August 10, 2019

When 2007 rolled around, I turned 21. What if, I thought to myself. What if I decided to see what it feels like to be addicted to something?

By that point, alcohol was this nebulous thing. I’d roped a few people into getting me alcohol now and then, and it was fine. I’d started brewing and it was whatever. I had beer and it was alright. I went through a mead phase–

You went through several.

–I went through a wine phase, and an absinthe phase–

Don’t sell yourself short. You wrote an essay on absinthe.

–and a gin phase. That’s the one that got me. I had a bottle of Beefeater’s, what was to become my gin of choice, and I had an inch of it poured over ice and I was standing in the kitchen. Such a wide open space. The kitchen at that apartment was larger than my bedroom now, and it opened onto a living room the size of what we have now. I was standing tall in that vast plain of a room, staring down into my glass and watching the way the ice melting into the gin created swirls of two different kinds of transparent. I was thinking how it was probably due to the different ways the two liquids refracted light, and then I was laughing, because I was staring down into my drink like something out of a bar.

What if I decided to see what it feels like to be addicted to something? I thought. I drank every night that week.

Why ruin your life on accident when you can do it on purpose?

I don’t think I was thinking in those terms at that point.

Are you now?


Maybe you’re just afraid of doing anything by accident.


You’re sounding like me more by the day.

Learn from the best.

And so you set about with a will.

Like magic. I set forth my will with a stated goal and made it happen. My spell was spoken and washed down with liquor. I drank nearly every day from then on out. I spent thousands of dollars on alcohol over the next ten years. I went through more mead phases and more beer phases. I went through a distillation phase. Magic is empowerment through attention to detail.

The MEAD principle. Cute.

I drank hard with the choir, and then I left school and drank hard with the programmers. If there’s one thing that most programmers do better than computers, it’s drinking, after all.

I did some work at a bar, even. Just making their menu and website for them in exchange for free drinks.

You mastered LaTeX that way. A very you thing to do.

I did well at it. I still have one of the menus and some of the paper laying around somewhere. I did that until the bartender left and, when I asked for my next payment from the owner, he flipped out at me and threatened to sue me for impersonating him. I don’t think I realized Raffi, the bar manager who hired me, was already on his way out.

I drank my way out of one job and through a good chunk of another. I drank until I got better at it than I was at software. I drank myself into burnout. I drank until I collapsed.

You used up your spell slots. You ran out of will. You had to quit by accident.

I worked to quit, I’ll have you know. It wasn’t easy. It took meds and some rough nights.

You were less of a person then than you were when you started drinking. The you who started drinking by focusing on starting drinking was more real than the you who collapsed in the kitchen from a PNES and stopped drinking because she was completely empty of intention.

Should I start the daily drinking again, then?

You’re more of a person now than you were when you started drinking.

That, coming from you, is a glowing endorsement.

You may have been more of a person when you started than when you stopped, but you weren’t much of one, even then.