Food Memories Hits The Shelves!

Pardon me for interrupting this regularly scheduled program, but I’ve to announce…Food Memories is in a real live bookstore! This is The Kingfisher Bookstore in Coupeville, WA where the virtual has become reality:

Meg and Brad Olson, owners. Neil Gaiman on shelf :}}
Photos from Carolyn Tamler article in Whidbey Local:

This is so exciting. Said bookstore has arranged a book signing for me to enact my author identity with others…and I love a good role-play :}. I’m also honestly nervous to becoming more visible as the author behind this book…but I’m giving it the good ol’ heave ho. The soul creation that is this memoir deserves it from me.

I am also incredibly grateful for this unexpected opportunity and look forward to meeting the Coupeville community that is welcoming me. You can read more about The Kingfisher Bookstore here: to find out about the deliciousness they’re brewing up (Coupeville = filming location for Practical Magic).

So stay tuned folks, I’ll be headed to Coupeville/Whidbey Island to accomplish this task next week and may have more of the adventure to share!

If you’re not familiar with the book I’m mentioning, here’s additional information:

From the back cover:

“In this deeply moving and honest memoir, successive food memories take us on a journey through the author’s struggles, joys and ultimate awakening to her relationship with food and body. In her narrative, Reagan forms a provocative question: ‘What if the symptoms of an eating disorder and of depression can ultimately be something sacred? Not something to fight against but instead one to learn from and work with as a teacher?’

If you have struggled with food and body and found yourself wondering if there is something more to the wrestling; if you have been in recovery and found yourself caught in reoccurring symptoms you know have deeper meaning, these words may meet you. They may also challenge you. Recall, and perhaps re-write, your own story of food and body issues in ways you never imagined as you read along. Come, step into Reagan’s journey…and understand your own.”

Reader Feedback:

“In this heartfelt and creatively arranged memoir, Reagan takes the reader inside her life-long relationship with an eating disorder. Her journey gradually unfolds, refolds, unfolds, and refolds through poetry, reflection, and powerfully rendered memories of eating. More than a recovery story, Food Memories is a thoughtful exploration of how to care for ourselves in the midst of pain and loneliness, and welcome our “dis-ease” as a soulful path of transformation. Honest, brave, and illuminating.” ~T.H.

“The tales and the writing in “Food Memories” are not only joyful, at times sorrowful and intriguing to absorb, the experiences shared here about first-hand experiences with the nuances around food and eating and the struggles as well as the triumphs are artfully rendered and reflected upon. This book helped me connect with deeper layers of my own challenges with food and I heartily recommend it to others who want to find deeper perspective on eating, food and ways to work with these in fresh ways.” ~C.C.

“A disciplined and visceral memoir covers the authors journey with anorexia from childhood through her ongoing struggle to understand the messages of her body. These vignettes offer insights into the state of mind and trauma psychology of eating disorders, but go beyond the usual obsession with body image and societal messages of thinness. Her story becomes a rite of passage and a search for initiation. The journey to wellness as the author grows compassion for herself in turn made me feel cared for and offered numerous insights into the complexity of growing up female. Her desire to help others in the same predicament and how she learned to get help for herself speaks volumes about how little we really support or understand women. A brave and courageous act of self invention as well as a compelling piece of writing beautifully written and artfully put together with intermittent third person summations and poetry.” ~B.T.

“This book really opened my eyes about the complexity of eating disorders. Detailed, sensual descriptions of food experiences tell the story of a truly human love-hate relationship with food and family. The brave vulnerability demonstrated by this author is healing in itself. It includes some lovely poetry, mystical experiences, ugly and beautiful interactions with others, all strung together by miracles generated by forgiveness.” K.M.

“My friend recommended this book to me as I have numerous friends that are struggling with eating disorders or have family members struggling. I really like how this book chronicles the author’s experiences over time and it gives great insight into how some people enter into this situation. I felt like I was on this journey with the author and I could empathize with many of her issues and situations. It is written almost like a poem going in and out of memories and I found it very powerful. I recommend this book.” ~P.


Food Memories is available through all major online booksellers. If you’d like to support a small bookstore through your purchase you can go here:

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

Thank you :}

Turkish Coffee, Deerhide and Social Anxiety

Photo by Ahmed Aqtai on

I hold the demitasse

An azure porcelain relic

To my lips

A tiny trickle of pungent

Bitter liquid bursts across my senses


And the odors of crisping, crackling home fries



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


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



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


Of having come to rest

After bumpy, dusty roads

Travelling in caravan deserts






These people

Feel so familiar

Sitting in circle

Beating drums

Casting space






My heart longs

For this to be real



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






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?



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








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





Good thing I’ve got practice

Of simultaneously pulling myself

From the blackness, drowning

From the gauzelike haze

And the stumbling, grasping



And good thing for Turkish Coffee

Whose ritual

And flavor

And heady, swirling cardamom laced


Seem to help me remember

Who I am

Who I am

Who I Am

When I Am with you

And the many grasping tendrils




*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:

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

Ghost Shrimp

Photo by Los Muertos Crew on

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




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




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




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




“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



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


Reminded of him

And the wolf dog

And the meals

So many years ago



Full but empty

With my protein fasting friend

I held this

This constant yearning

I keep trying to shake it off

But he always






In a dream

Woken, the dreaded nausea setting in

Faint and disappearing

I saw him


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:

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

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

Photo by Valeria Boltneva on

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







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


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


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


More questions



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


Something good

With no one watching

With no other reason

With no great mission




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:

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

Chocolate Chip Cookie and The Metallica Problem

Photo by Luis Quintero on

Searing bitter deliciousness

Washing over edges

Mixing, swirling

Amongst melting chunks

And soft doughy crumbles



This time I woke to Metallica

Words and images leaving trails of shame

Dashed epic illusions


Like the pieces of soft

Cookie pinching off

In my oily grasp



Mixing and swirling

Hot and bitter

It all comes together


This time


Unlike that time

Nauseous and suicidal

Just hoping for something


To give me reason


This time

Although echoes

Of what used inspire

Skip through dusty crevices

It is in reading my own creation

While feeding my very present



This bitter dark, chunky melting goodness



It is in this

And bowing to the memories of that

I see

Just how far I’ve come


This memory sought to re-create a morning I woke to utter hopelessness, lost in a deep and dark void–in the bed of a stranger’s home. Don’t get all excited, I had come to this place to housesit, and although I’d met the family for a moment before they left, they were essentially strangers and I was essentially sleeping in a stranger’s bed.

I remember that day feeling like I wanted to die.

I had just relocated myself to the mainland US after having spent some years in Hawaii, and had nothing really, just a suitcase to my name. I had no plans, my identity of what I was and what I wanted to do with my life had spun out immensely while on said islands. I had hoped by coming back to the mainland I might find some sense of grounding, some sense of sanity but evidenced by this memory I had not found what I’d wished to find.

In the original scene I remember feeling nauseous, no hunger and like my life force was trickling to a dribble. I remember being on the edge of not wanting to try anymore and how then this force of anger and frustration came bursting through. I remember asking for an image, any image to help me get my sorry ass out of bed and back into life again, if only for the day. What appeared was an image of a chocolate chip cookie, a cup of coffee and some sort of a metal music magazine. Inspired by this sudden force, I strapped on my falling apart boots and made my way to the Safeway down the road.

At that store, I found all of the ingredients to this magical trio, including a Rolling Stone magazine dedicated to Metallica. Not exactly what I was looking for, but this music had carried me through the darkest times of my life and spoke to some of the darkness I was feeling, so I felt met and companioned…here in that store with my Void amidst the neon case lights and roboticized voices shouting, “Have a nice day!” around me. Metallica and their world held such sparkles in my mind at the time.

Fast forward to this day, roughly 15 years later, where I aimed to recreate such a scene. Oddly enough, I spent much of the week prior to this re-enactment wallowing in another deep well of Voidness, swimming in the Nothingness. One of those gut-wrenching hollow feelings, haunting me. I didn’t think of it then but now I wonder if in aiming to recreate this scene, I was conjuring also this deep feeling to “get me in the mood” ha.

Anyhow, I woke up thinking of Metallica and decided to turn the knife extra deep by watching a video of me pissed off and disillusioned by the “scene” at an event I had worked at for Kirk Hammett…one where there were such bad vibes I basically felt like running away from the whole gig, but of course didn’t. I revisited a feeling full of shame and judgment and mind-games I encountered there, and how my dreams of working with my heroes, being able to find purpose there…or at least some good people…were totally smashed.

So that started out my re-creation experience. Feeling the heaviness again, but inspired by my own writing project (this one), I strapped on my slightly less beat up boots and made my way to the nearest Safeway.

One chocolate chunk cookie was there for me, and I ordered a small cup of hot black coffee to go with it. I was excited to see what awaited me in the magazine aisle to go along with this treat…would I synchronistically find a metal magazine, here in suburbia? And why did I feel excitement, still, for this scene?

I walked up to the magazine section and, balancing the hot cup back and forth in my hands, started scanning. Bummer. An issue on The Doors, but not really anything else awaited me there. I had wanted something filled with images of gore and darkness and people throwing up the heavy metal horns. What could this mean? What would I spend my recreated experience with? The magazine was definitely part of the original scene. Hmm.

I went to my car and set the goodies down. On the other side of the armrest was my book, Food Memories, and that was all there was to entertain. I opened up the cookie bag and started taking in the perfect soft chewiness, gulping down sips of the dark coffee with it. I peeled open my book, to the poetry section and began reading.

As I read, I realized that maybe it was necessary to have an illusory inspiration via Metallica and other metal bands. During a time where I needed to see others creatively expressing their darkness–so I didn’t feel so alone, so I knew I wasn’t totally crazy, so I had some sort of role model with how to process the intensity I was feeling but didn’t know how yet.

But how interesting that here, now, with this chocolate chunk cookie, I was being inspired by my own creations. That having gone through the journey of seeking to be involved in a world that I thought would make me feel better about my own shadows–and ironically only feeling more lost in doing so–that here I was, finding my way back to my own medicine. How interesting.

On this day, I sat back and thanked my inspirators, even the f*cked up scene that exists in the industry, for teaching me and for helping me get to this point. I also thanked whatever the hell has inspired me to get back to a place where I am hungry again, despite the crumbling world around me. And I thanked the fact that it is in my own creating process that I find inspiration to rise and meet this strange, strange world.

(Ironically, after I finished this experience, I went across the street to get lunch at another store and lo-and-behold, in the magazine section was a Rolling Stone magazine focused entirely on Metallica. I picked it up and flipped through it but felt no wide-eyed projection take hold. I put the magazine down and walked towards lunch.)

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

**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:

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

“If Only One Person Is Helped…”

Photo by Tamara Velazquez on

One of the major visions/goals that helped me write through, and edit through, and self-publish through the doubt, skepticism and fear of creating this book was the vision of at least one person being helped by it. I told myself that I was writing for that one person, and if it reached them, my reason for going through all of this mess was worth it.

Well here I am, on the other side of getting through the creation and birthing phases, and I gotta’ tell you it’s a weird feeling. To date, I have had at least three people write me and tell me how my book really helped them with their food and body issues (not including my editor, as synchronicity would have it!). And in the moment, the warm honey-like glow that came over me as I received their feedback felt like Yes. This is the reason I wrote this. My work has been done.

I received most of this feedback from women, but there was one man who responded and this was the one that took me. He spoke of his struggles and his healing path, how it mirrored a lot of mine, and how it was helpful to read someone else’s journey that wasn’t of the “perfect recovery in a box ilk.” And that also wasn’t like the typical female struggle, so that it was one he could relate to. This was my biggest hope, not that my book would provide “linear steps to freedom,” but that my words would be read, my cyclic journey with healing felt, and that this would resonate and give hope to the less linear journeyers out there. Regardless of gender. So yes, this reflected a dream, a hope, accomplished, and my gratitude for this healing effect on others was sated. Temporarily.

It’s now been almost a month since the release of Food Memories and all the flurry of facing my fears of what would happen if my story went public, of the release party and appreciations, of these dear people who bought and reviewed and wrote to me and told me of the impact of the book on their life. It’s been almost a month and at this point, it is very, very quiet.

No sales. No new reviews. No more feedback.

I knew this might happen. I allowed, of course, for the shiny possibility of the book finding its way to people’s hands and building an organic, magical following without my effort. That was another dream–that if this book (and my friggin’ private insides) needed to be seen by more people, it would happen in this way. I had no interest in forcing that, through marketing, etc then, and I still have no interest in doing this. But now, as I suspected might occur without my direct involvement, I am in the dead zone, or at least seemingly so.

I have done some work to move the book into the world, in ways that don’t just blurt out and splay said insides to as many people as possible. I’ve mailed it to several healers, therapists and experts in the field. I even mailed it to a father of a young woman who is struggling with severe Anorexia, to help him with perspective and to offer my time as a guide if needed. This all felt good to do, putting copies of Food Memories in the mail to do its work in the world. But now, after some weeks, there is just this silence. Who knows how my story is working its ways with these people, or whether they’ve the chance to read it in the craziness that is our world predicament these days.

In this silence, I am left to wonder what I am to do next, and whether I should force the publicity of this book or wait for it to simmer. I wonder what the most aligned thing is to do. I am terrified, still, of having masses of people know my story, but am willing if it is the best for all concerned. I am not really concerned with the sales for money sake, more just wanting to see the book–and all I was “guided” to put into it–out and fulfilling its purpose. I fear it will just die if I don’t feed it in some way. But how? What is truly authentic for me to do?

I plan to follow up with these people I’ve sent the book to. I wish I didn’t have to, that the book would have affected them so that they would feel compelled to contact me. That something bigger than myself would move this into larger fields. That something bigger than my own need for feedback would take place. To prove it was worth it. But that’s not how it’s panning out, and I’m making this mean that there is still some part I have to play in bringing the book to more people. Maybe it is part of my life-game, to explore polarities further from silence and humility. Who knows.

All this silence has put me back in touch with that expansive, universe-wide space of void that I feel inside regarding my purpose here on this planet. Without the momentum and hopes of writing the book, without the way the initial feedback felt, and without the clear desire to market it like mad, I am left here to wonder what I’m really doing here, what I really wrote that book for, whether there was guidance in all of that or just some fantasy crafted life meaning I whipped up to quell the existential angst inside.

Don’t know. But what I do know (and am hanging onto with dear life so I don’t slide down that precarious dark slope) is that the goal, the vision, the dream that kept me going in writing Food Memories came true. A major life goal…and fear…was accomplished. And that one person, to my astonishment, was helped by the words I bared on the page.

Blessed, blessed be.

~Food Memories by Reagan Lakins, is available in all online bookstores. If you want to support a small bookstore, you can purchase it through Bookwoman at: or request it through your local bookstore. If you feel moved to purchase and read my story, thank you! I would love to know how and if it affected you :}

The Final Edit, Beach Style

9am. Already 88 degrees outside.

I decide to drive south to hopefully reach cooler climes and a quiet beach nook to begin the task of facing my book one last time before its printing. Wind in hair, and sweat already forming on skin, I head down Highway 1 to the Monterey Bay.

First stop, ACME coffee in Seaside. I’d never been here, but at the suggestion of a good friend decided to try it out. It’s a hidden gem in an industrial area but it’s known for strong brews and I certainly need one for this task. I settled on the Mexican Mocha. Lovely.

Back in the car, and curving down the highway I reach Pacific Grove and Asilomar State Beach. It’s only 10:30 am and the sides of the road are already packed. I’m a bit bummed I’ll have to stay in my car to have any privacy. That is if I can find a parking spot.

I do, and decide to get out and take a look around. The 80 degree, slightly cooler breeze hits my face and I’m glad I made the trip. It’s not much but I hate the heat so it’ll do. I walk down the planked path to the edge of the sea, its rhythmic waves and seagulls honking in my ears.

I grew up on this coastline, and each time I make the drive down a certain familiar comfort comes over me. I have a few family members I visit here–although they are all dead. My trip usually includes the cemetery (a few streets down from here) and this oceanside where my mother’s ashes have been absorbed into the great liquid mystery.

Amazingly, when I look down from the plank path, there are only a few people here on this plot of sand. I am urged to hunt out the perfect spot for my morning, and perhaps afternoon, editing adventure. I find a nice little shady nook and set up my place, nestling my Mexican Mocha and water into the sand, extracting my proof copy, pen and notepad.

I lean into the nook’s sandy dune wall and look out to the sea. I take a deep breath in. Ahh. This scent, this view holds so much. As mentioned, it literally holds my mother, as well as memories of sitting on this white shore with my now dead boyfriend. It feels incredibly ironic and meaningful to be heading back into that story as I sit here on this same beach.

This coast. Beauty, interlaced with decades-old grief. Refreshing coolness, mixed with the dread of whether my book will be too horrid to put out. Or rather, whether the experience of others reading it will be. I face these fears every time I pick it up.

Not today. Today I commit to walk past those fears and to dive in. I begin.

Over the course of the next few hours, I am totally sucked into the story. I am laughing, I am crying. I am proud, I am nervous. I can’t believe I wrote this. The formatting looks more beauteous than it did a few days ago, and the story reaches me more emotionally than it has in a while. The pages seem to glisten, sparkle. I wonder if it is the Mexican Mocha, the level of caffeine running through my veins. It’s possible, yet I feel it may be more related to what has happened inside of me in my readiness to be seen as an author. To be able to stand in my story and share it with the world.

I hold this book in my hands and feel so grateful. I close my eyes and let the waves comfort, and remind me. I feel the sea breeze whisking across my shoulders, and wonder if my ancestors are here with me, supporting me, pointing me. I rise and make my way down to the lapping waves, letting them cool me. I lean against a crystal embedded tan boulder and look at the equally crystalline waters at my feet. I sink into memories, these memories, of mother and death and love and struggle. I cry again.

I look up and through the rocks in the near distance there is a family of Sealions basking in the unusually warm rays of the sun. One of them lifts its head up and peers at me. Again, I feel as if the more than human world is speaking to me, supporting me, seeing me, getting ready to finally do this.

I nod at the furry creature, he (?) seems to feel satisfied and lies his head back down. I turn from the sea and find my way back to my nook to carry on with the task at hand. I am filled with determination and confidence. I feel more ready than ever to move forward for whatever strange reason. I lean back against the dune wall and tip the edge of my sunhat to shield the now blaring sun. I take in another deep breath and dive back into the final pages of what will soon become.

Food Memories, An Excerpt

Photo by Tom Fisk on

2007. Thirty-two years old.

It is dark outside. Awake again.

I feel my back against the bumpy futon mattress. It is 1:45am and the coqui frogs are chanting. I have become so used to them that they are now like a comforting nighttime hum. Yet tonight they seem to echo in the darkness. They do not comfort. They seem to echo in my darkness, my emptiness. I am so, so empty.

I roll over to my side, squeezing my eyes shut tighter as if it would help me, but still I feel it. The deep, dark gnawing.

I am not hungry, however, and this paradox has haunted me for the past year of wandering on these islands. I came here hungry, but this sensation has somehow left me. Only a metaphorical emptiness remains. Empty, always harrowing voidness, but not hunger. Is this vapid space what others deem as “hunger”?

I am so tired of feeling this way, I am so tired of life. Of death. Of this limbo experience I am in. I don’t have anything left to live for, I am struggling to just keep myself alive.

The sound of screaming humans rings through the night.

I feel it deeply, here in this paradise island retreat community. I listen as the coqui chants dance with the yelling humans, and surrender to not sleeping for yet another night.

I use my weak arms to prop me up to sitting. Everywhere aches–bones have started to reappear, and I arrange the various borrowed linens around me so it won’t hurt. I stretch out my arm and find the lamp. I switch it on.

Around me the room is skeletal also. The walls are unfinished: tall, slender studs lined up perfectly, holes in between them covet shadows and forgotten potential. Walls do not exist fully here, nor does an actual room. Sheets and hanging cloths hide me, only the island breeze flutters them.

Tonight the wind is still, and the hole is deep, very deep. I am crying. I don’t know what else to do, to help this poor, poor child inside want to live anymore.

I close my eyes and see her, in that hospital gown, on bedrest in the children’s hospital. I see her holding the glass of Ensure in her tiny hands. Her eyes are closed, too. I watch her mouth wrap around a straw and take in the sweet, rich liquid. The Ensure.

I have Ensure. I purchased it with the last of my money before having to resort to work/trade situations to survive. The six-pack sits on the unfinished, splintery shelves across the room from me.

I have not consumed Ensure since those hospital times so long ago. Since the days of “recovery” and being an “eating disorder professional” laughed at my longing for such things. And certainly not since being here on the islands–the six-packs are heavy, and my suitcase having been my home for the past year, I’ve needed to keep things light.

Yet for some reason, this time I had to buy them. I knew I was in trouble. Nothing digesting, everything causing pain and terror upon my attempts to eat. The first week at this new community was encouraging–I even ate ice cream with the others upon arrival. It felt safe, and there was hope. But then the fighting, the screaming, the battles of native people and white people and water rights and what my European skin color represented, began. I think I wanted to erase myself, or something in me did. Shame and guilt wanted to become an eraser, squeak squeaking over me and making the space clean, the space respected, the space peaceful, again. I think that’s why I was never hungry, and why it felt so dark inside.

I’m staring at the Ensure. I’m imagining the little girl. She’s safe and smiling and the nurse is laughing with her. It’s okay, there in that bed. There is hope.

There was hope. That girl thought her luck had fixed and rescued her from all of her problems. Started her on a new and shiny and fantastical path. If she could see into her future, I’m pretty sure she would’ve thrown that frothy liquid against the wall and run screaming out onto the manicured Stanford lawns. But she didn’t know. And the nourishment soothed her.

I don’t know. I don’t know what the fuck is to come and I am dying. I don’t have a nurse to force me to drink or eat or do art activities when I am taken over by the undertow of suicidal impulses. I am all I’ve got. I certainly can’t look to this “community” of screaming and fighting and culturally grief-anger-shame laden people. The man in the “room” next to me constantly drinks himself to sleep, I can feel the sadness ooze through the sheet-walls into my space.

I’m all I’ve got.

Do I want to live? Do I want to die? Where is my place, now that “recovery” and “shamanism” and “paradise” and “god” have all become but a shallow illusion? Where is my purpose? What do I want?

I want to feel good. All I want is to feel some sort of pleasure in this body again. For so long it has either felt this pain–or the numbness of my adaptive unconscious. I realize I have been waiting for someone–or something–to do this for me, to bring this comfort and ease to me. But no one has. Not a nurse, not a lover, not a friend. There have been aquaintances, but none who have truly seen inside this hell. I have been all alone with this on this sandy, balmy island.

It is only me. And I do want to live. But what to live for if in this hopeless, homeless, unsupported reality? What do I have control over in this empty existence, where my body rejects food and desire has vanished?

I feel the sheets and fake fur pillow against my skin. The warm, humid island air. The coqui frogs chanting. There are small things. And what if I could be that nurse, here with myself, with that child, helping her pretend that everything will be okay, helping her to nourish herself despite the big bad world that lay before her? Maybe I will be that nurse. That nurse to myself.

I hoist myself up, shaking with the largeness of this decision. I shuffle over to the Ensure. I pry a single can from its dolphin-strangling plastic yokes, and feel the coolness of the can. I let myself hold its weight, its reality. I let myself feel this choice. I shuffle back over to my temporary futon couch bed and sit, carefully. I reach down and under my bed and grab a book, lying it on my lap as my companion.

I pull the aluminum tab towards me and hear the pop release on the can. I bring it to my nose and take in the aroma–medicinal, parenteral. I close my eyes, and breathe, making my commitment, remembering her, in that bed. I tip the can slightly and let a few drops hit my tongue. The sweet cream blasts through the dead of night.

I move the can away. I breathe in again. I fumble open Steppenwolf. Its tattered coffee-stained pages are a comfort to me, glowing under the lamplight. I decide I will do this, for her, every night, even if there’s no reason to live.

Diving back into the story, and balancing Ensure to my lips, I begin to bring myself back to life.

~Previously published in Death: Deep Reflections from The Sisters of the Holy Pen, ed. Pamela Eakins

Preventing Stillbirth

So I did it. I picked up my book, Food Memories, again.

I lit a candle and settled in to read the words I have been avoiding reading for months now. My intention was to review my memoir as a whole and to have a bird’s eye view of its message, to have some thoughts to dialogue about with my cousin. If you didn’t read my last post, I mentioned that my cousin has a connection in publishing, and upon reading my writing, he had a few suggestions before he felt comfortable forwarding it to his contact.

His suggestions were kind, but clear. He asked if I would attend to them and get back to him in a couple weeks. Its been 2 months now.

I finally felt ready to re-read this weekend. This time, it was easier than expected to look at my creation. I found myself transported from my childhood, through my teen years, the hospitalization years, the professional years, the vision quest years, the atheist/agnostic years. I remembered my dead mother. I remembered my dead boyfriend. I remembered my dead vision to become a healer. I remembered my poet. I remembered my writer. I remembered all of the years I have put into this book, its writing, and all the amazing people I have had cheering me on, reading beta copies.

I noticed typos, minor but there. I was not deterred. A crisp, truly shining manuscript will arise from my corrections, I found myself thinking. I even noticed where there were some holes in the story, and a few more food memories that might want to be added to fill the tale more. I also realized the gargantuan task I face in having to completely re-haul my book proposal, now that my promotion section is basically null and void. Book tours and conference workshops aren’t really viable in the foreseeable future, eh?

But all of these things did not make me stop reading, as they did before. There is a new determination burning in me, and I will do what it takes to get there. I will call my cousin, and tell him my findings. I will see what comes of that. I will contact my writing teacher, my editor, for their support and guidance on how to reformat my proposal for these times. I will ask for guidance on how to craft my query letters, how to hone my message, how to forge ahead.

I have absolutely no idea what I am doing. Marketing and business is not my schtick. I don’t have an Instagram account, or even a webpage. (Hell, I still have a flip phone! By choice!). Yet I have spent over 4 years writing and crafting this book into being, and I will not let it be stillborn. At least I will not let it die without trying. This is part of why I keep writing and sharing here about it.

Thanks for coming along with me if you’re here. I hope to announce the release of Food Memories someday very soon.

Letting Go: Of Going at it Alone

Photo by Ben Maxwell on

I’m distracted. In attempting to formulate the proposal letters to publishers, I’ve been doing research on comparative literature and finding fascinating parallel visions in others’ writings. Most of this is being found in academic research papers, not necessarily memoirs, but they are inspiring nonetheless.

What’s inspiring me are these parallels–of the realizations I have come to in my own struggles with what’s known as an eating disorder and depression–being directly stated in these academic studies. Where I have felt like an outcast, as one who may be rationalizing my behaviors with mythological metaphors, or perhaps even crazy…I am finding through these words and studies a reflection of my own understandings birthed through my experience.

One of these studies is Listening in the Dark: why we need stories from those living with severe and enduring anorexia nervosa: As I read this study, it’s words jumped off the page at me. It seemed to literally be beckoning me to share my narrative with a wider audience, suggesting this as a cultural and sociological issue. As I go further and further into this memoir journey, I seem to be meeting support and mysterious synchronicities along the way, and this is one of them.

I’ve been spending my time drafting letters to the authors, not really knowing what it will lead to but somehow knowing I need to reach out to others receiving and contemplating these same visions I’m having, as if we’re both sourcing the same great and deep well. I’ve been spending my time being fascinated by the like minds I’m finding, and in generally not feeling alone with these crazy thoughts I’ve been having about my journey for all these years.

So I’ve been distracted. Yet perhaps it’s not a distraction, where the process of making connections, realizing shared views and practicing the vocalization of my perspective is all part of the journey. I’m curious of where this might lead me, especially if it might eventually lead me back to actually writing proposals to publishers like I “should” be, lol.

For now, I’m letting myself ride the twisting tributaries and seeing where they go. For now, I’m letting myself be fascinated by the reflections and mirrors of others’ words. For now, it’s just enough to know that maybe, after all these years, I am not alone.