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Bargaining with the Green Fairy

Two things happened this month and one of them might be life-changing.

First, I am 10 days in to Go Sober for October. (It’s a UK thing.) Second, Dunn-Edwards, the paint company, came out with its 2018 Color of the Year.

It’s the latter that might be life-changing. The Color of the Year is called “The Green Hour,” a grayed-out green described as having “dual personalities”: moody and intense and, at the same time, “grounding and tranquil.” The name comes from the 19th century custom of drinking absinthe in the evening in Paris.

Surely this is a sign that I need to get to know the green fairy.

For Oscar Wilde, absinthe was “as poetical as anything in the world.” Hemingway called it “idea-changing liquid alchemy.”

I just know it looks pretty, tastes good, and creates a mindful ritual around drinking. The color and taste of absinthe varies, as is the case with wine, and absinthe appreciation may be the last frontier of my drinking career.

Like a lot of people, I have a complicated “relationship” with alcohol. Long story short, my middle-age body (Jesus, did I just write that?!?) has just about persuaded my mind that alcohol is not our friend anymore.

I used to favor Cabernet franc but I’m on medicine that gives wine a metallic taste. I love a good IPA, but they give my taste buds such a flogging that I only appreciate the first one. Continuing to drink out of habit when I’m not even enjoying it is senseless and comes at a steep price. As productivity expert Chris Bailey writes, “Drinking alcohol borrows energy from tomorrow.” His advice: If you’re going to drink at all, it’s worth doing “strategically and with intent.”

That’s where the absinthe comes in. This is my third 30-day “time out” from drinking this year, and it’s helped me understand that I misuse alcohol in a number of ways, from trying to self-medicate and alleviate stress to bluffing my way through social anxiety. Still, I’m not going the teetotaling route, as I truly and deeply appreciate the craft involved in turning a poison into something palatable.

Speaking of transformation, I like the absinthe ritual of La Louche. I want the fountain, the Pontarlier glasses, the slotted spoons.

I want to live like actor Johnny Galecki who declared, “Right now, I’m very healthy. I have no vices left. Except sugary breakfast cereal. And absinthe, of course.”

I want to summon the green fairy rarely, with minimal “borrowed energy,” because my old friend the Lucky Charms leprechaun lacks sufficient magic to restore it in the morning.

 

Of Moths and Men

I tuned into Silence of the Lambs the other night just in time for the scene where Agent Starling visits the entomologists in their hidey hole at the Museum of Natural History. One of the bug guys has strabismus; the other exclaims “Tough noogies!” after a disputed move in their game of live-bug chess. On the handful of occasions I’ve interviewed entomologists, I’ve found them to be endearingly dorky and a little on the weird side, looks-wise and otherwise. Realizing they can’t all be like the googly-eyed fellow so smitten with Starling, I Googled “sexy entomologist” (not without trepidation) and turned up this Lepidoptera lover. Ooh-la-larva!

Butterfly with an enviable perch.
Butterfly with an enviable perch.

That mug looks kissable if you can stomach the fact that Torres eats cricket-flour pancakes for breakfast. And why not? After all, normal everyday wheat flour contains, on average, 75 or more insect fragments per 50 grams, along with a smidge of rodent hair according to the FDA.

On a related note, I visited the Harrell House Bug Museum in Sante Fe last September and saw an actual Silence of the Lambs moth specimen (aka the death’s head hawkmoth).

Meet Acherontia atropos, whose skull-like markings mean he’ll forever be typecast as a bad guy.
Meet Acherontia atropos, whose skull-like markings mean he’ll forever be typecast as a bad guy.

I also got to handle a tarantula, Madagascar hissing cockroach, scorpion, millipede and other assorted crawlies.

Big hairy spider (nonscientific name)
Big hairy spider (nonscientific name)
Meh, I’ve seen roaches 10 times this big in Texas.
Meh, I’ve seen roaches 10 times this big in Texas.
Spelling lesson: Those are pincers, not pinchers.
Spelling lesson: Those are pincers, not pinchers.
A firm handshake. (It kind of hurt, actually.)
A firm handshake. (It kind of hurt, actually.)

Ode to Emerald

Why so glum, Wicked Witch? Green is de rigueur this year!
Why so glum, Wicked Witch? Green is de rigueur this year!

This is old news if you work in the visual arts (and non-news if you don’t), but Pantone’s 2013 Color of the Year is emerald (Pantone 17-5641). Described as lively and radiant, the intense color calls to mind Dorothy’s glittery destination in The Wizard of Oz. However, I recently learned that the Emerald City is not, in fact, green. In Frank Baum’s first Oz book, only the walls are green, but everyone is made to wear green-tinted eyeglasses to protect their peepers from “the brightness and glory” of the city. I know it’s because of the movie that we all believe the city itself is green, but it made me think how often we are convinced things are a certain way, when all the time, it’s the way we’re seeing things, and not the things themselves.

Speaking of green, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!