I’ve been sober for 500 days, y’all! It feels surreal sometimes. There are moments when I still feel like that 20-something party girl who was dancing on bars and taking body shots off of strangers. I have moments where I ask myself, “Am I really a sober blogger?!?!”. Yes I am! And I fucking love it. While recovery has its ups and downs, I’m grateful for it every single day. These 500 days have been full of happiness, heartbreak, anger, new adventures, and personal growth. Here’s 5 of my recent favorites memories in my first 500 Days of Sobriety:
1. Meeting Laura Jane Grace
I’ve been a fan of Laura Jane Grace’s punk band, Against Me!, since 2006. Back then, she was Tom Gabel. I remember reading an issue of Rolling Stone in 2014 when she came out as transgender. She told Rolling Stone that she was going through HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and would start identifying as Laura Jane Grace. Against Me!’s next album was called Transgender Dysphoria Blues, where Laura candidly shared her experience with gender dysphoria. Against Me! has been huge in the punk community for more than 15 years. They are now heroes in the trans community, as well. Needless to say, I was honored to meet Laura at her book signing in Brooklyn a few months ago. She also agreed to sign my arm, so I could have the autograph tattooed along with a few other rock stars I admire. Laura’s the first woman in my collection of rock n roll autograph tattoos. This was also my first sober tattoo.
2. Sober Vacation in Mexico
Vacations used to be one of my myriad excuses to get drunk. Honestly, anything was an excuse to get drunk. Binge drinking on vacation meant jumping head first into some pretty risky behaviors, most of which I would not remember (nor was I proud of them). This sober vacation encouraged me to connect with people and experiences on a deeper level. I was present for each and every conversation, and now I have vivid memories of the warm sunshine on my skin and the sand squishing between my toes. Read more about my vacation here.
3. Washington DC Women’s March
Sobriety has helped me figure out where I stand politically. I moved to New York City in June 2015 as a confused Libertarian that voted for Romney in 2012. I’ve always had liberal politics on social issues, but the Texan in me thought I was conservative. Back home I didn’t put forth any time or effort into learning about politics, I just repeated the rhetoric that surrounded me like “Romney is a business man!” and “Obama is a socialist!” I was clearly very confused. I even wrote a piece about this confusion in Huffington Post last fall. Now that I’m in a space (both physically and mentally) where I feel more grounded in my world view, I enjoy attending events like the Women’s March in DC. I talked to people from all over the world and listened to their stories. I’m happy to finally know where I stand politically. I’m also happy that I had the opportunity to march along with half a million others who felt the same way.
4. Interviewing Russell Simmons
Aside from blogging about sobriety, I’m also the music editor for NY Yoga & Life magazine. Last fall, I interviewed Russell Simmons for our Spring 2017 issue. As a journalist, I’ve chatted with lots of people from all different walks of life. These conversations typically happen over the phone or face to face, just us. My interview with hip hop mogul turned yoga aficionado, Russell Simmons, was my first conversation on camera/on stage/in front of other people. I prepared for this like I prepare for any other interview. I read his book Success Through Stillness. I googled his name to remind myself of all of the work he’s done in the hip hop world (he discovered RUN DMC, Beastie Boys, and founded Def Jam Records – to name a few).
This research usually helps me feel more confident, but in this case, it heightened my anxiety. In my hours of studying, I came across several articles stating that Russell was one of the most difficult people to interview. A few minutes into my conversation with him, I learned that those articles were completely valid. He spoke in such esoteric terms that it was hard to come up with a follow up question. He often didn’t let me finish my question before he started to answer (which perplexes me since he’s an advocate for mindfulness). All complications aside, I learned a lot from interacting with Russell. Being sober helped me be present for this experience which helped me grow as a journalist.
Since writing about my awesome Improv experience at People’s Improv Theater, I’ve enrolled in Upright Citizens Brigade’s Improv 101. These weekly classes are helping me sharpen my public speaking skills, learn to stop taking myself so seriously by doing character work, and connect with other people who share a similar mind set. I was surprised to see that sobriety is an unspoken part of the Improv community as well. There’s a full service bar at shows, but for the most part, it’s a predominantly sober environment.
In the UCB text book, there’s a portion that specifically discusses the importance of performing sober, “Performing sober is another way that you and your ensemble can show your audience that you respect them. Seeing improvisers performing in an inebriated state can be a painful experience. By performing drunk, you are essentially telling your teammates and the audience that the show means as little to you as playing video golf at a local bar”. I’m not sure if I’m going to advance to level 2, but I’m happy to have found a fun, low key sober community in the New York City comedy scene.
photo credit: NonLinear Knitting
edited by: Tracey Stubbs