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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Going Amish

I’ll begin my spring cleanse Thursday evening. These last few days I’ve been prepping myself by drinking more herbal tea, eating more veggies, and avoiding (OK, reducing) caffeine, sugar, dairy, alcohol, and processed foods, including white flour. I’m eating with an eye toward food combination: veggies and carb or veggies and protein, but not carbs and protein at the same meal; fruit apart from meals. The cleanse will be simple: a few days of Fruits and Veggies Only, followed by a few days of produce and whole grains, and then adding protein near the end.

I’ve been told that a dietary cleanse is not just a dietary cleanse. Even as the crap gets dumped from the intestines, so the crap gets dumped from the psyche. How will stress feel unmedicated by chocolate? What happens when I can’t attend the string of coworker birthday lunches I don’t really want to attend anyway? How can I nourish myself better? I wonder what life will be like for 10 days, stripped down and simplified, ordered around food. I’m nervous that it will be difficult finding time for the food preparation required (homemeade vegetable soup takes longer than pasta!), that I’ll be hungry and irritable for over a week, but I suspect life will seem easier when I order my days around nourishment.

I feel like I’m embarking upon some strange voyage and I’m not sure I have enough ship biscuits. Clearly, I will need to journal during my experiment. This, however, is not the place. I’d like to cleanse myself, a little, from the chattering of the Internet—I need to monkify, to Amish-up--for the next couple of weeks. When it’s all over and I emerge with glowing skin, butterfly wings, and a shiny new aura, maybe I’ll tell you about it.

Which brings me to...

Wednesday Writing Assignment

As I prepare to cleanse, please tell me about a time of cleansing, purification, or simplification in your life.


Blogger Eric said...

As recently as two years or so ago, there were some nights when I'd be watching three hours of television and taping two more: I'd be coming home from work, watching something I'd taped the previous day and then watching something airing that evening in real time. The odd thing was that I didn't even want to be watching that much TV; most of it was shows I'd grown accustomed to, and couldn't bear to part with. But it quickly spun somewhat out of control.

So I decided basically that I'd see certain series through their runs, but when they ended, would not replace them on my schedule, and in so doing, would gradually whittle down the amount of time I spent in front of the small screen. I even stopped watching certain shows that had become habitual but which, I had to admit in those moments of real honesty with myself, bored me, and felt more like chores than entertainment. Out went "24," out went "The West Wing" (after Sorkin stopped writing it, it wasn't any good anyway).

But my plan didn't pan out so well, for in came "The Amazing Race" (the best thing on TV, or close to it, even though Rob and Amber didn't win), and in came "Joan of Arcadia" (surprisingly compelling and honestly spiritual). Out went "Will & Grace" (not funny anymore) but in came "Desperate Housewives" (I could give it up if not for the singular pleasure watching Felicity Huffman on TV each week). Overall I've tried not to get involved in new series, and have successfully avoided the siren song of "Lost" and "House," checking in for a couple of episodes to see the cause of the fuss, but ultimately just dabbling.

I now have at least two, often three days a week where I watch nothing, and on most other days only one or two programs. And besides, "Alias," having hit a new stride in its fourth season, is satisfying enough to give me a good three days of tele-nourishment anyway. It's all about balance, you know. Simpler is better.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

This is a longish story. When I finished graduate school, I had applied for a job at the university. They interviewed ten people for five positions; I was one of the ten. I was not, however, one of the five (and at least one of the five was a poor, poor choice), and the university saw fit to inform me of this by means of a secretary leaving a message on my answering machine while she chewed her lunch. No letter, nothing. I decided that day to move to the north side of the city, away from the university. I found an apartment on Friday. On Tuesday, i told the people in the office that I'd be moving instead of staying the summer, and they informed me that I owed them the whole summer's rent because the deadline had been Friday. Even though I'd lived there for seven years and they hadn't had to repaint or anything else. Even though I'd always paid my rent, etc. They were complete assholes about it. (I did manage to get one month taken off, and could pay the rest over time, but I was seriously pissed.) They did say that someone might be coming in the following week or so, and might want to rent my apartment if it was empty, so I spent memorial day weekend throwing everything I owned into boxes and moved later that week. (All this was about a week before graduation, for which I had eight people coming into town.) The next 18 months were awful, for an assortment of reasons, including unemployment, but I eventually got a job, etc. When I decided to move again, about four years after the first move, i started packing things up at least two months ahead of time--the better to go through every last thing I had and decide whether to take it with me (figuratively as well as literally). I got rid of about 80% of my books--mostly the ones I'd kept in case I ever had to teach a class on the subject--which meant I was getting rid of the last remants of the notion that I'd ever do what I'd gone to grad school to do. I got rid of mementos whose significance I could no longer remember. I got rid of papers and notes from classes I'd never revisit (but not every paper or note). It was extremely satisfying. About four months after I moved, I had a new job, too, and around then I also met the man I'm about to marry.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

We got rid of our TV three or four years ago. But I'm not sure it counts: We still watch a lot of DVDs (both movies and TV programs), although we don't have to deal with commercials, and we can be more selective about what we watch.

Other than that, I got nothin'. I spend an awful lot of time planning to simplify stuff, but I never get around to it. My changes come about gradually and unintentionally or not at all.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

PS. Beautiful new site design. I love it.

5:20 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Eric: I agree, all about balance. TV can be a dark temptress.

Emma: What a story! May I ask what your academic field was? You've reminded me of a basic tai chi/energetic principle: you have to let go to receive.

Ann: I think it counts. Why don't you follow through on your simplification plans, if you don't mind my asking? And...I'm glad you like the new look! It's actually a new standard Blogger template.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Various ways I justify not following through with things I plan to do:

I'm lazy.
I have limited amounts of willpower.
I'm not at all ambitious.
I just don't have enough time.
I don't want or care about the results enough.
I'm more concerned about instant gratification than long-term goals.
I have a terrible memory.
I'm interested in so many different things that individual ones tend to get buried.
Many people have much worse bad habits than I do.
My life ain't broke, so I shouldn't bother to fix it.
The pressure of "shoulds" is more harmful than occasional unhappiness (i.e., when I watch movies instead of being "productive," I enjoy them and only feel a little guilty, but when I try to avoid them and instead be "productive," I spend most of the time wishing I were watching a movie).
The universe is enormous and there is no God, therefore none of what I do really matters.

It should be so easy to "just say no" to things that my intellect knows are "bad" for me. But it never seems to work out that way, and I can't really understand why.

Does anybody else do what they think they're "supposed" to do all the time, and how do they explain the times they don't?

11:49 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

I'm tyring to let go of most of my "supposed to"s. It's a problem, the "I want to watch TV, but I should go for a walk". But usually, I want to go for the walk and I definitely want to do my cleanse diet, so...

Are "shoulds" especially troublesome for people brought up Catholic?

11:57 AM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

Political science. (I was also a philosopher at one point.) (Still am, though only have amateur status.)

I'm not so much with the shoulds--which probably sounds unbeliveable, coming from Ms. Preacherwoman over here. It's true that I don't really do guilt very well or very much; not being raised catholic probably helps in that regard. I guess I'm a little unclear about what "shoulds" do for us. Once you reach a certain point, you know that if you do X then Y will happen--if I watch television, then I will not be able to do someotherthing. If I don't get enough exercise, I'm going to be cranky. Wtihin that framework, it feels relatively easy to make a choice; it doesn't feel like a should to me. Of course, I could be fooling myself, too.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

I get caught up in the pressure of "should" all the time. It's about long- vs. short-term gratification and intellectual vs. sense-ual desires (the struggle between which may very well form popular culture).

Currently, my short-term, sense-ual side is stronger than my long-term, intellectual side. It's difficult to change that relationship, because willpower falls into the long-term category. The only way I can see to fix it is to go through the tricks "they" usually recommend--put on your gym clothes as soon as you get home! don't carry cash for vending machines! sit down at the same time every day to write!--which is just another set of shoulds.

Well, nobody's happy all the time, and I'm already pretty darn happy.

PS. Upon rereading the original post, I came across this sentence:

I feel like I’m embarking upon some strange voyage and I’m not sure I have enough ship biscuits.

You neglected to mention ham.

2:27 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

I think the "shoulds" depend on what your goals are. If a "should" doesn't align wth your personal goals, then don' worry aboudit.


11:19 AM  

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