February 3rd. It’s been three days, Father, and I have sinned…every. single. day.
I knew it would be hard, especially being in New York City with friends.
Our first day there, it wasn’t “No Sugar February” yet, but I behaved nonetheless. Then Saturday happened: the changing of the guard.
February 1st was an important date on my calendar this year. It didn’t have the illustrious status of it’s palindrome sibling, 02/02/2020, but it marked the beginning of my month with no sugar, and even more fun, it also marked my reunion with coffee, since December.
I got dressed Saturday morning, and with a bottle of water tucked under my arm, I walked the mile through the city with a friend to find the yoga studio we booked for class. We sweated our asses off for the next ninety minutes and walked back.
An awesome start to the day.
After yoga, we dressed up and went to a show. I had snacked on a handful of cashews beforehand, but by the time the show let out, I was hungry. We stopped at the bar on the way into the restaurant, before heading to our table. I ordered my standard dirty martini.
Our drinks weren’t yet finished, but they called us to our table, ushering us over to the winding staircase to the downstairs. Gingerly removing the glasses from our fingertips at the bar, they informed us our cocktail glasses would meet us at our table.
I don’t think this was a happy accident.
Intuition suggested this habit was the result of acquired experience.
As I stood up from my bar stool, I felt like a woman who had been active all day, failed to eat, and started her calorie-intake with a martini. I latched on to the handrail and slowly traversed down the steps. Looking back at my friends coming behind me, still gripping the banister, I covered the side of my mouth with my other hand and whispered, “Don’t forget, Ladies. What goes down, must also come up.” One of my friends laughed, because that’s what she does. Doesn’t matter if you’re funny or not, she will always hand you a complimentary giggle. She’s so damn great for my thin ego. My other friend’s quizzical look suggested I had just botched an abridged version of Einstein’s theory of relativity instead of making a poor joke.
I pressed on. “Well…I’m just saying…normally, going down can be trickier, but I think coming back up this bad boy…tonight…could be even worse, if you know what I’m saying, wink wink.” We all had a collective chuckle, but beneath the joviality, we hoped these words would not come to pass before the night was over.
I ordered a burger, my favorite, but also because I needed something to stick to my ribs that didn’t cost me a month’s wages. The restaurant offered a vegetarian pasta for almost $50, so my options for cheap and cheerful were minimal. The burger I ordered cost the same as the ninety minutes of yoga I did that morning.
An eye for an eye, or when in NYC, a burger for a Bikram.
I knew another cocktail would not be wise at this juncture. I ordered a glass of red wine instead. I thought, “It’s just one glass, and then I’ll be done.”
I considered this a compromise. In reality, this thought process, and the subsequent behavior that supports it, is called “rationalizing.” Rationalization is a tricky bastard, that comes with many disguises, and the ability to talk out of both sides of its face, and out of its asshole as well.
Rationalization can never be trusted.
Like Pandora’s box, lifting the lid on Rationalization unleashes the monster it is.
We were about done with our dinner when the waitress said the three magic words: Sticky. Toffee. Pudding.
She might as well have said, “Beetle Juice, Beetle Juice, Beetle Juice!”
The demon trickster stepped out of its shackles.
I said, “We’ll have an order of each.”
Rationalization nodded its approval with a hearty fist bump. It said, “Go big or go home! You’ve already fucked up…umm TWICE now…so just keep on going! You’re in New York! With friends! Having fun! Don’t be a party-pooper now! Too late for that, sister! Worry about that tomorrow!”
No longer did I care about my No Sugar February, or how much all of this was going to cost me. With sugar pulsing through my veins, and rationalization’s gentle breeze behind my back, we grabbed our coats at the end of dinner, and negotiated the stairs back up uneventfully (but still terrified).
We were on to our next adventure.
We didn’t walk far, before riding the elevator up to the rooftop at a neighboring hotel. The bar was enclosed by a clear igloo-tent and furnished like a sleek lodge you might find somewhere in the Adirondacks. With its ceramic fire pit, the spot was warm and cozy.
I didn’t really want another cocktail, of any kind, but there we were, on top of the world. Rationalization cupped my ear with its warm fingers and whispered, “Be in the moment. Enjoy it. You’re…in…New…York…”
“I’ll have a pear martini, please.”
I thought to myself, “Rationalization is right. I’ll start over tomorrow.”
I smiled at my good fortune, at finding myself in this place, at this time, with these good friends, and took a sip. My martini was sweet and delicious. We finished our round and walked back to the hotel, just as the rain started to sprinkle into the night.
Our evening was wrapped up by 10 p.m. We had a good giggle at that novelty. My, how things have changed. Three drinks in the past would have meant one “pre-game” drink before leaving for the evening, possibly one on the way (I am ashamed to admit it now, but it’s true), and the third one would have been ordered before we even looked at a menu. Our evening would only be starting, and I’d be three deep already with a long way to go.
Luckily, things do change, and sometimes it’s for the better, too. With Rationalization tucked under the covers by my side, we closed our eyes after a full day of brilliant adventures. I was confident the next day I would do better. A fresh start, on February 2nd….
I woke up at midnight, sick to my stomach. Rationalization was nowhere to be found. It had vacated the room, leaving not a trace.
It’s a bastard alright.
In its place was the twin sibling, Reality, the serious twin. With its head hung low under the dark hood of its robe, like the Grim Reaper, it pointed its bony finger at the bathroom door.
(Reality…Death: they both travel on, and are tethered to, the same space-time continuum.)
“Now would be a good time,” Reality said.
I thought to myself, “You are not the fun one, that’s for sure. And you look like you need to eat a sandwich.”
The thought made my stomach turn more.
I pleaded for Rationalization to step in.
“Can’t this wait? Do we really have to do this?”
Reality loomed over my curled-up body under the covers.
“Now would be a good time.”
Reality, the righteous bastard of the two, was right.
Off to the bathroom I stumbled. I did escape the messy repercussions that sometimes accompanies a big night out, but the discomfort and impending threat of more, I did not.
I got cozy on the tile of the bathroom floor.
This was Rationalization’s leftover party favor, its calling card for a job well done.
As I lay on the bathroom floor, Reality shook its crooked finger at me. “Remember this. It started when you ordered a glass of wine. It seemed an act laced with innocence, but this was my naughty twin talking. You went from counting pennies at the table, to ordering every dessert on the menu. That set the stage for ordering a $30 pear martini at the end of the evening. $30!! You might as well have ordered another burger at the bougie joint instead. Now, you are rolled into a ball on the cold, tile floor of your hotel bathroom.”
Ok, ok, ok, enough already!
I woke up in the morning, back in my bed, with a renewed sense of purpose.
Today will be better.
I will do better.
Our last morning in NYC, we decided to get up and walk all over town, down 5th Avenue, to Central Park, and back again. It was cold outside, but the hot coffee kept the chill at bay. We stayed out for a couple of hours before packing our things and taking off to catch our respective rides back to home.
Standing at the bus stop waiting to board, Rationalization whispered in my ear, “It’s Super Bowl Sunday…It’s one day a year, Jenn…and Russ cooked all this food for the both of you. Don’t let him down.”
I admit I enjoyed every bite of cheese and chips.
Monday rolled around, and once again, I greeted the day newly-inspired.
Today will be the day.
I walked into my office this morning to find a healthy wedge of red velvet cake sitting in its open white box in the break room. Leftovers from someone’s weekend celebration…and my breakfast today.
February has been a complete fail.
All three days of it.
Rationalization, you’re a bastard.
Time to warm-up to the cold embrace of Reality.