Good grief, I never put up the Christmas tree. Am I jinxed? Not yet!

This Christmas, for the first time in 35 years, we never put up the Christmas tree. It’s not that we didn’t have one – we had three, in fact. So what happened? Did I bring down the jinx of Scrooge on my happy home? So far so good – but the holidays aren’t over yet.

Last spring at our UU congregation’s auction, I bid on a fixed-price Christmas brunch complete with a Christmas tree of my choice, fresh cut at the farm of a fellow Unitarian. Fast forward to early December, when my husband decided to rip out and reinsulate the ceiling in the sunroom where we’ve always put the tree. I begged him to postpone the renovation till after New Year’s, but to no avail – he was hell bent on increasing the R value and saving on oil this winter.

This morning the temperature stands at five degrees, and the wind chill is well below zero. Is the sunroom ceiling finished? Not even close. Standing below the exposed roof beams, I can feel the frigid draft. The white spruce tree from our friend’s farm lies forlorn on the front lawn, never having made it through the front door. By now, some efficient neighbors have already stripped and thrown out their trees, so I’m hoping that if we move this one closer to the street, it will be picked up and fed through the town chipper with no one the wiser.

 Anyway, I didn’t get to choose that tree after all. I signed up to usher at a “Sinatra Christmas” big band show at The Egg, thinking I could easily go there after leaving the brunch, but it turned out picking the tree involved a half-mile hike up a snowy road, then felling a 30 foot tree with a chain saw and cutting off the top to yield a tree of the desired size. Our host took a well-deserved brunch break just when I was all set to pick the tree, so my husband drove me home to change into my black and white ushering garb, then drove back to select and help fell the tree. We’ve fought about Christmas tree size for decades – I’ve always wanted them bigger, and I’ve always been there to make the ultimate judgment call – but I had to trust his judgment.

He did the best he could, but it’s hard to pick a Christmas tree when the part you want is 30 feet in the air. The white spruce he brought home was on the scroungy side. Worse, it was pricklier by far than the balsam or Frazier fir we usually get. True, it had dozens of cute little pine cones, but they fell off instantly at the slightest touch, and we knew the ornaments would be highly vulnerable to falling construction debris. So as Christmas came and went, the tree lay naked and neglected in the yard.

But we did enjoy two other Christmas trees. Several years ago I planted a Wichita Blue juniper in front of the house. It’s been very happy there, and it’s now over 12 feet tall, with the slender silhouette of a Van Gogh cypress. This year I festooned it with green, teal and blue lights, and it looks very elegant, though not as raucously festive as our neighbors’ multicolored cascades of lights and inflatable Santas. The most wonderful tree, though, was the one our daughter put up in her new home in Woodstock. It’s full, fragrant, and loaded with lights and ornaments, including some we passed on to her from trees we decorated when she was a child. Watching our granddaughters play with Loki, their gray tabby kitten, beneath that tree on Christmas day, we knew we were truly blessed.

Is this the beginning of a slippery slope? Are we getting too old for Christmas trees? Certainly not. I fully intend to get one next year and for many years to come. They probably won’t come from our friend’s farm, though. Instead we’ll return to one of the nearby garden centers, where I can inhale the tree’s aroma, feel the needles to make sure it’s fresh and not too prickly, spin it around and check for symmetry. And next year’s tree can be taller than ever – the sunroom will be loftier now that we’ve ripped out the old dropped ceiling with its dirty white paneling.

Moral of the story? It’s OK to break with holiday traditions now and then – the sky won’t fall. Just don’t make a habit of it. How about you? Did you break any holiday traditions this year? And how did that make you feel?

Julie & Julie & Julia Part III

Ten days ago my blog scored a record number of hits – 451 in one day. Trying to figure out why, I discovered that 319 of these visits were racked up by a single post –  “Julie & Julie & Julia Part II” from September 2nd. My family and friends would find this ironic in the extreme. I’m a good cook when I set my mind to it, but I avoid the kitchen whenever possible. This post and the one that preceded it were about writing and blogging, and cooking got barely a mention.

So why is the J&J&J post so popular? Note to self: duh – it’s the search engines, dummy. Over the past few months, I’ve been watching my stats climb steadily, and as of today, I’ve logged 24,022 hits on a blog I just started in May. All along I’ve been under the delusion that I’m building a devoted readership, and the comments and stats tell me I’m not entirely wrong, but the majority of visitors are lured in by certain key words and especially by well known names.

Here are my most visited blog posts for the past week, according to WordPress:

  • Julie & Julie & Julia Part II (September 2)
  • Julie & Julie & Julia (August 31)
  • Michael Jackson and the archetype of the tortured artist (July 8th)
  • My blogging story arc – a field of dreams (June 22)
  • Woodstock 1969 Part III: Requiem for the spirit of 1969 (August 12)
  • Woodstock 1969 Part II: Stuck in the muck for 16 straight hours of music (August 9)
  • Woodstock 1969 Part I: I was there with my paintings – now if only I could prove it! (August 6)
  • Did Poe get fan letters too? (October 30)
  • Affordable funerals Part II: Down by the riverside (September 12)
  • TGIF Blog Party – You’re all invited (August 21)

Julie Powell

It’s interesting that these are all older posts – the most recent is from October 30th. Does this mean no one is reading my more recent ramblings? No, those get visits too – just not as many. WordPress tells me where most or all of my readers come from, and a fair number come from other authors’ blogs as well as from online discussion groups like CrimeSpace and Murder Must Advertise. WP also tells me all the posts that have attracted visitors on any given day, so I know many folks visit my static pages with my bio information and sample chapters. Here’s hoping some of those folks are actually buying my books!

Most common searches that drew people to my blog recently: Julia Child, Julia Childs (I purposely inserted the misspelled name as a tag, a trick I picked up somewhere in the past few months), Edgar Allan Poe, Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, baseball diamond (I can’t figure out that last one!)

I tend to shy away from statistics. In fact, sheer panic drove me to drop out of a statistics class at Dutchess Community College – me with my hotshot degrees from Barnard, Columbia and NYU. (I eventually enrolled for statistics again and got an A – a necessary evil, since it was a prerequisite for the PhD psychology program I briefly enrolled in. But that’s another story.)

I’m hereby making a New Year’s Resolution to put more time into understanding the wealth of blogging statistics available to me on WordPress, thereby maximizing the  effectiveness of the many hours I spend online. Meanwhile, for my Christmas blog post, I’ll create a short story incorporating all the popular names, subjects and tags that show up in my stats. Be sure to check back then! For anyone who’s read this far: sorry I never got around to the subject of cooking. But I’m sticking in some photos of Julia Child and Julie Powell as a consolation prize.

Fellow bloggers, do you have any wisdom to share about statistics and blog hits? I know many of you are far more sophisticated than I am on this subject, and I’d love to hear from you. 

©2009 Julie Lomoe

Too old for downhill skiing? No way!

I’ve been thinking about downhill skiing, but I haven’t hit the slopes yet this year. It’s been abnormally warm in the Northeast, and most ski areas opened much later than usual. Today my daily e-mail from Jiminy Peak reports packed powder conditions, but I know the snow is machine-made, and the wind chill is below zero. I’m putting it off till we’ve got a few inches of the real stuff, a calm, sunny day, and minimal lift lines. Chances are that means January.

I wrote the following poem several years ago, when I took up downhill skiing after a hiatus of many years. When I wrote of the skeptics who told me I was too old, I really meant my husband, but I was too diplomatic to say so. He was relieved today when I told him I might not ski as much this year  – he still thinks I’m too old, and he’s still wrong.

Downhill Skiing

Too old for downhill skiing? The skeptics told me so.

On the downhill side of sixty, my brittle bones might shatter

If I fell. My reflexes, never all that great, were no doubt shot by now.

My Rossignols, state of the art in ‘69, were obsolete today,

The leather run-away straps flat-out illegal. Now metal brakes are in.

New equipment? Rent if you must, they said – you’ll soon get over this insanity.

The skeptics spurred me onward to the slopes.

 

On the first day of downhill, I thought they might be right.

Muscles screaming in pain by mid-day, trembling, weak.

My brush-up lesson an exercise in panic, my instructor a sadistic drill sergeant.    

Don’t work so hard, he barked. Face down the fall line!

No more cowardly traverses – carve big, arcing turns!

You’ll pick up speed, but it’s all right – let the mountain take you down!

The falling was easy, the getting up, well nigh impossible.

 

On the second day of downhill, I gave it one more chance.

A four-hour twilight ticket, alone under the arc lights.

A full moon flanked by Saturn, the mountain glistening white

With dusky shadows, snow boarders hurtling by.

Fleeting glimmers of hope, elation when turns felt right.

My falls were fewer than the first time. Once, two men skied to my rescue,

Made sure I was unharmed and helped me to my feet. I have trouble too, one said.

The rigid boots don’t let you flex your ankles. It’s hard for everyone.

 

On the third day of downhill, I wasn’t quite so scared.

Another night excursion, a few more runs this time, and just one fall.

Carving huge curves through fresh powder, conquering moguls,

Remembering the sergeant’s words, facing down the mountain,

Relishing the growing sense of power in my thighs,

The sense of cellulite melting away, vanquished by muscle.

The tingling sense of well being and the hot chocolate in the lodge.

 

On the fourth day of downhill, I knew that I was hooked.

Glorious sunlight, fresh fallen snow and steeper slopes than ever.

Still the young men on snowboards, surfing far too fast,

But I’d learned to trust to fate, to share the chairlifts with them.

I promise not to kick you getting off, said one. But if I do, feel free to kick me back.

They fell often, flailing in spectacular windmill wipeouts, then popping up unharmed.

Me, I didn’t fall at all the fourth time. But if I had, it would have been all right.

 

Too old for downhill skiing? I proved them wrong.

I’ll always be a cautious intermediate, shun the black diamond expert runs.

But I’ll buy those jazzy skis and boots, be stronger, swifter than I was at twenty,

A Viking crone carving graceful arcs on my long slow downhill glide.

©2003 Julie Lomoe

I’ve gotten the jazzy equipment I wrote about, plus a helmet – I don’t want to end up like Natasha Richardson. I rarely fall anymore.  My prediction was dead right  – I’m still a cautious intermediate, and I still haven’t skied any black diamond trails. But I’ve got my coupons for free lift tickets from the Warren Miller movie, and a Value Pass for discounts at Jiminy, which is only 35 minutes from my house. And I’m still a member of the Out of Control Ski Club, which runs bus trips to Stratton and Gore with ample time for après-ski partying.

Writing this post, I’m getting more in the mood for skiing. What about you? Any downhill skiers out there? I’d love to hear from you, especially if you’re in the Capital Region. Maybe we could carpool to Stratton some Wednesday – that’s when they honor the free lift ticket coupons.

UU – A spiritual home for the holidays

Last Sunday, as Service Leader at my Unitarian Universalist congregation, I started the service with a mini-testimonial. I joined my first UU congregation at a particularly dark, stressful period in my life. I’d say it’s been a Godsend, but like most UU’s, I’m not comfortable using the G word. In this darkest time of the year, when holiday joy is virtually mandatory, I’m sure there are many folks struggling with feelings of loss and depression. If by any chance you haven’t found a spiritual home, perhaps this post is for you. Here’s what I said on Sunday:

 

 

 In sweet fields of autumn the gold grain is falling,

the white clouds drift lonely, the wild swan is calling.

Alas for the daisies, the tall fern and grasses,

when wind sweep and rainfall fill lowlands and passes.

That’s the first verse of the beautiful hymn “In Sweet Fields of Autumn,” and it reduced me to tears when I heard it 15 years ago on my first visit to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills. I was going through a difficult time: I was running my home care agency, ElderSource, an incredibly stressful business that demanded my attention 24/7, and my teenage daughter had just left home to explore the country on her own. I was depressed and anxious, and the congregation promised comfort and community – I think I was sobbing with relief when I heard that hymn.

I’d been without a church for over 40 years. My parents were both staunch atheists, but out of a sense of obligation, feeling I had the right to explore my own religious path, they took me to the Unitarian Sunday School in Milwaukee. But when the boy next door invited me to go with his family to the Episcopalian Church, I jumped at the chance. It didn’t take long for me to get converted. When my parents asked why I wanted to switch, I said, “At the Unitarian church, all they have is some jigsaw puzzles with the pieces missing, but at the Episcopalian church, I get to march behind the gold cross and sing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers.’”

Eventually I got myself baptized and confirmed Episcopalian, but sometime in my teenage years, I came to the realization that I was not and would never be a true believer.  Except for a few weddings and funerals, that was the end of my church going for the next four decades, until the UU Congregation of the Catskills quite literally threw me a lifeline.

In 1998, I closed the agency, and my husband and I pulled up roots in New Paltz and moved to Troy, where we knew practically no one. The transition was tough, but once we found the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Albany, the sense of being part of a welcoming community made us feel at home. I found ways of getting involved – I chaired the Adult Education Committee, and later Small Group Ministry. The prospect of publishing in Oriel [FUUSA’s annual literary magazine] inspired me to start writing poetry, and I joined the motley crew that writes and performs the annual dinner skit.

Today I’m at a good point in my life, with a lot to be grateful for, and my participation in this welcoming community is part of the reason. The depression and anxiety are long gone, and I no longer sob over the sad words in hymns, but I know that if times get tough, this congregation will be there for me.

Last week I took my granddaughters to the Congregation of the Catskills, which is just ten minutes from their new home in West Hurley. They both liked it and want to go back, and Kaya’s going to be involved in the R.E.’s Festival of Lights presentation next Sunday. I’m hoping they’ll grow up as part of the beloved community it took me 40 years to find.

I invite readers to visit the national website of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. There you’ll find a lot more information, including a directory of more than 1,000 congregations listed by geographical area. At all of them, no matter where you fall on the spectrum of beliefs, you’ll find a warm welcome.

There’s something about Unitarian Universalism that seems to attract writers – on one of the panels I moderated for the Poisoned Pen Web Con, four panelists out of five turned out to be UU’s! But whether you’re a UU or not, I welcome your comments here.

M.E. Kemp’s historical mysteries feature nosy Puritans

Today I’m delighted to welcome my friend M.E. Kemp, who writes fascinating and witty historical mysteries set in upstate New York and New England. She grew up in Oxford, Massachusetts, where her ancestors settled in 1713. Her grandfather’s tales of family history from the Civil War to the Gold Rush and her father’s penchant for trips to historic sites brought history alive for Kemp. After years of writing textbooks and magazine articles, she began a mystery series featuring Hetty Henry and Creasy Cotton, two nosy Puritans from Boston.  

I got to know M.E. Kemp, aka Marilyn Rothstein, when she encouraged me to join The Unusual Suspects, a wonderful group of mystery writers based in Saratoga Springs. Her feedback and encouragement have been invaluable to me over the past several years. Her fourth book, Death of a Dancing Master, will be published in the fall of 2010. Visit her website, www.mekempmysteries.com, to learn more about Marilyn and her books. Here’s what she has to say about historical mysteries:

WRITING THE HISTORICAL MYSTERY by M.E. Kemp

M.E. Kemp

We try to be accurate to the best of our abilities, we writers of historical mysteries.  My preference is to walk over or to ride through the scene I’m going to write about.  I want to get the feel of the place.  For instance, I took a boat ride down the Hudson River so I could see what the shoreline looked like in the 17th c.  (It hasn’t changed much.)  I sneaked onto private property to view a backwater location for one of my books.  I wanted to know what kind of reeds grew on the shore and what the old house looks like.  (Actually, I rang the bell first, but no one was home.)  This was for my book set in the Albany area, DEATH OF A DUTCH UNCLE.    I also like to go to colonial sites with a special interest in the kitchen areas.  I want to know what kinds of foods they ate and what they drank.  The people of Ipswich, MA. must have had stomachs made of iron — one tavern’s speciality was a drink made of: beer, rum, molasses and bread crumbs!  Doesn’t that sound yummy?

Probably the scariest research I did was on West Indies Voodoo.  (Anyone want the recipe for making a zomby? And I don’t mean the drink.)  One shrine I saw featured a butcher knife stuck in a pail of knick-knacks.  It seemed effective in keeping the spooks away — I know it kept me away.

There are advantages to this insistence upon accuracy.  I have to make a trip or two to Cape Cod to check out the shore line in the Mid-Cape area.  This is for the fifth book in my series featuring two nosy Puritans as detectives.  This area is historic and also a prime area for artists and writers.  Two summers before I spent a week on a beautiful beach in Ipswich, MA for my book that involves the Salem witch trials; DEATH OF A BAWDY BELLE.  Salem is such a busy city I felt that Ipswich has more of the 17th c. feel to it.  Although I stayed away from drinking in Ipswich taverns.

I took fencing lessons, which  helped with my fourth book, DEATH OF A DANCING MASTER.  (This book will be out from L&L Dreamspell in the Fall of 2010.)  The dancing master is killed with a fencing foil — he taught fencing to men and dancing to women, which is what got  him into trouble.  My stories are based on real quirks of history.  In this case, the dancing master wasn’t killed, but he was run out of Boston by the ministers and the magistrates.  When I read about this I thought of all the suspects there would be if he were murdered!  That’s the way our devious minds work in the writing game.   I am currently working on my fifth book, DEATH OF A  CAPE COD CAVALIER, and my cavalier gets too friendly with the ladies, which may be the cause of his demise . . . Time will tell, as I’ve only just begun to write this book.  But if my research calls for my lounging on the beaches of the Cape this summer — well, it’s a tough  job, but somebody’s got to do it.

For introverted writers: Can you find success by tapping into your inner extrovert? Take a free online test and find out!

 

Edward Munch

I’ve always considered myself an introvert, and I suspect the majority of writers would characterize themselves the same way. How else could we spend countless solitary hours at the computer, spinning tales from our imaginations? Yet sending our creations out into the marketplace in hopes of finding an audience requires a radical change of roles. Now and then, like it or not, we have to don the masks of extroverts.

Tonight (sic – see note below) I’m psyching myself up to be a raconteur. The Friends of the Albany Public Library have chosen me as Author of the Year for my suspense novel Eldercide, and tomorrow they’ll be honoring me at a luncheon, after which I’ll give a half-hour talk followed by a Q&A and hopefully some book sales. Speaking in public isn’t a problem for me; it’s a skill I’ve cultivated over the years. In my former lifetime as an art therapist, I taught and gave workshops, and for many years I’ve been a member of the Mental Health Players, an improvisatory theater troupe that performs before and interacts with a wide variety of audiences.

I enjoy fielding questions about my writing and tossing off zingy one-liners that make the audience laugh. But I positively loath what follows: sitting behind a table and a pile of my books, smiling, chatting, and hoping my dazzling (or sometimes pedestrian) performance will translate into sales. Even when I succeed in selling books, I generally come home from these events utterly drained, and spend the next few hours vegging out in my trusty old recliner, slugging down wine and watching TV with my two cats on my lap.

The aforementioned dysfunctional behavior is a dead giveaway. We introverts may put on a good show, even genuinely enjoy socializing and selling up to a point, but putting ourselves out in the world saps our energy. True extroverts, on the other hand, thrive on social interaction. It replenishes and energizes them, while what energizes me is creating in isolation, whether it’s writing, painting, or playing the piano.

Renoir

Our personalities are endlessly complex, of course, and most of us have the ability to shift from one role to another as the occasion demands. The spectrum between introvert and extrovert is only one of many. One way of exploring your temperament more deeply is to take a test based on the Myers Briggs Personality Test, which in turn is derived from Jungian theories. Several are available free on line. I took one several years ago, but I wasn’t sure I remembered the results correctly, so I took it again today, answering 60 yes/no questions at a rapid clip, trying not to overthink my responses. I came out exactly the same: I’m an INFP. Those initials stand for introvert, intuitive, feeling and perceiving.

According to educational psychologist David Keirsey’s widely used Temperament Sorter, I’m an “idealist healer.” My type “can seem shy, even distant around others. . . Because of their deep-seated reserve, however, they can work quite happily alone. . . They have a natural interest in scholarly activities and demonstrate, like the other Idealists, a remarkable facility with language. They have a gift for interpreting stories, as well as for creating them, and thus often write in lyric, poetic fashion.”

Wow, I like that! It’s even better than astrology, and it has some genuine scientific validity behind it. Maybe I’ll enlarge the description and paste it above my computer.

What type are you? Why not take the test and find out! Here’s the link: www.humanmetrics.com. To learn more about the four temperaments and the 16 personality types, go to http://keirsey.com. After you have your results, it would be great if you post them here as a comment, and let us know if you think the results are accurate.

Note: This post originally appeared on Jane Kennedy Sutton’s blog, Jane’s Ride, on November 16th as part of my blog book tour. She describes her blog as a “journey through the ups and downs, ins and outs and loop the loops of the writing, publishing and marketing world. Go check her out – I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

By the way, my honorary luncheon went very well. I had my game on, sold more books than ever before, enjoyed myself thoroughly and came away energized. The fact that my husband handled the sales table helped enormously, of course.

I’ve received almost two dozen responses from writers who took the Jung Typology Test, and so far, every single one has scored as an introvert. Are there any extrovert exceptions out there? I’m still collecting responses, so why not take the test and post your results in a comment here if you haven’t already done so. The experience is easy and fun, and I guarantee you’ll learn a lot about yourself. Once again, the link is www.humanmetrics.com. I’d love to hear from you! After I get a few more responses, I’ll write a post about the results.

 

 

Was Jane Austen a professional author? Not according to the Mystery Writers of America!

Jane Austen

This past Wednesday, December 2nd, both literally and figuratively, I suffered through my crappiest visit ever to New York City. I’d been looking forward to a day in Manhattan, culminating in the gala holiday party held by the Mystery Writers of America at the National Arts Club. I caught Amtrak’s 8:05 Empire Express from the Rensselaer station, but as I exited Penn Station, I experienced an acute attack of what might politely be called gastrointestinal distress.

I barely made it to the women’s restroom on Macy’s second floor – having lived in Manhattan for 18 years, I still knew my way around, even managed to find the secret old-fashioned escalator with the wide wooden treads – and found blessed relief in the nick of time. Next, I found a Duane-Reade drugstore, popped some Immodium, and headed for the Morgan Library to see the exhibit of William Blake watercolors and engravings. Happily, I also stumbled upon an exhibition titled “A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy.”

I’m shamefully ill-acquainted with Austen’s work, but the exhibit was fascinating. I was especially intrigued by the display featuring the first edition of Sense and Sensibility, written between 1795 and 1797. The description read in part:

It was published on commission by Thomas Egerton in 1811, an arrangement in which Austen paid all the publication expenses but retained the copyright and increased her potential profit.

Wow! That sounds exactly like my arrangement with my publisher, Virtualbookworm. So Jane Austen started out as a self-published author. Would she have been eligible for active membership in Mystery Writers of America? Absolutely not.

Today I received an e-mail from MWA, which begins as follows:

Dear MWA Member:

The Board of Mystery Writers of America voted unanimously on Wednesday to remove Harlequin and all of its imprints from our list of Approved Publishers, effective immediately. We did not take this action lightly. We did it because Harlequin remains in violation of our rules regarding the relationship between a traditional publisher and its various for-pay services.

What does this mean for current and future MWA members?

Any author who signs with Harlequin or any of its imprints from this date onward may not use their Harlequin books as the basis for active status membership nor will such books be eligible for Edgar® Award consideration. However books published by Harlequin under contracts signed before December 2, 2009 may still be the basis for Active Status membership and will still be eligible for Edgar® Award consideration.

When they address me as “Dear MWA Member,” they don’t mean I’m a full-fledged Active Status member. Rather, I’m an Affiliate Member, meaning I’m not a legitimate author, and I don’t get any of the major perks, but they’re willing to take my money. In fact, reading the criteria on their website, I may not even qualify for this level of membership. They mention agents, attorneys, editors and other professionals, but nowhere do they mention authors who are self-published, pre-published, or published with a press that doesn’t meet their lofty criteria. In their eyes, apparently we don’t exist.

National Arts Club

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that I was too sick to attend that fancy MWA party. I’m a firm believer in gut reactions and synchronicity. Normally, though I go through a fair number of Tums, my own gut is pretty sturdy, so I didn’t know what was happening to me. The Morgan Library is equipped with a beautiful new ladies’ room with lovely tiling and a large handicapped stall with which I became intimately acquainted over the course of several hours. During my fourth stay in that stall, fearing I might be coming down with the flu, I realized I was never going to make it to the Kandinsky show at the Guggenheim, much less the MWA party, so I trudged back to Penn Station and caught the 4:40 train back home.

The party would have been great; I had a wonderful time last year. But in addition to the lavish hors d’oeuvres, there was an open bar, and I might have said things I’d regret in the cold light of morning. Instead I spent the evening in bed – no food, no booze. I was fine in the morning, so fortunately, it wasn’t the flu  – just something I couldn’t stomach.

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