Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Better Living Through Chemistry

Because my job--in a total, awful and scientifically verifiable way--sucks, I have tried various ways of (a) making it unsuck, and (b) when that didn't work, make myself numb to wage-slave hell. Because my job is monotonous and repetitive, it provides an gentle rhythm of consistent, even suffering. This means I can control for the ups and down of work, because there are none. It is the perfect blue-screen backdrop.

Week One: Food and Drink
Nutritionists, dietitians, doctors, Arnie, yo' mamma and shoeless Greenpeace collectors all agree: your body is a temple and what you put into it can change your life for the better. I took the following steps for one week:
* Eating a high-fibre, natural breakfast * Snacking every two hours to keep my blood sugar up * Consuming low-GI foods * Avoiding coffee * Drinking plenty of water

Week Two: Positive Thinking
Deepak Chopra, Anthony Robbins, the Dali Lama, Tom Cruise and self-repressing suburban hausfrau all recommend banishing negative energy and welcoming love into your chakras. I took the following steps for one week:
* Smiling at people * Asking about others' lives * Counting my blessings * Being one with, you know, trees and birds * Violently pushing skeptical, critical thinking deep down inside until it formed a tight little ball in the pit of my stomach * Petting kittens

Week Three: Drugs
Sigmund Freud, Hunter S. Thompson, Bob Dylan and Amy Winehouse offer case studies in drugs, of one form or another, being used to creative and mood-altering effect. I tried the following (week in progress):
* Drinking eight cups of coffee in eight hours * Smoking, drinking beer, and coffee on my break * Taking an ECA stack (ephedrine, caffeine, aspirin) at the beginning of (then next day, halfway through) my shift.

Of all these techniques, the only one which had any measurable positive effect was the ECA stack. While eating right and being nice to people is necessary to avoid sliding into a spiral of self-loathing and despair, the other techniques merely helped to keep me out of the valleys of the emotional rollercoaster ride.

Ephedrine is natural substance which is the basis of speed, and is banned in most First World countries for this reason. In Canada you can get it mail-order for ten bucks a jar. Bodybuilders use it in conjunction with its accelerators aspirin and caffeine to drive weight loss and take the dopey edge off a high-protein diet. It differs from caffeine in that it provides a cleaner high, a longer period of energy, is less habit-forming, and doesn't mess around as much with brain chemistry.

I took 8mg ephedrine with 200mg caffeine and 200mg aspirin. That's not very much; lifters in a serious cutting phase take 15mg of ephedrine four times daily.
It would cost too much to do that for me, plus I would have to cycle off it, having entire weeks without any at all.

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