It had to happen sometime. I’m giving myself a break from the booze. It’s got very little to do with being a writer (I am, in fact, going to be depriving myself of fully one-quarter of the Writer’s Food Pyramid) but there’s enough traffic that doesn’t need to be bothered with this on my Alter Ego’s site that I had might as well associate it here.
The reasons for this? Health-based, mostly. Just like cutting out caffeine after noon, this, like just about every health choice I make, is about trying to settle what, in polite terms, I’d have to call a somewhat dramatic digestive system. Like, two-time-Academy-Award-Winning dramatic. About this time a couple years ago, also at Microsoft, I got into a stressbound spiral, where food that entered me consistently and suddenly exited – depending on a script the director didn’t let me see – either stage up or stage down. It kept me guessing, let me tell you. Kept the doctors guessing, too, until I left Microsoft and suddenly all that crap cleared up.
Until now. I thought I was free, but it looks like it’s Oscar Season again.
To damp the fires down a bit, this one’s not nearly as debilitating as the first time, as I’d like to think I learned fairly well what my stressors were over that particular job. But, I’m searching for answers. Everything from stress to spinach to celiac to colitis to gall bladder blockage has been up the flagpole. I’m sure stress is a part of it, but I’ve noticed there’s something in common with both scenarios: alcohol. Now that I’m off antibiotics, alcohol is the next best contender for the muse that’s been giving my theatre-trained stomach its lessons in method acting.
As much as I hate to deprive anyone of their one true dream, I’m being mercifully honest when I tell you my stomach’s solo of Lear-on-the-Heath sucks, and I think we’ll all be done a favor if I hustle it off the stage and pack it a bindle back to Waukeegan. We’ll deal with refunds after the program, thanks.
On to business.
(or, “How does This Subject Not Carry a Stigma?)
1. This isn’t a self-intervention. I did not wake up in a gutter and make some kind of starry-brained decision that my life needed to flip an ethanol-free bitch. It’s a Tuesday. We all make reasonable decisions on Tuesdays. Right along with my decisions to have curry for lunch, follow up on a few emails after 3PM, and cancel tomorrow’s Shiproom meeting, I’m deciding to take a break from alcohol.
2. This isn’t spiritual. It isn’t even metaphysical. Having a drink is fun and relaxing. It’s not fun or relaxing to give it up. Hell, it’s plain uncomfortable. It doesn’t appear to be helping my chi, it doesn’t give me a boost to my self-esteem, and has, as far as I can tell, very little to do with God in any way - more to do with my brain deciding not to put certain liquids down my gullet. In fact, I know this is going to be uncomfortable for those around me. My apologies in advance. My advice to you? If you drink, keep on drinking. The poker party later this month is going to have a full bar, so take advantage.
3. This isn’t automatically so fantastically good for my body. Laying off moderate consumption of alcohol isn’t going to turn me into Lance Armstrong, and a lot of the quackery around body toxicity theories is just that – quackery. I expect my tolerance to go down, and as for the rest, we’ll see if it’s good for my body – more specifically, my gut. That’s the point of this whole exercise. If I don’t see a change after 30 days, I’m going to cross alcohol off my suspects list and have a martini while I’m going over the case notes. That’s how this is going to work.
4. This would be great as an all-or-nothing deal, but it won’t be. I’m being realistic here. Some way, some how, I’ll end up having booze in the next month. It’ll be a business thing, or a romantic dinner, or whatever else. And that sounds fine. The goal of this exercise is to cut out most of my drinking to see if it mostly helps my gut feel better. If I see enough of a correlation, I’ll know we’re onto something, then we’ll move on to whatever approach stabilizes me at the right mix of digestive health and enjoyable drinking.
Action Items for Friends and Family
1. Seriously, bring alcohol to the poker party. I’m relying on you to help everyone else get their drinking done and done right.
2. Do not tell me you’re happy I did this, that you’re proud of me or that “this is a good step”. I’m going to skip out on the validation part of this exercise; I’m staring down the barrel of thirty; I don’t need to hear I drew a pretty picture with my decision crayons.
3. Do not suggest other things I could do to “get better”. If I hear the terms colonic, high colonic, trans fat, exercise, or de-stress, something’s going out a window. De-stress isn’t even a word.
And last but not least – if you’re a drinker, keep drinking. In my deepest, darkest, most secret of hearts (well, the one I’m willing to blog with, at any rate), I’m quietly hoping alcohol isn’t the culprit. Instead, I dream that I’ll get a doctor’s note claiming I suffer from a little-known ”Vacation Deficit Disorder”, wherein my gut simply doesn’t engineer enough digest-y bits and I’ll need employer-sponsored vacations every month or so to, you know, get back up to 100%. Well, whichever way it goes, I hope to be back playing the gin fiddle with you all in short order.
I’ve just got to find the little bastard responsible for booking my stomach on the Charlie Sheen Opener tour, kick down its door, tear up its contract, and make myself clear beyond clear that it’s never going to work in this town again.
Bright lights of Broadway, my ass.