books for research (treats, thank you)

books to help with new fiction-writing research, thanks to the Tiny Gift Button.

i wanted to see two books in a series (keyes), and i like the lightness + advancing plot of fallon. the nicci french book is a style i can aspire to. bernadette is fun, i want to look at how she uses humour. and the top right corner is embarrassingly one of the books on Goodreads that people rave about, in a predictable romancey-kind of way, and the book (so far) is not great (at all) BUT this writer has a huge following, AND she does something very clever in that she writes a book and then releases short-story updates … like parts of the continuing story. so i want to have a look at what she’s doing, too. so i can take all the best ideas from all these books, and then add my own ideas, to create something ‘new’ whatever that mean. maybe it just means create something ‘me’.

french anti-wolfie mints

email from Dr. Anon (Day 313):

“I have been thinking about the power of what you do. In many ways it’s the opposite paradigm of AA (no disrespect to AA, whatever model works for the person and I know it’s an organization that has saved millions in terms of mortality and morbidity). Having said that, most modern mainstream hospitals aren’t big fans.

The crux is in the loss of power idea. This flies in the face of everything we learn in medicine and psychological thinking. Personally, the idea of having no power is repellent to me. I never ever want to surrender and I am always in the driver’s seat.

Well, just imagine in your little shop of treats along with the jewelry and mugs, you sold a little box of French mints (fancy ones) but you had a word like “lupine” (is that the French word for wolf?). They would be totally placebo and totally legal. They would work, you know. Fuck, people spend gazillions on sugar tabs or vitamins. These anti-wolfie-mints could be kept in your handbag for when you need “strength to fight the wolf.”

I’d buy these.

Every time I put one of your fancy French anti-wolf white tablets under my tongue I’d be pissing myself laughing so hard I would feel so happy and ridiculous that I’d be in total control if my life and out of any destructive thinking spiral. Seriously, Belle. Can you think a bit outside the box in your sober store? I’d buy a carton of these mints. They sell these French mints in a tin box with a beautiful painting on the box, don’t they?

It just gave me the idea of taking more power, and how no matter what we do, we are doing an action that helps us. That’s the key. Doesn’t really matter what the action is. If our mind thinks it’s anti-wolfie, that’s enough. It can be a sugar mint with special Belle powers (you can bless them or sprinkle Belle holy water like the pope!).

I am not nuts. Go on Belle star! It was the photo of the French market that gave me this idea for some reason.

~ love, Dr. Anon”


French Anti-Wolfie Mints.

Dissolve one pill under your tongue as required. There’s something really special and medicinal about getting a tin from France. It’s exotic. You love stuff with “made in France” written on it. There’s some weird snob factor and caché… it’s extra-special because it’s from France. Anti-lupine tablets (French mints). One tin for the car, one for your bedside table.

here’s what my worktable looks like this morning

update from me

so last night i had to get out of bed at 11 pm and go online and order more mints.

you see, i thought 19 packages of mints would be plenty. i had 20 to start, then gave one to a client in canada. so ok, starting with 19.

i send out the email to you about the new anti-wolfie mints at 8:45 pm my time and by 11 pm i was up and at my desk. emailing the fancy mint store’s customer service, “i know the site says you’re sold-out but can you get me more by saturday” and they said yes.

phew.

so here’s what my worktable looks like this morning.
look at all of your stuff 🙂

on the left, the big white envelopes are books for doctors
the skinny brown ones on top are orchid necklaces
and the lumpy packages on the right are tins of anti-wolfie mints
all going into the mail this morning…

treats don’t work for me

recently sent this out as a daily micro-email; i’m going to post it here on the blog and add in some of the many emails i’ve received in response. 

email from good:

“i’m totally in the ‘treats don’t work for me’ camp. I eat what I want, when I want, within of course healthy parameters that – if i break them (TWO pieces of cheesecake!) – it doesn’t feel like a treat, it induces shame.

I buy what i want, when I want. Sometimes i have tried to convince myself that an expensive piece of jewelry or pair of jeans I’ve been eyeing or something similar will be a reminder piece to stay sober. But I never can “wait 30 days” to put it on.

I don’t have time for a lot of physical treats. I am craving a good 5-mile hike in the woods right now and it’s been a couple weeks and it hasn’t happened. I have two young kids and my husband and I are to the brim with shared responsibilities.

I cringe when I hear people say “make the time” and “get your partner to help!” – my husband cannot magically get his meetings cancelled to get home early so I can take off. I cannot walk out on my kids who are sitting at the table waiting for dinner. I cannot forget to get the straws or pictures or clothes together for school for the next day or my kid will feel left out and it will be my fault, something I can’t live with. When I’m getting dinner together, husband is busy giving them a bath and has to call his cousin in the hospital.  Later I have to clean or shop for guests or a party we’re having. This is the kind of every day stuff that has to get done. Now. Make time my A%$.  I’m lucky to get a shower in every other day (don’t worry I work from home) and I prioritize exercise, even if it’s whatever I can do quickly and not my favorite kind) over things like bubble baths. If I get a chance to go out for a couple hours and hike, or happen by a cute coffee shop and have a chance to stop, or even get an hour to read at the end of a long day between 10 and 11pm, I will take it, whether I ‘deserve’ it, have X days sober, just got through a tough craving, or not. And honestly, if I feel good enough about however many days of sobriety to deserve a treat, just feeling deserving, that’s treat enough.”


from me: do you agree with Good about the treats thing? i’ve done a lot of writing about this and recorded audios, and talked about retraining your brain … but i wonder if you agree with Good that, no matter what i suggest, it’s all ‘airy-fairy’ wishful thinking …

and if you disagree with Good (or you used to think how she did and now you don’t), you can tell me about that too. I’ll share some ideas in a future email.

fancy food treats (thank you )

returned to the expensive catering take-out places, for more food research …

my ideas: it’s very expensive, which works for that one neighbourhood, but it is still on the very top end of acceptable in terms of expense (and might even be OVER that threshold), the food is homemade and fresh, it is very very good food, better than most of the restaurant food.

the downsides of this particular place (things i would improve): the food is the same day-to-day, week-to-week and in the same location in the chiller. no variety. it could be: this week mustard meatballs, next week it’s chinese meatballs. even the pastries are identical week to week. it’s dull for the cook and perhaps too much the same for clients. i would also have some food in the window. it makes people want to come in if they can see the food from the outside… even better if you can see someone PREPARING the food from the outside …

fancy sparkling water, 3 meatballs with veggies, beet and walnut salad, chicken and artichoke salad with tomatoes, two desserts: chocolate mousse with fruit and creme-anglais, and blackberries and cream on top of chocolate tart on shortbread crust

fullsizerender-3

Thanks to the Tiny Gift Button

novelty and sobriety.

Novelty. What’s that got to do with quitting drinking?

Our brains want excitement. Life is deemed boring or uninteresting, so we drink to have ‘fun’. It’s like jumping from an airplane without a parachute: fun (perhaps), but dangerous. It’s like gambling: the losing, the waiting to win, then winning but wanting more, not knowing why. The thirst not even quenched by winning. It’s like wanting that one mythical drink, and then drinking more, and more: you’re pouring two bottles of wine on your head and you don’t even know why.

So let’s say you are sensitive, often over-stimulated, a bit ADD. Being sober seems dull. What will I do for fun? How will I unwind (how will I lose track of time and just turn off my brain?).

How do you get novelty when you’re sober? You actively, constructively, with intent. Manufacture it.

Novelty = read, learn, sample, create.

If we need novelty, then we count days. Record our sober momentum. Get high numbers of continuous days sober, don’t break the streak, have a new personal best every day.

If we need novelty, we train for a 5K run. A 10K. A half. A full. Trail runs, triathlons, relays, midnight ‘over the hill and back again with a flashlight’ runs.

If we need novelty, we actively create it. You’ve seen me do this. I’m always experimenting with different ways to build community (what can I learn if I do this? Does this work? Can I apply that technique to this situation?). You’ve seen me create novelty: host a live call on Mixlr, a group conference call with free conference software, send out paper newsletters (with lovely French stamps), write case studies, record one-minute audios, film videos, make longer (ranting) podcasts, conduct interviews, write blog posts, write for Medium, write a book.

I’ve also created a lot of novelty in the catering work that I do: naked wedding cakes, savoury pancakes, can you make a good vegetarian panne cotta, can you use the whey from home ricotta to make bread? (yes)

You say: Being sober is so boring. Without alcohol, my whole life seems dull.

And I say: it’s ok to crave novelty. in sobriety, you CREATE your own novelty. Here are some ideas, you can read them, dismiss them as not applicable, and then pick 5 and do them (ha!).

  • Survey: go to all restaurants in the Washington DC area that serve dulce de leche cake for dessert. Or find the best tacos. Or sample all of the food trucks outside your office. Or eat a different sandwich every Friday. Document with photos.
  • Go for a long run, and take a new picture of something every 10 minutes.
  • You’re a parking lot attendant? Why aren’t you learning Italian on headphones for 8 hours a day?
  • Read. There is no frigate like a book. Donna Leon, Susan Hill, Nicci French, Timothy Taylor, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Read all of Dickens in order, sampling one perfect phrase per day and posting to Instragram
  • Write. Get an app like Commit, and do 15 minutes a day, every day, of writing or editing. I’m on day 163 of continuous writing.
  • Keep an end-of-the-day gratitude diary. It causes you to scan your day while you’re living it, to see if THIS is the best moment of the day.
  • Track your weekend cycling logged against a map of the country, and ‘ride cross country’ marking your progress.

You want novelty? The world is an amusement park. Your life is as interesting as you make it.

  • Buy dishes at yard sales and resell on eBay. Or silver. Or baseball cards. Or Led Zeppelin memorabilia.
  • Use your photography skills to take quirky photos for Airbnb listings in your city (contact the ugly ones, offer to fix for free, create a before and after series on Facebook). do it for free. for fun.
  • Collect clothes from co-workers and cut them up to make quilts for the women’s shelter.
  • Grow ten different kinds of roses and document their progress.
  • Do a daily photo diary of your lunch for a month.
  • Learn how to make an alcohol-free version of tiramisu with regular grocery store ingredients.
  • Visit 10 small grocery stores until you find one who will save their dead bananas for you so you can make banana bread and donate it to the food bank.
  • Watch YouTube videos to learn to make doughnuts, paint leaves, promote your real estate business, or put on makeup.
  • Take piano lessons with the sole intent to be to learn how to play the Peanuts theme.
  • Watch 2 versions of West Side Story and 3 versions of Romeo and Juliet and compare. Create a version with sock puppets.
  • Sample 8 kinds of vanilla ice cream then try to make your own.
  • Take the train/bus/car to a new town. Eat in a new place. Walk a new way. Go to the new theatre. Novelty.

(Wake up every day with a hangover, mentally wrestle with your brain, dreading the day ahead; quit drinking every only to buy wine at dinner time and begin again.)

OR.

Wake up every day without a hangover, and see the world as an amusement park, where the biggest wrestle of the day is: What should I do first?