Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sober October

The final months of summer have treated me pretty well. The days have been beautiful and the weekends have been full. In August and September alone, I have: driven deep into the untamed wilds of Wisconsin (twice) for family weddings; bid lengthy, photobooth-heavy farewells to two friends who have been lifted from this city on the whimsies of the gods who oversee better-paying job offers and fellowship grants; pulled an exhausting but memorable Cubs-afternoon-game/Bears-night-game doubleheader (and all for free!); and attended my first ever Northwestern tailgate and football game.

Looking ahead, November and December refuse to be outdone, adding an impressive undercard schedule to the typical main event of holiday shenanigans. In mid-November, I'm getting paid to spend 5 days at a resort in Boca Raton. (There will be some work in there, I think.) At the end of the end of that resort stay, I jump back into reality with both feet by driving an hour south to Miami, going to the Thursday night Bears-Dolphins game, and spending the remainder of the weekend exploring the city that Will Smith made famous with my brother. (Word is he has the Kardashians on speed-dial.) I also have a $400 travel voucher on Frontier Airlines burning a hole in my travelin' shoes. To top it off, I have another reading at the Book Cellar lined up.

That leaves October, the attention-deprived middle child of the final festive months of 2010. How will I celebrate October? Well, basically by not celebrating. No beer this month. No alcoholic beverages of any kind. It will be a Sober October.

Age-Progression Technology: What Willy may look like by November 1st, 2010.

Of course, those who know me know that I'm not a heavy drinker by any means, not even when I'm at a ball game or a wedding, not even when I am making a point to drink. So, this month of sobriety is about more than drinking. It's about the lazy weekends and parties and various social obligations that go hand-in-hand with drinking. It's about what drinking doesn't go hand-in-hand with: personal discipline and enough alone time to sit down and scribble some words on a page.

Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't trade the good times I've had over the last two months for anything. But something happened two weekends ago, during family wedding weekend #2, right around the time the waitress at the Green Bay sports bar brought me my second pint of Guiness and a giant "appetizer" basket that included onion rings, fried cheese curds, mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, and french fries. That something was a reality check: summer was over. I hadn't made anywhere near the progress on my project that I planned at the beginning of the season. I picked at my appetizer basket, the savory juices inside every onion ring spoiled by the aftertaste of regret.

Alright, it wasn't nearly so emo. The onion rings were actually pretty good. But the point is that there are two possible paths. Path 1: I keep moving in the same direction, reach the end of 2010, look back at my writing and wonder how the hell I wasted the entire second half of the year. Path 2: I re-dedicate myself for a strong finish to the year, and get some momentum going into the winter months, which personal history shows is my most productive writing time.

I am willing to sacrifice a few foamy steins of Hefeweizen to get moving along Path 2. In the meantime, have a cold one on me.

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