who i was before.

i will write more and do a podcast about my london trip over the next few days. today i have returned to a full laundry basket but Mr. Belle did make up my coffee before he left so i just had to press ‘start’ at 10 a.m. when i rolled out of bed (literally, the mattress is on the floor).

top 5 realizations about being in london for 5 days:

  1. holy lots of alcohol, batman. everyone. everywhere. i won’t soon forget the girl i saw in the restaurant bathroom at 9 pm on a friday night, being held up by her friend. planning how to get her home. “we’ll just say you don’t feel well, and we’ll leave. it’ll be fine. no one will mind. you don’t have to stay.”
  2. booze advertising galore. i did not see ONE tv ad for a car or a cold medicine. i saw many many ads for booze, and online video games. really.
  3. lots of places to run along the river – and lots of places to walk. hours of walking each day.
  4. began my bakery tour, and visited 2 per day, but that didn’t get me very far. each place i visited had ideas on what else i should see. random bakers (who i interrupted by just dropping in) were very kind to spend time with me, explaining what they did — sharing secrets and growth ideas and most popular items. Had the best doughnut of my entire life and then had to buy the matching cookbook. I know. really.
  5. it’s pretty overwhelming to meet up with 12 sober online friends. it’s one thing to email (or write this) in my jammies from my glass desk. It’s another thing entirely to walk into a room and know that they’re there to see you. and to match faces to names. and to make new connections and see some struggles and to share some tears. i had a large crying jag about half an hour before i entered the meetup, and a few minutes of terror at first, and then i was fine. i’m not anyone’s guru. i’m a human. and that two people flew in to see me was just too much to process (on the street, crying, with my husband, before i went in, and he said “they probably work for the airlines.” and one did. he always knows what to say)

i’ll be happily puttering away at my inbox messages today and tomorrow. i’ll be having quinoa and legumes for breakfast, lunch and dinner (doughnuts anyone?). i’ll be breaking in my new shoes. first pair of docs since 1990. i’m done with girly shoes. i really did try. cute trainers and little strappy things are just not for me. i’m going back to who i was before.

british birthday gifts: spices including smoked peppercorns, cookbook, shoes
british birthday gifts: spices including smoked peppercorns, cookbook, shoes



I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • My first comment. Today is day 5 for me and this post struck me because of the travel. I am sitting at the airport for a short trip, and it is the first time in years I have done it without the pre-flight Bloody Mary (or 3). No fear of flying, just always felt like traveling was as good an excuse as any to get plastered. Thank you, Belle, for your honest posts and letting everyone who reads feel they can do the same.

  • Good looking Docs you chose. When I was in London (back when the earth was cooling) it was all about boots. I can do comfy shoes, but boots and skirts just aren’t my thing. Welcome back to us.

  • Looking forward to reading more about your London trip, and I totally agree with you about booze culture being pretty much the only game in town now.

    Brits have always been considered to be boozers and it seems to me that we now think that means we can treble or quadruple our consumption with impunity – and that we should be proud of doing so. The government (both mainstream parties) is at the forefront of promoting what they refer to as ‘café culture’ so that people can now booze outside pubs on the pavement – which used to be illegal.

    The health service has buckled under the strain and yet politicians resolutely refuse to even acknowledge the booze industry is totally out of control – as are most city centres now after 9.30pm on the weekends. I find the atmosphere on the streets late at night on a Bank Holiday weekend Sunday night absolutely terrifying because the general atmosphere of violence is now considered normal and acceptable by city councils. (I live in a city centre and walk the dog late at night. It’s not unusual to find couples having alfresco Ugandan relations in the well lit park outside the house, either.)

  • So glad you are back. I apologize for being selfish but “I have missed you terribly!!!!” I hope you had a wonderful birthday. I would have given my right arm to have flown in to meet you but I don’t work for the airlines and this mom to 5 can’t justify that expense. Even though you are MORE THANK WORTH every penny I would have spent to fly to London. I also find your observations very interesting. I will look forward to hearing you Podcast. WELCOME BACK BELLE!!!!!

  • I was recently in London and I agree. People drinking everywhere.
    And a definite lack of gluten free food. lol
    You might be a regular person, but you are offering your gift of communication and comfort to people in real crisis. That is a truly divine gift.


  • Oh I used to love my docs in the 90’s. You only really need one pair of shoes when you have docs!

    You are very brave, I can only imagine how I would feel doing something like that.

  • Dear Belle,
    I loved this post! I love doughnuts too! I still don’t think I’ll do the DM soon. I’m still into the girly shoe thingie! (But they have to be comfy girly which is hard to find! LOL)
    I can imagine it was hard meeting all your on-line friends. I think I’d be happy but nervous.
    Funny thing, I am going back to who I was before too. Drinking took the real me away from myself! (Another LOL)
    Have a great day!

  • Can’t wait to hear about it. I’m jealous. It’s funny because I can only imagine how nervous I would be to meet you but I would not picture you being nervous at all. Such a good reminder of how similar we all are and that we are all just people.

  • I love your honesty Belle…and your courage. And another belated Happy Birthday to you!! I don’t know if you ever saw any of the Excedrin Headache #xxxxxxx commercials, but anytime my husband and I see or hear of something awful or embarrassing that happened because of alcohol, we always look at each other and say, “reason #xxxxxx not to drink!” Your story of the girl in the bathroom made me think of that. Looking forward to hearing more about London.

  • Oh, I love this blog, you’re absolutely very human! Best Doughnuts, Crying, New Docs, all in one story…. I enjoyed the remark of your husband and that you’re done with girly shoes… Good luck with the inbox messages!

  • I can image it is overwhelming to meet everyone. Sounds like you had a good time, can’t wait to hear your podcast. Have a great day !

  • Happy Belated Birthday. Happy Happy.

    Glad your trip was good aside the blasting of booze adverts. We Brits excel at falling down drunk.

    (and I’m only generalising for myself who’s no stranger to falling into shrubbery on her way home after a Xmas night out and no I didn’t lose my fairy wings).

    Enjoy being home and your presents.

    And, new names and faces, all good


  • Real women wear DM’s: all the better to kick Wolfie in 🙂 So happy you enjoyed London. And the doughnuts. Hoorah for doughnuts and for you xxx