“Though I had quit drinking” by Julia at her desk

Wednesday November 13, 2019
4:22pm
5 minutes
Free Rent at the Totalitarian Hotel
Poe Ballantine

I was still having dreams about putting the pine into my veins
even after I saw what the stuff could do to me
If I were ever strong before, it was the thing that brought me to my knees
And old boyfriends to their knees with what happened the night before
did we really break up and was it true, this bout of insanity?
Nobody asked if it was the birth control, but it was the birth control
mixed with whatever I was swigging before leaving the house
Memories weren’t the only thing I was leaving on the floor
And if I’d come home a blur with missed calls it wasn’t on the tip of my tongue
to blame the gin
I couldn’t see the lines connected, the outer or inner, the shapes stopped
making sense all together
And then my warning came in the weight of a small healing cat
sitting on my legs while the woman examined my history of traumas and blacking out
She called it an allergy
and it was then I realized my body had been begging.

“This week just got ducking crazy” by Julia on her couch

Friday October 4, 2019
12:27am
5 minutes
From a text message

Two places at once:
the benefit of seeing each thing less…
but we can do it, you can do it.
split focus, split time, details, details.

Tonight we saw an owl get stuck on a fence
it swiveled its head around and stared at
us from its 360 position of momentary panic.
I said we should help it and you said, How
exactly might we do that? And I said, We
could pray a bit. Praying transcends time
and space and frees trapped owls. I know
about things like this, I used to split
my soul in two all the time before I met
you. I used to send half of me to the sky
and half of me to the other sixteen year
olds playing strip pool and drinking in
Alex’s basement. I used to apologize after
for going against God’s will, and then I’d
get forgiven, zip my soul right back into
place. And the other place, the guilt place
would make me feel like I deserved whatever
punishment I got. And the place I kept
putting my body made me feel so alive…

So I know about praying, and how it mends
you whole again after you’ve tried to
please too many people at a time.

“the two men ceased exchanging words” by Julia at Ocean Village

Saturday February 2, 2019
3:42pm
5 minutes
Marlarky
Anakana Schofield

Milo is not talking to RJ because RJ is hugely unreliable. He said he was going to be around for a call after Milo finished breaking up with Bex. RJ wasn’t around because he was at the bar drinking like he usually is, trying to pick up vulnerable women who are suffering from insane amounts of self-doubt. RJ likes being the one who puts them back up on the ledge. He likes being the soft thing they fall into. Milo is even more mad at RJ because he refuses to admit he was wrong. RJ never learned to say he was sorry, or that he recognizes how his avoidance of reality effects the people he says he loves.

“and a quiet evening sipping whiskey” by Julia on the Brown Line

Wednesday September 12, 2018
7:16pm
5 minutes
Mr. Bright Eyes
John Barton

Who had the bright idea to go to Target and buy a 12 pack of Miller Lite? Must have been you since you’re the only one drinking Miller Lite these days. Me, I can’t swallow the stuff. Not just Miller Lite, but beer. The only thing they drink here. Not beer as in here take a sip, take a load off, take the edge off. Beer as in, here, here, here, and here, and more, and more, and more, and here. I can’t do it like that. I was told not to. My body has been trying to remind me that. You wouldn’t want me that way anyway. Those days when I used to drink beer and beer and here and here I wouldn’t know where here was or me, or my desires. I don’t recognize the person who used to drink in the shower, before the comedy show, before leaving the house. I could ask us to stay in one night, have a quiet evening sipping whiskey but, you are not the kind of person who sips anything. You like the feeling of being tipsy with me, but I can’t seem to get there anymore without losing myself. I don’t like the action of sipping things when I am simply not thirsty.
My guts have been full since I got here. You had a Miller Lite in the closet yesterday and I had one more reason to stop. The dreams come worse when I’ve been filling all the holes with the wrong kind of gold. The kind that costs four dollars at Target.

“coffee laced with rum” by Sasha at Anytime Fitness

Tuesday February 6, 2018
7:12pm
5 minutes
I’ve Fishing Crawford Lake
Kim Maltman

First date and she asks what you’re drinking and you say that you’re not but she thinks that you’re joking so then you’re joking and then there’s a rum and diet and instantly you’ve got game and sex appeal and a smile that looks like you’ve had orthodonture.

You pour yourself three fingers and you know you shouldn’t you know you promised but you do it you do it anyway.

Morning meeting coming up there will be pastries maybe a few too green bananas there will be coffee you bring a travel mug of your own your own is better and you get to lace it with rum.

Hard times come and it’s harder for them to go once they’re there and you’re back nursing a beer at three when you should be with your family at Len’s christening shit shit when did it get this bad?

“It goes on one at a time” by Sasha at her kitchen table

Saturday October 28, 2017
5:41pm
5 minutes
The Low Road
Marge Piercy

Probably should’ve thought it through, you think, swelling hard. You taste last night’s tequila and Doritos. You should never have drunk that much, or eaten all those chips. When you drink, you overeat. That’s what Stu used to say. Fuck you, Stu. You flush the toilet another time, just in case Candice is in there staring at herself in the mirror. If you had a dollar for every time you catch her making a duck face at herself. Holy shit. You should go down to Starbucks and get a coconut water. You’re dehydrated, that’s all.

“beneficial to anyone” by Julia at Peterborough Inns & Suites

Monday October 23, 2017

9:44pm

5 minutes

from an email

Can’t drink anymore. When I do I’m no use to anyone. Can’t remember simple words. Yes and no get confused. No looks a lot like yes. No gets put on the shelf as decoration.

She told me years ago it was time to trade in the bottle. Said my body didn’t like it. She was right. My mother replaced it with structured silver. Said to take a shot of that every morning before I make any other bad decisions. I always had a good memory. I could tell you the birthdays of all 30 cousins and at least 5 aunts and uncles. I could tell you phone numbers of friends and loved ones up until 2008 (I got a cell phone late). I could tell you what you were wearing when we met. How your hair was.

“how on earth an idiot like that could be trusted” by Julia at the bus stop

Friday October 6, 2017

10:19pm

5 minutes

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings Maya Angelou

Wally took off work early again and decided to pick up Dallas and Dax from school even though they still had two periods left. Of course the school doesn’t think to notify me since one of their “guardians” is given my permission. I don’t like him going around there trying to be the hero for two teenage boys who are desperate for their father’s time. He buys them double cheeseburgers and milkshakes while I have whole chicken thawing on the counter. I told him he can keep his privileges if he keeps his drinking under control. I really didn’t want to drag my kids through court to prove to them that their daddy is a fuck up. So far he’s been okay, but I know he’s still polishing off a 24 every two days. That may seem like a small amount compared to some, but these are my kids.

“a lot of big names” by Sasha in the Kiva


Monday, July 18, 2016
10:34pm
5 minutes
The 4am Mystery
Rives


There were a lot of big names there that night. I’m not going to list them or anything, I’m not that smug, I’m not that douche-y, but all the who’s who of the industry were there. Mickey had been drinking, rum and coke with a handful of ice, she was back on it after having been off for almost three years. She had her chips and everything to prove it. I kept telling her, “Easy, easy,” but she swatted me away. The pool had these different cabanas and everyone was sloshed, I mean I was probably one of two sober people there. The other was Beth, whose in the early days of her third pregnancy.

“No need to wait until we die!” by Julia at her dining table


Saturday April 23, 2016
4:35pm
5 minutes
The Essential Rumi
Tr. by Coleman Barks


We’re both sitting on the roof of Geri’s cottage and everyone else has gone to sleep. We are smoking weed and sipping on Mike’s Hard Lemonade and all of it feels perfect in this summer heat. I don’t know who started it but we’re playing a series of “get to know you”/ “get to fuck you” games. Questions like “Would you rather” or statements like “Never have I ever”. I am having the time of my life. I am flirting with you. Hard. You are flirting back and it feels like we could have been doing this thing together all our lives by how easy it all feels. At one point, after we simultaneously down our intentional drinks after both answering that we have have both in fact had a sex dream about the other, you tell me to close my eyes and say “stop” when your finger tips tracing my inner arm get to my elbow crease. I don’t want to say anything that might make it end.

“a pair of black overalls and some scrunchies” by Julia at Matchstick Coffee Roasters


Monday November 16, 2015 at Matchstick Coffee Roasters
2:02pm
5 minutes
Julia’s diary
Age 10


I can’t drink anything without it spilling it all over myself. Eating too, but drinking mostly. I’ve had this problem since I was a kid. I remember sitting on the yellow bus in the fourth grade, going home after school, and eating vanilla yogurt while talking to the older kids sitting in front of me. I didn’t even realize I was doing it, but found out soon enough thanks to Lisa Van Oorschot who suddenly shrieked out at the top her lungs, “Amanda! Your sister just slopped yogurt all over herself!” The bus filled with cruel laughter and I went red and felt young and stupid and careless. I’ll never forget how thrilled Lisa was at the sight of me, sitting there embarrassed and completely ready to cry. I haven’t exactly grown up in that department. I can’t drink water without wearing most of it, regardless of the type of cup or bottle it’s in. It’s like my mouth refuses to adapt to glassware, turning me into a wild lion quenching my thirst at the watering hole.

“amazing work” by Julia on her couch


Friday, October 23, 2015
9:44pm
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

I had been trying to catch his attention for, if I’m counting, the last twelve years. Huh. Wow. That’s more than I thought I’d admit. Was hopeful. I mean, who wasn’t at that age. But I guess it’s not fair to take it personally. He wasn’t not loving me, he was just, not forgetting her. I don’t know if I would do it any differently than that myself. I’ve never lost a child so I don’t get to pretend to understand. But weeks bleed into months and then years, and it all just feels like the same nightmare, playing over and over or just continuing without resolve every 16 hours. This time it was a scholarship that I was awarded because of my application letter about him. I wanted to show him. He wanted to drink.

“A boy in my algebra class nicknamed me “terrorist”” by Julia at English Bay Beach


Saturday September 12, 2015
8:01pm
5 minutes
https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/life-as-a-hairy-muslim-girl-after-911

I think Luke heard it from his dad or something. Luke is always coming into class with his big words and his big hate and it sounds like stuff his dad says. My dad says that Luke’s dad is a vessel of pure sadness. I don’t get how he thinks he’s sad, cause Luke’s dad is always yelling and screaming and swearing and stuff and that seems like he’s pretty angry to me. Sad is when you cry and when your nose leaks and your stomach gets that empty feeling. How do you get that sad empty feeling when you’re always filling your stomach with cans of beer?
Luke is always saying things to me or to Ruby about our skin and about our voices. He laughs and his face goes all red when he holds my arms behind my back and calls me a “terrorist.”

“and I’m not driving!” By Julia on her bed


Saturday, August 8, 2015
2:13am
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

See I got this problem and it’s not a very big one, in the grand scheme of life and stuff, you know? But this problem of mine, it’s a very annoyin’ situation so I just can’t stop talkin’ about it. See I was drivin’ to the corner store last Wednesday cause I needed those new chips they had out? You know the Lays, how they have those flavour competitions and you got to vote for the best one to see which one gets to stay in the natural rotation of things? So I had this deal with myself, a bet more like it even, and I had to try all of the chip flavours but completely blind to avoid all bias. And I knew I wanted to taste them one by one side by side to get the true reaction of my mouth goin’. Anyway, I was really lookin’ forward to having this taste test cause after Arnie won the kids I was drinkin’ more than ever and felt like I needed some kind of comfort that wasn’t clear and all consuming. So as I’m drivin’ I start to cry, real big whimperin’ whinin’ kind of tears and it makes it real hard to see…

“I got you I won’t let go” by Sasha at Kits beach


Monday, June 1, 2015
5:13pm
5 minutes
I got You Babe
Sonny and Cher


Hiding behind her neighbour’s wisteria bush, Ronnie marvels at how well Judy keeps her yard. “That grass… It’s fucking perfect,” she says. Ronnie forgets where she left the baby. She says a prayer for him, “Jesus, please keep James safe while I’m out of the house,” and goes back to her watching. She’s taken up this spot several times over the last week – only when Derek is at work. If he were home she wouldn’t need this, she’d have adult company. She sips from her Starbucks travel mug, a gift from Derek on her first mother’s day. The vodka is flavoured by the coffee that’s sometimes contained inside. Judy emerges from her back door in an aqua bikini top and khaki shorts. “Seriously?!” Ronnie mumbles, drinking deep. “She had Adelaide five months ago!” Judy looks towards the bush, cocks her head like a beagle, and then delicately unravels the garden hose. She sets up the sprinkler.

“Pumpkins are awesome,” by Sasha on her couch


Friday October 31, 2014
6:52pm
5 minutes
from an e-mail

I was dancing. I was doing my own thing. My friends were somewhere else and I was owning the dance floor. Solo. A guy came up behind me and pulled my hips to his groin. I turned around and said, “No thank you!” and danced away. A guy came up behind me and pulled my hips to his groin. I turned around and said, “Please fuck off!” A different face. Same hands. Same aggression. I left the dance floor and on the way to the bathroom I felt a sob choke in my throat. I wasn’t entirely sure why but I knew it had something to do with me feeling like I couldn’t just dance, alone, without being grabbed. Outside the bathroom door and guy said to me, “You’re fucking hot. How many drinks would I need to buy you to suck my dick?” I burst into tears. Right there. Big ones, not little, sweet, cute ones. He made a few grunts and walked away. I went into a bathroom stall, sat on the floor, and kept crying. A woman in the stall beside me, “Are you okay? You’re probably just too drunk, babe!” I wasn’t. I wasn’t drunk at all.

“I don’t want to find myself” by Sasha in her garden


Saturday August 16, 2014
4:58pm
5 minutes
a poem by Mary Oliver

When the song ends, she smiles. She brushes hair from her face. She shrugs when asked is she wants another drink. She takes out her phone and she looks at it. She turns it off and on. She thinks about that song from Ally McBeal Ooga chaka ooga chaka and she furrows her brow, wondering where that might’ve come from. She checks twitter. She thinks about what to say. She thinks about whether of not she should write something about that song. She decides against it.

“The healthiest things” by Julia at Gertrude Park


Friday July 25, 2014
11:09am
5 minutes
Food Rules
Michael Pollan


Darlin’ I’m slippin’. I’ve been feelin’ off these days, you know? Can’t help myself from makin’ tiny trips to the garage. I hid all kinds of bottles in there, cause you know your mother, she was always all over me for bein’ thirsty. One, you know, I don’t know how I did it, but I found it way up on the top shelf there right by the trophies. Almost fell right off, I had to climb so high. And I brought that one down, and it took me a minute, but by the time I got my footin’ I noticed it was actually empty. Why I was keepin’ an empty bottle so out of reach is beyond me, but that’s the problem. If I don’t even remember why I was hidin’ certain things, then maybe I also have more than I thought. More bottles on top shelves. More uncovered memories I at some point in my life tried very hard to bury. But guess what the truth is. I haven’t once had a sip yet. I’ve been starin’ at those bottles but that doesn’t mean I’ve been hittin’ them. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to though..

“rock ‘n’ roll-tinged bar chatter.” by Julia at Washington Dulles Airport


Thursday May 8, 2014
2:17pm
5 minutes
Washington Flyer
May/June 2014

Through the crowded space I could see her sitting at the bar with her sleeves pulled down right over hands. Hiding. Fiddling. I wanted to scoop her up right then and there and free her of her timid isolated prison and tell her, woman you don’t need to run away. The world wants you. She had two shot glasses lined up in front of her and was crashing them into each other, getting tiny splashes of the glass remnants onto her sleeves. The local band had started to play their set and everyone was moving closer to the stage. She didn’t move. She didn’t even turn. She ordered another shot of nondescript liquor from where I was standing and I could only assume it was vodka because she hated the way gin made her so volatile. She stared at her shot glass for longer than appropriate. I waited, thinking she needed to be alone. But I also felt like she needed to be saved from herself and having another body around just sitting in her silence might help.

“a wise man” by Julia at the Holiday Inn in Charleston


Tuesday April 22, 2014
1:22am
5 minutes
A plaque beside a photograph

A wise man once told me to never drink vodka without a mixer, a chaser, a plan to get home, and parental supervision.
That wise man did tell me that when I was living under his roof, and after the first time my parents needed to lecture me about safe drinking. He was very nice about it. Thankfully. He was joking around thinking I had gotten enough punishment from the sheer fact that I woke up in somebody else’s clothes with part of my left tooth chipped, a busted nose, and a hangover to rival some of my university days. He was right. It wasn’t exactly my proudest moment. But neither was being 15 and not knowing what being drunk felt like. When you’re 15, even though your parents think you won’t be a problem, you have a bunch of stupid ideas and you scoop them all up in one handful and you make stupid choices. Then you suffer the consequences. And you live the rest of your life remembering how disappointed your mother was when you walked into the kitchen after realizing you couldn’t remember 80% of Lindsey’s party, and then remembering that your father was just slightly okay with giving that life lesson in such a capacity.

“roasted fennel” by Julia at the Sheraton in Philadelphia


Tuesday April 15, 2014
11:09pm
5 minutes
A post on Instagram

Mama liked it when her drinks tasted like Italy. It reminded her of home, of her mother, of her doggie, Stella, and her doll-friend, Cicio Bello. When mama took a sip, she’d slip, then slide, then land back in a time where farm animals woke her up each morning, and where Figs grew as big as your face in September.
She stocked up on the stuff just in case they ever decided to stop making it. Not that anyone would, it was a beautiful thing. But just in case, she always said, just in case.
We knew she could say whatever she wanted and we’d never say a thing in return to her about it. We didn’t want Mama to feel like she had a problem. We didn’t want anyone to think she couldn’t handle it on her own, just the way she wanted to. Nobody mentioned a thing when we’d find bottles of her nostalgia hidden under the sofa cushions, or planted deep in the soil of her dying rosemary bush. Nobody said anything when Cicio Bello started appearing again in Mama’s life, her old friend whispering things to her no one else could hear; keeping her company through the storm.

“there are many who are experts” by Julia at Cafe Pamenar


Friday October 18, 2013 at Cafe Pamenar
4:51pm
5 minutes
The PACT Conference 2007 Keynote Speech
Brian Quirt


According to Zara’s research, and by research I mean her general observations of random people in her German class, she had concluded that most people with problems concentrating were not merely under-stimulated, but boring individuals. Zara’s mother used to say, There is no such thing as boredom! Look around you. Don’t you see a world of opportunity? Then she would pass out and drop her half-full wine glass onto the rug and stain a new section of the living room, creating a beautiful array of disappointment and tactless parenting. Of course, people who drink in excess, were never bored, Zara speculated. How could one with so much fear of living in reality ever be bored? She meant it as sarcastic judgement at first and then re-evaluated. Maybe drinkers weren’t truly bored… but scared. Maybe the two didn’t go hand in hand after all. Zara watched her mother drape herself across the lounge chair she made her father buy her three summers ago when it got “too hot to stand”.