On Drinking, Writing & Living Overseas

I recently had the wonderful experience of being interviewed by the prolific poetess and daring promptress (as in lighting a fire under writers) known as Jena Schwartz.  Jena asked me some of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked — prompting some of my most honest answers ever about writing, drinking and traveling.  Thank you, Jena, for this great opportunity to connect with you…

Preorder the Book that took a Lifetime to Write

The time has come to offer you my new memoir, DRYLAND: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety, now available for pre-order on Amazon. I’ve waited years, decades for this moment. Exactly how much time has gone into this book? Oh, just my entire lifetime. Twenty years as a champion swimmer in Florida. One-and-a-half years as half-assed Peace Corps Volunteer…

An American Muslim, Courtesy of Abu Dhabi

A few days ago, I announced that I’d converted to Islam. I was surprised by how many people seemed surprised. I’d like to share a glimpse into that transformation with a few short passages from my new memoir, DRYLAND, which I’ve been working on for more than a year a year and a half. I guess…

The High Dive

Since going sober sixteen months ago, I’ve dreaded Friday nights and the party mindset that comes with the weekend. But recently, I decided to change my perspective. I took my 12-year-old son David to the public pool, and we spent the early evening redefining “Happy Hour.” I joined him on the long twisty-turny slide, and…

How Islam Saved My Life

Fourteen months ago I quit drinking while residing in Abu Dhabi with my family.  Not only was I tired of the cycle of being hungover every morning and craving booze every night, my alcohol use seemed magnified in close proximity to a non-drinking Muslim population. Today, I credit a region of the world that confounds…

The Grapes of My Wrath

Something about our upcoming trip to Italy has been gnawing at me. Obviously the destination is not among our more standard far-flung fare. And we only have one flight to make instead of three or four. Am I longing for a more difficult and distant adventure? You know, like the good old days of last year in Jordan, Egypt and India. Remember when I…

The Last Supper: Redemption in the Middle East

While Allan made chicken soup, I played the card game “Go Fish” with David as Sky News Television reported the day’s events: Saudi Arabia bombing rebels in neighboring Yemen. We were acting like a normal family on the evening of March 27, 2015, even though nothing was normal. A regular night would have entailed booze…

Arms and the Woman

In eight years of hardcore writing, I’ve probably amassed several thousands pages of content. But only a few hundred have amounted to anything. The process of choosing words to shape selected stories from my head is, in itself, very telling. And never before has that been more clear than with my latest project, The Octopus Club. As I laid down these particular 50,000…

The Yearling

In six weeks, I will have been sober for 365 days. These ten-and-a-half months easily count among the most difficult times of my life. Being in recovery is a reckoning.  Note the use of the present-continuous form of that verb. I haven’t quit drinking. I am always quitting. I am not all better. I am getting better. I’m not reborn….

183 Days: The Agony, Irony and Ecstasy

Happy Anniversary to me, myself and I. We are celebrating 6 months without alcohol. Though I will confess that the terms “happy” and “celebrating” are debatable. Giving up something you love because you love it too much is a hateful task. Especially if you loved white wine and vodka martinis because they took some of the hate, anxiety…