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Hunger Challenge: Day Two

On Sunday night, I dreamt of deconstructed corned beef hash.

This may not make any sense to anyone else. After all, isn’t corned beef hash already deconstructed? And yet, you’re going to have to go with me on this, because it was my dream, and my breakfast that I ordered, only, in the dream, to realize that I wasn’t allowed to eat that breakfast, because it wasn’t part of my $21 allotment, and so I had to send it back.

The whole plate. Sent back.

It was, to be fair, almost a nightmare.

But by the time I woke up Monday, I was feeling surprisingly good about things. I didn’t have the caffeine headache from Sunday, and, armed with split pea soup and a peanut butter sandwich, was pretty sure I could face the day with gusto.

Of course, I had to start the day at a breakfast meeting with my boss. At a coffeeshop.

“I’m not even going to offer to get you anything,” she said when she saw me forlornly sitting there with my laptop and my aluminum water bottle.

“No,” I said. “Please don’t. I’m fine.”

What I didn’t tell her was that I’d gone online to the coffeeshop’s website the night before, ostensibly to be sure they had wireless, but more to see if I could sign up for an email list or something that would give me a free cup of coffee in return for my marketing data. But no. The thank you gift? Free barista beverage WITH PURCHASE OF ANOTHER. Clearly outside the bounds of the experiment, so it was a non-starter.

I had started the day with the aforementioned hearty bowl of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar, and had packed a container of the black bean soup and a peanut butter sandwich. I planned to split the sandwich up throughout the day—half in the late morning, half in the late afternoon—so I’d have no problem making it without needing any more of a snack.

And then there was the water. Lots and lots and lots of water. I have given up caffeine before, but never, simultaneously, all beverages that weren’t plain water. I mean, even without caffeine, there are worlds of options: Decaf coffee. Herbal tea. Diet Caffeine Free Coke. Diet Sprite. Seltzer water. But not for me, and not this week—all those options were out of my price range.

It was, for any number of reasons, a really busy day at work, and that kept me distracted, at least until I got home and realized how absolutely exhausted I was. I was lying on the couch playing a game of Texas Hold ‘Em on my iPhone when Gary, a friend from Iowa, called to say hello.

“I’m only spending $21 on food and beverages this week,” I said.

“Girl, boo,” he said. “What are you spending all your money on out there?”

“It’s a challenge,” I said. “I am doing this to raise awareness.”

“Do you need me to order you a pizza?” he asked.

It was tempting, but I declined, and then carried on the conversation. Until I finally announced that I need to go heat up my leftover split pea soup. We hung up, and I microwaved the soup and ate it in approximately 12 seconds. I might as well have just put it in a cup and tossed it back like a giant green shot for all the ceremony I gave it.

And then, even though I was facing down a monster pile of work, I made a bargain with myself. Due to the lack of caffeine, I was welcome to go to bed at 8:30 p.m., which was what my body was screaming at me to do. In exchange, I had to get up at 5 a.m. to finish all the work that I hadn’t gotten to because I’d gone to bed barely after the sun had set.

I didn’t give myself much time to debate the finer points of this arrangement. I remember lying down, and then I don’t remember much else within about 30 seconds after that.

12 Comments on “Hunger Challenge: Day Two”

  1. #1 kitty joe
    on Sep 23rd, 2008 at 6:28 am

    test: genie is my hero

  2. #2 inadvertentgardener
    on Sep 23rd, 2008 at 6:45 am

    Kitty Joe, a) thank you for trying again to see if a comment would go through (I’ve got a great group of fellow bloggers trying to help me troubleshoot this comment-leaving problem that has been happening sporadically…), and b) thanks for a sweet comment!

  3. #3 Amy
    on Sep 23rd, 2008 at 7:48 am

    I’ve never felt so lucky to not be a coffee drinker! Sorry you had to go through the hell of withdrawal on top of everything else. I wonder if the food bank ever gets coffee donations?

  4. #4 inadvertentgardener
    on Sep 23rd, 2008 at 8:27 am

    Amy, I’m not sure a coffee donation would be helpful if you couldn’t make it in a coffeemaker or something, though, would it? This was definitely harder for me because of the caffeine issue, although that wore off after a couple of days. After that, I just wanted something hot to drink!

  5. #5 Fatemeh
    on Sep 23rd, 2008 at 10:45 am

    I imagine, if you were really living on $21/week long-term, you would have made some different choices that would have allowed you to pick up a box of generic teabags for under a dollar at a $.99 store or some such.

    I admire you so much for having undertaken this challenge, and I can’t even IMAGINE what it must be like to plan a month ahead on budgets like this.

  6. #6 inadvertentgardener
    on Sep 23rd, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Fatemeh, yes, definitely — and also, as the weeks go on, there are leftover ingredients that can roll forward to a future week, allowing for a little more wiggle room on various items. Although it definitely wouldn’t be any kind of a picnic…

  7. #7
    on Sep 23rd, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Where have all the comments gone, Long time passing…
    Where have all the comments gone….

  8. #8 Teddie
    on Sep 23rd, 2008 at 1:05 pm


  9. #9 Karen
    on Sep 23rd, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    So a donation of coffee doesn’t count? Well here in town the one thing folks that have very little money if any to spend on food can get is coffee. I don’t know what’s up with that but if you wanted a supplement to your food allotment and were here you’d get coffee for sure. My head still hurts from your first day. Keep on going girl you can do it!

  10. #10 inadvertentgardener
    on Sep 23rd, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Kären, if I’d been in a real-life situation, I could have totally pulled off taking coffee donations. But under the rules of my week, not so much… Still, it’s the kind of things that made me think — so much to give up!

  11. #11 Gayle
    on Sep 24th, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Genie, I can so sympathize with you on the coffee! I bought a pathetic number of vegetables for my Hunger Challenge week, but spent $2.33 on a little jar of instant espresso. Personally, I’m having fantasies about the 1/2 a brownie from Baked that’s sitting in my freezer. Hang in there!

  12. #12 inadvertentgardener
    on Sep 24th, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Gayle, the abundance of food I had in my house very nearly killed me — it was all right there, mocking me!

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