Scraping the Bottom

Do you see the dust & grossness?
Last night, at 10:30pm, I ate candy that I found on the bottom of my purse. Haribo Raspberry candies. They were not individually wrapped. They were covered in purse dust. And they were DELICIOUS.

My excuse? I was dumped 10 days ago.

My friends don’t want me to say “dumped”. They keep pointing out that I wasn’t in love with him. They remind me that I’d been talking since May about possibly ending it, and that he only got to it sooner than I did. But I’m going with the “dumped” story for now. Because it allows me to say things like this:

 “Fuck it, I’m gonna eat this unwrapped, dusty candy at the bottom of my purse.”

Truth be told, what I actually wanted to say last night was this:

“Fuck it, I’m going to the bar ALONE to drink a Scotch. Then I’m going to smoke a cigarette. Then I’m going to text men that are bad for me.”

But I didn’t say or do any of the latter. Instead I dined out with a couple of girlfriends, and went home where I drank a very small, very diluted Old Fashioned. Then I ate the purse-candy, drank a glass of water, counted my blessings, and went to bed.

So if you think about it, eating candy from the bottom of my purse is actually PROGRESS.

Redemption, indeed!

I mean, check out these low points, and I think you’ll agree:

Day 1: Cleaned my apartment. Ever sob while Swiffering? I did.
Days 2, 3 & 4: Very few calories consumed. Very little sleep. Walked 15 miles in 3 days.
Day 5: Croissant. Giant prosciutto sandwich. Chocolate cake. Cheese and bread for dinner. A whole bottle of Rose.
Day 6: Completed a marathon of Prosecco drinking in just under 6 hours.
Day 7: Omelette. Pizza. Beer. Gyro. Loukoumades. Sleep.

On that 7th night, I slept for 10 hours.

After that, things got better.

Yes, there has been pathos, and gyros, and pain. And purse-candy. But there has also been the relief and the excitement that comes with a fresh start. I’ve had more time for walks and meals with my girlfriends, who are thoughtful, and fair, and loving with their support. I’ve had more time alone too, which, as an introvert, isn’t an unwelcome thing.

And now it’s summer, and I’m single and if you’ve read my blog before you know how awful I am at dating. Which is good news for you, since I’m sure I’ll write about it, and you’ll get to laugh at the horrors. Sigh. At least the eating is always good.

More Food, Less Pain,


Bladderwrack & Stone, Cliff Walk, Dec 2012

One day, back in December, Favorite Niece told me how excited she was for a visit from a guy. She was counting down the days, and, like anyone falling in love, could not contain her enthusiasm. She was grinning a lot back then*, and was obviously happy.

Her happiness did not resonate with me that day. I was feeling blue, and I remember counseling her to temper her anticipation, and to be careful with her expectations. I’m sure I thought I was being helpful, and probably believed that the 10 extra years of “wisdom” I have on her meant my advice was sound. I offered no positive encouragement, just a grim warning. And, like most unsolicited advice and criticism, it came from a place of unhappiness.

I regretted it instantly, and have ruminated over my reaction since. I started questioning why it was so difficult for me to just be happy for her. Had I completely lost faith in the idea of romantic love? Would I ever feel that it’s worth the risk again? Do I really even need that particular kind of relationship, when my life feels rich enough already with the love of my family and friends?

I still don’t have the answers, but I do have moments of clarity here and there. A poem I came across recently, “West Wind # 2”, by Mary Oliver, helped some, the way a good poem should.

This poem reminded me that, despite my bruised and hesitant heart, I still believe the risk is worth taking. I desperately don’t want anyone, especially my niece, to be as hurt and as disappointed as I was when my relationship of nearly a decade ended a few years ago. And yet, I have no regrets. Of course I wish I could take away the pain it caused both me and my ex, but then I’d have to take away all the years of joy and love and growth we shared, as well as the friendship that endures. Why on earth would I want to erase all that?

And the fact is, her heart might break. Mine might again too. But most hearts do, at some point, and usually more than once in a lifetime. Despite this, I still agree with what Ms. Oliver wrote – that life without love is “not worth a bent penny or a scuffed shoe.” It’s worth the risk, and I’m glad she’s rowing towards it.

West Wind # 2
You are young. So you know everything. You leap
into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and
your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to 
me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent 
penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a 
dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile 
away and still out of sight, the churn of the water 
as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the 
sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable 
pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth 
and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls 
plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life 
toward it.

-Mary Oliver


More Food Love, Less Pain,

*And still is, I’m happy to report.

Happy No-Man-iversary!

A friend texted me earlier to wish me a “Happy No-Man-iversary” – a phrase I wish I could take credit for, but can’t. It was all her.

Our texts today. The brining thing is a long story.
All is forgiven though, I swear.

Today, give or take a day or two, is the date on which we both parted ways with our exes. It’s been two years for me, and one for her. When my relationship ended, she took me in, and took good care of me for the year that we lived together.

When her break up came about last June, I did my best to return the favor – though she handled hers with so much grace and strength that I still feel a little guilty for being such a weepy pain in the ass that first summer.

I am familiar with the sense of relief that comes with the one year mark. But now it’s been two years for me, and I don’t feel much about it anymore, good or bad. This would have seemed an impossibility to me two summers ago, or even last summer.

It took me a long time to feel okay again, and I don’t know when it was that I stopped feeling ashamed about that. Maybe it was when a girlfriend told me that it took her two years to to feel normal again? Maybe it was when another friend said his divorce was the most painful thing he’d ever been through? I know that at some point I just accepted that heartache takes as much time as it needs, even if the brain has it all figured out.

I’m still working on a few things. Like flirting without sweating a lot, or wanting to throw up each time I try, like that kid on South Park does. Yes, it’s really that bad. Don’t believe me? Read this blog post I wrote last November. Or just ask my closest friends. It’s an endless source of amusement for them. But it’s the least I can do, after all they’ve done for me these past two years.

To honor of the day, I made my simple salad for dinner a little more special tonight, with some smoked mussels from Maine, local strawberries, and a lovely French red.

I would have loved the company of my friend. But since she lives 40 miles away now, and I have some work to do tonight, our real celebration will take place this weekend.

I can see us now, out in Providence on Saturday night. Me, sweating a lot as I hopelessly flirt with some bearded hipster. Her, cool as a cucumber, intimidating short men with her height and her beauty.

And I see the two of us laughing together, at each other, and at ourselves, without a thought of our old lives passing through our pretty, happy heads.

More Food, Less Pain,

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,

Eat Thru The Pain

In a year of big changes, I’ve had a month of one big challenge after another, leaving me feeling a bit stunned. Which I guess is just fine and quite fitting for my first official blog post. I did some self soothing tonight by cooking and dining alone, followed by some quiet time now to write this post.

So. The changes. A Move. A new job. Ex met someone. I met someone. A very sick pet.

The move and the job position were welcome, though still stressful. My ex falling in love with someone else, while I saw it coming, left me crestfallen. And then I met someone one, fell hard for him, and my heart broke even more. Then my cat was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

But this year of changes and challenges has taught me to count my blessings, and to seek out the positive. My ex is a good man, and a good friend, and he deserves the happiness he’s found. There is a relief in knowing he’s moved on and is finding real joy in his life again.

The person I met and fell for was an important first step in opening my heart again, and while it hurt like hell, I know I’ll learn from it and that it will make me wiser and stronger.

Even the sadness about poor Super Kitty being diagnosed with cancer has a silver lining: I now know why she’s been so sick, and know how to offer her some relief in her final weeks.

690b7-2011summer065And tonight I counted the blessing in dining alone, at peace for the moment with myself and my life as it is. It is a good life, with great friends, a beautiful home base for the summer, and of course, the best food.

I cooked one of my favorite “alone” meals tonight. It was nothing fancy or original, but it represents the kind of cooking that I am grateful to understand: that fresh, local, seasonal ingredients need very little manipulation to make a beautiful meal of.

I made fresh papardelle topped with chopped tomatoes, steamed corn and fresh basil from Hodgkiss Farm here in Jamestown. I finished it with some fresh ricotta from Narragansett Creamery, and a little olive oil. And of course, wine. A Sancerre, pricier than I’d usually pour for weeknight. When I bought it, I thought I’d save it for a celebration or a dinner date.

But sometimes the special occasion is the one you have right there and then, on a deck in Jamestown, alone with a summer sunset. And while I usually believe that great food and wine are best when shared, that simply was not the case tonight.

More Food. Less Pain.