Blackouts

KavanaughLike everyone else, I’m writing about the Kavanaugh hearing. But because I’m self-centered, I’m really writing about myself.

I’ve barely paid attention to this news cycle. I don’t have cable TV. I never watch videos on news websites, and I only spend a few minutes each day listening to the radio. Almost everything I know about the Kavanaugh hearings, is stuff I read on CNN’s website. But in general, I find myself avoiding the story. I’ve already made up my mind.

I’ve already decided that Kavanaugh is disrespectful to women, and I have no doubt that he assaulted a girl at a house party in the eighties. I don’t think he’s a good fit for the Supreme Court–if for no other reason, now he’s just going to base his decisions on how much they’ll piss off the Democrats. But I also think he’ll be confirmed, because, apparently, America is going insane.

I listen to NPR for eight minutes each day. Four minutes on my way to work and four minutes on my way home. Although this week, I only listened for about a minute. This week is NPR’s fall fundraising appeal. Every time I got into my car and clicked on the radio, they were asking for money. I don’t mind it when non-profits ask for money. I work at a non-profit. I ask people for money. But on NPR, they don’t just ask. Instead, the reporters have long conversations with one another about how great NPR is. They go on and on congratulating each other on their reporting skills. I can’t listen, so I don’t. I turn off the radio.

Thursday, after work, I got in my car and gave NPR a try. This is the first thing I heard: Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh whether he was ever so drunk that he couldn’t remember what happened the night before.

Judge Kavanaugh: “No, I remember what happened, and I think you’ve probably had beers, senator.”

Senator Klobuchar: “So you’re saying there’s never been a case where you drank so much that you didn’t remember what happened the night before?”

Judge Kavanaugh: “You’re talking about a blackout. I don’t know. Have you?”

And then the Senate cut to recess, and my NPR station cut to their fundraising banter, and I cut off the radio. Those few seconds of testimony left me feeling icky. I was disgusted that this is how the Senate spends their afternoon.

But in the day or so that has elapsed since that stupid and snarky exchange, I find myself thinking quite a bit about blackouts. “You’re talking about a blackout. I don’t know. Have you?” Hasn’t everyone? Susan and I were talking about this today. She says no, not everyone. Just everyone I know (or knew in college). I was in the party-crowd that Kavanaugh’s been denying.

During my sophomore year at college, my dormitory hall was gearing up for a grain party. Have you heard of these? You make a sickly-sweet punch—usually from cheap powdered drink mix—and spike it liberally with grain alcohol. Grain is flavorless, inexpensive and 95% alcohol. In comparison, Jack Daniels, a whiskey that is popular with drinkers who like to get drunk, is only 40% alcohol. As we mixed the punch an hour or so before the party started, we kept sampling the batch. It was gross, too sweet. We added more grain. Around the time the party kicked off, my night ended. I woke up the next day facing stories about my six-hour blackout.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. My blackout episodes started well before my sophomore year and lasted into my thirties. Not all blackouts are the same. Of the hundred or so times this happened to me, none were as total and long-lasting as my grain experience. Usually, I simply had blotchy memories the next day. Sometimes, I couldn’t remember how the night ended. On rare occasions, I would suddenly become aware in the middle of a blackout, not knowing where I was or what I was doing.

I’ve had belligerent blackouts where I’ve tried to pick fights. I’ve had lost in the city blackouts unsure how to get to my destination. I’ve wound up at home without paying my tab. I’ve woken up in my car, on strangers’ couches, and naked on the basement floor.

To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never committed sexual assault during a blackout.

I write all this because I can. I had a serious (and dangerous) drinking problem for a long time, and then I had a less serious (and not actually dangerous) drinking problem for another long time. So I speak from experience, if everyone says you have a drinking problem, you probably do. If your night ends fuzzy (or completely lost in fog) then you have a problem. If many people are accusing you of things you can’t remember doing, there’s a problem.

It’s clear to me that at one point, Kavanaugh had a problem with alcohol. If he’s like me, he may have the problem under control, but it’s still there. The first step to solving a problem is to admit you have one. And so far, at least in public, Kavanaugh won’t do that.

The Republican majority doesn’t seem concerned about a justice with a history of sexual assault. I guess the drinking problem seems unimportant in comparison.

 

16 thoughts on “Blackouts

  1. This has been a terrible news week. I often turned it off. The constant NPR pitches for contributions annoy the hell out of me. (I give them money nonetheless, but not during pledge drives.) The Senate hearing was like an event at the Roman Coliseum; so many politicians out for blood. Ms. Ford was credible. The nominee’s behavior was belligerent and hyper-partisan, which is not the sort of behavior befitting a Supreme Court judge.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve also stayed away from the news – well, I feel like I stay away from all news anymore but especially – this week. I feel there are two EXTREME sides anymore. And the news is on one of those sides. Where is the Tom Brokaw of today? Someone just giving you the news? The blackout exchange would leave me feeling icky too. I actually did the grain party at my junior prom – we soaked raspberries in it and I didn’t like the way it tasted so I didn’t have a lot. But I am sure, st some point, I drank to excess and blacked out. At the time, it felt like the cool thing to do. So, I guess I was an idiot too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Are you calling me an idiot? Well I was so it’s ok. Mostly I’m happy I wasn’t killed during that time. Lots of crazy situations.

      I used to be extremely politically engaged but the past dozen years have worn me down. I’ve gotten to the point where I just feel like we deserve whatever we get. How apathetic is that?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hahaha…no – another one of those moments where that came out wrong. I was implying I thought I was cool to get that wasted. Bad choice for me 🙂
        Yeah, I relate to your apathy. I feel like I hear the news anymore when someone is so bothered by it that it comes up in every day conversation. Last night, Catelyn had a friend sleep over – and I talked a good half an hour with her friends dad about the news this past week. And like you, I only listened to very high level stuff. Just not interested in the games they are playing.

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  3. I’ve never heard the term grain party. We went to parties where they served jungle juice. Jungle juice was made with Everclear so sounds like the same thing.
    I think I remember one where they mixed up the batch in a plastic garbage can. If that isn’t a sign you should turn around and leave, I don’t know what is.
    If there are any youngsters reading, don’t ever drink any homemade punch. You don’t know the actual amount of alcohol you are consuming as opposed to a beer.
    I’ve always had a delicate stomach when it comes to alcohol, so drinking red colored punch was not a good thing.
    Kavanugh seems like he had a long career with alcohol, I’m sure he had blackouts.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I, like you, listen to NPR about 10 minutes per day. 5 minutes to the gym and 5 minutes home. I couldn’t watch the Kavanaugh hearings, although plenty of my FB friends on both sides of the issue were apparently riveted. I just couldn’t. Too depressing, no matter which side you are on.

    …and then. And then I heard something on NPR this morning that actually brought tears to my eyes. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democratic senator from very Republican ND is voting “no”. She is up for reelection in a very tight campaign this year. This will definitely cost her votes, and may well cost her the election, but she said that she, in good conscience, could not vote to approve Kavanaugh. She has integrity!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I watched the hearing when I got home from work. Thankfully, I missed his indignant, belligerent opening remarks but unfortunately witnessed the exchange you recounted above and more. The entire time all I could think was “This is an SNL skit. This can’t really be happening.” But it did and now I am even more afraid for the future of this democracy and my personal rights as a woman. I’m far from an alarmist but I am legitimately alarmed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That they actually made a SNL skit using his exact words is worrying enough, I can’t see how this won’t further the “winning/losing” mindset that has already defined our nation. The rhetoric has only gotten worse since the hearing. Blah. Susan wants to move off the grid or to another country altogether.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The Kavanaugh case has been widely discussed over here in the UK. I haven’t followed it properly but I have been shocked with the way that it has been reported over there – it often felt like a badly acted (by Kavanaugh) TV show. You’re definitely not alone with regards to the blackouts. I have often found myself in similar situations – which have left my scared, confused, embarrassed etc… When I was younger I lived for the weekend and drank to get absolutely annihilated. So although I didn’t think it at the time – I did have a drinking problem. It was just the norm to me – I was part of ‘binge-drinking’ Britain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And now we move on to the next completely f-ed up thing in the world of Trump. I swear, we’re never going to recover from this. I’m hoping you’re at peace with your current alcohol intake. I wasn’t and had to quit and I miss it so much.

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