My downward spiral started, I think, with the gut punch of the 2016 election. A yellow haze settled over everything in my world and stayed there. It was after that that I started devouring works of fiction like I never have before, sometimes staying up late into the night, searching for some truth that would enlighten or explain or maybe just distract from the shame I felt for our country and the unimaginable, boldfaced idiocy enjoying the limelight every day on every screen of every size, everywhere.
I worked my way through a couple of Celeste Ng novels and a lot of Kristin Hannah and Anthony Doerr. I read a funny book by a former Obama speechwriter called Thanks, Obama. (All highly recommended, by the way). Then one night I found myself in bed bookless and shuffled my slippered feet over to my shelf of unread and unfinished books in our office. I stood and stared for a while at the spines, not reading them so much as waiting for one to jump out at me. It was then that One Hundred Years of Solitude–Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s epic novel telling the story of a civilization in a fictitious town perhaps along the Caribbean coast of South America–caught my eye. So I took it from its shelf, dusted it off, and opened it up. This one was to take me a bit longer to get through than any of the rest, but I was taken with Garcia Marquez’s fantastical world. I started carrying it with me everywhere. My talisman.
Not far from the beginning of the book, there is a time when the fledgling village becomes sick with insomnia, which in the novel is a contagious viral disease. Everyone in the village eventually becomes ill with this disease, and the symptoms are not only an inability to sleep but, over time, the loss of memory, as a result of having not rested their minds, I suppose. People begin to forget. Everything. Realizing that this is happening, one man furiously begins labeling essential things in his life–tools, kitchen items, the animals in his barn–and writes instructions for what to do with each item–chop wood with this axe, boil water in this pot, milk the cows in the morning, take the goats to the pasture, etc. etc.–in an effort to keep a grasp on his life. But as the disease persists, it becomes apparent that even this effort will prove futile because the forgetfulness will run so deep that, eventually, it will erase from minds the meanings of words and even the recognition of the individual letters themselves.
This story shook me to my core: could our connection to reality be so tenuous? And then I thought of our president, who I had been trying to forget, up at all hours of the night tweeting out nonsense, and the millions of people waking the next morning to read it (or, God forbid, receiving notifications at the exact moment of each tweet?!). My God, I thought, yes our connection could indeed be that tenuous. I knew then that I had to get back to writing (and possibly try to get more sleep). I need this exercise like I need yoga and running and swimming. I need this for my sanity. No, more than that: I need this for my joy.
In One Hundred Years of Solitude, it is a wise gypsy who cures the village of their insomnia with a potion. I don’t have anything that life-changing to offer, but I’ll leave you with two of my personal potions: one for 7am and one for 5pm. (It’s important to keep that straight). It’s what I’m calling balance these days.
1/2 cup apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
Leaves from 2 stems of green kale
Handful of parsley (leaves and stems)
Several thinly sliced pieces of ginger (5g if you have a digital scale)
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 scoop collagen peptides*
Blend all ingredients together with one or two ice cubes. Pour into a glass and drink it up.
Notes: Celery and/or avocado are great additions to this drink. For this size recipe, I’d do about a half stick of celery and one-fourth of an avocado.
This recipe is meant to be a snack or as a drink alongside a meal. If you’d like to make it more of a meal replacement, double everything.
*I use Vital Proteins collagen peptides
2 oz bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour bourbon and vermouth over. Stir-swirl (don’t shake!) until ice cold, about 30 seconds. Strain into glass.
Garnish with one of those yummy small batch preserved cherries if you are so lucky as to have those on hand.