Archive for the 'eating' Category


January 18, 2014

Jordan is teasing me to blog about the bagels he brought home yesterday, and I’m up for the challenge.

So Jordan brought home half a dozen bagels and some cream cheese spread with scallions, late yesterday afternoon, from Finagle a Bagel.

The day before, I had found myself eating naan with tzatziki sauce.  (That’s an Indian bread and a Greek yogurt spread with garlic and dill (and often cucumbers)).

I love a good echo.

I have no idea whether Jordan was aware of what I had been eating, and I have no idea why he bought the bagels or whether he is even aware of what’s in the tzadiki sauce, even if he noticed the package in the fridge.

What I actually did wonder, when I stumbled on my combination, is whether there’s an Indian equivalent of tzadiki sauce that is eaten with naan.

Anyway, the combination tastes good, and the garlic will keep the vampires away.


Roast beef sandwich

November 28, 2013

Jordan looked at me sheepishly this morning and said he had something to apologize to me for.

He had eaten a roast beef sandwich he had bought for me.

He had gone out with friends after class yesterday, and at a restaurant they ate at, had ordered a sandwich for me as take-out.  On his way home, he had stopped at the home of a friend he’s known for ages, who was home on break from college, and he stayed there into the evening.

He got hungry while he was at the friend’s house, and “there wasn’t anything to eat,” which was plausible, not so much because of want but because of what I might call “food issues,” so Jordan ate the sandwich he had with him.

I told him, that despite the fact that he doesn’t agree with my “karmic nonsense,” I was going to tell him how this was actually great news to me in a way;  my nagging issue that some guy “done me wrong” and took from me something that was mine, had been reduced to my child eating a roast beef sandwich because he was hungry — that scenario didn’t bother me, and, he was apologetic about it (not to mention aware of what he had done — and he said he plans to get me another sandwich).  I have a very strong sense that this pattern of feeling wronged by a guy who doesn’t give back, and takes advantage of my having given to him first, is a very old pattern for me, or possibly for someone I have been helping (I do think I help people clean up their old and difficult karma when they get too stuck).  When the pattern reaches an innocuous iteration, it’s like the last ripple of a wave, or the boat getting close enough to the dock that one can step or jump out onto terra firma.

So I am quite happy, in a way, to hear about my missing roast beef sandwich.  I like feedback that progress has been made.  I feel like I have successfully let go of something that was impeding me, finally.  And I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving

Hawk’s gotta eat

October 3, 2013

So there was a smallish hawk in the tree above my compost heap this morning.  I think it was squawking, it might have been a juvenile, it didn’t have a very broadly developed tail.

There were small birds flying around near it, maybe trying to get it to leave or distract it from a nest?  Then I saw a small critter up in the tree, it looked black in the early morning light, and it seemed confused.  It tried climbing different ways in the tree.  I think its movement may have attracted the hawk’s attention, and the hawk went after it and, I think, got it.  I went inside, reminding myself that hawks have to eat.

I also found myself thinking about the Ralph McTell song “Heron Song,” in which he sings about wishing he had the heron’s wings, as a suggestion for how to rewrite the story I linked to in my post last night.  I think the girl needed to grow her own “spiritual wings” in order to get down safely from where she had inadvertently ended up in a spiritual quest gone awry.

Self-starvation,acceptance of flaws, and humility

October 22, 2012

Somebody else’s crisis got me Googling things about intentional self-starvation, and I stumbled on a practice in Jainism in which people do this as some kind of ascetic practice.  According to Wikipedia, not the best source for spiritual guidance, it is predicated on a conception of causing no harm to others even by eating fruits and vegetables, and of producing spiritual progress (if not successful completion of the task).

That’s one of those, “I can’t believe they heard that accurately” moments for me about somebody else’s religious beliefs.  I don’t think people are supposed to be air ferns.  (One of my ways of protesting when I think somebody is acting as if I have no needs is to declare that I am not an air fern.)  I don’t see it as an acceptance of “failure” against an ideal of perfection in which the person makes no claims on anyone else (supreme independence or extreme asceticism).  I see it more as embracing our muddiness — we are of this earth as well as of the spirit, and that’s okay.  We are within an ecosystem.  We have flaws.  We didn’t have to be here, we could have stayed pure spirit, I want to bet, but we’re here, and while we’re here, we participate in the material world.  Including eating.  To deny all that can even look like a type of arrogance, I think, although I tend to see it as a misunderstanding.

I think it’s a form of humility to accept our place as animals as well as human animals and spiritual creatures.  None of these identities is exclusive.  I don’t think we should over-indulge in any of them, but I don’t think we should renounce any of them completely either.  I’d guess each of us finds a different balance of these components in our lives.

My older son used to worry about whether weeds feel pain when we pull them up.  Jains (or some Jains) apparently feel similarly about eating fruits off of trees or vegetables off of plants, and the like.  Being reminded of others’ pain can help us do what we do with compassion, and I do get frustrated with some other religions’ practices that can be exploited to easily redeem past harm we’ve done to others without much increase in self-awareness, but it just strikes me that if the “answer” is self-starvation, something has gone wrong in the process of arriving at that conclusion.  (I am not talking about the process at a natural end-of-life in which the person stops eating and eventually even drinking as the dying body shuts down.)

Okay.  On to something more cheerful.


Illusion of control

October 21, 2012

Maybe people who want to feel in control of their lives ought to thank all the people who who behave in ways known to be deleterious to health.  Because now many people easily say, well, those people are likely to get sick, therefore if I’m not doing those things I am not likely to.  I agree they are less likely to, but I think all too often this blends into thinking that illness can be avoided, period.  That, in turn, gives rise to blaming people for their illnesses, for being surprised when they themselves develop one despite right living, etc.  But I’m wondering if in the meantime people feel more in control and that that feeds a desire.  If so, they should thank all the people overeating, overdrinking, smoking, etc. for letting them believe the absence of such behaviors ensures health.

Actually, I don’t really believe that at all, but I do think people ought to rethink their need to victimize people who are victimizing their own bodies, and not confuse that with general principles of how people become ill.

What attitude we take towards people whose behavior is conducive to the development of medical conditions I think is a hard question.  I guess I wouldn’t ignore the likelihood that the behavior is a maladaptive attempt at self-protection from something and try to ameliorate that and not just go after the behavior in a condemnatory way.  And I’d probably also want to go after behaviors in society that support the maladaptive behavior.  For example, we’ve changed the rhythms of our lives so much that many people rely on convenience and processed foods that appeal to appetite as much as they do to hunger.  I suspect such foods are more conducive to overeating.  While most people use them responsibly, I suppose we could say, maybe we should work on revising the rhythms of our lives into something that doesn’t require such short-cuts to food preparation.

I think we expect too much of human ability not to seek out pleasure.  There was an old experiment using pigeons, an experiment Larry Tribe talked about at the outset on his Constitutional Law class, as I recall it.  In the experiment, pigeons had an opportunity to do something that would prevent themselves in the future from doing something against their interests, and they learned to do that (the analogy was to our Constitution but I forget the details of the pigeon experiment).  I think with many of our innovations we give people the opportunity to do things against their interests and that the feedback in the system isn’t adequate to teach them not to do it before there’s great damage to themselves or to society.

Hungry inmates

June 7, 2012

I read and replied to a comment to Charles Blow’s piece about the issue of race in the electorate today in which (in the comment, that is) it was said that prisons supply a safety net of food and shelter.  Actually, the comment specifically claimed that prison’s are a place “where there’s enough to eat” (the comment was posted by KOB of TH on June 7 at 9:12 a.m.).  I replied that many prisoners will tell you there’s not enough to eat.

In fact, at a local county jail in my area, the inmates get supper at 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon, or so, and have to wait til the next morning for their next meal.  They rely on buying food through the jail canteen to tide them over and they have figured out a way to cook in plastic bags (things like rice and beans, if I remember correctly, with melted cheese) and to provide food for new inmates who don’t yet have canteen money.

Many inmates have alcohol and substance issues, and it has struck me as misguided in terms of desiring inmates’ recovery and discouraging their recidivism to pressure their families and friends on the outside into providing them with money for food — it fosters the very type of enabling relationship that is unhelpful to addict and family member or friend.  Whatever these family and friends think about why their “loved one” (I think that’s the current parlance) is incarcerated, most don’t think going hungry is an acceptable part of incarceration.  It’s a short-sighted and unhelpful system.

There are many things we can’t solve, but we should not confuse them with our own contributions to those situations, including those of us who set policy, implement it, and report on it using the usual set of unexamined assumptions of who is to blame and who is irreproachable.

Holiday eating

December 25, 2011

I have thought for a long time that one way I can tell when I’ve been celebrating a holiday is from the telltale signs of having overeaten — for me the two go hand in hand.  I’ve always assumed it was tied to actually celebrating the holiday, so I am puzzling over having overeaten today at a friend’s family Christmas dinner (and having enjoyed it thoroughly) without actually thinking I was celebrating the holiday — I sort of assumed I was a tag-along, not really a participant.  I’m wondering whether the system is transitive, if by engaging in the meal I am actually participating in the holiday.

Human garbage pail

December 2, 2011

I’ve thought about the problematic consequences of acting like a human garbage pail with respect to eating, say, too many leftovers before they go bad, so they won’t have to be thrown out, or too many leftover children’s snacks, etc. when they don’t finish at the table or lose interest in what used to be a favorite food, so the food won’t go stale and unserved:  it’s one way people more generally and parents gain weight.

It’s kind of noticeable when the jeans no longer fit comfortably.   But at least we have that feedback loop.  What about emotional leftovers?  Maybe we do something similar with taking on the leftover emotions of an interaction with someone else or with the world at large, maybe we take on emotional baggage that we should really toss or recycle, but in this context don’t notice the feedback as easily.  Eventually, though, we find ourselves navigating our lives with too much difficulty (road rage as a symptom, for example).

I think this is on my mind because I am thinking that in addition to “whispering” as I mentioned in my last post, I’m aware of trying to pull into our world some “fresh spiritual air,” so to speak, like opening a window, through prayer.  People create a lot of emotional leftovers from their interactions, and then many of them inflate these emotional leftovers, maybe by a form of ruminating on them.  While the general category of ruminating on emotions may include witnessing emotions, that particular technique (the witnessing of an emotional state from outside of it) diminishes it.  The form of ruminating that increases emotions or emotional states involves less objectivity than is brought to bear by witnessing, I think; maybe this other kind of ruminating includes self-justification (out of defensiveness and guilt), maybe it’s the sort of thing we do when we don’t quite accept that we felt what we felt so we keep re-living the reaction and it doesn’t go away and even gets bigger, I’m not sure.  My point here is more about how when we are left with negative emotions after an interaction and don’t clean them up, or in fact increase them, they stink up the joint.  Really, they do.

So, our emotional detritus makes it more difficult for us as individuals to move around, like wearing jeans that are too tight, but it also is kind of like noxious gases that make it more difficult for everyone to breathe.  It may be a “natural” process, but we do need to open a window to dissipate the fumes.  There’s where I think even fewer people are aware that there’s an issue there; I think people nowadays are somewhat aware of the individual baggage they carry, but I think they are less aware that spending six months fuming about having been “wronged” by someone or something, for example, has an impact on the general emotional environment.  It’s another reason we should try more not to consume emotional leftovers from an interaction and to clean them up afterwards if we find we have.

The way I’m aware of trying to pull in some clean emotional air is through prayer, kind of general, “Here I am, here we are, please be with us” addressed to the highest and purest reaches of the universe.  I think it’s harder to pull in some refreshing breezes the stinkier it gets down here, and I think part of that is that it becomes harder for people more weighed down by emotional baggage to remember how to reach for that refreshment; so we get a negative self-perpetuating cycle.  But like cleaning up a dirty house, it can be done, one step at a time, and if we have trouble washing the windows or reaching something, we can call for help.