by: Patrick Gill
The writer Djuna Barnes once subjected herself to being force fed in order to better understand the violation being perpetrated against hunger-striking suffragettes. I am less interesting. The only thing weighing on me is the 10-brick heavy feeling of not wanting to wake up in the morning and the itch and pull at the muscles just out of reach between my shoulder blades. This is not the brunt of patriarchy and systemic injustices burying a tube in my throat to scour from me my burning desire for equality–this is my living prayer against a personal sense of thick and undaunting inner-hostility. This is my need to cleanse, me taking action against myself with the hopes of a positive outcome.
It almost seems narcissistic to desire documentation of my 7 day juice fast. But if you have ever sustained a quiet sense of self-hatred, or felt the invisible pinch of two long nailed fingers dragging skin from your frame that you begged was tighter. If you have ever thought that in your sleep someone injected your eyes with corn syrup, replaced your veins with shredded bike tires rolled back into thin tubes, and that your teeth just might fall out for the hell of it; then I think you understand why I want to write this down.
I’m not doing this to lose weight. Not really. It’s a purge, but not the kind I used to do. This one’s better on the back of my teeth. This one’s going to take a lot more out of me, but it’s about time I empty myself anyways.
Monday: Faster Pussycat, Blend Blend Blend
I don’t eat that much the night before, as to not put my body into shock the next day as it adjusts to my new diet. I think to myself, I really am starting to plan ahead. This is me taking steps forward, becoming a well-prepared adult.
I remember that I don’t have juicer. I will not be buying one, either. I am a semi-bougie White kid, not a quite-bougie “holistic” healing adult. Logical people would not go on juice fasts or detoxes without a juicer. I think we have already established the steed slant of my logic. I don’t need the rationality of a juicer for a juice fast. I am grabbing this cleanse by the throat like Barbara Fordham, and taking it to the ground and yelling, “I’m running things now! (blackout)”–stage direction and all.
So though this is a juice fast, I am doing it with incredibly thin smoothies—blended raw fruits and vegetables. It will be chunkier at times, but different–smaller and less processed–from my diet, nonetheless. Let’s get real: Mama needs her fiber, too. I am also allowing myself non-caffeinated tea and, if no juice is available, raw veggies or fruit, as a treat. I never want to write that again, ever.
As the first day wears on, meaning around 3PM, I start to experience what I assume are the fun and wacky side effects. Giggles, semi-crazy eyes, belly itching, and the ability to create terrible puns. There is a weird burst of energy that comes with the first day, one that sadly won’t return until after day four. I think it’s a strange confidence that your body is storing up, knowing you are doing something new and terrifying with it for the next week. I get all of my shopping out of the way today, with little pain or griping. I will say though, when I make my trip to the Strack and Van Til, to get the things that Aldi doesn’t have, my stomach and I are grumbling harder.
As I did when we entered Aldi, I tell my roommate, Martha, to find me in the produce section when she is done. You are never supposed to grocery shop on an empty stomach—this is one of the dumber things I have done on the detox, and it is only the first day. Maybe I am just testing my new resolve.
My face was drawing in and down. I try to read where all the fruits and vegetables are from; I try to imagine which would go well together, to keep my mind occupied. It works, and I am excited again. This carries me through the labyrinth that is trying to get out of Strack and Van Til. Luckily with this new energy, I find the aisle least likely to have food or make me hungry: the feminine hygiene aisle. I am manly enough to walk down a hundred meters of lady business, and yet again, like in every Pedro Almodovar film, ladies have saved me from pain.
The actual juices I make are a learning process. At their best, they are tart, sweet and refreshing, while others taste like backed-up shower, licking a restaurant kitchen floor, or wet dust. If you are a smoothie or juice enthusiast and want to make concoctions that are both healthy and tasty, for the love of all things, please make sure you put a sweet fruit in it.
Lesson learned: My queen side should have told the rest of me this–everything is better with a little fruit. Also tampons are the anti-food.
Words of Encouragment: Listen to Bad Brains and go. Keep your PMA.
Tuesday: Teach Me The Ways of the Secular Flush
Yesterday, I felt like I was cheating with the thicker smoothies I made. At one point, I felt like I was slammin’ down a cold glass of watery hummus. That’s not exactly juice. I know I’m far from a purist on this thing, but I have to at least try to be legitimate. Maybe I was subconsciously easing old Mildred, my new name for my stomach, into this process. Today, I add more water and fewer fruits and veggies. I find two jars that will be my transport jars too. Now the world shall see my nasty juices. That’s not a sex metaphor.
I am exhausted much of the time, yet there is a bit of an upside to this feeling. I am usually overly anxious about perceived or actual flaws I have. I run late to places, assume I make the wrong decisions, put my foot in my mouth, or fill what seem like conversational voids with my blathering.
Now talking takes more effort–I have to think harder about what I am saying. When I was late, I didn’t freak out and shake like I usually do. My anxiety didn’t roll over me and take control as much as it usually does. I did drink a lot of smoothies, but still, my body wasn’t running on its usual caloric intake, and I wasn’t hopped up on coffee. I am thankful for the slow-down.
For fun and further betterment, I was planning on doing a salt water flush today; but after realizing what an effect this juice/smoothie regiment was having on my gastrointestinal system, I decided to let whatever was going on in there just happen. I opt to flush out another cavity instead: my sinuses. This is something I have been afraid of for years, since a roommate performed a Netipot procedure, as I want to call it, and walked out of the bathroom wide-eyed, stating that what came out of him was Rosemary’s Baby.
I think I have lied to people, telling them like a good Santa Cruzan that I have used a Netipot. I tried the sailine squeeze bottle once. It didn’t do much. I had to go through with it this time. I was changing everything else, I had to do this too. I was not without hesitation as I bought it at the Walgreens. I imagined it singing like Mrs. Pots as it expelled beasts from my nose.
First, I boiled the water to what I thought was a safe temperature. I mixed it with the salty powder, recapped the pot, and shook gently. The first splash dripped on my septum and I gasped, ripping the nozzle from my nose. Too hot. Too damn hot. I need to slow it down; this is what the detox is teaching me. I wait for things to cool. I’m usually uncomfortable with a wait, but my throbbing septum rhythmically reminds me that if I try that shit again, there would be hell to pay. My septum grew a consciousness. It’s the juice talking.
After I let the pot cool, I gave it another go. When I finally re-do the procedure, it feels strangely good. I close my eyes and think of clear breath, but soon I open my eyes and feel like I am in the ocean again. There was a strange peace I had every once in awhile when I used to swim in the ocean. Begin a Northern California native, it was quite common for me to swim in the ocean. I was a Junior Lifegaurd for years, and quite a strong swimmer. There was a balance I found on the water, too; in a low-toned rhythmic motion, I felt buoyant and easy as I pulled myself forward and made distance against the water.
Lessons Learned: Netipots are okay. And the worst time to detox is during Mardi Gras/when Girl Scout Cookie Deliveries come in. Martha hid what had come in of my order from me. That’s what best friends/platonic wives/sisters are for.
Words of Encouragement: My brother sent me messages of affirmation; I need to take note of little victories. Get someone you trust to tell you something you know is genuine and right as soon as you can if you are detoxing.
Patrick Gill is the Co-Creator of In Our Words, as well as the Co-Founder and Host of the queer reading series All The Writers I Know. He is a poet, essayist, short story writer and occasional performer. Patrick writes the column “B*tch, I’m Miley Cyrus” for HEAVEMedia, is an alumnus of DePaul, has developed LGBTQ-centered anti-bullying curricula for CPS schools and is currently working on LGBTQ friendly children’s books. Patrick is doing so in order to be cute and endearing once again. He is a semi-professional word-hustler and a burrito hunter. His mother thinks everything he is doing is a fun thing to do.