Wine Is No Longer A Part of My Narrative

I remember the general time period when I started to question whether or not my husband and I were drinking too much, too often. It wasn’t one incident in particular, rather a group of them.

It was Easter Sunday several years ago when I walked into a back room at my in law’s home to find my husband had passed out, drunk, on fruit-infused vodkas.

It was a Monday when “Sunday dinner” had included more wine than food, and that day was a special hell of feeling too headache-y and nauseated to do much in the way of parenting. So I called a babysitter.

It was wine in a coffee mug, even though I don’t even drink coffee.

It was selecting restaurants based on whether or not we’d be able to have a drink with our meal.

I wouldn’t say that I had reached the point of interventions, Betty Ford clinic, and AA meetings for the rest of my life. But I could see it going there, quickly. I had no ability to moderate or regulate my drinking.

So I quit drinking, altogether. Wine is no longer a part of my narrative.

It is still a part of my husband’s, which is a little weird. Since I never got to the point of having an actual problem, I guess it seems innocuous.

But still, it’s weird because in the grand picture, deciding to no longer drink alcohol is a pretty big life decision; one that isn’t taken lightly and certainly requires support. Most of the time it doesn’t matter to me, though. I’m not – like – salivating at the thought of a glass of wine; and I still cook with wine or beer and vodka. I even occasionally take a drink and hold it politely to lessen having to explain myself at parties.

I get it. Drinking your way through the hardest years of parenting (or just adulting, in general) has always been a thing.

Ladies used to drink their martinis after serving dinner in the 50s; and they’d down wine coolers all day to get through the summer months in the 90s.

Alcohol is to motherhood as fish are to water.

And yet, to me, it seems more now than ever before.

Probably – at least in part – thanks to social media, just how much women drink to get through the trials and tribulations of motherhood is in your face. It’s everywhere, every day. Having a bad day? How about some rosé. Midweek got you down? WINESDAY! Stressed to the max just getting your kids out the door for school? It’s 5 o’clock, somewhere, right?

It’s everywhere.

Making matters worse is the attitude the general public takes when you stop drinking.

We don’t live in a society that supports quitting. Anything. Giving up alcohol in 2019 is like showing up for an AA meeting only to be greeted by shots of tequila and motivational handouts that say “it’s okay once in a while…”

It took me about 6 months to actually quit the sauce, altogether. Every time I told myself that this was it, I’d have another bad day and meme after meme on Facebook justified (in my head) that wine was the Land of Milk and Honey for mothers. Or we would go out to dinner with family that orders by the bottle, and that was all I needed to postpone my cutback another day.

Then, in 2016, I got pregnant, so wine was officially off the table. That’s when things got weird.

It’s either I was too tipsy to realize how weird things were before, or the result of me no longer drinking – when I used to be a regular partaker – was that things became uncomfortable between me and the general crowd in which I find myself often.

Nonetheless, uncomfortable.

There were the people that wanted to prove to me that it was perfectly safe to drink in pregnancy.

There were those that – after I was no longer pregnant – made a big deal about how I could drink again. And when I told them I was breastfeeding, they went into the prove-it’s-safe mode again.

Now they run the gamut.

There are the people that I never realized get sloppy drunk every. single. time. I. see. them.

And there are those that ask what I’m drinking, then joke that since there’s no alcohol in my cup I must be pregnant (again).

Then there are the people that ask stupid questions when I say I stopped drinking. Like “well what do you do to have fun?” (As if the only way to have fun as an adult is to get shit faced.)

And finally there are the people who use it as an opportunity to justify their own drinking (“oh I just couldn’t do that”) or even get outright hostile towards me. As if – at the end of the day – my personal choices with regards to my body and what I put in it have anything to do with anyone else but me.

If that makes other people uncomfortable, I guess that speaks more to them and their own issues than anything else.

Wine was such a prevalent part of my narrative for years. It no longer is anymore.

Did Somebody Say Aebleskiver Asylum?

Okay, I didn’t really have any aebleskivers; yet, of course. And I’m not in an asylum. But yesterday I started off my three day tour of this strange Danish town by sharing with everyone the story of how my husband sent me to Solvang, CA, on a little bit of a “mental health retreat” since I’m Pookie-less and in a bit of a funk these days.

Yesterday we established that if you have a case of the funks, Solvang can provide a fix through: (1) the eating and drinking; (2) weird, bizarro-shit; and (3) shopping.

Today the trip continued into this faux Danish town and all it’s glories.

#4 If the fix for a case of the funks is shopping (which we all know it is, and already established Solvang is good for), Solvang is the place for it.

I won’t go into the entire list of things that I purchased; although, I will say this: the majority of it was not for me. It was for my family. I got food, I got souvenirs, I got rosemary olive oil that may as well be gold for what it cost. And while just about everything in Solvang is overpriced, I am happy to say I found some pretty good deals regardless.

The one thing I got for myself that I must discuss at length, though, is something that I never thought I would find up here: a zebra-printed apron. I almost screamed in the middle of the shop when I saw it.

#5 If the fix for a case of the funks is bizarro tourism crap, Solvang is the place for it.

I originally planned on hitting up the miniature pony farm to see the cute 34 inch ponies, but that got scratched after 15 minutes of driving around looking for it to no avail. Instead, I returned to the downtown area of Solvang and went to the Hans Christian Andersen museum.

The museum, itself, was a little drab. It’s a little larger than a room and has a bunch of old copies of the guy’s books, plus a doll house and a head bust of Andersen, himself. Below the museum, though, is the Book Loft – which had tons of amazing books I spent about an hour looking through. I could have spent more, but I was getting hungry.

Later in the day, I went to the Old Mission Santa Inez. The mission nearby where we live sits on a busy street, and is always noisy. There is a garden in the center of it, but “peaceful” is never something I envision it to be. Old Mission Santa Inez on the other hand, is a quiet gem nestled above rolling hills and vineyards. There is an awesome outdoors Stations of the Cross installation; and there are benches that you can sit on to just relax.

Clearly this mental health thing is working, because while I was sitting in the quiet outside the mission, I realized that this is the first time of true quiet I’ve had since my vacation almost six months ago, to Chicago. What is wrong with that picture? Everyone’s lives are busy. When you have kids, there is always noise (except when the kids are in bed). But I think in our house, we go beyond that. Something is always on – be it a radio, a cd player, a computer, or a TV. We never just sit and enjoy the quiet together.

This has got to change or I will for sure be admitted to Aebleskiver Asylum, and for longer than just a few days.

#6 If the fix for a case of the funks is gambling away all your life’s savings, then Solvang is the place for it.

I didn’t actually gamble away all our life’s savings. I only gambled thirty bucks. And I lost it all.

There is an Indian Casino just a few miles North of Solvang, and I’m familiar with it because my mother used to come up here all the time to gamble in the middle of the night with her boyfriend; and also because on my birthday this year I came up and won about 300 dollars on Keno.

No such luck this time. At 30 I gave up. During the day, the place is also filled with tons of old people smoking cigarettes, so 30 minutes and 30 bucks was about it for me.

So now I’m heading out again – for some more of #1 (the eating and the drinking). The credit cards are going to have to rest now, and my liver will pick up the slack. On the third Wednesday of the month, Solvang has a Wine Walk – $20 for a glass and 5 tasting room tickets. After the Wine Walk I’m going to venture up to Santa Ynez (the town) to eat dinner. Much like Solvang, Santa Ynez has it’s own theme – only rather than Danish, it’s the Old West. Who knew in the middle of wine country you could find so much weirdness?

So I guess I was right, huh?

I pulled over just to get a photo of that sign.

Nothing is worse than someone who gloats.  I mean, the old “I told you so” gets pretty old, especially when you already feel stupid as is for whatever you may have been wrong about.

Well, faithful blog-followers, today I don’t care.  Today, I’m going to be as gloating and pretentious as I want.  Because you know what?  I guess I was right, huh?

Before the holiday weekend, I posted about the three most compelling reasons to avoid the 4th of July.  They were compelling in my book, although it appears no one listened to me.  Here are some stats:

Drunk Driving

The results of drunk driving statistics were mixed across the country.  In some areas, including the Midwestern states of Illinois and Ohio, an actual decrease in drunk driving arrests were reported.  Other areas of the country though, including my home state of California, saw as much as a 33% increase in drunk driving activity on the books.

Fireworks Injuries

The injuries and deaths this year from the use of illegal fireworks remains staggering.  Numbers have not come in total for national statistics, although deaths across the country have been reported by the hour, with injuries soaring well beyond those.  Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that fireworks-related injuries have actually been down in recent years, the numbers dropping from 9,600 in 2004 to 8,600 in 2010; although, the details are becoming more disturbing.  In Georgetown, an 11 year old boy was injured in a fireworks accident last night.  And if you think that incidence of a child using fireworks was isolated, think again:  even the neighbors across the street from my very own home were letting their five year olds light rockets in the street.

But it went beyond that…

There were victims of drownings in Oregon and SW Washington, and a number of other non-alcohol-related car accidents and traffic violations reported around the country, just as a mere consequence of so many people being out for the holiday.  I suppose the only real levity to the 4th of July in the news were the increased number of U.F.O. sightings around the world (which, according to The Examiner, is typical for the annual holiday).  Where’s Will Smith and Jeff Goldbloom when you need them?

So I guess I was right, huh?  Maybe next year you will all take into consideration the dangers presented on a holiday that 1/4 of our country does not even know is celebrated for.  In a discussion with a friend about my disgust for the 4th of July, I stated that it wasn’t the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or the freedom our country holds so dear, that I hate about the holiday.  It’s what so many people in our country have done to it.  I’m all for a good time, if you are responsible in doing it.  But the degradation of common sense in this country seems to have exploded over the last decade or so.  Never drink and drive.  Know your limits, and do not operate fireworks when under the influence.  And, for God’s sakes, do not let your children set off explosives, no matter how competent you think they are in handling fire.

Even the hipsters knew it was a bad idea to get out of control with the 4th of July – if those guys can control themselves, next year you can too.

Four Things Not To Do At Your Wedding

Let’s go with another list, only this one is not so much about my train-wrecks in the dating world as it is about what to not do at your wedding.

Of all the weddings I have been to, at least one or two things have been done that made just about everyone in the room gossip the day after.  From a bride who got so wasted she couldn’t walk, to a groom complaining loudly about the gifts they got – there have always been a number of faux pas when it comes to weddings.  And this should come as no surprise with the number of wedding etiquette books and websites that are out today.  Updated every year, these etiquette manuals are made to ensure that you don’t leave your wedding with less family and friends talking to you than you went in.

Now I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of the things listed in those etiquette books, most importantly because they seem to lack the understanding that in a crippling economy, money actually is an issue.  So with that in mind, I have come up with my own etiquette, which is as simple as the four things not to do at your wedding.  Avoid these and you should be golden.

#1  Don’t complain about your gifts, either before or after your wedding.  This goes beyond weddings to babies, birthdays, etc.  When someone goes out of their way to bring you a gift, even if it is a meager one, you should be grateful they sacrificed their time and money to show you that kindness.  I have been to a lot of weddings where people did not bring gifts and the bride was complaining about the disparity between gifts on the table and guests in the reception hall.  And I’ve seen people complain on their Facebook pages about the gifts they received – all of which is completely inexcusable if you want to keep friends.  If you don’t like a gift, be considerate and return it quietly.  And whether you like the gifts or not, always send a ‘thank you’ via the mail.  Not sending a ‘thank you’ for any type of major gift (be it bridal, wedding, baby, anniversary) is a sure way to lose friends.

#2  Don’t change into slippers once the reception begins.  This may seem petty, and while you are the bride/groom and you should be having a good time, it is in very poor taste.  For one, you’ll ruin the pictures.  For two, you’ll set the standard for your guests to strip off or change other articles of clothing of their own choosing, and as fellow attendees I can say with certainty that we don’t want to see that.  Rather than changing shoes, do something different like wear comfortable, yet stylish shoes from the get-go.  I’ve been to weddings where comfortable, wedding flip-flops were worn; wear stylish, matching tennis shoes were on the entire bridal party.  You don’t have to go ten miles down the road to Tackyville to be comfortable.

#3 Don’t give us updates about your pregnancy.  I know, I know – having a baby is a blessed occasion, and you shouldn’t hide anything.  But, really, you should.  I’m not arguing that anyone should be ashamed about being pregnant before getting married – it’s the 21st century and a lot of people do it.  And props to those that see it as the opportunity to “do the right thing” for the baby.  But when you announce updates (“Thank you everyone for coming, and we wanted to let you know we just found out – it’s a girl!”), you invariably subject us to Aunt Beatrice and Grandma Flo’s gossipy conversation about how the bride shouldn’t have worn white, and the groom had better start looking into management positions to feed the baby.  I went to one wedding quite a few years ago and did not even know the bride was pregnant until she announced the sex of the baby during the toasts, and was then subjected to two hours of my date’s mother telling me all the details of just how the groom’s vasectomy didn’t stick.  Thank you, I’ll pass.

#4 (And this one particularly applies to those that also fall under #3), don’t get CRUNK.  That’s right, I said it.  Don’t get so crazy drunk that you can’t walk or speak clearly.  You see that crazy chick in the photo above?  I bet she’s regretting allowing a beer bong at her wedding reception now, wouldn’t you?  Not only will being a complete drunk at your own wedding ensure family gossip for years to come, but you’ll ruin the pictures and garner a reputation.  A wedding I attended last year was so out of hand with the drunkenness that we actually left before a full on group orgy broke out.  As it turned out, the debauchery didn’t really start until the after party, but it was only because of the drunken displays at the reception, itself, that I had to end up being told about it.  Twenty years from now, you don’t want your kids to look at your wedding album and see you falling over your dress with champagne spilled all over you.  Trust me, you don’t.  We all know the planning process has been a stressful one, but just save the heavy drinking for the honeymoon (even if that ends up being one night at the Motel 6 down the street from your apartment).

It would seem that these things would be common sense, and yet every wedding I attend has some semblance of at least a few of them.  No matter how many weddings you have been to, when your big day comes I know you will be tempted to do one of these horribly tasteless, unbelievably obnoxious things.  Just remember what it was like to be a guest at that one wedding when the bride fell over after too many whiskey sours and showed her panties to the entire crowd.  You don’t want to be her, now do you?