Interview with Jillian Lauren, author of the memoir “Some Girls: My Life in a Harem”

by Leah on July 21, 2010

jillian laurenFrom time to time, we will 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.

Jillian Lauren’s New York Times bestselling memoir, “Some Girls: My Life in a Harem,” was published by Plume in April 2010.

Jillian has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Flaunt Magazine, Opium Magazine, Society, Pale House: A Collective and in the anthology My First Time: A Collection of First Punk Show Stories, among others. Her novel, “Pretty,” is scheduled to be released in Spring 2011.

She is married to musician Scott Shriner. They live in Los Angeles with their son.

Drinking Diaries: How old were you when you had your first drink and what was it?

Jillian Lauren: I was eight when I had my first drink. It was chardonnay mixed with Coke (my own idea). I’m not sure why I was fascinated with drinking or what made me want to try it, but I remember that I snuck into the kitchen one night and mixed myself the chardonnay cocktail in my orange juice glass.

It was absolutely disgusting, but so warm and nice going down that I plugged my nose and drank it all. Then I drank another and another and was instantly drunk. I remember crawling down the hallway to the bathroom, bumping into one wall, then adjusting my course and bumping into the other. From the very beginning, I didn’t kid around about my drinking.

How did/does your family treat drinking?

Other than me, my immediate family members are not generally big drinkers. With the exception of dinner parties, I was pretty much the only one raiding the liquor cabinet in my household. My parents are both social wine drinkers and get tipsy at the occasional Bar Mitzvah, but liquor isn’t an important part of their lives.

How do you approach alcohol in your every day life?

Today, I don’t drink at all. That’s the answer I’ve had every day for the past nine years and I hope that tomorrow I’ll have the same one. I tried to avoid the fact for a long time, but when I drink, I’m that alcoholic girl who you really wish would stop crying and get off your couch already because the party ended two hours ago.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever had one drink in my life. Who wants one drink? What fun is that? I want twelve drinks or none at all. So for today, I’m afraid that it’s going to have to be none at all. I miss drinking all the time, but I think that I miss the glamorous drinking I imagined myself doing, not the pathetic drinking I was actually doing.

Can you tell us about the best time you ever had drinking?somegirls

There were so many great times. When I think of my best times drinking, I mostly conjure scenes from was when I was seventeen or eighteen years old and I had first moved to New York. I was finally living on my own and being a grown-up felt so delicious to me for a heartbeat, before I started to feel the consequences of some of my more reckless choices.

When I was doing theater downtown, I remember drinking post-rehearsal margaritas at El Sombrero restaurant on Ludlow Street and thinking that I was exactly where I wanted to be; that I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I was so full of hope and so in love with the city, that when a giant rat fell down out of the rafters and landed belly-up in our salsa, I just thought- How charming! How New York!

What about the worst time?

That’s easy. The worst time was the period of months I spent living in a motel at the end of my drinking, during which the days and nights bled together. My only companion was a hustler I let steal from me because he’d go score our drugs. I was constantly drinking Jack out of the bottle to soften the crash from the crack I was smoking. That was my worst time drinking and my worst time period. I hope my life never has to get that bad again.

Do you have a favorite book, song, or movie about drinking?

Every Tom Waits song ever written. 

How has alcoholism affected your life?

Alcoholism has been both my downfall and my redemption. If not for my alcoholism, I don’t think I would have been forced to figure out how to make more loving choices toward myself. Alcoholism has humbled me and has taught me compassion, both for myself and for others. It’s been the central struggle of my life and as a result has been the source of countless opportunities for growth.