Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I have fallen back into a phase where I find myself constantly craving social interaction and wanting to be surrounded by friends. I can’t decide if this is fortunate or unfortunate but it is what it is, I suppose. The only thing that’s really problematic about is would be the fact that, in order to appease my restlessness, I have been going out drinking with friends a lot more. I have always been a people person and this is undeniably a byproduct of growing up on a resort and in a bar with my family back in Minnesota, but sometimes I need to look at where I am taking myself in order to interact with these people. However, a lot of people don't take one element of that statement seriously and that is the fact that I grew up in a bar. Look at that sentence. Take it literally. A bar, being a place where alcohol and food is served, was my home during the time of my life in which I grew. There. 

Every since I was a young kid I was surrounded by the bar atmosphere: the sometimes jolly, sometimes terrifying, often confusing environment of alcohol and bad choices; and it wasn’t until recently that I found myself wanting to join in on the “fun.” I think growing up around a strong drinking culture is the biggest thing that kept me away from the bottle. I started cooking in the kitchen at the bar in my mid-teens and was immediately swayed into bartending when I turned eighteen. At this time I hated everything to do with alcohol, I hated the way men treated women, the way women treated men, and the way everyone treated themselves. I didn’t appreciate the lewd, rude, and crude comments that were often directed my way and frankly I gave no fucks about what I could do to change myself to fit into that environment. I never felt the need to change who I was to make the Saturday night partiers appreciate me more. I just did my thing: I cooked in the kitchen, owned the pool table, and then went home to play my flute.

And yet my mom convinced me to start bartending when I turned eighteen despite the fact that she knew I was not fond of the environment. I think she knew that my dislike of the majority of the people was a brief stage and that I would get over it quickly. Perhaps she didn’t expect it to happen as quickly as it did. My first shift would have been hell for most other people: the woman that was supposed to train me in showed up three, count them, three hours late, the power went out, the bar was packed, and I was not only the bartender but also the cook. The only reason I made it through the shift was because I already had an intimate understanding of the bar set-up, the prices, and the majority of the people. How do you cook in a kitchen with no power, you may ask? A gas stove! Burgers, sandwiches, chicken, and everything like that was still available, and nobody had any qualms about ordering them. Some kind young gentlemen went into his truck to find a light contraption that hooked onto hats (because, imagine this, I wear hats; always have and always will, although lately I’m more of a trucker hat kind of gal), so I snapped that baby onto my baseball hat and went to town. I balanced the cooking, serving, and bartending quite well and managed to keep everyone happy until the “real” bartender arrived.

And I loved it.

You see, growing up in a bar and on a resort gives you the strange desire to see people happy. Cooking food for paying customers doesn’t just force you to do a good job because they are paying you and will have no worries about complaining; but it also instills a sense of pride that grows each time you step out of the kitchen and people applaud the meal you just served. There’s just something about making something yourself, with your own two hands, and seeing someone enjoy it.

That’s what bartending is to me. It is not a scene where I can be objectified and flirt with every man (or woman) in the hopes of getting more tips, it really is just a space where I can make something for someone and make sure they enjoy it. It's a socially acceptable position for me to talk to strangers about their lives, their days, and how they are doing. It's a place where I can turn on my sense of humor, my serious and contemplative side, and my happy-go-lucky nature in an attempt to interact with a wide variety of people. When you’re serving you want to make damn sure the people that you are helping have a good experience, you want to be prompt, you want to be kind, and you want them to leave happier than when they came in. I think this is a human instinct that everyone has, but that many are capable of ignoring. Even on the days when I have already worked six days in a row, where I’m nine hours into my thirteen hour shift because I picked up a double and my feet feel like they’re going to fall off, I find myself smiling when someone walks in that door.

But where did my drinking come in? Despite my love of people and my desire to see people happy I never partook in the after-hours shenanigans at bonfires where young men tried to pick up young women and feed them alcohol and good times. Instead I always went home to either finish up homework or go to bed. Why, I always asked myself (and still do, to be honest) would I want to join these drunk guys at their bonfire to drink with them when I’m stone cold sober and have no desire to become inebriated? This is what kept me away from drinking to begin with.

But like everybody I hit a phase in college, my junior year (what can I say, I’m a late bloomer), where I found myself in with the drinking crowd. And man did my genetics not fail me. I found myself out every weekend getting completely sloshed for about three months. But eventually I realized that the hangover just wasn’t worth it, why drink so hard on Saturday that you can’t function on Sunday and then are behind all of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, just too speed through Thursday and Friday to do it again ghd next week? As a student of philosophy and logic I found that this train of thought was headed nowhere, so I stopped. Not to say that I went sober, I still drank occasionally, but not with such frequency as before.

Drinking is a family pastime for me. When I go home on breaks I often find myself shooting pool all night long with my mom, dad, and brothers (my sister does not live in the same town and rarely drives the three hours to come hang out at the bar with us, boxing is her passion). We play each game for a beer and if you’re shooting good you play for free and drink for free all night. So of course I get in on that action. Family, pool, and social drinking: boom, happiness. 

But over the last few weeks I have found myself going out on Friday with the desire to hang out with friends and meet new people, then waking up on Saturday morning and thinking that the previous night wasn’t as much fun as it should have been and trying again Saturday night. More often than not my short attention span kicks in while out at the bar or at the "club" where my friends want to dance, and I want to get out of that bar after a few hours of being there. But I have been sticking around simply because I think it might get more fun later on. I ignore the fact that if I was in a place with a pool table I would be way happier and having much more fun that was actually relatable to what I want to do with my life and just sit around with some buddies and get bored while they dance with random guys. 

What’s the point of that?

Sure, I have always felt more comfortable in the bar and in the pool hall than I have on the concert stage or in the classroom. But that doesn’t mean I should spend all of my money acquiring beverages that fuck with my body and leave me feeling sluggish and slow the next day. I would so much rather hit up the gym on a Friday night with friends and then go to someone’s house to listen to music and watch movies. This way I am getting out of the house, a place that, for me, is really just meant for baking, eating, and sleeping, and am also getting my gym time and friend time in.  But this blog post is not meant to be some sore of manifesto of sobriety, I just needed to write this down to remind myself of what it is that I do. 

Who it is that I am.

I am a musician and a pool player, an athlete and a scholar. I am a graduate student pursuing a Masters degree and also a member of team str8-shots. Being strong and healthy is just as important to me as being social and outgoing. Having the ability to let myself relax with a drink, a snack, or a lazy day is just as important as having the dedication to health, exercise, and meditation. My skills on the pool table and my skills on the concert stage are of the upmost importance to me, both equally so; and therefore my time needs to be spent focusing on the things that will enable me to progress in both of these fields.

If I go out every night of the week that is totally fine. If I only go out on weekends that is fine. If one night I decide to let it all loose and indulge a bit much, that is fine as long as I am conscious about it. And lately I haven’t been, I’ve just been mindlessly partaking in these adventures without really thinking about them. Sometimes sleep is more important than the possibility of meeting new friends and going new places. Sometimes it’s just not. Who knows.

But from now on I’m going to be more aware of my choices and more honest with myself about why I am making them. If I’m only going out because I’m hoping to see some boy that I have a crush on, that’s a stupid reason and I’m going to hit the gym or the practice room instead. If I’m going out because I haven’t seen my friends in a while and I want to spend time with them, then that is totally legitimate.

I'm not fond of the New Years Resolution tradition; instead, I think one should always work towards self improvement, not just once a year. This is one of those moments for me: a moment of honesty and self-criticism.

Come at me, world.