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Marissa Lingen

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To illustrate my last remark YET AGAIN [Mar. 10th, 2016|02:43 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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Last night I didn’t read Anna Karenina. I didn’t watch Simon & Simon or consume walnuts or gluten or alcohol. I didn’t play Moonlight Sonata on the harmonium. I didn’t buy a hamster.


All the things you don’t do are pretty boring to write about.


For one of my friends, though, not consuming alcohol was a little more interesting, because she was recently actively staying sober as a choice that she needed to make for her health. Not like me–I’m at a point with my vertigo and my vertigo meds where I can have a bottle of cider or a glass of wine and enjoy the pleasant taste, and some days I do, and most days I don’t. When I do, the taste can be interesting to comment on; when I don’t, the lack is completely boring.


Earlier this week, people in my Twitter feed were talking about the perception that all writers are heavy drinkers. And honestly some of the reason for this is that a bunch of writers really are heavy drinkers. And some of the reason for it is that conventions bring out the heavy drinker in some people who are otherwise pretty moderate. But some of the reason for it is that those of us who are, like me, light drinkers, and those who are non-drinkers, don’t talk about it in those terms; it’s just not an interesting thing to discuss. At best, boring. At worst, it sounds defensive or false. “There I was, playing the harmonium and TOTALLY NOT DRINKING HEAVILY WHY WOULD YOU EVEN THINK THAT, GOD, EVELYN.” Or, “There I was, buying a hamster and NOT drinking heavily NOT LIKE SOME PEOPLE, KYLE.”


So it’s a good thing to keep in mind: like many topics, you’re not going to hear most of what other people do, and that occasionally means you hear from people like my friend who say, hey, this is how many days (or in the case of other friends, years) I’ve been sober. But for most cases it means you hear, hey, I’m having this drink, and it tastes like this. Or, I’m having this many drinks, wooo! (If you’re thinking that I find “it tastes like this” more interesting than “wooo!”, yeah, guilty. But people get to have their “wooo!”)


If you’re trying to work in this field and do convention culture and you’re someone who is concerned about heavy drinking in writer culture, though, for personal reasons–maybe you’re someone like my friend who needs to stay sober for your own health. Maybe you’re shy and not very comfortable drinking in professional circumstances. Maybe you just don’t like loud bars. A million reasons. I think it’s probably a good idea to think of what positive things you’re doing for convention/colleague bonding instead. So that you have something to talk about and focus on–“hey, I am doing fancy brunch with people!” or “I am doing tea tasting!” or whatever else you are doing. Rather than, “I am not drinking!” Karaoke. Trying to find someone who knows about fight scenes and is willing to nerd out about yours until you can fix it. An outing to the best restaurant you could find in walking distance–they have [specialty of the house here] and you heard it’s amazing.


You’ll end up with some of the heavy drinkers with you, because they like [specialty of the house here], too, and karaoke and tea and brunch and fight scenes, too. And also some of the moderate drinkers and the light drinkers and the non-drinkers. And hey, isn’t that what you wanted? Because the stuff you’re not doing…is kind of boring. And not your focus anyway. So better to accentuate the positive, see how that works. And if it doesn’t, try a different positive, because messing with Mr. In-Between is pretty much never the answer.




Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux

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Comments:
From: swan_tower
2016-03-10 08:10 pm (UTC)
I had two drinks last night to celebrate getting my black belt, which is sufficiently unusual that my brother mock-toasted the occasion of me ordering the second one. Heck: me ordering a drink in the first place is still not a common occurrence.

. . . but as you say: I don't post about my not-drinking, because it's either boring or defensive, or it sounds like I'm being tediously moralizing at the people who have alcohol more often than maybe once a month. Lookit me, being virtuous, not boozing it up like the rest of you! I'm not being virtuous; I'm just being me. I'm pretty much only going to mention it if somebody is enough of an asshole about trying to pressure me into drinking/give me grief for not doing so that I feel the need to make a public point about how that kind of thing is assholish.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-03-10 09:35 pm (UTC)
Yay black belt, though, whether you celebrate with drinks or brownies or both or neither.
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[User Picture]From: brooksmoses
2016-03-10 08:24 pm (UTC)
As a random quasi-related observation, one of my favorite restaurants has, on their beverages list, a small selection of fancy grape juices -- a gewurztraminer, a pinot noir, and a verjus. I find this really really nice.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-03-10 09:32 pm (UTC)
Places with an interesting range of tasty things to drink make me happy, and I include "non-alcoholic," "non-caffeinated," and "non-fizzy" in the overlapping set of things that I wish wouldn't sometimes leave me out of the interesting beverage sweepstakes. I don't always need non-alcoholic or non-fizzy, but I generally lean toward non-fizzy, and I always need non-caffeinated--and with the vertigo and the meds, when I need non-alcoholic, I really do need non-alcoholic. So that narrows it down quite a lot.
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[User Picture]From: thanate
2016-03-10 10:12 pm (UTC)
This is a good set. I'm not too picky about caffeine by itself, but actively dislike both alcohol & fizzy for taste reasons, as well as coffee. I used to explain when necessary that I am a very boring person: I don't drink coffee or alcohol, I don't watch TV, I'm allergic to cigarettes... It seems a little less likely to come across as a value judgement than just saying, "Oh, I don't drink."
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[User Picture]From: brooksmoses
2016-03-12 04:37 am (UTC)
Oh, indeed -- that sounds a lot like me! I likewise dislike fizzy for taste reasons, so I am also rather familiar with the way that overlapping set of things restricts the choices.

Another pleasant thing I discovered at a restaurant nearby is that they make their house-special lemongrass soda from the (housemade) syrup and the fizzy water when it's ordered rather than making it ahead, and they're quite happy to make it with non-fizzy water, and it is delicious when made that way.
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[User Picture]From: tiger_spot
2016-03-10 10:24 pm (UTC)
I am generally OK with fizz, but non-alcoholic + non-caffeinated leaves me pretty thin on interesting things that go with dinner in a lot of places. Good thing I like water.

Lyfe Kitchen has some interesting fruit and herb drinks -- I think the thinner ones may be mostly fizzy, but there are also some lovely interesting smoothies.
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From: diatryma
2016-03-10 10:32 pm (UTC)
A cousin brought the fancy grape juice to Thanksgiving once and I wished he'd brought more of that than of the wine. It was magical.
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[User Picture]From: leahbobet
2016-03-11 12:45 am (UTC)
Someone at World Fantasy this year, possibly Rose Fox, said something about considering holding sober con parties to go alongside the bar ones, and the immediate enthusiasm from all conversation participants surprised even me.
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[User Picture]From: ashnistrike
2016-03-11 02:41 am (UTC)
I have been fantasizing about this too--having a party with a bartender who makes nothing but nifty mixed 'virgin' drinks, and interesting teas.
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[User Picture]From: topum
2016-03-16 01:03 am (UTC)
Now I really want to buy a hamster.
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[User Picture]From: laurel
2016-03-24 08:46 pm (UTC)
(Agreement.)

Kinda want to watch SIMON & SIMON now.

Also I recently read an article or something about how awkward it can be for non-drinkers in social settings and I didn't really know that was (still) a thing and then later I witnessed some star on some British panel show having people be agog that they didn't drink at all.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-03-24 08:47 pm (UTC)
It is even a thing for people like me who only sometimes don't drink. People will make a huge hairy deal out of it. Not all people at all times. But some people are reeeeeeeally defensive about their drinking habits.

One learns to be elsewhere.
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[User Picture]From: laurel
2016-03-24 08:53 pm (UTC)
Yup. I used to get a bit of grief about it. Oddly enough I didn't in college (once I got my drivers license) because I became the preferred designated driver and babysitter which was . . . something, I guess.

The older I get the more blunt I get about it so I suspect anyone who says anything to me about it now will likely regret it. Grumpy Sober Laurel! Who will remind you that her mother & her maternal grandparents all were very nearly killed by a drunk driver the year of her mother's high school graduation! And that she's on meds where she can't drink! Awkward personal details grumpy Laurel! Hi! Also weary of being annoyed by drunk people at various venues over the years and so if this keeps up by the time I'm 60 I'll be for prohibition or something (maybe not, but seriously. the people who are all about the drinking could get me there).
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2016-03-31 08:23 pm (UTC)
Coming in late, but I've been thinking about this lately, because I've been doing a lot of talking about drinking. And what I think is, drinking by itself is almost always fairly boring to talk about, It gets interesting either when it's combined with something else, like socializing, or when it becomes a hobby (wine tasting, beer brewing, mixing cocktails - though even in those cases I suspect it's a lot more interesting for the people doing the hobby than anyone else to listen to).

Drinking as lubrication for other activities can kind of suck for anyone who wants to do those activities but doesn't want to drink - or, more restrictive, doesn't want to be around drinkers. Maybe one good substitute to build those activities around would be creative adaptations of the things hobby-drinkers do. You mention tea-tasting, and tea can definitely be as complex and interesting to analyze as wine. Coffee or chocolate are good things to do tasting of too. Or making root beer or sarsparilla instead of ale, or mixing nonalcoholic cocktails (I do really like having interesting things to drink even at times I don't want alcohol - one thing I really enjoyed on the last cruise I went on was that they had a bunch of options).
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-03-31 11:35 pm (UTC)
I think people have variable tolerance for other people nerding out about their hobbies.

Me, I'm reasonably interested in my fiber geek friends talking about spinning and knitting, and in a similar spirit I'm reasonably interested in the ins and outs of brewing and fermentation, even though I do not do any of the above. But I know that for some people a brief discussion of stuff they don't personally do makes their eyes glaze over.
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[User Picture]From: dichroic
2016-04-01 03:53 am (UTC)
Back in my college days I figured out that people are more interesting on topics they're passionate about. (Thanks to a) an Enlgish prof who manned the Romantic poets fascinating and b) Dr. Paul, who was horribly boringon shrink-fitted cylinders and riveting on four-bar mechanisms, the latter being the topic of his own research.). This may not work for people you live with and have to listen to as they ramble on all the damn time, but it's been a pretty good rule for me with people you only see every week or so.

My friend who studies ants required a lot of convincing that yes, we really DID want to hear about her research topic. But it was fascinating, once we'd convinced her.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-04-01 11:33 am (UTC)
I know a lot about (computer) storage and virtualization now, because I feel like saying, "Oh, this is the topic you're most engaged with? well, shut up about it," is not the key to a happy home life. It works for me.
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