Drunk Tank

If you are drunk more days than you are sober, in 10 days you will feel (and probably look) 10 years older, although while actually drunk you might not care so much. At present I am not having bulimic episodes, but I have been binge drinking a lot.

I have decided to try to learn something about wines, and how to match food and wine. I will also try to learn to cook a few new things.

I ordered a kind of introductory wine and cheese tasting course online, and had it sent to GK because I didn't want to have to go to the door to sign for it. I have read the material and found a lot of it interesting, and I can see how it is possible to demystify the process of analyzing wine, or at least become a bit more aware. GK and I did the actual taste testing last night, and that was pretty fun.

My approach to wine so far has been haphazard. I tend to drink inexpensive wine, and often it is about a label I find interesting or a name I like. Sometimes I will try a wine I have heard something about, but usually I go back to inexpensive wines that are as mild as possible. I think a more methodical approach is necessary, and probably a fair bit of practice. When I have had wines matched for me with degustation dinners, I have found it utterly fantastic. I don't know what my capacity for learning in this area is, but for now at least it seems like something to explore, rather than just continue to drink to get drunk.

I am trying my best to have fun.

Earlier this year I spoke about an upcoming project that I thought I would complete within several months. There is going to be something of a delay, but I am at least taking small steps in that direction.

I have watched a lot of movies in the last while, some I'd never seen before, and some I remember that had an impact in the past. With the latter, I wanted to go back and see how I saw them now. I can in most cases see or recognize the original influence or what struck or intrigued me, sometimes with the result that I went out and explored certain tangents. In many cases, this might have helped me to eventually either become more consciously aware or more articulate. Oddly enough, some movies might have even provided a kind of foreshadowing regarding where I would go in my life.

I will not comment on these movies individually for now, except for the Louis Malle film The Fire Within (Le Feu Follet). What particularly struck me was that the main character lived with a kind of constant burning anxiety. A doctor told him that the longer he went without alcohol, eventually this feeling would pass... but it is fairly obvious that the character doesn't believe him, or that his experience has been that no amount of time alleviates this feeling, that nothing in life does, and that alcohol has been what has come closest to doing so. He knows that it is just a matter of time, he will always go back to it.

He goes around to visit all his old friends once he has completed his detoxification and 'rest cure'. He finds he just can't connect with any of his friends, and it is possible to observe that he is beginning to falter. He used to drink socially with all of these people, he used to be entertaining company, but at a certain point he crossed over to a place where he always overdid it and the others had no need or wish to follow. They developed differently, and found paths in life, while he kept going around and around, unable to find a way to attach himself to the framework of life, or ground himself in anything.

To me, it doesn't really seem that alcohol is the (primary) problem, and giving it up indefinitely will not change that he does not know how to live or connect.

While I am here I will rant a bit about a particular TV show that seems to irritate me, perhaps inordinately. I will try to sort this out and come to some kind of conclusion I can live with, or make my peace with it.

The idea of transformation/metamorphosis has always been compelling to me. I know I am not alone in that. I think most people want to believe that professionals will really see them, and help them to express outwardly all the potential that remains hidden from the world. These professionals will use their skills for good, helping each person to be the best he or she can be.

One of the problems is that most people don't really know who they are, or don't know what it would take to hack through the years and layers of conditioning they have unknowingly consented to to get to the person they think they'd like to be, and in most cases, the vision of the person they think they'd like to be has been formed by the same influences which have conditioned them for all these years.

The TV show 10 Years Younger in 10 Days has an agenda which I find disturbing. I don't think I have a problem with the normalization of cosmetic procedures, but I don't like that it's done through subtle or not-so-subtle shaming techniques or psychological abuse/torture/warfare aimed at the general population. I think it is worth trying to pinpoint why this show angers me.

To watch makes me feel a bit like I am bursting out of a white sequin jumpsuit. I always feel uncool and out of fashion, but it is like this show really emphasizes that feeling. It may be that I actually fear that every time I leave the house I am being judged the way the people on the show are, and that I look much older than I am. I also find that I want to stand up for those getting makeovers. The result is that I feel like shooting the television.

In other parts of this website, I have gone on about why I think it's a positive thing to wear makeup and to in an overall sense try to express personality in part through physical creativity. However, there is a difference between trying to express individuality and feeling pressure to conform to a limited idea of what is currently 'acceptable'.

First of all, 10 Years Younger in 10 Days is not scientific. It tries to demonstrate that there are surefire ways to reduce a person's age according to public perception, while not being very specific about how results of polls are reached, or if some 'negative' results have been omitted. It also shows me that there may be no way to stop this process of making everyone super-conscious of every little aspect of their appearance and ageing. Yes, this kind of self-consciousness has been part of my daily 'life' for a long time, but I don't wish that on everyone else.

I do think that cosmetic procedures will become the norm rather than the exception, but this may create a new kind of 'class system' - people who can afford to get different levels of help so as not to appear 'sad', 'tired', 'disgruntled', like they've 'given up', etc - whether that's full on cosmetic procedures, regular botox injections, or just making sure they have the latest fashion and hair trends down, may be judged as more 'positive' than those who either choose not to or who can't afford to choose any of these options. People will not only be judged for all the 'lifestyle choices' they've made since birth (over time, these are bound to show up on one's face and body), but they will be judged according to their genes and how the type they have has affected the ageing process, or maybe even their ability to earn enough money to afford cosmetic procedures. They will also be judged according to the effects personal tragedies and hardships have left on their physical appearance.

If Beauty itself is forever out of my reach, why should I break my back trying to achieve an 'acceptable' compromise which will never make me either Beautiful or even desirable? Is it that I resent being told that in order to appear less 'unsightly', I have to go regularly for botox injections to 'prop my face up', I have to get my hair regularly cut and coloured by professionals to make sure I don't look like a bogan, I have to make sure my makeup isn't garish and that it is always age-appropriate ('Women over 35 should never wear red lipstick; it's so ageing' - never mind what you enjoy, or that as you get older and older, with technological and medical advances ensuring longer and longer lives, that it might be impossible to avoid all makeup that makes you look old - I mean, once the aged population is greatly increased, are they supposed to hide away for the rest of their lives?), make sure you give up all activities which might make you look older: smoking, drinking, eating 'bad' foods, sunbathing, make sure your clothes are age-appropriate (there is nothing more pathetic than 'mutton dressed as lamb'!), make sure you aren't stuck in another decade - consult a stylist, buy new clothes often, and if you have an appearance that is at all 'eccentric', you must tone that down as you get older, because it is so ageing! If you don't follow these rules, you have been warned, and shown multitudes of examples of how people on the street are judging you and laughing at you or are turned off by you. Your only solution is to be a good sport, accept the criticism as constructive, and most of all conform. The show instructs not only you, but everyone else watching that ridicule is what those who do not conform deserve.

I have no doubt that some of the professionals on 10 Years Younger have entered their professions because they would honestly like to help people feel better about themselves, but I also get the idea most of them were chosen for the TV show with the stipulation that they be 'harsh' for the sake of entertainment.

In one episode, they tried to get a 58-year-old man to wear a hairpiece, and shamed him about it, making him seem close-minded, stubborn, unwilling to be adventurous or try something new and modern and yet I thought his own opinion was more accurate than that of the 'experts', I thought he looked better without the hairpiece.

I was a bit shocked at how harsh these people are - stylists telling a man who is 58 that at least he isn't overweight... it was the tone, more than anything else, which implied 'you're old, you're not really attractive, but at least you're not fat', and at the same time letting those who are overweight know they are committing a sin, and they disgust him as a stylist. Who wants to style a fat person? They're so inconvenient, as well as disgusting. It seems to me that I might have a need to address some of these public attitudes, for the sake of my own mental health/personal development. I don't like the idea of living in a world with people who view others the way these 'experts' do, and who influence others to see the same things.

I will admit that one week, I watched the team transform a lesbian couple, and I actually liked both final results. An exception - but that doesn't mean that the attitudes about ageing and fashion- consciousness portrayed aren't offensive.

It is interesting to think about various uses for plastic surgery, to get an idea of what is possible, and to think about the unusual situations people all over the world live in, and what can potentially be done regarding these. It might be helpful for more people to be aware of the social implications that people face regarding unusual features or appearances, and to raise awareness of some of the appearance implications related to various medical conditions. It really may improve quality of life for some people, and this may include improving quality of life for those who were born with features that aren't attractive. There is an incredible amount of science and skill behind this work, and it shouldn't be dismissed as fluffy.

I think what 10 Years Younger in 10 Days points out best is that dental work should be more affordable and accessible for all people. It should not be seen as an 'extra' thing or a cosmetic issue. It is a health issue.

It is only natural that watching this show would make people curious about what certain services and products could do for them. This is a natural part of human experience - to strive to be better, to be interested in trying out new tools available in the environment, to do whatever it takes to gain competitive advantage, to more fully explore and live life.

With 10 Years, though, we see regular people on the street judging regular people, so it hits close to home. Natural ageing, or natural ageing considering the climate in this part of the world, comes across to others as 'giving up', looking 'washed out', sad, tired, grumpy, unsexy, unfuckable. People are in a sense ridiculed for contributing to the ugliness of the environment. There are certain 'looks' that are singled out. People who are caught in a 'timp warp', and who never changed their personal style from a couple of decades ago are singled out as particularly sinning. But it doesn't stop there - a lot of the things people choose as extensions of individuality seem to be unacceptable, and at all costs they must be made to conform, they must be made to 'fit in'. Even when it seems the experts are trying to bring out individuality, in reality they are trying to squish it into acceptable boxes and categories. To not accept criticism is to be a bad sport.

How do I find people who don't look at people the way the (majority of the) people on the street and the 'experts' on this show do? When I watch this show, I feel depressed that this is the reality of the world I live in. I know I do not have to watch this show, but at times it is like a scab I can't help picking. At times I want to make sure that I am not mistaken in my impressions, I want to be fair, and I need to watch enough episodes in order to feel I have a right to complain or draw attention to it. I think also there is a sense of anticipation, curiosity or even hopefulness related to the actual transformation. What will they come up with? If you like the results, does it make you feel more hopeful in a way about your own possibilities and potential? The thing is that I usually don't like the final results on the show. Usually I don't actually think the person looks younger, and usually I think that all that was needed was to make a few changes that could have been made on the spot, not in ten days, with expensive procedures - and that one major factor is the way people are photographed. For the 'before', the lighting, angle and facial expressions, as well as posture, are usually excessively unflattering, whereas for the 'after', it's unbalanced in the other direction. What if right from the start these issues were eliminated? There wouldn't be a television program.

Just as the physical environment at present is under threat and changes need to be made, I think the psychological environment encouraged by shows and attitudes like this can only become more unhealthy. I think the attitudes expressed are noxious, while seeming to be positive or 'helpful', but it's difficult for me to 'prove' it.

Do I need to get a grip, or lighten up?

Is it that I think I could do a better job than the people on that program in preserving or encouraging individuality while also recommending what is possible procedure-wise? Would I force my view of what is 'attractive' or interesting on the world? I guess I have the very subjective impression that I am seeing something in the people that the experts are not seeing. I usually find that my reaction is a wish to offer a less superficial, prejudiced and limited kind of 'support' and encouragement, and maybe that is what this entry is mainly about.

Should I just accept that people will adjust to the idea of getting regular botox injections, and think of it like going to the dentist, just part of 'upkeep'/personal maintenance/grooming in a modern world? For me, it is not possible to do anything regularly, although I do not really object to regular botox in principle.

I think it's probably easy to hold on to ideals or values related to this until you experience the realities of life. What I mean is that people learn to value a certain approach to life, love and relationships, and then when they find the 'truth' of how the world works, their competitive instinct or survival instinct kicks in, and they decide to change with the changing times, rather than get left behind.

Not all people can afford to 'keep up'. This becomes another area in which there is an increasing discrepancy between the haves and have nots. People now fantasize about 'extreme makeovers' as they have fantasized about winning lotteries.

On the other hand, maybe there is backlash against plastic surgery. Maybe related to the economy, but coming across as a rejection of the superficial. I think this sort of thing can only be temporary, a temporary 'setback' of the inevitable. Maybe also a lot of people are disheartened by the lack of miraculous change. It may seem futile to spend a fortune to try to change something that will not propel you into a category you want to be in. And there can be a kind of strength in joining the majority who also recognize this futility. But it's not really a moral or lasting victory.

There is also the issue of misinformation when it comes to fitness. Most people watching are not fitness experts, and many people who have been out of shape for a long time might try on their own to do way too much exercise too soon, thinking only that more is better, and ending up with injuries. It's partly the shame issue: when you see personal trainers, 'experts', berating a person who is not trying hard enough, you might be tempted to do too much, to prove that you are not lazy or wimpish. Or, you might not understand that your body cannot handle the abuse it did a couple of decades ago.

When it comes to the body, a person in their 40s or thereabouts is not going to get fit in 10 days. It doesn't make sense to push hard for 10 days, or to abuse a person who doesn't push hard enough for this limited period of time. In fact, 10 days is not enough time to make lasting change in any area. The novelty of the experience may give some people a bit of energy or the incentive to change a few things they are already motivated to change, but can 'success' be measured by results that are filmed in one big 'reveal' session which many experts in the areas of clothing, hair, makeup, cosmetic procedures, dentistry, etc, have all contributed to? Is it at all realistic that a long-term change has been achieved?

The show is fixed. It's formula television. They are not giving scientific results. It's a little suspect that they always manage to decrease the public's perception of a person's age by a similar amount. I have not seen any episodes in which 'after' the public still guess a person as being older than they are - whereas it seems to me likely that this would occur at least occasionally.

Another issue I have not addressed is an environmental one: if people are constantly buying new fashions, what do they do with all their old clothes? I guess they can donate them (and those who receive the 'benefit' of 'charity' will be the ones who are noticeably unfashionable), but in choosing new clothes, do they really need to be replaced so often just so a person won't look tired or like they've given up, and so that teenagers (who don't yet have a lot of life experience and who may not know who they are and what they want out of life for many years to come) won't find them uncool?

I guess what irritates me is that the message is so much about fitting in, becoming acceptable, rather than exploring diversity or the unknown. What I think this means is that people focus on fitting in and may never find out what they really think or want in life. Even when it comes to fitting in for a purpose, a higher purpose, such that everyone believes in some defining principles of the group - how can people know for sure that they accept these principles if they have been governed by a kind of fear of being unacceptable and unloved? I would say that the majority of people do not know what they are endorsing, or haven't thought about it.

OK, it is silly to get all riled up about a television show like this, but I think the underlying issue is that it might represent a lot of the attitudes I have been struggling with myself all my life, and that I need to identify them and fight back. I need to be able to identify or clarify public perception such that I can take a stand of my own in relation to it. I need to understand how I still may be unconsciously affected by public perception, and I need to become better at seeing my own judgments, separating them. Is the problem that I judge myself in the ways the public do?

If I were to live, I would have to concede that I believe plastic surgery is a valid solution, especially if I have to live in an age of video phones and constant, unrelenting public surveillance.

Another idea entails the idea of consciously choosing to abandon a life and a set of variables that are not acceptable. To choose to begin the process of allowing my body and energy to break down and be redistributed, all the molecules, particles, whatever. 'Reincarnation', but without my particular consciousness. My consciousness was formed through the combination? But it is not so different or unusual that anything of value is lost through my death. The 'good' parts are things that can be found elsewhere, as part of more harmonious or simply 'better' combinations.

Eventually I think competition is expressed differently and that when a certain quality of life has been attained people probably move on to developing neuroses. People struggling to survive don't have the luxury of wallowing in neurosis, but once survival isn't as urgent a concern and a person has more freedom of choice there is always the possibility that it's difficult to maintain a state of contentment or thankfulness for what one has.

I do wish it was possible to have fun rather than always feel it is necessary to slog through one more time and put something out there, to keep trying to explain, in case it makes a difference. Am I just circulating negativity in the world, or am I learning how to form an opinion? Is it necessary to go through this stage in order to find a better balance?

When I reread something like this article, it's disheartening. I am again all over the place, and while I can see what I am trying to say, I don't think I've written things well enough. And maybe it seems pointless when making the effort doesn't seem to ever attract discussion, something that would help me get to new levels or layers of thought and communication.

Bad Attitude, of course. I see all the time on 'reality TV' what the world expects. They expect enthusiasm and passion, described succinctly, on the spot, at a moment's notice. They expect Good Sports, those who are optimistic, Glass Half-Full types and proud of it. They want yes-men and asslickers, and in a way, I feel like Cordelia, with no one understanding that 'postivity' might be more complex. It is no wonder that there is so much stigma against depression, and very little chance of that changing any time soon.

But of course, this is just part of the cycle. And maybe I am not ready to put up anything new yet, or comment publicly, but the same thoughts and reactions, or similar ones, will circle back, be triggered by movies or books or influences of whatever kind, and again I will struggle with all the conflicting thoughts and emotions and try my best to express what I think, the best I can do considering where I've come from and what I've tried throughout my past that has had effects, that has changed how I express as time goes on, while maybe some essence remains discernible.

Since the beginning of 2011, I have logged over 200 hours of exercise. I currently feel 'fat' and unhealthy. I do know that it is possible for two years to go by, with me trying and failing to 'get myself together, and try again to either die or at least leave this house'.

Ungrateful. I suppose I am ungrateful. The longer I stay 'alive', the more ungrateful I feel. But I am less likely to think it is me who is empty. I have in the past put myself down in large part through internalizing the judgments of others who seriously misunderstood. I have bestowed them with 'authority' they didn't deserve. Anyway, I am 'full' of thoughts.

I will continue to try to stop binge drinking.

I don't want to be bitter, I don't want to rave incoherently, I don't want to keep going on about the same old things. I am struggling to be positive, to give others the benefit of the doubt, and to not contribute to an unhealthy psychological environment, but sometimes the reality of where I am at is not pretty. I want to transcend it, but at present I can't authentically do so. I do feel despair, I do feel tired, I do feel scared.

For now, I am trying to go with things, but I suppose I will inevitably eventually struggle again to try to find or create something more or 'other'.

-Xesce, 23/07/11















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