Why You Drink and How to Stop: A Review

why you drinkA sobriety blogger friend, Veronica Valli, recently published the background of her battle with alcohol. Everything she has written on the topic has always stricken a million chords inside of me. She writes…

I never became physically dependent on alcohol. I could always go for a period of time without it…I’ve never been arrested, bankrupt, or fired, or many of the terrible things that have happened to alcoholics. At first I thought I couldn’t be an alcoholic because I wasn’t ‘qualified’, however I learnt that it isn’t the drinking and consequences that make you an alcoholic; it’s the thoughts and feelings that drive alcoholism. It was then that I finally understood what my problem really was.

So much of my own struggle with drinking mirrors Veronica’s. When she offered me a copy of her book, Why You Drink and How to Stop: Journey to Freedom, I jumped at the opportunity. If the book was going to be anything like her sobriety blog, I knew it would hit home. One of the things that drew me to Veronica in the first place was her no-nonsense approach about getting into (and staying in) recovery from addiction. Unlike so many others in long-term recovery, she doesn’t enforce the idea that religion or AA is the only way to stay dry. I have the utmost respect for sober people who acknowledge that not everyone’s path to getting and staying clean looks the same. These are not hard and fast rules and everyone’s struggle is uniquely theirs.

The book is broken into several specific sections. My favorites were:

  • Defining alcoholism and the different forms it takes
  • Behavioral symptoms and issues
  • What getting to the point of alcoholism means and looks like
  • The history, nature and nurture reasons we drink to numb ourselves
  • How booze affects young women specifically

If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol, I couldn’t recommend this book more. If it’s your own problem, Veronica’s words will be like a glimpse inside of older, more mature self. If it’s a loved one you’re worried about, this will absolutely help you understand where they’re coming from and how little control they have over it. Veronica helped me understand that I was headed toward severe alcoholism. Thankfully, I never made it past binge drinking before giving it all up.

Buy your copy of the book here.

Drew from Across the Table: Installment Three

Drew across the table

Clockwise from top photo:

1. Crave Dessert Bar & Lounge
On one of our many let’s-just-wander-around trips, we stumbled across a place that serves drink and desserts. Drew enjoyed a sidecar and I had cake. (SJ, this is the place!)

2. Sputnik
I didn’t realize how vegetarian / vegan friendly this tiny dive bar is. We stumbled in around happy hour o’ clock and enjoyed some killer zucchini corn dogs. Delish.

3. Panzano
For Drew’s birthday, we enjoyed a Denver Restaurant Week special (in which dinner for two is $52.80, a.k.a. 5280, the elevation of the city) at Panzano. Dinner was outstanding but it was our crazed, enthusiastic waiter bringing us every single dessert upon discovering it was Drew’s birthday that really made the night special.

4. Ship Tavern at the Brown Palace
This would be our regular haunt if it was a bit closer to our place. So beautiful and historic. Soda water (me) and martinis (him). You know how we do. We probably enjoy this place more than the usual patrons, having participated in the historic tour of the hotel and hearing the stories of the decorations inside.

5. Crema
A college friend of mine owns Crema. I didn’t discover this until Courtney randomly mentioned it one morning while we were enjoying almond milk lattes together. It’s super unassuming and serves up the best java in town. Aforementioned college friend also owns The Populist. Successful much?

6. Sassafras American Eatery
Any establishment that a) serves fried green tomatoes and b) boasts animal pair salt and pepper shakers on every table has a solid place in my heart. Hot coffee while you wait and a full menu of candy bar themed milkshakes. BYE.

Two Years Sober

tiramisuOn May 25, 2013, my father took me out for dinner to a family friend’s Italian restaurant in my hometown. We ordered a ton of food and I wrote my number of days sober in the chocolate syrup around our tiramisu at the end, saved the photo to my computer and didn’t really talk about it.

Last year most of my blog posts were book related, impersonal. When I launched this little spot on the internet, some of my very first published posts were raw and open. I was newly sober and did not give a shit what people might think about my determination to never pick up a drink again. I was angry, mostly at myself for not giving up the booze sooner. My twenties were a beautiful decade but deeply soured by a relentless need for copious amounts of alcohol. What would my life have been like if I was the kind of person who could stop after one cocktail? Would I still have stayed with the boys who didn’t care about me, or worse, treated me poorly? Would I have moved across the country every other year like I did, always running? On Sunday I celebrated two years of sobriety and I’m a bit more at peace with these questions, though they still unsettle me and keep me up at night occasionally. A year ago, I was still too frustrated to even talk about it.

When you’re someone that drinks all the time, suddenly becoming someone who never drinks is like dunking your head in cold water. More than anything, I’ve learned that not drinking has not been the cure-all. My entire personality changed and it tested every relationship I had. Not all of them survived. I’m loads healthier and happier but I’m imperfect. I eat too much sugar, internalize other people’s feelings, am not the best at making social plans and my mind is still a bit frenetic. I’m prone to extremes, either eating the entire carton of ice cream or none at all, working out every single day of the week or not at all.

what it is to
to harvest the emptiness 
and just ride it around

I’m thrilled to be sober. I did it with the support of my family and close friends, without AA or rehab or addiction counseling. The alcoholic lingo for this is, “white knuckling” it or being a “dry drunk.” Recovered alcoholics (both online and offline) love to qualify what “recovery” actually looks like, insisting that certain paths are the only official routes to long-term sobriety. By those parameters, I’m a moment away from relapse. I disagree so much but that’s an entirely different post.

Every day continues to be easier. I don’t crave it. Sometimes I get nostalgic and then realize how much I’m airbrushing what actually played out.

If you’re thinking about stopping, you can.

Cheers (with soda water).

Natural Eye for Athena and Katie

I was eavesdropping on a Twitter conversation between my friends Katie and Athena lamenting the difficulty of eyeshadow application. Of all the makeup varieties out there, eyeshadow is something I like to think that I have on lock.

Katie asked me if I would put together a how-to for this look and Athena agreed.

K and A, you will need:

1. Eyeshadow primer (I used Kat Von D High Voltage.)
2. Scotch tape (I used Scotch. LOLz.)
3. A flat eyeshadow brush (I used Mac’s blending brush.)
3. A matte cream shadow (I used Foxy in the Naked 2 palette. The Naked series is a must-have for your makeup arsenal.)
4. A matte taupe shadow (I used Tease from the Naked 2 palette.)
5. A metallic tan/brown shadow (I used: Woodwinked by Mac.)
6. A skin brightener / illumination (I used Benefit’s Watt’s Up.)
7. Liquid eyeliner (I used Urban Decay’s Ink for Eyes.)
8. Your favorite mascara (I used Urban Decay’s Big Fatty, my favorite of all time.)
9. Setting spray, optional, to keep that shit in place all day. (I used Urban Decay’s All Nighter.)

Here we go.



Step one. On a clean face, apply the tiniest bit of eyeshadow primer. I’m talking a pin prick sized dollop for each eyelid. If you use any more than that, your color will crease and clump and then WTF, primer?!

Step two. Imagine yourself drawing a cat eye upward on your lower lash line. Following this angle, gently place a piece of Scotch tape in an even line against your skin. Don’t push it on too hard– notice in my photo that the only sealed area is the line against my eyelid. Don’t go there.

Step three. Brush an ample amount of your matte cream shadow all over your lower eyelid. Brush your taupe shadow over the crease of your eyelid, generously. Notice that the color in mine is stacked and not yet blended near my tear duct / messy? Doesn’t matter yet. Then brush both colors all the way past the border of the tape, like you’re filling in a coloring book. Brush the metallic tan/brown shadow on the lower, outside quadrant of your eyelid.

Step 4. Peel off the tape. Marvel at the clean line. With your pinky finger, gently blend blend blend blend blend with special attention to your crease.

Step 5. Put a dab of skin brightener over your brow bone and above your crease line. Brow bones naturally protrude anyway so I’m not a fan of spotlighting them but this look called for it. Blend again. Put on liquid eyeliner, holding the pen by its tip and not on its side. For a cat eye, gently pull the tip sideways and upward at the very end. The trick with liner is to never drag it back and forth in two directions as you might do with shadow. Pencil in from your tear duct outward, slowly.

Step 6. Mascara! I like to ignore my lower lashes. It makes you look more awake and less like Tammy Faye Baker. With my pinky, I put a tiny bit of gold powder on the inner corner of my eye and blended.

Step 7. The final look in the daylight. Even though it’s a lot of makeup, you won’t look overdone. Go wink at your honey.

This is my favorite tutorial of the Naked 2 colors and the look I wear to work at least four days a week, minus the false eyelashes.

Smoochies, bye.

Never Get High On Your Own Supply

A new friend of mine was recently let go from a well known, successful startup. To protect his/her identity, that’s as specific as I can be. Aforementioned Friend is very talented and the reason for dismissal was ridiculous. When I relayed the story to Drew, he mentioned this talk we heard at Big Omaha a year ago. We had the pleasure of seeing the charismatic Marc Ecko discuss the 10 Crack Commandments of running a business / startup. The startup in question broke every single one of these.

Entrepreneurs and startup employees (hell, anyone that wants to do meaningful work), skip ahead to 8:20 and take these tips to heart.

Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, can’t you see? Sometimes your words just hypnotize me.

Wedding Talk: Something Old

wedding hankyDrew’s parents visited last week and my mother-in-law-to-be brought the sweetest gift. When she was pregnant with Drew in 1985, not knowing if he would be a boy or girl, her co-worker at the clinic (she was a dental hygienist) gave her a neatly wrapped box with a hand-sewn bonnet inside. The card enclosed read:

I’m just a tiny hanky, as square as square can be
but with a stitch or two they make a bonnet out of me
I’ll be worn home from the hospital or on the Christmas day
then I’ll be carefully pressed and neatly tucked away
Then on the wedding day, so we have all been told
every well-dressed bride must have something that is old
And what would be more fitting than to find little old me
a few stitches snipped and a wedding hanky I’ll be
And if per chance it is a boy and someday he will wed,
to his bride he can present the hanky, once worn on his head.

This box had been tucked away in their Michigan attic and she brought this incredibly thoughtful gift with her to Colorado to give to us, even including a 2014 penny to tuck in my shoe on the day we say our vows. What a wonderful present.

Who’s cutting all these onions in here?

Drew from Across the Table: Installment Two

Drew across the table 2

Clockwise from top photo:

1.  Sapori Trattoria in Chicago, Illinois
My BFF Whit and her hubs Brian recommended this place up and down last fall as it’s nestled in their old neighborhood in Lincoln Park. Even with their glowing praise, our meal and the service here over-delivered. We dined with our good friend Brian, who calls the Windy City home and will be marrying us in October.

2. Maggiano’s in Denver, Colorado
Okay, so this is actually tiramisu and pumpkin cheesecake from across the table, not Drew. We found ourselves here on Thanksgiving night when Boris’ first IVDD episode kept us in the Front Range. I know it’s a chain. I do not care. It was delicious.

3. Denver Bicycle Cafe in, yeah…Denver, Colorado
Espresso sipping, post-brunch. I can’t wait to take my coffee/bike nerd of a father here next time he visits. He will love it.

4. Laughing Latte in Denver, Colorado
I like to catch him art gazing at the different coffeehouses we frequent.

Boris IVDD Recovery: End of Crate Rest

Boris Crate Rest Week 8Crate rest is over as of yesterday. I took Boris to his neurologist for his final follow-up this morning and he’s been cleared for freedom! I’m thrilled. There will be no roughhousing (with other dogs) for awhile as we ease back into daily activity. We bought a small ramp for the couch. He’s on supplements and dehydrated raw meat kibble. He will get prophylactic cold laser therapy on a monthly (instead of weekly) basis. We will take one day at a time and be thankful for our health.

It feels like this crazy situation began an eternity ago. I’m so grateful it’s behind us. I know he can have another episode unpredictably but I’m going to cherish taking my ten month old puppy on walks again.

Please print out or e-mail the information about IVDD symptoms for yourself or a friend that owns a dog. Very few people know about this disease and information is power. You could save the life of a dog by sharing this with others.

Boris IVDD Recovery: End of Week 7 of Crate Rest

sweet feet

Boris has his last cold laser therapy session tomorrow and his follow-up with the neurologist a week from tomorrow. As of tonight, we have one more week of crate rest. This has been the longest eight weeks ever. To think that we have been limiting his activity since before Thanksgiving makes my heart sink. A week from today, we begin to ease him out of crate rest with short walks and build back up to having him roam around freely when we’re home. It’s a marathon and not a sprint since he’s been inactive and lost some muscle mass.

As IVDD is congenital, I have a lot of anxiety around if and when he will have another episode. I want him to have the best life ever. I’m trying to stay positive. Anything can happen, as I was reminded after managing to concuss myself underneath an iron stairwell on Friday night. But good things can happen too, no matter what. Cherish the moment!

Please print out or e-mail the information about IVDD symptoms for yourself or a friend that owns a dog. Very few people know about this disease and information is power. You could save the life of a dog by sharing this with others.