Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 48: Christmas cheers.

This will sound weird to any northern hemispherers, but in Sydney one of the key things that makes people (me) feel Christmassy, is having drinks or boozy lunches in the sunshine, usually by the water, of a working afternoon. It's that whole end of year wind up, festive buzz; the delicious let-go of work responsibility and the keeping of normal hours, made concrete by how many wines or beers you've downed: I couldn't work even if I wanted to! I'm simply too pissed! And it's only three in the afternoon! Sweet. Of course though, the reality of this time of year is that work is as busy and mental as ever, made more so by staff shipping out all over the place. And all the boozy lunching really doesn't help. It is a solid tradition of mine to be working my last day at work before flying out to New Zealand, on a dizzying mudge of a hangover, fielding new jobs that need completing before end of play (HAAAAhahahahaAHahahAHHahAha! Are you caRAZy!!??), and with a silly to completely incomprehensible list of other errands to run before some sparrow's fart check in the next morning. This year, I break with tradition. I still have the ridiculous deadlines, but my brain is in perfect (ish) working order to handle them so no dramas there (at least none that can't be happily handled by flipping the bird in my mind's eye to anyone causing them . My head is a veritable menagerie today.). I still have a tonne of things to do before I hit the airport, but not to the pure stupidness extent of previous years. Having my head together in the lead up weeks has helped me there. And as a result of all this I will not come through the arrivals gate looking like a dehydrated zombie for my adored Dad. So even though it might have been nice to join my sauvignon sipping colleagues and clients this afternoon as we sat betwixt the dual icons of Opera House and Harbour Bridge gazing dreamily across the sparkly water, I am also perfectly happy to have sacrificed some of the festive fuddle for a clear head in the morning. And you know what? Wines or not I'm still feeling Christmassy. So cheers to that.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 47: the boy was at the party.

So the dude turned up. A lot of people turned up actually, and they all scrubbed up rather pleasantly. A crowd of well-tended bodies draped in eastern suburbs threads. Faces made up, perfume on, hair styled. It made a change from sweat and gym shorts. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. My yoga studio is in a cool part of Sydney, a stomping ground of the fashionable, rich and creatively inclined. No wonder everyone kitted out well. And as for the boy? Well… he’s hot. And he said hello. He swang into the kitchen to grab a beer about two seconds after me, as I was sorting myself my first grapetiser of the evening, and gave me a very friendly hello (was I imagining it, or was that a look of happy surprise I saw flicker across his eyes? I was probably imagining it.). Naturally I returned his hi, and then scuttled out as coolly as I could. It was a fleeting encounter. And the only word he said to me all night. So should I be discouraged? Well let’s see. He did stand quite close by on a number of occasions (including one prolonged moment in very close proximity (a small room packed with people) where I was given privileged views of his quite breathtaking loosely-white-t-shirted chest, and the opportunity to appreciate his perfect boy form and height. Man, now I sound like a pervert.), and I’m pretty sure I saw him looking at me a few times across the room. But if he didn’t come and talk to me, he’s not interested right? It’s so hard to know. Maybe he’s just shy like I am. Or maybe I’m living in la la land and I’m so not his type. Or maybe he’s in love with one of the teachers (they’re all pretty smokin’) and came to the party to hang with them. None of it matters. All is fine. What will be will be, etcetera, etcetera. I had a really good time at the party, made some new yoga girlfriends (one who also has a music recording project) had fun on the dance floor, and got to check out the hot boy from time to time. What’s not to love? And you never know, maybe I’ll get another hello next time I see him in class.

Day 46: party, no posse.

I have just returned home from a mammoth Christmas shopping effort. I come from a relatively big brood and they take some shopping for. But it’s all done, the sun is shining and now I can concentrate on what I’m going to wear… to the yoga party. In my “meeting boys” entry (Day 41) you may recall I was in somewhat of a quandary as to whether or not I should go. Well I’ve decided it must be done. I need to meet new people right now because of my current friends being tied up, and where the spunky boy is concerned, the one way I’m definitely not going to meet him is by staying home. Speaking of friends being tied up, none of the people I had pencilled in to come to this do with me can now make it. Christ on a bike. It’s like what I was saying yesterday. I don’t think any of my mates genuinely abandoned me on this one. Things just came up (that, and they’re afraid of yoga types). But much like the way squillions of years ago no-one could stop the tectonic plates from shifting and pulling big bits of land apart, right now I can’t seem to control the forces that are pulling me away from a lot of the people I know. I’m going in a certain direction regardless of whether anyone else is coming with. And so I will rock the party on my own. But this should be okay. I’m getting more used to striking up conversations with strangers without the social loosening agent of alcohol, and everyone attending has something in common – a freaky love of the hot room. There’s something to talk about already. What’s more, if any crowd’s going to be inclusive and welcoming, it’s a yoga crowd (I think?!). So fuck it. I have a cool frock and a radical new shade of nail polish. Let’s get this party started.

Day 45: these times they are a-changing.

Things are shifting. I don’t know for sure why or how, but I am changing (or being changed by something). It’s hard to explain. It’s like, whether I like it or not, I am walking to a new drum. It keeps taking me away from things I used to do and people I used to see, and kind of forcing me to try new things. It’s not always comfortable but I have a strange sense of confidence in what I’m being shown and just my own ability to travel whatever path I’m taken on. I feel like I am achieving a new level of honesty about who I am, and that I am realising more and more that if you behave as your true self (no matter how you think others will take you), you can be safe and happy kind of anywhere. Does any of this make sense? Or is it all just excruciatingly obvious? I’m not sure if it’s the not drinking that’s triggered it, or whether the not drinking’s just a symptom of my new/changing state. All I know is, I am riding a wave (with very little choice in the matter) that is taking me somewhere. What’s not clear is who of the people I know now will arrive in the same place. There is every possibility that this lip of moving ocean was designed to deliver only me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 44: booze-free buzz.

I feel kind of woozy/whizzy. We just had family day at work, and the food on offer included chocolate crackles, fairy bread and fruit drink (with 25% fruit juice! Wow!). Having inhaled all three, my sugar buzz/freak out is such that I have a new respect for small children. How do they stomach so much of the stuff? No wonder they act mental. While imbibing the aforesaid sugary num-nums, a fellow chocolate crackle monster alerted me to another buzz involving boozelessness: Godspeed club night, a monthly alcohol-free shindig in London's Kings Cross, DJed by none other than Boy George. According to the article in Grazia magazine and the club night's promoter 'Fat' Tony Gordon, "Binge drinking is on the way out". Well yuh dudes, I could have told you that, like, 44 days ago. At Godspeed they only serve mocktails, Red Bull, water and guarana drinks (watch out though, guarana can leave you feeling nasty - worse than an alco-hang. Yuck.) And they play rad tunes. Sounds like my kinda place! I wonder how a virgin bar would go down in Oz? (Where's Richard Branson when you need him?). Anyway, being sober is so hot right now (just ask Gwyneth Paltrow). But while you're at it, maybe steer clear of chocolate crackles too. Those things are lethal.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 43: best party ever.

Prepare for a sod cottage of irony. Not because the party was bad. It was genuinely one of the best Christmas parties I've attended this season. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start from the beginning. Yesterday evening, in part to forget about the fights of the day (see Day 42) and in part to celebrate a pitch win at work, I attended a Christmas party thrown by our local pub The Aussie Youth (a great name for a drinking hole n'est il pas?). Ironic item one: the publicans threw the party to thank their most loyal and dedicated drinkers, of which, up until 43 days ago, I was one. I was rewarded for my significant patronage with free soft drinks (much appreciated) and a new nickname from the almost inconsolable bar manager: Miss Mineral Water. It has to be said though, the party was ace. Firstly, the company was top notch and everyone was in high spirits (even before they'd sunk any). What's more, one of our favourite and usually far flung girls, surprised us all by turning up fresh off the plane from London (Switzerland? France?). Happiness all round. And then there was a raffle. And then I won. Cue ironic item two: I won a book about the Widow Cliquot, the woman who built and ruled over the Veuve Cliquot empire, and my very own Jenga set, one of the best games ever for pissy parties. (Naturally we broke the Jenga out and played several serious rounds, which proved to be alarmingly entertaining for all involved.) So it kind of breaks down like this: newly teetotal girl goes to party thrown by a pub to thank their most dedicated drinkers. Wins book about booze baroness and a drinking game, on account of the fact she's the only one sober enough to keep track of the raffle tickets. Cool aye. And I had the most genuinely fun and relaxed time socially I have yet had sober. Of course, it could be on account of that one Lemon Lime and Bitters I had (apparently bitters is alcoholic*?!). Or maybe (maybe), I'm just starting to get better at this thing.

P.S. It looks like my band mate doesn't in fact hate me, and that most of the things I was pissed off about were misunderstandings. The show may still go on.

*bitters is highly alcoholic (45%), but the amount put in a Lemon Lime and Bitters is so negligible that it does not, according to the rules (contained in my head), constitute a breach of my year off the piss. Cool? Cool. (I knew you'd understand.)

Day 42: trouble in paradise.

It appears I have hit a patch of trouble. My fellow music project participant is pissed off with me, and I am pissed off with him. The unvoiced tension has already delayed progress by a good two weeks. Now the anger is in the open, it might derail the whole thing. My music projects have been plagued with people problems for the last year, and I'm starting to wonder if I should go it alone. Maybe I'm a monster to work with. Maybe we all just need a break. Does making music really have to be this hard? It doesn't help matters that my other band member is also my best mate (or maybe I’ve fucked that now too). A stiff drink wouldn't go astray around about now.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 41: meeting boys.

There is a spunky boy at yoga and I'm pretty sure he's not gay. (He reminds me a tiny bit of Richie McCaw, whom I have been in love with 4EVA.) He has a habit of standing behind me in class, which tends to either completely put me off (falling over everywhere) or turn me into a total legend. Not that I think he stands there deliberately. He could have a wife and seven children for all I know, or at least a pretty girlfriend he's keeping himself healthy for. But presuming for a moment that he doesn't, how does a girl like me actually meet a boy like he? To start with, I'm quite shy. My brazen cavortings on stage in front of my band might suggest otherwise, but when it comes to dudes I kind of turn quiet. I'm not a natural flirt, and even the thought of sending coquettish smiles across the yoga room embarrasses me. Because let's not forget where we actually are: a hot, not quite stinky but very definitely sweaty yoga room. It's possible to look okay at the beginning of a class (if wearing not a scrap of makeup happens to be looking okay that day), but by the end, you are literally drenched in sweat, hair plastered to your head, saturated gym clothes clinging wetly to your body. Not exactly the most alluring of looks (unless, of course, drowned rat is what you're into). Okay, so the yoga room isn't the best place to meet boys. But wait a minute, what if the yoga room was to host say, a party? Then it might be easier to meet said boy. Or not. Firstly, does anyone actually go to their yoga school's Christmas party? I love my yoga school but going to the party has the distinct whiff of nerd. If the boy is cool, would he turn up? Would I want him to turn up? And would I want him to turn up and see me there? Secondly, assuming I went, I'd be stone cold sober. The sober girl at the yoga party. Smokin. And no juice to banish the shyness. You see, I haven't really tried meeting boys properly since I've been off the piss. How does one go about it? Or does one not go about it at all? I am generally of the opinion these days, that the only dudes worth bothering with are those that at the very least have the gumption to approach the girl. Women are meant to be won. If the guy doesn't realise you're a prize, he's the loser you don't need to know. (Or maybe it's that attitude that keeps me single. Whatever.) Weirdly enough, over the past two evenings there have been two sets of quite interesting looking boys from my neighbourhood who have introduced themselves and asked me to join them for a drink (there is a common treed square near my house where people from a particular row of houses meet for beers and to chat. It's quite a nice thing they have going on. Both sets of boys have been sitting on the exact same piece of low stone wall but on different nights, and they all know each other - that's the weird bit). Of course, I don't drink. But the point is they were cool enough to actually say hi. If yoga boy is remotely interested, he will talk to me. If he's talking to me when I'm make-up-less and dripping sweat, it probably means he's a guy worth talking to. And if I never so much as say two words to him, there's no harm done. I can always try talking to the boys from my hood.

Day 40: am I actually turning into a nanna?

I went to the movies early this evening on my own. I did this 1. because just about every friend I have either has kids or a mortgage, both of which apparently prohibit them from doing anything at any time, and 2. because I love the movies and I’m damned if I’m going to wait for the DVD just because everyone else is housebound. (Of course, it could be that all of my friends have simultaneously decided I’m shit company, but let’s not think about that right now.) Anyway, Nigel-ing it to a movie is a bad enough look as it is. What got me though, was the number of actual nannas attending the screening. Everyone was old. Could it be that through my decision to not drink, I have jolted myself into a parallel universe not suited to my age? Are the activities of the alcohol-free, also the activities of the ancient? Well, not necessarily. You could argue that staying in all the time, like most of my friends have been lately, is a pretty nanna-ish pastime. They all drink. But it’s also true that since not drinking, I haven’t been going out as much as I used to. The emphasis has more been on getting up early and using the day. I also suspect that the odd partying invitation has not been extended because people think I don’t “party” anymore. Well I don’t “party” but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to go to the things. Me oh my, let’s all pack a sad. (I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me.) Oh whatever. On with the show. Maybe I’ll go find me a new gang down at the rest home.

Day 39: the pub gets scary.

So it turns out that it wasn’t my flatmate’s girlfriend puking in the loo last night, but in fact my other flatmate, a young and lovely female who shall remain nameless. For anyone in the vicinity of 23 years old, the odd vom after a night out isn’t alarming or unusual; it goes with the territory. So no biggies there. But it seems that Friday night was a rougher one than usual for our household. Our male flatty (also a lovely chap) had spent a very well behaved evening in, watching the crappy Hangover movie with me. I can vouch for the fact that he didn’t touch a drop the whole time. Then at around midnight he received a call from his girl saying she needed rescuing from a situation she’d gotten into at a bar close by. And of course he went to help. What I didn’t know later on, when I assumed it was his girlfriend puking, was that it couldn’t possibly have been her because neither of them had in fact returned to the house. They had instead taken an ambulance ride to the emergency room and it was my male flatmate who was in trouble. How did this happen? It wasn’t a fight, and it wasn’t excessive alcohol consumption (around four beers apparently, and he’s a decent sized boy). What it looks like was the work of a drink spike, meant for another recipient. Drink spiking is something I find difficult to comprehend. It’s extremely sick behaviour. And it’s scary as all hell. If a drinks drug can floor a rugby-sized man, what might it do to a small female? And what do these people hope to gain from the exercise? Rape presumably, or robbery. It makes me sick. And it’s made my flatmate sick too, sick enough that at one point they didn’t know if they would be able to wake him up. So please be careful my drinking friends, and keep an eye on your glasses. Suddenly being sober as a judge (the kind that doesn’t keep a whisky bottle in the filing cabinet) is seeming even more attractive, and steering clear of watering holes a mighty fine idea.

Day 38: bad art, good present, more puking.

I just watched The Hangover on FBO. It was much like a real one: shit. It never ceases to amaze me how much completely bad art gets through Hollywood. It shouldn’t amaze me. I work in advertising. What we do doesn’t even make it into the category of art, but is very often bad. It’s the fate of many a creative project funded by some form of big business. The enormous amounts of money, while you’d think they’d help to improve a project, actually get in the way of anything good being made. The people paying the money automatically want some (usually creative) input into the project (which is almost unfailingly disastrous). The people receiving the money are so desperate not to lose it, they’ll do pretty much anything to please the cash suppliers, even if it means raping their own art and turning it into some kind of limping and terminally ill Frankenstein. It’s shuddersome. (“What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” WB Yeats, The Second Coming. That, by the way, is some seriously good art; one of my favourite poems of all time.) Anyway. It still surprises me that with all the quite amazingly talented writers, producers, directors etc swarming around LA, movies so sloppy in form, scripting, dramatic and comedic timing so often get made (not to mention significantly hyped). They are towering shitheaps of shoddiness, with gaping holes of done-too-fast or too-many-writers strewn all through them. But enough of that. Bad art be gone! And on to the present, in which I am currently (a little bug-eyed due to the hour). I’m feeling really good though, because I had a good day of feeling a new kind of strong in my non-drinking zone. We had our end of year work lunch, which wasn’t as rowdy as other years (probably due in large part to my own lack of rowdiness) but was very pleasant. I had a properly good time hanging with my work mates right through until the early evening, and felt no need for the aid of the dreaded drop. Which brings me to the other present, the one I received from Secret Santa. It was a five-bottle set of mini flavoured Absolut vodkas (I love those little bottles) accompanied by a pocket-sized bible containing a passage on the heavenly virtues of not drinking. I liked it. And the bible provided hours of entertainment at the table (you ever read it? It’s some crazy shit.). Oh gee, I can actually, like right now, hear my flatmate’s girlfriend puking in our toilet (the result of an unfortunate collision with some Friday night drinks). Oops, and now she’s smashed something. Maybe time she went to bed. Maybe time I did too. I can always give her my bible to read if she needs it tomorrow morning.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 37: fashion faux pas.

So on Day 35 I insinuated that Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist fame had assumed an air of superiority and was sitting in judgement over the well-dressed populaces of the world. I started reading his book last night, and I think I might have been wrong. He writes:
"I have begun to see my images more as a social document celebrating self expression than as a catalogue for skirt lengths or heel heights... I hope that, as you look at the images in this book, rather than giving a look a 'thumbs up' or a 'thumbs down', you will focus on the elements that could inspire you... We tend to think that to achieve great personal style someone must have perfect clarity about who they are and what they stand for. I politely disagree. I think conflict about who you are often leads to even greater expression...,'Am I a rocker? A footballer? Or a little bit of both?'. These contradictions produce the most interesting looks... I hope that, while looking at the images in this book, you will begin to see fashion and style in a different light: that you make it yours, let yourself get inspired and experience a deeper enjoyment of your own sartorial expression." (The Sartorialist, Penguin Books, 2009)
So yeah, less judgemental bastard, more artistic, open-minded cool dude. I'm now totally excited in retrospect that I shook his hand! And I like what he says about conflict leading to greater expression. That totally applies to music too - and Lord knows I'm all over the place. Maybe for once that might actually be a good thing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 36: missing fang.

So everyone knows I have a music project. But what not everyone knows is that a few months ago I also had a band. For various reasons and after many tries at making it work, the band had to break up. It kind of broke my heart because I loved that band and we'd put three years of hard work into it. But these things happen. One of the reasons I loved the band was that it gave us the excuse to get together regularly, sling on our guitars, turn up our amps and fang loudly for three hours. We played kind of quirky, energetic rock 'n' roll songs with a healthy dose of punk. It was physical music. We stomped around a lot, and all of my bass lines were fat. I am missing the fang. My current project is a recording thing. I write a song, go to Ben's, lay it down and then Ben does stuff to it that we review together later. It's good for getting stuff down and done, but it don't beat bashing tunes out live. Neither does bedroom bass playing. There's something cool and magic that happens when actual people get together and play actual music. And it's fuckin fun. I guess we'll just have to work on stepping the current project up and out of our respective houses, into the practice room and onto the stage. This will take some time.

Once more for nostalgia's sake and your listening pleasure: ladies and gents, I present The Mania.

Day 35: the fame game.

This evening I went to Scott Schuman's book signing, creator of The Sartorialist blog and book of the same name. Who would have thought that something as vacuous as mere fashion could have been so thought provoking? For a start, Schuman doesn't deal in "mere" fashion. He documents the impeccably turned out, in their native stomping grounds. Beautifully clad New Yorkers, Parisians, Londoners and over the past few days Sydneysiders, with a penchant for the unique, often bespoke and perfectly finished outfit. This evening he was selling and signing books at the Sass and Bide store, with the promise that if anyone attending particularly caught his eye, he would photograph them for his blog. Which brings me to my first pebble for thought. If you follow The Sartorialist, you'll know that to be pictured in it is a kind of affirmation of your awesomeness. It is a stamp of approval from a certain brand of fashion elite, that your personal style is hitting the high mark. Wait a minute, did I say approval from a "fashion elite"? I meant approval from Scott Schuman. You see, it occurred to me while queuing for his haloed signature, that this man started a blog based on his own taste for fashion (and an ability to take a very pretty picture). Four years later he is a minor celebrity, with hordes of perfectly stylish people in their own right, lining up to see him with the thinly masked hope that he might deign to declare their look worthy. I, for one, queued quite excitedly for over an hour to see the man, and it cannot be denied that he kits out kind of breathtakingly. But instead of buzzing out fulfilled by this flower of fashion, the experience of meeting Mr Schuman left me feeling small. Not a good sensation for any self-respecting human being, not to mention one with delusions of rock 'n' roll grandeur. It got me thinking about the whole fame thing. Firstly, Sir Sartorialist is famous for having good taste. But he only got that way because he decided that he had good taste and went about putting it out there. Admittedly, everyone else kind of agreed he had good taste too. But by starting the blog at all, he declared his authority; he implied his superiority; he divined his celebrity. Secondly, part of the reason everyone likes the Sartorialist is that theoretically any regular person can turn up in it (provided they're wearing killer threads), and enjoy their own little bit of famousness. And thirdly, if I'm honest, part of the reason the whole book signing experience left me feeling bummed was because I was in the presence of a man with the power to make me famous, and he took a rain check. I missed my tiny shot at fashion fame. But here's a question: why the hell do I want to be famous anyway? (Because if you want to be a rock star, you have to admit that you want to be some kind of celebrity.) Tonight's experience left me questioning that urge. Is it actually a gross desire? Is the quest for fame actually just an embarrassingly obvious display of human inadequacy and the pitiable need for validation from others? (And why do I give a shit what Scott Schuman or anybody else thinks of what I'm wearing?) Hmmm. Personally, I think my rock star ambition is rooted in something less grandiose than it might seem: I just want to do something impeccably well and have my achievement recognised. It does come down to a kind of validation, sure. But it's mainly about proving to yourself and others that you're a unique, useful human being who has a purpose on this earth. For me it has nothing to do with leaving something behind or achieving eternal life through your art. It's more about adding something interesting while I'm around. And really, that's all Scott Schuman is doing. So maybe I should quit with feeling small and intimidated, and applaud him for his good work (I did actually, when he signed my books, although not with actual clapping). Oh yeah, and get on with the job of doing something worthy of applause myself.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 34: piss off grumpy.

Quite a lot of people I've encountered today have been in a grump. There was a grumpy man yelling at a pay phone on the way to work, grumpy walkers, and lots of grumpy people at work. Mondays will do that to you. But lately they haven't been doing it to me. While I did get a little pissed off by the splashy swimmer who flicked me a faceful of water with his dumb fin while I was doing my lunchtime lengths, since I've been off the drink, Mondays just have not been presenting the morbid challenge they used to. Maybe it's because I'm making better use of my weekends. Or maybe it's that now, Monday doesn't mean a complete shift in state of mind: from woozy weekend explorations in brain-obliteration to the nasty jolt of having to perform controlled, rational tasks. Or it could be I'm just happier. Who would have thought that not pouring depressants through your system every weekend would have that effect? Amazing. Now I shall stroll home, cook dinner, play my bass and maybe start my new book. Lovely.

Day 33: achieving purity by getting fat.

Today in the yoga change rooms, I learnt something new (I seem to be doing a lot of that lately). While applying moisturiser after class, I struck up a conversation with two girls about, low and behold, not drinking. One girl was looking for ways to cut down, and the other seemed to have a pretty good handle on moderation. The moderation girl also knew quite a lot about livers. Basically, the upshot of what she was saying was that when your liver has had enough of being hammered, it stops being able to clean your blood (makes sense). This means that toxins (from our environment and the things we consume) start being allowed to go to other parts of your body. And because your body doesn’t like toxins it does the only other thing it can to neutralise them: it makes fat. At least I think that’s what she said. Anyway, the result of an unhealthy liver apparently, is weight gain, a sluggish system, and a mind more prone to things like depression. As I’m not drinking anyway, I thought this might be a good time to cleanse my liver too. Why the frick not? I’m borrowing my little brother’s liver cleanse book today. Will restricting my diet as well, be one step of self control too far? Could be. Whatever. Give it a whirl.

Day 32: another one bites the dust.

I have another party under my belt, this time an all day, barbequey affair involving pretty constant consumption of French champagne, imported beers and nice New Zealand wines by the other guests. I drank tonic waters, raspberry and sodas, mineral waters and a cup of coffee when I felt my energy waning as the evening set in. Except for getting sick of fizzy drinks, it really wasn’t too bad. Because the people there weren’t on a mission to get slaughtered, there was plenty of interesting conversation and some really interesting people delivering it (a diamond merchant, a family court barrister, and a high powered television exec to name a few). They were charismatic people and I learnt some cool stuff off them. The really cool thing though is that I can remember what they told me today. Awesome. The food too was exceptionally good (I am so all about food right now. Oink!). It was a quality do. The quality of the alcohol, I must admit, did give me the odd pang. I freakin love good French champagne, and seeing it burbling frothily from bottle to flute did make me want to pour some down my throat. I even made the mistake of taking a whiff of my sister’s glass. Don’t do this. The nose is a powerful persuader of the tongue and taste buds. If you’re trying to abstain, getting your schnoz involved just makes things more difficult. So I stuck to my non-alcs, and earned the praise and amazement of everyone around me. While it’s quite nice to have your purity and strength of resolve acknowledged and applauded (the people there really were very supportive), it also marks you out again as an outsider; a kind of circus freak that people marvel at. It’s hard to relax and get amongst it when you and everyone else are constantly monitoring how you’re going. But again, it’s all okay. These are early days and I’m just beginning to find my alcohol-free social feet. Give me a few months and with any luck I’ll be pirouetting from person to person, so light and bubbly that no-one will detect I haven’t been quaffing buckets of the stuff. Here’s hoping anyway. For now I begin with baby steps.

Day 31: all tomorrow’s parties.

I have a prediction to make: the silly season is going to be tough. But not just for me. Last night I did my first big party piss free, and let’s just say I made a few illuminating discoveries. Firstly, a room full of straight people who don’t know each other that well, is nowhere near as hilarious as a room full of wankered people in the same situation. To my straight self, while the start of the party seemed almost intolerably stiff, people got notably looser, funnier and definitely more entertaining as the alcohol consumption increased. Being “entertaining” of course, can be achieved in a number of different ways. It could, for example, involve pulling cool robot moves on the dance floor (quite entertaining), or saying some really wrong things to the new CFO before realising who you were talking to (again, pretty entertaining). Or it could involve tearing off your costume, throwing it on the floor, mounting a lamp the size and shape of a horse and refusing to get off (who said clients don’t know how to party?). You don’t have to be able to walk in a line, keep your shirt clean or your makeup straight to be entertaining. You just need to do things that get in the way of boring. Because that was my second discovery: when not viewed through a heady haze of alco-fizz, parties can get that way. I remember my mother telling me when I was quite little that only boring people get bored. I think she kind of had a point, so I don’t like admitting to the “b” sensation too often. But there were definite moments when I had to rally my inner troops to fight my way out of the dead zone and back into funland. The tonic waters were obviously enormously helpful in that respect. Really though, you can totally get bored at a party when you’re pissed. It’s just that you deal with it differently (slump on a sofa/fall asleep/start dirty dancing with randoms – while we’re on the subject of dirty dancing, don’t do it. It is, I have discovered, one of the few drunken behaviours that has no endearing aspect. It’s gross. Go hump someone’s leg in private if you’re that way inclined.) As a straighty, when you get bored you need to find something legitimately interesting to get you back on track. And thankfully, a nice little handful of the people I work with are legitimately interesting, great to talk to and hilariously fun at parties. (A particular moment of awesomeness was when my Art Director partner Niccola, resplendent in an enormous, tartan Mamma Cass costume, waggled her fake fat arse in the centre of a circle of stick thin and rather humourless Playboy bunnies on the dance floor. That gave me laugh attacks every time I thought of it.) Naturally though, there were times when I just felt like an outsider. I wasn’t one of the thronging crowd puffing ciggies on the balcony (which I would have been in the days of old – cough). I wasn’t in the centre of the packed dance floor or up on the stage (I just wasn’t digging on Bon Jovi or the crappy dance remix of Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon), and I wasn’t one of the so solid crew of wide-eyed energetics who banded together and partied past dawn. But that’s okay. Because what I realised about these evenings, and about life in general I suppose, is that with every stance you take or decision you make comes a set of consequences. Some of them are awesome, and some of them suck. For the drinkers and hard partiers, comes the considerable fun and elation of getting loose, twisted and mega-sociable, followed by the dehydration, embarrassment, injury and general state of illness that often accompanies it. For the me-types, the party super-highs aren’t really available, and having a good time involves a careful balance of the right mood, great company and the determination to get amongst it. But there is no nasty aftermath, and you wake up generally well rested, happy in the knowledge you didn’t make an arse of yourself. So while it isn’t always easy partying on the straight and narrow, partying on the piss has its hard parts too. C’est la vie right? Deal with it dude. And have a good time while you’re at it. Which is what I plan to do at the next big party I’m attending, tomorrow.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 30: driven to distraction.

Okay, so the non-drinking has been going well. It feels natural now and not hard at all. I'm feeling leaner, really happy and more in control. My exercise is rocking, my skin has stopped flaking and I'm loving my freaky fresh new hair chop. But I have a confession to make. I have let my music focus slip. Stupidly, in my drive to not drink and in my efforts to tell you about it, I have gotten distracted from my actual goal: to pursue my rock 'n' roll dream like a hyena looking for dead flesh (THAT'S DISGUSTING). Exercise regimes, alcohol alternatives, skin treatments, party costumes and blog entries (?!) have all taken precedence over playing my bass every day, writing songs, training my vocals or any of the other myriad music orientated things I could be doing. You might remember that very early on in this mission (was it even day one?) I said that by doing this little experiment I would establish whether it was my bad partying ways or my own innate shortcomings keeping me from giving rock 'n' roll a decent bash. Well now, we can't blame getting hammered for this latest little wander in the daisies can we? Could it be that I'm just naturally fickle and flimsy of mind? My star sign is a mutable one, which means I'm restless and changeable apparently. Can I blame that? Or am I actually a little bit afraid to put maximum effort in, in case it all goes phut and I just have to admit that my best isn't good enough? Well fuck fear. And fuck pissing around like a cock and not getting anywhere. I just have to view this in the same way as I would a mid yoga class lapse in focus : you lose your balance, maybe feel like passing out momentarily, take a few deep breaths, refocus and get the fuck back into it. Simple. (Sorry for all the swearing by the way. I feel the need for strong words when I'm trying to bash myself back onto the straight and narrow. Makes me feel like I mean business damn it!) So, as a reminder, here are some wise words from the legendary Roy Ayers: "Do something every day towards your dream". This will be my new measure of whether I'm on track. Mind on the driving, hands on the wheel, keep my dopey eyes on the road ahead, and something for the music every single day.

Oh and just because it's sunny: the man himself. (Check out the keyboardist's cardi.)

P.S. I think my minor freak the other day about things not moving fast enough, was actually secretly about my own faffing around. Man I'm awesome.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 29: speaking of wasting time...

Today is the day before our work Christmas party, and what a hive of industry our office has been. Only it hasn't been work keeping everyone busying about, it's costumes. Running to hire shops, making props, sticking shiny bits on armour (that was me). In any other type of business this might have been a sackable offense. But advertising prides itself on creativity. To throw a party and have your brightest stars turn up in lame costumes just wouldn't do. And so a significant amount of time has been put in to making our costumes great. So much time in fact that it is now the end of the day and I'm exhausted. And despite the fact that I won't be partying like my fiendish self from yesteryear, I am - believe it or not - actually quite excited.

Day 28: chop chop.

Impatience is apparently not a virtue. Knowing this however, does nothing to stop my frustration at things that move slowly. Slow walkers infuriate me (sigh, anger is such an ugly emotion), exercise regimes that don’t show quick results bum me out, and it’s best not to be at the table with me if it’s been 50 minutes and the food hasn’t arrived yet. I’m not big on queues either, just by the way. But it’s not these things that are currently on my mind. What bothers me on and off lately, is the speed at which my music project is progressing. Really I shouldn’t be worried. Over the last 28 days we have been making pretty steady progress. And with any project there will be delays. But there have been recent tensions in band-land that I fear may delay things further (why are bands so fraught with human conflict?). And I am very much aware that with Christmas only three weeks away, the year is very nearly over. Before we know it, it will be the end of 2010’s first quarter, and any meagre budgets record companies may have had to throw at tiny acts like ours will already be allocated. But trying to persuade others of the need for speed can often have the opposite effect. The more you impress the need for urgency, the more they drag their feet. I suppose it’s a kind of rebellion. Really though, if I’m honest, I think my current NOW urge is simply a personal mania, with no reasonable basis in reality. In reality we probably couldn’t be progressing much quicker. So how to satisfy the unreasonable demands of my inner taskmaster? Why get a haircut of course! Chop, chop, fresh head, something new. We’re making progress.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 27: feeling flaky.

I think I may have mentioned a little while ago that since my not drinking, my skin has been freaking out. First it was an outpouring of zitterly love. Then I decided to do something about it and applied what I have discovered to be quite an aggressive zit-zap serum. Now my face is flaking off. Like majorly. What I am hoping is that this latest convulsion of ugliness is the chrysalis-shedding moment before the butterfly angel skin flutters prettily into the light. Kind of like from moonscape, to cracked desert surface, to lush, paradise-like oasis. Or maybe I'm just delusional. Considering how my face looks right now, that's probably for the best.

Day 26: one of these kids is not like the others.

A lot of my friends lately have had kids, bought houses, gotten married or gotten pregnant. By choice or by accident they have taken the path of commitment and responsibility; the next step into adulthood. I have done none of these things and am really nowhere near any of them yet. It hasn’t been a conscious choice of avoidance. It’s just that my life hasn’t turned out that way so far. I’m traditionally a bit on the spendy side when it comes to money, hence no house deposit, and I’ve only really attracted commitment-phobic boys lately, hence no hub or bub. I also have a mildly violent independence urge that is probably responsible for the sum of where I find myself right now. And I want to be a rock star. Nappies and mortgages don’t compute well with that. Slap a vow of sobriety on top and you have a seriously individual individual. Of course I have never minded standing out. Being the third kid down in a pack of four (and the second daughter) showing off has been part of my make up since my year dot. I like being the centre of attention, and I have always done things to set myself apart. But I’ve usually had a gang of other alternative types to roll with. Now I find my gang disbanded, preoccupied with the pressures of parenthood and paying the bills. And that might mean turning to a younger set still in party mode, only I don’t drink now so that’s a bit weird too. What’s a sober, single, independently-minded and rock ‘n’ roll-ishly inclined gal to do? You see, the problem is in the incongruousness of my choices. It would be one thing to be the single rock ‘n’ roller. But the rock ‘n’ roll teetotaller? It’s a problem I’ve had for a while. I’ve always been the party animal that also loves reading and bookshops; the fashion and cosmetics junkie who digs on Scrabble; the bass player in the band who goes to bed at 10.30pm to get up for yoga the next morning. Maybe it’s not that weird. Maybe everyone is balancing their own mix of mismatching tastes. Whatever the case, if you choose an unconventional road, you can’t really complain when the crew doesn’t come too. You simply have to rock the path you’re rolling down, even if you’re in a band of one.

Day 25: simple pleasures.

Saturday morning is pretty much my favourite time to be a non-drinker. It feels good to get up at 7am (a sleep in after my weekday 5.30 get-ups) and go to yoga or go for a jog. The world at that time of day is a fresh, calm, happy place. Birds twitter and the sun feels young. It is also particularly satisfying to finish what is quite a lengthy and strenuous yoga class, and to realise you still have two and a half hours of morning at your disposal. For a former booze hound, this is a novelty. Breakfast (basically my favourite meal of the day) is a pleasure too. After a yoga class, you only want to put good stuff in your body and it’s nice to know you’ve really earned what you’re eating: this morning gigantic strawberries, blueberries, yoghurt, oats and cinnamon with a particularly good coffee from The Shop, my favourite café a few doors down from my house. Yumness is goodness. What’s more, on a Saturday I get to write this out here on my balcony with my laptop, sitting in the breeze and morning sunshine. It’s frickin idyllic. My balcony is big and characterful (with its iron lace), and it looks out over my street, which is leafy and has the exact right balance of relaxed activity and nice-vibe quiet. It would certainly be a pity to be missing all this pleasantness. Back in the bad old days I wouldn’t have thought twice about sleeping in until two. Today at two incidentally, I will be enjoying another simple and irresistible pleasure, the pure cuteness that is my four-year-old niece Georgia performing in her end of year ballet recital. To see such tiny dancers doing their level best, and actually doing extremely well, is an experience that owns a unique part of happy. There’s no substitute. And to me, that’s really one of the coolest things about being human and being alive. Contained within the normal constructs of regular living, things like getting up early, being healthy, sitting in the sunshine and being with family and friends, are highs more pure than any drug or drink can manufacture. Let’s not forget though, that simple pleasures like these are not everyone’s experience of regular life. I am well aware that to be a healthy person, in a happy family, living in a beautiful, peaceful, prosperous part of the world is in many ways a rare and luxurious existence. All the more reason not to piss it all away.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day 24: party freak.

Today the novelty wore off non-drinking. It stopped being a "thing I'm doing", and just became the thing I do. It's a weird place actually. I don't feel inclined to drink at all. I have no pangs for certain drinks. And the thought of that zizzy piss-fuddled feeling behind the eyes vaguely repulses me at this point. But at the same time, I am aware of the limitations that come with being the straight person. As everyone revs up for some of the biggest piss-a-thons of the year, and as I concentrate dutifully on putting together a worthy costume for our work Christmas bash, I cannot quash my visions of a decidedly less than loose party experience. You know, the guess who got stuck talking to the client all night scenario. Or the stark, this is boring realisation. Or being the person the party kids don't want to hang with because your straightness just kinda makes them uncomfortable dude. But even more than how it makes other people feel, how will I feel doing a major bash on kiddy-punch? I like parties. I have been in my time a seasoned "party girl". But to me a party has always meant cutting loose in a major way. It's the big exhale of pent up get your freak on. And letting loose has always meant getting loose. How do you loosen up when you're straighty-one-eighty? I've been faced with this question over the last few days because I've had a few stressy, pissed off episodes. In the usual run of things, after a stressful day I would have swung by the bottle-o on the way home and chilled myself out a little with a glass or two of (probably red) wine. These days I kind of rely on exercise to relax my arteries. But you can't jog yourself into loose party mode. Or can you? Should I hit yoga pre-party and watch some kind of brilliant comedy to help me feel both chilled and jovial? Or are there vitamins I can take to rev up my energy/chatty/laughy/jumpy levels? And more to the point, why do I feel like I'm going to need help to have a fun time? I guess it comes back to a point I've raised before: it can be scary to see things for real. Going into a party with no alco-ammo, what if you discover that in fact you are an unadulterated, unfunny, uninteresting bore? Well, so be it I suppose. Funnily enough, this year I have opted for a costume involving medieval armour. No protection whatsoever from the kind of psychological damage a realisation of the "I'm boring" variety could inflict, but at least I might arrive home with fewer bruises.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 23: a wasted night.

Last night got wasted. Not me, the evening itself. What was meant to be a productive listening and jamming session was abandoned in favour of... you'll never guess what.... a session at the pub. But again, not my session at the pub. Only I was the one left feeling pissed (don't worry, the metaphor ends now). People are allowed to go to the pub. I realise this. And it was quite a pleasant evening for a cold bevvy in the warm night air. But we'd made plans. Plans that got discarded in favour of beers with other people. What was worse was that my bass was stranded at Ben's place, so I couldn't even go home and be productive on my own. I guess my anger brought up a couple of things for me. 1. No matter how much you control your own behaviour, other people are still free to mess with your shit. 2. Am I becoming a project monster, repellent to even my closest friends? I guess it's kind of funny that someone else's drinking got in the way of my mission. It's like the relax fairy put a banana skin in the path of the progress robot (me) just for laughs. And maybe it's not a big deal. But I guess the issue I'm really pissed off about isn't a drinking one. It's rudeness. Selfishness. The complete disregard for another person's time, feelings, or the other activities you might have shifted in order to meet the agreed plan. It's shitty behaviour. I hope the beers were good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 22: sweet things.

Chocolate, fizzy drinks, ice cream. I thought after yesterday's unexpected burst of boy bitterness, a little sweetness might be in order. But not too much aye. I have noticed of late a mildly alarming trend in my behaviour that needs to be nipped in the bud. It is the habit of freely allowing myself the aforesaid treats on account of my no longer inhaling highly calorific boozyfizz every weekend. This is a mistake. As you may have noticed, I have slight control-freakish tendencies. I like the idea of doing things perfectly (and live in an almost constant state of disappointment as a result). If I manage successfully to abstain from alcohol, but fail to keep my diet on track EVERYTHING IS RUINED. I've warned you about this. I go to extremes. And yes, being me can be torturous at times. Anyway, so while the odd tonic water or non-diet coke of a night out is AOK, scoffing bickies and Magnums every two seconds is not. Phew. I'm glad we got that sorted. It's funny though, I do seem to have some kind of in-built self sabotage urge designed precisely to antagonise my inner perfectionist. It's like to balance out the yin of not drinking, yang has to come in and eat crappy food and smoke cigarettes (for the record, I haven't been smoking cigarettes, but they have been seeming alarmingly attractive since being off the booze). What's with needing to be bad? Why is it that while I want to be so good, I also feel the need to be evil? I even seem to prefer bad boys. Am I mental?
Well, evil, mental or not, it seems at least some of my efforts are having positive results: 1. I have my first two actual blog followers! A beloved cousin and an old friend admittedly, but committed readers nonetheless. 2. My yoga obsessiveness has inspired another gal pal to start a yoga mini-mission of her own. Way to go! Hot bod summer here we come! 3. And my band mate Ben has done some work on the new song we recorded on Sunday. I'm going to swing by and check it out tonight. Fun! So by the looks of it, if I can just manage to banish my boy bitterness, reign in my sugar habit, and relax my grip on the controls a tiny, everything's pretty much sweet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 21: clarity.

I think my brain is starting to work better. At least a bit. Over the last few days I have finished three books (including one enormous non-fiction one that I've been trying to wade through for almost two years), and have done a "three-coffee" rated Sudoku in one easy sitting! Like wow. (Oh yeah, my Sudoku book has a natty little rating system for how hard each one is, based on coffee cups. One coffee cup = easy as bro. Two coffee cups = me need to fink a bit. Three coffee cups = get outta town. Cool aye. Just kidding. For some reason I now feel the need to remind you that I'm cool and I play in a band.) It also dawned on me that the boy who has only ever given me troubles, and yet whom I have found it very difficult to erase from my memory banks, is a bad, selfish, injuring, emotional coward without a genuinely chivalrous bone in his body. True chivalry takes balls and class. So cheers to the real gentlemen, and cheers to the clever lasses, and cheers to seeing things clearly every now and then.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 20: putting the world to rights.

Man. That was intense. Updating five days of blog, based on deranged scribbles penned in the depths of sick city is not to be recommended. In addition to being exhausting, it also leaves your brain swimming in anti-alcohol gripes/observations/mong mong WHATEVER. Talk about shut up. Anyway, we (I) are (am) back on track. Wellness, tick. Blog doneness, tick. Soberness, tick. Exercise, not-so-tick, but one can't be perfect all the time (blerk). See you on the flip.

Day 19: fuck I love this shit.

Today I did two exciting things: I recorded my new song at Ben's house (Edge City); I went to "It Might Get Loud", the guitar doco with Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White in it. Apart from inspiring a new and complete love of Jimmy (I discover him now?), today's events reminded me of one thing: for all the clean living in the world, I will never be purged of my love for rock 'n' roll. Thank you and good night.

Day 18: vomit.

Not mine thankfully. It is a beautiful day and I am feeling well again. I have fresh sheets on my bed, freshly washed ones hanging on the line, and I have just polished off my first Frosty Fruit ice block of the season while strolling home from a spot of Christmas shopping. I love this kind of shit. The ordered, clean wholesomeness of it all. The productiveness (I never buy Christmas presents this early!). While out and about though, I also received a number of phone calls from friends and fam, reporting in on their activities from the night before. That's where the vomit comes in. It turns out that a good friend of mine ended what should have been a normal Friday night at the pub, sitting on the pub floor vomming into a bag. On the other side of town, a family member was engaged in a whiskey-fueled wrestling match that resulted in his entire t-shirt being torn (i.e. in pieces) from his body. It was his favourite shirt. He went home topless. Another friend merely drank for a solid 13 hours, arriving home at 7 this morning. When I spoke to him (at 3 in the afternoon) he said he still felt pissed. And here I was thinking I'd had a rough night battling seven different mosquitos in the stifling night heat. But seriously, what drives us to do this stuff? (Not battling mosquitos obviously. It's a crazed pursuit but absolutely necessary and entirely reasonable.) It's not like I've been out of the game long, and Lord knows I've been on my fair share of benders (I am, as far as I know, the only person in my vicinity who can boast waking with shocking knee bruises, blood crusted in my hair and one white Reebok neatly filled with pink sick), but at what point has our definition of fun and relaxation come to include vomiting, hanging with the junkies in Kings Cross at 6.30am, and getting punched in the head? Am I going soft or does it all actually sound like no fun at all? Of course, none of the chaps involved were saying they'd had a great night out. These were bits of train-wrecks of evenings. But none of the incidents were first-time events for any of the boys either. Repeat offenders. Just like I was. Also repeat regretters/repenters, but repeat offenders nonetheless. Shall I say it again? Repeat. Why do we keep coming back for more?
As I inch my way away from drinking excesses like these, I am starting to find them more and more shocking. What used to be, to my mind, a slightly exaggerated version of the norm, is now starting to look like dangerously damaging and destructive behaviour. What's freaky too, is that for a large section of the partying public, in this town at least, these levels of intoxication are normal. It's normal to have a hangover on Saturday. It's normal to have bits of the night you can't remember, or don't want to. Is this really normal though? Or is it just that this part of the world advocates alcoholism as an accepted way of life? A girlfriend of mine (whose father was an alcoholic) got it right when she said: "We accept too much. It's not acceptable behaviour, but we accept it, far too much". Time for a little stay at Camp Claire people? You are always very welcome.

Day 17: unholy heat.

For some reason, over the last couple of days I've had a bit of a Godly bent to my entries. This might be because I've felt like death warmed up, and thought it prudent to acknowledge the governor of the pearly gates in some small way just in case. It might also have something to do with the Hades-like heat that is assaulting my neighbourhood right now: "Help me God, save me from this unholy steam-pit!". (That's weird, it just clouded over and got decidedly cooler. Yikes!) But seriously, a thought has dawned on me during these few delirious days. My current mission (there goes that God-speak again) is to a large extent an exercise in self-control. It's an exercise in taking care of my body and my mind so my energy can be conserved and directed towards a particular goal. And so far I've been pretty successful in sticking to the plan. But for all my haloed orderliness, clean living and willpower, I am still not one iota stronger than anyone else in the face of some random bug. And it's not just that I've lowered my defences by becoming too pure either. Because my heavy and moderate drinking friends and family have all been floored by this bug too. Does this mean all our attempts to strengthen our tiny selves against life's onslaughts are futile? We've all heard the stories of smokers who live into their hundreds while others die of lung cancer who've never had a puff. Or the centenarians who never did any exercise past walking to the mailbox each day, versus the gym-junkies whose hearts pop at 40. Is the answer then just to forget about plans altogether and roll with the punches? From what I've seen of life so far (and I'm not claiming it's a lot), a general state of calmness and relaxedness seems to be a healthy way to go about things. For me, being lazy and getting wasted don't leave me feeling calm or relaxed. At the moment, waking up with a clear head and doing productive things with my time tends to leave me feeling a little more peachy. So I'll continue in this vein. It doesn't mean I'll be any less likely to cop it from the various forces at play, but then neither would taxing my liver with alcohol. So for now I will do what keeps me cool - which today is sipping a chilled water as the thundering storm clouds roll in.

Day 16: missing out.

I am still ill. And tonight is an industry awards night I was meant to attend. It's okay that I'm not, 1) because standing up is still an effort that will expel more energy than I'm currently willing to part with, and 2) because awards nights are generally less fun than they're made out to be. There is though, a mild irony to this evening's event. The actual award-giving part of the night has historically and famously been dry. To the dismay of the Australian ad makers attending, not a drop of alcohol is served until the dinner afterwards. It tends to make the first part of the night somewhat excruciating, and the second part decidedly pissy (people drink fast to make up for lost time). Naturally, over the years, I have been one of the loudest protestors against the puritanical start to the evening. And it seems my (and many other) cries were heard, because this year the entire event will be liquored. Success! Just in time for me to 1) renounce alcohol entirely and therefore have to do the "do" booze free, and 2) get sick enough not to attend at all. Maybe God was looking out for me after all (see Day 15). Even a bug as nasty as this one couldn't be as horrific as a night in ad land without a single shot to numb the senses.

Day 15: hangovers are a piece of cake.

Okay, so I know I'm meant to be all "anti-drinking and hangovers" right now. But I'm telling you, the illness a drinking binge can throw at you is a dream compared to what I've just experienced. I'm writing this late because over the last few days I've been laid out by a draining and confusing bug. A stomach bug that warns you off your food but allows you to keep it down. A bug that, while it allows you to eat and digest, wracks your body with aches, fever and headache, and empties it of any vestige of energy. And a bug that seems only to be sweated out, or ineffectually treated with Panadol (Panadol and dark chocolate have been my only relievers - again, how weird?). At least with a hangover I know what needs to be done. And one decent night's sleep will see me back on track. It reminds me of something I saw on Oprah today (I know. I was delirious.). She said something like, "Sometimes God has a bigger plan for you than you could ever have dreamed for yourself". Hmmm. Could it also be that sometimes God has a more unpleasant tummy complaint for you than you ever could have inflicted on yourself? Or maybe God has bigger issues to deal with than my stomach and aching limbs. Whatever the case, illness of the natural, un-self-inflicted variety is certainly a force to be reckoned with; a way tougher customer than any pissy hangover.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day 14: reality check.

On my run the other day I was talking to my brother about this whole non-drinking thing, and we realised something. When you don't drink or "medicate" in any way, you come up against the unavoidable reality of things. We called it "living the test of the real". What I mean by that can be illustrated by my brother's example. He asked me what I would do if I met a really hot boy and had to go on a date with him. Obviously, there was only one answer: I would go on the date and not drink. But wow, what an interesting little exercise that would be. Because without alcohol, there would be no giggle elixir to make his jokes seem funnier, or hotness goggles to make him seem prettier, or general relaxant to make me seem like a fun, easygoing girl. For me at least, it would be a test of the real: was he (or me) really funny, was he cool, did he really turn me on? Did we work conversationally? If it wasn't happening, it would be terribly clear. But then, is that really such a bad thing? I've noticed it in other situations too. On the dance floor for example, it's perfectly possible to dance unaided by stimulants (or depressants in the case of booze), providing the music is good. The instant the music starts to suck, my easy flow of (killer) moves starts to splutter. If I was pissed, I could probably sway my way through the crap bits. Yeah swaying. Cool. Conversation and parties are the same. If they're really good, everyone involved will have a good time, drinks or none. If they're actually a bit stupid, the sober person will notice immediately. It's like when you don't drink, you become hyper-aware of what's really going on. The bottle delivers a smudge and fuzz that obscures bits of boringness, or things that aren't quite up to scratch. Or put another way, alcohol doesn't just relax your mood, it also relaxes your standards. Being a Virgo I probably didn't need my standards sharpened any. And living in the starkness that is untempered reality isn't necessarily easy. But it's what I'm dealing with for the next little while, so I'd better get used to it. I guess I'll just have to make sure I only go to awesome parties, listen to frickin cool tunes, and talk to people who've got it going on. Sounds like torture.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day 13: in the drink.

Another sunny Monday. Hot too. If only we were all in the pool... but wait, I just was! Due to the genius of two swimmingly inclined work mates, I have been organised into swim sessions at the pool up the road from work, twice a week at lunchtimes. What a freaking brilliant idea. The pool is better than most because it's outdoors and in the middle of a pleasantly treed park. And there is something delicious about donning your bikini and doing some splash time in the park, bang splat in the middle of a working Monday. It's a pocket of freedom. It's also a damn pleasant way to get some exercise on a steamy Sydney day. Because let's face it, if I'm not getting high on mental juice, I might as well get right into my health kicks. And my bass guitar licks. I have pretty much finished the lyrics to Edge City by the way, and will lay down the bass and vocal some time this week. Oh and just because it's hot outside, here's some more hotness for you: a snippet or two of the former Gucci master Tom Ford's directorial movie debut. Recognise the schmick styling? That's what you get when you have the Mad Men crew helping out. Zing.

Day 12: challenging times.

Today I encountered some challenges. First I went running with my brothers. I haven’t been running for months, doing yoga instead, and I’m pleased to say my fitness is in good shape. We did run up a very steep hill though, and that was challenging for my poor little quadriceps, which while now very good at holding the warrior pose, felt jellylike halfway up. I didn’t stop though and the run was good. Hanging with my bros was good too. This challenge I can handle. Second, I went to a picnic. This picnic started literally as a walk in the park. How tough could it possibly be? For the Sydney branch of my family and friends, picnics are notoriously boozy affairs. They tend to end when the wine runs out. And they’re fun. Weirdly enough, this one wasn’t the drink-a-thon it might have been. And no-one was really giving me any shit about not joining in. But it was the hardest drink resistance effort I have experienced so far. It wasn’t hard in the sense that I felt like I might give in. I knew I wasn’t going to drink. But I felt like a lone wolf. As I sat there sipping the lemonade I didn’t really want, I questioned why I was doing this at all. Would taking a harebrained stand like this make any difference to anything? Or was I just wasting a year of opportunities for fun times and replacing them with nun times? And then my friend told me she’d been facebooked by a boy whom we both know and I am seriously trying to forget. That coupled with the zituation that is currently baffling my face (thanks detoxing process, you suck) made me decidedly shaky in my resolve. I felt like sinking some whiskeys and punching said boy in the face (charming I know). But you see, that would have been my reaction before (except for the punching. I don't actually punch people very often even though I sometimes feel like it). And I’m bored with my recent history. I want to go somewhere better. I don’t know if not drinking is the way to get there, but the only way I’ll find out is by following through. Buy the ticket, take the ride (why do I keep referencing quotes from the famously drug-fucked (Hunter S Thompson in this case)? I think it’s my brain having a little joke.). So I’m still happy I’m not drinking. And I’m happy I won’t have a hangover tomorrow. And I’m not caving in for anyone. Because when the challengers come a-challenging, there’s only one thing to do. Hang tough muthaflipper, hang tough.

Speaking of which, check this out.

Day 11: summer in Sydney-town

It’s not yet officially summer, but today is an eager forerunner; one of those days that can’t be arsed with officialdom and has decided to get this show on the road anyway. Sydney in summer, if you’re cool with warm temperatures, is a kind of paradise. The beaches are breathtaking and plentiful. Many Sydney-siders live literally steps from the sand or, like me, about a ten minute bus ride away from a dip in the crystal crashing waves. Parks fill the city and are breezy hives of healthy activity: jogging, strolling, Frisbee throwing and horse riding. Like I said, a bit like heaven (or my idea of it anyway). Over the last year or so too, due to some well-timed local law changes, a spray of neat little drinking establishments have popped up in various cool spots in the eastern suburbs. Chilled hangouts with good tunes, great cocktails, nice styling and far fewer tables than the foul drinking barns that have usually dominated Sydney’s bar scene. Coolness. For whatever retarded reason though (laziness mainly), I have sampled woefully few of these cool little joints. In a perhaps ironically timed move, considering my current stance on the main offering of drinking holes, I have decided to change this, starting tonight. Or last night actually. Last night I visited a pleasant little hidey-hole called Sticky. It’s been around for ages so it’s embarrassing I’ve only discovered it now, but it was cool. It was dark and comfy with an artist’s attic feel to the décor, and the nice boys at the bar concocted me a series of mocktails so tasty that I really didn’t feel like the poor puritan cousin to my Campari quaffing pals. And my sparkling mineral water was free. Nice one. Love youz all. So tonight, as the evening will be a balmy one, I thought I’d try another. This evening my watering hole of choice will be The Pond (sounds delicious!), a somewhat Swedishly styled, leafy indoor outdoor place, rumoured to be sponsored by a beer which I can’t remember (not that I would have been drinking it anyway). It seems the perfect city complement to my day at the beach. (Although if I’m going to look presentable, I’d better do something about these ocean-induced hair flicks.)

P.S. Does anyone else think the word “mocktail” is laughably outdated and crap? No wonder nobody wants to drink them. I currently have a small team (of two, including me) working on an alternative that doesn’t make it sound like you’re drinking a flamingo called Don Johnson. Any suggestions, hit me up!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day 10: going public.

I've been writing this for ten days now, but have not shown anyone my dribblings thus far, or sent anyone a link. This is mainly because I've been checking out the no-booze territory, and because I'm not a highly evolved blog beast. I wanted to make sure it wasn't spew before I went public. I'm not sure it isn't spew, but hell we're going public anyway.
Appropriately, last night was my first public outing as a confirmed teetotaller (wow that makes me sound like some kind of debutante nun!). Turns out it was ace. The venue was schmick with lovely views of the harbour and night city sky, the food was tops, and the photos were rad (especially this one by Niccola Phillips, my talented art director and closet crochet genius. It's of a giant crocheted squid called Walter. You should check it out.). There were also vats of good quality alcohol, of which I sampled none. And it didn't matter. I had good conversations with the good people who were there, and enjoyed just as many laughs as I would have tipsy. (Quality event = good time had by all.) Only difference was I was able to get up at 5.30 and go to yoga this morning, with not a single shameful regret hanging over my head. Awesome. One weird thing: I dreamt last night, really vividly, that I was absolutely hammered. Swooning around, slurring, crashing into things. It was mental. Admittedly, I did read two chapters of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas before I went to sleep. That could explain it. Or maybe my brain just isn't used to going to parties and not feeling freaky afterwards. Oh well, no hurry. It's still got 355 days to sort its shit out. Peace to the party.

P.S. If you're reading this for the first time, thanks for checking me out. You'll get the gist a little better if you read back a bit. I would suggest starting at the beginning (clever!). Day two gets a bit "serious" (sorry) but bear with me, and the "happy Monday" entry has an awesome link for pisshead indie fans. Woo! Please read, stop if you think it's crap, and constructive feedback from blog wizards (or anyone really) is entirely welcome. Cheers.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day nine: I almost forgot I'm not drinking

I've been freakin busy today, so busy I almost forgot about not drinking alcohol. Lucky I remembered now though aye. Because I'm off out to an exhibition opening where the booze will be flowing freely, as in lots of it and all for free. I'll concentrate on the food... oh yeah, and the photography. Unlubricated socialising at an event mainly designed for getting pissed. This should be interesting.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day eight: people are nice.

It cannot be denied that I am feeling pretty effing ace. Unexplained energy and happiness aside (even in the face of the same old bullshit), today my feelings of goodness have been amplified by encounters with people of the lovely variety. Where previously I have met with resistance and concerted attempts to shatter my resolve, today all I found was encouragement. This morning (at a quarter to six, as I conversed in an unusually coherent fashion, considering the hour), I discovered that at least one of my yoga teachers is also not a drinker. I'm not saying it's surprising. But what I liked was how she said it: like it was the most normal, unremarkable thing in the world. She can do freaky backbends, and she doesn't drink. Next. It was encouraging.
Also encouraging were the gals at work, who commended my strength, complimented my leaner frame, and didn't once try to lure me into sipping the bubbles they were (birthday cake and bubbles for a work mate - the cake was great!). Man... I love you guys. Ellie, one of said beloved girls, asked me what my reward was going to be if I pulled this thing off.
Here's what I reckon:

1. Some tracks on the radio, shop-able on iTunes.
2. A video on youtube and maybe even TV (!)
3. Being in a band that plays great, packed-out live shows and may soon embark on a tour.

What's this? A check list of sorts? Check back here come day 365 and we'll see what's what.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day seven: and on the seventh day she did nothing.

Not entirely true actually. I did a repeat on yesterday's bounce-out-of-bed-at-sparrow's-fart-then-totally-kill-it-at-yoga routine, followed by more weird happiness and a VERY weird early arrival at work. But I thought you might be getting tired of hearing about it. So in other news... the vocal recording sesh went well; we have two songs pretty much ready to go; I received delivery of the four dresses I purchased online at Tobi.com; I watched some xx videos on youtube (I quite like the chick's hair. I might send mine in that direction next chop.); and tonight I will continue working on my new song Edge City and thinking of shit for videos. I also went on a mission to peruse the range of non-alcoholic wines and bubblies at quite a special health-food store, only to find the shop had shut up and shipped out. Maybe there's a message in that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day six: happy Monday.

Yes it's Monday and I'm happy as hell on coal delivery day. I woke this morning at 5.30am (after another heady night of brain hyperactivity), threw back the covers and rose with ease. I hit my 6am yoga class all smiles and enthusiasm, and "TOTALLY ROCKED IT" (my instructor actually said that). Then I strolled to work in the sunshine feeling weirdly chirpy, much like one of the many birds yodeling in the trees overhead. Let me remind you: it's Monday. This doesn't happen. Usually my Mondays are all dark storm clouds and dragging sneaker-toes on concrete. Even the usual parade of moronic, work-wrecking client comments I've been receiving all day haven't gotten me down. And now I'm off to record those vocals I was talking about yesterday. Waahoo! What's going on? I don't know. Maybe I'm just having an out-of-the-blue good day. Maybe.

Wait. Before you vomit, a little something from some of the biggest pissheads ever: take it away, Happy Mondays.

Day five: boring.

Today I got told I was boring for not drinking. Now let me think about that. To me boring is the same thing as yesterday. It’s learning something you already know. It’s doing what everyone else does because it’s safe, and doing it over and over again. So to me, drinking is boring, not the other way around. Because everyone is fucking drinking. Mainly, as far as I can tell (and from my own repeated experience), to take the edge off and blot out the stressful day that was/the hated job/the coming week/the situation that doesn’t have an answer. Or to manufacture the joie de vivre, confidence and witty spontaneity that makes people interesting; “the life of the party”. I’ve got nothing against taking the edge off. We all need to relax. And if you’re one of the many pleasant people who can happily enjoy a glass without getting stupid then I applaud your social grace. But can I also suggest: if you’re not funny and interesting in the first place, alcohol is not going to make you so. Of course, it might make you more entertaining. When my flatmate came in obliterated on Friday night there was definitely a good five minutes when his swaying and slurry singing was genuinely worth being around to see. And people bumping into things is always comical. But the fact remains, if I’m boring sober, once I’m done hilariously jumbling my sentences and falling over, I’m boring drunk. And if I’ve got problems or a dumb job or something that’s doing my head in, getting shit-faced isn’t going to make any of it go away. It’s just going to result in the boring-est thing of all: another hangover, and the same pile of life-crap that was sitting there yesterday. So in answer to my accuser: sir, I beg to differ. Today I wrote a new chorus to a song, I began the lyrics to the verses, I discussed concepts for music videos with my fellow band member, and made plans to record some vocals tomorrow. I watched rugby with my brothers, saw all my nieces and nephews, played with a kitten, cooked dinner and had time to go for an evening stroll. I was not bored for a moment. And as I have done things today to move my music project forward, I will not wake up tomorrow feeling like my life hasn’t moved an inch. One other thing, so far since not drinking, my dreams have been off the hook. Even my sleep is more entertaining without booze! Go figure.

Day four: no more talk of alcohol.

It’s Saturday. I am officially sick of talking and thinking about not drinking alcohol. I’ve told a few people about the whole 365 days thing and I’ve had some mixed reactions. My sister was awesome. She just said yeah cool with an air of excitement at what I might achieve in the time. I guess she’s seen my obsessive, personal ultimatumus [sic] behaviour in action long enough to know it’s better just to nod and let me get on with it. I love her for that. My best friend Ben had a different reaction. He said “how stupid”. This I found weird in one way because he’s in the freakin band with me. Surely my being solely and obsessively focused on turning us into rock stars would be good for him? Or maybe not. To be fair, he too has known me a long time. He’s seen how I swing wildly from one extreme to another, full of enthusiasm and conviction for my various crazes only to swing on to another one in a month’s time. He’s also experienced my manic insistence that urgency is of the essence during phases like these. As he’s more of a step-by-step kind of guy, it’s probably pretty annoying. So I forgive him for not jumping for joy and holding me up as some kind of awesome saint. He just thinks I’m being unrealistic by setting such a big goal. But sometimes to do anything really cool, you do have to set big unrealistic goals. Otherwise you’ll never bust through the status quo (and I do not like my status quo right now).

Anyway, there have been different reactions. Good ones, oppositional ones, cute ones (like the girls at work who said I HAD to come to their party because it would be good for my blog! Thank you Bethany and Sarah.), supportive ones (thank you Alicia). But I’ve realised the easiest way to do this is to shut up about it. No more shouting about “a whole year!”. If people ask, I’m just not drinking for a week or two, or that particular day. And meanwhile, I will get on with the job of achieving my goals. Because the goal in itself is not to just stay off the grog. The goal is to do some radical things. Radical rock star-ish things to be precise.

So today there are three simple things I need to achieve (not all rock’n’roll admittedly):

1. Feed my sister’s cat.

2. Do yoga (a hot body is important for rock stardom. And a balanced mind.)

3. Work on video concepts for our song “Hellz Bellz”.

Simple. Alcohol doesn’t come into it, and that’s all there is to say about it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Day three: did I mention I want to be a rock star?

Okay, so yesterday I went all focus schmocus and "I can achieve amazing things!"on your asses. Sorry about that. It was probably a bit nauseating. I am trying to achieve something with this year of sobriety though. What is it? Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you I'm constantly banging on about one thing: rock stardom aka "the music" (actually I have about three broken records on rotation - the music, yoga and the benefits of healthy eating - now joined by a fourth: non-drinking. I'm a bore. I apologise. I'll work on shutting up in future.). So yeah, I wanna be a rock star. Have since I saw Joan Jett on TV when I was three. However, somehow in the 29 years since, except for a few mild flutters of success in that direction, I haven't yet managed to get around to doing it. I've been working on it for sure, and pretty constantly really. But in between my bursts of rock 'n' roll crusading, I have allowed other valid and bullshitty things to distract me. Oo distractions. Yes that theme again. As I've said, alcohol is a distraction for me. It bulldozes me off course. It depresses me (literally). Remove the alcohol and things get simpler. It doesn't make the process of becoming a rock star any easier, but it does give me a better chance of being able to carry out the plethora of tiny tasks involved in promoting my tunes. And believe me there's shitloads of them.
Anyway, I have in the past been (dim-wittedly) surprised to discover that a number of my superstar heroes are also famous alcohol abstainers. But then recently it all started to make sense. Superstars are hyper-driven, hyper-focused individuals. Sloppiness is not an option if you want to get to the top. And obliterating your brain and your body with alcohol is definitely sloppy. I remember reading a quote from Fab Moretti (drummer of The Strokes), where he said something like "You have to be meticulous with things in life, otherwise you fuck shit up". Here is a short list of some of my favourite non-drinking superstars: people who have been meticulous, and didn't fuck shit up (well, not in terms of releasing records anyway):

Pharrell Williams
David Bowie
Ian Brown (from The Stone Roses)

And while we're on the subject of making something of yourself (myself), here's something else to get you thinking:


Chin-chin peoples...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day two: achieving balance through extremism.

After a little time on the planet, I have discovered something. Moderation is not my forte. I am not good at just having a little bit, or cutting down, or just doing something a few days a week. I'm more of a whole hog kind of person. It's not always bad. For example, I recently completed a 31-day yoga challenge where you do yoga every day for 31 days, and that was awesome. I didn't drink, I was exercising all the time, eating well and feeling radical. In fact I can probably blame my little yoga stint for where I find myself now. It taught me a simple but potent lesson that I can't quite believe I didn't get until now. To achieve something (say, standing on one leg for a minute) you have to focus solely on the task at hand. No letting your mind wander off to do other stuff, no distractions, just the task, front of mind until it's done. For me, alcohol is a distraction. A big stinking, shit-stirring one. And this is where my little moderation problem comes in. You see for me, drinking moderately is a tough call. As soon as the stuff hits my tongue, and I get a whiff of the abandon and misbehaviour on offer, my evil twin takes over (her name's Charlena) and we're off. And then I'm sabotaging myself, doing all the things I kind of hate. Dangerous, damaging things a lot of the time too. And then I wake up feeling like shit and ashamed of the monster I just paraded in front of everyone. And I've de-railed any good thing I've had going on and I feel like a failure who will never achieve anything. It's a pattern I've been repeating for about the last seven years. And man it's boring. But because I don't do half measures, I can't change the record just by turning down the volume. To really shift things I have to go to the extreme in the opposite direction. It's like a see-saw. My year off the piss is me sitting hard on one end with my healthy, productive side flying way up high. With any luck, a year should be long enough for my drink demons to get bored and slide off the other end altogether, leaving me free to balance things out a little better. Who knows? It's day freakin two. But I'm excited by the possibilities, and by the freedom that bucking a social norm might give me. It's an experiment. So maybe a hypothesis is in order? Okay. My hypothesis: by not drinking for 365 days, I will remove many of the obstructions that get in the way of me achieving my dreams. By removing the distraction of alcohol and the fallout that goes with it, my mind and waking hours will be free to be used productively. This new clarity of mind and ability to focus will see me achieve amazing things.
Genius or craziness? Don't know yet. I'll be working it out one day at a time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It starts today.

I'm scared. I just swore myself off alcohol for a year, and now I'm not sure about it. Did I really think this through? Nope, didn't. Mainly because I am also hung over, and as such my general ability to use my brain at all is impaired. Not a good time to make big, life-changing decisions. Except for this one. In the thick of my dehydration, in the throes of my brain-damage, now is exactly the right time to say fuck you alcohol. Fuck you for taking my perfectly good mind and making it moronic. Fuck you for fucking with my skin. Fuck you for making me do things I am ashamed of. And fuck you for keeping me from being exceptional. It's not alcohol's fault really. I get that. Or more to the point, I'm about to find out. Today, my year off the piss begins. Here is where I will tell you how it goes. And presumably I will find out whether it is in fact the booze that's hindering my ability to get to where I want to go, or my own innate short-comings. Woo! I can hardly wait. At least if I find it's my short-comings, I can drown my sorrows by hitting the bottle in a major way. 365 days of sobriety, you arrive not a moment too soon...