Sunday, March 22, 2009

My March

As most of you probably know, I had to abandon my goal of rock climbing this month. I managed to injure myself in the most embarrassingly stupid way and my dreams of becoming a cute rock climber girl were crushed (only for the time being though). It's a bummer but it's definitely something that I still want to get into, so to all of you that I had climbing dates with, stay patient! I still want to climb with you! But moving on...

So, what have I been doing all month instead? March turned into a "do all those little things you've been meaning to do" month. I've been working on my logo, spending time in my studio, getting in touch with old friends, finally using the yoga gift certificate Tim got me for my birthday in 2007...just stuff like that. Although it's not as structured as the other months have been, it feels really great to finally be crossing some things off my gigantic to-do list. Whether you notice it or not, all those little things take up space in your mind and it feels pretty freeing when you can release them. It's been a sort of mental detox which is the perfect follow-up to February's physical detox and a nice compliment to January's journal writing. They're all connecting!

So, all in all a really positive month so far. I will say that I'm a little nervous for April and being the weird girl carrying around a trash bag everywhere I go. I'm going to have to come up with some parameters so it can be feasible. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I apologize to our eager fans for not writing sooner.

I have so much to say that it's all getting jumbled in my brain, but here goes...

February was a very positive month for me. Since I'm unemployed, it was much easier for me to cook all of my meals than it was for Danne and Tim. I also didn't have as many temptations since I don't leave the house as much, ha.

Some February events that stick out in my mind:

Vinny visited from NYC for the Shepard Fairey exhibit at the ICA. That actual event was, honestly, a little bit awkward without alcohol as a catalyst. I needed some damn soda water but even that cost $3 or something silly. BUT Saturday night, Tim/Danne/Jenny/Vinny and I ate vegan Korean food, played the $5 surprise present game, enjoyed delectible Newman-O's with soy milk, and took turns telling stories about our lives before knowing each other. What fun! And Sunday, wow, Jenny made a vegan brunch that blew my face off.

Rick's "going away" party at Noir was way fun, even without alcohol. Tim and I went, drank soda water all night, and made wonderful new friends (Hi Lisa!). We ate late-night falafel, talked about swans, and slept over at our new friend Doug's house. By the way, weird sleeping arrangements always happen when I hang out with Tim or Danne. Not the two together, but when I'm just with one or the other of them.

My friend Jen was my valentine and she wanted to bring take-out to my house for dinner. The poor girl had no idea what to get for me since my diet was so limiting. She had to have a custom salad made with ingredients from a "safe" list I told her.

One day I was getting pretty stir-crazy, had been in my house for too long, and I asked Tim if he wanted to hang out since Danne was going to dinner at Grasshopper with an old friend. Long story short, we decided to dress in disguises and go to the restaurant to see if Danne would notice us. So, Tim went to iParty and bought disguises (check Facebook for photos and a video) and we actually ate at Grasshopper without poor Danne even knowing we were there the whole time. It was a ridiculous prank and I really think disguises and costumes should be used on a more regular basis. Sorry for utterly creeping you out, Danne. Would we have done this any other month? Probably. But it happened in detox February.

Some observations:

Sparkling water is a great placebo. I guzzled it at the bars when I went out and ended up getting really talkative, red-faced, and goofy anyway.

Homemade honey mustard salad dressing is quite yummy.

Vegan baked goods are just as good as ones with milk and eggs. Go ahead, someone try to fight me on this. I'll make you the fluffiest, tastiest little vegan cupcakes you'll ever eat.

Sober time with friends is incredibly rewarding. Drinking time is always fun, but let us not forget how great it is to enjoy each other's company without the addition of alcohol.

What I missed the most was seafood, which is odd, because I don't eat very much seafood in my every day life. Maybe my body was just saying I needed more protein? Not sure.

It's a really good thing I didn't go to Puerto Rico in February because I wouldn't have been able to eat anything at all. It is also a good thing I didn't go in April because there is so much trash there, I never would have been able to make a dent in it.

This brings me to the month of March...

I'm disappointed in myself for immediately eating/drinking worse/more than I did before February. I was in Puerto Rico from the 6th to the 14th. I ate crap, drank a fair amount, and now I feel like shit. I lost a couple pounds in February but I gained them back, and more, in PR even though we were fairly active during our stay. At the end of February, I was really thinking I never wanted to touch high fructose corn syrup ever again, I only wanted to drink occasionally, and I would still eat vegan when I had the choice. Going to Puerto Rico stomped on those plans so hard. Did I really just eat a fried empanada filled with yellow cheese? Yup. Did I really just drink four rum and cokes? Why yes, I did. So much fried food, rum, and soda. I don't even like those things much at all. But ya know, when in Rome... Don't get me wrong, I had a really great time. My body just hates me now.

In response to Drew and Tim's conversation about the satisfaction of eating meat versus tofu, I would like to say I decided to be a vegetarian (pescetarian, really) six years ago because of the toll industrial farming takes on the environment. I don't think it's wrong to eat meat and I don't have a problem with people eating meat around me; vegetarians who lecture meat-eaters give us a bad name. I believe everyone should eat as balanced of a diet as possible -- we are omnivores, after all. But everyone is different. For me, a vegetarian diet (with occasional seafood) feels right and leaves me feeling incredibly satisfied. I grew up in a household where we rarely ate red meat or pork, and only had chicken a couple of times a week. I never cared much about meat or craved it. It's funny because I'm one of the least picky eaters you'll ever meet, I love food so much and will try anything, but I choose not to eat meat. I think it's odd and unhealthy when people subsist primarily on meat, but who am I to judge really? There have been plenty of cultures that eat mostly meat and they were/are perfectly healthy, much healthier than most Americans. The problem is eating processed food (which I blogged about a while back), so yes, it would most likely be healthier for me to eat a grass-fed chicken than to eat a fake chicken patty made of soy. Have you read the ingredients on things like that? Oy.

With that said: Tim - I am really impressed by you. You had the most to give up in February and you did so well! I really respect that you are only giving yourself a few days this month to eat and drink whatever you want. I need to put some rules in place for myself again. I enjoyed the personal challenges in February and would like to make them habits. I haven't figured out a plan, but I'll let you all know what I decide to do.

My March challenge is to "learn Spanish" and it's not really going so well. I brushed up on what I already knew on my vacation, but honestly almost everyone there speaks English. Even when you try to speak Spanish, they respond in English. I had to tell a woman to speak Spanish to me! Learning the language will be an on-going process because obviously learning a language in one month is a lofty ambition anyway. I really need to buy Rosetta Stone or take a class, but both of these things cost money that I don't have.

March has transformed a bit into a sort of "say what you need to say and do what you need to do for peace of mind" month, if that makes any sense. Get things off of your chest. Bury the hatchet. Does this resonate with anyone else? I had a little epiphany at the beginning of the month. I'm a very forgiving person, but there have been a few grudges I've held onto. And I had this thought of, why bother? I always say, it's so much easier to be happy and accepting than it is to be negative and hateful. So it's time to practice what I preach, to the max! Grudges eat away at people. I don't want to be 50 years old and still complaining about something that happened to me in my 20s. I don't want to still be mad at someone who has "wronged" me. I don't want to be mad about anything. Love and be loved, right? March has been good for that so far. Clearing the air.

Okay, well I think that's everything I had to say. I'll try to post more often so I don't write a book every time I do post. Goals for the rest of March: get back on the healthy eating wagon, spend 6 out of 7 nights alcohol-free, and don't give up on Spanish. And read some damn books. Geez. And sew.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I'll have an O'Doul's please - 13 things I learned while vegan and sober:

For the entire month of February, I was completely sober and didn't eat a single animal product. Here are some of the things I learned from my experience:

1. I like meat. A lot.

If there's one certainty in life, it's that eating meat is really awesome. At no point in my 25 years on this planet was this made clearer than the month of February in the year 2009.

2. Enjoying food is all relative.

Here's a thought experiment: think of your own personal food satisfaction scale, with your favorite thing to eat as being at the top, and your least favorite thing to eat as being at the bottom. Now think about how psyched you would get if your favorite thing to eat was put in front of your face... and lets also say you happen to be really hungry from being locked in some dudes basement for 3 days with no food.

You'd be pretty psyched right?

That's how psyched I was for things like beans and tofu. Satisfaction was all relative; my scale had just shifted.

When some of the only protein dense, healthy, and satisfying substances you can eat are legumes and a block of coagulated soy milk, you will still get really psyched for them, mainly because tastier things like meat and cheese aren't even an option. You train yourself to stop getting psyched for them to avoid the feelings of despair.

So, after the neurosis I had developed (from constantly turning down tasty things) wore off, I finally began to enjoy really good vegan food just as much as I used to enjoy really good non-vegan food.

3. Alcohol does ridiculously bad things to your body and mind.

I had more physical and mental energy than I've had in a long time. Not drinking rules.

4. Alcohol does ridiculously fun things to your mind.

Booze is fun, but not necessary. Sober times with friends are really rewarding.

5. Spending a whole night in a bar sober is actually a lot of fun.

While sober at certain bars, you'll end up mentally lapping people very quickly. It also immediately becomes apparent just how desperately people need to drink so that they can feel comfortable engaging in shallow small talk at the top of their lungs with their "friends" who are standing, often akwardly, right next to them.

6. Spending a whole night in a bar drunk is still a lot of fun.

I did this on March 1st... for 6 hours. It ruled. Go to the bar named "Drink" in fort point and tip the bartender Sam, he rules.

7. Eggs are so awesome.

I'm generally against lame ass internet memes, but if Xzibit pimped my ride the first line of the show would be Yo Dawg, I heard you liked Eggs...

8. David Bowie is more amazing than I ever imagined (This just happened to occur this month, it had nothing to do with my diet)

Hunky Dory.

9. Working towards long term life goals is slow going when you drink a lot.

I realized that putting energy into non-drinking activities was a lot easier when you weren't engaging in the consumption of alcohol.

10. Not drinking has beneficial effects not apparent until at least 3 weeks of being sober.

This is a true statement.

11. I'll never be a vegan.

Now, if you read number 2 you may think I might be at least open to this. Well I'm not. Health and animal safety are important to me, just not that important. Besides, I can still choose pastured grass fed beef, limit my red meat intake overall, and not permamently deprive myself of different options, all while staying healthy and choosing to support more humane ways of razing animals for slaughter. I'll provide an analogy that I've given to many of my friends already... aside from the cruelty to animals part, I sum up being vegan as similar to having sex in only 1 position. Yes, it's still totally awesome (as is eating good vegan food), but why limit yourself of all the glory's of bedroom (or out of bedroom) adventure?

12. I'll never give up drinking.

Beer is awesome.

13. Going through with this leans me towards philosophical (not political) libertarianism.

I don't think I would have done this if Free Will didn't exist.

All in all I felt great, lost weight, and learned to cook some awesome stews. I'm proud of myself, because I love meat and beer, and I think I gained some valuable perspectives and insights into my way of life. Also, aside from the obvious physical benefits the main mental benefit was the true test of my wills. I realized truly testing your will power is good for you, it's a detox of the mind, like flushing antifreeze the opposite direction through the cooling system of life. It really gets the gunk out.

28 Days Later...

I meant to post last weekend but I got caught up in the end of February, "Welcome back to drinking and eating whatever you want" festivities. So, here is my long overdue reflection on February's detox:

The first two weeks were pretty amazing. Tim and I were really great about preparing food, I was productive with my time, and I just generally felt lighter, more energetic, and more clear minded. The last two weeks? I turned into an angry, bitter vegan who wanted to punch someone when Flour had the same vegan soup two days in a row, or worse, when the soup was only "vegetarian". The bitterness started when I didn't go grocery shopping and had to rely on eating out for most of my meals (I found this annoying and unsatisfying most of the time). Then we went to a few parties with delicious looking appetizers that I had to avoid, and the kicker was when I ate the most vile calzone from TJ Scallywaggles and was in bed for two days with food poisoning (ask me for the funny barf story if you haven't heard it already).

As much as I complain, I take the blame for my bitterness. If I had kept up with cooking my own meals and preparing my own food, I would have enjoyed the month thoroughly. I got lazy, and therefore, got pissy. A few times I found myself questioning why I was even doing this at all. What was the point of avoiding all these foods if I was crankier and not even eating any healthier? What was I gaining from this experience?

Well, a few things became apparent:

1.) Soy is not a substitute for fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
2.) Drinking reduces your productivity, drastically...
3.) Vegan junk food is still junk food.
4.) Drinking shouldn't be treated as a given. Some of the most valuable times spent with friends are those spent sober.
5.) A delicious homemade, vegan meal can be just as satisfying as one with animal products.
6.) Drinking is so expensive and not worth the money a lot of the time.
7.) You are what you eat. Fresh, light, organic foods will make you feel better than over-processed, pre-packaged garbage.

So, all in all, a challenging and successful month. Now on to March, which I will post about in the next few days.

p.s. If we talk on a regular basis you hear me say this all the time, but seriously, why in a city of 6.4 million people, do we only have 4 vegetarian restaurants, 2 of which have practically the same menu? Can someone please start an organic, locally grown, vegetarian restaurant?