I am a fan of the blog Drinking Diaries (www.drinkingdiaries.com about "the deep questions, the wide and wild range of experiences that pertain to women and alcohol") that posted the interview below with Tara Hendron who wrote and performs her one woman show, What’s a Girl to do When It’s Time to Put Down the Drink? (now entitled Drunk with Hope in Chicago). It brought to mind a few things:
1) that, as Michael Chabon (author of among other things, The Wonder Boys, The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay and The Yiddish Policemen's Union and Manhood for Amateurs has written:
"...what a huge, even overwhelming maternal task is implied by that worn out word encouragement.";
and (also from Chabon):
"A father is a man who fails everyday. Sometimes things work out...Success, however, does nothing to diminish the knowledge that failure stalks everything you do. But you always knew that. Nobody gets past the age of ten without that knowledge. Welcome to the Club.";
3) the book, Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp who died of lung cancer in 2002 (Knapp's obit below as well) (see also Beautiful Boy by David Scheff).
From Drinking Diaries:
Tara Handron is the author of the one-woman show, “What’s a Girl to do When It’s Time to Put Down the Drink?” (now entitled Drunk with Hope in Chicago). The play evolved out of her research of female recovering alcoholics and the comparison of their experiences in traditional face-to-face 12 Step recovery meetings versus computer mediated/online meetings. The play is a fictional compilation and product of many women’s stories along with the Tara’s observations, assumptions, and imagination. It premiered at Georgetown University in April 2008. It was so much fun the first time she did it all again at H St Playhouse in Washington, DC, in February 2009.
After a successful run recently in the Capital Fringe Festival, Drunk with Hope in Chicago will have its Chicago premiere in their Fringe Festival, September 2-5, 2010. In her spare time, Tara is a change management and communications consultant in the government healthcare market in Washington, DC.
Drinking Diaries: How old were you when you had your first drink and what was it?
Tara Handron: I had sips here and there of things that looked pretty but tasted nasty like crème de menthe and whiskey sours. My first “real” drink at 15 years old, the one that opened the golden gates, was vodka and diet coke. It was positively disgusting, but it got the job done.
How did/does your family treat drinking?
Some treat it responsibly, as an obligation and as part of being an adult at weddings and funerals. Some treat is as a fun party companion that stays only as long as it is welcome, never too unmanageable. Others treat it or have treated it as a substitute for water.
How do you approach alcohol in your everyday life?
I don’t. It is a foreign country to which my visa has permanently been revoked–which is just fine. I more than abused my privileges.
Have you ever had a phase in your life when you drank more or less?
Yes, that phase was pretty much my whole life until I stopped drinking altogether. Some circumstances made it desirable to binge and then the awful consequences would give me pause. Then I would temporarily drink less. And then the cycle would start all over again.
What’s your drink of choice? Why?
Today it is carbonated water in a variety of brands. Tastes decent, feels even better, and is wonderfully calorie-free. Being healthy (and somewhat sane) is pretty yummy, much better than a glass of wine.
Can you tell us about the best time you ever had drinking?
Honestly, no. At this point none of them really seem all that great in retrospect. There were some glorious moments of feeling immune to insecurity and depression and anxiety but they always ended. Finally, in those moments, I didn’t feel like a square peg in the land of no holes, not even circular ones to try and squeeze into. But as I said, it always ended, sometime quickly, sometimes slowly, but it did end.
Has drinking ever affected—either negatively or positively—a relationship of yours?
Most definitely. Getting dumped by the man you thought you were going to marry because of awful actions you took while intoxicated felt pretty damn negative. Without it though, many positive things might not have occurred, or might have been further delayed.
Do you have a favorite book, song, or movie about drinking?
I love Carolyn Knapp’s Drinking a Love Story. I also love the movie, 28 Days, with Sandra Bullock. Let’s just say they were very relatable. Seeds were planted.
Caroline Knapp, Writer, 42; Chronicled Struggles and Joys
Published: June 5, 2002
Caroline Knapp, a writer and columnist whose memoir ''Drinking: A Love Story'' vividly chronicled her struggle to overcome alcoholism, died yesterday at a hospital in Cambridge, Mass. She was 42 and lived in Cambridge.
The cause was lung cancer, her family said.
In ''Drinking'' Ms. Knapp wrote about the disturbing incongruities of her life as what she called a ''high-functioning alcoholic'': she was an award-winning journalist, an Ivy League graduate from a well-to-do New England family and by all appearances a happy, healthy and successful young woman. But drinking had slowly taken hold of her life, and she was desperate to conceal its effects.
She was, she wrote, ''smooth and ordered on the outside; roiling and chaotic and desperately secretive underneath, but not noticeably so, never noticeably so.''
The book, published by Dial Press in 1996, was praised by critics for its painful honestly in describing the grip of addiction and the difficulty of overcoming it. In a review in The New York Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt called it ''a remarkable exercise in self-discovery.'' The book remained on The New York Times best-seller list for several weeks in both hardcover and paperback editions.
In ''Drinking'' Ms. Knapp characterized her addiction as a bad love affair. In her next book, she found a healthier relationship. ''I am in love with my dog,'' she wrote near the beginning of ''Pack of Two: The Intricate Bond Between People and Dogs'' (Dial Press, 1998).
''I'm 38 and I'm single,'' she continued, ''and I'm having my most intense and gratifying relationship with a dog. But we all learn about love in different ways, and this way happens to be mine.''
''Pack of Two'' was also a best-seller and, like ''Drinking,'' it commingled autobiography with nonfiction in its passages on dog rearing and pet-inspired self-analysis like ''I understand the impulse to romanticize the dog; I struggle with it myself.''
Ms. Knapp developed her style in her years as a columnist at The Boston Phoenix, an alternative weekly newspaper where she worked from 1988 to 1995 and to which she continued to contribute until 1999. Her ''Out There'' column, in which she often wrote about the travails in life and love of a semifictional 30-something single woman named Alice K. -- ''not her real initial'' -- was one of the paper's most popular features and won her an Alternative Newsweekly Award in 1996. She was often light and humorous in the paper, but could be poignantly confessional, as in a memorable column about her struggles with anorexia.
Her columns, were collected in 1994 in the book ''Alice K.'s Guide to Life: One Woman's Quest for Survival, Sanity and the Perfect New Shoes'' (Dutton/Plume).
Ms. Knapp graduated with honors from Brown University and worked as a reporter for The Boston Business Journal before joining at The Phoenix, where she was a features writer and later the lifestyle editor.
Her lung cancer was diagnosed in mid-April, and on May 11 she married Mark Morelli. She had recently completed work on a book about women's appetites.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by a sister, Rebecca, of West Boylston, Mass.; and a brother, Andrew, of Salem, Mass.