Food is so much more than fuel.
But today, and every day,
You need food to survive.
I need food to survive.
Even when I'd rather study its angles or discuss its politics,
When the theoretical feels more obtainable than the tangible,
When the child in my mind screams, "I don't want to eat!"
I need to suck it up
Chew it up
I need to eat food.
I can give myself the strength to continue living.
My main new year's resolution is to take care of myself. Namely, feed myself. Regularly. This is a scary goal for me. And I'm (working on being) okay with that.
The first three days of 2022, I did all right. I made scrambled eggs with dill just like Barton taught me, and ate breakfast. Not always lunch, but I did dinner okay. Yesterday, I had just 20oz of coffee until 4pm. I kept putting it off, because I was working, because I didn't have food in the house, because I was going to do yoga first but never did, because I was scared to make a decision about what to eat.
It's always surprising to me (even after all these years) how everything slowly plummets the further I get from the time I meant to eat. My muscle stiffness intensifies (doesn't help that I'm often deprioritizing food because I'm hunched over my laptop). My self criticism increase. Suddenly, by the time I venture out seeking nourishment, I'm a rabid, rude ogre who'll never succeed. Thirty minutes after eating, all fades to pleasant and able to believe in myself again.
Yesterday, I did try something new. In the past, when facing a day in which I let hunger get the better of me, I'd spiral into frustration. Telling myself how terrible it was to not prioritize my self-care (because really, I should know better), worrying about what I've done to my pre-diabetes body, strategizing like mad to make sure it doesn't happen again. Instead, yesterday, I tried (it's hard) to stay calm. I forgave myself. I just said, "Tomorrow I'll do better" and let myself be. I ate fried chicken, a croissant, two slices of bread with jelly, and a whole baguette yesterday. Maybe I wish there'd been some greens in there, or that it wasn't all centered in the last 5 hours of my day. But I decided not to worry about it. I'll do better tomorrow.
And today, I'm up earlier, and ready to do my yoga and eat my breakfast. What happened yesterday doesn't need to impact my today. There's an adage about depression recovery, that you can make it worse by thinking every sad thought is a return of that deep depressive state, instead of a wave that you ride temporarily. I've never been one to surf in real life (scaredy-cat!), but I've been getting better at surfing my emotions. I think surfers sometimes fall off, and just hang onto their boards for a while before going again, too. Sometimes we need to do that with food (whatever that means). It doesn't mean we've forever failed to feed ourselves. It just means yesterday wasn't so great in that regard. Today can be better. And if it's not, tomorrow can. But I'm still nervous. Can I actually do it? And keep doing it?
I'm still not ready to post any food or recipes. I'm not sure why you're reading this blog, but I hope it's not because you're looking for information! I just have thoughts. I do know how to cook some stuff, sure, but there's a lot I don't know. I'm one big scaredy-cat when it comes to food, especially sharing that food with strangers who might judge my technique or flavor combinations. I don't have any answers! I'm just hoping I get successfully get three meals into my belly today. And tomorrow. If you are reading and thinking along, and actually enjoying it, I'd love to hear from you!
Barton Cole wrote 1500 words every morning. Barton Cole is dead.
Barton was my high school best friend’s dad, a stalwart component of my teenage years. A former high-end chef, he was an actor, director, writer, and enthusiast of all sorts. He saw my wannabe-anorexic fear of food, and he taught me to love it instead. He taught me the beauty of a delicate flavor, and the confidence required for a soufflé (he said it was mostly about confidence). He gave me books to read, grammatical rules to follow, and a spoon to dip in the mayonnaise jar. He didn’t solve my issues with food, or inspire ME to write 1500 words a day, but he got me on my way. I didn’t learn from him how to be a great chef (I’m not); I learned the power and beauty of food.
While I can still hear his voice in my head, I will imagine he can hear my thoughts and read my words. I’ll picture him handing me another copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk & White, and gently suggesting I refresh my brain on the art of grammar. I’ll hear his disappointment when I refuse to limit my run-on sentences. His pride when I use a pithy word, or turn a phrase like he would. Mostly, I’ll think about food. I’ll share with you what I know. I know so much, and so little, about food. I won’t pretend I know all the answers, and you won’t look to me for perfection. Deal?
I’ll probably cry while I cook sometimes. For Barton, for me, for all of you. Because food is hard — affording it, picking it, making it, eating it — and sometimes we just want to give up and drink liquor instead. Or close our eyes and eat the same meal with no end. It's hard to deal with sometimes — wanting so badly for all to be beautiful and healthy, when it can't always be. Hating that every meal could not be perfected and shared. Sometimes we just need to eat something, anything, in order to make it through the day. That gets me sometimes. What about you? Do you ever hate food? Do you struggle to feed yourself, to connect with yourself?
Barton Cole is dead and gone, dead and gone. But you and me, we have to keep living. And living requires food. Good living requires beauty. I’d love for your help in bringing both to a more central part in my story. I will do my best to help you bring more of both into your life. If we cry a little (or a lot) along the way, or fail to cook, or fail to eat, that’s okay. I believe in you. I believe in me.