Month: January 2008

What are you really buying, anyway?

paper lantern

It’s been an interesting week so far, and it’s only Monday.

First of all, something seems to have been dislodged in my brain, that thing that keeps me from processing stuff I don’t feel like, like paperwork and phone calls (wah wah wah, First World white girl) and from finishing things I’ve started, like work. Not that I’ve gotten everything tidied up and on its way: today saw the dispensing of my DMV registration, some queries about my post-COBRA world (universal health care cannot come soon enough) and a number of other annoying/scary if smallish items, but several others are getting rolled over (again) to tomorrow, my favorite day. (Just like my favorite week, month and year are “Next.”)

I made a dent in it though, especially by my standards. And I felt so gosh-darn good about it, I decided I would spread a little of that sunshine and head over to My Country House (a.k.a. The BF’s) to visit the dog (a.k.a. Arno J. McScruff) as his master (a.k.a. The BF) is living in the Land of the Stupid Day Job for the next several weeks and poor Arnie, well, he has dogly needs.

Now, this sort of thing does not occur to me usually, and when it does, to actually do it feels burdensome. Yes, I’ll go see you in the hospital or water your plants or take in your mail, but only if I’m allowed to feel grumpy and put-upon, at least to start with. Do not let the cheery photo fool you, my Internet friends! I am a crab and a bee-yotch of the highest order, and I’ve got plenty of real-life backup on that.

But today, I’m driving the five miles from my place to Arnie’s and practically whistling. At 3:30, no less, pretty much guaranteed that I’ll hit traffic going at least one way. In fact, I think I probably was in traffic; it just didn’t bother me, so it didn’t feel like traffic. And as I’m cruising through this traffic-that-is-not, I pass a place I’ve passed 1,000 times before. No, really: this is the route I take between my place and The BF’s; I could probably drive it blindfolded. Once, anyway.

It’s a shitty little storefront restaurant, nominally Chinese, but selling all manner of crap from gyros to boba tea like every other shitty little storefront restaurant I’ve seen like it. Might not, probably isn’t even run by Chinese people. Could be Koreans, could be Salvadorans, could be Armenians: it’s that kind of neighborhood.

But whoever owned it had hung one of those bright paper lanterns with the fringe on it that you see in Chinatown stores. It was kitschy and alive and pretty, and one thought flitted through my head:

I want.

Now let me assure you that while my taste in furnishings is somewhat eclectic, it’s not so boho-funky that a Chinese paper lantern would fit right in. In fact, it would look dreadful. I know this because I’m a designer, and I make my living knowing what will look right and what will look like ass. This would be the latter, trust me. There’s not one place in my place it would look right, including outside my front door, bapping about in the breeze just like it was in front of the not-Chinese restaurant.

Instead of feeling disappointed, though, I had this amazing flash of insight into why, for most of my life, I’ve been a hopeless accumulator of crap: I want that feeling.

That feeling that a particular shirt or dish or gadget gives me. The promise that’s inside that book, I want to retain that rush of inspiration I felt when I pulled it from the shelf. Or to be the person who has absorbed and processed its contents. Or to have a piece of that author (or artist, or musician) in my hands.

Or I want to be the person who can cook a perfect omelet with that pan. Who has pictures filling frames hanging on walls that burst with life, a host of beautiful craft projects made from these bolts of fabric, a lady who has the carefree life requiring, as my old art director, Sherry Scharschmidt used to call them, “Running-on-the-Beach Dresses.”

Maybe that’s why Peter Walsh and his ilk are making so much money these days: because we all have needs we’re shortchanging ourselves on; we’re all spending money instead of time, which becomes starting instead of finishing, which becomes a heap of never-worn, never-used crap we eventually haul off to Goodwill. And, since I’ve trained myself to understand that I never will have the time, that I will rush and rush, on and on, never stopping to take a breath and do the thing or even feel the feeling, I buy the souvenir instead.

It’s scarcity thinking in the middle of unprecedented abundance. And it’s a bitch of a habit to break.

I stopped myself today, though, in the middle of a thought of buying such a lantern. Because for ONCE, I realized I wanted the feeling of serendipitously stumbling upon a beautiful thing like that, blapping around in the clean, post-rain breeze. And I can’t own that any more than I can bottle happiness and save it for later. The wet jewels you find along the shore on holiday are just dull bits of rock when you get them home; a fleeting whatever is beautiful, in part, because it’s fleeting.

I’m not quite ready to do a spend-out yet, although I’m starting to see how it might help people like me who are used to going too fast and treating themselves too roughly. For now, though, I think I’ll try something else: going slower and treating myself more kindly.

Better. Cheaper.

And takes up a lot less room in a tiny apartment…


Image by Geopelia via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

The black hole between okay and fantastic


I quit smoking about 20 years ago.

(Go ahead, applaud. I’ll wait.)

Thing is, while my 2-pack-a-day habit wasn’t doing me any favors, neither was it impeding my life in any major way. You X- and Y-ers might not know this, but back in ’87, you could still smoke most places, like…indoors. In your hospital room!

Plus lots of other people smoked, too, so you had your pick of people to date and hang out with and drink with who were also smokers. And, save the bronchitis I’d had a couple of bouts of in years past, smoking hadn’t really affected my health yet. I looked fine, was in reasonably good shape, and since a pack still cost under twenty bucks, smoking barely made a dent in my hefty, ad-hole salary.

Still, I’d come of age after the surgeon general’s thumbs-down, so I knew I’d have to quit at some point. I was switching jobs and figured it was as good a time as any: start at the new place with new habits. So I quit right before I started.

And then I farted for a month.

No, that’s imprecise, I sat in a methane miasma of my own making for a month. Or longer. In a cubicle, that’s a “room” with no ceiling, people, surrounded by brand-new co-workers who had no idea I did not always smell like a dead rat the horse shat out. I sat, head pounding from withdrawal, chasing my farts with matches as I wrote jingles and taglines and blurbs, grinding my teeth, chain-sucking Halls Menth-O-Lyptus tablets.

And that was while I was at work.

Every minute of every day for the first three weeks was a living hell. I had a mantra, one that worked so well, I wound up using it again several times during bad breakups:

If I can make it a minute, I can make it an hour
If I can make in an hour, I can make it a day
If I can make it a day, I can make it a week
If I can make it a week, I can make it a month
If I can make it month, I can make it forever

The basic point is, my life went from being…well, if not perfect, then pretty good, to a whole lot better. In between, however, was another story. In between, there was the Big Nasty. A great big stinky sodden mess of upheaval that there was no way past but straight through. And I get why we give up there: really, I do.

I reorganized my apartment around the end of last year. And because I am on the non-robust side, any serious reorganizing requires me to empty all critical bits of furniture of all their contents. And because my apartment is also on the robust side, this means that for a time, everything ends up in a gigundous heap in the middle of the apartment. Only it’s not the middle: it’s the whole freaking place, one big shitheap of all my crappy, earthly possessions, lying inert in a mass like we just had a 7.2 on the Richter scale.

Also, I timed this really, really perfectly back in December, which is to say, right when it gets dark. So it’s dark, and it’s cold, and it’s the end of the year, and I’m lying in the middle of a shitheap. And this grand vision I had for the total reorganization and streamlining of my life is not only not working out, but the mess and the darkness have conspired to show me that I am, in fact, an idjit, that my furniture will only fit into ONE configuration, that change IS impossible and I am both an ass AND a boob for daring to think otherwise.

So I sat in the midst of the rubble and I cried a little. And then I started hauling around furniture anyway. And wouldn’t you know that by gum, those old sticks would go together differently and I did get everything put away and when I was done, it was not only not just okay, it was fantastic. Fantastic!!!

Why bring this up now? Because I’m in a hole. It is maybe not so black and deep as Fartville or The Night My Furniture Almost Ate Me. But it is dark and it is vast. It is the great, not-so-great unknown I must cross to get from “okay” to “fantastic.” Okay was okay, too, really it was. I’ve had a good life. But life can be fantastic, and I don’t mean from a swimmin’-pools, movie-stars perspective. I mean the full living of your actual life: being there, doing that thing you do 100%, whether or not it earns you a thin dime. Fulfilling your purpose. You can do a lot of it from the land of okay, but eventually, you gotta go. And that is a scary gulf.

So if you cross…when you cross…stay aware. Reach out for a Halls or a hand or a good, sturdy, safety match, as appropriate. Know it won’t be the miasma forever. Know that even if you can’t see them, there are millions of people crossing their own impassible swamps.

Know that it’s okay to cling to the shore for awhile, but also know that once you strike out, there’s no going back.

You’ll be okay. You’ll be more than okay. You’ll be different.

You’ll be fantastic.



UPDATE: There’s a pingback below, but for those of you who don’t click on comments (and hence, might miss it), Amateur Manifesto has a wonderful post up about her own, current experience with the Black Hole. Strongly recommended.

Image by cheekybikerboy via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

And life begins when you start giving

yin yang

I had an interesting chat today with my colorist (and good friend), Marc. Really, I have interesting conversations with most folks these days, since I discovered that the art of conversating (as the kids say) lies in the asking of questions and the hearing of answers rather than the spouting off of commentary. (Fancy that!)

Today’s conversation was interesting because it revolved around kabbalah, about which I know little save it’s an esoteric offshoot of Judaism that has something to do with red string and expensive bottled water (thank you, Madonna.) But Marc studied it (if that’s the term) for many years, and he was able to shed a surprising amount of light on what I confess has always been (to me) a dense, deep and impenetrably mysterious practice. After all, it is very old and complex and we only had about an hour, as I’m a single-process kinda gal.

The topline of kabbalah, however, is really easy to get, and lovely, to boot: the more we learn to give, the more will come back to us. It’s about “giving” as world view, which of course carries all kinds of other nice things along with it, like cultivating trust and fellowship, learning to communicate by finding common ground, and practicing abundance rather than scarcity thinking.

It got me to thinking about where to start. Because really, that’s what I would’ve loved to have known 20-odd years ago, when I was flailing around in a sea of my own misery: where the hell do I start? Just tell me where to point my damned guns, already! And, while I now think that “observing” is probably the absolute best place to start, the very critical first step of many, and a mode to stay close to always, I think giving is a really good practice to have in your head even while you’re in observation mode.

Part of what makes me think this is my many years of experience as a corporate tool. There was very little uncalculated giving in that world, and precious little happiness, too. Coincidence? Perhaps. Held up against the world of strings-free giving I’ve been blessed to live in these past five years, though, I think the causality is obvious: the nature of life is change, and we’re happiest when we let ourselves go with the flow of that. It takes awesome fearlessness or, as in my case, having nothing left to lose. When you weigh 90 lbs (45 of which is your enormous head), and your intestines are in tatters and you’re so weak that you can’t walk to the end of the bed without support, you learn to accept help, to accept giving, with the very clear understanding that you certainly cannot pay in kind now, and may well never be able to pay it back later. Get down with that, and you’ve got one big, honkin’ secret of life under your belt.

I’m not advocating sap-hood. I can only give to the extent I’m able and willing. Ironically, before I understood this, I used to give too much, receive too little. Now I finally understand you’ve got to let go to receive as much as you do to give.

To take this down to a practical level, Marc charges what I think is an incredibly reasonable price for his services, and I pay him. He gives me what I see as a deal, and I accept it. Occasionally, I get a bug up my ass and give him a bunch extra, just because. And he accepts that. I suspect that if I showed up one month and had no money, he’d give me coverage for free. He’s that kind of guy, is Marc. And I’d do my best to receive it, graciously.

If you’re not so good with the money yet, and I get it, I do, I have issues myself, start small. With compliments. Give one. Maybe give five. And be on the lookout for ones you get, and see how you are about receiving them. I used to answer every compliment about clothing with a rundown on how much I paid for it at the Goodwill. Still do, but at least I (usually) say “thank you” first.

Remember this year’s motto: “help is everywhere.” And the corollary, which I may not have shared yet, “…so ask for it, dumbass.”

It is. You should. We are.


Image by Mrs. Maze via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Balance is also a #@$!)* journey

everybody frieze!

I was tired most of today, am still, in fact.

Am (stupidly, short-sightedly) drinking coffee in a (stupid, short-sighted) attempt to work through it, as I’d feel like too much of a schmo bailing on any of the commitments I have in the next 24 hours.

Why is this feeling so familiar, I wondered briefly as Trader Joe’s Bay Blend and the moka pot prepared to bail my ass out once again? Because it’s My Thing, for one, my overachieving, approval-needing, lack-of-entitlement-ing thing. But also because the nature of balance is…imbalance.

Okay, bear with me here. You have a scale, one of those jobbies like Miz Justice is holding, above. You put something on one side and then, to balance it out, you put something of equal weight on the other side.

But for however long it takes you to put that other thing on, even if it’s a split-second, things are, all together now, out of balance! Out of whack! Off-kilter! Completely fakakta!

With planning and practice, of course, the lag time between farkakte and perfect balance gets shorter. You learn to keep the pile of feathers right next to the pile of cotton or drywall screws or JELL-O. You learn, in fact, that if you are balancing drywall screws and feathers, you will need far more feathers in ready supply than you will should you be balancing cotton and feathers. But the first time you try to balance feathers and JELL-O? Dude, you are looking at a serious mess. So, you know, try to roll with it. (And have the equivalent of paper towels at the ready, if possible.)

Even when your repertoire of items to balance becomes both vast and deep, though, you can’t keep the scales balanced perfectly all the time. Why?

Because of air.

Yes, stupid air is messing with your scales. A good, honkin’ breeze or a sudden draft when someone comes in the door and you have a window open will mess you up. Heck, even just floaty, floaty air will throw your scales off balance: it may be imperceptible, but it’s happening. Unless you’re in a vacuum. And you know how Nature feels about that.

This week, I had a surprise overabundance of good times dropped in my lap. I don’t know about you, but I have already passed up enough good times for three lifetimes, and I’m over that crap. So I went a little crazy, hanging with my peeps, talking my cords dry, generally raising a ruckus.

And, rather than let down anyone who was depending on me, I did the work, too. Smart? Maybe not. Balanced? In the short run, definitely not. I’m here, fingers crossed (well, when they’re not wrapped around my coffee mug), hoping that the stretch I get to include on this particular balance sheet extends through Monday. I have payment in full for the piper: Friday post-COB to Tuesday morning, I’ve stripped down to the bone. Excepting a hair coloring appt. (hardly rough duty), I could spend the whole three dancing nude around my living room and not dismay anyone except Eileen, my across-the-way neighbor. (She’s a proper lady, is Eileen.)

Here’s to me…and you…and (thank you, Miranda July) everyone we know not beating themselves up over imbalance, optical illusion that she is. The reality of imbalance is more like us: constantly changing, messy, equal parts wabi and sabi.

And compelling. Because hey, when you look at that frieze above, what’s more interesting: the stone lady and her sword, or that endlessly shifting scale?

Yeah. Thought so…


Image by Monacle via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

How you use things vs. how things “should” be

linen dresses

Time. Living rooms. Wardrobes. Relationships.

Somehow, over the years, you start building notions about the way things are supposed to be. It stands to reason, I guess: we learn to talk by mimicking; ditto writing, cooking, sex and a host of other things I’m probably not thinking of.

A lot of this is fantastic, as it saves crazy amounts of time. If we each learned our own language and then had to teach other people how to use the subjunctive, it would be really hard to get the lawn mowed and dinner on the table. Even in artistic endeavors like writing and acting and, well, art, there’s a steep learning curve that’s eased somewhat by treading the path that’s already there for a bit, until you can find your own way.

That’s the thing, though: in artistic endeavors, it’s assumed that you will mimic the greats, your idols, and then, through trial and error, practice and more practice, your own “voice” will emerge, a fusing together of all you have learned and all that you are, magical alchemy of sorts.

What’s more, unless you are a hack, it’s assumed that your work will change and grow as you do, not stay as it is in perpetuity.

So why, I wonder, does it not work this way with other stuff? Why do we suppose (with few exceptions) that the way we have learned relationships or vacations or work habits or what-have-you is the way? Why, even when we bust out loose from our past, do we find the words of our parents coming out of our own mouths; why do we find ourselves in the same relationships over and over, with people who seem so different on the outside and yet who are so much like the previous beloved, we call them by the wrong name?

Why, even in a life examined and shrunk and mulled over and shrunk again, do we end up doing the same dumbass thing over and over again?

The answer, of course, is obvious: change is hard; imprinting is strong. So I insist on keeping a couch in my apartment for years, even though I’m not really a couch person. Even though I have always felt safer and happier reading in my bed. Even though I really wanted a big table where I could spread stuff out and gather people ’round.

I insist on staying married, even though the arrangement feels stifling and wrong. Even though I cannot recall one good model of marriage from my childhood, nor one ringing endorsement of it from any of the people who’d signed on to one.

I insist on wearing my hair a certain way or my pants a certain cut because…because that’s how I learned to do it. What a revelation low-rise jeans were for a short-legged, waistless wonder like myself.

I insist on taking weekends off, or taking my vacation in two week chunks, because that’s how it’s done; I stop doing it because that’s how it’s done when you’re working for yourself.

I’m calling bullshit.

Because my apartment really is better without the couch…for now. My relationships, for now, are better without the hammerlock of marriage. My hair feels better up, off my neck, my pants fit better without fabric around the waist and my leisure time feels better scheduled in where I need it. For now.

I’m (slowly) learning to let go of what doesn’t suit and look into what does. It’s an interesting journey, full of more delightful surprises than I’d have guessed going into it. I don’t like TV; I do like watching movies on the computer (for now.) I don’t like board games or sports or brunch; I love talking and talking and talking. (Followed by long stretches of not-talking.)

I like work when the scope is clear and the parameters locked down but there’s tons of room for exploration inside. I like working weekends and taking days off during the week (for now), probably because of the delicious feeling of getting away with something.

I like treats, and I’m starting to treat myself to more of them. Slowly. Within a carefully arranged structure. (I like surprises within a carefully arranged structure, too, but that’s a little harder to arrange!)

Mostly, I like the idea that what I like can change, that someday, I may have no table and two couches, or a closet full of party dresses, because for whatever reason unfathomable from today, it makes perfect sense.

For now, it’s a Tuesday off.

Or as I like to call it, Me. Getting Away with Something…


Image by -syko- via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Also, the woman who made the dresses makes cute scarves & stuff, too. Love that robot jersey scarf! From Finland.

Sometimes searching is the work


I gave myself a rather extraordinary gift this year: no new clients for the first three months, to be reviewed and possibly renewed come April 1st.

This is extraordinary (meaning absolutely not the usual thing) for a few reasons:

  1. I am obsessed with the idea of achievement
  2. I have resident fear of living out my days eating cat food out of my shopping cart/home
  3. I was raised by a workaholic who died rich (see Reason #1) and an alcoholic who died poor (see Reason #2)

Excepting the five months I was out of commission because of the Crohn’s onset, some brief cipherin’ sez I have not taken more than two weeks of complete non-work since I was 17. That’s 30 years ago, for those of you just joining us. And unless I’m missing something, I can count those two-week hiatuses on two hands with fingers left over.

30 years.

No wonder I got sick. No wonder I fell apart at 41. No wonder my relationships were fraught with difficulty; can you imagine the kind of person who’d tolerate that in a mate?

Of course, there’s an advantage to being obsessed with achievement, the kind backed up with action, anyway: you, um, tend to achieve stuff. Unfortunately, without time off for digesting, for rest, for replenishing, for the all the things that give one a little higher-up perspective, it’s easy to lose one’s way (and by “one”, I mean me). You know, this is not my beautiful house; this is not my beautiful wife. Or simply, “Rosebud.”

One gift among many given me by my ex-husband, The Chief Atheist of the West Coast, was the philosophy “Life is a series of techniques.” It amused me and then annoyed me and finally, amuses me because it is true. However, while pithy as hell (he’s a witty dude, the Chief Atheist) I have grown to believe that for clarity and usefulness, the line should be slightly amended to read thusly:

The living of life is a series of techniques

Or even more pedantically:

The successful living of life demands the acquisition of a series of techniques

Yeah, yeah, I sucked all the poetry out of it. But not everyone will have the benefit of hearing the line delivered personally by the Chief Atheist, and too many of those pithy lines get mucked up in the Big Game of Telephone. How many lives have been irretrievably fucked up by the perversion of the line, “The love of money is the root of all evil”? A lot. (Of course, those who have been attacked in their sleep by hordes of shiv-wielding Euros will probably disagree with me.)

Two of my big problems are “Eyes Bigger Than Stomach” Syndrome and its kissing cousin, “Shiny Object Syndrome” (which I believe was coined by a way-brilliant art director partner, Sherry Scharschmidt, back when you could actually make a living writing TV commercials.) Knowing my weaknesses, I’ve come up with some workarounds to help: a marketing coach who’s kind of a hard-ass; a social media guru who’s very gentle but insistent; a projects list to shame me into saying “no” or at least “maybe” when yet another irresistible opportunity pops up in my RSS feed of life. Oh, yeah, and a shrink. Sorry…make that two shrinks.

What do all these governors have in common? They give me ground-level guidance, sure, but they also provide a higher-up perspective. They are not mired in the me of me, and so can give me some reasonably objective input regarding where I’m on track and where I’m going off the rails.

This is great. Nay, this is fantastic: asking for help is a miraculous thing. Now the time has come to start giving myself some of that perspective. To stop working so that I can examine at where my Work is taking me.

I’m building in some granular hacks: one hour of enforced reading per day. A minimum of one meal or coffee with a friend per week. Five walks per week, to be sliced up however (a dog is your best partner in this exercise, pun intended.) This all falls under the rubric of this post’s sister essay, “Sometimes Joy Is the Work,” which, if you check the date on that link, is something I’ve been working on a long, long time.

But there’s also the big, scary, new experiment I mentioned up front: no new clients for 90 days. And “no” to some projects from current clients. I think this will help give me the time and space I need to understand my own big picture, or at least, the next five years of it.

This is my work, too: making sure I’m doing the right work. And that means a lot of not doing work-work: money-work, easily-explained-to-the-outside-world work.

For the record, if you run into me at a coffee shop or a meetup or SXSW this year, I may still say, “Oh, I’m a graphic designer.” It is scary to divulge too much at once, and tiring, for introverts.

But you will know what’s really going on under the hood.

Keep a good thought for me…


SCD recipe: Smoked salmon and goat cheese bites

salmon bites

Note: if you’re a “Crohnie” or UC patient or parent of an autistic kid who came for the recipe, feel free to skip ahead to the recipe. (Although I’m guessing most kids won’t be too into lox.)

Likewise, if you’re a self-involved tool equally disinterested in understanding the suffering of others and broadening your body of knowledge, feel free to skip ahead. Although be warned: just because you don’t have IBD now doesn’t mean you or someone you love won’t someday, especially if you keep on eating your crapass, Corporo-Fascist-approved Standard American Die-Yet? Incidence of IBD on the rise in Westernized countries.

No, really, go ahead: blow off the back story. We’ll be here via the Google when your insides have turned into raw hamburger. Hopefully, it won’t be too late! Toodles!


For the rest of you…


Readers come here from all kinds of search strings, but one that comes up a lot is “Specific Carbohydrate Diet” + (“you name it”).

Most likely this is because the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is notoriously difficult to follow. The list of legals and illegals only makes sense up to a point: Why navy beans and not kidney beans? Why provolone and not mozzarella? Why honey and not maple syrup?

I noticed. And while we’re at it, what the hell’s up with you hippies and your homemade yogurt?

Bottom line is this: the SCD is predicated on the thesis that undigested matter lingering too long in the gut provides a 24-hour feeding station for irritating intestinal bacteria. The more bacteria, the more mucous (yum!), the less the gut is capable of doing its (you’ll pardon the pun) duty; also, the more irritation, the more abrasion, again, leading to a reduction in functional capacity. Not to mention the garden of attendant earthly delights like diarrhea (regular, explosive and bloody varieties), extreme fever and underweight, energy loss, body aches, pain and…wait for it…puppy-killing farts.

Or, in the words of the wise and eloquent Seth Barrows,

The SCD combats bacterial and yeast overgrowth by restricting the energy they require to live while keeping the host well fed.

But no one really knows why it works, just that, in many cases, it does work.

Unfortunately, in many cases it doesn’t, but no one knows why on that count, either, it could be user error, as the SCD is notoriously difficult to follow. Even when you start to get what you can and can’t eat; even when you’re well enough to eat the full range of allowable foods (in the beginning, when you’re really sick, many “legals” are verboten), there’s hella prep involved in eating legal.

So there’s no getting around it: following the SCD is a pain in the ass.

For those of us who’ve found relief, however, not following it is an even bigger pain in the ass. I fell off the wagon shortly after meeting The BF (not his fault! not his fault!), and have been on and off in the three years since. (I was in Fanatical Adherence mode for the two years prior.) I started to get another scare just before Thanksgiving, and had an epiphany much like I did when I felt the bronchitis coming on for a third time and quit smoking on the spot, in mid-pack: 20 years, and I’m still smoke-free.

Of course, it is MUCH harder to stay on a diet than to quit a substance entirely, because hey, you gotta eat. And not only is it difficult to steer clear of the temptation all dieters are faced with, there are literally hidden evils in everything. Every. Thing.

So we eat mainly non-processed food. Nothing canned, bottled, boxed or to-go. No convenience foods. Which makes life…inconvenient.

There’s another downside to this: food gets scary-boring. I mean DEADLY boring. Because it’s so much work finding and making food, one’s intake on the SCD gets numbingly repetitive. Honestly, if I could have any luxury, when I can have any luxury, the first one I want it a private chef to come in three times per week and cook me stuff. (And for my chef friends out there, now you know that the thing I love most is being asked over for a tasty, SCD-legal dinner!)

One trick I’ve learned to apply from the other part of my nerdy life is batch-processing. Make a tub of yogurt and then figure out the 17 different ways you can use it. Find a recipe that freezes well in portions and make a shitload of it. Four dozen cookies, six loaves of “bread” (which you then turn half of into toasts).

So the following recipe is what you do with some of the homemade goat’s milk yogurt it takes you 26 hours to make. It’s fecking hawesome, as Shane Nickerson speaking in a bad British accent might say, and it made my night.

Also, for you normies, you can have it on real bread toasts, if you like. But the cuke makes it lighter and less caloric, in case you care about stuff like that.


Serves 1 hungry-ass SCD-er as a meal, or several dainty types as hors d’oeuvres

  • 1 cucumber, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
  • 1 cup DRIPPED SCD-legal goat’s milk yogurt*
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion
  • a few tablespoons capers
  • 4 oz SCD-legal smoked salmon**
  1. Spread rounds with dripped goat “cheese”.
  2. Press sprinkling of scallions on each round.
  3. Press a few capers (to taste) on each round.
  4. Layer with generous swath of salmon.
  5. Eat your damn face off!

*Can substitute SCD-legal cow’s milk yogurt, although not as tasty
**Check package, even if brand you used last time was legal; I think suppliers change for brands, and many add sugar

This is very tasty with a Virgin or Bloody Mary. Vodka, fortunately, is 100% legal on the SCD.

Um…in moderation, of course.


Image by chocolate monster mel via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license. And no, that recipe is totally illegal. Looks good, though!

Other SCD-legal recipes on communicatrix-dot-com: