Not Otherwise Specified

7/4/2016: This has been saved as a draft for over two years. I found it today because I’m once again in a weird place where I don’t know who I am or what I’m trying at. I’ve been reading old emails, scrolling way back in time on social media, I’ve even got a box of old diaries from my teens that I am not quite brave enough to look at. I always encounter a stranger when I read what the younger me had written. Today I started reading the words below, expecting to be annoyed with my old self for getting it wrong again and not knowing a thing about myself or life or anything at all. But I met myself here on this page, and it is such a warm and unexpected gift. 

 

Something…is wrong with me.

I either don’t know what it is or I’m hiding from it because the knowledge of this wrongness is too much to try and reconcile with myself. Changing seasons usually send me into a tailspin; in the fall it’s the worst but spring has it’s own way of tearing a person apart.

It’s times like these that English fails me because we just don’t have the words for this. This…bursting restlessness. I want to explode outside of my body and straight up into the sky. And I’m trying to fold laundry or make a cup of tea or drive somewhere and my body is screaming, “Wrong! Wrong!” It’s like my skin is hanging on by a thread. It feels so urgent, this change I need to make.

I posted a few old essays (that’s what I’m calling my blog posts these days. My collection of personal essays. Roll with it, OK?) yesterday, I found them while I was digging through the archives of my old blog. I was trying to remember myself and see if I was still the same person, trying to snap myself back into my body since it feels lately like I’ve been hovering just above. I grabbed a few that I liked, where I felt like my writing was either funny or relatable or very, very honest. Some of the others things I read were as if they were written by a stranger. Instead of snapping me out of my funk it made me dive deeper. How can I change so drastically? A lot of my writing, both private and public, used to focus on food. I was food obsessed, always trying to find the right combination, the right lifestyle, the right amount of food, so that I could finally be at peace with it.

When you have a history of disordered eating, any peace you can make with food seems like the most important thing in the world.

Going vegan was almost a spiritual experience for me, I felt such relief and I really felt that I had closed the door on my twisted relationship with food. I’m not vegan anymore, which is obviously where this post was heading, and I almost didn’t even notice it. This is because, and this will be shocking, my bad relationship with food has never actually been about food. It’s been about me. The whole fucking time! It wasn’t going vegan that made me feel at peace with myself, it was being confident in a decision and trusting myself. I never do things like that. I don’t see myself, ever, and I don’t expect others to see me. So even when I made a good decision with my diet, and I felt happy and proud, it still wasn’t about the food. I never even noticed myself in there.

What’s happening now…I couldn’t even tell you. Most days I don’t really know if I’ve eaten or not, or had anything to drink aside from coffee. Several times a day I find myself so caught up in my work or my task or daydreaming that my body physically pulls me back into reality because I’ve actually stopped breathing and don’t realize it until those alarms of adrenaline and ear ringing go off to let me know something is wrong. I stop breathing, and I don’t even notice it until I’m…I guess about to die?

I’m not caring for myself, I’m not noticing myself. It’s happening again, and the last place it showed up was in my food this time. It’s always just been a symptom of something larger and it’s so literal and obvious I almost want to smack myself in the face.

Oh look. I’m not giving to myself. I’m not making the right choices, my priorities are wrong, I’m not setting my future self up with health or happiness. I don’t like myself and I’m being a total dick to me.

And…it’s easier to continue on the strange broken down path you’re on than to stop and face the truth and make the hard decisions. It’s a matter of believing you can do the work, believing you deserve a different life or a different path, and having the support to know that you can start over and the messy pieces that come shooting out of the wrong life aren’t going to be the foundation for your new one.

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Non-Comittal Curry and Too (Much?) Painting

Today is the last day of my vacation, and I stupidly made plans to go back to work on a Friday. I’m turning my Friday into a Monday morning, even worse I’m turning it into the Monday morning after a long summer vacation. I’ve ruined Friday, basically. I’m not even going to wear jeans, it just doesn’t feel right. I was trying to squeeze in lots of playing and vacation-y type stuff today so I could remember what it felt like to see my children during the daylight hours. We went to a nearby state park for a few hours this morning with my sister in law and her two girls, then afterwards while Super Boy and Darlin Girl were napping I took the opportunity to head to the DMV for 2 hours with the mission of getting a new license with my new married name issued. Mission accomplished. Husband went to work and Super Boy and I decided to get our paint on. I have all these wooden frames left over from the wedding (used for table numbers) and I thought Super Boy might have a blast painting the crap out of them. I was right:

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Not sure what we’ll use them for. I’ve been meaning to personalize his room a little bit by putting up some photos and I think putting up the frames he painted will be a nice touch. He hasn’t quite figured out the difference between “too” and “so” and he frequently mixes them up in really adorable ways. Right after he was finished painting he said, “Mama I too painted!” which roughly translates to “I painted so much!” He’ll also say things like “I too like it” and “This is too nummy” as if a thing like too nummy even exists. Silly little guy.

Anyway as I was packing up our paint supplies, which included some huge scraps of brown craft paper that just appeared in my house recently without explanation, SB announces, “Mama I too hungry!” And the clock is telling me it’s 6:30pm which means my dinner window is about to close and I am veering dangerously into sandwich territory. That is not a place I like to be.

As a mom, and more specifically, as a person who is responsible for making food appear for my family, I’ve found it to be pretty important to have a handful of meals can be easily thrown together without a whole lot of time or effort. I make a potato (or chickpea, or lentil or…whatever) curry that I personally think is delicious and my toddler actually eats it, so I consider it a success all around. Today I will share this non-committal curry with you and I hope it’s something you can add into your rotation when 6:30pm surprises you (which must happen to other people, right?)

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Vegan (Potato, Chickpea or Lentil) Curry

3 cups cooked basmati or jasmine rice

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 red/yellow/green pepper, chopped (I prefer green or yellow for some contrast to the tomatoes)

1 can diced tomatoes (or about 2 cups of diced fresh tomatoes)

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or about 2 cups of dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight

1 can coconut milk

1/2 c frozen or fresh peas

curry powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt to taste

optional: sub 2 cups cooked potato (cubed) or 2 cups of lentils for the chickpeas

I start out by getting my rice going, rice generally takes a long time so I’d rather let that cook while I’m working on everything else. I like the Trader Joe’s brown basmati rice, or any rice will do. Tonight I used white basmati rice from Archer Farms aka Target’s fancy brand. After your rice is all set, heat some oil in the bottom of a pot (olive, coconut, whatever). When it’s nice and hot toss in your onions and let them cook for a couple of minutes until they’re fragrant and translucent. Then add your diced garlic being careful not to burn it. Next add your peppers, tomatoes and chickpeas. Let these all sort of cook down and blend together for about 5 minutes and then start adding your spices. The combination is really up to you, I have to keep it fairly mild since I am feeding this stuff to kids after all. I usually go with 1-2T of curry and 1T of cumin, and then the smidgiest little bit of cayenne pepper. You can totally add more or use a different kind of curry and add ginger if you’re into that sort of thing. Let the veggie mix get coated with the spices until it takes on a yellowish hue, like this:

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Next, add the coconut milk. Make sure it’s well mixed before you pour it because coconut milk tends to separate really quickly and it looks pretty gnarly. So shake that can. Bring that up to a boil then lower the heat and let it simmer for a bit after adding your peas. I think 20 minutes or longer is good, but I usually just go “Ok it’s hot! Now it’s time to eat!” because I can’t wait. If you have (or make, if you’re super woman person) some garlic naan on hand, now is the perfect time to toast it up under the broiler or in your toaster oven.

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When I first started experimenting with vegan cooking I didn’t think it mattered what kind of “milk” I used in recipes. I have used vanilla soy milk in dishes that absolutely do not call for it, and I’ve ignored the call for heavy cream and used the almond milk I had on hand. I am by no means an expert but I’d say when interpreting “traditional” recipes, if you want your stuff to taste good, try to match the ingredients as closely as possible. Anyway, the point is, coconut milk is amazing and will make or break this dish. This recipe tends to be a little soupy, which is great because when you pour it over rice everything gets all absorbed and dare I say it, almost too nummy to bear.

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