Thursday, 21 April 2011

How Do You Like Them Apples? (Passover Edition)

[I’m not attempting to get more traffic to my SELF blog, only letting you know that what I’ve posted there in the past few weeks is rather honest and -- should anyone want it -- gives a bit more of what I've been up to. I’ve been so exhausted and short on time I’m afraid I haven’t been able to post in both places – I’ve only just barely managed to throw something together to post there.]

Some people drink wine or warm milk or take Nyquil or something stronger to get to sleep. Me? I binge.

If I look back, I can see the signs: The general malaise and inability to settle to one thing. The list of decisions to be made was getting longer, and the urgency with which I need to make them, or start making them, was getting stronger. The fear was mounting. As was the list of unpleasant tasks (and that’s not even including the decisions).

I can see very clearly – and in fact, understood while I was bingeing – that I ate too much purely to shut down. I don’t sleep much these days. I worry a lot. I wake up at 4 am and sit in the bathroom and send emails from my iphone to my work account, reminding myself of things I need to do. I think about quitting this job that I hate so very much and then I get to work and the managing editor compliments me on my shoes and I feel guilty.


So on Monday I went to a Passover seder at a friend’s family – a friend I know through my grandmother, and who all knew her. (My friend’s grandma, who was there, knew my grandmother for some 70 years. My friend’s father was a good friend of my uncle, my mother’s younger brother, who died suddenly when I was in college.) I felt welcome, yes, but also stray-molecule-ish – almost everyone else at the seder has been attending since birth or at least for the past 40 years. The only other non-family member in attendance besides me has been coming for at least 10 years.

I felt antsy waiting to get through the Haggadah reading to get to the eating parts. I wanted water or diet Coke to take the edge off, but it wasn’t really appropriate. I kept trying to calm myself down, but I couldn’t. Already my mind was drifting to how quickly I could get through the dinner to go off and binge.

Except I didn’t make it quite that far – I did manage to binge there. Double chocolate macaroons, mandel bread, a cross between an apple pie and a crumb cake made specially for Passover. I was invited that night to return for Seder 2, but it seemed like a bad idea. I got given some leftovers and I ate them on the subway.

I was stuffed, but still I managed to go and eat about ¾ of a corn muffin I don’t even remember the taste of. I thought about eating more, but instead I got myself home and went to sleep. For 10 hours. Without waking up in the middle of the night. If I could have gotten the uninterrupted sleep without the guilt of having eaten too much, I’d have been delighted. (Maybe I really should just try some Nyquil.)


On the plus side, I have pretty much been rockin’ the workouts for the past couple of weeks. I had a bit of a revelation at a spin class nearly two weeks ago, and – at least temporarily – it has done a lot for my focus and intensity. I don’t think about just logging the minutes: I think about what I can squeeze out of them. The other day I could swear I felt cartoon flames enveloping my thighs when I did an exercise. This is a good thing!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Wayward Bus

The woman sitting across the aisle from me is eating the largest Danish I've seen in a while. The pastry doesn't look that great, but the almost luridly red cherries look bizarrely appealing.

I'm almost afraid to think about what it tastes like, lest I be overtaken by a tidal wave of wanting. Or have to rip the pastry out of her hands and run. (Not that I'd get very far – I'm on a bus!)

I'm fascinated by what people are eating on this 4.5 hour trip from New York to Washington DC. Pizza. McDonald's. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Huge Italian sandwiches (the kind from a cheap pizza place, not a good Italian deli): greasy half moons of springy white bread stuffed with ham, cheese, and all manner of cured meats. The woman next to me – tiny and slim – eats a huge bag of Planters milk chocolate and nut trail mix, then pops open a bag of pretzels and chases it with sips of something called Blood Orange Mash. The drink is exactly the same color as pee when one is incredibly dehydrated.

Is this how everyone in America eats? Or just how everyone in America eats on road trips?

The couple across from me have finished their fast food dinners and are now digging into containers of almonds and yogurt covered pretzels. They appear to be eating automatically, one handful following another until the snacks are all gone. No one (except for Danish woman) is overweight.

I'm not sure why I'm so surprised by the food choices. Even at my heaviest and worst bingeing times (which, given this past winter, I guess may not always be the same thing), I have never eaten much fast food. Mid-binge, there is usually some appeal to McDonalds chicken nuggets, milkshakes, and apple pies, but that's really it. I can't work out why these food choices shock me because I assume most people are like me: That they are so well aware of how bad fast food is that it's never really an option. Frankly, it's a stupid assumption on my part, since obviously these restaurants are all still in business. (Are the people on this bus the sort who actually learn something when someone tells them to lose five pounds they should leave the cheese off their burger? If so, I confess I'm sort of jealous of their blissful, caloric ignorance.)

But back to my fascination. Could it be that the abandon with which a lot of people on this bus appear to be eating is the same sort of eating that would (and does) cause me great shame if I do it myself? Yet they're doing it without any apparent panic or remorse. Again, I'm jealous. Oh, to overeat like a normal person.

A couple of hours after everyone around me has eaten, I am almost amused when I pull out my own dinner: A sprouted brown rice and lentil pilaf that just happens to be macrobiotic and vegan, plus an organic orange.I both like this dinner and find it satisfying and even a bit naughty (yes, there are lentils, but it is still mostly carbs) – which may be the most amusing part of all.