Artistic Brilliance

I wrote about Taco Tuesdays at Sapo once before in this post. Back then I didn’t realize all the artistic inspiration it was capable of. I guess the first sign of it was indeed my brilliant essay on the place. The second piece of evidence came in the form of a get well card to my brother, IT Guy. He missed a Taco Tuesday, and so the patrons and staff made him a get well card. He probably had a man cold or something.

Anyhow, here’s the card. I actually had to erase some words, for fear of offending. But you have to appreciate that the writers felt so free and creative and inspired. That’s just the effect really good tacos have on the masses. I also erased a phone number, to protect the guy-pretending-to-be-a-girl from receiving unwanted calls from y’all.

The Cover

 

The Rest

Favorite Niece was apparently feeling very inspired by Taco Tuesday today. We work together, and usually email each other on Tuesday afternoons to plan out a time to meet at Sapo. She sent me a drawing today. I just want to say that she is really, really smart. I mean, she’s like an Engineer and she keeps the internets working all over the country FROM HER DESK! She has other talents too, like being one of the funniest people I know, and she also makes a really good pasta salad.


She, however, as you can clearly see, lacks any and all artistic ability. 





Still, you gotta love that Taco Tuesday enthusiasm!


See you there later. Bitches.


x-L

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Food in Film

Okay, I’m pretty sure that something is truly f**ked up with my aura today, because the computers I’ve been working on keep refusing to cooperate. I’m pretty sure sparks are going to start coming out of my laptop in a few minutes, and since steam is already pouring out of my ears I think I’ll make this a very brief post.

Also, I’ve been trying to embed a video here. Which apparently I suck at.

I watched a video compilation called “Feast” which is described by its author as “A Thanksgiving tribute to images of food on film” and it got me thinking about the sandwich scene in the movie Spanglish.

I couldn’t find the actual footage from the movie, but if you’re a food person like me you know what I’m talking about. Adam Sandler’s character is a chef/restaurant owner. He comes home from an evening at work, and makes an egg sandwich. There’s no dialogue, just him alone in the kitchen, cooking. He sits down to eat, and I can’t remember if it’s when he bites into it or cuts into, but what you see next is the yellow of the over-easy yolk running down the sides of the sandwich. It’s a beautiful scene.

As far as I can tell, the clip is not anywhere on-line, but this video is a behind the scenes look at how the sandwich scene was conceived. I had no idea that Thomas Keller was involved, but it sure explains why the scene is so true to how chef’s cook when they cook for themselves. And it also explains why it is so lovely.

(And LOOK AT ME, I embedded a video using HTML code! Take that Blogger!)

More Food, Less Pain,
x-L

PS: This movie also has one of the best lines ever in the history of forever: 
“Sometimes your low self esteem is just good common sense!”

Sunday Walks & Dharma Talks

In an effort to feel better about a week with too much food and too little exercise, I went for a 7 mile walk on the Cliff Walk this afternoon, here in Newport. I’m sure I’m still on the surplus side of calories, but I do feel better physically and mentally than I have in days. 
 
In addition to walking a lot during the week, I usually do a long walk alone on the Cliff Walk every Sunday. I started this tradition in the fall of 2010, when I needed solitude and time to reflect as much as a I needed water and food to survive. Somehow that autumn, through one of life’s graces, I found the weekly audio dharma talks of Tara Brach, and started listening to them on these Sunday walks. 
 
Dr. Brach is a clinical psychologist and a teacher of Buddhist meditation. She gives these weekly talks to an audience of 250 students at the Insight Meditation Community of Washington (DC) a place she founded in 1998. She teaches lessons on mindfulness (vipassana) meditation practice, and emphasizes the importance of compassion for the self and others. Her talent as a speaker is beyond impressive. She could probably make a speech about cardboard boxes interesting and moving. She knows how to hold your interest with humorous but apropos anecdotes and jokes. She can also, a moment later, bring you to tears with the profundity of her message through the use of a quote, or a poem, or a true story. 
 
You don’t have to be student of Buddhism or meditation to get something from her weekly dharma talks. She’s not preachy, or trying to convert you, just hoping to inspire, and share the benefits of mindfulness as a practice in your daily life. I’ve gone to teachings given by Tibetan monks and learned all sorts of interesting albeit complicated things about Buddhism, but I’ve never left these classes with the feeling of inspiration that I have when I’m done listening to one of Dr. Brach’s talks.
 
The view from my spot, the day after Hurricane Irene, Summer 2011



On the Cliff Walk, I’ve found this perfect spot for meditating. This outcropping of rocks has a spot at it’s edge that has this bowl scooped out that is just the right size for my bum to fit into. When I sit here, the angle of the seat is just right, and sets my spine upright into the perfect position for meditation. Today, thanks to another 60 degree day in November, I was able to sit here for a 20 minute break in my walk and listen to the talk on gratitude that Dr. Brach gave earlier this week. Between the weather, the view and the abundance of great food that I shared with friends and family this week, I probably didn’t need to be reminded to be appreciative of it all. But still, I listened, like I do every Sunday, and finished my walk with a grateful heart.


More Food (well, maybe less for now), Less Pain, 
x-L

Thanksgiving

I am excited about the day of feasting ahead. My brother got a beautiful turkey from Vermont via the Green Grocer in Portsmouth. I am about to prepare some Tiverton grown butternut squash, which I’ll smother in French salted butter, and season with fresh sage from the garden. We have local carrots too, and onions, garlic, shallots and herbs as ingredients in various other dishes. This day’s focus is the feast, and so why wouldn’t we get the best tasting, in season things to feast on? 


There is so much to do though, so I leave you with this beautiful quote from Barbara Kingsolver, and wish you a  good, safe, comforting holiday. 


“Wake up now, look alive, for here is a day off work just to praise Creation: the turkey, the squash, and the corn, these things that ate and drank sunshine, grass, mud and rain, and then in the shortening days laid down their lives for our welfare and onward resolve. There’s the miracle for you, the absolute sacrifice that still holds back seed: a germ of promise to do the whole thing again, another time…Thanksgiving is Creation’s birthday party. Praise harvest, a pause and sigh on the breath of immortality.”
-Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle


More Food, Less Pain, 
x-L

What I’m Thankful For

I started writing a ridiculous post in my head last night about turkeys and bald eagles (don’t ask), but then I became inspired by all the status updates of thanks-giving on Facebook. In total seriousness, developing a practice of gratitude is something that pulled me through the difficulties of the past year. So, in an effort to give thanks to my friends, who I am feeling especially grateful for this year, I offer them (and you) the true story of Thanksgiving, 2010:

Last November was probably the lowest point of my post-break-up year. Yes, six months had gone by since the split, but the first holiday season without him was upon me, and I was lost. With the help of some good friends, a trip to England was planned out so that we would fly out of the country on Thanksgiving day. But the situational depression and anxiety I was suffering from got the best of me, and I had an intense panic attack as I was packing my suitcase that morning.

Rosa Rugosa in November

I called my therapist, and, with her guidance, chose not to go on the trip. I know: it seems insane. But I knew there would be more anxiety and panic on the tightly booked trip, and I couldn’t bear the idea of being a burden to the good friends I was travelling with. They’d carried me through so much already. And though I knew my decision would test our friendship, I also knew that they would have a better time without me balled up in the backseat of the car on the M5, crying and popping Xanax. I stayed, and prayed they’d someday forgive me.

I found refuge in the company of another friend, who was also going through a difficult time. We curled up on couches and cried together for quite a while, then did our best to look like we hadn’t. We joined some very gracious and open armed friends for a Thanksgiving meal. They didn’t ask me why my face was red and puffy, or why I cancelled my trip. They just put an extra setting on the table for me, and fed me, and made me laugh when I didn’t think it was possible to.

It’s not a day I am proud of, or happy to revisit. But it’s important to me to look back. Yes, I was a disastrous mess of tears and panic, but all around me were friends with tissues, and calming words. And food. And wine. And forgiveness. And laughter. Looking back at that day reminds me of the support I’m so fortunate to have, and the gratitude I feel about this is way beyond measure.

More Food, Less Pain,
x-L

Sh** Show Day

Entrance, RI Administrative Offices.
I swear I saw the Eye of Sauron in
that round window today.

I started to write a post earlier about the shit show that my day was today, but realized that I don’t have the capabilities as a writer to convey the level of shit-showiness that it was. Also, in a desperate attempt to normalize the cortisol and adrenaline levels in my bloodstream, I drank two high-alcohol craft beers a little while ago. So now my editing abilities have gone to shit. (See, I just used shit 3, wait, make that 4! times in one paragraph! That’s baaad editing!)

I was too worn out to care, really.

Today, in a nutshell: I had to pay some old income taxes in person this morning at the Division of Taxation in Providence, then renew the registration for my car at the DMV. In lieu of real paragraphs, I offer you my day in the style of the Harper’s Index:

Total mileage covered today going back and forth to State Offices: 124 miles
Total hours spent in said offices, mostly waiting: 3
Number, in months, that I was told I’d been driving with a suspended license: 4
Number of times I cried in front of State Employees: 2
Number of times I cried in front of fellow civilians in the waiting room: 1
Sobbing, in number of minutes, done silently in a bathroom stall: 3
Level of shock that The State won’t accept your 2010 taxes on a 2008 form, using the 2008 tax table: Very High
Level of surprise that I actually did this: Very, Very Low
Chances that the State will actually notify you of such a mistake: 0
Cost of a parking ticket, when your 2 hour meter expires in Providence: $25

Chances of finding a satisfying bowl of Saag Paneer in Providence to cancel out some of this pain: 100%
Happiness level after a coffee and a cookie from Seven Stars: Almost back to normal

Saag Paneer at Not Just Snacks on Hope St.

More Food, Less Pain,
x-L

Salami Shame

Special-K and I were outside a local food shop waiting for our co-worker, The Ninja, to complete her purchase. The Ninja could see us through the window and we wanted to crack her up, so K took a piece of some sliced salami and fed it to me in a sort of dramatic, seductive fashion. I was standing there with my mouth open, baby-bird-style, waiting. Now, I don’t expect you to think that’s a funny thing to do. It’s pretty weird I guess, but these things happen when you hang out with Special-K. And oh how we giggled about it.

Just a moment later I see this very attractive man I know walking towards me. I try to compose myself, but I’m still giggling over the salami feeding. We chat, but then K says something that makes me laugh pretty hard, and, to my horror, a piece of the salami that I had not quite finished chewing flew out of my mouth, carving a 6 foot high arc in the air and landing about 10 feet away.

A hot wave of mortification ran through my body. Followed by an hour of feeling like this:

Fuck.
Fu-uck.

So cold. So. Lonely
My brother, IT Guy, is always so awed by my ability to embarrass myself. In an effort to make sense of this particular incident he sorted out the data and plotted it into the line graph below.

More Food, Less Pain,
x-L

 

Thanksgiving, Locally

Thanksgiving is next week, which means the grocery stores are going to be a boiling pot of crazy this weekend.It’s just one reason on my list of reasons why I like to source as much of this meal not in those big stores, mostly via local farmers markets.

There’s a long list of other reasons. Those of you that support local farms know them all. Those of you that don’t, I’m not going to preach here. I’ll leave that to the many other writers and activists who are much more articulate than I am about the subject. If I had to pick one summary of most of the reasons I eat locally, it would be this short video.

If you live in RI, the Farm Fresh RI website is the best way to figure out where your closest market will be tomorrow so that you can stock up on ingredients for next week. Check it out. It’s an incredible resource for finding local food.

If you don’t live in RI, check out the Local Harvest website. It has a comprehensive listing of most farmers markets, CSA‘s, and family farms in the USA. It also has lots of info about why supporting family farms is important.

I’ll be at the Sakonnet Growers Market tomorrow helping the director, my good friend Nicole Vitello. I’ll be educating people about local cheeses, and giving out lots of samples. I met Nicole when she first started farming a long time ago, and through the years of helping her with her CSA’s and market days I met so many new people and got to know a lot of our local farmers. I’m looking forward to catching up with her and other friends and acquaintances.

Tomorrow, I’ll inevitably meet some new people, and learn more about some of the growers too. Michael Pollan didn’t mention this reason in the short video – the new relationships you forge when you get to know who grows what nearby. But it’s definitely the reason for eating locally that is closest to my heart.

More Food, Less Pain,
x-L

Love After Love

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I had a pretty bad year last year. I’m trying not to dwell on it, but lately I can’t help but look back and feel gratitude that I’m not in the same, terrible space I was last summer, fall and winter.

For a long time I believed the post break up depression, and the anxiety about my new life would never pass. But it did. And in the past four or five months I’ve found confidence, clarity and stability again. It was hard won, but worth the struggle.

Today I was feeling especially grateful. On my lunch break from work today I walked, like I often do, by the ocean for exercise, fresh air and a chance to reflect. I thought of the great weekend I had. I thought of how robbed I was of joy last year, and how blessed I am with it now. I also thought of how my relationship with myself had to evolve, out of necessity and survival, from one of self loathing and doubt, to one of acceptance and kindness.

Then I remembered a poem that I found last year. I used to read this one over and over, and wanted so badly for “the time” to come for me to love my life again. Luckily, the poem offered some instruction in a language I understood, via the metaphor of feasting. Give wine? Give bread? This I get. I love the imagery of doing this for your heart and your soul. It’s a beautiful poem. And anyone who’s been through the process of rediscovering themselves after losing someone they loved will understand its message, and get inspiration from it, I hope.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

-Derek Walcott

More Food, Less Pain, 

xo-L