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Vanilla Ice Cream, Deux

Photo by Bianca on Pexels.com

For the next two weeks I am choosing to explain my re-enactment in prose form. These are my last two opportunities to re-experience the ending chapters of my memoir, “Food Memories,” and I’d like to say more than a poem can about them and my process :}

This week, I chose to re-enact the memory of me going to Rite-Aid to challenge myself with an ice cream cone for afternoon snack. This wasn’t a long-ago memory, it was just a few years ago in 2016 that I decided to put myself through day treatment to help me with eating issues after a long time struggling alone.

In the memory, the dietician suggested I choose something that brought back good memories, to go purchase and allow myself to enjoy that. If you’ve been on this journey with me from the beginning, or have read my book, you’ll remember that Vanilla Ice Cream was my first food memory, and was one particularly filled with joy. So it was this food that I wanted to challenge myself that day.

What ended up happening in the original memory is a full-body freezing response to some sort of unknown sexual trauma. It surfaced as I stood outside of the Rite Aid, licking the dripping white liquid, feeling it run down my hands, feeling people in cars passing by, watching. And what snapped me out of it was a crow, hopping on the telephone line above me, catching my attention.

Fast forward to this weekend, when I chose to go to the neighborhood Rite Aid to re-enact the memory.

As I was planning to head out, a friend asked if I wanted to connect, and I said I was doing a few things if she’d like to join me. I chose to let her into this experience, trusting what it would bring.

I met her in the parking lot, as as we walked towards each other I saw she had something in her hand. When she came closer, I recognized she was carrying a picture of a crow. “My friend said she wanted you to have it.” She smiled.

I didn’t think much of it at the moment, except that it was a sweet gesture from someone I didn’t really know.

We walked over to the Rite Aid and entered the whoosh of the automatic doors, the coolness meeting our skin. My friend excused herself to look for another item while I went to order my ice cream. I saw the “Chocolate Malted Crunch” flavor I also loved as a kid and for a moment wondered if I should get this flavor. I decided to stick with Vanilla for the memory’s sake.

I stepped up to the counter and there was a family of four treating themselves to various cones and scoops. They were all “overweight” body types in the societal judgement of things, except for the little girl that was with them. The clerk serving them was also of this type. I noted this as a possible synchronicity to explore.

But what was also occurring while standing there waiting was this weird hidden shame feeling. The family was acting jovial and cheery, but as I do not fall into that body type I was feeling all of these kinds of comparison, self-judgments, etc, in the field. I am not sure if it was mine or theirs or what. I just felt it.

Another thing to note.

As I approached the counter, I noticed that the clerk wouldn’t look me in the eye, and was fidgeting a lot to avoid direct contact. Again, not ever sure what is mine and what is another’s, I approached him with gentleness and tried to make the interaction as clean as possible. I tried to engage him about what its like working during the summer at the ice cream counter, the rushes, etc (I did this too at that age). He didn’t seem to understand me, and was fumbling. Again, I tried to send good energy to the whole situation, to not create as little embarrassment/weirdness as possible.

That interaction complete, I met back up with my friend and we went for a walk in the gardens outside while I ate. I was a bit nervous of what might happen outside, if I would face a synchronistic sexist comment or situation that would remind me of that day in 2016. But I did not. I was simply surrounded by plant and human friend, strolling in the sunshine, eating an ice cream cone like a “normal person.”

I did struggle with whether or not to eat the cone at the end, and deciding that the ice cream was a big enough challenge, chose not to. (Later I thought about it and realized that this used to be my favorite part, eating the dribbly creaminess and crunching cone all together…I had a full on craving and visual experience of how good that was…and wondered why I didn’t remember this in the moment.)

My friend and I sat in a park afterwards and talked about spirit encounters, Brazilian psychics and agnostic ideas for balance lol. It was a good day.

In reflecting about the experience, I thought about how it both related to the original memory…as well as how it helped me heal/deepen into it. While it wasn’t crystal clear as in some memory re-enactments I’ve had, I do feel there were interesting bits.

Crow, once again, being with me, seemingly helping me to stay present.

The viewing (and possible empathic feeling) of people’s self-judgments about their bodies, about enjoying their senses, as if I was getting an opportunity to see what my own shadow energies around my body and sensuality shame were…from a distance. Without it totally taking me over, immobilizing me.

And then the fact that I was not alone, that my friend met me and was with me. She did not eat with me, but she was with me…which is a rare thing: me eating with others around. Letting her see me want/desire something, letting her see me purchase it and eat it with joy…this was healing. The fact that there wasn’t a gnarly sexual issue that came up was refreshing too. The fact that I could enjoy this, simply eating an ice cream cone without drama, was refreshing.

Thanks, crow.

Thanks, family.

Thanks, nervous server guy.

Thanks, friend.

And thanks, Rite Aid Vanilla Ice Cream.

.

Ps. Next time I’ll eat the cone.

.

*Thanks for reading! Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Egg Salad Sandwich.” I’ve been re-enacting these memories chronologically from my memoir, and this will be the very last one!

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

Featured

Turkish Coffee, Deerhide and Social Anxiety

Photo by Ahmed Aqtai on Pexels.com

I hold the demitasse

An azure porcelain relic

To my lips

A tiny trickle of pungent

Bitter liquid bursts across my senses

Cardamom

And the odors of crisping, crackling home fries

Intermingle

.

A man is cooking

Shuffling about the kitchen

As streams of late morning sun slice through

Dio in the air

And more enter

Three humans

I am sharing this experience with

.

How strange

So much of my eating is alone

That company would feel odd

.

Sipping, and laughing

I have faint remembrance

Of community

And feeling Home

Somewhere on the planet

With the echoes

Of beating deerhide

And banishing rituals

Gathering

To celebrate

.

Sipping, the rich brew

Travels out to the garden

Where dead things are buried

And new life has just begun

Intense words are exchanged

Laughter follows

As we flip over our mostly empty receptacles

Awaiting the ground’s messages

We twist cups to the right

One, two, three

Letting the sludge dribble

And finally

Reveal

.

In one, a moon woman

Crossing abyss-like chasm into fire

In another, a horned angelic being

And then

High plumed headdress and

Bear spirit

Emerging from the last

.

This ritual

Feels so familiar

The measuring and brewing

The savoring and visioning

The reading, in circle

Imaginations

Of having come to rest

After bumpy, dusty roads

Travelling in caravan deserts

Laughing

Drinking

Smoking

Together

.

These people

Feel so familiar

Sitting in circle

Beating drums

Casting space

Sipping

In

Ritual

Ritual

Ritual

My heart longs

For this to be real

.

Still

So many shadows dance

In the space between us

Beautiful as it seems

It’s Unspoken

I feel the way they quiver my voice

I feel the tentative connection

Attachment traumas

Little anesthetized spirit children

Holding out hands

Ignored

Projecting

Introjecting

Complexing

Possessing

I feel the yearning

And refusal to admit it

Is it mine

Is it theirs

Is it mine

Is it yours

Is it all

Is it real

Who am I

Who are you?

.

Laughter

And chatty professions

Dancing round smoky tendrils

And the spirits of arabica

And I get lost

I feel a confusion

Of who or what or where I really stand

And the struggle to remember

All while smiling

And discussion

And socializing

With The Normal

Saturates the external reality in front of me

And

I

Can’t

Talk

About

It

.

This is not new

This is always how it is

When I

Am with you

.

Good thing I’ve gotten used to

Playing along whilst feeling

Thrashed

By

The

Shadows

Good thing I’ve got practice

Of simultaneously pulling myself

From the blackness, drowning

From the gauzelike haze

And the stumbling, grasping

Forgetting

.

And good thing for Turkish Coffee

Whose ritual

And flavor

And heady, swirling cardamom laced

Clarity

Seem to help me remember

Who I am

Who I am

Who I Am

When I Am with you

And the many grasping tendrils

Between

.

.

*Thanks for reading! Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Vanilla Ice Cream, Deux.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

Featured

Our Daily Salad

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

The blade

Slices

Through cold, hard flesh

Pieces drop, one two three

Into crucible

Layers

Of ripped matter

Cover

And set to boil

.

Cans halved

Exact flatness achieved

All items ready

On this altar

.

How many times

Have I performed

This rite?

Measuring

Tamping

Steaming

Pouring

The same

Same

Same

Comforting

Repeatable

Predictable

.

I thank the dead for their offering

The lid rumbles, emitting steam

And I wonder

How many times

This rite?

.

How many times

Like a raw-skinned hand washer

Have I done this

With the illusion

That it makes everything

Okay?

.

This time, unlike last time

I no longer require myself

To worship

At this perfectly measured altar

Everyday

But this time, much like last time

As I perform the ritual

I wonder what could free me

Into a bigger

Less measured life

.

Appreciating

The hells I’ve come through

And life I’ve managed to craft

But still yearning

For something beyond this

Box

Although bigger than before

Still

These walls trap me

Still yearning for something

Beyond

.

Something else

That comforts

Something else

That structures

Something else

That directs

Eases

Organizes

The Chaos that lives within

Something else

Instead of this obvious

And metaphoric action

.

Something larger

Something indescribable

Something I yearn for

Yet

Can’t

Seem

To

Materialize

.

So like millions of other humans

I perform this ritual

I exact what I think is good

I repeat it regularly

And hope that it will be okay

.

Like millions of other humans

Here I perform

At the dietary altar

With religiosity

With hope

With hounding

Hollows

And chaos

Swirling within

.

Like millions of other humans

Here I sit

With my perfectly measured salad

And Netflix hypnotism

To drown out

The scream of my Soul

I cannot seem

To translate

.

Thanks for reading! Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Turkish Coffee.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

Featured

Ghost Shrimp

Photo by Los Muertos Crew on Pexels.com

The original mission

Fresh into expanded menu

Was to purchase some items

To cook for myself at home

.

That day, I braced myself for overwhelm

Of the aisles and questions

Of the options and decisions

Of the food stamp limitations

Needing to be faced

To craft such things

.

In the original mission

I sought out the ingredients

For simple shrimp tacos

Six shrimp

One avocado

Onion

Salsa

.

That day

Upon entering the store

Indeed a flush of intensity

Needing to keep myself from running, screaming

Back out into sunshine

But persistent, for “recovery”

I made my way deeper into the pit

.

At the deli counter asking

Ashamed at the amount

Battered by forceful joyous energy

Of the butcher behind

Six shrimp

Crinkly wrapping enfolding

He gave with a stunted smile

And psychic recommendations

For a larger life

.

This time

Although less overwhelm presented at entrance

Still I braced myself

Walking up to the counter

Wondering what people were thinking

Of this woman asking for

Just

Six

Shrimp

Jumbo shrimp, actually

Enough for two tacos, actually

And there will be more food beside them

Why did I feel the need to explain?

Why did I feel this shame?

Why do I feel like I should be ordering more

Or something different

Or with a jovial laugh, socializing

Why do I feel like I should be

Something

More?

.

This time, unlike the last time

The butcher at the counter was quiet

A gentle smile and perhaps the faeblood

Listened and received

Only a kind energy was felt

As the crinkly wrapping enfolded

This time was different

There also wasn’t a mom, yammering on

About the latest diet she’d like her girl to try

Pushing pushing mind controlling

Behind me as I choose from 70 different salsas

As I strain to get food into me

Battling her spellcraft, of culture

.

This time, there were a million options

But I chose with minimal terror

And made my way out of the store

The current mission completed

I thought whether I wanted to cook these creatures for dinner

And decided to have shrimp tacos

At the local dive bar

With a friend

Instead

.

She

“Wasn’t hungry”

Having pounded a protein shake prior to meeting

Strange to have

Someone else forgoing

While I stuffed my face

Here then, was the culture stealthily yammering

Silent, silent

But deadly

.

Later

As the stoner band played on

I was taken by the drummer, in a cutoff metal tee

Ragged hair and

Full of fire

My belly kind of full

And a half a frothy beer in hand

I was reminded of him

Again

Reminded of him

And the wolf dog

And the meals

So many years ago

.

Laughing

Full but empty

With my protein fasting friend

I held this

This constant yearning

I keep trying to shake it off

But he always

Seems

To

Be

There

.

In a dream

Woken, the dreaded nausea setting in

Faint and disappearing

I saw him

Smiling

My hand over his

He stared into me

Like it was all okay

.

Memento Mori

Memento Mori

Memento Vivere

.

In one world,

Shrimp rumbling

Nauseous, sweating

And in another

He stared into me

Memento Vivere

Like it was all okay

.

.

Thanks for reading! Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Our Daily Salad.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

Featured

A Kitchen Witch Bakes Bread

Photo by Marta Dzedyshko on Pexels.com

I.

With heavy, hag-crusted apron

I wait for it to rise

Past circling, stirring motion

The meal, the embryo, the red of the moon

Combine, they dance

Swirling and mixing

.

I wait

Whilst frankincense-laced vapours

Hang, wispy and snakish

As guttoral, throated vocalizations

And visions of strange beings

Ambulate on quartz lined stage

I wonder

As I wait

If they

Are me

.

The wheated, bubbling creature

Waits

As I wait

Wonders

As I wonder

Under thick cover

Amidst heat shimmers

Of Awaswas’ mountain

.

With heavy, hag-crusted apron

I wait

While it waits

For the Cakes of Light

To rise

.

II.

Naked tips dipping

Into sticky, porous, amoebic

Mass

Stringlets stretching

As I pull apart its body

As I drop its flesh

Into oiled Abramelin chambers

.

The heat is rising

And I wait

While it waits

As preliminary aromas

Its possible hope for transformation

And Tuvan melodies

Twirl in air

.

This

Is such

An old

Ritual

.

III.

A crisped shell

A moist center

Cradled in hand

Hot, piping steam

Back and forth to save them

Back and forth to cool them

Back and forth to infuse them

I lift

This alchemized creature

To my mouth

And break through

Teeth piercing into grainy innards

And breathe

Tastes swirl

Sweet, buttery, salty

And vague notes

Of sorcery within

.

I chew

All flavors transfigure

Into pregnant mass

A eucharist of sorts

I take myself

Into myself

And begin to hum

Feeling this ritual

Flowing, pulsing, re-membering

Swallowing

Feeling this ritual

In hand

Like the sinewy, weathered of grandmothers

Feeling this ritual

Of bread

In

Blood

In bread

.

Thanks for reading! Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Shrimp.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Carl’s Jr, Meals For The Dead, and The Mission of Self-Pleasure

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

The wrapping crinkles

Layered, billowy buns

Float beneath fingers

Oozing with saucy creaminess

A fresh, bright green lettuce leaf

Bursting forth from stack

.

I arrange the papery film

To mark the halfway point

Better not go too far

These things are meant to trick you

.

Looking up, around me

Eyes, are they watching

Like they were, so many years ago

I remember eating

For them

For everyone…

But myself

.

As I take my first bite

Teeth sinking into doughy pillows

And through juicy flesh

And sauces running down my chin

It all amounts to mush upon my tongue

Rolling around, dressing drowned

I’m not terribly impressed

Sure looked better than tasted

Which before might have been tragedy

But now is just something to move past

.

It crinkles

Beneath my hold

Somehow I expected more

As I think of mother’s secret, hidden addiction

And the wolfman’s regular visits

Really, it’s the tomato and onion

I covet most

Dripping, crispness covered in saucy heaven

.

I look up wondering

Who’s eyes are watching now

And as the crystal blue sky

And seagull’s piercing cries surround me

I think back to the twelve year old, watching

Across from me, my daring bites, a guide

I ate for her

I ate for him, for them

But did I eat

For me?

I think a small part ate for hope

That through the pain

I’d eventually find freedom

And clarity of path

That the hold of despair

Of lostness

Would

Finally

Stop

Haunting

Me

.

But as I masticate

This doughy, salted mass

Calling me, as designed

To eat more

Still I feel, although shifted

That same lostness

That same question

That same confusion

Needing measuring cups

To structure and give guidance

To the harrowing, empty chaos

That reigns within

.

I sigh

Not quite sure WTF to do as usual

So I envision this car I eat in, open

As that treatment center

And with young fearful ones watching

Looking to me for direction

I think about how right it felt

To eat for them

To show courage

This being perhaps more important

Than my own final riddance of pains

.

But now I’m sucking remnants

Irritable

Sesame bits lodged

Wondering at

Strange textures of meats beyond

And all the dead memories, held to this meal

Steve and Skyedog begging

Momma hidden, gorging

Me eating for the good of the whole damned world

All these memories

Converging

Of playgrounds

And first metal concerts

And the wide open hope

Of teenage love

.

I think of someone else telling me

What to eat

Serving to me

And how utterly, deeply, amazingly wonderful

That felt

To have someone take over

Helping me remember

What joyful eating actually feels like

Helping me remember

That this (despite what the culture tells me)

Is okay

.

I remember

As I both surrender to and fight off the desire

To eat more, more, more

Of these perfectly layered burger patties

Their oozing creamy special sauce

The crisp onion flesh

The vibrant green leaves, waffled and bursting

The ripe juicy tomato

Their tastes have grown more pleasure-full

Is the risk of pained fullness

Worth it to take?

.

Here, still with untrustable appetite

And the words dance dancing in my head

When it’s full…is it really?

When it’s hungry…do I trust it?

When it’s nauseous…do I listen?

Still, these questions

Between layers and layers

So many years beyond

Leaving me with more questions

Only

More questions

.

Still

For my dead momma

And for him

And for those struggling

To even be able to eat anything

I eat this burger

And perhaps even

Perhaps possibly

I eat

Against all cultural brainwashing

For myself

.

To experience “ease”

To experience “normal”

To experience

Feeding…myself

Something good

With no one watching

With no other reason

With no great mission

But

Eating

.

Just for myself

.

Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “The Kitchen Witch Makes Bread.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Tuna Wraps, Vultures and Demons, Oh My!

Photo by Harry Lette on Pexels.com

Pliant rough tortilla

Unfolds under fingertips

Revealing creamy innards

Spread out

Like the ritual of long ago

.

Piercing the fishy mound

The tomato laced mash

Rides aboard fork tines

And is placed onto tongue

Vulture

Outside my window

Circling

Circling

.

There’s a bitterness

And a fleeting fear

Of being poisoned

Of writhing in death

And agony

Only to come

.

Clearing past lives

I continue the mission

Chewing

Then surgically extracting

Lifeless leaves

I take them in

Feeling what’s left of their

Withering limp bodies

Lodge in between tooth an gum

.

Cold flesh

Of tomato guts

Bursts across palate

As molars decimate

And I remember smoke

And I remember suicidal hotel rooms

.

Now a blue jay

Sits on the line

Below the vulture, circling

As if waiting, waiting

.

Chewing

I entertain

Just for a moment

That it might answer

And ask if it could help me find home?

.

Chewing

There is no answer

But this next bite

Saturated with brined saltiness

The seasoned mash

Sloshes between cheeks

And I am grimacing

Tongue dislodging

Pieces from the cracks

.

Blue Jay is gone

As is for vulture

And I

Feel so very alone

.

Remembering, remembering

I can’t help

Remembering

That smoke

That loss

That yearning

To go Home

.

And the shame

The shame

A professional seeking re-admission

Into the only home

She’s ever really known

.

Chewing

These last overseasoned bites of innards

Before the tortilla

Becomes my only focused goal

.

I saved it for last

Like so many years ago

Where meals were skeletal

And the next allowance might be days away

I saved it

I made it last

I made it last

Peeling apart layers

Most eyes don’t even see

Extracting, surgery, pieces

Making it last

.

This time

I feel the impatience rising

The tidiousness of this ritual

However necessary it might have seemed

A decade ago

I pick up the rest

And roll it, feeling a welcome denseness

Compressing, masticating

And I swallow

.

This time, unlike that time

I am exhausted by the ritual

But this time, just like that time

I try to ignore

The Demons

Writhing in my gut

Still they greet

At each attempt of feeding

.

This time, just like that time

The Demons are still there

Waiting

Waiting

They’ve been there

A very long, long time.

. . .

Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Carl’s Jr.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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“Recovery” Oatmeal and the Witchy Nutritionist

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

Fears

Of too much

And not enough

On the one hand

I see just how far I’ve come

Yet on the other

The same old structures

Circle round and round

.

Recovery?

Re-cover

Me?

Un-cover

Dis-cover

Alchemy?


Silky oat water

Slurping

An unfamiliar lacing

Coconut oil, savory

And a thickness

The watery gruel

More substantial


What will this recipe

Cause in my stomach

For years eating different

Will this set of measurements

Bring pain?


As the chirping

Of the dark morning

And swaying periodic chime

Surrounds me

I risk, I open

To this momentous

Yet sorry challenge

(while

the

world

goes

hungry)


And when it’s over

There’s no pain at all

Dark Goddess

She whispers in my ear

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This week, my self-assigned re-enactment was of a memory of eating oatmeal.

But not just any oatmeal–this oatmeal was what I deemed at the time as “Recovery” oatmeal. Far from the low-calorie, Quaker Oats package with only water to swim in. This oatmeal was laced with silky almond butter, coconut oil and a hefty serving of chewy flattened groats.

The recipe for this oatmeal was provided to me decades ago whilst under the care and guidance of an eating disorder nutritionist. I’d hired her to get me out of the underworld once again. But she was no ordinary nutritionist…she was a witch.

She called herself a Kitchen Witch. She encouraged me to sit with the pain of eating more, kneeling at a Dark Goddess altar she’d had me create to give the lessons of Anorexia a home. She encouraged me to track the moon, to honor the time when I would be menstruating but wasn’t, to create a ritual to hold space for it to come.

She grew and crafted Vitex and Skullcap tincture to help my hormones, to soothe my anxiety. She encouraged me to honor the pain.

It was this deep experience I was attempting to re-create, eating this recipe and sitting with the pain once more, honoring it, listening to it.

Yet as I was preparing the meal, I was amazed at the amounts she’d listed in her original recipe. Today, these seemed like measly amounts. I remembered writhing in pain after eating said recipe…how could this be true?

I recalled how I teetered on the brink in those days, and how lucky I felt to have met this witchy woman at a women’s herbal conference, she coming upon my sobbing mess while ladies of all shapes and sizes frolicked merrily around me. I remembered the depth in which she looked at me, I remember feeling held.

I remembered feeling courage to do anything to face this seeming demon inside of me once again. I remember her holding me–and it–with such fierce care it astounded and changed my perspective forever.

And so it was with that heart that I made this meal that day so many years ago, and braced myself for the pain. And pain there was–for hours and hours. I was somehow able to hear her voice, this nutritionist witch, and maybe the Dark Goddess too.

I was able to hear them guiding me to sit with the pain, to honor it, rather than the usual running, starving, anything I had done to make it go away. I remember being with that pain so deeply, deeper than I’d ever been. Understanding it as not just “too much food” but as an intense, unconscious trauma reaction.

For some reason, fullness was avoided at all costs, and I had not at this point taken a conscious look at the this reason. I just remained confused at why if I wasn’t worried about my weight, why the fullness terrified me so much. Why I needed a treatment center, or hospital, to help me face it and not run. This woman, and perhaps the Wise Darkness, spoke to me that day, through my sitting with the gurgling mass of oats in my abdomen. That day I learned something profound and new, even though I could not put it into words.

This time, while preparing the recipe that triggered such intensity, I was nervous. I was perplexed. What would this meal bring, even though it didn’t seem to be such a challenge volume wise anymore? I found myself wondering if I might constellate discomfort regardless because I was expecting it, exploring it in this exercise.

Yet slurping and chewing the oilier, thickened mass, I found myself listening to my body, listening for it to tell me to stop, listening for the pain. But it didn’t, and the pain wasn’t there. My body was…still hungry.

And I knew what the lesson was. The lesson from the re-enactment was to show me how far I’ve come, even though I still measure my food. The lesson was to help me remember the deep teachers that have met me along the way and what insanity my body has gone through with me.

I spent the time after the meal thinking about all of this, grateful, yet still perplexed at not really knowing how to describe just what has happened between then and now (aside from some obvious metabolic rehab), but that a lot has. “Recovery” isn’t quite the term I’d use, but something momentous has alchemized within me.

So there I sat in the early morning hours, darkness still hanging heavy in the sky, and thought of Her. In all Her forms, that has come to guide me through this storm. At one moment, posing as the enemy, and at another a helping hand. How She has always been with me, teaching.

And then, I got up to eat some more.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Tuna Wrap.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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Pan-Fried Trout: An Excerpt

Photo by Nataly Grb on Pexels.com

I have a squiggly, wet fish in my hands. I am crying. Uncontrollably.

Its slick skin slides out from my grasp, and it somehow manages to jump away and onto the ground. As I am set up so far away from the pond, its panicking thrusts don’t manage it back to the water. It flops, to and fro, and there is so much grief in me I feel I will explode and crumble beside it as it dies.

I decide I cannot let it suffer anymore and search frantically for a way to end its pain. I pull out the fish knife in my belt and hold the blade edge carefully, thankfully it is still sheathed so as not to slice me open. The hilt protruding from my trembling fist, I walk up to the squirming fish and thwack its head, aiming hard so I won’t have to try again. I squeeze my eyes shut reflexively as I make this jarring motion. I wait for a moment, listening, my arm reverberating. My eyelids peel back open, afraid to see what I’ve done, but apparently I have succeeded. The body of a lifeless fish rests before me.

I go to my bag and pull out the ceremonial cloth I’ve chosen to wrap the body in, to honor its life and the part it is playing in my rite of passage. I feel the scratchy linen cloth, and through it a wet seeping onto my hands. I stop for a moment and feel this body, this cycle I have chosen to put myself in, remembering the struggle and the blood of just moments ago. All is peaceful now, and I feel as if I hold a precious sacrament in my palms. I do. I am.

I place the carefully wrapped body in the cooler I have prepared. I close the lid down and take a breath. It is done.

I gather my rod and equipment and head back to the car. Things seem very slowed down as I walk back along the path that before held my trembling steps. I hear birdsong echoing in the forest around me, and although the ripples of sadness are still flowing through me, there is a peace that has taken over my body. It is a pulsing feeling, deep in my bones.

I do not play music on the long, dusty road back to my home in the city. I listen to the silence; I feel the buzzing, how it etches out the lines of my body. It is as if I am humming, alive, and I want to really be in this feeling. I hear the rod jangling in the back of the car as I make my way over the bumpy roads, and finally I reach the highway and head home.

I pull up to the side of the house, cars rushing by on the busy intersection. I choose to leave my rod in the car for now, and only lift out the cooler with the fish body inside. I make my way up the stairs and into the house—no one seems to be home, which I am glad to see. My next task is to cook this offering, and to consume it. Decades have passed since I have eaten flesh, and my mind is nervous of how my body will react. I am grateful that I will be able to experience this transition alone, and I make my way to the kitchen.

I open the cooler and a wave of slightly fishy aroma rushes at my nostrils. I take another breath, and remember the Fish message I’d received:

We are here to nourish you, if you call upon us and treat this exchange with gratitude. We are happy to offer our lives so that you may thrive.

I have to put this message on repeat in my head. I have spent so many years protesting and activist-ing that this message is still such a paradox to me.

I walk over to the stove and place a frying pan on it, turning on the gas clicker and lighting a flame beneath. I splash a little oil onto its surface and hear it sizzle. I breathe.

I bring the fish body over to the side of the stove and unwrap it, placing its cool carcass onto a plate. I look at it, looking back at me, through the eye of its half-squished face. These eyes are glazed over and cloudy, and my crying heart doesn’t seem to react this time. I have become a little more comfortable with the fact that I am a killer.

I hover my hands over the dead fish and start to say my prayers. Prayers of gratitude for its sacrifice, for the worms and waters that formed it, to its fish mother, to the silky mosses it brushed up against and hid in. To the rains and the sun and whatever it is that made it possible for me to have this privileged experience, here, now. I wedge my fingers under the scaly underside and lift it up into the air, a gesture moving through me with no words. I bring it back down and into the pan, the sizzling intensifies, and I prepare myself to deal with the aroma of flesh cooking.

Surprisingly, as the fish body quivers and crackles, the scent is pleasurable. Savory, briny, smoky. My stomach begins to rumble. My stomach begins to rumble! My stomach hasn’t rumbled in what seems like…decades.

I am curious, and my mouth starts to water.

I grasp the spatula from its peg near the chopping block, and pry up the crisped skin of the fish body from the hot pan. I maneuver it somehow so that, in one fell swoop, I manage to flip it over onto its other side without a mess. It plops back and resumes its sizzle.

I am calm, reminding myself of the message. Guilt and fear try to creep into the edges of this experience, but the unbelievable fullness of the sacred overwhelms their tries. I look at the fish eyes again, and it seems the mouth is now smiling. The metalhead inside me chuckles at the grimness of a slightly smashed fish head smiling.

The aromas have taken over the air in the kitchen. I’m not sure whether or not the fish is ready, but it is now beginning to burn, so I remove it from the flame. I pull open the drawer next to the stove and pull out a fork, curious to see what it will look like, surprised again at the ease with which I’ve transitioned into this meat-eater persona.

I pierce the crispy flesh and pry into the muscle. I see it has hardened and its texture reminds me of fish-and-chips of so long ago. I decide it is ready, and remove the fork.

I slide the fish onto a plate and brace myself for the big moment. I breathe, body quaking again. The tremble has returned for some reason, and it makes my fork wiggle. I am called back to the wriggling of the fish, in my hands, on that mossy earth, dying, and how it’s now here, cooked, and on my plate. I feel tears well up, but they do not escape the rims of my eyelids, they just pool there. I lower my shaking fork down into the flesh of this dear creature, and lift a chunk of its cooked body up to my eye level. I look at it, fearing, but also in utter awe.

I place the fish in my mouth and close my lips around it. I slide the fork tines out and feel the saliva pooling around this new foodstuff placed there. All sorts of salty notes trickle around the sides of my cheeks as I begin to chew this strange, flaky texture. I close my eyes and breathe in, noting this ending of the rite it has taken so long to complete.

The tastes swirl in my head, and my stomach—and soul—is sated. I have received.

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*Thanks for reading. This is an excerpt from my recently published memoir, Food Memories.

**Join me next week for my next memory re-creation, “Hot (Recovery) Oatmeal.”

***If you’d like to learn more about or purchase Food Memories you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.

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The Mocha, Existential Angst and Goth Fairs (Food Memory # 23)

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Pexels.com

Clad in Death’s costume

The door opens before me

Inside, frothers and hissing espresso

Greet ears

Innocence takes order

Fumbling at first time transactions

Bright ponytails bursting

From watchful nearby head

Mocha

I am preparing

To take the liquid in

A drip coffee concoction

A minimal waiting

And soon it is in hand

As the ponytail’s face shines with interest

This time, unlike last time

I am

Sipping

That familiar, bitter creamy sweet liquid

That first hot and delicious slurp

From the car seat

Unable to sit and write

In the coolness of the cafe’

Sipping

That creamy sweet liquid

As I maneuver ’round curvature

Snaky mountain roads

Honoring yet holding bay

The everyminute reality

I am in a gigantic moving weapon

Sipping

This creamy sweet bitterness

A courage

To face death

By simply driving

To face death

By simply intermingling with others

To face death

Courage

The Periphery starts to tingle

Feeling whole body outline

I am alive

Not knowing exactly what fills me in

Yet

I am alive

Showing up

Letting rich pleasure rushing

Over tongue

Down throat

Into bloodstream

Fanning courage

Across capillary fed cellular matter

To interact with Life

And attempt to play

With Death

Once more

~~

This week I sought to re-create a memory of me, a very depressed and lost me, rising from bed and choosing to push through my darkness with the hope that a mocha would help me feel more interested in staying alive.

What a difference twelve years makes, as this time I rose from my bed excited to be alive. Excited to dress up in Gothy wear, excited to drink a mocha, excited (and a bit petrified) to drive into the city for the first time in 1.5 years. Excited to meet up with a whole bunch of others who were probably doing the same thing. Excited to meet up with people dressed up in various forms of creatively expressing the existential angst of being a human in our current reality–those who aim to try to play with this crazy darkness rather than succumb to it.

This time, unlike last time, where I slogged my body to the cafe and watched old ladies and dogwalkers with a longing, a how-must-it-feel-to-be-human kind of awe…this time although I generally still feel like a hollow bone walking, I am playful with it.

This time I felt the same feelings but a level of acceptance of this evanescent reality that seems to be me. This time, the mocha was an enhancement to help me get into “playing human,” but not my only reason to rise. This time I had breakfast in my belly before that black richness careened down my esophagus, unlike last time where nausea and minimal eating to numb what I could was my life.

This time the thick desserty dose of caffeine companioned me on the windy mountain roads to face that totally insane thing we do by driving. Hurtling at top speeds, basically towards each other only inches away from bashing together…just trusting the good conscience and sobriety of others driving their own weapons around me! This liquid helped me face the totally uncontrollable fact that I do not know when or how I will die, and that I can either sit in my home in fear or go out and live. Fully accepting that all of it is a risk.

Unlike last time where I was so disconnected from reality that friendships were scarce and difficult, this time I had friends I was driving these roads to join cautiously at a “World Goth Day” event in the city. Unlike last time where the normal facing of death by leaving the house created its angst within, this time I was entering into a public event with close proximity to others, masked and freshly emerged from cocoons of a deadly pandemic…this time was a whole different level of facing death.

But I was not alone–amongst black capes and hollow painted eyes, through people only inches and not feet from me–all of us doing our best to be darkly playful with this insanity we’ve all been through. There were lacy masks, and gremlin babies, coffin dotted parasols, apocalyptic vibrations and a strange giddiness in the air. A facing death but so fucking glad to be out of the house and playing again kind of giddiness. It was delicious, like the mocha riding in my cupholder, comforting and pleasuring me as I hurtled into the new world, risking and playing with darkness.

*Thanks for reading. Please join me next week as I re-create the food memory, “Pan-Fried Trout.”

**If you’d like to learn more about the Food Memories book I am referencing for these posts, you can support a small bookstore by purchasing it here: 

https://www.ebookwoman.com/book/9781689839075

or by searching for Food Memories by Reagan Lakins on any major book selling website.