Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Getting to the meat of it

When the blog got a facelift about nine months back, I started writing elsewhere, and I mostly used this space to post art. And it was always awkward. What I draw has a story or even if it doesn't, I'm always thinking on story, and so the times I uploaded just images didn't feel quite right, but it felt clean.

And today, I found myself in an odd place, going through a cooking blog that I first discovered when we moved to Prague (before we moved back to Singapore) and Oscar was just a baked ham of a baby.

Due to certain dietary restrictions around here (Apparently I've been poisoning my man with too much spirulina, spinach, and almond milk. Honestly. The doctor told him, "Your wife's smoothies are killing you."), I had to look up my favorite whole food, all fat, all natural, add-some-more-butter-to-that-chefs, and start looking for ways to get him healthy again. Too many vegetables apparently can get a guy down. As I scrolled, I found myself back to posts that were from the first days when I discovered the blog and was settling into a new apartment, a new city, and a new role as a mama at home with a discontented child. I felt the whoosh. The whoosh is that wave of tears that the people around you don't understand because you've stumbled across something that can never be explained without looking bonkers-city. There was no way I could turn to another adult and weep out, "See this bacon and leek risotto? I used to buy those ingredients in Dejvicka square using my very bad Czech with a baby Oscar hollering like a banshee on my back! It was terrifying and I miss it!"

They were also the same weeks I started blogging for the first time, mostly to document what felt like was a life shrunk to the size of dust balancing on a single atom. Those days were tiny and long and dark and gray, and I honestly do not remember much. But I have the posts. And I have the recipes.

And now, while I plan how to put good fats into my over-ironed over-vitamin-C'ed husband's system, I'm thinking on those days, these days, and this blog.

The past two weeks have been messy. Full of messy people and lives and responses and reactions. Good friends have been hurting in ways no one can help and good people have been pulled in painful directions. Our own household has been worn down and kind of low on the fun meter. And you know what? That's normal. When you're an adult, you still have rough edges, and they show sometimes. You have a choice: You can sit in the mess and love the people around you no matter how much they've stunk the place up, or you can sit in the mess and bad-talk the messier ones. I choose the former.

And while all the mess is churning, my community has doggedly chugged on. Rituals continue. Text messages come in. Community saves. I would very much like to give into the agoraphobia that beckons, but I cannot. My running partner brings me far more healing than my podcasts, and sitting by the pool while my Oscar sprays children in the eyes with his super soaker and my neighbors share their hummus does more for my soul than the book I was hoping to read. I love to be alone. I love to be alone in magnificently large doses, and I am more than happy to retreat. For days. But alone does not allow me to give and receive love, to acknowledge and sit in the above messes, and to marvel at the tolerance of children being assaulted by water guns. Life is not about me getting what I want and having space; it is about participating, even when it's reluctantly.

So today, while printing off recipes for chicken wings and pulled pork and all the things that will restore my husband's depleted soul, I felt compelled to participate in my community in words, and to expose a bit of the mess (I like to tell people I lady-fooded Patrick, but that's sexist and offensive. But honestly--I over-soy-ed the heck out of him).

So here we are. Roast beef on the menu and only words on the page.

The baked ham in a rare sleepy moment and his always-sleepy parents at the morning Dejvicka market.

PS: Speaking of mess: Very certain that plastic cup holds a vino sample; they started pouring at 8:00am. Na zdravi!


  1. Wow, amazing to read this at a time when I am going back over my neglected blog and converting it to a physical book. In the process I am reliving the stressful -- but also more creative! -- times before the routine got humdrum. Back when we were desperate so we invited people over for dinner all the time, and lost so we traveled and explored all the time, and alone so we made art all the time.

    I love you muchly, for saying all this so well. I could take that one paragraph about choosing not to be alone and stick it to my forehead.

  2. Your post made me ache for Prague. Been back in Toronto for 9 months and I miss my Czech home daily.

    1. Oh Angela, it's good to hear from you! I bet you're missing your Czech home. It's a good, good home. We're heading there in October to get our fix and to be able to see it through clear not-sleep-deprived eyes for the first time. Wish you were there!

  3. I traveled from fb to your blog tonight, just as I was about to head to bed...and realized, though I used to check regularly for posts, I somehow missed the last year. I'm trying to remember where that year went as I read thru all these that I've missed as fast as my tired eyes would move. Surely they merit a slower reading, but it was this post that wrenched me in the piercing, it's still aching, though I know I needed it. I have been trying so hard to get people to just leave me the hell alone and have been basking in the anonymity of Sacramento...and yet, these damn people, they just keep pushing their way in. You remind me that they're supposed to. <3