Wednesday, July 1, 2015

None of this original.

As I read and finish yet another book from a person who has given up alcohol, I come to the conclusion none of what I'm experiencing is original. I'm often reading these books and saying to myself, Yes. Yes, that's it exactly.

The most recent is Pete Hamill's "A Drinking Life". I think it was one of the books I randomly selected when I began this process of tentatively testing out if I could even do this alcohol-free life. It's a memoir, and the first 90% (according to my kindle) is his life, growing up in NY. It's lovely and well written. However, when I finally got to the third part of the book, Dry, I began to get that feeling. That thrill of reading something someone else wrote (years ago!) that I can completely relate to.

From "A Drinking Life":

"I had a tremendous craving for sugar and began to eat more ice cream and candy than I had since moving away from Sanew's. In the mornings, I felt clear and fresh."

"I liked reading myself to sleep a lot more than falling into a swollen stupor."

"Getting drunk was a way of saying I would never act uppity, never forget where I came from."

"Being drunk was the great leveler, a kind of Christian act of communion. Who could ever point the finger of harsh judgement at a drunk if we all were drunk?"

"I began to think that I only had to give up one drink: the next one. If I didn't have that drink, I'd never have another. If that was the trick, then the trick worked..."

"Now I had more time than I'd ever had as an adult. I had gained the time I once spent drinking and the time I needed for recovery."


I love this. This act of finding out that this has been done many times over. I'm not the first to do this. I always marvel that as I age (I'm mid 40s now), I'm constantly learning how little I actually know. (And, what the hell is up with the sugar?? I'm eating candy every night. Bizarre.)

I knew nothing of Pete Hamill. Never even heard his name. But from reading his memoir, I'm stunned. He's pretty well-known. Has had an amazing life and worked with and socialized with a lot of famous people. I love that I've thought that in my life I'd learned quite a bit, knew a respectable amount. And then something comes up to make me realize how small I am, how small my knowledge base actually is. It's kind of cool.

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