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.


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