Fat Kid Suit


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Why I Don’t Want To Dig Ditches Anymore

I live very simply.  I have no debt and my expenses are minimal.  It’s pretty much rent, my iphone, food and fun.  I know a lot of people aren’t in that position and have kids, mortgages, car payments, hospital bills, college loans, and credit card debt.  I feel for you if that is your situation.  I’ve been there, minus the kids.

Bike NOT For Sale

Now, while I don’t have debt and a lot of bills, it’s worth noting I also have zero savings or investments of any kind.  I always have some cash in a drawer or shoe, and that’s it.  My 1987 BMW has over 250,000 miles. Someone might give me a thousand bucks for it.  But it gets me around, and I only have to keep minimal liability insurance which costs me just a few hundred a year.  I have a cool fixed gear bike that I might get $500 for if I needed to part with it.  And that is IT!

And finally, I should note that I do not have health insurance, or life insurance, or anything resembling it.

A lot of people would be extremely uncomfortable with this scenario.  I guess there are many ways of looking at it.  I am not in this situation because I am extra thrifty, or because I never had credit.  I am in this situation because I had all that, and now it’s gone.  Like a lot of people, I’ve lost money, and stuff , and credit the past three or four years.  I gotta say, it feels great.  I feel like instead of losing anything I’ve gained a feeling of freedom and increased mobility.

That said, I am ready to figure out how to really use my situation to my advantage and free myself from working at a job in order to pay my most basic sustenance level expenses.

There are things about my job (tending bar in a little Italian restaurant) that I enjoy.  On a busy night there is a rush involved in handling an overcapacity bar and restaurant. I enjoy a degree of interaction with the public, although spending five nights a week catering to people’s needs is too much.  But whether you make drinks, wait tables, mow lawns, or sit behind a desk that belongs to someone else–this kind of work is all ultimately the same.  I call it digging ditches.  Someone needs a ditch dug.  They pay you to dig it.  And every day, no matter how many ditches you’ve dug before, you dig another.

We are all digging…

 

There is nothing wrong with digging ditches.  I want to go out for a nice meal occasionally.  For that to happen there need to be competent people in the kitchen and taking my order.  But I am not funding school, buying a Camaro, or feeding children.  I feel like in my case, I should be able to find a way, or a combination of things, that I can do to pay such basic expenses and free myself to spend more time writing, traveling, or whatever else I’m into. Without digging ditches, or mixing drinks.

I’m not sure how to do this.  I know people buy and sell stuff on eBay and craigslist.  I make a little money doing freelance editing for a financial writer.  I could do more of that type of thing.  But that is really just more ditch-digging.  My brain is searching for totally new ways to look at this, it is 2011 and it seems like all the technology around us can be harnessed in ways maybe we don’t even realize yet.  I will keep you all posted.

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In Defense of Want…my quick “Christmas” post.

This time of year there is a lot of talk about how we should all be wanting less.

Especially in the “alternative” world of new-agers, where want may be the only really “bad” 4-letter word left since bush has once again become a reference to unshaven treasures.

We all see–and are paying for–the mindless consumption of crap.  And it does seem a true shame that so much is consumed with so little appreciation.

But…

I don’t think you can make want the villain.  Want is integral to who we are.  To want is what life is.

Coming out of my recent toxic slumber, where I didn’t want ANYTHING, I personally am thrilled to have an ever growing “I want” list!

On that list are lots of things:

A real camera (not a point & shoot), some cooked culinary wonders, some raw culinary wonders, many books, a Vita Mix, tickets to concerts/film festivals/and stand-up comedy shows, a camper van for road trips, ceramic cooking knives, drunken weekends with my brothers and friends in TJ or Vegas, more art & music in my life, a back issue of Vice magazine that has insightful collectible pics of my favorite porn star, and yeah–I WANT an i-phone!

Also on the list are places I want to experience, and stuff I want to try.  I want to keep changing and not live the same life every day.  I want to be proven wrong and shocked.  I want more education. I want the rug pulled out from under me sometimes.  I want to have friends that I disagree with but still find irresistible.  I want to like what I do for money. I want acknowledgment for what I contribute creatively.

In other words, I want.

And why are we so afraid of that?  Can you imagine a human society full of ascetics and “saints?”   I just can’t comprehend the popular image of heaven being a place where people are freed of want and just float around in an asexual mist minus all hungering.

We even live in a culture where we are taught to hide what we want from others like we are all playing poker instead of living.

Want is perceived as being indelicate.  Control your impulses, control your thoughts, control your self...

But is it want that is the issue, or is it being disconnected from any awareness of what we really want and  knowing how to feel good about it?  Are we punishing ourselves for past mistakes by denying ourselves the essence of life–desire?  Instead of always trying to figure out ways to have less, maybe we can direct our energies to making sure that everyone has more.  Of what they want…

What about the raw thing?

A lot of people have been asking me how my 2 month raw challenge ended.

I lost over 33 pounds, I feel and look A LOT better, and I am ready to tackle some other issues in my life.  I am a very analytical guy and tend to live in my head.  When I force myself to be more physical (daily intense exercise, more time outdoors, more attention to my body) I feel so alive!

Eating only raw foods has expedited that process and I’ve spent the last 3 days back in Bikram yoga classes.  So that’s going to be my main focus in 2010.  Using my body as much as my mind.

I was a little fearful that once I started eating any cooked food, or had one cocktail, it would open some kind of floodgate and I would start eating & drinking uncontrollably.  The opposite has been true.  One small cooked meal and all I could think about was getting fresh raw food in my body the next meal.

I spent all night out with friends last night, bar hopping.  I had two top shelf Makers Manhattans and that’s all I wanted.   This morning it was back to yoga and coconut water.

Since I am visiting friends for the holidays I’ve been having one healthy cooked vegetarian meal a day.  But if I weren’t in vacation mode, I don’t think I’d even be eating that much cooked food…

I am avoiding beer, fried foods, commercial dairy, gluten, and refined sugars.  And when I eat it takes very little before I’m stuffed.  A feeling I haven’t had for 2 months, and one which doesn’t feel as good as I remember…


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60 day raw food log: day 16 Weighing the cost of a raw food diet…is it worth it?

Most people are concerned about money right now.

I am in need of an IV drip connected to a money bag myself.  The place where I bartend is only scheduling me for 3-4 shifts a week, and like many restaurants, is struggling.

So one part of determining if raw food eating is “worth” it is the dollars spent. I’ll do my best to give a dollars & cents breakdown on what eating this way is costing me and how it compares to when I ate a “normal” American diet.

Another price to pay for eating raw is taking an honest look at the things you give up to do so.  Pizza delivery and cheap beer.  Pitchers of mojitos to wash down some gourmet Cuban cuisine.  Street food (especially TACO TRUCKS!)  BBQ joints…did I mention Taco Trucks?

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I knew my moto was back in Cali when I came across this taco truck on a cold night just south of the border. The Oregon border!

Finally, anytime you examine somethings true cost you have to figure out just what the hell you’re getting out of it.  AKA…what are the benefits?

So is it worth it? I’m no expert and I can’t answer this (or any other question) for you.  But let you inside my abnormally large head and show you exactly how I feel at this juncture about the costs of eating raw…

Today (part 1) will focus on the monetary cost.  Tomorrow (part 2) will look at the cost of giving up things you love and are used to…like taco trucks.  And in (part 3) I’ll wrap it up with a snazzy cost/benefits analysis (sorry no charts or Excel spreadsheets) that attempts to explore the sometimes measurable, sometimes intangible benefits of a raw food life.

Part One

IS EATING RAW MORE EXPENSIVE THAN COOKED?

First few times you walk over to the raw “section” at the health food store (you know you’ve become a radical marginal member of society when you are shopping in a specialized section of a specialty store) two things will probably jump to your attention…

My first thought was “This is a really tiny section.  Not really a section actually, more like an end-cap.”

My second thought was, “Holy shit!  $14 for peanut butter!?”

Bulk Items

To make matters worse, a lot of the things you “need” to get started are bulk items. These types of items will probably last you a month, but they require payment in full today.

As an example, I bought a big bottle of spirulina for $43.  Two weeks later I’m only halfway through it.  But when I

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Spirulina bringing someone else back from the dead...

was standing there in the store trying to imagine how bad something that grows on top of a swamp might taste, and ruminating on the sad fact that lately I don’t even make $43 some nights, well lets just say it wasn’t easy to hand over the green required to buy the green. (Spirulinas really more blue-green).

My conclusion? These items aren’t in actuality expensive and can actually make raw eating more economical in some instances. At $1.4o per serving, roughly the price of a Coke, instead of corn syrup, chemicals, and an ingredient list that reads more like toilet bowl cleaner than beverage; you get the most concentrated bio-available protein on the planet.

So, score one for the spirulina and other bulk raw items you might want like cacao nibs, hemp oil, and raw honey.

Pre-packaged stuff VS. Produce

When you are new and trying to “adjust” to raw  for the first time you will naturally gravitate to the expensive pre-packaged raw items because they sorta look like what you think foods supposed to look like.

realhomerI stood there having a Homer Simpson style conversation with myself that went something like this… “Ahhhh…crackers!  I know what crackers are! This is a peculiarly small little bag with only 6 crackers in it…not exactly a Costco size box of Wheat Thins…but it says here…sun-dried tomato crackers…mmm…sounds yummy…and they are only…let me just turn this little package over and find the price….$9!  WTF!”

I bought them anyways.  Because I was scared of not having what I refer to as “food-food.”  And you know what allows you to psychologically pay NINE BUCKS for SIX CRACKERS?  The little sticker on the package that says “raw.”  And do you know what those crackers taste like, I’ll give you a hint…it’s a 4 letter word…start’s with an “S”…and it’s not sun dried tomatoes!

I’ve been reading a lot of other raw foodists blogs and watching their You Tube channels and tweeting with them and I’m starting to get the feeling that the longer one eats raw, the more likely they are to do almost all of their shopping at a Farmer’s Market, or in a good organic produce section.

My conclusion? Go ahead and buy the pre-packaged stuff.  Try it.  See what you like and what you don’t.  Soon you will save the dehydrated breads and little $4 baggies of superfood trail mix for when you need the convenience or the comfort.  Spend the bulk of your dough on fruits & veggies that are pound for pound, yes even at organic prices, the best value for your food dollar.

11/14 UPDATE!  Went to Farmer’s Market today and loaded up on fresh veggies/greens/and fruit.  I even bought a big jar of raw wildflower honey.  Grand Total = $40  Because I’m 100% raw I also got “free” breakfast out of the deal just walking around enjoying all the samples being handed out.  When I came home I took everything out and put it on the table so I could see what all I bought.  I had to take a picture…amazing isn’t it?  The honey will last a couple weeks and I’m sharing this with my girlfriend, so the real cost to me for the week I estimate to be closer to$25!!!

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How Much Are You NOT Spending?check-into-booze

This is really fair question to ask, and the one that pushed me over the edge on the money issue.  Do this little exercise yourself, and be brutally honest about it.

I added up what I spent each week on:

  • Coffee. Up to 2 weeks ago I was spending over $6 per day at Starbucks.
  • Booze. I’m talking drinks out (w/ tips), drinks in, wine, beer, all of it! For me drinking on the cheap was still costing  me over $70 per week. And that’s with a job where I can have a drink or two for free.
  • Cooked food groceries. I love to cook.  Shop pretty smart at Trader Joe’s.  My share of weekly groceries is about $40 per week.
  • Eating out. Make sure you include any fast food, lunches out, frozen yogurts, movie popcorn, brunch, all that!  I had really cut back lately.  In the past my girlfriend and I would grab sushi or Mexican food at least 3x per week. But due to lack of work and recently moving, I’m gonna say I was spending about $25 per week eating out.
  • Cigarettes. I don’t smoke cigarettes, so this wasn’t an issue with me.  But if you do smoke, we’re talking big bucks here, and you ARE going to stop smoking if you go 100% raw.  Maybe not immediately, but soon.
  • Other drugs including prescriptions. In one way or another, to quote Weezer, “We are ALL on drugs.”  I like to party, and think recreational substances have their place. But for arguments sake assume you won’t be spending money on that after you get hooked up to nature’s crack–raw food.  Also include most (not all, like I don’t think eating raw is going to do anything in the contraceptive department) pharmaceuticals.  Especially meds for cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, acid reflux (my GERD is 100% GONE), etc.

So for me…about $200 per week.  What’s your total?

So that’s $200 per week that I can apply to eating 100% raw food, drinking fresh-squeezed vibrant juices, and even eating out every so often in a little raw cafe or gourmet raw eatery.  $200 is A LOT of vegetables and fruit.

Another aspect of how much it really costs to eat raw vegan organic foods that I hadn’t thought of until I read Derek Markham’s blog today…is all the money not spent at the Doctors office.  In his case he acknowledges that as a father he chooses to spend a large portion of his families income on fresh organic food.  Derek says, “Our kids deserve the best fuel for their minds and bodies, and eating this way is our ‘health insurance’.” That blew me away.

What I’m NOT suggesting is that you cancel your health insurance (if you have health insurance) and count that as potential savings if you go raw.  But imagine the money you, your family, and the country would save by having less sick days, co-pays, depression, and chronic illness…

My conclusion? Money should have nothing to do with whether or not someone chooses to go raw.  If anything, I am spending a little less money each week to give my body an abundance of nutrients and delicious food.

Tune in tomorrow if you want to read about some of my misgivings about going (and staying raw long-term), as well as a candid lament about things I’m not sure I can live without (or want to).