February 23, 2004 00:59 | Confession

I think we may have a problem here

It is becoming more and more clear that I may have a bit of a "substance dependance" situation.
Over my two weeks in California, I barely drank alcohol and rarely smoked any cigarettes. While at ETech, and again in San Francisco, I was privy to many highly interesting conversations, meetings, dinners and the like. However, almost every time, I did not feel to be anywhere near my peak intellectual capacity. I felt... diminished somehow, as if my hands were tied behind my back and I couldn't figure out why or how.

An afternoon with Mimi, dinner with Joi, a hike through the hills with Howard... while I managed to keep up the conversation with these new friends for whom I have the highest esteem, I myself felt as if I'd poked a pencil through my brain... positively self lobotomized.

I anxiously questioned myself: "why is it I can have incredible brainstorms in conversations with friends back home and be completely hogtied in most other situations?"

The answer is all too clear. Conversations with friends back home usually take place over a bottle of something or other and a full ashtray.

Today, pacing my winter-sealed apartment, refusing to have coffee and cigarettes, I accomplished little other than basic chores. Until around 9PM when prompted by some deeper thought that needed thinking, i poured myself some wine and lit a cigarette. And so the levy broke. Hyperactive wheels within wheels churning, spewing out prolifically on whatever topic needed its 15 seconds of attention. One glass of wine. No excess.

Is that a kind of addiction? I do not crave alcohol or cigarettes, at all. In fact I intensely dislike both: they make me feel physically ill. But my mind ... oh, my mind reels when they are in my blood...

So many things I wanted to discuss, alas the opportunity now passed. Well, not really, but I could have contributed so much more.

Maybe I'm just to hard on myself? Bah! Ok, end self-pitying rant. Carry on!

1- John Poisson

Alcohol chemically reduces inhibitions and socially breeds conviviality. That's why we drink. A little alcohol and people start being themselves, right? A little alcohol and you're speaking your mind, you're less worried about whatever it is that worries you, you're more on par with your peers.

It's a BIT of a crutch, yeah, but recognize that the ideas are the same. You're just not letting them out without a little alcohol to lubricate the process.

I've talked with you wet and dry, and you've got equally interesting things to say; you just talk more freely with a beer in your hand. ;)

Buy a flask.

if you have a problem, then that means i have a problem and i definately don't have a problem!! ;)
steve: why didn't i think of that: a flask! that's brilliant!! ;)

Self-medicating. It can be an addiction - but it isn't always. I've been doing it with coffee for the last year or two. There's been some discussion on slashdot about it - i'll try to find the posts and get back to you. Interesting thing to discuss though,

The only times I've ever smoked have been when I've been sorely in need of an intellectual boost - and I did so many times simply because it worked.
I don't have an addiction - I haven't smoked at all for almost three years and even when I did it wasn't more than a couple a month and I never had withdrawal problems. I look(ed) on cigarettes as a form of self-medication akin to aspirin, really.

you know what it is? i will tell you - when frantically boning up on two semesters of psychology 101 in three days for an exam, i studied a chapter about memory and memory triggers. you see, whatever state (psychological, physical, social) you tend to be in when doing a specific activity, i.e. those brainstorming convo's, that is the same state you need to be in in order to continue the same activity at the same level of ability.
now, when i had studied all of this, i was perpetually tipsy, drinking beer to calm my frazzled nerves. on the day of the exam, i totally blanked out until i remembered that chapter. i quickly downed three beers fifteen minutes before walking into the exam room, my memory returned, i wrote the exam tipsily and got a 94.
go figure.
it's not about addiction, it's about being habituated to a certain state of being, location and environmental factors in a certain situation.