Cookie Decorating and Cocktails: Themed Parties For the Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us, and one of the most timeless, beloved traditions is cookie decorating before Christmas time. Instead of setting aside an afternoon to bake batch after batch of Christmas cookies, why not plan a full-blown cookie decorating party to include friends and family?

How a Cookie Decorating Party Works

A cookie decorating party can work in one of two ways. You can ask all guests to bring their own favorite cookies, undecorated, to the party for a group decorating project. Or, you can ask guests to pitch in and make batches of cookies in your kitchen that you can all decorate together once they cool, fresh out of the oven.

For a smaller gathering with a few friends, baking cookies and decorating together will work well. For a larger party of five or more, it’s a better idea to ask guests to bring their own undecorated cookies so you don’t have to worry about squeezing a large group into a crowded, hot kitchen to bake cookies together.

To plan ahead, make sure that you have all of the necessary decorating supplies set up in advance in different stations throughout the room, including:

• Aprons or smocks
• Paper towels
• Tubes of icing in different colors
• Sprinkles and other assorted decorations
• Food coloring
• Small paintbrushes

From there, it’s time to get cracking! Guests can decorate plain cookies of their choice with different icings and assorted decorations, like sprinkles, chocolate chips, M&Ms, crushed peppermint, and more. You may also choose to splurge on fancy holiday cookie decorations like colored sugar, silver ball candies, and cinnamon hearts.

All of the decorations can be set up in individual bowls for use at each decorating station. Guests can also create their own colored icing with food coloring to paint different designs on each cookie using a small paintbrush.

Adult Beverages for Cookie Decorating

If this is an adults-only party, you have the perfect opportunity to pair holiday cookies with delicious seasonal cocktails to enjoy throughout the decorating process. Depending upon the type of cookies that you decorate, whether they’re plain sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, or even peanut butter cookies, you can pair your holiday drinks accordingly.

Decorated holiday sugar cookies will go well with a warm beverage like Irish Coffee or spiked cider. You can also make a large batch of alcoholic holiday punch with flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, served chilled and topped with a splash of cranberry juice and sparkling wine.

For more flavorful cookies, like peanut butter or snickerdoodle, serve a refreshing holiday favorite like mulled wine, peppermint martinis, or rich yet satisfying alcoholic eggnog.

For an adult-themed cookie decorating holiday bash, make sure to provide guests with the convenience of arranging transportation to and from the venue with a limo rental or luxury town car. This will allow guests to ride safely to and from the party destination so that they can enjoy a few holiday cocktails without having to worry about driving home at the end of the evening. ‘Tis the season!

The Easiest Way to Write, Publish And Be Selling Your First Kindle eBook in 30 Days or Less

Who else would love to write their first eBook this month? Are you a coach, consultant, teacher or trainer who would love to see your first book published, downloaded and discussed around the globe?

The truth is, most online entrepreneurs crave the attention, the affection and the publicity that publishing a book will bring, but don’t have the stamina and persistence to get to the finish line.

After all… writers block is probably the biggest enemy for “REAL” writers who want to self publish, how much harder is it for online entrepreneurs and marketers who want to publish purely for publicity purposes, right?

I’m going to give you a really simple “secret” strategy that will help you overcome this obstacle, and if you follow my directions, you’ll have your first book ready to be uploaded within 30 days. (works in just about any niche you have PASSION or genuine authority or expertise)

The secret is simple.

Codify and collate questions from your community, into content.

For example, the Tumblr platform has baked this into their platform incredibly well, and as a result, some of the most popular Tumblr’s are now very books to boot.

How so?

The “Ask Me Anything” and “Submit” feature allows other readers from around the web to submit questions, thoughts, opinions or stories… and due to the viral nature of social media, and built in beauty of blogging around a topic that people share passion and a sense of purpose… you can get an AVALANCHE of submissions in YOUR niche, very quickly.

Next –

You simply take the best questions, content and submissions, and codify it into a structure that works as a book. It really IS that easy, and if you have a popular blog or Tumblr now with lots of existing readers, you can literally do this in a weekend. (especially if you are in an emotive niche where people like to share)

A great example of this?

There are a bunch, but one of my favorites is the “Clients from Hell” blog. Not only have they created a world famous blog around a pretty common shared experience by service professionals (difficult clients) they’ve turned the blog into a brand, a business and a blooming bank account to boot! (with a whole store set up around T-shirts, Mugs, and other branded goods that creative professionals buy by the busload)

Their book… and blog is ALL user generated content. Anonymous people submitting their horror stories working with clients, or short blurbs about difficult customers. It’s very entertaining, a lot of fun, and one of the most popular books (and brands) in the industry.

I’ve seen this done by psychics, mediums, personal development coaches, online entrepreneurs, designers, credit repair counselors, spiritual teachers and just about every other type of “publisher” you can imagine.

The good news? you can do the very same thing with WordPress, or any other blog platform that accepts submissions, and the truth is… you can do the same thing with Twitter, Facebook, and social media that allows you to accept content from your community.

It’s creative – and cool, and pretty darn easy to establish yourself as a bonafide writer, publisher, expert and authority site in just about any niche you choose… including the one that MAY make you rich!

Dental Insurance And Individual Health Plans

You could rarely find and buy individual health plans that also cover dental hygiene. There is useful information that people should know particularly if they consider buying the policies separately.

It is estimated that about 45 million Americans currently don’t own any dental insurance policy. Most non-elderly citizens who own individual health plans also own dental hygiene policies. However, majority of people who buy health insurance plans by themselves do not have dental insurance. This data is based on a report released by Centers for Disease Manage and Prevention.

While individual health plans cover several added services like basic emergency care in addition to costs of prescription drugs, they logically are not necessary to include coverage for adult oral care. Nevertheless, for health insurance policies for children, dental services are needed.

In March 2010, reforms to the healthcare insurance coverage were set. However, despite the push exerted through many advocates, that bill did not include the wider dental component. Supporters and proponents of the reform argued that each health plans already cover costs for other pressing health problems like diabetes and heart diseases.

About 75% of 172 million Americans under age 65 years (who own private health insurance plans) have dental insurance plans as well. Their employers mostly supply the health insurances. Among those with separate dental protection, more than a quarter of them have comprehensive plans with dental insurance while one fourth have stand-alone plans. Some have both.

About 90 million Americans own individual health plans through Medicaid and Medicare insurance, which both do not offer dental care programs for adults. There is no figure available regarding public health insurance plans. Medicaid shoulders dental take care of people under 21 years old. The insurer currently serves up to 45 million people of the low-income group. However, such patients complain about troubles to find accredited dentists.

A separate government-sponsored program provides dental hygiene, albeit limited. It is the Children’s Health Insurance coverage Program. As for the older people, they could always choose to purchase separate dental care policies from health insurance companies.

Do you look for health insurers that also offer dental hygiene plans? Data from the Association for Health Insurance Plans reveal that we now have only a few insurers that do so. Individuals include Cigna Corp, Aetna Inc, Assurant Inc, Humana Inc, as well as UnitedHealth Group Inc. The association represents up to 80 of overall dental insurance plans in america. There are also health insurance plans that offer dental coverage included in health policies. They include several and specific programs from MetLife, Principal Financial Group Inc, and Azure Cross Blue Shield Association.

Experts advise people to purchase dental care insurance policies even if they currently own individual healthcare plans. Purchasing separate plans is more advisable especially because it might be very hard, if not impossible, to find and purchase health insurance policies that also include dental protection.

Economic Recession Blues – Hospitals Aren't an Exception

In its most recent update, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that world growth is forecast to fall to its lowest level since World War II. And with the US being one of the worst hit, the hospital business, an integral part of the medical marketplace, and often regarded as recession proof is beginning to feel the heat.

Despite the fact that hospitals aren’t hit the way the way the automotive sector or the retail has been, and that people will continue to fall sick irrespective of the economy, it seems that the number of people seeking medical care and the profitability of hospitals don’t walk hand-in-hand.

Growth stunted & patients decreasing

A recent report by the American Hospital Association (AHA) finds that the sputtering economy has already led to 45% of hospitals to postpone forthcoming capital projects, with about 13% being forced to completely stall any expansion projects already underway. The AHA report included 639 hospitals in the study.

Further, experts believe that even though people continue to fall sick they’re postponing, most treatments if not all, which can be classified as elective. The credit for the prevailing scenario goes to all the layoffs and the slowing economy. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics the month of December saw some of the worst layoff figures, as there were 2,275 mass layoff actions, involving 226,117 workers.

What seems worse is that aside from foregoing elective treatments, patients seem to be avoiding essential drugs, with many actually abusing prescription drugs, such as narcotic painkillers , sedatives and tranquilizers and stimulants.

As a consequence, hospitals are reeling under delayed hospital equipment and supply purchases, declining patient visits, reduced staff with no fresh hiring, unpaid medical bills, in addition to ceasing any construction projects. The AHA survey, released in November last year found that patient visits were static or had decreased during the third quarter of 2008, and the cases of unpaid medical bills for hospitals registered a hike of 8%.

The government’s role in uplifting the spirit of hospitals is being thought to be instrumental as Medicare and Medicaid account for about half of the hospital business industry.

Woodstock CT Historic Homes: Roseland Cottage

Beautifully situated across from the Woodstock town green is Roseland Cottage built in 1846 by Henry Bowen with its colorful array of flower gardens. A classic example of the Gothic Revival architecture that was just becoming popular in the mid 19th century characterized by a steep roof line crowned with ornamented chimney pots, intricately detailed gables overhanging diamond leaded window. The siding has always been painted in a vibrant coral pink that has given the cottage its popular name as the “Pink House.”

Henry Bowen grew up in Woodstock and built a successful dry goods business in New York City specializing in silks. He and his wife Lucy enjoyed summers away from the city and Roseland Cottage was their country house where they entertained friends and powerful political connections including four United States Presidents. Henry and Lucy Bowen had ten children and Woodstock with its rural atmosphere and Henry’s long family history rooted in the area was the perfect retreat from the summer heat and congestion of the city.

Joseph C. Wells was the architect commissioned by Bowen in 1845 to design the 6,000 square Foot Gothic Revival Cottage for his growing family. The layout and design were deeply influenced by the principles of Andrew Jackson Downing who was a leading 19th Century landscape architect. The grounds include a garden house, carriage barn, an icehouse and aviary, but most notably an extensive 3,000 square foot boxwood parterre garden.

After 1850 when the Bowens began spending each summer in Woodstock, they planted the garden that graces the front of the cottage. It’s comprised of 600 yards of boxwood hedge surrounding twenty-one beds of spectacular annual and perennial flowers that have been a central feature of the cottage and Woodstock ever since.

According to family legend, Roseland Cottage was named after the family’s favorite flower, the rose, and it has always been painted pink. A scientific analysis by Historic New England identified thirteen shades of pink in the layers of paint over 160 years with the current coral pink being the color in the 1880’s that’s consistent with other decorative details in the restoration of the house.

Bowen was a political activist, an abolitionist and early supporter of the Republican Party which was the liberal party at the time that fielded the first abolitionist presidential platform in 1856. His dry goods business went bankrupt leading up to the Civil War due to his anti-slavery activism which caused irreconcilable differences with his Southern clients. He refused to support the Fugitive Slave Law and told Southern clients they could “Buy my goods – not my principles.”

After his business failed, he co-founded a successful insurance company, as well as founding and becoming editor of a popular anti-slavery newspaper, The Independent. With this newspaper, he became an important player in politics as the Republican Party grew stronger throughout the later part of the 19th Century.

Lucy Bowen tragically died from complications of giving birth to their tenth child in 1863. Henry remarried two years later Ellen Holt who became a loving mother to his children, and gave him a son. As his family continued to grow and his children had grandchildren, Bowen expanded Roseland Cottage and purchased lots surrounding the cottage until in 1870 the property was approximately six acres.

Beginning in 1870, Henry Bowen began hosting Fourth of July Independence Day parties as a way of promoting patriotism that drew hundreds of distinguished guests and thousands of attendees every year for the next twenty-five years. Four United States Presidents including Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley took part in these festivities.

The Fourth of July parties eventually grew to be so big that Bowen purchased sixty-acres in Woodstock to develop a public park to host the celebrations. Roseland Park featured a windmill that pumped water from the lake into 3 marble fountains with statues, there were fields of hitching posts for the “parking” of the horses that people rode in on.

It had a two-story bathing shed that were changing room where you could rent a woolen bathing costume weighed 20 lbs when wet, with a band-stand above it where bands would play music to the gathered picnickers. Roseland Park was first opened in 1876 during the centennial celebrations and in keeping with Bowen’s will has been open to the public ever since.

Roseland Cottage is open to the public between June 1 and October 15. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992, and widely regarded as one of the best preserved examples of Gothic Revival architecture in America makes Roseland Cottage one of Woodstock, Connecticut’s most important historic homes.

Three Tips to Run a Car Wash Business

The car wash business is considered as a safe business, as it provides regular profits. It is not a sector that millionaires would like to dabble in. However, it does offer people, who look for reliable investment options and are willing to work hard, an opportunity to do something worthwhile.

As with any other business, the car wash business too has its own tricks of the trade. It is definitely a sure-fire profit making sector. However, that does not mean that you just have to start a company and profits will follow automatically. No business ever guarantees that.

The following are some tips on how to run a car wash business professionally and profitably:

Tip 1: Invest wisely in cleaning machines

Cleaning machines have to be the first priority of the investor. There is no use or purpose of spending extravagantly to buy the so-called best machines. On the other hand, it would be disastrous to buy the cheapest machines. You need to do a bit of home work before making the purchasing decision.

The problem with auto detailing is that it requires the use of multiple cleaning machines. An automobile consists of different types of surfaces, with each having varying levels of hardness. The exterior body and engine parts are hard and sturdy, windshield glasses are obviously, and fabric seat upholstery and carpets are soft.

A single machine cannot be used to clean all these types of surfaces. As a result, a car wash business essentially requires different types of machines that are pressure washers for cleaning the hard surfaces and carpet cleaners to clean the soft surfaces. Steam cleaners, too, do a good job of cleaning the hard surfaces.

Tip 2: Focus on quick delivery

One of the secrets of success of an auto detailing business is the quick delivery of the vehicles. In this busy world, owners want the vehicles as quickly as possible. The average delivery time in this business now can be within several hours. So, how can you ensure that the cleaning is done quickly?

Employing the right mobile car wash machines would help. You should use carpet cleaners equipped with low flow technology and pressure washers having a low flow rate. Using steam cleaners with dry vapor output is another good option.

In short, make sure that all the car detailing machines transfer less quantity of water on to the vehicle surfaces. While doing this, you have to ensure that there is no compromise on speed or efficiency of the mobile car wash machine.

Tip 3: Use green chemicals

A good cleaning agent improves the cleaning power and speed of most car detailing machines. However, synthetic detergents do more harm than good. These products improve the efficiency of car wash equipment, but leave more toxic residues on the vehicle surfaces than the dirt they help to remove.

This is the reason why most reputable suppliers recommend using green chemicals along with their car wash equipment. These products are derived from plants and vegetables, and do not contain a single toxic substance.

Can An Auto Detailing Company Make Sales On Cyber Monday – Yes Indeed

Just because you operate a mobile auto services business doesn’t mean you can’t make money online. You’d be surprised. Take Cyber Monday for instance, that Monday after Thanksgiving where online sales are always the greatest. People are shopping for gifts, and what a perfect gift an auto detailing coupon or gift certificate might make for someone. Think about that. If you hand out flyers to your customers, why not put a small advertisement on the back of the flyer reminding people that they can order a gift certificate online, and if they order on Cyber Monday you will give them a discount.

Best of all, you get the money today, but you generally won’t have to do the work until after the first of the year. Interestingly enough, often after the first of the year fewer people get auto detailing services because they’ve run out of money, the weather isn’t so hot, and they have to wait until they have some more spendable cash. Other times they’ve overrun their credit card balances, and they can’t afford expensive auto services at that point. May as well keep your detailing business busy in January and February when the business slows down and all those gift certificates and coupon come in.

It might even pay to announce these gift certificates and coupons on your social media websites or social network page. Tell your friends to tell their families and give discounts for customers that buy gift certificates for others. After all, if someone likes your services so much, that they are willing to buy detailing services as a gift for someone else, they are probably inline as one of your top referral clients. There’s nothing like voting with their dollar for who they believe has the best services, do you see that point?

Now then, when someone orders a gift certificate online, you should send it out right away to the person who purchased it. This way they can get it to whoever they want. You should use card stock paper, a nice envelope, but unsealed. This will allow them to see what the gift certificate looks like before they put it into the envelope and send it or give it to the final recipient. I recommend using calligraphy type font, and it might even make sense to go down to one of the office stores and get special paper, or special certificates for this purpose.

I always recommend printing your logo on the certificate, and a phone number at the bottom, along with your website. Sometimes a recipient of a gift certificate will give it to yet a fourth-party. What do you care, you’ve already got the money. This is a good way that an auto detailing company can make money on Cyber Monday. So, please consider all this and think on it.

Auriculotherapy And Phytotherapy Used in Cancer Treatment

Auriculotherapy or ear acupuncture is a therapy based on the piling of needles in the ear. Its historical roots date back to classical antiquity of Mediterranean people, Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, described the scarifications of the posterior ear against sexual impotence and treat sciatica. And again, Galen described the therapeutic use of scarifications in some diseases of the ear. Auriculotherapy is based on the principles of conventional medicine and Western uses of specific points of the ear that correspond to somatotopic areas distant parts of the body, such as the stomach, the muscles of the spine, and so on. By insertion of needles or other stimuli can cause reflexes that induce stimulation of neurogenic type in organs and tissues of the human body. In this discipline the therapeutic concept of the disease remains the same medicine, the only thing that changes is the way of doing therapy, then gastritis or gallstones are the same disease described in the treaties of Medicine officer, have nothing to do with particular beliefs or philosophies, and the same condition is given the same treatment.

The acupoint used to treat nausea in all these diseases is always the same and does not vary according to personality the patient’s eating habits, etc. Scientific research in this field is developing rapidly, although at the moment auriculotherapy in cancer patients has proved especially useful for pain treatment.

Phytotherapy deserves a separate mention because herbal medicine is the discipline that comes closest to the Uncategorized conventional medicine as it is based of course on the use of chemicals present in plants, with organic farming activities. Besides, just think that 30 – 40% of conventional drugs derived from herbal substances. Herbal medicine is the medical discipline so using medicinal plants and derivatives in prevention and treatment of diseases, in relation to the pharmacological properties of chemical constituents present in the plant, or better in the preparation used. It does not follow diagnostic or therapeutic methods different from those of scientific medicine. The medicinal plant, so it can simply be considered, a container of chemicals, sometimes isolated and used as such in therapy, in other cases the source of raw material for the production of drugs or as a basis for the production of herbal medicines themselves. Herbal medicine is a discipline particularly promising for the cure cancer, both as a preventive measure or as a complementary therapy to chemo and radiotherapy or surgery. It is used as an immunostimulant, for treatment of gastrointestinal disorders and radiodermatitis and to combat certain symptoms such as fatigue, depression, constipation, etc.

There are also many studies that confirm the pre-clinical anticancer activities of substances present of many plants. The substances of plant origin may also be toxic, causing serious interactions with pharmaceutical drugs taken concurrently, or be responsible for allergic reactions. For these reasons, suitable extracts must always be used, quality controlled, standardized active ingredients, purified from useless or dangerous, and used only with medical prescription. For example, cancer patients often use honey and aloe smoothies (presented as a miracle cure for cancer!), not knowing that just some substances present in the plant cut the effectiveness of Chemotherapy.

Please consult an oncologist or more than one before you begin a cancer treatment.

Best 2012 Halloween Costumes for Boys

If you are looking for the best 2012 Halloween costumes for boys, we have some ideas for you to get started. Depending on the age of the child, you are going to most likely want to get some input from them on what they want to be – unless they’re a baby, of course. In all seriousness, involving the child in the process of picking a suitable Halloween costume can go a long way in making sure they have a lot of fun on the big night, which is what it’s all about – not to mention the candy.

  • Spiderman Costumes – The Amazing Spiderman was big this year, and as in years past, you can expect many boys to want to become the wisecracking Spidey. The good news is that there are quite a few great – and relatively cheap – Spiderman costumes available.
  • Batman Costumes – Another Superhero that’s huge again this year is Batman. As with Spiderman, the popularity of this costume means there are going to be a lot of different options for you as a parent. From simple plastic outfits to complex costumes with a separate Batman mask and accessories, there’s something for every budget.
  • Historical Costumes – Not every boy is going to want to use a historical figure for a Halloween costume, but this can be great in many different ways. For one, not a lot of other kids are going to have the same costume most likely if you go with a George Washington, Ben Franklin or some other historic figure – Caesar anyone?
  • Homemade Costumes – If you are on a budget or just like to be creative and spend quality creative time with your children, homemade costumes for Halloween can be a great idea. You just want to make sure you involve the boy in every step of the process so he is happy with the outcome and will want to wear it on Halloween night!
  • Soldier Costumes – This is one that is relatively easy to put together cheaply. A little camo and some other accessories – no guns! – and you can have a great looking solider whether it’s a sailor or someone in the airforce or marines. Camo face paint really puts the final touches on this great costume idea.
  • Fireman Costume – Being a civil servant or first responder like a fireman on Halloween is a lot of fun and may be an indication of a future career path for your little one. There are a lot of great accessories you can get to make your costume really stand out from all the others. Don’t forget the cute fireman’s hat and boots!

After you choose which costume you want, it’s all about saving money. Next, we have some tips to make sure you get the most for your money when buying a boy’s Halloween costume this year.

  • Shop Early – One of the best things you can do is shop early. If you were thinking smart last year, you bought your costumes a day after Halloween when they went on sale. Even if you didn’t do this, the earlier you start shopping – even during the final summer months – the more you are going to be able to look around and find the absolute best price.
  • Shop Online – Speaking of finding the best price, another great idea is to make sure you do most of your shopping online. While there’s nothing more fun than taking a kid (or five) to a Halloween costume shop (sarcasm!), there’s something to be said about shopping for a costume online. It’s easy, safe and convenient – and you can save money too.
  • Read Reviews – Finally, you are going to want to make sure you read reviews of the various costumes before you get out your credit card and make any purchases. There are quite a few places you can read reviews these days, but you should find a website you trust and stick with them and their recommendations for the best Halloween costumes for boys in 2012.

Halloween is all about having fun and being able to dress up and score a lot of candy. Picking out the costume should not be stressful or a headache! The sooner you start shopping for a Halloween costume, the sooner you’re going to be able to relax and just enjoy the holidays.

Shakespeare on Addiction: Sonnet 129

Something interesting happens every time I teach Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129. I’m reasonably certain the term “sex addiction” didn’t exist in his day – and neither did 12 step groups for it, with Elizabethans turning up in their flamboyant garb – but that doesn’t mean that the problem, and its attendant degradations, didn’t exist. Just ask Shakespeare about his Dark Lady.***

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Is lust in action; and till action, lust

Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,

Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,

Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,

Past reason hunted, and no sooner had

Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait

On purpose laid to make the taker mad;

Mad in pursuit and in possession so;

Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;

A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;

Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

All this the world well knows; yet none knows well

To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

Why am I thinking about sonnet 129? Shakespeare’s sonnets beg for interpretation, and it’s not just because they are formal masterpieces that we should, as intelligent folk, feel compelled to dissect for dissection’s sake. No, there’s more to them than that. His sonnets are relevant today and I’m going to show you why.

A few years ago, I came across an hour long documentary made about Vancouver’s notorious downtown eastside. The area has been ravaged by an influx of drugs and its victims, earning it a reputation for being something of an elephants’ graveyard: it’s where addicts go to die. The film was called Through a Blue Lens and was shot, mostly, by two beat cops who wanted to portray the lives of the addicts living there. It’s not a warm and fuzzy film about drug addiction, but it’s not condemnatory either. Here’s an excerpt:

The plight of those living in that part of Vancouver became a minor cause célèbre in 1999, in part because The Globe and Mail published a photo essay of its denizens that left a lot of Canadians gasping. It made us aware, in a none-too-gentle way, that we had inner city problems just as bad as some cities south of the border. Vancouver’s port is a gateway for the drug trade and it seems at least some of these drugs don’t travel far: they form the lifeblood of those immiserated souls living in the downtown area.

So why look at Canada’s Skid Row when we’re talking about Shakespeare? It’s because his definition of addiction is one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s relevant today and that’s because when addicts talk about their suffering, they report (albeit less eloquently) many of the same things. And when I say things, I mean they report having many of the same feelings and experiences described by Shakespeare. Those haunting sounds of agony — the addict’s anguish — are distilled, painfully and thoroughly, in this poem.

It begins:

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Shakespeare believes we forfeit our spirit – our soul – when we engage in addictive behaviour. The expense, or the price of the addiction, is paid with it. Waste here is used literally (implying that lives are wasted by addiction) and also symbolically to denote a place. This double meaning is made obvious by the use of the preposition in, as “in” a waste of shame. Waste as a place bookends neatly with that other inferno, hell, mentioned in the closing couplet.

Lust is Shakespeare’s drug of choice and the belief is that it was aimed at the infamous Dark Lady, that promiscuous creature that had Shakespeare, and others, utterly intoxicated.

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Is lust in action; and till action, lust

Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,

Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust

What are the signs of Shakespeare’s enslavement? The form of a sonnet is strictly prescribed: it is made up of three quatrains — three groups of four lines — and a closing couplet. The rhyme scheme tends to alternate lines, meaning the first line rhymes with the third, the second with the fourth, etc. The lines are usually made up of phrases that go towards forming sentences. However, in this quatrain, the last half is simply a list of adjectives or adjective phrases, enumerating Shakespeare’s agonies. And these agonies are stated strongly, with words like murderous, bloody, savage and extreme.

This is a man in the throes of an obsession, an obsession that won’t even allow him to form coherent thoughts; instead he spits out a list of adjectives to convey his feelings. Shakespeare the wordsmith created this list for a reason. It’s there to denote a burst of feeling that can’t be contained.

But does this fury of Shakespeare’s capture the state of those sad and emaciated souls wandering the downtown eastside? I would argue it does and the key word here is shame. Ask any active addict how they feel about their life and you are bound to discover, underneath the anger and street braggadocio, a deep and murky well of it. That shame is what keeps them using; it’s what keeps them from wanting to feel.

After Shakespeare establishes his narrative voice, he turns to the cyclical nature of his malady. In the second quatrain, he states:

Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,

Past reason hunted, and no sooner had

Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait

On purpose laid to make the taker mad;

Here we see the structural and thematic rendering of the cycle of addiction. Let me translate: the addict no sooner enjoys (uses) her drug when she starts to despise its consequences straight (right away). However, beyond all reason she continues to hunt for it, and again, as soon as she consumes it, she hates it beyond all reason because she can’t stop. Then Shakespeare expands the subtle animal imagery and lays blame on suppliers and enablers. Her drug is like a trap laid on purpose and it makes her, the taker, mad. Mad here is being used in the British sense of the word, meaning insane.

It’s usually at this point in my class that I stop and ask students to think of an activity, any activity, they do to excess. Do they spend too much time online? Eat too much of the wrong kind of food? Text incessantly? And it’s also here that I tell them my own little story of addiction, the one that had me frequently rushing to the neighbourhood corner store, in Toronto, when I was a student.

I had an addiction and it was to Swedish Berries, those soft red candies that taste heavenly but are of no nutritional value whatever. These darlings came in handy at midnight when I had an essay to finish and needed a sugar boost. However, the problem was that I didn’t know when to stop. The store sold them in bulk and I didn’t have the discipline to buy only a few. My reasoning, as I stood in front of that bin and ladled in scoop after scoop, was that I would save some for later.

Right.

So I would eat them until I felt sick and this process, over the last two years of my undergrad degree, repeated itself more times than I care to remember. But it was the sequence of events in this process that was important. I would come to the realization it was late. I knew I had to keep working but didn’t want coffee. Then I would think: Hey! Swedish Berries! Great idea! And I would haul myself off to the store, come back and eat way too many of them. Only afterwards would I say to myself: “Did I really have to scarf down that whole bag?” Or: “Good idea? What was I thinking?”

So too goes the cycle of addiction: there is the chase, the consummation and the aftermath. In other words, the anticipation, the imbibing and the remorse. This cycle will be expanded upon in the next quatrain.

Mad in pursuit and in possession so;

Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;

A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;

Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.

The first quatrain establishes, through the use of enumeration, Shakespeare’s lo
ss of control. The second establishes the cyclical nature of his addiction. This last is significant because it does not provide new information. However, it does repeat the three part cycle and repetition in Shakespeare is always significant: he uses it to let us know we need to pay attention. Here we are told, again and with more emphasis, that an addict is mad while chasing the drug and mad while consuming it. And of course it is that madness — that inability to reason — that starts the cycle all over again.

But take a look at the second line. Shakespeare reverses the order of the cycle: he starts with the aftermath: had, moves to the consummation: having, and then moves to the first stage of the cycle, the chase: in quest to have. He does this to create the impression of a back-and-forth motion: the addict moves forward and backward, forward and backward, ad infinitum. Why? Because that’s what happens when one becomes addicted: life stalls.

At the start of this article, I said something interesting happens every time I teach this sonnet. Here it is: after I read it out loud, I tell my students to look closely at the panhandlers, especially the young ones, when they pass through the Atwater metro, the metro that services Dawson. I almost always get the same reaction: the class goes silent, the flow of air in the room stops, and these young people, with their futures ahead of them, pay closer attention. This suffering, rendered so poetically by Shakespeare, is only steps away.

And it happens elsewhere. When I drive home, I stop at a busy intersection leading onto the highway. That’s where I often see a young woman, her blonde hair in dreadlocks, holding up a sign asking for spare change. I always give her some and now she knows to come to me. If the traffic light permits, we may even exchange a few words.

I’ve been criticized for doing this — “she’ll just spend the money on drugs” is what I hear — but I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how we can stop people from “committing suicide on the installment plan,” as a good friend of mine puts it.

Shakespeare didn’t know either, but luckily for us, that didn’t stop him from looking deeply into that darkness and writing about it anyway.

***I will be, for the sake of brevity and compression, be referring to the narrator as Shakespeare.