SOBER CITY: The Return


This is not an April Fool’s joke.

I wrote an update for my Sober City blog about 6 months ago with a desire in my heart to change my life but a lack of motivation and will power to act on any of it. Needless to say, I never posted it. My year spent in “Sober City” 2011 proved to be an experiment that profoundly changed the direction my life was headed and was also one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had. I lost 50 pounds, wrote more music than ever and reawakened a passion for life inside of me that I had previously thought was gone forever. In 2012 I brought alcohol back into my life and everything was great…until it wasn’t. Here is that never posted blog from late last year.

Sober City Update – Sept. 21st 2012

It’s been 273 days since I ended the year long lease of my alcohol free residence in Sober City and since that day I’ve enjoyed over 9 months of untethered freedom at my familiar homestead of Jameson St and Grasshopper Ave in Booze Town. The year has been full of good times, great people and exceptional hangovers. It’s sent me home to Cape Breton to drink with my family and back to Chicago to drink with my friends. There have been many bottles of wine, plenty glasses of whiskey and countless pints of beer, all washed down with smiles in my eyes and laughter in my ears. A careful balance was struck between gym trips and bar tips and all was right in the world. The exile was over. The celebration commenced. And commenced. And again. And again.
The workouts started to dwindle somewhere near June. Nothing serious mind you, just down to 3 or 4 times a week, which is probably a more reasonable amount of time to spend at the gym than every day. Not a bad thing. Moderation and balance. Then the weight started coming back. Also good news according to all of my friends who insist I got way too skinny. Fair enough. Nothing wrong with maintaining a normal, healthy body size. The extra booze is probably actually a good thing in that respect. Right? I still felt pretty great so why not keep it all going?
More nights out. More mornings in. Drinking instead of writing. Hangovers instead of workouts. It was all good though. It was all fine. Then something changed. A subtle poisonous undercurrent of insecurity was bubbling below the surface and it was slowly starting to spill over. It didn’t happen overnight but it didn’t take long either. Something was wrong. I hated working out again, my clothes started feeling uncomfortable again and worst of all I stopped caring. All of a sudden it was October 1st and I felt terrible. Depression took hold. Anger. Resentment. Despair. All of the things I spent a year getting away from were coming back stronger than ever and I hated to think I was going to end up back where I was before this whole journey started in 2011. The solution was obvious. It was time to move back.
The only thing I had to do before I changed residency once again was make a simple decision. Do I tell everyone? Do I start another potentially pretentious regularly updated blog about a very personal experience to share with everyone regardless of how well they know me? Is there anything valuable left to say about my drinking habits and how they affect me? Who really benefits from a documented account of such a personal and otherwise insignificant choice? The answer is simple of course. I do. I need to tell you because I need to do this for me, with you. Even if there isn’t anyone actually listening, as long as I think there is, that’s all I truly need to keep me motivated and on track.
So, to all my friends and family and anyone remotely interested, I’m officially moving back to Sober City indefinitely. It may not be for long, it may be for way longer but it’s time to go back regardless. As before this isn’t about alcohol so much as its about regaining control of my life and trying to force something to change. I’m convinced that for me alcohol is just a small part of a bigger picture and for the rest of this year (at least) I’ll be stepping away from it to better understand it with a clear head and an open mind. Just in time for the Mayans to kill us all.


So that never happened.

Now it’s 6 months later and it’s been 15 months since the last Sober City post and I’m almost back to where I started. Did I learn nothing? Was it all a waste? Absolutely not. These past 15 months were just as valuable if not more than the year of sobriety because no experiment can ever be complete without direct and unbiased comparison. Well the results are in and it couldn’t be more clear. Alcohol is a problem for me. Maybe not always but definitely right now. It’s the only clear difference between the happy, inspired and productive 2011 me and the slowly deteriorating, unmotivated, constantly depressed and insecure 2012-present version. It’s a shitty murder mystery because there’s only one bloody handed suspect and I keep inviting him back for more. They say alcohol isn’t a problem until it gets in the way of living your life and lately it’s been getting in my way much more than ever before.
So it’s with this not so new knowledge that I came to an obvious decision. Time to move back to Sober City. For real this time. (You’re reading this so I can’t back out now). It may or may not be a permanent move but it’s absolutely necessary for me now and it’ll probably be necessary for quite some time later. So to everyone who knows me or is at least mildly interested in my sober ramblings and self analytical blog posts, you’ll be happy to know that Sober City is officially back up and running for everyone to read and ignore accordingly. I fully realize that it’s absolutely more for me than it might be for you, but it’s just something I need to do and I truly appreciate any and all support and encouragement that might come from documenting all my madness and neuroses. I changed direction once before and it’s clear that something has to change again. Time to see if the blueprint still holds up.




7 thoughts on “SOBER CITY: The Return”

  1. Love you when you are weak and love you when you are strong. I vote you president of sober city!! In Joe MacLeod we trust!

  2. Hey Joe,

    For the record, I do catch the odd Sober City post and am astounded at your self-discipline. Good for you man!

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