Saturday, April 30, 2011


Over the last few weeks, I've been thinking about vegetarianism again, mainly thanks to my vegan/vegetarian friends and the inspiration from Thirty-Day-Vegetarian Zack Reeves. So, I stopped by Hastings this afternoon and picked up three cookbooks.

The Rationale:

1) Ever since my braces, I can't eat or enjoy meat very much anyway. Hard to chew. *Practical

2) My weight refuses to budge. Granted, addition of Nutella and subtraction of Zumba, thanks to a nonstop writing and research schedule, has not been helpful. But I sense a disturbing upward trend in my body's ability to hang on to weight, letting me know things will only get more difficult. *Wellness

3) I've been exhausted and sick so many times this semester. Cleaning up my eating habits might be a step in the right direction. I want to experiment with quinoa and other difficult-to-pronounce grains. I plan to buy local bread and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. And Nutella. *Wellness

4) My income is so tight, and meat is so expensive... *Financial

5) I will practice vegetarianism as a protest against the time I was told that quitting vegetarianism was one of the criteria I must do in order for my then-husband to come back to me. (Because vegetarianism is Buddhist and anti-Christian, so I was informed). I'm feeling pretty pissy about that whole deal today. I was a vegan from 1992-1996. *Personal

6) I feel freaked out by the complexity of food. In trying to eat more simply, I think this will ease my overwhelming confusion when I buy food. Buying food, for me, is incredibly stressful and overwhelming. So I avoid it and eat bad things out of the freezer. *Environment

There you have it. So shall it be.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

End of April

End of April
End of April by danishmermaid featuring heart shaped jewelry

I'm cleaning off my 2007 Gateway to give to Zack, whose computer was involved in an unfortunate roof-leaking incident. I'm transferring the guts of my old computer to an external hard drive. Pictures from 2007: I'm so skinny, and so beautiful in those 2007 pictures. All I felt was pain. I couldn't sit still for a minute. I couldn't read. I couldn't eat. I ran 3-5 miles a day with no food. I thought I was ugly. Tonight I slowly transfer all the pictures onto the hard drive the size of an index card. Every memory, every pain, trapped inside a tiny box. There is more to life than pictures, but pictures remind me of stories long-forgotten. How I loved you. How my little baby grew taller than I and put his arms around me and smiled for the camera. How I gave up everything for one man. How the greatest wishes can come true, but only at the greatest cost.

I'm craving pink tonight while it hails outside. And bird-anythings. And the sugar of cake icing. The smell of powder. Babies who kick and smile at the sight of their mother. The storms of May.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

In love with books...

(I wrote the following blog for a class, explaining why the issue of censorship appealed to my research sensibilities):
My first memories are books! My parents read to me, they read to themselves. My mother thought there was something wrong with me because I would sit still for a very long time, looking at books, when I was eighteen months old. Books have sustained, informed, and inspired me. My parents let me read almost anything. I do remember one particular volume I brought home from the library when I was 11 that contained horror stories of people's heads being cut off. Dad made me take it back to the library...and he was right because it gave me nightmares and scared me for YEARS afterward. This is one of the incidents I think of when I hear about books being challenged. "Book banning" in my household was done judiciously, seldom, and kept in the private sphere. My dad did not, for example, go down to the library and demand the book taken off the shelves. This would have moved the act of parental supervision into the public sphere. (Photo by Christopher Tovo)

By the time I was in second grade, I was reading CS Lewis and Mark Twain. We had just moved to a tiny Arkansas town from the Bay Area in California. The first thing I did was ride my bike down to the library to get a library card. This little library was run by a stern Danish woman. She had divided the library into 2 sections: children/young adult and adult. After one year, I had either read or was disinterested in most the books in the young adult section. But any attempt to cross the library floor to get to the adult section was frowned upon by the librarian. She would send me back to the children's/YA section, no matter how I tried to reason with her. I knew she wouldn't let me check out any of the adult books, but I wanted to look through them, because many of them were on my reading level PLUS I just wanted to skim the titles! Eventually, I came up with a brilliant scheme. The librarian's desk sat in the center of the area between the children/YA and adult area so that she could keep an eye on the kids. However, short bookshelves of reference materials and old yearbooks was against the back wall, opposite the librarian's desk, with enough space behind the shelving for one skinny 10 year old. So I'd act like I was lounging in the YA section until something or someone caught the librarian's eye (I WISH I could remember her name- she was still there in 2005 when I visited), then I would crawl behind the reference shelves and emerge in the adult section. She could not see into the adult section from her desk because of the way the adult bookshelves were arranged. Brilliant! I made myself comfortable and browsed through anatomy books, spicy romances, and - once (hallelujah!) - Our Bodies Ourselves.

I love libraries- I love the collection of questionable and controversial texts next to garden guides and Nancy Drews. Legislate morality under your own roof if you must but keep out of my library!

And in other thoughts- OH MY this book looks awesome!

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Wolf, a professor of child development at Tufts University, integrates psychology and archaeology, linguistics and education, history and neuroscience in a truly path-breaking look at the development of the reading brain-a complicated phenomenon that Wolf seeks to chronicle from both the early history of humanity and the early stages of an individual's development ("unlike its component parts such as vision and speech... reading has no direct genetic program passing it on to future generations"). Along the way, Wolf introduces concepts like "word poverty," the situation in which children, by age five, have heard 32 million less words than their counterparts (with chilling long-term effects), and makes time for amusing and affecting anecdotes, like the only child she knew to fake a reading disorder (attempting to get back into his beloved literacy training program). Though it could probably command a book of its own, the sizable third section of the book covers the complex topic of dyslexia, explaining clearly and expertly "what happens when the brain can't learn to read." One of those rare books that synthesizes cutting edge, interdisciplinary research with the inviting tone of a curious, erudite friend (think Malcolm Gladwell), Wolf's first book for a general audience is an eye-opening winner, and deserves a wide readership.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bottle Trees

We took a long walk one day in a direction we don't normally go. Outside a house, I spied a bottle tree. These typically-southern trees are constructed to capture evil spirits during the night, trapping them inside the glass until the sun can destroy them in the morning. I want to make one! It might be a nice weekend project- once I get done with my paper-writing and polyurethane-ing my buffet.

The picture on the top is a bottle tree made with glass insulators- which I collect and haven't been able to figure out what to "do" with them. I normally recycle wine bottles, but some of them are so gorgeous (because I buy wine according to the shape of the bottle I like and/or the label!) that I hate to throw them out. The picture on the bottom is from Arkansas. This has given me some great ideas.

If you watched "Because of Winn-Dixie," the character of Gloria Dump, played by Cicely Tyson, has bottle trees in her back yard.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I go out walking, after midnight/In the moonlight, just like we used to do/I'm always walking, after midnight/Searching for you ~Patsy Cline

Mornings, the sheets stained with tar, the soles of my feet smell of asphalt. Thirty-six months of sleepwalking down highway shoulders - If I stop at October, then I'm shredded tires and pages of poetry set on fire. If I end at May, then it's the books of Marx at the bus stop and metaphors found through a camera lens. If I end at December, I have to tell you that once I sold you a story of a ghost who vanished inside a church window. You sealed this vision with silver and a kiss. Even now, the specter's footsteps echo the week before Christmas. Every road is a palimpsest, scraped down into a scar of itself and filled again with a new story by the feet who travel it by night.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

On Being Hungry Since December

Why, who makes much of a miracle? -Walt Whitman
I've done it again- not eaten breakfast until 10am. By then, I've picked up the house, walked to the bus stop, ridden the bus for twenty minutes, and walked across campus. By then, I am literally shaking. By then, I am starving. I am starving all the time. I've had braces on my teeth since December of 2010 and I've been hungry since then. I dream about food, I think about food, I cry when I watch Food Network. I want someone to make me a thick soup with chunks of beef and potato and red wine and transparent onions...I want to bite into a fried chicken leg so the grease pops out and runs down my chin and I have to mop my face with those cheap, fast-food, one-ply napkins. I want to eat a bag of pistachios until I get sick, I want my hands tinged pink with the red-stained shells. My mouth fills with saliva when I think about a roast cooked the way I like it- rare inside but burnt and crispy on both ends. A plate of yellow corn chips topped with jalapenos. A gala apple- crispy and juicy and bursting with sound when I bite into it.

I eat mainly soft foods: a lot of banana protein shakes, scrambled eggs, yogurt, cheese, noodles. I can usually eat a salad (but rarely raw vegetables) and, less often, a cheese sandwich. What I'm missing is the experience of chewing and enjoying. Everything I eat is accompanied by the sensation of pain. I drink a lot of meals instead of eating them, and I'm missing the realness of food- the texture and feel of it in my mouth. Enjoying the sensation of chewing slowly and feeling flavors explode- the roughness or crispness of food against my teeth. A thick, yeasty, crusty piece of bread! A sticky caramel! What a little miracle, to be able to eat without pain!

I looked and looked this morning for my book of poems about food. Couldn't find it. I'm thinking of a fabulous poem from the point of view of a small child in a high chair--ignored and hungry. A line that was something about waiting for someone to make soup. Something like --"Waiting for somebody- anybody- to come home. Waiting for one person hungry enough to come home."

I'm reduced to two-dimensional eating. Food without substance or shape or meaning - food that keeps me alive but not fulfilled.