Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Year Without – Update #4

At home, where he writes, he no longer has internet access. A four-month stint with wi-fi proved “deadly” for his productivity and having no access at all ensures that he is not tempted to “look at Kajagoogoo videos and old ads for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum” on YouTube. “Writing is a deep-sea dive. You need hours just to get into it: down, down, down. If you’re called back to the surface every couple of minutes by an email, you can’t ever get back down. I have a great friend who became a Twitterer and he says he hasn’t written anything for a year.”

– Olivia Laing on Dave Eggers, The Observer

I think that I’m going to change my Year Without challenge for April. I originally decided that during April, I would try to not use credit cards. However, I’ve been trying to eliminate my debt this year (so far I’ve paid off my car, a student loan and two credit cards) and as a result, I don’t use my card at all anymore, except for gas. And let’s face it, going inside to pay for gas is pretty miserable and not at all worth the lesson.

My intent with The Year Without is to attack things I truly have a problem with, and I’m proud to say that I’ve learned that knocking out my debt is much more rewarding than making a debt in the first place. So, during April I’m going to focus on my biggest problem as of late: The Internet.

I don’t know if it’s a side-effect of not drinking or what, but lately I have been spending too much time on there. Sometimes habitually. Sometimes subconsciously. Sometimes even when I am trying hard not to. It’s gotten terrible and scary and everything is suffering: my attention span, my creativity, my free time, etc. It’s a problem that everyone seems to be facing these days, but I am choosing to attack it.*

My ultimate goal is to spend less than 30 minutes on here a day (unless I am researching for work or freelance stuff). I refuse to tell you how far away I am from that goal now. I don’t know how many times I will update you on this. (And in case you’re wondering, I’ll be typing things in a word doc before I post them here, so teeeeechnically it is less Internet, and more creative writing. Oh, and I can tweet from my phone. Yay, loopholes!)

I’ll be keeping a log of every single time I am online, and… again, I don’t know if or how I will update you on this one. I’m guessing I will just have actual things to write about, as opposed to “What I Saw Online Today.”

(The irony of everything I’ve written above is that I’ve been saving a portion of my new debt-less income for… a Macbook.)

Also, since I will have so much extra free time, I’ve also decided to work on my posture! I might even walk around with a book on my head!

March Update: At least two friends have offered to get me drunk this weekend – or even Thursday – to celebrate the end of this month. And to be honest, I don’t want to do that. The thought of beer has actually become a little unappetizing. I’m really loving this! So please don’t buy me booze! Thanks!

*I’ve been thinking about this for a couple weeks and of course, on the day I decide to declare it, D. Mike decides to do the healthy noble thing and abandon social networking completely, which I admire. This wasn’t based on his decision, but I will certainly use it as inspiration.

Also, I know a couple of my friends have been working on cutting back as well; I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions in the comment section!

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Nowhere

Rachael, Rachel and I used to be obsessed with this movie. I’m really curious to see how I’d feel about it today.

I will probably still think it’s crazy! Everybody is in this thing:

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My Name Is Stephie, And I Am A Sortaholic.

If I’m learning anything from this alcohol-free month, it’s this: I may not be an alcoholic, but drinking can still be a problem. I think that on April 1st, when I am allowed to start drinking again, I will drink much less. Much, much less.

I’ve realized this month that I had to re-learn a lot of things the same way I did when I quit smoking. How to socialize. How to party. How to kick back. How to cope. Even how to handle friendships and my relationship. I didn’t always drink to do these things and they weren’t exactly married to alcohol in my mind, but they were certainly connected. And while I’ve avoided hard alcohol for almost a decade and usually avoid getting drunk, drinking a beer or two on a few days a week has actually impacted my behavior and my body more than I thought it would.

It hasn’t been a challenge, so I assume it isn’t an addiction per se… it’s just been strange. A readjustment. I think that because alcohol is so intertwined with socializing – for most people, especially in a beer-centric city like ours – I’m feeling the same way anyone would feel if they stopped drinking. Even my non-drinking friends have something else to lean on, like cigarettes, pot, extreme religion or AA. I don’t do any of those. I just have lemons in my water.

I’ve talked to a few friends in AA about this and done some research googling, and the consensus is that while alcoholism can be genetic, it can also be a learned behavior. Did you know there are different types of alcoholics, and only one type needs AA? I have no idea if alcoholism runs in my genes. Either way, I don’t think I am one.

I lived at home throughout college, so I never was never a crazy binge-drinking kid . I was always very nervous and afraid when I would visit my friends who lived on a campus; I wouldn’t even attempt to keep up. (The term “pre-game” comes to mind – like, they get drunk before they go to a bar!) But in terms of frequency, it’s definitely a behavior that has been learned.

Three of my longest relationships have been with actual alcoholics who have never sought help. And for the past four years, I have lived with (for lack of a better word) frat boys. So for me, for the last decade, alcohol has been this very normal and almost expected part of life. Going to someone’s house? Take a six pack. Special occasion or romance? Wine. Kicking back? A beer. Rough day? A tall boy, maybe two. A cold or cough? Whiskey. Trouble sleeping? Nightcap. Going out? Even something low key? Bar. Always a bar. Or at the very least, make sure the place has a bar.

Deep down I always knew I didn’t need the stuff, but I was always taught that it was more fun to chose the option of having the stuff. But when you have a dying dad, every day becomes a rough day. When you have a sleep disorder, you’ll have trouble sleeping every night. When you break out of your shell and become an extrovert, you’ll want to socialize every week. These are not temporary things. And what may seem like an innocent beer or two can quickly add up.

While I don’t know much about my genes, I do know that all four of my biological grandparents had or have hypertension. (I don’t trust the “medical history” of my biological parents because at the time, they were teenagers. What history?) And while my dad’s problems have been diabetes related… I’ve seen what circulation problems can do. What happens when your veins and arteries shrink and clog and block. I don’t want that. None of you want that.

For the past 3 and a half weeks, I’ve been taking my blood pressure at the store every day. (I know those machines aren’t 100% correct, but a daily reading can give you a good idea.) When I took my blood pressure on March 1st, I was well into the hypertension range. And for the past few weeks, it has steadily been decreasing. As of yesterday, I’m slightly in the pre-hypertension category. My hope is that by next Thursday, I’ll be back to normal.

Erik and Olivia (and Stanley) told me that red wine is totally awesome for blood pressure problems. That a glass a night can instantly improve your blood flow. Red wine gives me headaches, stains my (real) teeth and makes me barfy. So I could never have more than a couple glasses at a time, anyway.

So ironically (and sadly), red wine seems like the perfect solution to my drinking problem. A small glass every other night would curb those coping/sleeping/kicking back issues that made me want a beer in the first place, as well as keep my blood pressure under control.

I feel like I’ve learned how control the rest. I don’t need beer to go out and have fun. I like that my teeny beer pooch is starting to vanish. I just feel lighter, and cleaner. I will still rock the often-mocked Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus on weekends, but that’s about as far as it will go. Not drinking is actually kind of awesome, and I like the idea of only drinking in a way that’s healthy for me.

Exception: I will still need an occasional Bloody Mary with my boyfriend, and a monthly Drunken Intervention Fan Club with Erin, where I think it’s funny to drink the Teeny Tiny Wine Bottles of Shame:

(The mind-boggling bourbon, grape soda and pineapple soda concoction is not mine, but my roommates’ – further cementing my belief that if anyone has a real problem, it’s not me.)

Edited to add: I love how right after I posted this, Vee tagged a bunch of pictures of me blowing into the Alcohawk on Facebook.

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Whip It Bad

I realize that lately, it seems like I’m just watching a lot of TV and nothing deep is going on. But it’s still business as usual, just full of stuff that you wouldn’t/shouldn’t read. Here’s a quick rundown so you believe me:

Dad is still up and down (literally – he’s actually been in a wheelchair recently), I’ve been doing lots of ellipticising, reading long-awaited books like Flowers in the Attic, etc. I’m in the process of exploring a new religion, converting to red wine April 1st (“for the antioxidants”, says me and Stanley), cutting out sodium, and going to cool events thrown by my cooler friends.

Justin and I finally got into our first real fight and we are 100 times better afterwards, if that was possible. We’ve been spending a lot of time at the park by my house to hang out with people from all over the world, watch sunsets, play catch with velcro mitts, and make ourselves barfy on the swing set.

There you go. Nothing I’m ready to (or maybe never will) write about, but it’s all there. I do have a life and better yet, a brain. Anyway, back to what’s important: what I’ve been watching!

Whip It (w/spoilers)

I’ve been looking forward to Whip It for a while and was surprised to discover that I didn’t like it at all. With a cast full of so many people I love and such a feminist message, I was disappointed with the results. In fact, I liked the trailer 100 times more than the film, and it covers 90% of the plot, so there you go.

 

Dislikes:

I found Alia “Maëbe Fünke” Shawkat’s character to be pretty annoying and never funny. Juliette Lewis was a little too “Carolyn from Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead”, especially when she finds out Bliss’ age. I had assumed Drew Barrymore could play a hippie better than she actually did, especially when she was directing herself. That pool scene was beautifully shot, but Ellen Page just looked like she was dying. Overall, it was sort of boring? Not enough Ari Graynor!

Likes:

Andrew Wilson. Kristin Wiig playing an actual human being. The fact that Bliss dumped the (ugly) musician guy when she was supposed to, and didn’t need to find a new guy by the end. “Fooood fiiiight!” Everything with the dad. The part with the dress. Ari Graynor!

Two things I Noticed:

When Bliss is fighting with her mom, she made this face and I tee-heed about it so much that I had to show you:

And if Justin and I stay together for a couple of decades, this is exactly what we will look like when our teenager yells at us:

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I Feel Better

Speaking of weird floating heads, I’m in the middle of watching that sexist piece of sad bullcrap Twilight: New Moon. Jason and I keep tee-heeing about how Edward’s head keeps floating around and yelling at Bella, like Jambi:

Jambi always reminds me of Lorne from Angel, RIP!

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Hey Teens! Let’s Talk TV!

Lost, Schmost. My favorite thing on TV right now is Annie’s drug dealer ex-boyfriend Jasper on 90210. EEEEEE! He is so creepy! I love it! If Oliver from The O.C. had been as creepy as Jasper (and they killed Mischa Barton’s character anyway), that show would probably still be on the air. But I’m glad it’s not! Because now I have creepy Jasper! Yay!

I have been on board with the new 90210 since the beginning (Rob Estes is pretty great, and I was psyched to see Lucille Bluth), but I seriously hated happy-go-lucky Annie (and subsequently, the actress who plays her). However, thanks to Jasper (and my newfound Degrassi loyalties) I have loved depressed-downward-spiral Annie.

(Okay I was exaggerating, Lost is of course the shit. I got a sweet word puzzle clue about what the Island is and yesterday I think I guessed it; I wrote down my guess and – DAMMIT I just realized we’re not having Lost Club next week so if they say it, I won’t be able to prove it to everybody and gloat. UUGGHHH whatisthepointofliving.)

I’m also obsessed with Vampire Diaries, Life Unexpected and Gossip Girl. Plus I still DVR Smallville and Supernatural for the hotness.

I don’t care what anyone says, the CW/WB/UPN has produced some of the best shows on TV (beyond the duh-awesome Buffy and Veronica Mars). I hula-hoop or ellipticise while watching all of these, so don’t assume I am a couch potato. And I mean, I watch TV to escape and be entertained, not to impress people with my intelligence or coolness. I think it’s cooler and smarter to simply appreciate things for what they are and embrace anything you like, and this includes my iPod full of Top 40 Booty Jams. Also I am on 4 hours of sleep! Fuck you guys! High five!

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The Year Without – Update #3

I can’t believe how much I like not drinking. Especially on a day like today.

I’m feeling about as rich as I did two weeks into quitting smoking. My blood pressure (which I tested on March 1) has dropped by about 10 points. I’m sleeping… weird. Not better, just weird. I’m not eating extra to make up for it, which is nice. Justin might be able to give you an observation or two, but I ain’t asking. I’ve never been a fan of getting drunk (or at least, not since college), so I’m not going though enough of a withdrawal to notice any other differences. Just… less trips to the store.

One bitchin habit I picked up at Courtney’s party is adding lemons or limes (or if I’m feeling really crazy, both) to water. Lemon-lime ice water is the kingshit!

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