Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beer, how I miss you

The beer here in Indonesia is shit. The big seller is Bintang, but the stuff is like poison to me. I get instant headaches, wake up in the middle of the night with muscle cramps even if I only have one, and I get disproportionately bad hangovers. The bottles are recycled and there are rumors that they are cleaned and disinfected with formaldehyde.

There is a good little brewery in Bali, but I haven't seen their beers here in Surabaya.

Today, I was talking to a new friend. I forget how the conversation got to that point, but for some reason she asked me if I used to drink a lot. I only said "yes" and left it at that.

And then I came across this article about some 30-year-olds taste-testing some classic "college beers." The author makes some quality self-analysis, such as this:
In college, I would go to the Rite Aid to pick up a 12-pack of Schlitz Light for $2.57. This was my warm-up beer, and I couldn't buy more than that because, like a wino, I might actually drink it all. I think I liked the Schlitz Light because no one would ever take them out of my mini-fridge. I do not know what damage that beer did to my body, but you can't buy it anymore to run tests on it and find out.
I sometimes wonder how many years we knocked off our lives back in our younger days. Or what the Bintang is doing to me now (I do my best to avoid it, but the other beers don't really treat me much better). Back in Wisco, I remember buying cases of Hamm's Special Light for about five and some change. This one time, we left some cans sitting in the cooler on my brother's boat for several weeks. We found it later and drank it even though it had morphed into something only vaguely resembling drinkable.

My favorite part of the list of college beers is the inclusion of Schmidt beer. A friend got drunk on this stuff once and just kept repeating, "Schmidt! It's sccchhhmoove!"

The author also offers this article, which offers an interesting look at Miller High Life, a beer that may make a comeback as the US economy continues to struggle.

At one point during the year I spent alone in my cabin in the cold Alaskan woods, being depressed and drinking, I had seventeen different types of beer in my fridge (trust me; I counted because I was curious). In Surabaya, I don't think there are even a dozen types of beer available.

I miss good beer. It's like another friend that I don't get to see for a year. But beer can't write me an email like my people friends. I await our happy reunion.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Breaking up in the digital age

Recently, I separated from my girlfriend of a year-and-a-half. I sent emails to my family and best friend shortly thereafter.

Two days later, though, it was time to make things official: it was time to change the Facebook relationship status.

I logged in to my account, and then went to edit my profile. Beneath the spot where it said who I was in a relationship with was a little blue link saying, somewhat coldly, "cancel relationship."

I looked at the word "cancel." Couldn't they have chosen something more human-sounding? "Change relationship status" seems much less harsh. Maybe "end relationship" is more accurate. Maybe they could have offered something encouraging, like, "It's for the best." Or something a little more commanding, like, "Move on with your life."

I clicked the link, and my relationship was canceled.

Sort of. I hadn't saved yet. I was now offered the choice, "Don't cancel relationship."

Maybe I don't really want to cancel, I thought. Perhaps if I didn't acknowledge it on Facebook, the breakup didn't actually happen.

I clicked the link, and was greeted again with "Cancel relationship." I clicked back and forth several times. But no, thoughts of Facebook's power to save my heart were foolish.

I clicked "cancel" and then "save," and moved on with my life.

The news then traveled instantly to the other side of the world, where my friends saw it as a simple little note buried amongst other information. "_____ went from being 'in a relationship' to 'single,'" said the Internet. It paired the sentence with a little heart icon.

Responses followed, some private by email, others publicly for all to see.

The Internet has made it harder for us to be alone, to deal with life's issues alone. I hope it's for the best.