Sunday, August 16, 2009

I spent Saturday in the woods with my Little Sister and her church family. It was my Little's birthday and so I went to the annual church picnic at her request. I was the only white person there, and I would bet cash money that I was also the only Jew. I felt warmly and respectfully embraced.

Last year, when they had a church fair and I was invited and showed up, my Little Sister pretended she didn't know me. I kept following her around the sno-cone seller, the pony rides and popcorn, the stands of handbags and Obama T-shirts for sale in the parking lot and she kept dodging me like an urchin. My feelings were hurt but a social worker has since told me that was age-appropriate. Whatever. This year, thankfully, she's aged out of it. She ran up and threw her arms around me, grabbed my hand and introduced me to people. I stood on line for barbecue with her granny, got a plate of chicken and ribs and corn and green bean salad and sat in the shade fanning away wasps and chatting with some of the church ladies. Who would have thunk it?

I'm proud of myself for a) sticking it out with my Little, who is moody (she has a lot to be moody about,) and not always the easiest child to hang with. And b) getting over my fears about Christianity enough to just lay down my sword and hang out with people. No one tried to convert me or gave me any talk about Jesus. In fact, his name only came up once, in blessing the food, and that was quick and relatively painless.

Meanwhile, I've been reading Ruth Reichl's book Comfort Me With Apples. I think dad sent it to me months ago and I just now picked it up. This woman has eaten the world. Seriously, she's been all over, tasting and recording her sensations. She has, in her word, "paid serious attention to her hungers." I think that's what engrossed me so about the book. She's a competent writer, not a poet, but the force of her will to have a great life is so powerful it knocked me over. Food has been her vehicle, and a potent metaphor for really slowing down and experiencing one's life, tasting it, instead of gulping and swallowing and on to the next.

I'm trying to pay more attention to flavors and textures as I eat. My sense of eating got so fucked up by worrying about my weight since my teenage years that I've kind of suppressed my nautral inner greedy gourmand. There's so much anxiety about eating too--am I eating the right thing, too much, too little, organic, politically-correct, all that.

This morning I had delicious cold watermelon and hot coffee with soymilk, and hard-boiled eggs and a piece of toast slathered with butter and the tart homemade apricot jam that my step-sister gave us for a wedding present. It was delicious.


miss said...

howdy! i've been a reader of your work for some time. first found it in the pages of the sun. and since elsewhere. i too am a writer and will be in bay area soon. visiting a dear friend in richmond. do you know perchance of any one day writing workshops or savory readings that will be taking place in bay area between 9/3 & 9/7? i'd appreciate any gleanings you may care to share. with gratitude, polly

Alison said...

Hi Polly!

I'm not personally involved with any one-days during that time, but you could check the Writing Salon's listings ( or just google. You might also check out Ellen Bass' web site ( or my friend Laurie Wagner--I think hers is, but a goggle search will turn it up.

For a more relaxed, improvisational type of workshop, you could check the listings at interplayce, or I don't know that there's a writing workshop there, but singing and dancing and storytelling might also be fun.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

alison dear,

so many thanks!