PB&J and Other Things I'd Rather Not Do Without

Long-time readers of this blog will remember that a few years ago I decided that 2015 would be my Year of Doing Without. I planned to give up one thing per month, and then write about my experience of giving up that thing at the end of the month.

One month I became a vegan. Another month I did without sweets. The month before I had tried to do without sweets, but failed.

Extenuating circumstances led me to abandon that particular writing (living?) exercise, but you can still read my initial post here.

For this month’s Blogapalooz-hour, during which we’re given a topic and instructed to write and publish a post within one hour, we were challenged to write about things we can’t go without.

And although it seems like it’s a question of obsession, or discipline, it occurred to me that it’s really a question of time. What can’t I go without?

Well, for how long?

For example, I can go without oxygen for thirty-five seconds with no difficulty. (I just timed myself.) But if I tried to go without oxygen for seventeen minutes…bad news.

I could go seventeen minutes without water, but nine days…probably not.

So it’s impossible to go without something and ignore the time aspect.

But there’s also the question of desire. It’s much harder to go without something you desire than something you don’t.

Peanut M&M’s. I haven’t had a peanut M&M in about five days and I feel like I deserve a damn reward (like a bag of peanut M&M's). They’re so good, and I eat them so mindlessly and voraciously that I’m not even sure I have gone five days without eating them. It wouldn’t surprise me to discover that I’d purchased a bag and shoved the whole thing in my face without even realizing it. A sort of Ambien-induced, half-conscious failure of will power.

I don’t take Ambien though, so I’ve probably maintained my peanut M&M sobriety. So I guess I can go without peanut M&M’s, but I’m not happy about it, and my grasp on the willpower that keeps me peanut M&M-free is tenuous at best. I guess we can conclude that peanut M&M’s don’t fall into the “can’t go without” category, but rather the “prefer-not-to-go-without,-but-will-go-without-anyway-just-because-I’ll-eat-myself-beyond-the-capacity-of-a-bathroom-scale-if-I-ate-what-I-actually-wanted-to-eat” list

But the point of the exercise isn’t to list what we can go without. Nor is it to list what we can go without, but need to bitch about the entire time we're going without it. We're supposed to list what we can’t go without.

First, let’s assume we’re not considering all of the obvious, lovey-dovey, life-is-beautiful, the Earth-is-magical mumbo jumbo. That’s a given, and I think just listing all of those things is against the spirit of the question. I mean, really, I’m just being asked to do a modified version of Oprah’s Favorite Things show.

But don’t expect me to jump up and down, cover my oh-so-surprised mouth with my hand, or shed a tear because I’m so damn excited like the people in Oprah’s audience.

Instead, here’s some stuff that I like.

Baseball. Is anything better than the beginning of baseball season? Well, except for the middle, and end of the season when your team is playing well.

Traveling. I haven’t done as much of this as I want, but a recent trip to New York City with my son reminded me how much fun it is to escape.

The WTF podcast. I started listening to this back in 2010 or 2011. I enjoyed the personal, in-depth conversations with creative people from day one, and listened often, but didn’t seek it out. However, over the past couple of years, it has become the cornerstone of my entertainment. I haven’t missed any of the previous 250 episodes, and recently went back to start listening from the very first episode in 2009.

Diet Coke. In particular fountain Diet Coke from McDonald’s. I suspect they lace this drink with some sort of illicit drug. How else do I explain my obsession with it? I’m so ridiculous about this that most of the employees at the restaurant near my house know what I’m going to order as soon as I walk in. I also know which locations near my house to avoid because the Diet Coke doesn’t taste as good there as it does elsewhere. And I’ve driven ten minutes out of my way on more than one occasion to buy a Diet Coke at a particular location because I swear it tastes better and they have nugget ice. I’m an idiot.

Peanut butter and jelly. Whether I’m trying to eat healthy, or I’m eating everything in sight, I always have room for peanut butter and jelly. We all need foods for which we ignore all dietary guidelines and focus on the pure enjoyment of it, and PB&J is mine. And, lucky for you, I’ve even written a post about the right way to make it.

Cheesecake. Why should anyone go without cheesecake?

Ice cream. See cheesecake.

Pizza. See ice cream. I’ve been thinking of conducting a survey of all the pizza places in my town to see which one is the best. There are a few good ones to choose from, a couple that I always go to, and one from which I’m banned. I could eat copious amounts of pizza and claim to be doing it for research.

I could go on. Movies. Reading. Writing. Running. Bicycling. Hiking. However, I do without some of those for long periods of time.

But I can’t remember the last time I went a week without PB&J or Diet Coke.

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