Tag Archives: Jillian Owens

Going Off the Sauce III: Reflections

By Jillian Owens

Hi all!  When last we spoke, I was about to go off booze for 2 weeks.

So…did I make it?  Or did I cave to peer pressure, stress, or the desire to take a few luxurious sips of a crisp Pinot Grigio on a balmy SC day?

You’ll be happy to know I made it!  I went 14 days without a single drop of alcohol!  Huzzah!

It really wasn’t a big deal.

Marques was right.  I was incredibly surprised by how not a big deal those two weeks were.  I still went to events, parties, and bars with friends.  My social life didn’t change at all.  The only difference was that I wasn’t drinking alcohol.   And I still had a blast.  Anything I enjoyed with booze I still enjoyed without booze.

Having a fine time…totally booze-free!
Having a fine time…totally booze-free!

When I started this experiment, my friends thought it was kind of silly…a totally unnecessary display of self-discipline.  But despite thinking this, they were really awesome and supportive throughout the two weeks.  When they had parties, they made sure to have delicious non-alcoholic options available for me (which I never looked at as even being their responsibility).

Even bartenders who I was sure would get a bit miffed with my tea totaling ass were still super nice when instead of ordering my usual Moscow Mule, I ordered non-alcoholic Ginger Beer instead.   Of course I always made sure to tip just as much as I would for a cocktail to keep in their good graces.

No…that's not a stout.  It's just a root beer, y'all.
No…that’s not a stout. It’s just a root beer, y’all.

I discovered some tasty substitutions.

I discovered that a glass of sparkling lemonade in a wine glass can sometimes be just as nice of a treat after a long day at work as a cocktail.  And I actually had a ton of fun raiding the soda section of World Market for lots of of sparkling bevvies I had never tried before.


Drunk people didn’t annoy me.

I totally expected to find spending time amongst tipsy companions to be super-obnoxious, but it wasn’t.  Fun & Silliness are contagious, and I found myself giggling right along with the imbibers.

Nothing really changed (and I think that’s a good thing).

Everyone told me to expect to sleep better, run faster, jump higher, and become more productive while not drinking.  But that didn’t really happen.  I’m still ridiculously clumsy and I still don’t do mornings.  I wasn’t suddenly motivated to hit the gym with a new fervor (or indeed at all), and my productivity stayed at the same exact level.

It was kind of disappointing, really.

But there was one BIG advantage to my two weeks off the sauce…

I DEFINITELY saved money.  I still went out to bars with friends, but guess what?  At just about any bar I went to, nonalcoholic beverages were totally free.  As I said before, I still tipped my bartenders (so as not to be an inconsiderate jackass), but my most expensive drink of those two weeks was this:

Can you guess which one was mine?
Can you guess which one was mine?

That’s really it.  No great catharsis.  No brilliant conclusions to be drawn.  I feel reassured that my relationship with alcohol is clearly not destructive or problematic, so at least there’s that.



Bottoms Up!
Bottoms Up!






Going Off the Sauce II: People who don’t drink make me nervous.

By Jillian Owens

“We could never be in a relationship.  You’re 14 years older than me, and the life expectancy for a man is already shorter than for a woman.  You’d pre-decease me,” I said, taking a long drag of my cigarette and looking the other direction…running nail-bitten fingers through my stiff spiky hair.

“Really, Jillian?  Given your lifestyle choices, I think I stand a fairly decent chance at outliving you,” was my wannabe suitor’s snarky response.

“You should drink,” I said after a sip of wine.  “I hate it when you just sit there and watch me drink.  People who don’t drink make me nervous.”

He just looked at me through heavily-lidded eyes over his cup of Earl Grey and said, “I don’t want to feel like shit tomorrow like you’re going to.”

This was met with an over-the-top eye roll.

This was years and years ago, but this conversation sticks out in my mind.  It captures an era in my life when the choices I was making were questionable at best, and terrifying at worst.  I smoked, partied, and drank heavily.  My diet consisted primarily of twizzlers and Diet Mountain Dew.  My coffee shop manager started automatically scheduling me as a closer, as he knew I’d be too hungover to function in the mornings.   I was bored, unmotivated, and volatile.

...but with cool hair.
…but with cool hair.

I’m still friends with this guy, which is surprising.  Very few of the friends I have now knew me then, and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have cared much for me.

Somehow I managed to get my shit together.  After having dropped out from USC, I went back and finished my degree.  I cut ties with the people and things that were aiding me in my path of self-sabotage.  I quit smoking and biting my nails.  I stopped drinking so much.  I got a job in the arts, became more involved in my community, and finally wasn’t a f*ckup anymore.

This background information is important, because to understand why I’m doing this, you need to understand where I’m coming from and what I don’t want to go back to.

When I told my friends about my two weeks off alcohol, they they thought I was being silly.

“Jillian, you don’t have a problem.  I just don’t get why you’re doing this,” is the general consensus.

I get where they’re coming from.  Right now I’m fine.  I don’t have a problem.  But I started noticing a pattern over the last year, when several emotionally-taxing things happened.   I started drinking to shut down and not feel things.  No, I didn’t binge-drink like I used to a decade ago, but the motivation behind what I was doing was the same as back then.

Those of you who are close to me know I’ve been through a lot in the last couple of years.  But they’ve also been the most successful years of my life, and I’m not willing to let that momentum die.   I’ve worked too hard.

The next couple of weeks are going to help me get back to where I was before last year.  I believe behavior guides emotion.  If I can deal with stress, anxiety, and generally negative stuff without a cocktail in my hand, I’ll know I’m okay.



Going Off the Sauce

By Jillian Owens

When I read my fellow BIC contributor Marques Moore’s article, “Don’t Drink!  Don’t Smoke!  What DO You Do…?“, it made me think a bit.

I love booze.  Booze is amazing and wonderful and has an uncanny way of making most things better.  Boring date?  Try booze!  Awkward situation?  Just add booze!  Have an afternoon to kill?  Why not meet up with friends and consume some booze?

I like small kylixes and I can not lie.
I like small kylixes and I can not lie.

I drink just about every day.  A glass of wine after work here, a cocktail there, and in significantly greater quantities over the weekend.  I’ll sip a glass of pinot while I sew.  If I’m stuck and can’t come up with a story idea, I’ll drink a tasty cider to loosen up my creativity.

Saturdays begin with a ritualistic mimosa at Wine Down on Main after checking out Soda City Market, followed by the Giant Wine Sale & Tasting at Cellar on Greene.

On one such Saturday, I turned to my friend and asked, “Do we have a problem?”

“No.  No!”  My friend was taken aback.” Yes…we like to drink.  But it doesn’t affect our lives in any negative way.  We go to work, we do things, and you’re one of the most productive people I know.  I don’t know how you’d function without alcohol.  And why would you want to?”

Booze makes moments better!
Booze makes moments better!

I love booze.  I love how fantastic things have happened whilst consuming said booze.

I don’t love how on occasion booze can lead me to some fantastically bad decisions, like angry texting, attempting to dance, making out with some weird stranger, or singing show tunes at karaoke.

Only booze understands me.
Erin looks on disapprovingly…

I also don’t love the idea of needing a substance to function.  I don’t like seeing a suspicious link to my creativity and my alcohol consumption.  When does a pleasant ritual become something more insidious?

“I’m giving up drinking for a couple of weeks,” I told my friend

“Why?  Are you pregnant?!?” was her fair response (this is the only reason our female friends have gone off the sauce, so we’re quite suspicious now).

“No.  Gross!  God no.  I just want to see what it’s like.  I want to test myself.”

I want to see what will happen.  I want to see if clever fun Jillian can still be clever and fun without a cocktail in her.  I want to see if this change makes me more productive.  I want to see what a totally non-hungover Sunday feels like.

I talked to Marques about this, and will probably continue to do so throughout this two week trial.

“This is going to suck.  I’m going to hate this,” I moaned.

Marques just shrugged, “I think you’re going to be surprised by how not a big deal it is.  You can still go out and do stuff.  You’re still going to hang out with your friends and have a social life.  You don’t have to do this, you know.”

We'll see...
We’ll see…

But I feel like I do.

It all starts Monday.

Will I make it through the next two weeks?  I really don’t know.

I’ll keep you posted.