Photos and Words of Patrick Calder

I live in Washington, DC with 1 cat named Pixel, 6 cameras, 3 computers, 158 movies, 286 books, and 1 bowling pin. I own the Design Foundry and pretend to be a graphic designer by day.

Therapy / May 31, 2014 / Comment on this


Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar / December 14, 2013 / Comment on this

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss Bang BangKiss Kiss Bang Bang

Goth / July 30, 2013 / Comment on this

I posted this back in April, to a private thing. At the time, I didn’t want to stir up any real trouble. But I think everyone has sorted themselves out a bit more by now. By way of editor’s notes, Chiaroscuro was a “goth/industrial” club in DC and Spellbound, in their own words, is “Alternative, Darkwave, and Industrial”… a Goth/Industrial nightclub.


At Spellbound this week, I had a regular attendee question me. They came up to me multiple times, and asked why I was there. I wasn’t dressed right, so I obviously wasn’t goth. I shouldn’t be there. So why did I go there?

Surprisingly, my first reaction wasn’t “Dude… you’re getting in the way of my intoxicated white guy dance, and numerous attempts to get shot down by that hot chick!” But aside from pointing out that I obviously had dressed up for a night out, I generally ignored him. What are you supposed to say, to such a ridiculously immature question?

I could argue that I’ve been attending since the night it opened, when I came out in support of a friend’s involvement, and Chiaroscuro before that. I could point out that Spellbound doesn’t bill itself as strictly “goth”. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how important these clubs had/have been to my life.

Events     Going     Stef's 40th Every-Day-Is-Halloween Costume/Masquerade Birthday BashEvents     Going     Stef's 40th Every-Day-Is-Halloween Costume/Masquerade Birthday Bash

People I met in Chiaro turned into some of my best friends. At least one of them was wearing a pink suit at the time, no less. (And years later, as a wife and mom, she is still more of an awesome badass than any chain-draped, boot-wearing, pierced freak I’ve met since.) In fact, probably 95% of the people I’ve met at these clubs have been the sweetest, smartest, most interesting people I know. People who’ve supported me, comforted me, challenged me, protected me, changed me.

When I found out my father was in a hospital about to pass away, I had 16 hours until my flight, so I went to Spellbound. One awesome lady who didn’t even know what was going on in my life sat with me at the back of the bar all night and cheered me up.

Make a man happyNight Out with Friends

More than once when I couldn’t deal with the crap in my own life, I was able to go to Spellbound and stare at the dance floor, listening to music I love… and just zone out for a while. As someone said to me this week… “attain a zen state”.

When I first started drinking, rather late in life, this was a safe place for me to learn. I felt safe, both with the staff and the people around me.

It’s brought me friends. It’s brought me business. It’s brought me lust and love. It’s introduced me to music and lifestyles and art I never would have known otherwise. I’ve been to other types of clubs, bars and events, and awesome as some of them were, they still didn’t match up.

With the help of their teams, Kelowna and Lori Beth created wonderful places to go, that have led me directly and indirectly to a place where I am very happy with my life.

So that’s kind of why I go.

So… drunk guy… you’re saying you go primarily to look like a cool goth?

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang / April 27, 2013 / Comment on this

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Social Drinking / July 11, 2010 / Comment on this

Independence Day 2010

Crystal on the Fourth of July, 2010

Before I started, I didn’t really understand the social aspects of public drinking.
I’d been to plenty of bars and clubs, and ordered plenty of sodas for myself or drinks for friends. But that was the extent of it. In my mind, the bar was a dispensary and the bartenders no different than cashiers, albeit with a specialized knowledge. And actually, you can easily get by like that. You may not get the most prompt service, but any respectable bartender is still going to take your money and be polite.

Now I realize that bars are social beasts. You’re generally going out to either drink and enjoy yourself or drink and forget your sorrows. In either case, you want a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. If you go somewhere with any regularity, develop a relationship with the bartender, because they will start to remember you, one way or the other.

A friendly relationship with the bartender means service. A friendly relationship can mean that not all of my drinks will end up on my bar tab. A friendly relationship can make unrequested drinks show up in front of me unexpectedly. (I almost wonder about the financial mechanics of this. Bars must have some basic policies… how do they come about?)

That person on the other side of the bar not only probably knows exactly what’s available without even looking, but they likely know more mixed drinks than I’ll ever try in my entire life. (Though I’ll damn well work on that…). It has been a universal truth for me that any time I let a bartender recommend a drink, it is better than anything I would have specifically ordered. And most bartenders seem to enjoy serving something besides vodka-cranberries. And the friendlier the relationship, the more they seem to put into mixing something special.

Practicalities aside, how much more enjoyable is it to laugh and catch up with someone, (or get to know someone), rather than to sit silently staring into a glass. I’d much rather feel like I was socializing than just being a ‘customer’. The bartender is a person too, and deserves as good a day as anyone. Like any other social interaction, everything goes both ways

And while the alcohol undoubtedly loosens things up, I notice a huge difference in the amount of socializing done with other patrons. The kinds of bars and clubs I prefer are not for the reclusive. It’s a social activity in a public place. I can be extremely anti-social when the bad mood strikes, and yet I usually end up talking to someone new on most every visit.
Yeah… this is all probably blindingly obvious. But it stands out, to me. A little world I didn’t know about until I fell down the rabbit hole.

In further pursuit of a drinking problem / September 20, 2009 / Comment on this

I naturally have no attention span. On one hand, it helps me keep an eye on everything going on around me. If you’re a designer, you have to be aware of a lot of things, since your work has to communicate with specific audiences, using mutually understood means. But when it comes time to do that work, I wouldn’t mind not going off on tangents every time something shiny appears.

But when I start drinking, it gets to be almost comical. In the time it took to ride the elevator 4 floors down to the lobby yesterday, i swear I turned around 2 complete times looking at various things. I’m certain I look like a paranoid pot smoker, with my gaze darting back and forth during a conversation.

Reinforcing this is a kind of eye flicker. It’s like someone went in and removed every other frame from what I’m seeing. My vision is no longer slow and smooth, but becomes slightly jerky, like a bad MTV video.

Walk across town like that, with music blaring in your headphones. In giant new boots. It made me very happy. Two weeks in a row of wonderful nights at Spellbound, talking with friends for hours. There was less with the beautiful woman this time, but I can let that slide this one time.

worried about drinking / April 12, 2009 / Comment on this

When I didn’t drink, I would write about how people who did drink reacted strangely to it.

Now I do drink, and I am concerned when I write about it because I get non-drinkers who seem to be worried about me getting drunk.


Of course I’m more likely to write about those parties or nights out where I got drunk. It’s a more interesting night with more to discuss. No one wants to hear about every half glass of wine I have with dinner at a friend’s place.

I’ve got no cravings to drink on a regular basis. I purposely don’t drink to relieve a bad day. And while yes, I do talk more freely when drunk, I don’t need to be drunk in order to say things to people.

Be worried if you want. But I think I’m way too conscious of my drinking for it to become a socially or mentally induced addiction. And if I have a physical addiction (which I have shown no signs of), then there’s not much I can do about that, until it happens.

new drinks / April 6, 2009 / Comment on this

Haven’t written about drinking in a while. Has been about 7 months now, but I’m still usually pretty overwhelmed. Still sticking with variations on the whole “Rum and Coke” theme, when all else fails.
This weekend was mildly adventurous. I don’t know how many new drinks I ended up trying. There was a party out in Georgetown with Lindsey, on Friday night. Had a Vodka-Cranberry thing, that I think was pretty badly mixed. So while I completely distrust the taste, it was my first vodka. Followed up later with Gin and Tonic, which tasted like… nothing. The people drinking with me assured me that this is what Gin tastes like… but it had almost no taste at all, to me.
Last night was a housewarming and barwarming for some friends who moved in together. You know… I started the night wanting a glass of White Wine. Never got it, the whole night. Purely my fault. Just saying. But I made up for it with plenty of other drinks. The first thing I was handed, after asking for “anything”, was a SoCo and Coke; another first. Just tasted like pure candy. A sweet, sticky, fruity taste. (Dangerous drinks… so very tempting to down them like a soda.)
Shiiiiit. My mind just blanked on the second drink of the night. All I can remember is that it was another first. (Guess it will be again, if I don’t remember what it was…
Okay… there were two martinis. One Chocolate thingy. Just sort of a chocolate YooHoo that burned on the way down. And later, a White Russian, I think. Dunno what’s in that, but it tasted just slightly different than the chocolate martini.
There was a Coke Zero in there somewhere, just for the sake of getting some non-alcoholic fluids in me.This was the point where I was starting to really feel it. Turn my head too quickly, and my brain didn’t stop turning with the rest of my body.
But the Coke, and the cheeseburger off the BBQ grill, as well as an hour or so of conversation and nachos, all served to sober me up a bit. No more speeding perceptions problems.
Tried to behave myself after that, and just had a Woodchuck Cider, which is probably just this side of cough syrup. But of course, just as I’m finishing off that, sitting nicely on the couch and talking with friends, the host decides that everyone with an Irish name had to have a Carbomb. Now I’ve heard the phrase, but I have no idea what was in them.
About 10 minutes later, that was that. And I think it pretty much wiped out everyone involved.
After that, walls and railings were my friends. No nausea or anything… just plenty of vertigo. Lots of careful concentration in getting to the car, and up to my apartment. (I really must learn to find hawt chicks to help me with that). Head was buzzing by the time i laid down to go to sleep. Almost didn’t get up to grab my water bottle. But I as I had a client meeting this morning, I didn’t want this to be my first hangover.
General observation: drunk with friends is fun. It’s an exaggerant of the general mood. You do silly shit. (No… I will never let my aunts live down the time they got drunk and all climbed in the bathtub to start singing). But drunk alone is just not fun. It’s all the physical deficits, with none of the social benefits.
I’ve certainly had drinks here and there. But judging from these journal posts, this is the first serious session of braincellkilling since January. Yup… still failing at the whole lush thing.

second drunk / January 15, 2009 / Comment on this

I have confirmed that yes, I can get drunk. It was not just watching the vice-presidential debate that made me wobbly last time. And I discovered that I’m a cheap drunk.
Ended up at Spellbound last Saturday after spending the day with friends.
I’d had really tiny amount to drink before going out. Maybe half a cup of beer (in the kitchen-measuring-tool sense — I don’t know the names of different glasses), and what amounted to a small shot glass of rum creme. I elaborate just to point out that it was nowhere near enough to get me drunk. And even then, it was a couple hours and some walking later before we even got to the bar.
The first rum and coke tasted good. There was some vague sense that I knew I’d had a drink, but nothing I could put my finger on. A Rum and Coke is the most advanced drink I can order right now with a straight face. (I made the ‘mistake’ of ordering a Rum and pineapple juice a couple months ago in the same place, and the bartender put it down in front of the woman I was with.) I wasn’t too far into the second one a while later when I knew it was gonna hit me. And about halfway through, it started to.
The first time I was drunk, I only knew because I was unsure about walking to my apartment from the front door. But this time I was nowhere near my apartment. The bathroom, just on the other side of the room, was going to be a big enough adventure. I finally decided I couldn’t lean on the bar forever. At this point I thanked several gods that there was a railing extending the entire length of the room. I was still able to walk, but with the effect of being half full of water that was sloshing around, throwing your balance off in random directions at random intervals.
And if there was any doubt in my mind up ’til that point, it was banished when I had to stop and shake my head to clear it before attempting to use the urinal.
I made it back out dry and alive, and spent the rest of the night leaning on the bar talking to friends. No more drinks, please. Pulled out my camera and snapped some shots in the last 10 minutes before they kicked us out.
Saturday Night
This lead to a new discovery for me. Drunken stairways. It’s like you enter this little pocket universe where normal physical laws don’t apply. Because I swear that with every step up, the center of gravity in the room would change!
I was a little nervous at the thought of ‘walking’ home. I was trying to plan out — in my head — all the places I could stop along the route to sit down.
But… I was surrounded by other drunk people who were not happy that the crepe place was closed. (It does normally stay open for the after-hours crowds). Amazingly quickly — for a group of normally indecisive people — it as declared we’d head up to The Diner in Adams Morgan. This made me happy: Good food that I don’t often manage to get, and people to walk with a bit further and keep me from falling over. That’s not a short walk, and it wasn’t a beautiful night or anything.
Adams Morgan at 3am is a busy place. And The Diner, even more so. We got in amazingly fast, considering. And by the time I was halfway through a breakfast, the food, the walk, and the fresh air must have all conspired to sober me up.
That was that. We split up there, and after walking a friend of a friend back to their hotel, I made it home a little after 5am, just in time to fall asleep while transferring the pictures off my camera.

I was talking with a friend while writing this; about what could’ve happened in certain situations. I said something about how my “good intentions”* would have been nowhere to be found. And I know that sounds bad to a non-drinker, because it would have to me 6 months ago. It sounds like the stereotypical “I got SOOO drunk and didn’t know what I was doing and did something stupid and…”. But that’s not really it. I’ve been conscious of everything the whole time I was drunk, and was capable of self-contol. But it is similar to when you’re tired and exasperated, but without the negative parts. I lose my inhibition and stop caring what I “should” be doing. Kind of just leaves you with your own conscience as your guide/censor.
I see potentially interesting and educational things in a situation like that. But it also scares the fuck out of the part of me that normally tightly controls how I release every little thought or idea. When I first mentioned I would drink, someone (probably Shannon or Stephanie) said they thought it would likely cause me to unwind and maybe actually be able to communicate freely. With two caveats, that seems likely. First: I’ve only been drunk twice, so I don’t have much of a data set yet. And second: in neither situation was I around people I typically have in depth conversations with.
So… wait and see.

In the mean time… as I said… cheap drunk. Two rum and cokes.
*Why are ‘good intentions’ so seldom any good? Mine have done nothing but cause me trouble. I rather stupidly bitched out a friend last year, at a point where it seemed like every time I tried to do anything “right”, it would explode in my face. Note to self: the next time you consider doing or not doing anything “because it’s the right thing and will lead to less problems later”; just don’t fucking listen to yourself.

why drink / November 14, 2008 / Comment on this

I’ve been drinking alcohol sporadically now for about 2 and a half months. The selection has actually been fairly limited, partly out of ignorance and partly out of opportunity. It’s been largely beer, wine, and cider, with a handful of mixed drinks. Overall I can’t say anything had the least effect on me other than some Margaritas drunk during the vice presidential debate. (Although it may have just been Palin that was making me feel a bit woozy.) Even that was just barely, really. I’m not particularly anxious (nor even worried about) getting completely smashed, or anything. (There is a kind of academic interest in seeing what effect it would have on my social skills, as that’s been a discussion topic for years, with other people.)
But if it’s normally having no noticeable physical effect on me, and the taste is only enjoyable about half the time so far, then what exactly is the appeal to drinking? Alcoholic drinks cost considerably more than soda and ice tea. And some people can’t seem to decide if they should be annoyed at me when I ask about drinks. I don’t think they can really grasp the concept of being completely ignorant of the topic.
That’s just it, though. I am — well, was and mostly still am — completely ignorant on the subject. How many things in life can you claim to be completely knowledge-less about, that are still very common and popular activities? This is actually exciting. Learning something new. And being able to do so anywhere, with anyone. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a whole new subject from scratch. Two and a half months, taking pretty much any opportunity that came up. (Don’t worry mom, it was surprisingly few). And I still barely even scratch the surface. And those people that decided I am being sincere seem to get a lot of enjoyment out of it as well. I think everyone likes passing on what they know… and this is a topic everyone knows. No matter what the disparity in knowledge, no matter what the lack of previous social interaction… this is something that always seems to connect. Imagine being able to try something completely new at almost every place you go.

smell / October 16, 2008 / Comment on this

The thing that gets me about all beers and most wines so far, (besides just generally bad taste), is the smell. And the first thing people keep telling me to do it to smell these drinks. But the smell immediately pulls me back about 25 years. Every single time, I’m put back in my frame of mind as a kid. People who smelled constantly of alcohol. The 5 gallon bottles of uber-cheap wine. A lot of less than positive stuff.
I’m not saying the drinking I’m doing is bad. (Although red wine still consistently tastes like feet). Just a trigger for early, ingrained things. Amazing what smells can do.

more advice, from friend #3 / October 13, 2008 / Comment on this

if you like “girly drink, try midori sour (melon taste liquor mix with something, sex on the beach (i think vodka + ..) they are sweet
guinness is my choice of beer.. dark & smooth. slightly better than the rest
i think the worst one i’ve tasted is bombay (liquor).. blech!
if i had to choose drink, i usually go for vodka.. or vodka based. they tend to mix it with something sweet
or rum is not bad either, rum + coke is typical college drink
sake is similar taste to vodka.. there is also sweet kind of sake.. i forgot the name. but usually the more expensive, the less burn.. you can ask at the wine store for sweet kinda sake
and you get this info from your non-drinking friend (&)
for wine, bordeaux is not bad.. rose (pink) is summer drink

the long weekend / October 7, 2008 / Comment on this

‘Scuze me while I work my way backwards through the last few days:
Sunday was actually both relaxing and kinda productive. Started off the morning going to Eastern Market. No new toys, (although I found both TLR and folding cameras in good condition!). But I did pick up some fresh fruit. Went from there to the mall, looking for a carrying case for my newest toy. Didn’t end up buying anything though… not willing to pay $30 for a piece of plastic, when nicer cases for older models cost less. I understand the concept — that since the newer model is a premium object, the consumer is probably going to be able and willing to pay more for the associated accessories. But that’s not me. So I went back across town again and did some grocery shopping. I am loving the new Safeway. They’ve obviously been studying the success of stores like Wegmans, because they’re picking up a lot of their architecture and methods. I now have cheesecake! When I got home and realized it was only early afternoon, I went back out and picked up some frame so I could hang some of the art I’ve been gathering over the years. I like the new wall. Though it makes me realize my photo wall is too crowded, and I need to spread those out a bit.
all scarves
Saturday started with a haircut. I am once again purty. Then meeting Kier to go to the Small Press Expo. I enjoyed it, this year. There was a lot of good, quality work. Past years had seen too many shoe-gazers and too much really weak art. But this year there was a decent range and a variety of styles. Picked up a couple things. And though I couldn’t convince anyone else to go, I planned on hitting Spellbound that night. It really has been a long time since I went. But my 9:30 “quick nap” didn’t end until nearly 2am, at which point it wasn’t worth it. Gawd I’m old.
Friday was normal amounts of work. Nothing special. That night, Stephanie came over for pizza and a movie. A movie with cameras and hawt, hawt, lesbian sex, of course. Was nice because I also hadn’t seen Stephanie in a while.
Thursday was a fairly average work day as well. Though I did manage to put together a piece I really liked, and somehow the client chose that version as well. (No doubt they’ll destroy it yet in edits). That evening, I met with friends at a local restaurant to watch the Vice Presidential debate. I gotta say, regardless of your politics, Palin really is just about the worst speaker I’ve seen in national politics in a long time. There were points where the moderator looked like she couldn’t believe what was happening, and stopped to ask Palin if she wanted to answer the question that had been put to her. Thankfully, we were also drinking margaritas, which is another first for me. (Hell, so far I don’t think I’ve had any repeats in alcoholic beverages). A really good, interesting taste, as opposed to the “fun” taste of the Woodchuck Cider. After the equivalent (due to refills) of 3 or 4 of those, I got a ride home. This was probably a good thing, because by the time we pulled up in front of my place, I had to stop and consider wether I would be able to walk up to my apartment without leaning on the walls. First time I’ve definitely felt the effects of alcohol. Though I still wasn’t plastered. Mentally I was okay. Mostly concentrated on keeping my head enough to walk. Had no trouble with my keys, and my typing actually drastically improved. So just the large motor skills. And there was no hangover to speak of, in the morning. (Though I’d been drinking water throughout, and had more just before going to sleep.)

mmmmm … evil tasty goodness / September 26, 2008 / Comment on this

I wanna be a lush when I grow up.
I swear my mother will think I’m well on my way, whenever she gets around to reading this. But I have no desire to drink, ever, really. It’s all been mostly academic interest so far, when I’m out at social events. I think my fiends are just overly social. I could almost go out every night of the week, if I pushed it.
Last night, though, was Refresh-DC. Nguyet gave a presentation on designing websites. (She did a great job, too, and didn’t vomit even once!).
Afterwards we gathered at Chadwicks for the usual social hour (or two, or three…). Met one guy who basically does the same type and style of work as me. Finally exchanged greetings with Kirsten, who I’ve only been in the same room with a couple hundred times. She always struck me as one of those people who is very much not interested in meeting new people, though. This of course should be kept in mind with my absolutely awful judgement of first impressions. Shouldn’t complain, of course, since she gave several of us a lift to the metro, through the rain.
Tried a Woodchuck Cider last night, which I’d been meaning to for a ‘while’. Outside of the martini, probably my favorite so far. Still had the beer taste to it. But it was sour and sweet at the same time. Very good. Probably the most dangerous thing for me, as I’d be tempted to drink too many of them.
Friend #1’s recommendation after hearing all this is to try Smirnoff Ice or Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Good to know.
And for anyone interested, I recently fixed the comments form, so you can once again comment. Would have done it sooner, but I didn’t know it was broken.

Weekend / September 24, 2008 / Comment on this

Went out with some friends over the weekend. Fuck… I actually pretty much spent the whole weekend with these friends. But we started the weekend on Friday night with dinner (yay Sushi!). My friends had relatives in town, and the goal for the night was a little after-dark site-seeing. Up through Dupont Circle, across to Adams Morgan, and down to U Street. Stopped at the Saloon for a few hours, which was packed. The Saloon is a low-tech bar. All beer. No mixed drinks. No hard stuff. And… well… no space. But at Doug’s suggestion, I ordered a Maibok beer. Would love to say something eloquent about it, but they all still taste like failed chemical experiments, to me. Did try a sip of someone else’ beer; something much darker, which had a much more subtle taste. About 2 a.m., we hurried over to DC9 before last call, and very bad dancing to bad English pop music. And someone handed me something that tasted very good, which always makes me paranoid. They don’t tell me ’til the end of the night that it was just a Malibu Sprite. LOTS of Sprite, very little rum. By about quarter to 3, I left to catch the last train home. The party apparently went back to Adams Morgan for the obligatory 3 a.m. Big Slice.

bubble(gum) headThe next day was a party/gathering, to celebrate the arrival of the previously mentioned relatives. Plenty of people I knew, though in general a different group of people than normally show up to these parties. Probably the most surprising-but-happy person to see was Sarah, who didn’t even dash out as quickly as she usually does. Convinced her to fix me a drink at some point. Had to laugh, when after letting me try hers as a test, she proceeded to hand me what obviously was a watered-down version or the same thing. (Vodka and Mountain Dew) Just SUGAR with a little bit of kick. Spent most of the night actually talking to the guests-of-honor. Gave up on the bus, and passed out on the couch about 3 a.m., (where, of course, I lay talking with someone for at least another hour).

Chicago Style PartyTook off in the morning, before most of the people woke up. Needed to shower and offload some photos. Passed out in the middle of those things, and was awoken by the same friends asking if I was still up for another photo excursion, this one to the National Arboretum. Short trip, due to a late start. But always a nice getaway. Followed up with dinner and … something I can’t remember. (Fucking senility). Anyway… again went home while I still could. Work calls, and my friends were sick of me.
National ArboretumAs for the alcohol, the only other experiment was last night, at the final Cocksucker Tuesday, where someone brought a wine called “Werewolf”. While I can’t say anything good about it, (it was another red, tastes-like-feet thing), something I’ve been bitching about finally made it’s way through all the fat in my head. I keep saying these drinks smell like 7th-grade chemistry experiment. And while I was sipping the Werewolf, I remembered that most of those experiments involved some kind of alcohol, (albeit not the kind you normally drink).

Kijafa / September 19, 2008 / Comment on this

Adventures in drinking still proceeds slowly.
kijafa.jpgLast week I picked up a bottle of Kijafa. I remember my grandparents drinking this stuff. It’s a Danish cherry wine. Supposedly very sweet. Brought it with me to Cocksucker Tuesday, to share with friends. Mutual consensus seemed to be that it was okay, though not particularly good. But I wasn’t looking for amazing. Was mostly just a nostalgia thing, and general curiosity.
(And, ya know, it’s probably the only wine on earth I could walk into a store and ask for and know what the hell to expect.)
And it wasn’t an unpleasant taste, overall. A sweet, cherry flavor. But still that same harsh, chemical taste that every alcohol I’ve tried so far has given me. They all taste like something I mixed up in 7th grade Chemistry. (Shannon has threatened to make me try Everclear, after those comments).
I will no doubt get used to it. I’m guessing it doesn’t even occur to most people, since they started drinking back when getting drunk was the sole goal, and have long since forgotten the novelty.
People pick on me, for most enjoying “feminine” drinks. They Kijafa and the Apple Caramel Martini. You can see to them that it’s just not ‘right’ for me to be drinking too much of them. It’s just another weird association I simply can’t comprehend. No one thinks it’s girly if I eat a candybar. But if my drink is sweet or sticky or whatever, that is girly? It’s not like I’m going out and asking for Cosmos or something with pink flowers in it. Eh. Something else I’ll ‘learn’ eventually, no doubt.

white wine / September 8, 2008 / Comment on this

With great caution and apprehension, I tried some white wine last night. Don’t remember what it was, but I’d been assured white wine was more likely to taste good than red, at this point.
And that’s about it. Aside from the martini, it’s the best thing I’ve tasted so far. Not that it’s “good”, but wasn’t bad, either. Shannon insisted it was very sweet, though that’s got to be relative. The closest comparison I can think of is fruit juice that’s gotten to old. (Okay… that’s basically what wine is, but hey…). A very chemical taste. But not bad.
Still a failure as a lush.

Have a drink / September 5, 2008 / Comment on this

I had a few drinks last weekend.
If you’ve been keeping up with our little story here, then you know that this is the first time I’ve ever drank alcohol.
A while ago, I came to a personal realization that it was silly to consciously not drink. While I wasn’t adamantly against it, I was waiting for … something. But that, in my opinion, was just silly. I know there’s no logical argument against drinking. It felt like something that really should just be another thing to try, another experience to have. No more or less important than anything else in life.
Once I decided that, my only real concern was how to go about it. Didn’t want to drink alone. (Not that I could… would have no clue what to try. No frame of reference.) But while I love all my friends, some of them no doubt would have made a big deal out of it. In some cases, that would have been disruptive, and overall, I just didn’t want it.
So the opportunity came up last weekend in Atlanta, with a friend I trust. That first night, I just had a beer, (Newcastle Brown). REALLY not the best thing I’ve ever had. Reminded me of when I tried to drink prune juice. Or as I described it to someone last night: It tasted exactly like beer smells. And when was the last time you realized the other guy in the elevator had been drinking — based on their smell — and had that be a good thing? Finished the whole thing, though. I knew beer would be an acquired taste. But gawd. 🙂
No real effect. Wasn’t really expecting one, especially at my size. But still … paranoia runs strong at a moment like that. Taking that first sip is … weird. It was like there was physical resistance to overcome… it was so ingrained as something not to do.
But all was well.
One or two nights later, when we were up on the Sundial with a group of people, I ordered a Apple Caramel martini, which is what most everyone was drinking. Special for the night, I think. I wasn’t actively hiding it from anyone, but since I was on the outer edge of the group and given the way the bar was set up, I don’t think most people noticed. I’d told my original friend I had to have at least one drink before the weekend was over, that didn’t leave me wanting to wash out my mouth. And it was actually pretty good. Different still. Strong, harsh. But good.
And again… no real effect.
Later that night, a couple of us were sitting around one of the hotel rooms. They’d opened a bottle of red wine. And I stole a sip from a friend’s cup.
The… nastiest… shit… I’ve… EVER… tasted.
My first response was that it tasted like my friend’s feet. And that was before the aftertaste hit, which was worse. Tried another sip a few minutes later. Not getting any better.
Since then, there hasn’t been anything else. I’ve been mostly at home alone, and I don’t feel like drinking by myself. Talked to a couple people about it, and they’ve been pretty open with recommendations. Though, I have a hard time remembering any of it, since — again — I have no frame of reference.
Like I said, there’s been no noticeable, provable effect from any of the drinks so far. My head felt a little fuzzy, but then I’d been up partying for days. And I felt like I was able to talk a little more easily with friends, but that could easily have been relief, or just psychosomatic symptoms.
It was interesting, overall. And fun, as far as the social interaction it’s generated. I want to continue experimenting. But I have no awful cravings. One drink didn’t kill me, mom.
This isn’t exactly general knowledge yet. So how stupid is it writing about it on a blog? Well… my family are probably the biggest readers, and they have to learn sometime. Won’t probably see them for months, so this way is as good as any. And my old friends are bound to think I’m goofy, or just not care, really. The newer friends… I don’t think most of them read this. And if by some miracle they do… it’s not a secret anymore. And it’s too late to make a big deal about the first time. I’m sure the discussions will come. But at least now they can be a little more diffused.
Special thanks to the friend who listened to me ramble about it on-and-off for a few months, who understood, and who laughed at me while I had that first drink.

Just for my reference, some of those discussions and recommendations:

Friend One

Friend 1: Try Guinness or a Hefeweisen next time.
Me: why?
Friend 1: Or Murphy’s Chocolate Stout– that one actually tastes like chocolate milk.
Friend 1: Why which?
Me: was just wondering why those were preferrable
Friend 1: Oh, I think they’re less bitter.
Friend 1: Hefeweisens are light, and usually garnished with orange.
Friend 1: Stouts are smooth and less bite-y.
Friend 1: Keep in mind I tend to *prefer* bitter drinks, so I’m going to have some trouble thinking about them the same way you might.
Friend 1: Anything involving tonic, for example, is high on my list but probably low on yours.
Me: well…
Me: right now, I don’t have much of a list
Me: 🙂
Me: i can see getting used to the beers
Me: the wine may take longer
Friend 1: opt for white wine, srsly.
Me: and the girlydrinks don’t seem to be a problem
Me: okay
Friend 1: Girlydrinks can be problematic for new drinkers, keep in mind, because the taste masks the alcohol content a lot of the time.
Friend 1: Beer is sort of nice to cut your teeth on because the amount of it you can get in your stomach at one time is a limiting factor.
Me: paranoid as I am? 🙂 I’ll keep it in mind, but…
Friend 1: Heh. Drink #2 takes the edge off the paranoia.
Friend 1: Drink #3 kills off hangups
Friend 1: Drink #4 just wants to make friends with drinks #5 and 6.

Friend 2

Friend 2: Wine’s an acquired taste. Red wine is, in my opinion, better with a meal that includes red meat, potatoes, etc.
Friend 2: If it was a dark beer, it might’ve been a porter. They’ve got a bitter edge… wait. a bitter edge, shouldn’t you have taken to it more easily? HA.
Friend 2: I like lagers best, they’ve got brighter flavors usually. Porters are tasty, though; Black Butte from Oregon is quite good, got a little bit of a sweet undercurrent. The only stout I’ve tried is Guinness and I like it well enough.
Friend 2: And like I said: don’t mix your alcohols.
Friend 2: Avoid too much sugary crap, too.
Me: hehe… why… besides looking like a ‘girl’?
Friend 2: excess sugary drinks tend to lead to hangovers
Friend 2: dehydration is, I think, the leading cause for a hangover, but not going crazy with the sugar is a good way to avoid it, too.
Friend 2: If you *are* curious about wines, Gary V.’s got a pretty good thing going with — he’s kind of a nut, but he’s pretty passionate about wine and getting people to find what they like by trying lots of stuff. so the takeaway lesson is: try lots of things.
Friend 2: ALSO. they’re kind of cheesy and lowbrow, but the Arbor Mist wine things? (glorified wine coolers) they have this Blackberry Merlot one. tastes like CANDY! so tasty.
Friend 2: they’re sort of the Hershey’s chocolate bar to a fine wine’s Godiva, if you catch my drift.
Friend 2: Corona’s good, Dos Equis is also good (esp. with mexican food, woot!)
Friend 2: if you’re going to try tequila — I know you have chat histories turned on, so I’m not worried about going too fast here — stay. the. fuck. away. from Cuervo Especial.
Friend 2: I’ve had 2 hangovers in my lifetime and the first one was a result of that swill. oh it’s nasty.
Friend 2: Cazadores: also good. « steeerong.

second drink / April 10, 2008 / Comment on this

To clear up an apparently common misconception regarding my recent post on drinking…

I was:

  • NOT complaining about people who ask me if I want a drink
  • NOT bitching about … well.. anything
  • NOT upset with… anyone
  • NOT saying I would never drink

Obviously the subject has come up a lot in my past. And that day, I just felt like I wanted to write something about it. It wasn’t a backlash to any singular or combined incident(s). Call it passively educational.

Barring premature death — probably from pissing off an angry woman — I will drink, eventually. Until that time, I’ll go back to keeping the neurotic parts of this in my own head.

Drinking and Defining “Is” / March 30, 2008 / Comment on this

Living in Sin PartyPeople behave rather ridiculously if you say you aren’t drinking. They don’t care if you aren’t eating, or you aren’t dancing. But if you don’t have a drink, there must be something interesting happening. And if you’ve never had a drink, the information will travel. It will be spoken in tones normally reserved for discussing your friend fucking the new girl in the bathroom while his fiance danced 20 feet away. You’re cute, and naive, and “probably better off”. And once the message has spread, coming up at every social gathering, to inform those people who hadn’t heard yet, you will never be offered a drink again. You will forever be the quick, quiet, friendly joke when drinking comes up.
The only thing that will make it more ridiculous is to try and explain that you’re not “not drinking”, but that you’ve just never had a drink. People look at it as one of those bullshit, convenient excuses to justify something with no logical explanation.

Why haven’t I had a drink?

The big shadow looming over all is of course, my father. A lifelong alcoholic, despite not having had a drink in probably 20 years. But growing up in the family of an alcoholic means spending your formative years hearing that nothing good ever comes from drinking. Drinking means fighting, and yelling, and coming home late at night to go immediately to bed. Drinking is years of self-help and rebuilding your life, and breaking up your family, and…

Of course you grow up, and you realize most things you learned growing up were questionable at best. Alcohol, like most everything in life, is not inherently evil.

Addiction is the heart breaker, making people do things despite knowing they’re wrong. And the wonders of modern medicine came along just in time to tell me that addiction — especially alcoholism — could very well be genetic. Was your father a drunk? Watch out. You could be too. And educated, reasonable debate never had a strong toehold in my family. Don’t do drugs… they’re all evil and will destroy your life… worse than anything else. Sex education consisted of never closing your door when you had a girl in your room. (Lucky for my mother I was never gay). And whatever you do… don’t drink. One drink and you could become an alcoholic.

I don’t believe that anymore, of course. It is a “belief”, though, because it’s never been tested. So I can’t provide logical arguments to support it. Just practical experience through many friends and acquaintances, and knowledge of my own mind.

(And don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame my family for anything. What happened when I was a child was long ago; and you simply can’t live in the past. That’s as bad an addiction as any drug. And now, I am an adult, and have no one to blame but myself for any choice I make.)

Momentum can make it pretty hard to drink, as well, after a while. Don’t drink when you’re a teenager? Rare, but sure to be fixed in college. Don’t drink in college? Weird, but then someone has to drive us out for burgers at 3 AM after the keg is tapped out. Don’t drink in your 20s? Is something wrong… are you a recovering alcoholic? Don’t drink in your 30s? Wow… didn’t Steve Carell make a movie about you? It keeps becoming a grander, more momentous thing with each passing moment. If it’s not now an elixir of the gods, turning me instantly into Buddy Love, then everyone involved will be surely let down.

Maybe I exaggerate a bit. Just a bit.

Probably the biggest remaining issue, that still trips me up is simple neuroses. It’s really no secret that I think too much… worry too much. I am forever trying to keep myself from saying or doing something stupid, even while knowing full well that every great thing in my life has come from moments of ignorance or stupidity. While nowhere near as closed off as some people believe, I am forever trying to maintain personal control, like my friends are squirrels who may scamper off at the first loud noise. And the idea of drinking is like purposely ripping a hole in that dam. What stupid thing will I do or say that will ruin everything?

Of course that’s stupid. I said it was a neurosis. But like seemingly everything in life, it’s easier said than done to actually ‘fix’ it.

The next time you ask someone why they don’t drink, (*ahem* “haven’t had a drink”), think about this. And ask yourself would you rather hear all that in the middle of a party, or maybe that joke they make is just a little less likely to kill the mood.