Archive for July, 2011

AA: Alcoholics Aloud

July 24, 2011

The ritzy city of Bellevue used to have a dingy old AA meeting site located on the shady side of 6th. The room was in a church(?) and reeked of cigarette smoke from addicts loosing one addiction only to take up another. I went once when I was 19 with a boyfriend – he was the one with the problem, trust me. Everyone sat in a circle, there was a piano off to the left and coffee to the right. The group went around and said their name with the anticipated, “… and I’m an alcoholic.” When it was my turn, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t drink, like I really DIDN’T drink. I was there because my stupid boyfriend had to go. He said his name “Bim Ellen and I’m an alcoholic”. Now I was next…. shit.

:a-hem!:

 Everyone stared at me and I didn’t say anything. Instead, I turned to my left and gave a your-turn look to my alcoholic seat mate. The group collectively lamented about hurting loved ones, getting in trouble with the law, and stealing the most obscene items during blackouts. I struggled listening to how alcohol had killed people, ruined lives and cost some of them everything. A few cried, others sipped coffee and the majority sucked their cigarettes down to butts in seconds. They were safe here, and I felt like a spy.

The other day, I offered a guy a delicious drink at a party. We were surrounded by other party attendees on a sunny day in Boston with adult beverages a plenty! Upon my offer, instead of pleasantly saying no like a couple of others had, he said,

“I’m an alcoholic.”

I’ve heard people refuse booze during Sunday brunch because they drank too much the previous night and their excuse is a flubbed, “I’m an alcoholic” as a joke. I assumed this guy was one of those folks.

“That’s cool, I don’t judge,” I said with a smile and tried once again to hand him a beverage.

“I don’t care if you do judge me.”

:creek, creek, creek: We stared at each other and my rusty wheels started turning. Oh! You are a real alcoholic! Shoot… why not just politely say no then? What’s with the confession? Then I remembered my old ex-boyfriend and few other AA people I’ve interacted with recently. It’s like a painful, unexpected break up: YOU CAN’T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. The issue becomes everyone else’s problem to such a level that things quickly get uncomfortable – like my experience. When information is offered that you weren’t asking for or even pertained to you in the first place, what’s the right response?

Wine Riot 2009

“Oh, good for you!”…. “Oh, I’m sorry.”….. “Oh, that’s nice.”…. “Oh YEAH you are!” What!? I wish I knew the politically correct way to respond since this is clearly a part of their healing process. However, if a perfect stranger offers you something you know you shouldn’t have – say, another piece of cake – why assume it’s in their best interest to hear that you must refuse because you’re a diabetic or that you have a thyroid issue? It’s TMI but in such a way that I no longer know how to interact with you. I’ll feel embarrassed and all I was trying to do was be hospitable.

I’m not the only one who feels this way either. While I was waiting to get my hair cut last Thursday, I read IN VOGUE!! about a woman who was married to a recovering alcoholic and how AA became his new addiction. She lamented about the “alien spaceship” AA room where people talked about ruining lives and killing loved ones accidentally. It’s a complete society but once among the land of the living, sometimes the whole AA thing become like religion:

Beaujolais Nouveau Party 2010

Uncomfortable and unmerited.

“Well, I used to drink but I just spent way too much money on booze and now I look at people drinking and I really feel sorry for them.”

That’s SO weird because I just asked you where you like to eat dinner and not how you felt about social consumption… sorry I even opened my mouth.

It’s like the people who tell you to stay outta the sun; you’re bound to regret ____ someday! No shit. I’m allergic to the sun (it’s true). But that doesn’t stop me or my bestie from trying EVERY YEAR to find the new Sephora product that will save the day and make my skin less splotchy.

“Stay away from alcohol, because the court system says I have to,” is what should be said. Don’t place guilt on me as I offer you a beer because you’re miserable. And yes, wear sunscreen.

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When it comes to life, I couldn’t help but wonder… is Sex in the City so off base?

July 6, 2011

I first watch Sex in the City back when I was 22 and living with sorority sisters. A past favorite, Kim, and I would curl up in her bed, stuffing our faces with chocolaty snacks and pretzels, while getting our fill of the girls. I’m pretty sure we watched every episode, taking breaks for air only when necessary. College classes obviously weren’t a priority for about a week till all six seasons were completed. Everything was so perfect – the shoes and clothes, the dream careers, the sexual adventures and the ideal cluster of friends. On the flip side and out of our apartment, college wasn’t really so different to be honest. I spent way too much money on shoes that didn’t fit, hung out with a variety of different gals depending upon the time of day, worked out all the time and of course, enjoyed dating and ordering lemon drop martinis (insert Mr. Yuck face here).

However, anytime I watch the re-runs that TiVo deems suitable – which is about 40% of the 94 episodes – I see the same trends over and over again. No one really ever sees the girls working. Whenever Samantha is “working”, she’s usually blowing Richard or drinking at some delightful cocktail party that she booked. I’m unfamiliar with the breed of party coordinators who are allowed to drink on the job in such an obvious manner! Jealous. Charlotte somehow gets a gorgeous, spacious condo in the middle of NYC for free regardless of Bunny’s nasty attempts to snatch it away. When has anything like that happened if kids aren’t involved!? The woman broke  up with her husband because he couldn’t get “Skooner” to perform. Oh sure, she wanted babies too but Tray’s real issue was a little more personal, in my opinion. Yet after bashing his manhood, somehow secures a penthouse suite and marries her divorce lawyer. Explain.

Powerhouse Miranda, who’s ironically played by a gay woman, is the only one who seems solid but she’s a complete bitch and is “all inside her own head”, says Carrie. How the F does she work 60 hours a week and make babies when her husband is such a doofus? Sure, I cry like every other woman when I watch the bridge scene in the Sex in the City movie. And I do like Steve, but I’d just sure as hell NEVER date him. While this dynamic duo was inevitably thrown into the plot to show how opposites attract, I just found the entire connect a bit forced.

Now with Carrie, my issues lie in the fact that she got my dream job working for Vogue without struggling too much. Oh jeez, I’m drunk at Vogue! Oh shoot, my building’s going co-op and I just dumped my money bags boyfriend because I still love Big! Blah. Lemme tell ya, if you’ve ever interned for a city newspaper, the sex columns do not get handed out flippantly! You’re editing the weather section and the editorials; that’s how you start. When I did get hired, it was part-time and I paid per story. Vogue success story, Ms. Carrie Bradshaw, however, has globs of money to spend on shoes, dresses, parties, apartments, hair products, and lunches with the girls. How does she pay for these things? After I passed my wine exam, I pulled a Carrie! Oh sure. I went out, I bought oysters, drank brut rosé, indulged all around Newbury Street and thoroughly enjoyed myself. That was just Day 1. Then for the next two days, I lunched with a few gal pals, went shopping and had myself a real Sex in the City stint.

As close as I get to real life Sex in the City... notice how inexpensive everything around me is!

But I can’t hack that every day. Whenever I’m watching my beloved show – for as much as I rant, I truly love the girls – I can’t help but wonder… Are their lives completely unobtainable? Aren’t the girls supposed to model what successful women typically do each day? Two years ago when I moved to Boston, I knew nobody. The TV characters really were my only interaction with other women. But now as I’m a young professional with the same wants and desires as I had when I lived on my parents’ dime in college, I find myself having less and less in common with the ole faithfuls.

When it comes to Sex in the City, I couldn’t help but wonder… is it all just an act?