It's been brought to my attention that I seem to only have asked females to participate in the HSG program here at the EWN. It may seem that way for now, but there are also posts from males coming soon. Just not now. This particular suggestion, or set of suggestions, comes from Elizabeth Ellen:
Recommendations For Surviving The Dreaded "Holiday Season" With A Little Less Self-Loathing And A Bit More Cheer
First off, and perhaps most importantly, John O'Hara's Appointment in Samarra (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1935 - though the photo is from the Vintage, 2003 version). This novel opens on Christmas morning and concerns the self-destruction (and prolonged inebriation) of its protagonist, Julian English. It was written in the 30s, which means Julian self-destructs with a great deal of humor, style, and alcohol. Even his self-loathing comes off as charming (quite a trick! just try it!). In the second chapter we learn, via Julian's wife, that he has ruined their good social standing in town (Julian owns a Cadillac dealership) by throwing a highball in the face of one Harry Reilly (a person, we gather, of even higher social standing) at a party the previous evening, though Julian himself is hungover and slow to remember. Things go delightfully downhill from here. So delightfully downhill you're apt to momentarily forget your own self-destructive tendencies and the shambles your life has been thrown into because of them and focus instead on Julian's, which is precisely the point. Here is a top-notch example of what I'm talking about:
"He laid a lot of records out on the floor without looking at their titles. He spun a spoon around, and when it stopped he would play the record to which it pointed. He played only three records in this way, because he was pounding his feet, keeping time, and he broke one of his most favorite, Whiteman's Lady of the Evening, valuable because it has the fanciest trick ending ever put on a record. He wanted to cry but he could not. He wanted to pick up the pieces. He reached over to pick them up, and lost his balance and sat down on another record, crushing it unmusically. He did not want to see what it was. All he knew was that it was a Brunswick, which meant it was one of the oldest and best. He had a drink out of the glass. He used the vase for resting-drinking, and the glass for moving-drinking. That way he did not disturb the main drink while moving around, and could fill the glass while getting up and sitting down. Unintentionally he lay back. 'I am now,' he said, 'drunk. Drunk. Dronk. Drongk.' He reached like a blind man for the fresh bottle and with eyes that he knew were sober he watched himself pour himself a drink. 'No ice I get drunk kicker. Quicker,' he said that aloud. To himself he said: 'I bet I look like something nice now.' He found he had two cigarettes burning, one in the ash tray on the floor, and the other getting stuck in the varnish on the edge of the phonograph. He half planned a lie to explain how the burn got there and then, for the first time, he knew it would make no difference."
Secondly, if your self-loathing does not preclude you from leaving the house, Daniel Bailey's The Drunk Sonnets (Magic Helicopter Press, 2009) is a fine book to open upon returning home from a holiday party. Written over the course of a few drunken evenings (hence the title), the sonnets are perfect for reading while a little sloshed (and a lot lonely) yourself. (And if your self-loathing does preclude you, as it does many of us, from leaving the house, The Drunk Sonnets should be of help in alleviating feelings of anguish and alienation, if only temporarily.) There are fifty-three sonnets in total. Here is one I like a lot (though, it should be noted, I like them all "a lot."):
Drunk Sonnet 13
THE ONLY THING THAT COULD MAYBE SAVE US NOW
IS GETTING OLD TOGETHER AND DYING AND THEN NOTHING
I THINK THAT THIS IS THE TIME FOR US
I HAVE WALKED THROUGH OUR CITY AT NIGHT
IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE CHANGING ANYTHING NOW
BUT WHEN I FALL IN LOVE IN THE FUTURE
WILL I EVEN THINK OF YOU OR WHAT? I DON'T KNOW
WILL YOU EVEN BE A PART OF THAT?
HERE ARE SOME THINGS I'VE SEEN TONIGHT
THAT MAKE ME THINK OF YOU OK:
CAT LITTER, THAT WAS THE FIRST
YOUR PICTURE ON THE INTERNET
WHAT ELSE, I DON'T KNOW, SHOULD I QUIT MYSPACE?
SHOULD CATS EVER PISS AGAIN?
Thirdly and lastly, you'll need something to read while hungover (whether you leave the house or not) this holiday season, and for this I recommend Tao Lin's Shoplifting From American Apparel (Melville House, 2009), which I myself read while hungover one recent morning. It's an easy read and a fast read. Two hours in bed with it and a handful of aspirin and your head will hurt sufficiently less. Trust me. Also, it's comforting at times like these to know that other people lead lives as dismal and uneventful as our own, even/especially during the holidays:
"On Christmas Eve Sam woke around 7 p.m. in his brother's studio apartment in Manhattan. Sam had moved in November into a four-person apartment in Brooklyn but was staying at his brother's studio apartment while his brother was on vacation with his girlfriend. Sam put on music very loud and showered in the dark with the bathroom door open. He put in earphones and walked ten blocks to an organic raw vegan restaurant. He ate a seaweed salad. He drank a smoothie. He walked back to the apartment. He drank an energy drink. He worked on writing for two and a half hours. He lay on his brother's queen-size bed listening to music. He read most of the newest Stephen Dixon novel and fell asleep around 3 a.m."
So good luck, and if you need someone to g-chat with at two in the morning this holiday season when you're too inebriated to read but not yet inebriated enough to forget the miserable life you have created for yourself this year and fall asleep (read: pass out), hit me up. We can compare/contrast our self-destructive natures and you can tell me how you fucked things up with your ex and listen to how I fucked things up with mine and then we can agree that neither of us will ever be "that happy" again, nor do we deserve to be, etc etc. I will try to be charming for you, but as stated above, this is a hard trick to pull off, under the circumstances, in this season. It will be better for both of us if you keep your expectations low. I thank you in advance and look forward to speaking with you.
Somebody once said about Elizabeth Ellen that she "is rapidly becoming the quintessential writer giving us stories and poems about fucked up relationships..." She is the author of Before You She Was a Pitbull (Future Tense Press, 2006) and of 1/4 of A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness (Rose Metal Press, 2008) as well as 1/5 of the soon to be released Fox Force Five (Paper Hero Press, 2010). She's also one of my favorite writers and people, though I don't believe that information is in her actual bio.