The Tea Explorations: Assam Black Tea

Alyssa Wright reviews Assam black tea from OLLT Co and discusses Sips by.

Like my Coffee Explorations series, this post is not sponsored.

Last month I signed up for a tea subscription service called Sips by. I realized too late I could write about the teas I received, so here we are with my March box. I’m also making a video of making and trying the teas, which I’ll embed once it’s complete.

I’m drinking the first of my four teas today. It’s a loose-leaf, organic Assam black tea by OLLT Co. I steeped it for five minutes and added 1 tsp stevia and a splash of milk. It’s grown in Assam, India, in a tropical region with heavy rainfall.

It is super delicious! I love black tea, especially chai, and this is no exception. It’s really smooth and takes to the sweetness of the stevia really well. It has an earthy flavor to it, almost like the essence of chocolate without the actual chocolate. Does that make sense? I can’t even tell.

All in all, it’s really amazing tea! I definitely recommend it. This is probably the best tea I’ve had in a long while. The next would be Bigelow vanilla chai.

I also recommend Sips by! It’s a really fun tea subscription and they send quality teas. You take a short quiz about your preferences, then you rate the teas you get so they can tailor your box. If you have dietary restrictions, you specify those. All the teas I get from Sips by are vegan. I can’t guarantee anything else about them. If you join with my referral link, by clicking any of the mentions of Sips by, you can get $5 off your first box!

An Atheist Bible Study: Genesis 5-10

Alyssa Wright shares her perspective as a deconverted Christian, now an atheist, on the story of Noah and the flood in the Bible.

When I was a Christian I set out to read the whole Bible. I have never actually done it. Now that I’m an atheist, I want to know what the Bible says. Not what people claim it says, but what it really, truly says.

I want to first make a disclaimer. I am not a theologian. I am a layperson. I went to church for 16 1/2 of my 18 years. I went to a Christian school for all but two years of my schooling. That included daily Bible study classes, and my two years of dual-enrollment included theology and evangelism classes. I was surrounded by the Bible, a biblical perspective, and Christian teachings my whole life. So I am approaching the text not so much as a scholar but as a normal, everyday sort of person. Please comment if my post contains any misinformation, with sources supporting your claim.
This post is based on my personal reading and informed by my experience in Christian circles as described above.

I’ve also written about Genesis 1-4.

Chapters 5 & 10: Genealogy

The genealogy in chapter 5 goes from Adam to Noah. All of the men listed are impossible ages. In 5:23, Enoch is said to have been taken by God. There could only have been so many people on earth at the time, given that he was only 6 generations after the first two humans. Even with the unnatural lifespans, it seems based on the story of Abraham that childbearing possibilities were about the same for women. In that story, Sarah was around 60 or 70 I think and “passed childbearing age.” If a girl was considered a woman around 15 and started menopause at 55, she could at most have 50 kids. That assumes 1 year and 3 months to be fertile. The time to conceive again could vary a lot. And she could also die during childbirth. For both of those, let’s assume that takes the average actual possible births to be 25/woman in a lifetime if she has as many kids as she can. Half of those children will likely be female too.
I am not done with this post. I’m doing the math to figure out what the likely population would be. I think it’s possible that Enoch could have wandered away and not come back, so people decided God took him. It’s impossible to know for sure, I’m just postulating.

As for the other genealogy, there’s no ages listed. It seems like Ham’s sons’ wives had a lot of children, though.

Chapter 6-8: Noah’s Flood

Okay, put on your seatbelts, strap yourselves in, and let’s get into this.
6:2 and 4 seem very odd and mythlike, as though angels are having children with humans. “[T]he sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose…. The Nephilim were on the earth in those days… They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”

6:6 God regrets making humans. This seems to contradict the Christian teaching of his omniscience — all-knowing-ness. He would/should have known that men would sin or rebel or disobey him. Then, because of his regret, he decides to destroy all of them. This does not sound like the actions of a loving God to me: Knows creation will disobey, creates it anyway, decides to destroy creation when it disobeys.

6:19-22 gives the dimensions and specifications for Noah to build the arc. God tells Noah to bring two of every kind of land animal and bird and his entire family. I’ve seen a lot of trying to define “kinds” as groups of animals with similar enough DNA that they could have descended from the same two (or seven, in the case of “clean” animals) original animals. Like I mentioned in my previous Bible study post, if that was the case, it could cause problems with inbreeding. Noah and his family being the only humans could also have problems with inbreeding. They could have had a bit more variety from the sons’ wives, but even so, they all had one set of grandparents in common. Inbreeding issues aside, the Bible never defines “kinds,” or how large or small a group that is. That could mean all domestic cats and dogs were one kind, but wolves, coyotes, and dingos were separate kinds. Horses and zebras don’t have the same number of chromosomes, so could they be separate kinds? We can’t know. So the number of animals in question in completely unknowable but it has to be huge. For all bugs, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and land mammals to fit, plus all the food they need, including more animals because a lot of those animals are carnivores, you need more space than the arc allows. I will concede that the rectangular shape of the arc and it’s tar coating would allow it to float for the sake of argument. That would likely be the case if this did occur. But even so, they were supposedly on the arc for 150 days. They would need a ridiculous amount of food for them and the animals. They would need to clean up after all the animals all the time and remove the waste from the arc. They would need light sources. They would need to keep the animals from stepping on/crushing/eating/infecting each other. Also, what about plants, bacteria, and fungi? How did fish and aquatic mammals survive something so tumultuous? Especially when the water receded and the whole world had been their ocean? I find it too crazy, honestly, to think that all of that somehow worked out.

7:19-20 states that the water covered the whole earth, even the mountains, by around 23 feet. Where did the water come from and where did it go?

8:6-7 states, “After 40 days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.” But 8:3 says the water didn’t go down until 150 days had gone by. The raven would have died long before then.

8:20-21, “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done” (emphasis added). I do not believe that humans are evil from childhood. We are highly social creatures, have empathy, relate to each other, feel each other’s pain. Children can understand that just like they don’t want someone to snatch their toy, they shouldn’t snatch another kid’s toy. They don’t like when people make fun of them, so they shouldn’t make fun of someone else. People can become evil and do bad things in the world, but that doesn’t mean they were always evil. People can also be and stay good and do good in the world. And yet here God is saying everyone is evil and always desires evil.

Chapter 9: God’s Promise to Noah

In this chapter, God establishes a covenant, or promise, with Noah to never destroy the earth by water. That while it will still rain, it won’t flood the whole earth.

In 9:5, God says he will “demand an accounting from every animal” for killing humans. It seems odd that other animals would be punished by God for killing humans. People, of course, mourn people who are killed by animals, and sometimes have taken revenge. Sometimes people are stupid, other times they’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time.


I grouped these chapters together because they all relate to Noah. Next time I’ll discuss either 11-15 or 11-16.

If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out my post about Genesis 1-4.

“[A Whisper of Memory] Dreams have Secrets” (Poem)

A short poem Alyssa Wright wrote in February 2019.

A whisper
of memory,
deja vu perhaps,
or not?
Could it be
a fragment
of a dream
almost lost?

A whisper
of sameness,
something lived before,
or not?
Could it be
an inkling
of a thought
time had lost?

A memory
of whispers,
reliving our lives,
finding circles of time.
Could it be
a dream
filled with
what we once
Forgot?

Back to Daily Blogging

Alyssa Wright shares her commitment to daily blogging for the next 30 days.

It’s been a while since I blogged every day for a noteworthy amount of time. In January I hit over 100 days straight. That felt really fantastic. I was thrilled with my obvious progress and dedication to writing.

And then I fell off. I don’t know exactly why.

It could have been tied to my breakup. I could have been down or unmotivated for other reasons.

I kept trying and failing to restart my daily blogging. The first couple weeks are probably the hardest, and after that it starts to become a habit. After a couple weeks, keeping up the streak becomes really important.

So here I am, publicly committing to blog every day for at least the next month. By the end I should be set to keep it up.

I want to surpass my last 100 day streak. I want to get to 200.

But I understand that I need to start small, get my engine warmed up, before I can keep it moving that long.

So here’s to 30 days seeing you on my blog.

Recap: The War of Art

I went in expecting to love this book. At first I did love this book. I had my disagreements with Steven Pressfield, but they weren’t on the writing advice.

The War of Art is a collection of connected short essays about being an artist. Pressfield writes extensively on what he calls Resistance. Resistance is the personification of anything and everything that keeps you from doing your work.

This is my review of the book as a whole. I have some contention with various specific details that I might go into another time.


In the first part of the book, Resistance: Defining the Enemy, Pressfield sets forth the nature of Resistance. This section of the book was my favorite. It was relatable, though repetitive. I’ve encountered a lot of what he mentions in my own life and creative pursuits. I do think he goes a bit far in defining Resistance, in some cases, though. On page 55, for example, he discusses rationalization. He admits that the excuses may be valid, but still calls them Resistance. “Our wife may really be in her eighth month of pregnancy; she may in truth need us at home…. What Resistance leaves out, of course, is that all this means diddly.”

In the second part of the book, Combating Resistance: Turning Pro, Pressfield defines a “professional” and how to beat Resistance. This section boils down to “Just Do It.” The whole section is about sitting down and getting to work. Doing it despite Resistance. I’ve heard that before, so I did not find it particularly helpful or valuable. I’m implementing that in my own life. I have been for quite a while now. I’ve been blogging every day since October and have 167 other posts on this blog since July. Pressfield has a position about the distinction between pros and amateurs that I somewhat disagree with.

In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would not pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his “real” vocation. The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time.

p. 63

This ignores the monetary hurdles committing full-time can have. If I quit my job at Panera to blog and write full-time, I will starve. I will not be able to financially support myself if I don’t keep writing on the side for now. It’s my true passion, yes, and I want to do it full-time because I love it so much. I can certainly take steps to changing this. In fact, I have. My poetry collection Inside a Writer’s Head is available for sale. I’ve applied to freelance writing jobs. I write every day and share my blog on social media. I have Patreon set up. But right now, I make no money so I cannot quit my job. It is what it is. I’m resigned to it only because I know I can and will change this reality. I call myself a “pro” even though I’m doing it as a labor of love because I show up every day.

In the last part of the book, Beyond Resistance: The Higher Realm, Pressfield’s creative self-help book turns into a spiritual exploration. This part bothered me the most. Not because I’m an atheist. But because that’s not what I signed up for. I did not read this book to have Pressfield’s view of spirituality as it relates to art pushed on me. On the second to last page, he writes, “In the end, we arrive at a kind of model of the artist’s world, and that model is that there exist other, higher planes of reality, about which we can prove nothing” (p. 163, emphasis added). I have a problem with the lack of evidence in his assertions. I’m given zero reasons to believe his claims that inspiration comes from the Muses or angels or God or beings from invisible realms. He just says it must be that way, that it is that way, and I’m expected to accept it. This whole section of the book felt ridiculous and frankly unnecessary. I would have enjoyed The War of Art more without it.

Mood, Productivity, and Sleep Schedules

I prefer to go to bed at midnight or later and get up around nine. Last night I went to bed at 7:30 pm and I got up today at 3 am.

I feel like a complete wreck. Sort of okay, but not quite right.

I went to bed earlier the two nights before to prepare as well as I could. Tuesday I didn’t have a choice but to stay up til about 11 because of my shift at work.

I closed and opened at work in the same few days. I could not keep a sleep schedule. That may not have helped me. I know I’m more of an afternoon/evening person. I agreed to work mornings at Panera, and to open today.

On top of feeling rather crazy this week (which I mention a bit here), I didn’t sleep well the last few days. I predicted that that would be the case yesterday, too.

Not getting enough sleep has made me more irritable, crabby, and unproductive. I’m worn out when I get home from work and I have my own work to do — Praxis, this blog, Over the Invisible Wall, everything I do before it comes to the blog.

If I can change my schedule, either by working different shifts at work or finding some freelance jobs, I can change this pattern.

Instead of feeling constantly tired and worn out, I can fit my body’s sleep preferences. I feel more energized when I sleep from 12 or 1 am to 8 or 9 am. I wake up faster and reach a point where I can be productive sooner. That means I can do more that day.

I’ve given myself a few lax days, not pushing myself to do a lot of work. I’ve been wearing myself out, and I need to stop.

I can change my patterns and be healthier and more productive. If you can identify your sleep and work preferences, so can you.

Maintaining Dedication

I’ve been working on and off on my novel-in-progress for three years. Even for such a long time and spread out work, I haven’t quit.

I decided that I would finish this novel. Even if I decide it is terrible and I hate it, I will finish it. I will take it from an empty page to a published novel.

I committed to finishing it.

Not for my friends or my family or anyone else. For myself.

I’ve had a lot of trouble finishing large projects.

Four years ago I started crocheting a baby blanket for my cousin’s daughter. I never finished it.

Between the ages of twelve and fifteen I started countless stories that were intended to be novels. I have finished none of them.

I realized I had a problem. I start projects but don’t finish them.

So I went through all my novel projects and ranked them from highest to lowest current priority. I decided I would focus my efforts on the first project on the list, then the second, and on.

That was two and a half years ago, and I’ve made great progress. Mystical Warriors, my novel-in-progress, is over 30,000 words. That’s the longest of any writing project I’ve ever had.

What made the difference was a commitment to myself.

I decided that I had to do this, that it was going to happen. I am not willing to give up no matter the obstacles. I will finish this novel. Even with it on the backburner, I know I will be coming back to it.

I prioritized my projects such that I have no excuse for working on a new novel that would prevent me from finishing this one.

For a long time, I had a daily writing habit that included my novel. I wrote at least one sentence in my novel every day. That has fallen off, but I will be reviving that practice. I keep making excuses for why I haven’t done that yet, and I need to stop.

I stayed dedicated to this project over the last three years because I committed to it for myself. I maintained my commitment by focusing my time and energy on the project. I remind myself of my obligation to myself by writing blog posts about it and talking about it. I also take my novel with me on vacation to write in the car or during down time.

I need to reprioritize my projects, not just my novels, but my short stories and worldbuilding too. I will be incorporating progress on my novel into my daily habits. I want to say “after I finish x,” but I should start tomorrow. No more excuses, I need to deliver on this commitment.