Archive | January, 2012

Day 24 – An update (yes, I am still sober)

25 Jan

Quitting alcohol has had a strange effect on me. It’s like I’ve been living in an extremely misty world for the last ten years or so, and all of a sudden, it’s lifted, the sun is out, the beer goggles are off and for the first time in ages I can see clearly.

I’ve had a number of important self-realisations over the past 24 days, the main one being, I do not like drunk Andrea.  She’s not a nice person, as you may have read here. For so long, I had convinced myself that I needed alcohol to survive social gatherings; I thought I needed it to make me funnier, more spontaneous, more interesting. The reality is, I am finding, I can manage quite fine without it.

Last Friday, for example, I was at my friend Nico’s birthday dinner at the Shangri La hotel. This would ordinarily have been a very boozy affair, during which I would have subconsciously felt the need to prove how great I am at drinking by downing every rum and coke in sight, and ordering the strongest thing on the menu just to reaffirm how ‘hard’ I am. By 9pm, I’d reach the tipsy stage, but that would never be enough. Before I’d know it, I’d be an uncontrollable mess of gigantic proportions, saying complete ridiculous things to the waiters and thinking I was funny, when in fact I probably just looked like a complete fool. The rest of the night would invariably be a complete blank, and I’d wake up wondering what the hell had happened during the last ten hours or so of my life.

This time, however, it was different. Sat on a table of six gay guys, I managed to have one of the best nights out in ages, while not touching a single drop of anything other than water. I was the loudest person in the restaurant, as I could not restrain myself from laughing at the hilariousness of my friends. I didn’t need alcohol to have fun. In fact, I managed just perfectly without it. And it was nice to see that, yes, I can be funny when I’m not drunk;  and at least I know this time people were laughing with me, and not at me.

I have less than a week to go before I will be able to drink again, and to be honest, I’m not even counting down the days. I think in the future I will be approaching alcohol with a different attitude, and will be drinking with caution as opposed to chugging for England. I’ve also found that since I quit alcohol, I feel so much more focused on what I want in the future, which is, to make a living out of writing without having to spend the whole day stuck in a dull office job. To get there, I need to spend a lot less time drinking, and a lot more time writing!

It looks like the sun is here to stay.

An afternoon of ironing

23 Jan

Life in Dubai, like in most big cities, can make you rather selfish. Our hectic work schedules leave little time for much else other than eating, working and sleeping (and, ok, drinking).  Since living here, I have to admit that I have done very little to help any charitable causes, which is something I am really ashamed of. While I cannot say I was the most dedicated good Samaritan back in the UK, I did regularly volunteer my time to one nonprofit organisation, and I thoroughly enjoyed giving back to the community and meeting new, like-minded people. It’s been so long since I’ve done anything similar and I have genuinely missed it.

I therefore decided as part of this blog to have a section on challenges I have to complete for ‘selfless’ reasons.   On Saturday, I headed to the Senses Residential Care Home for Children with Special Needs in Jumeirah, where I volunteered to help clean for the day! I found this through the Volunteer in Dubai website, which is a fantastic resource for anyone who is looking to do their bit for those in need.

I have to admit, the day itself was rather uneventful.  My friend Ashley and I were assigned a VERY large blue bin of clothes that we had to iron. I am assuming that it would cost the centre a lot of money to have a company do their laundry for them, so they get volunteers in once a week to help out, thus saving many dirhams that can go to helping the kids instead! I really enjoyed the afternoon; we ironed, chatted, and made a new friend – oh, and I managed not to burn myself, which is always a plus when it comes to me and ironing.

So I gave up three hours of my time, which would ordinarily have been wasted either on Facebook or spending all my money in the mall, to do something that actually made a difference for a change. It’s made me realise how volunteering can easily be  slipped into your weekly routine somewhere, and I intend on making this a regular thing from this point forward.

There’s not much else to say, so I’ll leave you with a picture of me, ironing (I told you some day I’d finally learn how to, mum!).

 

Day 14 – Shocking Realisation; Sober Andrea Can Surive Social Gatherings

15 Jan

Thursday night presented me with my first big test since I started the no-alcohol challenge; I had to spend time with people I didn’t know without being able to drink a drop of alcohol.

The event was my best friend’s leaving do at Mango Tree in Souq Al Bahar, and this was the first time since I started the challenge that not only would I be surrounded by strangers – I would also be in close proximity to a very well-stocked bar.

Usually in this type of scenario, I drink. A lot. See, most of you won’t know this, but somewhere in my subconscious there’s an extremely annoying voice that I cannot get rid of; this voice likes to taunt me and tell me that I’m not a very interesting person. I guess I developed it sometime back in my teens when I was very self-conscious and shy, and now I cannot get rid of it. So over the years I have used alcohol as a way of shutting my subconscious up, and to give myself the confidence to speak in a group of people I don’t know, which is something that really doesn’t come naturally to me.

I was the first to arrive at the restaurant and the maitre d’ showed me to the bar, where I was faced with a wall of alcohol and a menu full of scrumptious-sounding Thai cocktails. If I were to say I wasn’t tempted at this point to ask for my usual (i.e. always the strongest thing on the menu) I would be a liar. However, I resisted my every inner instinct, and turned to a page that is alien to me – the mocktail page.

“One Mango Cooler, please,” I said to the bartender, while feeling a tad appalled with myself.

During the dinner, I was sat at a corner of the table away from the only two people I knew. I usually find it very difficult to speak to people that I do not know, which is where the alcohol comes in – it gives me the confidence to be chatty and outgoing. However, I had to deal with the situation sober. I was surprised at how easy I found it in the end. The people I was with were lovely, which definitely helped. I also enjoyed the novelty of being completely in control of everything I was doing and saying – that doesn’t happen very often these days, I’m afraid to say.

I am now two weeks into the challenge and, much to my own surprise, I am starting to enjoy it. For one, I do not miss the hangovers and I have SO much more free time over the weekend. I also do not miss the horrible lows I get the day after a big night out and the awful flashbacks of what a tit I had been while high on too many Long Islands.

I have also realised that these lows do not help me in the long-term. As someone who already has low self esteem, acting like a complete moron while drunk and then feeling bad about it the next day is really not helpful. I am enjoying feeling positive, sober and in control. For the first time in years, I have a clear vision of where I see myself in the future and what I need to do to get there, which is something I haven’t had since I was at  university many, many moons ago.

Sober Andrea will rule the world. You will see.

Day Five And My Bar Is Teasing Me

6 Jan

No-Alcohol January – Day Five

6 Jan

Before I decided to give up alcohol for a month, I anticipated that weekends would present more of a challenge.  Fridays and Saturdays are sponsored by Bacardi, after all.

After being shackled to our desks for the best part of the working week, we all eagerly await for 5pm to strike on a Thursday so that we can finally drop the corporate bullshit for 48 hours; and what better way to celebrate our new-found freedom than with a glass of red. Yesterday, I celebrated mine with a glass of water, when all I wanted was a Long Island Ice Tea (hold the Diet Coke). A delicious, refreshing, instant-rush-inducing Long Island Ice Tea.

And today, my brain hasn’t stopped making associations between inanimate objects and alcohol. I see a lime, I think of Caipirinhas. I see a can of Diet Coke, I think of Cuba Libras. I see a bottle opener, I think of ice-cold Leffe beer. I’m slowly being driven to madness by my alcohol-deprived body.

On the plus side, however, waking up with no hangover allowed me to have a very productive day. Following brunch (the normal kind, not the Dubai alcohol-binge kind) with a dear friend, I went food shopping, made to-do lists for the week, read my book, cooked an awesome meal and called my family. After a night out on the town, the only thing I usually manage to do is gorge myself on fast food and move from my bed to the sofa.

At 6pm, another friend decided to try and entice me out to the pub. I have to admit, I was tempted. I could clearly visualise the shiny surface of the bar, the golden beer taps, and most importantly, I could taste the satisfying first sip of  a double rum and Diet Coke.

However, I am pleased to say that for now I am still very much on the wagon and hopefully will remain here until February the 1st. All I have to think of is just how satisfying that first sip will be after a whole month’s abstinence.

Bad Sign?

3 Jan

A friend just pointed out to me that my recent activity on Facebook doesn’t bode particularly well for the quitting alcohol for a month challenge:

 

New Year, New Challenge

3 Jan

First of all, I need to apologise; it’s been a while since I last posted. The truth is, following my blind date blog entry a month or so back, I was so overwhelmed by the phenomenal response I received that I felt whatever I wrote from that point forward just wouldn’t top it. You’re only as good as your last blog entry, after all, so I thought I’d enjoy my new-found blogger fame while it lasted.

A month on, however, and I’m just the loser who started a challenge and gave up. So, I decided it was time to make my return to the blogosphere and get cracking.

It’s January. Yes, that God-awful month when we all feel a few pounds heavier and a lot of dirhams lighter. It doesn’t really help that my ‘diet’ while on holiday in Cyprus read something a little like this:

Breakfast

Koummandaria (Cypriot port)

Lunch

Brandy Sours (Cyprus’ signature cocktail) and mulled wine

Dinner

Cuba Libras, Champagne and Baileys

Food also figured in there somewhere, I suppose

I have come back to Dubai with more than just excess baggage; the waistline has also expanded significantly. I feel it’s therefore an excellent time to start my ‘give up alcohol for a month’ challenge in a bid to find my waist again.

The relationship I share with alcohol is, to say the least, turbulent. See, the problem is, I can be one of two drunks. Drunk Andrea Type A is the kind of drunk everyone wants to be around. She’s funny, charming, daring and a damn good dancer. She’s also the type of drunk that can randomly end up on a plane heading to another country following one too many sherbets, should the opportunity arise. There’s no dare too big for Type A.

Then there’s Drunk Andrea Type B, aka the monster. Now, this is a person I would not even recognise should she ever come and say hello to sober me. She’s weepy, loud, obnoxious, ultra-hormonal and a complete nightmare to try and reason with. She’s the type of drunk whom one minute you see yelling at the bouncer, while the next she’s in a heap in the ladies’ toilets, pouring her heart out to random strangers and sitting in a puddle of spilt Long Island Ice Tea.

So, it’s also about time I give the world a rest from the possibility of encountering Drunk Andrea Type B. It’s the least I can do for humankind.

I have to say that despite what picture my Facebook account paints, I do not drink as much as I used to (yes, I’m sure you’re now all worried at just how much I USED to drink, if this is the case). However, when one of my dear friends suggested I try this challenge, I decided it would be a good exercise in self-discipline, as sadly, I lack in this quality.

I will be blogging about my trials and tribulations as I attempt to go for a whole month without a drink. I have to say that at the age of almost 29, I think the longest I’ve ever managed has been two weeks, and even that was always a struggle.

Just the thought of this is making me crave a Long Island.

Wish me luck.