A very brief disquisition on food, vulnerability, and middle age. So brief, I'm not sayin' a whole lot.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about exposure. Yes, of course, exposure once the masks come off and everyone can see me again (have you had that thing happen yet where you’ve met new people over the last year and are only now seeing their faces for the first time and realizing you’d supplied them with an entirely different set of features?). But also, this:
The other day I was shopping at my food coop and since I’m no longer allowed to bring in my granny cart (the rules and regulations of this place are an ongoing mystery to me), I now have to guestimate how much fits into the cart and buy accordingly. Because I am clever, I have lined my cart with a gross laundry bag—take that, Runaway Pear.
So there I am at the Coop, buying some of this and some of that and—yep, you know where this is going—I end up buying twice what can fit in the cart. Turns out I am not a good guestimator. So I go outside with my shopping cart (not to be confused with my cart verboten, which is half the size) and realize I’m going to have to get creative. I fill up the cart and my backpack according to an algorithm so impervious to logic, it’s genius, and then understand quickly this first effort isn’t going to work. Which is where the humiliating exposure comes in: I have to unpack my cart and bag and put everything on the sidewalk while various people stare at my food choices, which aren’t even that embarrassing, but no matter: Exposure! Yeah, yeah, we are what we eat; our politics can be inferred from the organic hemp milk in our fridge, but all the same, I would have rather been out there in a bunny suit than among all those baby carrots. Actually, I’d probably rather be in a bunny suit regardless.
I am working with a nutritionist now who says I resist a basic commitment to self-care because I do not understand how to make healthy food for myself (healthy food takes time and money and know-how) and because I am balking at how much it costs to accomplish this elusive thing called health (apparently commitment can be demonstrated only by throwing caution to the wind and spending all your money on supplements instead of, say, your child. But I leave this for another substack, though you can be SURE it’s coming: an irate, crucifying expose of wellness culture, bet you can’t wait). But I digress. Why did I digress. Ah, right, because of the voyeurism of seeing into what other people choose (or don’t choose) to eat. It’s all so bound up with class (I once remember someone I know *sneering* in the most God-awful way about kids eating Cheetos for a snack at school—snob alert, I’m not above this) and self-esteem.
My daughter was with me at the Coop and could not understand why I was getting so frantic about shoving everything into the cart and was like: Mommy, I can carry the organic miso kale chips! Now, I recognize that within the environs of the Coop, no one’s judging me for my kale chips—on the contrary, I *belong* here—but all the same: stop looking at me.
In the context of being a newly Invisible Middle-Aged Woman who’s wrestling with the pleasure derived from being invisible (who cares about anything!) vs the stress of being pointless, these moments of exposure take on new resonance. In the old days, pre Middle Age, I might have just felt sheepish. Now it all feels like Armageddon.
But enough about that.
In other news, I have finished yet another draft of my novel. I’m told to call it “What Is Left to Us.” Do you think that’s schmaltzy? Boring? The working title is: “In Which I Try to Feel More.” Titles have never been my forte. Volume, either.
I also started watching “Borgen,” which is delicious. Once you get past how all the leering men in their sixties all look the same and that the arc of the show is your standard tragedy in 3, it’s delicious! Turns out the Danes really aren’t better than we are. No, wait, they are.
Finally, my friend Peter has a new substack and probably you all should subscribe. Peter and I went to college together. Hard to believe, but he might be even funnier than I am. *Slightly* funnier. Slightly.
More soon, folks! Sorry I haven’t published more regularly—you’re all weeping, I know—but, um, I don’t always have that much to say (how much ego do you think it takes to presume I EVER have anything to say?) and also: trying to write a novel. And raise my kid. And do my job. And make dinners that are perfectly balanced among healthy proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
i also love: In Which I Try to Feel More. I love titling things if you ever want to brainstorm