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Archive for July 19th, 2010

  • Day 142: What It’s Really Like to Give Up Candy

    Date: 2010.07.19 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

    I had in mind writing a post last week about what it’s like living in place that can feel as hot and humid in July as south Florida – but where everyone is vehemently against air conditioning.  No, it doesn’t help to argue with the locals that 17,000 people died in a heat wave in 2003 in France.  They despise air conditioning, are convinced it makes you sick and there is no telling them otherwise.  (I didn’t write the post last week, it was too hot.)

    Also, the Trackpad on my new-ish MacBook seized up last week – during a power outage in my building!   Bye to my MacBook as it goes into the hospital. A day later my new air conditioner began leaking as I was pounding on my ancient Powerbook which won’t CAPITALIZE unless you take a hammer to every key.  Who cares, I know.

    I feel like a sloth hanging upside down in my top-floor jungle…

    But I really want to say what it feels like to give up candy and all desserts for what is coming up on five months.

    It doesn’t feel like what you read in books or magazines about giving up something bad for you.   I rarely experience the life-changing miracles that other people talk about after undertaking some new program or diet or even idea. Miracles sneak up on me in subtle ways.

    I don’t spring out of bed at 6 a.m. with super-clear eyes and a new lease on life as a result of giving up candy.  I physically don’t feel different.

    It hasn’t been that hard to give up candy.  I have a craving; it passes quickly. If I had a Lindt chocolate bar today, though, I bet I’d be back to candy full-time.

    I have not lost weight.  I’ve gained two pounds.  So disappointing. But I also believe that sugar sped up my metabolism the way cigarettes do for smokers. I don’t eat any more than I did before.

    Two months into giving up candy I felt slightly flat, odd for someone who is normally very high energy.  One night I spoke about it to my friend Mathias and the very action of talking about it to him caused the flat feeling to stop. He didn’t say anything remarkable, either.

    Still, I feel different emotionally.  It’s bittersweet.  I’m still an optimist but it’s as if the scales have gently fallen from my eyes.

    This was not what I expected.  Not very sexy sounding, is it?

    New Age types (and I like some of them especially if they are of the smart, provocative variety, like Daniel Pinchbeck or Terence McKenna or Aleta St. James or  Sharon Gannon of Jivamukti Yoga) often use the expression “waking up” to describe the process of becoming more conscious.

    Is having to face reality the price of sobering up from sugar?

    Pass the chocolate, please!

    Why couldn’t I be one who just lost weight and lived happily ever after as a result of giving up candy?

    I’m reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s excellent exploration of the meat industry called Eating Animals.  It’s hard to read. All the more because Foer doesn’t proselytize or reduce eating meat to a black-and-white issue.

    At its deepest, scariest level it’s all about how we are the most lethal animals of all.

    I remember someone once telling me “humans” are different from “animals” because we have the “spark of the divine.” It’s such a pretty-sounding sentiment.   So it’s dogs, cats, ostriches and whales that caused the BP oil spill, who have overfished the planet to the point you can’t swim in the Mediterranean anymore without fearing the flash-burn of the jellyfish sting?

    (Then again, I saw Serbian rock star Goran Bregovic last night at the Nice Jazz Festival and he does have the spark of the divine…)

    Still, I walked into the KFC on Avenue Jean Medecin on my way back from an appointment today and looked at the people eating Chicken Fingers. Now that I have read about KFC in Eating Animals, I wanted to hand out copies of the book to everyone in there.

    My friends are getting a wary look on their faces when I mention Eating Animals as if they’re worried I’ll start lecturing them.  Almost as if everyone knows what’s in the book on some level and it’s so enormous it’s more than just deciding to go vegetarian.

    Will I give up meat?  Who knows and I bet not as of today.  If giving up sugar is going to turn me into an dour scold checking out local KFCs, what will life without meat make me?

    Which brings me to Charles Bukowski.   Do you know him?  I was scornful of him before I happened to read Women at a friend’s place in Paris a few years ago.

    I liked Women so I was no longer as quick to write Bukowski off as a smart guy who ripped off John Fante’s style (Ask the Dust) and found fame as the Drunk, Dissolute writer. (A very prolific writer, for such an allegedly serious drunk, I might add.)

    Bukowski basically writes prosaic, repetitive crap about getting drunk, sleeping with crazy women and going to the track.    No talent there, it would appear.

    But when reading Eating Animals gets too much, I pull out one of my forgettable Bukowski books.    Who do you think I’m going to read? John Updike?   Nothing but talent, I’m told.   But does anyone actually read John Updike?

    I love reading Bukowski at times like these.

    Never underestimate the ability of an alcoholic to cheer you up and to make sense out of a world where giving up candy makes you gain weight and “factory farmers” routinely cut the beaks off chickens with hot knife machines to make Chicken Fingers.

    “…That there’s an out helps you stay in.  Get it?  Otherwise, it would only be madness.  And that’s no fun, buddy.  And whenever I get off a good poem, that’s another crutch to keep me going.  I don’t know about other people, but when I bend over to put on my shoes in the morning, I think, Christ-oh-mighty, now what?

    I’m screwed by life, we don’t get along.  I have to take little bites of it, not the whole thing. It’s like swallowing buckets of shit.  I am never surprised that the madhouses and jails are full.  I like to look at my cats, they chill me out. They make me feel all right.  Don’t put me in a roomful of humans, though. Don’t ever do that…

    To my right the radio works hard bringing me more great classical music. I listen to 3 or 4 hours of this a night, as I am doing other things, or nothing.  It’s my drug, it washes the crap right out of me.

    And Mahler is on the radio, he glides with such ease, taking big chances, one needs that sometimes.  Then he sends in the long power rises.  Thank you, Mahler, I borrow from you and I can never pay you back.

    There’s a small balcony here, the door is open and I can see the lights of the cars on the Harbor Freeway south, they never stop, that roll of lights, on and on. All those people.  What are they doing? What are they thinking? We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus!  That alone should make us love one another, but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.

    Keep it going, Mahler!  You’ve made this a wondrous night.  Don’t stop, you son of a bitch!  Don’t stop!”

    (from The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship by Charles Bukowski)

    Thanks for reading such a long post!   Clearly, the heat has gotten to me.

    And one final question:

    Should I be made into bacon?


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This American candy addict/journalist in France writes about quitting candy – and all desserts – for at least one year beginning Feb. 28, 2010. Follow my progress – or relapses – as I delete candy corn, moelleux au chocolat, peppermint patties, Carambars, tarte tatin, After Eights, crème brûlée, Nutella, tapioca pudding, mint chocolate chip ice cream, Haribo Polkas, M & Ms and more from my life. Learn about the evils of white sugar and its effects on mood and health from my interviews with experts and friends! Let the sugar fog lift!

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