I have just passed the three week mark in my 30-Day Alcohol Free Experiment. Still going strong. As in, staying alcohol free and craving sugar just as badly as the first week. The ice cream thing has frankly gotten a little out of hand. Since my last post I’ve made fast friends with Skinny Cow’s Salty Caramel Pretzel ice cream bars and just as quickly kicked her skinny ass out of my house when she seemed to be threatening to take over all sane judgment I’m currently left in possession of. It’s not much, but I have to hold onto what thread of dignity I have left. It was not a pretty picture, me ending each evening with chocolate at the corners of my mouth.
To that end, this week I have decided to up the ante in testing my mettle. That means I’m going ‘white-free’ this last week. As in no ice cream of any kind, full fat or skinny variety, no rice, potatoes, white bread, or any bread if I can help it. I need to divest myself of all sugar to see what it actually feels like to not depend on it. I’m beginning to think sugar might be the worst scourge of all here. Screw it - bring back the red wine! Let’s toast resveratrol and all its glorious antioxidant abilities!
But seriously, dear reader, I have been trying to realistically assess where I’m at with this non-drinking thing. How much do I really miss it? As summer kicks in I really do missing sitting out on the deck, waiting for the grill to heat up, while watching the sun glint off that chilled and sweating glass of French Rose. But weighed against my glorious sleep of late, the fantasy and romanticism of the act of drinking, though it is very social, may wane by comparison. Plus, it really is nice to have energy to actually do things like writing in the evenings. I feel much more productive than I was before, even if it’s sometimes just re-organizing my office and attacking that stack of old bills and receipts that have needed filing for about 11 months.
I’ll never forget, a few years ago while I was the Assistant Director of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop, I heard Donald Pollack, who wrote the acclaimed collection of gritty short stories about growing up in Appalachia, Knockemstiff, give the keynote speech at that summer’s conference. He was humble, mild mannered, with a drop dead dry sense of humor. He talked about the many years he’d spent working in the meatpacking industry -- up until his 40’s -- when he decided it was about time he quit drinking. He said, “All of a sudden, I had time on my hands.” At which point, he decided to try doing some writing, with all this new-found time. One thing led to another, and he ended up in the MFA writing program at Ohio State where he graduated with his masters at a fairly advanced age, and Knockemstiff was his thesis book. It just goes to show what you can accomplish with a little alcohol free time on your hands.
Of course, the list is long of famous writers who drank copiously, including Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway (that didn’t end so well), Jack Kerouac, and Dylan Thomas (come to think of it, none of them did!). But here are a few who weren’t alcoholics: Willa Cather, Saul Bellow, Mark Twain, and Tom Wolfe. List courtesy of a great essay on writing and drinking by Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn.
All this is to say, while I’m looking forward to having a summery glass of wine again in about a week’s time, I really, most definitely, do not want to go back to being a two-glasses a night kind of gal. So I’m hoping this re-set works. If for some reason I’m tempted to slide back, at least I know I can en-act another embargo -- a permanent one if necessary.
actor-writer-director, improviser, mother, traveler, general renegade and rabblerouser.