Archive for the 'Quitting drinking' Category

St. Pat’s: A study in contrast

March 17, 2011

3/17/05 – At mid-day, asked by bar management to leave outdoor party area for losing balance in a Johnny on the Spot and stumbling backward still pissing, in full sight of children. (Legend has it. In one version of the story, I pee on a kid, he cries, and I tell him, “Yeah, life is tough.”)

3/17/11 – At mid-day, hanging out in the driveway, teaching my 2 year old how to steer her pink princess big wheel.

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Birthday karaoke

March 7, 2011

Andrew Hicks

I turned 33 a week ago. It can be a tough age, 33. It claimed three of my heroes — John Belushi, Chris Farley and Jesus. All of whom exhibited an above-average fondness for prostitutes.

All things considered, this was the best birthday I’ve had in a long time, and it came together at the very last minute. The past few birthdays, I’ve tried to put together epic parties by hyping the event weeks ahead of time then spending most of the event itself wondering why everyone didn’t show up. And the truth is, no matter what type of social event you’re planning, only about half of everyone you invite will actually come. It’s like election voter turnout — you can MTV Choose or Lose it up all you want to, but 50 percent of the population is still going to stay home.

This year, I kept it noncommittal and low key. My wife’s birthday — earlier this month — and Valentine’s Day both were underwhelming for us, thanks to a lack of money and an abundance of baby demands. So I was either going to have no birthday, have a few people over on my birthday, or just go up to karaoke.

Karaoke night has been a social tradition almost since I moved up here. Every Thursday evening, the Mexican-themed restaurant I used to work day shifts in has karaoke in their bar. It’s right across the street from the Australian-themed restaurant I used to work night shifts in, so it’s easy to get old coworkers to stop in, have a few drinks and maybe sing some Roxette or something.

Once a month, they have karaoke on Saturday, and I found out Friday morning that the next night, my birthday eve, would be February’s Karaoke Saturday. I asked Tiffany about me going or us getting a babysitter and going. She was willing to drive the kids to St. Louis, drop them off overnight with a grandparent or two and then drive back so we could go together. I called my mom to ask about keeping the kids. My mom offered to come up to Springfield, get a hotel room and babysit there. Bing bing bing! Jackpot! Instant winner!

The hotel chain of choice for grandparents on both sides of the family is Drury Inn. There’s an indoor pool — which means Sarah can put on her floaties and cruise the perimeter with adult accompaniment — and a free happy hour. Three drinks per guest. None of the visiting grandparents are drinkers, so on a couple occasions, I’d sit and slam a six-drink happy hour while talking about family stuff.

These days, Dry Andrew can still enjoy the spread of free food at the Drury happy hour, which on various days includes microwaved chicken tenders, the microwaved contents of a giant can of chili, microwaved baked potatoes cut in half, microwaved hot dogs that are lukewarm and gray, iceberg salad mix, Ruffles in a bowl, and carrot and celery sticks.

On my birthday eve, Sarah laid waste to the carrot sticks, neglecting the chips in the process, which surprised and pleased me. Tiffany happened to call from home during Sarah’s carrot binge, so of course I bragged about it. Then Tiffany told me carrot sticks are a choking hazard to a 2 year old. One more lesson learned by New Dad after the fact, but wouldn’t it make me seem like a better parent if I told the attending physician my kid choked on a carrot and not a giant deep-fried meatball?

Sarah spent the night at the Drury with my mom, while I went to karaoke and Tiffany stayed home with Silas. I’d invited people up to karaoke the night before via Facebook, with the tantalizing promise that my elusive wife, who was pregnant for a total of a year and a half, would be joining in the festivities. When she changed her mind and didn’t show, there were grumbles of disappointment, but I was glad she was staying home to protect our valuable. (That wasn’t a typo. We only have one valuable.)

Had Tiffany come to the party with me, it would have been a more cohesive social gathering. As it was, probably 15 people were there because I invited them, but they were spread all around the room. Not everyone knew everyone, and a couple people didn’t know anyone but me, which meant some people weren’t having the best time possible.

On a selfish level, though, it was great for me, because I love to work a room when I can. I was trying to keep up with three separate crowds, which kind of reminded me of that scene in Mrs. Doubtfire where Robin Williams has to go to dinner with his family as the British nanny and do a job interview in another part of the same restaurant as himself. Minus the dressing up like an old lady, in my case.

At midnight, it was my birthday. I was invited out to the 3 a.m. dive bar people were headed to next, but when you’re 33, and you don’t drink anymore, the Taco Bell drive thru sounds like a way better idea than the afterparty.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah always laughs at my jokes.

Things I don’t miss about drinking

March 6, 2011

Andrew Hicks

1. Waking up with a hangover.

2. Not remembering everything I said or did.

3. Taking care of babies with a hangover.

4. Having to apologize for things I said or did.

5. Working all day with a hangover.

6. Paying four bucks a pop to drink beer in public.

7. Driving with a hangover.

8. Driving drunk.

9. Having to talk to anyone while I have a hangover.

10. Having to listen to drunk idiot monologues in bars.

11. Losing a day’s productivity to a hangover.

12. Having people not listen to my drunk idiot monologues in bars.

13. Staying in bed way too long with a hangover.

14. Messing around with fat chicks. (This also appears on my list of things I don’t miss about being single.)

15. Not being able to get rid of a hangover.

16. Giving over the majority of my free time to alcohol.

17. Anything hangover-related.

18. The erectile dysfunction that sets in somewhere between drinks number seven and twelve. The alcoholic ED factor kept #14 on this list from having far worse repercussions.

19. See #17. Hangovers are that bad.

20. The panicked Encyclopedia Brown feeling of having to identify where I am, how I got here, what day and time it is, and whether I’m supposed to be at work or not, then mentally tracking down the location of my wallet, keys, phone and car.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

"Silas, Bacteria. Bacteria, Silas."

Super Bowl kids

February 6, 2011

Andrew Hicks

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew once again dashed his daily productivity goal and did not have this blog posted before midnight. The culprit this time? Super Bowl XLV. Now, don’t assume for a second that Andrew cared a thing about the game. He had to double check which teams were playing before the game started so he wouldn’t look like a moron at the party. Andrew never watches football and, in fact, spent most of his high school years at a Christian school whose homecoming game took place on the soccer field against schools with names like Because He Died For Us Central.

Let’s not forget, though, Super Bowl is one of the major party days every year, and until just a few months ago, Andrew was a major partier. Super Bowl is only partially about the game. It’s also about gathering, eating a ton of food and talking over the game. Andrew estimates that this Super Bowl, the first since he quit drinking, he paid less attention to the game than when he was matching Anheuser Busch ads one beer per commercial.

The domestic takeover of Andrew’s life, though, was ever-apparent at this year’s Super Bowl party. He went with his wife and kids to the next-door neighbor’s house. Andrew’s two kids plus the neighbor’s four kids plus the neighbor’s best friend’s two kids plus another neighbor’s kid outnumbered the adults in attendance. Seven adults, nine children, and it was a completely new experience for Andrew to have his child playing in another area of another person’s house with other kids.

He had to frequently quit watching the game — no major sacrifice, but still — to go upstairs and check on his 2 year old, who was perfectly safe the entire time. Oh, and when one kid climbed up on Andrew’s shoulders during one of these visits and begged Andrew to take him for a ride, Andrew obliged him, not realizing that all the other young kids were going to see this, think it was awesome and each want their own turns. Then beg for second turns directly after completing their first turns.

Andrew quickly felt every bit of how out of shape he was, which he supposes is some kind of basic irony, considering Super Bowl is supposed to be the ultimate show of the atheletic strength and agility of the few contrasted with the passive, indulgent consumption of the many.

Oh, and Andrew wants to add that he was tired of people talking about Christina Aguilera messing up the national anthem immediately — partially because he couldn’t come up with an easy, decent joke about it. He is grateful, however, that the Aguilera incident caused entertainment gossip shows to dig up a hilarious 2003 clip of Michael Bolton having to check the lyrics of “The Star Spangled Banner” that he wrote on his palm. Funniest part was, people were still asking Michael Bolton to sing the national anthem at major events in 2003.

FAMILY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Baby Silas, ready for transport.

Fat Andrew: The Third Decade

February 4, 2011

Andrew Hicks

When I got to college, I was in the heart of my isolated-loner stage. I had all kinds of free time and a 20-a-week meal plan at the dining hall. The only restriction was that I could only get two entrees per trip through the line. I could live with that. I ate my ass off. I wore sweatpants for like three years. No belts, no stepping on scales and a personal appearance and demeanor that cried out “purposefully unlayable.”

Red Flag #1 was when I realized I was too big to fit on the Batman ride at Six Flags. I’d waited with a buddy in hot summer weather for almost an hour for the front car, and when we finally got on, I couldn’t get the shoulder harness in reach of the seatbelt clasp. A grunting, straining employee threw her weight into trying to wedge me for almost a full minute while the next train behind us was stopped on the track, riders waiting while swinging their feet. The acne-faced ride operator had to press the button that released everyone’s restraints so I could do the Lardass Walk of Shame. That sucked.

Red Flag #2 was when I finally did step on a scale and saw it tip 300 pounds. I was already not happy with myself in general, which brought me shame and despair. Well, there’s no temporary cure for shame and despair quite like a few Big Macs. One night, after binging on something I don’t remember, a switch turned on in my brain, and I knew I was done eating bad food.

The next day, I cut out red meat, fried foods and processed desserts and made sure to walk at least a half-hour per day. I even remember ordering the fresh fruit platter when out with some friends one night at a Mexican restaurant. It cost the same as everyone else’s dinner, but it arrived on a side plate garnished with leaf lettuce and a plastic flag sticking up that said, “Hey, fatty! I ain’t NEVER gonna fill yo’ ass up!”

My resolve stuck with me long enough to lose almost 50 pounds, then I started to slip. And it was around this time, age 19 and 20, that I really realized I didn’t just have to write down what I thought was funny. I could say it, too, and people would laugh. Some people even liked it when I talked serious.

I got a little self-esteem on my shoulders, made some enjoyable friendships and partied my ass off. Alcohol is chock full of empty calories, but I also lived in a college town that delivered pizza until 3 am. The Texaco was right up the street, offering chocolate pies and as much nacho cheese as you could fit on a plastic tray. Oh, and Mountain Dew slushees. Those were incredible.

I’d put every ounce of those 50 pounds back on by the time I joined Bally’s Total Fitness in February, 2001. My package came with two free personal-training sessions. Kurt, the personal trainer, looked like The Rock if he was white, 5’8″ and couldn’t raise the one eyebrow. What Kurt could raise was the entire stack of weights on the pectoral fly, and he’d make a show out of inviting the nearest hot girl in the gym to push against the top of the stack of weights with all her might, throw all her weight into it, then he’d lift all that. While he was keeping a half-eye on me incorrectly doing lunges across the exercise floor.

Kurt used to put me on this stairmaster/lunge combo machine, crank the resistance up to 20, then walk away while I surreptiously pushed the down button to get the resistance back to 1. And this was like seven years after my last gym class. I wished you could get the free personal trainer sessions after you’d been going to the gym for a few months and had built up a little tolerance and strength.

I kept going to the gym and working out for the next seven years, off and on. More on than off. I dropped an easy 30 pounds at firsst, even though I was eating whatever I wanted to and chasing it with gallons of beer. I’d go to the gym, lose a little weight, stop going and gain it back, but I never got close to hitting 300 again.

On two later occasions — the fall of 2004 and the late-summer of 2005 — I went back to the no red meat/fried food/desserts lifestyle. Each time, I thought it was a permanent change that would stick with me. Each time, I was wrong. In spring 2009, I dropped a bunch of weight because I lost my appetite for months due to depression. People would compliment me on the weight loss, and I’d tell them I wasn’t on a diet or working out. They’d say, “Whatever you’re doing, just keep doing it.” I didn’t usually tell them what I was doing was hating myself and hating life in general.

These days, I’m happy, I eat healthy sometimes, I eat crappy most of the time, and I’ve been recovering from a broken ankle since September. I’m ready to be physical. I’m itching for nice weather and talking walks and playing outside with kids. The best news is, I don’t drink anymore, and I have a beautiful wife who thinks I’m beautiful. I’ve got a handful of lingering problems with self-image, but they don’t seem tied into a weird food-based shame cycle.

Enough of this. I’m gonna go make dinner now. Probably nothing healthy.

FAMILY PICTURE OF THE DAY

My quiet neighborhood

January 30, 2011

Andrew Hicks

As I mentioned many, many blog posts ago, Tiffany and I rent a four-bedroom house with a decent-sized backyard and an old driveway whose tectonic plates are constantly shifting. When we first moved here in 2007, when it was just me, my wife and 14-year-old Josh, we lived in the double duplex next door. It’s two garages, four units and two garages. Us moving next door two years ago has been the complex’s only change in residence since we moved here.

In our old unit are a single mom and adolescent daughter. Next door, my friend and smoke break buddy I’ve written about here and there with the four small kids. In the third unit, a long-bearded old man living solo with no apparent friends or family. Even door-to-door salesmen have the sixth sense to avoid knocking on that door. The guy in the third unit is usually only spotted way after dark, when he occasionally wanders out to his front patio and takes a leak all over the concrete. The fourth unit is also occupied by a single old man, but this guy has kids and grandkids that stop by once a season or so. I did notice his Christmas tree stayed up well into January, but otherwise I’ve got nothing bad to say about the dude.

The house next door to us on the opposite side is vacant. It’s tiny and dilapidated, and it looks like it hasn’t been lived in for at least a decade. Still, during the nice-weather months, whoever owns it shows up promptly every Saturday morning to cut the grass and edge the yard. He cuts it with a diagonal crisscross pattern and everything, and it always irks me that the abandoned crack house next door continually has a nicer lawn than mine. Although, I will add, it doesn’t irk me enough to do any extra work on my yard.

Across the street is a two-story U-shape of rentals. During the nice-weather months, these neighbors can be spotted in lawn chairs, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes from shortly after dawn until the middle of the night. They quit their jobs so they could party more, which — from the standpoint of this former hardcore partier — is a truly ballsy move that speaks major dedication to the craft of alcoholism.

Next to this U-shape of apartments is a small-town bank whose employees offer the most consistently rude customer service I’ve ever experienced. Not to mention, when we opened an account, I got a box of 500 checks that said my name was Andrew S. Hicks. My middle name is Justin. Fail.

A couple houses down from the old four-unit lives a 90-year-old woman whose daughter and son-in-law come to walk the dog and take care of basic maintenance. This couple were regulars of mine at the last serving/bartending gig I had. They’d make a three-hour occasion out of dinner, each generally downing a handful of Old Fashioneds before ordering entrees.*

Down the block in the other direction is the day care where Tiffany worked when we first moved here. Her coworkers at the day care were a bunch of women and a single guy named Mr. Dick who had been working there for decades. Stepson Josh and I used to get big, immature laughs out of the idea of generations’ worth of parents leaving their small children in the care of Mr. Dick.

The junior high and high school are close enough that I can hear their intercom announcements from my bed. I’m way more attuned to school-announcement gossip than I rightfully should be. For instance, I know little Tommy Johnson got called to the principal’s office three times in the same week earlier this month. And, seriously, it was the week of MLK Day* AND there was a snow day. Tommy Johnson needs to clean up his act.

Just beyond our backyard is an assisted-living complex that houses mostly elderly people. The most visible resident, though, is a middle-aged fella who looks like a larger, longer-haired version of Vincent D’Onofrio in Men in Black. He walks his dog past our house probably six times a day when the weather’s nice, and whenever the dog stops to sniff or pee on something, Fat Vince looks around with his crazy eyes. I don’t like to draw the blinds, but sometimes I can’t help it.

I picture Fat Vince as living alone and probably speaking most of his words to that dog. He’s probably on the Internet a lot, too. He might read blogs. He might like comedy. He might recognize that I’m writing about him now. He might have thought this was a great blog until about a paragraph and a half ago. I might be in trouble the next time he takes Fido for a walk.

*Before I quit drinking, I used to fantasize that I’d be walking Sarah by their elderly mom’s house in the stroller, and they’d be there, having some kind of afternoon whiskey party. In this fantasy, I get toasted in the daytime and entertain a bunch of older folk. I can’t possibly be considered a deadbeat dad either, because in the fantasy, the actual Teletubbies are there to keep Sarah occupied while dad drifts away.

**Whether it’s whole, 2%, chocolate or soy, there’s no wrong way to celebrate MLK Day.

90-day chips

January 14, 2011

Andrew Hicks

Today marks 90 days since I quit drinking. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they gave you a 90-day sobriety chip. It’s a good thing I’m not in AA, though — chips always make me thirsty for beer.

Junk food triggers are astounding in the world of addiction. Like Cheetos? They make me want crystal meth. Funyuns have some kind of mystical marijuana connection, because they never taste like real food otherwise. And Chicken in a Biskit crackers, for whatever reason, make me want to inject back pain medication into my spine.

I tried to hang onto my drinking habit after I got married. I stopped going out drinking practically every night, but I’d still buy myself a pre-portioned amount on the way home from work. It would be a regular bottle of wine or a giant bottle of wine or a six pack or a half-pint poured into a gigantic convenience store beverage. I drank progressively less every married year, but it was still enough to knock Betty Ford on her sober first-lady ass and still enough to give me some form of hangover.

When you get to your thirties, and you still drink like you’re in your twenties, you get hangovers like you’re in your forties. Particularly if you drank a bunch of forties just before bedtime.

A dad, especially one who’s been a stay-at-home dad since he shattered his ankle last fall, is on call 24 hours a day. He might have to jump out of bed and slide down that firehouse pole on a second’s notice at any time. There are dozens of reasons my life is better off without drinking, but the elimination of the piercing hangover headache wins the blue ribbon.

I’m proud of hitting the 90-day mark, and I’m equally motivated to put more and more distance between Sober Andrew and Drinking Andrew. I look forward to being able to say it’s been six months, it’s been a year, it’s been 5 years since I took a drink. I like being able to go hang out in bars with people who are drinking — with friends I once only felt motivated to make so I’d have people to drink with — and leave sober with almost all the money I came in with.

I don’t have the nights of crazy abandon I once did, and I do miss them, but I also don’t have the feeling that alcohol is driving a wedge between me and the positive benefits of contributing to my family. Of caring for and loving small human beings that are half me.

Some people can’t make the choice between alcohol and family. The most fortunate, put-together people don’t have to. For me, in the end, it was the only decision to make and the absolute right time to make it. I feel like celebrating. Screw it, I’m gonna eat some chips.

FAMILY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Mommy’s little football

January 7, 2011

“The government could take away all the drugs in the world and people would spin around on their lawn until they fell down and saw God.”
-Dennis Miller

Sarah reminded me of that old Dennis Miller bit today. Tiffany just rearranged all the furniture in the kitchen/dining area, opening up all kinds of space, so now Sarah has a big square of linoleum where she can spin in circles.

Circle-spinning is a favorite activity of Sarah’s, and she especially likes it when I hold her hands and spin the both of us around. She just keeps excitedly saying, “Circles!” and giggling her little toddler butt off while we spin faster and faster, and eventually Daddy does see God. He’s that dude who’s telling me via sign language to stop spinning before I lose consciousness.

Tight centrifugal force isn’t the same when you’re 32 as when you’re 2. Your body loses tolerance somewhere along the line. And when you don’t drink anymore, it gets to be one hell of a rush.

I’m typing with Silas on my lap right now. He’s near the end of his day and is showing signs of losing consciousness his baby self. Little Guy’s wearing a sleeper with a cute little yellow lion on it. “I love you. I’m not lion,” says the cartoon lion on the sleeper. See, the lion says he’s not a lion but clearly is a lion, so he’s lying about not being lion. But the whole thing’s on a baby, so it’s cute.

Silas has another sleeper that says “Mommy’s Little Football” on it. The words “All Star” are underneath the word “Football,” but you can barely tell because it’s like dark gray print on medium gray. So I picture some poor baby who gets spiked, hiked and kicked by a mom who tells him, “At least you’re not an orphan.” But it’s a baby, so it’s cute.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Daddy and 8-month-old Sarah. I cropped out most of my double chin, but the nose hairs are running wild.

2011: A blog a day, I promise

January 1, 2011

Andrew Hicks

Ankle break aside, 2010 was one of the best years of my life. My second baby was born, my first baby really began to grow into her personality, I started this blog, I quit drinking, I made inroads into standup comedy, I met some great Facebook friends, I continued my slooooow progression into adulthood, and I steadily seemed to enjoy everyday life more and more as the year went on.

I didn’t manage to achieve my simplest goal for this blog, though — I want to update it daily. Well, 2011 will be the year I post every day, and to hold myself accountable, I’m participating in the WordPress Post a Day 2011 campaign.

I’m already going to have to cheat and backdate the post time, though, since my blog dashboard seems to think I live in London. Blog time is six hours ahead of actual time, so I’ve already missed January 1st by that definition. I don’t know if that’s the international dateline or if I could easily change the setting to central time with a little poking around. That’s not my concern. My concern is writing every day, even if it means writing about time zone settings I can’t figure out how to change or if I can change. Quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality, people. First things first.

The highlight of New Year’s for me was spending a total of two hours on the phone with my mom and dad. With the time consumption of the Wife-N-Kids life plus my own lazy procrastination and antisocial behavior, I haven’t devoted enough communication time to either of them over the years. And each, I think, has been too considerate to be the social aggressor in initiating regular phone calls.

I closed out the year with separate high-quality dialogues with both parents. My mom I’ve known all along, but my dad and I have been incommunicado for about half my life. I’m only now realizing he’s twice the talker and thinker that I am. I laughed harder at his end of our phone conversation than I have at any movie or TV comedy since I stopped drinking. I’m at the perfect stage of my life’s journey to seat my parents up toward the front. The peak of my relationship with each has yet to come, and it’ll be a lot of fun climbing to the top.

Speaking of family, today is my stepson Josh’s 18th birthday and the first time I’ve mentioned in my blog that I have a stepson. (He has red hair, too, though I long ago tired of cracking second-rate “redheaded stepchild” jokes.) When I started the blog, I made a decision that I wouldn’t write about Josh until he got to legal voting and smoking and lotto-gambling age. It’s one thing to tell stories about my own kids. Neither of them is old enough to read, write or kick my butt. But I wanted to respect Josh’s privacy. Now that he’s legally an adult, I can feel free to bitch to the world about how he pees on the toilet seat sometimes.

The number-one question I’ve been asked — when it becomes apparent to people that I’m a 32-year-old man with a 38-year-old wife, an 18-year-old stepson and two kids age 2 and below — is, “Isn’t it weird?” And you’d think it would be. When I was 14, and my parents had been divorced a few years, I don’t think I would’ve welcomed having a stepdad living in the house with me and doing my mom. Much less a stepdad who met my mom in April, got married in July and got her pregnant the following March. But the situation, as it developed, seemed natural from the beginning. Okay, I often feel much more like Big Brother than Dad to Josh, but it’s obvious that he values my opinion and my presence. Both good things.

So, anyway, you can find new words right here tomorrow. And every day this year. Who knows? I might even write something funny next time.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Josh holds Silas on the day he was born.

Week With No Facebook

December 22, 2010

If you missed reading my two parenthetical updates to the last blog post — although I don’t know why you’d miss it; you compulsively check this site twice an hour for updates — the Post-Dispatch article on me hasn’t run yet. As of December 18th, it was scheduled to run on December 19th. As of December 19th, it was scheduled to run on December 26th. As of now, it’s scheduled to run on January 2nd.

Yours truly, known procrastinator, jumped the gun on promoing the article. I’ve learned my lesson. Don’t even talk about the article. It might get bumped again. It might get bumped two more times. It might never run. Print might die before then. Jesus might come back before then. (“I heard there was supposed to be a really good article in the Post-Dispatch today about some writer fella, so I came down to check it out. What, you bumped it again? Fine, I’ll be back in two thousand MORE years. Get your stuff together, human race!”)

We’re in the homestretch of the holiday season now. I’m at the point where I can’t hope to send out Christmas cards to relatives more than one state over and have the cards arrive before Christmas. I’ll have to scour the Hallmark store for the Merry Belated Christmas/Happy New Year/I Know You’re Not Surprised This Card Is Late But It’s Better Than Nothing section, preferably some cute card with Ziggy on the front. You gotta love that pathetic, bald loser Ziggy. You know, I might send out Christmas cards late, but at least I have a full head of hair. Though I almost certainly lose maturity points for trying to compare myself favorably to fictional characters from the funny pages.

My timeline’s all screwy right now. Christmas is three days away, Hannukah has been over for two weeks, and I think they moved Kwaanza to March this year. Today is Wednesday, my body thinks it’s Friday, and to figure out today’s date, I had to summon the brain cells that are usually only used once every ten years to determine which Dakota capital is Bismark and which one’s Fargo. (NOTE: That debate got a heckuva lot easier when the movie Fargo came out, and I could simply visualize North Dakota as being Almost Canada.)

Even screwier, I’ve followed my newfound buddy and comedy partner Chris “Woo” Trader into a social networking experiment known as Week With No Facebook. Keep in mind, I didn’t sign up for Facebook until July, on the day Silas came home from the hospital. In the time since, Silas has more than doubled his body weight, and I’ve probably quadrupled my time spent idly on the Internet, both on my laptop and on my mobile. If I’m outside watching the kids, and I get even a millisecond’s stab of boredom, I check Facebook. If I’m inside putting the dishes away, and I think of something even marginally clever to tell a specific someone or just whoever on Facebook might read it, I pull out my phone and type away.

My comedy and writing output is at a quality and quantity level not seen in almost a decade, but Facebook time eats at Real People time. I’ve found myself pretending I wasn’t just typing on my phone when I hear my wife’s footsteps approaching. That’s cause enough to take a week away from the Facebook machine, and in that time, I’ve finally gotten some good work done on a book editing assignment I’ve been procrastinating on.

Anyway, I’m supposed to be keeping some kind of diary about my time away from Facebook, but I haven’t. Typical for me. The vast majority of this hypothetical diary would read:

    3:15 pm: Kids sleeping. Wanted to go on Facebook. Went on Twitter instead. Nothing of interest. 

    11:45 pm: Took a break from book editing. Wanted to go on Facebook. Checked email instead. Nothing of interest. Went to The Onion A.V. Club instead. Killed a half-hour.

    1:30 am: Maybe if I just check and see how many notifications I have on Facebook, it will sate my curiosity and won’t be cheating. No, it’s definitely cheating. Can’t I claim my Week With No Facebook was actually just a work week? It’s been five days already. Enough is enough.

I logged off Facebook at midnight on Friday. You’d better believe I’ll be right back on Facebook at the stroke of midnight tomorrow. I might even do what I’ve done on more boring New Year’s Eves and celebrate the midnight changeover in other time zones first. (“Hooray, my WWNF is over in London! Let’s read some status updates… Hooray, my WWNF is over in New York! Let’s post some pictures from 4 years ago.”)

I think my weeklong Facebook blackout will help me appreciate and maximize my time on and off Facebook, and now that I’m reminded you can email status updates without even logging on, I might start doing one day on/one day off or just have set times of the day when I go on Facebook.

Some of this sounds feasible, and some of it sounds like the old alcohol justification arguments I used to pull on myself: “I’ll only drink vodka, because I handle myself better, and the hangover’s not as bad… I’ll only drink beer, because it’s not strong, and I know exactly how buzzed I’ll get with each beer… I’ll only drink two nights a week… I’ll only bring 10 bucks to the bar with me… I won’t drink before the kids are asleep.” Lots of experimentation and justification there, but I’m going on three months sober, so obviously anything’s possible.

Right now, though, maybe I should just keep my new goals simple. Like, for instance, how about getting the cards out before Christmas next year?

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Sarah's first Christmas