I’m baaaaaack…I think…

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That’s me, on the right. Cute! Look at that nose.

I emerge from exile, like a kidnap victim held in an underground bunker by a conspiracy theorist for a decade, eyes squinting at the light, shocked by the fashions. Tentatively, I step towards my saviours, besieged by sirens and whirling lights. People are shouting, “Pamela! How does it feel to join the land of the living again?” and “Pamela! Are you finally going to frickin’ WRITE something?” It’s been something of a time, as they say.

Deaths, and not just the famous ones, ailments, depression, writer’s block, laziness, tiredness and an overall sense of the world going to hell in a hand basket have kept me from writing anything but the terrible, awful, no-good words that I extracted with the grace of wresting rotten teeth from my own mouth with rusty pliers that then went into a couple of crappy chapters that will have to be entirely rewritten. And judging by that preceding ridiculous run-on sentence, you can see why they’ll need to be rewritten.

But here I am. Alive, not exactly kicking, but shuffling a bit, which is a far cry from the prone lump that I’ve been. I’ve even gotten some of my assignment done for the residency that I’m going to in New York City in a week and a half. This is huge, people. Huge. The fact that I’m writing anything at all feels like a miracle.

I’m going to write about food again soon, I promise. We had a funeral, where there was the usual funeral food, but because it was posh, it was catered, not provided by the Ladies Auxiliary in a church basement. It didn’t stop the salmon and tuna sandwiches on white bread from arriving, however. And then there was Christmas and all its attendant food thingies. Because of the death of my husband’s mum and lack of preparation/shopping/caring, we ended up at a friend’s house where, among other strange offerings, we ate kangaroo. And of course, it’s not Christmas without me getting gastroenteritis and not being able to keep anything in my system – I’m sure there’s some psychological component to this, but I’m too old and grumpy to explore.

Anyway, my friends, stay tuned. I’m half a chapter away from finishing the first draft of my book, and New York awaits. It’s going to be a time, I tell ya, and this one will be good. I hope.

Lobster Rolls and Ennui

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My mother loves the word “Ennui”. She has the word on a piece of paper on her fridge with the proper way to pronounce it written underneath – ahn wee. It’s a word for rainy, foggy days, and it perfectly describes the state that I find myself in every time I’m in Halifax.

I was born in this city, but moved to Ontario shortly after, spending summer vacations here and a few months here and there in my 20s when I was broke and my parents were once again back where they belonged. And it’s a city I desperately want to love. There’s so much to love about it. And yet…

I find myself in a state of ennui whenever I wander her streets. Something pushes down on my heart and the thrill I should be getting from the vibrant waterfront with its delightful lobster shacks, market, museums and ebullient self-awareness that this is a tourist destination, is instead replaced with an amorphous dread. I’ve wrestled with this and have come no closer to understanding this feeling.

I’m here for my second and last residency for my MFA, trying to will time to move more slowly with sheer willpower so that it won’t be over. And so I’ve decided that this time I will quash the negative feelings, seek out the pleasures of this pretty town, and listen for the rhythm that matches my heart beat and that I believe should be my birthright.

Last night a friend from the program and I wandered down through Holy Cross Catholic graveyard – very cool – and down to the waterfront to Dave’s Lobster where we got a lobster roll (on gluten-free bread!) to share. Wending our way back to King’s College, we sought shady side streets and found ourselves on one such adorable street painted with an argyle pattern. It was Argyle Street. Cuter than a bug’s ear, as my Aunt Jane would say.

This morning, I was up at dawn and opened my dorm windows a little wider, taking in a deep breath of salty air. A tingling of affection fluttered somewhere in my cold heart. I have just over a week left here. Perhaps by the end that tingle will turn into love, and, after half a century, I can finally feel like I’ve come home.

 

What Is Normal Eating Anyway?


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Does anyone really know what normal eating is? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? I’ve talked to hundreds of people about this subject and by the time we fully discuss what constitutes healthy, normal eating, even those who initially say, “Yeah, I eat normally,” eventually face the fact that they are just as messed up as the rest of us.

I have a girlfriend who is slim and healthy. She eats exactly three meals a day, no snacking. She is regimented about her food intake, and to the untrained eye, she would be a “normal” eater, but really she isn’t; at least her way of eating isn’t something that has come naturally to her. She’s trained herself to be a normal eater. She doesn’t crave snacks, and her three meals are substantial, but it’s a regimen that is self-imposed. Wait a minute…maybe that’s what we all need to do to get to normal. Maybe she’s on to something. She doesn’t have anxiety around her food – she’s figured out a system that works for her. Let’s get to that in a minute.

The other friend I’m thinking of is likewise a teeny gal who does think about every morsel she puts in her mouth. She’s obsessive. Come to think of it, so am I. So are countless others. We are not alone. So what the heck? And of course there are those who don’t think at all about the food they throw in their bodies. It’s a chore, something to check off the to-do list. Whatever’s easy, cheap, available – that’s what’s for dinner. How did we get so seriously messed up?

Here’s the thing: Evolution is so far behind technology that we’re kind of doomed. Back in the old hunter/gatherer days, we ate as much as we could when we could because, let’s face it, mastodons were hard to come by. We also didn’t move much except to hunt and gather because why would we waste those precious calories? Then agriculture came on the scene, a mere 11,000 years ago, which gave us a more controllable supply of food, but there were still lots of lean times, and so our bodies became accustomed to eating when they could and conserving when necessary.

Let’s put 11,000 years in perspective. If you imagine that the time on earth of modern human beings is one hour, the time elapsed since agriculture became a thing is four and a half minutes. (Thank you, Tom Standage, for that awesome analogy). Yes, humans are adaptable, but not that adaptable. Evolution doesn’t happen overnight, but technology seems to have.

What we’re living with now, at least here in the west, is an abundance of food. It’s cheap, it’s plentiful, a lot of it is bad for us. We eat because it’s there. We don’t move our bodies enough because the motivation to do so isn’t there. So those who restrict their food intake and obsess about nutrients, calories, and fat content,  who go to the gym, or run, or burn calories in whatever way they see fit, are doing so because they’re fighting biology. They’re also heeding the siren call of marketers and mass media to look a certain way, and that can be a huge motivator for moving bodies that are programmed to chill ‘n Netflix and conserve calories.

I’m starting to think that my friend is right – maybe we actually do need to train ourselves to eat normally. By figuring out what works for our bodies calorie-wise, what we need given our activity level, what we need nutrient-wise, what we like to eat, and what fits in to our lifestyle, we can create a standard for eating that is our normal. Eventually, over time, as it did for my friend, it will become natural – it will be as close to normal as I believe we can get.

Sigh…it was so much simpler 11,000 years ago.

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Doesn’t that look like fun? Just think how many calories they were burning!

 

“Stop dieting and get on with your life”

cover@2xThe title of this post comes from a book I’m currently reading for research called Secrets From the Eating Lab, by Traci Mann. It’s made me rethink (and in some cases, reconfirm) pretty much everything I believe or at least was led to believe about weight, obesity, and dieting. She starts off telling us that diets don’t work, and as much as that may sound disappointing, let’s just think about it for a minute. She’s right. They don’t. Weight Watchers for example has a 16% success rate. What other industry can boast an 84% failure rate and still call itself successful? The diet industry, that’s who. Their entire business model is predicated on us being humans.

What does that mean? Well, as Mann states there are several factors why diets fail. What the diet industry wants you to believe is that the diet failed because you failed. You weren’t disciplined enough, you didn’t follow the rules, you cheated, you’re bad, bad, bad. That’s, and please excuse my French, bullshit. Diets fail, says Mann because of these three important reasons:

1. Biology: Genetics plays a huge role in our weight and we’re born with a blueprint for basically the weight that our bodies are meant to be. Your body stays in what Mann calls the “set weight range” most of your adult life. If your weight strays outside of it, on either side by about 15 pounds, give or take, your body works hard to get you back to it. She cites evidence from research that studied not only adopted children, but also studies of 93 sets of twins who were separated at birth and grew up in different environments. What they found is that it was biology, not how they were raised, that determined their weight.

Hormones are another biological reason that diets don’t work. As you diet and lose weight, says Mann, you lose body fat, an active part of your endocrine system, producing hormones that are involved in the sensations of hunger or fullness. As you lose fat, the levels of hormones that help you feel full decrease, while the hormones that make you feel hungry increase. These changes in hormone levels were still detectable in people a year after they stopped dieting.

The other biological reason, and one a lot of us have heard before, is that our metabolism “betrays” us. Actually, it’s just doing its job. Our ancestors, the ones who survived to pass along their genes and help us evolve into “us”, were successful at surviving during times of deprivation. They did this by being extremely efficient with the calories that came in and storing anything spare for those lean days. When you’re restricting your calories, your body makes it a priority to store them as fat, even if your intake contains no fat. Don’t be mad. Your body just doesn’t want to die of starvation.

Interestingly, she notes that a person who diets themselves down to 150 pounds, is physiologically different than a person who already is 150 pounds. The dieter has to always eat fewer calories than the non-dieter of the same weight. They also must eat fewer calories per day than they did to get to that weight in the first place.

2. Psychology: Any one who has been on a diet knows that the second you’re told that you can’t have something, you kind of really, really, really want it. A famous study by Ancel Keyes in the 1940s took thirty-six men and fed them a 1,600 calories a day diet. This wasn’t starvation, but it was roughly half of the calories these men were used to eating. As the experiment went on, these men lost interest in everything, all they could do was obsess about food. They talked only about food, collected cook books, cut out recipes, became quite surly and introverted, and engaged in other anti-social behaviours.

From an evolutionary point of view, this is useful behaviour. People who focus solely on food would be the ones to actively seek out food, forage, hunt, gather, whatever was necessary to stay alive. Again, it’s really hard to fight human nature and our will to live.

Mann conducted a study along the same lines in which they examined people who were denied a particular kind of food. They had the participants record how many times a day they ate a certain kind of food, then told them that they had to go a week without eating it. They were then told to record how many times they thought about that food. It was a lot. She points out the earliest story of Eve and the apple. We are predisposed to want the forbidden fruit.

3. Stress: Stress is not the bad word that we’re always told to believe. It’s a quite useful response to situations in which we have to flee a predator. The problem today is that there aren’t a lot of sabre toothed tigers around, just jobs, mortgages, kids, co-workers, cost of living, Donald Trump, etc. Stress causes a hormone to be released called cortisol. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Cortisol is released during a stressful incident and floods your blood with glucose so that you can flee the tiger. The problem is that our stress today is chronic, not episodic. We don’t run or climb a big tree and thus rid our bodies of the extra glucose. We store it as fat on our bellies specifically. And belly fat is the kind of fat that has been linked to cardio-vascular disease.

The other thing that stress does is it changes our behaviour. When stressed we overeat (think “stress eating”), we don’t exercise as much, and we sleep less. Sleep-deprivation actually leads to overeating because the part of our brain that controls impulse is inhibited and the part of our brain that motivates eating is enhanced.

Just to make things worse, dieting itself is a stressful act. Deprivation and monitoring of food, having to say no to people’s generosity when they offer you something that is forbidden, all contribute to elevated cortisol levels in study participants. Most significantly it was the act of deprivation more than the monitoring that did so.

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The diet industry is like a gigantic vulture, circling above us, sniffing out our insecurities and our foolish human desire for a magic bullet that will transform us into photo-shopped super models. We must strive, as Mann says, to eat in a way that allows us to be our lowest lean weight without dieting, and a huge, huge part of this is acceptance and love of our bodies. So much brainwashing to undo. So many magazines to burn. And a $60 billion a year industry to ignore.

There’s much more to this book, and some really enraging points raised by Mann, but this post has gone on too long already. Stay tuned for Part II: Fight the Power.

 

 

Busy is my new four-letter word

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I deserve a sticker, dammit. I actually finished a chapter without anyone holding that big carrot of a deadline in front of me. My goal to finish a chapter a month has been accelerated due to a variety of things, so no time for dilly dallying.

The thing is that I’ve started to recognize that I’m a time-waster. Hugely. When I actually take a look at how long it took me to write that last chapter, it was probably only about 15-20 hours. I read this article today in the New York Times by a woman who writes books about time management and how she logged her actual time – sleep, work, leisure, etc. Of course, my first thought is, “where did she find time to log her hours?”

By logging her life, she concludes that “busy people” lie to themselves (and others) a lot. She would tell people that she worked 50 or so hours a week, but the log showed that in reality she worked only 37 hours. We all do this. As I wrote about earlier we like to be perceived as busier than everyone else. It’s ennobling and makes a great excuse for not doing anything else, or for not connecting with people, or being present in the lives of others. Or maybe it’s just bragging – we are a seriously messed up species.

But the simple fact is that we aren’t nearly as “busy” as we think and say we are. A typical writing day for me involves a two-hour walk with my dog first. Then I drive to my writing space, make tea, have lunch, look out the window, pour some more tea, read the previous day’s work, re-read some research, and then write about 200-300 words. Time for a break! I’ll play some Scrabble games, check out Facebook, text a few people, maybe do some yoga. Back to work! I’ll write another 300 or so words. Geez! It’s 4 p.m. Better get home and get dinner started. And this, my friends, is why it took me a month to write 6,000 words.

So, I’m going to take a good, hard look at how I spend my days. Maybe not “log” everything, I mean who has time for that? Ammiright? 😉  But at least pay attention to the time I’m wasting. Life’s short and there are books to be written, friends to visit, family to connect with, and things to experience. By creating a narrative for your life that you’re too busy, you only succeed in convincing yourself that you really are too busy, effectively depriving only you of moments that might make this whole circus worth getting up for. Now, back to work.

On friendship

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It’s been many, many weeks since last I blogged. I’ve been writing a LOT. About celebration foods, and funeral foods, and agriculture, and meat wrapped in cellophane. I’m having a blast with this book, learning things and getting excited about sharing all of this with others. I have a terrific mentor who is encouraging and supportive. I have a family who still mostly tolerates me. And I have probably the most remarkable group of friends anyone could ask for.

I started thinking about this last part recently, as I’m running back and forth to another city to visit with one of my oldest friends (literally) and his family as he faces some significant health issues. He’s 91 – a brilliant chemist, professor emeritus and all round great guy. He and his wife took me under their wings many years ago when I was a student at Queen’s. I was broke. I was always broke. They let me freeload off of them several times, and in so doing they changed who I am fundamentally.

It wasn’t just that they fed me and gave me a roof over my head. They made my imposition on them seem like I was doing THEM a favour. They welcomed me with no judgment, only warmth and kindness that I have spent my life since trying to emulate. The missus in this equation was an uber homemaker. The kind of woman who embraced her role and made a formidable career out of it. While I stayed with them, no item of clothing went un-ironed, no button left un-sewed. She even ironed her sheets, for goodness’ sake. She was instrumental in helping me form my ideas of what feminism really was/is, and led me down the path of choice. Always. Choice. She was smart and savvy and could probably have done whatever the hell she wanted – but she chose a life of domestic bliss with the love of her life. When I complained recently about the y chromosomes in my life neglecting to wipe down the stove, she said, “I’ve learned lately that it really doesn’t matter.”

And could this woman cook! I told her just the other day that I felt nourished, not just my poor, neglected, student-diet body, but my soul and heart were nourished by her food and the care that she put into its creation. She made her own condiments, her own bread, and dinner was served in the dining room every night, family style. The Dr. would serve the meat, and she would serve up the veg. Wine was drunk, laughter was laughed. I was even given a napkin ring to use while I was an official freeloader. I felt like I belonged. To this day, it feels like coming home to walk in to that house with its lavender-tiled bathroom and massive, peaceful back yard.

Update: Dr. R. left us last weekend. This Saturday we’ll celebrate his life and what he meant to each of us. What I’ll remember is his humility and kindness. When he spoke to you, you were the only person in the room. He was probably smarter than every single person he ever encountered, but he would never, ever! have made anyone feel that way. If the world was comprised of only Dr. R’s, it would be the loveliest, gentlest, kindest place, filled with good humour and overwhelming generosity. Rest in peace, my dear friend.

 

 

 

Blogging like an extrovert

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People who know me would be surprised to hear me call myself an introvert. I like people – well, some people; I quite like public speaking; I will go out with groups of humans and participate in conversations; and other on the surface extrovert-y things. But my recharge time comes when I’m alone or with the company of one or two simpatico people. And if I had to choose, I would always prefer to stay in, in a group of six or fewer people, drinking wine and eating great grub, and yakking.

So here I am, having just finished up a residency for my Master’s where there was much talk of AUTHOR PLATFORMS. Yes, author platforms – getting your brand out. Feedback for me included improving my author platform. Okayyyy. So blogging once every three months is NOT going to help me? Gotcha. Tweeting twice a year? Not going to really solidify a brand. But what is a brand, and more specifically, what is MY brand?

Some of my keener classmates are totally in to this blogging thing and they do it with aplomb. Check out the lovely Nellwyn over at http://www.thecardinalpress.com, or Karalee at http://karaleeofnofixedaddress.com, or JoAnn at http://www.joanngometz.com.  Now these lasses are fired up and blogging all the time. At least once a week. Nellwyn blogs just about every day.

I just don’t have anything to say. Seriously. My life is really, really, really quite boring. I’m not sure that me blogging about being handcuffed to my computer, or walking the beautiful Nellwyn (the dog, not my classmate), or cleaning my house is of any interest to anyone. I could tell you about what I’m writing about, I suppose, or what I cooked for dinner, but by time I’ve done these things, they’re just not that interesting to me anymore.

However, I will strive to reach out a bit. There might come that miraculous day when someone decides to take a chance on my book and I’ll have to cultivate a few readers. So follow along…you just never know – I might have to leave my house someday to shill this thing and I guess it starts with one reader at a time.

And for no reason whatsoever, except that they made me smile this morning, here are some wild turkeys that have decided to call High Park home. Hello turkeys!

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Gobble gobble

 

 

 

Cannibals Understood Etiquette

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It’s been such a long time since I’ve posted, but I’ve been super busy writing about cannibalism (among other things). I learned things that can’t be unlearned about the subject and have a new found respect for our society’s ability to layer on civility so thickly that we really don’t have any yearnings for human flesh anymore. Yay us. We’ve done at least one thing right.

I’m not kidding. Margaret Visser – or the Great One, I like to call her – writes in The Rituals of Dinner (a book I urge – nay, demand – you to read), “The Aztec cared intensely how they ate people and also whom they ate, when, and where. Every gesture of the sacrifice was laid down as ritual….what they saw as neatness and propriety governed every gesture.” She goes on to say that somewhere in our primal brains, the fear of being eaten remains. “Behind every rule of table etiquette lurks the determination of each person present to be a diner, not a dish. It is one of the chief roles of etiquette to keep the lid on the violence which the meal being eaten presupposes.”

But what strikes me the most about what she says is that the cannibals had a set of rituals and etiquette rules that were followed to the letter for fear of upsetting their deities. Although we have some rituals in our lives around our meals, there is here in North America among us “mangia cake” no real collective dining rituals.

In my house I have a few rules. We eat at six. Everyone must sit at the table. No one starts eating until everyone has been seated. No phones, EVER. The phone isn’t answered. No one leaves the table until everyone is finished. And absolutely NO STRIFE is permitted. Any discussion that starts to get angry, I kind of shut down. The dinner table shall not be a battle field, so sayeth the mom.

But I’ve been to many a home for dinner where these rules are foreign to them. I roll with it, man. Hey, someone’s feeding me! There is nothing sweeter. I start to wonder in these situations if I’m too rigid, but I really, really like dinner with my family. I really, really, really like that they understand what’s expected of them so that we can concentrate on the important things, like talking to each other and laughing, and hopefully enjoying the food.

So I wonder – is the fear of being eaten stronger with me than others? Is there somewhere in my primal brain a piece of genetic memory saying, “Be polite, for the gods’ sake! You’ll be eaten!” If the fear of being the dinner rather than the diner is the thing that propels a society towards civility, then so be it. We could all use a few more manners around this place.

Slow Food Heretic

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I enjoy my assumptions being challenged. It helps me to clarify my actual position on things and hones my opinions, solidifies my core values, and gives me a chance to think about from where these opinions came and why they’ve become part of my value system. I’ve never been one to shy away from reading or viewing that which I don’t naturally agree with. This has led to usually one of two things happening. I either do a 180 on my opinion, or it reinforces my opinion.

Therefore, it was with a great deal of interest that I read Rachel Laudan’s “A Plea for Culinary Modernism” in the Jacobin. Her essential thesis is that because she is an historian, she believes the Slow Food Movement is rubbish. She says, “That food should be fresh and natural has become an article of faith. It comes as something of a shock to realize that this is a latter-day creed. For our ancestors, natural was something quite nasty. Natural often tasted bad.”

In the past, seasons of plenty were followed by seasons of hunger. People died of starvation, crops failed, cows refused to give milk, and the list goes on. She believes that the Slow Food Movement people are romanticizing the past, painting pastoral scenes in their minds of rolling hills and fat sheep grazing while their shepherds napped under a tree. The truth, she argues, is quite the opposite. First of all, even after agriculture became a thing, getting food to even a  digestible point took up a huge portion of the day. There was the harvesting, the threshing, the grinding, the soaking, whatever it took to make that food actually something one could eat. The task of getting cows to milk was given to one person – the dairy maid. That was all she did. Digression: At one time when I was contemplating buying a hobby farm to raise goats from which I would make “artisanal” goat cheese (all the better to sell at Wychwood Barns to wealthy urbanites), I found out that goats need to be milked twice a day. Every day. Yeah…so, I’m lazy…there is no hobby farm.

Anyway, Laudan goes on to argue that even very early in the last millennium humans were already happily denaturing things to make them more digestible. Processing and fermenting were well established ways to keep food longer and make it easier to eat. She says:

“In the twelfth century, the Chinese sage Wu Tzu-mu listed the six foodstuffs essential to life: rice, salt, vinegar, soy sauce, oil, and tea. Four had been unrecognizably transformed from their naturally occurring state.”

In 200 BC, she tells us, the Confucian Book of Rites distinguishes primitive humans from civilized human beings by describing the former as those who only ate wild, uncooked food.

Local food was likewise frowned upon, historically. It was what the poor people ate. The wealthy ate exotic foodstuffs imported from places far away. I know my mother tells me that in her little fishing village, the poorest children were singled out because they would bring lobster sandwiches to school.

But her most interesting argument is that the Slow Food Movement is elitist. And this is where my core values start to wobble. She’s not wrong. Unless you’re growing your own food, killing your own heirloom chickens and foraging through the local parks, eating all natural, locally grown, organic foods is expensive. Super expensive. Yes, yes, I know…eat less. But say you’ve got two giant teenaged boys who are not capable of even articulating those words. It can kind of add up, boys and girls.

Fast food, Laudan tells us, has been around forever. In the Forum, Romans could pick up sausages and honey cakes, there were ready-cooked meats and vegetables available for purchase in early Baghdad, Mexicans had been enjoying tacos from market stalls for generations and the list goes on. Laudan is basically saying, don’t fear the Fast Food. It’s just what we do. Slow Food really is reserved for the leisure classes – the people who can afford artisanal goat cheese and $40 chickens.

Where I disagree with her, however, is the premise that just because the food industry is making a profit doesn’t make them the bad guy. Hmmm. I agree that profit isn’t a bad goal for any industry, why else would they do it, but when the food industry deliberately misleads people with labels like “natural flavourings” and “low fat” (ipso facto, high sugar), or whatever they do to misinform consumers, they are in the wrong. We can still choose the closest thing to whole foods possible even if they have arrived at our grocery stores through modern processes.

Has she made me do a 180? No. But I am reading Michael Pollan a little more critically these days instead of with my little pink heart glasses on. I am forgiving myself for sometimes buying meat at Costco instead of Rowe Farms because of the aforementioned monster teenagers. However, I will always continue to buy and eat the freshest food I can afford, though, and I guess that’s all any of us can really do.

Google Me This

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I spent last weekend at a spectacular cottage on Gananoque Lake in Eastern Ontario with three of my oldest and dearest. We ate great food (steak and caprese salad made with local tomatoes, basil and water buffalo mozzarella one night, and local pickerel, roasted beets and new heirloom carrots the next night), we laughed, drank wine and laughed some more. The cool thing about this cottage is that it is slightly off the grid. There’s a rock, which we christened “Google Rock”, about thirty metres from the cottage, so if you wanted to check your email or even phone anyone you had to go there.

So, one morning I’m in the swinging chair with one of my coven watching the loons dive for breakfast and talking about ways that I could make money so that I could just write my damned book. I suggested selling a kidney, which led me to Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, but of course I couldn’t actually retrieve his name. The conversation went like this:

“You know the guy who wrote a book that got turned into a movie starring Sir what’s his name, you know the guy from that other movie – ahhhhhhhh! – fava beans and chianti…”

My friend who is and has always been memory-challenged looked at me quizzically. “No.”

Suddenly I could feel it…the little people who live in my brain being shaken awake – “Quick! She needs information. Go down to the vault and see if you can find it.” The little people scurry…actually, hobble, because it’s been awhile since they’ve had to move. They go to the vault and start searching for the right filing cabinet. Blowing dust and cobwebs off, they start flipping through the file titled, “USELESS MOVIE/CELEBRITY INFORMATION”.

“Eureka!” They cry. Up they hobble and hand over the info.

“Anthony Hopkins!” I cry. “Remains of the Day!” I’m delighted with myself. “Kazuo Ishiguro!” Wow! I’m a freaking savant.

I had just Googled my own brain.

It’s actually one of the more satisfying things I’ve done in a while, though that may sound a bit pathetic. For the past few years whenever I couldn’t remember something, I just reached for my phone or iPad and the oracle we call Google provided all the information I needed and then some. My brain has done got lazy. I have resolved that I will allow the little people in my brain to get more of a workout from now on. Try my best to remember first and let Google be my last resort. Go on. Google your brain. It feels great!


On a more Blog-related note, the residency was excellent. A whole bunch of smarty pantses with remarkable stories to tell. Two weeks with the like-minded and the eccentric, where everyone was everyone’s cheerleader and I rarely had to explain myself. It was difficult to come back to reality and a wriggly pup and obligations, but with the help of a remarkable group of friends and understanding family, I’m slowly but surely shoehorning my desires into my have-to’s.