31st July 12
OKAY, so I didn’t write every day. There is a simple explanation. Do you want to know what happens during a month of sobriety? The answer is very little. I mean, obviously things happened. There was activity. But I wasn’t really involved in that activity. I was a spectator. If I’d kept a daily blog it would have just been a list of things that happened lacking any real insight. I don’t know if I’m saying alcohol and drugs fuel my observations. Maybe I am. I don’t know. I’m really confused. Sobriety is confusing. It’s like cleaning out your entire house and then looking around and realising you never owned any furniture. That might not make any sense. Actually, I can think of a far better analogy than that. You know those jeans that you’re never supposed to wash. Like, not washing the jeans makes them look better somehow. That’s how I feel about me and sobriety.
My brain is that pair of jeans that should never be washed.
So, as you may have guessed, this isn’t going to be a new way of life for me. I am not turning edge. There will be no X tatts on the back of my hands. And as much as I’m super keen to put away some beers this Wednesday, I’m also just really looking forward to not having the same conversation over and over. Not that that’s anyone’s fault, really. Like, if you had a mate who was a butcher and decided to turn vegan for a month a lot of people would predictably ask “So, what’s it like not eating meat?” and then there’d be all the shit jokes, “Hey, do you want to come to whatever bar for steak night? Oh wait, you’re being vegan this month! Haah.” That’s to be expected.
So just to get it out of the way, here are the most frequently asked questions regarding my Dry July:
How do you feel? Good. Healthier, I guess. But that’s not surprising. The benefits of abstaining from heavy alcohol consumption and occasional drug taking are well documented. It is not a myth. So I’ve really made a conscious effort to not become an unbearable, gloating piece of shit during this month.
Do you miss drinking? Yes but not constantly. I am not an alcoholic or a drug addict. Obviously there have been times when I have gone several days or even a week without the intake of drugs or alcohol but the difference is I’ve rarely done so on purpose, unless I was like, sick or something. What has actually made it hard for me is not just the fact that I’m sober but that I am painfully aware of my sober state. Like, waking up on the first Monday with that level of clarity was seriously disorientating for me, whereas – in a super destructive way – a hangover actually gives me agency. It’s as if the hangover is a personal assistant holding a clip board with a list of tasks I need to perform to get through the day and I’m curled up in a ball, being all self-hatey with my hands over my ears but the assistant shouts the tasks at me through a speaker: “GET UP AND SHOWER! DRESS YOURSELF! POUR A GLASS OF WATER! PUT BEROCCA IN THE WATER! MAKE YOURSELF COFFEE WHILE IT DISSOLVES! DRINK THE BEROCCA! NOW DRINK THE COFFEE! BUY GREASEY FOOD! EAT ALL THE FOOD! CONTINUE ON YOUR WAY TO WORK! OH FUCK IT’S THE PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH! THEY’RE ASKING HOW YOU ARE! TELL THEM YOU’RE GOOD REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU FEEL! SMILE AT EVERYONE! IT WILL ALL BE OVER SOON!” and all I want to do is shout back from my bed: “LEAVE ME ALONE. I’M JUST A KID.” Pretty much the way I always feel at the beginning of the financial year when staring at my group certificate, thinking “Kids shouldn’t have to deal with this shit. Wait, what? I’m how old? TWENTY-FUCKING-WHAT? When did that happen?” SAD FACE.
Do you think you’ll drink less when you start again? I don’t know. I’ll drink a lot on the 1st of August. That’s pretty much guaranteed. And I’m genuinely scared about what this has done to my tolerance. This might actually lead to my untimely demise. I mean, now that I’ve proven I can stop whenever I want to there’s no reason for me to do so, like, ever again. Right?
OTHER THINGS THAT HAPPENED THAT MADE IT DIFFICULT TO REMAIN SOBER:
Do you know what it’s like for your work to receive several bar award nominations and to celebrate with a fucking ginger beer? I do.
Bastille Day – I have never felt more sober in my life.
Sarah’s birthday and the Monday James visited from Sydney – I spent all of the money on eating out, Gold Class at Crown, coffee after coffee after coffee, arcade games at Galactic Circus and then a sugar sack worth of ginger beer just trying to fill the space I would usually have filled with real beer.
THINGS I HAVE LEARNED:
I was far more observant in the mornings. This wasn’t always a good thing. I also drank far more coffee which often made me insanely anxious. Like, over anything. Old people on the tram, for example. Holy shit old people on the tram stress me out; you know when they first step on and they’re like loose eggs rolling around on your kitchen bench. And you wanna shout “God damn it, old person! Get in a seat! Find your place in the carton before you crack and get yolk everywhere!” That’s how I felt in the mornings. I probably learnt other things but I’ve spent enough time writing this as it is.
WERE THERE ANY CLOSE CALLS?
Totally. Four hours in I almost accepted a shot from one of the hosts at work. I bought Haylee a cider on Sarah’s birthday when we were at the Evelyn and almost put it to my mouth as I was heading back outside. I don’t even drink cider. And there were a couple of times at work when the gas had just been changed and someone would bring back a drink and ask if I could test it and I’d have to ask someone else to taste for me.
I never really doubted that I could do this. I mean, it’s not some huge feat. And I didn’t join a gym like I claimed I would. Still, working in a pub/nightclub and not drinking is not natural. It was an interesting experiment and it was good for me to take it easy for a while but like I said, it’s not going to be a new way of life for me. I work in hospitality. I like to drink. That’s not going to change. Thanks to everyone who donated or were just generally supportive. Come out and have a drink with me tomorrow night. I’m going to be a super cheap drunk.
18th July 12
It’s kind of cruel that the 1st of July had to be the Sunday after one of the biggest nights we’ve had at the venue I’m currently working at. It wasn’t the longest shift I’ve endured or the hardest I’ve ever worked but I still really could have drunk a beer after it. I could have drunk many a beer after it, actually, but I left those beers for other people.
I drank my goodbye alcohol last shot for a month at 11:59pm, continued to work until early in the morning, finished and then hung out with all my co-workers while they enjoyed some post-work beers - occasionally asking me their new favourite question, “Hey Chris, would you like a beer? Oh wait!” I expect to hear that a lot over the next thirty-one days.
This was the first test and I think I managed pretty well. I want to make an effort to not become the dullest dude alive during Dry July and while I might have been substantially less animated than I usually am on a Sunday morning, I think I did reasonably well at maintaining my end of the various conversations that floated out of peoples mouths when they weren’t using them to consume delicious beers (NOT JEALOUS). I also only fell asleep once in the corner of a booth and then twice in the cab ride home. Then I ate Maccas, showered, climbed into bed and slept for seventeen hours. It was glorious.
I’ve lived in Melbourne for just over a year and a half now. When I left Sydney I had basically grown to hate bartending. Travelling around Europe and drinking in German bars only to return home to find that many venues had been forced to comply with new restrictions such as 2am lockouts, no shots or doubles after midnight, no glassware after midnight and no more than four drinks per patron at any time ever (regardless of how many friends they might have sitting at their table) will do that to you. Try to imagine how an English or Irish backpacker reacts to being told they can’t buy a shot, even when they’re relatively sober. Also, imagine trying to explain that this is a law and not simply you just being an asshole. It’s not a good time. As a result, I was ready to leave hospitality behind and planned on doing something different when I moved. Unfortunately, I didn’t really know how to do anything else, so I took the first bar job that was available. I worked there for seven and a half months. It was the first job I have ever quit without having something else lined up. I then worked in a pop-up music & DVD store in some outer-outer suburb and soon discovered that I not only hated hospitality but also retail. The worst thing about retail is that (most of the time) you can’t blame a customer’s extreme stupidity or rudeness on intoxication. So, I immediately started looking for a new bar job. Luckily, my good friend Genna knew of a new venue (I don’t need to name it. You already know where I work) opening in the city that needed bartenders. I sent them an email, they wrote back immediately and I went for an interview the following Monday.
Now, hospitality is an industry that rarely requires an interview from its potential employees. A chat during the initial handing-over of the resume followed by a trial is usually the extent of bar recruitment. My opinion on this practice remains divided. On one hand it has made life a lot easier for me, in that I get crazy nervous during sit-down type interviews. On the other hand, training someone with no bar experience who undoubtedly scored their trial based on how distractingly babin’ they are can induce a total ‘put your head inside a vice and crank the lever’ level of frustration. I once had a girl ask me HOW TO MAKE A SHIRAZ. Now before you start judging me with all your ‘Everyone has to start somewhere.’ and ‘No one was mixing cocktails in the womb, Chris.’ I totally understand. Despite five years working in hospitality my own bar skills are mediocre at best. No one is born a bartender, possibly those dudes who work at The Black Pearl but no one else. We all have to start somewhere and drone, drone, drone, drone, drone, drone, dronneneneneoenoenone.
I can’t say I’m entirely without blame myself. Hospitality can be a totally shallow industry and on more than one occasion I have tossed away the CV of someone who – in my opinion – would be better suited working in the mines or on radio while at the same time begging my managers to employ some Swedish backpacker with zero experience and a less than comprehensive grasp of the English language. And (based on my experience in Sydney) nine times out of ten they’ll be on board with my pro-Swedish Babe stance on employment. The reasons for this are less sleazy than you might imagine. Actually, they are still sleazy but the fault probably lies with the consumer or society in general rather than bar managers themselves. An extremely pretty yet inexperienced bar babe might pour terrible beers and the patrons of that bar will complain about this – at length – but they definitely will not stop buying those beers and that’s because when it comes down to a choice between froth or the opportunity to drool over a blonde bar-babe, you can guarantee that dudes will just adapt to a headless brew.
Having said all that, professional sit-down interviews are obviously justified for any new venue that’s starting from scratch with a shiny new bar team. It would be retarded to call in twelve kids for a trial on opening day; some bartenders are borderline insane, “weirdly unhinged,” is the term a friend of mine used after her first week in bar world. I assume it has something to do with a vitamin D deficiency.
So, with the intention of proving my sanity and possibly even giving off an air of competence I sat for an interview at 10:30am on a Monday morning almost eleven months ago with two people who I hoped would become my future employers.
I can assume that anyone taking the time to read this knows me reasonably well and are therefore completely aware that 10:30am Monday Morning and I are not well acquainted. You could even go so far as to say that we avoid each other when possible. In fact, the few times our paths have crossed it’s usually due to a Sunday session that has extended beyond the limitation of the session’s title, raging forward through to Monday. At this particular junction, my blood-shot eyes would squint wearily at Monday Morning through cheap shades purchased at sunrise out of necessity from a 7/11 and Monday Morning would stare back at my buckled, gaunt frame with utter disgust. Then we would go our separate ways, Monday Morning - charging across the globe destroying any lingering optimism instilled in the population left over from their weekend and me - charging home to my cave-like bedroom in the hope of sleep and recovery; anything that will result in some future resemblance of a human being.
That day, however, I awoke and viewed Monday morning with sober eyes. Yet still, I didn’t like what I saw – my leather Converse in the corner of my bedroom, looking scummy and un-wearable. I only owned two pairs of shoes; leather Converse, split at the seams and cotton Converse, with holes at either side that allowed my big and small toes to peak at the outside world. Not what you would call appropriate interview footwear. I had decided the night before that instead of purchasing a new pair of Cons I would just attempt a bit of DIY shoe-repair and glue my leather Converse back together. An attempt that – even from where I lay in bed – I could see was unsuccessful. Those of you unfamiliar with shoe-glue prepare to be schooled:
SHOE-GLUE DOES NOT DRY CLEAR LIKE WOOD-GLUE. I was unaware of this but it spews out a gross, baby-sick yellow colour and remains that colour even after drying. Unfortunately, due to undertaking the shoe repair task after having a few beers at The Get Up Kids show the previous night, my application of the adhesive was sloppy at best. The yellow gunk appeared to be spilling out from the seams. It was almost as if my Converse had woken up with food-poisoning and vomited as a result of having my feet stuffed down their mouths every day since being born out of their comfy shoe-box womb. If you give it some serious thought, being a shoe would be a shit life.
I conceded that I would need to stop by General Pants on the way to my interview and buy a new pair of converse and I figured that while I was there I might as well buy a new collared shirt (Do you wear a t-shirt or a collared shirt to a bartender interview? I had no fucking idea. Nobody tells you these things), considering the only decent collared shirt I owned had disappeared along with my bag one night at any of the following locations: Carlton Club, Spleen, Crown Casino or in a cab between said venues.
I ate a healthy breakfast, which later on the tram into the city felt like a huge mistake. My stomach was confused as to how it was meant to break down a substance that wasn’t alcohol or pizza. I stepped off the tram in front of the Bourke Street General Pants at 10:05am and tried to run casually (this is impossible) into the store.
“Hi, do you need any help finding something?” asked the insanely beautiful, extremely tall and slightly intimidating retail assistant standing just inside the door. How the fuck do General Pants just consistently hire the most unbelievably good-looking staff all of the time? Is there some factory filled with third-world children building General Pants Retail Robots that get shipped to stores in crates and are designed specifically to sell me shit I can’t afford?
“Shoes? Where are shoes?” I shouted, ever so smoothly.
“Ah, just over here.” The beautiful General Pants Girl answered, uneasily.
After being led to a wall of Converse I pointed at the black leather high-tops.
“Can I please have those in a ten?”
“Sure. You don’t want to try them on?”
“No, it’s okay. They’re all I wear.” I now had not only shouted at this girl but also admitted that I only owned one style of shoe.
“Okay, are you after anything else?”
“Um, I might need a collared shirt.”
“They’re just over there. I’ll get these in a ten while you have a look.”
I tried to walk casually over to the shirts despite wanting to run. I grabbed two that I liked and headed straight to the change room. The first one fit so I decided it would do. Back at the counter, General Pants Girl asked what I was up to for the rest of the day.
“Um, I actually have a job interview.”
“Really? What time is the interview?” General Pants Girl asked hesitantly and with suspicion.”
“Ahhh, it’s at 10:30.” It was now 10:13am.
“And you need to wear these to the interview, don’t you?”
General Pants Girl sighed a Fuck, now I have to help this poor idiot ‘cos I am a good person and he has the handicap of stupidity kind of sigh.
“Right! You put this on and I’ll lace your shoes!” She said while handing me the shirt.
I ran to the dressing room, changed into the shirt and came out to find she’d already laced one of the shoes. She threw it to me and started lacing the second. Now, lacing shoes is a weird thing to be impressed by but holy fuck this girl could lace the shit out of a shoe. After getting the two on my feet she looked at my old pair and asked if I’d just like for her to throw them out. I agreed that it was for the best. She wished me luck for the interview and I continued on my way. She was my General Pants Guardian Angel.
After some trouble finding the entrance I walked into the right venue and arrived for the interview at 10:32am. I have no doubt that if I hadn’t been helped out I would have been too late to be considered for a second interview.
I’ve been working there for about ten months now and it’s easily the best bar job I’ve ever had. Though, it’s probably not the best environment for someone who is trying to stay sober for a month. So this should be an interesting time.
Stay tuned people! And donate to the cause!
14th February 12
I’ve really tried to avoid becoming part of the latest (and standard) social network explosion that detonated after the most recent celebrity death but the posts that have appeared on Facebook, Twitter and even Instagram over the past few days have become so commonplace that you could literally copy & paste them, then save them to your desktop ready to rehash when the next drug addled celebrity is found in a bathtub or with a belt around their neck. That’s how predictable the divide in social media is when it comes to celebrity death. One side feigns sorrow/grief over the dead celeb, the other side is filled with indignation and expresses great disbelief over the cruelty of this world. There’s a short break in the posting of cat pictures as my live feed becomes cluttered with the photos of starving children.
This shit is so routine it’s embarrassing. And while I might sound completely heartless, the fact is that few people have sold 170 million albums. It might be unjust that half the world appears to be mourning a crack addict but honestly, how many of the people complaining at the moment are going to give up their own vice and use the extra coin to sponsor a child?
I like to think that I’m a decent person but if I suddenly had the kind of cash flow that comes along with being a multi-million record selling artist, I can’t guarantee that you wouldn’t find me at the end of this month, face down in a mound of white powder with a couple of rolled up pineapples jammed in each nostril.
People die. Some are more popular than others. Let it go.
I’m actually starting to miss the fucking cats.
4th January 12
I might be a little late with this but Rise of the Planet of the Apes was just Deep Blue Sea with apes instead of sharks, right? Like, they literally walked into a studio and said “We’re remaking Planet of the Apes but with the Deep Blue Sea plot.”
I’m not saying I didn’t like it and I respect that they totally paid homage to the old apes films but where were the shout outs to Deep Blue Sea? Surely it wouldn’t have been that hard to have the giant gorilla bite Samuel L. Jackson in half or have an ape eat LL Cool J’s parrot.
10th December 11
Fix me. (Taken with instagram)
21st November 11
Boys just want a death muh-ug. Yeah, boys just want a death mug. (Taken with instagram)
13th November 11
My friend (Taken with instagram)
17th October 11
I woke up last night fully clothed and still wearing my shoes. My left shoe proved too difficult to untie, so I had to cut myself out of it with a large kitchen knife. Fortunately, I always keep the laces from the ghosts of Converse past and am therefore able to wear both of my shoes today. Cool, huh?
16th October 11
*Cole disappears for five minutes.
Cole: “Doreman, I’m wearing all of your clothes.”
15th October 11
If the results of the recent nuclear research that supposedly disprove Einstein’s special theory of relativity turn out to be faulty, then this will become the undisputed most mind-blowing piece of information the Internet has delivered to me this month.
At the moment it’s running a close second.