Eat it, punk!

So, you’re gonna do the RPM Challenge? Well, good for you. You’ve got 28 music-filled, magical, intense days ahead of you. I imagine that three weeks from now you will be completely out of your mind.

I was hoping I could come up with some kind of appropriate fuel for you during this mad journey, but who am I to tell you what to do? If you’ve been writing songs for more than two weeks, you probably have some kind of formula for fueling your work already. Perhaps it’s beer and smokes, perhaps it’s drugs about which I would surely know nothing in the least. Perhaps it’s rock-climbing and whole-wheat pasta. I’m not a musician, and despite my track record of having dated almost exclusively musicians from the years 1992 to 2006, I don’t know a damned thing about what makes you people tick. You’ll note that I ended up marrying a poet. Him, I get.

The only experiences in my own life that I can imagine would be anything like completing the RPM Challenge would be 1) pulling all-nighters writing university papers, and 2) um, childbirth.

In the case of the paper-writing, I had a pretty decent system worked out. I discovered early on that simply drinking coffee all night would yield nothing but all-over shakes and peripheral-vision hallucinations. So I would have a couple good-sized mugs of the ol’ caffeine juice, then I would switch to a giant pitcher of water and a bag of jelly beans. The jelly beans provided the essential refined sugar and artificial colours to keep my brain buzzing along (until that painful mid-morning crash, oh the crashiness of it), and the glasses of water made sure that if I were to doze off, I would quickly be awakened by the need to pee. Not bad, hey? Yeah, I’m a genius. As for childbirth, quarts of homemade electrolyte drink (lemon juice, water, honey, and a pinch of salt) saw me through the wee hours of that particular trial, with popsicles in between.

Useful information? Probably not, but it’s all I’ve got.

I would suggest that you stock up on some easily-prepared, high protein foods to have around the house, something that’s going to fill you up without making you feel too gross. And something that’s not going to make your fingers all greasy, because whether you’re holed up with a guitar and a four-track or making beepy noises on your laptop, clean fingers are a good thing. Save the Big Mary for the first of March. Keeping some good, wholesome fixin’s around is a decent plan, for no other reason than this: say, just say, that you’ve just stumbled upon what might be the greatest song ever written, and it’s being written by you. But you’re also approaching hunger-induced delirium because you skipped lunch and you’re about to pass out. Do you want to reach for a snack to tide you over while you seamlessly finish composing the greatest piece of music to grace the ears of the RPM listening party attendees, nay, the world? Or would you rather faint in a heap on the floor, only to awaken and find your great opus a mere fragment, a memory, a collection of bits and pieces like Coleridge’s Kubla Kahn, destined to remain unfinished for all time?

I think we know the answer here: Feed yourself, my friend, and feed yourself something half decent, for heaven’s sake, or who knows what state you’ll be in when you emerge from your musical cave at the end of the month.

One warning, though. Gather healthful snacks, yes, but I don’t suggest you take this time to turn into a real health food nut. Because you know who’s a health food nut? Randy Bachman. Yeah. Do you want to end up like that, swiveling around in a leather chair in a radio studio, riffin’ your heart out while you relay anecdotes about the glory days and your famous pals? No, my friend, you do not. Nor do I want that to happen to you. So, you know, rock the multigrain, but go easy on the wheatgrass, for all of us.

• What’s round like a cd and full of goodness? A waffle sandwich, that’s what. Take two tasty , grainy waffles (from a package, or you can use the recipe here——or the gluten free ones here— – to make your own and keep them in the freezer), toast ‘em up, and spread them with peanut butter (or almond butter, cashew butter, whatever), add some slices of apple or banana, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, and yum, that’s a meal. Cream cheese and raisins also make a delicious, if unlikely, waffle-stuffer.

• As much as I would have once scoffed at the breakfast burrito, there’s much to commend the omelet-wrapped-in-a-tortilla for portable, fast protein. Just make sure to warm your tortilla (or wrap of choice) first, because the clamminess of a cold tortilla is enough to suck the soul out of anyone. Other than that, it’s just a matter of beating a couple eggs, winging them in a hot pan, throwing on a little cheese, and letting them cook through, which should take no more than 90 seconds. Turn the omelet out on to the tortilla, spread on a little ketchup or add a slice of ham or something, roll the thing up (artfully tucking in the ends to prevent drippage), and eat.

• I know, grilled cheese is a no-brainer, but if you’re looking for inspiration that takes less than 5 minutes, there are some good ideas embedded here And if a non-grilled, not-necessarily-cheese sandwich is more your style, there are some ideas here (check the comments, too)

• Hummus. Great tubs of hummus. With rice crackers. Only takes one hand. Dig it.

Eat well, and good luck, Challengers!

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