Give me a book

I feel obligated to perceive it as a luxury, but maybe the thing I miss most when I travel is cooking for myself–it’s such a simple act of deciding to do something and carrying it through that has the capacity to touch on this deeper need I have to be in the world by creating. I can avoid writing and still manage to stay a quarter sane but it’s much harder to go without the simple, “primitive” need to chop and transform vegetables.

Mentally, I don’t know where I am these days. My mind feels like it’s covered with dead leaves. I need to make little choices, decisions–like small steps–to see how I feel or perceive what’s going on “in there.” I feel like this would be a great time in my life to be able to take off ten months and just go for a really long walk (e.g., El Camino de Santiago, the AT, or around any particular lake 100 times). The way the modern world is organized requires us to just press on, carry on, which I am pretty good at it once I get started, but less so anytime I stop. I can go, go, but once I stop I realize how much I just want to be still and think.

Think about what? I don’t know, dead dad stuff, religious stuff, God, suffering, love, sex, colonialism, etc. But I feel so depleted sometimes–not in a scary way, just in a normal, this is how life is kind of way, that I don’t know where I would even start. It’s like I want to run out in the middle of the street and scream: “GIVE ME A BOOK, ANY BOOK!!!!!” I could almost read anything right now, but I feel especially drawn towards children/young adult literature that percieves the world in a simple but perfectly accurate way, unburdened by adult obligations (i.e., the “shoulds”).

So maybe this is why I feel particularly undone by the absence of routines–going to the store, making a smoothie, putting on my bike helmet, touching Tim’s hair, grinding the coffee beans, listening to the news, sitting in the church pew, chopping the vegetables–this time. Without these things, I feel a bit like a walled-up fireplace.

This week was characterized by total newness–okay, I can’t say total newness because I have been here before, and I know this place (a la Brideshead Revisited), but now it’s March, and now it’s 2018. Maybe it should be startling to me that almost exactly five years ago I was here for the first time, doing research for my master’s thesis, when Mauro and Michael were so helpful and kind and the rain was comforting and dad and I spoke nearly everyday.

But that doesn’t seem to be the main thought on my mind. I’m struck more by things I haven’t observed before or at least hadn’t thoroughly absorbed if I had witnessed them–country music on the radio, movie theatre culture, roadbumps, the brutal sun, Luganda words I’m finally beginning to remember, and cultural norms that feel explicit and loud, like hierarchy, glorifying women, and speaking softly. Sometimes the taxi drivers say, “You have been here before?” and other days they confidently ask, “This is your first time in Uganda?”

There’s so much old newness to take in, I sometimes feel unable to catch my breath. This is why it helps to swim, because you have to breathe. Breath is the most important part, and then come your arms, and then come your legs.

Give me a book, any book. I’ll take a telephone book as long as I can find my own name.

 

 

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Avenging my dad

I told my dad after we saw True Grit together (the Coen brothers version & in theaters) that I would avenge him if someone ever killed him.  And he laughed a little and was like, “Okay!”

So now that dad has died and it doesn’t feel at all natural or “well-timed,” I wonder sometimes how exactly I’m supposed to do the avenging.  I don’t really feel very “avengey” towards suicide itself.  It’s very personal and, by the time you’re trying to prevent someone from taking their own life, you’re in a total state of emergency.  I do feel more passionate, however, about preventive mental health care, especially for men around my father’s age. (White males accounted for 70% of all suicides in 2013.)

So I want to be preachy but I don’t.  I want to say: understand the mental health history in your family. Talk to people around you. If you feel at risk, make sure you have a strong network of health care providers–access to good therapists, people who know their mental health shit, and a solid GP who understands mental health issues.  Be educated.  Read.  Talk to people. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t dismiss it. People kill themselves and you can’t always stop it. But you can do a whole lot to cushion against that risk.

It feels obnoxious, but I did it anyway.  I don’t know how to avenge dad.  But this is my blundered and heartfelt attempt.

Here are also a few resources I found inspiring over the past few years:
this article from WBUR on suicide prevention for men, which led me to this organization’s site as well as the the delightful “man therapy” website
-and of course, this, from sassy gay friend
-I also read about this service, mostly targeted to teens, this year.
-I always feel pretty wound up when I read this and the follow-on, but it’s very good.

And you can always call me if you need to, and you can probably call a lot of other people who love you very much, if you do feel that emergency hit. Don’t even think twice about it.

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two e-mails about shoes and apparently I always want shoes in May

Hi, Sarah —

I just now transferred $100.00 to your savings account.  Get yourself those shoes!

Love ya!

— Daddy
5/20/2011

Hi, Sarah!  I transferred $525.00 to your checking account.  That will cover the vaccines, and help toward some running shoes.

Love,
Daddy

P.S.  Let’s talk tonight, if you have time.  Or give me a call when you’re going to bed – no matter how late.
5/29/2012

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a season of mourning

This feels like a season of mourning.  I already have thoughts about dad running through my head.  I feel like there is all this lead-up to the anniversary of his death, in a way I did not feel last year.  I was busy dealing with too many other things, presumably.

I feel like punching him in the face and hugging him.

I feel like screaming at him and telling him how much I love him.

All at once.

100_1370

I have been thinking about how mourning sometimes seems to drive people apart instead of bring them together.  It should be our shared human experience, but instead, it often puts us into our own siloed places.  You talk about your dead daddy and I can’t help but start talking about mine.

In a recent medium article I shared, the author describes grief like this:

When you experience a loss like this, you get to see a really wild new amount of life. Suddenly the range of the type of sad you can feel, to the type of happy you can feel, is busted open. The spectrum from happy to sad isn’t a foot wide anymore — it’s as far as your arms can stretch and then to the edges of the room and then up the block and over into the next neighborhood.

And that feels so true.  My boyfriend is the best human, and probably some of it is because he has this grief.  But I feel like I haven’t really had the time to reap the advantages of it.  And I worry I won’t ever will.  I’ll just have a bigger capacity to feel, but I won’t ever fill it up.

I don’t know what this is to say, totally.  Just that I might be an asshole this month, but I still love you all.  And can’t we all just grieve together?  I don’t really know.

leaves

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Crap I like to eat

Inspired by Molly Wizenberg, yet again:

“Sometimes I want to make two types of sauce gribiche, and other times, I want to claw my eyes out and then call for a pizza delivery. I know I should try to find some sort of happy medium in this, and maybe I will someday. But in the meantime, I have found that it’s useful to sit down and make a list. I call it The Crap I Like to Eat (CILTE) List, and it really does help.” — Molly Wizenberg

????????????????????????????????????

Crap I like to eat
lentily/beany (salads)
roasted chicken w/ tomatos and onions
salad (plus cheese, plus nuts, plus fruit/veg)
tomatoes (roasted, or…?) on bread
cheese on
bread
chicken salad on bread/crackers
fish many ways
poached/scrambled egg
avocado (on bread optional)
chips and salsa (w/ cheese and avocado and beans an option)
garlicky greens
brownies
cookies
ice cream
cauliflower candy
noodles
with stuff
like tomatoes
or capers
and cheese
and let’s not forget olives
baked sweet potato
don’t forget pesto
anything/everything on a saltine (or toast)
shrimp
oatmeal
cabbage (as coleslaw w/ peanuts or sautéed w/ carrots and green onion)

new ideas!
brown rice with toasted pecans
angel hair pasta with tuna, etc.
lima beans w/ feta and parsley (maybe tomatoes too)
ten minute couscous

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I had received so much, that all my thoughts were steeped in feeling

“Where is it we were together? Who were you that I lived with—walked with—the brother—the friend? Darkness, light—strife. Are they the workings of one mind? The features of the same face? Oh, my soul! Let me be in you now. Look out through my eyes. Look out at the things you made—all things shining.” –from The Thin Red Line

Adapted from this!!!

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