Being the mother of a 12 year old girl means I get to listen to modern pop music again. A lot of it is repetitive drivel, but there is the occasional diamond. I liked Pink’s “Just Give me a Reason” from earlier this year, which inspired me to check out her earlier material. I stumbled on this song, which seemed appropriate for this blog:
I’ve been reading addiction memoirs lately. These are the titles I’ve read:
Dry, by Augusten Burroughs
Mommy Doesn’t Drink Here Anymore, by Rachael Brownell
Drinking, a Love Story, by Caroline Knapp
Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, by Koren Zailckas
Parched, by Heather King
Unwasted, by Sacha Scoblic
Sober is the New Black, by Rachel Black
I liked all of these books, though some more than others. I feel like I got something out of each one, and I’ll probably talk more specifically about them in future posts. For now, what struck me is that all of these people were different – different ages, different in how low their “bottom” was, different in how long they drank, how early they started drinking, whether they considered themselves alcoholics, or whether they drank to be sociable or drank to tolerate loneliness, etc. – but in many key ways these stories were all the same. This can be summed up in one sentence:
Alcohol made my life better, and then it made my life worse.
It made me think about how alcohol can obliterate your individuality. You might be a quiet drunk or a boisterous drunk, a mean drunk or a sloppy, sentimental drunk – but take a bunch of drunk people and they will all be a lot more alike than the same number of sober people.
Each writer gets to a point, too, where she has to describe daily or nightly drinking, and what struck me is how boring it is. I don’t mean I was bored reading, just that all the things that make a good story – learning, growth, life – stops. You’re just waiting, as a reader, for the writer to hit bottom so growth can start again. David Sedaris, one of my favorite authors, sums this up nicely:
Worse than anything was the dullness of it, night after night the exact same story … Call me at 11 pm, and after a minute or so I’d forget who I was talking to. Even worse was when I placed the call. “Yes,” I’d say. “May I please speak to … oh, you know. He has brownish hair? He drives a van with his name written on it?”
“Is this David?”
“And you want to speak to your brother, Paul?”
“That’s it. Could you put him on, please?”
Most often I’d stay up until 3 am, rocking back and forth in my chair and thinking of the things I could do if I weren’t so fucked up.
Hope everyone has a wonderful, sober Labor day weekend!