Today is the first post-birthday-party-Sunday in more than 20 years where I have woken up without a hangover. Every birthday I’ve had since I was old enough to have friends with fake ID has involved significant amounts of alcohol. The venues of my birthday parties over the years have varied, but the plan has not.
1 – go to a place were we can drink
2 – drink
3 – drink
4 – drink
5 – ????
6 – where are we?
7 – how the hell did I get home and whose are these shoes? where’s my phone?
8 – oh god someone kill me
If back in January you would have told me that here I’d be in July, not only having a completely alcohol free birthday celebration but genuinely enjoying it and not even missing booze I’d have probably said “Hi, I’m the rockstar dinosaur pirate, we’ve clearly not met before.” And yet here we are, the Sunday after the party before and I feel a little sugar drained and sunburnt, but otherwise free of the usual symptoms of the day after my birthday; vomiting, a tiny person in my head trying to work his way out through my eyeball with a pickaxe, a sense of unspecific dread and shame and a wholehearted wish that I was dead. Of all the many upsides of not drinking, not being hungover is right up there.
The chosen venue for the celebration was a park, in beautiful sunshine. One of the advantages to having a summer birthday is that, British weather wiling, you can have picnic birthdays. I love picnic birthdays. They can start as early as you like, people can drift in and drift out meaning you get to see lots of people all day, they are entirely suitable for friends with pets and children and you can eat all day. Previous birthday picnics have generally involved large quantities of Prosecco and pre-mixed vodka and lemonade. This birthday involved a few bottles of sugar-free bitter lemon drink. Rock and roll? Perhaps not; but I am long passed the stage now of worrying I won’t have fun if I don’t drink and passed the stage of my friends thinking that I HATE FUN because I am not drinking. A glorious 7 hours were spent in the sunshine with a glorious group of friends and there wasn’t one single moment where I felt I was missing out in any way because I wasn’t drinking. Quite the opposite, in fact. As I left, feeling perfectly stable if a little sun bleached, I had a flashback to previous journeys home after birthdays; wobbly, sick, with patchy recollection of the evening, a sense of bad decisions made. In fact, occasionally accompanied by bad decisions.
Many a Sunday plan has been cancelled due to my failure to exercise any sort of restraint at my own birthday celebration, and my peer group’s general understanding (one I’ve always bought into myself) that the key aim of any birthday person is to drink until you fall over.
On the plus side, those dreadful Sundays were also a good excuse for indulging in guilty pleasures. Bringing the duvet into the living room to watch hangover movies (I favour Disney, 80s movies and Clueless/Legally Blonde types), ordering greasy pizza – maybe even two, eating an entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s. Not getting dressed at all, unless you count maybe changing into pyjamas which haven’t been subjected to the hangover sweats.
As a lifetime procrastinator, despite my enjoyment of an entirely sober birthday picnic, I am missing the opportunity to absolve myself of the requirement to do anything at all today. Having an apocalyptic hangover is one of the best reasons to Not Do Things. Being entirely hangover free means you have no excuse whatsoever, and the old “but it’s my birthday weekend” doesn’t wash too well when your birthday rather inconveniently falls mid-week so technically it isn’t really even your birthday yet.
So I woke up this morning knowing that I had to do my blog, tidy the house & revise for my BSL exam and spent the first 4 hours pottering about, watching the Commonwealth games and playing Words with Friends with my Mum. (She’s winning.) It says a great deal about my ability to procrastinate when the only options on the TV for Glasgow 2014 were Lawn Bowls, Shooting and Netball and I STILL WATCHED IT FOR TWO HOURS instead of doing anything of practical value.
I am always impressed by people who have a thing to do, and do it straight away and then get on with other stuff. I’ve always been the most dreadful procrastinator, never one for doing something – even if it’s something I actually rather want to do – if I can possibly put it off til tomorrow. Even with all the best of intentions, every essay I ever handed in at university was completed at 4am after pulling an all-nighter, having spent 24 hours crying in front of the computer screen, mainlining Cadbury’s mini eggs swearing blind that next time, NEXT TIME I am going to do this essay properly and have it finished before the deadline. Much like “I am never drinking again, and this time I mean it” those promises fell flat at the very next deadline.
I may have made some real changes this year but the one demon I’ve yet to tackle, and am not even sure how to go about tackling, is my procrastination habit. It seems to me that some people find just getting on with things terribly easy, while others (like your truly) will go to quite extraordinary lengths to put things off – doing things I really don’t want to do to avoid doing other things I don’t want to do but which are actually more important. If you find yourself doing the laundry to avoid revising for an exam, you have to admit you have a problem.
Are you a procrastinator? Or are you a Just Get On With It type? If you have any tips for a chronic putter-offer, then I would love to read them. Right after I’ve done this other thing.