Day Nine: Where Motivation and Futility Intersect

About five weeks ago now, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case, a ruling that effectively allows closely-held for-profit corporations to be exempt from adhering to a law on the basis of religious beliefs. You know the case: Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to cover certain forms of contraception for its female employees as would be mandated under the Affordable Care Act because apparently the Christians running the joint don’t understand science and conception and how IUDs don’t actually cause abortions.

The three female justices (and Breyer) all sided against Hobby Lobby and Bader’s incredible dissent has made her a totem of strength for young and old feminist women. In the wake of the decision, women were ANGRY. They were FIRED UP. On blogs and opinion pieces and online magazines and Twitter and Facebook, they raged against a system that allows a corporation to dictate access to women’s health care.

I was one of those quietly raging women. My friend L and I texted each other the night of the decision: missives filled with fury and indignation and outrage and impotence. What the fuck was WRONG with our country? Why this war against women? What could we possibly do about this?

Then two days later, after reading an article listing other companies that had signed up to deny women health care after Hobby Lobby’s win, I had an idea that was (oddly for me) full of capitalist fuck-you:

What if we could create a way for women to boycott these companies by withholding their spending dollars?

After all, women are shoppers (amirite?!) and women are mad so why not create a searchable and informative site that lists a constantly updating feed of the for-profit companies that deny women health care in the name of religion. Why not let our lady dollars do the talking?

I called L. She was TOTALLY on board. I explained my initial idea; she added tons of amazing ideas of her own. Because she has a 9-5 day gig and I am more flexible, I got to work immediately. I developed a basic site and refined it. We emailed back and forth on what our community of women would look like and how to best reach them. We refined our site plan one beautiful summer Friday in the courtyard of the Boston Public Library, where we sat under a cloudless sky listening to the soothing bubbling of a marble fountain.

For that two weeks, there was motivation. TONS of motivation. We were energized. We were passionate.

And then it went away. Slowly. It’s been weeks since I looked at the site. I can tell you that I’ve been working on other projects (I have) and that I applied to a writing program that sucked up a couple of weeks (it did) but the truth is that the prospect of spearheading the site feels like a Sisyphean exercise in futility.

Why is it that political action feels like that now? Is it because I am older?

I would like to say that I was a politically engaged 20-something but that would be somewhat disingenuous. Sure, I’ve gone to rallies and protests and (honesty, gulp) I’ve sometimes left with the feeling that we were all playing a role in a movie. We are angry 20-something protestors! You are greedy corporate overlords! More often than not, I left protests feeling vaguely embarrassed and not at all sure why.

However, I have always been politically informed. I read voraciously and I am proud to say that I’ve never been a person who “doesn’t have time to know what’s going on in the world.” (Ew, right?) Though I may not be able to tell you intricate political details of a conflict, I can usually give a broad explanation of the major points of contention and am always happy to learn more.

A side effect of knowing what’s going on is an overwhelming feeling of impotence and an increasing sense of futility. What’s really going to change because of our actions? Certainly not a political system that seems increasingly built on greed and in deference to money. It’s no surprise to anyone who’s paying attention that this year marked the first time that millionaires made up the majority of both houses of Congress. It’s almost comically pedantic to mention how much less of their overall income the rich pay in taxes compared to the rest of us.

All this deck-stacking against values I hold dear (gender equality, separation of church and state, marriage equality, the provision of a well-functioning and compassionate social safety net, equal access to education) leaves me exhausted. Why bother with little protests when the problem is SO much bigger than what any of us can do?

This is the point in this essay when I’m supposed to reach deep into my soul and say, “If not me, then who?” or quote some line about how the Holocaust happened because people didn’t stand up to the oppression of others because it didn’t affect them (lesson: apathy is evil). This is the point where I’m supposed to have a change of heart about the little website-that-could and get to work (!) and create a resource for WOMEN WHO WANT CHANGE and to STAY STRONG and all of that good earnest stuff.

But this isn’t that essay. Because more than mad, I’m just tired. I have no idea what the solution is to address these hugely systemic problems we have in our country. I do know that our system respects money and I don’t have it or the will to raise it. I don’t like the idea of cultivating anger at an unchangeable system. I’d rather spend my time attempting (sometimes also an exercise in futility) to understand my world, to keep my gaze as unflinchingly honest as I can (especially on myself), and to take pleasure in the many moments of beauty that my day-to-day life sometimes offers.

Perhaps I am apathetic after all.

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Day Eight: How Would You Describe Yourself?

When I was 25, I lived with three young women in a beautiful old Victorian house in mid-Cambridge. One of my roommates was a woman I’m going to call Jen. Jen was four years older than me and one of those rare people who was probably born responsible. She set the timer on the coffeemaker every night before she went to bed, woke at 6:30am every weekday morning, and had a steaming hot cup of coffee waiting in the pot by the time she was dressed at 6:50am. She wore button-downs and khakis or simple t-shirts and knee-length skirts every work day and sports sweatshirts and beat up pajama bottoms every weekend. Jen made sure we had toilet paper and paper towels and did her laundry every Sunday night like clockwork.

Jen was a loyal friend and a family girl, through and through. She often attended Saturday night Irish dances with her octogenarian grandparents. She was in the marching band in high school and went on to get a degree in a science-based field from a large state university. She watched cheesy movies from the 80s and 90s and spent some weekends binging on Lifetime movies or romantic comedies. She longed for a boyfriend but could be awkward and overly eager when flirting which seemed to petrify the men she talked to at the bar. She was a Red Sox fanatic who wore man-sized versions of her favorite players’ jerseys to Fenway Park.

These are all objective observations of Jen based on my four years of living with her. I have been deliberate in my recollection because I am striving to report facts about Jen, rather than impressions or interpretations of her behavior.

The reason for this methodological care is because Jen has a COMPLETELY different memory of herself from the time she lived in that shared rooming situation in Cambridge. She moved out to the middle of nowhere (kept vague intentionally) to lead a work project and hooked up with a guy on her crew eight years younger than her. A year later, they were engaged to be married.

By that time, she had been living in a small town for over a year, and the “How We Met” section of her wedding website described the story of an “on-the-town City girl” falling for a “simple Country boy.” I read with fascination as I realized that Jen had made herself a heroine from a romantic comedy. You know, the one where the harried and sophisticated urban woman learns life’s most important lessons thanks to the love of a gentle and down-to-earth rural guy (who is likely a cowboy, farmer, etc). 

I understand the need to frame our experiences as narratives: ordering our lives as if they are sequential events that lead to a conclusion provides a comforting rationale for why things happen. I get the longing to be the hero in your own story, described eloquently by my friend Molly here. When I read Jen’s wedding website, that overt desire didn’t stick out to me at all.

I was taken instead by how Jen’s description of herself seemed so far removed from the person I had known for four years. In no way could she ever have been described as an “on-the-town City girl.” She hated dressing up to go out, preferring to meet up for an after-work drink and being home by 10pm at the latest. When she described the epicurean hardships of life in a small town with only pizza and burgers for food options, I flashed on images of Jen making Hamburger Helper for dinner, ordering pizza regularly, and picking bars that specialized in burgers and beer when asked to choose a restaurant. She now has four children and her Facebook is littered with reminisces about her “single days in the City.”

This may all fall under the category of “who gives a fuck?” and in a lot of ways I agree that Jen’s self-perception of her late-20s persona is really of no concern to anyone but her.

On the other hand, I don’t think that self-deception is always so benign. As a rule, I’m not a huge fan of self-deception mainly because I think it prevents me from facing my worst qualities. I can interpret a night of drinking and hooking up with an unknown dude as evidence of my “wild and crazy 20s,” or I can interpret it with the nuanced lens of (still nascent) maturity and remember both the thrill of a night of booze-enhanced daring, and the crushingly empty psychological low the morning after.

As I’m nearing the back half of my 30s, I am noticing an increased tendency for people my age to yearn for past versions of themselves that may or may not have existed. These doppelgangers are almost uniformly remembered as free and daring and open to adventure and experimentation. It’s not restricted to the social self either: I’ve seen people who recount artificially-inflated professional accomplishments after leaving jobs to the (discreet) relief of their coworkers. I see men and women who insist that (abusive, awful) exes of their 20s are the true loves of their lives. I hear people who have photos and journals documenting eating at McDonald’s for entire backpacking trips through Western Europe wax philosophical on their experiences enjoying different regional specialties of Italy or Germany or France.

All this yearning and self-deception and recalling a falsely adventurous life boils down to one thing: a lot of us have a hard time with the idea that our best years may be behind us. It’s hard to face the reality that our lives have walked down certain paths and that we aren’t going to have all the adventures or all the drama or all the possibilities that we are taught is our birthright. Conversely, choosing to live in a rose-colored past makes it almost impossible to age gracefully or to develop any type of wisdom.

The public health research nerd in me wishes this phenomenon could be quantified in some way to create a screening checklist that measures various degrees of self-deception. I feel like there must be a correlation between remembering your past with a high level of self-deception and life satisfaction in your mid-life years. How happy can you really be if everything good has already happened to a version of yourself who never existed?

For now, I will try really hard to resist the urge to practice self-deception in my own life: I was a selfish asshole for a lot of my teen years and into college and probably beyond. I used alcohol as a way of feeling comfortable with my body for a long time. I pushed aside good friends because I didn’t know how to address problems head-on. I mistakenly believed that relationships with men should have a lot of drama because drama=passion. I was flagrantly immature at work.

I also fell in love for the first time and have never felt that intoxicating, all-encompassing, soul-crushing constellation of emotions ever again. I sneaked past locked gates late at night to walk on moonlit beaches. I danced in darkened clubs while music and alcohol coursed through my veins like some sort of heady drug. I spent entire weekends with girlfriends who felt like sisters. My credit card bill used to be only clothing stores, restaurants and bars.

Like the life I am living now, there were amazing times and there were awful times. I was the best version of myself and sometimes, the very worst. I assume this cycle will continue indefinitely. The best I can hope for is to enjoy the good in life gratefully, and face the hardships gracefully.

No self-deception allowed.

 

Day Seven: The #1 Creativity Killer

If you’re in Boston (or New England), you’re probably aware of the current stand-off between employees of Market Basket and the company’s Board of Directors. To briefly summarize: the employees are protesting the ousting of their beloved CEO by shutting down the delivery warehouse so the stores have no refrigerated foods (produce, dairy, meats), and banding together at all levels, from store managers down to baggers proclaiming they will not work until the CEO is returned to his position as head of the company.

This morning I was listening to an interview with a store manager who was passionate about his love for Market Basket (he’s worked there for 40 years) but equally passionate in his belief that the fired CEO needed to be reinstated immediately before he would work there again. He explained that he was not asking for more money, or more benefits, or anything financially driven. He just wanted his boss back. When asked by the interviewer why this saga has struck such a chord with people, he answered that people were sick of being pushed around by corporate types hellbent on profit. They were tired of being used as pawns and not valued.

I stood in the kitchen listening to this interview with goosebumps prickling my legs. He is right: it is incredibly hard to be optimistic about being valued in the workplace. Most employers are relatively open about the fact that you are not indispensable, which coincidentally provides them the additional benefit of getting you to work super hard to constantly prove your worth.

But this is not a missive about corporate greed. I want to talk instead about what it does to creativity when you work in environments that are toxic. This is a time in my life that I am extremely fortunate to not have to work for anyone but myself (another story), but from the time I graduated college until two years ago, I worked full-time for either hospitals or universities. For me, creativity ebbs and flows in direct proportion to the functionality and healthiness of my workplace. Maybe it’s the same for you?

When I started working at MIT, the Dean of Students was an intelligent, friendly, caring man who could greet you by name within a month of your being hired. During the four years that I worked under him, the various departments he oversaw had little employee turnover and a general belief in their own efficacy. He hired people to do their jobs and then let them do it. Sure, there were bosses who were difficult and coworkers who no one cared for, but by and large, people took care of each other and they were happy.

For me, this happiness during my 9-5 workday also led to my after-work life: I took an evening course in creative non-fiction, I went to yoga in the mornings, I tried new recipes, I read voraciously, I kept in touch with friends through drink and dinner dates. I look back at my writing during that time and see multiple stories and article ideas and journal entries, varied projects that speak to the freedom I felt to pursue any number of paths. My financial needs were being met with a minimal amount of day-to-day stress, which allowed my creative side to flourish.

This wonderful Dean of Students retired after four years of my knowing him and he was replaced by a corporate drone. Immediately, he began to micromanage the various department heads who were used to their own autonomy: he challenged them to defend their budgets and their practices and their methods of interacting with students. He didn’t listen to their answers. He fired a long-time, well-loved senior leader (who went on to become president of a nearby college). He reorganized various departments that led to department heads being demoted and forced to report to colleagues who had previously been their equals.

Almost imperceptibly at first and then with the speed of an impending avalanche, things began to change. Our bosses were tense so we were tense. We felt under attack about our work. We spent our days worried about who would be let go next. Our conversations with one another, previously about families and hobbies and vacations began to sound like a broken record: Did you hear what that asshole said today? Did you hear who he wants to push out now?

We met after work and drank together, sharing our sorrows. We deserved the release of happy hour since our days were increasingly tense and stressful. I talked about work incessantly with my partner, E. I stopped going to yoga since I could not rouse myself any earlier than absolutely necessary to drag myself to work. When I got home, I had a glass of wine immediately upon entering to release the stress of the day. When people began leaving for other universities and positions, one by one, my stress hit new highs. When my much loved and respected boss left, I assumed his role as department  head and dealt with the asshole head-on.

I stopped writing. There was nothing to say. I was drained emotionally and stressed out. I stopped reading for pleasure. I drank more. I ordered dinner in because I could not face the task of making dinner. I was perpetually angry.

It is very easy to beat ourselves up when we don’t pursue our creative passions. There is an entire industry of self-help books and workshops devoted to unlocking the inner artist. But art can’t blossom and grow when your soul is not nourished. We all hear the stories about artists and writers and musicians who worked their 9-5 jobs and diligently pursued their passions outside of work. They make it seem like a matter of willpower: If you love it enough, you will do it.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. I had to go to work to pay my bills. You probably do, too. The place where I worked was an emotional minefield: I didn’t know if I’d be fired, I had no idea if my department would be downsized, all of my (previously respected) ideas were ridiculed by the new Dean of Students. Every day felt like a new trial by fire.

The sad truth is that the pursuit of creativity is a privilege. Like growing a garden, most of us need a minimal amount of nurture and care and respect to thrive. Most of us do not have the privilege of working in a soul-fulfilling job but for creativity to grow, at the very least, we need to have a work environment that is not actively soul-killing. It’s incredibly hard, if not impossible, to be emotionally beaten down for 40+ hours each week and then, through sheer willpower, create art or prose or music. I, for one, am not strong enough to do it and I see no need to beat myself up over that fact.

So the Market Basket stand-off: I am so impressed with these devoted employees and I hope they get their CEO back. I have no doubt if they are willing to risk their livelihoods for him, then he’s probably the type of leader who values them greatly. I can’t imagine the number of artists and musicians and writers and builders and PTA parents and community headers and devoted daughters and sons and husbands and wives who thrive and create and give back because they have a work environment that nurtures more than it hurts.

We should all be so lucky.

Day Six: In Which I Finish a Project Early

Well folks, I did it. I am applying for a long-shot writing program and I finished the required 10-page writing sample and the personal statement two days ahead of the submission deadline. This is like college me all over again, people. I like finishing things early. I like having time to rewrite and revise and generally stew over everything I’ve done until the last possible minute.

I know I started this experiment wanting to explore the relationship between alcohol and my own productivity and I think I’m coming to a conclusion that I wasn’t quite expecting. I generally believed that drinking with my decreased tolerance was contributing to a general malaise that didn’t foster any type of creative work. Whew. Got that?

What I’m realizing is a bit more nuanced: it’s not the alcohol that is the problem here but the fact that I’ve been using it for the past year and a half as a stand-in for facing the question of what I’d like to do with my life. It’s a hard question to face. It’s one that I am still struggling with but somehow feels easier to face now that I’m not hiding behind a couple-three glasses of wine a night.

In college, exams would be returned to us in our campus mailbox. The tests would be folded in half and stapled shut so only our name showed which allowed the mail service to route them to our boxes. Upon getting my test, I would rip it open regardless of whether or not I thought I had done well: I just HAD to know what I got. By contrast, I had a friend who would take the tests and tuck them into her bag and sometimes not open them for days. DAYS. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to know but she said she liked that if the test wasn’t open, then the possibility of a perfect outcome still existed. When she explained her rationale, I got it on some level but mostly just thought she was engaging in a form of ritual self-deception since the test score was ON the paper; not opening it didn’t change the fact that there was a score that had been assigned. The mystery of her score, good or bad, had already been solved.

In a lot of ways, I think I’ve been living as that college friend of mine. I claim that I want to write and then I don’t do it because the conditions aren’t perfect: maybe a wall needs painting, or a light fixture needs hanging, or my daughter kept me up the night before, or I’m feeling some sort of gross malaise that I attribute to drinking (which does happen, don’t get me wrong). But generally, what I think has been happening is that I haven’t been ready to face the possibility that I could very well suck at this. By not writing, the possibility of easy success still exists.

In truth, I am realizing that staring at a blank page and creating worlds from scratch, and forcing myself to blog every workday, and generally being accountable to my dreams by sitting down and actually WRITING EVERY DAY may not guarantee success. But it does stop that gnawing feeling that I’ve been hiding behind every night for the past year and a half. With every day that I wake up and do the work of pursuing this dream, I am banishing the demons that had me convinced that a couple glasses of wine and Netflix each night was fine, and that TOMORROW I’d get down to the hard work of writing. Tomorrow, I’d submit my my work knowing that rejection would be the likely response. Tomorrow, I’d write prose so treacly that I wanted to shoot myself for actually committing it to exist. Tomorrow, I’d query that editor. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

It’s a lot easier to languish on the couch with a drink, huh?

So I’m slowly learning to face things today. I had a small gin and tonic while I was grilling dinner tonight to celebrate my completed application. Tonight, I am blogging and editing my application and reading a novel that I’m seriously loving.

Tomorrow, I’ll do what I’ve been doing every day for the past week: I’ll get up and work.

Day Five: A Brief Update

So I’m settled into what is now feeling like a weekday evening routine of dinner, play with child, say goodnight to child (E bathes and puts her to bed every night), read, shower, read some more before bed, sleep. I seem to have replaced my evening cocktails with reading late into the night. Even with my decreased sleep, I still feel more energized than I’ve felt in a long time which is awesome.

This will be brief since I’m working on a project with a deadline by the end of the week. It’s going well and I’m anxious to get back to it. Will update more tomorrow.

Day Four: A New Week

Last night, E and I went to a show at the Burren. It was a session of friends from the early-aughts (I still hate that term but what can you do?) who had “grown-up” into marriages and kids and graduate school and big jobs who got together to recapture the open mic days of their 20s.

One of the women is someone I know from work who would likely describe herself as neurotic and Type A and a bit of a control freak. I met her when she was pregnant with her first child (she now has two) and knew her primarily as a work friend who seemed to have a difficult time negotiating work and parenthood (who doesn’t?). After the birth of her second child, she left work and we lost touch until E and I bought this house in the neighborhood next to hers.

Her youngest child is four, about to go to kindergarten and she is working outside the home again, as a postpartum counselor and doula. Though she had shared one-off stories of her days busking in Harvard Square and trying to make it as a musician, I hadn’t fully realized that this meant she likely had musical talent since I saw her as a professional mom-advocate (which is silly of me to admit but there it is).

When E and I came into the back room at the Burren, she hugged me tightly and the joy in her face was mixed equally with a nervous fear. “How are you feeling?” I asked her. She looked lovely in a simple black dress, a far-cry from her usual attire of v-neck t-shirts and slouchy JCrew pants.

“I haven’t done this in 13 years,” she said, grimacing and smiling at the same time. “I’m so fucking nervous.”

E and I settled in at the bar and ordered drinks and food. The mood in the room felt convivial and familiar, like a high school reunion with hugging and exclamations and a lot of people who looked like older family members of the four performers who gathered near the stage talking closely to one another.

When the room dimmed, my friend sat in the center of the stage, holding a guitar easily. On stage, her neurotic energy was charming and she was self-effacing and openly grateful to be back on stage after her long hiatus. When she began to sing, I felt a shocking strong wave of pure emotion wash over me and tears rolled down my cheeks. Her voice was lovely; her presence luminous.

After giving birth to my daughter, the biggest change I’ve noticed in myself is my openness to emotion. I have always felt very deeply but now I am effusively emotional: I cry when I’m happy or sad; I laugh easily; I am often overcome with tears when I feel love in a room full of people. I know this sounds incredibly cheesy and overwrought but having my daughter in my life has connected me to some part of myself that finally understands the ephemeral nature of life,

So sitting in that bar, listening to my friend give space for her talent to bloom again, I couldn’t help but cry. How many of us sit on our talents? How many days and months and years go by when we forget the music or words or art that live inside of us? How long does it take before it’s gone forever? When does the lack of attention to our talents cause them to atrophy permanently?

I didn’t have these thoughts at that moment, of course. In that moment, in a room full of family and friends and watching four former friends reconnect with a part of themselves that had long lain dormant, I felt incredibly lucky to be there. To be witness to their renaissance and to have been a part of it. A lovely night.

The Drinking Update: I had a couple of gin and tonics last night but surprisingly, there is no effect on my productivity today. Perhaps there’s more going on than simple drink=no creative energy? We will see…

Day Three: Four AM Wake Up

My partner, E and I are trying to teach our daughter to sleep through the night in her own bed but like most things with toddlers, she is superbly resistant to the idea. Most of the time, he puts her down for the night in her bed and then I’ll move her to ours when I go to bed between 12 and 1am. If I don’t move her, she gets up in the early morning hours (usually between 3 and 4am) and wails until we bring her to our bed, where she proceeds to whine and sing and chat until the sun comes up. If she’s been moved in her sleep to our bed, she will stay asleep until 7:30 or 8am every morning without fail.

So. I move her.

In all honesty, part of the reason that I move her is because I’ve noticed that I cannot handle a sleep disturbance in the middle of the night and I’ve long thought this was part of the whole getting-older-and-not-handling-my-liquor-so-well change of life. If I don’t get enough sleep (about 6 or 7 straight hours), I feel sluggish and irritable and unable to express myself clearly at all.

It turns out (spoiler alert) that I was right about my sleep being more affected by liquor now than when I was younger. Last night, E and I left our toddler in her bed and she got up calling for dada at 4am. He got her and then she lay on me wiggling, moved to the bed to kick her legs around, sang “Five Little Ducks” softly, told a story to herself, lay on E for a bit while we whispered, “Shhh,” and “Go to sleep,” to no avail. At 5:30am, E got up to take a shower and he took her downstairs with him when he was done. They had breakfast together and at 6:15am, she came back upstairs and promptly fell asleep next to me until I woke her just before 8am.

I woke up at 7am, exhausted from being up for so long in the middle of the night but the feeling was manageable. I washed my face, got dressed, and checked my email while I let her sleep for a bit longer. By the time I woke her, I was fine.

This realization about alcohol and sleep seems very mundane and almost mind-numbingly obvious and it is. The inherent humor in a former alcohol researcher realizing the extent to which her sleep is affected by alcohol is also not lost on me.

The reason that I’m mentioning this here, in this vaguely public sphere, is to record how easy it is for me to get trapped in a mindless pattern of alcohol use. (I am not talking about dependence here, and I firmly reject the idea that thinking critically about your alcohol intake is a sign of a problem.)  I am thinking instead about the ways we get trapped in cycles of consumption, be it alcohol or food or shopping or going out or whatever. It’s almost easier to keeping doing what you’ve always done than to take a step back and assess whether or not this is really what you want to be doing. Do you really want a drink every night at 5 o’clock? Do you really want that adorable pair of sandals? Do you really want to go out every Friday night?

I think a lot of the reason that it’s difficult for me (and maybe you?) to think critically about these things is because there are almost no examples of how to live mindfully without engaging in acts of deprivation or abstinence. There is a pervasive belief that the simplest way to cut out unnecessary habits or patterns of consumption are to ask yourself if you “need” it. Obviously, you don’t need much of anything. You never need a cookie. You never need a pair of gold shoes. You never need a cocktail. Framing an analysis in this way just sets up failure from the outset, doesn’t it? Here’s how this “all or nothing” approach to analysis usually plays out for me: In order to assess my drinking, I need to CUT IT ALL OUT for a set time period. In order to see whether what I eat is good for me, I need to abstain from everything that is supposed to be bad for me (Whole 30 comes to mind here). If I’m questioning my social life, I need to stay in for a month and see how I feel. Predictably, all that ever happens as a result of deprivation is a pervasive itch to just get back to IT, whatever it may be.

So this experiment in mindful drinking is about my wants. I want to keep drinking wine. I also want to establish a career as a writer. I want to work from home where I’ve created a lovely workspace. I want to learn how to work efficiently. I want to enjoy my time with my family. I want to be productive when I’m working. I definitely want to eat cookies forever.

So at the end of my first half-week of work without nightly drinks, I can say unequivocally that I’ve been more productive during the days, writing and researching and reading more than I have in weeks past. Does this mean I’m NEVER going to drink during the week? Not at all, but it’s nice to know that I should have some work options ready that factor in my decreased creativity the day after consuming alcohol.

Not bad for a first week, right?