The Longest Year
365 Days Without Booze
A Personal History of the Drink and Me
Comedian Bill Burr once said, “Dude, you have no idea how long a year is until you’re stone sober.” I intend to find out if that’s true. I don’t expect it to be easy, because let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to drink through the entirety of January?
I’ve decided to quit drinking for a whole year. At midnight on December 31st, 2014, I poured out the rest of the beer I was holding and told myself that that would be the last booze I put into my system for 365 days.
My reasons for quitting are a combination of wanting to change my lifestyle, my health, and simple curiosity as to whether or not I can actually remain sober for an entire year. While I do not believe that I am an alcoholic, I have consumed some kind of liquor almost everyday for the past five years of my life. Some nights it’s just one beer, and some nights it’s a whole lot more than that. Regardless of how many drinks it ends up being, there is a dependency to liquor in my life that I have cultivated over a long period of time.
It’s been one of, if not the, most intensive, detailed, and co-dependent relationship in my life. It’s something I have thought that I had come to understand in my life, but not something I ever wanted to dig into, probably because I was worried that I would realize how dependant I had become on drinking, or that I really was an alcoholic, or that booze was the largest driving force in my creative life. I do know that drinking influences my writing, and is a subject that I view with a kind of morbid fascination; I like movies about drunks, I like songs about drinking, and I like TV shows where the main character can solve all of their problems with a good glass of whiskey. When I read books, those books are always more compelling if the protagonist has some kind of dependency to the bottle.
So, now that I’m sober and don’t have to spend my time drinking, I plan on writing about why it is that I drank the way I did, my experiences with alcohol over the years, and what it’s like being sober after such a long time being exactly the opposite of that.
I am 26 years old, and I weigh around 135 pounds (which is up from how much I usually weigh probably because I drink too much beer.) I’m around 5 foot 6.
First Beers and The First Day Sober
The first drink I ever had was a bottle Budweiser when I was 18. I drank it, and five more, at a bowling alley in Cochrane, Alberta. Unlike every other human being in Cochrane, I didn’t drink underage because I was too busy watching movies, and I also thought that drinking in general looked stupid. I didn’t like the idea of getting fucked up, and I didn’t like the idea of throwing up all night long. However, that all changed after my first beer, when suddenly everything felt groovy and everything was more fun than it was five minutes ago. I suddenly saw the appeal.
I specifically remember my friend Greg telling me, “you’re funnier when you’re drunk, you should be like this more often.”
So we loaded up the bowling alley jukebox with nine or ten plays of Master of Puppets by Metallica, and played a few games of five-pin bowling, which I still sucked at no matter how many beers I drank. I woke up the next day without a hangover, and that was that, a life milestone crossed off.
We drank at the bowling alley every Friday, but since beer was expensive, my friends and I were usually limited to one each before heading off to watch Battle Royale for the 10th time in someone’s basement.
I didn’t really drink much till my 20’s.
I never really found the first day of sobriety all that hard. It’s the days after that where the difficulties begin to rise. On the first day the shine is still on, and it seems easy enough to just drink tea instead of whiskey.
It’s 7 pm on January 1st, and I haven’t had anything to drink. I’ve consumed a ton of coffee, listened to some records and cleaned up the apartment. I don’t feel a loss in my life right now, but like I said before, it’s the days following the first one where you start to have problems. It’s when you get bored and want something to happen that the problems creep in, not to mention the wealth of issues that come with going out and hanging out with people who aren’t sober.
But for now, the first day of sobriety is in the bank. Also, I’m not calling this a New Year’s resolution or anything like that. Because I hate making resolutions, and when you do fail at keeping them the first thing you want to do is drink like nine beer, and tell yourself that beer is better than whatever personal life building bullshit you were planning on attempting.