When I drink more than 7 beers in a night, then I:
(1) Stay up way too late. The beer/cigs fuel me way beyond the time I actually first feel tired. (I think staying up 'til 4am, as a freelancer, works out OK. But after 4am completely throws off anything I wanted/needed to do the next day.)
(2) Smoke a pack a day (as opposed to the 6 or 7 cigs a day otherwise).
(3) Don't even get up at all the next day. Just lie there and watch TV. (Even to the point of not checking my e-mails when I know I might have info from a freelance boss.)
(4) Crave junky, greasy food.
(5) Blog and Facebook and e-mail while blotto, which leads to guilt and remorse and mental (to add to the physical) depression the next day.
Today was the opposite of a hangover day. I didn't drink at all the night before (although I did stay up reading 'til 5am--old New Yorkers and a Plath bio). I got up at noon, took a brisk 2-mile walk in this beautiful weather, came home and started right in on freelance work, worked for a total of exactly 8 hours (breaking every couple of hours for relatively nutritious, light frozen dins and some football-watching -- poor Dallas...). In other words: A Productive Day.
Hmmm. Now which make me feel better? Crappy/Yucky Days or Productive Days? And what is, 90% of the time, the cause of the Crappy/Yucky Days??
Here's the thing, though: I really don't have much mental, emotional, or physical stimulation in my life right now. Working on my Joan site is still fun after all these years, but... I almost always drink like a fish while I do it! And drinking is certainly time-passing and fun -- in the couple-of-hour interval before you have one too many and cross over into anger and/or self-pity and start taking it out on everyone you know out in Internet-land! So it's a dilemma -- On the one hand, I'm leading a pretty barren life right now in many ways, and there really is little for me to do for "fun" and relaxation but drink... On the other hand, though, last night and today when I read a lot and took a long walk and then worked a lot, that also felt good. AND had no bad repercussions (rather, the opposite). THAT is the kicker, the thing I have to remember, I suppose: "Think about tomorrow." That's kind of a new one for me.
I was raised very conservatively (to put it mildly). And while I've always stayed within a certain framework of "respectability" (being gainfully employed -- until lately!, not sleeping around, getting degrees), I've also been constantly rebelling against being told what to do and having to "make nice" with people when I didn't feel like it. A direct result of being completely repressed as a kid. And also, I figured out later, a direct result of constantly moving when I was a kid. Since nothing was permanent, I didn't have to establish ties and relationships. There was always going to be a new place, new people, so I didn't have to make an attempt to respect and/or understand where I was or the people I was with at the time.
While I've never in my life been fired from a job, there were plenty of times when I've quit a job in a huff because I thought my boss was an idiot or a phony. There were plenty of times when I acted disdainfully and dismissively toward a poetry professor for not "getting" my work, even when he or she was trying to TEACH me something. I've picked fights with and stopped speaking to DOZENS of people over the years for petty reasons; my good friend Brian is one example -- He and I co-edited a local literary magazine for years; we co-hosted a bi-weekly poetry group for the same amount of time. He was/is a great, very intelligent, very supportive, and very successful guy. After he moved, I sent him and his new family Christmas cards for a couple of years, but never got one in return, although he kept in touch in other ways, sending good wishes and articles he'd written, etc. But one year I decided, "Fuck it, he doesn't send me Christmas cards so I'm not his friend any more."
Well, while all of the above self-centered behavior might make you feel fine and bold and self-righteous when you're 20 or 25 or 30 or 35... At 45, it's really not fine-feeling any more. It's moving along into the area of "simply unsustainable." Not to mention "drab and lonely."
I always wanted utter intellectual "purity" -- I wanted to be "right." Not for the sake of getting my way and persuading others via force of personality... Not at all. I'm fascinated by charmers (who isn't?), but I also see through them almost immediately and then start hating them for their phoniness. I never wanted to be someone like that. I always wanted to be intellectually rigorous. I wanted to really KNOW things, however unpleasant, and then wanted others to be forced to acknowledge the "truths" as well, myself and other people's subsequent opinions of me be damned. It's a really hard line to take and to live by.
I'm never going to be a yes-person. Ever, ever. And I'm still always, by nature, going to be trying to get at the root and core of things. But, damn, I'm going to have to lighten up a little if I want a better middle/old age than the constant clashes of my younger years. Maybe keep thinking the things I think (what other choice do I have in that matter?), but then not act on them or say them out loud/write them...especially not when I'm drunk?? I think "especially not when I'm drunk" is the key! I do believe that "in vino veritas" --- that's probably why I like drinking. It tends to edit out the gray areas and condense things to an essence: "I realllllllllllllllly love you!" "I realllllllllllllllly hate you!" "This and this and this was done to me and I'm realllllllllllllllly unloved!" Well, truth is, the "essence" of anything, its concentration in purest form, is merely a fraction of the entire entity. The sun's core, for example, is only 25% of its radius.
And also, who, to continue with the "vino" analogy, really likes raisins or thinks that the raisin is the true meaning of the grape? Huh, huh? :) I think that's what I've been doing for something like 30 years now: Unintentionally seeking, and therefore getting, the raisin of everything, when in fact what I really sought and wanted was the wine.