I, Bitch

I recently found a copy of the seminal 2000’s dating advice book Why Men Love Bitches. There are a lot of problematic aspects to it, first and foremost that a white woman wrote a book that coopted AAVE language with chapter titles such as “The Mama/Ho Complex.” Okay, eye roll. But apart from that, there’s a lot of dated, cringey advice that honestly I had to laugh at because while, yes, I have subsumed some of these ideas into my personality, reading all these frankly misogynistic ideas written on a page is just ludicrous. Such as chapter titles: “When Women Give Themselves Away and Become Needy” and “What to Do When He Takes You for Granted and Nagging Doesn’t Work.” Basically it’s just a book that tells women not to be needy or nag their men.

My personally favorite chapter is “The Other Teams Secret Playbook: Thing You Always Suspected but Never Heard Him Say.” This one is filled with a slew of contradictory and petty quotes from various men that basically add up to, “Women talk too much.”

Yes! Women talk too much! God, I remember that cliche romcom line. As a woman who talks too much, I really have to roll my eyes at this classic cultural neg against women. As a former bartender and a current member of the hospitality industry, the idea that women talk too much is just…omigod, I seriously can’t believe people used to say that. We talk too much? Damn. To me, the ability to hold a conversation is a sign of intelligence. Knowledge on a variety of topics is sexy and knowing how to weave that into casual conversation makes for a scintillating first date. It’s almost as if men were collectively admitting that they had know experience in the art of communication from casual conversation to intimate arguments. Men idolized the ‘strong, silent type,’ as though that were a cop out for communication of any ilk. Honestly, I’m shocked by the lengths that men will go to in order to sabotage their relationships.

Suffice it to say: I refused to shut up. Now more than ever. I am going to run my fucking mouth as much as I god damn please, men of the world be damned!

Maybe if I can stem the nausea that this book is galvanizing in my stomach, I’ll have more pithy analysis of this misogynistic book, but I kinda don’t want to put myself through that kind of torture, so I think I’ll just stick it on my bookshelf as a living example of how our culture hates women.

It Is A Great Time To Be A Foodie

Yes, those passe, self indulgent, restaurant driven hipsters. Always so annoying on Instagram with their manicured coffees and extravagant sandwiches. But now, in the age of the decline of the restaurant, in an era where there is no more table side service, or ambiance, or unique vintage glassware, or mood lighting, or tweezer plating – it is a great time to be a foodie. To just revel in actually enjoying food rather than succumbing to the anxiety of looking at what everyone else is eating and wanting it. Most food doesn’t look beautiful in a cardboard to go container. Brandishing your $75 dollar meal is a bit gauche, especially because photographing it in your own kitchen, which might be messy or full of dirty dishes or just not that great looking. Everyone’s cooking at home, and, well, they’re not all very good at it. So it is a great time to be a foodie. To quietly and triumphantly nourish yourself. To cleave yourself from the inferiority complex of eating on the Internet. We can all just sit at home in silence and alone and eat the way we always should have eaten.

Health Fads Are Killing Me Part 2

I have always thought there was something physically wrong with me. Every ache was an indicator of some sinister, underlying health issue. Every pang of fatigue meant that I was succumbing to a mysterious autoimmune disease. A stomach ache was a sign of the collapse of my entire body, of cancer, of death. I have always been convinced that this body of mine is not functioning properly. That this body should be doing more.

I’m not sure where I got the idea that I am operating beneath my physical peak. I’m the type of person that sleeps 8+ hours a day, which is the amount of sleep that doctors recommend we get. It must have been at some point in high school when my peers started staying up all night to write papers and do homework that I realized: people out there are getting 4-5 hours of sleep and being totally functional throughout the day. I was jealous. I’m a wreck on a 4-5 hours of sleep – my body just can’t handle it. But at that young age, I was ingrained with the idea that I was lazy because I was missing out on 4 extra hours of productivity.

But it wasn’t just my need for more sleep that convinced me that I was biologically inferior to my peers who slept 4-5 hours a night. It was also the mood swings. The mother fucking mood swings. Which were oscillated by a slew of varying factors: my period (first and foremost), my diet (and the ensuing stomach aches that came from constantly being undernourished by whatever fad diet we were all doing), alcohol (which I got plenty of), exercise (which I got none of), sunshine (which I avoided). Some days there was depression. Some days there was mania. Some days I didn’t want to get out of bed and leave the house. Other days, I felt fantastic, like I could go out drinking all night, wake up, go to work, come home, write my novel, fuck like a champ, and do it all over again the next day.

It was those flashes of mania that convinced me that I was somehow sick. In mania, I could do anything and everything. In mania, I could sleep 5 hours and feel fine. I could do a work out and be bursting with energy. I could eat fewer calories and still feel energetic. I could be witty and winning and work, and sexy and fun afterwards. I could do everything I set out to do, and I could feel fine. Mania made me feel like I was finally the person I thought I was supposed to be. Mania made me feel perfect. Optimal. Fine tuned and functioning.

But then it would fade. Sometimes it would slip away slowly. Other times, it would come crashing down, and all the sleep I hadn’t gotten would come back to get me: 9 hours a night. 10 hours a night. 11 hours a night. And I would feel like a failure. Again.

I was convinced I was unhealthy. That there must be something I wasn’t doing or wasn’t eating or wasn’t drinking that was making me come crashing down like that. Which is how I wound up spending so much money on different supplements and work out classes and fancy, reinforced meals. One of those things would stop me from crashing. Maybe all of them combined would keep me buoyed in a permanent state of luscious mania, where I could be clean and pure and perfect. If I could stay up, then I would be beautiful. When I was manic, everything I said was the right thing to say. Every day I looked prettier than the last. Even my shits were perfect. Me when I was manic – that person didn’t lie or cheat or steal or hurt the people she loved. I wanted to be that me forever, suspended in moral purity and peak physical condition. I was convinced it could be achieved. All I had to do was find the right supplement, the right tea, the right work out class, the right expensive, organic certified mattress. And then I would be okay.

But here I am. And I’m exactly the same as I always have been. No amount of consumption or denial has changed that. I still eat every day. I still sleep every day. I still shit every day, just as I always have and I always will. The fact of the matter was: all I needed to do was listen to my doctor. I know, I know – we all hate Western medicine these days. But hear me out.

The doctor says: eat a balanced diet. Sleep 8 hours a night. Get exercise or at least be active. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Avoid processed foods. My doctor told me to take iron and B vitamin supplements and Lexapro. It was all very simple advice – but it was the best advice. I didn’t need to take chlorophyll and bleach my asshole. Sure, maybe a kombucha here or there would make me feel better on occasion, but both the short term and long term benefits of drinking kombucha were negligible.

In Silicon Valley, they’re obsessed with human optimization and biohacking. In Berkeley, the hippies are convinced that crystals and yoga and veganism will make you feel better. But me? I’m already optimized. I already feel better. In fact, it turns out that I’ve been feeling fine this entire time. The human body as it is performs at its peak when it is taken care of on the most basic, fundamental levels. Yes, there are flaws in the system, but you can’t get rid of the flaws without destroying the entire system.

There’s nothing wrong with me. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping too much or bad moods or stomach aches or manic episodes. There’s nothing wrong with being energetic today and sleepy tomorrow. I am perfectly healthy, even with my ingrown hairs and pimples and diarrhea. I can’t improve on a perfected system. Perfected, not perfect. All those health fads – sure, they might do something for a day or two. But the amount that health fads improve your quality of life and your ability to function are ultimately insignificant. The changes that they make are too small to really be worth all the effort and the underlying anxiety of being convinced that your body isn’t working. That you are missing out on the peak human experience. That average human health is itself a sickness. Able bodied people are somehow still victims of ableism. Or maybe it’s ultra-ableism. Anything that tells you to consume more in order to cure you of the things you consume is a scam, but that’s what health under capitalism looks like.

So why are we so obsessed with this false paradigm of health. Why is it pervasive from Silicon Valley tech bros down to gluten free yoga girls. What is it about this culture and this self loathing that has convinced us that we aren’t enough as we are. That our health isn’t healthy enough. Why do we need to work more, sleep less, play harder, always smile, never fart, be perfect. Why can’t we just accept: this is who we are, flaws and all. And all those people who sleep 4 hours a night and work 14 hours a day and work out and make money and have power and look great and eat clean and take chlorophyll and drink ionized or deionized water – is that really who we want to be? Has capitalism convinced us that success at the cost of our bodies is the definition of happiness in America? Or is thriving just as we are an excellent act of rebellion.

Has America Given Up?

Keeping track of the political discourse these days has become a dizzying endeavor. It’s hard to keep up with the who’s who of destroying America these days, so I’ve decided to take a step back and look at the larger picture here. And what I’m seeing is: we’re all going to hell in a hand basket, and it’s pretty apolitical. The intermittent violence punctuated with apathy to anything that isn’t one’s own niche issues has convinced me that perhaps none of us want this country to survive the next few months. We’re manifesting a particular brand of American nihilism that indicates a pervasive lack of cultural discipline. It’s as though we decided: United We Stand, Divided We Fall, but let’s be divided now. Everyone is hell bent on destroying this place, like a bacchanalia of chaos, and even the sane people are letting this place and everyone in it burn. This planet.

Let it burn. This is humanity. We will rise from the ashes to live another day so we can build something beautiful that we can burn to the ground.

The Joy of Post Feminist Cooking

I woke up early so I could marinate my chicken in buttermilk, turmeric and paprika so I could fry it later. Then I did the dishes from my dinner the night before and brewed a fresh a batch of iced tea. Then I sat in the kitchen a rewrote my grocery list to include everything I needed to make a low carb tiramisu because tiramisu is my hands down favorite dessert.

As I sat there, lovingly penning a list that included mascarpone, almond flour and cream cheese, I realized: wow, things have really changed around here. A year ago, I wouldn’t have known what the fuck to do with paprika and buttermilk. That’s because a year ago, and for all of my adult life, I didn’t cook. Not because I didn’t know how to cook. I spent years as a bartender, and I have a good understanding of flavor pairing, prep work and meal planning. I used to say that the reason I didn’t cook was because I worked in the restaurant industry. As a bartender, I ate free meals every shift, usually from sprawling spreads of leftover food from the high end restaurant where I worked. Who needed to cook when I got a plate full of meatballs, pita, hummus and salad every night? As a sales rep, I had an expense account so I could pay for my meals on the company card. Why pay for groceries when I can get a free meal?

I thought those sounded like good excuses for only stocking green tea, cashews, candy, yogurt and the occasional bunch of kale in my kitchen. But the fact of the matter is: the reason I didn’t cook was a lot deeper than financial convenience. Here’s the thing: I always knew how to cook. My mother cooked dinner for our family of four every week night. She made all my school lunches. She loved going to the farmer’s market for seasonal vegetables and the bread store for fresh bread. She had a good collection of cook books, a fully stocked and outfitted kitchen. She taught me how to cook when I was a girl. I remember the joy of cooking meals myself for the family, baking cookies, whipping shit up for myself.

But somewhere along the line I lost that. It started when I was a teenager, when I suddenly became aware of my body. I grew up during the low fat diet trend of the late 90s and early aughts. Growing up in the Bay Area I was exposed to the vastness of hippie health culture, which encompassed everything from veganism to organic food to kombucha to alternative baking. Between low fat diets and the cultural sway of veganism, I resigned myself to eating what one friend once called ‘squirrel snacks’ – basically a low-nutritional diet of small portion, non-meal foods punctuated by occasional doses of protein. I thought that eating yogurt for breakfast, chips and hummus for lunch, and four shots of tequila with a taco plate for dinner would keep my skinny. And if I were skinny, then I would be beautiful.

Of course my disdain for cooking was tied up with my sexuality. On the one hand, not eating enough foods or the right foods would keep me thin, and if I were thin then men would want to fuck me. On the other hand, the ability to cook full meals was something my mother did as an act of subservience to my father, and I was never a subservient woman. I was never going to do something as desperate and pathetic as cook a meal for a man. To me, there was something so gauche and unsettling about the idea of a woman who thought that feeding a man would make her worthy of love. I had seen so many women who fed men have their hearts broken, be abandoned, and left alone by their men. But skinny bitches? No one ever walked away from a skinny bitch. Right?

I have no idea how the fuck did I wound up working in the restaurant industry with an attitude like that. Working in restaurants is about nourishing people, hospitality and a sense of home. But I had made a habit out of ‘starving out’ my boyfriends. I thought I was so clever and funny for never offering breakfast to my boyfriends – if they were hungry, they’d have to leave to eat, which was fine by me because I wanted them gone anyway. Not eating was a way for me to validate my self loathing, and it was also a great way to push away people that I liked to fuck. No wonder I attracted men who didn’t respect me.

But all of that has changed. After a recent break up, I decided that it was time to become a bomb ass cook. I decided that I was going to eat protein every day, and not just when I started to feel light headed and woozy. I decided that I was going to use the culinary skills that had made me a well respected and award winning bartender to feed myself. It was time to face my demons in a way that I didn’t know I could: I learned how to cook.

And I fucking loved it.

I have discovered a certain joy and comfort in cooking that I didn’t know was there. There’s a simple passion in cooking, one that makes me feel both beautiful and invincible. In cooking, I have faced my fears. I am neither fat (or, rather, unhealthy) because I cook. Nor have I leaned into cooking because I am desperate for a man’s approval. I am, simply: nourished. There is something about casually whipping up a complete meal for lunch on a Wednesday that makes me feel whole. Like I can do anything. There’s a satisfaction to be had in picking out spices, turning on the oven, waiting for my food to cook, and cleaning up. It’s a process of patience and reward. There’s a calmness to the contentment of feeding oneself and feeding oneself well.

But I’m sure you already knew that. Which is what makes me sad about all of this. I thought that cooking would somehow make me ugly or cheap. Even though I feel more beautiful than before. My self esteem, my self confidence, my sense of self worth – it’s all so much better than before. I just didn’t know any better than to use food as an instrument of self harm. But, now that I know: never again.

Manic Episode 9/2020

I can feel him in me: the demon. Fuck. There he is, sloshing between my legs, snickering and sneering as I drive 90 miles an hour down the freeway, hoping to get to where I’m going and not really caring if I get there alive. Dammit. I’m manic again. Which means that the next 5-15 days are going to be filled with a slew of unsavory yet scintillating activities which may or may not include: finishing my novel, having sex with a stranger from the Internet, getting black out drunk, doing a ton of ketamine, buying hundreds of dollars worth of shit from the Internet and/or antique stores, stealing shit from everywhere I go into, fighting random people on the street, starting lots and lots of new craft projects, falling in love with anonymous people, oversharing with my family, walking around more naked than usual in public. All of this like a flash in the night until, of course, inevitably, I simmer back down into the ‘nice girl’ that I think I am and wonder why the fuck did I do all those wild things last week. I guess that’s the worst thing about self aware mania: god, I love being manic, but it is so damn fleeting, and the person I am when I can do a million things all at once is the person I want to be always, but it’s not, so even while I’m here, this manic moment is tinged with the disappointment of knowing that this me, my best self, and I can only be my best me when my neurochemistry is imbalanced in just the right way to make me feel shiny and perfect. I will try to be good and write my way through all these sexual compulsions, but I can’t stop looking at every man I see and fantasizing about what it would feel like if he raped me. Dammit. I am going to get very, very drunk. I am going to finish my fucking novel. I am going to fall in love. I feel good. I feel great. I feel like I can conquer the world. I feel like superwoman. I have a super pussy. I am the smartest person I know, and I am beautiful, too. Nothing can stop me. Nothing! Money is a concept, love is infinity. I am happy, I am happy, I am happy, I am happy. Someone please stop me or at least bring me drugs, I thought that these flights of fancy would have stopped by now, or that these little episodes would be relegated to my 20s, but it turns out, instead, I am probably going to be like this for the rest of my life. I am going to be ebbing and flowing through this emotional turbulence til the day I die. It turns it was not a phase. I am just getting older and while certain things slow down, the desire to watch a man bleed to death has not. I will be like this forever, regardless of whether or not I ‘discipline’ myself. Regardless of whether or not I ‘stop.’ There is no ‘becoming a better person’ or ‘making better decisions’ when moments of mania compel me to – compel me to what? Oh, god, what will I feel justified in doing this time? Who will I try to break today? And next time? And the time after that? Why do I hate myself because of my mania. If only. If only I could fly. I feel like I could fly. I think I can fly. But I’m not flying. I guess that’s the best way to describe the chaos and confusion of this manic episode. I feel like I’m soaring over the city, but when I look down, here I am, sitting in this chair, and it doesn’t make any fucking sense. Will somebody please make sense of this word salad – I’m convinced that there’s genius in here somewhere, but I don’t know. I couldn’t say. All I can do is sit here and vibrate – and I’m not sure if it feels good, and I’m not sure if it feels bad, so I will drink until I can tell the difference. Because, ultimately, I am afraid. I am afraid of that moment when my feet touch the floor again. I am afraid of when my knees buckle and my body crashes. I am afraid of the bloody and the bruises that await me down there, which is where I am going, which is where I am always going. I am afraid to be here, in this manic state, because inevitably comes the ground with me all over it. How can I enjoy flying when I know I will crash. But maybe if I am bomber and I destroy everything beneath me – then I can just float forever. I would be happy forever if the rest of the world didn’t exist. So I must go now, because I have my work cut out for me.

Relativity of Privilege

They say that the world is ending, so then why am I still in it? The sky is black with someone else’s rage, yet here I am, still sitting in my room, waiting for something to happen. It’s not that nothing is happening, it’s just that it’s not happening to me. It’s happening around me, and as I wait for the punch in the face of reality, I’ve come to realize: maybe it will never happen at all. The world will end, and I’ll still be suspending here, in my American amorality, with no big decisions, no sweeping finales, no crash, no boom, no bang. Or it will be far away. It will happen to other people. And after the world ends, I will still get up. I will still go to work. I will still eat my lunch. Then go home. Go to sleep. And wonder what all the fuss was about while other people’s worlds ended and mine just stayed the same.

Somnambulence

I’ve been living someone else’s life lately. Standing in the kitchen in my lingerie, frying chicken for a boyfriend I don’t have like a girlfriend to none. Washing the dishes ceremoniously with my lipstick still on. Drinking water and making protein shakes so that my body can look better for the people who don’t see me. I’ve slipped slightly into a dream state, puttering around with a broom in my hand, cleaning up after the children I don’t have. Living a life that is unlike the one that I have, yet somehow after living it – it has definitely become mine. The quiet nights in. The full nights of rest. That easy feeling in the morning when my feet touch the floor and it doesn’t even hurt. It’s a strange feeling as I slink around, staying inside for as long as I can, like I am ready to do something that I know will never happen. There are no more hangovers, no more biting regrets. The panic of the day to day has subsided, and in its place: a person I don’t believe exists. I don’t think this is really me. I don’t think it can be me, even though it is me for right now. In this moment, which I know is fleeting, I am someone who couldn’t possibly exist within the the normal bounds of reality. So, do I relish it? Or do I recoil. The thought of feeling so okay in such a quiet way is unsettling, not because there is something upsetting about all of this, but because there is something in my nature that can’t grasp the possibility that everything can be okay. Or, even if everything could be okay, that I would be the one to live it. Maybe I don’t want this to ever end. Or maybe I just hate myself in a new way, and finding out all about that will be just as comfortably horrible as the rest of life as soon as I figure out how to take it, how to hold it, how to let it be a part of me.

6 Months Without Men

Dear Internet,

It has been six months since quarantine started, which means that it has been six months since I have had to interact with random men on a daily basis. And things couldn’t be better. I didn’t realize how good things were until I went out into the world for work yesterday. All of a sudden: men, everywhere. At first, I didn’t notice the toll it was taking on my mental health to be ogled as an object and crowded in the streets by all the men. To have to engage in the strange physical interactions that men demand of women. To be commented on by men simply for the sin of existing in public. To have men demand attention from me as I stroll down the street. But by the time I got home, I was awash with a fatigue that I hadn’t felt in months. The fatigue of being a woman in public. Even though I was all covered up with face mask, gloves, and head wrap – it still wasn’t enough to protect me from the virulence of men. I crawled back into bed, eager to hide yet again from the men of the world. I think it will be months again before I venture back out into the world. It’s not that I am not strong enough to deal with men anymore, but rather that I am too strong to let myself deal with such unnecessary unpleasantries on any frequent basis. In my world without men, things have only gotten better. I sleep better, I eat better, I feel better. My skin has cleared up, and day to day by mood has improved considerably. Six months without men has done what no diet, no exercise routine, no amount of sleep, no expensive face cream has ever done: it has cured me. And I am not going to give up this cure without a fight.

Health Fads Are Killing Me

Even though I only made $9 an hour working as a clerk at the thrift store, I still liked buying $3.50 + tax kombuchas from the health store because at the young age of 19 I believed that drinking these sugar-laden, probiotic beverages would be worth it. Were there better things I could have been spending my money on? Absolutely. I could have been eating something other than boxed soup and cold cuts for lunch. I could have been saving up to buy a more comfortable pair of shoes to work. I could have bought a book on health and nutrition and read that instead. But, no. I had to have my kombuchas, which were expensive to me at the time, because I thought that the invisible and frankly also intangible health benefits would somehow counteract the things that were truly troubling me: my anxiety, my constant fatigue, my hangovers which I caused by drinking too much liquor that some random man had bought for me the night before, my nagging sense of being overweight at 125 pounds. Those kombuchas were going to cure me. If I drank enough of them, one day I’d wake up and my skin would be glowing. I wouldn’t be bloated. I’d wake up in a good mood. Men would want to fuck me, and women would want to be me.

But that never happened. Instead, I was just out $3.50 (plus tax) and filled with a sense of superiority to everyone who didn’t drink kombucha. I guess you can’t really put a price on that, but if I could it would be the price of all those kombuchas I drank over the years. Of course, I eventually came to my senses and realized that drinking kombucha didn’t really make me feel that much better. So I stopped drinking kombucha, which in turn made me feel morally superior to all those plebian kombucha drinkers as I drunkenly stumbled my way into the next fad: coconut water. Long story short, I don’t drink coconut water anymore, either. But after coconut water came the ashwaganda supplements and kava root teas. Of course I had a yoga phase. I dabbled in vegetarianism, had a brief stint with veganism, and at one point I was all kale everything. I switched up my face wash, bought an expensive moisturizer, and drank my collagen every day. Nowadays, I’m doing HIIT workouts, eliminating carbs and exfoliating.

Throughout it all, I drank all the fucking time. Saying that now, well, duh, of course I felt like shit because I drank all the time, did coke, stayed up late, fucked around, overslept, underslept. You know, all the standard things that fucky young things do when they’re in their 20s. There’s something to be said for the cognitive dissonance of spending half of my disposable income on getting fucked up and the other half on cures for getting fucked up. You’d think that somewhere along the line, I would have picked up on the message that if I drank less, maybe I wouldn’t feel the need to treat myself with all these hippie, woo-woo pseudo cures if I didn’t intentionally make myself feel like shit. But, then again, now that I think about it, of course I never heard that. If I didn’t make myself sick with liquor, then I would need to find a cure.

Which explains the strange coexistence of the health and wellness industry in America, which is hellbent on overconsumption, alcohol and working ourselves to death. Who will buy a cure when no one is sick? And while, yes, I could launch this rant into a missive about everything that is wrong with the health care industry today and accessibility to medication, I’d rather take a look at the more pedestrian presence of ‘health’ in our culture. The way that we experience what it means to be well within the sickness of the market forces that dictate the way we buy our way into our own wellness.

Within American culture, ‘health’ doesn’t simply mean “the way you feel good in your body.” No. Instead, health has become a class indicator that we must wear like designer clothing in order to separate the healthy from the unhealthy. The rich from the poor. The beautiful from the ugly. Health has a pantone-approved color palate. Health has a myriad of hash tags. Health is in partnership with a handful of brands – juiceries, gyms, and therapists – so that we know what health looks like without ever really knowing what it should feel like. Health is a dewy glow on Instagram. Health is a twenty six inch waist. Health is acai bowls and celery juice. Even though none of those things actually translate to health in the truest sense, it is what we have come to believe health really looks like. We are so separated from our own health that we don’t even know what ‘healthy’ actually feels like, which is great from a marketer’s perspective because your product doesn’t even have to work if your customer can’t tell the difference. Health as a product is just a distraction from genuine health.

Health that isn’t accessible isn’t true health. Of course we know that poor people are kept separate from their health in the most egregious way possible, but if health is being gate kept, can it really be health? If these so-called cures are really that effective, then why haven’t we as humanity cured ourselves, down to the very last one of us? If kombucha was really going to cure me, wouldn’t we all be drinking it? Wouldn’t the market have released an affordable kombucha for the guy on food stamps? And wouldn’t it be worth it for him to drink kombucha, too? Or is kombucha just another sugar pill that at the end of the day didn’t make me any healthier and by extension any happier than anyone else.

The kombucha is just the carrot on the stick, the one that makes me think it’s okay to drink like this, or to work like this, or to live like this. At the end of the day it doesn’t actually do anything for me. Drinking one kombucha one time or drinking it every day – I can’t say that here I am, years later, really patting myself on the back for drinking all those kombuchas. I still hate getting out of bed every day, I still hate my body, I still hate. It’s still hard for me to rectify the decisions I’ve made with my life, but at one point kombucha made me feel better about those decisions.

At one point did my pursuit of my own health become toxic consumption? And if the pursuit of health can just become another mindless aspect of our participation in capitalism, can it ever truly be healthy? Or is it just a different way to dress up the same thing that is making us sick.

After listening to a podcast on anti-dieting, I’ve decided that anti-health is the next cure I will explore. Unless you are my doctor or the CDC, I’m not doing it. I’ll stick to my iron pills and my 8 glasses of water and my exercise 3-4 times a week, and that’s it. It will certainly be cheaper than anything I’ve done before. Maybe if I stop obsessing over the minutiae of my diet and my exercise and my skin care routine and my vitamins and my minerals and all this so-called health, I’ll have the mental space with which to examine the things that are really making me sick. Maybe if I stop spending time trying to have my image of health validated on the Internet, and if I stop using other people as the litmus for what health should look like, then maybe I’ll start to feel healthy again. Maybe if I give myself time – which, by the way, is my time – and stop giving it to the cures, to the images of health, to the performance of health – maybe I’ll find something there. (Speaking of time: if you did that quick math at the beginning of the essay, you noticed that I made $9 an hour and spent $3.50 (+ tax) on my kombucha. Thinking about my net income, I basically worked 30 minutes in order to afford my kombucha. I would have been better off working 30 minutes less than drinking that kombucha. But that time is gone forever, so instead I just pledge not to sell thirty minutes of my time to the health and wellness snake oil industry.) If I do, I promise I won’t try to sell it to you. I probably won’t even post it on Instagram. Or write about it again. Because it’s my health. My health is about me, and seeing as I don’t like to post about my sicknesses on the Internet, why would I flourish my health there either? All of it – good or bad – is something I want to keep to myself.

It’s not lost on me that I’ve started to feel incredibly angry about health in the midst of a pandemic and also while the air outside is unbreathable. Maybe there’s something about watching the health of myself and everyone around me slip away that has made me realize that I never actually knew what health ever was. Now, maybe I never will.