What’s your poison?

In the US thirty years ago, wine drinking was passe. It was seen as vaguely pretentious, the province of connoisseurs and poseurs.

(One of the alcohol books I read recently went into the history of this quite a bit. The growth in the alcohol – especially wine – industry is almost entirely due to an increase in women’s drinking. Men’s rate of alcohol intake has remained fairly steady. Scary.)

I can attest to feeling the shift toward wine somewhere in the mid-90’s. Suddenly wine was everywhere. So when I started drinking daily ten or so years later, wine was a natural choice. Europeans drink two glasses of wine every day, don’t they? Tannins are good for your heart. It also seemed to fit with a persona I wanted to create – that of a mom who wore motherhood lightly, who didn’t let it become my defining characteristic.

Wine was great. So how did I get to brandy?

There were a few reasons. What started it is that I bought a bottle for a recipe. The recipe called for two tablespoons, and after that I had a bottle sitting in the cupboard which would be a pity to waste.

The second is that I got a kick out of the way brandy is talked about as having medicinal value, especially in British fiction of the 19th century. “She’s had a shock – fetch the brandy!” This is part of my Xer heritage – the notion of being hip by taking something hopelessly stodgy and lame and enjoying it ironically. (Hipsters going bowling is the ultimate example of this.)

But here’s the real reason, the main reason: wine wasn’t doing it for me anymore, it wasn’t giving the punch I needed. I also had to drink so damn much of it. It was getting conspicuous. Brandy, with its higher alcohol content, enabled me to drink less for the same effect. Brilliant.

I read somewhere, have no idea if it’s true, that hardcore alcoholics all end up drinking straight vodka as their preferred drink of choice. No messing around. And I’ve certainly read personal stories from drinkers who drank cooking wine, mouthwash, cologne … you get to a certain point, it doesn’t matter what form the poison comes in, as long as you get it.

 

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Dreaming about Drinking

I’ve gotten to the point when I don’t think about drinking during the day very often. I have reaped enough benefits from quitting that the siren call of drinking is muted – or drowned out, har har.

And yet, in the night I often dream about drinking.

I’m not sure what this means. Wish fulfillment? My unconscious still working through issues? I am starting to see a pattern to these dreams. They usually involve being presented with an opportunity to drink. Then I usually decide I am going to drink, but then things happen that prevent me from being able to do so. Sometimes I do drink, but then circumstances conspire to keep from drinking any more.

I thought I would share with you the dream I had last night, since it was pretty typical. I dreamt we were hosting a party at our house. The guests were people I didn’t know very well. (Oddly, the Seattle Seahawks were there. Marshawn Lynch ate all the tacos.) I was tasked with mixing all the drinks. A woman asked for a Manhattan, and I found I had no idea how to make one. I remembered that the end result was brown, so I mixed together cream, hot cocoa mix, and vodka (ew!). I decided, if she doesn’t like it I’ll just have to drink it myself.

She took it, and wandered off. I kept waiting for her to come back. When she didn’t, I thought: I can make one for myself anyway. But my hostess duties kept preventing me from doing so (including making more tacos!). I kept thinking about that drink, and I woke up still wanting it – until I came fully awake and was relieved it was only a dream.

That’s the positive side to having these dreams: I always wake up relieved that I did not, in fact, drink. So that’s maybe what my brain is doing for me: rehearsing making a different choice. It always reinforces for me my confidence with the choice I have made.

 

Resolution(s)

Is it too late to make a New Year’s resolution? I say, no! Anytime is good time to resolve to make your life better!

I said last time that I want to make my resolutions this year positive and specific. First, I want to write another screenplay. I finished the one I started last year, but now I am doing a major revision of one section of it. So that is my resolution: finish this revision by the end of February, and then finish a second screenplay by the end of the year. It does me a lot of good to have a writing project to work on. Of course I would love to sell a screenplay, but right now it’s more about giving my brain something to chew on.

I swear a lot of the reason I drank was to try to shut up my brain. This is better: distracting it.

My next resolution isn’t too exciting, but it is to pay off our car early. We owe a little less than $6000 on it now, and paying it off early will do very nice things for our monthly budget. When we do that, we can start building up an emergency fund. This is something that every finance book recommends, and we always seem to find something else to do with our money. This might be a goal that will happen more in 2016, but I’m earmarking the car payment amount, as soon as the car is paid off, to go right into funding an emergency savings account – at a separate bank.

I try to check in with my financial picture once in year in January. Last year my resolution was to start keeping a monthly budget, down to the last dollar. I did this, and will continue doing it this year.

My other news is that I got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune disease where your body attacks your thyroid. I put on nine pounds last year, so my doctor ordered some thyroid tests. (And here I thought it was just because I started eating ice cream again!) I am taking medication for it, and am pondering making some dietary changes as well. Based on my online research (which I know can be flawed!), an anti-inflammatory diet (mostly, no sugar or gluten) can be a good diet for people with Hashimoto’s. I have to say, I’m still in the planning stages here. 🙂 The only change I’ve made so far is to give up my granola for breakfast in favor of more protein/fat based breakfasts, with some veggies or fruit:  veggie omelets, or cottage cheese with banana, or unsweetened yogurt with blueberries mixed in.

And to anyone reading this who is pondering quitting drinking for your New Year’s resolution: GO FOR IT! I promise you won’t regret it!