Clerestory

Dry November: Day 30

November 30, 2018

My final hours of sobriety; our revels now are starting. Tonight I’ve got a friend’s birthday followed by a Christmas party, and I fully intend to have craft beer at midnight to celebrate the completion of my ascetic month.

Despite the autumn drear of some of my writing, I am hopeful, happy, and this week I’ve felt unusually energetic. Perhaps it actually takes a month to see the benefits of boozelessness. Though I forgot that it was Thanksgiving until the intercontinental texts arrived, I’ve been exceedingly grateful this month, to my family, to my partner, to my glistening new friends and the unassailable old: I’ve met some great people this month and had quality one-on-one time with some very dear friends.

At the start of the month, I worried that hitting a full year of unemployment might daunt me into torpor, but instead I feel invigorated, galvanized, excited for the future. I am glad and (perhaps pathetically) proud to have abstained for a month despite frequent social commitments in an unapologetically drunken city, already on its Christmas warpath.

Besides being dry, I got a lot done. Hopefully this list is not too annoying (better yet, maybe it will appear paltry compared to your November productivity). I’ll post it here for posterity, as a possible source of motivation to those considering a dry month of their own, and to my future forgetful self, as a reminder of what can I can achieve on the wagon. Some of this surely would have gone unmitigated by drink, but perhaps not in such variety and volume.

  • I applied to Entrepreneur First, and have an interview with them in January. I applied to stay for a month on Bergman’s island estate on Fårö, a place I’ve dreamed of going for over a decade; I proposed I’d write a novella and poetry for the locals. I also applied to some tutoring jobs and sent out some tentative journalistic tentacles, and I did a few other interviews at startups.
  • I hosted the first meeting of Through a Glass Darkly, a loosely structured, interdisciplinary, in-person intellectual chat which I’m very excited about. I also made the website which looks better than my normally lacklustre efforts.
  • I learned about the odd phenomenon of ultraworking, which I found boosted my productivity these past three days (I’m in my ninth cycle of the day as I write this). In a similar vein I did eleven Focusmate sessions.
  • I got to meet, at least briefly, some great people, including Adam Curtis, Matt Clifford of EF, and Jonathan Haidt.
  • I attended dinners, parties, dinner parties, brunches, pub nights, an Effective Altruism social, and several other events, all with the comparatively crystalline recollection of a teetotaler. For my forebearance I have met some amazing people, had some incredible experiences.
  • For instance I went to Christmas at Kew with a very beautiful bunch.
  • I found a way to track and commit to meditation, using Insight Timer, RescueTime, and Beeminder. I will write about this approach soon.
  • I finished the opening scene of a novella I’m writing.
  • I watched three films: General Magic (2018), Religulous (2008), and The Awful Truth (1937).
  • I finished four books: Anathem by Neal Stephenson, The Coddling of the American Mind by Jonathan Haidt, The Awakened Ape by Jevan Pradas, and Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie.
  • I also started three: Empires of the Word, The Sense of Style, and Waking Up. I made some marginal progress on Superforecasting as well.
  • I went to the gym ten times, and I did four fasts that were longer than eighteen hours. I ate pretty healthily. Annoyingly, I also gained weight!
  • I clocked 25 hours writing, in total, in explicitly timed sessions (49 pomodoros); RescueTime puts me at 40 hours on the sites I normally use for composition. I wrote through 3/4 of a written moleskine journal which I started on the 6th. I also published six articles on Medium, mostly adapted from my Dry November posts:
  • The Clock Part 2: Matineé
  • MK Ultra (Rosie Kay & Adam Curtis)
  • The Clock Part 3: Graveyard Shift
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • The Battle Over Free Speech, on Jonathan Haidt.
  • ‘General Magic’ Documentary: An Inspiring Look at Failure

All in all it has been a life-affirming month, and I owe it to all the friends who supported me, and to you, Dear Reader and Friend, for enduring my inanities. I wish you all the best for December, and maybe we can meet for a drink! ☺️

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Bryan Kam

I'm Bryan Kam. I live in London. I have more stuff online here.