In the heat of the oven, the pepperonis curl upward, forming small, crispy meat bowls atop the melted, cheesy deliciousness. In each sits a small pool of orange-hued grease awaiting ingestion. Atop the standard slice, there are about 20 of these cesspools of cholesterol. I generally eat two slices in one sitting, and I generally go to that particular pizza shop four times a week.
Many of those closest to me, particularly my mother, urge me to end this habitual shortening of my life. In an attempt to seem less extreme, others recommend I use a napkin and politely dab at the pizza until, at the very least, the grease pools have dissipated. I do none of these things. I let the grease course through my veins. I feel it seep from my pores as I sweat. Its stench follows me through the streets.
Somewhere around mid-June, I lost the energy necessary to resist my pizza thirst. I’m 20. I’m youthful. I deserve my pizza whenever I want. From that moment on, quenching my pizza thirst became this summer’s top priority (and biggest success).
In the beginning, I had lofty goals for a summer replete with vegetables and whole grains. As I moved into my summer accommodations, I walked through the kitchen, noting the great places where I could store my fruit. The future seemed so bright.
Within weeks, disaster struck. I found a pizza place within such close proximity of my home that avoiding the establishment was impossible. With each bite, my struggle to climb the hills of Berkeley mounted and my belly grew. I lost motivation and muscle mass, and my pizza cravings only intensified.
But better days exist right around the corner. As soon as the fall semester starts, I tell myself, I’ll start on a better diet. No more of the unhealthy food that abounds in Berkeley. No. I shall go to my local grocery store and purchase fruit each week. They shall be cut and put in bags, and I will carry them around campus and eat them as snacks when I’m hungry. I will feel a renewed sense of energy and life as my body regains some sort of health equilibrium.
That’s the beauty of school. Every few months, students are guaranteed a new, exciting and hopeful beginning. Life, as students know it, exists in the form of neat packages — a semester, an academic year, a four-year track. And I’ve lived in this world of simple, short life-arcs for most of my life.
Within the confines of these mini-arcs, a beginning never sits more than four months away, ready to change my life. And I take advantage of these repeated beginnings to the utmost of my ability.
It goes something like this: This semester, I’m going to stop eating pizza for good. Aug. 24 will soon be upon me, and my trips to the pizza shop, along with my increasingly friendly relationship with the cashier, will come to a complete and abrupt halt.
I will successfully fight my pizza cravings for more than a week. Ten days into the semester, some friend sent by the devil to tempt me will offer to buy me Sliver. One slice can’t break me, I’ll say. But it will. Five days after that, I’ll be walking by a pizza shop and will be overcome by the smell. By October, I’ll be stopping by the usual spot most nights, and my short hiatus from pizza will seem like nothing more than a nightmare.
And come November, I’ll be making grand plans to cut out pizza from my life forever once the spring semester starts.
Eventually, I’ll probably (hopefully?) graduate, and my life will somehow be forced to exist outside the confines of the well-established pockets of life with routine breaks. Gone will be the comfort of prescheduled reset buttons and automatic new beginnings.
But until then, I’ll continue to take the life improvements I need and calmly put them on the backburner until the next semester starts, like any good student would. This coming fall semester is going to be the healthiest of my life, but at this point, I might as well wait until classes start.
Contact Karim Doumar at [email protected].