About 12 days into the great sugar removal, and I feel a lot better. The cravings have eased (although I’m still having to steel myself to make it through the evening without turning to chocolate or some such to keep me going), as has the hunger, and I don’t feel so yucky.
In fact, I woke up yesterday morning feeling noticeably more alert and clear. It’s as though a fog that I didn’t even know I was caught in has suddenly lifted.
The effect of just a few days without sugar is amazing. I had no idea.
I’m feeling better today. Not so tired and bleary. And not so hungry. Thankfully. It’s been no fun detoxifying and it’s not done yet. I’m still craving junk food and I’m still contemplating a life without chocolate or ice cream or cake with a fair degree of trepidation. Is it even possible not to have cake?
Maybe the urge to eat something, anything sweet will wear off as I continue through the 8 week no-sugar programme I’ve committed myself to. And once I’m all sugar-free and back at some kind of equilibrium, I can start eating a bit of fruit again. And maybe the odd bit of cake (she mutters hopefully).
We’ve decided that we’re eating too much sugar at our house. I realised that I was eating lots of sneaky sugar – oranges, oranges, and more oranges, a bit of honey here and there – as well as more and more chocolate and ice cream treats. And I also realised that I was having sugar crashes several times a day.
So, we’re taking a break for a couple of months to see what happens. One and a half weeks in and I feel thoroughly lousy. And hungry. And I’m suffering from cravings. It’s like quitting smoking or some such. I had no idea.
The withdrawal symptoms could last a week. They could last a month. I’m crossing my fingers that they pass before I crack and fall off the wagon.
After stumbling on the 1983 songs, I did a bit of looking around and discovered a wealth of releases – many of which I still listen to now.
Death and the Maiden by The Verlaines is probably their most well known song. It captures a certain way of life – the arty, bohemian student thing that we all aspired to as BA undergrads. The lead singer Graeme Downs, seemed so mature and clever and so damn cool when I was a student. Looking at the video now, he’s impossibly fresh-faced and youthful. Funny what the passage of quarter of a century will do to your perspective. The video is a wonderful snapshot of student life in Dunedin in the 80′s. It’s filmed in a typically cavernous old villa which comes complete with dizzyingly high ceilings, big bay windows, floral carpet, and huge sofas. Everyone’s wearing heavy woollen jerseys and big jackets because those places are cold – no insulation, single-glazing, no heating, and the winter wind whistling through the gaps in the floor boards and around the windows. And there are rabbits – just because.
Billy Bragg released Life’s a Riot with Spy Vs Spy. It’s a brilliantly raw blast of guitar and strangled vocals. I played and played the record as a teenager and into my 20′s, but stopped listening to it when the turntable left along with my boyfriend of the time. Last year, I searched out the songs on a whim and was astonished by their vigour and energy. They’re not just a nostalgic pleasure: they stand up to the test of time. My favourite song was (and is) A New England. It’s hard to go past a song that includes the lyrics:
I saw two shooting stars last night
I wished on them but they were only satellites
Is it wrong to wish on space hardware
I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care
And, one more for good luck. U2 released their live album Under A Blood Red Sky. I listened to my cassette so much that the tape stretched, a peculiar musical problem that went away for ever with the advent of CD’s.
I now have a vivid memory of lying in bed with my headphones on listening to Under A Blood Red Sky and Hatful of Hollow by The Smiths (another tape that I wore out). It’s surprising to me that so much of the music I listened to through my high school years was released in 1983. Some years are more seminal than others I suppose.
And now the music from 1983. Alas, I can’t embed videos, so those who want to trip through my musical past with me will have to click through to the Youtube links.
My first find was a bit of Australian pub rock from Hoodoo Gurus. A lovely song called My Girl (Don’t Love Me). The video is a great time capsule of Melbourne in the 80′s. Dog racing, bad suits, old-fashioned, unreconstructed public bars.
Next was Rain by Dragon. Dragon are one of those hybrid Australian/New Zealand band that we like to bicker over down in this part of the world. Rain is an absolutely essential part of the New Zealand cultural zeitgeist, one of those songs that causes everyone in the bar to stop what they’re doing and sing along. It’s got a great chorus, suitably obscure lyrics, and a wonderful driving base line. Antipodean stadium rock at its finest.
And then I remembered that The Violent Femmes’ first album was released in 1983. I loved it as a teenager. The angst, the hostility, the lechery – a fine fine rendition of adolescence. And again, wonderful percussion and base. It’s hard to play favourites with such a great collection of songs. But I was particularly fond of ‘Gone Daddy Gone’ (that xylophone solo is hard to pass up) and ‘Add It Up’. I don’t like the music as much now that I’m a middle-aged mother of one, but The Violent Femmes were a vital part of my life for many many years.
Because I was reminded of this one by the Thursday poem. The music part of the 1983 post will appear tomorrow. I promise.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Mary Oliver. Dream Work. The Atlantic Monthly Press (May 1986)
What constitutes fair use for quoting poems? Should I quote only an excerpt or is it okay to share the whole thing? It’s easy enough to select a portion of longer works, but this one is short and all of a piece. A few lines wouldn’t be particularly meaningful.
You are not going crazy.
You are beginning to fold up in your own single way.
You feel your edges move toward the center,
your heart like a folded blanket unfolding
and folding in with everything contained.
You feel you do not need anyone to love you anymore
because you already feel everything,
you feel it, you fold it, and for a while now,
it will quietly rest.
Naomi Shihab Nye from “Walking Down Blanco Road at Midnight” in Words Under the Words (Eighth Mountain Press, 1995)