Give Me Cookies Or Give Me Peace

I’d much rather be stuffing my menstrual face full of chocolate chip cookies than sitting here trying to figure out which words to commit to this blank slate.  Will these words alter the course of the entire cosmos?  Maybe.  I have a hunch that every single thought and action does, whether we know it or not.  Whether we believe it or not.  And I also believe that a cut deeper is that it doesn’t even matter, since this whole world we dream is but a grandiose, self-important illusion.

Chocolate chip cookies…  Did you know that I used to be a compulsive eater?  I might as well talk about this, since I can’t think of anything else to say…  And best case scenario, my sharing could be of service to someone else “out there”.  (Strange… you seem to be “out there” to me, and yet to you, you are just “here”.  It’s kinda like we’re all self contained space cadets traveling through the deep reaches of outer space [inner space?], occasionally colliding with other travelers, sometimes with body, sometimes mind, heart… or another automobile…)

Cookies.  Lemme back up.  Sugar.  I believe there are demons inside me who thirst for sugar the way predators thirst for blood.  I try really hard not to feed these little demons, because one taste and they become suddenly activated and unrelenting, wanting more and more and more and more and… And I do not enjoy being their bitch.  When I was seventeen, I would eat myself sick.  Don’t ask me why.  It was compulsive.  God only knows what kind of pain I was masking.  But “at the end of the day” (one of my favourite expressions lately), pain is pain.  And at the end of the day, too, rain rhymes with pain and at the end of the beginning of this now moment, it is raining and my pain is at bay.   How auspicious is this collision of converging words speaking of deeper reaches that can only be reached by those willing to get DIRTY.

What was I saying?

Pain is pain.

And I try to abstain

From sugar.

But I was about to bleed and I ate some Mexican chocolate ice cream at dinner with Dan on Monday.  Which greatly excited the demons.  Then on Tuesday, I remembered that Mykael and I had been given a phat stash of cookies which were hibernating in the freezer.  (Mykael’s parents’ friends, the Spinellos have a gay son who is in the cookie business with his partner and they give plenty of the “run-off” to mom and dad)  And then crème brule on Wednesday.  Ooops.  And then… yesterday, again I was perpetually haunted by the slumbering, frozen cookies.  I woke up from my nap with a primal yearning for sugar, butter and hard chocolatey lumps.  Fine.  Athena, you can have HALF a cookie.  YESSSSS!!!!  Lucky me!  So I chomped upon the false promise of hollow heaven.  And for that moment, my body sang siren songs of ecstasy.  Consuming sugar truly can be an experience of symphonic rapture.  (Just so you know, I am on the verge of crying right now, because life is strange and my friend Dan said I would make a great minister, and when I think about praising God all day, for a living, all I can do is cry.  I will cry as I deliver my sermons, because my heart yearns and begs to break in an infinitude of pieces, one for each lost space cadet who exploded from God’s mind in that first holy combustion)

Where was I?  Cookies.  So I ate that half and then I had that old, terrifying feeling of perpetual insatiability.  I felt the whisper of weakness inside, and the cellular memory of the days when I was bored, aching and confused beyond belief and all I could do was make ONE MORE trip the refrigerator, all the while, loathing my body, not wanting to feel it, and my mind chattering up a noisy storm about how tomorrow I would diet, exercise, regain some semblance of control.  All the while feeling disgusted, so alone and A-S-H-A-M-E-D.  Shame is so fascinating to me.  I must’ve written about this before, but I just have to comment on how shame was so intelligently fashioned to perpetuate it’s own survival, because it insists that one mustn’t expose or reveal it because it is UTTERLY repulsive and unlovable, so the afflicted party must invest in concealing it, and like a fungus, it runs rampant in dark, moist areas of the psyche.

So yesterday after I ate my half cookie I thirsted with everything that I am for MORE.  And I argued loudly with myself in my head for a few searing eternities before convincing myself to break off another SMALLISH hunk.  It was weird to feel the juxtaposition of where I have been and where I am now, with a will that can kick some serious impulse booty.  My will wears steel toe boots and uses her big, sexy brains to decimate shadowy impulses with insight and intelligence.  My will refuses to lose control.  How on earth do I manage to have good orgasms?*!??*$^$#()&%  I’ll tell you how~ HARD WORK.  I laugh out loud as I write that, because it is true and if I didn’t laugh, I’d probably be criticizing myself for that truth.  But honestly, when I’m having sex, I am mostly coaching myself on how to most optimally “enjoy” the experience.  Hey, at least the incessant chatter is trying it’s best to be of service.

So I broke off another modest chunk of cookie and thrust the bag back in the dark recesses of the freezer as though it was the predator and I was the prey… Then I devoured the meager, sweet, false promise of salvation in the space between breathing moments, only to find myself feeling just as empty and voracious as I was before I consumed it.  And yes, I felt some shame wash through me, telling me that I’d be best off hiding myself from others, and best off beating myself up a bit for slipping even a little toe’s distance into the repulsive pit of addictive behavior.  All of this over not even a SINGLE lousy cookie!

Now, we all have our own custom fashioned relationship to food, sugar, addiction, self control, impulse… But I share this with you to poke so much fun at my own particular combination, because if I didn’t, the mechanism of fear and shame would do everything in its power to convince me that I am ALONE in these wormy little habits and that they are utterly unlovable.  I used to believe it.  Sometimes I still do.  But mostly I find it amusing.  Mostly I want to illuminate shadows that we might share, so that YOU can feel more human, and therefore, you, WE can be FREE.

Is it okay to bring up the topic of alcohlism?

Dare I bring up the taboo topic of alcoholism?  I think this topic is one of the leading reasons that people carrying heavy bags stuffed with past pain opt not to write.  If you have an alcoholic in the family, then you know that generally, the A word is not to be uttered aloud (except behind locked doors).  At least that’s my experience.  Denial and alcoholism seem to go together like bread and butter, which I am wildly fond of.  Not that I eat it very often… but when I do, usually at the occasional fancy-ish restaurant, it is an instant bell ringin’ party in my mouth. Drenches me in pleasure every time… Hey, come to think of it, my alcoholic step dad loves bread and butter too!  I’ve only written just over a hundred words and already I have come full circle!  Phew, I can call it a day… no need to waste any more time exposing family secrets.  See ya later…

I’m not really here to expose family secrets.  But there comes a time in a woman’s life when she is finally sick of playing along with the denial game.  My step dad is an alcoholic.  I always felt somehow exempt from the impact, since he was not my real father… Honestly, it’s a pretty sweet vantage point for me, as a scrupulous student of the human condition.  I sure got to peer into an interesting slice of life from age six all the way up to the present (though I don’t choose to see him very often these days… go figure).  Very interesting indeed.

Speaking of slices of life, let me back up a few steps, to the generous, steaming slice of life God served me last night.  A client invited me to a shmancy food and wine dinner at the Claremont Hotel.  Naturally, I accepted with zeal.  One winery, Frog’s Leap, teamed up with an almost too cool for school chef to co-create a food and wine adventure for [privileged] people who dig on eating and drinking and spending money.  I was particularly thrilled since though I enjoy wine and food, I do not have much experience intentionally pairing them and diving into the myopic world of nuance implied when the two converge.  So I went as a student and an explorer.  I felt shy about stepping into such an unknown world… But I told myself that I was on duty as a writer, collecting data, spying on otherwise unexplored pockets of humanity, and then suddenly I had the upper hand and the fear melted into pure eagerness and curiosity.  This is my new tactic for facing the unknown, for standing up boldly in my life.

Does that mean I wasn’t nervous when I arrived at the “reception”?  No way, Jose.  I felt totally awkward.  But a civilized older gentleman immediately offered me a glass of chardonnay and with a haughty splash of cool, crisp sweet intoxication in my hand, I was that much more prepared to face the room full of equally awkward humans putting on confident, friendly faces and making frivolous conversation.  A woman who turned out to be the fiancé of the “dictator” of Frog’s Leap admired my necklace, which graciously opened our floodgates into a sea of congenial small talk.  Honestly, I felt terrified.  But then I relaxed and felt outward into her, into the space, and I realized that she was just as uncomfortable as I was, beneath her façade of graciousness.  Her energy didn’t seem to be dropping much below her upper chest.  Relating with her felt like relating with an endearing, tightly coiled spring.  I am not a natural born schmoozer and boozer, can you tell?  (But sure, I can get it up in a pinch, when needs be…)

Soon enough though, it was time to sit down for dinner.  Phew!  I made it through the hardest part~ having free reign of the room.  And I was careful not to guzzle my wine out of nervousness.  (I have a pretty low tolerance for “the stuff”)  Good girl, Athena!  You get a gold star!!!  You get a Scoobie Snack!!  Ahem.  So we were seated, and then we got to hear from Mister Frog’s Leap Himself!  I swear he WAS my step dad, but in another dimension, where he got to use his double edged affinity for wine and numbness as a friend and an ally, rather than an unmentionable demon.  He was charming, charismatic and a great story teller… much like step dad.  Clutching dearly to a beloved glass of wine, he sprinkled our ears with stories, our brains with information about how he came to make wine, about his passion for organic production… Sometimes listening to so much information is work for me, but I was naturally captivated by this congenial lush.  I loved hearing about why fostering rich, healthy soil creates such an elite, quality product!  And even more, I loved hearing that he was not interested in advertising as an organic grower.  Nowhere on his bottles does it say, “organic”.  He said (don’t quote me) that he’d rather walk the walk than talk a big talk.  My companion for the evening could not understand this, and insisted that he HAD to advertise… after all, a living must be made.  Mister Frog’s Leap was quick to inform my date that there are more worthy endeavors in life than making money… such as INTEGRITY and PASSION. (Though he confessed to be like 21 million dollars in debt!  Eeek.)

That was the moment that I fell in love with Sir Leaping Frog.  Did I say “FALL IN LOVE”???  Yup.  But how can I fully open my heart to this man whose choice to drown his body in poison on a daily basis, I far from approve of?  This is the little pocket of tension that fascinates me.  It’s that tipping point where judgment and pure acceptance scrape together like a symphonic screech of metal on metal.  I saw this man, easily felt his heart, his passion… and simultaneously, he kept shape shifting into my own step father as he stood at the front of the room grasping fast to his perpetually draining glass, wooing us all with his increasingly sloshy antic dotes of a life story that has unfolded with heaping scoops of synchronicity, risk and adventure.  What’s not to love about that?

I’ll tell you what’s not to love… What’s not to love is what has not been forgiven.  I certainly have compassion for my step dad.  Honestly, I’ve always felt a little sorry for him.  I pity the chains he binds himself with.  I imagine what it must feel like to live an entire life investing so much energy in concealing one’s true self.  I don’t think there is a single person in my step dad’s life who he really let’s in to the most true, raw and intimate reaches of himself.  Duh, he doesn’t even seem to grant HIMSELF entry into that shameful (???) chamber…  Don’t tell me that this doesn’t break your heart even a little… I mean, we all have those places we hide within ourselves… But some cases are more crippling than others.

I have not forgiven him for drinking and then driving with me, my mom and my little brother in the car on a regular basis.  How do I do that?  Just let go?  Right now?  Just like that?  The thing that terrifies me about forgiving sometimes, is that if I forgive, I am afraid that it will encourage the imagined offender to repeat the same offense.  As if forgiving is the same as saying, “That’s okay, I don’t mind that you drove drunk and put your family’s life at risk time after time.  No sweat.  I don’t mind that you never listened to me, or to my mom, or to your son… that you just obliviously talked over us all and got away with it time after time.”  Should I just be glad that we’re all still alive?

At least he is a happy drunk.  At least he didn’t yell or hit or pass out.  He was the most benign kind of alcoholic there is.  The kind that can so easily slip right through the marginal cracks in our perfectly fractured society.  God blessim’, he always held it together.

After the dinner last night, after seven glasses of wine (no, I didn’t drink them all, JESUS!!!), Mister Frog’s Leap invited us all to the bar.  No thanks.  As we wandered out, he bid us farewell with a sleek little glass of grapa in his hand.  He begged us to visit the winery and I pinky swore that I would.  I really want to.  He confessed that he was not seeing straight.  Shrug…

Ahem, Athena… Are you ready to forgive?