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.