Monday, December 31, 2007

Hawks of the Old Year

I didn't see the hawk first. H called to me as I walked to the restroom. I looked up, blinded by the afternoon sun. Through that haze the outline of something in the tree came through.

We weren't sure at first what we saw. Then I realized it was a hawk. Through the lense it appeared as if it was eating something. We can't be sure's a mystery.

What a beautiful animal...and to see it in the middle of the city is both a joy and a sadness. The feeling is akin to letting go of a New Year. Beauty with sadness. Joy and change. These feelings all begean to mirge into one.

The Eve

I, Witness

Beverley Skeggs, in her book, Class, Self, Culture has an interesting chapter in how even the creation of a self is a classed venture. Telling involves power places in both function and subject: "One had to learn to tell in a particular way if one did not have access to the resources and authority to produce a self. This telling has a long history of making some groups public, whist establishing others with the option of being public or private."(134). In this sense, memoirs are privileged things representing access to things like education, leisure, etc. This makes sense, I think. Even those memoirs written under incredible pressure are written by those who can write which is a privilege. Most of these writers are educated...or in an act that creates even more complexity they have someone else write their memoir. They give their telling to one who has the privileges to be able to write it.

Skeggs points to the acquisition of stories by the middle class: "Just as the middle-class have always been able to use and access the bodies of the working-class for labour, not knowledge of and experience of others are used to shore up the composite of the academic reflexive self"(129). Telling becomes a kind of property. It is delegated to those deemed worthy enough to tell their stories and how the interpretation of those stories is often taken from us. In academia this becomes very pronounced in cases where the testimony is the object of observation.

While I don't always agree with Skeggs, I think the considerations she raises are important ones. While reading testimony is a way to give witness, it is nuanced in particularly cultural ways. One has to ask: who gets to set the guidelines for what constitutes as telling? Who gets to decides which stories are worth telling? What are the conventions that form telling? And how what do these things to do the act of witnessing?

Now I think the idea of being witness is a beautiful idea. But until Skeggs I never really considered that there might be political implications to witnessing and to testifying. What is it to bear witness? And what is it to give witness? What happens when those stories and those witnessings become an academic exercise? Is the witnessing the same? By what right do I interpret such stories? Do I diminish the role of witness when I tackle interpretation?

And lastly, what do we think about a culture that thrives on testimony? Isn't there something a tad voyeuristic about this kind of writing and thus our culture through it's fascination with memoirs? I think of the memoir The Kiss which I read many years ago as an undergrad. It was the story of a girl who never knew her father, meets him as a young woman, and proceeded to have an affair with him knowing he was her father. Mostly as I read the novel I felt repulsed. I didn't feel much sympathy, and honestly felt this was not something I wanted to be witness to. And to be honest I'm not sure if her testimony was about having some witness her story. More there was a kind of narcissistic glee in creating the beautiful out of the shocking. And also a kind of pleasure in the shocking. What does it mean to witness these things? Does not the telling itself motivate what kind of witness will be beared?

I think anyone who tackles memoirs has to ask these questions. We have to be aware that our society demands testimony in order to somehow make atrocity, pain real. And we sit not only as witnesses but judges. This is not a position I am entirely comfortable with but it is a position I am not sure how to change.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ginger’s Mundane World

I've heard a lot of internet buzz around this program that gets you ready to run a 5K. Now I have no desire to actually race (I HATE competition of any kind) but I do love to run. I checked out the website and thought "This is doable." It's nine weeks so long enough to form a habit but not long to make me poke my eyes out in boredom. Plus it eases you into running which means my knees are not likely to go out under me. I will have to buy one of those lovely, ever so fashionable black braces. Sexy. I can hear the cat calls as I'm running down the road...

In addition, I've also decided to shake up my eating a bit. First, I'm going to try core on the WW plan. This is basically eating foods that are not processed. You have some room for processed foods. I am doing this because I really need to detox my body from a couple of weeks of eating too much junk. It really effects how I function physically and emotionally. Next week, I'm going to try to go Vegan. H is having a fit about this one;P But I promised I'd not only make scrambled tofu but I'd actually eat it. It's partly his fault anyway as he bought me the Veganomicon cookbook last night. I just want to see if I could do it. And I want to see if it a, helps my horrible complexion and b, if I really will feel better.

Speaking of horrible complexion….I ventured out to the mall yesterday. Now the thing is I HATE malls. Badly. With great passion. I can spend a lot of time extolling the evils of the mall for anyone who cares to listen. Worst yet, we went to the snobby mall. I hate the snobby mall even more than the two regular malls we go to. And it was horrible. We went to the snobby bookstore which has a very cool children's section (and where H foolishly bought me the book <evil crackle>). There was the obligatory ultra skinny mom (do these women EVER eat?) in her even more obligatory mom's jeans. Now maybe I'm just a bitch (okay there is no maybe about it) but why on earth would you starve yourself to weigh like 80lbs when you're 5'9 and then wear mom's jeans? I mean come on, at least reward your amazing self control with jeans that don't make you look 80. And she was snotty with a horrible laugh. And this trend followed us throughout the mall. Our all time, hand down favorites though were the "twins." A mother/daughter pair both dressed in expensive, ugly beige dress slacks, cream silk blouses, silk scarves, and lots of big gold jewelry.

The only highlights of this horrible experience (which included a twenty minute wait in a Starbucks line cause mama needed coffee) were The Body Shop and Urban Outfitters. The Body Shop was a highlight because, well, I've never been in one. A certain friend (you know who you are) blogged about their tea tree oil facial cleanser so in a desperate attempt to find something to clear up my acne I decided to try it. As an added bonus none of these products are tested on animals. They have everything: make up, shampoo, soap, lotions. It was very exciting but I got quick before I dropped money we did not have. Urban Outfitters is not always a place I enjoy. It's a tad too trendy for me (although they did have a coat to die for). But I realized this time that the clerks just accept us as belonging there (even with all three kids). We get the nods reserved for those who "get it." And scarier I realized that I knew the music they were playing (Interpol). We have become, as I told Horacio, cool old people. But at least we were treated like the freaks of the universe (which is how everyone else in snobby mall treated us).

In other mundane news, we have watched a lot of movies. We watched the whole second season of "Big Love" in two weeks. We saw Hairspray. A good remake although there is this disturbing scene between Christopher Walken and John Travolta that has traumatized me for life. It made me put a bunch of John Waters' movies on my Netflix queue. I didn't know he made Cry Baby which is one of my favorite Depp films. We have "The Fountain" here which we need to watch soon. I also Stardust last night with U's homeschooling coop. I had a good time with my friend's sarcastic husband. It was a good movie. Lots of dark humor. We were all a tad disturbed when our kids cheered during a particularly gruesome part involving animals.
Well that's my mundane life for you… application to Chapel Hill is completed. Now for the four month wait from hell. Please keep your fingers crossed, light some candles, pray, whatever it is you do for H and I.

Bloggish Stuff

I suspect that the whole wonderful world of blogging has lead to a whole new vocabulary. I've been thinking about bloggish business this morning. I think my blog is a tad schizoprehnic. For instance, I still have some things to write about concerning memoirs, etc, but I also want to write about food, my plans to train for a 5K race, etc. And I've been wondering if it's too much for one blog.

On the other hand, I rather like that my blog is really reflective of me. I am not always the academic nor am I always crazy insane about food, diet, exercising. There is a part of me that feels like my blog is quite well rounded.

Does the bouncing from subject seem to disconcerting to those of you who read my blog?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Painful Retellings

What does it mean to generate a politics around telling experience when experience is precisely what the person may want to forget? Beverley Skeggs

Last night, my exercise in memoir writing became complicated. These stories that you have been reading here came from my exploration of the memoir format. I wanted to know what conventions come through the writing even when the writer is self conscious about those conventions. The experience defintely took a narcissitc quality of enjoyment as I relished in just story writing. But last night something went wrong. No not wrong. Perhaps amiss is a better word.

In the other tellings, I have been able to imagine a distance between the self typing and the self in the memoirs. The told self was very much a ficitional creation, and this enabled me to while expessing pain to not really feel it. There was an ability to concentrate on the writing itself. I focused on not just the story but the crafting of the story. Last night that all feel apart.

You see, I think I told something that I didn't want to tell. Each sentence I wrote just sunk me deeper into a kind of darkness of memory. I could still, 26 years later remember all belief I had in anything good disappearing. I remembered being so afraid as my mother wailed and moaned in that dark room. She didn't seem human to me at that point. We were already damaged people, and the damage my father inflicted that night broke us, I think. I don't think any of us ever recovered. We carry fresh scars from that morning. There are different ways to be broken.

But the story I wrote last night was not pretty nor even good. As a work of art it sucked. And I think it is because I told a story that I could not tell. A story that is not a story to me. It is a moment in my history that is like a nuclear explosion. I don't know why I told it. Why I even tried. I think perhaps it is because I thought that this is how one heals. You tell these painful things. You string them into pretty baubles for others to devour. Once you can write them, I thought, they no longer have potency on you. You turn their poison onto others.

Of course this raises some questions for me in terms of my academic work. I found myself laying in my bed last night nearly paralyzed in misery. All the feelings of my dad's leaving, the events that occured afterwards, all of it just pressed me down. And I looked at the bedstand where Palmer's book was and thought "Shit, her life was by far worst than mine. How did she do it?" Why do we tell these stories? What motivated her to put this work out? To create these stories (for that is what they are...memory is an unreliable thing) out of her pain, anger, and sorrow? What are the politics that moitivate us to make our emotional world into

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Ghosts

The year of my ninth Christmas we had snow. It didn't snow on Christmas Eve or Christmas but it had snowed earlier in that week. Maine still got amazing snow falls during that time. The snow drifts, pushed by the wind, reached the roof of our small rental house. My mom had dug a sloppy tunnel from the front door to the road. We had no car so the driveway remained snowed in until my mom made us shovel a place for my dad's truck. He was coming home for Christmas. We had not seen him for a couple of weeks. He worked away but was supposed to come home weekends. This was not the first time he disappeared. It was the first time that he sent us money for food, rent, and heat.

We spent the first half of Christmas Eve at my grandmother's house. She lived down the road from us within walking distance. I remember feeling a bit sulky that year. It was an odd year for me. I was nine. I had been a very innocent nine but a half year at the rough public school in this new town had hardened me. It was the year I had my first fight. It was also the year that I made my first best girlfriend. And it was the year that I stopped believing in many things. I sat sullen and disgusted as my brother received a stuffed dog (so miraculous everyone exclaimed that he got his when all he had been asking for was a dog). But at the same time I was excited as everyone opened the cheap presents I had purchased from Woolworth's. Those ambiguous emotions summed up the year for me. Half a child still believing in miracles, magic, love and half a child disgusted with the world.

My dad picked us up at my gram's. He smelled clean as he held me in his lap. My dad rarely held me. He acted uncomfortable with my body as I got older. But that night, he let me sit on his lap, and hugged me tightly. He didn't stay long at my gram's house. In fact, my mom and he fought about leaving. My mom wanted to stay a bit longer, and my dad insisted that we go home. Once home, they fought more. My mom yelled at him for not coming home for two weeks. They had just been married in November. I had half hoped that the wedding would mean less fighting. My dad ignored most of my mom's yelling, and finally said "Can't you just stop for tonight. It's Christmas."

After my mom read us "The Night Before Christmas," we went to bed. My room was right off the kitchen. It was small...almost like a closet. I could hear everything said in the kitchen though. My mom and dad stopped fighting once we were all in bed. I could hear my brother's jumping around though in the bedroom. My dad yelled at them a couple of times, and then I heard my mom and him "having sex." I pulled my pillow over my head and forced my excited self to sleep.

The next morning I woke up at dawn. I knew from past experience that my mom would make me go back to bed. It was impossible to go back to sleep though knowing that there were a ton of presents under the tree. I read a book until I could hear my brothers stirring in the room next to me. I ran out to the kitchen. It was cold, and dark. I tiptoed into the living room. The tree was lit and shone in the darkness created by drawn blinds. There were presents all around the tree. My brothers meet me at the threshold. We went into the room, and found our stockings. By the time my parents joined us we were eating candy and coloring in the new coloring books from our stockings.

Funnily, I don't remember what I got that year. I suppose Barbie stuff and books--that is what I usually got. Mostly I remember feeling very anxious that day. My mom was snappish, my dad restless and tense. He paced a lot, and yelled at us when we grew too loud. I remember my youngest brother, three at the time, walking around, fat in his droopy diaper with that stupid dog under his arm. My other brother acted haunted. I spent a lot of my time that day hanging around my parents' chairs. My dad snarled at me several times to go play, and pushed me with boot, hard, once to make me go play. I felt this sick feeling deep in my stomach, and kept waiting all day for the horrible something to happen. I knew this feeling all too well. We ate dinner at my grandparent's where my mom spent most of her time in my aunt's room crying. My dad was impatient with her.

We went to bed late. I feel asleep almost immediately but I woke briefly when my dad came in and kissed me goodnight. He said "I have to go to work tomorrow so I won't see you for awhile." I hugged him briefly before falling back to sleep. I remember thinking that he was crying but I had (and have) never seen my dad cry.

The next day I woke to my mom sobbing and moaning. Her cries were these great heaving sounds that rattled through the house. I lay still not wanting to walk out into her grief. This was not the first time she cried like this. It scared me. Her wailing sounded like a ghost. When I finally made it to her bedroom, she was wrapped in an old blanket, rocking in her chair, great sobs, mangling her throat. My youngest brother sat in her lap, patting her face while my middle brother, sat on her beds, his eyes wide in his pale face. She was holding a letter, and she handed it to me angrily as if I had written it. In it my dad told her that he had found someone else, and that he was leaving My mom's eyes were on me angry as if I had found him this new family.

"Did he say anythign to you last night?" she demanded.

I shook my head.

"Tell me!" she yelled and began to wail again. My brother cried silently on the bed. I crawled under the covers with him, and held him. This dark house wrapped around us as I stopped belieivng in not just my father but my mother. And even though a part of me knew it was true, I felt it was my fault. My fault that my mom felt so much pain. My fault that my dad had left us. My fault that the world was just one big hole that sucked everythign good away.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Dinner

Dinner was casual as usual. I realized today that I need to buy some nice serving bowls. I mean, we don't have much company but I think it would be nice to eat things I've worked hard to prepare on nice dishes. But that will have to wait until after the summer. I don't want to buy things to just put in storage (plus I'm trying to rent only a smaller unit).

I made most of dinner yesterday which was wise. I was so tired today that I ended up taking a two hour nap, and then my mom made a surprise visit. All I had to do was pop the cheese enchiladas into the oven and heat up the soup. The only "cooking" was assembling the salad.

First, the soup. It was very good. I modified a recipe I found online. Actually I basically remade the recipe. Here's my version:

Black Bean and Potato Soup


2tsps. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. cumin

1/4tsp. coriander

1/2 cup shredded carrot

4 med. red potatoes

4 cups vegetable broth plus 2 cups water (I don't care for the taste of too much broth)

1 cup corn (I used frozen organic)

1Tbsp. fresh cilantro

opt: a dollop of sour cream

Directions: Warm olive oil in a large sauce pan over low med. heat. Turn up the heat, add the onions and garlic and saute until soft. Add carrots, cumin , coriander and a little water (to keep carrots from sticking to the pan). Simmer for about 7 minutes. Add the potatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a boil. Add corn. Bring to another boil. Lower heat, and cover pan. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with coriander and sour cream.

The soup was a nice combo of comforting and spicy. It was perfect with the enchiladas which were a tad blah. I did combine coriander and cumin with the cottage cheese but it was still blah. The salad was great. The dressing was tangy, and the pomegranates were a perfect touch. I used sliced almonds instead of pumpkin seed kernels.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate today. We do obviously. It was a morning filled with joy and tantrums. Sleepy kids overwelmed with joy and presents tends to result in numerous meltdowns. Add to this even sleepier adults...well let's just say we all need some naps. Oh and some clothes! I bought xmas pjs for the kids but they just prefer being in their underwear.

The kids didn't get as much this year. I tend to overdo it. But this year I toned down and it was better. And so far all the toys have been played with...Umberto didn't overly thrilled with track sets but he has been playing with them for the last hour.

My kids don't watch any commerical tv (unless they're at my mom's) so they are not as exposed to adverstising as some kids. But they still get wrapped up in thinking they need to own certian things. This year I was really determinded to pick out things I thought they would play with. This means that we had less of that giddy excitement but I think that in the long run we'll bought htem things they'll enjoy. And they were happy and apprecitative..,

Right now H is reading "Knuffle Bunny" to the girls. Well Piper fell asleep...somethign I need to do. Defintely a nap day. I was up until about 2:30 and then was waken by Piper at 6:30 who had to come out and get her stocking (U and H were already up). I did go back to bed until 9:30 but all the interuptions have taken their toll...

Everyone is full from gingerbread shaped pancakes...

and we're listening to my xmas gift:

The Smith's A Hatful of Hollow. It has the best verision of "How Soon Is Now" I have ever heard. After this, we'll listen to my other gift Pylon. This is the first year H recived no cds and I recieved them instead:P But H did get a cool Oscar Wilde teeshirt...

He so has the style to pull this off...

Later we might head out to a movie. We have a huge supper to eat sometime and a big bottle of wine to drink!

Merry Christmas everyone!

My mom and her husband.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Cooking Begins

I started the cooking this evening. I'm trying to free myself up a bit from being totally stressed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Most of the presents are wrapped...funny story about that though. My mom took Umberto and Camille to her house Friday night so I used the opportunity to wrap their gifts. Poor Piper kept asking "Who's that for?" and finally ended up sobbing because she didn't think she was getting any gifts. I had to assure her that Santa had hers in the North Pole:P

Today, I started cooking. I didn't get as much done as I wanted though as I had forgotten some key ingredients. This always happens to me. I manage to get my pantry stocked with spices, flours, sugars, etc but I always forget things like butter and buttermilk. It was buttermilk today, and I was even at the grocery store. No pear cake tonight. Luckily it's not a complicated recipe. Plans for tomorrow are to cook the pear cake (to bring to my mom's house). Then I'll prepare the soup and get the casserole ready for Christmas day. I'll make the salad right before dinner.

But I got the two pumpkin pies done. One for us and one for my mom and her husband.

I think they came out very nice. It's a good recipe, quite simple to make. It also has a simple taste but I like that in a pumpkin pie. I want it to taste comforting and familiar. Notice the empty French wine bottle in the from my sister-in-law which reminds me that I also need to pick up some wine.

In addition to the pie, I assembled the mushroom phyllo appetizers. I HATE working with phyllo. In fact, I hate it so much that I usually only make big things with, pears pastries, or vegetable tarts. I have never tried my hand at smaller phyllo items so these little buggers were a whole new experience. The base was easy. I food processed (is that a verb?) button mushrooms, onions, and shiitakes. I sauted them in olive oil with salt, pepper, oregno, and nutmeg. The folding of the triangles was not so easy. You had to take sheets of phyllo, spray them with cooking spray, cut them in half, fold those halves into strips, put a dallop of filling on the strip, and fold them into triangles. You also had to be fairly fast as the phyllo dries out quickly. My first few were horribly ugly. But I got better at it.

I'll take a picture of them cooked. Tonight I wrapped them in wax paper and plastic to freeze them. Half of them

I'm Dreaming Of A...

A gray Christmas....warm but gray....and wet.
Sometimes I miss Maine...and snow.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Winter Solstice

When I first began to practice Wicca, I was only nineteen. Yule, the winter solistice, didn't mean that much to me. It was the Pagan Christmas. The imagery of the mother Goddess was beautiful but not really poignant. I never really thought much about Yule. What it meant, symoblized.

This Yule has come at a time when I'm feeling very insecure, very conflicted about many things. And while it would be easy to assioate this darkness with Yule darkness, I've rethought the idea of darkness. This time of year Neopagans imagine the God as the Sun King, dying as a sacrfice. But there is also the image that the Goddess is stirring with life. She is the force that brings the Sun King back to life, that brings the sun back to the earth. She is pregnant with life.

As the darkness presses in so early, instead of being trapped, I imagined myself as a seed. A seed tucked deep down in the earth. The darkness that wraps around me is not suffocating night but rather the earth. It is the earth filled with nutrients and power. All those feelings I have had for the last few months...these longings for something that I did not understand...these feelings make sense in this imagery.

What I want to germinate during this time....a love for my body. A love that I did know in Paganism and that I want back again. During this long darkness, I want to grow a new love for this body. I am tired to trying to escape it, change it, deny it. It's my body. It's who I am. I want to embrace that whoness. I am now a mother, and this body is a mother's body. It is the body that gave shelter to three seeds. I realized that much of my problem is that I am trying to see the body of the woman I was before kids. Instead of relishign in the body of a mother, I was ashamed. That seems poor payment for a body that carried and delivered three children.

Food Memory

Ernesto's post yesterday brought back my own food memories. As I talked with H about food and Mexico, I realized how connected my memories are to food. I know thills not likely the case with everyone but for me food is an intricate part of my history.

I love Mexico. Not just the food but the buildings, the people, the feel, everything. However when I start to think about Mexico my memories began with food. I remember the first day I walked around with H in Mexico City. We had flown in at night so we couldn't really see anything until the next day. H brought me to Zocalo. We stared at the Catherdal, watched the cops carry assualt weapons (will scan photo later). But what stands out the most was Sanborns. The building was beautiful with the blue tiles all over it. I had never seen a building like that before. And inside there was a giant estrella pinata hanging in the foryer. I remember H telling me that the waitresses looked pinatas in their big skirted uniforms. I was charmed though. I loved the big platters of pan dulce sat on the table (although as H says this is evil when you have kids), and the cups of strong coffee. We had eggs, Mexican style, and I was in love with the salsa.

And many of my memories of Mexico are connected to food. When we moved to Mexcio, H's

parents took us to La Opera and El Popluar for cafe con leche. I was very confused by the whole procedure but H's dad was sweet, and demonstrated for me: first the waitress would pour hot cafe into a tall glass wrapped in steel until you said stop. The cafe in Mexico was the best I ever had. I never had a bad cup of joe in that city. There were so many cafes that became part of my daily landscape.

And the markets...oh, I loved the markets. The piles of fruits and vegetables. The candies, the baked goods. We didn't shop for food at the market near H's house in the Col. del Valle. Instead we went to the Col. Doctores because it was cheaper. My American friends were all horrified that I went there....But the market near H's house had tlacoyos. I went there nearly everyday to get one. I loved the soft, crsipy dough filled with refried beans and the salsa...god it was perfect. Hot but not so hot there was no taste. The woman was there everyday with her husband (whose only job was to chat up the customers and take our money). She had a big white plastic bucket filled with blue dough. She would make the tlacoyols in front of you, frying them on a comal. She would pour the sauce over them, sprinke them with cheese, and as long as we went she handed the one with the hot sauce to H who would hand it to me. She would always act shocked even though this ritual happened at least four or five times a week.

I miss Mexico...H and I have just sat here reliving Mexico. It made us nostaglic and homesick.

Maybe if we don't get accepted we'll go live there for a year (if we can find work). And then I can spend a year eating...drinking....

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Do You Believe in Fairies?

Christmas with children is all about imagination. Children believe in things that we jaded adults have let go of in our wise old age. Sometimes, I wonder if it is imagination or if its that children have some kind of capacity to see things or believe things we don't. With Umberto there is a willing that isn't there with the girls. For the girls they just fully believe in Santa, the North Pole, and flying reindeer. Umberto is different. I think that there is a part of him that knows that there is no Santa (or is there?). But he's willing to believe. He literally wills himself into believing. It's an act of active imagining.

I don't remember much about believing in Santa. I know I did at one point. I can not even remember when I stopped believing. I remember when my cousins found out. My brother told them, and everyone was mad as hell. But I believed in fairies for a long time. Often I lived in places where there were lots of wooded areas. Even in the towns we frequented there were places secluded and dark. I remember little hollows against huge fallen logs covered in green moss. There were huge trees everywhere allowing bits of light to fall onto the leaves. I spent hours in the woods, reading and writing. I would look for fairies, look for signs. There was as I got older the same will to believe I saw in Umberto. I thought I could hear fairies singing and whispering when I followed tiny creeks. I built, in my mind, villages, places for the fairies. I used to leave bowls of milk out.

Discovering Wicca was more than just finding a religious home. It was a fulfilment of a guilty pleasure...being able to engage in a magical world that part of me wanted to exist. I was able to live partly in a world that was filled with supernatural beings and forces. One thing studying religious did was to finally deliver the death blow to that belief. I can no longer will myself to belief.

Umberto and I began to read the Spiderwick books a year ago. It's a wonderful series. Very dark. Filled with fairies of all kinds. I enjoyed reading these with Umberto, and even more enjoyed his own belief in fairies. Here I am, a vampire, sucking my child's belief because I feel unable to form my own. Belief is a fragile thing. A moment captured in a crystal. Shattered so easily.
What about you dear readers? Do you believe in fairies?


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hump Day

Does anyone know why Wednesday is alled hump day? I supposed I could google it but I'm too lazy. And it's my break. And I quit smoking (again) so I'm ugly as hell. Yeah day one on not smoking. This is seriously like the 100th time I quit. I just love smoking. Seriously. And since grad. school, I start smoking again in the Fall semester and then quit in December. I promised H I wouldn't do this again, and I really just need to not have to quit again. It sucks ass. But day one is down, and no one is dead.

I made some cashew burgers. Normally these are H's speciality but I needed to cook tonight.

I think they came out fairly decent. Of course these ones have bread crumbs. The first two were really crumbly, and I said to H "Are they normally this crumbly?" And he looked over "Did you put bread crumbs in them?" Ummm...ooops. Luckily, I had only started with two so these four came out nice and firm. I love the cashew taste in these, and the little bit of curry. It's nice.

As I stirring the curry into the onions, the smell hit me. It made me think of Indian food which makes me think of Boston. Boston was the first place that I had Indian food. When I was twenty, I think, I meet this guy at a Pagan festival. He was older than me, I think 35 at the time but we hit it off. We were sort of friends with benefits but the benfits didn't seem to be a big part of our friendship. Mostly I think it was that W was comfortable with me, and he wasn't comfortable with most people. I used to go visit him in Cambridge. He had this cute little condo tucked away off Mass Ave. I would come, and hang out, walk around while he worked. Then we go out and eat, etc. He brought me to Oh Calcutta. I was so excited. I had never had a chance to eat food from other places (in Central Maine we had only Chinese resturants although there was a Mexican resturant by the time we left). I remember the smell hitting me right before we walked through the door. I tried so hard to act cool but I was nervous. Wonder if I hated it? How uncool would that be? And then the first bites...god it was like sex! The spices on the tongue were so different, so spicy, so powerful. And I kept going up to try new things. I was so excited. W asked one of the waiters if they'd make some coconut soup for us, and the owners came out. They were so excited that this was my first experience with Indian food. They went into the kitchen and came back with all kinds of delicacies for me to try. And my love of Indian food remains.

One thing that stands out for me is that this was around the time when I was first giving vegetarinism a try. It was exciting to experience new flavors and try vegetables in a new way. I had never been much of a vegetable eater, and to be honest I was a Cheeto vegetarian. But this was one of the many experinces that lead to new thinking about food.

This memory came at an intersting time. I have been flirting with the idea of going vegan for a while now. We still eat eggs (organic) and we eat some diary (H and kids eat cheese, and I eat yougurt). We do make sure this stuff is organic but...I don't know. I haven't made a firm decision on this one but my experiences with vegan food and cooking is akin to what happned to me at Oh Calcutta.



We have not done school in two weeks! Yesterday, we did some stuff (none again today). Umberto is almost done the alphabet and we're moving onto word families. We're also studying maps. We made a diorama of our bedroom with doll furniture. Tomorrow we will make a floor map in the Social Studies book. We've been doing some silly xmas crafts which the kids enjoy. Last night we did them with xmas music cranked way up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Since I am a total foodie, I've been thinking for two weeks about our Christmas menu. Now we don't eat meat so the usual traditions were out. I found my menu looking through Cooking Light during one of our many forays to B & N. And since I do not do themes, I mix matched some things that look good. But there is a slightly Southwestern theme happening.

For the main course it's Red Chile-Cheese Enchiladas. This is more of a casserole than traditional Mexican enchiladas. It looks creamy and comforting. It also promises a bit of hotness. Too much creamy would be bad but creamy with a kick in the ass...perfect. I have definitely decided on the Ensalada de Noche Buena. This combines some interesting flavors including pomegranate and pumpkin seed kernels. Again creamy with some nice spices. Plus I am really coming around to fruit, spicy, and vegetable combos. I will be leaving out the grapefruit. Have not and can not even imagine ever coming around to liking grapefruit. I am making an appetizer not necessarily because I do the whole course thing but...Creamy Mushroom Phyllo Triangles. Not Southwestern but yum. I was thinking I could maybe do something with the spices though. Some cumin, coriander. I wish you could get spicy cream cheese. Now I have to figure out a soup. I was thinking some black beanish. And for dessert pumpkin pie because I just love pumpkin pie.

For Christmas Eve, we're going to my mom's. I'm making an upside down pear cake, and I have the Hello Dolly Bars. I really want something peppermint but I am getting a tad intimated at the amount of cooking I have lined up. I'm thinking about a peppermint cheesecake from Trader's Joe. But then again it maybe too much. Maybe I'll just grab a cheese plate from somewhere. We always end up with way too many sweet things at my mom's house.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Winter Food

Winter is a great time to cook. I love the heat from the oven, and the smells of spices when it's cold out. And conveintly enough we hit a cold spell just as our break started. It had been in the 80s which makes it very hard to make winter comfort food. This weekend I made some sweets: Hello Dolly Bars which came out awesome. I made one pan to eat and another to freeze for Christmas Eve. I also made some Cocoa Cookies which tasted good but looked horrible.

Mostly though I've been in a tad of a rut with cooking. I need some new cookbooks but we're low on money until January but I might try to talk H into at least one:) Right now I'm lusting over two: Veganomicon and 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes. I admit that the first one attracted my attention with its title. I mean how could I resist? I can't imagine Cthulu as a vegan. But the recipes look so good: Samosa Baked Potatoes! Chickpea cutlets! And the slow cooker...well I decided I needed to get past my intense terror of burning the house down, and utilze a slow cooker in my very busy life. I enjoy cooking but there are times when I really don't have the time to enjoy. A slow cooker would really be perfect.

I'm also wishing for good cooking equipment. I wonder if I could talk H into this? Doubt it. I did get a free stainless steel wok with steamer from Harris Teeter (the grocery store). I was pretty excited, and can't wait to try it out. Definitely going to be doing stir fry this week.

Tonight I made Quinoa and Potatoes Casserole. I found it on a new blog I've been reading: My Aim Is True. I made a few changes. First, instead of dill, I added thyme and rosemary (I love rosemary with any kind of potatoes). Second, I cut the potatoes smaller. Third, since I am not a vegan, I mixed breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese for the topping. Thumbs up from both H and I. It was prefect for a cold day. Even Piper liked it! I also made up a vegetable soup. Very simple and good with the casserole.

Here's the recipe:

Quinoa, Leek & Potato Casserole

1 cup quinoa

1/2 tsp olive oil

1/4 onion (I used a sweet onion)

2 cloves garlic (I used four but we're nuts about garlic here)

1 tsp rosemary
¼ tsp. thyme

1 leek, chopped into rounds (just the white & light green part)

3 small red potatoes, sliced into bite size pieces

1 can pinto beans

1/4 cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup Parmesan

salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 425. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa (just like you cook rice). Get an 8x8 glass dish and line the bottom with the quinoa.
Saute the onion and garlic with the olive oil in a small skillet. Add the pinto beans, leeks thyme, rosemary and let simmer. Add salt & pepper to taste.
Boil the potatoes in water for a few minutes to soften.
Now layer everything up. The beans & leek mixture goes on top of the quinoa. Then drain the potatoes and layer them on top. Then cover everything with a generous sprinkling of breadcrumbs/parmesan. These will toast and give it a crunchy texture.
Bake for about 15 minutes. Serve up hot.

Winter Break Movies

I finished up school on Wednesday, and vowed to take a few days off before diving into my thesis. Thus I spent a few days basically playing on the computer (note the million pictures I posted) and watching movies.

We spent a thoroughly enjoyable couple of evenings watching Big Love. I love this show. It hooked me right from the beginning....likely due to my interest in "Mormon Fundamentalism" but even beyond that it's good drama. I've really come to like the characters even Niki who I kind of hated during the first season. Now I have a "love to hate her" kind of relationship. She's wonderful conniving but also strangely loyal in her own way to the "family." I also love Roman, the patriarch at the compound. I know total bad guy but still love him. I just took a quiz to see which sister I am, and it's Margene! LMAO. Now she's the last one I would have picked.

We also saw "This is England." It was good. I can't say I got very excited about it. It was disturbing in parts. I thought it interesting to get a glimpse of the National Front which one of my theory books centers around. But...well it just seemed like such a typical story about racism and nationalism. I mean, for someone who cares about this stuff it just seemed like "Well yeah." I've seen a lot of good movies that make me think this. I felt this way about American History X and Crash. Both were good movies and I thought they were well-done but they just seemed to lack a bit of complexity. They didn't make me uncomfortable nor did they make me examine myself in any kind of profound way. They made it too easy to say "That's not me nor could it ever be me."

Maybe it's because H and I watched a movie called "The Believer." This movie was amazingly complex and incredibly disturbing. It is about a Jewish man who becomes a Neo-Nazi. It explores his entrance into this extreme group, and the intense self-hatred he struggles to reconcile with his heritage. It made me realize that racism is an intensely internalized kind of thing, and it's something that makes us do really crazy shit. I don't know if I can even begin to put into words how this movie made me feel. It was the most painful, hardest movie I have ever seen on racism. More importantly it made me question how racism lives in me. What ways am I racist without even necessarily being aware? It made me question how racism becomes self-directed. I think this movie makes that a dramatic move but I think in reality it is often much more subtle. I know for me this happens with class. There ways that I hate myself, ways that I mock "rednecks", etc that come from this intense conditioning that being low class is a very bad thing. Basically, this movie made it impossible to exnogerate yourself from hatred. That's a hard kind of thing to sit through.

Tree Decorating

Tree Decorating
Originally uploaded by gstick61

New Publication

My creation
Originally uploaded by gstick61


My creation
Originally uploaded by gstick61
Some things that caught our attention Sunday afternoon.

Us In December

My creation
Originally uploaded by gstick61

Saturday, December 15, 2007

So Today Is Saturday

I went to the WW meeting.

All was good at first. I really do like my leader. She's reasonable. I like the women who go to the meeting with me. They understand me. They understand that one person can eat an entire chocolate one sitting. There is something nice about being with people who get this. It really is like an AA meeting or something. Hi I'm Ginger, I can eat whole cakes in a single bound. And everyone kind of nods in understanding. It's safe and comforting. It's one of the few places where my eating habits don't make me feel like a freak.

But, remember there's always a but, there is a nine year old at the meeting. A FUCKING NINE YEAR OLD. She's chubby yeah but shit does she need to diet? I mean is there anothr way to teach a child to eat properly? Hell I guess if WW is at it proclaims not a diet...I don't know. I don't know how I feel about it. I mean, I go. I know it's a diet. On other hand, it has helped me to eat better. To make better choices. But isn't there some other way for a nine year old? And what's sick is that she can't be there without a Dr.'s note.

Where I am today: Okay I am not fat. I know that. I realized today that I don't think I'm fat. I can look in the mirror 90% of the time at this point, and feel pretty good about how I look. I always can see where I lose some more weight but it's not like it's unbearable to see myself naked. And yeah this isn't all the time. There are times when I feel like I'm fat. I have those days.

What's making me neurotic is the fear that I'm going to be fat again. I realized today that as I was sitting in my car that what terrifies me is the thought I'm going to lose control and wake up 196lbs again. But underneath all this is that if that happened I would be gross. And it really bugs me that I think this. I mean, I don't think overweight or obese people are gross. But if it happened to me I'd feel this way. I admit it. What kind of way is this to live life. It bothers me a great deal to think that my life could be spent with this fear. But today I feel more hopeful. It feels good to know what I fear. It feels good to day "I am not fat." And it feels good to be working towards thinking "Hell even if I'm fat, it's okay."

Funny that on this cold, gray Saturday...with a sad friend who's marriage seems to be ending...I have managed to find a tiny piece of hope

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Weighty Post

I'm in a very strange place in regards to my weight. I made my goal. I feel much better without the extra weight. But....there's always the but isn't there? This week I binged liked crazy. I ate tons of candy, and way too much chocolate cake. But it was a small binge compared to some of my past binges. And there wasn't as much guilt upon waking up. However, there was some unfortunate incidents that came a little too close to bulimia for my tastes.

And then the other day, I was dressing Piper and calling her my fat baby. I love her baby fat. But she looked at me for the first time and said "Don't call me that." "Don't call you what?" I asked her, thinking she meant "baby." "Fat." She answered. And I really almost broke down in tears. What the hell am I passing onto my daughters? Obviously, I was not as careful as I wanted to be about calling myself fat in front of them. I was really angry with myself. I don't want them to ever feel like fat is some kind of defining value in their lives. I don't want them to go through the intense self-hatred I feel towards my own body. And yet there was my beautiful, sweet, chunky little girl telling me to not call her fat.

I realized that even if I don't say anything, they are surrounded by my food obsessions. There are the WW books where I record everything I eat. They know I go to meetings every Saturday morning. They watch me calculate points for every bit of food I put in my mouth. I found myself thinking today at supper, "What am I teaching them?" "What do I want to teach them about food?"

Couple this with a horrible article I read in "People" (okay I soo don't read it but it had an article on Joe Olstein and since I am interested in prosperity gospel, I had to look). Some absurdly thin actress was saying her new thin look was due to monotony: "When you eat only to sustain your body, you don't see food as anything else." Argh. I mean, I love food. I love the pleasure of good food. I love the taste of spicy dal and crisp samosas. I love Godiva chocolate cheesecake. I love preparing vegetables and sauces. Food is about pleasure for me. But there is also this other side where food is about addiction, and trying to drown out uncomfortable emotions. But food as only sustaince? Is this where I really want to go? I think no.

What I want for myself is to have a relationship with food that is based on pleasure not desire. Desire seems to me that elusive thing you can never have. For me food has become that thing. If I binge food is the enemy. That love that you desire but hate at the same time. When I diet food is still the enemy. The things I want but that I feel I can not have.

What's made me realize how problematic WW is becoming for me is when I started craving a hamburger this week. I mean, I wanted red meat so bad my mouth watered. But I started thinking about why I became a vegetarian. I thought about all the political reasons why this important to me. And the craving went away. But this week I was also craving some Chinese vegetable fried rice. I denied myself this because I thought of it as a "bad" food. Then today, I am thinking, "Why? Why would it be bad for you to eat some rice?" This craving didn't go away and still hasn't.

I'm not sure where this leaves me. I know that WW did get me to this place where my body feels very good. I still think I'm ugly. And I knew as I did WW that being thin was not going to make me love myself anymore. I've been thin before and it's never helped with the loathing. But on the other hand, I really hate that WW works off feeding into often unfounded fears about weight, and from the obsession of American women to be thin. I looked at my meeting on Saturday and was astonished at the women who were just joining. They were all thin. And then there was this 15 year old girl there, and it really broke my heart. I love my leader, and I have become friends with many of the women who go but I don't know if I can do this anymore. And I'm afraid of what I'll do without it. Something is going to have to give.

Ideally, I would get concealing since it's pretty apparent that I am really fucked up. But I don't think I can afford this. I keep thinking about how when we lived in Mexico I lost a ton of weight without dieting. I ate really good (Juanita made the best rice on the planet). We went to the bakery by H's parent's house almost every night. But I walked everywhere. I started running. And I didn't much processed foods (way expensive in Mexico). And I also lost weight when I was following Dr. Weil's Optimum Health plan. I realized that a lot of it was about conscious eating. I ate what I wanted but I thought about what I ate. Mostly I just took a lot of pleasure in eating healthy well prepared food. But I admit that there is a part of me that is scared that I can't maintain that without WW.

What do I want for my daughters? Not that they are thin. They will be beautiful no matter what weight they are. I want them to feel pleasure with food. I want them to enjoy food period. I don't want them to turn to food for stress or as a drug. But I also want them to see food as more than just sustenance. How can I give my girls these things when I am having a hard time doing it for myself?


Yesterday afternoon, I laid down for a nap with Piper (I'm sick I have an excuse). I started this bizarre nightmare but managed to pull myself out.

I was not me but a teen age boy. We, my mother, little sister (about two), and I, had moved to this huge deserted hotel. My mother had been hired to start the process of refurbishing the place. There was a very old lady that lived there but some reason my mother did know she was there. I knew that I brought her food but me doing that was not part of the dream.

In the dream, I was sitting on a floor in one of the rooms. It was dusty but the carpet was this brilliant white, and it was not dusty or dirty. Sometime was trying to push its way into my head and I was fighing to keep it out. My little sister came in, and sat beside me. Whatever it was strarted to try to get in her mind instead. I was pushing against this thing so hard, I was sweating, and one point in the dream, the sweat turned into blood. It feel in slow motion on the carpet in these perfect droplets. When it hit the carpet, the rug did not soak it up, rather it the carpet was fluid, and the drops hit, refracing up before being absorbed. I knew that I had to make my sister move to my other side and just the effort to talk was painful. She moved finally to my other side. The old lady came in, screamed, and ran. I managed to fight the thing off long enough to grap my sister and run.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Done and Toasted

I just emailed the Foucault paper to professor. In a half hour, I will give the grades to the professor I TAed (this really should be a verb), and then I'm done. Wow. I sort of feel there's something that didn't get done. Maybe because it's I usually have two papers done by this time of the year. But I did get out a graduate application, and I wrote my proposal. I also did a fuck of a lot of reading for my thesis. My overacheiver self just needs to chill out.

After I sent my paper out I wandered over to the library for some winter break reading. Nothing really caught my interest though. There was a biography about Bukowski but I thought: You're already depressed do you really think this would be light reading? Answer: No. I put it back. Maybe over the summer. I also thought about getting out Frued's correspondence but agian just not really what I'm looking for. Basically everything looked kind of blah. Now I know I'm depressed. I thought about launching right into my thesis as I wandered the stacks but that nearly me put me on the floor. Guess I'll be picking up the second books in "The Golden Compass" series. And what I really thought I'd like to read besides though two books is the rest of "A Thousand Plaeteaus," Butler's "Precarious Lives" and the book of Foucault interviews "Ethics." Go figure.

And of course I'm sick. I did yoga last week. I tell you doing yoga makes me sick. It's one of those crappy colds where you just feel totally blah. My head is stuffy, my nose is full. Everything tastes like crap (and I LOVE Christmas food). I just sort of feel like I'm walking through life in slow motion. Hopefully the cold will end before Christmas.

Good thing is that I have very little shopping to do. The kids are done (except for Umberto's SuperMario Bros. 6 for Gamecube). I only have gift cards to purchase and send now. I'm afriad that my family is rather dull in that all they want are giftcards. How unfun is that? But I guess it's good that I don't go through the agonzing process of trying to find the perfect gift for everyone. I did get to pick out gifts for H. It was fun, and I think he'll love them.

And last night I actually came in second on MarioKart, and am even managed to beat GrandMaster Umberto in one race. He was pretty astonished. Hell so was I.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Insanity

Sometimes they get just a tad too excited about Christmas...

Do try to see who's on the T. V. screen

Monday, December 10, 2007

Xmas Pictures

I thought my dear readers would get a kick out of my attempts at a good xmas picture of the kids. H thinks it's hilarious. Every year I attempt to get them to pose. It's always a mess. Whenever people tell me I should model them, I laugh. Yeah right. I'd like to meet the photographer who could pose these kids.

Perfect except for Camille who is looking at her fav. peron on earth....H.

Nearly there but Umberto has what H refered to last night as a "duck face." Plus there's something wrong with Camille looking demur.

Okay not demur now. This is defintely typical of our kids but Piper's look of adoration for U. kind of ruins it for an xmas card picture.

PERFECT! But umm...we're missing a kid....

This is the one we used. They're all looking at the camera, and they look like themselves. I do try to avoid the GAP picture.