We exchange recipes. More often, I am sent recipes and I mean to do something with them but then I am too lazy or too busy or, as has been the case lately, I am simply not home to cook. But I had a week, well, three weeks at home. That time is coming to the end. I am not thrilled about it. I need more time to just decompress. I kind of ran myself ragged this academic year. I will not be doing that next year. Something’s gotta give and so, something will, and it will be the right decision.
But at the beginning, I had this recipe for a kale salad and it required massaging the kale which demanded an intimacy with roughage I had never anticipated. Massaging kale is a fairly literal practice. You drizzle the kale with olive oil and then you rub it between your fingers until it wilts, until it decides to be less like kale than it is naturally intended to be. That is, you rub the kale into submission.
After separating the kale leaves from the stems, I massaged a good quantity of kale, wondering what had become of me. I am inherently opposed to kale. It tastes gamy, in the vegetable sense. It takes so much effort to chew. This was tiring, and it took a long time. It was tiring because I did it after a long day at work and I’m lazy. We’ve established that.
When the kale has been thoroughly massaged, it takes up less room. It seems meeker, more tender, almost edible. It’s still kale though. That vegetable can’t fool me.
I keep waiting to be treated badly. Does anyone else do this? Literally every day I think, Today is the day when things will change, when I will overstay my emotional welcome, when this person will decide that treating me well is beyond what I deserve. Every nicety, every act of kindness feels like something I need to lock in a vault. It all makes me realize that my threshold for being treated decently was desperately low for like, all of my adult life. I am full of great advice and lofty standards for my friends. Do this, don’t put up with that. When it comes to myself, it’s like, well, you’re garbage so the rules aren’t the same for you. I get mad at myself when I realize this, when I realize how passive I can be, how I try to be invisible in my own life, how I try to not take up space or require anyone else’s attention or energy. Seriously, I am not a role model. I am 41 and I am basically a trainwreck. I am sitting on my sexy couch chewing ice. The ice is great. My teeth are like, “Girl, what is your fucking problem?”
Meanwhile, everyone I know is getting engaged and having babies and getting married. I know this because Facebook throws that shit in my face to remind me that for the 12th year in a row, I live alone in a rural college town full of both polite and impolite racists who are likely to vote for a man with a fake tan and a bleached toupee.
I am happy for everyone having Facebook official life events. Unless I hate you, in which case, fuck you.
I added shredded carrots and shredded purple cabbage to the kale. So so pretty. Food is better when it is colorful. Life is better when it is colorful. I don’t mean that in a cheesy way. I just mean that, sometimes, my world is exploding with color, and I want that full time instead of in irregular but regular spurts.
Blah blah blah. There was a bunch of emotional vomit here but then I deleted it.
I am going to write a movie this summer. I am going to write other things, too, but I am going to write a movie!!! I need to read a book on how to do that.
I chopped up some almonds and added those to the mix along with some feta cheese. While all this was happening, I was roasting chicken breasts in my oven.
Our Queen, Beyoncé, as if she needs to be named, released a new album and I love it. I love it from front to back and all the way through. I am writing about it. I want to take my time but editors are all, “What’s the status of this?” and I’m like, it’s been three days. Earlier in my writing career, I could churn work out at a rapid pace because I had to. I could still do that if I had to. I am lucky I don’t have to, anymore. I don’t want to. I want to like, take a few days or weeks or maybe even longer. I’m learning and growing as a writer and that takes time. Each time I write an essay, a story, a book, I want it to be better than the last.
When the chicken was ready, I cut it up and added it to the salad along with raisins because raisins are delicious and I was pretty skeptical about most everything else in this salad. I needed a friendly food item in the salad. (I do also love carrots and almonds and purple cabbage, but they were connected to the dreaded kale.)
I exhaust myself. I am bored with myself. I want to be bold and make a bold change that will push me closer to happiness. I am terrified.
A few weeks ago, I came home and there was a bottle of wine and a card from two neighbors who said they were fans and had just figured out I live in their building and they didn’t want to be intrusive but they wanted to say hi. I was so touched! I don’t know any neighbors.
Anyway, I texted them, because they left their number on the card and we recently went out to dinner. They are a hot Brazilian couple with amazing haircuts, fashion sense, and good taste in wine. One is a vet and one is a molecular biologist, NO BIG DEAL. I was like, “Umm, I’m a writer? I write things?” They are funny and I think we will be friends. I am sharing this so you know that not EVERYTHING is morose and gloomy.
I tossed the salad together and it was quite pretty and healthful looking but I wasn’t psyched to put it in my mouth. There was so much kale and I could hear it taunting me. Basically, the kale was talking shit to me, saying, “You can’t handle this, go eat a french fry and make the same bad choices you’ve been making for the past twenty years.” Well, I hate being taunted so I told that kale, “I’ll show you.” And then I stared at it in what I hope was an intimidating way.
I wrote a book about me and my body and I’ve dragged my heels on it but it’s about done now, so many months late, I am carrying some deep shame about it and putting this book out into the world is one of the hardest things I will ever do but I am going to do it because I think the book is okay and I think people will at least find some solace in the book, some recognition that living in a body, living in a fat body in this shitty world, is hard.
As people are wont to say, this is not like coal mining or anything, but why do people qualify what they find difficult in terms of extremes? Why is it so uncomfortable just owning that sometimes, life is difficult, and books are difficult and exposing yourself is difficult even if it is something you have chosen to do, with sound mind and body.
I put some of the salad in a pretty dish in the hopes that it would somehow, by aesthetic virtue, make the salad more edible. I dressed it with a balsamic dressing. I took a bite and it was okay and then I took another bite and another, and turns out, the salad is excellent, delicious even. It lasted five days! I ate healthy for five days in a row, by choice. I don’t even know what’s happening to me.
I have grown up surrounded by celebrity culture. My mother, strong, fearless, intelligent woman that she is, watched E! News while I was in the womb. I’m pretty sure I was humming the jingle while exiting the birth canal (TMI?). I still love stalking celebrities, but I am not fascinated with Kendall Jenner in the way I am sure I would have been at age 10. I am drawn to celebrities that make me think. I am drawn to celebrities that don’t speak up about certain issues because they have to for publicity, but rather those who gain a following because their art is so intertwined with their view of the world. I spoke about her in class, but @roxanegay is my favorite writer/celebrity and has been for quite awhile. Her voice is distinctly her own. She has no apologies for who she is. She inspires me to be strong and to care fiercely for the world around me. That is what I care about when I look up to celebrities. I want someone who I can admire, but does not hide the fact that they are a human with their own experiences. I am drawn to those who I can relate to, and yet push me to analyze my own identity and where I fall within the larger society I am a part of. That is what “celebrities” should do. And that is what they should use social media for. (I realize this was supposed to have some substance relating to what we talked about in class but really it just turned into a Roxane Gay appreciation post…. my b.)
Also, story time. my roommate got to meet Roxane at a book signing but I couldn’t go because I had work and I was v upset. So my roommate went and was like “Wow u rock my roommate and I love you would you sign this paper for her cus she can’t be here and can’t afford a book bc struggling college student” and then she l i t e r a l l y took a $20 out of her pocket so my roommate could buy a book and get it signed for me. She texted me (my roommate, not Roxane. Omg could you imagine tho?) and said she had a surprise that would make me cry. When she got home I did cry. I cried a lot. It was a really wonderful reminder that people are good and nice and that I should actively try harder to show my appreciation for the people around me.
Real pic of me on the floor after hearing the whole magical tale.