Each week, we post short interviews with interesting people about their thoughts and feelings on women and drinking. There is such a wide array of perspectives about this topic, and we are excited to gain insight into as many as possible and to share them with you.
Chloe Caldwell is the author of the essay collection, Legs Get Led Astray. Her non-fiction has appeared in The Rumpus, Nylon Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, Chronogram, The Frisky, The Sun Magazine, SMITH Magazine, Jewcy, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood, Vol 1. Brooklyn, Freerange Nonfiction and The Faster Times.She is the founder and curator of the Hudson River Loft Reading Series and has taught Creative Writing workshops at Omega Teen Camp, The Hudson Opera House, and Crow Arts Manor. Chloe splits her time living in upstate New York and Portland, Oregon.
Chloe Caldwell: I tried sips of my dad’s beer as a kid, I’m pretty sure. Maybe around age nine. When I was twelve-ish, I had a bunch of girlfriends sleep over and we snuck into the pantry and drank some disgusting expired spirits. Or maybe we were just drinking balsamic vinegar.
How did/does your family treat drinking?
My parents both drink, but we never had an alcoholism problem in our family. Sometimes my dad will drink a beer with dinner, sometimes he won’t. My mom likes her red wine and nothing else. There’s always a decent amount of alcohol at family gatherings.
How do you approach alcohol in your every day life?
I try to be smart. I’ll ask myself if I really feel like drinking. This is new for me. I used to just drink more than I should. My eyes were bigger than my stomach. I’m trying to be more mindful in everything I do–drinking and eating, especially.
Have you ever had a phase in your life when you drank more or less?
I drank the most when I was twenty-one through twenty-three. It’s when I was living in New York City, and I was drinking something of a disgusting amount of mixed drinks most days and nights.
Red wine. It relaxes me. Holy shit, I sound exactly like my mom.
Can you tell us about the best time you ever had drinking?
I’ve had lots of good times drinking. But in truth, I think the best time drinking I’ve ever had was in high school. My senior class was really tight and on Friday and Saturday nights we’d always go to a boy named Lars’s barn, to hang out. The barn was empty except for a large mirror covering one wall. We danced for hours to Kanye West and Eminem and R.Kelly and drank Budweiser and Coors Lite.
What about the worst time?
Any time I cry in public or act like an aggressive douche-bag.
Do you have a favorite book, song, or movie about drinking?
I would like to read Are You There Vodka? It’s me Chelsea. I like when Elliott Smith sings, “With an open container from Seven Eleven…” and when Connor Oberst sings, “Cause there’s this switch that gets hit and it all stops making sense and in the middle of drinks maybe the fifth or sixth, I’m completely alone at a table of friends…I feel nothing for them, I feel nothing, nothing.” And Hush Arbors have a song where they sing, “There’s whiskey in that bottle and blood on the floor..”
What do you like most about drinking?
That it changes me.
Why do, or don’t you, choose to drink?
I think any time we use a substance, be it coffee, alcohol, or drugs, it’s to escape ourselves a little bit. Like in The Lemonheads song “Drug Buddy” he sings, “I’m too much with myself, I wanna be someone else.”