Going Dry: Giving Up the Bottle
Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I like my beer. Specifically, I like it dark and strong. When I moved to Portland, it was like moving to the beer-lover’s wonderland. This place is wall to wall with absolutely stunning brews.
In San Francisco, I was more inclined to order a good glass of wine or a cocktail. My days at the advertising agency helped me develop an almost scary tolerance. I was a whiskey girl – favoring Jack Daniels and Maker’s Mark. I drank it on the rocks, not mixed.
I could also hold my martinis, and appreciated the fine art of a perfect float of ice. Kettle One, extra olives.
At home in our San Francisco loft, I spent hours studying old, vintage drink books that I’d purchased used. I learned to make and love White Ladies, Rusty Nails, and Patron gimlets.
When I went out all night dancing with my girlfriend Maggie I favored vodka-redbulls or vodka-sodas. They kept me dancing and helped me last from 2am until 6am, when the club wasn’t allowed to serve drinks. After the bartender rang the big bell at 6:00am, we rushed the counter to order Super Strong Bloody Marys and shots of whiskey. The buzz came back in a rush and I’d kill bloody mary after bloody mary as I continued dancing until 10:00 or 11:00am, when we’d leave to go have breakfast somewhere.
Then I’d sleep for the rest of the weekend.
I’ll admit that I miss the San Francisco nightlife. There’s nothing like it in Portland. You simply can’t party all night long here. Not like that, anyway.
But those days seem like another lifetime to me right now.
When I started P90X at the beginning of December, I gave up alcohol for the duration of the program (3 months). All of it. No red wine with dinner. No post-ride Lompoc Strong Drafts at the Hedge House. No nothing.
And you know what? It’s been fucking fabulous.
People think I’m blowing smoke up their ass when I say that. That I’m playing the part of Little Miss Fitness or whatever. But, I gotta be honest with you – I haven’t missed it very much at all.
At the end of the day, alcohol is a depressant. As much as I love a good glass of wine, or a perfectly shaken martini, taking a break from it all is super energizing and clarifying.
Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be on the wagon forever. In fact, I’ve got a nice bottle of Stag’s Leap Fay on reserve for when I’m done with P90X, but the break has really helped me get a handle on how and when I want to have alcohol in my life, and what it means for me.
After everyone in my life adjusted to this decision (and it’s implications), things were fine. People who are really my friends don’t pressure me or give me any kind of grief. Mostly I have been met with encouragement and affirmation.
I have realized that all of the things that I thought "wouldn’t be the same" without alcohol, actually are. The challenge is to confront my own associations and ideas about what alcohol is or isn’t.
Having a nice, refreshing beer after a ride IS really nice, but not having it doesn’t mean that my post-ride rituals are suddenly terrible. They’re just different. A recovery drink followed by nice, hot tea does the trick just fine. And I feel a lot less like taking a nap after I’m done with them.
Wine with dinner? Sure, if you’re out having some gastronomically amazing meal, a nice wine pairing is out-of-this-world, but the reality is that we’re usually swilling some mediocre bottle with some mediocre meal that we made at home. My head told me that the "wine makes it feel more special" but is this really true?
I’m realizing that this is just a script I’ve been reading for years. In fact, spending a little extra time on dinner preparation goes a lot further to make it "feel special" than adding a bottle of just-decent wine. Besides that, one glass just never seems to be enough. I always end up with 2 or 3, which my head doesn’t like so much the next morning.
That fuzzy-headedness (whether or not I have a real hangover, things are always a little "duller" the day after going to sleep with a few glasses of wine) is another pain in the ass. My morning-time productivity is hugely increased when I’m not drinking and, since that’s what I consider my "prime time" when I do my best work, it’s important that those are quality hours.
New Years was a breeze. Steve and Sal shared some yummy Rummy drinks and then champagne, my sister and mother had wine, and I shot pictures for 2 hours in 18 degree weather. Instead of a raging party, Sal and I set up an outdoor movie theater on my parents property, which happened to be buried in tons of snow.
It was one of the best New Years on record and I didn’t miss the chaos, or the booze, for a second. As a bonus, I got some pretty fun images:
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