Sunday, August 22, 2010

The day after

-1 day to go

Yesterday I had my first drink in nearly 4 weeks. Then I had several more drinks. And I have concluded this: hangovers are awful, and alcohol isn't that great.

I had a beer with lunch. It was a beer I like very much - an amber ale - which is not bitter. It was pleasant, but not exciting. In the evening, I opened a bottle of bubbly, one of my favourite tipples. But the cheap bottle I had in the fridge didn't taste very good so I gave up on that very quickly. We opened a bottle of red we had been saving, and that was tasty. Good wine is a very good thing to drink. Later we drank cheap red wine and eventually I was drunk. And being drunk is fun. :)

Today I am hungover. The older I get, the worse the hangovers, the more disproportionate to what I had the night before. Thus it seems that the older I get, the more I have to consider the worthwhileness of drinking. And perhaps last night wasn't really worth it.

We had a fun, fulfiling day, handing out how-to-votes most of the day and feeling like very passionate and useful party members. But the evening, despite brilliant results for the Greens, was flat and disorganised and included a non-result for the election.

Drink is no longer my best and worst friend. It is more like an ex-lover that I will enjoy a bit of a flirt with, and perhaps the occasional one-night-stand. But life is my new true love.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Week 3-ish

Some not-too-large number of days to go

I want a drink. It's Friday night, this week at work has taken forever, I have no reason - other than the pledge I have made - NOT to have a drink, and it would just be bloody lovely!

But I have made a promise to myself, and I am sticking to it.

Would I be so determined if I had not made my pledge public? I have my doubts. But I have had rewards already from the past nearly-3 weeks, perhaps they would hold me back from indulgence?

I have talked about my gain in confidence and motivation. I have also had a superficial reward - I think I have lost some weight! It's a tiny gain, but I think it is real. I noticed it this morning. My sexy little french maid singlet - a beloved piece that I can only wear these days by covering my arms with a cardigan and my belly with a pashmina - covers slightly more of me today than last time I wore it!

I am annoyed at myself for being so excited over this. I know that for health reasons I should lose weight, but that is not what I'm enjoying today.
I've been spouting fat-positive messages, and now I'm all worked-up, imagining the slim figure I will soon sport, and all the flirting with boys I'll be able to indulge in again. Why don't I flirt with boys NOW? I clearly don't believe a word I say about size not mattering. It seems I would rather choose to fit the mould that the media (and my mother) tell me is the only one that is attractive, than dare to believe in myself completely.

But in any case, tonight I shall stick to my resolve. I shall try to stick to this path towards health, and I shall continue to work on believing in myself at all points along the way.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Week Two

11 days to go

Well folks, I have survived more than a week of no alcohol since last writing. My colleagues (whom I have known only a few weeks and who do not know all the details of why) are very proud of me. Drinking is so ingrained in our culture that even a virtual stranger can be amazed by someone abstaining.

It's gotten quite boring now. It's easy for me to do - which is a wonderful thing to learn - and still just a matter of remembering. Most evenings I have noted that "I want a fucking drink", but have otherwise simply quietly avoided having one. Friday night we went out for dinner, because I had to find a way of celebrating the beginning of the weekend that did not involve excessive (or any amount of) drinking. We strolled into Northbridge - taking advantage of our inner-city lifestyle - found a restaurant that we'd never eaten at, ordered food that we'd never tasted, and drank endless pots of Chinese tea before walking back home. It was a lovely way to spend an evening together.

I am enjoying so many things about not drinking. I am feeling healthier already, and coupled with our regular leafleting stints we actually desire a healthier diet. I also have more time on my hands - the weekend does not include a day (or two) written-off to a hangover, and my evenings are not sunk uselessly into wine and television. All combined, I have gained a burst of confidence unlike anything I can remember having ever had previously.

In this confident state I have taken on a new project at work - I volunteered to coordinate part of an event - and a new course of study. I am now working full-time, engaged and constantly busy in this work, plus studying externally. This confidence is leaking out into my entire attitude to life and most importantly, to myself.

I am also enjoying the hard-edge of my personality, which is an unexpected development. I don't need hard liquor to have a certain amount of anger within me, and without it being artificially enhanced I don't need to fear it - I can relish it.

Today I am pre-menstrual, and not enjoying my anger at all. It has morphed into that familiar state that swings between baseless irritability, and a desire to melt into a puddle of tears. So I must say, I would still fucking love a drink. :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Week one

20 days to go

Nearly a week since a drink, which is the longest time in... well, I would think at least since I was 21. I certainly can't think of a time since I moved to London that I have not at least had a good few drinks on the weekend.

And it's going super-fine. I'm encouraged that my body wasn't as addicted as my lifestyle, and the lifestyle change has really not been that hard. The trickiest bit is simply remembering not to have a drink.

Wednesday night I got home from work and thought "balls, I can't have a drink". Normally unwinding from work = a glass of wine. So I was at a bit of a loss as to how to relax. It wasn't a great night for me anyway as hubby had to go away, which I never enjoy at the best of times. But I did some tidying (I LOVE tidying... although I hate cleaning), and lit some incense and had some tea. It felt quite ridiculous, boiling the kettle when what I bloody wanted was a glass of wine, but I'd made a plan and I was sticking to it. So I got through and managed to get to sleep without my usual depressant.

Thursday was easier, although I felt a bit flu-ey which I am taking to be a mild form of withdrawal. In the evening hubby joined me in sobriety. I have told him repeatedly that he does not have to, but his body and mind could certainly benefit also, and he has decided to try to go the whole time along with me. What a wonderful person I am married to. :) Thursday evening was great as some of our favourite tv was on, and we giggled ourselves silly! It was wonderful to be so crazily happy without the aid of any drugs what-so-ever.

Friday I thought would be difficult, but just wasn't! Although again it was harder to unwind without chemical means. Friends popped round, with bubbly for themselves and some yummy Maggie Beer non-alcholic sparkling rose for me. We ate cheese and chatted and had as good a time as ever without hubby or I drinking any liquor. Being a foodie is certainly helping to make the lack of drink less of a burden. I made it clear that my friends could drink, and also that I haven't given up on enjoying the occasional drunken times forever. After they left hubby even suggested we go for a walk - we had some leafleting to do - so we even made productive use of our Friday night and got in some exercise... now there's a rarity!

Saturday was hubby and I home as is often the case, enjoying a scrummy dinner and watching dvds, just without the alcohol. Perhaps it wasn't the most exciting Saturday night-in we've ever had, but we have both just needed to catch up on sleep and re-learn to relax naturally. And I've realised that the television saps my time and energy and usefulness far more than drink does. I think some sort of ruling on maximum television times would be just as good for my life as this break from drink.

Today I am cleaning and tidying and generally beautifying my home. I have energy and time to do it and I'm just feeling great. In fact today, I can't think why I would want to drink. I think the biggest test will come when I actually do try a drink again. But the next few weeks will help to tell.

So in the end it's a bit of a boring tale. But then good news often is. :) But before I go, let me share a dream I had the other night. A dream that suggests perhaps my subconscious struggle is a little more difficult than my conscious one.

I was out with hubby somewhere, in the sort of strange yet eerily familiar place that is often the haunt of the sleeping self. We were offered wine to taste, and decided that as we were at a wine tasting, we had better break our fast briefly and take a few sips. After all, it wasn't enough for us to even feel that we had had alcohol. It seemed to go okay, and we moved on to a lunch with many strangers, people who seemed to be interested in us, desirous of our company, but not too deeply concerned with our welfare. We ate a buffet which was glorious, for a while food was our only concern. I remember vividly a huge bowl of chicken with some form of fuzzy green beans in a spicy sauce being presented to us after we thought we were already full. Then suddenly the demon liquor reared its ugly head. For some reason we thought to question the varied elixirs we had been consuming, and discovered that they were not, as we had thought, cordials and other new flavoursome treats - they were alcoholic. Indeed, many of the glasses in front of me were half-filled with red wine. A dangerous woman with dark hair told me that I had already had more than everyone else at the table, that I had broken my sobriety, so I may as well continue. But I told her that no, I would not drink anymore. I pushed the glasses in front of me out of reach and pulled away from her and them.

I awoke to a wonderful sense of relief that I had not let myself down, that it was only a dream, and that although alcohol was clearly on my mind, it had not passed my lips.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Project Un-Pickled Pear

24 Days to Go

This space may need to be hijacked for a period, in order to explore and work through this one aspect of my independence.

They say the hardest thing is admitting you have a problem. Well, we'll wait and see. :)

I spent last night feeling pretty wretched, but with "a little help from my friends", and my hubby, I've made a plan. Independence does not mean being isolated.

I have realised that the problem is not in the quantity of alcohol I was consuming, or even the harm it was causing me. Because I could, quite legitimately, choose to live a life of decadence. A shorter life no doubt, a fiery existence of hedonistic destruction, living hard and fast and briefly. the problem is, I have not chosen this.

In my conscious thoughts, my plan is to live a long and healthy life with my beloved husband, to be a fit and active and sober mother in the near-ish future. But my actions have not been leading to this. My actions have in fact been the very opposite to those that would bring me to my dreams.

It is time to take back control.

I have decided that I need to re-set my behaviours. Starting with a term of abstinence. I do not intend to give up alcohol forever, but it has been a long time since I have even had a day without alcohol (other than the occasional hang-over that was so horrific that even I could not handle a curative glass of bubbly) that I need to prove to myself that I CAN still live without.

So, from now until the night of the election, I am not allowed a drop of liquor.

After that, I'll see how I feel about alcohol. Whether I think I can have a celebratory (or commiseratory) drink, or few, without going too far. Whether I feel I can want a drink, and choose to have it, or whether I still feel the need for a drink.

Today, I feel so much better than yesterday that I am elated with this plan. But I am still so shell-shocked from the pain I put myself through, and just so pleased to have made a plan, that this could very be a honeymoon period.

I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Demon liquor

Here it is, I feel wretched enough right now that it is time to finally admit it.

I have a drinking problem.

I have told myself many things to comfort myself that my drinking is not THAT out of control. I don't drink in the morning, I'm never drunk at work. I can, and occasionally do, go without alcohol for days without any physical side effects. I can, well, sometimes anyway, have a glass or two of wine without the need to get drunk. I enjoy wine-tasting without drunkeness. I drink with other social drinkers and normally, or at least often, I am no drunker than those around me.

Drinking started as a game. The first time I got drunk, at the age of fifteen, I giggled myself silly and felt no ill-effects the next day. I occasionally drank with friends and it was a fun diversion. In my early 20s in London, I built up my tolerance for alcohol and enjoyed out-drinking people. I received praise for being fun and bold. When drinking I had the confidence to dance and flirt and sleep ith people. Recounting drunken stories, including of sexual conquests, was fun and made me feel popular. Hangovers were a fun time to relax at work and eat junk-food. I've felt close to both sides of my extended family, English and Australian, even recaptured something from childhood, by drinking with them. Back home, the best nights of fun and interesting conversation with friends were always alcohol fuelled. When I met my love, we drank together. Our love was based on endless, exciting conversation, not booze, but there was always red wine around. We've had some awful nights and dreadful hangovers, our only yelling-matches have been fuelled by alcohol, but also we've had a lot of fun times with the drink.

Alcohol is part of our culture, a part I enjoy. It has become part of my identity too. But I can no longer pretend that it is a all good.

Here are some facts that I am ashamed of, but which I can no longer hide from.

- I regularly take sick days from work after excessive drinking.
- I regularly drink a bottle of wine or more every day.
- I regularly vomit and waste an entire day after a night of drinking.
- I prefer the company of other drinkers. I rarely go out unless I can get drunk.
- I have had blackouts from too much alcohol.
- I have been abusive under the influence of alcohol.
- I have had police take me home because I was too drunk to walk.
- I have been refused entry and kicked out of pubs for being too drunk.
- I have injured myself by being literally falling-down drunk.
- I have embarrassed people I love when drunk.
- I have said hurtful things to people I love when drunk.
- I have been promiscuous in dangersou ways when drinking.
- I have lost my license for driving under the influence of alcohol.
- I am obese largely due to how much I drink.
- We spend more than we can afford on alcohol.
- Last night I had seizure-like episodes due to dehydration from drinking.

These are my fears. I fear that I am boring and painfully shy without alcohol. I fear that if I fully admit to a drinking problem, I will be forced to be teetotal for the rest of my life. I fear that many of my relationships are intimately connected with alcohol. I love my home life and my friends, but the outside world often intimidates me. I fear that I need a way to escape reality, escape work, escape responsibility, and occasionally escape myself.

I also fear that I am destroying my body and wasting my life.

If I am dependent on alcohol, then I am not an independent person. If independence is my aim, then I must overcome my reliance on this drug.

I don't know what I am going to do, but for now, I am NOT going to have a drink.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bubbles & Bunting

Poor Project Pickled Pear, not forgotten, but certainly neglected.

For the past month and a half (has it been that long?!) I have been too lazy to write anything, or at least to finish writing anything. I have a stream of emails to myself of half-written thoughts on all the subjects I opened the Pickled Pear in order to explore, but I have been unable to find the commitment to complete any of them. Between mild bouts of sleep deprivation (full-time work does not sit well with me), the stress of handing-over at a previous job and then learning the ropes at a new one, along with all the usual enjoyable yet time-and-energy consuming activities of friendship and love (including our first wedding anniversary, happy anniversary to us!) I have learnt that exhaustion leads to apathy.

I'm not a disinterested person generally - I am politically passionate and get very emotional on at least a daily basis about the state of our world. My trouble is in settling to details - I get lost in generalities. This Project was begun because all the things I wanted to write about, all the things that I most cared about at that moment, fit within a certain spectrum. Since that time, that spectrum has seemed narrow and trivial... but then so do most things when I get down to really thinking about them. I envy people who can get into a singular cause and work passionately at it. I can't imagine ever finding any one cause "worthy" of my energy, and so I squander my anger and my ideas and creativity on, well, nothing much at all!

So, I have found myself in a state of apathy and decided this is not a good state to be in. But relaxation is still a must. So I forgive myself for not posting here, and I have waited for some passion to return. Unfortunately for Pickled Pear, the two things that have currently transfixed me do not involve writing.

Firstly, we are now enjoying the lead-up to a federal election. While I have very (VERY) set political ideals, and more than anything want my party to win, I also just ADORE the whole process of an election. When following the British election recently, I queried hubby, "is there ANYTHING more exciting than an election?!" He agreed that there was not, being a big nerd and even more political (if possible) than myself. This year I've signed us up to be very involved little rabbits, doing all we can possibly make time for (in the things I'm good at, ie. physical labour - absolutely; engaging in debate and talking when more than three people are listening to me - NO) to get our local candidate elected. And if I'm honest, my prime motivator is so that come election night, when we will join our party in a post-election gathering and over many glasses of cheap wine watch the results come in, I can get extra excited about any gains because I'll have helped with the work.

In the meantime, I have, temporarily at least, given up on being a writer, and am just loving being a READER. The pile of books by my bed usually represents a lot of things I've started, but which may never get read any further; but at the moment it is a list, a list of What To Read Next. We have moved bedrooms and I love our new space so much that all I want to do all weekend, and every evening, is lie on our bed, with its beautiful views of the city and the park, and read. And that's exactly what I have been doing. I get home from work, say hi to hubby, then head up to bed for a read. Then I read some more before sleep. I would read when I wake too, but I have to get to work. I've taken to baths several times a week (the bath has never been so well used!) simply because I can't read in the shower.

I'm sure the writing bug will kick in again for me... but for now it is all about enjoying what others have written. So farewell for now, happy voting and happy reading!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


This is not the post I intended to be writing, but right now I can think of nothing else - I am sick. Sick as a dog. (Are dogs generally known for ill-health? Curious.)

I am not enjoying the pain in my throat, the heaviness of my head, or the fever welling from my chest up, but I cannot say that I am entirely oppossed to being in this state. It would almost seem that I actively seek it out.

Although I am a person who gives myself days off - for holidays, or when desperate, a 'mental health day' - nearly whenever I feel the need, whenever I feel that five days a week are simply too many to spend at work, there is always an element of guilt. I feel guilty for being a less than diligent employee, guilty for earning less money while hubby slaves away, fear of the guilt my mother will impose if she discovers I have taken yet another day off. Mostly I feel annoyed at myself for being so unable to just bloody well cope.

But on genuine, unable-to-move style sick days, I get a break absolutely free. I get to stay home, do nothing, AND get lavish sympathy from employers and loved ones alike.

I have a rule-of-thumb for judging the general 'niceness' of a person, based on how they react to hearing of another's illness. Most people, almost all of my family included, fit into the selfish category - they say "don't give it to me!" But some exceptionally lovely people, many of my friends included, don't even think to say this - their only reaction is to show concern for the ill person. I have realised in the last few days that this is a little unfair of me. For it turns out that I can show sympathy for the sick, kiss my hubby while he has an exhausting flu, and tell myself I am being kind - but in fact I am being selfish. I want that bug to give me an unplanned holiday-on-the-sofa.

This story is an exaggeration. But the element of truth has made me think. Perhaps I need to give myself a break a bit more... without the need to be sick.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A room of one's own

I strongly agree with Virginia Woolf that every woman (and every man, no doubt) needs a room of one's own. Hubby has his study, and in our last abode and this I have claimed the spare room as a space that I can both decorate and find alone time in. I don't remember ever actually agreeing to anything, but if I shut the door when I'm in this room, I am given uninterrupted privacy. As this is a privilege we don't even grant one another when in the shower, it is good to know there is somewhere I can go and feel safe and alone.

It is time for a redecoration. Last year's claim to independence was to create a boudoir - with large, plush cushions, draped jewellery and lingerie, reds, purples and white. Our current spare-room was originally intended as a play room, that doubled as the home for my girly goods, but has become only useful as a bedroom, and is girlier than the girliest room I had as a child - it makes me woozy to spend time there.

The plan: simplify. Reduce the number of colours, strip the visible contents of the room. Focus on functionality - which means having less things to knock over when dancing, comfort for singular or group lazing, access to art materials and books that I actually read. It is time to put away the pagan paraphernalia that no longer brings me solace, and replace it with the real-world things that do - gardening books, feminist histories, modern literature, fresh flowers.

I encourage every woman to find a room, or at least a corner, of one's own. A space that no-one else gets a say in the look of, and which no-one else is allowed to disturb you in. It sounds indulgent, but looking after your sanity is not an extravagance.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I'll get this out there now so I can then move on to pleasanter subjects - I am fat. It is a fact of life. It wasn't always so, and I don't intend for it to always be the case, but currently, it most definitely is.

My weight is probably the area in which I most struggle to keep my understanding of myself untainted by the opinions of others. I suppose it is the most obvious thing about me - I don't need to say or do anything for complete strangers to know this piece of information about me.

The problem lies in the things so many people assume about me by knowing this one, superficial fact. They are taught to believe that I am lazy (or I would work off the fat by forcing myself to exercise), lacking in will-power (or I could not have allowed myself to become so grotesque) and even selfish (draining the public health system... apparently.)

I wish they had a Nigella attitude to fat - she once said in interview that when she sees an overweight person, rather than seeing something disgusting, she thinks about how delicious it must have been to get to that size. She said she only avoids being too large herself because her love of food is balanced by vanity. (I already adored her as a character not to mention her magical ability to put all that lard directly onto her extraordinary bosom, hips and bum - but when I read this she became my absolute goddess!)

I wish when people saw a big person, they were made to think about what a sensual, pleasure-enjoying, life-loving soul that individual must be; about how much FUN they must be to spend time with - not about how horrible they are. (I do suspect that at least a little of the fatty-hating comes from jealousy - it must be painful for women who slave away meeting society's expectations to be confronted with someone who doesn't seem to be burdened by such pressures.)

But I can't change what people think, I can only change how I react to it.

This is how I view my body. Firstly, I do NOT hate my body. It has some problems, certainly, and rather more than it did previously. For example, I am still pretty strong for a girl, but not as strong as I was. I can still move in most of the ways I want, but, admittedly, not as easily as when I was slimmer and fitter and more flexible. (I can also no longer do 50 dolly-spins in a row on a gym-bar... but what sane nearly-30-year-old would want to?) I also worry about becoming a mother - I would love to enjoy an easy and safe pregnancy, then be able to chase after a toddler who can depend on the full functioning of my body for their well-being, and ultimately to raise healthy people who are so natural with their diet that they never even have to think about it.

As for looks, my body was never perfect, and I never minded that. I learnt young that almost all women hate at least something about their own bodies, so I realised there was no use fretting over the few flaws in mine. There are a few more things to dislike about mine these days; my double-chin and hanging belly (which becomes rolls of belly when I sit) are certainly not attractive, nor are they signs of a body in highest health. And the former joys of wearing flattering and beautiful clothes have transformed almost exclusively into the art of hiding flaws.

But when I see myself - as I do in full, completely naked, in the bathroom mirror every morning - I do not want to turn away. In fact, I mostly like what I see; I see a quite lovely combination of womanly curves; a playful, sexy, wobbly piece of LIFE. Some mornings, I even join my reflection in a little groove - just indulging in being a woman, being naked, and being happy with myself.

Most importantly, what I LOVE about my body is what it does for me. It has five highly functioning senses to get me gorgeous pleasures - sex and cuddles, music and conversation, exotic perfumes and the fresh scents of nature, rainbows and sunsets and yes, rather a little too much indulgence in the joys of TASTE. On top of this, my womanly functions appear to be in full working order, I suffer very little ill-health, and this body of mine still gets me where I want to go.

To me a body is just the vessel for the mind. My mind is ME, my body is just the means of that person being alive in the world and experiencing all its wonders. I am aware that I could live longer and enjoy more future wonders if I took better care of this vessel. But then today's wonders are hard to forgo in the name of practicality! Especially when I'm being told that the real reason I should forgo that scrumptious blue cheese, that glorious creamy pasta, or that both delicious AND mentally-exciting glass (okay, bottle) of wine is merely to LOOK better.

What could be less important than looks? I tell the world this all the time. It's time I started believing it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Project Pickled Pear

In the name of making a start, I'm writing an introduction to what I aim to do here.

Essentially I want to explore ideas of self-sufficiency, in a very broad sense. My independence - physical and mental - have always been supremely important to me. Currently the necessity to be able to be alone in the world are taking on new meanings for me.

This is my context: I am approaching 30, newly married, planning children, and finally taking the way I make money seriously. The impending 3-0 is pleasing me, not least because it has brought about a reflective tone to my thoughts - a sense of taking stock of where I am, where I want to be, and how I intend to get there.

My husband is all a person could want in a partner, and our love is the greatest thing I have achieved in life, and the backbone of my future. But we are at the stage in our relationship that I am suddenly in need of redefining myself as something separate to that love, rediscover the things I loved about myself before I found someone else to love me.

I am not planning to become a mother for another couple of years, primarily for practical considerations. There is also one very important thing for me before undertaking motherhood - to feel that should I have to, I would be able to do it alone. My father died when I was 9. When he was first diagnosed with cancer, several years prior to his death, my mother thought to herself "I can't do this on my own". She was gripped with fear at the prospect of having no partner to help her. As a result, she was even more paranoid, over-protective and clingy than she would have been otherwise. Her inability to be alone is still a burden on mysef. I am determined to never let such fears overcome myself, or my future children. Although I have left my former paganism behind, I still find the maiden-mother-crone model helpful. I see myself as a strong huntress, almost at the peak of my skills, preparing to use my strength to protect my future cubs. I imagine myself as a mama-bear and think about what I will need to undertake that role brilliantly.

My career, as always, is less interesting to me than anything else in my life. But I have learnt a degree of practicality. Money is something that is necessary to all my other life plans, and I now realise the ways that work best for me to make it. I have learnt that I need to feel good at what I do, but more importantly useful and productive - not destructive - in my society. I am trying to live my politics in everything I do; in how I make money and how I spend it. I still have a long way to go.

I wish to catalogue all the things in life that bring me closer to self-sufficiency. Welcome to my work.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Watch this space

I have spent this inspired evening setting up this new blog's appearance. I will fill her with thoughts soon.