What is it about shopping in the summer? I have gone AWOL from work a couple of times this summer in order to find the perfect X (where X = some consumer good that serves as the urgent excuse for my desertion) only to come home with three bags and a rising, choking guilt. Not only do I not (never, in grad school) have the money for this behavior, I now no longer have the time either, now that my exam date is set and the next four months loom pregnant with the possibilities of a million failures. It’s catching too. Matt and I drove around for three hours a few weeks ago to find the perfect juicer (the Hamilton Beach 67650H HB Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor–best value) to no avail. So we ordered one online. Now we take even more time and money out of our days to buy vast amounts of weird combinations of fruits and vegetables at the grocery store, to juice (as they say, as if we were Mr. Universe contestants), and to clean up pulpy remnants of said juice from the pulp container and juice blades and titular “big mouth” etc. If this sounds disturbingly New Agey, that’s because it is. Based on my research (consisting of Googling juice recipes and talking to cashiers at the Sunflower Market), people who juice are as annoying as people who are really into yoga and often said populations overlap. Consider this passive aggressive excerpt from a juice recipe website: “A delicious, alcohol-free party pleaser that will blow both socks off. Ask the host if you can take your juicer to the party. Enjoy an enzyme high without a nasty hangover. It may be more expensive than beer, but who wants to drink yeast excrement (alcohol) anyway? Cut loose with the joy of the Spirit. And when all those social drinkers are drinking to numb the conscience, yours will be free and clear. And when the fun becomes foolish, you can drive safely home to rest with a timely excuse—I jog at 6 o’clock in the morning.”

Lay off, you excrement-drinking, body-abusing, fun-licking, genital-piercing, heroin-snorting fools! Me and my juicer gotta run a marathon in 12 hours! Then me and my juicer are going to get massages under foil body blankets and moan sweet nothings into each other’s ears/pulp containers.

The juice recipe that goes along with that finger wagging is, by the way, delicious.

Anyway, so yeah, love the criminal, hate the crime. In my defense, I did spend almost two weeks in Iowa where the only fruits or vegetables I consumed were the sliced onion on top of my head-sized pork tenderloin and about 27 bottles of wine. Convinced I had given myself cancer, I sat down with Matt and we decided that we’re probably old enough to stop thinking of “being healthy” as something only weenies do (see above) and start thinking about the fact that if we don’t “be healthy” a bit more, we’re probably going to have problems down the line. Actually, how my brain formulated this to itself went something like: “Matt is the best dude ever! In fact, he’s so awesome, you kind of feel like being with him for a really long time, right!? Well, if you don’t straighten up you’re both going to die!!!!” All chipper like that. A thought like this had never ever occurred to me before, which probably tells you something about my past relationships.

Which is to say: I quit smoking.

Not very long ago, I might add, but so far so good. Though I’m a little grumpier and vastly more distractable, it’s really not so bad. The only thing I’m really, actually going to miss–and I feel this very tangibly–is the fact that smoking is fucking cool and I looked fucking cool when I smoked. I know, I know, all you non-smokers or ex-smokers out there are going “You know what’s cool? Pink lungs! Not smelling like an ashtray!” I love you, non-smokers and ex-smokers, I do, but, besides sounding like those girls I knew in high school (“Sex before marriage is evil! The only high I need is a natural high!” Etc.), you are completely wrong. There is nothing cool about pink lungs and smelling good and dying in your bed when you’re 98. NOTHING. Smoking is quite simply the coolest thing ever invented and it made me cooler to smoke. End of story. I will miss it, smoking. It is, perhaps, the last exterior remnant of my edge. Dressed in my midi-length skirt, and my sensible shoes, I am now only pointy and sharp on the inside. Smoking, that last vestige, has gone the way of bathroom cocaine and semi-anonymous sex with people in bands.

This is all good for many reasons (I mean, putting someone’s key up your nose is really REALLY unsanitary), and I already feel better. I walk around taking yoga-sized breaths and tasting my sweet potato/grapefruit/pear juice with a new tongue like a person I would have sneered at ten years ago. But it is also the end of something. The tattered shreds of my youth maybe–not the youth of our nostalgia, but real youth: the fuckup, drag-race, STD, death-drive kind of youth. It’s like deceleration, like exiting the highway and pulling onto a suburban street. And I like this street, it’s quiet and pretty, and the houses are surrounded by trees so that you can barely see them and it’s an old development and there are groundhogs running across the road. Not so bad, actually. But there will be nights when I lay in bed, my juicer glowing on my fake-granite kitchen countertops, and dream of myself racing through the shiny dark in my old Charger, smoke billowing, dragonlike, behind me, left foot out the window, right foot so far away from the brakes.

Update: Still not smoking! And here’s a Google +1 thingy. I don’t really know how to install it yet. My web guy is having office hours at school right now, but if he knows what’s good for him (and wants an invitation to Google +1) he will fix this situation soon enough.

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