Writerly addictions and the evils of envy

In response to a funny and revelatory conversation my friend Lola had with herself about whether she was drinking too much, shared with those of us in her blogosphere (photo included), I felt compelled to weigh in. My responses are typically a little about the other person – thoughtful advice and a lot about me. These days Lola is drinking a fair amount of wine, using the reds to wash away the blues, and rouse a little seasonal, albeit fleeting cheer. So what if mood-altering substances often leave us lower than we started, and require an ongoing fix.

Here’s what I told her.

My friend Wendy believes Gin is the new Shangri-La, the elixir for long life. Her research for this determination is spotty hearsay, but a fair amount of it. The “my grandmother drank a gin martini every day and lived until she was 98," type qualitative stuff. Irrelevant were such factors as How long were they drinking before they passed? Might their longevity be attributed to a pickling process? Or Would they have lived to 106, if it weren’t for hypertension from all the salt in the martini olives? Speculation aside, point is, maybe it's the type of alcohol Lola is drinking, and not the alcohol itself at the root of the problem (Not that I'm saying she has a problem.) Lola’s therapist suggested a two-week hiatus, which Lola thought untenable and unnecessary punishment - the theoretically festive season, a ridiculous time for such an undertaking.

I suggested she consider Gin for those two weeks.

Lola loves using the artistic temperament rationale for her less healthy predilections and I think it works. They are broadly understood as the vices of creativity. Here’s where the story becomes about me. Alcohol consumption is a sexier dependency than sugar. When I feel stressed, flustered, lost, stuck for the next word, I tend to reach for a handful, and not a modest one, of chocolate, cookies or candy, stopping short of spoonfuls of the white stuff itself. It feels like a slothful, unwriterly addiction - not the stuff of literary or existential angst, but of uncontrolled, sit-around-watching-soap-operas-type over-indulgence.

Raymond Chandler, Tennessee Williams, Dorothy Parker, Dylan Thomas, Truman Capote, Christopher Hitchens – all unapologetic over-consumers. Imagine them pounding the keys or waxing literary over bowls of Smarties or Reeses Pieces.

I know, this is not only superficial, it’s silly. I’m not wishing for a substance that’s sexier to abuse. I’m really not. But I find it notably pathetic that I am slightly envious of Lola’s edgier inclinations.

Sadly, this is only the tip of the envy iceberg. How do I move forward without stumbling continuously into that muddy cesspool? It's ugly in there, and an avoidable waste of time.

Don't go looking on my blog for a picture of me shoving gummy worms in my mouth anytime soon.

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