Sometimes I make bad decisions, particularly when the stakes are high. Like say, deciding to do my first juice cleanse on the week that–A: the kids go back to school; B: I’m planning and hosting a friend’s baby shower; C: the house is nowhere near back in shape after a summer away (2 of 3 suitcases unpacked). I think I was in one of those Richard Simmons gung-ho “We’re going to be the BEST versions of ourselves when we get home!” modes when I ordered the cleanse from a hotel room in Louisville on the way home. Also, it was the morning after I danced with the pasta and bread gods in a glorious end-of-summer Carbohydrate Celebration. Whatever the case, I found a Groupon coupon and felt really empowered to click “order” on a juice cleanse that promised to leave me feeling “unhindered” and “glowing” after a pasta night that left me all hindered and dull. “YES!” I thought. “Unhindered! Glowing! Detoxified! Energized! YES, YES! That’s what I want. 3 days of juices and nothing else? No problem, I LOVE juice.” For the record, you don’t know how bad I currently want to smack that little optimistic bitch of a past self in her bread-stuffed face.
Let’s start with the fact that it’s 5:00 in the morning and I’m up writing because my head hurts so bad, I couldn’t sleep. Well, that and the dog was walking around my bedroom in the dark and from the sound of her toenails on the wood floors, she was either pacing for water or auditioning for Riverdance–equally important, so I got up to help her and pop some Ibuprofen which I’m sure isn’t in the allowed substances of a proper juice cleanse, but neither is the half pound burger I plan on eating later today, so whatever.
If you haven’t guessed yet, here’s the punchline: I’m hungry, and I’m not very nice–which leaves Brett in a very vulnerable position. And it all started when the refrigerated box arrived.
“What’s that?” he asked as I removed each juice and shoved a heap of weird condiments aside in our already disorganized refrigerator to make room for my beautiful display of colorful juice bottles–a section that now rendered my fridge more organized than it’s ever been.
I took his question as a dig, naturally.
“You know, that cleanse,” I muttered under my breath, lining up my bottles a little more intently so he’d see I was far too busy in important work to discuss this further.
“That what?” he asked.
Aw hell naw. The make-me-repeat-it game. I know this one.
“I told you about this last week,” I answered before I launched in a healthier-than-thou explanation of my intentions. After of which he smiled and walked away which–given a good ten minutes to create a fake conversation in my head of words that followed–I fully equated with laughing and telling me I’m ridiculous and won’t make the three days.
“I’ll prove you wrong!,” I yelled in the conversation-that-never-happened in my head. “I’m going to feel so good! You’re going to go crawling to that online juice store!”
Apparently, the hungrier you are the more irrational these silly arguments get because last night Brett overheard me ask Lainey what she wanted in her lunch today and he chimed in, “I know what she wants. She wants a snake sandwich, right Binks?”–the same joke he’s been saying since she was two and uttered her first “I’m hungry” except sometimes “snake” gets switched out for “alligator” or “raccoon” and also it’s not usually said in front of a wife who’s Googled how a few sips of chicken broth might affect the efficiency of a juice cleanse because she’s that hungry. After Lainey graciously smiled at her dad and walked away, I snapped.
“She’s too old for that joke, Brett. Did you see her smile? She’s trying to be nice. She’s in FOURTH GRADE. She’s over it.”
I know, I know, a real gem of a supportive wife, right? Listen, I was hungry. Also, I have a thing about repeated dumb jokes after years of my childhood family doctor looking at my sore throat, pulling his prescription pad out and saying every. damn. time: “Well, I can do one of two things–give you some meds for that or take you out back and shoot you.” And he’d slap his knee and guffaw while I awkward laughed and wondered–even at the ripe ole age of 9–when I’d summon the courage to gently inform him it’s not funny anymore because he had used it up on, like, the 6 sore throats before that one.
The fact is, I timed this very poorly. Which I have a record of. Especially during stressful weeks. And to prove that, I’m going to present to you a small list of ill-timed bad decisions I’ve made during weeks when the important life-altering to-do list was heavy, and time to do those things was scarce.
1. Line up all of the girls’ dolls and clean the marker stains off their faces with acetone–of course, when their room is trashed and our laundry pile alert level is at VERY HIGH. Priorities: dolls deserve clean faces too. (*note: don’t use acetone unless you plan on also removing painted on freckles and fake blush).
2. Alphabetically organize my spices.
3. Spend 20 minutes designing and ordering personalized bookplates for my kids’ books even though they never leave the house and “this book belongs to” is pretty obvious when you pick it up off their bedroom floor.
4. Sew buttons on that one shirt I’m never going to wear anyways.
5. Clean the soot stains off all my glass candle holders.
6. Start painting a room with no intentions of finishing it.
7. Go through all my nail polish bottles to throw out any that have dried up.
8. Check all my rugs for stray yarn and clip accordingly.
9. Overhaul the catch-all shelf above the washer and dryer, but like, only half way. Like take everything off the shelves and leave it on the floor and then don’t come back to put it all away.
10. Create a new hobby like home brewing or bonsai tree collecting and research it extensively.
The answer is yes. Yes, these are escapes. Yes, I’m too smart not to recognize that there is no easy way out of the hard mundane work of life and that there is nothing that will make you feel better except doing the work–not even things that promise to unhinder and make you glow. You cannot escape good, satisfying hard work by cleaning marker off dolls’ faces or drinking pressed celery for three days. You have to answer the e-mails, do the laundry, wash the dishes, unpack the suitcase, put the running shoes on, get out the door, face the resistance, do the hard things, accept that the good things in life cannot come without the hard work to get there and that that’s what makes them good. It takes time and patience and a lot of self acceptance. The “Best Versions of Ourselves” do not glisten in an oasis of tomorrow but in the glittering opportunities this present day holds. And it probably doesn’t involve snapping at your husband for an attempt to make his kid laugh.
I’m not too hungry to tell Brett I’m sorry and that I know our kid will love rolling her eyes when we ask her where she wants to go to dinner for her thirtieth birthday someday, and her dad says “I know–how about the Snake Buffet?” Now that I think of it, I hope he never stops using that joke. I love it.
As for the juice cleanse, I’m still in it to win it–maybe now just to prove to myself and my husband that I can finish this off. But I am perfectly open to a “valiant effort” badge when I quite possibly give in for, at the very least, a handful of Pirate Booty come witching hour tonight. The good hard work of today awaits.