I didn’t begin page 1 of the next 365 with a run or yoga. Instead, I lay in bed for as long as I could, and when the pain in my head refused to go away, I was grateful for Berocca.
On page 1 of 365, it wasn’t goals on my mind, it was food – ALL THE FOOD! A traditional English brunch – hastily crafted out of the Christmas leftovers in the fridge and including lashings of carcinogen bacon – helped put me out of my misery. I am grateful for my Statins.
On page 1 of 365, the old man forced me out of the house to take the dog for a walk and a swim and I cursed him all of the way. I may even have considered divorce for the first time this year as I rued that last glass of white of 2018 – that with hindsight, I didn’t really need. But I was grateful to our little dog for reminding me of the joy of the simple things in life.
On page 1 of 365, I warned the old man to remain outside a five-meter radius of me at all times and each time he breached it, I snarled and barked at him. But I was grateful that I could.
On page 1 of 365, I moved from breakfast to the main course of chocolate with ease. When the Celebrations had gone, I shifted gear onto the family box of Maltesers from NC’s stocking and the last couple of Ferrero Rocher that had somehow survived Kurt’s random assault on Christmas Eve. I am always grateful for chocolate, which has been a stalwart best friend through the toughest of times.
On page 1 of 365, I drank so much water that every Victoria’s Secret Angel would be proud of me, and I was grateful for clean water and a Soda Stream.
On page 1 of 365, I finished one series on Netflix and began a second on Amazon Prime. I can now see what Emily Blunt sees in John Krasinski, and I am grateful that wine has not killed as many brain cells as I suspected, and I could still concentrate. I only asked the old man once to explain WTF was going on.
On page 1 of 365, I ignored the call of the expensive bottle of wine from the fridge – that had somehow camouflaged itself behind the cheap wine and the turkey legs (that no one eats) over Christmas – and I am grateful for that surprising, long twelve hours of willpower.
On page 1 of 365, I decided to focus on networking, so I dedicated a good five out of twelve hours to social media, hating on Louis CK, stalking women I admire, commiserating with other drunks (women I admire), and celebrating the confirmation that there will always be something to laugh about – in spite of 2018.
On page 1 of 365, I didn’t swear to make drastic changes in my life. I swore once again to live life to the full and to hope that I can keep on narrowly missing the cracks. But when I do fall ass over tits into one of them, I promised myself to go out with a bang.
I farewelled my drinking legs in style this weekend.
But there are worst places than the Hunter Valley to find out that you’re a pussy.
Not even the enticement of membership to my favourite winery, Scarborough Wines, a life-long ambition of mine, along with the purchase of twelve bottles of my favourite Chardonnay (now safely stashed away from Kurt in the boot of my car), can change the fact that my body refuses to play ball when it comes to alcohol.
I know we’ve had a good run, and unlike all my previous, very silly, failed promises when I said that I would give up drinking because I was worried I might have a problem (!), I won’t be giving up anytime soon, however I might concede that I need to push down a tad more gently on the throttle.
It just proves that life’s a bitch, because first it takes our looks, then our bodies, our tolerance to wine and finally our brains. Phone number for the Euthanasia society handy, anyone?
Like those first grey hairs in your pubes, it’s got to be one of the most debilitating side effects of middle age when you notice those first signs of your alcoholic tolerance slippage, forcing you to approach old age with dementia as the only viable means of forgetting. It’s your body’s way of reminding you that you have lots of confused, bad-assed hormones and a predisposition to premature death unless you listen to it and cut the fuck down.
And for those who care…
According to Science Of Us and Cari Romm, ‘one of the major reasons for a hangover is that you simply become less efficient at processing your drinks. Each drink you force on your poor body takes about an hour to break down. Doing so is a multi-step process: First, a liver enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase transforms the alcohol you’ve ingested into a compound called acetaldehyde. Next, another enzyme called aldehyde dehydrogenase breaks that down into acetate, which then becomes carbon dioxide and water. When you’re 21, this process acts as a fairly well-oiled machine. But over time, our levels of the necessary enzymes decrease, meaning acetaldehyde — which is a highly toxic, nasty chemical — spends more time hanging out in your system, causing headaches, mouth dryness, nausea, and a host of other symptoms. ‘
What this means in practise is that we’re too fucking old to be having fun.
Also, ‘As they grow older, people may also build up more body fat, which leaves them more susceptible to alcohol’s effects. Fat doesn’t absorb alcohol, meaning someone who has more of it will have less space for booze to dilute — it’s the reason women, who generally have more body fat than men, also tend to have lower tolerance. The body also loses water with age — you have more water in you at 20 than you do at 40 — which, again, means the booze stays more concentrated in your system. ‘
As you’ll be aware from my past moans of frustration here on this blog, this pussy-liver condition of mine has been looming for a while, but being the stalwart that I am, I’ve chosen to ignore it thus far, in much the same way I’ve ignored advice about being too old to wear leggings and keeping my hair long.
For those of you still in denial, the symptoms start with noticeably worse headaches and flu-like symptoms the morning after, even after you’ve resorted to finer wines in desperation or an attempt at other drinks in search of that perfect elixir to provide a comparable buzz without the dire consequences.
The delightful young cellar hottie at Keith Tulloch Wines told me that hangovers are due to the amount of sulphur in cheaper wines, but I’ve tried expensive and organic wines and they’re just as unforgiving and generally the latter taste as gross AF.
Which is why I suspected that last weekend’s trip to the Hunter Wine Valley would be a test. Sobriety is not exactly a viable option on a two-day wine tour, accompanied by a man about to turn fifty and still searching for the secret to his life, and three young adults, excited as puppies about getting shit-faced with their parents, at their parents expense.
Remember those halcyon days when you too possessed the superpower to drink all night, get up in the morning and start all over again?
I was uncharacteristically careful. I volunteered as the responsible driver to some of the cellars (the ones I knew made shit Chardonnay), sipped at tastings and tried to pretend that I didn’t hate everyone. Although it nearly killed me to spit away the majority of each glass in the spittoons.
And then we reached the afternoon, parked the car at our beautiful house and walked through the lush vineyards to our local cellars – (a tad of misrepresentation there as there are no leaves on the vines in the winter, but fortunately the cellars have plenty stashed away).
And no judgment, but by the time we walked back home that evening I was actually seeing kangaroos, NC was cuddling Kurt and the Astronaut had sneakily set up Twenty Questions on the dining table – he was that confident about winning. Which was very fortuitous as it turned out because it distracted the old man’s middle-aged whinging about the Liberals not winning.
Anyone else feeling a little vulnerable that we still don’t have a prime minister?
And as I tucked into a vat of cheese, bread and cold meat, I was having such a good time that I thought I’d got away with it.
Until the next morning when I woke up at dawn to balloons in the garden, and a humdinger of a hangover that not even our cholesterol-infused breakfast, several sneaky black coffees and gallons of water could alleviate.
We still haven’t quite worked out how the Princess Spoodle managed to get stuck in NC’s shower cubicle the morning after the Christmas party.
We’re praying she didn’t have an all-nighter in there, but it was highly reminiscent of the tiger scene in The Hangover.
Did she actually have the skill to close the glass door behind her while she took her morning shower, or did she inadvertently close it behind her? Even more likely, did one of those malevolent, dosser teens who were staying at our house that night, think it would be a funny prank?
Fortunately, NC noticed her her sad little face peering through the glass as she took her morning pee.
Unfortunately, I can’t really blame Kurt for this one, as he didn’t surface until mid-morning, having partied like an animal himself until the early hours.
And in spite of the rules drilled into him before the party.
It was awkward, to say the least, when he came to sleep in the spare room in the early hours, only to find his father and myself already ensconced there due to HIS noise above our bedroom.
Obviously he is back in the doghouse (his father’s usual abode) for breaking those carefully negotiated house party rules. Why is plan A so difficult for Kurt? Which part of ‘no alcohol or food’ in his bedroom didn’t he understand?
Which means there’s another ‘good behaviour chart from hell’ fuglying up the fridge door, designed by the therapist this time in a last-ditched attempt to get our son under control and our parenting skills up to Antonia Kidman standards.
This one’s a real motherfucker of a chart with colour and bold and everything, a be-penitent-or-else, do-or-die chart, so that we can justify giving him his Christmas present. It will be a truly fabulous Christmas Day if Kurt doesn’t get his present. I might leave home for the day. It’s day three now and he’s already tried to negotiate and manipulate me into removing some of what he considers to be the more heinous tasks on there. Frankly, I can’t understand what his problem is with cleaning the bathroom floors with a toothbrush!
I live in hope that one day he will realise that his impulsive actions can have serious consequences.
Not that his father ever did!
Luckily, I am finding some consolation in the leftover Rum Balls from the party. I was quite surprised that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for Christmas Rum Balls and there were quite a few left over, which have been very therapeutic. To the point that I’ve been really quite concerned whenever I’ve passed those over-zealous RBTs this week, that I may actually be over the alcohol limit and the first person to lose their license for quaffing too much chocolate.
NB’s Punch went down surprisingly well though and I think it was a wise decision to make it non-alcoholic with all those sixteen year olds wandering around with their tongues hanging out, desperately seeking the thrill of illicit alcohol. It seemed funny at the time to surreptitiously add the gin to the glasses of the people we don’t really like, especially our neighbours who own the yapper mutts from hell next door.
A few notes-to-self for next year’s party in terms of organisation, though:
Try not to forget about the plates of carefully prepared canapés that tend to remain in the fridge after the first few glasses of wine.
No matter how intricate the canapés are, (and by ‘intricate’ I mean they have sundried tomato, a bell pepper or a fresh herb on them), all anyone is really interested in vacuuming down their throats after a few drinks are the (100 for $5) party pies and spring rolls.
Teenagers bring very little alcohol to the party, but consume vats.
Buying enough bread to feed the five thousand when you have thirty to forty guests is a mistake.
Do not start drinking before your guests arrive.
Check all the bulging, jangling, suspicious-looking rucksacks of invited teenagers and question why they need rucksacks for an afternoon party anyway.
Evaluate the old man’s ‘pissed-ometer’ level every hour, on the hour, before you introduce him to new friends you are keen to build long-term relationships with.
Do not think that you can eat as much finger food as possible because it is only the size of a finger, (and therefore a clever/evil misrepresentation of the actual calories consumed when you eat twenty of them).
Check where the Princess Spoodle is at all times, particularly if she is anywhere in the vicinity of crazed son and friends.
If there’s one certainty in life about the weekend, it’s that the vast quantities of food and wine I consume over the next 48 hours will be substantially greater than the meagre volume I allow to pass through my lips on the other five days of the week.
The weekend brings a different mindset to party people.
Fuck the diet! Fuck the weekly alcohol allowance dictated by some pretentious medical association who stupidly believes that 13 units is enough to keep us women sane and happy.
This is the first weekend in a very long time that I haven’t had to brown-nose to clients on a Saturday, and so the potential for liver damage is close to suffocating me with excitement.
All concerns for my health fly out the window at the weekend and my approach to eating and drinking becomes distinctly libertarian, turning from caution to decadence. I can already taste the melting chocolate from my Chocolate Fondant dessert coursing down my throat.
OF COURSE I can party all night long with NC and her friends, silly! Hangovers are for losers.
Anyway, there’s always sodding Sunday to worry about that shit.
On the menu tonight is a very late birthday celebration with some girlfriends in the city, followed by a session of Karaoke. NC and some friends are also coming along to help keep us middle-aged party animals awake beyond 9pm.
Because I’ve never done it, and because I still can. Because during some mad/sad moment when I was feeling that life was slipping me by, I forgot that I wasn’t eighteen and it suddenly seemed appealing and something I HAD to do – of course, I could blame Pinterest for allowing me to believe all those crappy inspirational pins about ‘only being as old as you feel’ and embracing life while you still can.
Nevertheless, I’ve been practicing all week. My defining Karaoke moment will be ‘I will survive’ by Gloria Gaynor, and don’t worry, I am sure that it will be video-ed.
This is all complete bravado bollocks, obviously.All of us middle-aged women are secretly petrified.
Nights on the town are a little different these days and if truth be told, the fall-out to this evening was embarrassingly disastrous – only the ‘real’ women are still ‘in’.
I’m not sure when exactly we women lose our ‘party’ balls? When did we start drinking equal measures of water to wine, cutting out carbs and sharing desserts?
Oh, the shame of it!
When did we start worrying about how many Tannins are in the wine or if the cream on our Tarte Tatin will make us bloated? What happened to those nights when we weren’t afraid of enjoying ourselves, or making fools of ourselves and were proud of bad hangovers?
When did I start worrying about how I will feel on Monday on Friday night?
Half my girlfriends are driving tonight. WTF!
When did we become so fucking sensible? Did the ‘Sensible Fairy’ visit one day, sprinkle us with ‘sensible’ dust and cut off our balls in the process?
At what point in my life did I start getting anxious about getting rat-arsed on a girls night?
I need someone to blame. Is it the kids fault, or that old devil called responsibility? Is it my deteriorating body or fear of premature death? I think the fear truly started from that first torturous 24 hour hangover (post kids) after a night drinking beer and chasers with my younger brother?
NO, tonight’s going to be different. I’m going to throw caution to the wind, let my hair down, party like it’s 1984 and show those teenagers how to really have some fun.
If I book the cab for 10.30pm, I should be in bed by 11, shouldn’t I?
I may need to revise my own advice about choosing wine over food, after last night. Let’s just say that my memories of ‘Vivid Sydney’ aren’t quite as ‘vivid’ as they should be.
Hangovers can be a b*tch when you’re middle aged.
Middle aged hangovers are one of the more tedious symptoms of getting older. While it might seem unfair to gather age-defining lines on your face and extra weight around your middle, not being able to console yourself with more than a few glasses of wine, is plain evil.
My excesses of those innocent-looking bottles of horribly cheap wine began to haunt me the minute I first opened my fetid mouth this morning, when the dog actually rolled away from my breath.
There are certain days in your life when you simply have to ignore the nagging need to cram as much into 24 hours as is humanly feasible, simply to fulfill some perverse notion of needing to achieve something every day. It’s as though once you reach forty, you need to treat every day as if it were your last, (in case it is) and so wasting a day (and relaxing, say) seems the height of decadence.
Today was one of those days, when the effects of alcohol damaged my whole raison d’etre and I was forced to concede the day for the purposes of recovery.
I am a loser. I admit that I achieved a whole lot of nothing today.
Hangovers are bad news; middle aged hangovers with kids/teenagers are brutal.
Of course I couldn’t admit to my still-evolving, adolescent brood (to whom I am normally preaching about the effects of alcohol over-consumption), that their primary role model was hungover. I couldn’t explain the real reasons for my lethargy, pallid skin-tone, need to remain prostrate on the sofa, nausea at the foul stench of dog food and inability to communicate effectively.
Fortunately, a pre-existing lower back pain issue seemed a reliable cover for my excesses as I planted myself in front of the tv, dog at my side, and erased all plans of ‘living’ for the day.
‘Are you hungover?’ asked Kurt with a sly grin plastered on his face as I began to explain the symptoms of Sciatica in depth.
I did manage to achieve a few things: I increased the level of the old man’s contempt for me, slept through Jack Reacher for the third time, devoured my Maccas cure in five minutes flat (and without drawing breath), upset both my children and gained 2 kgs.
Am I disappointed in my juvenile behaviour? Do I think that other women of a certain age are still going out and getting sh*t-faced on occasion? Don’t judge me – I’ve already been punished.
Perhaps it is finally time for me to grow up.
I admit that I am guilty of still refusing to acknowledge my intolerance to cheap white wine on an empty stomach. Unfortunately, noisy bars where you can’t hear yourself speak (or anyone else for that matter) make me nervous and to allay my anxiety I tend to drink very quickly – the simile ‘like a fish’, springs to mind.
I never have days off. Even when I have a cold, I push on through coughing and spluttering, spreading my germs; stoically. There is little compassion in our house for illness – it is seen as weakness (or worst case, ‘neediness’) and in our family ‘strength’ is requisite for survival. I came from the school of ‘you only have a sick day if you need to be hospitalized’ type of parenting.
By midday, once I had accepted that the 2L bottle of orange juice and three cups of coffee and Panadol weren’t going to cure the hangover from hell, I sought a man fix.
Which is where those restorative powers of a good old-fashioned quarter pounder with cheese meal came in – my final attempt to cure the insatiable hunger (scientifically recognized as ‘the munchies’). Sometimes a girl simply has to do what a girl has to do – Darwin called it ‘survival of the fittest’ – and I needed that dose of cholesterol to survive today. I did mention in my last post, The ‘Replacing Food With Wine Diet’ For Women, that sometimes blowing the diet clear out of the water at the weekend is necessary for success. Today was one of those days.
Of course, the family folded completely without the nagging matriarch to organize them. Where was mum? Why was she lying on the sofa? Was she pretending to have a bad back again? You might think you get taken for granted as a mother, but only until you go down and all those on board go down with you.
On occasion, in order ‘to live’ you have to ignore caution and refuse to cow-tow to the effects of aging. Because when you are finally forced to surrender to old age, you want to know that you went out fighting.