Um Galão

One of the first words I learned upon arriving in Portugal after “olá” (hello) and “obrigada” (thank you) was “um galão”, which is espresso with hot milk in a tall glass.  I knew if I said “coffee” or “cafe”, I would get a shot of espresso. My pronunciation worked my first few days.  But when I tried yesterday, the waiter told me I am better off sticking to English.

I am traveling solo the next few days. It makes sobriety easier. I know “lonely” is one part of the acronym HALT that we should avoid when trying to stay sober. But I hate the temptation to join my friends when I am with them drinking. It is not even peer pressure I am trying to avoid. It is the desire to fit in and be able to drink like them. Being alone in a foreign country allows me to pretend I was never a fan of alcohol. Saying “um galão por favor” as easy as if ordering coffee in a bar was always my thing.

Mistake 199- I was in Istanbul for a short visit a few years ago. On my flight there, I watched the movie Smashed. It is about a married couple who drink a lot. The wife decides to get sober after some very embarrassing and dangerous incidents. It made me think about my drinking and consider staying sober just for my few days of Istanbul.  But once there, I used the excuse of needing to try the local beer. So I drank some with every lunch and dinner. Not much. Just one or two a meal.

The last night, I met up with a friend.  He suggested coffee. Well we met at a coffee place that served beer. So I drank beer and he drank coffee. We both had flights the next day. After one cup of coffee, he decided to go back to his hotel to sleep.

I did not want to sleep yet. And I wanted to see what Turkey’s night life was like! So I stopped in a few bars and clubs on the way back. I sat in each place alone. Drinking a beer or two. I might have even had a few mixed drinks. It was pathetic. I finally went back to my hotel feeling a little drunk but not trashed. It was just wasted money and time. I had a hard time waking up the next day and my taxi almost left me.

Traveling sober is so much better!

Sleeping in dangerous places

I have slept on buses, trains, and subways. Sometimes because I was extremely tired. Other times because I was drunk. A friend posted this meme yesterday that made me think of another mistake.


Mistake 198- I was staying with a friend in New Jersey right across the river from New York City. I was out partying in New York. I love how that city won’t sleep. But I did. I fell asleep in Port Authority.I was having too much fun getting drunk in the East Village.

I missed the normal New Jersey Transit buses that stop at 1am. I also missed the shuttle buses that leave from outside Port Authority to many destinations in Jersey and run until 2 or 3am. The next NJTransit bus would leave at 5am. So I slept inside next to the gate for the bus.

My phone must have died but before it did, I texted a depressive message to my sister. Then I told her I was sleeping in Port Authority for the night.  She was frantically trying to call me and kept getting my voicemail. When I finally got to my friend’s house and plugged in my phone, there was a few worried messages from her. I called to tell her I was okay and apologized. 

When I think about done of the situations my drinking put me in, I am so shocked yet thankful to be alive.

Un-dailying This

I know that is not a word.  But I have been writing this blog daily for six months.  It gets hard to try to remember a mistake every day even if it helps motivate me to stay sober. I will blog as I can and as I feel I need to. I will still try to reach 365 mistakes. But I am not going to stress. I have already written many reasons to go,  be, and stay sober. I will write at least weekly. Or try. Thanks for reading.

Mistake 197- I was visiting a cousin I did not see in about 20 years. We used to see each other as kids until his parents got divorced. As adults, we reconnected on Facebook. I went with a boyfriend to visit him because I always wanted to see the city he lived in. He let us stay in his spare room.

He took us to a party. It was full of gay men. I remember my boyfriend commenting he has never seen so many gay guys in one place. I was annoyed by that comment. I think he and I were already having problems due to questions of where our relationship was heading. So I got drunk to ignore him. I remember talking to a lot of people at this party and declaring I was the cousin of My Cousin. He was almost like a celebrity here. Everyone knew him. I might have been rude to my boyfriend. I think we got in a fight. The party was a blur but the hangover was painful the next day.

My cousin has never really talked to me since then. Neither does his sister. I always wonder if I embarrassed him somehow. Did I say anything stupid? Do anything idiotic? Was I dramatic? Fight with my boyfriend at the party?

Next time I am in that city,  I plan to meet him for dinner and ask. I am not gonna ask to stay at his place again from fear he will have an excuse to decline from fear of me.


I am in a new city.  New things to see.  It is a new day.  And I feel better than my last post. 

I also slept better.

I was staying in a hostel for two nights.  And while I love the atmosphere in hostels,  maybe I am getting too old for sleeping in dorm rooms.  It was not as if many of the other young travelers were trying to chat with me.  (Even though I could probably give them a lot of travel advice about other parts of the world! ) I booked a hotel for my two nights in this city because the hostels were all up a hill and I have a very heavy bag.  This hotel is right next to the train station.  I went to sleep,  did not set the alarm,  and woke up at 8 am feeling wonderful!

I was listening to music on my iPod as I got ready.  Some Tibetan Buddhist prayers came on.  I downloaded them after my trip to Nepal last year.  I listened to the chant “om mani padme hum.” I really need to make a blog post one day devoted to that prayer. It basically means “jewel in the lotus” and represents that we can overcome anything.  (At least that is what I take from it.) But lotuses are beautiful flowers that can grow out of mud and, literally,  shit. They show that something wonderful can come from the worst. A jewel in the lotus is the shine that develops from that beauty.

So that chant came on and made me smile.  It also made me think of a Buddhist quote I saw on a recovery page on Facebook last night. “Nothing is permanent.” Including my addiction. Including my sadness.


Mistake 196- I was really close friends with a gay guy. He had an old military friend visiting him. His friend was very hot. My friend told me not to hit on his hot friend. But we went to an afterhours club. My gay friend had to leave but his hot friend insisted on staying. I got too drunk to drive so the hot guy offered to drive my car for me. We ended up having sex in the car in the parking lot before he drove me home.

We stayed in touch and he even came to visit me once. But we kept it a secret. Our gay friend was mad when he found out. He said I betrayed him. I am not sure if he was jealous or why he was so upset. But either reason, a friend should not do that to a friend.

Sad and Sober

I was feeling sad yesterday. I am not sure if it was a song on my headphones that triggered the feelings. But I think I am depressed that I can not enjoy drinking on my travels. And no matter how much I remind myself that this life is better and I am saving money and not wasting a day with a hangover, I still feel down.

Traveling and turning down wine EVERYWHERE is reminding me that I am strange. A weirdo. Abnormal. All of the negative words I could think of in relation to being different were bombarding me yesterday. I was walking along a beautiful beach, enjoying perfect weather, and I kept thinking “why do you have to be a freak?”


Things I Can Not Have

I also feel I am reaching out for something else. “If I am ____, then I will be happy.” Fill that blank in with one of the many things I am always running towards. Living in a new place. Working at a new job. Traveling this country. In a relationship. Thin.

Lately I feel I am focusing on the thin something else. “If I lose 10 pounds, I will be happy.” That might be true. I will be healthier. I might be able to walk a small incline without running out of breath. I will be able to wear the beautiful dresses I bought in Asia again. I won´t feel like a fat cow. I feel so unattractive and unwanted at my weight. I used to be able to hide those feelings with alcohol. It did not matter that I was fat if I was drunk and fun.

I walked a lot yesterday. I keep telling myself I will start yoga again once I get home. Start hiking again. Maybe join spinning classes or Zumba. I have been eating a lot of bread with every meal here. Maybe I need to pass on the bread. Eat fruit and yogurt for breakfast. Only fish with salad for lunch and dinner.

I will start the healthy eating right after I try Ovo Moles today.

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.


Mistake 195- Many years ago, I had plans to go to an amusement park with my roommate and her boyfriend and his friends. The night before, I got drunk with one of his friends. The guy and I had sex. The problem is he had a serious girlfriend. He apparently used to talk about her all the time and how great she was. I do not remember if I knew he had a girlfriend our not or if I was just so drunk I did not care.

The next morning, he changed his mind about joining us for the amusement park. My roommate knew about the sex but her boyfriend did not. During the day, she made a joke towards me that gave him a clue. He turned to me “did you fuck ___?”

I could tell he was mad. I admitted to sex with his friend. He shot me an upset glare. I felt so ashamed. I felt like I just got caught with my hand in the condom jar. He called me a slut. If his friend’s relationship was ruined, it was my fault. It was my fault he canceled joining the park for the day. I felt I ruined everyone’s day.

Years later, I realize it was not all my fault. I did not force the guy. If drunk was his excuse for the mistake, than my drunkeness was good enough to absolve me of blame. It still didn’t make what I did right. And it is definitely one of my many drunk regrets.

Sober Hosteling

I started staying in hostels about eight years ago. I first heard about them when I was in my mid-twenties. I asked an older coworker if he knew of them and he told me they were rooms for college-age kids that travel. He said basically like a college dorm. I never stayed in a college dorm so I was intrigued.

My first trip to New York City was ten years ago. I was meeting a foreign boyfriend there. When he was shopping online for inexpensive hotels, I suggested we look at hostels. I pointed out some have private rooms if he was worried about sharing a room. They sounded inexpensive and fun. He said that hostels are for kids. We were too good for a hostel.

I was nervous when I first started to stay in hostels. A lot of Americans have negative opinions of them. What if my stuff gets stolen? Sharing a room with strangers? How do you know they are safe? There are no guarantees in life. “Dangerous things can happen in hotels and at home” is my answer.

I have stayed at many different hostels in different countries. Some are geared towards younger people. Some are party hotspots. I stayed at one in Christchurch, New Zealand that gave a free alcoholic drink for each night you stayed. One in Mendoza, Argentina had a unlimited wine tasting night. A lot have bars or a fridge in the common area for purchasing beer. But others have alcohol-free rules. Others are geared towards older, quieter crowds. I just need to try to avoid the frathouse-like hostels.

I originally was going to stay in for a few nights. I thought my friend would be joining and I told him I would cover the room costs if he covered petrol. But he couldn’t stay due to issues at home. Then when I got to the hotel, I discovered my reservation did not go through. I booked it from my mom’s house and her internet connection is spotty. They had rooms available but since I would be on my own, I opted to go to a hostel instead.

It was a quiet place. No beer for sale. There were bars nearby if I wanted to drink. And even though most of the guests were young, this was not a party place. I stayed up late reading in the common area and was surprised to find all my roommates in bed before midnight. On a Saturday night!

A difference between sober me and drinking me staying in a hostel:
-when I am assigned a top bunk, I am no longer worried about trying to climb the ladder drunk.
-if I come into the room late, it is now easier to avoid stumbling around.
-no more conspiring how I can sneak a beer to my room.
-no more getting upset cause I am hungover and roommates are packing. (I still got upset a guy seemed to be packing everything he owned in noisy, plastic bags at 6am.)
-hopefully I do not snore.

Mistake 194- My first time in a hostel was Chicago. The room was in a basement of a huge, old apartment building. I was there to party with a friend who would not let me stay at his place due to a bug problem. We were at bars until late. I remember stumbling in around 4am every night. My roommates were three French girls. They were there to sightsee. I even invited them out with me but they only had a few days and were not there to party.

I remember feeling so guilty about stumbling drunk every night. I fell over a few times trying to undress. Then I felt miserable when they were getting ready in the morning. I slept until 12pm or 1pm at least. Everyone told me that is just part of hostel life.

My friend I was visiting got mad at me on my second to last night. I do not know what happened. I was too drunk. He ignored my text messages and calls the next day. I spent my last night in Chicago with new aquaintances I met at a bar. To this day, I do not know what Drunk Me said or did but he and I stopped being friends.

Blabbing about Sobriety

Once again I feel I talk too much with my friends about my sobriety and drinking problem. I get worried I will annoy them. I feel like that person at work always wanting to talk about their kids or grandkids or cat and you really do not care. It is like they have nothing else in the world to discuss except that one topic. But I feel I need to discuss this topic to keep sober.

So many of my regular stories about life or travels start out “so I was drunk and…” Lately, I tell the stories to emphasize how bad of a drunk I was. Last night, my friend and I were swapping stories of mutual friends. He asked me why I did not like specific people. I realized, usually, the only reason I did not like these people was because I felt that person did not like me once while drunk. They did not have to say or do anything that would make me feel they disliked me. I just got a feeling and therefore I would come up with reasons to not like them in return. I figured if they did not like me, there had to be something wrong with them. He told me that was messed up and psychotic. I told him it was my alcoholic mind.


My "mixed" drink in Porto: Snappy (like 7-up) and Red Bull cause I had jet lag

We also talked about sex stories. We talked about bad sex, drunk sex, and sober sex. I then tried to remember the last good sex I had sober. It was difficult trying to think back that far. And that difficulty made me sad. My drinking life made me pathetic. I really hope to never go back. Hence why I have to keep reminding myself of the stories.

Mistake 193- I asked my friend if I did anything stupid while drunk when I first met him. I remember waking up the next morning on the couch I was supposed to stay, alone, with clothes on, so it had to be a somewhat behaved night. He does not recall anything happening that I should be embarrass me. But fast forward to a drunk email exchange. He said I asked him if he slept with a girl I did not like but the way I asked was not nice. He said he denied it because he was scared of my reaction if he admitted to it. He now asked me why I did not like her. I said I could not remember but my guess is I was jealous. And while I might have normally hid my jealousy, the drunk brought it out. I apologize to him now.

I will still get jealous in sobriety. I just hope to control it better now.

Port-less in Porto

Just last week, I was thinking that sobriety was starting to be easy. Now I realize this is going to be a roller coaster of temptation for a long time, if not for life.  While it is easier to not crave alcohol than in my first few weeks or sobriety,  I still have to actively remind myself “I can not have even ONE drink!”

I am in Porto, Portugal. The home of port wine. Every place I go, I am reminded how great their port is and that I can not drink it. My friend is not helping much. He keeps pointing out places that have good wine or good local beer. “Our beer is really good too. Shame you can’t try any.” I guess he is used to taking people to taste the local drinks. It makes me feel like some handicapped alien. He pointed out the port warehouses along the river that allow free or cheap tastings. Sorry. I am not going there either.


Port Wine Boats Along River

It makes me a bit sad. I am a freak. It seems I can not partake in anything that is traditional Portuguese.  He points out cafes and and places were people sit out late drinking wine or beer. I know there had to be more to this culture but he hasn’t shared with me what else there is. Oh there is fish. Cod fish. That is the only local thing I know besides port.

It is an inner struggle to not want to try port. I actually almost accidentally bought a Bock beer thinking it was a local soda. Right now, I hear them opening wine bottles as he and a friend prepare lunch. It is pathetic that I have canine ears when it comes to opening bottles of wine. He then asked if I am okay with them drinking. I do not want to be the annoying guest that says “it is making me want to stab myself that I can not drink so please don’t”, so of course I lied and said it will be no problem.

I actually look forward to traveling on my own in a few days. I actually prefer traveling alone. I can get up when I want and start the day rather than waiting for my friend to get out of bed. I can go to sleep early. I can skip a meal. I can change plans. I can avoid alcohol more. That is a new benefit I am adding to “reasons to travel solo.”

I have my 3 sober coins in my wallet. I have my sober bracelet on my wrist. I have my sober blogs. I will stay strong. It just sucks.

Then I read this blog from Soberistas:  Booze The Liar. I will have to keep repeating this quote when faced with temptation:

Here’s what booze ACTUALLY provided me with; arrogance, self-centredness, laziness, lack of productivity, very bad hangovers, terrible life choices, low self-esteem, shame and bucket loads of guilt.

Mistake 192- Years ago when I wanted to be more than friends with the guy I am visiting, we got drunk and ended up in a hot tub. I do not remember any of it. He said I tried to initiate sex in the hot tub. Without a condom. He managed to hold me off until we got into a bedroom with a condom. After sex (which I don’t remember), he said I brought up talk of wanting a relationship.  He did not. I started crying. He left. He had to tell me all about this a few days later. He asked me if I have unprotected sex a lot when drunk. I told him I honestly did not know.

I think he wonders if I consider him one of my “drunk mistakes”. I consider the way it happened a mistake. I do not regret having sex with him and I am very fortunate it did not ruin our friendship. Now I have to remember not to take the chance of repeating those mistakes!