Friday, September 27, 2013

The Truth Is ...

Hey! You've probably noticed for the last couple months I've been blogging a bit less. It's because of my books. Both of them.

I thought I had given up trying to write fiction. I broke my ass writing two novels that I loved and like 99.9% of most books published (and I'm not kidding about that stat), they, ahem,  kind of underperformed. ;) I'm a pussy, I'll admit. It broke my heart. After a life of dreaming about being a novelist, I thought my fiction career was behind me.

But then an idea came to me, in a dream - the first time something like that's happened. It wasn't a complete story or world, but when I woke up, I wrote down what I could remember and I knew it was my next book. The story has inflamed me like nothing I've worked on - fiction-wise - in years. The characters, the location, the idea, the scope, the fun, the sex, the violence, the gritty main chick coming to terms with her destiny. Sometimes it's a mind-bend to work on, but I just love it. It reminds me of why I wanted to be a novelist in the first place, typing away on my used Underwood when I was a kid.

Although I've been interested in self-help books all my life, it's only in the last few years that I considered writing one myself. The book is soooo close to being finished. It's a tough one to complete because more information about addiction keeps coming out every day and I want to keep the book as up to date as possible. Because I'm 100% confident that it's going to help many people who, like me, were on the brink of losing everything important to them - from their loved ones to their health to their sanity.

I honestly believe in my soul that cleansing works to curb alcohol addiction. 2+2. Two cleanse days a week, two cleanse months a year. I feel the system working. I feel myself staying in control - more than ten years after my first cleanse. While still enjoying drinking (tremendously actually!). I believe regular cleansing works not only with my body - but with life. So there's a part of me now that has branched out from that little girl who wanted to be a novelist. My personality as a writer has split in two.

I want to write fiction - at least this story. And I want to write non-fiction - at least about cleansing.

So I'm at a crossroads. I really am. I feel myself not being able to work as effectively on anything because I'm juggling everything at once. I think I've been doing a decent job of it so far and it's all been straight in my head. More or less.

But I'm a stone's throw away from finishing the first draft of the novel - and the final draft of the cleanse book. Which means it seems every day that goes by, there's less room in my brain to be a worthwhile, consistent blogger. I love to blog! I really do! I love the connection, I love the research, I love the writing. But I'm not the world's fastest blogger. It can take me hours to write a single post. I edit and re-edit and re-edit everything I write, I always have. And it's the same with my blog.

I envy those people who have real skill at blogging. Not only tossing off a brilliant post at least once a day, but tweeting and promoting and writing other books and raising children and walking their dogs and having cool careers - while Instagram-ing pics of the gourmet meals they whip up in fifteen minutes every night. I honestly wish I was like that. (Who doesn't?) But I'm not.

So as lame as I think it is when bloggers come online and confess: "Hey, I'm gonna be really busy right now, so buh-bye" - and I do think it's lame and weak and clearly means a person isn't meant to blog (okay, not really), that's what I'm doing. On a temporary basis, at least. Because the idea of giving up this blog - or the corresponding book - really breaks my heart. As much as I love fiction, I can no longer picture a happy life without this. Without you.

Anyway, I've got a 28-day cleanse coming up in October/November. Usually when I cleanse, I write more often and there are plenty of other cleanses on the blog to follow if you want. But the count might be down this time because I really, really, really want to finish both books as well as I can. So I might not be checking in as often. But I will when I absolutely must.

That might mean just saying hi or linking to an article or sharing a quick thought. Twitter would be really great for this, I know, and I admire people who are good at it. But right now, tweeting still feels like swallowing razor blades to me. I hope that will change, but that's the way it feels right now. And - as my husband says - what you do with your life should feel like "a natural extension of your heart." I love that. And I believe it. Because as low-tech as my blog is compared to the schmancy ones, it really does feel like a natural extension of my heart. I just won't be using that part of my heart to tell you about every Texan who can brew beer in his stomach for a little while. ;)  But that doesn't mean my interest in cleansing is fading - it means it's more important than ever.

If you're struggling with addiction, stay strong and do what you need to. You know in your heart what that is. It might mean cleansing - all the information you need is here and the book is on the way. Or it might mean counseling or A.A. Just know there is a brighter, easier, happier future out there - no matter how hard things feel right now. If you need to reach out, please contact me. I'm still here!

In the meantime, I want you to know, I'm thinking about you. I miss you. And I thank you!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pleasure/Pain Principal

Oh boy, did I not want to take a cleanse day yesterday.

Around 4 in the afternoon, I was ready to say: "Screw this! Tonight's going to be an on-night!" Because I felt like having a drink!

I didn't have that drink btw. It ended up being a great cleanse night and that moment of craving was short-lived. It's cleansing itself (both the days and the months) that allows me to stay in control, even when I want to drink. 

I notice this toward the end of a five-month drinking cycle: taking cleanse days can sometimes become more challenging.  It's amazing to me. To watch the addictive nature of alcohol sneak up on me again. 

The reason for this is because I'm predisposed to become addicted to alcohol. Everything in my past, everything in my physical makeup, everything in my family, even in my DNA, has singled me out to become an alcoholic. The more I learn about the specifics of alcohol addiction, the more I recognize the patterns in myself.

And this close to the end of a drinking cycle, I can feel the subtle signals starting again. Drinking a bit more when I do drink. Wanting to drink when I'm cleansing. Making sure I get time for a trip to the liquor store. But this is the WHOLE REASON I cleanse in the first place. Because I know what my body feels like when it's addicted. And I  know what it feels like when it's not. Which is why I'm actually looking forward to my coming cleanse. On every level.

I know it's hard to believe. That a whole month of not drinking is actually something I'm looking forward to - even though I actually want to drink more at the end of a five-month drinking cycle. It's a paradoxical equation. But alcohol is a paradox in itself. It can bring such pleasure. But it can bring such pain. And I know them both - very well.

The reason cleansing works for me is not because it stops alcohol from being an addictive substance. It can't do that. Alcohol is addictive - and cleansing can't change that. What cleansing does is work with your whole body - and your life - to interrupt the cumulative effects of an addictive substance on your system - so you can't get hooked. Your body and your brain and your soul know that you're in control.

It's a really simple - but strangely complex system. Becasue I know in my heart that a month-long cleanse resets my whole system. I love the feeling of health it brings me. Of control. Of relief. Of safety. I love the way life changes when you cleanse. I love the freshness and the newness and the clarity of it. I love the simplicity of it. Not worrying if this is a cleanse day or that's a drinking day. More than anything, I love the feeling of knowing that I don't have to face the challenges, obstacles and temptations of 'abstaining' or the dangers of 'relapse.' Every minute of my cleanse, I love knowing that I can work drinking back into my life in a healthy way. That I don't have to quit forever.

Regular cleansing can stop addiction in its tracks - while not depriving me of the real pleasures of alcohol in the long run. It's an amazing system. :) 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Brew-It-Yourself

So this 61-year-old Texas man walks into the emergency ward, stumbling, slurring, obviously drunk. They check his Blood Alcohol Content and it's .37 - five times the legal limit in the Lone Star State. The man swears he hasn't had a drop of alcohol all day, but that this isn't the first time it's happened to him. He just gets spontaneously drunk. Hmmmm ...

Once the lab coats got hold of him, they found an overgrowth of a certain strain of yeast in his stomach - and it was fermenting all the carbohydrate-rich foods he ate (pasta, potatoes, bread, etc.) into beer - right in his stomach! Kinda gross. But you can't beat the convenience. Or the price. ;) 

It's a very rare condition (they've only seen a handful of cases in thirty years). The doctors who treated him believe it can be traced to a round of antibiotics he took in 2004. The meds killed all his 'good bacteria' and the bad guys have been growing ever since, basically turning his body into a micro-brewery. He was put on medication and a low-carb diet and is expected to make a full recovery. 

My guess is within a couple months of not getting spontaneously drunk, he's going to want his yeast back. ;) 

Here's the full story.

btw ... that video I shared last time.  For the record, the young drunk trio did not spend the entire night in the loo. We laughed and drank and listened to music and danced and drank some more. Only when my BFF had to toss her cookies did we end up in there. She was soooo sick that night - and yet I was feeling unbelievably great. And I was ready for more. 

It was my first indication that I didn't handle alcohol the same way as most people. That I could drink more. And that I wanted to drink more. I remember that moment in front of the mirror so clearly, I had to share. Comet cans, old toilets and all. ;) I write about that night in the new book btw. It's one of my Blackouts and Memories stories. The book's 'in the fridge' for a few weeks before I take one last pass. But it's out soon! :) 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Home Buddies

 Hey! Good news to report from the home front. No drunken fights, no projectile vomiting, no attempted murders!! Yayyyy!

It was actually a really wonderful trip. Lots of love and good vibrations and great food! If you're ever in the Great White North, you gotta check out Tommy's Not Here for dinner. Some of the most delicious and creative cuisine I've ever had outside of a megopolis. And Tutti Frutti for breakfast was awesome too. 

We had to go to Science North - just for old time's sake. I worked there one summer as a science demonstrationist - I mentioned that before. We had a nice lunch at the center - certainly more pleasant than the last time my mother and I were there, about fifteen or twenty years ago. That day ended in a drunken strangulation attempt. In a moving car. I'm not kidding. I was the drunk one. Not Mom. Good God. Honestly, I was so angry at her, at myself, at everything back then, that I actually tried to strangle my mother while she was driving the car. 

That time, after a nice lunch at Science North, my mom drove me to a friend's place where I polished off a whole bottle of rum, one big glass after anther. My friend looked at me as if I'd gone insane. When my mom came to pick me up, I basically was insane. And nonsensically drunk. I lashed out at her, for no specific reason that I remember, except that we used to push each other's buttons a lot more back then. 

Now, for instance, I don't care that she has different decorating tastes than me. Or that I'm not from some rich family on the Upper East Side. Or that I grew up in a home where alcohol abuse was normal. I don't know whether it's getting older or wiser (or both), but here's Mom and me at lunch at the same resto a few days ago: smiling, healthy and happy to be together. And no attempted murders!

I honestly believe that cleansing has put me in a better place - in general. I drank quite a bit this weekend (fun!) but I never turned into a basket case, I never got angry or depressed, and I didn't lose control. That's par for the course for me now and I have confidence in that. So I think all the stress and tension associated with drinking (and life!) eases and I can just relax and enjoy myself more. 

By the way, I'm on back-to-back cleanse days right now - two in a row. The day after we got back, I tried to get into the swing of things, and felt a bit sluggish. I just couldn't face a dry night. So midway through the day I decided to make it a drinking night, not a cleanse night, which is what it would normally be. Which is why I'm doing two back-to-back cleanse days right now. I think I should make up a new Wildcard Rule - that a vacation actually lasts until the second night you get home. No cleanse days necessary! ;) 

Anyway, two non-drinking days will be good for me. Especially with a monthly cleanse coming up. I haven't decided when it's starting exactly, but one way or another, there'll be a couple of weeks without cleanse days. And then one whole month of them. So I might as well get in the swing. 

btw, here's evidence of one of the big milestones of my drinking career: the upstairs bathroom where I remember being drunk for the first time. I was with my BFF and my little brother. It was a formative experience for me - obviously. I just loved the feeling of being drunk so much. Shoulda known there'd be some problems down the road. Anyway, here's me talking to myself in the same mirror I looked into that night ... while also showing off my mom's new bathroom reno. (I'm kidding about the reno. ;) 

(removed in the sake of good taste!! Honestly ... an old toilet? Good God!! Who needs to see that? I've outgrown the shame I felt about growing up poor -  but not enough to permanently subject anyone to photographic evidence! So picture a bathroom circa 1976 ... and picture me waaaaay too young to be staring at my drunk reflection in a mirror! If you must see the damn thing, write me and I'll send it to you! Honest!)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Booze Cruise

So with my first visit home in a few years looming, I've been thinking about trippin'. You know - what to pack, what to do, what to drink. ;)

Apparently, so have Beyonce and Jay Z who just did a 5-day luxury cruise of the Mediterranean. They made sure they had all the sailing essentials, too - like $20,000 worth of booze. And we're not talking cases of brewski and boxed wine here, but twenty grand worth of Dom PerignonRemy Martin and Belvedere, the world's "first super premium (yes, super premium) vodka." Jay Z loves his fancy spirits, apparently. But when it comes to eating on board, he's much more laid back, because the crew also stocked things like Skippy Peanut Butter and Cheerios. (I just love thinking of the uber-power couple eating cereal on deck ... cute!) Here's the full story from Express. 

Beyonce posted lots of pics of the trip on her Instagram account - and here it is: Bey's Vacay Pics. (You're welcome!) 

Incidentally, there's a cruise in my hometown too - and my mom wants us all to go on it. It's a tour of a really pretty lake right in the heart of town and I'm sure it's a lovely way to spend an hour - especially since the cruise is licensed!  (Um, yay!) Still, something tells me it ain't no yacht in the Mediterranean, so probably no need to Instagram pics of me in my parka sipping cheap wine from a plastic glass. But ya never know. ;) (Sudbury Boat Tours)

btw, E-Online is reporting Queen Bee circulated this pic of herself having a drink of something fun looking on a beach - but it's in Brazil. Hmmm ... Either E's researchers got their facts wrong - or, yes, B & J are just sailing around the world getting drunk on Dom. (Sigh ... one can always dream.)

Beyonce, Instagram

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Buzz Off!

You probably remember a night when you and some friends were out at a club or bar somewhere and a drunk guy (or girl!) started coming onto you and just wouldn't take 'no' for an answer? No matter how many dirty glares or cold shoulders you gave him or her?

Turns out there could be a scientific reason for that. It has to do with what happens to the brain when we get drunk. Researchers at Chicago School of Medicine have found that alcohol intoxication prevents the brain from properly understanding social signals. (Is that the point, I wonder?)

Anyway, test subjects were all considered heavy social drinkers (bingeing about twice a week) with an average age of 23. They were either given a strong drink (16% alcohol) or a placebo, then they were asked to try to match photographs of people with angry, happy or fearful expressions to the correct mood.

After a fMRI scan, the lab coats found that the two areas responsible for interpreting social signals (the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex) did not communicate as effectively when someone's been drinking, so these people had trouble matching the expressions to the correct mood. They especially didn't react to angry or fearful faces in a typical way - which is why that guy/gal just kept coming onto you that night.

Plus, yeah, you're irresistibly hot. Everyone knows that.

Here's the full article from Medical News Today. Or you can read more in your September issue of Psychopharmacology when that comes in the mail. ;) The September issue? That's always the big one, right? Enjoy!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dry-Day Friday

So yesterday - a Friday - was a cleanse day for me cuz the hubs was out of town. So I made Thursday a drinking day.

A serious drinking day, apparently.

Um ... okay ... so it's not like I ended up in a drunk tank. Or even blacked out. But I was moseying back into the living room after dinner, topping up my red wine, when I saw how much in the bottle was gone.

I know the hubs didn't drink a lot of it - he was finishing off another bottle of red. And I'd already had a glass of white before dinner. In the old days, noticing that I'd had a lot to drink (and it was a lot more back then, btw), I'd be so full of guilt, shame, fear and anger that ... well, I'd just finish off everything that was left in the house. And hate myself for it in the morning.

But you know what I thought this time?

"Guess cleanse time is coming up!"

And it's true. I already mentioned my next 28-day cleanse starts some time after my birthday in October (I haven't set the day yet). But I swear to you, if I didn't take my regular cleanse days - and especially cleanse months - I'd be in serious trouble soon (i.e. I'd be spending Christmas Eve in that drunk tank).

But I know in my heart (and my brain and my liver) that the coming cleanse is going to re-set my whole system. And you know what? I'm actually looking forward to it. I feel my whole self moving toward it. Being drawn toward it actually. And actually wanting it. I'm not kidding. Imagine right now - if you're feeling worried about your drinking - knowing that you can get to a place where you actually want to take a break? Where you actually enjoy being sober and the different things it brings to life?

It's an amazing feeling because it takes the fear of the equation (and the guilt and the shame and the depression, etc.).  Instead, I have this whole-body-knowledge that cleansing is good for me on every level - and that it works for me. So consciously and unconsciously ... I love it. And that's how I can look forward to a whole month of not drinking.

btw, despite the surprising amount of obviously low-%-alcohol wine (yeah, right!) I imbibed on Thursday, it wasn't so bad that I woke up with a hangover. I spaced the glasses out reasonably over the night. But still, I know where this increasing tolerance could lead. And it's a scary path - as anyone who's struggled with addiction knows.

I'm being totally honest about the changing nature of how much I can drink because I want you to see how the System works - both in terms of drinking and cleansing. Fun and responsibility. Freedom and structure. It's an intricate balance that just works with life.

On that note ... glad today's a drinking day! ;)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Top 40 Ouncer

Does listening to hit music lately actually make you want to 'hit' a bar? You're not alone. ;)

From Wiz Khalifa to Miley Cyrus (whose recent tune We Can't Stop  is really about partying until the sun comes up - and not about being half-naked Twitter fodder), you almost can't listen to Top 40 radio without wanting to order a shooter.

I commented on this phenom last year in Pop/Fizz Songs because I had noticed how many pop lyrics were tempting me to drop everything and just have a drink - or ten. Turns out Ms. Functional, ever on the cutting edge of science ;), has been proven right by the lab coats.

David Jernigan from the Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health helped conduct a study of contemporary music from 2009-2011. 720 songs - from urban to country - were analyzed for references to alcohol, drinking or specific brands (i.e. Petron).

Turns out nearly one in four tunes contained some reference to alcohol - and it was always in a fun, positive light. Although rock songs didn't rate, 22% of country songs and 15% of pop songs referenced drinking, with hip-hop winning the crown (royal) at almost 40%.  If you're just talking about Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Lion, however, you can probably edge that number a bit closer to 99%. ;)

The lab coats think this is tantamount to marketing alcohol to youngsters and that it's helping contribute to the many problems associated with underage drinking. According to the CAMY, more than 10% of alcohol consumption is by minors and 6.5 million underage kids actually binge drink. Which is sincerely alarming, since early alcohol exposure increases the chance of adult alcoholism by 16%. Having started my own drinking career at 13, I'm living proof that under(under)age drinking can lead to serious problems down the road (so glad that's behind me).

Obviously, alcohol abuse is a complex problem and I sympathize with parents who have to deal with it. However, there are options out there. The Century Council, an organization of distillers fighting drunk driving and underage drinking, claims that good ol' fashioned punishment can prevent minors from drinking again.

For instance, getting into trouble with the law (the big winner) results in a 68% reduction in repeat drinking. Getting grounded and/or losing computer privileges are tied neck and neck at 42%. Even the threat of punishment  resulted in 52% of underage kids saying they wouldn't drink again. (Full list here.)

Obviously, no punishment is 100% effective, especially with our most popular artists singing about drinking almost every other song. But it's still good to know parents aren't powerless when it comes to keeping kids safe.

By the way, DrinkAware claims that setting a good example by being a moderate drinker yourself is still the best way to ensure your kids are responsible. So there's more reason than ever to take a cleanse day (or month!) now and again. ;)

Here's the full report on pop music pushing from Time.com. For the detail-minded, here's a compilation of all the songs about drinking. Or almost all of them - i.e. Mr. Khalifa didn't make the list. ;)

And in honor of today's theme, yay! here's Miley Cyrus singing We Can't Stop at the VMA's!

Are you kidding? Would I do that to you? I think we've all seen enough foam fingers and plastic undies for, like, ever. Instead, here's Wiz and Snoop singing (and being) Young, Wild & Free.

btw - the first line of the chorus is "So what, we get drunk?" Which is why I always thought it was mostly about drinking. But having just watched the video, it's more about weed than drinking. But it's still fun to watch.

Of course ... that's the problem. ;)


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Drunkorexic?

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
John Dewey (1859-1952)

So it's the first day of schoooool! omg! The summer went by so fast! I've got that nostalgic tug going on in my heart. The eternal struggle between my Teacher's Pet angel and my Skipping Class devil. The one that says I should be out there buying pencil cases, new jeans and a forty ouncer of vodka for class.

Just kidding about the vodka. Sorta. ;)

But as we know, higher education often means exploring not just the library - but the local liquor store, too. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 80% of college kids drink - and half of them have binged in the last two weeks.

But here's a new rub, gaining popularity both in the U.S. and Britain: female students (especially those just starting college or university) are under such pressure to stay thin, they're not eating food so they can ingest their calories in alcohol at night.

It's being termed drunkorexia (cute) and fully 15% of college girls do it. It helps save money, control weight and gets them drunk faster. Hmmm. That's just the kind of post-secondary logic that's hard to argue with.

But the dangers of this new practice are severe. Cognitive and learning problems can develop, decision making is hindered, the risk of sexual assault and accidents increase, and, just as important, depriving the young brain and body of adequate nutrients can cause serious health issues down the road.

I don't remember purposefully "saving" my calories so I could get drunk at night when I was in school. As much as I loved drinking, I loved eating, too. There may have been a few too many Kraft Dinners, but by and large I ate well. Fruit, whole wheat bread, cheese, eggs. I've always had this innate health-freak streak and I think it's helped keep me on top of things.  (It's this one that helped me develop the Cleanse System, too!)

Now I know heading off to school can be a great experience. Ms. Functional would never want to take the fun and freedom out of freshman year - God knows I look back on mine as one of the best times of my life. But don't counteract higher education by being stupid. Take care of yourself! Eat right, get your sleep - and start now working non-drinking days into your life. Because it'll help you stay healthier in the long run.

Speaking of non-drinking days, I've got another 28-day cleanse coming up next month. I'm not dreading it at all! I'm even looking forward to it. But lots of party time until then! ;)

btw, here's more sobering info from the NIAAA about college drinking stats. And if you didn't catch it up top, here's the original article about drunkorexia. And speaking of alcohol abuse, here's a story about a university student whose throat exploded from downing too many vodka shots, from the Huffington Post. Exploding throats? You see? Now that's overdoing it.

Dewey Quote: BrainyQuote.com