Saturday, November 13, 2010


(Me and Bill, Summer 1964, Houma, LA)

I watched Avec Eric which focused on how he and his restaurant funnel food to the soup kitchens of NYC. He taught a veggie fried rice recipe to a group of poor women (mothers and grandmothers, you could tell) using the ingredients that were being handed out free that day, while they ate bowls of what he had already prepared. He said he cooked exactly the same for them as he did for people coming to his "luxurious" restaurant hoping for a food "experience", and I believe him. I began crying, watching their faces.

I was often hungry as a child, hungry on an unpredictable basis, and eventually I gave up on eating. I knew very well my mother was only eating once we were done, if there were leftovers at all, and that influenced me. My older teenaged brother was stealing food from my toddler brother's plate, so I compensated Bill's losses with my own food. There were other factors -- my chronic asthma, the medications I was on, and eventually, a deep sense of wanting to vanish or die in order to get away from my older brother. But what the Bush regime chose to euphemize as "food insecurity" rather than hunger mostly is what influenced my avoidance of eating.

It drove my mother nearly out of her mind.

My liberation at 12 included a return of appetite, but by then my eating habits sucked. It wasn't until lesbian-feminism in my early 20s that I learned real nutrition and how to listen to my body. How to love my body and give it what it needs. It's been challenging because of my hormonal and metabolism damage (some from those asthma drugs as a child, medical pharmacology with no brakes on yet.) I revert to not eating very easily. Sometimes people don't believe that because of how fat I am, or think I must be binging at other times, but I don't binge, and I don't often overeat.

By the time I arrived at the hospital a year ago, I had lost 85 lbs. without meaning to from a combination of poverty and intestinal blockage. My electrolytes, potassium, etc were very off, and I was given supplements most of my hospital stay. Once I had money coming in, I researched nutritional deficiency intensively and created a supplement regimen for myself that includes potassium, vitamin D in large amounts, calcium, magnesium, zinc, antioxidants, vitamins B, C, and A, coenzyme Q, all natural from a great supplier. After two weeks on these, I could tell a difference, especially with regard to the potassium and vitamin D deficiency.

But the daily well-balanced, no salt, always-with-milk infusions from Meals On Wheels has made a sea change in whether and how I am getting hungry. I feel balanced in a way I've not been in years. (The constipation is a direct, temporary result of pain meds.)

However, I am now, deep-down afraid of going hungry again. I am afraid it will somehow come around once more (Republicans in charge), and I am not sure I can tough it out one more time.

I'll work on it, of course. I will particularly try to clear out all the grief I feel about my mother, an orphan during the Depression who grew up in a "food insecure" family, having to watch her children go hungry. It's an injustice I can never remedy, she's long gone, but the pain residue rests heavy on me and I need to scrub it all away, even if it means losing some connection to her.

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