I thought I’d do something a little different today and post a little Food Memory Prompt for your perusal and writing practice :}
–>What food memory from a trip you’ve taken comes directly to mind? How do you remember this, through your senses?
For me, I’ll share about “Cornish Cream Tea”– a scone basted with clotted cream and jam, accompanied by a cup of the strongest of milky black tea.
Way back yonder, a friend and I ventured on a trip to Wales and England to research ancestry and geek out on Beatles and King Arthur hotspots. After traipsing around the green and rocky crevices of Tintagel Castle looking for gnomes, we found ourselves in a small cafe in the village eating this delectable meal. I think there were doilies everywhere. I still can remember the feeling of my teeth biting through the cloud of clotted cream, into the layers of jam and finally sinking into the doughy denseness of the scone…heavenly.
I’d love to hear about a strong food memory related to your travels if you’d like to share :}
PS. Just a short ways away from Cornwall is Devonshire, where they have “Devon Cream Tea.” Basically the same dish, but they insist on the jam topping the cream vs. the other way around. Both factions are pretty serious about the “right” way to do this topping!
This weekend, I assisted in a powerful rites-of-passage wilderness workshop for young women in the mountains of Santa Cruz. To see these 10-13 year old girls learning primitive skills, tracking, fire-building as well as inner strengthening exercises like facing fear, darkness, challenges was more than inspiring.
One night, we took the girls into the dense forest and in pitch black, blindfolded them and let them try to find their way to a distant drum beat. Their knowledge of listening, feeling the earth beneath their feet, grounding and calming themselves, and facing their fears helped them make their way through this darkness relatively unscathed. Adults were of course surrounding it all and there in case someone was going towards danger, but for the most part their skills got them where they needed to go. At the end we all circled by the fire, faces glowing, and shared how the experience affected us, and my heart was moved by the depth that these young ones shared amongst us all. We sang songs of embracing light, embracing darkness, we spoke of finding the “true drumbeat” to listen for and follow in the dense forests we must walk through ahead in life.
I wonder what my life might have been were I exposed to something like this before my journey with the eating disorder and depression began…would my psyche have taken me there anyways? Would it grab some of these young women too, initiating them in the ways I was? Or would it have prevented the need for such intense initiation? I’m so curious how these girls will turn out as a result of being involved in such powerful rites-of-passage work.
Today, sitting at my desk I faced my fear, my own rite-of-passage. I was inspired by these girls, walking so bravely into the unknown night, trusting the drum, trusting the journey it would take them on. Today, I wrote a letter to the professors of the study I mentioned last week, asking if they might be interested in connecting and talking about ideas, possibly in reviewing my memoir. I wrote the letter pretty easily, but it was in pushing the send button where I faced my own darkness–putting myself, my ideas, my relatively “unknown” status as a writer out there in the wider field. Putting these things out there to possibly get rejected, ridiculed, shamed, all the fears that a writer or any creative has in putting out their heart to the world.
My finger trembled above the enter button as I steadied myself, like those young girls did in that forest. I breathed in, sent my roots down, and listened for the drum–the sound of my heart’s desire to share my story–and braced myself for the unknown that may come of this contact. I have had much practice in self-soothing, in courage, in trusting and daring, but for some reason I really felt the energy of those brave girls affecting me, urging me, to hit that button. So I did, and with a whoosh it has flown into the interwebs to do its magic. We’ll see what happens next.
I’m overwhelmed. There is a certain similarity to the process of research and sales necessary to pitch my book to publishers that reminds me of the process of dating, which I am also overwhelmed by. Here I need to primp up my words, sourced from the depths of my soul cauldron, to make it look presentable enough, attractive enough, to be looked at and considered by companies with thousands of letters and requests to ruffle through each day. Hrumph. I don’t like doing this for dating purposes, and I’m certainly not enjoying it for publishing purposes either.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I am enjoying the research process–looking at comparative literature, seeing how they market their wares. In fact, the other day I found a group of researchers that wrote an article basically calling out for stories like mine, the need for a new paradigm of seeing illness and “recovery” from Anorexia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5116854/. I even surprisingly found my thoughts and experiences mirrored in a book I chose for this process, one I read many years ago and was unimpressed by then: Wasted by Marya Hornbacher. Although I still think the mass of the book is triggering and not related to my journey, the afterword completely mirrored my experience, of Marya’s challenges with the ideas of recovery, at least the linear expectations of it, especially in hindsight after years away from the intense periods of her struggle.
These boons are making the process worthwhile, and exciting in a way, that there may be less of a need for me to completely strip my deep soul message to get “picked up” by a publishing house. That there are others out there that are “credible” I can refer to as having similar messages. That perhaps I can find a balance in representing my work professionally but in a way that doesn’t lose its message…and that a house will actually value that message, not look past it or ask me to make it more mass market friendly.
Yet it still reeks of the social game of dating, of looking pretty for attention, and it feels so ironic that I would be drawn into this process in my search to get my memoir out. My memoir focuses on the difficulties of extreme alteration to accomplish culturally popular goals, acceptance, love. How do I make this effort not that, which it basically is? I’m trying to see this process as a refinement, a conscious and balanced use of self-esteem and soul image to engender a pathway to expression in the wider world. I’m trying to see it like jazz–keeping my scatting, but presenting it in a way that makes its way into fine dining establishments and infuses the listeners with its real, raw and yet undefinable message.
Like dating, jazz is a hard genre to describe, full of complexities. Like both of these, so is the process of trying to market my book. Its uncomfortable, thinking of words I’ll use to impress publishers and readers to consider my book. Yet I’m up for it, mainly because I wonder if this process is exactly what my soul wanted me to engage in as I took on the process of writing and releasing this book. I’ve got hopes that I might learn some things, be surprised by some things, maybe even encouraged and lifted up by the experience.
a VERB meaning to steal (an occupied car) in a violent manner.
That’s where I’ve been for the past two weeks, dealing with the aftereffects of going through this experience. I missed a post in there, and surprisingly in the midst of all of the drama, I thought of keeping to my regular Monday posting schedule. I’m beginning to like this platform so much that I thought about whether I could fit a post in whilst juggling Oakland Police Department report filings, tending to bruised arms and cranium, and in finding creative ways to transport myself to vehicle impound lots hours and hours from my home!
The experience taught me many things, and this was one of them–that my commitment to writing is strong and that the urge pierces through the most intense of situations. I learned a number of other things too. I learned of my unexpected fighter’s response–although it could have gotten me killed, something in me knew I had to at least put up a fight to these buggers (and I physically paid for that, but am thankfully alive).
I also learned that there is support all around me (as long as I yell into the night like a banshee for it, lol), as a whole gaggle of women came to my aid as the bandits made off with my car. Two of these women invited me, a complete stranger, into their home, brewed some tea, made up a bed for me. They stayed up late into the night talking out the situation with me, and in the morning made me breakfast and drove me nearer to my home so public transport would be easier. The love and care these women provided me was beyond the trauma I had just experienced–although I was banged up and carless, I was just overtaken with their care, graciousness and concern. They also happened to be in the fields of rite-of-passage and intimacy counseling, two career paths I’ve considered for a while now, and it felt like on some symbolic level that I was being pulled from my old mode of getting around in the world (kind of wandering, somewhat purposeless) and welcomed into theirs. I am now exploring these fields with new interest and focus.
I also learned that once again, I can never really know what will happen, and that I have mainly two choices to make with that information. I can either live in fear or embrace the learning and rite-of-passage like energy of the experience. I choose to embrace the latter, and to keep writing.