Hell in a Nutshell

One of the realities of Act 3 is that there’s not an Act 4. That makes what happens now more important than what happens in Act 1 when there are still do-overs. I have tried to be get clear on what I want for this next bit, but every time I get beyond I love my family, and I want to see them a  lot, I get stuck.

I asked myself, “Do you want to live into your nineties or do you just want to go find something else stupid to do so you can relieve your twenties and check out now?” I want to be old-old. Then I decided I should do this program called 30 DAYS TO HEALTHY LIVING or HELL IN A NUTSHELL to see if I could pull my nose up and do a quick reality check on my physical state before geese flew into my engines.

This has turned out to be a heavy-duty challenge for me. Why? Because you have to give up caffeine, sugar, dairy, wheat, soy, corn, and alcohol. “Oh you can just give up three things, and that’s good enough,” I was told, but I need to clean up my whole mind-body-spirit thing, or I might never be sure of who I want to be when I grow up.


1.  Soy. I don’t eat soy anymore aside from edamame, and giving up edamame is not an actual thing.

2. Dairy. No whip cream. Probably just as well. I don’t eat whip cream unless it’s in a can, and I’m shooting it in my mouth to get attention, usually from a child. And no cheese. This is not a problem. I learned that cheese is the devil a long time ago– there are some foods that are never going to get less tempting and more healthy. I think “cheese” means “crack” in ancient Greek.

3. Caffeine. Love that cup in the morning, but I don’t have a physical addiction. It’s sad, but not cause for tears. It’s like hearing that a friend of a friend’s cat died. I’m hopeful I’ll sleep better. Giving up Ambian will be saved for the next time I want to torture myself.

4. Corn/Wheat. You’d think no big deal, but think chips. A puffy bag of organic salsa chips goes nicely with chardonnay. Prep time: Less than 30 seconds, unless you break the cork.

5. Sugar. This is very, very sad, and a good excuse to get in touch with my feelings, which I seem to have misplaced. I have had many a night when cookies turned out to be dinner because I accidentally poked the toddler addict demon awake and she wants all the cookies.

6. Alcohol. This is the one that pisses me off. It’s almost like my dog died. How on earth I didn’t see wine making a slow creep into my day-to-day, I don’t know. I’m experienced at giving things up. I quit smoking cigarettes. It’s been 36 years since I quit cocaine, which nearly killed me, and I’ve NEVER let myself get near a habit since then, but guess what? Wine is an insidious little bastard. Now it’s gone. For 30 days. Then we’ll see.

Just to give credit where it’s due, this whole 30-day trip for me started when I read NYT best seller Love Warrior.  It blew my mind. It turns out that there is a whole sober woman community out there, and they are brave and have great stories. In case you’ve been looking, this is the place where all the cool, smartened up, straightened out party girls are. There are too many sites to mention. But check out www.soberistas.com  and Suburban Betty and Sober is the New Black.  I wish this network existed when I was a destroyed twenty-nine year old.

I’m not going to lie. It’s hard. All of it. Like last night. I went to see “Girl on the Train” to distract myself during the time formerly known as happy hour. I felt like puking at the end of it. You could practically smell the booze. Never, ever, ever put a bottle of vodka in an adult sippy cup and take it on the train.

Now I’m on day 10 of this ride. I’m wide awake. Not buzzed. Not fuzzed. Not sugared out. Not even movie popcorn. I’m trying to remember where the hell I was before boobs and before boys, back when I was a shy child with bangs who liked to hideout in a horse stall and write stories. I’m going to find her again. She’ll tell me what I like to do. I know it involves dogs and tap dancing and networks of women remembering.


Say Yes to the Mess

I’m in between act 2 and act 3 of my fabulously important life. Too old to be young, too young to be old.  I feel like this should be the start of something new, not just me thrashing around the dregs of the whole mom thing. I don’t really want more friends. I do like my new tap class. I would like to spend more time with my husband. Have I retired? To my bed and my kindle. Has he retired? Nope, but he’s coming round the bend. Oddly, I find it’s a bit of a bummer that there is no addiction to love and nurse except happy hour, and now I’ve killed that too. (More on that).  

Today I moped around Gelson’s Market shopping for our big family Shabbat. Everything is so expensive.  I’m annoyed by the man on his phone standing still in the middle of an aisle. I remember when we first arrived in Pacific Palisades when Alicia was 4. We had already begun doing Shabbats by then, and every Friday I’d bake challah and absolutely love being a mom to this awesome girl. I was excited. Magical mommy time– the birthday parties and volunteering and being that great mom who showed up and raised money and chaired events. I was good at it. I chose this place because it was a perfect place for a family. I wouldn’t choose it as a place for retirement– but maybe wherever you go, there you are. 

Should we move? Where would we go? Doesn’t work so much in L.A. You sell your house and buy a what? A hut. A dog house in my step-daughter’s yard?

The first step of downsizing is deciding to do it. It’s a vague cloud that I hoped would never open up on us. We bought our townhouse thinking we’d skip right over the big house and go straight to a place we could get old in. So wrong. That was before the world fell over and all the money fell out of its pockets. That was before anyone realized that a home you own isn’t the same thing as a bank, and you’re not supposed to live off of it. Well, a lot of people know you’re not supposed to do that, but not me. I was big on keeping up with the Joneses.

Downsizing is like the steps of dying. Purge. Stage. Sell. Rent. Buy. I don’t want to do any of it. I end up on the side of the bed looking at photos then throwing things away and not having anywhere to throw them. There’s not enough recycling bins in the universe for all the crap I have, all the crap my husband has and all the crap my mother had that I still haven’t finished “processing”.

My daughter comes to my room asking what I think of the card for her best friend’s bridal shower, and I am so touched that I realize I can’t bear the thought of going through this whole move– unpacking all our stuff and realizing that there we are. Just the two of us. My husband and me in some master planned community. The movers will have left, and I’ll stand among boxes in my new home, and miss my daughter so much I can barely speak.

I am terrified of experiencing the feeling that I’ve made a horrible mistake. I’ve had that feeling before. This whole downsizing project was my idea,  my choice and I’m scared I won’t remember any of the reasons this made sense. I should have made more money. More of myself.  Or  do I not care? 

My real estate agent is going to kill me. I go back and forth like a politician on police reform. But I bought myself a year, because the only place I really like isn’t even built yet.  We’re on the “interest list.” Not committed. Just interested. So I’m going to journal here about this year. I call it “spewage”. Spitting thoughts on how we go or don’t go from either here to here or here to there.