Monday, December 29, 2014: Temping, Blogging, Hungry and Halves

I’m temping this week in a quiet office; I am filling in for the vacationing receptionist. It’s a beautiful day here in NYC: it’s New Year’s week so the city, or at least the office workforce city, is more calm and unpeopled than usual.

I haven’t blogged at all in the past month, even though I have so much on tap, in draft form, to post about my neighborhood, about racism, about my family, about food I love, about being alive and getting older. I’ve still been flirting with the Master Cleanse: not quite fully committed, which is typical of me, in so many ways. But I have been working out more, doing my crazy Bound Lotus yoga routine and fairing very well in keeping my ice cream consumption in check. I actually have a half pint leftover in my freezer right now (Bourbon Pecan Praline, limited edition Haagen Dazs: double thumbs up), evidence that I can actually from time to time be a normal person who doesn’t snort up a whole pint in one sitting.

In this office where I am temping, I can’t log into my Gmail account via their desktop nor can I even post anything on Twitter or Instagram on my iPhone, so shame on me for not having my own wireless access. I can, at least, check my email on my phone so I don’t feel like a total Flintstone but I am a lil itchy to post pics from this phat 32nd floor sunny view: I can see so far into Jersey, I bet I could almost make out Ohio but I’ll have to wait until the workday is over to attack the rest of my social media. Yet somehow, happily, I can connect to WordPress here, which I guess these guys don’t view as social media or as a site of general-screw-offedness, so that’s awesome. The universe is thusly directing me towards bloggage: onward!

It’s lunchtime, I’m hungry and there’s no free office food but that really is another blessing. It’s not the worst thing in the world if my broke large butt can’t scarf down Luna Bars I didn’t pay for. I am very happy instead to be sitting at the dreaded receptionist desk, writing and getting paid for just being here. My broke large butt serves a purpose if only by existing to these gentle folk who’ve hired me for this week so I shall choose to feel touched and lucky. Plus I have all those limes at home, just waiting to be squeezed, waiting to be used for the purpose of cleaning me out, giving me a recharge, challenging me to fight my laziness. Being hungry is good for me.

And I am lazy. I hate to admit that. I’m complacent. I’m content when stuff isn’t great. I’m fine if things don’t work out or if I fail or if I lose. I busy myself with delusions that the next great thing is around the corner and I distract myself by walking to the waterfront at Gantry Plaza State Park, taking pictures of Manhattan at sunset, thinking I am contributing something to my future by posting photos of pink skies on Instagram, by taking long walks, by just existing. Sort of like my being in this office right now. In my heart of hearts, half of me thinks I deserve more than I am willing to work for, which is absurd. Whether it’s my own arrogance or how I was raised or the insane comfort I have known on this planet as a white, educated American, this half of me has a slanted, almost collapsed view as every year sees more and more of my innate drive being chipped away by my laziness and complacency. I never got married or had kids because of my inertia. That, and my ridiculous theory that something better is always looking for me so I shouldn’t make any drastic moves; I should just sit tight and wait for the grand reward to fall from the pink sky. This is the half of me I need to leave behind: this is the half of me that doesn’t live in the truth.

The other half of me is much darker but also more urgently poised, more alive really. This other half is the half that knows I am quite mediocre and isn’t surprised when someone is mean or rude to me; this is the half that is insecure, on the edge, alone, a little muddied. This half of me is angry, wants more, feels frustrated by the first half’s yawning slothfulness: this half can’t believe what the other half does or thinks. This half is sick of rolling through the other half’s life, with bits of ice cream and Thai food flying off the crooked, squarish wheels of its apparatus.

This second half is where my energy lives despite the fact that my self-hatred has planted a few nubby roots: this second half cares deeply, feels deeply. It is irritated: things count to it. It’s not satisfied. It’s yelling at me. It’s hungry. And it doesn’t want ice cream.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014: Master Cleansification and Anniversaries Today

I AM EASING my flabbo caboose back again into the Master Cleanse.

I need to. I have been indulging a lot lately and although it’s certainly all been worth it, every bite and quaff, I need to take a break. I’ve been so out of control lately, my clothes are tight. It will be good to pause, step away from the fridge, stop swiping on GrubHub and regroup; I always appreciate my breaks.

Right now, having last night indulged in that spectacular sweet sausage salad from Mamu Thai on 36th Ave and 36th St (their new shiny fall menu just went live last week!) plus those 2 pints of ice cream I’ve downed in the past 3 days, it is time for me to return to the Master Cleanse: my old friend. It’s been a few months since I last did it; I usually don’t go this long without doing it, it’s such a good balancer for me so I’m looking forward to getting back on the wagon.

It is my habit to do the Master Cleanse with some regularity, even if only for half a day at a time, breakfast and lunch. Most likely, though, before long, I take it to a full day, and then graduate to lasting more than one full day. The best effects happen for me if I last about three or four days. Then I get really hydrated and really clean.

I love this cleanse, I recommend it, but I also tweak it. Traditionally, the Master Cleanse involves adding two parts freshly squeezed lemon juice to one part grade B maple syrup (alleged to be richer in minerals and other nutrients than its grade A brethren), plus a smidgey pinch of cayenne pepper to a tall glass of water. The major substitution for me is using limes instead of lemons; no other food is to be consumed but you can drink as much of this juice as you want during the day.

This concoction is also referred to as lemonade since the Master Cleanse is sometimes called the Lemonade Diet. Its most famous user Beyoncé lost ten pounds on it for her role in Dream Girls. Internet searches on Master Cleanse surged after her performance: junkies were born, me included. One famous practice-r planted a lemon tree orchard on her Southern California property in order to have fresh citrus on hand (which is so not like me, what with my dozens of discount Northern-Boulevard-bought limes, frozen as juice in washed out salsa jars in my freezer).

My super secret-not-secret weapon, even more so than the tangy limes, is the use of a ton of cayenne because it is the cayenne pepper that does the cleaning, baby bears: use as much as you can stand. I use a lot, like close to a teaspoon with each glass.

Because for me, cayenne pepper is the magic ingredient of the Master Cleanse; it is the fast-paced vehicle responsible for literally yanking toxins out of my muscles, I swear that’s what it feels like. A good dose of cayenne seems to pull out all the tar of my ingested evils from my very cell membranes. I feel it, as crazy as it sounds: I feel my body let go of its poisons as the cayenne hits my system.

And I do love my poison, girl: all 19 of them. I love cans of local craft beer, pints of artisan ice cream, red meat, really good Thai takeout. I balance it out with raw vegetables (that’s the rule with takeout: must be accompanied by many raw greens) and pounding as much water as I can remember to drink. But, boy do I love my rich foods, my desserts and my drink or two. I can’t do it bigmeal and alkydrinky every day, which is a really good thing. I pay for each of my sins, I don’t like to overindulge: everything I ingest comes with its own price, its own consequence.

If I have too much beer, I suffer insanely the next day. I can’t have more than two a night: it’s tempting to have more sometimes, but the payment, the hangover and lack of sleep, gets worse with every day lived. It’s just not worth it: better to stick to the rules. My insides, my soul and stomach, though, are attracted to being bad; I like decadent stuff, I just can’t manage a ton of it so it feels best to balance. I realize it’s truly a gift that I can’t tolerate too much playtime, too much booze, too much overeating. I always say I drink the way an alcoholic wishes they could: I feel the buzz immediately upon consumption and the best buzz happens when I stop at one drink. My body craves the opposite of playtime as much as it craves actual playtime. For that alone, I am lucky.

My body loves the Master Cleanse, it loves this cleaning, these days when I need not partake in amazing Mamu Thai sweet sausage salad with sticky rice, a cold small can of SixPoint The Crisp (or two). I’ll miss these things. But I’ll enjoy them better, later on in the week, wearing clothes that won’t be as tight.

THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE happened on this day 36 years ago, November 18, 1978: Congressman Leo Ryan was shot dead along with 4 other people on a Guyanese airstrip, and then one of the worst mass killings of Americans on foreign soil happened a few miles away, deep in the South American jungle. The assassination of Ryan is to date the first and only murder of an active congress member; it was an unprecedented event on its own but was then almost overshadowed by the 900 other deaths which occurred on that day, in that jungle. Some people were shot by crossbow arrows, some killed by guns, some by lethal injection, some duped to consume a concoction of FlavorAid mixed with cyanide by order of religious leader and Jonestown founder Jim Jones.

The story goes, per the culturally iconic punch line, these people all lined up willingly to “drink the KoolAid” and blindly follow their leader to death, but that’s not fully the whole truth or the whole story at all, not even the KoolAid part; the joke even gets the brand name wrong. No one these days knows much about Jonestown or Peoples Temple. It’s a story we stopped telling very quickly afterwards, other than judgmental one-liners referencing that powered beverage. We remember the drink, we remember the name Jim Jones; we care to remember or know little else.

But not me: I know a lot about Jonestown. It’s a story that never left me; I’ve done a ton of research, bought out-of-print books on eBay and Amazon. One day, when I have time, I’ll write a book about it. Too many people don’t know about it, it’s an extraordinary and unbelievable American story.

IT IS ALSO MY fierce friend MP’s birthday. She is such a badass: she is but initials.