Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Tell me whether you’ve heard one of these phrases:

“She’s taken with him” – meaning the “she” being described has fallen for somebody.

“He is just completely taken with being a father” - meaning the man, having recently become a dad, just loves fatherhood.

And we've all heard in movies that cheesy saying about some so-and-so who “took a lover” which means that a couple has decided to hook up on a regular basis. (I don’t like the word lover, by the way.) I really like the way Liz Gilbert mentions and sort of mocks that saying in her book “Eat Pray Love” (

But I digress. Where I’m going with this is the contemporary use of the word “taken” coupled with the word “drink.”

”I’ve taken to drinking…” followed by words like regularly, often, daily, frequently, etc. Maybe you’ve seen it in a more foreboding way, like, “Things were going well until he took to the drink.”

In any context, the phrase pretty much means the same thing: events lead a person to start having a drink – or two or three- and having them at times that were previously unlikely, or even inappropriate.

If we were face-to-face right now, you would ask me, “What in the HELL are you getting at, Renee?” I will tell you, I promise. I had to get that stuff out on the table first, though, because when I was ‘writing’ this entry in my head, it was titled “I Have Taken to Drink” and I thought that I was the most clever and brilliant title ever. After further consideration, I decided against using that title for two reasons. Firstly, my whole experiment in drinking lasted all of five days, at best. Not a significant amount of time at all. Secondly, it was incredibly uneventful. I couldn’t come up with more than a blanket statement about the drinking…there were no interesting specifics to substantiate the clever title. It pretty much went like this: By the time evening rolled around, there were so many tiny defeats weighing me down that I felt like I just couldn’t deal. And really, I couldn’t. Coping skills are not my strength…in fact, I can’t claim them as my weakness, either, because that would imply that I actually have coping skills. I don’t.

It began and subsequently ended in the kitchen. Predictably. One night as I was doing my thing in the kitchen, I opened a beer and drank it. It made things a bit more bearable…so if I had two, would things be a lot more bearable? It stung a bit less when I caught myself looking for things I didn’t have anymore. “Where’s that cheese grater…ooops… that’s back in Portland, somewhere… not sure where, though, because I f-ed up the packing of my kitchen.” It was easier to shrug off that atrocious feeling of not having a single second of closure before leaving my friends, my things, my home, my country…. and that it was all MY fault.

I’ve always been a big daydreamer. (No, really.) As an adult the daydreaming has mostly manifested itself as dialogue in my head…you know, like when you make this scenario of how a conversation or an event will play out. Or how you wished it had played out. The one I was having then was a phone conversation, envisioning myself chatting with someone back home about how things were going, and I’d gloss it all over with, “Yes, well, I’ve taken to drink” and then I'd appear to be sophisticated and insightful in my recognition of the presence of drinking in my day. It was going to be effective in painting the picture of how sucky the evenings had become and how clever I had been in remedying said suckiness with a drink or two. After all, I’m in England. Pubs monopolize the street corners here the way Starbucks do in the States. What’s that saying about when in Rome and the Romans?

Maybe you know this already, but adding alcohol to a situation already riddled with ineptitude does not a solution make. It also isn’t good for someone with heinous jetlag. In fact, I think there were only two positives that came from the situation.
First: to Husband, I appeared to be a fun girl once again. (Woo hoo! Renee’s got a buzz!) And second: I think the beers gave ME beer goggles, providing a short respite from my constant cringing over my appearance – namely, the haircut.

Why does it always go back to the hair?

Anyway, if I had to walk away with a lesson learned from the whole thing, I’d say there are two points. First, do not try to drink your problems away. (Yeah, that’s news.) Second, when writing, remember that the story makes the title, not the other way around. Now that I think about it, it’s just like the first day of college and the counsel you probably received from your advisor and from your Comp 101 instructor. In case you forgot.

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