That Time I Hacked My Own Gmail Account

Preface: Because this post deals with a topic for which I don’t really have pictures, I decided to spice it up with photos of animals.

For years, all I have wanted is an email address that is [firstname][lastname]@gmail.com (or my own domain, but I’ve been too lazy to set that up).

You see, back on September 4, 2004, when I created my first Gmail account (when Gmail was still in beta testing and you had to be invited, because I’m so 1337), we still believed in internet anonymity. Most people were not using the [firstname][lastname] convention; most were simply migrating over their old AOL/AIM handles. However, having created my meowzer18 AOL screen-name at age 8, I couldn’t possibly keep that dream alive as a 17-year-old. I settled for my name and a random number, and thus my first Gmail account was born.

But as times changed, we collectively decided that we wanted to be able to be found on the web. As social media crept into our lives, we wanted our friends to find us (and be able to tag us appropriately in an inappropriate amount of questionably appropriate photos, duh!), and as email became more important to our job searches, we began creating email addresses that reflected our real names. (And though we’re slowly starting to desire a bit of anonymity again, most people maintain a [firstname][lastname] email address for professional purposes.)

Of course, when I finally saw the need for a more professional email address, the other Carly Roaches of the world had already taken carlyroach@gmail.com. I created a few variations of my first and last names just to have something more serious to use on job applications, but everything I came up with required a number to be unique — something that I detested. Having a number in your email address had gone out of fashion. No one takes you seriously if you are jonsnow1@gmail.com. It looks like you weren’t forward-thinking enough to jump on the email train early and ensure your rightful [firstname][lastname] address. Sure, I could have gone to Yahoo or AOL or Hotmail, but everyone knows that your email address domain reflects your computer skills, and I couldn’t risk looking like a n00b.

I knew my only option was marriage.

Dobby, Peanut, and their cousin Arya

Embarrassing as it is to admit, I was so driven by my desire for a [firstname][lastname] email address that I created a new email address every time I dated a guy who might be “the one.” Let’s just say I have many an abandoned email address based on past, unsuccessful relationships. Sensing a pattern (date guy + make email address = get dumped), and also knowing that no one in the entire world would ever be named Carly Hublou, I put off creating an email address when I met Kevin until we were engaged, reasoning, as most sports fans do, that something irrelevant that I was doing was affecting the outcome of my relationships. (It doesn’t matter if you wear your lucky socks, sports fanatics; you do not affect the outcome of the game!) I didn’t want to jinx this relationship with my unlucky email-address-making!

I say all that to make my point: I saw carlyhublou@gmail as something I had earned and something that I needed. Changing my name was so much more exciting knowing that I would finally enter the ranks of those with the [firstname][lastname] email-address scheme that I had coveted for so long (11 years, to be exact). I would do anything to protect it, and I would be devastated if I lost it.

Fast forward to June 2, 2016.

In addition to my original and married-name email addresses, I have many other Gmail addresses (because reasons). But I don’t check them all; that would be crazy. I stay signed in to my main account and simply have all of my other addresses forward the mail they receive to the inbox of that main account. Usually, I also tell Gmail to delete all copies of incoming emails from the other accounts after it forwards them to my main account. This way, I’ll never reach my storage limit on these accounts that I never check.

But on June 2, as I was doing some maintenance on my beloved carlyhublou account, I noticed that Gmail had not been deleting the emails in this inbox. I had thousands of emails taking up quite a bit of space. I checked my settings, fixed the problem, and decided to delete everything in my inbox to save space and because I had copies of it all in my main inbox.

Hindsight is 20/20, but looking back, this was a very stupid thing to do.

Here’s a hawk that lands in my backyard sometimes. Probably large enough to carry away Dobby.

Why?

Because Google thought I was a hacker.

It’s not uncommon for hackers to steal users’ accounts, immediately change the password and set up two-factor authentication to keep the rightful user out, and then do asinine things like delete all the emails from an inbox (perhaps after gathering whatever information they may have wanted from your emails).

So when Google saw that thousands of emails had been deleted in a matter of seconds, it disabled my account.

Not locked. Not suspended. Disabled.

“No big deal,” I thought. “I’ll just walk through the recovery process.”

But to recover a Google/Gmail account, you have to be able to verify your identity to a computer — a computer that you can’t plead with or reason with. It knows what answers it needs, and if you don’t provide them exactly as it is expecting to receive them, you’re simply not the owner of that account. To recover a disabled account, you need:

  • The last password you remember having for the compromised account.
  • The date of the last time you were able to log in.
  • The date when you created your account.
  • Five frequent contacts (and these should be contacts to whom you’ve sent mail and from whom you’ve received mail).
  • Four labels you created (not the defaults).
  • Knowledge of all of the other Google services this account has used (e.g., Google Calendar, YouTube).

And you have to match precisely what the computer expects as input. No wiggle room.

Providing this information was problematic for me. Because carlyhublou is an email address that I don’t use via its actual inbox (I receive and send emails for it through my main Gmail account), I never created labels for it, I never used other services with it, and I had never technically contacted anyone with it. (Sending email as carlyhublou via my main Gmail account adds those recipients to the frequently contacted list for my main account, not for carlyhublou.) Despite submitting the form at least 20 times, the computer didn’t believe I was me.

“That’s OK,” I thought. “I’ll call Google’s help desk.”

EXCEPT THERE IS NO GOOGLE HELP DESK.

That’s right; one of (if not the) biggest tech company in the world has no user support (unless you are a Google Apps paid user). I even called Google’s main number, listened carefully  (as their menu options had changed), and found myself listening to an automated man telling me that I can only unlock my Gmail account by completing the account-recovery process.

Now, I understand. Google has millions of users. It’s not probable to staff a help desk to support a user base of this magnitude. Google’s solution is to provide an internet help forum, which is moderated by non-Google-employees who have somehow risen through the ranks of the forum to achieve the status of super loser user. They answer questions and also have access to Google employees if they can’t solve the problems themselves.

The very best friends.

But if you read through the Gmail forum, you’ll see that most users post to complain about the same problem I was having: their accounts got disabled for one reason or another and the account-recovery process isn’t working. Most times, there is no help for these people; they are told their accounts are lost forever, or they are provided a link to a blog that someone created to walk others through the recovery process.

Those are the only options.

(Dear Googs: If that many users are experiencing the same problem with your only option to recover their accounts, perhaps the process for recovering accounts is flawed. Love, Carly, beta tester circa 2004)

Think about it: What else in your life is that secure? Not even your credit-card account is that secure. You can recover a credit-card account by giving a human the last four of your Social Security number and the answers to a few not-so-difficult-to-hack-if-you’re-really-trying security challenges. That doesn’t even come close to the level of scrutiny programmed into Google’s account-recovery process.

Having exhausted my options, I called Kevin, nearly in tears.

Why was I in tears over an email address? Part of it was because I had waited so long to have this email address and now I might never have it again. Part of it was because this was the address through which most of my professional communications took place, and I did not want to have to send that email of shame: “My email address has been disabled and I cannot retrieve it. Please update your records with my new one.” (How embarrassing!)

And part of it was that I realized how much I relied on Google — on one company — just to function every day. Between Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive, a huge chunk of my life belongs in the Google suite of services. How uncanny it felt to have part of my internet identity so abruptly revoked and not be able to get it back. It was a partial glimpse into what life might be like if my real identity were to ever be stolen. I felt lost and helpless.

I called Kevin for emotional support. As he listened to me describe the day’s events to him, he gawked at the ridiculousness of Google’s user help solution. And then from his mouth — er, the phone speaker — poured the most beautiful, romantic words he’s ever uttered to me: “I’ll call Google directly.”

Kevin will be upset if I end this post without a picture of his beloved bird.

To make a long saga shorter, Kevin used a little wizardry (i.e., his sys-admin powers) to find a human at Google and alohomora my account.

As the dark skies over my first-world problems cleared, I felt eternally grateful for all the wonderful things in my cyber life, like Google Play Music curated playlists, the fact that I can add 2GB of storage to my Google Drive each year by completing a security check, and how Gmail adds events to my Google calendar when it senses dates in emails. Google had treated me like a boyfriend who says, “I want to take a break,” and then decides that he really does want to be with me after all (which is never how that story actually goes, by the way), and I felt no shame in running back to its login page.

After the makeup, I got down to business. Google had Scrooged me, and it was time to make sure this never happened again. So, for all of my Google accounts, I made sure I could answer all of those bullet-point criteria I listed above. I created four labels, found the dates the accounts had been created, turned on two-step verification, sent emails to my other accounts so that I would have frequent contacts, etc.

And then I slept soundly that night knowing I wasn’t stuck in another super-depressing episode of Black Mirror.

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Planning Poor Does Graduate School

In 2008, during my last year of undergrad, my aunt Deena and I were on the phone discussing finding a first job and whether going to graduate school was important. I don’t remember the specifics, but one thing she said that has stuck with me all these years was, “It’s so much harder to go back.” In other words, go to graduate school right after college, because it only gets harder to do so the further you get from that moment.

And while the rest of my friends were indeed going to graduate school right after college (in part because the recession had sucked away any jobs they might have applied to), I just didn’t think this was the best choice for me. I understood that going to graduate school just for the sake of going to graduate school was a poor financial decision. If I were ever going to get a Master’s degree, I wanted it to be for something that would accelerate a career I loved. In other words, I didn’t want to plunge into graduate school and then be forced into a career I had to choose based on the degree I earned. For me, it had to be the other way around.

(And, had I gone to graduate school straight away, I would have been pursuing an MA in English in the hopes of going on to a PhD program. Needless to say, it would have been a disturbing waste of loan money.)

Despite her sage wisdom, and despite the Great Recession, I started my first job 3 days after graduating. The only thing I felt was super pissed at not having one more summer vacation before diving into the adult world and never having one again.

Fast forward 6 years. It’s April 2015, and Kevin is debating a monumental life change. He’s 3 years out of law school, and despite having a stable—albeit time-consuming—job as a lawyer, he’s dissatisfied. Lawyering is not what he thought it would be. He expected a career that offered endless variety and intriguing intellectual challenges. Instead, it had become monotonous.

He began to work on automating some of the repetitive parts of his job and found that he loved the challenge of programming. Around the same time, he had been reading books about math and information theory (nerd!) and found the subject fascinating. But he knew there was no way he could practice law and formally study computer science. His plan: Retire from law, find a part-time job, preferably in his new field of interest, and return to school.

Step one of his plan would be easy (in theory—it’s never easy to say goodbye to great coworkers); steps two and three, not so much.

Dobby helping me study for Accounting.

If one thing has been said about me, it’s that if you’re looking for a job, I’m the person you want to tell. Over the course of my life I’ve signed up for so many job-alert emails that I’m practically a mini work-placement service. So when Kevin told me he wanted a job in tech, my challenge began. I sent him job after job after job, all the while keeping his spirits up because he was losing hope.

“Who wants to hire a lawyer for a part-time IT job?” he would ask. “You never know until you try!” I would tell him.

As it turns out, the University of Florida did. On his first and only interview, Kevin landed a part-time IT job working for one of UF’s many entities. And working at UF, even part-time, would allow him to easily run around campus to attend classes in the middle of the workday. Steps two and three: Check!

It was around this time of change that Kevin helped me realize that my own situation was not ideal. (Either that, or he just didn’t want to be alone in his educational endeavor.) For years, he had been urging me to go back to school for something—anything!—citing that I was too smart to be doing what I was doing. (#humblebrag) While I would have loved to have gone back to school, I never wanted to take out more student loans or stop making money. (And this is what my aunt meant by “it’s hard to go back.” Money is like a drug; it’s hard to stop making that paper once you start.)

But one of the benefits my employer provides is free school: the company will reimburse me for up to six credits per semester of graduate work that I successfully complete with a C or better. What’s more, a friend at work had told me about a business Master’s degree at UF that had an IT focus: the Information Systems and Operations Management (ISOM) program. It was as if all the stars were aligning: this was the perfect program for me, as it would allow me to gain more technical skills while polishing the business skills I had acquired through 6 years of employment.

With a new goal in mind (and probably the first real goal I had set in a very long time, besides “convince Kevin to marry me”), I immediately began my plan of attack. With applications due June 1, I had just under 2 months to study for the GRE, take the GRE and receive an acceptable score, write a cheesy admissions statement, solicit three letters of recommendation, get my boss’s support and approval for going back to school, and plan how I was going to attend school part-time while continuing to work full-time.

Having planned our wedding in just 2 months, I knew this would be a piece of pie compared to that.

And to make a long story short, it all worked out (somehow).

Fall 2015 was our first semester as a husband/wife team of working graduate students. And despite work, despite Kevin getting converted to a full-time position, despite both of us also being on the board of directors for a local non-profit, despite being at work at 7:00 AM and staying until 5:30 PM to make up lost time—we both made straight A’s. (#notsohumblebrag)

I have made so many friends, most of whom are from other countries, through ISOM. Here is a group of us at an international potluck and game night.

I know, you must be wondering: How did our personal lives not fall apart? It’s funny, I had the same reaction. I thought for sure the schedules we now keep would put a huge strain on our relationship, but in fact the opposite has happened. Kevin and I are in the best harmony we’ve ever experienced. We communicate and plan way more than we ever have. If I have to work late for class or can’t make it home at a reasonable hour, he knows to let the dogs out and start dinner without me. Likewise, on days that he has to work late, I know I need to take care of things at home and fend for food myself (i.e., hello, Panera Rapid Pickup!). Neither of us has ever been especially emotionally needy, so seeing each other for only an hour a day doesn’t bother us much. Sure, we may miss each other, especially during exam weeks, but neither of us has the time to break down and cry about it—not that we would.

Plus, it has been so rewarding to go through this together. Our programs of study tend to complement one another, and our classes have led to many an interesting discussion. We don’t get flustered at the other’s schedule because we understand it. And we love to talk about the future: Where will we be when our degrees are printed? What does the future hold? It’s an exciting time in our lives; who knew such excitement could exist after 25?

One of the most comical parts about going back to school as a “non-traditional student” (i.e., a student who goes part-time) at the ripe age of 28 is that nearly all of my classmates are in their early 20s, and because ISOM offers a combined-degree program, some of them are still undergrads. In group-project situations, I tend to be the one with the sage life advice, and everyone I meet gawks when they hear I’m married. On the plus side, I never get tired of hearing that I don’t look my age.

Business graduate school is all about the group project, which means many a long night in Hough Hall working together. But at least I can capture some nice sunsets now and then.

When I first started, I thought it would be difficult to compete against these full-time students who had nothing to do with their time but study. I had promised myself that I would be a better student in graduate school than I had been in undergrad (e.g., not waiting until the night before to write a 10-page paper, reading chapters as they are assigned instead of…well…never), but that still didn’t seem like enough to do well. How could I possibly put in the hours they must be putting in to earn better grades than theirs? (All of business school is graded relative to your classmates’ performance, so to get an A, you have to prove that you’re better than they are.)

But as I got to know my fellow students and their sometimes nonexistent study habits, I realized that my age actually afforded me the hindsight that these younger students had not yet had the chance to acquire: I know the value of my time, and I know how to be disciplined. If I have to spend 40 hours per week at work, you better believe I’m spending the rest of my free time as wisely as possible. So when I’m not at work, I’m at home reading my textbooks and doing practice problems. Plus, I don’t have to worry about who has a crush on me (Kevin does), if I’m eating well (Kevin feeds me healthy things…usually), or if I’m running out of money (never!), all of which I worried about as an undergrad. Instead, my mind is free to learn about encryption, UML diagrams, and, my favorite class so far, finance!

And when my friends complain about their grades or say they don’t have enough time in the day, I casually remind them that I work full-time, am in class 8 hours per week, and am doing just fine.

Speaking of friends, ISOM has been an incredible experience personally. The majority of my classmates are international students. At first, this intimidated me, but I soon learned that my classmates are some of the friendliest, most welcoming people I have ever met. I’ve made friends from India, China, Taiwan, and several South American countries, and I know that some of my new friends will be friends for life. Learning is great, but being able to make global connections with such kind people is priceless.

I’m not sure where my or Kevin’s Master’s degrees are going to take us, but I know they will keep us in the technology sector, a field that is always changing, which means there will always be something new to learn and new problems to solve. As people who require intellectually stimulating careers, this is perfect for us.

 

The Accidental Fast – Breaking Fast and Final Thoughts

This is Part 4 of 4 of my Accidental Fast series.

Breaking Fast

Breaking fast: My tiny meal on Day 3.

The morning of Day 3, I felt much better than the morning before: no nausea or hot/cold flashes. The first meal I got to eat was breakfast (how appropriate…break fast). The evening before, I had planned all the goodies I would consume: bagels with cream cheese, raisin bread, butter bread, and coffee! However, my stomach felt sensitive, so I had a small cup of coffee with non-dairy creamer, some pineapple slices we had dehydrated, and a slice of multi-grain bread with a dab of butter. With my stomach shrunk, this meal filled me!

Kevin congratulated me sincerely, telling me how proud he was of me and that he knew I could complete it without quitting. ❤

Eating felt great, but swallowing was weird. But I felt more energetic almost immediately and had no problems getting to work (nearly) on time and making it through the day.

Final Thoughts

I hated yet enjoyed the fast. Though I didn’t use my extra time wisely, I had a lot more of it available when I didn’t have to prep, eat, and clean up after dinner or go to the gym. However, my energy was so low that I didn’t feel like I had the strength to do anything useful.

Is it something I would do again? Yes. There are so many scientific articles that detail the positive effects (for one’s mind and body) of fasting. When it does not have to digest food, the body flushes and repairs itself in some pretty amazing ways. In fact, some studies have shown that fasting while undergoing chemotherapy can actually reduce the growth of cancer. So, ideally, I’d like to do this once a month—a short, 2-day fast—but maybe next time I’ll do it with Kevin so that neither of us has to fall prey to the delicious smells of the other cooking dinner.

Hunger has a new meaning now. As I write this, I feel myself becoming hungry. My breakfast was 3 hours ago, and usually I would describe myself as starving around this time of day, the time I normally consume my midday snack. Now, however, the hunger feels like an old, much milder cousin of the hunger I experienced during the fast. Most people in America never get to experience being hungry, because they don’t have to. Thanks to factory farming and consumerism, most of us never have to travel far to find whatever food we could possibly desire to shove into our mouths. We don’t have to plan or think or scramble. But I think hunger is something worth experiencing, especially if you are at all interested in testing the strength of your mind.

But, as Jonathan Safran Foer explains in Eating Animals, eating has always been a communal activity tied to tradition and culture. It’s difficult to break those ties, not only to our traditions but to our cravings. I grew up eating meat-heavy meals followed by dessert. In fact, as I child, I saw dinner as merely a means to an end: cookies. It has taken me a long time to change my eating habits, to reach for an apple instead of a cookie and to replace meat with meat substitutes.

Of course, the rest of my family still eats like we did during my childhood. My dad refuses to substitute ground beef for turkey, let alone tofu. He turns his nose up before even considering the health benefits and taste. On a survey Kevin filled out for my bachelorette party, my sister asked him what food we eat when we “splurge.” Kevin wrote Oreos. It’s true: we only buy them when they’re on sale as a treat for ourselves. My sister and mother found this hilarious because it’s something they stock their shelves with all the time.

Most people seem to find the idea of a fast (or even drastically changing their diets) appalling and/or unfeasible. While it certainly felt that way, my fast boosted my confidence: I was able to use my mind to control my body and this primal, intuitive need for food! How awesome is that?

The biggest drawback for me was my inability to not focus on food, especially on the second evening. That’s something I really need to work on next time. Also, being that hungry made me pine for foods I only recently swore to never eat again. I craved a greasy Zaxby’s chicken sandwich and a McDonald’s cheeseburger (things I didn’t eat even before I stopped eating animals), so that was frustrating. Hopefully, with repetition and more training, I will be able to completely detach from these thoughts.

Oh, and unlike Kevin, I had zero sharts.

The Accidental Fast – Day 2

This is Part 3 of 4 of my Accidental Fast series.

I woke up thirsty several times in the night, but made myself go back to bed. This was a huge mistake. When I awoke for good, my pee was the wrong color (dark yellow), indicating dehydration. I was very, very nauseous, and I was freezing yet also very hot. I had read that nausea and flu-like symptoms are common in the first few days of fasting as your body begins removing toxins, but I knew that vomiting was a bad sign—a sign that the fast needed to be broken.

Luckily, I did not barf. Instead, I got myself a fizzy water and curled up on the couch, allowing myself to rest and rehydrate. Kevin was very encouraging, making sure I felt okay but also telling me not to be a puss and that I would be fine. He’s so sweet. (I find tough love more encouraging than coddling.)

I drank my bottle of water slowly and put myself back to bed. I just did not have the energy to get up and get ready for work. I slept for another hour and then headed to work.

Based on Kevin’s account, I expected Day 2 to be a lot easier than Day 1. As far as hunger, it was; the gnawing feeling that had plagued my cheeks and stomach the day before had vanished. In its place, however, was nausea, neck and back pain, a runny nose, and negative thoughts.

“I need to eat,” I kept telling myself, but in reality, I did not. I had not been fasting long enough for my body to enter starvation mode; all I needed was water and time.

Breakfast, Day 2: One cup of green tea and water, water, water!

At work, I drank a cup of green tea and felt my body oscillate between feelings of nausea and clarity. During the nausea, I would put my head down, close my eyes, and breathe deep, taking a yogic breath and imagining it healing me of my feelings of sickness. (It worked.)

Of course, it’s easy to say “I don’t feel hungry anymore,” but that doesn’t paint you the whole picture. Sure, my stomach didn’t crave food, but my mind did. I kept allowing myself to focus on what I would eat on when I broke my fast. I had planned to leave work at noon that day, meaning I could have whatever I wanted for lunch…pizza, Panera, Pokey sticks, Jason’s Deli’s salad bar. Admittedly, I even craved the things I’d swore to never eat again: land animals.

I think one of the most important goals of fasting is to train your thoughts not to focus on the hunger or the food and to find new avenues for contemplation and self-discovery. Unfortunately, this is very difficult, especially on a short fast, and especially for this noob’s first fast.

I spent the evening of Day 2 torturing myself by peeling and slicing fruit to be dehydrated and doing the dishes. After that, having expended all of my energy, I was back in bed with my book, dogs, and fizzy water. I read for 20 minutes before allowing myself to indulge in thinking about food again (bad me). Feeling defeated, I thought back to something a friend of mine, who is experienced with fasting, posted to his Facebook wall (he too had just completed a 20-day fast):

When your conscious mind gives you justifications to not follow through, just recognize it and detach from it.

So I tried detaching and fell asleep.

Unlike Day 1, I knew I would wake up throughout the night needing water, so I kept some by my bed. Indeed, I awoke several times throughout the night feeling nauseous and dry-mouthed. The fizzy water seemed to really help with the nausea.

Some thoughts I had today:

  • How amazing is pizza? Like, truly amazing. The sauce and the dough and the cheese and the cheese and the cheese…mmmmm.
  • Wow, there’s a place called Cowfish at CityWalk (where Kevin and I are going this weekend) that serves humanely raised burgers and sushi, two of my favorite things. Juicy burger, yummmm.
  • Raisin bread, raisin bread, raisin bread.

Yeah, I was definitely not as thoughtful as yesterday…

The Accidental Fast – Day 1

This is Part 2 of 4 of my Accidental Fast series.

It was easy to skip my mid-day snack, but as my tummy began to rumble for lunch, I felt my mind panicking. What if I can’t physically fast for two days? What if my body can’t handle it? Worse, what if my mind can’t handle it? What if I’m weaker than I thought? What will I do for my hour-long lunch break???

These thoughts led me to feel lightheaded, like I needed to eat right away. But then I reminded myself: Carly, it’s been 3 hours since you ate. Nobody dies after not eating for 3 hours.

This is not impossible.

Day 1 was a beautiful day, and my office has some beautiful views, so I spent my lunch hour camped out at the top of the stadium, meditating, napping, and listening to the bells of Century Tower.

By 4:00, though, I became enraged. Why the hell am I doing this? There is no real point aside from proving to myself that I can do something, but there are many other, less hunger-inducing ways to do that. I want to eat. I want to eat. I want to eat!

By 5:00, I had mellowed out, but my frustration returned again around 6:30, when Kevin prepared his dinner:  a mix of caramelized onions, peppers, kale, and vegetarian beef tips. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cuddle with Dobby, but I pushed myself to go to the library, Publix, and my friend’s birthday event at a local bar.

At the bar, I ordered a water, and perhaps because water was the only thing I had consumed that day, I could easily taste the different between water sources. The water I drank at work all day came from Culligan and tasted clean and fresh. The water at the bar was obviously from the tap and tasted stale and old. Normally, I can’t distinguish tastes of water; this night I could, but I gulped down the nasty bar water anyway.

When we got home, around 9:00, instead of playing video games for an hour, I took a long shower and curled up in the bed with my dogs and a new book (The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman). By 9:30,  we were all sleeping.

Some thoughts I had today:

  • When the bodies and minds (I mean this literally, as in animals, and figuratively, as in processed foods) of the food we eat are artificial, are full of chemicals, and have suffered, why do we expect a different result for ourselves when we eat it? Why don’t we care more about our food?
  • What we choose to eat is rarely an authentic choice. The thought or restaurant that occupies the most real estate on the landscape of our minds is what we choose to eat. Nearly every day, I receive emails from restaurants vying for my attention and my dollar. Normally, I just delete and don’t think about them. But today they had such an impact. Why should I allow a marketing team to dictate what I put in my body?
  • Our downfall as humans is emotions, and we use those emotions to choose what we eat. We had a bad day, so we splurge on rich food. We are in a rush, so we opt for fast food. We are happy, so we eat cake. But which state of being is coupled with healthy eating?
  • When we don’t eat, we don’t need things like napkins and we don’t create as much waste. In addition to destroying the environment by supporting corporations that mass-produce our food (which in turn divorces us from the fact that we too are animals), we destroy the environment by insisting on things that make us even less animal-like, like plates, napkins, utensils, etc. We have forgotten—perhaps purposely, perhaps unintentionally—that humans are animals too. This forgetting is so extreme that it does not bother us to destroy other animals and the environment because we see ourselves as separate. We have given ourselves a false other-ness and, in turn, a sense of entitlement and ownership for the other living things around us.

(Watch out…I’ll be a Jedi master in no time.)