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Sobriety v. giving up the drink

Monday 11/2/20

Walked ten miles yesterday. Must get back to running my stairs. It has been a few weeks since I did a good job.


Yesterday also marked 1596 days, or 228 weeks, without a drink. The other day someone asked me if I was still sober. I detail and explore my life in full in these pages, so that is all here. I'd argue that no one has ever revealed their life, thoughts, processes, and self as openly as I have in this journal. One might, for instance, attempt to think of anything comparable to it, and I don't know what one could possibly come up with. There have been revealing journals and diaries, but they were written, if you will, behind closed doors. I have opened all of the doors of my self.


I was never not sober, though, in the sense that I was never inebrious. What I did do was drink copious amounts of alcohol every single day. By copious, I mean twenty to thirty units. The amount of alcohol had no effect upon my thinking. I was not so much as logy. What it impacted was my body. My heart, most crucially. Fitzgerald wrote, while undertaking Tender is the Night, that he didn't write any of it under stimulant. That was the word he used. He was emphasizing to a friend his clarity of mind. I didn't become a different person when I drank, I worked as I drank, I wouldn't feel any need or inspiration to say something I wouldn't have thought or said if I hadn't been drinking. Drunk or sober isn't really the way to look at it. In fact, drinking as much as I did and remaining sober, was likely worse for my body. My quest is predicated upon many things, and one of those things is physical health. To withstand the stress I am under, the hate and bigotry with which I deal, to out-last very bad people, to be able to continue to endure, to create at the highest of levels now and for many decades going forward. And, when I get where I am going, to be able to enjoy life fully, for a long, long time.


I balk at the "sober" thing because I don't like the idea of anyone thinking I'd compromise myself mentally. That's not who I am. I knew I would have to stop drinking. There is a reason I count from Sunday with these week tallies. Sunday represents the start of a new week. Fresh beginning. We have spoken of the Week Game, which defines my life right now, and of course there was even that Wall Street Journal op-ed about it. On a final Saturday of drinking, I told myself to drink whatever I wished, as much as I wished. Because come midnight, I would drink no more. And that is exactly what happened. I went from drinking thirty units of alcohol a day--a unit being a beer, a glass of wine, an ounce of whisky--to drinking absolutely no alcohol at all. I simply decided. I went to no meetings, I had no shakes. I moved on and moved forward, because that is what I had to do--and I felt like my health was reaching a tipping point--in order to get my work to the world, which many people in this industry are trying to stop me from doing. They are still stopping me. But a time will come when they cannot. But that time would not have been able to come if I continued on like I did, or I drank until I was dead, which was a possibility with my irregular heartbeat and all.


I am not going to say anything willy-nilly. Every word I use is for a precise reason. Reasons. I am exacting in my language and my intention is always maximum clarity. Now, this can be complicated. One can have a story where certain things are left open, and things may "be in there"--as someone remarked to me the other day when we spoke of a new work I'd composed, called "Dead Thomas," which they maintained was the best work of fiction by anyone that they had read in many years, whereas for me, it was just another story I happened to do--and not spelled out explicitly, on the nose, in the first sentence of a work.


That's what someone like T.C. Boyle does, because he's an awful writer. He'll have a story about a teenage school shooter, and he'll have the teenage shooter wear a shirt that says Incel and make a speech that goes, "I am an Incel, that means woman won't have sex with me, I will do some shooting now." And you think it's a joke, but it's just someone that bad at what they do, and then being enabled in their complete lack of ability and glorified by a backwards, ethics-less industry that is a black hole for sincerity and substance, and usually even half-decent writing, let alone artful, impactful writing.


Having certain things open-ended make other, larger things more resolute. A different level of clarity that pulls a kind of clarity rank.


But when someone says to me, "are you still sober?" I like to be precise. I will not say I was not sober previously, because that has a mental implication. I would cut off my limbs before I allowed the quality of my work to be compromised. I am not annoyed by the question. I know what people mean by it. This is just how people talk, but it's not how I talk. A person asking it has done nothing wrong, and I suppose this speaks to one of the many differences between myself and others. I just want this matter to be understood. So I enter these thoughts into the record of these pages.