The Kinky Green

Juicing: Day 7

Posted in The Physical,The Social by Joy on February 23, 2012
Tags: , , ,

"I must go on" by Sam Brown of

Sunday, February 19, 2012

An afternoon volunteer event being the only thing on the docket, I was able to sleep ridiculously, ridiculously late.

11:30 a.m.

Beet Basic
2 beets
2 carrots
1 apple
1 orange
1 stick celery
1/2 inch ginger

I added the beet greens and a handful of spinach, because, well, why not?
Still quite the tasty concoction.

Considering the amount of time I slept through the night and the deepness of the sleep, I started leaning toward the belief that yesterday’s super low energy level might be my body clueing into and taking advantage of this unusual amount of down time to chip away a little of my monstrous sleep debt. No matter what lifestyle changes I’ve incorporated in the last few years’ journey toward overall health, establishing and sticking to an adequate sleep schedule has been an elusive task at best, and a bottom-rung priority most of the time. Truly I know that constantly going and doing while shortchanging myself on this fundamental necessity is doing me no favors. One of these days, I’ll get it together.

3 p.m.
Had another Naked juice smoothie at my volunteer post-event get together. We’d gone bowling. The flat screens above the lanes flashed pictures of loaded nachos, elegantly plated steamed dumplings, juicy burgers. When I got home I thought longingly of chewing. Of eating warm food. Of meat. The weekend offered too much down time for me to contemplate what’s missing. Three more days…

6 p.m.
3 carrots
1 apple

Delicious, but seemed to have too much texture for my overall liking.

I had a great deal of down time this evening. No internets or tv or phone calls to while away the time. I found myself thinking mutinous thoughts… Maybe 9 days is enough. Maybe the lack of energy really is from this fast. Maybe my body really does need to chew. To have protein.

Meh. Bump that.

I’ve come this far. I’m going to see this thing through. Plus, there’s this to consider.


Juicing: Day 6

"I could sleep more" by Sam Brown of

Saturday, February 18, 2012

7:30 a.m.
Leftover pear deliciousness before my run. Was slated to do 6 miles, but I didn’t make it due mainly to knee issues. Again. What the hell, body? Did you think 30 was time to flip the switch into rapid deterioration?? Not cool.

Snagged fresh oj at the farmers market, along with another $15 worth of local apples and asian pears.

12:15 p.m.
Carrot concoction, the details of which escape me.

Had to mix something up before heading out to meet some friends. For lunch. At one of my favorite diners. Eep!

The restaurant experience wasn’t really bad. I got to catch up with my buds and didn’t have a tab to pay. That was nice. They were curious about my juicing experience, but skeptical. Afterward, we went shopping.

By the time we parted ways, it was after 3:30, and I was exhausted and feeling hungry. When I got home, I decided sleep was the more important need and took a nap. The thought of having to clean the juicer probably influenced that decision more than a little.

2 Asian pears
1 stick celery

I was on the phone and still in a post-nap haze, so I just grabbed a few things from the produce bin and threw them in the juicer. The result was pretty tasty.

1 sweet potato
1 orange
4 carrots

After my early adventures, the day was so, so lazy. A friend told me on the phone, “You sound low energy,” which summed it up perfectly. I’m usually going nonstop. Toward the end of this week I had more time to rest and sleep than typical. But today my body just wasn’t having it. I didn’t feel weak or sick… Just low energy and, at times, very sleepy.

On Sacrifices and Liberation

Once I set my mind to the task, Project: Debt Rolldown became my reality.

Money came in, and it went right back out to its various destinations. I scheduled bill payments on payday and watched the numbers on my momentarily fat(ish) bank account dwindle before my eyes in a matter of minutes. What was left, I lived on. No credit card splurges. No dipping into savings for non-emergencies. No exceptions.

Of course, the tallies in my handy spreadsheet (have I mentioned I love a spreadsheet?) were somewhat heartening, if slowly so.

The emergency savings account was gaining monthly, just as it always had (thanks to auto-deductions). Notably, though, for the first time, it was retaining its balance for more than a month or two at a time. No more reverse transfers to cover airline tickets or those tight few days at the end of a pay period.

The credit card balances weren’t showing much of a difference initially, but in the event of… well, an emergency, the emergency savings would keep me from undoing the progress I was making.

I was feeling accomplished in the financial realm. But the day-to-day reality of living within my means didn’t take long to start wearing on me.

Being a Southern gal by birth, learning to politely decline invitations with some version of “thanks, but no thanks” was hard enough for me. But being someone who is already prone to put things somewhat bluntly and living in the land of Facebook-fueled TMI and boundary-less peer pressure, I found myself feeling obliged to explain my reasons for begging out of this dinner and saying I’d have to skip that concert.

Frankly, that just made everyone uncomfortable.

I mean, in the age of buy now, pay never, who wants to hear about one of their friends living on a budget and paying off debt? It’s a total downer, right?

It’s just pizza and a few beers… What’s $20 in the grand scheme of things… Or $40… I’ll get you this time, and you can pay me back… You know (hinthint), I just opened another credit card the other day… What’s one more bit of plastic in the wallet… If things get tough, you can always file… 

Okay, so maybe I didn’t actually hear all of that. But very closely related sentiments were directed my way.

So while I had some friends who were supportive, I had to start putting my foot down with others. I had to stand firm with my vague but polite “no thank you” when the invitations and my budget weren’t aligned.

Let me tell you something… that shit got old. Quick.

There I was, a gainfully employed professional in my late 20s, and I was sitting at home alone because catching a movie with the girls wasn’t in my budget?  Bollocks.

The trusty internets led me to blogs and books and articles galore detailing how to “find” money in my budget. Sure, I got a few useful tips, but what I really learned was that I had already become a tightwad in my actual budgeted expenditures.

No cable. No internet. No home phone. Super low utilities due to my willingness to bundle up and jog in place in winter and strip down and deal with the ‘glisten’ of summer. No real affinity for fancy coffee shop brews.  No car payment. Close to nothing spent on gas. I already cooked most of my meals at home and brought my leftovers to work for lunch. No monthly entertainment subscriptions. The most I typically paid for a book or DVD were whatever late fees I accrued at my local library.

Pulling pennies out of thin air didn’t seem likely to happen, but a few weeks into Rolldown I knew I needed money for beer and bourbon and general badassery.  So I got another job.

A couple of days a week, I put on a T-shirt and some khaki pants, smile at strangers, and make sure they have enough sweet tea in their cups and ketchup for their fries. In return, I walk away with money in my pocket that allows me to get beer and bourbon, join my friends for nights out and weekends away, and buy myself pretty new dresses and cute new shoes. All without disrupting the Rolldown.

It’s a win-win!

I soon learned that revealing this bit of information has a surprising effect on quite a lot of people.

Me: Blah-ti-blah-ti-blah. I have a part-time job.
People Who Surprise Me: Oh… I’m sorry. 

Apparently, working two jobs is a big indication to the folks around you that something in your life has gone terribly, terribly wrong. (And, apparently, some folks’ mothers didn’t teach them to save their pity toward you for polite discussion over a dinner table at which you are not present.)

What these people who surprise me failed to see is that a second job has been my liberation. Yes, it takes up a bit more of my time. And, yes, sometimes it’s tiring. Sure, I could have chosen to sacrifice my fun times and pretty things for my budget, or vice versa. But I didn’t. I chose to keep my D-Day set in stone and to have some fun while doing it.

For me, a second job was what I needed to make all the pieces fall into place.

Excess Baggage

"Do I worry too much?" by Sam Brown of

A little over a year ago, I decided I needed to drop some of the burdensome weight I’d been lugging around with me unnecessarily for too many years.  Excess baggage accumulated via unhealthy habits that began well before college but were fostered and allowed to blossom there, aided by pizza giveaways and the lure of decadent things not meant for one with a tight belt. After college, the bad habits continued to grow in number and scope.

The truth is, the load was keeping me up at night. I couldn’t seem to avoid the endless headlines and water cooler talk about the folks around me who shared my problems. Or had it worse. It made me so uncomfortable I had to skip going places and doing things I otherwise would have loved. I watched as my friends enjoyed delights that I knew, deep down, weren’t for me. And when I did join them, my temporary pleasure was well-surpassed by the guilt and worry brought on my splurges.

When I sat down and took a cold, hard look at the reality of my situation, I knew I had to make some changes. I couldn’t keep behaving like a teenager. Yo-yoing between a firm resolve to abide by strict mandates in my daily life and the overwhelming appetite to get what I wanted when I wanted it, regardless of the lingering consequences. I knew if I didn’t make some changes, there would surely be a reckoning far worse than the relatively light stress I’d been handling so far.

I’d made up my mind.

The debt had to go.

With the economy in the shitter, my then-company doing layoffs at the drop of any old hat, and jobs as scarce as a virgin in a whorehouse, I was in no position to be carrying around credit card debt. And credit card debt I’d accumulated for what, exactly? Cheap wine and expensive beer? Shiny shoes and dull dates (with guys who insisted on going dutch)? Pretty things for my walls and shelves? Gifts I couldn’t afford and dinners out I didn’t need? Clothes, clothes, and more clothes?

The cold reality was the tawdry trinkets and throw-away imports of yesterday weren’t going to keep me warm and secure in the face of  potential financial ruin. And, with no savings in the bank, all my lines of credit nearly maxed out, and no real guarantee of a future paycheck, that’s exactly the tightrope I felt like I was walking, day in and day out.

I knew getting off the tightrope wouldn’t be an easy feat all by my lonesome. I’d need some help. So I consulted some friends who were making dents in their deficit then headed to my local library to check out the works of a couple of folks known for helping the everyday masses handle their money: Dave Ramsey & Suze Orman.

Fortunately, my research revealed that my circumstances weren’t entirely dire.

If nothing changed for the worse in my employment scenario and I could forestall any small financial disasters until I got an emergency fund together, I was confident I could pay off my debt in the 22 months between the start of Project: Debt Rolldown and my 30th in January 2012.

I’ve learned I’m not one for making progress in ethereal realms. (Still meaning to get around to that meditating business…) But concrete goals with measurable outcomes and well-planned, manageable steps to achieving them? Completely attainable. Particularly when there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The original plan:

  1. Build emergency fund of $1,000 in 4 months.
  2. Continue monthly savings to build $2,000 by January 2012.
  3. Meanwhile, pay off credit cards in order from smallest balance to largest.
  4. Turn 30 debt-free! (And take an awesome trip with my besties.)

Project: Debt Rolldown is well underway, and – I’m happy to report – on target. But the journey thus far might be worth a bit more detail.

The Market

Posted in The Social by Joy on May 23, 2011
Tags: ,

"I knew I shouldn't have gone out there but I did it anyway" by Sam Brown of

I went out Saturday in Dupont with some friends. Had an excellent martini, and laughed my butt off.

Mainly at this guy:

Guy: What’s your name?
Me: Joy. Yours?
Guy: [Redacted]

[General pleasantries and whatnot]

Guy: (Leaning in close) I’m here to rock your world.
Me: Oh…
Guy: If you’re in the market for that sort of thing.
Me: Um, yeah, not really… Thanks, though!

First Great Salad of the Season

Posted in The Environmental,The Physical,The Social by Joy on May 13, 2011

Weight Watchers Greek Lemon-Dill Grilled Chicken Salad

I found myself with a few minutes between career job and fun job Wednesday and used the opportunity to stop into the Farmer’s Market in Old Town.

On the produce front, only two farms were represented, neither organic, both within in a respectable range of distance. Both had beautiful products, and I tried to spend my $20 relatively evenly between the two.

From the first stand, I purchased sugar snap peas, two varieties of beets, dill, and a beautiful (greenhouse) tomato. At the second stand, I bought the most gorgeous head of red leaf lettuce I’ve ever laid eyes on and a ton of fantastic smelling strawberries.

I knew I was hosting Mrs. and Mr. P for dinner Thursday night, but I had no idea how I would pull together what I’d purchased to serve them, even as I pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store a mere two hours before their arrival. Rather than wander the aisles in a state of exhaustion tempered only by near panic, I did what any resourceful Southern hostess with half a fridge full of perishables, guests on the way, and a serious time impediment would do…

I pulled out my handy iPhone. (Okay. I admit it. I’m finally an iPhone-loving convert.)

With the forces of Apple and Weight Watchers united, I was blessed with an awesomely delicious, healthy recipe that was a snap to pull together, tasted fantastic, looked beautiful plated and afforded me the time for 15 minutes of beauty rest before my guests arrive.

Try it for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Greek Lemon-Dill Grilled Chicken Salad

Weight Watchers PointsPlus™ Value: 8
Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 18 min
Cooking Time: 15 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

A fabulous Greek salad with a few tasty additions like chickpeas and fresh dill.

Marinade/Dressing Ingredients

  • 6 Tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, extra-virgin
  • 2 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried minced garlic
  • 1 tsp table salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 pound(s) Chicken, breast, raw, without skin & bone, four 4-oz pieces
  • 2 spray(s) cooking spray
  • 4 cup(s) romaine lettuce, thickly shredded
  • 1 cup(s) canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup(s) roasted red peppers, packed in water, diced
  • 1 cup(s) English cucumber, sliced
  • 10 medium olive(s), Kalamata, sliced
  • 1/4 cup(s) crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp dill, fresh, chopped
  • 1/2 medium lemon(s), cut into wedges for garnish


  1. In a small bowl, combine water, oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt and pepper; remove 1/4 cup of dressing and place in a large zip-close plastic bag (or glass bowl).
  2. Add chicken to bag (or bowl) and turn to coat; seal bag (or cover bowl) and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours. Cover and refrigerate remaining lemon mixture for dressing.
  3. When ready to cook, off heat, coat grill or grill pan with cooking spray; preheat grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade.
  4. Grill chicken, turning as needed, until cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Place lettuce on a serving platter; arrange vegetables, chickpeas, chicken, olives and cheese on top. Stir dill into reserved dressing; drizzle over salad. Yields about 1 1/2 cups salad, 1 chicken breast and 1 tablespoon each olives and feta per serving.
For dessert, I served the fresh strawberries with a side of homemade whipped cream. While I was in the kitchen, I also baked my beets and simmered the greens in a bit of white wine I had on hand. Easy and de-licious go-tos for coming meals.

On Complications

Posted in The Emotional,The Social by Joy on May 12, 2011

Dining Alone, Oil on canvas by Berc Ketchian

He: I haven’t had a vegetable in days.

She: You should eat your vegetables.

He: But I’m a mean cook.

She: Then cook some vegetables.

He: There was a girl. It got complicated.

She: Vegetables aren’t really that hard.

He: I need to learn to take care of myself. I’m a mean cook. I just can’t cook for one.

She: I’ve been cooking for myself for years.

He: That’s just sad.

She: Maybe… But it’s not complicated.

They Let Me Wield a Pickax

For the second time this calendar year, I got up early on a sunny Saturday morning, drove to a part of D.C. I’d never before visited, and met with a group of strangers who would later give me free reign to swing a pickax.

Two things to report here.

This is not me wielding a pickax. I'm pretty sure I did not look this cool.

1. In addition to brute strength, swinging a pickax effectively takes a lot more finesse than I’d imagined.
2. People let me use a pickax. These fools must be crazy.

The events, of course, were volunteer opportunities I found through the awesomeness that is

The first was at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, a heretofore hidden (from me) gem of National Park glory. I haven’t been back to explore the site more fully, but I have every intention. I talked to one of the rangers, and, unlike *some* of DC’s finest public outdoor attractions (which shall remain nameless), things like flying kites and playing Frisbee are completely cool there. (Picnic anyone?)

Anyhow, our task for the day was to create French drains on either side of one of their greenhouses. The thought was that all the water from, uh, watering can run out of the greenhouse and into the drain to be whisked away, instead of pooling up in nasty puddles all along the perimeter of the house. The area we were digging was only dirt, so we got right in there with shovels and made a trench, laid some tubing, and then filled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full of rocks and pebbles to cover the tubing. Viola! French drain!

We were so awesomely effective that the park rangers gave us the additional task of breaking up a grassy area to lay the last bit of drainage tube for the final runoff. This is where the first pickax came into play for me. I managed not to chop my own head off and actually made some progress, alternating with a guy who seemed to have swung one of these things a time or two before. But, with no instruction, I didn’t realize how inefficiently my swinging actually was.

Which brings me to last Saturday. Our group joined a boatload of other folks to help Casey Trees plant 60 new trees at Alice Deal Middle School. These folks were super organized, but I suppose when you’re planting hundreds of trees in a season and relying primarily on volunteers, you have to be. They started out by giving us a safety speech and tools demo.

This is a pickax. If you’re right handed, hold your left hand at the bottom and your right hand at the top. Pick a point in the ground, and aim for it. Move your hand down the handle as you swing. When it’s in the ground, lift it up to loosen the dirt, don’t pull it toward you. The wide end is good for grass. The pointy end is good for rocks.

It was at this point that I had my first small epiphany about my pickax work several weeks before. Rookie mistake: I made hard work even harder by not working with the tool’s strengths.

Later, when we were working diligently to plant our allotted three trees on a steeply sloped, grassy, rocky area, I watched as one of the Casey Trees employees made long, swift, smooth swings to break up the grassy, rocky slope before him. He made it look so effortless. There was a grace to his method. Never breaking rhythm. Always hitting his mark and making progress.

The next time someone said, “I think we need a pickax. Anyone want to try?” I volunteered for the task. The guy made it look so easy, and I was newly equipped with expert advice on how to hold, swing, follow through. By the end of the day, I thought, I’ll be swinging like that guy.

The worn-out One Brick group after planting with Casey Trees.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It’s not that I didn’t make any progress. It’s just that it wasn’t pretty. As I huffed and puffed, I never found anything resembling a rhythm. Sometimes I’d set the swing up and let it down, only to have the tool bounce off the grass or rocky soil without making much of an impression. Sometimes, I’d miss my mark entirely, hitting the tarp above the hole. Sometimes I’d forget to use the leverage of the handle and waste effort digging at the soil with the wrong tool.

At the end of the day, we got our trees in the ground, and I felt like I’d done enough work on my biceps and triceps to justify a workout-less day. But I never did learn to swing a pickax gracefully.

Sorting Zucchini

Posted in The Social,The Spiritual by Joy on July 20, 2009


When we arrive that morning in the rain, they ask us to sort a pallet of zucchini. “Some of it may need to be tossed. If you wouldn’t have it in your refrigerator at home, trash it.”

And trash we do.

In the end, we are sorting through a box of 40 or 50 zucchini to salvage 10 or fewer. The donated pallet of vegetables has gotten wet and been left to mold and rot in the heat of the stock room for who knows how many days.

Some of the more vicious bad zucchini explode as we pluck them up with our gloved hands, raining putrid zucchini juice on our arms and clothes, and down to the concrete floor. The meeker of the unwanted produce tends to bend into unnatural shapes or break off in particularly gooey messes during the process.

When they call us together to start the distribution, I gladly volunteer to work the front lines. Get out of the back. Away from that rotten zucchini and the foul taste it’s leaving in my mouth.

They have a system here.

Three volunteers rotate through the makeshift store, accompanying each customer to the shelves of miscellaneous items after another volunteer has returned to the post by the door. “Two items from this shelf. Solamente dos.”

From there, it’s on to one box of cereal and varying amounts of produce. Next, one pastry and a bag or two of canned goods, depending on the size of the family. Milk and eggs. “Hot dogs or chicken?”

The customers stand patiently in line after handing over their information, being assigned a number, taking all the bread they want.

Today, we serve 123. Ten more get numbers but don’t make it to and through the store.

Only twice do I notice abuse of the system. The man comes first, and he’s all milk and honey. Sweet-talking his way to the front of the line with the blessings of the woman in charge. “This gentleman needs to be served next because he can’t stand long.” And he walks with his cane right into my charge.

I help him find the can of mushrooms he seeks on the miscellaneous shelf. He confirms my identification of unidentified produce.

In truth, I favor the man. But the sight of the woman who lost her place to him nags me. My broken Spanish is so poor I don’t even try to explain. I just walk away with the man, leaving her there, purple ticket in hand.

In the end, there is plenty to go around. The woman’s lost nothing to the old man with the cane, but I feel bad for doing what I’ve been told. I feel the man has no more trouble standing with his cane than many of the elderly people we’ve seen already. Than many of the elderly people still waiting patiently for their respective turns.

The woman in the silken head wrap shows up just as Mr. Cane is leaving. She’s knocking on the glass of the exit door, and I smell trouble. As Mr. Cane makes his way out, she bee-lines inside and asks me for white bread. “I used to work here,” she says. “It’s in the back cooler. Can you check?”

I tell her I’ll find out and make my way toward the coordinator. “She’ll have to take what’s already in the front,” the coordinator begins.

Before she can finish the sentence, the lady and her head wrap are upon us. “I work here,” her story changes. “I’ll just go look myself.”

The coordinator’s merely a volunteer. She shows up once a month with our group. How is she to know? She nods and gets back to her task, but I know it’s best I don’t continue in the front lines.

By the end of the day, the woman in the head wrap will come through the store three different times, claiming to have forgotten this or to have missed that. Another volunteer will see her leaving in a nicer car than many of us are driving, back seat completely full of the food she’s laid claim to in the course of her shady dealings.

Watching her abuse the system that’s there to help people who really need it, thinking about the people she’s likely depriving with her greedy actions, the whole thing leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

I take my opportunity for escape. When you get a chance, can you relieve me up there? I ask the coordinator.

They’ve been rotating people in and out of the front all day, I justify to myself. There’s nothing wrong with working in the stock room. I’ll even sort zucchini.

Brought Together by the Hoop

Posted in The Physical,The Social by Joy on July 17, 2009

The gentlemen in the first forward-facing seats let us stash our hoops at their knees, out of the aisle as people continue to meander in through the open doors.

“What possessed you to bring these huge things on this crowded train?” the elder asks me as we wait for the trains ahead to make way on the track.

We’re going to a hoop jam in Dupont Circle. It’s unfortunate we had to come during rush hour, but… it is what it is.

“Where?” asks the woman in the seat behind him. “I have to see this.”

Reeta and I give her details. Invite her out. All are welcome.

Hooping is infectious, like a lovely virus that fills you with happiness and good will. Later, we find ourselves with about 20 other hoopers on the south side of the Circle as we pick ourselves up off our yoga mats and tration into hoop mode.

Dupont Circle is, of course, no strange place for spectacle, but the pedestrians slow to a meander as they walk by us. Some stop to watch and take pictures. Not a few venture over and lay hands on an unclaimed hoop.

At one point, I look around and see we’ve been joined by a lady who could pass for anyone’s grandmother, a Hill staffer still in his tie, a couple of Middle Eastern guys heading out to meet some friends for drinks, and any number of 20-something ladies. It’s starting to rain, and still no one is giving up their hoop.

“So, when you saw these people, what possessed you to come over here and do this?” the Hill staffer asks me.

Me? I came on purpose, hoop in hand, to do this.

My story is less interesting to him than that of Lynette beside me.

“What about you?” he asks, turning his attention to her.

Lynette is intent on the hoop she’s claimed, the sheer joy of the experience is visible on her face, in her person. “I saw a bunch of hula hoops, got really excited, and came over here,” she says, watching the hoop spin at her waist.

The Hill staffer and Lynette’s conversation continues as I move around to others. Teach my friend Liz how to take her hoop into Halo, give her the beginnings of the Corkscrew. Pick up a new move I’d been flubbing, the Helicopter, from Fiona. Share my tips for chest hooping with a girl dressed in head-to-toe salmon whose name I never got. Watch a guy with a bridge piercing keep his hoop moving in halo, above his head, as he lowers himself to the ground, lies down, and rolls over onto his stomach.

There’s so much here to see and share. So many lives and stories converging in this one place, connected by the hoop bug.

I glance up to see the Hill staffer getting Lynette’s number, hugging her goodbye. I secretly hope they find themselves together telling the story of their meeting for many years to come. Brought together by the hoop right in the middle of Dupont Circle on a rainy Wednesday evening.

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