Who Moved My Cheese?

It’s embarrassing really. I’m addicted to cheese.

Why couldn’t I have a cool addiction, like chocolate or heroin?

No, instead I drool over St. Andre–an extraordinary soft and creamy cheese that’s 70% butterfat (yes, you read that right–70% of fat, from butter!). Or Cotswold–an incredible variation of double glouster cheddar spiked with bits of chives. I pine for pizza in all its glorious forms, or for the humble grilled cheese sandwich. Even cheese balls–that crunchy form of cheese that turns your fingers orange and your teeth numb but oh, what a way to go.

For two weeks this January I gave up dairy, trying to go back to my vegan ways. But then, a fated trip to Whole Foods and I fell off the wagon. And I can’t get up. I have been eating cheese on and off for about a week now. My hands are a swollen pair of latex medical glove blown up like balloons. My arteries are squealing like animals run over on the side of a highway. My fibromyalgia is flaring up like a homecoming bonfire. And still I keep eating it.

Did you know the number one stolen food in the world is cheese?! Forget the loaf of bread Victor, we all know what Jean Valjean was really reaching for.

I need a group for this. Hello, my name is M. and I’m a cheeseaholic. Forget a day at a time, for me it’s more like an hour at a time. But so far today, no cheese. Thank you higher power.

I fool myself into think that writing helps sometimes–takes the focus off my habit. But usually I get so high-strung from writing that I use cheese to clam me down. Because writing has that effect–it’s scary, exciting, dangerous, nerve-wracking. And stress brings out the addict in me.

This weekend I am taking a writing workshop called The First Five Pages. And surprise surprise, participants have to submit the first 5 pages of their novel along with a query letter. I have written several chapters of the novel, but the first 5 pages are new. No one has read them yet so I am left to the critic in my head–surely these 5 pages suck. And I’ve never written a query letter because I’ve been too chicken to ever submit anything. So what was I thinking? Why am I subjecting myself to so much angst and potential humiliation? This is nothing more than a huge set up for a cheese relapse.

But I’m going through with it. I’m forcing myself to be a writer. My dear friend S. helped me with the query letter. My partner let me hide in the basement this weekend to make final edits and wring my hands. And the critic in my head gave up long enough for me to hit the send button.

Now I have to get through the week. I have to assuage the dread. I have to keep writing. I have to stay away from all things cheese.

Steven Pressfield has a fabulous blog post on addiction, resistance and writers. I may have mentioned it before but I can’t remember. My brain is clogged with cheese. If you read it and find yourself in there, you are not alone. Chances are if you write you have some sort of addiction.

What’s yours? If it’s cheese, I’ll be your sponsor. I’ve been cheese-free for 22 hours.




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9 responses to “Who Moved My Cheese?

  1. Stephane

    Cheese: it’s not an an addiction it’s a way of life. Enjoy it in all its glorious diversity as long as your cholesterol level is saying yes to it.

    • If only it was just cholesterol that was effected–I would take a pill and keep eating! Unfortunately it’s related to joint pain and other ailments in my body. So please enjoy for me!!

  2. Hey, Julia Child was no spurner of cheese, and she lived to a ripe (no pun intended) old age. I’m sure millions of French women love their brie (with wine, no doubt). So savor the really great cheeses, but maybe lay off those processed orange ‘cheese’ balls.

    I hope your workshop was fabulous, and hope to see those first five pages in person soon!

  3. I’m a cheese freek too, but I don’t eat it all the time. It’s a lot for a body to process, especially if you are, as I am, a woman of a certain age. I just thought of something: maybe taking digestive enzymes might help, unless you’re out-and-out allergic to the stuff.

    My husband and I have Steven Pressfield’s War of Art in our bathroom. Whenever we make a visit, we read a chapter. Sometimes I chafe at his no-bullshit excuses tough guy presentation, but I know he’s right, so I keep myself on a steady diet of his positive exhortations, because I have to drown out a lifetime of self-defeating voices.

    On a very enthusiastic recommendation from Shanna Mahin, I just started the 90-Day Novel by Alan Watt. It’s really helping me to think about the story I want to TELL, instead of . . . OhmyGodohmygodohmygodohmygod—what the hell am I going to WRITE?!” I pass on the recommendation.

    Good luck with your query, and have an awesome workshop experience!

  4. I am helplessly addicted to many things, including Utz cheese balls. I could go through one of the huge bins from BJs in two days. Eat them for every meal. Also popcorn. And bread. Battling our addictions make us human, right? One minute, one victory at a time… Good luck with the workshop thing. I’m so proud of you for doing it.

  5. Is not an addiction. It’s a passion!

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