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That Was Then, This is Now – Thoughts on Holiday Sobriety and Drunkenness

That Was Then, This is Now – Thoughts on Holiday Sobriety and Drunkenness

That Was Then, This is Now – Thoughts on Holiday Sobriety and Drunkenness

Last Thursday was full of contrasts and comparisons I couldn’t help myself from making. How I used to be. How I am now that I don’t drink wine anymore. I am sitting here this morning smiling to myself and reminiscing. For once (and on the other side of the looking glass), I am finding the humor in some of my worst, drunken holiday behavior.


It was funny…

It was pretty funny, when it wasn’t sad. Or horrifying. Or mean-spirited. And Thursday, I relived some of the places that used to go hand-in-hand with two fisted, Christmastime  drinking.  Without the drink. There were no triggers to speak of.  In fact, I had a sober hullabaloo. .. I went to an artist’s studio, an office party and the theater all in the same day. I know.  Here I am, a person who spends weeks with nothing to do for fun, but re-read The Complete Anthology of Edgar Allan Poe and eat party bags of Sour Power minis (don’t start…) and suddenly I have a day where I’m overbooked…


The artist’s studio…

Al and Claire and I drove to one of those buildings that used to be industrial, but now house art guys’ studios. Unheated hallways and Salvation Army lobby chairs (draped creatively with batik). Studios filled with light and inspiration. We were at Kolenda Glass Art, where a nice, artisan named Matt Kolenda is refurbishing the windows and mosaics, for the restoration of our newest treatment center – Sanford House at John Street.


Al says I “bossed Matt around,” but I only asked him to haul heavy windows and fragile, 150 year old plates of glass to vantage points for Claire to take a photo. We are doing a series of articles on the restoration for Sanford House, and I wanted the perfect shot… Anyway, it reminded me so much of the lazy, hazy gallery days. Only I wasn’t hazy or lazy this time. I felt present.


I suppose it goes without saying that creativity and addiction seem to coexist. But as a gallerist, I really had no excuse for keeping a bottle of chardonnay in my desk drawer. Or for getting so drunk at every opening. I either curled onto the stained, concrete floor and passed out. Or ghosted, leaving my partner Kim to clean up my (figurative and actual) messes. Or worse, waxed nasty with someone who failed to amuse… None of this seems funny, you say?


The office party…

The best/worst, wildest office party I ever went to, was my husband’s Deloitte Christmas party at The Copacabana in NYC. And I was pregnant so I couldn’t drink. But I’ve been to my share of office get togethers, where I could not remember what had happened, when I woke the next day. Mascara on the pillowcase, black eyeliner as lip liner (oh oh…) and the sick feeling that I might have insulted the boss…




The Sanford House Christmas party was lovely. And other than my buddy Lisa practically burning the house down with her stuffed mushrooms (brought raw and “warmed” in the oven), it was uneventful. Well, there was a trumpet and caroling in the front hall which was eventful, but no one fell asleep on the toilet… That’s the way an office Christmas party is supposed to go down – sequined sweaters, candles and a fire, catching up with folks you don’t see every day and sparkling water…


The theater…

I was once accused of causing a show to close, after the first performance. I don’t think that was the case – the show was a steaming pile of poo. It would have closed without my commentary. I think it was at Christmastime. As I recall it was Shakespeare. And I was so drunk (and bored – a deadly combination), I got up from my seat in the middle of the orchestra mid scene. They were spouting something like, “What light through yonder window breaks?” In fake, hoity-toity accents and modern-day outfits.


I got up, loudly mumbling, “This is a load of cow flop (or something like that),” and made my way past at least 20 people, “Excuse me. Excuse me, ” and left for the bar. Now that I think of it, maybe I did influence the closing of this play. Who does that? In a basement somewhere there is probably a would-be famous director sticking pins in a skinny blond doll…


Talk about a tragedy…


My recent theater experience, was in the St. Cecilia Music Center in Grand Rapids. I was in the front row. When the trio came on stage, all bravado and snug pinstriped suits, I knew I was going to love the performance. And I did. But, such a stickler I have become for propriety these days, I wouldn’t even go to the bathroom when I had to. I sat there thinking, if I get up everyone will see me and what if the jazz singer (who is feisty) says something…


How I used to be. How I am now.

It is milestones like the holidays that provide the best forum for comparison. And I have changed. But I am still myself… I still love art and parties and Christmas trees.  Still have a thing for creative, young men dressed in suits, two sizes too small… I am even occasionally still sarcastic and a bit outrageous.


The difference, I think, is the motivation. I don’t have it in me to cause a scene any more. Or take my misery out on the unsuspecting. I’m not sure I have it in me to be miserable. I like my reconstituted life. I even like the Michigan snow…





Today I’m not drinking because I compare favorably these days… to my old self…


How come you’re not drinking?


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Comments (7)

  1. Avatar
    Who the hell has time to drink?
    Dec 12, 2016

    Am away for the holidays in the tropics where it’s VERY EASY AND VERY APPEALING to float through the balmy days with a Margarita or Rum Punch or ______ or __________ (fill in the blanks, I used to fill all of them–as well as myself. Amazing when a sober dip in the pool is actually full of exercise. I like to do 500 high knee jobs, opening and closing my arms in shoulder deep water. Drinking gets boring, and you just don’t accomplish anything.

  2. Avatar
    Dec 12, 2016

    I can so relate to your comparison of the “drunk” days to my sober self. I so enjoy living in the moment and remembering all the happenings! Thanks for your blog! I read it religiously!!!

  3. Avatar
    Dec 13, 2016

    How come you're not drinking?
    Because I want to be present and aware today!
    Your work holiday party this year sounds lovely 🙂

  4. Avatar
    David K
    Dec 16, 2016

    How come you're not drinking?
    That life is over...
    I prefer these days to be as peaceful as snowfall.

    • Marilyn
      Dec 30, 2016

      Peacefulness is something I never courted until I got sober. Peace is good. I like the mental picture of snow drifting down on my sober head…

  5. Avatar
    Dec 16, 2016

    How come you're not drinking?
    I gave it up, with no effort, because it did exactly what it's supposed to: It's a depressant, and made me dangerously depressed the next day. Not worth the loss of balance in dancing, or the drama after. But now I'm older, less stamina, more pain. Still don't drink. Why? Because it's killing my son, it killed my father and my mil. I know how insidiously it can take over lives and end them.
    Getting wrecked is only fun until it isn’t. Life is much more enjoyable when you can remember why you went to those events, in the first place! Enjoy the holidays.

    • Marilyn
      Dec 30, 2016

      I forget sometimes that alcohol is a depressant. It used to make me crazy up – until something clicked and I’d get MEAN. My husband called me Mr. Hyde. So many lives are negatively impacted by booze. It would be better if we never started. But that’s a scenario that’s never going to happen. Why do we feel the need to anesthetize ourselves do you think?
      Good for you anyway – off the sauce for good!

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