Sunday, April 15, 2012
I just watched the documentary Hunger Hits Home, and I'm typing this through tears.
I'm about to tell you something I've never talked about on Spark before, and given that I weigh around 400 pounds, you may find it hard to believe.
I used to be that kid. I was one of five, and there frequently not enough food, or poor quality food. Mind you, there was enough for my parents' alcohol and my mother's cigarettes, even though we sometimes were hungry and we had to wear canvas shoes during the rainy season. I once innocently asked my mother why we didn't apply for food stamps and she said, "That's like ADMITTING you're poor." Well, duh -- we were! If my kids were hungry I'd starve myself to death to feed them. Cigarettes? Booze? Give me a freakin' break!
And even as an adult, I've had people grab food away from me all my life. Either because they wanted it or, as so many told me, "you're fat enough." Once at a baseball game I bought myself ONE hot dog. My father and brother took turns grabbing it away from me and I got exactly one bite. Neither bought me a replacement. My MIL would shame me into taking fourths one day ("What, my food isn't good enough for you?"). Then the next day she'd grab food off my plate and tell me, "You're disgusting enough, you're so fat." This happened more often than you might think.
So now The Guilties are paying a Saturday night visit. When I get paid on Friday I'm making a donation to Share Our Strength to help feed kids, and I'm signing them up for my office's Matching Gifts program. But The Guilties tell me it's not enough. Like, if I spend my tax money on my kitchen, then I'm choosing my toys over feeding hungry kids. I feel like if I have even one spare penny and someone else is in need, I have an obligation to give. My father's deadliest weapon was the word "selfish." I dreaded it even more than the leather belt he used to beat me with.
I'm still haunted by an incident when I was a teenager. I was sixteen, living in L.A., and I was an eager campaign volunteer for Tom Bradley, the first African-American mayor of Los Angeles (the airport was later named for him). One day, as I arrived at campaign headquaters, an elderly woman approached me. She stared at me for a moment, then said, "I haven't eaten in three days." When I didn't say anything, she eventually walked away. I had exactly two dollars in my purse, and more than forty years later I'm kicking myself for not giving them to her. I know, I know -- I was a kid, and she could have been lying to me. But I wonder if my dollar or two would have helped her.
I was raised to believe that I'm responsible for absolutely everybody else (literally -- my parents told me that as the oldest, I was totally responsible for the actions of the other four). I don't want to stop caring, but where's the balance?
Saturday, April 14, 2012
I've been in the habit of not having food ready for work lunches and eating "lunch" from whatever is on the snack table at the office, a pattern I badly need to get out of (duh). So I decided to cook several things I can just pack and go.
First I hard-boiled a dozen eggs. They're great for quick breakfasts as well as sandwiches and salads. So I started by taking four of them and mashing them with mayo, spicy brown mustard, salt, pepper and chopped black olives to make egg salad sandwich spread.
I got a little bag of baby red potatoes in the freggie box this week, so I decided to make potato salad and put them on to simmer. Unfortunately, I got involved in Sparking and overcooked them for salad. I put them in the fridge and I'll figure out what to do with them later. Maybe peel, mash with eggs and onions and make potato cakes? Slice and fry some of them with onions?
I got some asparagus, which I normally just steam and eat with butter. This time I steamed it and poured some bottled light balsamic vinaigrette over them to marinate. They'll make a nice chilled side veggie.
Next I'm cooking some shell pasta. It's going to be mixed with canned salmon which I've skinned and boned, chopped red spring onion, corn and peas cooked with the pasta, and MAYBE minced kosher pickle. The dressing is going to be Greek yogurt whisked together with light Italian salad dressing.
Dinner tonight is baked chicken and a baked potato with roasted cauliflower. This way I can do a one-oven dinner. This will be the first time I've ever roasted a veggie, and I'm a bit nervous. I'm planning to toss the florets with canola oil, salt, pepper, cumin and smoked paprika.
Okay, no more skipping breakfast and eating three Fig Newtons and a double-handful of pretzels for lunch...
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Tonight the Food Network is running a documentary called Hunger Hits Home. It's about the problem of childhood hunger in the U.S. It's estimated that as many as 25% of children in this country are undernourished. (It makes me wonder about the scope of ADULT hunger in this country.) In a nation as rich as the U.S., not a single community is hunger free.
This is a problem we must address. I'm supporting Food Network's favorite charity, Share Our Strength. It has a stated goal of eradicating childhood hunger in this country by 2015.
This problem affects us all, whether we have kids or not. Please check out this important documentary.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Ooof. This week was killer. Today was the due date for the worklist and I beat the deadline. I'm still waiting for them to find something wrong (because they always do), but I DESTROYED the quota I was supposed to meet. I worked 125 claims on the list, hand-corrected over 100 claim forms to get into the mail, fielded phone calls -- I think I stood up twice all day. No wonder I have cement for legs.
Well, today I got a reward for picking up the mail -- a $10 off card from Kohl's! I know the tax money won't be here before it expires, but I get paid Friday so I'm heading to Kohl's after work (the sales are always on Friday) and getting new pillows and a sleek, Food Network signature model hand mixer. The pillows I have now are totally gross and my hand mixer is the one I got when I got married, so it's almost 40 years old. I'd say I'm due for new on both. And my mail-phobia notwithstanding, 99% of what comes doesn't get past the trash bin the landlord thoughtfully put next to the mailboxes.
Major chores tomorrow (in between my Food Network shows, of course), so I'm resting up tonight. I think I'll pour myself a rum and just unkink.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
...and weird feels normal.
Today I picked up the mail (the only day I don't is the night I have my therapy with Arthur because I get home so late). Opening the mailbox is the most mundane thing in the world, isn't it? But it still feels odd. Even though 99.9% of what I get doesn't get past the trash bin next to the mailboxes.
Today my car was parked in the back of the office building. I normally take the elevator down, but when the car's in back that involves walking all the way to the front, taking the elevator, and walking all the way back. I decided to take the back stairs instead. It took me about ten minutes, and I was terrified. I'm very off balance and my right knee kept wanting to crack. It probably wasn't the safest thing for me to do, although I obviously survived. I suspect I'd have been better advised to take the long walk front and long walk back.
When I get paid on the 20th, I am FINALLY getting myself a decent haircut. My hair is overly long, scraggly and ratty. Easter Sunday night I actually had to fight an urge to take my needlework scissors and chop it off. I didn't, but I'm going to get it cut at last.
The freggie box came today, so I'm having a big salad and some leftover chicken from El Pollo Loco for dinner. El Pollo Loco is one fast food chain I can enjoy with a clear conscience. The chicken is marinated in citrus juice and grilled -- and it's absolutely delicious. I used to enjoy them years ago in Los Angeles. Well, they have just FINALLY come to Northern California! Gonna enjoy dinner with last night's Chopped.
Which reminds me -- when my tax money gets here, one thing I'm treating myself to is dinner at a restaurant in Napa (about thirty miles from me) that's owned by a chef who won on Chopped! I'm even going to take my camera just in case she's there. Let me put it this way: one of the judges, Scott Conant (a self-described hard-a$$) actually came around the judging table and hugged her! I've never seen him do that before or since. I'm also going to stay overnight in Napa and take a leisurely drive home the next day.
Friday...it's almost Friday...
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