• On unabashedly saying no to booze

    As I get older, my tolerance for BS has shrunk to near negligible levels. I just don’t have the time or energy for the things I don’t have time or energy for. You only get one lifetime – one in which the days seem to roll on by ever faster – and I’m not going to play along on matters of convention just because.

    Alcohol is such a founding pillar of both social and work culture, and I’ll admit, I used to drink just to fit in. But I’ve largely called it quits.

    Color Martini: "Maya's drink (at Tokyo Go...

    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    I hate beer and wine – and that’s usually all that’s ever available at work dos. Occasionally I’ll indulge in, and enjoy, a spirit or a liqueur among friends. But as a rule I generally don’t enjoy booze very much. I had my few years of drinking on weekends, and my fair share of flushed, tipsy photos snapped in the process … and I’m well and truly over it.

    Alcohol is expensive. And I’m a cheapskate. Even at events where booze is flowing freely, I unashamedly abstain. At one particularly tedious evening some time ago, mixers were on offer from the dedicated bartenders, and I thought I’d try to drink to pass the time. A couple of sips in and I called it quits. Lesson learned. (Sorry, I have no qualms about wasting booze.)

    Drunk me is not the best me. One drink – max two – and I’m gone. I’ll probably fall asleep within the hour. If I’m driving (which is also rare), it’s best not to touch a drop. Plus I get the dreaded Asian deep red flush – it’s a full body thing for me. Not attractive; extremely embarrassing.

    And you know what? It’s not as strange or awkward as I anticipated.

    At one industry awards dinner, I refused both the red and white wine as the bottles were offered around. A little while later, my boss simply said, “You don’t drink wine, do you? We might swipe your glass” and passed it on to someone else who was apparently juggling two kinds of vino.

    At a bar meetup with a group of strangers (and one person I’d met once before), I ordered a plain orange juice. “You’re on the hard stuff!” one joked, and didn’t say any more on the matter.

    Occasionally I break ranks. I succumbed to nervous drinking at a lunch function not so long ago, surrounded by chefs, food writers and other hospo types. I couldn’t feel the champagne flush, but sure enough, when I ducked into the bathroom I looked well and truly sunburned. And as it was a four-course meal with a different matched wine with each dish, I tried a few sips of each – figuring it was a rare chance I should seize. (SO. MUCH. WASTE. And is it a prerequisite to love wine in order to earn your ‘foodie’ stripes or what?) Takeaway: I still hate wine, even good wine, and even wines chosen to complement amazing food.

    It’s funny how alcohol and caffeine are our sanctioned drugs of choice. But maybe we’re becoming more accepting of people who don’t partake. I’d like to think so, anyway. With evermore complex dietary requirements becoming commonplace (I swear every third person I come across is either vegan or gluten-free), perhaps we’re becoming less judgemental about whatever others put – or don’t put – into their bodies.

    (This post was partly inspired by Clare and Cait.)

  • Let’s talk about drinking

    Here’s a question. How often do you have Friday (or any day) drinks at the office?

    Drinking is such an integral part of Kiwi culture, whether it’s beers by the barbecue or beers in the boardroom after hours. Any excuse for beer’o’clock, really. I’m constantly getting alerts notifying me to the fact that someone I know has joined the I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a New Zealander Facebook group. Sad, but telling.

    Epic drinking stories are a sign of pride, to be told and retold and elevated to legendary status. We had drinks this week for a colleague on his last day. Out came a story about literally crawling home after a particularly raucous evening at work (not long after joining the team…) I’ll admit I’ve had a few benders in my time, but not for a looong while, and me falling asleep at the end of it is about as exciting as it gets – I don’t get rowdy, I just get incredibly drowsy. I’m the most boring drinker EVER.

    I actually kind of dread work drinks, because after a couple I’m hammered enough to call it a night. That’s why I generally stick to juice or something similar…because it’s REALLY obvious once the alcohol takes effect.

    But sometimes it makes me feel slightly uncomfortable being the odd one out, you know? Sometimes people think you’re uptight or boring, and it’s ten times worse if you’re already feeling awkward. I tell myself that choosing not to drink really doesn’t affect how others perceive me, or my career, but it feels like sometimes being a team player means being a drinker.


  • Shiny happy people

    Okay, so the title really has nothing to do with the post. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite of how I’m feeling. But I’ve got the phrase stuck in my head after seeing the REM video in the pub today at lunch, and it’s as good a title as any!Katie

    Why was I in the pub at lunch? Weeeell….

    BF texted me five minutes before the end of my first lecture. Mechanics FINALLY got round to looking at his car. Not the clutch after all, nooo…..but a crack in the gearbox. To the tune of $1300.

    Stomach started turning tricks, as it does when I’m stressed. I called him back, confirmed the horrible truth, and went for a walk around campus. I waited FOREVER at the crossing for this one way street, and a girl breezed along past me and walked across. I decided to do the same, seeing as the traffic was stopped and was only going one way. Of course, the bus driver at the lights honked at me; obviously their light went green just as I started across. I ate the chocolate brownie I made last night. I generally wallowed for a bit, then went to the library and lost myself in a book till I was due to meet a friend for lunch.

    “I need a stiff drink. Where to?” I texted.

    “London Bar?”

    “Sounds good,” I sent back.

    London Bar was civilised enough to not open until 4pm, so we went to Father Ted’s next door (open from 10am, FYI). I nursed a whiskey on the rocks, he had a Guinness, and we had beer battered fish and chips. REM, Oasis, Justin Timberlake, Amy Winehouse and the Ting Tings played in the background. Then we debated over whether the Sugababes’ Freak Like Me was their first single.

    He said: No, it was that one, you know, with the car, where they…um…and it has the word situation?

    Me: *puzzled look*…… OH!!! *bangs head on bar top* Wasn’t it called Destination something!!

    He knew what I meant. I knew what he was talking about.

    “That was IMPRESSIVE! Just from the one word!”

    (I just googled it. It was actually called Overload, although one of the search results did call it ‘Destination”)

    We did a spot of shopping, where I failed to find a dress for my friend’s party. And we went into Smith and Caughey’s, and ooohed and ahhhhed over baby clothes and toys (since when does a posh place like SnC stock BONDS?? Since when did Bonds make baby gear??) In particular, a $79 music box amused us to no end, as did an antique telephone ($339) and a $55 baby comforter (I originally thought it was $5 and was almost tempted to buy it just because it was surely the cheapest item in the store….and what is a comforter anyway?? It looked like a piece of fuzzy fabric folded in half, topped off with a bear’s head, to me…).

    And why on earth did I check the prices on everything! And remember them six hours later??

    When I got home, me and BF popped over to see the LL. I had every intention of telling him we wanted a rent reduction if the water wasn’t sorted in a week. But he seemed so apologetic, I didn’t.

    So now I’m settled in front of the fire, trying to put off typing up a huge bunch of notes for a project, and thinking, when life throws lemons at you, just make a sour face, head to the bar and order a nasty, nasty whiskey.

  • Drinking responsibly



    Today I stumbled across a New York Times blog….on alcohol. It was pretty interesting –  comments on the latest entry seemed to shoot down the writer for her irresponsibility and accuse her of an addiction that she subtly hinted at (whether she really was alcoholic or simply a bit of a party girl remains unknown). Personally I wouldn’t jump to any conclusions  – one commenter pointed out:

    “ I’m concerned that so many people feel that drinking wine is a sign of a problem. Wine tastes good, and many people drink it to enjoy the taste or for the way it complements food. When something tastes good, the desire to overconsume may exist without there being an underlying addiction. I know sometimes I would love a second and third piece of cake, but restrain myself due to concerns for health. I don’t consider myself as someone with a “pastry problem” because of this. ”

    I LOVE cake. I have a horrendous sweet tooth (in fact right now I would love a sundae/piece of cake/a box of Pods…mmmm! I don’t usually restrain myself anywhere near enough. But what if I replaced ‘sweet tooth’ with ‘bourbon’? Would that be a problem then? Excess sugar is bad for you too. But isn’t alcohol worse? It impairs your abilities and damages your brain cells, where sugar, well, leads to fat/diabetes/etc. Hmm. Eating chocolate every night somehow seems a lot more innocent than drinking every night.

    This guy goes on about how tracking down spirits from decades gone past transports him back in time and helps him experience different eras …okay, sounds like crap to me, but whatever. But he’s right when he says it’s so important how parents drink, and how their kids see them drink.

    Mine never did. Ever. I never once saw them drink. Not while out – never a beer or a glass of wine, and never a spirit. My mum, for health reasons. My dad, well, “didn’t like it”. From what I could tell he had drunk before, you know, in his pre-me life, but wasn’t a fan. And he thought drinking was stupid. Ruins your life, wasteful, impairs you, etc. (Oh, and I think his dad was a heavy drinker).

    So yeah, I never got to taste any kind of alcohol growing up, let alone see my parents drinking (if they had, I’m sure they would have done so responsibly. I wish they had. But I mean, if they don’t want to drink, it’s their lives). I moved out shortly after the sixth form ball fiasco. I was told I couldn’t go to the afterball. Drinking is bad, evil, la la la. I explained there would be ID required at the bar (there wasn’t, but frankly, I knew I would be a responsible drinker, if I drunk at all, and I always have been. I’ve thrown up ONCE from drinking; it was probably my first time being drunk…had too much wine at our work Christmas do…). I mean, once we drove past a homeless looking person, and what did my parents say? “Oh, look, there’s a drunk person, see what alcohol does to you!” No jokes. They were ADAMANT. No middle ground. No moderation. Just – NO drinking.

    And of course, there was no liquor cabinet in our house. I was about 15 when I first saw one at a friend’s house. It was such a foreign concept to me. All those bottles, stored in a cupboard in the lounge? What on earth for? I mean, most kids sneak booze from their parents’ collections when they’re young and go off to parties, but not me. Out west ways, I don’t think there are a whole lotta houses with liquor cabinets – none of my friends, apart from one, have one. Some, most likely because they’re Asian teetotallers. The rest, well, are just westies. No self respecting bogans are going to store up booze at home – they will drink it all, at once, they’re never going to have enough to keep around for next time! And they can’t afford to build up a supply. Hence, the liquor cabinet is still somewhat of a mystery to me – a trapping of the Shore, or the east, or the upper middle class.

    I certainly don’t imagine me and BF will ever have one; I’d rather spend my money on other things. If visitors come round they’ll drink juice, or water, or whatever we have, and if we have dinner parties we’ll go to the bottle shop. But I am not going to abstain – our kids are going to see us drink occasionally, and HOPEFULLY learn that you don’t have to get pissed everytime, and fall asleep in your own vomit, and have to be carried home cause you’re so off your face. I can’t stand people who don’t learn their own limits! Once, twice, okay, but after that if you haven’t learned…. And I do not want my kid to be that person.

    “Too much is always too much, and none at all can also be too much; but tacking an even course between the two is usually just enough.”

  • I’m a useless drunk


    I don’t drink wine. I don’t drink beer, for that matter. I find both beverages foul and disgusting, and consequently they rarely,if ever pass my lips.

    I like a good spirit; a nice liqueur or a fine bourbon/whiskey. (Or a cheap RTD; you know, whatever.) Not that I’ve been drinking much at all this year, not even so much for the fact that I can’t afford it but I just don’t feel it anymore.

    I drink for the taste as much as anything, and I won’t drink crap just because it’s there/cheap/free/pink. (Beetroot aside, what’s pink that DOESN’T taste good?) Of course, this often means I’m out of luck at formal functions, or that I have to BYO instead of sponging off others as wine is the choice of tipple (girls) or beer (boys) at most gatherings.

    I will never be a wino. I’ll never be part of a girly gaggle who drink five bottles of sav in one night while watching Love Actually or Dirty Dancing. I can’t stand the stuff! I can probably choke down a glass of super dry chard if it comes to it, but I really don’t understand the female fascination with wine. Acquired taste or not, I can’t imagine what it would take for me to come to like it.

    It probably doesn’t help that alcohol was put up there with P and heroin by my oh-so-protective parents and I never got to spend my teen years in a drunken stupour in people’s basements/gardens/smelly flats.

    It’s probably also why I don’t drink and eat – I find drinking with dinner strange. I don’ t like mixing the tastes. I’ve never had a glass of wine with dinner…apart from my very first work do, when I had some white wine with my pasta and pizza at Ginas. Result? I snuck off to throw up in the bathroom. Got home, had a hot chocolate, puked again. Twice? Possibly, my memory is fuzzy. Never again.

    I’ve tried to learn to drink beer. It works out better than wine, but not by much. Too nasty to drink fast enough, resulting in your drink turning lukewarm halfway through. Then it’s a mission to struggle to empty it. And by the time I’ve had two I physically can’t drink anymore without feeling like I’m going to burst…I just can’t fit that much liquid inside me.

    When I enter the workforce for good something is gonna have to happen. Work drinks will not work for me. Not when I go beet red after half a beer/wine/spirit, and turn radioactive after one. It’s just not cool. With friends, you can delete the photos and they’re used to laughing at your gradual colour change (well, most of them, some just won’t let it go after all these years). But at work? When you’re meant to retain some semblance of dignity and professionalism, and convince people of your competency….I know I would judge me, and think “she can’t handle herself”, and that would spill over into my opinion of me as a worker or colleague.

    Maybe one day the dreaded flush will leave me, but somehow I doubt it. No, it’s hardwired into me, intertwined with the genes for neuroticism and perpetual lateness. I’ll just have to become a professional abstainer and do all my drinking in private.