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Food Relationships

“You know, I wasn’t eating when we met.”

“What?” I queried. “You didn’t eat?”

“No, you didn’t notice?” asked my husband.

He proceeded to explain that he was riding his bicycle all the time, not really eating breakfast or lunch, and what he did eat for dinner was largely prepared foods like Ramen Noodles. Occasionally, when I would cook something he would participate, but largely it was the variety of pre-packaged foods.

I mentioned this to my mother, who was shocked to learn I hadn’t heard of this phenomena before. The phenomena being that men don’t eat until they meet someone, get married, and are (force) fed 3 squares a day.

Food relationships are very interesting to me. To continue on this theme of food obsession, I now have more fodder to explore and contrast. My husband likely didn’t eat to save time and money. Regardless, this relationship he had with food wasn’t very healthy. Growing up, I also didn’t have a healthy relationship with food.

When I was in 8th grade, I was 5’2″ and weighed about 130lbs. I was pretty well developed as puberty had hit. But, I was not the skinny twig as many of my classmates, and therefore, I felt I was fat. I hated eating in front of classmates for fear I would be judged for continuing this idea of fat. Like many girls, I hated my body and this perception I felt others had of me. I would often skip breakfast and lunch, then I would consume dinner, ravenously.

When I think about how obsessed our society is with food, I think of these scenarios. Not eating to save money, not eating to maintain a terrible vision of what looks good, eating in different ways to ensure optimum health, the wrestlers who make weight by being muscled anorexics. What are we really doing when we maintain these habits?

As my high school years wore on, and I created more meaningful lasting friendships, my confidence rose and so did my eating habits. Through my first college years, I stopped the unhealthy meal skipping and began to think about food in a more enjoyable way. I learned that I really do like to cook. I learned that I can cook and people enjoy the combinations of food I create. I remembered that I do enjoy eating and sharing meals with people. On one hand you could argue that I grew up.

Why do we struggle so much, though, with these food obsessions? Today we have Jamie Oliver in his food kitchen trying to show one school at a time how to produce healthy meals in public schools. On the other hand, we have a variety of celebrity chefs (think Gordon Ramsey or any on the Food Network or Bravo) entering kitchens across America, competing, and centering their obsessions around gourmet food. Then, we have the food shortages across our planet and country, the ability of the “haves” versus the “have nots” to access quality food — the irony being, here in the States, we are the among richest on our planet. And, then, we have communities all across the country with children suffering from emotional distress and food related disorders.And, finally, to add insult to the whole concept – there is the growing concern of food allergies and knowledge around food sensitivities – concepts that sometimes fall right in the face of the cultural concept of food.

We need nutrition to sustain us. A more enjoyable method to receive that nutrition is, arguably, through a good meal. Instead of just breaking bread with another and enjoying the nutrition gifted, we obsess.

Please, add to this discussion. How do you obsess about food? Do you? Do you know others that obsess about food? Can you understand?

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Focus on Fears

Cover of "The Culture of Fear: Why Americ...
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We live in a Culture of Fear argued Barry Glassner. He succinctly argued in his book published in 2000 (pre 9/11) how we live in a society that focuses so much on fear that we perpetuate the myth that we live in a very dangerous scary world. When you look at the statistics, he continued, you find a different picture: we are actually safer today than we were 40 years ago. Glassner writes in a similar vein as Michael Moore, Eric Schlosser, or Morgan Spurlock. They all poke holes in our collectively held beliefs in order to let power shine through the meta narrative under which we operate.

We all have fears. They guide us, warn us, prohibit us. A journalist friend of mine countered Glassner’s argument mentioning that it’s a societal problem when violent crime doesn’t make the news. Glassner argued we spend too much of our focus on it. My friend, after interning in a large city, saw it as a problem when the violent crime was so common it was no longer news worthy.

In my 20s, when I read Culture of Fear and began to understand my political and societal opinions, I came to the conclusion or belief that we definitely did focus too much on our fears. Reading Last Child in the Woods tidies that theory by exploring how we lose creativity and independence when we let fear guide and we protect children from unknowns in such a way we prohibit their natural curiosity. Free Range Kids usually agrees with that concept of paralyzing fear and its detriments rather than perceived gains.

Okay, that all said, the basis of the intellectual argument Рbut how does it fly in the face of every day parenting? What does it really look like when you consider this gift, your child, you have been given to care for, love, and protect Рwhen faced with simple every day realities? How do you balance fostering this curiosity with protecting them from  unnecessary harm?

I don’t often talk about my own personal fears on this blog because somehow it seems a little too morbid. I am superstitious too, so if I voice these fears, will I encourage the fear’s own realization? I was encouraged, though, by my friend’s post describing her frustrations and feelings of inadequacy when dealing with another new parental challenge.

Levi and, two days in a row, were driving at a crawl stuck in a normal traffic jam as cars get back logged against one light that never seems timed efficiently. It’s been warm, so the windows are down, and I’m listening to Levi chatter, the hum of classical music on the radio, and a squeaky wheel? What was that, thinks my brain. It’s intermittent, no discernible pattern, but sounds like the right back wheel. Great, Levi’s tire. The first day it happened, we weren’t in traffic very long, so the thought fleeted and flew away. I forgot to tell my mechanic husband. The next day, traffic was heavier, so I had more time to listen to this intermittent squeak. I called my husband and reminded him, and he said what I was thinking, “That’s not good.”

Prior to my calling him, all I could envision was getting on the bridge where people drive 10-15 mph over the speed limit. I’ve been in a vehicle when the wheel bearings are going – it’s not fun. I saw, from the comforts of a modified tow truck, the wheel break off this van when the bearing is going bad and it drops, skids, and the wheel tumbles off into the ditch on the other side of the road into the field. Fast forward 8 years to today. Cars don’t seem to break on my husband while he’s driving them, they seem to break on me; me who knows little about their mechanics. So, all I have, it seems, is this fear.

Flag of the Red Cross
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Hearing this squeak, all I could picture was driving on this bridge where people drive too fast, me in the right lane, as the wheel breaks off the car. We, of course in my vision, are at the crest of the bridge, suddenly the car lurches left as it struggles to maintain momentum with a missing tire. We cross traffic, and somehow, physics pushes us through the sturdy copper and iron walls of the bridge and sends us plummeting into the river. My desire to plan ahead is thinking through this fictitious fearsome scenario wondering if I’d be able to unbuckle Levi from his car seat while we are plummeting into the river below. I wonder how loud I would have to scream in order to attract necessary attention for the help we’ll need. I am reminded of why I want to take the American Red Cross first aid classes because Levi, currently, doesn’t know how to swim or hold is breath. I am not a strong swimmer, thinks my brain in this scenario, would I be able to unbuckle Levi, grab him through the back seat, and what would the best option be, leave the windows rolled down as the water rushes in, or put them up now, and have to push against the force?

I can’t decide.

My husband looks over the car after we return home, safely. He cannot find anything noticeably wrong with it. He has been working on these cars for the better part of 15 years. My husband is very mechanically inclined. (Not just because he’s in a diesel mechanic apprenticeship, either.) I trust him with our cars. I trust his intentions for mine and Levi’s safety. I am reassured that I have a caring mechanic at home to examine these pesky squeaks that I don’t understand. I am comforted that I have a way to tackle these fears.

Bad things happen to good people, every day. If it’s my time to go, there is nothing I can about it except try before to be the best I can be. This vision, this fear, the takeaways: get Levi into swimming lessons, reexamine the Red Cross training, and be thankful for the days we have now.

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Monday, Manic Monday

Sleeping .
Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Well, today didn’t really feel manic, per se, but dang it – I am still tired! Life is busy right now, and we are in adjustment period. So, when that happens, sometimes I come home and just sleep. I have been up, after getting home from work at 5:38pm, for about 45 minutes. I have some tea steeping, and then it’s back off to bed.

The only thing that really made today Manic was the tiredness that pervaded. I woke up tired, I went back to bed tired, and I woke up again tired. I functioned fine at work until about 3pm. The drive home was murderous, with yawns every few minutes. This new route, though, guaranteed a home arrival in under 40 minutes, tired or not.

So back to bed I must go lest I start tomorrow the same way!

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Never Enough

Pool time.
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Quiet time. I am absolutely amazed at how much reading, writing, quiet, thinking, pondering time I need. No matter how much I get, it never seems to be enough. I don’t know what the perfect equilibrium would look like. A perfect balance of flitting between thinking, doing, and acting on ideas, fantasies, and time with those I care about.

Identity. I identify myself as an Introverted-intuitive-feeling-judging person on the Meyers Briggs scale. I recently tested at having these top five strengths: input, intellection, belief, learner, deliberative. Both scales – both themes – remind me I need refresh time to be my best, time to let my ideas stew (or simmer and perk), time to create ideas, time to ponder all that goes around. Remembering, knowing these things validates what I feel are needs, daily.

Self awareness. We continually grow up. We continually evolve. We learn more about ourselves – what we like, what we don’t like, what we’re good at, what we’re not good at – we become aware. Part of the “input” and “deliberative” identities are these thirsts, these cravings for knowledge. The need, the drive, to ask questions, take it all in, process it, and come up with a grand idea (intellection) or understanding. Sometimes it feels throughout my 20s, I spent a lot of time taking in these inputs, slowly figuring out what they meant to me. Should I get a tattoo? What would socialism really look like? Do I care about playing the guitar? What makes art art? What do they want out of life? Would I want the same things?

Sometimes, throughout those ponderings in my 20s, I felt lonely wishing I had another to share these ponderings. Now, I am married and have a child, and my pendulum has swung the other way. They don’t process in the same way I do. My new challenge is striking that balance. I yearned for so much before, and now, how do I match these things up?

Right now, it feels like there is never enough time. Never enough time to write. Never enough time to read. Never enough time to garden. Never enough time to knit. Never enough time to bake bread. Never enough time to sweep, vacuum, clean the bathroom. Never enough time to meal plan. Never enough time to sort through the day. Never enough time to read 1,000 books to Levi. Never enough time to clean up the paint I want him to play with. Never enough.

Part psychological, yes I know. The question I cannot seem to answer is how to make it enough? What do I let go of in order to have enough? Often, this seems like the biggest challenge in this act I call balance. Self needs. Mother needs. Wife needs. Work needs. How can they be in equilibrium? Or, is it not about equilibrium at all? Is it about giving my all on self one way, my all as mother the next, wife the day after, work the day after that? Withdrawing and participating like ocean waves? I want it all.¬† You can’t have it all. I want it all.

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Sick … Again!

Stayed home from work and school today. Levi had the energy, but I did not. We’re both snotty and coughing. We took a four hour nap together. I wanted co-sleeping when he was an infant, and he didn’t. Now, I don’t and he does. It was sweet though, waking up with him snuggling my arm. At least he lays still, even if the getting to sleep is full of squirms. That’s all for today. Time for tea and bed.

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More Hives

I’m tired.

I’m going to bed.

This stress of hives

(idopathic anaphylaxes)

Keeps a pain in my head.

He walked from the play structure, through the door, down the tiled hall to the trains. I look up and see red on his chin. “Levi come here.” He continues to play. “Levi come here.” He comes. Hives. From March 16th to now, that is 3 counts of hives at daycare. 1 count leading to ER. And 1 very minor count solved by Bendadryl at my mother’s house.

We are epi-pen jr. prepared now. What is this cause? This anxiety is making me very very anxious.

Must charge phone lest we have a recurrence tomorrow. Please no thank you.

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Levi at the computer.

I am sorry I drove too fast.

I am sorry I took that last turn sharp.

I am sorry I brushed your hand when I was reaching for that piece of paper.

I am sorry I bumped into you.

I am sorry dinner is late.

I am sorry these treats don’t have the taste I would have desired.

I am sorry I did not anticipate your needs more effectively.

I am sorry I did not read your mind.

I am sorry.

He said, “You know you apologize an awful lot. It’s just that the militant feminists I used to work with got it ingrained in my head how women are taught to apologize for their very being.”


I am sorry I apologize too much.

Where did it begin for me? I have always apologized profusely – in some sense, for my very being. I recall, since high school, always apologizing.

There are events that I specifically recall that would have helped shape this low self esteem, awareness, etc. As an adult, though, I have the ability, the knowledge, the power to rise above the trials from childhood. It’s interesting what we choose to hang on to in order to cope.

Here is the challenge to myself: stop apologizing.

I am proud of these flat tasting muffins, for I know that next time I should use four bananas of that size.

I am proud of my fast driving because I like to be on time and I like to pretend, within the speed limit, that I could be a NASCAR driver.

I am not sorry dinner is late. I needed that 15 extra minutes writing to process my day before I wrapped my head around a task that I both loathe and love.

I am not sorry I did not anticipate your needs fully because I did try. If my attempt was not good enough for you, that is not my problem no matter how much you try to make it.

I am not sorry that I cannot read your mind: mine is enough.

I am not sorry for being.

I am becoming more aware. I will empower my life and those around me. We will create a better, more equal, more environmentally sound, safer, freer world.

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A word about bleach

Bleach Bottle Image
Image via Wikipedia

I began this post on August 10, 2008, where I had recently posted a few items regarding cleaning: general house cleaning and whiter laundry. It seems that quite a few people are trying to find ways to make their whites whiter. As I look at the search terms, I noticed that often the search is ‘how do I make my whites whiter laundry’. The same old question that maybe has been plaguing our civilization for centuries continues to plague us now. How do we keep clothes looking good? For some people, tipping the balance into an eco-friendly home routine is pretty easy but for others hanging onto these old standbys like bleach is difficult to let go. Even in natural cleaning books, many suggest using bleach to kill germs and make whites whiter.

Remember a few things when considering bleach.

  • It is an acid, a very caustic acid and a poison.
  • It eats at clothing (and other things) a lot faster than alternatives like vinegar.
  • Vinegar we eat and is much safer for children and pets.

My original intention with this post was to summarize some scientific studies that displayed the horrors of bleach. Time, life, and lack of information in my searches made my original goal change. Now, I just want the post out of my draft folder! When this topic again interests me… hopefully it will be grand.

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For the Love of Food

Image by alexis22578 via Flickr

Some people are irate with foodies. They find their expensive taste trite with adjectives and insulting to the common man. They are fed up hearing from Alice Waters and Michael Pollan with their organic, free-range fare.

I am tired of having to scour over ingredient lists ensuring that there is at least one thing I can pronounce. I am tired of having to wonder about food security as more and more things come from overseas when there are places in my state (Oregon and Michigan) that can prepare the same things. I am tired of buying local when the product is from a CAFO and when I open it up, it’s rank with age.

I am tired of learning about all the foods that cause cancer in their production and consumption. I am even more tired when a friend loses another loved one to breast cancer because they live in an area where “conventional” agriculture is the norm.

We need food to nourish us. We use food as a way to stay connected with those we care about in the form of shared meals. Why shouldn’t we enjoy it?

Sure, it’s an irony when we describe a meal to a fellow foodie, and we find ourselves apologizing for the “conventional” items on our selves or in the dish – holding ourselves to a higher standard but neglecting to forgive ourselves because of budget realities.

I would rather enjoy the food I eat. I would rather explore and enjoy combinations like fresh spinach, goat cheese, and eggs, scrambled or made into an omelet. I would rather experiment with spicy rice, onions, and tomatoes, after having fabulous combinations at the local Mexican restaurant. I would rather make my own, hearty, whole wheat bread than eat the fluffy, rubbery cardboard you can buy in the store (yea, even the good stuff).

There is something magical knowing I created the yummy scents that are emitted from my kitchen. There is something empowering about turning a fresh mushroom into a delicacy. There is something magical about adhering rice and veggies with an egg when I make my own fried rice. There is something magical about realizing that, yes, I can cook and yes, I do care about the ingredients. Be it because of politics or the joy of cooking. Think me trite, if you must, but I will gladly serve you a slice of my bread and make you a homemade meal, nearly anytime.

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If You’re Not in the Queue

Millenium Walkway
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“If you’re not in the queue, you won’t get served!” chirped the brunette with horn-rimmed glasses behind the counter. She said this to a perky blond in her 40s, who I assumed was from Texas. I was in England. I had just navigated my way through Heathrow down to the Underground. I was properly in the queue, waiting my turn to ask my questions and buy my tickets.

I was reminded of that philosophy today while in line at the doctor’s office. I had to set up my June appointment. When I got out of my appointment, there was a lengthy line. So, I walked, patiently, to the end of the line. I obediently stayed my distance behind folks in front of me, and I obediently waited behind the sign instructing me to “WAIT HERE.”

See, doctor offices have gotten much pickier since HIPPA rolled out in 2003. It was explained to me that the law was only adding a bureaucratic layer to what doctor offices were already doing. But, privacy certainly became much more important and at the forefront of doctor-patient-staff interactions. Forms had to be signed acknowledging privacy given and received, signs were placed instructing large personal space protections. We like our English heritage and the use of the queue.

But, some people still protest the queue. Like the woman with her son, in a wheel chair. I visit an endocrinologist for my Grave’s Disease. My endocrinologist is housed in the Arlene Schnitzer Diabetes Clinic at OHSU. We kindly refer to him as the “Bus Doctor” because there is this fabulous “bus” toy for all ages under 6. I assumed, with the lethargic, slooped stated of the boy that he was in some sort of diabetic coma.When she wheeled her son out of the office area, she neglected to get back in line opting for hovering in front of the desk – in front of the “STAND BEHIND ME” sign.

Then, the person in front of me moved away from the front desk, and I heard the gal behind the front desk politely scolded, nodding towards me, “She was waiting before you.”

When I got to the counter, the front desk gal explained that she couldn’t be rude. You don’t have to only yell at someone, though, to get a point across. I think she did okay by reminding the distracted mom that I was waiting, in the correct spot, long before her. I told the front desk gal about my London experience. She was very amused, but didn’t think she could do that.

I guess that’s why I’m fascinated with NVC now. A tool, a compassionate tool to allow us to tell people what we think. A tool that presumes reactions, room for reactions, and redressing of those reactions to clarify our original positions. A compassionate tool that allows for error assuming good intentions.

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