Browsing Category | The List

Cocktail SchMocktail

I’ve touched briefly on my social awkwardness previously in this blog, and how my drinking habits are inextricably linked with self confidence issues. This has been one of the biggest challenges for me so far – going out without some home based ‘power drinking’ to get me party ready.

This weekend was always going to be a huge challenge in my Not Drinking experiment. The first big night out with my back-from-world-travels drinking buddy and the Hen do of a long term friend, with whom I have experienced both some of the most epic drunkeness and the greatest nights of my life. I was very worried about the Hen. Continue Reading

Socially Awkward Dinosaur

When I retired from playing Roller Derby I took up announcing. It seemed a natural move for me as I’ve always been good at talking. It turns out that I am better at talking about Roller Derby than I ever was at playing it. This weekend was my first tournament – a whole weekend of talking about roller derby – some games to the house with a 500+ crowd, some on a feed broadcast over the internet to a worldwide audience.

As a retired rollergirl hanging out with other rollergirls is a disorientating experience. It’s great to see people again, I love to see their faces and have a big old hug. But once the basic pleasantries are done with (Hi! How are you! You look great. I love what you’ve done with your hair!) I tend to get a little stuck. These are people I spent 6 years with, 2-3 days a week, and when you don’t play roller derby any more you suddenly realise that roller derby is all you’ve ever discussed. I don’t know what they do for a living. Or where they grew up. Do they have a family? A partner? They *did* have a partner, is it safe to ask about them? What if they broke up? They have a cat right? I should ask about the cat. NO WAIT. WHAT IF THE CAT DIED. All of this passes through my mind as a conversational pause has gone on for slightly too long and I weakly ask “So. How’s…STUFF?”. Continue Reading

Three Months in – The List Revisited

April Fools’ Day marked the three month point of my giving up drinking alcohol. I celebrated it by completely forgetting about it. It took a Facebook friend to congratulate me by private message before I even realised.

I went back to my first blog post to revisit my reason for this challenge, and to have a look at my progress so far.

I have to admit, success on the list is not 100% – but it’s not half bad. Continue Reading


As I write, I literally have a head full of fluff. Not ‘literally’ as it has come to mean, whereby people actually mean ‘figuratively’. I really do have a head full of fluff. I am not sure what it is made out of, but am reassured by the surgeon that it will dissolve over the next few days. I also figuratively  have a head full of fluff, brought on by the same reason, ergo the surgery, which is making this blog rather harder to write than usual. The super strong painkillers aren’t helping matters. Continue Reading

It’s all fun and games

I thought I had a breakthrough last night. We headed to our new local, a lovely big pub with artfully tatty decorations, mis-matched furniture and an excellent drink selection. Looking at the available options I realised they had my favourite beer (I am not generally a beer drinker but this one tastes like a Piña colada) and really wanted one. Not to get drunk, but just to drink it. That was a new experience. My breakthrough was short-lived however. It’s a popular pub so we managed to get a table only by hovering nearby people who looked like they were leaving. As they left and we sat down I saw the drink they’d left behind – a bottle of wine and two glasses and I felt that familar pang; the desire to get completely ratted. The desire was so strong it shocked me. Continue Reading

Reward and Punishment

This week has been hard. My job can be pretty stressful at times, and this week – Friday in particular – was really tough.

By the end of Friday I wanted a glass of wine (and wine isn’t usually my go-to drink of choice) so badly that it made me grumpy. Of course the result of the week and that day in particular being stressful contributed to that grumpiness, but the fact I wasn’t able to relieve that stress and grump with a class of wine made it worse.

I am pleased that at no point did I seriously consider just giving in and having a booze – that wasn’t an option and never even entered my mind – but I was keenly aware of how much I wanted one, how I felt I deserved one, and how I ‘knew’ that nothing else would achieve the same result.

I asked on my facebook: “Work day from HELL. What can I do after work that will achieve the same result as a large glass of wine without being alcoholic or fattening?” Continue Reading

Sugar logic

Three weekends in and I’ve still not hit the wall. I’m still enjoying not drinking, and while last weekend had some wobbles there were few this weekend.

The closest I came to a wobble this week was on the countdown to 5pm at work, with a colleague’s leaving drinks and a wedding reception to attend. As the weekend drew nearer I started to feel like there is slightly less joy to that weekend countdown when there’s no glass of wine on the other side of 5 o’clock. It did make me wonder why I have such a strong association with the end of the working week and a booze drink. I think this is pretty typical of our culture; we see that glass of wine/beer/G&T etc as a reward, as a gift to ourself for our hard work. I love my job but it can be stressful at times and my office environment is full of people doing REALLY stressful jobs and there is definitely a link between having that rewarding drink and unwinding and letting all the crap of the week go so you can enjoy the weekend. Some of the drunkest nights I’ve had have been Friday after work drinks with colleagues. I suspect as the year goes on and this gets harder (and I am sure it will, once the novelty wears off) I am going to have to ensure that I make plans for Friday nights or Saturday morning so that I have something to look forward to that isn’t alcoholic. Continue Reading

January continues

On Monday  I went to a free ‘Introduction to British Sign Language’ evening course. I cycled there, and got a bit lost. I stopped to ask for directions and – this being the sort of thing that happens to me –  the dude I ask is deaf. He manages to give me pretty good directions, considering all I know of BSL pre-course is limited to the  finger spelling alphabet and the makaton for ‘biscuit’ and ‘toilet’ due to teenage years spent volunteering with children with special needs. The course was great  – and so I have signed up for the 6 month level one course. Mr RockstarPirateDinosaur pointed out that with the amount I drink, I’ve pretty much paid for the course if I don’t drink for 3 months. A sobering thought indeed.

And so, we’re two weeks into January. We’ve successfully navigated the  allegedly most depressing day of the year, and the dry Januaryists have survived a third of their abstinence. Continue Reading

Introduction to the Rockstar Dinosaur Princess Pirate

When I was 5 I wanted to be a rockstar dinosaur pirate princess when I grew up.

30 years later I am none of these things, although I was briefly one for a while and one out of 4 of such lofty goals ain’t bad.

2014 is the year I will be closer to 40 than 30 and this makes no sense to me whatsoever. When I was 5 and had my rocking giant lizard corsair dreams 40 was so incredibly old I couldn’t even imagine ever reaching it.

2013 was the year I quit roller derby – the only hobby I’d ever truly stuck with – and it left a gaping hole in my life that I soon realised had, pre-roller derby, been filled with drinking, partying and general excesses. I made a list of things I wanted to achieve in the yawning chasm that became my spare time. Here is that list:

  • Learn to sew. Start with cushions, end up with dresses
  • Learn Sign language
  • Start writing again

It’s not a big list. And for the 6 months after roller derby I did nothing with that list other than make a half hearted and not terribly good cushion out of a roller derby t-shirt and ask a friend if I could borrow a sewing machine, which is still sitting in her hallway months later waiting for me to pick it up. The knee injury that hastened my retirement from sport became an excuse to do nothing and eat everything and my weight slowly crept back  up to a level it hadn’t been at since a year on Weightwatchers back in 2002. I let life slide along, not entirely miserable but not exactly happy either. I started to feel like I was somehow participating in my life but not really living it; going through the motions but not really taking part.

Then New Year’s Eve 2013 happened. I don’t quite know what happened – but the short version is I had a horrible drinking experience. Possibly the worst of my life (and I have had some pretty horrible drinking experiences in my time) which lead to much sobbing, several panic attacks, a three day (at least, I’m still living it) hangover. It nearly ended my relationship. It’s a blessing almost that I don’t remember exactly what happened while drunk, but what I have been told makes me very sad indeed. Both the dreadful things I did and said, and the wonderful things that happened that I cannot remember. It made me really think about my relationship with alcohol, and how it has impacted on so many parts of my life.

I have a number of friends doing dry January, which I’d never even considered before. I’ve always been of the belief that January was miserable enough without denying yourself the best escape from that miserableness. But then I re-evaluated that statement. What it is about alcohol that makes it so important in my life? I mentioned to a few people I was considering going off the booze for January, and possibly longer. Reactions were a mix of horror, disbelief, condemnation and ridicule. This only made me think more about how alcohol – in particular social drinking – has taken on this huge significance in my life and that of my work colleagues, my friends and my family. How the act of not just drinking but of *being drunk* is tied up in my psyche. I want to really think about this in 2014 and unpick it.

So back to The List. It has grown, and changed.

  • Learn to sew. Start with cushions, end up with dresses
  • Learn Sign language
  • No drinking for 3 months – re-evaluate on 1st April whether I want to stay off booze for a further 3 months
  • Start writing again – and document my attempts to do all of the above

New Year’s Resolutions can go so horribly wrong, especially when you announce them to the entire world. It remains to be seen whether I will wake up in a pool of my own dribble after a massive bender in two weeks’ time, whether that sewing machine will remain in my friend’s hallway and whether my knowledge of sign language will be limited to the alphabet.

Possibly the hardest thing will be getting into the habit of writing weekly. I can’t even promise that my weekly posts will be about The List – I have a tendency to get an idea or a rant in my head which has to come out – so future posts might even cover feminism, politics, society, animals, the weather or whatever it is that has made me think or feel or cross or cheerful that week. I am open to suggestions.

So to sum up, just as I am not the  Rock Star Dinosaur Pirate Princess I aimed to be when I was 5, this experiment of mine may turn out to be something quite different than where it started – with The List. But much like those intervening 30 years, it could also turn out to be just as interesting.