Life Without Wine

IMG_1874Recently I’ve given up wine. It’s been two months since I’ve had any alcohol at all, which for some people might not be a big deal but for a frequent wine drinker who loves the occasional martini…well, it’s been interesting. And not as difficult as I thought. The reason I was forced into a life without wine is simple: a new medication that absolutely cannot be mixed with any form of alcohol. The meds are short-term, so I sincerely hope to have a glass of wine again soon. But for now, no.

I wondered when I first realized I’d have to give up wine for a bit if I’d have some sort of withdrawal symptoms. I didn’t, which was a relief. I thought I’d at least suffer minor psychological withdrawal, like when I quit chocolate, or bread. Wine has been my relaxation method of choice for most of my adult life. Wine makes a party or social occasion much more fun. It creates a festive feeling when out on a dinner date with my husband. I was sure I’d miss those couple of glasses in the evening, winding down with a favorite television program or a movie.

But in the last sixty or so days, there might have been maybe one or two times that I really got all wistful and wished I could just stop with the medication already. It’s necessary for now. When I mentioned to my doctor’s assistant that I’d like to be done with the medication as soon as possible because I missed my wine, she said “oh nobody pays attention to those warnings!” It’s true. Almost everyone I know who takes similar meds also drinks alcohol. Still, I’m not going to combine them.

The medication I’m taking short-term is for insomnia; the irony is alcohol has been known to cause sleep disruption, so it’s probably not something I should be indulging in quite so often anyway. For me, now that I’m getting proper rest, sleep is not the biggest surprise of this alcohol-free existence. The biggest surprise is that my weight has stabilized in a most dramatic fashion. All my jeans fit, every single day. There are no more five pound weight gains during a hectic week. Every day, even if I eat a little sugar or splurge on carbs, my weight is the same, or within a pound of what it has been since I quit wine.

I shouldn’t be too surprised. I remember when I was in Weight Watchers one of the leaders said she always had a problem reaching her goal weight until she quit wine. “I didn’t drink that much,” she told us during a meeting. “A glass or two every other night, maybe. But the minute I stopped indulging in wine, the rest of my weight came off.” This was her secret weight loss trick. I needed a trick of my own, as I never did reach my goal weight on Weight Watchers. At the time, I didn’t want to hear about quitting wine. I liked my wine more than I liked being at goal weight.

I’ve kind of hit the pause button on achieving the goal weight of my earlier days. I’m a size ten or twelve and while that is not svelte, it is okay. I never like to say never–as far as never hoping to lose that last ten pounds or never having a glass of wine ever again. I might lose the weight some day, if I want it enough. And I am sure there’s at least one more glass of wine in my future. But I also know that if I find my weight starting to creep up and the pounds are harder to lose, I will look first toward the Chardonnay consumption.


new.house3A recent day found me at the top of the staircase and before I could even get used to the heady air up there, I came crashing right back down. Metaphorically speaking. (Because I’ve written about this literally happening once before.) I got great news in the  morning email. I’d been assigned a new editor! I was asked about signing a series contract! I’d always planned this series, but writing everything down made it real.

And then a strange person came into my house and set me off. I knew he was coming, so technically, I had already been wound up. Am I mixing metaphors? Sorry. I’m still flustered. I don’t like strangers in my house. Especially male strangers. Especially big hairy strangers who can’t fix what’s broken. Especially if they insist on engaging in long conversations that keep them in my house way too long and seem very friendly. I like the curt, competent type of repair guy. Okay, I don’t like him, but he’s incrementally better than the too-friendly sort.

I’m not sure why this is so, maybe I have a stranger phobia, but anyway, by the time he left, I was stressed. I disinfected every square inch of the space he might have touched. (His fingerprints were smuged big and ugly all over everything. It was creepy, I tell you!) I washed all the towels in the powder room, even though from my office I had not heard a toilet flush.

So he was gone and still I found it impossible to leave my house even though I had to grocery shop. I had planned to grocery shop. I couldn’t make dinner. I always make dinner. I had planned to make dinner. But I was frozen. I realize that it’s a high-class problem, this being frozen business. In a war zone, that would get me killed.

I gave myself a stern talking to. “You are not some neurotic mess. You have handled far worse than this, which by the way was nothing, what is wrong with you?” Then I called my husband Al to bring pizza and watched television for three hours. I took a pill to ward off the migraine that had begun the minute my stress spiked. But other than that, I didn’t move until the pizza got home.

Since this person who had invaded my home was a repairman, I had to go over events with Al. He is really the one who should handle these things, but it’s hard for him to arrange with work. So I am his poor substitute. I had to listen to a few “why didn’t you” and “what the hell” sort of things. My nerves started to shred again, so I tried to explain how I felt inside. I love Al but he’s not good with panic and nerves and so forth.

I know it’s irrational to not file a complaint because I think the repairman might get angry, become homicidal and come after me. I understand this is unlikely to happen. I understand repairmen are nice people and very few if any are murderers. And yet. I forced a promise from Al that he would not call and complain. Then Al lost it. Well, as far as he can lose it. Al is the king of cool. He simply looked at me with complete disdain, which, of course, made me feel worse.

Al insists on complaining about shoddy work and here I was tying his hands. He was not a happy man. We decided to table the entire discussion. I shoved two slices of pizza down my throat, not even tasting them, and opened a bottle of wine. As I savored a glass, I thought about how days can go like that, from good to bad, from bad to worse. And those days are the ones when what is needed is a good mattress at the foot of the staircase.