Archive for June, 2011|Monthly archive page

The importance of eating well

In The Writing Life on June 25, 2011 at 11:49 pm

In New Orleans, there is a community farm called Hollygrove Market and Farm. For $25, one can buy a box full of produce. For a few dollars more, she can buy an half gallon of milk (with real cream that floats to the top), a la carte produce, baked goods, and/ or fresh herbs. There is also meat provided by local farmers. I received an email letting me know that the farm purchased half a cow last week; the meat is pricey, but I’m thinking of doing a taste challenge some time soon. I know I would be happier ethically if I was eating locally grown meat produced outside of the factory farm system.

A few weeks ago, I was tired and depressed. I wasn’t exercising, and I was sleeping WAY too much. I realized that I was cooking food Boyfriend Alex would like, which was drastically different from my previous diet of mostly grains and greens. I decided to start buying the $25 boxes of produce as a way to force myself to get back to basics. In the first weeks, I’ve had more energy. I wake up earlier and work out. I’ve started writing again.

It’s easy to lose sight of how important nutrition is in a writing life. I’m hoping I won’t make the mistake of throwing it out the door again. The biggest challenge has been convincing myself to cook or throw a salad together, even though sauteing radish greens is a lot quicker than making a box of Rice-A-Roni. It tastes better, too.

So far today, I have eaten a fresh, juicy peach; two slices of fresh, sweet pineapple; pasta with two types of grape tomatoes with fresh basil, garlic, and onion; and the sauteed radishes. In a little while, I’m going to make chicken sloppy joes that include heirloom tomatoes, fresh patty pan squash, and more fresh basil (the recipe came from the Hollygrove blog).

The fresh radish greens pictured above were crazy easy to make. I just separated the leaves from the radishes (I might try to make roast radishes soon), washed them, and set them aside. I diced onion, garlic, and mushrooms and melted some butter in a pan. I cooked the diced veggies with torn basil leaves until the onions started to get translucent and threw the greens in in batches and watched them wilt. When they seemed wilty, I drizzled in some lemon juice and cooked and stirred them until the juice was well incorporated. Then, I spooned them onto a plate sprinkled some grated parmesan over them, added a dash of salt, and enjoyed my mouth orgasm.

And, as you can see, I’m writing.

Peace, Love, and Fresh Tomatoes.


Finding a balance

In The Writing Life on June 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Right now, I am failing at this. Acquiring a boyfriend, especially one who lives a very different lifestyle than mine, has resulted in a sudden pausing of my life. I have a hard time cleaning, exercising, writing, and doing just about anything besides coming in to work 9-5. I’m trying to get everything back on track, but now that I’m off track its even harder to get my life in order. Living a writing life was much easier when I lived the life of a hermit.

Some things I’m going to try to do this week to ground myself a bit:

-Volunteer/ shop at a local farm and produce buyer’s club
-Visit the anarchist library and bookstore
-Maybe yoga?
-Try to shoo boyfriend Alex away for a bit so I can get some “me” time

A Quick Post About Shavuot

In Judaism on June 6, 2011 at 10:40 pm

It’s been a while since I posted about Judaism and conversion. Tomorrow I’m attending a Shavuot confirmation service, dinner, and class. I figured this would be the perfect time to whip something up.

Shavuot is when people of the Jewish faith celebrate the Torah being handed down at Sinai. By converting, I accepted this covenant and the Torah. However, once you get past this simple statement, everything becomes pretty complicated, especially in a modern, liberal context.

I’m a Reform Jew who attends services at a Conservative synagogue. This wasn’t as difficult of a transition as I was expecting. To a large extent, the problems the Conservative movement faces are similar to those of the Reform movement.

How does a modern movement that does not believe God literally handed down the Torah to the Jewish people engage its members in the text? How does a modern movement where many of its members do not believe in God as God was seen in the time of the Old Testament engage the text? Whose translations and interpretations should be used? The movement’s? The Rabbis’? Modern rabbis’? Modern religious scholars’? Modern academic scholars’? How inclusive should the language be?

Especially on Shavuot, all of these questions are important. As the holiday approaches, I’ve been pondering even more questions. What does the covenant mean to me as a convert? What does it mean to me when I don’t accept some of the traditional interpretations of the commandments and even some of the commandments themselves? What does it mean to me as a queer person? What does it mean as a feminist? Am I actually accepting the covenant, or am I just fooling myself into believing I am?

I know that there are plenty of traditionalists out there who would say that I have not accepted the covenant and am not really Jewish. However, in rabbinical tradition (and this may be a pretty horrible retelling of this story) it is said that the Jewish people was not the first people God brought the Torah to. There were other peoples who were previously approached who would or could not accept the commandments and passed on the Torah. The Jewish people did accept, and to me the rest of the story is like a classic bait-and-switch. The Jewish people accepted, and throughout the rest of Jewish history we read over and over again how they failed to live up to their end of the bargain, leaving God to figure out how not to smite the errant people who kept making the same mistakes over and over again.

While I enjoy the festivities and learning tomorrow, perhaps I’ll take some consolation in the fact that while I may have fallen short of what other people think I should be as a Jewish woman, I am in good (or maybe just crowded) company.

Good Fast Food

In Awesomeness on June 5, 2011 at 3:59 am

Boyfriend Alex and I went shopping today; he went to work, and for dinner I had a pastrami sandwich. Then, I made the ultimate fast food, thanks to the Chinese market we visited a week or two ago.

Super Fast Soup Recipe:

1- 2 cups water (or broth, then skip step 2)
1- 2 servings instant broth of some kind
a handful of fast-cooking Asian noodles (I used ramen)
a handful of mushrooms
1 Tbspn of white miso
packet of pickled vegetables*

1. Boil water (or broth). 2. Dissolve instant broth into boiling water. 3. Throw noodles into cooking soup. 4. Slice mushrooms and throw into soup. 5. Continue to boil soup until noodles are soft. 6. Take soup off of heat and dissolve miso into soup. 7. Top with pickled vegetables. (You can also top with bean sprouts, corn, onions, seaweed, and other toppings you have handy.)

This whole process takes 5- 10 minutes, and the results have made me happy every time, even when I was using an instant soup cube that’s been sitting at the back of my cupboard for a few months. With all of the ingredients, it probably cost between $1 and $2 to make, but some of the stuff had been sitting in my kitchen for a while, so it’s hard to say what I paid for it all.

*Pickled vegetables pretty much have to be bought at an Asian market, and they come in foil packets.

++There is a lot of sodium in the miso, most soup powders, and the pickled vegetables. If you add soy sauce for taste, it would up the sodium even more. That’s about the only worrisome aspect of this recipe.

Fuck Plan B and Have Fun

In Awesomeness, The Writing Life on June 2, 2011 at 7:29 pm

On Twitter recently, there was a #FuckPlanB hashtag. It’s been interesting watching people on my and my friends’ Twitter feeds weigh in, especially since the issue is one that seems to have divided a number of the artists and performers I look up to.

I’ve come out on the side where I support #FuckPlanB. @bethofalltrades (Beth Hommel) wrote a blog post about how people who don’t have a support system can’t afford to Fuck Plan B, but I have to disagree on some points. I don’t have a trust fund, parents who can support me, or even money in my savings account. I DO use my giant water jug full of change as a financial backup plan when I have to. Yet I don’t have a Plan B; I’m never going to be able to fall back on my career as a doctor or zoologist to support myself if my whole dream of being a writer/ intellectual never takes off. In fact, I’ve been going to college on and off for eleven years now, struggling to realize my dreams. At times I was days or even hours away from having everything fall down around me, but I never gave up on my Plan A, and I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can breathe a little and believe that I’m going to make it.

Through all of this, I’ve had full and part time jobs to support the trajectory I want my life to go in. I wrote for the St. Petersburg Times while I worked at a dead-end job at a start-up website that sells travel videos. As I write this, I’m on my lunch break at a charity I work for to pay the rent when money from writing and teaching writing aren’t enough to get by on. I’m going for my master’s and will probably end up as a faculty member of a university or college in the next few years instead of living off of those fat writers’ paychecks we all know are flooding the publishing industry. But, none of these are a Plan B. They are just realistic steps I’m taking towards achieving my Plan A.

I did not take #FuckPlanB as a way for people on the verge of losing it all for their dreams to skirt responsibility or as a way of sticking it to the people who can’t afford to spend 40 hours a week just working on their art. Growing up, I was told that my Plan A wasn’t good enough. I was told to go into a number of career fields where I would have been miserable, and I probably would have ended up just another laid off worker suffering from the recession if I had taken that advice. In fact, I was told by a number of people that I shouldn’t even work on my Plan A part time, because there was no point. Instead I’m living my Plan A, which right now consists of being a writer in New Orleans. If working in an office 30 hours a week helps me achieve my goal, then it’s part of Plan A. If reading some of the best Western literature in history and reading over student essays to figure out how to improve their writing (which I believe also improves mine, thanks to the critical thinking involved) helps me stay afloat while I work on Plan A, then this is also part of the process, not a Plan B.

I’m not rich, and I’m still working towards making myself financially stable, but I’m happy. That’s what’s important. And, knowing that I’m still working towards my Plan A has added to my level of fulfillment over the years.

Last night, I went to see Jason Webley live in New Orleans. This wouldn’t have been possible if I had given up on my Plan A. Jason Webley is up there in my list of favorite musical artists, because he makes his shows fun. He projects an exuberance that is inspirational and infectious. I’m not going to knock people who decide to live their lives on a more stable path, but I like to think that last night I was at the exact place and moment I was supposed to be in, thanks to my Plan A.