Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Food comes from a can

Today was the kind of "running" day where I mostly walk. I try to consciously go slower when I am crying. I don't want to trip and injure myself. Today I thought about my mother. I thought about the way Shanna begs me to never leave her. Maybe she will go to college, but she plans to come right back and "take care of me".

I remember promising my mother that once I was an adult her life would be better. I could help. Things would be better. I suppose that depends on what you mean by "better". My life is better. I have no idea how her life is going. I have no idea. I wonder if she is proud of me. I wonder if she knows that I grew up into a strong, good person. I wonder if she is glad that I can defend myself now and I can stop being a victim. Somehow I doubt it.

I don't know how to reconcile in my head that my mother, the person who was responsible for taking care of me when I was helpless, prefers that I not grow up to be strong enough to defend myself. She thinks I should be defenseless. At least within the family. Should I fuck my sister too so she can finish moving through our family? Maybe she isn't bi. Maybe I should just be fucking my sister's boyfriends. They all tried. They tried long before I hit adult height. Watching my kids is hard. I'm not sure how to explain this.

I want my kids to travel so much because I want them to actually see how different the world is from their home. I mean the whole bay area. It's fairly safe here. We have managed to create this little bubble where we are safe from the natural world and even the other humans aren't that dangerous. The police are far more dangerous to us than our neighbors because I take my kids to protests. Welcome to modern America. My kids are white, upper middle class, and female. Other than sexual assault, which won't fucking happen on my watch, my kids don't really have much to fear. Cars. Abstract concepts. Stories. The unknown.

I want my kids to understand what it means to survive. I feel like a privileged asshole. I want to take my kids to other countries so they can play tourist on actual hard lives. I want them to not have to have hard lives but still understand the spectrum. Me telling them stories and showing them pictures isn't good enough.

I want to know what it feels like, as a rational adult, to have to eat what food is put in front of me or go hungry. I want to change how I feel about this. I'm terrified that it means learning to eat seafood. The texture fucking bothers me. I don't want to be that American. I don't want to feel like a snob. I don't want to deal with that rejection pattern. I don't want to go to other countries and come home to hide in my house and declare that every one every where in the world dislikes me. I'm too difficult. I shouldn't bother trying to do anything with my life. Obviously I suck. I can totally see me doing that. I could be that asshole.

The problem is, that means I didn't really survive. That means I died a long time ago and there is nothing left in me. Because it's just not true that I am disliked and reviled.

I am thought about.

If that is happening, and a lot of it is positive, that means maybe I'm not too hard. It's ok to be different. It's ok to have preferences. But when I am imposing on people I need to learn how to accept with gratitude what people choose to give me. My needs are my own to meet. I need to not act like other people are responsible for meeting them. It's my problem. If the best I can do is a fish and rice at a given meal I need to eat the fucking fish and smile.

I want that for my kids. I want to show them what that is like. I remember my mother and feel sad and anxious. Food was so hard for me as a kid. It was bad. As an adult I'll say that my mother was a fairly bad cook but everyone we knew loved her food. That makes me wonder. My family has all gotten to the point of heating up preseasoned food at every meal. We didn't eat produce, and certainly not good produce.

I feel like my life is consumed with my body lately. I am trying to learn how to meet my needs. I wasn't taught. I wasn't taught to check in on my body and see how different parts of me felt. I was taught to ignore my body. My body wasn't important. Anyone was allowed to do anything they wanted to my body and I was expected to just accept it. Food was what I could control.

I don't think I've ever thought of it that way before.

My food life is unlike any that I have ever experienced before. Since I had kids I have radically changed how I eat. But I'm not interested in getting to a point where I'm supporting my family on my farming efforts in my backyard. Just to put a scope on this. I recently read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and all I have to say is sweet sunny Jesus NO. I felt anxious pressure reading the book. I'm an idiot. She grew up farming and married someone with a similar background. That's just not something I will ever try.

So that leaves me in a weird position of feeling like I don't know what I want to accomplish. I swear to G-d this post has a cohesive theme. I have to actively decide which of my behaviors in life are about what I was taught to do by my mama and which things are right for me. I also need to think about what is right for the other people in my family. We all have different needs. I wasn't taught to think about people that way. I'm training for a marathon. My body is going to have different needs than the other members of my family. Why do I plan to feed us all exactly the same way? Because when I try to do that I end up snacking in the garage.

I resist eating the food in the house. I don't actually like the crap I make my kids eat. I really honestly think vegetables and fruit are pretty gross. I only like the heavily processed with corn syrup version of fruit because that is what my mama likes. I don't really want to teach my kids to be like my mother. Her version of surviving looks a lot like death to me.

I have less than eight years to really get my shit together so that I can take my kids around the world to find out how other people live. My kids will find out what it means to have to work in order to eat. I will find out what it is like to have to work in order to eat. I want to show up and not feel ignorant as a pig. I don't want to show up ashamed of myself for my ignorance. But neither do I want to show up and act like all they need is a honky.

I want to feel like the labor of my body and the work of my mind has some value. I can accomplish things. I can work. I am not fucking useless. I try not to bullshit myself. I am not going to learn what it is like to have to do manual labor to survive. That is the understanding of a lifetime of work I have not had and won't have. I feel weird about that. It is hard to keep in mind. I can't keep my yard weeded--yet. I think that is probably what I have eight years to build towards. I need to be able to physically do all of the labor in my yard. I probably should get a bit more ambitious in that department. I want to be able to do farm labor. At the moment I would be annoying and useless.

In eight years I will still be very ignorant. I will be moving to different climates. I will be moving to different plants. I will know nothing. All I will be able to do is go out and try over and over and be publicly bad and I will probably be laughed at. I need to have that experience as a rational adult. I need to learn to not break down in tears just because people are laughing at me.

For my mother food comes from the freezer and cans. I was not taught how to cook food. I have a hard time eating seasonally. For many seasons of the year there aren't very many products I recognize as food. I've learned to shut up about this and eat what is put in front of me.

I need to learn how to eat more food. I want my kids to have more options than me. I want them to develop a broad palate so that we can be polite guests who do farm work in exchange for being allowed to learn about people. We can be company for a while. We should be polite, grateful guests. That is hard to think about.

I have to believe my labor is such that it is worth putting up with my company. I want to have something to talk about other than what a sad terrible life I have had. I want to have something to talk about other than what a devoted slave I was. I want to have something to talk about how much I enjoyed that short stint of teaching. I want to talk about something other than just being a mother.

What else am I? Food is going to be a big part of this journey. I want to find out where food comes from. I want to teach my daughters where food comes from and I feel ashamed of myself for knowing so little. I think food comes from cans.

We should be learning languages. I suppose that means picking areas already. Oh goodness.

I cry when I run because I wonder if my mother will feel proud when she hears about me some day. This valley isn't that big. I tremble in fear when I am in San Jose. I'm terrified of seeing her. Will I pass her in silence like somebody that I used to know? Will I introduce my kids? Will I introduce her as Vivian? I have trouble saying her name without crying. I haven't said it much in my life. She's my Mommy.

I do have to think about things like this. I have to decide in advance what I will do. I have to play it in my mind so that I don't freak out. I have to decide in my head and in my heart what an appropriate adult reaction is to my children. What is it going to be like to move through the world for a whole year that I don't have to check over my shoulder for my mother?

My mother knows where I live. I wouldn't put it past her to show up some day. How do I want to behave? Do I want her to show up? No. Not really.

If I showed up she would pretend to be nice for a while. Then she would feel comfortable. Then she would proceed to talk about how disgusting the food is.

Learning this is too hard. I have to take feedback if I want to improve but not from her. She can never again be allowed to weigh in on any part of me. What she thinks of me is not my business. Never the less when I run I cry so hard I can barely see because I want her to be proud of me. I hope she is proud that she did manage to raise kids who can survive even if she couldn't keep them safe.

My mother drove adult men to my house when I was a young teenager because those men wanted to have sex with me. My mother manifestly didn't care for me. She did not teach me survival skills. She taught me skills that will kill me.

Why? Why did she do that? Is that all she knows? Was I really so hard to teach? I can't know. I expect I was nearly as high needs as Shanna, maybe more given the abuse. Do I really want to model how my mother dealt with it? Now I understand it more. It's complicated.

All of this is so complicated. How do I stop looking at all of life as one big mass of things that I don't know yet and therefore I can't know and I am trapped? When do I learn how to fail in front of other people? When will it be safe to try things in front of people without being told I am pathetic for being bad on my first try? I don't have a safer audience than my kids. I feel bad that I don't get to teach them very many things that I am already good at. I feel kind of sad that their entire lives will be a journey through my learning experiences.

I wish I had "become" a bit more before having kids. I wish I had been less resistant to learning. I wish I didn't feel humiliated when I don't know the answer. Maybe that is how my mother felt. How do I want to feel?

This is all so very complicated. And I should go in because Noah has to go to work.


  1. ok...I read your blog but rarely comment. I don't know if you want me to comment...but I can't not say this. You have to know that your mother's actions were not something you did or didn't do, they are all about her.

    When you say: My mother drove adult men to my house when I was a young teenager because those men wanted to have sex with me-I think, there is nothing a child could do that could rationally cause a parent to allow this, much less facilitate it.

    Think about your girls...think about the worst thing they have ever ever done...the thing that make you walk out of the room cuz if you didn't you would do something or say something you would regret. Would you for one second have put them at risk because they did something to upset you?

    You are not your mother and you never will be. I hope that you are finding more peace in your life. I know it doesn't come easily but whenever you can find a bit of peace, that's a good thing.

    1. I like comments!

      There are peaceful moments in my life. There are not yet peaceful days. :)

      I know I won't be my mom. Thank goodness it is already too late.