Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Watershed Moment in Jen History.

I haven't had a very good week.  Over the long weekend, we got news that Joan's half-brother Pete, who went AWOL about 40 years ago, had died.  He and Joan weren't in touch (that being evident by the fact that the local police had to call our local police, who came to our door and left a detective's phone number.  It's never good news when that happens.)  Joan is basically his sole living relative, so it fell to her, which is to say, us, to make the final arrangements.  He owned so little and had so few plans that it wasn't much to do, actually.  He's a veteran, so he'll be buried in the veteran's cemetery near where he lived, which doesn't cost anything, fortunately.  (Just paid for a roof, a new transmission and a water heater--can somebody tell these things not to all hit in the same month?).  His nice landlady is cleaning out his apartment and giving most of his possessions to Goodwill.  There won't be a funeral service but if there's any money in his accounts, we'll give in his name to Stand Down if they take donations, or the Wounded Warrior Project if they don't.

So, I mean, it's not been insurmountable or anything.  Just kind of sucky.  And Joan is okay.  They didn't have any kind of relationship, really, except when they were kids, and that was a long time ago.  Sometimes I think I'm sadder than Joan is.  I mean, the guy wasn't a prince or anything, obviously, and we're not rich or anything, obviously, but if we'd known about his living conditions and the state of his health, we probably could have done something to help.  And I'm bummed I never got to meet him.  Okay, I never got to meet Bette Davis, either, and somehow I've survived all these years.  But, anyway, I would have liked to meet him.

This may or may not have any relation to what happened this morning.  I was bumbling around the kitchen, making coffee and my usual breakfast (banana, peanut butter, graham cracker; paradise) when something moved in the sink.  Things do occasionally move without the aid of human hands around here; we have three cats and possibly a poltergeist, though I prefer to just believe in the three cats.  I ignored it because I was busy slicing the banana.  Then it moved again, and I could no longer ignore it because its feelers were wiggling near the top of the counter.  Joan had just gone back to bed for another half-hour of sleep; we had a series of thunderstorms roll through here last night, and I don't think either of us got much decent shut-eye.  So, really, really not wanting to, I approached the sink, looking for a weapon.

Freeze picture.

Digression:  Let it be known that I, Jen, am afraid of those big palmetto bugs.  Or cockroaches or water beetles or whatever the hell they are.  The ones that are three inches long and can fly.  I'm not inserting a graphic here because a graphic would be too graphic.  They terrify me.  They make me scream like a six-year-old girl.  We have a rule in this house: If there's wildlife running around in here and it has six legs, Joan handles it.  If it has eight legs, I handle it.  (Once there was a snake in here.  Imagine the consternation.  I mean, snakes got no legs.  Who's responsible?  Well, the answer was me, but you can see how this might have caused some serious division-of-labor issues.)  Part of that is, of course, because the degree of revulsion I have for this particular critter won't let me do the right thing, the Buddhist thing, which is to say, catch it and throw it outside.  I can do this with eight-legged critters, unless they're running really fast, because that particular revulsion isn't there.  I also did it with the no-legged thing.  But six-legged things?  It does not work.  My only thought when confronted with one of those horrible creatures is to get it the hell away from me as fast as possible, which practically always involves stomping on it.

So what does Joan do, when I outsource my fear and loathing of six-leggers to her? Well, she stomps on them.  Really, it's a Hobson's choice.  Get stomped on or get stomped on.  And I'm not sure that outsourcing stomping is correct, in a Buddhist-y sort of way, but I'm so terrified of these critters that I. Don't. Care.  Well, I didn't think I cared, anyway.  (It's not correct.  First Precept:  "I will do my best not to kill, or to let anybody else kill."  Kinda hard to fit stomping-uponst in there anywhere.)

Roll picture.  I approach the sink.  The six-legger in question, which is indeed one of my nemeses, wiggles its feelers at me.  I have a second to wonder if I'm going to throw up.  Then I reach for my weapon--a pitcher--and as I do, a strange thought occurs to me: I'm going to kill this living being because I'm afraid of it.

Which kind of stopped me dead in my tracks.

Yeah.  That was basically it.  It wasn't harming me, harming Joan, harming the cats (they'll stare at it with riveted intent, but they won't kill it; predator fail).  It was just sitting there being disgusting.  If being disgusting were a capital crime--no, I won't get into that now.  But let's just say the body count would be high.

Standoff.  It looks at me.  I look at it.  It wiggles its feelers some more.  I don't have feelers to wiggle.  But I do have an eight-ounce glass next to the sink.  I grab it and plant it squarely on top of the critter, which runs around the circumference of the glass a few times, then stops, confused.

I let out a long breath.  Now that it's contained and not going anywhere, like, say, up my nightgown, I feel a lot better.  Of course there's still the matter of what to do with it.  Getting it out of the house as quickly as possible comes to mind.  If it were an eight-legger, I'd slide a thick piece of paper or an envelope under the glass, pick them both up, and carry them out.  But I can't do that with this creepy thing.  What if it gets a leg around the edge of the paper and, you know, touches me?

Finally I take the gas bill and slide it under the glass.  Then I lift glass and gas bill and put them both on top of a can of cat food.  Then I lift glass, gas bill and cat food and take them out the back door.  I disassemble the whole thing on the patio and back off, keeping a careful eye on the critter. It makes a few laps in the glass, then eventually notices somebody's opened the door.  It takes off down a crack in the wood and that's the last I see of it.

I will, of course, be asking Joan to go get the glass.  I'm not going back out there unescorted.  I'm pretty sure I've already paid the gas bill, but even if I haven't, it can sit there and rot for all of me.  And the can of cat food?  Already opened and fed to the feral cats that eat on my porch.

I'd like to think I'm not going to kill another living being just because I'm afraid of it, or annoyed by it, or otherwise disturbed, but I'm sure I'll at least swat a mosquito at some point.  (Is there a self-defense exception?)  And I'll probably still yell for Joan if a six-legger invades the house again.

Then again, maybe I won't.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Talk Thursday: So Here's Where I'm At.

I'm at Afrah.  No, I'm just kidding.  Well, I am at Afrah, but I'm almost always at Afrah when I'm writing these things.  Something about Mediterranean food is conducive to column-writing.  To say nothing of free wi-fi.  Currently snarfing down an akkawi pie with fried kibbe and wondering how life could get any better.  Well, I mean apart from everything I'm about to tell you, which is kind of sucky.  Into every life some suckiness must fall.  Some things are just more sucky than others.

To begin with, I crossed over onto page 101 this morning in my slow-but-steady work-in-progress.  This is a milestone, to be sure.  Your Average Novel turns out to be between 400 and 500 typed pages, so 100 pages is one-quarter of the way there.  Or one-fifth.  If I like actually took more time to work on it, I'm sure it'd be moving along faster.  Right now it's getting squeezed in between getting up in the morning and hitting the pool, which is not a lot of time.  But it is moving.  It still hasn't told me what in hell it wants to be about, which I'd really liked to have figured out by now, but maybe it'll get to that before page 200.

(I might also add, I got stuck for a few days.  My protagonist was attending a funeral and as he was sneaking out the back--since he wasn't supposed to be there in the first place--somebody put a hand on his shoulder and said, "Your Honor." [My protagonist is a judge.]  I was three days figuring out whose hand it was.  I think I pulled it off, but, you know, time went by.)

So there's that, and then there's query letters.  I've also passed 100 query letters for Mindbender, which, to quote Wayne from Wayne's World, "is both bogus and sad."  Now this was interesting: No. 100 was actually a lot harder than 101, 102, 103 and the happy-go-lucky ones that followed.  Something about the symbology of those double zeroes.  100 pages, 100 letters.  It's annoyingly close to looking for a job when you don't have one.

Okay, nobody said this was going to be easy.  And Stephen King wrote six thousand query letters while he and his wife lived in an unheated trailer in Edinburgh in the winter and he wrote the first six Harry Potter books on scraps of construction paper he got from his job at an industrial laundry or something like that. But still.  At some point you start asking yourself if you've written something that's basically unpublishable.  Should you give up and write something else?  Or would that be quitting?

I'm not gonna answer that, mainly because I have no idea.  It probably wouldn't hurt to be pushing two, maybe three projects at a time.  Let's hear it for tracking software, otherwise I don't know how I'd do it.  I'm not sure how I do it even with tracking software.  I can say, though, that since that drawing came into my house, Scaley and Fang are doing a great job of not bothering me.  I attribute part of that to my big cat, Caesar, also.  His job around the house is to keep dinosaurs out of the kitchen.  He's very good at it.  Even when he's napping on the job, you won't see a dinosaur for miles.

Luckily, I have a Team.  Well, more of a Committee.  That's the gang of folks that makes your life easier, whether they know it or not.  Head of the Committee is Joan, of course.  Rhett, my friend from the writer's workshop in New Orleans, is a close second; he sent me the nicest email when I started complaining about Query Letter 100, and then told me to shut up and get back to work.  Then there's Tammy and Tracy and perpetual dinners out, wherever they may be, and everybody at my office who makes the rest of my day halfway normal.  (I need halfway normal.  I am never, ever going to quit my day job to write full time.  It is just never going to happen.  I need the normalness of an office.  It's like heroin.  I also need health insurance.)  And then there's my writer's group.  That chummy bunch of like minded folks who--

--uh, haven't met in three months.  In fact, it may have been longer than that.  According to my BlackBerry calendar, it might have been as long ago as January.

Scheduling conflicts.  Big church holidays.  Work getting in the way.  You know how it is.

So here's what I did.

I cheated on my writer's group.

Yep.  I went and hung out with a bunch of other writers.  And amongst the group I met one guy that would be awesome to have in a writer's group.  I emailed him and told him I was interested.  He hasn't written me back yet.  Don't know if he will or not.  But really, that would be awesome.

Anyway, that's where I'm at.  Smacking up against 100, committing literary adultery with a bunch of total strangers, and not so incidentally about to turn 43 in a couple weeks.  Oh, and at Afrah.  And since this was not an Official Talk Thursday Topic, I'll probably be cranking out another column here in the next couple of days.  Maybe I'll tell you all about the new roof, water heater, plastering work and paint in our library.  I hope so, anyway.  Because I've been waiting a long bloody time for items two through four, and really, I'm ready to have them installed any day now.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Talk Thursday: Jealousy

This is Lyn's topic, and I'll get in big trouble with the grammarians of the world if I don't immediately point out that when most of us say "jealousy", what we really mean is "envy."  "Envy" means wanting something that someone else has, and being righteously p.o.ed when you don't get it.  Jealousy, on the other hand, means resenting someone else's success or advantages.  So unless Bob symbolizes success or advantage, you're not jealous of Susan for dating Bob. You're merely envious; you want to own Bob.  (I don't know if anyone's checked with Bob as to how he feels about this.  Bob?  Are you there, Bob?)  Still, the words get used interchangably enough to where if you say you're jealous of Mitt Romney because he's so open-minded, most of us will get that you're really envious (and slightly out of touch).  Most of us will probably also want to follow you around on Election Day, to see if you actually vote for the clown or get lost in a supermarket somewhere and end up spending the night in the produce section, engaging in constructive dialogue with a bunch of zucchini.

That said, however: My first experience with the-kind-of-jealousy-that-is-really-envy came about when I was a little tyke, and it worked like this:  If you had chocolate, I was jealous of you.  If you had more chocolate than I did, I was jealous of you.  That was pretty much it.  If you didn't want me to be jealous, you would hand over all of your chocolate immediately.  That rarely happened, however, and even when it did, the chocolate didn't survive long enough to make peace in our time, or even Mountain Standard Time.  Still, everyone has a price and it's good to know mine was, at least once, nice and low.

Fast-forwarding to adulthood, I was once in a band.  Actually I was once in several bands, but this particular band was in Arizona and the primary instrument was bagpipes.  One of the other bagpipers always made me feel a little funny when he was around.  He was an engineer--engineers always make me feel funny; it's probably the tinfoil hats--and he had a nice house outside of Gilbert, a pretty wife and two twin daughters that were, I think, about eight years old.  I think it was the daughters that got me.  If I were ever to have children, which I'm not because I haven't the slightest idea what I'd do with them and I have a sneaking suspicion it's too late now, twin girls would have been the way to go.  Get it it all done in one pregnancy, zip, zop, you're history.   Anyway, one day I finally figured out that I envied him his life.  Which was strange, because I actually didn't want it--I'd be a crummy engineer, and what would I do with a wife and twin daughters?--but I envied him for having it, if that makes any sense.

Well, you know this story's gonna have an O. Henry ending, and it does; the engineer and his wife split up, it turned out their home life was a disaster, they fought all the time, they spent their money as fast as they made it, the house had to be sold, they fought over custody of the girls for years and, well, it didn't end happily.  But from the outside it all looked so nice and, you know, Norman Rockwell.  You just don't know as much about people as you think you do.

People have asked me have I been jealous of other writers.  Answer:  Yes, on very rare occasions. Usually I'm only jealous of something somebody else is doing until I start doing it, too, and then I'm fine.  In the case of writing, that's just writing, not publishing.  Would I like to be the next Stephen King?  Sure, but I'm busy writing over here.  Yeah, he got the multi-bazillion dollar book contract and the high-powered agent and all that good stuff, but he got all that for two reasons.  One, he really is that good.  Two, he was really, really lucky.  I only have control over one of those factors.  Anyway, I'm busy writing over here.

But, again, there are exceptions.  Let's talk Hunger Games. Not only was that the first book in years that made me cry, it's the first book in years that I've put down and wished I'd written it.  I don't think that's happened since Very Far Away From Anywhere Else, and that was in high school, just to give you an idea of the time span.  Oh, sure, there's books I think I could have written better (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, for one; I'd have knocked out the first fifty or so pages, lost that chunk in the middle about the multibajillionaire, moved the stuff about Lisbeth's first guardian closer to the beginning--Jen rewrites Larssen) but that's different.  That's playing armchair editor, which is kind of like playing Monday-morning quarterback.

Hmm, maybe I missed my calling in life.  Maybe when I was a kid staring out the window at the distant stars, I should have said, "And when I grow up, I'll be an editor at Harper & Row" instead of "And when I grow up, I'll be a paralegal at Jackal and Jackal."

Actually, I said, "And when I grow up, I'll be a high-powered political assassin," but I don't think the stars ever took me seriously.  Which is too bad.  The health benefits aren't as good, but the pay scale rocks. Or so I hear.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Talk Thursday: Worst. Date. Ever.

Yep, it's my topic.  Sometimes I think of a few words, type 'em up in an email and hit "send" before I think about it too much.  Other times I've actually got a good story that goes with those words.  And it happens that this time I do, although it's purely a coincidence.

To begin with, this whole concept of “dating” kinda baffles me.  I’m not sure I’ve even ever done it.  Dated, that is.  I’ve gone out on dates, but for the most part I didn’t have to date because I had beautiful women practically falling into my lap every time I turned around.  (Well, Joan moved in next door.  Same difference.)  Besides, at least in high school where we were all supposed to learn how to do this “dating” thing, I was practicing an instrument a couple of hours a day, running back and forth to rehearsals, squeezing in schoolwork here and there (I managed to maintain something like a B+ average; don’t ask me how, it certainly wasn’t for hard work) and, oh yeah, trying not to be the biggest nerd in the universe and having something of a social life, however pathetic.  (Guess which instrument I played.  Hint:)

By junior year I had a boyfriend (yes, I did say boyfriend; I also had a girlfriend but I don’t think anybody knew about that).  That he was older and didn’t go to our school made him nice and dark and mysterious, which he wasn’t, and great for keeping other boys away.   He wasn’t a bad guy, really.  Just, you know, kind of basically hopeless on several levels.  We didn’t “date,” either.  We just kind of hung out.

I went to college in the same town where I went to high school; in fact my high school and my college were less than five miles apart.  (I had this Big Plan to go out of state to college, had picked one out, had done everything but register, and then this college five miles away threw me a four year scholarship.  What was I supposed to do, throw it back?  And why a scholarship, you ask?  See above.)   More running back and forth to rehearsals, practice rooms, auditoriums and football fields.  Only it was more serious there.  My boyfriend (same one) complained that he never got to see me, which was basically true; even when he started school there he never got to see me.  We fought a lot, broke up, “dated” other people (well, maybe he did; I never had time) and then got back together.  Then one time I actually did “date” someone else, and he turned into this crazed dragon, yelled a lot, did insane things like quit his job in a fit of pique, and gradually flushed his entire life down a giant toilet.  I decided I didn’t want to hang around to see how this turned out.  Meantime, I discovered girls (maybe “re-discovered” is more accurate), graduated, moved to San Diego with the then-love of my life and got dumped for a bimbo receptionist after about three years.

And then, folks, we have what’s known as the Twilight Zone of the Blind Date.

Some well-meaning friends apparently decided that it was not good for Jen to be alone, and so they decided to fix me up with as many people as possible as quickly as possible, in hopes that I’d click with somebody and stop doing weird things like, I dunno, leave the milk out on the counter all day and drop my cell phone unnoticed on the stairs outside my apartment.  (Really, it’s not good for Jen to be alone.  I could accidentally kill myself with food poisoning or walk right into a moving bus without half noticing.)  And so there were a number of rather forgettable evenings with a number of nice young ladies whom, I’m sure, were just fine, except that I needed another relationship right then like I needed a hole in the head, and this was probably pretty obvious to just about everybody except the well-meaning friends.

Anyway.  The Worst. Date. Ever.  A woman I knew from work, who had several grown and nearly-grown daughters, had one of them coming back from college with a friend of hers whom, she was told, was smart and not-unattractive.  So arrangements were made for me to go with this young lady to a local country and western bar (leave it to San Diego to have a gay friendly country and western bar; I can’t even find one of those in Dallas—not that I go to bars a lot, or even at all.)  We were meeting this woman from work, her wife, a couple of the other daughters, their friends and a couple of hangers-on, so it was a pretty good-size crowd.  Good, I could hide in the middle of it.  Only I couldn’t, because the wife wouldn’t let me.

I’m not kidding; no sooner had we walked in the door than the wife, who was probably in her mid-fifties, began hectoring me to dance with everybody in the place.  (Hey, I two-step a little, but Fred Astaire I am not, and certainly not backwards in high heels.)  First with the girl I was ostensibly on a date with, but when she said she wasn’t really comfortable dancing, Wife began throwing me at everyone else in the place.  The couple next to us (two ladies in their mid-thirties who were obviously enchanted with each other), the couple next to them (two ladies in their mid-sixties who were not speaking), the woman leaning against the wall a few feet away (she turned out to be a guy; it’s so embarrassing when that happens) and so on and so forth.  A couple of times I made a valiant attempt to say, “Hey, we’re talking and enjoying the music, how about we just do that for a while?”  but I got steamrollered by Wife’s plowing past me (and dragging me along) to introduce me to the couple that had just walked in the door.

I’m not sure I ever got to talk to my actual date.  Truth to be told, I don’t even remember her name.  What I do remember was this becoming a spectacle, people staring, me wanting to disappear beneath the floorboards, my friend from work hiding behind a beer and covering her face with her hands, my date looking confused but not really angry, and other members of our party kind of drifting around wondering what in the hell was going on.  Suddenly, in a fit of inspiration, I excused myself to the ladies’ room and went past it, out the side door and into the night.

I walked home.  It was probably two or three miles and I didn’t go the fastest way.  I got off the main street as soon as I could, thinking that Wife might come after me in her Suburban and throw me at potential dance partners (primarily homeless people, at that hour) all over the street.  As crazy as the whole situation had become, though, I don’t remember being angry.  Just very, very puzzled.  No idea what I could have done to set Wife off.  Surely my date hadn’t done anything.  She just didn’t want to dance, that was all.  And neither did I, by this point.  In fact, I was reasonably sure I would never dance in public again.  (Figure this out, I don’t think I have—except maybe at my sister’s wedding.)

So that was it.  The Worst Date Ever.  I never saw my date again, which was kind of sad, because she seemed nice.  I never really figured out what was going on.  My co-worker tried to apologize about the whole thing, but what I really wanted was an explanation and I never got one.  Fortunately, about a month later Joan moved in next door to me and I didn’t have to worry about dating ever again.  Yep—she fell right into my lap.  The way they always do.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mini-Post: Handsome Dude Seeks Lifetime Commitment

Hi! I'm a stray cat, male and neutered, living in the alley behind Jen the Food Lady's back yard.  I'm a light orange guy, rangy and muscle-y and nowhere near as skinny as I was a few months ago.  Jen isn't sure where I came from, but she thinks I might have been abandoned on Garland Road, where unwanted animals are frequently dumped, and found my way to her yard by following my nose.  Anyway, it's obvious I once lived with people, because I was skittish at first, but pretty soon I warmed up to being petted and even held.  I can purr a little, too! 

The back yard and the alley are okay, I guess, but I'd really like to be in a home again, with nice people who aren't going to throw me out.  I'm a little shy around new people at first.  I defer to other cats, so I don't have to be the alpha male.  I wouldn't mind being a solo cat, either. I don't know how I'd do around kids, having never been seen with any, but I seem to be kind of high-strung, so maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea.  

If you'd like to take me on, comment here with an email address and/or phone number.  Please disseminate far and wide and especially all over Dallas.  THANKS!!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Talk Thursday: Sobriety

Back in October of I think 2006, Joan and I went to see comedian Jeff Dunham at some tony club in Addison where I would normally never set foot, not being the kind of person who goes to tony clubs in Addison (or any elsewhere, for that matter).  This was one of those places where, not content to mug you for your ticket money, they also expect you to buy two overpriced watered-down drinks in the course of the evening.  Seriously, even the beers were like $5 a pop, a price not to be outdone until the new Cowboys Stadium opened in Arlington (I'm told $6.50.  Are they exaggerating?  I don't know.  I don't do football.)

Anyway, the show was pretty good and I'd mostly stopped grousing about having to buy drinks and somehow I got away with buying only one.  It was a little blue frou-frou thing with an umbrella sticking out of it, and it was ungodly sweet and very thick.  I don't remember what they called it, which is kind of a shame, because I think the last time you do anything ought to be memorable.  But I didn't know it was the last time, of course.

I drank the silly thing very slowly, over the course of the whole show, and by the time we left I was pretty much sober.  I drove home, no ill effects.  Then, the next morning, all hell broke loose in my digestive system.  At first I thought it was something I ate, but I figured out pretty quick it was something I drank.  I figured it out because this was a link my brain had been trying to make ever since I turned 21.  For no apparent reason, I'd suddenly come down with what seemed to be the stomach flu and be miserable for days.  Then I'd suddenly be fine again.  The docs hadn't been able to figure it out, generally because by the time I got in to see one, I was over it.  (Nothing more annoying than a healthy person in a doctor's office.)  I wasn't too worried, since it went away by itself.  But it was puzzling.  What caused it?  Lasagna? Chinese food? Excessive political debates?  Why did it appear and disappear with such frequency?  Questions, questions.  Then came the morning after Jeff Dunham and suddenly there was an answer.  She drinks alcohol, her stomach rebels.  That's it.  It's that simple.

I've since gathered that alcohol kills the friendly bacteria that live in my stomach and points south, making it difficult to digest food and leading to certain unpleasant results.  Luckily for me, this problem has an easy solution: Quit drinking.  So I did.

 Thus began my six-year odyssey into The Land Beyond Alcohol.  Interesting times were had.  For one thing, I had random cravings for beer at odd times of the day and night for about the first six weeks.  I figured this had to be psychological, kind of the Ghosts of Alcohols Past.  I mean, I didn't drink very heavily, and I wasn't a beer-after-work-to-relax kinda gal at any point.  I did, however, have an unpleasant habit of wanting to keep drinking until the alcohol was gone.  (And to be fair, the same applies to espresso, chocolate, champagne, ice cream...) Portion control?  Never had it.  And I didn't act like an idiot when I was drunk--particularly--but I did do things I wouldn't do normally, like sitting through a video of a friend having her labia pierced.  There are things one does not really need to know about one's friends.

Time went by and the ghosts quit bothering me.  I ended up in OA and ran this story past a guy I met there who was also in AA.  He said it sounded like I didn't have a problem--yet--but was well on my way to developing one.  "It sounds like you quit just in time," he said.

Maybe.  Unfortunately, Demon Sugar took over from Demon Drink, and we were off to the races.  I've been trying for the last year to get off sugar, and knocking off the alcohol was a piece of cake, if you'll pardon the expression, in comparison.  In fact I've come to regard sugar as cocaine, particularly in the form of cake frosting.  (Remember, the cake is a lie.)  Doughnuts and breakfast pastries?  Gateway drugs.  If I could freebase sugar, I'd do it, but I've tried and it just kind of turns to sludge.  It's also kinda painful when you snort it up your nose.

I did, however, have one miracle period when I went 60 days without sugar.  If I did it once, I can do it again.  Today, incidentally, is Day 4.   Not that I'm counting.  Oh, of course I'm counting.  One thing people with substance abuse issues often do is get obsessed with numbers.  And that plus quarter to seven minus eight or nine bucks to Afrah for this nice dinner plus four slices of pita bread equals the end of this column.