Have a drink.

Picking up where we left off, the $55 million BigLaw brief from hell was due Monday by 11 pm central time. There were dozens of revisions throughout the week last week and, of course, over the weekend. By 9 pm Saturday night, I needed a break. And I said as much to BigLaw Senior Partner, with whom I work.

“I’m done for the night. Let’s just circulate this draft as-is and get back to it in the morning,” I pleaded.

“I want to do just one more round of revisions before we send to [the client] for review,” Senior Partner said.

“No, seriously, I need to stop for the night. I’ve hit a wall. I’m tired,” I pushed back.

“Have a glass of wine. I’ll get them to you in twenty minutes.”

“Have a glass of wine,” I repeated in my head. “Have a glass of wine,” I said out loud, a bit shrilly. “Have a glass of wine?” I yelled, scaring the cat. Instead of having a glass of wine, I took a shower. A lying-down shower. The kind where you put the wash cloth over your face and let the hot water pour over you. And while the hot water pours over you, you hyperventilate and sob and wail. You don’t have those kinds of showers? Neither do I, usually. But once again, I found myself under tremendous stress, filled with frustration, exhausted, and just fucking done. Done, but not finished. It was Saturday night. The deadline for filing the brief was Monday. “Just two more days,” I told myself. “Two more days, and I’ll have my life back for a little while.”

As I lie there sobbing and wailing in the shower, I could hear my phone ringing and my email dinging. “Let him wait,” I thought. “I can take a fucking shower break.” Thirty minutes later, the water was cool, so I turned it off and climbed out. I looked at my iPhone. Missed call from Senior Partner. Email from Senior Partner, “I called you but you didn’t answer. Call me.”

So I did. Ignoring the phone and his emails for thirty minutes seemed to have had an effect. He seemed contrite. He had very few revisions, which I made as he dictated them to me over the phone, and we then circulated the brief to half a dozen other lawyers, along with the client, for comment. Following which, I crawled into bed and slept fitfully until sunrise. Upon awakening, I looked at my iPhone. More emails. More revisions. Must have coffee. It was Super Bowl Sunday. And time for Brief Revisions Round Sixty-Three.

And so it went. I made revisions to the brief, worked on the document exhibits, and peeked at the football game on the TV from time to time. Not that I really cared about the game. But I thought there might be a commercial with a puppy. If there was, I missed it. By Monday morning, things were in pretty good shape. They were in such good shape that we didn’t even go down to the wire on the 11 pm deadline. We had that sucker filed by 7 pm and I was free. Free!

But free to what? What do you do when you’ve just spent a month of your life in a cave writing a legal brief, and you’re finally allowed to come out? How do you celebrate? “Have a drink,” Big Law Senior Partner would say. Hell, I’d say. Just as I’d been saying for decades. In the past, I would have opened a special bottle of red. Or perhaps some bubbles. Or maybe some bubbles first, and then a glass or two of red. In fact, it was a special occasion. Maybe a glass of brandy before bed, too. But since I wasn’t drinking, I had a glass of sparkling water. With fresh lime. Now we’re talking. I made scrambled eggs. (There was no other food in the house. I hadn’t been to the grocery store in weeks.) Later, I made a cup of tea. I watched some TV. I went to bed.

Dreadfully anticlimactic.

I spent Tuesday away from the office, recovering, and running all the errands I’d put off for the past month. I went to Whole Foods and picked up some groceries. I bought myself a bouquet of hyacinth. (It smells lovely.) I bought lavender bubble bath and body lotion. Despite buying groceries, I was too tired to cook. So I had some leftover chili I pulled out of the freezer and a corn tortilla. No wine. No celebratory meal. I did manage a bubble bath, hot tea, and a generous slathering of lavender body lotion. I thought the cats would hate it and run from the bedroom, as they generally hate scents. But they hung out. We had pets. And I slept for ten hours.

Now it’s Friday. The work week is done. The brief from hell is filed and the other side’s response isn’t due for ten weeks. Which means I have a ten-week lull until I dive into writing the reply brief. It’s Friday! The brief is done! Have a drink!

No drink. Today is Day 35 of my 100-Day-No-Booze Challenge. No celebratory drink.

Which leaves me with the question: How do you celebrate momentous occasions (e.g., filing the brief from hell, the end of a work week signaling the first weekend you haven’t worked in a month, a long-awaited Friday night of freedom) if not with alcohol? Another bubble bath? Sparkling water? Zoning in front of Netflix?

“Have a drink,” Senior Partner says. “Fuck off,” I say. But there is no celebration.


  • I hate to break this to you, but a “100-day challenge” of not drinking is like a diet. Diets famously fail because, even if you’ve dropped those 25 desired pounds, when the diet ends you return to your previous eating habits, and you regain the weight 98 percent of the time. It’s what makes Weight Watchers so profitable.

    The challenge has to be permanent. Making it so will be liberating. Trust me. Otherwise, you’re just counting the days until your next drink.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Felipe, I am certain you are correct. But your comment misapprehends the nature of the challenge. I suspect this is because you cannot read my mind. Essentially, it is a way to trick myself into not drinking—100 days at a time. So rather than counting the days until my next drink, I’m counting the days until I re-up. I’m counting the days until my next 100 Days. I’m hoping at some point, I simply stop counting. Liberation. Suelto.

      Liked by 5 people

  • Do something you like, like going out into the nature and taking some amazing photos. Or have a wellness weekend. If you want to celebrate spending money.
    I would celebrate by eating chocolate – which is not in the slightest way better than drinking. So you see, I am not perfect, either. Sometimes I do not eat as a celebration – I rather do things I am too lazy to do on normal days. Like going to the theatre (for me: political cabaret) or visiting a museum (we have some lovely ones here in this small town). In summer I might go to the zoo (we have an awesome zoo). Or to a park with a camera and a book, and some provisions (fruit and sandwiches, in summer less chocolate – too hot). Or I have sex for one (ahem- you asked). Or read a book (not related to the previous way of celebrating).
    What I do not do: I do not go shopping for a new outfit or for jewellery, I do not get another cat (even though I am a crazy old cat lady) or look for approval of somebody else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fran, these are great ideas. I haven’t been to a movie in ages. A Friday evening movie and popcorn would have been a great treat last night. (As would some of your other ideas. Heh.) I vow to have some weekend adventures in my own town, and throughout Central Texas. There is so much to see and do here, that I haven’t done for years. You’ve helped me to envision the possibilities. So far as nature therapy goes, I am going into the woods tomorrow. With all the rain we’ve had lately, the creeks should be flowing. It will be lovely. But first, today I am attending the funeral of a dear friend’s sister. She was 51. In the meantime, I am drinking coffee, petting the cats, and watching the birds and squirrels.

      Liked by 2 people

      • It is much better – the movie lasts longer than a glass – at about the same price – and the movie is cheaper than a whole bottle (plus aspirin the next morning). Movie and ice cream – now, that tops a bottle of wine by yourself any day. When shall I come along? *just kidding, that would be my most expensive cinema visit ever*

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Gert. I don’t think it has to be hard. But I sure have been thinking it is. I have to shift my mind and start thinking of it as an adventure. Which is sort of the spirit in which I began. I’ve just forgotten. Thank you, Universe!

      Liked by 3 people

  • I think celebrating without alcohol gets easier over time. The association of drinking and celebrating really does begin to go away. There are so many other ways to celebrate! The world is your oyster. 🙂 Get outside, have a massage, light a bunch of candles and read trashy magazines, go to a movie, concert or play, eat a nice dinner out. Sometimes renting a movie and getting take-out feels like a celebration! As long as it makes you feel good and is somewhat out if the ordinary. Best, Jen

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you’re right—it will get easier. It’s just a matter of expanding horizons. I’ve been conditioned to think of alcohol when it comes to celebrating, and there are so many other, better, ways. Including those on your list. Thank you, Jen!

      Liked by 1 person

  • Looks like my suggestions have pretty much been covered, but I would say, go take some pictures, see a movie, or buy a book.

    Not just any book, one you really want to read even if it’s full price and you normally only buy them at a discount. Or maybe even a great coffee table book, limited edition full of photos, that you’ve been pining for.

    And you enjoy your book with some really indulgent take-out, AND a new CD to listen to while you eat and read or look at pictures. And while you’re at it, get some new cat toys, so they can partake in the celebration. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very nice ideas. A real book! With glossy photos. Somewhere along the way, I stopped listening to music. I must remedy that. And the Three Black Cats heartily approve of your last suggestion. They’ve been eyeing the Door-Able Bouncing Mouse.


  • A long bath with new lotions from Whole Foods? 10 hours of contiguous SLEEEEEP? Ah, I am so jealous. I think that sounds marvelous. I haven’t been able to treat myself like that very often since I entered motherhood and moved to France. No Central Market?!?!?! No WHOLE FOODS?!?!?!? Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Anyway. It sounds like you more than deserved it.

    You are taking me back! Before we moved to France (I following another career path in the move), I worked in law firms for years. I can feel your pain 100%. I know this world of which you speak. And I know why you want out. I wasn’t an attorney, but I served them. I was a trainer and training coordinator…in Chicago, then LA then San Antonio then in Austin. It’s such a strange thing to be connecting with you, knowing you are in that world. And I have to say, I’m so very, very, incredibly, very impressed with you as a person. For what your heart desires and for how you express yourself here in this space.

    I support your mission to escape! I did it! I know others who have as well! You can too!

    I’m glad you’re focusing on “How to Celebrate” without bubbly…it’s something I’ve been thinking of lately. I’m just not very good at it! Though I suppose I’ve celebrated recently by calculating ALL of the money I’ve saved during the past 3-ish months by not drinking, and after I choked a little bit at the number, directly spent exactly that amount on a wardrobe boost. It was much needed, trust me.

    Bravo for finding new ways of thinking about celebrations, and thanks for the encouragement to do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You miss Whole Foods and Central Market in France? I suppose I should cherish what I have instead of coveting your fresh croissants.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m thrilled to hear of another person who has made the Great Escape. Every time I hear another story, I feel inspired.

      Yes, not buying booze does add a nice little chunk to the pot. Which means a new wardrobe for you, and a little bit closer to GE for me.

      So glad to have connected with you!


      Liked by 1 person

  • I’m struggling with this demon too. I hate it…hate waking up feeling tired and head-achey. For years I used to only have an occasional glass of champagne to celebrate someone’s birthday or at Christmas time. Then I spent three years being abused by an alcoholic…and hey presto! I acquired the habit. Now we’re divorced and I’m still fighting it. I’ll be following all the suggestions on this page. It helps to not feel so alone.


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