Today is my 47th birthday. Tonight I am going to see “The Black Keys” and “Cage the Elephant” with my husband of 20 years and two of my three children. My youngest wouldn’t have any of that standing in a dark room with 8,000 other people to dance to a very loud band. None of that shit.
I haven’t been writing because I’ve been figuring out some stuff and I also have a terrible secret.
The figuring out thing? I thought I had it all resolved until I’d finished Prince of Tides and read Pat Conroy’s brief biography at the end of it. I thought I’d decided last week with my pal Lillian over at It’s a Dome Life that I would hold off on the memoir for a few years because I still have a 10-year-old to
screw up raise. Then I finished PoT and realized I’d sort of done what Conroy did (although not nearly as well) when I wrote my fictionalized memoir / novel two years ago over a summer. I haven’t read it in two years. I need to read it and see if it makes any sense anymore.
No one cares about that. You want to know about the secret.
The terrible secret: I’ve begun a clean-eating detox. A couple friends who know me very well asked me with great confusion on their faces, “YOU? You eat very well!” And it’s true, I do. I smooth (make killer healthy smoothies), eat quinoa, chia, agave, spelt, chikimea (I made that one up). So I’ve stopped drinking coffee and eating other stuff (bread, yogurt, milk, BRIE…. ) going on 11 days now. Aside from that Brie thing, I eat well.
Well, judging from the freakin’ headache I’ve nursed for the past
three five days, my metabolism would say otherwise. It’s brutal. I won’t go into details, ok, I’m shitting like a goose, but other than that it’s great. I am sleeping better. And I am waking better, so that’s huge. But the headaches… Criminy. What the WHAT with the headaches?
I have never really been a big sugar eater — I don’t add sugar to my cereal and I dilute the juices I drink and I’m not big on pasta and cakes and stuff, but apparently, even wiping out the artisan breads and eggs and coffee (of which I drank only one mug a day) is having a profound effect on me.
I also wonder if there’s any point to this — I had my blood drawn last week before starting any of this for my biennial well check and my vitals are great: BP is 106/60; triglycerides are 57, total cholesterol is 157 (LDL 91 / HDL 47); I row, practice yoga, jog a few times a week, walk the dogs, eat well and so … why? Why am I doing this?
“Because I’ll try anything once.” That’s what I said. I had no idea I would be this miserable.
On the first conference call, the leader said that this is a good time to take care of ourselves and calm things down in the exercise department. “If you’re someone who goes to a bootcamp every day, or runs a lot, this is a good time to dial back on that and slow things down. Practice yoga, go to a sauna or a steam bath… ” and I was wondering, “Why? I mean, this is a good way to increase our health.” And then the headaches came and I realized why we would be encouraged to calm everything down. Because I CAN’T FUNCTION ANYWAY. Sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln. I said the other day that I’ll gladly go back to running hard every day than do this.
To address the headaches, “Take vitamin C,” the health leader said to us on yesterday’s conference call that I had to set on mute/speaker whilst I sat in the bathroom. “About 1,000-2,000mg a day is fine…” then someone asked a further question about it and the health maven (whom I happen to respect a lot) continued, “there’s no limit you can take on Vitamin C, just take it until you start to get diarrhea…” and I thought… “Do you know where I am right now?”
So I’ve got headache and the bathroom. That’s going to be the name of my memoir: “Headaches and The Bathroom; How to Detox Your Past in 21 Days.”
The health commandant also mentioned that we could take something called Chlorella to help with the headaches. No. I know what I’m going to take for this headache. It starts with Gin and ends with Tonic and if you have just one, the headache will be a distant memory.
But I’m a trouper. I don’t give up easily and I still have a couple weeks to go. Will I make it? I really have no clue. Part of my headaches I think are coming from all the mental bandwidth I’m dedicating to this thing: “Is that safe? Should I eat that?” and “I miss my gelato…” (even though I ate 1/4 cup whenever I had it). I’m really constantly obsessing about when and what I can eat. I also really hate being told what to do. So there’s that too. But the headaches… I don’t normally get them, so this experience is as close to a nightmare as it comes for me. “Don’t go and reach for the tylenol… or the quick fix,” she said. “You’re just going to have to suck it up… ha ha >insert my sneer< …” was the response about the need for an Advil.
I did NOT speak on that call. I didn’t because I know myself too well. Once I get started on this stuff, I am not easy to talk down; I also know that I signed up for this. I foolishly, stupidly, arrogantly signed up for this. I wasn’t feeling lousy to start with, I was feeling sluggish and foggy-headed. So I thought this might be a good idea. Eleven days in, I’m feeling like I WANT TO DIE and I can’t keep my head up to save my life. My office is overwhelmed by Lara bar wrappers. I have to start reframing all this for my own sake, that food is not the enemy. I would be willing to bet that the fear-based and white-knuckled detox industry stands to become incredibly lucrative if we keep thinking unmoderately, that food is the enemy.
This morning, my husband let me sleep in because it’s my birthday. He took care of the boys and got them all off to school. When he entered our room to and leaned in to give me a kiss, I could smell the coffee on his breath and when he kissed me, I could taste it.
“You had a raspberry mocha this morning, didn’t you?” I hissed. I felt like a succubus, a harpy. I wanted to bite his lip to get the remnants and then drain him of all his pizza he enjoyed last night.
On the detox call yesterday, people were GUSHING, absolutely freakin’ OVER THE MOON about this program. They must’ve had to stop eating grass and added quinoa instead.
I am convinced my canines will be ground down to resemble cow’s teeth. No more need for incisors.
I asked on the super-secret Facebook page if anyone had a recipe for a carrot cake alternative and all I know is that it was viewed by 41 people. Not even the leader could reply. No one even said, “take a carrot and roll it up with almonds and a Lara Bar and sprinkle it with cinnamon, then close your eyes and plug your nose and eat it.” I think my question made them all run from their computers and shove their faces in their kale, eggplant, brussel, coconut flake, mung bean sprout salads.
I was talking to some friends earlier this week about mid-life crises and shopping for clothes. One of the women was wearing these fantastic pants. “Banana Republic!” said one of the girls I was with. I said, “OOOOOooooWooooo! I love Banana Republic!” (Along with JCrew, prAna, Eddie Bauer and Anne Taylor.)
We started talking about where we shop now, that we’re all “of a certain age” and one of them blurted out, “Chicos. I like it there.” And I thought: “No, honey, you’re still too young for Chicos.”
Instead I said, “I hate the name of that store… CHEEEEEE-KOS … Nah. I can’t do it. It’s like, for me, that store name is just not cool. It’s all but resignation. It says, ‘I don’t have grandchildren, but I could.'”
“Same thing with ‘Coldwater Creek,’ ” another friend said.
And we started laughing. “I think my great grandmother shopped there…” someone said.
That was just before the tears flowed. We knew “Forever XXI” was never going to be in our futures for ourselves. That ship had sailed.
“How about a store named, ‘It’ll Be OK, Honey.‘ That is at least telling the truth,” I said. “Or, mingling mid-life crises with shopping how about, ‘You’re Just Going to Die Anyway…’ that would be another good one. I can see it now, at a fashion show … ‘Here we have Giselle in a tasteful surplice frock in a simple sand dollar and sea star pattern accompanied by her LifeTime walker and Dr. Andrew Weil Earth Shoes in cordovan… the slacks have a clever little pocket which conceals any catheter or medical alert device needed…”
I told a Joan Rivers joke, it was a sight gag, but I’ll tell it here anyway. She was walking across stage in one of her fantastic sparkly gowns and was lifting her knees high and curving them to the outer sides of her body. She said, “Excuse me, I need to move my breasts out of the way of my path…” And we started laughing so hard we were going to pee.
Today I am 47. Which means I’ve ended my 47th year and tomorrow will be the first day of my 48th.
This just popped into my email inbox:
And the answer to this question in the TED Talk email is, Yes. We are dying. We all are. Once we hit the peak of hormonal balance and health, and begin that decades-long descent, yes, we are dying. We’ve hit our point of metabolic and procreative usefulness on this planet and all bets are off. But our liver regenerates every 28 days, so that’s all good too.
Speaking of liver regeneration, the four of us are going to a rock concert tonight while I wonder beforehand if there’s such a thing as gluten-free beer. If the headache is still here tomorrow, I’m done with this madness. I’m heading over to Chicos and I’m going to buy a real nice pair of pants with lots of pockets.
An epiphany (along with the secret): life is about living. If I were hit by a bus today, I’d be pissed that I was in the midst of a headache.