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I have shredded purple cabbage, carrots and red onions steeping in a warm bath of apple cider vinegar. This is a concoction otherwise known as mystery slaw. The add-ins change every time I make it and I make it all the time.

I’m in the final stretch of this 21-day cleanse. As I’ve mentioned, this hasn’t involved many wild alterations to my existing diet as I’m already gluten free and vegan, but it’s pushed me to pay more attention to what I put on my plate. I’m eating way more salads and raw foods and resisting the urge to make pumpkin bread. When we toasted a friend’s good news the other day, my lemon water looked quite virtuous in a sea of fizzy boozes. Unlike Week 1, in which I placed my face very close to my BF’s every time he took a sip of coffee in hopes he would dribble a little my way (in vain), now I’m fine drinking water while others enjoy coffee or alcohol without invading their personal bubbles. Small victories!

Feeling my will power get noticeably stronger is inspiring me to push myself in other areas. Yesterday I ran 10.5 miles, my longest of the cleanse so far. Prior to going out in the afternoon I had a banana with cashew butter. I wasn’t planning on running so far, but it was one of those days when you surprise yourself. I reversed direction to do my usual path of figure eights in reverse. Everything looks different from a new angle, plus there were gradual inclines in places that I never noticed as declines from the other direction.

Sometimes it seems like the universe is my cleanse cheerleader – hummus, avocados, coconut oil, kale and almost all of the foods I wanted during this month have consistently been on sale. Then I come home through clouds of sawdust and screeching walls. They are gutting the apartment below me. While I don’t exactly cherish drill’s wake-up call from 5 feet below my head, it’s not going to make me grumpy. Nope.

They say renovations stir things up. I was hoping for a ghost, not pests. You haven’t tried meditating until you’ve fixed your gaze on mutant beetles running across the floor because the crew doesn’t have keys so they go ahead and leave the doors wide open for whatever or whoever to enter the building.

Yesterday, I wanted a bath so bad after the run, but the tub was vibrating and I could hear a bunch of gruff male voices through the pipes. So I lit a candle and tried to relax and stretch on the other side of the apartment instead. As soon as I hit the floor, there was a bang on the front door. Thinking my BF was locked out, I opened without looking through the peephole. For the first time in the 14 years I’ve lived in NYC, a sales person was at my door – normally they can’t get in an apt building unless someone buzzes them in.

Having no idea what to do, I froze and she saw her opportunity to deliver an entire script. I don’t have a good history with door to door people. Last summer, I invited a Jehovah’s witness to my niece’s birthday party thinking he was a super enthusiastic neighbor. When we were kids, my sisters and I dropped to the floor at the approach of Christmas carolers. We crawled down the basement to my dad’s workshop in a panic.

There are carolers outside.

Dad: So?

What do we do?

Dad: Open the door.

But what do they want? Money? Hot chocolate?

Dad: Open the door. Smile. Wave. Clap.

Then they’ll leave?

Dad: Sounds like they’re already gone.

We never had carolers come again! Plus some of our friends were in that group and teased us relentlessly for not opening the door.

Doing a long cleanse has way more highs than lows, but the lows come out of nowhere and they’re always a disappointment. Just when you think you’ve finally boarded this train of glowing bliss you find yourself sneering at a young woman in an over-sized blazer trying to meet her quota for the day. Then you tailspin down anxious memory lane, avoiding the whistling workers downstairs for fear they’ll break into a Christmas carol. Always an adventure.