One of the big hurdles after quitting drinking, I’ve been finding, is how to use all that newfound free time I have.
Weekday evenings are a breeze: make an evening meal, sit down to play the Xbox 360, and then choose an invariably rubbish film from the Scandinavian selection on Netflix.
But the weekends are a bitch. The first five minutes are easy. I make myself a cup of green tea and then sit on the balcony in my pajamas, smoking a cigarette, thinking about all the amazing stuff I can do, which, three weekends in, haven’t materialized.
I get bored after I’ve scoured the internet. And that second cigarette isn’t nearly as much fun as the first. And then? Crippling, blow-my-fucking-brains-out boredom. Which breeds more boredom. And then more, until I’m thinking that the wagon’s not as much fun as I thought it was going to be when I, shitfaced, imagined it.
My main activity for Saturday was having a competition with myself to see who could throw up from alcohol consumption first—self-loathing Dan or air-guitar-to-poodle-metal-at-one-in-the-morning Dan. (Just for the record, Air Guitar Dan won every time.)
When I was drunk, time spent watching an Adam Sandler movie or tweaking my recipe for the greatest ever nachos grande recipe seemed like time well spent.
But activities of that ilk don’t fit the new me. Deciding which variety of cheese to use or whether to watch Grownups or Grownups Two don’t quite seem fulfilling enough choices now that my life view isn’t skewed by a debilitating level of alcohol consumption.
So it’s time to plan my weekends like they’re a military operation, just without the shooting of indigenous people to a dictator-run country or the pot smoking on an evening, to know, wind down after all the killing.
Yes, that was a Nam reference. And yes, I’m a hack.
The following is a list of activities I will endeavor to fill my time with during the weekends when I’m not A) writing comedy or B) writing this blog, which on occasion are mutually exclusive. If you’re stuck for stuff to do now that you’re drier than Jupiter’s third moon, you might find it helpful.
- Become one with nature
I occasionally saw nature while deep into a craft ale session and flicking through TV channels and thought it looked cool—when the animals humped each other instead of ripping each other’s throats out. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by what, from afar, looks like inviting landscape. Next Saturday, and hopefully the Saturdays following it, I’ll become one with it, which is to say stroll through it, thinking squirrels aren’t as nearly exciting as mating lions viewed in high-definition widescreen.
- Become an advanced amateur in a sport of my choosing
The days of eating perfectly constructed plates of nachos and not putting on the pounds are over. There’s a reason why my bio photo for this blog was cropped to only include me from the shoulders up: There was a soup stain on my otherwise immaculately white T-shirt, and beneath that cloth, rippling like vibrating jello despite my standing in a stationary position, is my ample abdomen. I need to lose those extra pounds if I’m to outlive the squirrels I’ll pretend to enjoy looking at. I play squash now and again, and by cave dweller standards, I’m quite the player. But it’s time to up my game and play more often—maybe even consult YouTube videos—so I can finally beat my retired father in a game. When I win, I bet he’ll be quite proud of me underneath the searing anger and disappoint in himself.
- Learn how to cook dinner-party-standard cuisine
Now that I’m not a terrible drunk, I’m sure to amass a wide circle of friends who both love and respect me. Tired from laughing at my jokes and waiting with baited breath for the next development in my witty anecdotes, they’ll need food. And the type of food I’m competent at cooking, which is more suitable for munching while watching Bad Moms, won’t cut the mustard. So it’s time to cut the Dijon, consult cookery books not bought from weed smoking paraphernalia shops, and add another string to my dinner-party-hosting bow.
- Become an expert in a niche genre of cinema
Being sober at the weekends can’t all be running around the forest, trying to hit squirrels with a squash racket. I’ll exhaust myself. And I’m sure my boss has this wild expectation that I turn up to work on a Monday morning looking refreshed, and not looking like I’ve run-back-to-back marathons through the jungle. To recuperate from losing the nachos weight, I’m going to up my film-watching game and become a nerd in some nice genre of cinema. I’ll research movies from best-film lists for body horror science fiction or some shit I find on movie blogs, buy used copies from eBay, and sit and watch them till the end of the credits, before hitting Wikipedia to find out about what the fuck I just watched. Besides, I’ll need useless knowledge of some bizarre subject to bore my dinner party guests with to distract them from my poor cooking.
- Learn to relax
This is the big one. There’s sure to be some downtime in between the above activities. In my drinking days, I’d spend my Saturdays running around doing stuff I needed to do, and then spend three o’clock onwards relaxing with eight or nine beers. The result is I don’t have a clue how to relax like a regular person. I bounce from one wall to the next, screaming bloody thunder at my live-in girlfriend, begging her to come up with something, “Anything!” for me to do. From now on, I’ll spend that time reading a book, skimming through a broadsheet newspaper, or trimming my toenails while whistling my favorite tune.
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Days sober: 20
As well as writing dubiously helpful sobriety blog posts, I also write comedic mystery fiction, which you can check out here.
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