I once felt as if I had perfected the chemical alchemy needed for me to write with some success. I won’t disclose the exact contents of my proprietary blend, seeing as I may yet trademark it, but one might assume that my equivalent of liquid courage is not the healthiest of cocktails.
Now that I am a bit older and no longer feel invincible, having also realized that my newfound calling as a Life Coach brings with it equally new responsibilities, I figure it’s time for change.
Actually, I figured this out years ago, but just didn’t (or couldn’t) do it. Health concerns have since boxed me in. Besides, I’ve been writing some version of this column for 11 years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever been completely sober while doing it. Until now.
In that spirit, please find below some excerpts from my sobriety diary that I started almost two weeks ago:
Friday, April 20: Oh, Diary, why oh why would we pick this day of all days, a Friday no less, to embark on this leg of our journey? Pray tell, what masochist masquerades as our guide? I guess it’s like my ex-girlfriend once said after she skipped town to tour Europe with some Swedish boy: “There really isn’t ever a good time to tear off a Band-Aid.”
Well, gotta go. I got some fish and inanimate objects to curse at.
Saturday, April 21: Worked on the screenplay today, and after eight hours of sitting in front of the computer, I was astonished to find out that I now know more about the Pet Shop Boys than almost anyone else on earth. A waste of a day, but at least it wasn’t as debilitating as last Saturday. Ate both bags of chips. I’m definitely gonna hear about that when Kate and I go to the grocery store next. Highlight of my day: I put on a pair of socks.
Monday, April 23: I woke up this afternoon to the frightening fact that my mid-section was impossibly swollen. Beset by a series of strange ailments of late, I feared the worst as I pulled back the covers to disclose merely a large erection. Apparently, taking care of oneself has its upside.
Wednesday, April 25: Hung out with Joe and Paul tonight. Sure, it’s kinda hard hanging out at bars while not imbibing, but hey, I can’t break all my habits at once. Good thing I quit soda a while ago, except on special occasions — which not drinking at a bar now must qualify as — because I still feel like I’m doing something dangerous as I suck on my straw. (Diary, strictly as an aside, do you know why I feel like I’m saying something racist when I ask for a “Mexican Coke?”)
Anyway, the bartender said something of interest before kicking me out tonight: “Flanigan, I always chalked your acting weird up to the fact that you were drunk, but now I think you’re just weird.” Not sure what he meant by that, nor when my friend Paul expressed his wholehearted agreement, but I over-tipped nonetheless, $2 on a $4 tab. Well, at least I’m saving money these days.
Friday, April 27: Went to Mayday tonight to see the talented Sharon Van Etten. Of course it was odd being at a Rock show without having a buzz of any kind, but it was equally invigorating. For instance, I remember every minute of the show, without my having had to record the whole thing.
A fact that reminds me of all the times I traveled to other cities to see bands, only to return home and look up the set list to realize, after all that time and money, that I remembered only the first three songs. You can bet I had fun, but I would have had fun anywhere. I’m not sad to put such wasteful days behind me.
Wednesday, May 2: What a difference being sober makes! To not wake up to a tongue like sandpaper, to a head like a kick-drum, nor to hands that shake while you attempt to piece together just exactly what happened last night! Verily, the hours I save each day simply from not having to look for my car make me feel like a rich man.
Big milestone today. After working out, I went to my day job as a safety director. What’s so special about that, you ask? Well, once back home, I proceeded to smoke some weed and then I wrote this.
All of which leads me to believe that maybe this sober thing ain’t so hard, after all.
CONTACT MARK FLANIGAN: [email protected]