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from Zendaka
weekly tea: organic signature silk black tea
Confession time: I have been sleeping on this tea.
I got a tiny little sample pack from the tea purveyor when I ordered a different tea. That other tea is one of my favorites (and I will probably highlight it at some time). But for some reason, despite knowing that I adored one of the teas I got from this shop, I set the packet in my container for samples and ignored it for approximately six months for absolutely no good reasons that I can think of.
Finally, I said, “well, let's give it a try, let's see what happens.”
Friends, this tea is extraordinary: delicate, sweet, and floral with a depth of flavor that almost touches on cinnamon. The dry leaves smell amazing. This brews more like a white tea than a black tea. Lower water temperature (I used 175) and a shorter brewing time (I started with 15 seconds and worked up to 30 over successive steeps) do wonders. Best of all, it's pretty inexpensive, starting at $1.75 for the sample pack I tried. (As far as I can tell, Zendaka is a business local to Colorado that only has an Etsy store as an online presence.)

First snow
It’s finally cold enough, and wet enough, that we’re getting occasional snow falls. On Monday Night, snow started just as the sun was falling and blanketed the plants in our new front yard overnight. Now that we have a variety of plants that add height and interest, snow turns the yard into a piece of magic.
I grew up in Southern California. I remember one year where a few flakes of snow fell from the sky and we went outside and tried to catch them in our mouths. They didn’t stick. They didn’t even cause more than a flutter. So for me, there’s something about snow that always gives me a sense of wonder.
I also lived in Michigan for three years. Snow in Michigan is great on the first day. It’s pretty on the second day. After about a week, the snow stays there and it turns brown and crusty, or if it’s on the side of the streets, turns into dark sludge.
Snow on the Colorado front range is probably my favorite snow that I’ve experienced. You get one or two gorgeous days of snow before the weather gets hot enough that it all melts and it’s warm-ish for a week. Then it snows again.
All the wonder; none of the crud.

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Unveiled isn’t my first published book. It’s my third. But in many ways, this feels like my “first” book.
My actual first book was, I think, a book where I was just putting together how to write a book and hadn’t yet figured out how to write a book that was my book. My second book, I was trying to write my book but… anyway, not to get too in to it, but I don’t think it was me.
Unveiled was the first book where I look back and feel like I wrote it, largely because the hero could have been a jerk. When I first got the idea, he was supposed to be a jerk. This did not last at all, and writing Ash, who was a genuinely good person (with flaws, of course) who actually cared about Margaret for who she was, and not what she could do for him, made me understand a little more about myself and the kind of books I wanted to write.

Buy Unveiled on:
Dopamine doldrums
I have been slowly figuring out how my brain handles dopamine, because whew, it is not great. One of the stages I’ve managed to identify is what I call the dopamine doldrums. It follows after a period of frenetic dopamine feeding.
In my case, this was refreshing ballot returns in the still-not-official midterm elections. There’s something about the act that feels almost exactly like hitting a slot machine. Ooh, new drop, the lead has increased by 200! Oh no, new drop, the lead has decreased by 150. My brain loves this (and this is one of the reasons I will never, ever play real slot machines, no not even once, not for fun). It can feed on this for days.
This lasts until the returns stop refreshing, and the easy dopamine hits go away. Suddenly all the normal, boring things that give me tiny doses of dopamine are boring and dull. This state is what I have come to call the “dopamine doldrums.” It‘s a weird period for my brain—before I recognized it for what it was, a tiny form of dopamine addiction for my brain, which is very good with many things but sucks at handling dopamine—I would find myself inexplicably chasing after dopamine by doing things like finishing 150 games of sudoku in a week, even though I don’t actually like sudoku. (If that doesn’t make sense to you, congratulations, I hope it never does.)
Now that I know what’s happening, I can say, “aha, I am in dopamine doldrums, and the thing to do is to just take everything very slowly. Get up in the morning. Have breakfast. Get some work done, even if my brain keeps hosting ‘Squirrel!’ and trying to run away. Take some time to do things you enjoy but which aren’t dopamine heavy. Give it time, and it’ll get better.”
Lo and behold, things are finally evening out.

SEE YOU next week.
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