I generally write these columns on Sunday nights, after midnight, when my wife has gone to sleep and the dog has gone to sleep and everything else is quiet. Maybe I have the tv on in the background for noise, or maybe I’ve got headphones in and I’m listening to some record I’ll review in the coming week. Generally there’s also at least one glass of wine involved.

Not this week and not this column. This weekend I stayed completely sober.

If this was A.A.—and don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it isn’t—I think I’d get a chip for that. The last drinks I took were two beers with dinner on Friday night, and it’s Sunday now. I spent a fair amount of last week sloshed, and last weekend too, so I needed a little detox time. It’s been a solid 48-plus hours now and while I don’t think that’s quite long enough to completely have all the hooch out of my system, it hasn’t hurt.

I figure if I can add Monday to it, all the better, though Monday’s press day for this issue and the last three or four have been like gnawing monsters eating me one inch at a time, so I’m not putting anything in writing that I won’t get home and need a beer or five. I’m happy with my sober weekend and not necessarily looking to press my luck.

The sober weekend came about after being particularly drunk last week. Not at work, but you know, afterwards going out to the bar, staying there too long, or even just going home and having some wine, some beer, some more beer, some more wine, and so on. I’ll be the first person to admit to problematic drinking—i.e. drinking to cope with stress, depression, anxiety, etc.—but what the hell. Nothing in life’s perfect and if it’s four beers and go to bed or explode, the four beers seem a little more reasonable in comparison. It’s not like my lifestyle is otherwise so healthy.

I’ve known a lot of addicts in my time, people in programs and people who should be in programs. And if you take one look at my CD collection you’ll know I have a tendency to form habits, but if I’m an alcoholic, I’m about the lamest alcoholic you’ve ever met. I don’t even drink hard liquor. You’d think I’d hit that up just for efficiency’s sake, if not actual enjoyment of taste or out of some need to get as drunk as humanly possible. Sucking at moderation is my big problem—that is, if I’m having one beer I might as well have six, right?—but I suck at moderation with everything. Last week at the office there were peanut butter-filled pretzels in the snacky jar. By Wednesday I was a hulking mass of human tragedy. They weren’t even good. They were just there.

I wonder if there’s any left…

So anyway, I’m not making the commitment to never drinking again—I’d have to move to a cave and never speak to anyone—but a sober weekend to clear out my head and give the system a bit of a reboot was called for and a welcome advent considering Friday and Saturday and yeah, even sometimes Sunday, are generally when I do my best boozing. And it’s a worthwhile project every now and again to step back and take a look at the choices you’re making and the effect they have on your day to day. For example, I’m way less inclined to stop and get a Taylor, egg and cheese sandwich on the way to the office tomorrow if I’m not hungover, and not eating a Taylor, egg and cheese sandwich is always a healthier choice than eating one. See how it works?

The holidays suck. You know it, I know it. If ever there was a time of year made for crawling into a bottle face-first, it’s the next couple weeks. Maybe before we all do that it’s worth keeping our wits about us for a bit and thinking about what makes us want to do that to start with, maybe even address that directly instead of running away in self-destructive ways.

Or maybe I just need a drink. The weekend’s over, right?

JJ Koczan


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