Ayurvedic Cleanse, Day 5: No Really! I Surrender!


After a decent morning yesterday, I ended up with a migraine and nausea that lasted all the way through today.  I have now admitted that my low blood sugar issues, kept at bay for approximately twenty years, are pretty serious.  Migraines, nausea, dizziness, shaking, waves and hot and cold and above all, extreme homicidal mood swings add up to serious.  My brain doesn’t work well without protein.  And fat.  In some amount or another.

So, I’m doing the purgatory today, but nothing much is happening except that I keep talking about wanting a cheese sandwich (almond cheese on gluten free bread on my diet) and my partner keeps calling and asking if I’ve purged the purgatory yet and telling me a cheese sandwich of any kind would make me unbearably sick.

OKAY!  She might occasionally know what she’s talking about!  I surrender!  Beam me up Dorothy!  I mean Scotty!

Plus, I am so sick of being reduced to the world of bodily functions.

Probably, in the world of ayurveda, I should be examining these problems with some degree of mindfulness but I JUST CAN’T TAKE IT!  It’s bad enough drinking prune juice (I couldn’t face the castor oil) and feeling crappy.  (Ha-ha, get it.)

I should also mention that I went to therapy yesterday and apologized to the woman for asking her about her interpretative dancer wardrobe.  It was unnecessary.  She is a human being even if she is a therapist who acts like a therapist and wants to talk to me like I’m a patient.  I plan to fire her at the first available opportunity.  Of course, we all know how my plans go.  Up in smoke, half the time.  I am clearly not in control.

However, on a positive note, I started writing a new book today, one I’ve wanted to write since 2010.  Here’s the title:

The Ex-Catholic, Sort of Unitarian, Anti-Therapy, Pseudo-Buddhist, At –Least-a-Little Bi-sexual , Kind of Feminist, Pro-Male, WHAT?

It’s a memoir, in case you haven’t figured that out yet.

I’m a little written-out, so I’m going to crap out (ha-ha).

This cleanse really needs to end.  Now.

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Ayurvedic Cleanse, Day 3: Down and Up and Down


So, I signed up for an audition at the BPT, because I love Marc and Kate, and I like black comedy and there were a couple parts in my age range.  I dragged myself off the floor on Friday, assisted a yoga class, and made it to the BPT to read the script.  Then, today, day of the audition, I got up and drank oil.  Then I felt sick.  Then I did work I had to do for Endicott rehearsal tonight.  Then I tried not to throw up.  Then I meditated.  Then I ate and my stomach blew up like a basketball.  All I could think about was whether I would ever take a shit again (sorry).  Then I took a shower.  Then I drank hot water and took some Triphala in the hopes of taking said shit.  Then I did 10 minutes of yoga.  Then I did my hair, make-up and clothes.  Two pairs of my pants are now tighter than I like, so I think I’ve gained weight on this cleanse in spite of all the hunger and suffering.  Then wished I hadn’t given up dyeing my hair so I could look younger.  I also began to wonder whether the pain and bloating would resolve itself before the audition.  I had the thought that with my luck, on this cleanse, it would all move, resolve, whatever, 2 minutes before I had to audition.

Which is exactly what happened.  I got to the BPT, sat down, and then had to run for the bathroom (or walk, acting all cool).  And get this, I was so relieved to be relieved that I didn’t care that I felt light-headed and out of it.  The world has narrowed considerably.

I came out of the bathroom at the BPT and after about 1 minute, the lovely and generous Kate Snodgrass called me in to the audition.  But, first she hugged me.  I’m pretty sure she was hoping I’d do well.  Meanwhile, I was wondering if she could smell the sesame oil from the self-massage last night.  I thought I might smell like Chinese takeout.

We went into the theatre.  I thought maybe I’d left myself in the bathroom.  The completely distant energy-less feeling of the cleanse made the whole thing seem like a vaguely bad dream.  Someone else’s bad dream, since I wasn’t quite there.  I read the side once.  The director very generously laughed on the laugh lines, even though I wasn’t funny.  Then Kate and I switched parts and she was really funny–just the right touch of bitter sarcasm.  I did better as the insane Christian, which is probably no surprise to anyone.  My energy was just about coming out of the bathroom and making its way down the hall to my body when the audition ended.

Oh, well.  All my auditions lately have been great, so I guess I was due.  And there is this–I am no longer 100% constipated.  But I will go lie down on the floor again.  Then I will consider entropy, and how it’s a new thing in my life.

I wonder if I will recognize myself when the cleanse is over.  Today Superwoman is in remission.  It’s all entropy here.  And lying on the floor.  And waiting for bodily functions to occur.  And wishing I’d gotten to audition sans cleanse, because the BPT is a great theatre doing important work and whoever did that audition was the Cleanse Queen of Entropy, a non-event all to herself.

So basically, the morning sucked.

After lying on the floor and talking to two friends to whom I can say anything at all (how rare and wonderful that is…though I wish they were local), I picked up enough to drive to Endicott College.  Traffic was horrible–I left at 5:45 and got there at 7:10.  Yuck.  But the guys!  This used to happen when I was teaching, after Don died, sometimes a class would pull my best out of me against all odds and these guys are like that.  They are so invested.  We did script analysis and their answers rocked my world–smart, insightful…they did my work for me.  Then we read the play again and a ton of notes I would have given weren’t needed.  Love, love and love again.  We started blocking.  It made me so happy.

I am now home, and my partner had set up abhyanga, the oil massage, so we could do it together as soon as I came in the door.  I tore off my clothes and went at the exfoliation, then got in the tub with her to do the oil down.  She finished first, and for some reason–mental absence, exhaustion–I put the glass bowl on my head like a hat because I couldn’t figure out what else to do with it.  It promptly slid off the oil slick called my hair and burst into a thousand pieces all over the tub and my feet.  Ouch!  Typing, I think I found another sliver in my thumb.

So, the oil down ended quickly for me, though my partner meditated naked for a while and is now in the shower.

A day.  In the life.  Of an insane person.

I am now admitting that I don’t like being on a cleanse.  I don’t like not being able to think clearly and being weak as a kitten.  But I love the men at Endicott, so that’s something.  They deserve better of me, to quote Reverend Alex, which is really quoting myself, since I created her.

I hope that this cleanse provides me with a new digestive system, because frankly, I deserve it.

Ayurvedic Cleanse, Day 2: Getting Honest about Gender and Sexuality


Yesterday my partner threw up.  It was right after couples therapy, so an appropriate response, in my opinion.  However, she liked the couples therapist, so it might have been the cleanse, or the IFS talking to the headache exercise.  I don’t suppose we’ll ever know.

Before the couples therapy, in the early evening, my stomach inflated with gas like a beach ball and I also felt nauseated (partly from listening outside the bathroom at the therapist’s as my partner blew kitchari chunks over and over).

Lesson learned:  don’t say that day 1 of the cleanse is great until the day is over.

I’m still nauseated today and to distract myself I set aside the reading about Buddhism and read Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent. I devoured the book, last night and then this morning.  The book is about a lesbian who lives as a man for 18 months in order to learn about maleness.  She is full of preconceptions, and most of them get pounded into dust, where preconceptions belong (believe me, I know about this).

But, more importantly, at least for me, the book made my deep love for men and maleness resurface at a time when it was on the way up anyhow, because the devised theatre piece I’m working on at Endicott College this fall is about exactly that–maleness, gender, how men feel about women and each other.  It’s a very light comedy, which in some ways makes me sad because I have felt so deeply moved by the men in my life, and what they’ve shared with me about their struggles to be men and to feel connected to other men, that I want to put it into words, into story.  Norah Vincent put on a disguise to enter the world of men, but I have always entered as myself, as a woman who has similar emotional patterns to men (as in, a certain allergy to feeling and showing emotional vulnerability and a need to seem strong at all costs).  I have been accepted, loved, criticized, feared and admired.  But most of all, I have been trusted; and there is nothing in the world like that, like being let in to someone else’s sacred space because you are you, and that’s enough.

Anyhow, to get to the beginning of the story.  Which is my own gender, or gender preference, both of which are relatively complicated.  Gender, at least in its obvious form, is simple.  I am a woman.  In some ways I embody the feminine principle–artistic, creative, attracted to all that is liminal and emphemeral, sensitive, dreamy, spiritual.  But I am the oldest daughter, and oldest children are often identified with their fathers–I certainly was.  I learned about a man’s world from my father–when he took me to ball games, on sales calls, to dinners, company parties, to theatre, bars, you name it. I was his little girl tomboy, and I imitated the men–I swore like they did, I cheered like they did.  I learned about being tough and one of the guys; much better than being the bullied girl I was at school, utterly vulnerable.  I mean, I am a woman who understands men and I grew up that way–comfortable with men and their world–not boys, men.

Gender preference is another story.  I became openly bi-sexual when I had my first relationship with a woman at 19.  Then I dated men, then I dated women, then I had another relationship with a woman, then I dated men, and then I got with my now partner, gender queer, somewhere in between male and female, which I am grateful for and have been for the 25 years we’ve been together, since she ended my struggle to choose.  Because I am not a 50/50 bi-sexual.  I am bi-sexual in that I fall for the person, not the gender.  BUT, my need for men is different than my need for women–I don’t experience my relationships to gender as equal and the same…more like equal and different.

For example, up through age 27, as I dated men and women and had longer relationships with women (3 years and 2 years respectively, prior to this 25 year marriage), feelings started to surface.  Sexual feelings for both men and women.  But I felt off with my long-term girlfriends, both of whom were femme and extremely pretty (I still get a little male surge of pride at this, like, hey, I can get the really good-looking ones–my brother was jealous).  I didn’t fit with them, gender-wise or even sexually.  I felt the same way with the more masculine men I dated.  It was very confusing.

Now some women resolve this conflict by saying that they are lesbians because they fall in love with women (I’ve never been deeply and lastingly in love with a man, for example, except for my partner, who is a woman, but male).  I couldn’t say that.  I didn’t want to, for one thing, though I received so much pressure in the late 80’s from the lesbians in my life to declare, once and for all, that I was gay, lesbian, into women, swearing off men (I knew some separatists), that I just hung out with straight women to get some space from the judgment.

Of course, I hadn’t had the experiences that I would later have, of being allowed into the sanctuary of male vulnerability, particularly straight male vulnerability, so though I loved my male friends, many of whom were gay, I hadn’t ever been as close, as intimate, as I would later become.

And, face it, I am not a woman who wants to close off the exits, the opportunities, sign on for a single choice in any area of life.  I’m bi-sexual because I’m open to possibility and because I live a bi-sexual life style…meaning, a life with both gay and straight people, with intimate friendships with straight men (more these days than with gay men, which is surprising).  I walk in more than one world.  This is almost common now, but I lived this way, well, always.

But, it should be said that my German mother is also a closeted lesbian, and watching her life made me ambivalent about so many things–not wanting to be like her (lesbian, uptight, secretive, closed), not wanting to be closeted, afraid of the shame lesbians could face (I saw her duck it…which is about being consumed by it).  So.  Life is complicated, and so am I, and so, obviously, was she.

So, Self-Made Man.  I have had the rather unusual experience of being the only woman in support groups for men, the most unusual of the unusual being me and 60 men.  Some of this was during the men’s movement, when I offered a creative writing class for men (encouraged by many of the men’s wives, who were my students in all-women classes).  But it continued, as if fate drew me back again and again into the world of maleness.  I entered with comfort…not something anyone understood at the time, even me.  And with curiosity, interest, attention…the characteristics of love, really, wanting to just know.  No other agenda.  In the largest group, there were men who didn’t want me there, who consciously or unconsciously did and said things to make me uncomfortable, but there was a much larger contingent of men who circled round to protect me, who were made uncomfortable by any word or gesture of hostility toward me.  I was their sister, their mascot, the accepting female heart, hand, eye.  I didn’t flinch when they told me what they felt ashamed of.  And, because I was female, when I did get vulnerable I sometimes led the way into new territory, and they needed that…to be opened, to be given permission.

I was in love with all of them.

So now, working at Endicott, I have this deep longing to say that love, and to say what it’s like to work with men again, to be the woman in the room, to hear the stories, to ask for them, to listen, to see how some of these men truly love each other, and to understand that need that men have, to love each other openly, and how rarely they can.

I am in love, again, with maleness, with the struggle men have in this culture, to define goodness within the role they are handed, that asks them to shed deeply human parts of themselves, both their sometimes fierce sexuality, and their need to not be strong, not always.

I’m on a cleanse.  What I say is reflective of that, perhaps, and what I write here is so that I can let the play at Endicott be light, funny, as it wants to be.  I can love, love, love the men I have known–Steve and Jon and John and Pete and Joel and Chris and Todd–as well as the ones I know now.  I can be glad that the ways that I am off-limits gives me access.  Purely straight women envy this–at least my friends do.  I would say this–enter any world without judgment, seeking only to know and be known, and watch what happens.  That is so rare between straight men and women.  And the men know that, keenly.

Of course, earlier in my life, when men opened the door to being known, I entered with fear, but I let the fear go, and the men watched me do it, because I was honest, and that changed everything.

May I enter every moment of this day without judgment, wanting only to know. May we all learn that, how to just be, listening with our souls to the individual life, and how it beats its own rhythm, different from all others.

Ayurvedic Cleanse: Day 1, No Drama. What?


I am not homicidal.

Neither am I hungry.

Of course, I’m mostly asleep, so that’s not particularly difficult.

I like the gruel.

I like my partner.

I like my devised theatre project.

I have micro-waveable Buckies to put on my stomach and a choice of three eye pillows.

I have already meditated once today and may do so again.

But for right now, it’s all about sleep.

I realize without something to complain about, I’m pretty boring, but I could complain about becoming boring for a while.

Nah.  Sleep it is.

Ayurvedic Pre-Cleanse Day 6: I Have Come to This


Once, a little more than a week ago, I wrote about Buddhism, and non-violence and the nature of the universe.  Now I write about bodily functions and will, no doubt, continue to do so for the next 8 days during the cleanse and then the post-cleanse, or integration period.

Oh, how low we fall.

So let me say, by way of an update, that in some ways I am a very lucky person.  I ran with the bulls in Pamplona and didn’t die, for example.  I also jumped out of an airplane, tubed down the Gila River in flood season, went free-climbing in the Alps, leapt from the top of some monkey bars into a tree five feet away at midnight (yes, I’d been drinking), hitchhiked around Europe, Japan and parts of the United States, back-packed and hiked by myself everywhere and didn’t die.  Instead, I was adopted, over and over again, by people who seemed to find me entertaining.  The nuns at my high school who took me in to live with them (and then listened to me preach atheism), the women in Spain who invited me to stay at their houses when I missed trains, etc, the family in Ireland who took me in for Christmas–I have been loved, all over the world, by strangers.  Move over, Tennessee Williams and Blanche DuBois for the queer world traveler, also dependent on the kindness of strangers (and so far no Stanley calling in the men with the white coats).

However, even given these very meaningful experiences about the benevolence of the human race (look, I am stating benevolence exists before going to bodily functions!), I must now register a complaint about the pre-cleanse experience.  Yesterday, when I finally stopped trying to do everything perfectly and ate egg whites as well as two smoothies (both with avocado and protein powder), I didn’t have headaches, mood swings or light-headedness.  Of course, today is the last day of the pre-cleanse, so of course on top of facing a whole new more rigorous phase of the diet including drinking oil tomorrow morning, I had to get my f$%^ing period.  With worse than usual cramps.

So basically, I would still like to kill someone.  Benevolence be gone.

My partner has taken to reading this blog and then texting or emailing to ask if it’s safe to come home.  OF COURSE IT’S NOT SAFE!  I AM A HYPO-GLYCEMIC MANIAC!  WHO IS NOW DMC!  (During Menstrual Cycle)

Unfortunately, the daily meditation forces me to recognize that trying to be perfect before rebelling and finding my own way is a pattern (see my blogs about yoga teacher training and attempting to live through four hours of flow without complaint…I failed miserably).  Meditation forces me to recognize that I didn’t put superwoman to bed when I learned to make fun of myself, to have humility (1 or 2 minutes of every day when I consider I may not be smarter than absolutely everyone), and to say metta.  Superwoman is alive and well and kicking my butt.

I have two words to say on that subject.  German mother.

Let it not be said that this pre-cleanse, homicidality and extreme menstrual cramps have taught me nothing.  I took a pain reliever right away, two minutes after the cramps hit.  It’s called Ecotrin, and it doesn’t work quite as well as ibuprofen, but still.  I am not trying to be perfect.  I just want to stop whining out loud about my gonads falling out and get to work for the day.

One can hope.

Everything moving down and out on this cleanse, in more ways than one.

On to basmati rice, yellow mung beans (dal) and curry-like spices.  I’m allowed to add in protein powder stuff to keep from killing people.  I’m also allowed to quit, but I’m eager to get to the day on which you drink a lot of Castor oil and purge.  That just sounds like fun.  Or at least it was fun when my partner was doing the cleanse alone and she’d yell, “Out of my way,” and run for the bathroom.  Of course on this, her third time through, she’s having no side effects whatsoever.  She’s like, “I’m not focusing on the cleanse much this time.”

I’m like, “I noticed.”  (Imagine my homicidal glare.)

Then I think sweetness and light and go stare at the Cacao Bliss.  Yesterday she moved it to the back of the cabinet.  She is worried, very, very worried.

As well she should be.

Ayurvedic Pre-Cleanse Day 5: Deprivation or NOT


I don’t like deprivation.  Which is saying something, since my investment in material things is pretty limited.  I think I’ve never gotten over 1) my German mother’s investment in financial security, wooden geese and antique everything and 2) the 10 years I spent traveling around the world, careful not to accumulate anything that wouldn’t fit in a backpack (or selling things after a year of living in, say, Japan).  Here are the things I’m attached to:

1) My computer, for writing.

2) My glass statue of a winged woman.

3) My meditation cushion and yoga bolster.

4) A couple stuffed animals (including 2 snowmen and at least 1 Snoopy)

5) Some books

6) Any clothes that make me look really hot

7) My boxer shorts and t-shirts that I wear all summer.

I’m also rather attached to my partner, but she’s not a material thing, so that’s okay.

It seems, though, I am attached to not being hungry and wanting to kill people!  I’d forgotten that diets made me crazy and that when my blood sugar gets too low it’s not pretty.  Once, in 1990 or so, I had a complete meltdown on Commercial Street in Provincetown because I hadn’t eaten in 6 hours and we couldn’t decide on a restaurant (note how many restaurants there are on Commercial street-LOTS), probably because my mental functioning deteriorates on no food.  My partner got this look of panic, ran into a store, and came out with a bag of nuts.  “Eat these,” she said.  “Now!”

Within 10 minutes I was my normal insane self rather than someone out of a horror movie.  I mean, wow!  Blood sugar matters.

So, back to the cleanse.  I have been perfect in terms of sticking to it and since I Buddhistly know that any time I’m perfect it’s a big mistake, I don’t know why I’ve done this to myself!  I am determined to cross my own perfectionist line and eat some egg whites today.  Or at least 2 warm smoothies.  Because humor aside, I am truly miserable on this f*&^ing cleanse, even if my digestion is working better than it has in over a decade.  I can’t do yoga, I can’t work out, I can’t think, I drop things a lot and objects have taken on an enormous amount of life.  Today the smoothie leapt out of the pot and kissed me.  It was not pleasant.  I’m just saying.

So, egg whites.  I kind of hate eggs, so it’s not a splurge.  A splurge would be the Cacao Bliss jar that is now speaking to me in Spanish.  “Ven,” it says.  “Ven aqui mi amor.  Come mi.”  (Come, come here, my love, eat me.)

That Cacao Bliss is an extreme pervert.  I don’t even know it that well.  My partner already doesn’t like it because it has the potential of making me homicidal.  She may take it right out of the house if she hears about this, which she will, because she reads this blog.

Here’s what I have to say about that:  Over my dead body is anyone touching Cacao Bliss.

And: I need to practice my Spanish if we’re going to Costa Rica next year, which is looking realistic on reception of a very nice tax return.  I just have to convince my partner to spend it!

Ayurvedic Pre-Cleanse, Day 4: Homicidality on the RISE!


Okay, so, I’m hungry all the time.  And sometimes light-headed.  And don’t feel like doing anything.  I find myself wanting to eat the grossest, most disgustingly unhealthy foods ever.  French fries at Cane’s, next to the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre.  The jar of Cacao Bliss in the cabinet.  A steak.  Fried anything.  I find myself getting angry at every meal (I’m up to about 10 a day now, so that’s saying something).  I’m like, what is with you, you f*(&ing green soup!?  I mean, you have a problem in that I would really just like to kill you right now!  Forget you, aduki beans!  You don’t even fill me up.  I don’t care how much chipotle powder there is in your recipe!  And as for you, avocado, you are becoming a significant disappointment in my life, since you are making me fat and not even satisfying my craving to eat a car, a house, or anything covered in fat and sugar.  Rice, oatmeal, and 100% rye bread, you can go stick it.  I used to like you, but now it’s just a bored, washed-out relationship….

Before this cleanse I was moderately insane about food, more than some women, definitely not as much as others.  I ate healthy, I watched calories, and I knew what I needed to do to maintain a healthy size 8, which I did and do actually care about.  I had passed the stage of starvation diets or any diets at all, and I didn’t get hungry much if ever, since I ate lean protein and healthy fats instead of carbohydrates and sugar.  I had accepted that since I’m Irish, with a body somewhat good for child-bearing, I was always going to have curves and my thighs would never be skinny, and this was okay with me.  Aging, not so much, but I was working on it.

Now, however, I’m probably going to end up a homicidal size 12 in 2 weeks, ready to eat pretty much anything.

And on top of that, all I have to do is think about someone I didn’t like who I knew, oh, say 25 years ago and I want to go kill him/her.  Like, I mentioned my train wreck first girlfriend in the last blog, and all day today I’ve been monologuing in my head about how she did me wrong and she was in the top three of most amoral women I have ever known, and how she voted for Reagan, twice, in the midst of the AIDS epidemic and actually used ethnic epithets.  Instead of being all Buddhist and being like, “Well, you know, she was nineteen and so were you, and who knows anything then, and unfortunately she knew less than most, and was more f-ed up…”  I’m like, “Where is she?  I’m going to X state and find her and make her pay!”

I also didn’t think, “Well, you could have left a lot earlier than you did.”  I thought, “I don’t care how gorgeous she was or talented or how much of an idiot romantic I was about those things, SHE WILL PAY!”

So, I think I need some f$#^ing food!  Preferably something protein soaked in a lot of fat.

But, I am remembering the cleanse leader saying that feelings may come up.  I’m like, Right.  I already went in this week and told the IFS therapist she dresses like an interpretative dancer and talks too much and she better get with the program on how smart I am.  I’m not having any feelings.  I am FINE!

Perhaps I will now drink some water with a cinnamon stick in it and meditate mindfully on my homicidal feelings.  I will learn something new about my dark side, as if that needed any more encouragement.

And then, sometime tonight, my partner will come home.  She slipped up today and ate Indian food with some FAT in it.  I am so jealous, I could…

I will meditate.  I will.  I will stand on my head for at least 3 minutes.  I will do a handstand.  IT WILL BE FUN, DO YOU HEAR ME?  FUN.  FUN.  FUN.

I think there are about 10 more days to this cleanse.  It is very hard for me to say die, but it might be real enlightenment to do so, if death (for someone) is the other alternative.  I am considering this.  Ahimsa.  Or flatulence.  Or unmitigated rage.  It’s hard choice.

PS–I have no back pain.  So apparently, all my rage is now conscious (read John Sarno mindbody blogs if you don’t know what I’m talking about).