Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cleaning up my act

I just finished a 21 day cleanse, in which I avoided many delicious things...the toughest being coffee and alcohol, but no surprise there. But in addition to the avoidance, I added many foods that I hadn't been regularly eating (avocado! kale! coconuts in every form!).

The Doctor explained that a cleanse is a bit like taking a shower - something you need to do occasionally, depending on how dirty you are. After each shower, you can prolong the need for another shower by basically taking better care of yourself, being less dirty, etc.

If his explanation holds any truth, then I should hop into the shower pretty damn soon. I was feeling so great both during and at the end of the cleanse, but the couple days have been a bit, well, excessive in my food/alcohol intake. Of course it's all relative, and I'm still doing a good job of avoiding anything artificial, but I really went a bit wild.

After going out and enjoying (more than) a few drinks on Thursday, I went grocery shopping at 10pm to buy a vegan brownie, ice cream, and other snacks. After consuming them promptly at home, my roommate says to me (without any knowledge of my cleanse) - "you look like you've lost weight!" I probably had chocolate smeared on my face, and I'm pretty sure I effectively reversed some of the cleanse in one sitting.

But then I decided to take a step back and recognize the good. In the words of Craig Finn, 'there is so much joy in what we do up here!' I know much more about what my body needs and how I can take care of it.

Also, this cleanse brought some perspective to my diet - and helped me realize that there is always someone stricter than you. Being vegan is restrictive enough, but even with the additional cleanse I realize that this a city of extremes.

Lesson #17: There will always be someone more extreme in their eating/drinking habits than you, so follow up that raw cashew "ice cream" with another glass of locally brewed beer and thank God that you live in a place where this is all possible. And if you're lucky enough to not have any food allergies (mmmmm gluten! so delicious!), then the city is your oyster. But I wouldn't recommend eating those. (though it's one of the few cases of animal farming that doesn't seem to be a despicable idea.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Kicking the Starbucks Habit

The scene of the alleged crime

Now, by Starbucks habit, you might assume that I'm referring to a caffeine habit, or just a taste for Bob Dylan + Band of Horses + John Mayer playlists, but no. My caffeine habit has already been kicked thanks to Dr. Junger (sample tweet: "the number of people these days that have parasites is crazy. often people who have them get them from raw fish, undercooked meat & pets." Must remember to cook pets thoroughly!), and I can do without the assorted playlists. Instead, I'm referring to my habit of trying to use coffee/tea/book stores to find a secluded, quiet space where I can find my zen.

Lesson #16: Look inwardly to find a peaceful space, because God knows it's hard to find in this city, at least when it comes to physical locations. I feel that this lesson will be an important one over the next few years (yes, years. I honestly am only beginning to achieve the necessary amount of inner calm that I need to survive). Of course, there are plenty of ways to help one along this journey (classes, meditation, desserts so good that you close your eyes to savor them), but finding an inner calm is ultimately something you learn on your own. It keeps you from going crazy, which makes me think at least 25% of this city has never found this peace. Instead they've found craziness.

Speaking of crazy people, tonight I visited my local Starbucks, hoping to find a quiet spot to catch up on the latest book club read. Sure enough, it was full of a few students, a few drunks, and a few really crazy people. A few of them got into a fight, after one haphazardly spilled coffee on another's computer and starting yelling (no really, yelling).

An employee must have called the cops, because a few minutes, I'm being asked to leave by an officer. "'Scuse me, ma'am. You'll have to leave - you hafta to drink Starbucks if you're in here." At first I thought he was joking, or just a crazy man.

But no, apparently that's what I get for being eco-conscious and having a reusable mug. After showing me his badge, I stood up for my tree-hugging self to explain that, No, officer, I am indeed drinking Starbucks. He backed off. "Until next time," he muttered, shaking his fist at me. Okay, he might have apologized for being totally wrong, but I could tell he was upset. Since the crazy coffee spiller had already left by this point, he was probably pissed that he didn't get to make any arrests.

This also perfectly illuminates the fact that perhaps Manhattan is too safe. If after breaking up a fight in a coffee shop, an officer has time to stroll around and pick out people that don't shouldn't be there (and is wrong much of the time), then there's something off.

So while my peppermint tea was especially relaxing, it helped me realize that I can't look to it or any place for inner calm. Or just a damn quiet spot to read.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Above the Influence?

Whether or not you're moving to a place with a lot of friends, if you're anything like me, you'll miss everyone a helluva a lot. You'll also start thinking that people care about what you're up to, what you're interested in, and what you've been guiltily dreaming of. Or at least you'll be disoriented enough with your new surroundings to think this is the case. Which brings us to...

Lesson #15: Just give in to peer pressure - as in, give in to the social network revolution/time suck. So start a blog, join twitter (as I did quite recently), update your facebook once in a while, and for God's sake, keep up to date with email. Of course, you risk overexposure, but since you aren't seeing most of these people on a regular basis, have a little faith that there's always someone who'll do way, way more than you. But then again, attention spans are so damn short that maybe these clever kids have a point. However, I sometimes prefer the simplicity of sites like this, which is simultaneously genius and totally lame at the same time. Brilliant.

I do feel for kids that are overexposed by the tender age of 3. But I totally get where that kid's coming from - haven't we all been in a spot where we're desperately trying to tell something important, but all anyone else can do is laugh? Especially when it's so urgent that you can only make out one to two words??

Just one more shout out to overexposed kids: this kid is going to be such a bad ass in like 15 years. Even I don't say that word in front of my parents! To think, he kisses his mother (okay, definitely nurses) with that mouth.

And now, I will link this post all around the interwebs. All while listening to this techno remix.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sorry, We're (almost) Closed

Who doesn't have a little dirty laundry in their life?

I'm not about to expose any secrets or try to blackmail anyone, I really am referring to dirty clothing. I will not knowingly play a game of "true confessions," as my friends refer to it, on this blog. Not until I know you, the reader, a bit more, or have a few too many glasses of wine.

This week marks the second time I’ve been effectively cut off from doing laundry, given that the “last call” is at 8:30 for washers and I strolled in around 9, then immediately strolled out after being reprimanded for my tardiness. The laundromat staff have no patience for 2 things: dirty clothing and working later than 10pm.

Lesson #14: Not everything in this city is 24/7! Therefore, save yourself the exhaustion (and clean clothes) by remembering these things. Don’t assume that the city revolves around your hours and convenience! Sure, if you have the money and will, you can get about anything done or delivered to you (I could go into detail here, but I think you get the gist). But for the other 99.9% of us, it isn't always so simple.

Small details like this will be my ruin if I don’t pay more attention. Also, I know this isn’t Western Michigan, where every Godly place is closed on Sunday (and no alcohol is sold, since Jesus wouldn't approve. Except when for that time he turned water into wine for the masses.), but there are plenty of places that close at “respectable” hours.

A quick side note: you might feel ridiculous the first time carrying bags of laundry down really, really busy streets...but then you'll look around and see someone carrying something infinitely bigger/more interesting/probably illegal. That and you'll also soon realize that people don't really make eye contact on the street very often - some view it as confrontational, similar to animals in the wild. It's a concrete jungle out there, after all.

Of course, there's always somewhere to eat (though being on a 3 week long cleanse doesn't require much of that). This city is full of convenience, but you can really only take advantage of this if you learn from your missteps!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Guest Blog - The Time I Faced Cathlin: A Lesson for the Ages

Today's post comes graciously from Ryan Carmichael, who has me blushing still after reading it. Might be the nicest thing anyone's said about me, but maybe that's because I give off such a tough vibe.
A stiff and steady wind blew through my East Village haunts when news spread of Cathlin’s pending move to El Pueblo de la Manzana Grande. The entire town broke out into a hurried frenzy of hearsay, ruckus, and general shenanigans unseen since the Great Blackout of ’77. Wolves howled, squirrels took cover, subway rats scurried, and the Central Park pigeons alighted all at once, never to return again. The island was bracing itself for a happening of titanic magnitude, and needed a hero to meet the great Midwestern force head on.
My previous meetings with Cathlin were tame enough. As a young and shy lad of University age, I’d often find myself sitting in her vicinity and struggling illogically to think of something interesting to say, usually only managing something along the lines of, “Ketchup’s pretty darn good, huh.” This being said in a very noticeable stutter, making the moment even more embarrassing. It was then that I fully realized the sheer power that Cathlin held. When it came time for an individual to step up to shepherd Cathlin’s momentous New York City arrival I knew it had to be me. Any other person would founder miserably before her as I once had.
Preparing for her arrival wasn’t easy. I arranged for myself an extensive training regiment consisting of a variety of exercises meant to fortify myself mentally against her incredible power. If Cathlin was bringing a fight to the city which I called home I wouldn’t go down without one. After a couple of months of preparation and study, I was ready to meet Cathlin head on. A jaded citizen of the city with nothing to lose, I was the city’s only hope. The Day of Reckoning would soon be upon us.
The sky was abnormally sunny that day. The weather remarkably mild. The winds spoke nothing foreboding, yet the townspeople all walked with a gentle sense of trepidation as if they were seeking to avoid all consideration of what was set to happen. The sheriff tried his best to rally a posse, but everybody knew what was at stake and nobody answered the call. Eventually the sheriff relinquished his badge and gun himself, quitting while he was for all intents and purposes ahead. It was all up to me. The time had come.
The time that I faced Cathlin went down just as most would have expected it to. She swept into town as was expected and took out anybody who dared to stand in her path with her indelible charm and sweetness and an optimism unable to be contained. Would I go down in a similar fashion?
Undoubtedly so. I was no match for her. It was over before it started. I wise man once said that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and that’s exactly what I did. As a result, Cathlin’s infectiously optimistic way of looking at life and existence in this crazy metropolis city has captured my heart and transformed my own experience. I now count her as my best friend here, for if she weren’t here, I’d still be that jaded New Yorker. Cathlin brought light to El Pueblo de la Manzana Grande on that day, and the light has yet to extinguish.
As a guest blogger, here’s my lesson to those who read her lessons: Heed her lessons. She knows what she’s talking about. And, she’s ridiculously awesome!
Signing off for the first time,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

There is no lesson this time, kids. It's winter break!

My, how busy life has been! So busy that I've neglected to write much here. However, I've had my first guest entry on my friend Ryan's blog. In lieu of writing here, I'll provide a link to said post! Besides, he has a damn good blog and I would recommend it highly, even if I hadn't written the most recent entry.

Happy New Year!