Friday, March 13, 2009


Happy accidents abound. This truly seems to be the texture of my life right now, filled with amazing coincidences I just stumble upon. I’ve been calling them serendipitous and am even considering doing a book on the subject.

What else can I call it when a few weeks ago I am on the phone with my literary agent Bob Silverstein , and happen to mention my long love affair with dark chocolate and tell him I am now involved with a company marketing the healthiest chocolate, perhaps the healthiest food, ever conceived. And he responds by telling me he is also passionately devoted to dark chocolate, has a favorite brand at Trader Joe’s, and first fell in love with it in the 1970’s at the Lilac Chocolate Shop on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village--exactly when and where I first discovered dark chocolate! And furthermore, we found we both lived on Hudson Street in the Village at the same time, about a block apart. And it was then that Bob, after we had discovered several potential book projects for me, suggested a book on the health benefits of dark chocolate might be a winner, and asked if I could write a proposal for him to shop around to New York publishers.

Or a couple of weeks ago, when, for the first time, I decided to try to figure out how to use a flash drive I had bought at Target. I had been waiting for a computer savvy friend to call and talk me through this first-time process, but decided to stop waiting and start doing. I did figure it out and spent three to four hours backing up all my writing and dark chocolate research files onto the flash drive.

And the very next day, water spilled onto my laptop keyboard and completely fried it. Apple told me they could probably bring it back to life--for $1040! But now that I have that flash drive, I decided to go for a brand new MacBook Pro instead. Of course, being broker than ever before, the entire $2000 was done on credit, but the way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if a check suddenly appeared from a mysterious source.

And then there was last night. I was talking to my friend Tom in LA, someone who’s been a friend for about 18 years, and was one of my stalwart supporters during my prison stay. I happened to mention that I lived and worked in radio in Richmond, Virginia in the 1960s and he asked me what station I worked for. I said I was a newsman at WRVA. He asked if I knew Dave Dewitt, who worked there with his wife. I said I did, and Tom then told me Dave has been one of his best friends for all these years, going back to Richmond, where Tom lived and went to college during the time I was on the air. We very likely were at a couple of the same parties together. Dave, who was a low-keyed guy, has turned into the Pope of Peppers, with some thirty books on the fiery vegetables, and a long and distinguished career. I don’t know what happened to Cathy, who always intrigued me because she was a blue-eyed blonde with freckles and yet a full-blooded Osage Indian, whose father at that time was the highest ranking Native American ever in the federal government, as assistant Postmaster General.

Little things and big things, all kinds of fascinating things keep happening in my life since my parole six months ago. Maybe I’m super sensitive to these having had a rather dreary existence, at least on a physical plane, for twelve years. But it seems to be that life is endlessly interesting, engaging, and filled with delightful surprises. Is it any wonder that I wake up most mornings with what Norman Cousins once described to me as “robust expectations?”

Almost everyone I know is richer than I am at this moment, and has more intimate relationships, more possessions from electronic gizmos to a basic wardrobe than I do. But I don’t think anyone is savoring life more, is more optimistic, or has a more interesting group of long-distance friends, or more serendipity flowing into their life. And ideas, wild bursts of creativity in all sorts of areas...I’m reading dozens of research reports every day about dark chocolate, but no one seems to talk about it in terms of whether it enhances creativity---hmmmm, maybe there’s still another book beginning to form.

And I just had a thought about all the tangential paths I am discovering online. There are blogs and areas of discovery that have nothing to do with the health benefits of dark chocolate, but just seem to be little pieces of connection attached to other blogs and websites. So the phrase just popped up: The Law of Distraction. I guess I should Google it and find out if anyone else has thought of it--ideas do seem to happen simultaneously in different parts of the world. I'm not sure what I'll write about connected to this new law, but something will show up.

One blog I found by accident is by a very interesting woman writer who listed as her top three books, three of the very favorite books I read at Folsom State Prison. Her name is Mary Beth, she is a stay-at-home mom with a very interesting and homey blog called, all things,
Salt and Chocolate (which is how I ended up at the site, She is now experimenting with a project she calls “Vegan Till 6” which I’m just guessing means she observes that diet until her husband comes home for dinner. She also writes that she likes salty and sweet combinations, hence her blog title.

The three books she lists are: the 1943 classic,
which I had wanted to read for years and finally got around to about two years ago;
OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS by Anne Lamott, who has become one of my favorite writers since discovering her during my incarceration (Interestingly, Lamott writes that her father taught writing classes at San Quentin). I consider her BIRD BY BIRD: Some Instructions On Writing And Life to be one of the most useful and charming and funny books about writing I have ever encountered, resting on my bookshelf alongside my other favorite writing books by Ray Bradbury and Rita Mae Brown (both of whom I found fascinating and gracious in person as well, as we were all on the faculty at The Santa Barbara Writers Conference at the same time in the early 1980s). I love Anne Lamott’s section called SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS, something any writer can identify with. And the third book Mary Beth listed was one I happily discovered called I CAPTURE THE CASTLE by Dodie Smith, who wrote The One Hundred And One Dalmations. It’s a book written for young adults in 1948, but like the Harry Potter books, quite well worth any adult’s time. Well, I felt such a kinship with Mary Beth that I immediately sent her an e-mail and she sent me a warm and friendly reply, saying she enjoyed my blog, too.

I’m writing this early in the morning, will edit it in a bit for typos and then post it, and I must admit, I am expecting some more delicious stuff to happen to me and around me today--especially since Friday the 13th has always seemed to be a fortunate event in my life.

And if you'd like to play with me in my serendipitous life and dark chocolate business, or would like a sample to taste,
just send me your address at   Remember, this is chocolate that is unprocessed, combined with the amazing Acai berry, with more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable on the planet, no processed sugar, wax, or filler. So you don't have to feel guilty eating it, hence the name of my brand new website, 
It has videos and descriptions of all the Xocai products. I haven't done much to customize it yet, it's a work in progress and I'm open to any suggestions you have to make it more effective, but there is some stuff of interest, so check it out.

No comments: