even pop an aspirin. But it's just amazing how quickly your body gets used to not drinking alcohol. When you come off a cleanse, you really feel the effects of drinking - good and bad - on your system.

But that's one of the ways cleansing continues to work for me: it keeps me in touch with my overall health. Something you can start to lose sight of if you're drinking every day.

By the way, according to Wisegeek.com, wine causes worse hangovers than some spirits because of the number of additives. I'm a wine-lover so I guess that's the price I'll pay if I overindulge. 

Some people claim to not get hangovers if they drink vodka. I don't usually drink hard liquor anymore. However, I do love the odd vodka cooler every now and again. Especially Smirnoff Ice in the summer.

But if vodka doesn't usually cause hangovers ... how come I really feel it if I have one too many Ice's at someone's backyard barbecue?

That's because - as I just learned - Smirnoff Ice doesn't actually contain vodka. Surprising for one of the most famous vodka producers in the world. But Ice is a malt beverage - like beer. So that explains the crash after Ice. 

Speaking of ice ... I rarely mention sports, but it's just too much of a coincidence not to. Tonight is Game 6 of the Stanley Cup quarterfinals between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. The Leafs haven't been in the playoffs since they invented the puck, so everyone around here - including the hubs - is very happy. 

But ... did it have to be Boston?! Really?! I may not have guilt when it comes to drinking anymore, but I'm not a guilt-free zone!

As much as I want the Leafs to win, I actually feel bad when we score against Boston! Cuz ... well, I think it would be really nice if they won, too. Because of everything they've been through this year.

This makes me a terrible sports fan. And definitely not one you want on the couch next to you when anyone scores. "Uh ... yay ...? I guess ...?" Shrug. 

btw, that idiot who made a sign that said "Toronto Stronger" - a take on the "Boston Strong" slogan after the bombings? He's just a jerk. On behalf of all Torontonians (and generally decent people everywhere) I apologize for him.

Go Leafs ...! ... ?

Go ... Boston ...?

Go ... Team ...?

Maybe I should forget the hockey ice. And just stick to the Smirnoff instead. ;)  

Friday, May 10, 2013

Slayed

Last week, Jeff Hanneman, guitarist of the heavy metal band Slayer, died in a California hospital at the age of 49. He was recovering from Necrotizing Fasciitis, a skin disease he contracted from a spider bite last year. But the actual cause of death was released yesterday: alcohol related cirrhosis. When he was hospitalized, not even his wife or close friends were aware of just how bad his liver condition was.

Although Slayer never released official numbers, their record sales are estimated to be in the 20 millions. Since forming in the 1980s, the band produced over a dozen albums and received two Grammy Awards for Best Metal Performance in 2007 and 2008.

Hanneman leaves behind Kathryn, his wife and partner of almost thirty years. She rarely toured with the band since the guitarist said he liked coming home to a "new" woman after being on the road. The couple had no children.

Cirrhosis occurs when healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue and nodules (lumps caused by poor tissue regeneration). Although hepatitis and fatty liver disease can cause cirrhosis, most cases are due to alcoholism. It kills approximately 25-30,000 people in the U.S. every year. But millions are affected worldwide.

In 2012, researchers at the Russian Academy of Sciences announced a possible cure for cirrhosis. The drug apparently helps stem cells rejuvenate healthy liver tissue. Pre-clinical trials and followup tests are expected to take at least five years.

And on that note ... TGIF.  Stay healthy this weekend!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bay City Boozer


I mentioned the original boy band the Bay City Rollers earlier this week. Turns out the lead singer had a secret. Like many hard-living, mad, tortured super-geniuses before him (yeah, I'm a 70s bitch!), he got hooked on hooch.

Les McKeown left the Rollers in '78 to work on his solo career - and, apparently, his addictions to booze and cocaine. By 2002, he was polishing off a bottle of whiskey a day. Luckily, he didn’t end up in a gutter wrapped in tattered tartan and gagging on sparkly autograph books. 

No – the lead singer got sober instead. He says rehab was the best thing that ever happened to him. He's even taking a BCR revival band on a world tour (more info and dates here).

I have a Bay City Rollers story, btw. 

I was 12 when I saw them perform at the Coliseum in Edmonton, Alberta. I was visiting my aunt and uncle there that summer when my uncle became the coolest-dude-ever by scoring tickets to the BCR concert.  Uncle Mike worked in radio and TV and was introducing the band onstage, so I sat (danced/squirmed) in the audience with my Aunt Linda and younger cousin Marla.

There they were! At the height of their fame! Tiny and plaid-clad! Spotlights glinting on their flyaway fuzz! It was thrilling!

My aunt and uncle figured quite heavily into my drinking and cleansing careers, too. They took me to my first bar in Halifax, Nova Scotia when I was 16. Don't judge! It was a really classy place - and if anyone knew I was no angel back then, it was those two.

Linda and Mike also happened to be the last people I partied with before I started my first long cleanse in July 2003. The hubs and I were in Halifax for a wedding and we stayed with them for a night. We drank a lot of great wine. Ate a lot of great food. Talked over a lot of good times. 

I had just read the book that started this whole journey, Drinking: A Love Story. I had learned about the link between dopamine, drinking and depression and had already decided on my "experiment." That I would abstain from drinking for six months in an attempt to reverse my growing alcoholism. Of course, I didn't tell my uncle and aunt that! Or anyone. The hubs was the only person who knew about my plan back then.

I finished my last drink for six months that night in July. The next one-hundred-and-eighty days would take me through one of the rockiest times of my life. I'm sure I'll write about it later, but for now, let's just say ... I really could've used a drink. 

*Academic aside: When I talked about Les being "hooked on hooch" - I couldn't help but think, "Do people still say hooch?" Of course they don't! They haven't for 150 years! (Unless they're bloggers who can't resist alliterationhooked/hooch.) But the word's a short-form for "Hoochinoo" - a liquor distilled by the Tlingit tribe of Alaska who cleaned up selling it to miners during the gold rush of the 1800s. And now we can put the word 'hooch' back in its grave. RIP, hooch. Sniff.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Off-Days!

When you finish a cleanse, don't forget to start incorporating your two cleanse days a week right away - including that very first week. It's how the plan works on an ongoing basis. The two weekly cleanse days help keep you happy, healthy and in control between the longer monthly cleanses. The great thing is, it's up to you when you book your cleanse days, so choose ones that make the most of your schedule and your life.

It's an "off-day" for me today btw. And I feel great. As I mentioned, one of the biggest gifts cleansing has brought me is that I don't have to be drinking to enjoy my life. I can be happy when I'm sober, too.

Not, like, Hallelujah happy or anything. 

But still pretty damn fine. ;)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Up 2 U

I was saving my debut wine for dinner last night - but while I was out I had quite a few blissful moments during the day, too.

Like walking past the liquor store - which can be a sort of bittersweet experience during the first week of a cleanse. But right after? Absolutely divine.

Then in the juice aisle at the grocery store - what?! You mean I don't have to drink juice tonight?

Or so much water that it feels like I run the special effects department for Life of Pi? 

Awesome!

But as great as it feels to end a cleanse, don't expect to see the Face of God when you start drinking again. You won't!

My first glass of wine last night was relaxing and wonderful. But it didn't send me to the bright side of the moon. I believe cleansing has "normalized" my reaction to alcohol. And I'm grateful for that because I can still enjoy drinking - but I'm not out of control (like the old days).

Chances are, cleansing will have helped normalize your system, as well. Meaning that first drink will be  great on a lot of levels - but it might not be the flashbulbs-and-fireworks reaction you'd expect. Whatever you do, don't reach for more drinks trying to increase your buzz. It's not healthy - and as I've said, after abstaining for a while, it can even be dangerous. 

Cleansing is not about partying your head off (not all the time, anyway!). It's about getting healthier - in every way. Learning to respect yourself more. And love yourself more. So enjoy the freedom of being able to drink again - but don't expect it to be New Year's Eve ... on a yacht ... in St. Bart's ... with the "Sexiest Man/Woman Alive" as your date.

Instead, revel in the private confidence cleansing gives you. The freedom. The independence. The hope.

New Year's Eve can come later. ;)

btw, if you really are feeling "down" at the end of a cleanse, think about what it means for you. Maybe what your system is telling you is that you want to use the cleanse as a springboard to permanent abstinence.

Maybe - unlike Ms. Functional - you don't really want to start drinking again.

So really search your heart. I know I poke fun at rehab and A.A. sometimes, but I'm not truly a hater. What I want to be part of is reversing the negative effects of alcohol abuse. For me that means regular cleansing.

But for lots of people, that means permanent abstinence. And if that's what feels right for you, I totally support that.

Here's the good news: if you've been on a cleanse, the hardest part of getting sober is behind you. You already have a head start!

You're welcome. ;)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hallelujah!

So the cleanse is over! I'm absolutely elated. Relaxed. Full of anticipation. And again floored by how quickly a month goes by ... for better or worse.

But it's not a party day. Because it's really important to take it easy when you start drinking after a cleanse.  I'll talk more about it this week, but for now read the Withdrawal Warning page for more info.

End of the sermon.

Almost. ;)

Handel's Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742. The German-born composer was 59 when he created his first English work - and it would become one of the most enduring musical masterpieces of all time.

(*Academic aside: Messiah is an oratorio. There's a choir, orchestra and soloists - but unlike an opera, no dramatic plot or characters. The lyrics were taken from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.)

Messiah's Hallelujah Chorus has gotta be one of the happiest pieces of music ever (next to, like, Saturday Night by the Bay City Rollers. Obvi.)  If you can wait out the Volvo ad (or whatever), there's a great rendition below from Radio City Music Hall. It's really zippy and joyous.

Sort of like me today.

And if you're not into classical, Saturday Night by my fave 70s boy band is just below ...

For the nostalgically-challenged, I Love It by Sweden's Icona Pop is on the happy playlist too. This one literally had me jumping up and down the first ten times I heard it. It's been about a hundred times now, so the jumping is sort of more like ... polite nodding. But it's still a damn happy song. (It's playing on the radio right now, actually ... go figure! If you're not sick of it already, you will be by the end of summer! So enjoy it while you can!)

Hey - the cleanse is finished! NO more days to go!!

Instead of worrying about making my A.A. meeting tonight - which is where I was headed - I'm looking at five months of a basically fun, normal life - that still includes drinking.

In honor of that, here are 3 songs to get you as happy as me ... almost anyway. No guarantees on that one. ;)

MESSIAH!


SATURDAY NIGHT!


I LOVE IT!



Saturday, May 4, 2013

Day 27 - Beside the Pointlessness

Good God. I've been thinking about yesterday's post. And that excerpt from the first cleanse I blogged in 2010.

Pointlessness? Sink into the pointlessness (of sobriety)? I mean, it's one thing to be tired or even occasionally bored when you start a cleanse. But pointlessness? If there's one thing I can't stand, it's 'pointlessness.' So naturally I had to go all the way to that.

I can be so dramatic sometimes. Always have been. It's probably one of the reasons I found myself with a problem in the first place!

Anyway, I remember that cleanse so well.

I remember the exact moments sitting at dim sum for lunch, feeling as if my head was wrapped in cotton batting.

I remember the exact moments on the couch staring at my glass of orange juice that Friday night.

It was probably one of the hardest weekends I've ever had on a cleanse. Naturally, I'd have to blog about it first. I don't know - maybe sharing it for the first time had something to do with my mood. But I wanted to be honest about it at the time - and I'm glad I was. Because honesty is a big part of getting control of your drinking, whether or not you're using the 12 steps. ;)

I know from experience now that one of the things that had an effect on that cleanse was the fact it was in August. When I first started cleansing, my second annual one was usually in August. That's just the way it worked out because my first 6-month cleanse started in the summer out of necessity (I had to get control asap!) - so I just kept up with that. But I've learned over the years that summer cleanses aren't as easy as fall or spring ones. Which is why my cleanse cycle has changed.

Now if you live in Hawaii or Australia or some other place where it's always nice, it might be hard finding two months a year where umbrella drinks and patios aren't beckoning you around every corner. Just do what feels right for you. You'll figure it out. (Anyway, I don't feel too sorry for you ... because, well, you live in Hawaii or Australia. ;))

You'll soon find that every cleanse cycle you'll learn something about how to make it easier and more enjoyable for yourself. About how to integrate it more seamlessly into your life. And maybe for you, that might mean not drinking in August because that's when your sober aunt who was like a mother to you comes to visit. That's fine, too.

Whenever you decide to cleanse - just like life - some days might be easier than others. But I promise you, there's something almost mystical about cleansing. About knowing you're doing something good for yourself, but that there's a light (and/or a drink) at the end of the tunnel. It means that once you get the first week down - even the first few days - you'll find yourself settling into the new rhythm of a sober life and enjoying it more and more.

Honestly, even with the odd bump in the road, I wouldn't give up cleansing - ever. Even if I didn't have to do it anymore, I would still keep it up. Because I really do love it. I love what it does for every aspect of my life: my psyche, my skin and my soul, just to name a few.

So don't despair. If not being able to drink for a temporary amount of time is giving you pause - and I completely understand that - know in your heart that if you've got a problem, it's just going to get worse. Addiction doesn't go away without removing the addictive substance from your system. So the choice is yours. Will it be forever? Or will it be for a lot less than that?

Because I'm 100% convinced that cleansing can reverse addiction - without having to permanently sacrifice the real pleasures that drinking can bring to life.

And I mean pleasures! The pleasures  of a glass of wine or a cold beer on a patio on a hot August night. The real pleasure of a cocktail when you're out with friends or after a hard day. Or a couple drinks on the plane when you're on vacation.

(Because there was definitely wine on the flight back from Vegas!)

I know the idea of highlighting the "pleasures" of a drinking life must sound blasphemous to people who've managed to abstain completely - or to many professionals working in the addiction field. And that's okay. We've all got to find our way through life, our own path, our own direction. For some of us, that might mean quitting drinking forever - and being happy with that.

For others ... it means ... one more day!!! :) 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Day 26 - Vive Le Vin!

Leave it to France to find an elegant way to improve their economic troubles.

The famous French auction house Drouot announced it will be selling off about 10% of the presidential wine stash from the cellars of Elysee Palace, the official residence of the President of the French Republic, Francois Hollande.

"All these wines were served at the table of the President of the Republic and, for some, accompanied great moments in the history of the Fifth Republic," Drouot said in a press release. 

Burgundies and Bordeaux are among the many offerings with the most expensive bottles expected to fetch around $3,000. More modest vintages will be available for as little as $20, but Drouot expects the average price to be around $130. Here's hoping there are some generous oenophiles around when the bottles go up for sale as profits will be used to help bolster the state budget.

The story reminded me of something our sommelier told us at La Tour D'Argent about fifteen years ago. The hubs and I were in Paris for our honeymoon - and, as it happens, my 35th birthday. (This is btw, one one of the few nights I've seen the hubs get really drunk ...)

The morning of my birthday dawned and we still didn't have dinner plans so I popped the question: "Well, why not La Tour D'Argent?"  I have no idea how a poor girl from a broken home in a northern mining town had any idea about a schmancy place like La Tour D'Argent, but my guess is it was probably from a Judith Krantz novel.

We were staying at the Hotel Montalembert on the Left Bank (gasp! what an incredible place! highly recommend!) and asked the concierge if he could get reservations for that night. Our hopes were low, but as it happens, there was a table left.

I'll never forget being greeting by at least five different people as we were ushered up into an elevator to a stunning room overlooking Notre Dame Cathedral and the Seine.

The wine list was about the size of the Bible. The sommelier - probably sensing we were not aristocrats - was very discreet, pointing out both expensive and reasonable bottles to accompany our meals. (I had pigeon, if you can believe it! Though it sounds - and tastes - must better in French!) He also told us that some of the reserves from the restaurant's famous wine cellar had been handed down from Napoleon himself. Though I can't seem to find confirmation of this particular story, there are imperial and royal connections for sure.

Anyway, after spending waaaay too much money and drinking waaaay too much wine, we tottered down the banks of the Seine and ended up at an old jazz club Le Caveau De La Huchette, housed in a cavern-like building from the 16th Century.

What a night ... :)

I thought I had written about this before, so I did a search and it turns out I did - on the very first cleanse I blogged back in August of 2010.  I scanned the post and was surprised to read what a hard time I had on the first weekend of that cleanse.  I've done six 28-day cleanses since then and if I only suspected they get easier, now I know for sure.

If you're on a cleanse and not having a thrilling time of it, here's an excerpt from that post - just to let you know you're not alone and going crazy:

... the hardest part of any cleanse is the first weekend. I'll be honest. I'd love to say: "Yippy! A Friday and Saturday night with nothing but tea and O.J.! Wow! Sign me up!" Nope. That first weekend is actually kind of boring. Friday night was uneventful. I was in bed before midnight, absolutely zonked and unable to keep my eyes open.

Saturday was almost as hard. We usually go for dim sum for lunch, a meal I don't have with wine anyway, so that's not a problem. But even all the carbs and calories of har gow and noodles could not give me that extra boost of energy I needed so badly. It seemed as if my brain had been soaked in Ambien, wrapped in cotton batting, then packed in a shipping crate for an overseas flight. Zzzzzz. My advice is to just go with it. Sink into the lack of energy. Sink into the lethargy. Sink into the pointlessness of it. It won't last forever - like I said, that first weekend is the worst.

By the way, there's a physiological reason for why you might feel more tired beginning a cleanse. Heavy drinkers (people who consume more than 8 drinks a week - and I'll just assume if you're reading this blog, you're probably not a teetotaler) actually get more of a buzz from alcohol because it increases the levels of acetate in our brains, which gives us a boost of energy. Remove the alcohol and you decrease your energy level. 

But don't worry. If you're suffering from low energy, I've got hints about how to get through it. Besides, these reactions really do ease up as you get more accustomed to living without alcohol on a regular basis.

And anyway, a few early nights when you start cleansing still seem a lot better than early nights - for the rest of your life. ;) And I'm pretty sure that's what I would've been looking at if I ended up in rehab or A.A.

Here's more information about acetate uptake and energy levels in drinkers. And if you're interested, the whole post from that first cleanse I blogged: Day 7 - First Weekend Down. 

Only two days - and one weekend - left to go!! :) 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Day 25 - The Journey

A great way to make cleanses go by more quickly is to keep yourself busy. Every cleanse I have a list of at least half a dozen things I want to get done. This time around I wanted to paint my dressing room, clean the fridge, sand & paint the hall closet doors, fish out things I don't wear anymore for Goodwill, get tons of reading done. And most importantly, finish the e-book version of You've Got Another Drink Coming. 

I got about a DUI of that done. In other words, 0.08%.

But no biggie. I never finish all the projects I set out to do on a cleanse. This is a new low of course, but I don't feel guilty about it. Guilt when it comes to drinking is over for me. It might take a little effort purging yourself of alcohol-related guilt, but it's possible.

As for chores and projects, they're just supposed to help keep you busy and make time pass on a cleanse. If things are bopping along just fine and all you're doing is tending your couch-potato garden or watching the leaves come out on the trees after a long winter, no problem.

Because the only thing you really have to do on a cleanse is ... not drink.

Having said all of that, another thing I wanted to do was try to make this blog a little more tech-savvy. In case you haven't noticed, Apple won't be headhunting me for their I.T. department any time soon.

But I'm going to give it a shot. For instance, I've lost the "Welcome!" post that always had first place on the blog. When I started, I always pictured blogging about my cleanses as secondary to my fiction writing. So I came up with what I thought was a pretty brilliant 'cheat.' (Look up any of my old teachers: they wouldn't be surprised about that one!) I thought I would just cut-and-paste the "Welcome!" page every couple of days so it looked as if I had just written a fresh post to newcomers - when in fact, I might not have updated the information for over a week.

But much to my surprise, blogging has actually become more and more important to me. Even when I was sick and had a perfect excuse to slack, I hated not being able to write for so many days in a row.

Anyway, the offshoot of evolving is that I think I'm going to try moving the "Welcome!" information to the "How" tab. I want to experiment a little with Blogger's Mobile version. So far, I'm not very impressed. It's very boring and plain black-and-white. And with the "Welcome!" post always first, it's almost useless finding the new info.

I'm not sure whether I'll stick with it or not. Because I like the idea of a "Welcome!" post. I also really like the background of this blog. It was just a template that was available from Blogger when I joined (I'm not even sure it's there anymore). But as corny as it seems, it evokes something that feels "right" for cleansing to me.

Cleansing is a journey. And the road symbolizes that. It's also a peaceful, personal thing - and the country setting evokes that too. I love the colors of the blue sky and the green grass and trees. They remind me of nature - and a simple life. And cleansing is a very simple, natural thing to do.

I also love the touch of golden on the left - maybe it's a corn or wheat field. A symbol of bounty anyway and cleansing does help create a bountiful life. The little building off to the side might be a barn or a farmhouse - or even a country tavern. Whatever the case, it seems to represent a bit of civilization, a safe haven. Because as solitary a journey as cleansing ultimately is, you're never alone. There's someone just up ahead. A place to stop, a place to rest. And maybe a place to have a drink with a new friend before you head on your way again ...

(btw, the end of a cleanse can make you pretty sentimental ... ;)

3 days left to go! :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Day 24 - Red, White and Rosy



That's the trailer for Smashed up there - the flick about alcoholism that I trashed/loved yesterday. Should've thought to include it. I've put it in yesterday's post - but if you're interested, this will save you a click.

So the hubs and I were having dinner last night and Billy Joel's The Stranger was spinning on the turntable.

(To protect my husband's audiophile reputation, he would never actually put on a Billy Joel record if I wasn't there - it's one of mine.)

Having said that, man it's a kick-ass album - and a super-awesome walk down memory lane. The Stranger was released on September 29, 1977 - about a week before my 14th birthday. It rings in at #70 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time with so many hits - She's Always a Woman, Just the Way You Are, Movin' Out, etc. - it's like an amusement park for your ears. I mean, if you're into big, sentimental, commercial hit music - as I am.

Anyway, one of the tunes is Scenes From An Italian Restaurant. At the risk of getting sued by Sony, here are the opening lyrics:

A bottle of white, a bottle of red,
Perhaps a bottle of rosé instead.

As it's playing, the hubs says: "Man, that must make you wish the cleanse was over."

"What?"

"It's about wine."

I looked over at him and shrugged. "Didn't even think about it."

Seriously? I'm on the 23rd night of my cleanse, eating an Italian dinner ... and these lyrics didn't even register on me?

We were both kind of surprised. He said, "Every cleanse gets easier, doesn't it? There's a real seamlessness to it now. At least from the outside. You're less different. Life is less different. It's just not that big a deal."

"You're so right," I said.

Because it's absolutely true. This has been one of the easiest cleanses ever. Maybe my rehabilitation had something to do with it - I was definitely out of my normal rhythm. But you'd think that being sick would actually make me crave a drink more, just for a hit of bliss.  But it didn't.

And I'm almost done?!

(I should say that my husband doesn't have to cleanse. He's never had a drinking problem - thank God. He just doesn't drink in front of me when I'm cleansing, for moral support. I tell him it wouldn't bother me - and it wouldn't. But he says he actually likes cutting down twice a year, too. Hopefully your own partner can be just as supportive - and chances are, if you had a problem like mine, they will be.)

Talking about Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, we were having take-out lasagna from a local family-run place last night, Scaccia. The recipes are so homemade, they've got to be handed down through generations of nonnas.  The lasagna has about fourteen layers of paper-thin pasta (veggie, meat or chicken) and it's absolutely delish. What's even better, things are really busy for the hubs right now, so this is a fast, easy way to have a substantial meal.

Scaccia has a sit-down restaurant, but there's a separate counter for takeout and the young girls behind it are SO gorgeous, it's like they've all got to be contestants in the CHIN Picnic Bikini Contest or something.

FYI, CHIN is a group of multi-cultural radio stations originally started in the 1960s by Italian-Canadian Johnny Lombardi. The first CHIN picnic - with its controversial bikini contest - was in 1967. Even though it's a multi-cultural fest now, I'm old enough to still associate it with Italian-Canadians. Hence the reference to the pretty Scaccia counter girls who seem mostly of Italian descent.

If you're not familiar with the CHIN bikini contests, here's the press conference from last year. Despite the Hollywood sign, it was at Toronto's Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex.  The real contest takes place outside in the sunshine later in June, always signaling the welcome beginning of summer.  Incidentally, there was enough of an uproar about sexism that there's a Mr. CHIN contest now too. Talk about progress.


If you're sick of abs and bikinis, here's Billy Joel singing Scenes From An Italian Restaurant:



And if you're sick of abs, bikinis and Billy Joel, here are some different "chins" - singing What Is Love. 




Four days left to go!