A Drynuary Diary
Week Four: The Wettening
by Jolie Kerr and John Ore
John Ore: Hey, Jolie! We’re in the home stretch now, only a couple of days to go and we can close the books on another successful January of not drinking. A little solidarity and we can get through this final weekend.
Jolie Kerr: HA HA, SUCKER YOU FORGOT: I GET TO DRINK TONIGHT. WOOO!
John: [long, unblinking stare] You know I’m happy for you. I really am. Like when Andy Dufresne busted out of Shawshank. You’re happy for him, you miss him, and you hope to join him one day. But you’re also a little scared for him out there, facing the world alone. You don’t want him to end up like Brooks.
Jolie: You know? I’m happy for me too. Leaping lizards, that martini is going to be soooooo good! Oh but is that rubbing it in? Am I being ungracious? Yes? Well perhaps you should have thought of that when you denied me my O’Doul’s, ya big jerk! (Actually we’ve got a free spot at the Luger’s table tonight since Jill bailed on us to go to Iceland. I just say…)
John: I guess now’s not the best time to reveal that after reading last week’s installment my wife reminded me that she had O’Doul’s last Drynuary?
Jolie: I’d be mad except that, oh right, I GET TO DRINK TONIGHT, WOOO! Since this is the end of the road for me (WOOO!) I propose that we take a look back, work ourselves into an introspective lather and then drink our faces off, because WOOO! So how are you feeling? What have you learned? Can you explain to me once and for all why we do this terrible thing to ourselves?
John: I’m actually feeling really good. Slimmer, healthier, better rested, motivated. Optimistic, probably a combination of the tangible benefits that I can feel and the ability to see light at the end of the tunnel. Because: I won’t lie, I would love a drink right about now.
I think the reasons we do this are as varied as all of our compatriots out there who have helped make Drynuary a thing. A break, a commitment, a fast, a challenge, what have you. I may not be particularly religious, but I appreciate the Lenten aspect of Bon L’(h)iver: denying myself something I (really!) enjoy, not quite in observance but with the idea of it making me a better person? I don’t think we need to kid ourselves that this is doing any sort of meaningful physiological repair, but it ain’t hurting either.
What did you get out of this Drynuary, now that you’re an old hand at it?
Jolie: Well, I’m happy to report that I did indeed regain that clarity I found in the labyrinth in Mexico. That’s really the big thing I got out of our fast, a noticeable calming effect. I’m no longer the giant bundle of nerves and stress and feeeeeelings I was this time a month ago. And it was pretty bad: I spent part of the last day of 2011 chain smoking and sobbing while “Hand In My Pocket” played on loop, sort of bleating at myself, “everything’s gonna be fine fine fine.” It was not one of my prouder moments. But that feels like a million lifetimes ago, and now when I look forward at what the rest of this year holds I’m not scared or overwhelmed. I also feel much more confident in my ability to see through some of the Big Picture items I’ve got ahead of me, because I’ve just shown through action that I am capable of setting my mind to a task and seeing it through, no matter how tough it gets.
John: Yeah, right? So doesn’t that bring up a sort of scary question: why don’t we do this year-round?
Jolie: Because we want to know what joy feels like?
But yeah, it’s kind of a creepy thing to consider and while I’d like to pretend like I simply have no idea what you’re talking about, clutches pearls, it’s something I’ve spent no small amount of time mulling over during these last four long (long, long, long, oh my God so long you guys) weeks. In part because — and this is Real Talk time — I struggle with anxiety issues that are ratcheted up greatly by alcohol, even in small amounts, and that have been diminished significantly during this dry spell.
For me, the takeaway has been this: I’m not giving up my wine. Absolutely not, no. But I am going to make a concerted effort to alter my social life such that not everything revolves so much around drinking. So: a friend says, “Let’s grab drinks!” and I say, “How about getting a bite to eat?” Because one thing that Drynuary teaches you — and I have to apologize because I know we agreed We Were Not Going To Discuss This — is how often you drink. I mean, God, it’s kind of mortifying really.
John: Well, I’m so glad we avoided discussing THAT. If there’s one theme that emerges out of the ascetic practice of Drynuary, it’s that doing to much of anything for a prolonged period kind of sucks. Especially teetotaling. All work and no play makes John a dull, etc. I want to prolong the positive effects of Drynuary without having to become a Mormon (offense intended, Romney fans). So once I get over my post-Drynuary bender, I think I’ll try to take a little bit of Drynuary with me in the ensuing months. Maybe a week off every month. Yes, including a weekend.
I mean, yeah, I enjoy my cocktails, and judging by our commenting community (and my immediate family), I’m not alone. But it’s nice to know that if I lose most of my liver heroically rescuing fifths of Templeton Rye puppies from a burning liquor store strip club, I could confidently carry on with a year-round Bon L’(h)iver.
Zoiks, the Leaderboad is looking a little lopsided.
Alcohol Consumed (units)
Days Without Booze
John: 25 (start on January 2)
Jolie: ECSTATIC, I GET TO DRINK TONIGHT WOOOO!
Irritability (scale of 0–10)
Jolie: 0, I GET TO DRINK TONIGHT WOOOO!
John: 6, going up with each Jolie entry on the Leaderboard
Jolie: I GET TO DRINK TONIGHT WOOOO!
John: Giants 27, Patriots 21
Jolie: SHAKING WITH EXCITEMENT
Smugness (scale of 0–10)
Jolie: 0, I GET TO DRINK TONIGHT WOOOO!
John: 8, Oh, look who caved early!
Jolie: WHO NEEDS SLEEP?
John: Keep it down, some of us are trying to sleep the sleep of the righteous
Jolie: DRINKING TONIGHT
John: Recruiting volunteers to hold your hair while you barf later tonight
Jolie: God, I really am such a barfer. But I am not CAVING, John. I said from the outset that Drynuary ended on the 27th for me! Also: it must be sad for you having to go through life as a Giants fan.
John: It’s more like I’m an anti-Patriots fan, but yeah, I’ve jumped on a bandwagon or two in my day (go Lions!). Speaking of wagons, what fishbowl are you falling off of this wagon into? I hear mention of martini(s)? Careful!
Jolie: I’m going in for a Gray Goose martini, straight up, extra dirty. (And before the “vodka martinis aren’t martinis” crowd shows up to ruin my party I need to explain in no uncertain terms that I do not touch gin, as gin makes me mean. And I’m a pretty vicious mean girl under normal circumstances, so right, no gin.) It’s a bold choice, I know! But steak and dirty martinis are a pair I can’t resist. I will probably leave it at just that though, maybe a glass of wine, but I’m not planning on getting blotto.
John: “Planning.” LOL! OK, well then, way to Play Us Off, Sober Cat!
With one final weekend to go in Drynuary, how are the rest of you planning on breaking your Drynuary? Be sure to etc. in the etc.!