Day Four – Friday, August 11th
Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.
~ Ms. Stacy
It’s been a hot minute since I had the need, but this time of year always makes me nostalgic for school-supply shopping. Everything was new and full of possibility. Each notebook, folder, parrot-shaped pen, and ironic Brenda and Dylan pencil case was a way of expressing who one was combined with whom one hoped to become that year, because the first day of school was fittingly a clean slate.
Without fail – without fail – I repeated the same pattern for most of elementary school through the time I graduated college. The first week of school, I was freakishly organized. My notes were in my best Mary Anne Spier handwriting; nothing was stuffed in, then falling out of desks or lockers, and I dutifully studied and did every assignment each afternoon when I got home from school.
But then, always more quickly than I’d hope, it all fell apart. I’d forget a pen or a book and then it became very “What’s done is done.” I’d make it through and get good grades, but never felt organized ever again like that first week, so I’d fall back into the familiar pattern of quasi-organized chaos.
Yesterday, I forgot a pen.
Or rather, due to lack of planning/alarm-clock ignoring on my part, I had to choose: stop for the specific ingredients I needed for Day Four produce and be later than expected for work, or make do with what I had and possibly run to the store later. That option was limited by the fact that I had to leave early to go to a 311 concert in Denver with Josh and my brother.
Naturally, I began to spin out a little. It felt very much like the times I’d stay up on the phone instead of studying so I’d do that on the bus, telling myself I can try to do my later assignments during other classes and, ugh – what a mess.
But I was prepared for my “first class,” as I knew I had an apple and some ginger among the remaining produce. After proudly consuming that, I realized that was the wrong shot for Day Four. Long story short, I didn’t have the right ingredients for any of my juices, but I tried to do my best with subbing in fruit for fruit, veggie for veggie. I overcompensated by dumping in the rest of the bin o’ kale.
At the end of the work day, I felt good that I’d wasted no produce that work week and still had some remaining apples and sundry. But I knew that I didn’t have enough juice fuel to last, so I forced myself to eat a hardboiled egg. And that’s when I decided that the rest of the evening was going to be about deliberate choices for what I felt would help me stay balanced, both mentally and physically. I had no more juice tools in my arsenal, but there was still an awesome night ahead that I wanted to enjoy and be good company for. If I’ve learned one thing lately, it’s that letting my blood sugar/nutritional energy level plummet is not an option. My stomach was hurting, so I even entertained the idea of having a piece of bread at some point. But I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, as I’m trying to take this journey one juice at a time, literally and figuratively. I ate the egg, and enjoyed the trip to Denver.
Once in Denver, my next juice came in the form of several sips of Josh’s beer, scattered throughout the course of about an hour. The beer did have berries in it! It tasted lovely, but I had no desire to ask for a can of my own.
Then we went into the venue, which was awesome. It felt like concerts I used to go to on Long Island – everyone chilling on a lawn. 311 was great as always. And there were so many fantastic food trucks! I was prepared for yummy-smelling temptation, but not the option to get a chopped mixed green and apple salad topped with avocado! The only thing I wouldn’t have on the cleanse anyway was the lime vinaigrette. I let it go. The salad felt nourishing, tasted sublime (so to speak), and greatly helped reduce my pizza FOMO, as Josh’s and Robb’s slices looked delicious.
My first real gateway-to-cheat-for-the-night temptation came in the form of a taco truck. They had vegan black bean tacos topped with pico de gallo and guac. Omg.
They’re probably huge, I told myself. Definitely monstrosities that would kill my stomach and psyche after four days of juicing. Then Robb got a couple, and they were absolutely perfect! Totally reasonable and extremely nutritious!
I felt my cognitive dissonance kicking in its heels and was SO CLOSE to getting one (or two, as I think they were a package deal). But I told myself “Maybe later,” drank more water, and walked with Josh to meet up with friends, while Robb checked out the merch table.
Then I drank some vodka.
You know how in Hand That Rocks the Cradle, the husband whose name I can’t remember who was the gum guy in Seinfeld, he only smokes cigarettes when he hangs out with Julianne Moore? Well, that is how I feel when my friend Angie offers me vodka, especially when as in the case of last night, it comes in an adorable mini bag! But as with the beer earlier, I took a couple of little sips (not shots!), and passed it to Josh. Later she gave me a couple of inches of fresh Heineken and I took a couple of sips of that too. Heineken has no berries and the concert was over. But it was ice-cold domestic beer in a plastic cup on a lawn post-music, and there was no way I was saying no to that, for myriad reasons.
Long gone at that point were thoughts of procrastinated tacos. The sips were my cheat for the night. I’d thoroughly enjoyed the concert, and despite my proverbial lack of pen and possibly a few other supplies that day, I felt strong about my choices, and knew that MyFitnessPal wasn’t as on point as Days One through Three, but it wasn’t far off either.
THEN! Out of nowhere, an unexpected Final Boss appeared! I did not see him coming, but there he was in the form of the FOMO pizza truck from before, only this time I had no avocado shield or shredded-apple swords!
The voice in my head that’s been guiding me all week returned: You said no to a slice before and you can do it again.
Crisis averted. Thank you, Voice. But as Josh and Robb stood on line, the Colorado mountain air mixed with the scent of New York pizza, making me high when a new voice piped in: You should just have a bite. There is no harm in having one bite of fresh pizza topped with balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar and tomatoes and basil are like salad! Plus, nutrition. Just one bite.
Normally, that would be that. But something inside me said that this bite-voice was different than the permission-for-sips-voice earlier. Why exactly, I didn’t know – until a THIRD voice entered the conversation!
You mean “just one bite” like the kind Jeff Probst offers Survivors to get them to surrender during crucial individual immunity challenges?
BOOM! I’ve used “Survivor” as mental inspiration for many things before, such as disassembling Christmas tree decorations, but this was a new one. It’s not that it would have been a terrible thing to have one bite of pizza, in and of itself. Certainly it would be more nutritious than vodka. But something felt important about that final yes or no of the evening. Maybe because it was a hot-food cheat. Maybe just because. So I imagined every Survivor who ever stood on a pole in the ocean or held a pail of paint above their head, et al., and pretended that even one bite as making the choice to give up my chance for individual immunity!
To carry on with that metaphor, turning down a pizza bite didn’t make me feel like a superhero, but it did make me feel like I could scrappily last a little while longer in this challenge. Sometimes it’s just about getting to the next tribal council and in the meantime, yay bananas.
Speaking of metaphors, now that I think about it, maybe lack of proper produce on Day Four was more like oversleeping and the realization that I was too poor for pineapple on Day One was the pen. Upon reflection, I think that all week I’ve been terrified of messing up and spending the rest of my cleanse in chaos or worse yet, not finishing at all. After all, that’s how the last two went.
Screw that. For the first time, I’ll seek to pass, not get an A. Most importantly, I’m going for the Perfect Attendance Award. No matter what happens, I’m showing up to write for all 28 days, and I reallllly don’t want it to feel like those nightmares where I haven’t been to class all semester.
With all of that said, I did eat a black and white cookie in the middle of the night.
To Day Five!