Saturday, October 04, 2008

Azucar Y Chicle


So. This struggle. One of the consequences is that I am brought face-to-face each day with these very powerful emotions, very strong, dark, difficult things. The effect is like being caught in the surf zone- a huge wave catches you, knocks you down, sends you spinning around and around, breath knocked out of you, disoriented, blinded, roar of the sea in your ears, taste of it in your mouth, fear, helplessness, cold and dark. When the surge passes, you try to orient yourself, look toward the light, move toward the surface with your lungs laboring, break into it, and another wave is on top of you. Gasp for air and down you go again.


So, very powerful stuff.


But eventually you get kind of numb to it. And that's good. Because what you may begin to realize, what I am coming around to, is a conception of emotion as akin to advertising, to the slick, jazzy, hyper-sexy, hyper-violent, hype of sales. Like television. Like the movies. All this flash, this drama. It makes everything seem very important.


My pain.

My longing.

My unmet needs.

Cast a good-looking guy, a hot chick, give 'em guns and cool clothes and an exotic setting, a glass of premium whiskey, a couple of catchy lines, and we're off to the movies.


Maybe, just maybe, emotions are something we should endeavor to pay a little bit less attention to. Not that it doesn't matter if you are happy or sad, loved or alone. Not that. 

But maybe it should kind of be like, I dunno, an appetizer and not the main course. Or a condiment. Yes. 

Something to add flavor. Depth and nuance and smokiness to the food. But don't mistake it for the actual food.


What I find is that if I can just observe my emotions without making them a big deal, I don't get as caught up in them. They become more like something my body does, and I don't have a lot of control over it, but I don't have to let it control me, either.


Watchful waiting.


But there is also a feeling of flatness that comes with that mindful disconnection from the engine of emotional reactivity. You could call it Zen-like calm, but you could also call it the flat affect of shell shock.

I dunno.


It's better than punching things, though. 


I am going to indulge in some cook therapy today, big time. I'm making a tapas dinner spread with the following dishes:

olives with lemon and rosemary

white bean, anchovy, and caper spread on baguette toast

zucchini-basil frittata

clams in garlic sauce

wine and ham croquettes

fried fish in garlic, vinegar, oregano, and cumin

fried eggplant with honey, mint, and sesame seeds

mini meatballs in saffron sauce

lots of wine


Take that, emotional shit-storm!!!



Peace be upon you, dudes. 



Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm hungry. (;

my son is very impressed with the cover of rebecca's book, by the way. he keeps picking it up and staring at it, saying that's creepy. and laughing.

1:27 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...

Well. That's pretty cool.

It passes the Conner test!


I haven't gotten my copy yet. I can't wait. It'll get here while I'm gone, so I won't lay hands on it for a whole week.

It's good to know you, Ms. Bones.



1:42 PM  
Blogger LJCohen said...

I know what you mean about feeling a little disconnected, but I really don't think it's shell shock. Not when I am able to experience the still, small moments of living and be fully present in them. They are beautiful, but different without the sturm and drang of overwhelming emotion.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Radish King said...

I haven't got my copy yet either, but I saw Bonnie's at work. My god, just wait, just you wait.

Embracing the whole shit storm,

2:48 PM  
Blogger LKD said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:02 PM  
Blogger LKD said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Premium T. said...

When you say you're going to do some "cook therapy" you don't fool around....damn.

The disconnect method is, I believe, pretty healthy, especially if it slows the rush of adrenalin which often accompanies those baboon outbursts. Too much adrenalin floating around in us semi-evolved primates can do a lot of damage.

Hope the cooking and the eating appeased the demons.

9:42 AM  
Blogger 21k said...

I've got 2 fresh rainbow trout to cook tonight and I'm wishing I had your recipe -

2:36 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs chopped fresh oregano
2 tbs chopped fresh thyme
3/4 tbs ground cumin
2 bay leaves, finely crumbled
your trout (I used tuna steaks cut into 1 inch cubes)
olive oil for frying
1/2 cup all purpose flour
lemon wedges

whisk vinegar, garlic, oregano, thyme, cumin, and bay leaves in medium bowl to blend. Add fish and toss to coat. Let stand an hour or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hrs.

heat 1/2 in of oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium high heat. Place flour in a large bowl. Remove fish from marinade. Toss fish in flour, shake off excess. Fry fish until cooked through and brown all over, about six minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to platter.

Serve warm or at room temp with lemon wedges.

Ice water, wine, beer, whiskey, vodka, lemonade as desired.

This shit was GOOD!

3:00 PM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...

PS-, man.

All the way.

3:01 PM  
Blogger 21k said...

Got it!


4:02 PM  
Blogger ButtonHole said...

I had a sort of "feast or famine" childhood (connection to your cook therapy unintentional!). When life kicked into "famine" mode, as a defense mech very early on, I'd disconnect, try to stop feeling and attempt to watch my life as if I were watching a movie: what will happen to this kid next? As you describe as "watchful waiting," somehow my disconnect helped back then though I use it less often as an adult, probably because part of being "adult" (and do we ever really stop feeling like little kids deep inside, though?) means that we should engage fully with life and be able to Do Something About Shit. So I, like you, can't wholly recommend this disconnect. But one thing that does shift my perspective is to write out my problem in third person, then brainstorm possible "solutions/
outcomes," as many as I can think of. Then I analyze, as much as possible based entirely on logic, what solution I might pick for this stranger I'm reading about. Why do people go into therapy? I believe it's almost solely to gain a perspective that is NOT based on emotion. The consensus, I guess, is that emotion really clouds the issues because the thing about emotion is that it's tied to TIME, to the present. Our problem, always, as humans, is that we don't know "what will happen next." We might know what we will DO, but there's just so far we can go in this chess game...We don't really know the true consequences of our actions on others, or what others might unexpectedly do to us or themselves. In short, we don't have that privilege of sub specie aeternitatus, of being able to look back on the present from the future. When we look back on the difficult tumultuous times of our past, wouldn't you agree that, even if your memories evoke deep emotions, those emotions are more controlled and tempered in your memory than when you felt them at the time?

This is a major ramble, sorry.
I'm not urging you to give specifics before you're ready, but perhaps you have readers who've lived through similar times and could offer at least something to quell the uncertainty?

If emotion is the condiment, what IS the main course?

10:53 PM  
Blogger Radish King said...

I keep thinking about my emotional connectivity to art and to children and to animals and to the earth and the street I live and love on and how I couldn't manage without this emotional connection. But this is my how, this is my human. If you are hurt or sad or happy I will embrace that with you in a way that let's you know I am present, emotionally, at the same time allowing you room to breathe. I am certainly not the person who rushes forth with a hankie to stop someone's tears because they make me uncomfortable. I will cry with you but I will not take your joy or your pain for my own. I have enough of that in my soup.

I found this especially important in raising my son, which I did alone. And I did a good job with him. I would not let that part of myself go no matter how uncomfortable.

And the way I create, art-wise, having my spoon in the present emotional soup is absolutely necessary. Letting it bubble up and simmer, then eventually letting it go. As far as anger goes, I recognize it in myself as fear.

This might not make sense to anyone but me.


7:37 AM  
Blogger james said...

i had this friend once who used to lecture me about food and such, and one of the things she told me in hushed tones one day when i was eating beef stew at the old rich's in atlanta was that i shouldn't eat the bay leaves, because they were poison. um. when you crumble them up and put them in a marinade and shake the stuff off later, does the poison go away?

i will never make it to chefdom.

11:42 AM  
Anonymous ads. said...

Button, how's this for cook therapy.... I imagine the main course is our portion of the primordial soup- life, that we are responsible for. A continuous batch process- adding the substance of action/experience, and the the flavoring of emotion. If we create a dish that is pleasing and presentable, people will sample it(but not all of it) or learn tips...if not, they may walk by without even a glance. I think the disconnect would be like reducing the heat and stepping back ( or maybe just stop stirring) when you end up adding too much, for for fear of ruining the soup entirely and throwing it out- a wasted life. Simmer on.

I think I'll go eat something.

7:47 AM  
Blogger ButtonHole said...

I like that analogy, ads!

8:39 AM  
Blogger tearful dishwasher said...


I am assured that although you don't want to go around eating bay leaves all day long, you can ingest some and not suffer too many ill effects.

But who knows? It makes the dinner kind of exciting...


I don't know. I think you are right and that emotion is the whole key, and also that emotion is the great destroyer. I can accept that dicotomy and move on. But I am mostly full of caca.


Button hole.Yes, I can't say. I just can't.

Radish says that her blog is her bedroom, and I feel much the same way, but my bedroom is attached to a whole bunch of others.


Suffice it to say that my problem is a human problem and the specifics are irrelevant.

And they are.


That's no bullshit.

What's important is that the people who are capable of it send compassionate thoughts and the rest go fuck themselves.

I dunno.

At any rate, I am glad to have all of you hanging about that can stand it.



9:12 PM  

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