Happy New Year, and belatedly, Happy Solstice, Happy Yalda and also, merry three days until Christmas Eve – I wrote the first draft of this post on December 21, while I was still busy dying, but when it started to look as though I would live and I would not have to spend Christmas in isolation.
The bad news, of course, is that I’m two weeks behind on life during what we’ve managed to turn into the busiest and most stressful time of the year
The good news is that I don’t care.
The neutral news – the news that I’m not sure is good or bad, but which has acquired consciousness and insists that I recognize its potential significance – is that I ran out of coffee a day or two into my incapacitation, and I was too sick to do anything about it. Didn’t matter, anyway, my main beverage was NeoCitron.
So my First World dilemma as I recover: the illness enforce a caffeine – and alcohol – cleanse of sorts. Do I keep on riding that horse or do I celebrate my return to the land of the living with an espresso and a glass of Cab Franc?
I hate, tbh, that this question is even occupying brain space in me. I don’t drink coffee morning to night. I don’t think it affects my sleep, my energy levels or my behaviour. I just really enjoy my coffee. I love making it, smelling it, tasting it. It’s glorious. (See “But I love it” https://nothingbythebook.com/2017/10/16/but-i-love-it/
Wine and its variants are a bit more complicated. There are signs that alcohol adversely affects my sleep, and even a drink or two makes me more sluggish in the morning. But I don’t drink a bottle of wine a day – or even a week. And if I choose to indulge with the grape on a Saturday night with friends and am willing to pay the price of a mild hangover for a couple of glasses of wine… why do I feel as though I should work towards eliminating all alcohol from my system til the end of time?
A smidgen of it has to do with the family and national history of alcoholism – I do not want to all victim to that, ever.
But most of it is your fault.
I don’t mean you personally, of course. I’m talking about the meta-you, the global-you. Or, if you don’t want to take any responsibility for my neurosis, we can say it’s their fault. You know, them. The media, society, Instagram wellness reels and pop-up advice about nutrition trends. The First World has eliminated famine – for the First World – and replaced it with joy-killing obsession about what we put into our mouths, our bellies.
I wish I was immune to its guilts, but I’m not.
Coffee. Alcohol. Gluten. Processed foods Dairy. Soy products. Nightshade vegetables. If I really cared about my body and my health, I wouldn’t put any of those thigs into my system.
I love all of these things. (Except soy. I can give up all soy products tomorrow. Tofu is what people invented when they were short of yummy animals.)
Here’s the thing: I’m actually a pretty healthy person. Reasonably fit, and the bit of squish on my belly is a perfectly reasonable amount of squish (and, if I believe my lovers, adorably cute to boot) for a woman careening towards 50 whose body has birthed three humans.
Nope. Not good enough, not thin enough, not firm enough, not flexible enough, not strong enough, not Instagram reel worthy enough.
Why did you do this to me?
I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I lived in cooperative housing for 15 years, and let me tell you: getting a group of like-minded people already committed to a common goal to agree on the colour of building siding and the cost of bathroom fixtures is hell. The Illuminati don’t exist, and if they do… all their energy is spent on vicious in-fighting over the interior decorating choices of their secret meeting room.
I know no government, media, corporation or religious representatives ever sat down in a room and decided, “You know what’s guaranteed to perpetuate the patriarchy? Getting women to obsess about the inadequacy of their bodies. Here’s how we do it.”
No. They didn’t do it to us to push their agenda. We did it to ourselves – and they (corporations in particular) happily leveraged it.
The last few decades, instead of liberating women from The Beauty Myth, we are sucking men into it. Check out the beard oil product selection in a drug store, or how exercise is marketed to men now if you don’t believe me.
For the last few years, I’ve been becoming increasingly – suspicious? disillusioned? angry? hard to choose the right adjective, they all fit – with the self-improvement cults sweeping the First World and invading the globe. They are all replacements for religion, tradition, community. They give their adherents something to focus on, something to believe in, and a group of fellow believers to commiserate with.
They keep us focused on ourselves. We make ourselves the work, the project – instead of making the world the project.
That’s right. I’m not giving up coffee, because if I do, the Illuminati win.
(I know I said they don’t exist. It’s a metaphor, dammit.)
In 2023, again, I am NOT working on becoming a better, let alone a best, version of myself.
So bring me a latte and a glass of the house red, a side of fries and then a crème brûlée.
I’ve got two weeks of the NeoCitron diet to make up for