Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Day 15, Friday: Tell us what you've learned from this experience

Breakfast consists of a falafel patty and a hunk of “chocolate.” There is only one piece of chocolate left, and the immediate need for strict rationing is obvious. Around lunch, I polish off the last piece, eliminating the burden of such extreme measures. Unfortunately, I have also eliminated candy from the next fifteen days of my life.

I make a small pot of lentils and spinach, and eat them for lunch and dinner.

Today is a pretty big day! I’ve managed to go 15 days without breaking down! But what does all this mean? I went into this thinking it would be some big life changing experience, really giving me a glimpse into what life was like for the less fortunate. So here I am, half way, and at what appears a good time to step back and examine what I have learned thus far. How has all this affected* me?

In their blog, the original 30/30 couple describes their experience as “transformative.” In the interest of time, it would be nice to cut and paste their feelings and adopt them as my own, changing a word here and there, not dissimilar to my freshman year research paper on Canterbury Tales. Unfortunately, I can’t do this for two reasons. (1) they don’t really elaborate, so there aren’t enough words to transpose and call my own, and (2) I think their heads are up their never tested on animals, steroid and pesticide free asses, and I won’t pretend to have such a sudden, exaggerated insight into the psyche of the poor.

Their easy use of the word “transformative” is both surprising and sadly comedic to me. Basically, I'm supposed to buy the idea that going on a diet has somehow opened a door of enlightenment for these people, granting them access to some deep insight into the lives of the poor? Um, no.

If they really want to understand, maybe they could have three kids and each work two minimum wage jobs to pay for their food, clothing, and a run-down two-bedroom apartment in the ghetto. Then, for the full effect, struggle to stay awake during the 45 minutes a day they’ll get with their children, trying to catch them up on the education that they’re barely receiving at Inner-City Central High. Oh, and don’t forget to worry about the fact that, even if Jr. manages to get into college, unlike you, who had to drop out in 11th grade because Medicaid didn’t cover in-home care for your father, there won’t be any money to pay for school.

Granted, the above scenario might be difficult to recreate, so I’ve thought of a few, simpler techniques. Don't paying any utility bills, and see how many days you can live without power and water (in colder climates, insight points are given for time endured without heat.) If really dedicated, quit your job. Try to stay cheerful at your new job waiting tables at Denny’s, and don’t fall asleep during your graveyard shift at Ingles, despite the excruciating boredom of stocking shelf after shelf of nonperishables, especially on three-and-a-half hours of sleep. If possible, get really sick and become unable to work, much less pay your medical bills.

I know this sounds particularly harsh, but as I think it’s safe to assume they’ll never read my blog, I don’t feel any moral responsibility to spare their feelings. I’ll lay it on you straight: Those guys were spoiled P-words. Oh, I’m so sorry for you that you had to give up organic produce! Even before starting the 30/30, I view any fresh produce as a luxury. It’s seriously not that bad, people! Sure, the first couple of days were a hurdle, but that’s because I’m so used to over-eating. After fighting through the first few days of hunger, it didn’t suck too big. I’m getting all the nutrition and calories I need, and I’ll definitely have food left in the end.

At this point, I haven’t noticed any of the physical or emotional changes they spoke of in their blog. I can't see any strains on my relationship with Adam. I imagine, however, that the diet might serve as a convenient excuse for those inclined to argue under better circumstances.

So what is my half way point analysis? I guess, if anything, the experience was transformative in that I realized I eat like a cow, and pretty much all my social relationships are built around food and drink. I know I sound like a bitch, and I’m sorry. I’m honestly glad for the attention they’ve brought to the cause, and I’m happy people want to take their social justice classes and learn about what goes on in the world beyond our middle class bubble. But I don’t feel the experiment makes any revolutionary or groundbreaking point. We already knew being poor sucks.

But then, perhaps my thinking is flawed and my criticisms are indicative of a malnourished brain. Maybe the transformative revelations come later in the month.

*I am unapologetic for the fact that I often use affect when I mean effect. I have given up trying to distinguish between the two, since it takes more work for me to figure out which is proper in a given situation, than it does for the listener to figure out what I mean.

1 comment:

  1. "Sure, the first couple of days were a hurdle, but that’s because I’m so used to over-eating."

    ahahahaha I love you Annie