how would you answer? what do you think I would say?

this is a contest / writing assignment.

  1. read the question below, which is a real one from my inbox.
  2. then imagine you are me, and what MY reply might be. you can pretend to be me.
  3. Winning answer gets an audio bundle worth $150.

your assignment is to write out a 4-5 sentence reply for this email, from my point of view, what might i write as a reply to this.

post your comments below (or send to me in an email)

i have already written my reply. i think this is a cool experiment to not just look at this how YOU might reply, but to imagine how someone else (me) would, too.

even if you’re new to me, and you don’t know what i might do, try it anyway.

and the winner will get an audio bundle worth $150. 

deadline: tomorrow, thursday, around noon eastern.

isn’t this fun? i can’t wait 😉 the last time i did this, the response was fascinating.




Leener (day 88): “sometimes I feel like I’m just half-assing the sober thing, like I’m not really invested in it, or like I’m not thinking about alcohol ENOUGH. Instead I’m just head down about it. Keep my head down, ignore wolfie, go about my day, stay sober. Head down. Or, I’m just wafting along in a sea of sober momentum, pulling out the supports when the water gets a bit choppy. [we’re not even at the metaphor part yet.] Okay, here goes.

Imagine that I’m alone in a room with Wolfie. I think of a one-room mountain cabin. Isolated. Part of me (the perfectionist?) feels that to be really kick ass-this-is-gonna-stick sober, I should be in that room with Wolfie, staring him down, watching him wither away while I dehydrate him. I keep my eye on him, I know his every move, and I can see him getting weaker and weaker.

Most of the time, this is what I’m actually doing: I’m in the room with Wolfie, and I make sure to keep my back to him at all times. I can’t look him in the eyes, I’m too scared of him. I’m not going to let him win, but I’m also not going to peek at him. I’m constantly shuffling around the room to make sure my back is to him, so that I can’t see him. But I know he is there. Since I can’t see him I can’t tell if he is withering away. I can’t see him dehydrated and suffering. For all I know he is looming larger than before, right behind my back. But I keep shuffling around, not daring to look at him, hoping that what I’ve been told is actually true… that even though I can’t see it happening, he is actually getting smaller, and suffering behind my back. Maybe one day I will have the courage to turn about and look at him, but that day is not today.

What do you think? Is the latter version of sober still enough? Any sober is better than not sober, I suppose. We have a call scheduled for next Tuesday. Maybe we can talk about this then.”


What do you think i said to her?

what do you see in this video? what do you think I see?

I'm Making It Beautiful For You

Watch Full Episodes @ Humans of New York: The Series

Posted by Humans of New York on Monday, November 20, 2017


this is a contest / writing assignment.

  1. watch the short video above from the Humans of New York facebook page.
  2. check out a few of the comments posted in response to this video on Facebook (you don’t have to sign up for FB to read the comments. don’t read too many, just a half dozen or so)
  3. then i want you to imagine what MY reply might be. you can pretend to be me.

your assignment is to write out a 4-5 sentence reply for this video, from my point of view, what might i write as a reply to this.

post your comments below (or send to me in an email)

i have already written my reply. i think this is a cool experiment to not just look at this how YOU might reply, but to imagine how someone else (me) would, too.

even if you’re new to me, and you don’t know what i might do, try it anyway.

and the winner will get an audio bundle worth $150. 

deadline: tomorrow, Wednesday, around noon eastern.

isn’t this fun? i can’t wait 😉


married to the beer man

Email from Sunny:

“I’d like to begin the 100 Day Challenge, but my situation is a bit odd. I’m wondering if you think it’s too much to overcome.

My husband is fairly prominent in the beer world. Because of his line of work our lives are very focused on alcohol. It pays our bills, it’s how we socialize with friends and family …. My husband says if I want to quit drinking that’s fine, but he will not change how he lives his life. He will continue to drink at home. I will have to attend beer related events with him

Is this an impossible situation? I need to quit drinking, but I’m worried that in my current situation its not possible. Any info or thoughts are welcome. Maybe you know someone in a similar situation? I hope I’m not the only one!”

me: it is possible. I am a caterer and often host large events where I buy, pour, and serve alcohol to my guests and I make homemade cocktails. I just don’t drink any myself. Booze is not good for me. It doesn’t improve my life. But I know that my clients like it and my job is to be of service, and to take their money 🙂

So if you approach alcohol as a tool that helps you earn income, that’s completely different from needing to drink it yourself.

Imagine you’re a vegetarian who’s a chef. You cook meat for the President because that’s what he’s paying you to do. Then you go home and eat lentils and chick peas and couscous and homemade lemonade with tonic and rosemary…

how’s that? hugs belle xo


And hooray! Sunny is on day 4 today 🙂

You may not agree with my advice. You may think her husband should quit his job, or that she should leave him (!) (she has young kids). Or you might think she can’t get sober without her husband’s support.

But really, the only person we’re in charge of is ourselves (well, and the babies we have around us). Sunny can do what’s best for her. I know that lots of people cannot have any alcohol in the house at all. And I respect that 100%. For others (or at least for me), I seem to be able to shelve booze in my mind as “not for me.”

What would you tell Sunny? Is it too much to overcome? Me, I don’t think so… You?

love, me


some of the comments received:

freedom (day 153): “I’d tell Sunny it is possible to do it with alcohol in the house and a husband who still drinks. I have both and I’m on day 153 today. It might be sensible to stay away from the boozy events in the early days..I couldn’t have managed them at that point. And I’ve found going to bed early with a good book can help on the days when I struggle with him drinking. Those are usually days when I’m tired, stressed or struggling with overwhelm and it’s been a real learning curve for me to start to recognise when I’m feeling like that and take steps to look after/protect myself from Wolfie. And remember you’re not alone! Belle is always on the end of an email and has been an incredible support, especially in the tough times…and I have to remember to reach out before Wolfie gets too loud. It gets easier the longer you do it. Keep the faith :)”

Rambling Rose (day 76):
“I think it is up to Sunny as to whether or not she can stay on the sober path and still attend these events/have booze in the home. My roommate has a liquor cabinet full of alcohol, and it doesn’t bother me because I never touched his booze anyway. So it’s not so unusual to stay sober while loved ones have the occasional drink. However, what does bug me a bit is her husband’s attitude (must go to these events? I’m going to drink anyway…). I sense some general resentment between the two of them… and that may make it harder (not impossible) to reconcile while focusing on recovery … I sure as hell would resent being told I have to attend alcohol related events, even if my livelihood was connected to it, because health is more important than people pleasing. Just depends on the person – and the situation. Belle, I think your feedback is good. It’s up to Sunny to decide on her own boundaries.”

Wanda T (day 76): “I am a vegetarian and I know you use this analogy sometimes but it’s not a good analogy because it’s not a valid comparison. Vegetarianism is usually an ethical commitment. So chefs who are vegetarians don’t cook meat. I bake & cook – I wouldn’t even know how to cook meat. I don’t know how the President got worked into the analogy. Sunny is in a very tough spot. If it’s possible for her to go to an in-patient rehab to get the booze out of her system, that would help her I think. She would at least have a running start. Her husband sounds beyond selfish. Going to work-related events where there is alcohol is not the same thing as him drinking at home. There is more going on in this relationship than her husband simply having a social & professional commitment to the Beer Industry. There is also an extreme power imbalance in the relationship if he’s demanding that she attend drinking events while she’s trying to get sober. Sunny could announce at a drinking event that she’s an alcoholic who is trying to quit drinking ….maybe some people there would support her and she’d find out she really & truly is not alone. Good luck Sunny!”

Elyn Jones (Day 143):
“Belle, I think your advice was spot on. We rarely get the ideal environment, so we have to adjust. I’ll bet that most of start out in a less than ideal environment cuz we created it with booze at the center. Doesn’t mean things can’t shift. They can, and thankfully, they do.”

D (not yet a penpal): “Let’s assume for the moment that her husband is not a complete asshole. That may be a stretch, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt. I agree with your statement that the only thing we are in charge of is ourselves … You’re advice was good: put alcohol in the context of a produce / service that provides a livelihood. Separate it from her life. Livelihood on one land, life on the other.”

all this performing for other people

dear me,

all this performing for your husband, for other people, it has to stop. what’s clear is that as soon as the husband is away, you stop doing a bunch of things. when he’s here, you plan the meals (mostly) and usually try not to have fish two nights in a row, for example. why? because of how it looks. the good wife does this or that. nothing about the fact that the guy likes fish and when i go out of town the most exciting part for him is he can have it every night without me nagging him with: pork, fish, chicken, beef, vegetarian.

dear me,

arranging yourself to ‘look’ like you’re productive right before he comes home from work is nutty. he is not judging you. you are judging you. he truly doesn’t care. he doesn’t nag that you’re unproductive. that’s your shit. you project your shit on to him. (how nice it must be to be married to me.)

dear me,

all that fussing and angsting about a clean house, and his mess, and wanting clean surfaces. he’s been gone for 48 hrs and what have you done? worked. slept. ran. eaten when hungry (versus ‘preparing the meal’ like it’s some kind of scene in a play about married bliss’). no cleaning in sight. no meals in sight, either. slept late, breakfast at 11 a.m., lunch at 4:30 pm, and dinner at 10:30 pm is sticky rice and mango (yum).

all of the performing to try to look like some kind of person? he doesn’t care, there is no one watching, and there is no relationship meal planning police coming to inspect.

dear me,

delegating things empowers the other person.

dear me,

you’re pretty lazy. that’s ok. just don’t ride him so much when he looks lazy. admit it, sometimes you look around trying to FIND something to be cranky about. admit it.

dear me,

you being sober means that you have the ability to see some of this stuff, whereas when drinking, you didn’t/couldn’t/couldn’t be bothered.

dear me,

the only person you’re trying to impress is yourself, and you’ve put the bar so high that you can’t please yourself AND no one else is judging you, and your mother isn’t watching you. it’s just you. and if you get to set the bar anywhere you like, maybe set it somewhere where you can feel happy about what you’re doing most of the time. there is no ideal person/wife/partner/business owner/sober penpal. there’s just people being people.

dear me,

you should make him go away more often, so that you can have more revelations. you should have more alone time. clearly stuff gets clearer when the noise is removed.

(remove the booze, and then everything gets easier).

what you see and what you get

in yesterday’s micro-email, i sent out a picture of a bracelet, with my arm attached, with a view from my balcony.

elevator bracelet

then i got this in my inbox:

Maverick: “The view from your window in the bracelet picture looks like something from a movie.”

me: 🙂 I wish the balcony picture had a good movie to go with it. we’re on a corner with a church beside us (loud) and an intersection below us (cars stop to wait for the light with their stereos turned up loud). thankfully the buses stop running for a few hours at night so it’s quiet at least from 1 am to 5 am … but really in august, with the neighbours above and below away, it’s at least quiet in my head!

Maverick: “you mean you aren’t surrounded by artists? you mean you aren’t typing on a an old black typewriter?  😀 I’m so disillusioned. I am sober though!”

me: I know right? all that lovely imagery. I’m here in an oversized t-shirt, blue plaid pj bottoms. I just made my husband cereal for breakfast (!) but only because he’s leaving on a flight in a few hrs. Normally he’s up and gone by the time I roll out of bed… notice the nice home cooked meal I didn’t make. notice that the manicure I got last week, the polish chipped within 4 days but I haven’t removed it yet so I just look raggedy. notice all that, too.


and also this morning:

me:  I will have 10 days alone with husband away. i will have 10 days of healthy eating, running, movies, clean house and sleeping through the night. which really means 10 days of sloth, eating popcorn, watching downton abbey reruns.


today i have a choice of what to do for the next 10 days. i want to get to the end of this break and be pleased, no matter what happens. today, each day, i’m creating a version of a story that i’ll be able to look back on later. (everything is like everything = every day sober means it’s another day you can look back on and be proud of, but right now, today, the way you do that is to not drink. at all. none.)

today i can go to a movie or go swimming or get my nails redone. i could also fuck around, waste a bunch of time, skip meals, have too much caffeine, and get to the end of 10 days and think that i had a nice chance for something lovely and i didn’t really take advantage of it. (i’ll get to the end of my week, my month, my marriage, my life and know that i had a chance for something lovely and i didn’t really take advantage of it.)

yes, there’s a time and place for sloth. yes, i will still be slothful. yes, i’ll make sure i avoid overwhelm. i’ll sleep late, i’ll sleep uninterrupted (no thrashing! no snoring!). i’ll make very simple meals.


now that he’s gone i’m fine. it gets quieter in my head as soon as i’m alone. look at this, i go right to WRITING when i’m alone.

i can do things that make me feel better or i can do nothing. i can go swimming or i can talk about going swimming. i can eat hummus and carrots on wholegrain bagel for lunch. and may i’ll have popcorn in bed (if i frame it as a sober treat, that is).

she probably doesn’t swear like you do

we carry around stories, versions of ourselves. we tell the stories so many times that the stories become ‘truths’.

here’s one of mine.

when i was 12, we moved to a fancier part of town. i entered a fancy school full of fancy adolescents. it was clear that i wasn’t ‘one of them’ in ways that haunt me still. we lived in government subsidized housing in the middle of the fancy neighbourhood. we couldn’t afford a car. we didn’t go on vacation to the next city let alone to florida. our vacations were trips to the public beach, where (literally) I would buy 2 hot chocolates to share between me and my 3 sisters. sometimes the cashier at the beach take-out stand would be nice, and she’d fill up the 4 cups more than half full. the money for the hot chocolate came from parents’ coat pockets. they didn’t know.

this story stays with me, the one where i’m in the middle of fancy people and i’m just there, with my ill fitting clothes and my curly hair. there’s often some kind of popularity contest in my mind that i’m losing because i’m poor. from when i was 12, and the Nike runners i was so proud of, that i finally got and wore to school (one year later than they were in fashion), they were (literally) pointed out by someone who said ‘why are you wearing those now?’

i’m not 12 any more but i still have many hints of this. i tried to explain it to my husband today in the park. i got teary and he looked at me like i had a grapefruit for a head. “I woke up in the middle of night this week,” i said, “feeling jealous that she gets so much attention.” (doesn’t matter who she is, doesn’t matter what happened, the root issue is the same…)

mr. b: she’s not doing what you’re doing.

me: i know that.

mr. b: maybe it’s not only because she’s rich that she’s getting attention. she probably doesn’t swear like you do.

i have a writer friend from grad school. she gets lots of accolades and accomplishments and praise. (Mr. B: but she’s not doing what you’re doing. and she probably doesn’t swear.). i have some catering clients, i introduced them to each other, now they socialize but don’t invite me (i’m the hired help, i’m not really someone to invite out. they arrange their trips to go here and there, and i’m not invited. it is because i didn’t come from families like theirs? is it because i don’t drink? is it because i swear?).


is any of this even true? probably not. well, the part where i was 12 and felt small is true. but the rest, i’ve carried it around for a long time. what is probably more true than this story, is that I still look at ALL events through the lens of ‘i’m from a government subsidized family’ and find that i don’t measure up.

i’m not as good a writer as other people. (but they’re not doing what i’m doing.) i’m not as good a writer as she is, that girl from grad school. (i don’t want to write like that anyway.)

what I want, maybe, is a club where you don’t have to be rich or well-bred to join 🙂 i want a club where you’re actually judged for who you are and what you do, not for your turn of phrase, your travels, or your street address. Because when i have to face stuff like that, i’m back to being a 12 year old, taking public transit to the beach with enough money in my pocket to buy 2 cups of hot chocolate, divided into 4.

wonder who’d i’d be if this wasn’t true.


and you? what’s in your backpack? something you carry around that WAS (maybe) true THEN, but probably isn’t true now, though that doesn’t stop you from trotting it out as a measure of how you’re not good enough.


if you take care of YOU, can it fix your marriage? (not literally, but still …)

since everything is like everything, i will tell a story about getting up early.

wanted to get up early for weeks (years) because i like the calm and quiet, and i feel better about me when i do it. (wanted to be sober for years because i like the calm and quiet, and i feel better about me when i do it.)

i think it about it for years before there’s any action. (ditto.)

then i fuck around a bit, try it here and there, don’t really take it seriously. don’t set up any accountability. ask someone with no authority to hold me accountable. generally do nothing. manage one day then crash again.

ok let me back up a bit so that this will make more sense.

for about 6 weeks my husband and i had been up each other’s noses. completely. sky is blue? not it isn’t. spoons face down in the drawer? what’s your problem with that. and for a while i literally thought he should ‘go on vacation’ without me but his passport had expired.

then 2 weeks ago, after one of the shittiest days, it was a saturday night, i thought oh god my life is so out of control, i can’t get anything, i spend all of my time looking at him wondering why he can’t be different. that’s it. i’m getting up tomorrow (sunday) at 6 a.m.

which i did. emptied my inbox. had 3.5 hrs alone in the morning. he gets up, i’m already feeling centred and accomplished (!) and so he seems pleasant. is it me who’s different? i’m sure it’s him.

we have the best day, and since then we’ve been fine again.

did getting up at 6 a.m. save my marriage? (if you do some good self-care can it help you be sober?)

sure. (to both.)

if i turn and face me and take care of me and do what i need to do, am i easier to get along with, less up his nose, and generally more comfortable in my own skin? (duh.)

a week goes by. i plan to get up every morning at 6 a.m. after that one time, but i don’t.

then this past week, that’s it i’m doing it. set my alarm for monday morning, then when i wake up i promptly turn it off, sleep too late, don’t get enough done, feel behind and irritated all day. i KNEW there was something that would make me feel better, but i just wasn’t doing it. (sound familiar?)

tuesday. same thing. set alarm, turned off alarm, slept late.

wednesday morning. alarm goes off 6 a.m. and i think to myself … (get ready): “Try Different.” If turning off the alarm repeatedly isn’t working, try getting up. just try it. try different. (i won’t like it, it’ll be too hard, i’ll have to go to bed early all the time, how will i cope with some future imaginary event where i have to be up late.)

wednesday morning i got up. did a long run in cooler temperatures. had a bath (look there’s time for baths again if you decide you’re going to focus on taking care of you). i worked straight through till 5:30 pm. same thursday. same friday. all good days. very good days. one was even a 9/10 day.

ok, long story for nothing. today is sunday. 2 weeks later. got up this morning at 6:30 a.m. It’s a good day. there was bread made today. there was lounging in the park. there was lunch with friends.

already told my husband that i’m going to bed at 9 p.m. tonight. (you’ve already told your husband that you’re not drinking tonight.) he made a face. (ditto.) i’m still doing it.

it’s what’s best for me. (oh and i’m not drinking, either!)

it’s not all about me

it’s not all about me.

before i make a list of all the ways he’s changed, i can make my own list. top five things i’ve stopped doing in the last 10 years. shaving my legs twice a week. getting my eyebrows done at the salon. making dinner 5 nights a week. packing his lunch. wearing lingerie.

it’s not all about me.

before i get irritated that nobody told me, i can take stock of the reality. not everyone wants an audience when they’re dying. it might have been sudden(er) than it seems. they weren’t thinking of how to exclude me. i haven’t spoken to them for a year. i’m not as close a friend as i thought i was. maybe they were more important to me than i was to them. maybe they didn’t think about me at all, maybe they were dealing with him dying and didn’t send out invitations for everyone to come visit.

it’s not all about me.

those people with their whining child. my god that child cries all the time. we don’t raise them like that in canada. in france they let their kids cry. a lot. often. for hours. even if the neighbours are disturbed, no one says anything. that child isn’t crying on purpose, intending to drive me crazy. her parents don’t know that i have to get up at 5 a.m. to do the baking. (and then when i do get up to make the sandwiches i’m standing in the spare room, which is above their bedroom, so they hear me, i’m sure. no one says anything.)

it’s not all about me. these things are not being done to me. i have a role to play. i sort out my part – all of it – before i start to wonder what’s up with you (or him, or them).



how tiring it must be to be married to us

what must it be like to be married to us, this unique combination of high functioning, high emotion, lots of noise in our heads.

my husband, though he drank as much as I did, does not have a wolfie voice. he is not wound up by things. he doesn’t struggle with “can I, will I, should I, is there more, is this the right amount.”

it must be so tiring for him to be married to me. I may complain about his sloth tendencies and the absolute LACK of obsessing (about anything). but really, he’s dealing with me.

I’ll give you an example.

This is a true story.

My husband is perfectly content to make me a ‘special drink’ at suppertime. if I tell him specifically what I want. and how to make it. why ‘how to make it’? because I keep changing what I want.

(1) Hot chocolate from Marks & Spencer. very yummy. expensive (3,25€ for 10 packages). they have no diet or ‘lite’ option. I only bought one box of the 10 packages.

(2) Then at Christmas, I got Mr. B. a treat for his stocking (which I promptly drank): a box of instant cappuccino powdered things. I drank all of his, and started buying it regularly for myself, the little single servings, 10 to a box. Worked my way up to one or two a day. They were quite weakly flavoured, though, so had to be made in the medium coffee mugs so that there wasn’t too much water added. We have 3 sizes of mugs: large, medium, and small. My husband would make my special coffee for me in the medium cup.

(3) After a few weeks, I moved to a canister of the same powder, instead of the premeasured packages, because it was cheaper (there’s a theme here). Now that I had free reign of the powder, I switched to making a stronger, bigger dose in the large mug. Now it had to be made with 4 teaspoons of the powder with a bit of cream. in the larger mug. there. that’s pretty good. my husband would make it for me.

(4) Another few weeks. it’s too expensive. I’m going through these canisters way too often. I go to the store to buy some diet instant hot chocolate that can be made with hot water.

AND there isn’t any.

France, apparently, is a land of hot cocoa (made with milk, which I don’t drink). it’s all cocoa. no hot chocolate. And not only is there no instant hot chocolate in france, there is no ‘diet’ anything hot and chocolate-y/coffee-y. I can picture the blue canister in my Canadian memory. it was president’s choice brand. I had it all the time. But here? There’s cocoa and sugar in a can you can add hot milk to, but no instant hot chocolate.

I consider leaving the country in desperation.

(5) Instead I buy the cheapest ‘intended for milk’ cocoa mix there is (nesquik! oh my god!) and a bottle of instant decaf coffee.

now my special coffee goes like this: medium cup, 3 spoons of chocolate powder, 1 teaspoon of instant coffee, cream, hot water. my husband would make it for me.

(6) Then I read something about trying to reduce the sugar in my coffee to 1 teaspoon, so I calculate the number of grams in a teaspoon of sugar (5g) then I try to figure out how small my coffee/chocolate combo should be. I switch from the medium to the small coffee cups (of the three sizes), to make a smaller 5g of sugar portion, and I mix one spoon of decaf with only one spoon of nesquik (lame) and some cream and hot water. My husband makes my coffee for me, after I clarify the specific recipe which changes daily.

(7) Last friday I had a catered event, and there was some real coffee left over, I put it in a jar. now I’m adding it a few tablespoons at a time to my little special coffee, for a tiny bit of caffeine but also to use it up. My husband makes my coffee for me, BUT every day, now, he has to ask me ‘how I want it’.

(I want to moderate my drinking, I can’t figure out how to do it, I try things that don’t work because the thing I’m looking for isn’t in the alcohol.)

I have an idea of what I want and I keep changing, because I can’t match the idea. for the hot chocolate coffee combo? I’m looking for some feeling that isn’t there. It reminds me of home. when I used to have it before my sunday long runs. I can still remember the sound the spoon made in the square blue cup (that the movers broke). mix a bit of powder in the bottom with cream, then add hot water.

why do I want that experience now?


what am I getting instead? gritty nesquik in a small less-than-5g-cup with an endlessly patient husband (but how patient is he, really, how long can he tolerate the intolerable).

(8) yesterday morning I got up and did research on homemade instant hot chocolate. it is really just cocoa, sugar and powdered milk. I have all that. I make some, it’s fine. but it has 30 g of sugar in one cup.

(9) yesterday afternoon I walked to the Marks & Spencer to check out the hot chocolate they have (again). surely this would be easier. but it has 26 g of sugar per serving and it’s 3,25€ for 10. I leave without buying any.


if the thing that I’m looking for isn’t IN the hot coffee drink, then it’s time for me to move on. stop trying to make it into something it isn’t. go back to tea. I was drinking only tea before. I liked it there. my husband can make tea: add one bag to the teapot, fill with water. serve with any mug. it’s just plain easier.

(if the feeling you’re looking for isn’t in the alcohol, they stop fucking with the quantities, timing, types and tricks. just move on. the thing you’re looking for isn’t in there. the feeling better? it’s not in a bottle.)

I’ll come back and torture you again

working on a new secret writing project. here’s a quote from today’s writing session:

Let’s start with a bath at supper time. The crazy wolfie brain is yelling ‘wine wine wine wine’ and I start to run the tub. The brain says: It’s not tub time now, this is just delaying the inevitable, you know you’re going to drink.

I add bubble bath that smells like cedar. How clever, who invents this stuff. It’s in a nice masculine blue bottle. Nothing pink or frilly about this. It’s anti-wolfie bubble bath. I’m sure of it. This won’t work, I can yell for a long time here.

I sit in the tub until I’m pruney. I read, then fret, then read again, then plan to change the world, the read some more. I ask my husband to make me a bitter drink (black currant syrup, grapefruit juice, soda). No, no, you don’t want to have that now, it’s much better if you drink on an empty stomach, you’re ruining things, don’t do it, shit, I don’t fucking want grapefruit juice.

I get out of the tub, dry off, put on one of my husband’s heavy metal band t-shirts, usually inside-out so that the tag doesn’t scratch me (I can’t cut the tag out of his shirts, only my own). I wear red plaid pyjama bottoms with a drawstring and pockets. The orange Ernie socks. Wet hair up in a pony tail.

Husband is looking at me, hands me my special drink. He doesn’t know what state I’m in (or why). I’m not making dinner I say. But you always make dinner and drink wine while you cook. If you let him cook he’ll ruin it and the kitchen will be a mess and it’s better if you do it all yourself. And then you can drink here in the kitchen where he can’t see what you’re doing, and you can drink from his glass before you hand it to him, and you can make sure you get enough.

I take my special drink and sit in the living room, big floor-to-ceiling windows open. July evening, there’ll be light in the sky until 10:30 pm. I’m facing the courtyard, trees, lots of birds here in this country that we didn’t have back home. New sounds.

I’ll start up again tomorrow night, you know. This might be over for tonight, but I haven’t gone away. I’ll come back and torture you again. This whole bath, special drink, not making dinner, looking outside thing – it’ll get old. I’ll be back. You need me.

I sip the drink, I can hear the husband banging around with the pots so that he can make roast potatoes and sausages (something he can make without asking questions, as he senses – rightfully so – that asking questions right now won’t go over well). I listen to the unidentifiable birds. Across the courtyard the teenager practises his saxophone. The family downstairs has a screamy child. The granny likes to lean over her window railing with the phone in her hand, talking to someone I can’t see, about something I can’t understand, in a language I don’t really speak. She pulls her pink button up cardigan around her. Always the same cardigan, grey skirt, white blouse. Every day.

I sip the drink again. I reach up to rebundle my wet hair into the elastic. It’s nice here. The witching hours are over for tonight.



[note: there are extracts from the writing project included daily in the micro-emails. here.]