Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hostage In Legal La-La Land

I'm somewhere in the Midwest doing litigation training and I'm taking a quick break out of my mock-trial preparation to note that I would like the record to reflect that I would much prefer doing any of the following:

1) Riding my bike, with which I am still very much in love, all over New York. In fact, I'm going through withdrawal at the moment.

2) Pondering the existential crisis into which I threw myself after my retreat at the Chopra Center. The crisis being: What is my Dharma (i.e. "purpose and meaning" in life. Me thinks I must find it).

3) Meditating - I did not do my daily RPM today. Curse early morning flights! Or is it a lack of discipline, dedication, and organization I should be cursing.

4) Reading book 7 of the Anita Blake Vampire Chronicles. When last I left that marvelous world Jean Claude and Anita had kissed for the first time, after Jean Claude had taken a bubble bath just before "dying" at dawn. How hard could it be to find a human version of Jean Claude? Snap to it Universe!

The point, my friends, is that although this is a great training experience, and although I am grateful for it and will get as much out of it as possible - all caveats aside - I'd rather be doing something else at the moment.

If I only have one life, shouldn't I be spending as many minutes of it as possible doing something I want to be doing? Finding my Dharma. I can't even consider, however, these greater life questions because I have to go prep now. Duty calls.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

RPM (For Meditation)

How do I meditate? When do I meditate? How do I silence my mind? What do I do with the thoughts? These are some questions I have pondered during the last year. In it's most basic sense, mediation is sitting in stillness. Physical and mental stillness. One would think that sitting quietly would not have so much mystery around it, but it does. I want to know the "right" way to meditate. I want to know what to expect, how do I know that it's working, what's the proper way to sit, and again, what do I do with those incessant thoughts that poke up like an infinite supply of pink elephants the minute I start trying not to think of them?

This weekend, at a retreat lead by the Chopra Center, Renewal Weekend, I had some of those questions answered. They practice a type of mediation called "primordial sound meditation," where you meditate by repeating a mantra over and over again as a way to quite your mind chatter and allow you to go deeper within yourself. The three-party mantra starts with "om" and ends with "namah" (pronounced nemah), and has a sound in between that is your "seed," the vibration that the universe was making at the time of your birth. The Chopra Center has a computer that figures out your seed; without the computer program I'm not sure how to find out your seed, but I don't really think it's important. The important thing is to have a mantra, any mantra, but one that's a sound, not words with meaning that will create, rather, than still your thoughts.

In terms of how to mediate, the Chopra Center is big on comfort. There should be no discomfort or "trying" in mediation, according to Deepak. You are to sit comfortably and repeat your mantra. When thoughts come and you slip away from the mantra, gently drift back to repeating the mantra. The idea is to be gentle with yourself. There is no berating, no judging, no punishment. Just the mantra and gentle drifting back to the mantra when thoughts come.

In terms of when, one of the teachers, David Gi, gave us "RPM" as a meditation tool. RPM stands for: Rise, Pee, Meditate. Everyone rises in the morning, many of us pee, so we are 2/3rds of the way there. The third part is sitting down, even before you've brushed your teeth or gotten your caffeine kick of the day, and meditating for a half hour. Because a half hour is a lot, it might be too much at first. I made a commitment to try RPM for 20 days - until June 14th - and have done it for the past 2 days for about 15 minutes each. The idea is to create a stillness and silence within that you can take with you for the rest of the day into your relationships. So far, I think it's working today. I feel calm and well. It's nice.

For the afternoon meditation, David Gi gave us "RAW" - "Right After Work." Because I'm being gentle with myself and starting with baby steps, I'm not putting pressure on myself to do two meditations a day, but for the future it's something to think about. For now, I'm sticking with the RPMs. I have 18 more days to go. It's an experiment to see how I'll feel after 20 days of this. Anyone else want to try?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

White Noise

In honor of my new neighbor, a young pot-smoking guy just out of college who works in advertising and enjoys bringing over a steady stream of his pot-smoking friends to party on the balcony just outside my bedroom window on weeknights, I purchased this little white-noise number, the Marpac Sleepmate 980.

It's awesome. Although it doesn't fully eliminate the sound violations from my sphere of awareness, it does dull them enough so that I can reign in my anticipatory anxiety, slow my boiling blood, and talk myself down onto a calmer plane. Did you know that stress responses - like quickening blood, platelets getting sticky, and rapid breathing - increase one's susceptibility to disease and health challenges?

There's no need for me to outrun any saber tooth tigers, yet when I hear my neighbor at times when I don't want to hear him (when my need for silence and quiet goes unmet), I get stressed, and my body reacts just as it would if I had caught site of a tiger ready to pounce - albeit probably with much more anger and much less fear than if my neighbor actually were a bloodthirsty saber toothed tiger. Why is it that saber toothed tigers went extinct? Anyone know? I'm too tired to wikipedia it at the moment.

Anyway, getting back to the most terrific sound machine ever. It's fantastic and highly recommended. I keep it on the first setting to create a relaxed, noise muting environment. It's like a little white noise sound cocoon that envelopes and soothes, the effects of which are magnified by my earplugs (I can't quite break myself of that habit yet). Sensory deprivation. One day I'm going to go in to a dark sensory deprivation tank where I float on water in a wet suit that makes it impossible to feel the water, with ear plugs that make it impossible to hear, pitch blackness that makes it impossible to see, and no noise or smells. It would be awesome, and perhaps a little scary. It would have to be simple and easy to get out of instantaneously, or otherwise the anxiety would ruin the experience.

I'm tired and rambling slightly and clearly in need of my white-noise machine induced dream time. I'm on Book 5 of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Chronicles and continuing to voraciously eat them up one after another. All I want to say is that I love Jean Claude and Anita and can not wait until they get together. If I were Anita, I would absolutely choose Jean Claude over Richard. Richard is sexy but he's also kind of a pill. Jean Claude would totally take him. He's like Geoffrey from the Angelique books. Dashing, strong, and dangerously sexy, and a vampire to boot.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Killer Dream

I think the vampire books are getting to me (I'm on book 3). Last night, I had a nightmare where I was being pursued by a serial killer who may also have been dating my little sister. At one point, on a deserted rooftop in the middle of the night, the serial killer leaned over me, his heavy body pinning me to the ground, and said, as he stroked my lips with the flat of his thumb, "You forgive me. You're mouth will forgive me."

I was so happy to wake up alive, sans serial killer, - bob and all - I just lay in my bed for a few minutes at dawn, breathing deeply, filled with relief and gratitude. With no killer in sight, I can totally work this bob (thanks Starshine!).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Beckham's Bob

I do things sometimes, impulsively, and then sometimes I regret them. Sometimes I'm aided in these impulsive actions by scissor-wielding accomplices; they call themselves "hair stylists." Other times I do them myself, like when I was a second year college student studying for final exams and I went all OCD one procrastination-filled evening and started snipping the edges of my shoulder length brown hair.

By the end of that episode, four inches of hair lay limp and broken on the tiled bathroom floor, my hair just grazed the bottoms of my ears, and I still had a paper to write. I was not a pretty site. Thank god I was still in my tom-boy phase. The only thing worse than having hair shorter than my then boyfriend was a few months later when I was forced to appear in a hideous, poofy peach bridesmaid dress with my mushroom cap hair at my step brother's wedding. I was the only white girl in the bridal party and I did not do myself proud.

A month ago my hair was long and super annoying. So annoying that I booked myself an immediate appointment with my former hair stylist, blazed into the salon and instructed him grandly to cut it all off. Well, not all of it. Only about 5 inches. The intent was to transform my limp and lifeless locks, which I had become positive were pulling my face downward ever so unattractively, into a chic, flirty bob. For the first week after the cut, I couldn't have been happier. By week three - this week - my hair was beginning to annoy me. Rather than chic bob, I appeared to have been saddled with a matronly triangle cut, my hair plastered to my head, jutting out in a frizzy mess two inches past my chin. Ugh. How can a girl even consider taking up Internet dating again under these frazzled conditions?

So, I did what any quick thinking New York girl would have done in similar conditions. I called up my therapist's stylist - using a number she had given me weeks ago when I noticed her new fantastic hair cut (good stylists are almost as hard to come by as good apartments) - and took the first appointment she had available: 3:00 pm Tuesday afternoon. Even lawyers can play hookie when faced with an emergency situation. I have an event tomorrow night! Did I mention that my bike helmet had been exacerbating the triangular shape of my first foray in to the world of bob? Hideous.

The new stylist was great. Definitely more talented than my former stylist, and for that reason alone I might keep her, even though I'm not loving her most recent creation. She gave me everything I asked for, a style, a chic bob, a haircut with sophisticated flare, and she did it all with a dry-cutting, rapid-snipping technique that would have made Edward Scissorhands envious. The problem you ask? It's just a tad too short for my tastes. The kind of short that from moment to moment has me flipping between thinking "oh my god, it's an old woman haircut that makes you look like a boy - dig a hole and don't come out until it's grown out," to "omg, it's kind of cute and flirty, let me see it again from that angle, with that lipstick, with a little product, you could totally work it." I'm so torn.

Because burying myself like an ostrich is not an option, the only thing to do, like so often in life, is to fake it until you make it. I choose to imagine that it looks sexy and flirty and to wear absolutely fabulous earrings tomorrow night. For the record, I want to state that I did not, at any point in my discussions with my new stylist, request that she give me Victoria Beckham's hairstyle. But, that's what she did. Did I mention that my hair has not been this short in TEN years?

She should have given me Beckham along with the haircut. I would have been ever so much happier at the moment...

Stripper Names?

Do parents really need guidance regarding what not to name their baby girls so that they don't grow up to be strippers? Apparently, this site thinks they do. Sage advice from the site includes this gem:

"Baby Girl Names to Avoid: One of the biggest mistakes parents make when naming a baby girl is giving her a name that points her toward the pole. Avoid using car names. Mercedes isn't classy, it just sounds like someone trying to sound classy. Mercedes is, however, and excellent name for a stripper. Be careful naming your baby girl after some characteristics like Chastity. When you name your girl Chastity you are only making her a target and a challenge to dozens of high school boys in the future. "

Reading this, I feel like I'm listening to a spin-off of Chris Rock's HBO comedy special, which was hilarious. But he was making jokes. This appears to be serious. Strippers do not become strippers because of their names. It's not an accident. There are causes like abuse, exploitation, parental neglect, poverty, low self esteem, and a lack of other options. There is something really wrong about stumbling across cautionary information about strippers while innocently searching for a baby name.

Also, who made this site an expert on stripper names? And how sick is the world if naming a girl "Chastity" makes her a target for dozens of high school boys? If parents taught their sons to respect women, then women would not have to worry about whether they might one day be perceived as sexual targets, regardless of their dress, past sexual practices, current sexual practices, or their name.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

New Lovers

I did something totally awesome this weekend. After a year of fantasizing about buying a fold-up bike, I did it. I bought a Brompton - a top of the line folding bike - and it's hands down one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time. It's just shy of a full-sized bike, but it folds down into a square about 20 inches in diameter . I took my new baby (I go back and forth between thinking of it as my new baby and my new lover) to church, shopping, and then to the movies today. Everywhere I went, the stares followed.

It's hard not to stare at a 20-inch square contraption that folds out into a regular sized bike in 20 seconds flat. It's also hard not to feel like a suped-up technological bad-ass while unfolding the bike, particularly after just watching "Iron Man" and dreaming about being a superhero far far away from corporate America. I'm just being honest. I may not be a superhero, but I have a freakin' awesome ride now.

Since "Iron Man" came up, let me just say a word about Mr. Robert Downey Jr. I love him. Love, love, love him. On a serious note, I am happy he appears to have gotten himself well enough to make a terrific movie. He makes a deliciously entertaining and inspiring superhero. On a less substantive note, the man is beautiful. Deep, dark, thick-lashed eyes, wide shoulders, smooth muscles all over his back, arms and chest - strength with a dash of vulnerability and humor. I also have an unabashed weakness for perfectly manicured goatees. Pirates, the dessert warrior from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Drummer, and my college boyfriend all played upon this weakness of mine. Sexy.

I could have watched him blow-torching together the parts of his "Iron Man" outfit for another two hours, easily. He's my new favorite superhero. He may even have unseated the Sayid-Jin-Sawyer triumvirate from their first place position in my fantasies. Nice work Mr. Downey Jr.

Getting back to real life, I'm planning to commute to work on my new baby tomorrow. I'm all geared-out, helmet and all. Green-house gases, boo-yah!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Old Maid Is Just A Card Game

A word about being single: Relative to stormy relationships, being single is fantastic. You get to do what you want, when you want, with whomever you want to do it with. You might not have the clouds bursting into rose petals around you, but you also avoid relationship-related pits of anxiety, uncertainty, and hurt feelings which can sometimes happen. Instead of the highs and lows, you have a more even-keel existence.

Feeling a little anxiety about being single, however, is sometimes unavoidable. For example, when a critical mass of your friends suddenly become engaged and/or married and you find your totally unattached self out at an event admiring everyone else's rings, it can be somewhat destabilizing. Don't get me wrong, I could not be more happy for my friends. Their happiness makes me happy; they're wonderful, they have wonderful men in their lives, and that's thrilling and exciting. But, to be perfectly frank, all those uniquely cut diamonds do make a girl just a tad self-conscious about her current lack of prospects. Not for marriage - just for men that she might be interested in.

This feeling is added to by comments from the peanut gallery, i.e. your family. Another example will be illustrative. The other day, I was talking with my father and sharing with him my excitement over a trip I am planning to Tanzania. The trip will include 11 days out on safari in 5-star camps and lodges, taking puddle-jumper planes in between camps, seeing lions, giraffes, elephants, and tons of other animals up close, and then a few days on the beach in Zanzibar. The trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I'm so excited about it.

My Dad asked me who I was going with and I told him it was one of my girlfriends who is a few years old than me. My father responded, "Oh, she doesn't have a boyfriend either?" I said, "Either?" I thought we were talking about my trip to Africa; I didn't realize were talking about my relationship status. That conversation was a few days ago, but it keeps coming back to me. It reminded me of a conversation I had with him while I was planning my trip to India last year. He said something to the effect of: You say you want a relationship, but you're not going to get it this way. Why don't you wait to go on these big trips until you have a boyfriend? At that time, we got in to a huge fight. Now that I'm more mature a year later, I just let it wash off of me, for the most part.

I know I'm single. I get it. I don't need comments implying that I'm doing something wrong just because I'm not neatly packaged away into a nugget of nuclear bliss. And let's just remember that I was in fact dating someone until 2 1/2 months ago. It's not like I sit up on a shelf twiddling my thumbs gathering dust bunnies around me. What is the point of criticizing me for doing something that I love (traveling)? If I was in a relationship and making the choice to travel on my own instead of nurturing the relationship - if I was really making a choice between (a) traveling and (b) relationship - then I could understand my father's comments. It's like he thinks I could make a worthwhile relationship materialize out of thin air at the snap of my fingers if I would just focus on it and stop flitting around the globe. Instead of using my coveted 4 weeks of vacation to do something fun and self-sustaining, I should apparently be directing all of my spare energy into hunting for men. Not.

The choice he imagines is not before me. I am not in a relationship. Going on a kick-ass trip to Africa is not going to limit my chances of getting into a relationship with someone eventually. Two weeks away from the New York dating scene is not going to destroy my relationship chances for life. Frankly, the way dating in New York can be sometimes, I might just have better luck bumping in to someone amazing outside of Manhattan.

The choice before me now is whether to (a) enjoy my life to the fullest or (b) feel sorry for myself. I like to enjoy my life, and I don't really have any reason to feel sorry for myself, so for many reasons, I choose option "A." All I can control is me, so I'm taking my single self to Africa. Because I want to, because I can, and because there's no one around to stop me.

The thing that really pisses me off about this is that there's no way my father (and probably most people) would have a similar view if I was a man. My brother Frey, who is one year younger than me, has a demanding job, just like me, and just like me spends his free time traveling. I don't believe my father has once said to Frey that he should focus more on settling down and less on enjoying himself. It is a total double standard based on this image of women turning into old maids if they're not married by the age of 30, and men becoming ever more sexy in their bachelorhood.

Well, fuck that. I passed my 30th birthday and my taxi did not turn into a pumpkin, and I don't think it's going to anytime soon, what with all the blessed cabs there are in Manhattan. Of course I could kiss a boy if I wanted to - most women could. But, I'm on a boy moratorium until I find something worthy of more than a roll in the shadows of a club. For now, I'm going to continue as I am: Yoga and meeting up with friends tonight, brunch, shopping, and going out tomorrow night, and Sunday to relax, run and enjoy the Park. It's not a bad life. It's actually quiet wonderful. It would be nice if the peanut gallery realized that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vampire Book Obsession

I'm obsessed. I picked up "The Harlequin," by Laurell K. Hamilton, quite by accident a few days ago. The main character is Anite Blake, a vampire hunter, necromancer, and - by the time of "Harlequin" - a lover of vampires and wereleopards, wolves, and lions. Cool female character, humor, hot vampires, magical powers, and masses of sex. For obvious reasons, I tore through it.

It wasn't until I had finished it that I realized "The Harlequin" was the 15th or so book in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Novels and that there were 14 others that I had jumped over! I made a special trip to Barnes & Noble, couldn't find the first one, so settled on buying the second. I finished the second one and needed an immediate fix, so I went to a different Barnes and Noble and bought the first one. I read it last night, walking to work this morning on the sidewalks, on the subway, and in the elevator going up to my office. It was with extreme reluctance that I laid the book aside to begin my work.

When I was younger I read all of the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles and loved them, but until picking up the Harlequin I hadn't realized there was a whole genre of Sci-Fi/Fantasy that was Fantasy/Horror. Actually, I think it's quite unfair to put the Vampire Hunter novels in Horror. They're not "Horror" just because they have vampires sucking people's blood, rampaging zombies ripping people apart, or berserk ghouls... OK, maybe they are horror. I guess I like Fantasy/Horror Books (but not movies ala "The Saw"). Who knew?

Has anyone else discovered these awesome books? Other suggestions in the same genre?

Sunday, May 11, 2008


There must be something in the air because there have been a number of ex-sightings of late, not to mention some ex-play. I saw Drummer again a couple of weeks ago, in between being sick. In fact, he may have just given me my latest bug - a bug which I'm proud to say I beat off sans antibiotics and am now stronger for it. I'm not getting sick again this season. Period. We went to Beauty Bar and Snatchers down in the East Village and had some beers - the first beers I had had in almost a year. Apparently, I've turned in to a bit of a wine drinker. There was something about drinking a chilled $5 Brooklyn Lager that was unbelievably satisfying, and fun.

Perhaps too fun, because we ended up having a little sleep over and some smooching ensued. It was nice and comfortable in a way that I guess only making out with an ex-boyfriend who was cool can be. There was no awkwardness or anxiety. It was just pleasant. I'm not sure though that I'll repeat the experience because I think it's true that if you're directing your energy into the past, you're necessarily not opening yourself up the future, or even to the now. On the other hand, enjoying someone from the past in the present - with no concerns about the past and no anxiety about the future - is very much living in the present, so that' s OK. But, I think the whole "recycling" thing, even for an evening, can keep you stuck in the past, in a way that I don't want to be. I'm melancholy, sensitive, and nostalgic enough as it is - I don't need smooches with men of my past to mess with me.

And, if I'm honest with myself, though I did not want anything and still don't, mess with me it did. Not in a major way, but just a little. It's like a cove open to the Ocean that's been cordoned off by a deep wall of rocks piled one atop the other all the way up to the surface. The power of the open water is held at bay, the pressure remains carefully balanced as water passes back and forth between the cove and the open water, splashing and trickling over and between the rocks of the wall. A storm happens out in the Ocean and the wall protects the cove. But, the cove is only protected as long as the rock wall remains intact. Take a way a few boulders and suddenly a rush of open sea floods the cove, bringing with it pretty shells, pebbles, a different ph-balance, and, on occassion, a few sharks. My indiscretion with Drummer did not let a shark in, but it toppled a few boulders out of place. The wall was easily rebuilt, but the temporary break was a reminder that some things are probably best left out in the open water on the other side of the wall.

The other sighting wasn't really a sighting per se. I heard through the grapevine that my college ex-boyfriend is getting divorced. Totally unexpectedly, that news brought with it a small swirl of emotions. One of them was sadness. Sadness that we're all bouncing around this life like pinballs, running into one another, spending a moment here, a moment there, finding moments we think are special, building on them, and then watching them splinter apart. Sounds a little bleak and depressive, right?

I think I've been feeling kind of melancholy, and sure enough, the Capricorn horoscope on Facebook - an eminently dependable source - said today: "Capricorn, you're having a hard time shaking yourself out of your funky mood. Stay away from others so you don't bring them down." Thanks, Facebook. My little sister, Bean, echoed Facebook when she said to my Mother, upon hearing (a) that I had smooched Drummer and (b) that I was sick again: "Buttercup's got to stop kissing boys." I think there might be some truth to that. It might just be time for a Boy Moratorium.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tea Time

One summer during law school, I went to Cambodia to work for an organization doing poverty reduction and women's rights work. I fell in love with Phnom Penh, the French colonial architecture, the rubble strewn streets, and view from the F.C.C. looking out over the steamy Mekong River. Phnom Penh is an eclectic mix of the old and the new, with pockets of modernity catering to the expat community at phenomenally low prices, with exquisite attention to detail. Coffee and tea served in blue and white china, a flower petal decorating a lunch plate, the lazy hum of ceiling fans stirring the hot, humid air, and sunlight streaming through bamboo shades.

After spending 2 months in Cambodia, I traveled to other parts of South East Asia with my friend Wood for about a month. We went to Siem Riep and saw the ancient majesty of Angkor Wat - massive temple complexes rising up out of the jungle, covered with intricately carved dancing girls that make the Mayan ruins in Central America look like nothing more than melted sandcastles. From Angkor Wat, we went to Hanoi and shopped among its crooked, curving streets, and then went to see the tomb of Ho Chi Minh. Over Ho Chi Minh's tomb gleamed the red symbols of communism, but out on the streets North Vietnam was humming with Capitalism. Hawkers selling trinkets on the street, shop's bursting with goods for sale, gellato parlors, books, handmade silk dresses, leather goods, metal work, fine jewelry, and delicately beaded bags. Hanoi was completely different than anything I had ever heard about Vietnam. It's a shopping Mecca.

From Hanoi, Wood and I traveled to Southern China, where we spent two weeks exploring the picturesque mountain towns of Dali and Lijang, and some larger cities in the Yunnan Province. I had no idea that China was so vast. At one point, I took a 12-hour bus from one point to the next and for hours saw only fields and grass; it was like Kansas, but in China. In Dali, a city smack in the middle of the backpacker's route, we had chocolate banana pancake and peach lassies, almost every morning.

Lijang was my favorite. It was a fairyland set up in the mountains, ringed with fields of giant sunflowers, its buildings fashioned in the traditional Chinese style, its streets dotted with red lanterns in the evening. Wood and I stayed in a guest house run by a family who lived on the premises. Our room was simple and white - white walls, white sheets, and white frosty air in the mornings before the sun's warmth penetrated the stones. Between our two beds was a small table upon which stood a large metal thermos painted with pale pink flowers. Each morning and evening, the guest house refilled the thermos with tea. It was wonderful. So soothing, relaxing, and comforting, and such a hospitable touch. To the Chinese, it was normal, but to me it was special.

Today, at the office, instead of filling up my french press with coffee, I filled it with hot water and dropped in two tea bags of green and black tea with an essence of peach. Sipping the tea and refilling my mug, in between working on my document this morning, I found myself smiling, remembering sipping tea up in the mountains of China with Wood.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Friends + Fun = Drinks

This week, I met up with my friend Pas from D.C. on one night, and my friend Bug from A2 (Ann Arbor for the non-Michiganders out there) on another. Pas was up in New York for work and Bug was back here visiting folks. I feel so lucky I got to see both of them. It's one of the perks of living in New York: People come to you.

My current interest in detoxification (I have another class tonight on detoxification taught by the Chinese herbalist), did not stop me from imbibing a number of toxins. I was celebrating, my friends were in town, how often do I get to see them? You want to prolong the enjoyment of their company and the wine tastes good, so you have another. It's not like I fell off the proverbial wagon. I had two glasses of wine on Tuesday and two glasses of wine + a beer last night. But still, that's 5 drinks already this week. Assuming I have at least 2 drinks on Friday and Saturday, that could easily get me up to almost 10 drinks in one week purely on a social (not-partying) basis. The numbers - and the toxins - can really wrack up.

To counter the toxins, I sometimes alternate between drinks and a glass of club soda with lime. As long as you have a glass in your hand, no one notices (or cares) what's in the glass, but your body notices because you feel a shade better in the morning than you would have had you not alternated. Last night, of course, I didn't alternate. I had a glass of pinot, a syrah, and then a stella artois. I came home and guzzled a glass of water and 2 motrin, channeling my high school days. I also ate some granola to sop up the alcohol, although I'm not sure that was necessary or useful. I feel fine this morning except that my stomach feels like I have a wet clump of clay sitting in it, my mouth is a little dry, and I'm tired. It's just no longer worth it to feel even a twinge of hung-over. It's like a wet blanket dragging across the dirty ground on an otherwise perfectly lovely summer day. This must be because I'm in my 30s, or maybe it's just the effects of having a more healthy lifestyle. It's the whole Princess and the Pea effect.

In any event, I had a terrific time seeing both of my friends, and I wouldn't trade a minute of it - or a drop of the toxins.