not a pretty girl

a new person with each new experience

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Three weeks as a straight edge kid

Just over three weeks ago I left Dublin, where my socialising revolved around the pub and travelled across Europe to Vienna to stay with a dear friend. Arriving on a Wednesdays and marike and Christian still at work I spent the first few days wondering the city and the night at there place chatting. The first weekend came and we headed to Budapest, where we spent both Friday and Saturday night in watching movies. That Sunday I went with marikes friends to this veggie restaurant in the country side, she coun’t make it since she had to work on a presentation for the next day, on the way there the girls mentioned that they were going to get cocktails. Umm I thought, not a bad way to end the weekend . . . what I didn’t realize was that they were going to get alcohol free cocktails. The thing is out of those girls only marike is straight edge, but the other girls don’t really drink that much. One of them actually never drank, she had a few sips when she was a kid, felt sick, and never went back.

Not really into drinking alone I went for the alcohol free cocktail, which I have to say was delicious. The week went on and we went to a few shows then ladyfest. I have never been one to want to drink at shows or when I’m going dancing. I tend to be energized by dancing and the music, my body creates enough endorphins to make me quite happy. This although didn’t stop me from going through a serious drinking and E stage of my life.

By the time ladyfest had approached I had decided that I would be SXE for the three weeks. As the fest progressed I was very happz with my decision. I was able to get up and be fully alert and participating in the early day workshops, keep busy all day, stay up till the last band at 4 am and continue the same thing the next day with out and hangover slowing me down. I was even offered free red wine (I love red wine) and I turned it down. It was not as much about keeping the temp edge but I just didn’t feel like it, I was enjoying the conversation and the energy that I had at the fest.

On the second last night I realized something, or rather I thought about something that I was already aware of. I have a fear of interacting with people sometimes, I get nervous when talking to people. It’s a social fear, when there are lots of people in this smoucy type of setting I get really uncomfortable. I’m good with one on one and a few people but bring the numbers up and make it a setting were people are suppose to be having fun and I get a bit of a mess. When drinking I am less aware of these nerves, or disregard them. But being sober for all the events I was more aware that this was still with me and that this was something that I want to continue working on.

It is also something to do with the idea that we are supposed to be having fun now; it’s a social pressure that gets to me. The idea of having a great night out subconsciously sticks with me. I tend to talk about things that are too serious, not funny enough, not light enough, all at the wrong times. I have been known to be the person having the serious conversation in the corner or to avoid being that person just talking complete nonsense.

Anyways the last night of ladyfest came and I wanted to talk to as many people as possible since it was the last time I would see most of them, I wanted to make connections with people. There was this one women who had done the posse! Performative art workshop that I thought was great. When I was younger she would have been someone I loved up to, admired. Now being 25 I still had that sense of wanting to connect with her. I went over to talk to her, but she was two drunk to be able to talk properly, she had a hard time following the conversation. I felt a sense of disappointment, the person who I admired was too drunk to contribute anything.

Ladyfest past and there were more shows, another fest and again I was happy to enjoy the shows completely, to be present at the fest fully and not have a hangover to slow me down. On the last night when all of marike’s crew had a surprise dinner with me at this cool veggie restaurant with a pirate they were saying that I should have a Guinness since the three weeks were over. Again I declined not because of some fake edge but just because I wasn’t in the mood. I was enjoying playing UNO and chilln’ with these great people.

I realised how much I really did miss the coffee show culture that you can see in Toronto and many European cities but not in Ireland. I missed the innocence of hanging with friends playing games and having a laugh. I thought back to my newyears in Chicago where although I did have a sip of champaign I spent the evening with the straight edge kids and played serenades and having one of the best new years ever. I thought back to when I was telling this carpenter at ladyfest about my winter camping trip and she said that I suddenly lit up. And I thought back to some of the things that have happened in the past few years were I was not impressed with my actions and how they revolved around alcohol.

Sitting in the airport reflecting on this I over heard people heading back to Dublin telling stories of there drunken adventures and I was happy that my stories revolved around the stuff that I did, learnt and so on and had nothing to do with what I drank (unless you want to talk about that crazy lime juice that has magical powers). My three and a bit weeks of acting the SXE kid was ended last night, with a few sips of wine. I know straight edge is not for me, I don’t believe in it since I don’t see how taking such a hard time is important. I don’t like to have to feel that I am restricting myself. I like to be able to enjoy myself and sometimes that enjoyment includes having a drink or two. But I also like to be fully present in conversation, meetings, events and with friends. I also like to feel completely in aware of my surrounding in protests and other dangerous situations like walking home alone at night. And I like to know that when I wake up I will not regret a single thing that I did.

My three weeks in Vienna was fabulous, the people were great the events were inspiring and the city was beautiful. It is possible that not drinking contributed to the wonderful time there but I know it is not because of it. But I am glad to know it was not because of drink that I had such a great time. My ideas of vacation is so different know then when I grew up in the west end, where all inclusive resorts was the ideal vacation. Where you sat and consumed the people, the location, the events and of course all the alcohol. I don’t like the idea of consuming an event or consuming a place, I like the idea of contributing and being part of the place where you spend your time. I do think that this one a major reason I loved the trip so much, the participation not the consumption.