Dry February

At the beginning of the month I committed to giving up alcohol for February in order to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society and kick start some healthy habits. I’m just over the hump now, and with two weeks to go only$25 away from reaching my fundraising goal of $250. It feels really good on many levels.

I started experimenting with sobriety in the later half of 2017 as a means for managing my depression without anti-depressants (I’m no longer insured). I quickly discovered the hardest part was to be able to be social and sober. There are only a handful of people that I have strong enough relationships with to interact in a non-booze related setting. Everything from business networking events to opening receptions to my grandmother’s 85th birthday party feature conspicuous alcohol consumption. My mom pointed out that it’s easier to avoid coffee because people often ask “would you like coffee or tea?” Where as when offered an alcoholic beverage there is often no easy alternative that is not immediately met with scrutiny or ridicule. I’ve been dry for 18 days, and it’s got me thinking more about the role alcohol plays in my life.

Alt Alt DIY Fest was a huge success on many levels, but it would not have been as financially successful without operating a cash bar. It’s hard to say whether it would have been as socially successful either. I would like to think that the quality of the work would speak for itself, however on a frigid weekend in Saskatoon I do think drink specials play a huge role in whether people feel that it is worthwhile to venture out. Is there a profitable model for operating a venue sans-bar sales? What about fundraisers that don’t feature pushing booze on supporters? Can we normalize creative and social spaces that are not centred around liquor?

I love sipping at an event as much as the next twenty something, but if I’m honest with myself about how often I’m actually enjoying the booze and how often I just want something to do with my hands it makes me appreciate a good glow in the dark fidget spinner! I’m not a church-going person, I don’t like practicing yoga at a studio, I don’t watch sports, and I can’t keep up with a book club. My main connection to community is through arts events. If all of these arts events also feature alcohol that is a lot of spinning.

There have been times in the past when I would not have committed to going one month sober because of this. If resisting temptation is met with risk of social isolation often a drink is the lesser of two evils. Which is what I’ve found managing my depression. Maybe someday I will be ready to dramatically alter my social habits enough to cut alcohol out completely, but for now I’m more interested in looking for ways to minimize it’s centrality. There have been so many wonderful conversations on creating a consent culture cropping up in the wake of #MeToo movement, and I think the natural extension of that is to the role alcohol plays in our lives. Not in a limiting the number of drinks women consume way (looking at you Stanford), but in a creating space for people to opt into alcohol culture without having it shoved down their throats. Particularly in creative spaces.

Creative events are offer the opportunity to experience something bigger than ourselves. They are sexy, they are cool, they are intoxicating. Let’s normalize creating creative spaces that are just as intoxicating to inhabit sober in 2018.