Chug, chug, chug. Aldi carbonated water. Glug, glug. Can after can. Make it til Tuesday. Beer day. Make it til Saturday. Beer day. Restock carbonated water. Lime this time. Semi-sobriety isn’t this neurotic. Well some weeks it is. But on the surface it’s calm and collected. Icebergs are 90% underwater. But we’re melting, shedding suppression into the collective ocean.

I say I’m semi-sober. The Tuesday/Saturday paradigm. People often mess this up. Can’t accept the ability for two seemingly opposite truths to co-exist. Happy and sad, for example. Enthused and bored. This is my reality. Functional and dysfunctional.

Admitting alcoholism means people watch me. Mouse watches me. I watch me. If I were someone else, I’d watch me. Just for people watching’s sake. Like, will he have a second beer? Or, is it a Tuesday? I’m sure this is circumspect. Nobody cares. And I just worry they do. This was certainly the case with teenage acne. All in my head. Or on it.

Appearances are everything. I used to drink whiskey in a coffee mug during law school lectures. Nobody was the wiser. I’d rinse and repeat at lunchtime. Maybe this is why I don’t practice law.

As a 1L, I interviewed for a spot on the City of Laramie Planning Commission. Good for the resume, I figured. Nervous, I kicked back a few shots on the walk over. Whiskey again. Spit polished my shoes in the bathroom. Stared into the mirror, eyeing my own eyes. Slippery drunk, but still steady. Underqualified, I got the position. Liquid confidence. I kept drinking for four more years.

Now? Carbonated water. Tea. Kombucha. Carbonated water. Lemon water. Apple cider vinegar. Coffee. Iced-coffee. More carbonated water.

When my mom died, my sisters suggested seeing a shrink. Oddly, we didn’t talk much about my mom. I kept a log of my drinking. When I drank and why. The shrink said it was a good idea. Had this chart. Monday. 9am. Carlos Rossi Paisano. Red wine, if you’re not familiar. Achey hole in middle chest, not like crying, but like Fargo in the middle of winter. Frozen.

When I met Mouse, I had a bottle of whiskey in my backpack. Like a rabbit’s foot. I thought I needed it. On Labor Day and the 4th of July and certain football games, people day drink. Start early, keep buzzing all day. That was my every day.

Before going sober for a year, I was drinking a liter of mocha flavored rum a day. Bought it from a shopping cart full of discount bottles. An orange sticker with the price. 6.99. On the walk home, rum bottles clanked in my backpack.

I haven’t bought hard liquor since. Too tempting. I think about it occasionally. Not buying it, but a weekend retreat. Finish a bottle. Explore that darkness. The oracle I saw said Mouse is divine in this regard. A goddess. Saved me from myself. People say only you can save yourself. I strongly disagree.

31 years old. Crack a can of naturally-flavored and no-calorie carbonated Aldi water and thank god I’m (still) alive.


The Alt Dad Diary is a chronicle of careful confession. Dealing with first-time fatherhood, millennial melancholy, and the chaotic unspoken expectations around me, this page is a beating heart at the intersection of literature, confession, and the internet. I elevate and apply direct pressure, but the wound never stops bleeding.

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