Tag Archives: College

A General Overview of My Experience with Alcohol

I remember drinking vodka and fruit punch in the basement of my parents’ house in high school alone on a Friday night.  I felt the buzz.  It felt different, as if something uncomfortable was being erased. I liked it.  Throughout High School I would not say I was a heavy drinker.  When I did drink it was at house parties generally.  I remember the first party I went to and got drunk.  I do not think I got sick and I do not think I felt sick the next day.  I felt like I was doing something different that would put distance between the shy, awkward, geeky persona I projected and make me one of the cool kids.

Then there was the time a friend slept over and we drank, played Monopoly and dipped tobacco in the basement.  In the morning I was really hung over.  I think I told my mother I was sick.  My friend went home and I went to sleep in my room. My mother later discovered the half-finished bottles in a cooler in the basement.  She made me feel like I was the worst criminal in the world.  I think she also suggested sending me to a rehab or a counselor, which I refused. I did not think there was anything wrong with me.  I was just doing what kids my age did.  Later on my Dad drove me around in his car and interrogated me about what I had done. I remember him asking me if I had mixed the alcohol or drank it straight.  I remember not knowing why he wanted that information and feeling really embarrassed and frustrated about answering it.

In college I joined a fraternity.  I drank in the fraternity to be one of the guys.  For the most part it was the time of my life. The worst part was getting so drunk that the room spun or waking up hung over.  But there was also something in me that told me the more I drank, the cooler people would think of me.

I did the same thing after college when I worked and went out with friends (although not to the same degree or extent).  When I went to law school I did the same thing, perhaps to the same extent as in college, but I was living in New Orleans so that is probably an exception.

At some point after I got married and was working for a law firm alcohol became a way of coping with anxiety and depression. It switched from something fun and seemingly inconsequential to something I began to be concerned about and had trouble stopping.

The good thing and the bad thing about alcohol is that it obscures feelings.  It is bad in the sense that if my feelings are obscured then I do not deal with them and do not move past them.  It is good in the sense that sometimes feelings are too much to endure.  If there is no escape and no dealing then maybe it is a good thing to have alcohol around to escape.  Of course the danger of that is addiction and damage to health.  It is not easy to control and becomes more difficult if whatever feelings are being obscured by alcohol are never dealt with.  In my case that feeling was shame.

So the answer in the long run is of course to deal with feelings and ultimately that is how to overcome a problem with addiction.  It is a chicken and the egg type of situation (maybe).

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Another Job I Had in the University Office of Housing

My freshman I brought the savings I had accumulated from working in restaurants with me to college and they quickly melted away to nothing in about a month.  I then got a job working in my dorm cafeteria thinking my restaurant experience would translate but that did not last long.  It was dirty and smelly and I did not enjoy getting up early in the morning to work the breakfast shift after drinking the night before.  I also felt embarrassed serving the other people I saw everyday in the dorm.  So I quit.  I am not sure what I did for money the rest of the year.  Somehow I made it through.

My sophomore year I applied to work at the university Office of Housing.  I do not remember how I heard about the opportunity. I guess I saw it listed somewhere.  I remember showing up for my interview with a girl I had been dating.  The people in the office made fun of me for that once I got the job.

The Residents Services Office was on the second floor of the University Office of Housing. I worked in the Key department responsible for organizing and distributing the keys to all the dorm rooms on campus. The worst part was filing returned keys. Each key was engraved with a serial number that matched up with a specific lock.  The keys were filed according to the serial numbers in little envelopes in little library card catalog drawers. Key filing was tedious and everybody avoided doing it.

Sometimes we were sent out on errands to various dorms.  One of the perks of the job was the “P Slash” sticker on my student identifications allowing me access to any dorm at any time.  Students without the “P Slash” I could only enter their own dorm.  Otherwise they had to be signed in and only during certain hours.  This made it much easier my senior year when I had a girlfriend living in one of the dorms.

When we were not filing keys or out on errands we mostly sat around desks pushed together answering the phones and making fun of each other. All the other offices in the building looked down on us.  They called us the Romper Room. We had a reputation for goofing off and not doing any real work.  I would say that was about 80% accurate.

The people who worked in the office are what I mainly remember.  Betty ran the office.  She was a tall, older woman with short, coifed white hair.  She wore business suits and closed the door to her office when she ate lunch. I remember one time I was filing keys.  Betty came in the key room and asked me to sign out the master keys for a specific building.  I did not know how to do this task because I had never done it before.  She yelled at me because she thought I should know how to do that given the amount of time I had worked there.  I felt ashamed and pouted for the rest of the day.  Paul had my back but it still put me under, like the time my fifth grade math teacher yelled at me.  Disapproval and criticism always hit me hard at the time.  I guess she was right that I should have known how to do that task.  It was one of those things where someone explains how to do it but I forgot because I did not have to do it right off the bat.  As time passed people assumed I knew it and I was embarrassed to ask anyone because I should have known it (like when I forget a person’s name after I meet them).  So I avoided the task for a while but eventually it caught up with me.

My immediate boss, Paul was gay man with a Freddie Mercury haircut and mustache.  Until that point I never had much interaction with gay people.  I don’t think I handled it very well but I did my best and I was learning.  He was a nice guy most of the time.  One time Paul invited me out to lunch for my birthday.  This was something he did for other people in the office as well.  I remember feeling really awkward about it.  I guess he could tell because he said my friend Rod who also worked in the office could come along.

Every once in a while the reputation of our office would trigger Paul.  He would storm into the office with an angry look and say he was implementing a new management style.  He would send us in to file keys.  That would last a day or so.  Sometimes this would get to him and he would get angry and make us work.

Paulette came next in the hierarchy.  She had a thick Boston accent and a really loud voice.  I remember laughing at her a lot.  She would sometimes become sensitive about that.  My friend Rod and I went to this bar called the Dugout with her and her friends sometimes.  One time I interviewed her roommate about her menstrual cycle for a psychology of women paper.

Jason and Ron were two people that made the office unbearable sometimes.  Jason was this muscular, athletic tough guy.  Ron was this sycophantic, closeted homosexual who idolized him.  They would bust everyone’s balls in the office but they would do it in a really vicious way.  Everyone hated them but also feared being on their radar.  I remember talking back to Jason (just like that bully, neighbor family I mentioned in a previous post).   He got angry with me.  He threatened to beat me up.  I remember feeling a strong adrenaline rush.  That doesn’t happen to me anymore.  But now that I think about it happened quite a bit when I was threatened with violence as a kid. I remember being made fun of and my ears would become hot and turn bright red.  That doesn’t happen to me anymore either but it also used to happen quite a bit.  Working in the Office of Housing was the last time those things happened to me as far as I can recall.

There was Heather.  I went to see a movie with her. I think her boyfriend did not like me going to the movie with her. Later Rod and I went to a party at her apartment. I brought some pot.  We all smoked it and I passed out on the floor. When I woke up I found out that Rod had stolen the pot from my pocket while I was asleep and let Heather’s roommates (including her boyfriend) draw on my face with a magic marker.  I felt humiliated and angry with Rod for letting that happen.  Rod told me it was my fault.  That was funny though.

The job was good and bad.  Good because it gave me enough of an income to go out to the bars.  It was not very difficult.  The bad parts were the nastiness of some of the people working there and how judgmental they could be.  Even though I was in college I could still be threatened with violence for sticking up for myself (albeit in a passive aggressive way).  I could be robbed and humiliated and it was all in the name of goofing around.  If I felt bad it was because I needed a thicker skin or so I thought.

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