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Posts Tagged ‘personal’

You can never go home, Oatman! . . . but apparently you can shop there.

Forty-one years, two months, and fifteen days ago, my parents moved into a newly built house in Dallas.

Now I’m here to say goodbye.

The house has been sold, though they won’t be moving out for a while yet (giving them time to finish divesting of stuff they won’t be bringing with them). After this, unless I attend a convention in Dallas, it’s entirely possible I’ll never revisit the city I still think of as “home,” even though where I live in California is also home.

It helps a bit that my parents have kind of Ship of Theseus-d this place over the years. It isn’t a time capsule of my childhood; many things have been updated along the way. The cheaper, more busted furniture got replaced by nicer stuff once my brother and I were old enough not to wreck it. Ditto the carpet. The linoleum in the kitchen gave way to much classier tile, the formica countertops to granite. After both kids were out of the house, my parents turned my brother’s old room into an office, while the former office-cum-guest room became a dedicated guest room; along with that, they ditched my daybed with its elevating trundle and put in its place a proper bed for me and my husband (which necessitated rearranging the bedroom around it). The most recent bout of renovations replaced the living room carpet and the kitchen tiles with hardwood, along with painting over all the wood paneling in the grey color that is unfortunately in style right now. I wasn’t a fan when I saw it two Christmases ago: between that and the new LED lights on the tree, the warm glow of my childhood memories was replaced by a room that felt like it could refrigerate meat.

But there haven’t been any structural additions, nor any walls ripped out to change the layout of the house. And in the public rooms, everything is still where it’s always been: the furniture may be newer, but each piece sits exactly where its predecessor did. I used to joke that if I were struck suddenly blind, I would come home while I learned to cope, because I could walk through this house in the dark and not hit anything. My parents have lived in this house since before I was born; I’ve never known them to live anywhere else. Them moving is a bigger earthquake than any I’ve experienced in California.

(Contrary to my subject line, though, the house will not be replaced by a convenience store. I just couldn’t resist the Grosse Pointe Blank reference.)

Most people I know moved at least once in childhood, often more than once; lots of Americans these days are peripatetic enough that living in the same place for over forty years has become pretty rare. Severing this connection feels a bit like losing a taproot. It’s necessary, though — and it was always going to be inevitable. Even if my parents had chosen to stay here, I wasn’t going to move in when they passed away. Better to have the shift happen now, by choice.

Saying goodbye is going to be hard, though.

Writer’s Block(s) Redux

Years ago I wrote an essay for my site called “Writer’s Block(s),” wherein I said I don’t find the term “writer’s block” to be helpful.

I stand by that, even though I’ve now gone through a period where, if I were inclined to use that term, that’s what I would have called it.

In 2020 I was hugely productive. Some writers found it very difficult to write last year, but I was in the camp that took refuge from the world by escaping into ones of my own creation. I wrote two novels (The Liar’s Knot with Alyc, and Night Parade on my own), plus ten short stories, three flash, one fanfic, one short story for L5R, various short adventures for Sea of Legends, and my ongoing Patreon essays.

Given that, it wasn’t surprising that after I rounded the corner into 2021, things slacked off. I’d been working really hard, after all, and you can’t do that nonstop forever. I’d already decided to slow my roll on short fiction because I was writing it faster than I could sell it, so taking a break from that wasn’t a problem. Besides, I had The Mask of Mirrors out in January and Night Parade two weeks later, so there was a stretch of literal months where I was doing promotional events every week, usually two or three of them. That eats brain and energy and I know it, so giving myself time off from producing something new was good self-care.


Round about late February, I realized my ability to brain creatively was not regenerating. I’d taken two months off and I still had no more energy for writing than I had before; if anything, I had less. I’d written my final L5R story and a couple of pieces of flash, but for the former I had the benefit of all the existing story momentum and the latter were . . . not impressive. More importantly, I had a story due to an anthology, and I was having the worst time getting it done.

Well, there could be multiple reasons for that. And I knew perfectly well that I had a plot problem in the story which I hadn’t yet solved — so naturally I couldn’t move forward on it. I made myself sit down and I figured out a way around that problem, which let me write a little more . . . but then I ran into a new problem, which slammed me into a second wall.

And then I reached a point where even trying to make myself think about the problem induced a flinch reaction in my brain: god, no, please don’t make me.

This was . . . not good.

If you saw the day in mid-March where I asked on Twitter for cute cat pics and the like, that was the day I realized I wasn’t simply tired, and I wasn’t simply stuck on a bit of plot and everything would be fine once I sorted that out. Something had gone wrong in my head, that merely sitting back and waiting wasn’t going to fix.

But the gist of that original essay is that calling the issue “writer’s block” accomplishes nothing. It’s a description of symptoms, not a diagnosis of cause, much less a cure. I had to figure out why my head had gone wrong, on a global level that went well beyond being in a plot corner with a single story.

I mean, pandemic. That was a pretty obvious culprit. But “pandemic” wasn’t really an answer, either, because there was a pandemic before and I still wrote, and also what exactly about the pandemic was the bit stabbed into my brain? There’s been discussions about the lack of novelty involved in being locked down, which can be particularly deadly to creative work; that seemed like a good angle to investigate. My first-line response was to spend a whole day doing things like working on a jigsaw puzzle, playing piano, and otherwise engaging in activities I hadn’t done in ages, which definitely helped to lift my immediate mood, even if it didn’t fix everything.

What about environmental factors? I figured winter had something to do with it — I’ve known for decades that I don’t respond well to a lack of sunlight — but merely rounding the corner into daylight saving time hadn’t brought the improvement I hoped for, so I got more aggressive about seeking out light. We recently got a swing for our back patio, and the weather was nice enough for me to sit out there, so I started making a point of doing that every day (light + a new place to sit, i.e. novelty). In fact, the trainer I see has a list of elements that play into good health — things like nutrition, sleep, and so forth — and sunlight is on that list, so my “homework” from him for a while was not to lift weights or anything like that, but to get at least twenty minutes on the patio each day.

I also started taking a vitamin D supplement, on the theory that a deficiency in that nutrient has caused sluggishness in multiple people of my acquaintance, and overdosing on the stuff basically requires you to down a whole bottle in one go, so why not supplement for a while and see if that helped.

And that story I was stuck on? Well, I had a deadline, so I did have to push through, rather than just shelving it until I felt better. But I talked to Alyc, who not only helped me work out the problem I’d been stuck on, but made a suggestion for another detail that wound up fixing a problem I hadn’t even gotten to yet. Which unclogged the brain ducts enough for me to get the story done, with a small extension from the editor that gave me time enough away to revise the draft as it needed. So yes, “fix the story” was part of the solution, along with other things. (Full disclosure: I held off on making this post until I heard back from the editor with revisions, because a part of me was afraid that I’d turned in something visibly sub-par. But he’s delighted with it, so I feel much more comfortable publicly discussing the problems I had along the way.)

So here we are, roughly two months after I started trying to figure out what was off in my head and how to fix it. How are things going? Well, in April I finally rewrote a story I’d drafted in 2019 and had meant to redo ever since then (the idea was solid, but the execution was meh at best). And I also popped out a piece of flash I’m quite pleased with. And I started revising another story whose polishing I’ve been putting off. More pertinently, one evening recently I decided I’d done plenty of work during the day and sat down to read . . . only to wind up scribbling notes and even writing material for a side project I’ve got going on. In other words, I was excited enough about that project to spontaneously generate ideas for it when I wasn’t trying to extract them.

That’s what my brain looks like when it’s working right.

Now, I will be the first in line to say that I’m lucky: this problem wound up being relatively quick to resolve. I do not appear to have developed major depressive disorder or anything else that would require medical intervention to fix. My home remedies sufficed, at least for now, and they sufficed in a fairly short time — call it a few weeks before I started feeling like I was on my way out of the pit, and a bit over a month before I felt like I was back on my feet. Not everybody has that easy a time of it.

But I stand by what I said before. If I were to rewrite “Writer’s Block(s)” today (which I may do), it would be to change the presentation of the points there, not the points themselves. I had to dig past the surface of “I’m having trouble writing” and even the surface of “well, pandemic” to get to the potential causes and the changes that might help mitigate them. My first attempted solution (taking time off) didn’t work; okay, what should I try next? If it isn’t just low-grade burnout, if it isn’t all the promotional stuff taking my time and energy, then what is it? What path might get me back to where I want to be?

We have to ask ourselves these questions. Simply waiting and hoping the problem will go away on its own will only fix a minor subset of the possible causes; some of the others may get worse, as the failure to produce exacerbates the stress. Sometimes you need to crack the whip over your own head, and sometimes that will only drive you deeper into the hole. Sometimes you won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you try.

But you can try, and eventually — hopefully — find your way back out again.

This is how I celebrate

Last week some of you may have seen me losing my mind on Twitter, because after nineteen years of trying, I finally sold a story to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF).

I did not actually set out to buy myself a present to celebrate this. But quite separately, I had managed to irritate myself by flushing out the fountain pen I use most frequently and then re-filling it with ink before it had dried out, resulting in extremely watery ink for a while. I commented to my sister that I should get a second one, and then I could just swap to the other one while the first dried off.

Now, I already have more than one fountain pen. There’s a Waterman I think was a birthday present decades ago, and a Padrino I bought myself in Rome on my honeymoon. There are also two random cheapo things whose brand nor origin can be discerned, and one probably not at all cheapo Jinhao that likewise seems to have materialized out of nowhere — seriously, we don’t have the faintest clue where this one came from. It’s very pretty, and also quite heavy, which is why I don’t use it often; the Padrino has the problem of a screw-top cap and no grip, so I wind up holding it where the thread screws are, and naturally that’s uncomfortable. The Waterman is fine, but I’ve never liked it as much as the pen I use more often.

The selling point of that pen — a Platinum Plaisir — is that it doesn’t dry out nearly as fast as any of my other pens. Some of them, I swear you come back the next day and the ink is already a bit stuttery. This one? I haven’t tested the theory that I could leave it in a drawer for a month and it would still write just fine, but it certainly feels that way. So I thought, okay: I will get myself a second Plaisir.

But I don’t actually find the Plaisir all that attractive. It isn’t ugly, but I already got the color that appealed most to me (a satin-brushed metallic green); when I was browsing the other options, the only one that stood out at all, a gunmetal gray, was out of stock. But in looking to see if I could find it elsewhere, I wound up reading a review of the Plaisir that said something interesting:

Its style of cap, which does such a nice job of keeping the ink wet, is apparently common across all of Platinum’s pens.

This is how I wound up on the Goulet Pens website at two thirty in the morning, browsing fountain pens, and coming across something which I told myself I wasn’t allowed to buy until the following morning, because one should generally not make expensive impulse buys late at night:

a Platinum Kanazawa fountain pen

I . . . swear I’m not becoming one of those writers, the ones who obsess over fountain pens. But that one was still so damn pretty when I woke up the next morning, and I’d just sold a story to F&SF the other day, and I decided I deserved a present to myself. It is as pretty in person as it was online, and it’s remarkably lightweight, and the nib is finer than my Plaisir, which as someone with default tiny handwriting I appreciate. The ink I put in it apparently does not play well with the paper of my Rook and Rose notebook, because I am too much of a fountain pen noob to understand the subtle nuances of ink-paper interaction, but writing with it pleased me a great deal anyway. We’ll see if it fares as well in the drying-out department as the Plaisir, but even if it doesn’t, I am very glad to have it.

I aten’t dead

I am resurfacing to let you know that “From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Reviewfinally has an audio version! Brought to you by the lovely folks at Cast of Wonders, including the inestimable Alasdair Stuart, who does a splendid turn as Mr. Benjamin Talbot, F.P.C.

In the meanwhile . . . yeah, it’s been dead around here, hasn’t it? In early February I went to Seattle to teach a one-day workshop at Clarion West on writing fight scenes, and while I was there I seem to have picked up a cold that knocked me flat for a solid week. When I picked myself up from that, I found out a hacker had apparently compromised my laptop, necessitating a complete re-OS for security. I’m still in the process of getting everything set up again after that. And then — because February was a month, let me tell you — somebody attempted to steal the catalytic converter out of our Prius while my husband and I were at the dojo. They didn’t succeed, possibly because they got scared off . . . but they sawed through a hose and partway through the exhaust pipe. So now we’re waiting to hear from insurance whether the repair bill would be high enough to warrant just totaling the car.


Now, I should make it clear that this is not an apocalyptic problem for us. We’re annoyed, because the Prius has been trundling along pretty well for going on thirteen years now; it’s long since paid off, and life without making regular car payments has been nice. We can afford to make new car payments, though, and I think my husband’s irritation is tempered by the possibility that we might go from having a hybrid to a fully electric car (something he’s been keeping his eye on for a while, though we weren’t intending to buy any time soon). Still — it isn’t fun.

And my February was really not as full of productivity as it probably needed to be. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to go attempt to make March better on that count.

Special Things

The other day I was driving up to San Francisco in the rain + early stages of rush hour. But instead of getting frustrated and impatient the way I normally do, I found myself being much more agreeable about the whole thing, and feeling much more charitable toward my fellow drivers.

Because I was listening to Christmas music.

Which led me to think, “heh, I should listen to this all year round!” Except . . . that wouldn’t work. I have other music that sounds pleasant or cheerful, whose lyrics urge (not necessarily in these words) peace and goodwill toward my fellow humans, and it doesn’t usually produce this reaction. Because repetition has dulled its edge. It’s precisely because I don’t listen to Christmas music all year round that it can affect my behavior.

Slacktivist (the blogger Fred Clark) has talked about the irony of “but it’s Christmas!” as an argument for why somebody shouldn’t be a dick. In theory, we should not be dicks to each other at any time. It’s easy to let that slide, though, as the stresses and aggravations of daily life accumulate; Christmas — and other holidays in other faiths — are a reminder to step back and try to see the people around you as people, to reconsider whether you’re being as patient and charitable as you could be. Training wheels for the rest of the year.

But not in the way retailers want. They start trying to push that “special holiday spirit” on you earlier and earlier every year — but theirs is the spirit of commercialism, not peace. They may talk about opening your heart, but it’s actually your wallet they want to see open. Buy, buy, buy. The problem is, by using these signifiers of the season to sell that message, they dull the edge. They rob the “special things” of their power to move us.

I can avoid it somewhat, thanks to the structure of my life. I don’t remember the last time I went to the mall, and I don’t even go into individual retail stores (apart from the grocery store) often enough to get fully inundated with Christmas carols in October. I don’t watch broadcast TV, so I’m not being deluged with commercials about Black Friday deals in mid-November. I can easily delete the emails that hit my inbox, and they don’t blare music at me. I can keep the special things special. Not everybody can, though.

Anyway, today we hung the garlands (which I’ve been meaning to do for a week), and our decorations are set up in their usual places. We don’t have a tree yet because it’s been raining near-constantly, but we hope to fix that in the next few days. Our house is getting dressed up in its fancy holiday clothes. The lights will remind me of hope in a time of darkness. And as much as I’ll hate taking all of that down after Christmas, leaving behind the dull, workaday appearance my surroundings have the rest of the year, I know the reason this makes me happy right now is because it isn’t constantly there. It’s only here briefly, and because of that, it has more power.

Forgotten fruits

Quince is one of those things I’d seen referenced in historical literature, but had never encountered in person. Although Wikipedia tells me it’s eaten fairly regularly in some parts of Europe, and there’s absolutely nothing preventing it being grown in the U.S., you’re not going to find it at your average supermarket here.

I suspect that’s in part because you mostly can’t snack on it raw, the way you can with apples and pears and oranges and bananas and all the other things commonly found in the produce section. You either have to cook it, or you have to wait for it to blet — that is, to go overripe and sort of (but not exactly) rotten. The same is true of medlars, another fruit we’ve largely forgotten. Also some varieties of persimmons; I suspect the one time I tried to eat ripe persimmon I may have been eating the wrong kind, as I found it unpleasantly astringent. But those I’m seeing around more these days — though still not at the supermarket. Persimmon trees aren’t uncommon in northern California, so not only the farmers’ market but possibly one’s neighbors may have their fruit on offer.

But if waiting for fruit to sort of but not exactly rot isn’t your idea of an appetizing approach, there’s always cooking. Which is why quince has come into my life: one stall at our farmers’ market sells it, and last year my husband (who makes jam) ventured to make quince paste. It’s very strong-tasting stuff — but if you pair it with manchego cheese (itself quite strong-tasting), a strange alchemy happens and you wind up with something amazing.

All well and good. But this year he wound up with a few extra quinces, not quite enough to make another batch of paste. So instead he decided to make quince-and-apple pie for Thanksgiving. It’s quite nice! Quinces are related to apples anyway, and they combine well. Which is good when your husband decides he’s got too much quince for one pie, but enough apple to fill it out and make two pies.

. . . during the Thanksgiving when your sister-in-law already has a store-bought apple pie and a small cherry pie, and is making a pumpkin pie. O_O Five pies (well, four and a half) for nine people. Um.

There are, of course, other things one can do with quince. Like poach them in sugar water with some spices. One might possibly suggest to one’s husband that this would have been more sensible than making a second quince-and-apple pie. One might not quite buy one’s husband’s argument that you really want larger chunks of quince for that, and he’d already sliced it all thin, so there was nothing to be done but make a second pie.

But hey. There’s always next year. And maybe I’ll find some medlars for him to poach instead.

Back to Square Two

I mentioned before that I’m trying to get (some tiny fraction of) my embouchure back so I can play in the band’s 100th reunion next month. Unrelatedly — you would think — I also recently did bo kata for the first time in a couple of years, having stopped doing weapons for a time because of wrist problems.

In both of these cases I am profoundly out of practice — French horn obviously more so, just on a sheer time scale, but my bo skills are hella rusty, and were never all that great in the first place. But it’s interesting to see how I’m actually not all the way back to square one, not even on the thing I haven’t done in more than fifteen years.

Even when the muscles aren’t there, even when the movements are stiff and the endurance craps out in record time, something remains. Deep memory still has some recollection of the target I’m aiming for; getting to it may be easier said than done, but at least I know where I’m going. I’m not having to map out terra incognita as I go. Which means, I think, that even a small gain in strength or endurance is a bigger gain in overall skill than it was the first time around, because I partially remember what to do with it.

I find this really encouraging, not just in these specific contexts, but overall. You know how they say you never forget how to ride a bike? That can apply to lots of different things — and probably not just physical ones, either, though it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s some particular neuromuscular thing going on where movement is concerned. (So-called “muscle memory.”) Even when we feel reluctant to go back to an old activity because we’re so out of practice, we may very well not be rank beginners all over again. And there’s a real pleasure in having that moment of “oh, right” . . . even if three seconds later some part of you says “aaaaaaaaand now we’re done for the day.”

It begins . . .

(Really it should have begun about six months ago, but best intentions, etc. etc.)

The Harvard Band has a long tradition of crusties — former band members — coming back for certain events. Every five years, there is a formal reunion.

Next month is the 100th.

So naturally I’m going. And when I filled out the questionnaire, I checked the boxes that said yes, I intend to march, and yes, I would like to play while I do so . . . in the full awareness that I haven’t played horn since, uh, 2002. Seventeen years is more than enough time to lose one’s embouchure.

Which is why there’s now a small silver mouthpiece sitting on my desk. While I read things online, or otherwise dink around doing things that don’t require me to be typing, I’m tootling away with the mouthpiece, reminding myself of exactly how fast those tiny little muscles in your lips can tire out. The goal is to be able to at least vaguely acquit myself as something resembling a former musician by the time of the reunion in the middle of next month. I’m hoping that remembered skill will mean I do at least slightly better than I did after a month and a half of practice the first time I picked up a French horn. I probably won’t have anything resembling a high range anymore, nor much in the way of breath control, but I’m successfully producing arpeggios in a variety of different keys, so that’s a good sign, right?

This is absurd. And I know it. But I’m doing it anyway.

What a difference technology makes

I’ve spent the last two days holed up in our den, which the lowest part of our split-level house and rather cavelike — therefore the coolest room we’ve got. Our thermostat caps out at 84 degrees Fahrenheit, so I can’t say for sure what temperature it’s been in our dining room, but whatever the answer is, the top floor — which holds both my office and the bedroom — was hotter. Much hotter.

I grew up in Dallas. Highs in the high 90s were a totally normal feature of my childhood summers. But that was a place where nearly everybody has air conditioning. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area? Not so much. And living in a house without A/C means that when our temperatures spike, the experience is very, very different.

The extent of that difference got hammered home to me yesterday, when I’d been at the (air-conditioned) chiropractor’s office. When I walked outside in the late afternoon, it felt . . . not nice, exactly. But familiar. And pleasant enough. Yes, it was very warm, but my subconscious said “that’s okay.” Which was very different from how I’d felt leaving my house an hour and a half earlier; then I was going from a sweltering indoors to a sweltering outdoors, barely any contrast at all, and vastly more unpleasant. I know I’ve lost soem of my heat tolerance (I used to do marching band in Texas, navy blue wool uniform and all), but a lot of it is also just the artificial environment. Give me A/C, and I still don’t mind the heat all that much. Without it, though . . .

Let’s just say I’ve learned a lot about low-tech measures against the heat, from keeping blinds closed that we normally open for light (and angling them upwards to reduce the amount of direct sunlight that enters the room), to occupying myself with books instead of heat-emitting laptops, to the dance of opening windows and turning on fans once the temperature outside drops below the temperature inside.

On Tea

I’ve never been much of a tea drinker.

. . . but I’m getting there.

It started with my sister introducing me to what she calls “tea of life” — more properly known as Kirin’s Gogo no Kocha Lemon Flavor. It’s a cold bottled black tea sweetened and flavored with lemon, and lemme tell you, on a hot day, it’s glorious. Then I started drinking Oi Ocha, which out here in California is mainstream enough that you can buy it at CostCo, because on the whole I tended to like green tea better than black. From there I branched out into a few others — genmai cha, Ayataka, mugi cha (which isn’t actually tea if you’re pedantic, but I’m going to lump herbal infusions in under that term for the purposes of this post, so just deal with it) — which all shared one thing in common.

Well, two, but the Japanese part isn’t that significant. No, what they had in common was that I was drinking them all cold and pre-bottled.

I mentioned to Marissa Lingen in email that part of the reason for this was, I find the drinkability range of hot tea to be very narrow. They’re too hot to drink; then they’re cool enough that I could drink them but if I do they’ll mostly register on me as hot water rather than any flavor; then there’s the drinkability zone; then they cool off too much and get unpleasant to me. And even when they’re drinkable, they often taste . . . thin? If that makes sense?

Marissa recommended a particular herbal mix to my experimentation, so I thought, why not. I bought some. And then, when I went to put it into our cabinet — well.

My husband used to drink hot tea every so often. But he fell out of the habit years ago . . . except there was a span of time where he hadn’t quite accepted that yet, and kept buying tea. Plus I had bought a few, or had them bought for me, during previous stints of experimentation. The result was that, for a household which doesn’t drink tea, we sure did own a lot of it.

Thus began the Great Tea Craze of 2017-2018. I decided to taste-test my way through the cabinet, and my husband decided to resume his old habits. And I’ve learned some interesting things.

  • MY GOD was some of that tea old. We celebrated when my husband finished off the box of cinnamon apple spice that had expired in 2009, and could move on to the box of cinnamon apple spice that actually dated to this decade. (Still expired. But only by a few years.)
  • Mostly we’re drinking the old tea, because it’s just weaker and less nuanced, not actively gonna hurt you. But the untouched 48-count box of Lipton that, judging by the packaging (featuring a message from Mary Lou Retton), probably dated back to the ’90s? Yeah, that went in the compost.
  • Joulies, which we’d received as a Christmas present years ago, are really helpful for keeping tea in a drinkable range of warmth for a longer period of time.
  • Although one of the reasons I’m interested in drinking tea is because I like having beverages that aren’t sugared . . . well, I like tea better when I apply a moderate amount of honey.
  • Also milk. In fact, I like many teas better with milk, not because that obscures the flavor, but because I can taste the tea’s flavor more clearly when there’s milk to give it body. It helps address the “thinness.”
  • I’m fine with English breakfast, Irish breakfast, Ceylon, maybe Keemun (just started on one that’s Keemun and a bunch of other things, so it’s hard to say for sure), rooibos, and some herbal things.
  • I don’t like darjeeling (too astringent) or Earl Grey (too floral). Also, contrary to what I had thought during previous tea stints? I don’t like fruit teas very much. Most of them are much too sour or tart for me.
  • My husband, however, likes Earl Grey. Or at least, he decided that he did, because Captain Picard likes it (“Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.”), so that should be good enough for him, right? We own a *lot* of Earl Grey, much of it untouched.
  • . . . yeah, I can see the appeal in the whole ritual of the thing. Heat your water, get your tea bag or infuser, pour the water, wait a few minutes, add the various things (honey, milk, joulie), go back to your desk with the cup.
  • Also, hot tea = very nice in the winter for somebody like me who gets cold easily.

The most interesting thing will be to see whether this truly becomes an ingrained habit. Right now it has the energy that comes from I HAVE A PROJECT as we drink our way through the Cabinet of Ancient Tea. At this point we’ve disposed of most of the boxes and bags that had actually seen activity in the past; now we’re into the things that were basically untouched. Deprived of the feeling of progress that comes with clearing things out, now we’re going to find out how much I actually enjoy drinking hot tea for its own sake. More than I thought I did! But enough to do it habitually, especially once winter ends? We’ll see.

I know I have tea drinkers among my readership. Share your own preferences, your thoughts and suggestions for a novice in the comments!