Remember My Space?


This is the second part of the blog I wrote when trying out the lemonade detox diet.  Note to my mother:  I use profanity.  I use it well, but I use it nonetheless.

My detox plan was met with mixed reactions.  Issac, of course, is all for it, and says he will detox with me, which later falls through.  My good friends are concerned.  “There are a lot better ways to clean out your system,” says my health concious Feldenkrais practitioner Carmen.  “Please don’t,” says Sweet Carrie. “My friend tried that and ended up in the hospital..”  “I lost 20 pounds,” says Kathy at work.  “Of course you won’t lose so much because you’re already thin.”  I opt not to tell her about my 155 pounds.

But I waltz into the health food store anyway (such an engimatic place.  I find it strange that they sell 12 different types of oat bran, no coke or pepsi, but mountains and mountains of red bull. “It’s an energy drink,” says Sweet Carrie.  That’s just advertising, Sweet Carrie.  It isn’t good for you.)  I buy my Grade B Maple Syrup, ridiculously overpriced organic lemons, cayenne pepper, and a laxative tea hilariously branded ‘Smooth Move.’  I also pick up Stanley Burroughs “The Master Cleanser.”

Now, I don’t know what I was expecting from Burroughs.  Possibly a well-written treatise on how the cleanse works, what its benefits are, and what are the side effects.  Something inspiring, maybe, comparable to works I’ve read by the Dalai Lama.  I expected the erudite musings of a proven guru.

I was lucky to get a well-written sentence. Burroughs is as hippy dippy as they come.  The book opens with a blessing: “Blame not God for the many illnesses and diseases you have created.  They are not ‘Acts of God!'” The man clearly believes not only that eating next to nothing will keep you alive forever, but that you are already on board with him and his philosophy.  I also love the attempt at poetry by which he lamely places ‘not’ after ‘blame’ as if he were writing the Ten damn Commandments.

Now I have a serious problem with this ilk of person: almost as much of a problem as I have with anti-abortionists who kill doctors or people who voted for Bush.  Because to suggest that one can avoid disease by fasting, or not eating, which is an essential part of human life, is to suggest that those who do have diseases somehow earned them.  And how did they earn them?  By eating.  By eating all sorts of food that may not have been healthy for them, but for whatever reason, be it culture or preference or just plain laziness, they have brought disease: cancer, AIDS, what have you, upon themselves.

News flash for those health gurus currently fasting or consuming leaves or something:  people get sick no matter what you do.  Stop telling people the “right” way to do things because it doesn’t matter how “right,” you may think you’re living: you can’t control mortality.  Burroughs senses this and it scares the shit out of him.  I don’t sense it, I know it, and therefore I see through him and I don’t buy into his bullshit that by living off of lemonade, one can cure all the world’s “man-made”evils.  In fact I think that Burrough’s arrogance is the worst kind of pride– dare I say sin– that exists because it blames the sick.  It blames them for doing something human.  So I say on behalf of all the people who are currently sick or who have died from being sick: Fuck you, Mr. Burroughs.  You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

Ooh, tangent.  So anyway.  The book scans over the rest of the diet and in a typical male fashion, scans over women’s particular need for things like iron at certain times of the month.  “Don’t worry,” he assures.  “Normal conditions will ensue during the menstrual periods.”  Seriously.  That’s it.  Since normal conditions for me usually involve about 6 Advil and an irrepressible craving for chocolate, this is too vague to be comforting for me.  I assume I am fucked.

The bulk of Burrough’s book is made up of testimonials by people you’ve never heard of with no medical or homeopathic credentials.  They are all named things like Bob and Sheila.  Their stories are meant to add credibility to his book and the diet, but they come off as almost desperate.  Instead of explaining how and why the lemonade diet works, he anxiously shakes his examples in your face.  You can almost hear him plead, “See?  It worked for Sheila!  And Bob got rid of his ulcer!”

But for some reason unbeknownst to me to this date (maybe the fact that I’d spent over $30 at the health food store), I began the diet on a Monday.  Whoa.  Since I’ve been addicted to coffee since I was 12, it’s possible that my reaction was a little extreme.  I was vomiting by 2, constipated by 8.  Having never been constipated before in my life, I was not happy.  I crawled into bed miserable.

The next morning I was fine, but by noon, I was cursing Smooth Move.  (It’s a rip off and it tastes like ass.)  I was also cursing Mr. Burroughs, my boyfriend and anyone who came into contact with me.  My sister wasn’t about to put up with it.  “You stupid bitch,” she said in so many words.  “Eat some naan.”

Never before had naan tasted so good.  Refreshed by the 30 or so calories it provided, I was able to get off the couch, crawl to the computer, and do some online research.  I was only marginally surprised to find out that according to bbc.com, there is absolutely no validity to the lemonade diet.  Not that tests haven’t been done, they have.  And they produce no statistics that the diet improves your health.  Anyone will lose weight who cuts their diet down to that much of an extreme.  And anything that requires a laxative in the form of a tea or otherwise is hardly natural.  I mean not to be coarse, but shitting is the one thing our bodies should be able to do just fine without our help, thank you very much.

So I lasted 2 days.  Not even, if you count the naan.  By Wednesday I had modified the diet to slightly more sensible detox plan: lemonade all day until about four, then veggies, wheat and other (ahem, fibrous) substances to help my system. Coffee in the morning, of course.  Fuck that.  Coffee isn’t that bad for you, really.  The caffeine jump starts your metabolism and it is a natural diarrhetic.  Throughout the remaining ten days, I actually felt great.  A glass of red wine here, a small salad there– didn’t kill me.

When I got on my boyfriend’s scale (like I own one.  Please.), it read 140.  I beamed at him.  He was helpful as ever.  “Are you sure that’s right?” he asked.  “Did the scale start at zero?”

Why can’t he ever just let me live the fantasy?

But he was right.  I hadn’t lost 15 pounds, I had lost ten.  Ten wonderful pounds.  I feel great, I felt great.

And Stanley Burroughs can kiss my ass.

Advertisements

This is an old Myspace blog, and it will be the first in a series of three over the course of this week dealing with weight.  I now weigh significantly less than 155, but people found this entertaining when I posted it before.  I don’t have a lot of time for writing new blogs due to the novel which is being very slowly churned out.  (Thanks for the supportive e-cards, Fran!)

It all started innocently enough. I was due for another checkup at the horrible public hospital, and my boyfriend, concerned about his cyber-reputation after my last blog, volunteered to go with me.

Of course this time, there were almost no problems.  I was told that my 12:30 appointment time was incorrect, however, and I had to explain that the nurse had specifically called me to move it to that time.  “Oh, Andy called you?,” she said.  “Um…yeah.”  “Okay, well they’re on their lunch break, so you can just wait.”

So at 1:15, my original appointment time prior to Andy’s call, I was ushered into the office by none other than Andy himself.  In Andy’s office was a scale, and Andy requested that I get on that scale.   “Do we have to?,” I begged, as usual.  “I mean I was just here three months ago.”

You see, I don’t like to know my weight.  I would really rather not.  I am more concerned with my overall health, how my clothes fit, what size I’m wearing, how I’m progressing in Pilates and yoga, etc.  Knowing my weight just makes me crazy.  But Andy held firm.  I faced away from the scale and informed Andy that I couldn’t give a flying fig about my weight, so please don’t tell me.

Which he didn’t.  Unfortunately, it was an electronic scale, which left my weight displayed, and I was shocked to discover that I weigh 155 pounds.

I came out of Andy’s office a changed woman.  My boyfriend asked me what was wrong.  In an unprecedented moment of vulnerability and truth (in regards to this question anyway), I told him I weighed 155 pounds.

“Baby,” he said, to cheer me up.  “That’s what I weigh.”

I couldn’t stop the tears from falling.  So as I blubbered like a baby in the ghetto gynie’s hallway, the boy tried to backpedal.  “I mean, I haven’t weighed myself in ages.  It’s probably closer to 160.  I mean I have a gut now [note to reader: he has no gut.], so it’s probably closer to 170– 180, in fact.”

But I had already come to the frighteningly obvious conclusion that I needed to lose weight.  Some serious weight.  But how? I can honestly say that I don’t eat badly.  Home-made fruit smoothies or yogurt and toast for breakfast.  Soup for lunch, nine times out of ten, sometimes tuna salad.  Dinner can be a little bit all over the place depending on my schedule.  And I have a weakness for popcorn and I drink too much.  I work out honestly as much as my schedule will allow.

Which leads me to the Detox Diet. Yes, the lemonade diet that Beyonce made famous.  However, it had been made famous to me some months before by my hard-drinking, crazy lifestyle friend Isaac, who had done it and had nothing but great things to say about it.  So did everyone I spoke to, as a matter of fact.  Only my close friends and my sister raised their eyebrows when they heard it would involve giving up caffeine.  But I decided it was the time.  I needed something drastic.

Since beginning my new novel-writing venture (more details to come), I have had significantly less time on my hands, and as a result will be posting old My Space blogs for a little while.  This one, from January 2007,  got quite a few comments.  Please don’t read on if you are offended by profanity, birth control,  the word ‘gynecologist’ or are my mother.

Having lost my health insurance after a graceful exit from M&P in April, and being (finally!) in a healthy, stimulating, sexy relationship, it came time for BC (otherwise known as birth control, but Andre would DIE if I wrote BIRTH CONTROL online).  I am lucky enough, or quite possibly poor enough, to qualify for HHC Options.  This is a city health care program for anyone making less than $35,000 that provides low cost health care– or free health care, if you’re totally fucked.  All you have to do is bring to apply is bring a copy of last year’s tax stuff to the hospital’s registration office, meet with a representative, and boom: your $600 ER bill is reduced to 60 bucks.  I like to know I’m covered if I’m ever hit by a bus.  I may never walk again, but I my credit will be golden.

I enrolled in this program shortly after something bit my face and my eyelid swelled up to Quasimodo-like porportions.  My sister and I sat in the hospital wating room for two hours with three drunks and pregnant Iraqi before being shown into the doctor’s office, where a med student told me to ice it and take Benadryl.  The experience would have set me back hundreds of dollars, if not for HHC Options.

And I am NOT making that up about the pregnant Iraqi.  Or the drunks.

So… having existed for the past two years under the cushy protection of Aetna membership, I am if not shocked then let’s say surprised by the inadequacies of public health care.  I was not surprised to realize I was the only one in the Bellevue Hospitalwaiting room who was white and spoke English.  But the pharmacy, which refused to honor my private doctor’s birth control prescription, was a large, confusing, and downright scary place.  I have rarely felt so strongly that I didn’t belong somewhere.  What was surprising was that I always identified with the city’s working poor.  I am certainly one of them, financially, and I have always voted in their (our) favor.  Yet really, I’m not.  I couldn’t help feeling I had no business entering this program, even if these people made comparable salaries.

The hospital sensed it, too.  I was in and out of the waiting room, for one.  Was it because I was white or because I spoke English and could express my needs and understood the system?

Scheduling my gynie appointment was another story, however.  Since the pharmacy wouldn’t honor my private prescription, I was forced to make an appointment with- gasp-  a public gynecologist!  I tried to express my distress to my boyfriend, explaining how my vagina and I had a relationship with the gay, fabulous Dr. Kaplan and  how we didn’t want another person poking around where the sun don’t shine.  He, as a man, was incapable of understanding this intimate relationship, and even refused to come with me to the scary public gynecologist’s office.  (“What am I going to do, sit there in the waiting room?”)  After making several phone calls (“Sorry, we can’t see you until June of 2018”), I got an appointment with Guvuernuer on the Lower East Side.

When one thinks of the Lower East Side, one thinks of hipster/trust fund bars, drag shows, and a general awesomeness.  It is easy to forget that it can be dangerous.  Most of the neighborhoods associated with HHC Options are in the city’s poorer neighborhoods.  As I get off at the East Broadway stop, there is a nondescript drawing posted of a black man who’s wanted for robbery.  The hospital is directly across from the projects.

When I walk in, there is a Chinese man at the info desk to translate.  I ask him which way to registration, and he blinks.  “Filst froor?”  Doubtful of his translation abilities given his minimal grasp of English, I turn away and find myself facing the registration department.  Here, I fill out the paperwork and settle in to wait.  After nearly an hour (so much for being white and educated), the nicest woman in the world ushers me into her cubicle.  She sits in a windowless corner that she has decorated in a desperately cheery manner with Donald Ducks, religious quotations, and a picture of a toddler and a dog that says, “Good friends come in all sizes.”

For all her cheeriness I establish after twenty minutes that she is a cog in the system due to her inefficient chattiness.  After spending 20 minutes with her, I know that she has a husband who was wounded in Vietnam, her son is in Iraq (“a safe section, but you never know”),  and she is 59 years old with 18 and 10 year old grandchildren.  She spent Thanksgiving in Texas with her daughter while her husband and live-at-home son celebrated alone.  She has worked at the hospital for 38 years with a “slightly retarded” Asian colleague who has a daughter who’s “grown up so fast.”  She thinks that the holidays have come on too fast, lots of things make her sad, and she wanted to know if Ohio was in the United States.

What she does do, fortunately, is enroll me in a program called Manhattan Breast Health (which sounds like a frat boy pick up line to me), and when I visit the cashier, I am told my appointment is free.  (Even though I later receive a bill from Guevenuer and have to go through the whole rigamarole again.)  At 1:30 on the nose, I am checking in at Area 1, Team 2 for my 1:30 appointment.

And there the honeymoon ends.  Now I believe strongly in universal health care.  I do.  But I also know that I’d rather abort myself with a hanger than attempt to have a baby in the public health care system.  “I don’t know who’s going to see you,” says the first nurse, who has none of the cheer of Chatty Kathy.  And despite the fact that I made an appointment weeks ago.  “There aren’t any doctors here today.  Maybe a mid-wife…”

No doctors?  No doctors?  And with easily a hundred pregnant women lining the walls with screaming children that they either can’t find or didn’t try to find a baby-sitter for…

My conspicously white ass sat down to wait.  And after three hours witnessing bad parenting (I mean I thought a trip to Blockbuster provided evidence of bad parenting.  I had no idea.), I finally got to see the mid-wife.  I had already called in to work to tell them I would be late.  “How late?”  I didn’t know.  I do know that most of the city’s poor don’t have that luxury. That people in your average minimum-wage situation can’t just call in.  They would be deemed lazy and fired.

The mid-wife was fine, although no Dr. Kaplan.  She was sure the men in my life hadn’t been faithful.  “And did any of those men have other sexual partners?” “Are you sure?”  “Well…yeah…”  She gave me a prescription for the cheap (read: it will make you fat and crazy) birth control.  Filling the prescription took another hour and a half.  Since my boyfriend wasn’t there, Bill Bryson filled in for him.  Thank God he went to Australia, wrote about it, and is funny.

I left with many, mostly negative, impressions.  First, with the resolve to qualify for Writer’s Guild insurance. (Only three more articles!)  Second, that there’s something wrong with the sytem.  I don’t know if it’s the HMOs that are driving up the price of adequate health care.  I don’t know if the system would be better if it had trillions and trillions more dollars. The hospital is clearly inundated with immigrant poor, as the program promises you will not get sent back to the motherland if you come there for health care.  It’s a major tenet of the policy, and I agree with it.  People shouldn’t avoid hospitals because they’re worried about deportation. But can the system handle the sheer numbers? T hey can’t possibly be attracting good doctors.  They can’t overcome the differences in language or culture to create an efficient system.

As for the patients, I don’t think they expect anything better.  I’m not sure if waiting feels so foreign to them.  I’m not sure if they realize that health care  should be, and usually is, much better.

Besides, how can they demand a better health care system?  Who’s speaking for them?   America’s poor, including myself, cannot possibly get, not even the best, but even halfway decent health care under this system.  I mean, I was there for a routine checkup and a BC prescription. I shudder to think what would happen if I actually had a problem and needed surgery or a second opinion.  And had a job that was less understanding.

However, I am happy to report that the BC has made me neither fat nor crazy.  I would like to augment in retrospect that it made me both.

I feel I wrapped this up sort of quickly.  It’s late, and I’m going to bed.

This is from a Myspace blog dated 9/16/07.  Pants has been single and happy ever since, mostly ’cause she’s afraid to leave the apartment.

Since my boyfriend’s been away on tour, I have been spending more time home alone with my cat.  My cat is named Pants.  Pants is a rather vocal cat, and as she meows as me (usually begging to be fed), I talk with her.  At times, I feel as though we’re having an actual conversation:
Pants: Meow, meow.
Me: Oh, Pants.  You’re lonely, too?  Do you miss your tomcat boyfriend?
Pants: Meow, meow, meow.
In fact, the issue of Pant’s tomcat boyfriend has been much discussed these days.  The other day my sister was home, and as we ate dinner I made a joke about Pants’ tomcat boyfriend, cracking myself up.  My sister had no idea what I was talking about.  That’s when I realized that I have an inside joke WITH MY CAT.
I think it’s time for my boyfriend to come home.

Prior to meeting Andre I had reconciled myself to the fact that I would become a cat lady.  In fact, I was hanging by a damn string over cat lady hell with one stupid relationship after another, and he saved me.  But now, my former cat lady patterns have not just returned, but returned with  a vengeance.  I used to pet the cat, feed the cat, play with the cat.  I did not construct for the cat an imaginary social life that resembled mine in a pathetic attempt to work through feelings of loneliness and abandonment.

One day my boyfriend will return, but unfortunately for Pants, the tomcat left her for a Persian.  Katie, who is now caught up on Pant’s love life, asked her about it at dinner yesterday, and her response was to turn her back and stare at the wall, which is SUCH a Pants response.  We told her that we loved and supported her and she shouldn’t blame herself; that she was a beautiful cat.

On a scale of one to ten, how cat lady is it for me to dress as my cat for Halloween… no, not dress the cat up for Halloween (okay, that’s obviously a ten), but for me to go as a cat?  And not just any cat, but as Pants?