“an ode to trader joes”

From my inbox

S (day 18):

I used to love trader joes because of the ultra-cheap wine. It is this awful, shitty wine that costs $2.99/bottle and is produced in a factory like soda. It is the worst and I am appalled at how much of it I drank over the years.

I have a whole new appreciation for TJs and now consider it one of my main tools in sobriety. I would advise any team 100 members that are lucky enough to live near one to get there ASAP (preferably during off hours!) just stay away from the wine aisle.


1) The line is always crazy-long but moves quickly and is a good exercise in patience and living in the moment.

2) Amazingly low prices on good, organic foodstuffs, supplements and environmentally friendly home and body care products.

3) Lots of healthy ready-made and frozen meals that are easy to prepare. I love cooking but wasn’t much in the first few weeks sober because I was too cranky to cook without drinking wine… it is so nice to be able to just throw something in the oven for half an hour without thinking.

4) Limited selection. They don’t have tons of brands so it is easy to make decisions when one is feeling overwhelmed. You aren’t faced with a wall of olive oils – there are just a few options.

5) TREATS! They have killer treats and lots of fun, fizzy drinks there. I’d much rather spend my two bucks on a big-ass chocolate bar.

Hugs to you too Belle! I have a romanticized idea of life in Europe and totally take our grocery stores for granted over here ๐Ÿ™‚ย  If you ever want anything from trader joes you just let me know and I will send you a care package.ย  xo, S” [she’s now on day 38]


from me … it’s true that we don’t have this kind of ‘all-under-one roof’ store in europe, but we have the best chocolate here. and great tea. and there are lots of great bakeries. and meals on the patio in the sun.

what i miss from North America is the mayonnaise (hellman’s diet). And plain cheerios (we can get honey nut here, but not plain, and honey nut is gross).ย  mostly i stock up when i’m home. I also buy maple syrup and a certain brand of chocolate chips. i buy my running shoes at home (sneakers? runners?) because they’re cheaper. i buy socks and underwear at walmart each trip. there’s a certain shampoo that my husband likes. oh and he buys his deodorant at home because it’s unscented and everything here has perfume of some kind …

um, and i have my mom mail me a few spices, like savory, and chili powder blend, and ground mustard. and something called ‘greek spice’ made by clubhouse. sometimes my sister will send me an english-language cooking magazine, and mr. b likes the newspaper from home.

oh. and cranberries. should I go on? tommy hilfiger perfume “freedom” … clinique face cream is twice the price here so i try to get it at home. and there’s a certain brand of pens from staples… now i’m just making myself sound crazy.

oh, and there’s no ‘legal-sized’ paper here, and i like to write on yellow pads of legal paper (compulsive much?) …

and i have all my baking pans shipped from the states… really. i could go on and on.

that said, i know an american expat living here who buys her toilet paper in the US.

so i’m not THAT bad (and you know how us boozers like to compare our badness to others).

happy sober sunday


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I think I always thought my triggers were social anxiety. I realized I can get through those triggers but aimlessness and boredom are another story and another issue I need to conquer. Hana, you are right…. drinking to cure boredom is lazy and self destructive. My therapist used to tell me “drinking is not an activity”. I’ll have to make that my mantra ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks so much for all of your encouragement. I need to remember the goal is to stop drinking and that starting and stopping are sometimes necessary to reach the goal….. at least I learned something and can go forward.

    • Sara Dee – I like your mantra! Sounds like you have/had a wise therapist! I’ve had to tell myself the same thing, drinking looks like an activity but for most people who drink it’s secondary to the rest of the experience. For me, it’s usually front and center, and all the rest is just swirling around that center. This is probably why I’ve found I’m actually more capable of being interesting when I don’t drink, both socially and even more so when I don’t drink alone! I’m rooting for you lady!!!

  • It’s funny, the first time I went to Trader Joes was to buy alcohol for a friends party. I was soooo hung over the next day, and so it was also the first time I went to work hung over. That was a long time ago. And I wish I had learned my lesson about going to work hungover. What a testament in strength, futility, and embarrassment that was, and I did it very frequently in the last few years of drinking. Ugh!!! But I digress, I didn’t learn my lesson about drinking the night before work, but strangely enough I rarely if ever bought alcohol from Trader Joes again, and that was over 15 years ago! The association of a Trader Jors hang over lodged in some part of my brain and I always avoided the alcohol section. Thankfully they really are a pretty awesome store and my favorite treat is their cut flower selection, can get a beautiful large bouquet of budding glads in various colors for 10 dollars, and they last few a few weeks. I think I’ll go there today, thanks for the reminder!!!

    Also to all you who are back at day 1, thank you for your honesty and getting back on the train! I have been thinking about drinking lately and you guys are helping me to remember that I’d have to start over again, which at the core of my being I know I don’t want to do. Drinking sometimes yes? Starting over, absolutely not, never, ever! I think it’s just a phase, I need more time to get used to this, so I’m going to remember that for me drinking to cure boredom is just a lazy and self-destructive way to not really cure boredom. (: Hana

  • I made it to day 17 then drank yesterday…. UGH ! I feel like shit and am really down about it. I really didn’t have much of a trigger. I have done all sorts of social events, book clubs, 40th birthday parties, super bowl parties without alcohol and was fine. Last night was just a normal calm night at home but DAMN I wanted a drink! I had 3. It feels so terrible having to start over at day 1. I guess we have to start somewhere, It is hard when the spouse is drinking. I know that’s not an excuse.

    • Don’t be too hard on your self….today is a new day. you made it 17 days you will make it again if you decide that you can.
      bizi who made it 165 days then drank for 10 days now back at day 5 today.

    • Today is a new day!!!! Sometimes it’s the calm days when wolf bastard appears – defense down. No worries! Plant your feet forge ahead!!!! My hubby was my drinking buddy. Thank goodness he pretty much has joined me… He has never had a glass of wine in front of me at home, just us……. That would be incredibly hard.. I thank him all the time. I’m on day 73 – unbelievable… You can do it!!!

  • Bad wine is right! When we go up to visit our friends deep in the country they would ask us to bring them a case of two buck chuck. After a while they said, can you get a case of the five dollar a bottle variety. Now when we go visit them I’ll take up my friend’s favorite raisin bread from Trader Joes. They can buy their own vino and I can share in eating the bread. Better for me ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I live in a state where it is not legal to sell anything but beer 3.2% or lower in grocery stores, so no wine. I used to hate that so much! A Trader Joe’s is opening in my hometown this year, without the cheap wine!

  • Trader Joe’s in the middle of winter the clerks are wearing Hawaiian printed shirts. Gotta love that and they have the best coconut scented body cream…see the theme here, can’t wait for the snow to melt. They also have a good selection of herbal teas.

  • Yep, no real Trader Joes here either, although I think it’s a German company (as evidenced by the “crazy-long lines” that move quickly). Agreed, Europe has awesome chocolate but I also buy my sneakers in the U.S. And I have just started making my own vanilla extract as it is hard to find and ridiculously expensive here. Amazing the things you miss and the lengths you’ll go to to get them ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Have never been to a Trader Joe’s. No such place in rural Indiana. A bit of envy here….I worked in a community in the South, where a great number of Europeans lived; I remember one woman frequently commenting on the lack of vanilla sugar like “back home in Germany.” Funny, the things we miss.
    Patience seemed in short supply when I first started this trip. I made it to just over 100 days, then had a drink. Back to day one! Being patient with myself, instead of immediately calling myself a fuck-up who might as well keep drinking, was a good thing.

      • You’ve done the most important thing…you stayed sober long enough to store some significant “muscle memory” of how lovely it feels being sober. That’s what will keep you coming back until you don’t have to do anymore Day 1’s. Just my opinion, but here’s what I think: our very first first effort to get sober is always an experiment…all we have for reference is our many years of living soused; that’s our “normal”. So it’s total foreign land stuff when we start the 100 day pledge, and that’s what makes it so difficult for the first 30-50 days. But once we’ve spent 100 days sober, THAT becomes the much lovelier normal. Any venture into drinking again feels way worse than before we quit because now we see how NOT normal our drinking life is. They used to say that AA ruins your drinking forever, but I think that it’s more accurate to say a good run of sobriety ruins your drinking forever. It just feels better to be sober. So don’t beat yourself up Maureen. You’re still here because you can’t give up the good life you found in sobriety. And you don’t have to.