It’s getting to the point where I need a food change. Where the food that is supposed to get me through is tasting gross and slowing my system. It’s adding to my stress. I’ve got a few plans cooking that start on Sunday afternoon, but I don’t know if that should also be one of them. Maybe it would just be okay to force down a salad. Fake it until you make it?
As I was pulling into the parking lot, we got a text about the cat. She had gone missing. She’s a cat that was found on the railroad tracks, a ball of fur and vinegar who by some good grace was put in our path, we of a cat-loving nature. I can’t say that she’d have had an easier life with anyone else in charge of her comings and goings. Chessie, the railroad kitten, was at my parents’ house and my father was the one texting. Then came the sister’s facebook message. Okay, I said to myself after reading it, okay. I don’t know if I meant it, but I said okay. She’s not my cat, but the idea of her lost out there on the mean streets of idyllic, sunset suburbia isn’t great to have to ponder.
It has been a long day of striving again, of being relieved and then sucker punched, relieved, sucker punched. I’ve heard about Nice, but only tangentially, only in headlines. I feel like I’m only capable of processing headlines, even if they’re the most stringent and dangerous part of the news. A distillation, 100 proof. And I’ve been so drunk on it lately, bashed about with the ceiling for the floor and the floor for the ceiling with fucking shitty news. Every generation has its paranoia, every generation peering down on the next thinks it’s the end of civilization as we know it, but the truth of it is that eventually one of them will be right. You can read that a crazy fanatic person filled with hate drove into a crowd of celebrating people and your eyes can slowly close to let the picture come in, fuzzy and without sound effects, only a soundtrack that is just this song.
The song ends and you can open your eyes, feel your own body against the familiar air, the familiar ground, the familiar impulse to live. Say Okay. Nobody thinks you mean it.
Tomorrow is my mom’s next appointment. An appointment where they are to explain options and status and treatment. Okay, I say, without meaning it at all. Okay. Let me know.
Not an hour later, the message comes through on all fronts. The cat’s been found. Was just hiding from the dog, her enemy and was just biding her time and sleeping. Was surprised that there was a hubbub and secretly pleased. She looks at you, a ball of fur and Okay. She wouldn’t know to be otherwise.
Do have my good wishes.
Sitting in the dark with a peanut butter and apricot jelly sandwich, with a fan pressed against my skin at maximum speed, feeling somewhat holy.
The room is, by my standards, and I’d guess most other people’s, clean. There isn’t anything hiding under the bed except a giant linen bag with a zipper filled with winter clothing. There aren’t piles like there usually are when I stop cleaning for the day; however, I already feel anxious about what’s happening with the clothing I have on now, where things are going to wind up, what I’m going to do with my plate. I want, all of a sudden, to be alert to all of it.
That’s the story, that’s the sacramental nature of this weekend, that I worked myself to the bone to find homes for my things. It is not perfect. I haven’t run the vacuum cleaner yet, everything’s haphazard on the bookshelves. It only “looks” neat. I keep telling myself not to call this done. But I know, for me, right now…looking neat is a far better place than where it was and even that is infinitely better than where it has been…and finding the strength to maintain it instead of being frustrated at myself over not having the interest to get down on my hands and knees and fluff carpet fibers until they’re perfectly coiffed is the actual Herculean task at hand.
I wish I took a before picture. It looks rather bare now. I found myself having to stop and breathe because I was willing to toss everything, give away everything. I had to remind myself that it isn’t a dorm room and I don’t have to live with everything out of these four walls forever and always. I might someday want a crimson crush velour throw pillow trimmed with little plastic crystals.. Computer for a few minutes, the bell went off, time to clean for a few minutes, back and forth, up and down off this lowrider IKEA bed for nearly two days straight. It wasn’t mania, but it was an intense couple of days. I forgot to worry about why I needed to clean up and instead just did. So now the universe has a sense of order for the moment and I don’t want to let that go. I am up one or two rung on the adulting ladder. I want to make my lunch, pick out my clothes, get ready to maybe wake up early and exercise. All these things that take no time at all when you’re not digging through skyscapes of clothing and paper.
So, that was a big portion of the weekend. The other thing is that I went to the grocery store. No. I know. I know. I have been a thousand times and I will go a thousand more. But what mattered this time was that I didn’t hurry out of there. I am in the extraordinarily fortunate position, that I can, if I want, go to the store with a list and generally get what I want. But more often than not, anxiety and bad planning keeps me from buying anything other than the same seven or eight things. It’s all crap and it’s gone that night, again, more often than not. Pizza, soda, candy, something nominally a vegetable like carrot sticks. Some weird frozen thing (possibly, probably french fries) or some bottled water. Depending on the time of day…Starbucks? Because, you know, you’re breathing and you’re standing in front of a Starbucks and those five bucks might as well be spent on getting you loaded and a bit sparky rather than the exhausted mess that diet generally molds you into being.
Then I’d think, okay, but should I get some fast food before I bring this home?
I know. Some part of me does know.
I eat out a lot. One of those big, furry, Allie Brosh-style alots. I attach feelings to eating out. It represents a certainly level of security and in my mind, it hints at worthiness. Nobody would refuse to serve me, I’ve got my money in my hand, and I can walk out with my little package and be as fancy as all the other fancy, worthy, bleary-eyed families in the line.
So I have been thinking lately about what I can do to change this habit, this addiction, this life plan without a life. I keep going back to when did I eat like a normal person? And the answer to that was: when someone else took care of providing you with it. I was always helping my mother in the kitchen, starting as chief stirrer, and then, I paid attention. Even if my mother seems unsure about this fact, I can definitely cook. I definitely like cooking. I just feel like somehow, I’m missing out. I’m not proving my okayness. But…now, after so many years of being able to grab whatever I want, whenever I want and have as much of it as I physically can get down my gullet, I wonder: what if I just made my own food? What if that was the diet? Just cooking and eating at home for a while. Just spending time with making it. If I was a part of a family where they needed me to cook for them, what would I cook? What would be my specialty the same way I think of my grandmother’s peach cobbler, my mother’s roast. Not trying to make food I didn’t want to eat, but just to make it and keep it around so that home food felt as good and as satisfying and as couched in worthiness as an ugly, stale-tasting paper-wrapped hamburger.
I went to the grocery store and I actually shopped. I actually made a list and didn’t hurry myself to get out because there were too many people or out because it would be too heavy to haul up the stairs in three trips or out because I was so hungry I needed to eat immediately.
I bought a goddamned roast in the effort to recreate one of those meals. I know I’ll have a week’s worth of leftovers, but I’m looking forward to that, too.
I know this is a bit of a psychic switch flipped. I know this isn’t a permanent form of my personality. I know this is not what I am used to or comfortable with.
I know this is about control. I know this is me being upset about Mr. Confusion giving me the ol’ brush-off. Still. Yes,I know this is about feeling like I infantilize myself and I let myself be infantilized and wanting to say, hey, no, I can handle a few things. Maybe not EVERYTHING, but I can keep a room clean. I can get myself fed. But it’s also about, hey, I like having clean sheets to climb into, I like not having to trip over my own things. I like having food in the cupboards and knowing what to do with it. I like who I am when those factors are going on in my life. They also let my brain do other things because I don’t have to run the circuit of SHIT, THIS ROOM IS SO MESSY…I AM A MESSY PERSON…NOBODY NEW CAN EVER SEE THIS…SHIT, I’LL ALWAYS BE ALONE. OH, THANK GOD, I WILL NEVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT CLEANING THIS ROOM. Or some variation on some vicious cycle shit.
More to say, but I’ve said enough.
You have these days that you think will never be over. No, you think they’ll never arrive or you’ll never survive them and they’ll never pass by. These days appear, at a distance, to be the calendar’s version of a klein bottle. A groundhog’s day. If you can somehow manage to get yourself inside of one, you’ll be there forever.
Today was the festival jurying and it took forever, or so it seemed at every juncture, but the envelopes were sealed and provided I fix the errors I’ve already found, it went incredibly smoothly. Everyone was pleased and nobody died. The day was so beautiful. So beautiful, that naturally, I had to reward myself and I screwed up and ate a sandwich. Just a couple pieces of bread, but instead of cascading and going emo about the errors and my life, I went and got an excellent dinner at my mother’s with some leftover pork loin and asparagus all kind of glazed in garlic and olive oil and herbs and some iced tea. My mother, though she would never describe herself this way, is a kitchen witch. She can make anything – nearly – certainly anything that would come to mind for you to want to eat, but she makes it better than you (or I ever could) and it makes you feel what she wants you to feel. Happy, content, better than when you began. Wiser, somehow, settled, braver, stronger. This is a power I think many women, mothers, and I’m sure fathers (though mine puts grape jelly and parmesan cheese on toast as a bizarre delicacy) come to in time. But I bless my mother for this gift whether or not I ever am able to do so well, she’s saved me from a tremendously painful and wrong decision to go dive into some food that is going to throw me backwards. Instead, I am on track and excited to stay there. Just at about 10,000 steps, too! I may throw myself on the floor and struggle to get up a few times in the form of a sit-up.
I just am emotionally out of whack because work is stressful and I am trying to take time off but they need me so terribly much and this dude OKC-emailed me today and he seems vaguely sensible but at the same time, I am a hot mess and what am I inviting by responding when the driving and the body and the whole lack of…and at the same time, how much do I bitch about needing wanting craving someone to give a shit about me, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera? It’s a big fuzzy blip that will signify nothing and die a quick death.
After this, I plan to start re-ripping my finger tips on my guitar. I crave that simple struggle and the little rewards I get every time I try. Get some Dinah going there, too.
Well, no resting upon one’s laurels, there’s always more to do. And I want to not collapse, flan in a cupboard-style – here in bed.
The thing that one has to remember about a snowfall is that inevitably it melts. It may freeze up, but it will melt. The roads will clear, the clouds will dissipate, the seasons will turn. And you can’t live in hiding forever, you have to learn to be brave and sometimes in so doing, you realize that there is nothing to fear at all or that what is frightening can be surpassed.
Today has been a good day, personally. The return to work after nearly four days off was hard, harder than I expected. The caricatures I make my co-workers into in my head when I’m away from them and at a distance from our work, sort of shadow their actual persons like an aura of snark that I see before I see them. I want to laugh or roll my eyes, but it’s all I can do to not respond to that at all. So I’ve been slower than I’d like, and I’m still not really invested in the way I should be – in giving it all my effort to catch up and organize the office and be a good egg. Maybe I’ll do well tonight and give myself enough sleep to wake up without feeling like I’m dragging an anvil behind me as soon as I pull myself up from the mattress.
I have tracked all my food and given that I know what I’m eating – I’m eating more of good things, and none of these things like Chipotle burrito bowls or ambrosia or divinity or whatever else I used to sign myself over to. This is not to say that I might not have one tomorrow and live with it, it’s only that I know what’s in it and it will screw up my totals and I’d rather get closer than further. Not off-limits, just a choice. Today I gave a flying fuck and I need to actually eat more and I’m not sure what to have? More carrots, maybe. Maybe a couple Triscuits.
I’m reading an excellent blog about something that I know is important to consider now and is strongly impacting how I’m developing this diet and what it’s looking like. Justmaintaining.com is helping me look at this from another angle. That eventually I will lose the weight – and then, what? Life is going to continue on, blogging will continue on, things will change, but nothing will stop. How do I plan on maintaining being a 130 pound person healthfully and well? Do I plan on maintaining it? Do I imagine myself getting on the scale at 130 and getting off and getting some ice cream, suddenly free from these shackles of thinking about food and exercise and water and “am I doing this right/enough?” No. Not consciously. But I know that I feel like things would be easier and maybe that’s not necessarily the case.
It’s just interesting to consider that life is a struggle. Front to back.
So, I’m off to exercise. I’d rather not, of course, but what changes, Bartleby, when you’d rather not do anything?