Well, as I slurp yet another green juice, you are all safely tucked up in your beds.
It’s 5.40 Pacific time which makes it nearly 3.00a.m. so if you are an insomniac, Good Morning.
The drive down to San Diego was utterly uninteresting. Maggie, my host, drove. Sybil sat in the back and I nodded off in the front. I’m not sure that Maggie realised I was asleep. So sorry, Mags, but I was understandably anxious about giving my body over to a bunch of Americans. But we arrived intact.
The weather was hot, the receptionist cool, though friendly, whilst I was shaking in my sandals. Sybil and Maggie drove off and I waved goodbye feeling like the new girl at nursery school.
My room was being cleaned by the ‘maid’ (don’t you hate that and just one of the many differences between us and them) so I wandered around the campus. Yes, it is called a campus because people come there to learn. There are palm trees, and birds of paradise, lots of lawns, lashings of sprinklers – it’s near the desert remember – and loads of loungers and soft cushioned chairs for the inmates to sit on.
A few guests were scattered around the place, casually dressed and sipping what looked like cloudy water.
It was indeed cloudy water- Rejuvelac- to be precise, which is actually fermented rye juice. It puts back the probiotics in the gut and tastes like off lemonade. But it’s worth getting used to.
I was eventually shown to my room. Twin beds, private bathroom, chest of drawers and Venetian blinds to block out the movement of the cars on the 70 lane freeway outside (and the movement on the inside of my bathroom).
Most people turned up by nine and my first overview of the other inmates was one of horror. They were all American, durr!, apart from Neil The Liverpudlian Comic and Michael the Mancunian lingerie salesman. I spent my first night tossing in my single bed, kicking off the nylon throw and wishing that I was back in Blighty.
When we checked in we were given a huge filofax diary with all our classes which after a cursory perusal only served to terrify me even more. What did ‘Circle’ mean? And ‘Elimination’ for an hour and a half? ‘Implants’? What the Hell were they going to do to us?
I had come to detox, not to end up looking like Dolly Parton. Not that I have got anything against Dolly but implants I don’t need!
At 7.30 on the morning of the 30th April a bell clanged outside my bedroom. I slouched off to my first exercise class we all assembled in the MPR .
The yanks have a real propensity for acronyms – from KFC to JFK. Well, MPR stands for – wait for it – Multi Purpose Room. It’s a huge, carpeted room that is used for multi-purpose activities.
We were talked through our diaries, given a lecture on wheat grass juicing, shown where the wheat grass juicing room was and then sent off to juice some.
Now, first impressions are sometimes right, and first impressions are sometimes wrong. A book and cover comes to mind, but when you are faced with several folk, who have all come to administer enemas to themselves, it certainly makes the bonding process a lot quicker.
Intimate conversations with total strangers were struck up immediately – about how to keep a plastic tube in the rectum. Rita from Singapore shared her anally retentive stories. Dee talked us through it like the air hostess she was and then Joan, in the way that only Joan has said: ‘Slam your ass togethr that should do it.’ It felt like the relationships made in maternity wards where the only topic of conversation is ‘waist’ down. Here the topic is the same – ‘waste’ down.
The aforementioned women will be my friends for ever. Wonderful women with real stories. Women of a certain age with life experiences that make GFL look like a walk in the park.
Illnesses are not entertained at OHI, where they are called ‘Health Opportunities’. And if it sounds too yankee, don’t let it. It is probably the most positive place I have ever been too. Healthy people supporting the less fortunate.
The whole week has been about our bodies, our minds, our spirits – how we think is who we are. From all over the globe people come to take control of their lives. Cleansing both the colon and the thinking process is the job.
And it is a job. Everyday I am up at 5.00am pouring buckets of water into places that I didn’t even know existed. After fasting on green juice for two and half days, the bowl of cold tomato soup on Thursday tasted like a gift from the Gods.
All the food is raw. Totally RAW. All the food is cold. Totally COLD. No tea, no coffee, no biscuits, no dairy, no bread, no butter, no chips, no wine, no bubbly, no nothing except raw, cold, organic food. And let me tell you that when you have to take that wheatgrass shot at 5.30 in the morning, all those Curries, Italians and Thai’s feel like they live on a different planet.
You weigh yourself on the first day, take half the body weight and then drink that amount in water and rejuvelac. Every single person is carrying a 32oz bottle and slugging liquid like it’s going out of fashion.
By Saturday some inmates had lost up to 25 pounds. Me? Of course not. But the Texans shouted ‘Way to go, gal’ whilst the New Yorkers shouted ‘Hey, Girlfriend.’ It is like being in an episode of ‘Friends’ and ‘Frasier’. In fact, the producer of ‘Frasier’ came to stay at OHI and liked it so much she invited one of the facilitators to appear on the show, which he did, three times.
Friday night was talent night. I foolishly offered myself as the MC along with a wonderful bloke called Mark. I offered because I didn’t want to perform. I thought we all had to. Little did I know. It was only the people who wanted to so I shot myself in the foot. But it was a wonderful night.
Sally showed us how to make flower pens my taping a flower to a pen. I thought I would laugh but Sally had survived Cancer and her standing up on the stage winding green tape round a plastic stem was one of the most touching things I have seen. Michael played the piano. Michelle sung opera. Linda from Huston told a filthy story about a Chilli cook off, and Braha read a poem about her friend who had died in a Terrorist attack in Israel.
I know it sounds all Holier than thou but it isn’t, ‘onest. When everybody in that place is sharing their pipe-dreams (ha-ha), all is fair game.
‘Why raw?’, asked Zoe, my lovely little cousin who lives in San Diego on Pacific Beach and who collected me today, took me to get sun-kissed on Mission Beach, bought me a celery juice, and introduced me to her ‘dude’ who is a sailor and is so handsome I am thinking of joining the Navy. ‘It’s all raw’, I said, ‘because it keeps the enzymes alive and it’s better for you’. I’m not suggesting raw forever but for three weeks to get rid of all the toxins, it’s better than a smack in the mouth with a dead mackerel.
Today has been hot. The beaches are long and pale yellow. The Pacific is cold. But I collected shells and stones to take back to Jim and the kids, and watched the San Diegans at play. There’s an 80 year old roller coaster that clackety clacks in the middle of a park. They really do bring their barbecues to the beach. And they really do speak with American accents. Well, they would – I am on the West Coast.
The cops patrol the sand to make sure there is no under-age drinking and there’s not a fag in sight – and by that, I mean a cigarette.
I have seen a humming bird, swooping swallows and super-sized sea gulls. But not me – the super sized Jeni will soon be the undersized Jen.
Zoe and Josh are taking me back to prison in a minute, so that’s it for this week. There’s loads more to tell but my mouth feels like the bottom of a parrot’s cage and I have an appointment with my bucket. So, be well till next week and as Einstein said,
‘You can’t change things with the same mind that made the problem’, so don’t be afraid to change yours. Cunxwk.