Over the holidays, I reevaluated my relationship with drinking. Lots of my relatives are high-functioning alcoholics — they have good careers and families (or at least a couple of spoiled pets), and accept DUIs as just another part of life. I find it impossible not to drink around them and packed on a few boozy Christmas pounds.
This year, I resolved to spend January and February sober. The older I get, the more I find that alcohol plunges me into a pit of despair. Marijuana, on the other hand, is a beguiling sleep shaman. I don’t love loud bars, but I do like to stay home and suck on frozen chunks of mango, so weed is a better fit for my lifestyle anyway. As I embarked on my months of alcohol-free living, I wondered: Could I become a more social smoker?
11:00am: Got a text inviting me to a show. This same-day invite has left me with very little time to emotionally prepare. But I have to go out — not drinking isn’t much of an accomplishment if you stay home and avoid temptation.
9:00pm: I greet my friends. They’re wearing their usual sheer leotards and glitter. God, they look good. I feel self-conscious in my jeggings and cardigan. “You’re going to love this band!” Tina shouts at me. She’s right—the lead singer dances like a possessed marionette and I want to be just like her.
11:30pm: The singer has leapt into the crowd, inciting a mosh pit. I try to make myself half-heartedly jump around. Anyone could have picked me out of the crowd—“That woman is clearly sober and almost 30!” I thought I could hear someone shout. I focus on trying not to drop my seltzer.
12:00pm: I’m home at a very reasonable hour. I congratulate myself with a bowl of OG Kush, an indica strain I got primarily to combat my mild insomnia. Then I eat three oranges.
10:00am: I awake, sticky with orange juice.
Since I’ve woken up late, I start work right away. I don’t feel like I have time to walk to my co-working space.
7:00pm: I’m feeling stir-crazy after spending all day at home.
Out of OG Kush, I decide to text my guy. I ask him to recommend a sativa — any strain that will make me want to do something besides melt into the couch. He recommends Strawberry Cough.
10:00pm: To celebrate my new purchase, I re-watch every episode of “UNHhhh,” a YouTube series by my favorite drag queens, Trixie Matel and Katya Zamolodchikova. I always tell myself that watching a movie will take too much time, so I watch YouTube instead, which inevitably lasts 3 hours. I just can’t stop clicking.
Even though I followed my usual routine, I can tell this strain will be better for going out. I feel my synapses crackle and pop — I’m alert and ready to be entertained.
11:00am: I woke up to an unusual sensation on my face. I’m lying on my side, with my head pressed into my upper arm. There is gum mashed between my cheek and my sleeve. Turning over, I see the remains of two packs of gum strewn across my bedspread.
I’m angry with myself. I make coffee and proceed to once again work from bed.
8:00am: I’m awake at a reasonable hour! Making oatmeal to celebrate.
12:00pm: At the co-working space, feeling like a fire hose of unbridled ambition.
7:00pm: It’s happy hour at the space. I sip tea and announce my temporary sobriety to my colleagues. “I’m still smoking weed. I’m not a hero,” I tell them, which is a line I end up using over and over.
10:00pm: What if I just have a puff or two?
Moments later, I’m uplifted. I’m content to just have a spoon of peanut butter. I fall asleep listening to a podcast and the hosts’ banter is especially scrumptious.
7:00pm: My friend Cara and I are going to watch an improv show. The first segment took place in total darkness, which made it difficult to follow the plot. Cara and I usually smoke, but I’m glad we didn’t this time. I could picture myself feeling very nervous that I was the only one who didn’t get it.
9:30pm: I meet my podcast co-host Lisa at a bar. I took a deep drag before leaving my apartment and Strawberry Cough is treating me right.
10:15pm: One of my Tinder matches messages me. John’s profile says “Swipe right if you would date Larry David.” My Tinder profile says, “Like if Larry David was a woman, only not as hot as it sounds,” so clearly, he’s my destiny. Tinder dates are the one thing I said I couldn’t do without a few drinks.
11:00pm: When he arrives, Lisa smiles indulgently but I can tell his scruffy beard doesn’t impress her.
11:30pm: John and I relocate to a quieter bar. He is very talkative and eagerly lists his favorite comedians as he squirts condiments onto his hamburger. “I have bad ADD,” he tells me. “You’ve probably noticed.” His chattiness makes not drinking a little easier. I usually feel like I have to carry the conversation and need a cocktail to loosen up. This is a change of pace, at least.
2:00am: We make out outside my apartment.
12:00pm: I’m recording a podcast today and Lisa and I have a couple of guests joining us.
4:00pm: Lisa, our two guests, and the sound guy have guzzled three bottles of champagne. It’s getting pretty rowdy. I’m glad I’m sober so I can shepherd my drunk little sheep back to the topic (Queer Ghost Hunters on YouTube, look them up!)
7:00pm: This is taking a minute to edit. I share a bowl with the sound guy. Is the episode as funny as I think it is?
1:00am: I keep smoking until my lids are heavy. I’m still giggling to myself as I drift off to sleep.
Monica Candle is a writer based in Brooklyn. She is happy with how her podcast episode turned out.