Me, making a bad decision. A custom with which I’m ultimately far more comfortable.
We're doing a ten-day juice cleanse. We'll be recording our inevitable mental breakdown and reconstruction here. Expect some swearing and occasional poop updates.
Me, making a bad decision. A custom with which I’m ultimately far more comfortable.
I fucking made it. Last night I broke my ten-day fast at Uchi. I learned a LOT throughout this exceptionally difficult, really rewarding trial. Some of it was very surprising, some not so much. Here we go.
Know your limits
I knew I had to keep smoking while doing this because I couldn’t give up absolutely everything. While I’m not a heavy drinker (anymore), I do tend to drink a couple nights a week, and not being able to do so was its own form of quasi-deprivation. Admittedly, cigarettes aren’t very satisfying while your mouth tastes like the inside of a musty, deflated beach ball. It was mostly psychological but it helped. My next big challenge is to quit cigs.
The first day is so awful you feel like you’re dying. It’s normal, almost everyone experiences that. Seriously, just a few hours after missing lunch, I felt like Nicky Santoro at the end of Casino: beaten to death with bats and tossed in a corn field dirt ditch. Okay, I hyperbolize a little. But it was fucked UP. Customarily, I would have quit something this hard on the first day, but once I got past the first three, I knew there was no turning back. For my success I credit JZ’s juicing work and encouragement, my cheering friends who had completed the fast or were currently on it, and a long lost competitive spirit unearthed from the dusty catacombs of my inner self. Get your ass over the initial hump and you will be imbued with tenacity you never knew you had.
Drink the goddamn juice, no matter what!
Around days six and seven I started to feel as bad as I did the first day, which means I was doing something very wrong. I realized I was drinking only two or two and a half juices a day, which is NOT ENOUGH. Even if the juiced chard tastes like liquified earthworms, you must drink it, it is life-giving and you will feel better. Choke it down!
How not to juice
1. Do not refrigerate your juices overnight. The next day they will taste like a brand new kind of shit recently discovered by scientists. If you need to save them, freeze them overnight.
2. Beets are delicious sauteed in butter and garlic. They are nauseating in juice. Then again, I’m sort of a super taster and certain flavors are just not allowed. Ever eaten the meatballs at Ikea that people seem to love? They taste like Windex to me. I hope there isn’t any Windex in them, but I’m not getting a good vibe.
3. Don’t experiment too much. Juicing takes a long-ass time and you don’t want to waste your produce on making something that you have to throw out anyway. Recipes are the way and the light.
4. Allow yourself to try some juice at places around town. Juice Land on Barton Springs is the best I’ve found. Jamba Juice doesn’t even sell fucking juice, and their fruit and veggie smoothies are pretty lackluster. I even had a hard time drinking these “good” retail juices, but it was a nice switch. Try the Ninja Bachelor Party at Juice Land; it masks the soil-like flavors pretty well.
This one’s got a pretty mouth
Your breath will smell not unlike a desert latrine. Your mouth will be filmy and dry and weird. If you love your partner you will swish some minty shit four or five times a day. And trust me, by that time you’ll be grateful for the flavor. Just don’t swallow, y’old drunk.
Don’t hate; constipate!
I don’t know what that means, just be ready to not shit for days and days and to fart yourself to sleep every night. There is no getting around this. It happens to everyone who fasts for various sciencey reasons. This is why the saltwater flush exists. When you do it, make sure you have nothing else to do for three or four hours. The saltwater might make you queasy but you have to keep it down. It’s not bad for you, and once it makes its way down, it’s like a spa treatment for your colon. And by that I don’t mean it’ll be a pleasant experience for you.
The wrong way to end a cleanse
My celebratory dinner at Uchi last night was fantastic. I didn’t overeat and everything we ordered was a culinary Mona Lisa. But when I awoke at 5 a.m. this morning with crippling stomach cramps and some kind of appendix or kidney ache, the fish honeymoon was over. I should have eaten some vegetable soup and a piece of wheat toast. I fucked up, but no more.
TV is your friend
I gave myself permission to not do shit while on the fast and it’s one of the few things I instinctively did right. Get yourself engrossed in some compelling television and films to pass the time because that’s what this is: a waiting game. It’s an endurance test between you and your own mind, to see how crazy you can get while still holding your ground. You can drown out your inner yammering and bargaining (“Why am I even doing this? What if I just made it a five-day fast? What, I can’t just eat a fucking tomato?!?”) with my slutty friends Netflix and Hulu.
**I tried reading books because I love reading, but it made me fall asleep.**
Feewings, nothing more than feewings
I … miss the fast. That’s the last thing I expected to say but it’s true. Right after dinner I felt kind of sad to be done because of how great it made me feel about myself. I felt pretty damn good on the last three days. It was a bittersweet ending but next time I’ll do it for 30 days. Maybe.
The best part
I began this thing with discipline in mind. Aside from wanting to “reboot” my eating habits and lose a little weight, I wanted to prove to myself I could do something really hard. Now that I’ve accomplished my goal I can apply this newfound badassness to my writing, which is the most important non-human relationship I’ve got. Food is a cheap tart I shack up with in a sleazy Super 8, but I’m deeply in love with writing (we’ve got an open thing). I am so grateful to have food in a way I never was before. I appreciate every single bite. I like myself a lot more than I did before. That kind of awareness is not come by easily. Nor should it be. All the best things in life are worth fighting for. So get juicing, and get ready for a bar room brawl with your very soul.
I wouldn’t say I have an intimate relationship with hunger now, but we’ve definitely gone “all the way.” Today and yesterday have actually been pretty good. Although I’ve wrestled with periodical hunger misery, I’ve mostly felt centered, strong, happy and extremely silly. Even for me. I’ve done some pretty superior songwriting too. “Fuck This Juice,” “The Many Shapes of my Butthole” and “Gimme Some of That Muffin, You Stupid Idiot” are destined to top charts in … hell?
Tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. I will have officially gone ten days without solid food. At that time I will be sitting down at Uchi for edamame, sashimi and other healthy, chewable gifts from god. I found myself staring at the sky on my back porch, going over and over again in my mind what I planned to wear and order. JZ might have to physically restrain me from holding and non-sexually stroking the server who delivers my dinner.
1. Spinach, pineapple, strawberry, pomegranate, celery and pear
2. Spinach, strawberry, cucumber and pear
3. Chard, pineapple, celery
At this point I would rather bury my face in a long-haul truck driver’s sweaty sack than drink another juice. For the variety alone.
In film terms, yesterday was “Carrie” and today was … what … a Nora Ephron film? It was a serene, uneventful day without medium highs and lows. This is a good thing, I’m not complaining.
I’m sure it helped that I was off work for the David Foster Wallace symposium. At which I got the feeling the three of us in my group were the only Austinites. It was fan-fucking-tastic. I sat right next to the fiction editor of The New Yorker, for Christ’s sake (I have no idea why she doesn’t have a Wikipedia page). There were so many brilliant writing and editing minds there I couldn’t help but be distracted from my petty hunger. The Ransom Center put together this event to celebrate the works of DFW because they recently added his papers, notes, work and letters to their colossal archive. If you happen to be at UT anytime soon, stop in the lobby of the Ransom, as some of his letters are on display in the lobby, so you won’t have to pay admission (not the least of which is a letter to Don Delillo, which, even though you CAN read it in the Internet, it’s a living document in person … but there are many items you CAN’T see online).
During one Q&A some crackpot, who claimed to have been in the same MFA program as DFW, floated a theory that Wallace had actually written the script for “Good Will Hunting” in complete secrecy. As awkward as the moment was, the guys and I desperately wanted to hear more. Only problem is, when you give a guy like this a millisecond of your attention and approval, he’ll end up camped out in your asshole the rest of the day. Besides, he looked exactly like Ben Franklin, which was disconcerting.
Anyway, I could go on and on about that, which must be why I felt good all day. The only moments of real teeth-grinding hunger were 1) when JZ ordered an amazing-looking tuna sandwich, and 2) when I had to walk past the complimentary breakfast/coffee table, and later, the closing reception canapes and wine. Otherwise it was a flawless learning experience.
Also, it helped that I forced myself to drink a green morning juice. BIG DIF.
I think I’m gonna make it to day ten. I wasn’t so sure last night, but I am 100% sure today. I promise to be funnier tomorrow.
If you’re unfamiliar with David Foster Wallace, largely believed to be the greatest writer of the last quarter century (until he shot himself in 2007), "A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again" is an AMAZING place to begin. It’s his very long nonfiction piece (later it became the name of a collection he wrote, which you should buy) about his experience on a cruise ship. It is intimidatingly clever, hilarious, and just a treat to read in every way.
I came THIS CLOSE to quitting tonight. I can’t take drinking the juices anymore. They gross me out, so I don’t end up drinking enough, which throws me into starvation mode. I’m doing my best to stay strong and crawl to the finish line. The pride that I’ve made it this far is eclipsed by the awfulness … sometimes. It makes me feel like a pillowy, privileged westerner with no discipline. If I make it to ten, I’ll reconsider. But I reserve the right to ditch this donkey show if I feel like I did today again. My humor reserves are depleted. I’m gonna need some funky-ass dreams to restock. Dreams that aren’t about FOOD, please!
It is I, Bobby J, of juice fast fame. As Madam T works her way through the end of this torturous cycle of “good living”, I thought I would speak up, and offer my two cents on the last 5 days of the juice fast. Just some random thoughts that went through my head, and things that I experienced on a day to day basis. SO…..
SATURDAY: DAY 6: AKA First Salt Water Flush Day
-Wow. It really wasn’t that hard drinking all of that salt water. Maybe this won’t be so bad.
-Holy Mary Mother of God I just shit the Toxic Avenger.
-That new Thundercats cartoon is not so ba…..uh-oh I’m about to shit the couch.
-Juiceland! Home of the Ninja Bachelor Party! It’s better than getting hit by a car!
-Man, I want sex, a cigarette, and a brisket taco all at the same time.
-My tears taste like salty broth. Mmmmm….salty broth.
SUNDAY: DAY 7
-Hey Kale! Fuck you.
-Sure is a beautiful day. I’m feeling great & I’m so glad I’m doing this.
-Can you juice a cupcake?
-Look at the tits on that cow. I bet that milk sure is tasty.
-I wish all juice was pineapple juice.
-It’s so nice not to feel so edgy anymore. :)
-Screaming, crying, flailing. I hate you all. :(
MONDAY: DAY 8
-Thank god the weekend is over. (I hope I never, ever write that ever again.)
-Juice fasting during the week = way easier.
-Actually am starting to feel relaxed.
-I’m so close I can taste the avocado. Tastes like, victory.
-Ah. My old nemesis. Laxative Tea.
TUESDAY: DAY 9
-Work is good. Work provides focus. Work makes me forget that I have more juice in my system than a Tropicana factory.
-Uh-oh! Looks like that laxative tea worked! A crappin’ I will go, A crappin’ I will go, hi ho-merry-o, a crappin I will go.
-I really think I’m losing weight. I just wish I lost it in my tits.
-I would punch a nun for a cigarette.
-Now that I think about it, I’d punch you for a cigarette.
-I just want to sleep through the rest of this.
WEDNESDAY: DAY 10
-I really do feel an overwhelming since of pride. Never thought I’d have the will power to make it this far. It’s nice knowing that my mind is strong.
-Someone asked me today if I would do this again. After I threw them out a window I decided that yes. Yes I would.
-Grocery stores are fun when you realize you’re actually going to be able to chew the things you’re putting in your cart!
-How appropriate is it that my final salt water flush is happening as I watch The Expendables on Netflix? Discuss.
Today I ate a banana at 9:45am. First food in 10 days, and it was better than sniffing a virgin’s honeypot. All in all I do feel better than when I started this insane ride. My energy is better, my body is not as sore, I’m not as tired, and I’m excited about eating things that I wasn’t before. Like salad. Beans. Rice. It’s astounding to me that these things sound like a 7 course meal with Foie Gras for the main course. I am reborn. Newly forged from the dirt & greens. I am a badass, mean green eating motherfucker.
And my name is Bobby J.
I stopped by Whole Foods after work for some juice action and almost suffered compound fractures in both legs. That’s because the overwhelming wave of hot, peppery bacon traveling around the parking garage hammer-fisted me onto the curb. Dear god in heaven.
The days really are getting easier but I’m still just dying to fuck some food with my face.
Jax told me to get some tea leaf (tree?) toothpicks so I could approximate the sensation of chewing. I need to get on that. But at least I’m not totally exhausted anymore. And my intellect seems to be crawling back to its post like a hobbled snail. But god dammit it’s day six, which means at midnight I’ll only have four days left, and tomorrow night I’ll have three days left.
Tonight I’ll be engaging in my first non-work socializing for a pre-show interview with Seth Cockfield, local comic and bon vivant. It should be interesting to see how I hold up with next to nothing in my tummy and no booze to lubricate my wit.
Tomorrow morning I’m going into work late specifically so I can perform the dreaded salt water flush. I doubt I’d even do it if the plumbing was up to par, but I haven’t crapped since Saturday (when I did the last salt water flush). I’m looking forward to a celebratory day seven “ass faucet,” as Jax astutely calls it.
Which reminds me!!! Jax is on DAY TEN. Fucking A, bro. You’re so cool you’re pissing ice cubes. Jax and Z are the wind beneath my flabby wings.
I grew up single-mom-poor. I remember late-night car trips to three, four, five H-E-Bs, so Mom could cover her hot checks. It was fun because I’d get an Archie comic out of the deal and maybe stay up to watch The Tonight Show. When I was 12, fearing the troubled path I seemed to be heading down in the Austin public schools, Mom moved us out to a very humble duplex in the country. It was about 30 minutes outside of Wimberley, a town now known as sort of a groovy bourgeois/artist-y enclave, but we weren’t close enough to enjoy the beginnings of that. It was the worst thing I could imagine at that point. I had to leave my friends and go live out in the sticks. When you’re accustomed to city life (albeit a small city like Austin was in the early 90s), the chorus of cricket castratis every night is not exactly charming. Quiet country life did then, and still does, conjure visions of inbred hill people/serial killers lurking behind every beat-up Chevy.
I know my mom was trying to do something good for my younger sister and me. She usually was, even when it didn’t work out well. But goddamn, we were ba-ROKE. I remember one night Mom made us spaghetti for dinner while we watched TV. She called us to the table to eat because, even though our family was “dysfunctional” (a term newly introduced to the zeitgeist back then), she wanted to maintain some conventional Beave-like tableau. As usual, she served my sister and me first. She always ate whatever was left over when we were done. We inhaled ours like the skinny, hungry country kids we were (building Hilton hotels made of dirt and sticks for the underserved doodlebug population really saps your energy). Then Mom plated for herself the last small bit, slipped and spilled it all on the floor. I watched her sigh, get down on her hands and knees, and scoop it all up onto the plate to eat anyway. Now, this isn’t a biscuit or a chip or something. An entire plate of spaghetti hits the floor like a suicide jumper from 40 stories. It was a messy affair resulting in my mom probably eating a bunch of dust and crap and maybe a couple of bugs. But she cherished her ability to channel her Depression-era forbearers and just suck it up (still does). It was not the first, last, or most monumental of the myriad ways in which she sacrificed her own comfort for ours. But that one really stuck with me.
Just one day every year (tax return time?), Mom would take us to the now-defunct Winn’s, where they had a Caligulan nickel and dime candy bin. She’d slip us each a twenty and challenge us to see who could buy the most for their cash. When we came home with our bounty we could eat it all right then if we wanted, or save it. We always ended up saving it, and mostly got tired of candy for a long while after. Pretty savvy plan. To this day I’m not big on sweets.
Like all kids I desperately wanted to escape and let the white noise of Grown Up Life drown out the pain of unresolved family problems. That meant making my own money to buy what I wanted, when I wanted. When I grew up I indulged every impulse because I was free to be poor on MY terms. And not just with food; with sex, drugs, drink, what have you. (No, really, what have you? Can I have some?) I remember the feeling of childhood hunger very well. So why would I want to voluntarily recreate that with this fast now?
Growing up without money often exalts the event of eating, possibly to unhealthy heights. We rarely ate out at McDonald’s or anywhere else, so when it happened, it was a special treat. I came to associate good times and financial/physical safety with restaurants because I knew Mom was doing okay if she could swing a Happy Meal. A celebration now still means dinner with friends and family, where you order what you want and drink what you can. Ask my close friends and they’ll tell you, I spend my money on evenings, not things. I’ll drop $75 during happy hour at Uchi on what most would call a totally unremarkable day. I say if the sun’s shining and the feeling’s right, it’s time to celebrate cheating death with a congregation of likeminded appetites. “Be here now,” or some other aggravating Boomer cliché. I’m not an overeater, but I do struggle to think of reasons why I shouldn’t have whatever I’m craving if I can afford it.
I don’t want to lose the side of myself that tends toward revelry and jaunty recklessness, and I don’t think I have to entirely. But I do want to be conscious. Both to augment my career as a writer, and to truly enjoy the moments of indulgence. I want to acknowledge the gnawing little truths that start to itch when I shut my fucking mouth for a second and sit quietly, and turn off my comfort-seeking autopilot (I’m talking to YOU, iPhone games!). That’s why I’m doing this fast, and that’s why I’m both shocked and proud–a rare feeling for me–to have made it to day five. You could set your clock to how many times I’ve quit difficult undertakings on the first day. For me this is a chance to reboot my expectations and learn to make food a special treat again. It is a conscious decision to pay attention, moderate, and ditch the sense of entitlement held over from the spaghetti years.
Now someone slap me in the tits. All this Serious Reflection is making me hungry.
- There is no Tei Tei. There is only Zuul.
♫♫ There she iiiiiiiiissssss Miss Americaaaaaaaaa. ♫♫
Hey, guess who’s hungry????? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!
I almost broke last night. It was fucking awful. I was having all kinds of flashbacks to the powerlessness of childhood, and going into a tailspin of sadness and angst. It was ugly. Today I am feeling better but now I’ve learned that fasting-Teighlor is bipolar. I went from walking on sunshine to glaring out the window like some hellbent harpy.
We’ll see how the rest of the day goes. I feel good-ish right now. But I want my old life back. I want to drink wine and eat fish and leave the house.