“Hey bartender! Double shot of bandwidth with a Google chaser!”

March 25, 2008 at 12:07 pm (Drunk and disorderly, The Easy Chair)

I am celebrating a year sober this week. Sober is such a relative term. Even on my straightest days I’m a bit of a smartass goofball. ‘Celebrating’ is also a stretch. I’m livin’ it up by having unsweetened morning coffee. And later? It’s wild times in the nightclub district, selling cigarettes and gum to wobbly hip-hop fans.

I’ve gone years without alcohol before. Quitting drinking is easy; I’ve done it a thousand times. I typically break down during hard emotional times, or on the rare occasion when all my family, friends and loved ones are away. (No one wants to see me stumbling around, singing Motorhead songs a capella.) But I’ve gotten to a mental space where I’d rather tough it out than give in to the cravings.

Thank the gods for obsessive distractions.

When I finally gave up drinking (the first time) I had to change a lot of habits. Three hours of sipping beer over the newspaper in the morning? Hampered my productivity, and made it hard to maneuver in public. Though my bus pass was good insurance against DUIIs, the constant need to pee made for an irritating time on those hour-long trips across town. Work was a drag. Getting the shakes five hours into a shift is never good; calming those shakes was frowned upon even more. I miss the ritual of drinking, but not its side effects.

How did I do it? I’d spent enough time at AA meetings and Diversion classes (took one voluntarily in my 20s) to know alcohol’s effects, and what to expect when I stopped. After a few months, I was feeling centered. Life was good again, and it wasn’t costing me $10-$20 a day to feel that way.

I did substitute some behaviors, and now I’m hearing they are bad for me! WTF? Am I an internet junkie? I mean, I get up in the middle of the night to check e-mail when I can’t sleep. (Like that beer that used to calm my nerves and cotton-mouth, chasing the night-demons away.) First thing after bathroom and coffee? I’m checking my blog reader and getting the morning news. (A forty of Olde English with the Oregonian during most of the ’90s.) If there’s something I really need to know, I will go to the library, check out a computer and research. (Like those long train rides, when I’d stop at the Rialto for a shot and a beer before running back to hop on the MAX to Beaverton.)

However, I’m not as bad as some internet junkies. Any addict will use the ‘There’s always someone worse than me’ excuse. *I* don’t have a portable internet device. (Unlike the water bottle of gin that was never out of reach when I was on the road.) The lack of need of breath mints is also refreshing. I liked Altoid wintergreen, because they go well with gin. After spending a morning drinking black coffee and typing, some might suggest the Altoid tradition continue.

Should I stop using the internet because I show addictive tendencies? If I don’t stop, I could end up with carpal tunnel syndrome! And depending on the website, I could go blind! (And looking like a fiddler crab.) Maybe I’ll just do it until I need glasses…

Considering some of my former bad habits, this is the lesser of evils. I’m not too worried. Internet access, along with pot, television and any number of things fall into the ‘meh’ category. Do I miss it when it’s gone? Sure. But after the first day, I just find something else to occupy my mind with.

And if that doesn’t rest my case, I will point to what happens when otherwise healthy obsessions go too far

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