Dry days of January

Hmm…time for a detox?

Well, that’s week one of no booze over and done with! Yes, just like loads of other foolish people at this time of year, I’ve decided to dry out for a bit, just to see what it’s like (and to save money- some places still don’t overcharge for lime and soda).

Apart from saving the pennies, and maybe shrinking the beer belly a bit, it’s interesting to see what happens when there is no booze to act as social lubricant, stress-reliever, pulling facilitator, and even meditation aid; I once (just once) found myself having a shot of vodka to assist my night-time routine, which probably set me back on the path to enlightenment by a few incarnations.

Social lubrications

And actually, it’s not as bad as all that; it just means you stay in instead of being down the pub or private view (free beer! sometimes!) and finally face doing the stuff that consistently falls off the end of your to-do list on the grounds of pointlessness, boringness or timelessness- in the bad sense.
Oh and did you know there is never really ‘no time’? It just comes down to choices and priorities, and I don’t mean that in a finger-waggling life-coach sort of way, but just as a fact to be borne in mind next time you or someone else uses it as an excuse to be a fake friend/ messy housemate/ unproductive artist/ not go to South London etc etc.

My bedroom...looks nothing like this

My bedroom…looks nothing like this

So anyway…I’ve painted my nails and toenails at the same time, gave the shower the scrub of its life, sorted out my hard-drives, cleaned footprints off a bench-box someone at our party mistook for podium and nailed up an annoying IKEA storage contraption that another party guest (well, probably the same one) had yanked off, spraying my clothes across the floor where they stayed for a few weeks. Yeah, it’s been a non-stop fun fountain around here! It almost makes me want to do my tax return, though for now I’ll go with the excuse that it’s ‘too early’ (that’s what the last week of January is for, as all freelancers know).

Krakow Alkohole

Krakow Alkohole

At least I can comfort myself with the knowledge that unlike other people, some of whom are undertaking a sponsored ‘dryathlon’ for charity (cringey neologism alert! and why does everything have to be for charity, can’t people do things just ‘cos?) I am not going til the end of the month. Not only because I don’t believe in abstinence as a general rule- it usually makes you crave the forbidden fruit even more- but because my birthday falls smack in the middle of January, before suicidal Monday and after two weeks of detox doldrums.

I used to think my birthday’s timing was crap, but experience has shown that it provides people, and me, the perfect excuse to unlpug the financial, diet and alcohol detox fantasies and get back to beer/ crisp guzzling. Although I’ll be going easy on the booze this year; bad scheduling means I have to work the next day, and not just on the laptop in my PJs.

Please don't

Please don’t

So, no hard feelings if you had a planned to shower me with champagne on the day, but I’m afraid it will be a sensible night by necessity for me-  proof I may be acting my age, perhaps? (I’ll be 33, since you ask- I hate it when women won’t divulge their age, like it’s some evil incantation that causes hotness and job opportunities to mysteriously evaporate the instant it’s uttered…so I repeat, 33, GOD DAMN IT!).

Dog donuts- definitely no fat content here

Dog donuts- definitely no fat content here

Which is not to say I will be staggering around drunk stuffing my face with donuts post-birthday, however. I try my best to live by the ancient Greek maxim my father is fond of: ‘πάν μέτρον άριστον (pan metron ariston)- translation ‘all in good measure/ moderation’ or ‘everything must have a limit’. Greek debt jokes aside, this is far harder and more useful than it sounds, since usually if something is good (biscuits), we can’t get enough of it, and if something is not so good (pulling congealed hairs out of the shower drain), we want it to end. Balancing them out is tricky.

Pity your liver

And as for booze, the British Liver Trust agrees; they actually recommend you drink steadily but moderately throughout the year, taking a few days off every week for your liver to recover, rather than doing the ‘medically futile and potentially harmful’ (thanks, Guardian) A&E December/ dry January combo. Or ‘Janopause’, in Daily Mail parlance…FFS.   So there you have it- go ahead and drink and be merry but don’t forget to do the sodding tax return on your days off. See, I told you it was harder than it sounds.

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Bust head blues

Well, I spoke way too soon about avoiding the scoff your face/ develop instant pot belly! Hey its CHRISTMAS, right?! And I had to self-medicate with extra helpings of well, everything, after being stung by a mysterious- and quite large- insect in my bed, yes, in my bed, at 6 am. Cue half-asleep hysterics, almost throwing up from the adrenalin rush (or maybe that was the beer…) and having to get into mum’s bed as I was too scared to get back in mine. Joy the world, and all that!

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Greek bakery temptations all round

Speaking of self-medicating, I have given myself the gift of sitting on my arse all day and moaning, due to not just massive period pains but also a slight hangover, or ‘bust head’ in old(ish) English parlance. It is after all, Frazzled Friday, according to that bastion of truth and accuracy, the Daily Mail; apparently this means we’ve spent too long with family, compromising what to watch on TV (the study was commissioned by some company trying to plug personalized movie downloads into our bloodstreams or something) and having hernias over not being able to fit into our clothes. I’m with them on that last one. Oh and the ‘no money in the bank for January, FAAAAAK’ bit. Maybe they really are a bastion of truth after all. Though signing up for that film service isn’t exactly going to help the bank balance.
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Anyway the PMS suffering means I have something ‘real’ to moan and feel sorry for myself about, because if its self-inflicted, there goes your sympathy vote. I spent a few hours in A&E once with a raging hangover trying to muscle my way in on some treatment, only to be shunted to the back of the queue while people with football/ DIY injuries (i.e. men) got seen first. Which is pretty unfair since they are also technically self-inflicted, due to stupidity or clumsiness. But, the logic goes, you had fun, you deserve to suffer; now get back to self-flagellating about your unproductive day, the inappropriate behavior you can just about remember and your general, all-round Badness. Or I don’t know, do something worthy like alphabetically organising your bookcase to make up for your transgressions.

Coffee on a hangover

Coffee on a hangover

Or don’t actually; research has shown that hangovers are much worse if you jump on the guilt and anxiety band wagon. Being hungover without feeling bad about it is a great skill and one I try to practice these days; I think of it as an extension of my meditation routine. Every time my mind clings to re-running a cringe-worthy conversation, unhelpful overshare or shouty rant, I try to label it as ‘wanting to feel bad about something’ even though whatever it is usually Not That Big a Deal. (There are exceptions to this of course, where, no matter how you angle the mirror you still end up looking like an idiot, in which case, well, commiserations.)

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Drink now, suffer later

 So why do we find ourselves ruminating and stressing over these minor faux pas, when it clearly doesn’t help? It might be that endlessly worrying about things gives a false, but comforting, sense of control over the situation, like you’re ‘taking action’ in some way. Like, maybe if I worry about it enough, the issue/ hangover will go away! Yeah- worry your problems away! Hmm, doesn’t sound too convincing. In my experience, when I was anxious about everything I had truly horrendous, epic hangovers. Nowadays, apart from the anxiety bit, they hardly register; with the aid of a rehydration sachet (my secret weapon for pretty much any ailment) I even go for jogs. Of course the down side is that I no longer have a good reason to not go out three nights in a row or to rein in the boozing; after all, if there’s no stinking hangover to contend with, what’s the problem?