waving, not drowning

January 3, 2007

From Jonathan Cainer’s forecasts:

…now, as you attempt to settle into a new routine for a new year, a part of you feels as if you may be living on another planet from certain other people. In a sense, you are. That’s why it is so important to live by your standards, not theirs.

Which I should keep in mind as this new year begins. I’m starting to realize how living by other people’s standards in the past has damaged me, and it’s going to take a lot of work to get past the damage to my self-esteem, to my ability to be loved, among other things. I’m figuring out how to do that, I hope. But it’s just barely starting.

I feel like I’m drowning right now, barely holding it together. It’s been so hard for so long now, it seems, and it’s going to continue being hard.

But I am learning how to cook, because I have to. Last night Tallulah started eating the food that I made for us, and she said, “Mom, this is really good. You’re getting better at cooking.” This, after I burned the bacon on Christmas morning. I guess I am getting better. Putting a meal together requires a certain type of thought process that I just haven’t cultivated in my entire adult life, because I always had someone to rely on to feed me. Yesterday evening it started clicking in for me, that thought process, very vaguely, but I saw it come together as I poured olive oil into a pan, chopped garlic, and almost without thinking decided to add some tomatoes and marjoram, and so on. And a meal came together and the children actually ATE it. Even the broccoli. And it is so good to know that I’m doing something right with my children, that my daughter, without prompting, in an appropriate moment, knows how to show appreciation and encouragement. And she’s not even six years old yet.

That was the bright moment of the evening. The rest of the time I was in tears, not really holding together very well, feeling frantic inside. My eyes drop the tears without me even knowing anymore. The future is very scary.

But people tell me I’m strong, and I guess I am. I look back on the last 6 weeks and don’t understand how I got through the days without completely falling apart. But I’m still here, and I’m still (mostly) functioning, so there is some strength in me.

Things I want to work on this year:

– cut back on the amount of smoking, so I’ll be closer to my goal of quitting before I’m 30
– walk to work more
– learn how to plan meals that are healthy and inexpensive (eat less meat!)
– check out the gym and see if exercise helps my stress
– get on top of getting the dental work I need
– reduce the amount of “stuff” in my home environment
– get closer to becoming the adult I want to be

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9 Responses to “waving, not drowning”

  1. Alesia Says:

    Happy New Year.

    Those are outstanding goals. There is this amazing studio apartment in San Diego, pictured here:

    http://la.apartmenttherapy.com/la/small-cool-2006-entries/finalist-3-david-ims-onespace-007881

    which will totally inspire anyone to reduce clutter. The slideshow and the video rocked my socks.

    R, will you e-mail me? I was thinking about a quilt for M. and I need to figure out what colors she likes.

  2. Sunny Says:

    Those sound like very reasonable, realistic goals. I have found that exercising at the gym (or anywhere) is a great way to deal with stress.

  3. Justin Says:

    Some of my fav things to cook lately:

    pesto (basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, parmesan)

    chicken drumsticks simmered in mole sauce (add corn, bell peppers)

    chili (tomatoes, spices, beans and meat optional)

    twice baked potatoes (bake 1hr, scoop out guts and add anything you like: veggies, cheese, sour cream butter, ham optional, bake until done)

    I like cooking by ideas and around single ingredients, and not especially by recipes. For ideas (and recipes) that I highly recommend Williams-Sonoma Collection series of cookbooks.

  4. Elizabeth Says:

    Not sure what is going on, since I don’t really know you(!), but I just wanted to let you know that there are those readers out here who have never met you in person and who (a) do think you are strong and (b) hope things look better soon.

    One way to help with cooking: get a slow cooker (aka Crock Pot). I’m sure visions of icky pot roasts are now floating in your head, but we use ours for all sorts of yummy foods. There are a bunch of good cookbooks out there for the slow cooker; we even found one for vegetarian stuff. It’s great! The Moosewood series also has some good vegetarian stuff; I like the “cooks at home” one a lot.

    Hang in there!

  5. Michelle Says:

    I’ve only recently started cooking since Edward has been really busy with work. The best, most straightforward, simple and everyday recipes I’ve made are from Nigel Slater books. I highly recommend him if you haven’t read his books already.

  6. Rullsenberg Says:

    I’ll echo the Nigel Slater recommendation. He’s great. And basically if you have tins of tomatoes (or even fresh ones), some herbs, mushrooms, and assorted beans – you can use tinned, whatever good veggies may say about soaking overnight – you can always come up with something to eat. Cooking doesnt have to be complicated (we’re too idle and worn out at the end of the day to do much more than chop, throw in pan, simmer and serve anyway!).

    And on the subject of feeling better about yourself, getting above the level of waving or drowning, please know that you have many readers who – regardless of how well or little we ‘know’ you – feel deeply for your concerns and state of mind. I hope you can take a little comfort in our shared well-wishes for you and a better 2007.

  7. owlmother Says:

    Never underestimate the wonder of flour tortillas. They come in big stacks unlabeled under the tofu. Tortillas with melted cheese and what-we-got has been this week’s dinners. Paul made them with an avocado and sliced red onion. I made them with the black bean salsa in it one night and red peppers the next. Also rolled with peanut butter and raisins (or other dried fruit) they are an exciting because little people can make them themselves (with supervision).

  8. robin of rockville Says:

    i like grilled cheese with tomato, and this is one of my favorite seafood dishes by jamie oliver that’s super easy, you just chuck everything in a pan after combining the olive oil and herb mixture (i use tilapia or other white fish instead of brill):

    http://homecooking.about.com/library/archive/blfish6.htm

    i hope you feel better. you are a good person and a beautiful mother and you deserve it.

  9. Erin G. Says:

    I have a lot of respect for you as a mother and a student–we’re the same age, but you’ve accomplished so much with your daughters and your career. You’re a real inspiration to me. I know you are strong and smart, or you wouldn’t have gotten this far. I hope that the things you want come easily to you this year!

    For excellent veggie recipes I suggest the following cookbooks: “Veggie Planet” and the whole “Where it All Vegan” series (3 books). All are full of tasty but relatively simple recipes, all without meat! I don’t know how well they’ll appeal to kids, but I’m pretty picky (even as a vegan :\) and I love ’em. Plus the trilogy has sections specifically for kid snacks and meals that the kids can help with, if you feel you have the fortitude for that :) If you are interested in borrowing before you buy, I can lend you any of the vegan books any time!

    PS I second the grilled cheese suggestion; definitely good memories of a childhood comfort food :)


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