Friday, January 13th, 2012

A Drynuary Diary: Week Two

John Ore: Hey Jolie, welcome to our second installment of Ask A Temporarily Sober Person! Wasn’t the moon beautiful this weekend?

Jolie Kerr: You know? Usually I don’t support the anti-moon agenda put forth by this’n here website, but I do think it was awfully cruel of the universe to deliver unto us a full moon in convergence with our first full weekend of Drynuary, so I’ll bellow a hearty I DESPISE YOU, MOON in solidarity with our Alcoholic Overlords.

Right then, with that out of the way, we’ve just made it through our first, and arguably most challenging, sober weekend. Last week you said something I loved about how Drynuary is both a challenge and a gift—a truth which hits you square in the gut the first weekend out of the gate, does it not? I mean, how many times can you ask yourself, “Okay but now what?"

John: Right? The first few days have the benefit of novelty to propel you forward. Yo! Check me out! Not drinking! Weekdays are filled with commuting and work and parenting and all of the things that make you drink in the first place, but at least you’ve got a routine to attend to and distract you. Then the weekend checks in with its stupid face promising fun and free time and sports, most of which is best accompanied by a beer. This is when you start recognizing where you are in the Kübler-Ross model. Which stage was horniness?

Jolie: Stages 1-5, based on a scientific study of one. But I’m sure I’m not the only one substituting sex for drinking. Also sugar, but we can get to that later because it’s time to talk about the “gift" part of things, which for me has really been found in the substitute activities.

Last Saturday, as you know because you live here, was ridiculously beautiful in New York. The perfect day for outdoor drinking, except that it’s Drynuary, so nope, no dice. I had a couple of dumb little errands to run; normally I would have jumped on the subway and hustled through the shopping so I could meet up with friends for several hundred glasses of wine, but instead I decided to take advantage of the weather. I treated myself to an iced coffee from Dunkin' Donuts (you can take the girl out of Boston, but you can’t take the Masshole out of the girl), put a whole bunch of Phish on Spotify (you can take the girl out of boarding school, but you can’t take the trustafarian out of the girl), and twirled through the city having one of those great New York days where you wander from neighborhood to neighborhood people-watching and just checking some things out. Of course, it’s me, so the things I was “checking out" included a vintage clothing shop for ideas on boot storage and a leather daddy emporium where I inquired about the proper care and cleaning of strap-on harnesses. A Clean Person’s work is never done, John.

After a few hours, my feetsies were starting to hurt and I was a little peckish, so I came home, made a cup of tea, fixed a cheese plate and relaxed with an episode of "Sons of Anarchy." It was perfectly lovely, truly. (Lest you think I’m avoiding human contact in the name of not drinking, I can assure you that I’m out and about! Or in and about, as the case may be. On Friday, I entertained in the home, cooked a big dinner—the chicken piccata called for wine, and I didn’t even flinch! Though if I’m being honest, I had a couple of half cup servings in the freezer, so it’s not like I cracked a bottle and then resisted its siren call or anything—and after the meal, we made crack brownies together when normally I’d be pouring another glass of wine or a bourbon. See what I mean about the sugar?)

John: It’s ALL about the coping mechanisms. I went to Queens, for Pete’s sake. Queens! For ethnic food, of course. Barbecue is ethnic food, right? They don’t have a liquor license yet, so: soft landing! How did they know I was coming?

You’ve got the right approach: cowering in your apartment all of Drynuary will drive you mad. Or worse, to drink. It’s like Steve McQueen being in the cooler without the baseball. The smugness factor alone of drinking cranberry juice on a Saturday night out ensures that we can survive behind enemy lines.

Here’s where I’ll share my Drynuary’s Little Helper. I enjoy bubble water on a regular basis, and I’m one of those jerks who orders “sparkling" while the rest of the table wants “New York tap." I like burping! So much so that we now make our own seltzer at home. I’m always ready for a slapstick Three Stooges scene, so it has made Drynuary just a bit more tolerable. There’s enough citrus in my fridge to keep the British Navy scurvy-free, so I’ve always got a glass of custom club soda with a wedge of lemon/lime/orange within reach. My trusty sidekick. I call him Bubbles.

Oh, and it’s very environmentally friendly since we don’t buy plastic bottles of the stuff, ensuring that we don’t get kicked out of Brooklyn for exceeding the strict Neighborhood Carbon Footprint and Condescension Act of 2008. Drynuary: For A Greener Tomorrow(™).

Jolie: I love soda water in a wholly unnatural way. Like, to the point where about five years ago I had to cold turkey it on the seltzer front for about 6 months to kick the habit before I burped myself into a bone density problem. But yes, mocktails are crucial to surviving Drynuary. Jill mentioned that she’s been experimenting to great effect with pineapple, grapefruit, cranberry, etc. juices mixed with seltzer; I shared with her my “mix OJ and soda water, serve in a flute, close your eyes and pretend it’s a mimosa" trick, which also works well with peach juice for a mock Bellini. And now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go apologize to the Italian side of my family for using the words “mock Bellini" because dear God who am I???

And! While we’re on the topic of mocktails, I had a personal victory this Drynuary that I would like to share with the class: last year I said that I couldn’t imagine going to a bar and not drinking, but this go-round I made it happen. Cranberry and seltzer, bellied right up to the bar with my laptop while I worked on the cleaning column. It wasn’t even a thing really.

But I fear we’re making this sound too easy, so let me ask you this: have you come close to breaking? If so, what was the trigger?

John: I think the trigger was waking up on January 2nd. Or Alex Balk constantly posting studies on how booze is good for you.

Honestly, the biggest temptation has been my traditional post-hockey beers. A bottle of Canada Dry doesn’t seem to do the trick after a game, even if it’s geographically relevant. It’s called beer league hockey for a reason. (Mostly because we suck.)

Other than that, I miss having a nice glass of wine with a good meal. And a martini before a steak. And a Rusty Nail afterwards. I solve that by eating more cereal for dinner.

I was really diligent—and by diligent, I mean in the context of my final evening under the demon spell of likker—about stowing the Bloody Mary Bar after New Year’s Day so that I wouldn’t have to face it in the cold, cruel light of day right out of the gate. There are a couple of beers and bottles of wine in the fridge that mock me, but it’s a balancing act between being cavalier in the face of a PBR tallboy behind the yogurt and licking your lips lasciviously eying the open bottle of rye inexplicably sitting on the coffee table. Temptation is temptation, but there’s no point in drawing blood.

Shall we go to the leaderboard?

Week Two

Alcohol Consumed (units)
Jolie: 0
John: 0

Days Without Booze
Jolie: 12
John:11 (start January 2nd every year)

Jolie: Cheery!
John: Determined, steely-eyed

Irritability (scale of 0-10)
Jolie: 2
John: 3

Jolie: Waiting for the mood to set in.
John: Suspicious. Something funny is happening with time.

Jolie: Do you think we should swap this out for something else since we’re past the detox stage? Are we past the detox stage? Where am I? Who are you? Why am I so thirsty?
John: Yeah, let’s swap this one out. Something relating to how healthy we feel? Is grinding your teeth healthy?

Smugness (scale of 0-10)
Jolie: 3, inching up
John: 4, “Oh, I don’t own a television."

Sounder Sleeping
Jolie: Not as much as Week 1; I had an anxiety dream that involved drinking a glass of red wine at brunch with Paula Deen, which I had about ⅔ of before realizing that it was Drynuary and I was in big trouble. Which is crazy because God red wine at brunch?? Perish the thought.
John: Definitely going to bed earlier. Dreams are more vivid, weirder.

Substitute Activities
Jolie: Cooking. Writing. Twirling. Sexing.
John: Teaching my daughter how to say “Cheers!" with her sippy cup. And MY sippy cup.

John: The Smugmeter is inching up!

Jolie: A little bit, yes! But sobriety is apparently making me as soft as a grape (sniffle, miss u every day grape juice, old friend) because I didn’t take on so much as a disapproving tone when Jack told me that he’s interpreted Drynuary to mean “Sober Weekdays (But With Lots Of Pot) And Moderate Drinking On The Weekends January." I’m slipping.

John: That’s a Drynuary Fail! He’s out, confiscate his name tag, let the shunning begin. By the way, let’s check in with the ultimate arbiter of taste and trends—Twitter—to see how our movement is doing “out there":

John: [sound of gears grinding] Well, duh! You say “Bon Iver." (Hums “still alive for you, love" to self.) #PeopleUnclearOnTheConcept

Jolie: She should shut up and have a drink.

So! How are we doing, gang? “Tell us in the etc.!"

Jolie Kerr is sugar high.
John Oreis high and dry.

53 Comments / Post A Comment

turd_sandwich (#5,660)

lol at the addiction treatment banner ads

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Going to Dunkies doesn't make you a Masshole. It just makes you a person with taste.

John Ore (#7,170)

@boyofdestiny Not taste in coffee.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@John Ore Picking a fight over Dunkin Donuts? On a one-to-ten scale your irritability may be closer to five than you think.

Moxie (#81,363)

@boyofdestiny Worst thing about Denver: now Dunkin Donuts. Worst thing about this thread: "Dunkies"

deepomega (#1,720)

@boyofdestiny Dunkin Donuts: For when you're worried about accidentally eating fresh donuts.

John Ore (#7,170)

@dntsqzthchrmn Oh, no no no, I'm being a snob.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

@John Ore I agree, it's a strange choice in New York. Outside of the city, though, it's DD or that place that sells Feist cds.

roboloki (#1,724)

@John Ore we need a "how to make a pot of fucking coffee" post up in here.

Pierre (#2,874)

So I did an almost-entirely dry December and first two weeks of January (considering skidding off-plan tonight). So much of this is familiar! I think the sugar craving is simply due to the fact that you aren't consuming as much through the sugar in alcohol. It calms down after a couple of weeks but the first two weeks I was off drinking I wanted all the pastry ever made, and I don't usually like baked goods much. The dream intensity is the weirdest part, as is the mind-blowing realization that all that physical and mental agony one feels in the morning is not entirely due to drinking, and now you just don't have anything to blame except age and your mother.

Hold on to the gains guys, think how cheap it will be for you to drink in February!

Eccles (#193,071)

@Pierre About the dreams! Are you guys having anxiety nightmares about falling off the wagon?! I started December 27th and I've had these terribly vivid dreams that leave me feeling guilty and uncomfortable for half the day until I remember that I didn't wake up and guzzle myself into oblivion the night before. It's not even that I'm some kind of terrible person when I'm drunk! I'm not! IN FACT, I mostly got off of the booze because I kept on waking up the next day feeling wracked with inexplicable guilt. I think it's a loss-of-control thing.

And now, guilt anyway. Drynuary, you are worthless.

Also, I wanted to add that this morning I discovered that putting "buttered rum" flavored syrup in your latte is TOTALLY BOOZE FLAVORED. None of this laughable so-called "butterscotch" crap. Is it weird to like the taste of booze? Should I not? Oh god!

C_Webb (#855)

I went on Weight Watchers instead. It's easier (what does this say about me?) and, judging by the message boards (OMG) I'm definitely not the only person drinking all my extra "points." BABY STEPS PEOPLE.

kamakiri (#202,641)

Got four people who're joining me for Dryuary (I suppose it should be "Dryruary") and they're threatening to bring four more each etc. etc., I got me a blogsite for all the moans that are sure to transpire and we're on track for February 1st! What's a good medicine for preventing seizures?

Little Book of Calm (#157,178)

@kamakiri Wouldn't that mean a non-alcoholic Valentine's Day?!?!?! People are capable of such a thing?? My ideal Valentine's Day would be spent in my bed with the covers over my head with a joint and a handle of vodka in the vain hope that it might make me forget that it exists. MAKE IT GO AWAAAAYYYYY

kamakiri (#202,641)

@Little Book of Calm Hmm . . . Valentine's was never a particularly "drinky" day for me. The only really drinky days are Christmas, New Year's and of course, my birthday. Also, getting on planes is ESPECIALLY drinky. I've been refused boarding not once, but twice — not because I was being obnoxious or anything, but because I smelled like a distillery at 8 a.m. Hey, it's not MY fault that they put bars across the aisle from my gate and delay boarding for an hour.

Luckily, I'm not going anywhere till this summer, no birthdays are looming, and my wife hardly drinks anyway. Beut I have a secret weapon: doctor-prescribed Dilaudid (Oxymorphone). Those and .05% wine coolers should alleviate any pangs . . . fingers crossed, I've been drinking every day without fail except for one six-month break for 32 YEARS.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

"Though if I’m being honest, I had a couple of half cup servings in the freezer . . ."

This was a highly revelatory sentence. You're like the Batman of the home.

jolie (#16)

You're like the Batman of the home.

This is, quite literally, the greatest compliment I have ever received. Particular thanks are due for the comparison to Batman and not Superman, that tool.

C_Webb (#855)

@boyofdestiny The world has been waiting for a superhero shelter magazine.

cherrispryte (#444)

My currently-hungover-as-hell self is jealous of the both of you.
Also, what is this about wine in the freezer?

C_Webb (#855)

@cherrispryte I think Jolie puts wine cubes in her wine and oh god I am not worthy.

Mr. B (#10,093)

@cherrispryte And I'm jealous you got to go drinking on a weeknight. Crazy kids these days.

Brunhilde (#1,225)

@cherrispryte If I use a half bottle of wine in cooking and I know I'm not going to drink the rest soon (more of a whiskey person here), I pour the leftovers in muffin tins and freeze them to use in cooking at a later date.

Bitzy (#1,913)

@Brunhilde I need to start doing this instead of the line-up of wounded wine-soldiers rattling around my fridge door.

sajrocks (#2,067)

I survived a bar too (yay)! And discovered three pints of seltzer in 5 minutes ≠ water intoxication (triple yay)! I also won a $50 bar tab at 90s movie trivia (“What did Janeane Garofalo’s character Heathery Moody invent in the seminal [my word] comedy ROMY AND MICHELE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION”, um: Lady Fair cigarettes: twice the taste in half the time for the girl on the go”, who wouldn't know that even sheets to the wind?). Luckily gay guys will do anything for a drink chip… except love you.

Glad you two are in such high spirits (bam!), but really, “arguably”? There’s three more weekends to go. Three. This is bullshit.

crescentmelissa (#10,702)

This sounds like such a good idea on paper, but what will I have with my after work cigarette?

SuperMargie (#1,263)

@crescentmelissa I agree. Drinking my Jameson out of a plastic tumbler and enjoying my cig in the comfort of my garage has been the only true joy I have had this winter.

Sugartits@twitter (#205,071)

Oh don't worry you guys, I'm having all of the drinks

Sugartits@twitter (#205,071)

P.S. It's "bon hiver." And the French word for liver is "foie," maybe you could keep going into February and call it Foiebrurary

Kai@twitter (#12,571)

@Sugartits@twitter But Franglais makes anything acceptable.

Moxie (#81,363)

I just realized that my Drinkuary is better than your drynuary and I don't have what it takes to read this tome of a post.

I just read it. Good job team and stay strong. I'm going to go have a drink.

likethestore (#32,383)

I just realized I've been doing Drynuary, completely accidentally. I've been too busy/tired with a new job to do anything but sleep.

roboloki (#1,724)


likethestore (#32,383)

@roboloki Haha! Noooo, not at all. I feel really sad now because this is quite out of character. Also, I hate my job!

roboloki (#1,724)

don't be sad, just having a bit of sport. sorry you aren't liking the new job.

Bittersweet (#765)

@likethestore: Sorry about the job. Substitute "too exhausted after surgery, even 2 weeks later" for "too busy/tired with a new job" and I'm basically you.

bangs (#19,284)

Still on it! But probably going to drop out on Monday. Close enough.

curlysue (#34,091)

I'm doing this no drinking in January thing as well, although I started a bit late. It's been about a week since I've imbibed, and I'm experiencing crazy weird mood swings. I was almost euphoric for several days, and today I am so grouchy I can barely stand the thoughts inside my head. Anyone else experiencing this? It's a total bummer and it's making me want a drink, but I know that it will just make things worse.

wokka (#34,513)

@curlysue Yes! I started on January 2nd and the first week, I felt kinda invincible, dorkably high on life. Beginning a couple days ago though, my mood has plummeted. I just feel normal now. I'm not gonna give in to a drink but am sad my natural high went away.

Anyway: hang in there! We can do this.

kamakiri (#202,641)

@wokka Once the novelty wears off and you stop congratulating yourself (or being congratulated: "Oh honey, you're doing SO WELL! I'm SO PROUD of you!" then it becomes dangerville. Not looking forward to that.

I'd advise looking into getting heavily into exotic coffees or teas — you know, buy that espresso maker you've always wanted, buy Kona Blue for $125/lb., that sort of thing.

curlysue (#34,091)

@kamakiri @wokka: Glad to know it wasn't just me. I actually spent a few hours this weekend at bars, and apart from the curious reaction I received from friends (I am normally the biggest drinker in most any crowd), the no drinking was no big thing. It was nice to not suffer a single hangover the entire long weekend, and my skin looks particularly glowy these days.

wokka (#34,513)

@curlysue Re: glowy skin, YES! I am also experiencing that and I lovelovelove it.

I spent some time at bars this past Sunday and did just fine as well. I'm in Seattle though and we're getting lots of wintery weather and I'm looking at a second possible snow day tomorrow. I have been so close to giving myself a cheat day because for some reason, my brain equates snow day with heavy drinking. But, I'm trying to be good. Netflix instant is my friend right now.

iantenna (#5,160)

i've had a drink (or two or three) every day this year but i haven't been drunk since new year's. is this a thing that counts for anything? i mean, besides being defined as an alcoholic in most medical circles.

kamakiri (#202,641)

@iantenna I drink every single day but the only time I get anything approaching drunk is when the hard stuff (scotch etc.) comes into play. And even then, it's not staggering — just perhaps a bit excitable and reckless.

Yes, what you said *does* count for something, but unfortunately they have a name for you too . . . you're a FUNCTIONING alcoholic (but you knew that). We functioning dudes can get away with a lot — even denying we're alcoholics. But sadly, we are . . . :(

And I think we're very smart to try this. Just imagine asking a religious person to give up God for six months.

katiebakes (#32)

It's weird that I have an opinion on this but that "Vignette" stuff (pictured) is REALLY REALLY GOOD. Got me through my own Sobvember. The white one has the very slightest sparkle to it also!

John Ore (#7,170)

@katiebakes Yep! It got me through Tuesday night!

kamakiri (#202,641)

In the process of ramping down for the big day, I've done a number of good things: stopped allowing myself the possibility of starting drinking on a weekend morning, only starting the day's drinking after 4 (it used to be around 2:30, what can I say, I have no job) and consciously not draining that last drink before I turn out the lights.

reads like a new years resolution

16 days down, 15 to go. We're past halfway. Worryingly, this weekend I began to notice my sense of smell getting better. Then I thought, what if I'm actually a werewolf and the only cure is to keep drinking? And I've inadvertently let my primal beast loose by maintaining sobriety? This was at about 3am or so. So much for the improved sleeping.

Sumoweasel (#7,215)

Still going strong (17 days in) – thanks to Beck's Non-alcoholic beer, when ordered at the bar they cost the same as an import and usually have dust on them.

erenwedding (#206,639)

Drynuary, february, whatever… thank God I dont have to do it. I am not the real person who dont drink. Dont drink so far I mean :)

Bridget Callahan (#5,234)

God, I'm doing this too, till St. Pat's day, and it's the living worst. My mocktini is a gingerale with a splash of cherry juice and several cherries thrown in there, depending on the generosity of the bartender. The cherries are to remind me I can still have one night stands even though I'm sober.

Bridget, stay sober. I'm about to leap into the crevasse starting Feb. 1. Join me if you want . . . nick @

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