So far, Day 2 of the Below the Line challenge (search #belowtheline on Twitter, if you care to) is a little easier than yesterday. It’s still a challenge, definitely, but I feel like I’m over the first major hurdle and it’s going fairly smoothly so far.
It helps that I’ve been getting wonderful support from friends, family, and coworkers (and strangers on Twitter). So much support, in fact, that I have already surpassed my fundraising goal for Opportunity International! But if you haven’t donated yet and you’re interested in doing so, don’t let that stop you! Every little bit helps, and donations don’t close until May 31.
One of the things I bought for the week is a pound of dried black beans. I’ve never cooked from dried beans before–only tinned–and so I was rather unprepared for the bounty I found in the pot this morning. That was also encouraging, and something I will keep in mind for my cooking endeavors moving forward. Alas, I’m already sick of margarine. I can’t wait to have butter and olive oil again.
I don’t think the enormity of what it’s like to live this way has really hit me yet. Right now it’s still a novelty and something of a “fun” or “interesting” project. I think Thursday is going to be a really, really tough day, though.
It’s also been difficult to grasp that many people have to live like this, and for longer than a 5-day week. I’m getting hunger headaches, and my attention span is even worse than usual, and it’s difficult to think very creatively when I’m living on under 1,000 calories a day. I am incredibly stubborn, and I can power through it, because I know that I have a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that, come Saturday, I will wake up delighted in the knowledge that I can have coffee or tea with half-and-half, peel an orange, and make cinnamon toast with butter and sugar, and that for lunch I can spend $10 on Thai takeout and not make a huge dent in my budget. Last Thursday, I was at bar trivia with some friends, and my meal cost about $13. That’s almost twice what I’m now living on for the entire week. And when I stop and actually think about it, it blows my mind.
The other weird thing about the Challenge so far is the contrast between my food consumption and the rest of my lifestyle. For people who actually live below the line, that $1.50 a day is not just food, but shelter and clothing and everything for basic existence. As someone merely taking the Challenge, the limit of $1.50 a day need only apply to food. I made my grocery list and my budget calculations on my iPod, and drove to the store in my own vehicle to buy everything. Yesterday I had to run errands, including making preparations for my vacation to England (I fly out in exactly a fortnight, two weeks from this afternoon). The experience of a hollow stomach and a throbbing hunger headache, at the same time I was ordering a couple hundred dollars’ worth of foreign currency and buying trial-sized face wash, was pretty surreal.(It was at this point in writing the post that I received the promised call from a Columbus Dispatch reporter who is doing a story on people in Central Ohio who are participating in the Challenge. I’ll post the link when it comes out.)
Fortunately, in all of this, I have not lost my sense of humor. Yesterday I was complaining to Joy about all the things still in my kitchen that I can’t have.
Her response (via Gchat):
the only thing i can think of to do is to put faces on all the stuff in your fridge
and at the end of the week, be like YEAH PANCAKE SYRUP
YEAH RANDOM SQUASH
you are MIIINE
So I took my scissors and an old copy of People magazine, and…
. . .
… Yeah. That happened.
So what you’re seeing is Chris Hemsworth guarding my coffee, Robert Downey Jr. keeping me away from my gin, Gerard Butler glowering at me if I reach for a Clif bar, Tom Hiddleston threatening to unleash the mayhem of Loki if I peel an orange, Chris Evans shielding the applesauce from my appetite, and Jake Gyllenhaal protecting my V8 juice with the powers of adorable.
And I don’t want to disappoint these guys, now, do I?