To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse? Redux. Day 3.

The final stretch.

7:30 a.m. – Snow day.  I get to sleep late.  I look out the window to see what all the hoopla is about and am disappointed.  Maybe 4-6 inches of snow, much of it gray with slush.  Streets are plowed; sidewalk is shoveled–nothing too magical.  It makes me feel a little better about having to go to work, and a lot better about heading into the last day of my cleanse.  I open up my #1 green juice and enjoy a leisurely morning getting ready for work while my kids hang out in their pajamas.

9:00 a.m. – I feel a twinge of excitement that I am in the final stretch.  I don’t feel hungry.  I don’t feel tired.  I am productive at work.  I even start to consider extending the cleanse by a couple more days.  But I remember mostly I am just bored.  Bored of not eating–especially at dinner time–so I nip that idea in the bud.

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To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse? Redux. Day 2.

Today I am cranky.

6:15 a.m. – I actually wake up in a good mood today.  Feeling refreshed from over 8 hours of sleep (such a luxury), the girls are dressed and ready for school in record time.  This morning no one asks to try my green juice, but the 5 year old reminds me that she didn’t get any of the cashew milk last night, and why can’t I drink that one in the morning so that she can have some?  Again, greed takes over, and I secretly make plans to wait until she is asleep to drink it again tonight.

9:30 a.m. – Both kids at school, I settle into work determined to be productive.  The #2 juice, a pineapple mint, even tastes better to me today.  (Yesterday it had a funny after taste.)  But the smell of vanilla cakes baking in the oven wafts into my office from the kitchen, and I begin to get cranky.  This mood settles in for the entire day.  As do the shivers–I am freezing.  I make myself a green tea and grab a small handful of almonds while I’m at it.  Cleanse, shmeanse, I think.  Logging on to Twitter, everything is about food.  Granted, I follow Eric Ripert, Tom Colicchio, Marc Forgione and other chefs, but they seem to be particularly verbose about their dinner menus today.  I notice an interesting piece in the Bon Appetit blog:  The Food Lover’s Cleanse.  A two week commitment where you actually get to eat solid food.  Why didn’t I see this before Blue Print?  I salivate as I begin to read her daily menus, but as I continue through the days, I get tired just thinking about the shopping, cooking and preparation she is doing for herself.  Plus, there’s a lot of salmon on the menu.  I don’t like salmon.  Oh well, good riddance.

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To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse? Redux. Day 1.

Early last year “to cleanse or not to cleanse” was a question I agonized over for months.  Cleanses have been trendy for a while, and I had been hearing about the benefits from a number of my friends.  Still, as a serious lover of food, wine and coffee, the thought of going without for any period of time seemed unhealthy.  But, then again, as a serious lover of food, wine and coffee, only committing myself to something like a cleanse would convince me to give them up.  So I enlisted my husband to do it with me for moral support, and we cleansed.  We chose to do three days of the mid-level Blue Print Cleanse, which had been recommended by friends.

Shortly after giving our credit card number, we realized we had dinner plans on what was to be the last night of our cleanse.  “No big deal,” we thought.  “We’ll just start it Sunday night instead of Monday morning and finish the cycle by dinner on Wednesday.”  Aside from that little adjustment, we drank our juices faithfully.  I don’t remember exactly how I felt during those three days.  I don’t remember ever feeling overly hungry, and I do remember being extremely tired at the end of each day.  I also remember the one cinnamon cashew milk “juice” we got each day and what a guilty pleasure it felt like.  At the end, I didn’t feel as refreshed or healthy as I expected to, and any weight I lost was marginal.

So why have I found myself doing it again?  Well, for one, it’s January, and it just seems like the type of thing one should do in January.  Secondly, I suppose on some level it must have felt good to clean out my system, because I found myself kind of craving it after a decadent holiday season.  But I decided this time I would document my experience while on the cleanse, to make a more informed decision next time I find myself needing it.  So here it goes….

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Bring on the Lemonade Stands

Last night, on my way home from work, I encountered my first lemonade stand of the summer. It’s pretty unusual to see one in New York, and something about the city atmosphere made me scream inside “don’t take food from strangers!”, but, of course, I stopped.

The proprietors were two ‘tween-age boys. One of them was attracting attention of passersby (no easy feat in New York) by spinning a dish on a magic wand. Once hooked, customers were asked “small or large” and directed to a sign that listed small for $1 and large for $1.50. (Yeesh!) I ordered one small and was told I could buy two and get one free. I complimented their strong sales pitch, but since I didn’t want to be triple-fisting lemonade for the rest of my walk, I took the one and left.

One sip of the “lemonade” and it went in the garbage. Seriously, I’ve had ice water with a lemon wedge that tasted more like lemonade. Not that I ever expect much out of the product—I think I can safely say I’ve made a purchase from every lemonade stand I could feasibly stop at (what can I say, I like to support budding entrepreneurs), and I’ve never reacted with, “wow, that is good lemonade!”

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I Just Don’t Get the Big Deal with Susan Boyle

I JUST DON’T GET THE BIG DEAL WITH SUSAN BOYLE. I watched the video on YouTube. In case you haven’t seen it (but almost everyone I know has), it’s a clip from the British TV show Britain’s Got Talent (which is, from what I can tell, just a televised talent show, with Simon Cowell as the head judge.) It starts with the pre-performance interview showing a small-town, homely 40-something woman, mentioning that she’s never been kissed—Susan Boyle.

She waddles out on stage, in a frumpy, awkward-length dress. For the next few minutes, Simon Cowell and the other two judges make snarky remarks about how simple and unattractive she is (most of which seem to go over her head). It’s uncomfortably obnoxious. She mentions she wants to be like some singer, who I can only assume is a famous British soprano, and states that she’s going to sing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. (Although, with her Cockney accent, I didn’t realize what she said until she actually started singing.) The mere fact that I was viewing this on YouTube made me certain her performance would either end in Will Hung notoriety or she would do an excellent job.

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Writing The Letter

How often have you had an experience as a customer that was SO awful your immediate reaction is “I have to write them a letter!”?

Last week I had, hands-down, the worst experience I’ve ever had with air travel. My husband, two daughters, and I were coming back to New York from San Diego. Without getting into too much detail, our debacle started with our 6:00 a.m. Delta flight being overbooked (a business practice I begrudgingly understand). An abrasive, chip-on-his-shoulder gate agent apathetically “tried” to get us seats on the flight. When he finally did, he wouldn’t print them, because my husband (who had returned the rental car and was behind us in security) was not with us and, “how did we even know he would show up at all?”—a comment that the implications of which did not escape my 4 year-old daughter.

After not getting on our flight, the same agent made a meager effort to rebook us—at best we would arrive 48 hours later having traveled through who-knows-how-many cities to get home. We ended up purchasing full-fare tickets on Continental and eventually arrived only 12 hours later than expected. Of course, our luggage did make it on our original flight, but since we took a different airline home, Delta was in no rush to get it to us. Another 24 hours, 14 phone calls and $33 later we had our bags. Which, of course, we paid $60 to check in the first place.

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The Real Magic of Disney

To me, Disneyworld is like giving birth. It’s a really painful experience, but you have to do it once for your kids. I went last weekend and realized, though, it has a lot in common with one of my favorite places to visit–Las Vegas. There’s the obvious–two destinations based on unadulterated entertainment of tourists, with themed hotels, people in costume, and wildlife roaming out of their natural habitat. But from a business perspective, I also noticed some interesting marketing commonalities:

Fantasy Exploitation – The Bippety Boppity Boutique is a new addition to Disneyworld (since I was last there 20 years ago). Just like Cinderella’s fairy godmother, they take little girls who dream of being princesses and transform them with shiny costumes, hair extensions, hair spray and glittery makeup. Other little girls see these princesses and want the same look for themselves. The next thing you know, these little princesses are everywhere you look. The thing is, it’s not hard to picture them in 10-15 years with the same shiny costumes, hair extensions, hair spray and glittery makeup, only as cocktail waitresses and showgirls in Vegas. And then it’s their dreams of being an actress, singer or model that are being exploited and used to exploit men who have entirely different fantasies on their mind. It’s disgusting, but it works.

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Having It All

Earlier this week, I was surfing through my Facebook friends’ status updates, and I noticed a former classmate had attended our high school’s career day. She mentioned that it had quickly spiraled into an intense debate as to whether or not one can “have it all.”

By way of background, I went to a stereotypical, ultra-competitive, over-achieving private all-girls school in Washington, D.C. At the age of nine, we were taught that we can and should be anything we want to be. Because it was an all-girls school, it was all girls who were the star athletes, valedictorians, student government leaders, yearbook and newspaper editors. We had an annual “Women in Power” day. In short, we were taught that with the right combination of hard work, social responsibility and, of course, good grades, there was no reason we couldn’t have it all.

No one ever told us that we were chasing an impossible dream. Having it all is an illusion. Life is all about making choices—sacrifices—leaving roads untaken, and anyone who says you “have it all” demeans the sacrifices you’ve made in life. But many women are too caught up in envying the greener grass and don’t take the time to appreciate the decisions they’ve made for themselves.

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