Friday, December 15, 2006

Huh, the Arctic Sea Ice Is Melting Like Crazy

I have also been noticing my thoughts about food coming into clear focus lately. I’ll be picking up something to eat that I’m not physically hungry for and hear an optimistic little voice in my head say, “After I eat this, I won’t feel anxious anymore,” or “I won’t be tired,” or “My sore throat will feel better.”

I’m sure I’ve been thinking these things my entire life, but have never seen them so clearly. It gives me the opportunity to answer, “But food doesn’t cure anxiety! Don’t get me wrong, you’re welcome to eat it whether you’re hungry or not, but it will not have any effect on anxiety.”

Then, if all goes well, I describe to myself what I’m feeling anxious about and—this is key—drop the story and tune into the accompanying physical feelings, even if only for a moment or two. To do this, I put my focus on my stomach and chest in turn and just try to notice what sensations are there.

I’m positive that this is slowly but surely increasing my tolerance for yucky feelings and improving my ability to think about problems rather than eat about them, as Carol Munter and Jane Hirschmann say in their wonderful books, particularly When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies: Freeing Yourself from Food and Weight Obsession. (Notice that it says nothing about freeing yourself from food or weight per se.) I’m encouraged.

Here is another great thing about my mother: she is highly prone to enthusiasm. I told her that she and Dad should see the Metallica documentary and they actually did, and then she sent me this, in part:

“We got Some Kind of Monster from Netflix, and one of us watched the whole thing, and the other of us claimed his or her ears hurt and went to bed early.

“Then I ran to my computer to order some Metallica music. But I'm weak on follow-through, and now I may not actually buy any. But I did bond with the group for a few hours. Hammett and Hetfield, yeah! And Lars, and Robert Trujillo is very cool, too.”

Wednesday of this week was my 27th sobriety anniversary. I started drinking when I was nine and went to AA when I was 17. I was telling a friend that yesterday and he said, “You probably needed that drink when you were nine.” “I did need it,” I agreed.

I had one of my approximately twice-per-lifetime facials this week, lovingly provided by Carla Martino, whom I like very much, at Noe Valley Salon (when they answer the phone, it sounds like they’re saying “Envious”). She is a darling person and the experience is extremely pleasant. She does massage, too, and other skin-related things. I advise a trip to see her posthaste.

Some years ago there was an article in The New Yorker about the behavior of shoppers, which I found riveting and have never forgotten, though I hate to shop. It was about the work of Paco Underhill. I am now reading his book, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, which is very interesting.

I have just finished a section on how when the bulk of the Baby Boomers are old, which is well underway, it is going to have a profound effect on the shopping experience, because, as at all ages, we are going to insist that everything is geared to us—whatever age we are is the best age to be—so there will be no more, “Geeze, the print on the back of this aspirin package is so small.” The print is going to cease being small once the Boomers start to howl.

In the dharma department, I am reading one of Ayya Khema's 25 books. This one is called Being Nobody, Going Nowhere: Meditations on the Buddhist Path, and it is one sentence after the other of what Howie calls "pith instructions."

I had a remarkable experience yesterday which could never have happened in the pre-OO era. In those days, officially, no kind of junk food was allowed in my house, but when it frequently entered, for bingeing purposes, it was always gone before the next morning, even if that meant getting up in the middle of the night to finish it.

I noticed a large container on my kitchen counter, which is about 18 inches by four feet: tiny. “Wonder what’s in there?” I said to Hammett. It proved to be half an apple fritter left from two days prior! I couldn’t believe it. I have never in 44 years forgotten about anything pertaining to any apple fritter. For that matter, there has never been such a thing as a not entirely finished apple fritter. “Boy, this OO stuff has, over time, wrought a miracle,” I marveled.

I mean, that’s like a chronic alcoholic forgetting there is a fifth of vodka in the cupboard, or a heroin addict forgetting there’s a gross or a school of—well, I don’t know how you measure heroin, but you get my drift.

But then it occurred to me that it might just be a symptom of a failing memory, or even of a lamentable George Bushian placidity in regard to that which is glaringly obvious or even alarming: “Huh, lookit that.”

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