#WeekendCoffeeShare: Horror Movies and Grading

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If we were having coffee, we’d be curled up on the couch this morning. I’m a bit groggy, as we stayed up into the wee hours of the morning watching horror films and hanging out. I’m not quite on my second cup yet–but I will be!

We started things out last night by going to the theater to see the remake of It. We were able to catch the 5:30 showing, before everything was super-crowded, but the theater was still pretty full. There were lots of teenage girls, funnily enough, so the high-pitched screams abounded during the showing. Overall, the remake was a much stronger adaptation of the source material than the made-for-TV version. There were some pretty big changes, of course–most obviously the updating of the time-frame and total split between the first time the group encounters It and the second time they do. Bill Skarsgard was scary as fuck–unsurprising, given that his performance was easily the best part of Hemlock Grove. Now I’m ready to see the second part!

After we made our way home, we watched Hush, which turned out to be a pretty impressive take on the home invasion genre. Because the film follows a deaf woman who decides to fight back against a man trying to kill her, the sound effects and music did really interesting work. Dialogue was fairly sparse, which made the sound effects and music even more noticeable than usual in a film–and the film does it pretty well.

At some point, night started to turn into morning, so we decided to tuck-in for the evening.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that sooner or later I’m also going to need to dig into that big pile of essays on the coffee table. The first papers for the lion’s share of my classes were due this week, so I have about 80 papers to grade over the next week. I’ve mostly finished grading journals at this point–there were about 80 of those as well, but they are a pain in the ass to take back-and-forth, so those were graded in my office.

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If we were having coffee, I would ask what you are up to today. ❤

#WeekendCoffeeShare: A Short One

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If we were having coffee, you would hear the laughing sounds of kids at play mixed with the booms of video game sound effects, as the Little Jedi’s bestie and his older sister are here for the weekend. It’s nice to have the house full of laughter and fun on this long weekend, which was a sorely needed one for us at this point. It feels a bit like I can catch my breath for a few moments for the first time since perhaps June or July, when things began a quick trajectory toward the end of the summer semester, interviewing and then preparing for a full-time fall semester, and getting Little Jedi ready for and back into the school routine.

And we are really and truly settled into this semester’s routine finally, though I’m still working out some things in relation to the office. I’ve still got to get things hung up in my office (thanks for all those brilliant ideas!), but I’ve moved in my academic books and a few happies (like my tin Edgar Allan Poe lunchbox and my ceramic frog prince) and office supplies, so the office is functional at least, and it is beginning to also be comfortable. My students have their first essays due this coming week and the next, so we’re moving toward completion of the first quarter or so of our semester together. We’ve mostly been having good, productive conversations in the classroom, though of course every class has some days when things just feel a bit off-kilter.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am looking forward to Halloween season. It’s been one of my favorite times of year for a long while, and it’s inching ever closer. This year we’ll be doing our usual adult-oriented party, though I’m not sure what else the month has in store. I’ve found myself pulling up the Halloween sections at Michael’s and Target and Lowe’s, combing through pages of decorations…And of course browsing Pinterest for ideas!

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And now, friends, I turn it over to you. Perhaps I haven’t done quite enough listening lately, so I would listen to you and what’s going on in your world.

If We Were Having Coffee: Movies, Balance, and Weathering Storms

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If we were having coffee, we’d be piled on my couch watching Moana. I’ve managed not to see it yet, and since Disney is apparently pulling their movies from Netflix soon, I figure I’ll catch it while I can. I’ve heard a lot of great things about it. Next up (at some point in the near future) are The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon. I really do have an affinity for kids’ movies. It’s something I picked up from my mom, and since I spent so many years in school analyzing kids’ books and media, I still very much enjoy reading and watching them.

It’s a shame I can’t manage my child to sit down and watch them. 😂 He would rather watching a superhero movie, and I have a bit of superhero fatigue lately. So many of the movies are overlong and overwrought, and there are just so many of them! I remember enjoying the older Superman movies when I was young and even quite a few of the Batman films. I also quite enjoyed the Christopher Nolan trilogy in the early 2000s, but the earlier Marvel films didn’t appeal to me quite as much. These days I’m feeling much the same about both Marvel and DC, with perhaps the exception of Deadpool, and I’m holding out home for Wonder Woman, since I didn’t get to see the first film when it was in theaters but heard a lot of good things.

We have managed to watch a few really good movies together lately, though. We’ve been going to the Ghibli Fest movies throughout most of the year–My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service so far, and we plan to see Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle this fall. We’ve seen both of those before, but it’ll be really cool to see them on the big screen. We also watched Kubo and the Two Strings and The Secret Life of Pets here at home, both of which were wonderfully weird. I didn’t love the new Ghostbusters (although I really wanted to, y’all!), but the kiddo quite liked it.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m working on balance this weekend. I’m working to balance writing time with the work week, which has suddenly gotten longer and more taxing. I’m enjoying being full-time, and I’m going to get to contribute to some things that I wasn’t able to as an adjunct instructor, but I’m there quite a lot more than I was before, obviously. I’m starting to settle in, but some days I come home incredibly exhausted. As an introvert who has a lot of social anxiety, teaching is a demanding job. One night this week I went to sleep around 8:00, before we’d even read bedtime stories. (Yes, we still read aloud even though Little Jedi is 8!)

But I’ve got a lot of ideas for pieces that I want to write, and I used to manage to make more time for writing. I’ve just got to figure out a new system since the hours I’m keeping are different these days.

I’m trying to decide how I’m going to revamp this little blog, too. I still have my parttimemonster.com blog space, and I’m contemplating a way to use both sites, possibly making this one specifically a weekend coffee share site and the other a pop culture and sociopolitical space. I’ve missed flexing my writing muscles, but these days the coffee share seems like a totally separate kind of post. It’s going to take me some time to puzzle through this and make changes if I decide to.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that our house was struck by lightning last week–there was a big set of thunderstorms that worked their way through, and lightning struck the chimney of our house. I wasn’t home, but Sam and the pup were both here–Sam says it felt like a big baseball bat hit the house. We were quite lucky, as only our router was destroyed (and the cable company was responsible for that) and the TV in our bedroom was shorted out. We knew we couldn’t replace it immediately–it’s pretty low on the list of priorities, honestly–but our neighbor just got a new one, and she was kind enough to offer us her old one. Sometimes blessings come when you least expect them.

This weekend we’re just waiting and watching. We’re in a part of New Orleans that isn’t prone to flooding, but much of the city has already had problems with flooding in the last few weeks. I’ve been watching the brunt of the storm start to hit Texas (and gosh, what a storm–stay safe people, and let us know how we can help), and we’re prepared for any effects that we start to feel over the next few days.

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And what about you? What might you say if we were having coffee? Drop your link here, and we’ll all stop by for coffee with you!

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I Am Brief

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you hello and welcome you in. We’d have a quick chat, then we might head out for the morning. It’s Museum Month here, and today we’re off to visit the World War II Museum and gad about town a bit.

The week has been a busy one…It’s the first week of the semester, and it’s my first week as a full-time employee at the college, so the semester is quite different than semesters past. I’ve mostly gotten moved into my new office–all the things are there, but I have to find a way to hang some things on the concrete walls (ideas?) so that it doesn’t look quite so bare. I’m also beginning to learn the names of my students, though it’s taking me quite a while because there are about 125 of them. They’re pretty swell though, and we had some good conversations this week about writing and the current socio-political situation.

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If we were having coffee, I would apologize for this week’s short entry and tell you that you’ll be seeing more here in the next few weeks, both coffee share and other posts, as I start to get my footing underneath me at the new job and move forward with some blog plans. ❤

#WeekendCoffeeShare: Flooding, Facebook, and First Days

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If we were having coffee, I would first apologize profusely for my absence last weekend! I honestly forgot what day it was until sometime late Sunday afternoon, at which point it was far too late to write and publish a link-up. That’s honestly never happened before–well, the forgetting to post part, not so much the forgetting what day it is part, because that’s definitely happened before. But in all fairness, the last few weeks have been a doozy.

I keep making plans that get knocked down a bit as things change. I finished the summer semester in a whirlwind of grading and interviewing, and I found out about the job that next week. I wanted to spend my small break between summer semester ending and work on the fall semester beginning as a jump-start on some writing, but…Last week was bound up in working on syllabi for the semester, because (as always) I decided at the last moment that I wanted to change around the assignments for my courses.

And then large portions of the city flooded as we went into last weekend, and all thoughts of other things went out the window. We are fortunate in that we are in one of the more elevated portions of the city, so we only had a bit of flooding–the water was up to the edge of the sidewalk at its highest point. But much of the city was underwater there for a while, with some areas flooding as much as they did during Katrina. And even though the water has receded, there are still warnings and things are still in an upheaval, as we’re still getting some rain each day and now the Sewage & Water Board have admitted that 8 of the pumps weren’t working during the storm. Oy.

So, needless to say, last week’s plans for writing went out the window. I didn’t manage the coffee post and certainly not any other writing, but I’m here now!

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I deactivated my Facebook account yesterday.

If you know me and how much I social media, that’s probably a shock. For those of you who aren’t aware, though…Facebook and I have been good buddies for a while. I use it to keep up with old friends–being an extreme introvert (and a busy person), the social interaction there is easier for to manage on a consistent basis than phone calls or coffee dates. I also use it to procrastinate, though. I spend time and energy writing Facebook posts that may be entertaining and thought provoking–or even just silly–and that time and energy could be better spent writing something that I post here or as a guest on another site.

The bigger issue, though, bigger even than how much time I spend crafting posts that could be netting my own site views instead of adding to Facebook’s views, is the relationship that has developed between Facebook and my life outside of it. They bleed into one another, and not always in good ways. For one thing, if I’m in a manic or irritated mood, I am much quicker to engage in debate on FB and far less nice when I do so. I have little patience, and I’ve both said some unpleasant things and had lots of unpleasant things said to me–and of course when that happens, my mood plummets. I’ve noticed myself feeling keyed up during arguments with others online and spending far too much time and energy in those debates. When it comes down to it, they’re not productive (mind you, I am not saying that I don’t think dialogue on social media can affect change; I think it can, but there is a point at which the debate becomes counter-productive), and they are stressful.

So I spent the last few days blasting out my contact info to friends who I want to keep in touch with, and I started getting rid of the account by increments. I changed all my linked accounts, and then I deleted the app from my phone. (I subsequently tried to check it on my phone about 3 times in an hour, but hey, who’s counting?) Yesterday I officially deactivated the account. And although I did spend part of the afternoon looking at Twitter and Instagram, I get an entirely different feeling from them (because I have cultivated happy feeds) and spend far less time on them than I ever did on Facebook.

Now if I can just keep it that way…

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the Little Jedi and I both start school this week. I spent all of this week in a flurry of activity preparing for that, so I haven’t written much, but hopefully I can get myself back to some sort of regular schedule once we both get settled in. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were full of faculty meetings for me, Thursday was mostly spent helping students with registration, and yesterday we carted school supplies up the 3 flights of stairs to the kiddo’s classroom and my office things up the flight of stairs to my new office.

The coming week will be full of things for us to do as we fall into the routine for a new semester. I’m teaching more classes than I’ve ever taught before, but for the first time I am a full-time instructor with my own office in which to work. Little Jedi is going into the 3rd grade, and it looks as though his classes are going to change quite a bit. With Sam working mostly from home now, all of our routines are changed from the way they looked last year, so it will be an adjustment!

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If we were having coffee, I would ask how you are, what you have been up to! And I’d promise to answer comments this weekend and to pop by for coffee and a chat with you, as I’ve felt terrible about missing you guys the last few weeks! ❤

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I Am Late, and I Have News to Share

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If we were having coffee, I would apologize for missing you yesterday. I just couldn’t get myself together to finish the posting in time, unfortunately–But I’m here now! I’ll leave the link-up open until Monday afternoon so that everyone has a bit longer to add their posts to the linky. 🙂

If we were having coffee, I would also tell you that I have big news! My interviews went really well, and I accepted a full-time teaching position at the college where I’ve been an adjunct for the past year. It’s really exciting for me, and it came at just the right time. I’ve been feeling really discouraged for the past few months, especially in regards to my career and finances. Leaving grad school a few years ago before I totally finished my PhD was the right decision for me, but it also threw me into a tailspin. It’s taken me a while to recover, and I’ve had a series of part time jobs that have been fun and that have also been good learning opportunities, but that haven’t been ideal as far as advancing my career or keeping us financially stable. I’ll be able to do both of those things now, and it’s a major relief.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve spent the past week hanging out with the Little Jedi and Doing Nothing quite a lot. Since this was our last full week together before he heads back to his dad’s and then back to school when he is home again, we wanted to spend the week together. And we did–he had a friend over and visited a friend for a day or so, and the rest of the time we spent together just playing games, watching movies, and being together. All things considered (since I had the second interview this week and found out about getting the position), it was a nice way to spend a week. Sometimes I find myself disappointed that he doesn’t want to *do* more–I offered to take him to a movie or the library or the aquarium, all of which he said no to–but if he’s happy just hanging out, then I suppose I am, too.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m almost out of steam, so I would like to see what is up with you! ❤

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I Am a Wee Lazy

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If we were having coffee, I would invite you in and say hello. I’m probably still yawning and stretching, and the coffee might not actually be made. Perhaps we’ll walk just down the street to Congregation, the little coffee place on the corner, or perhaps we’ll just stay in here where it’s cool and I’ll hop up to make some coffee. Today I’m being a wee extraordinarily lazy, because this week has been a doozy. (Does anyone actually say doozy anymore?–Besides me, I mean.)

I would tell you that this week I finished up the summer semester, grading essays and averaging grades and getting everything in juuust before they were due. I generally try to finish things up at least a day or two in advance, but this time I had lots of trouble getting that done. Little Jedi is back from his dad’s house for the last 2 weeks of July, so I’ve been trying to spend time with him. I also had an interview for full-time teaching that took place halfway through the week, and the preparation and nervousness from that took up quite a bit of my time. (Side note: Not sure if I’ll have the job yet, but I do know that I have a second interview!) And there’s been a fair amount of family stuff going on that has made me both anxious and angry…Things that I’m not ready to talk about here (and may or may not ever be) but that have drained me of energy in all kinds of ways.

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If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Little Jedi and I only get this week and next week together out of the whole year. It’s weird, but it’s true. He spends a lot of time with his dad’s family and with my parents–and that’s well and good in the sense that he has lots of people to care about him, but it makes life a little lot more complicated. It’s difficult to plan anything as a family, and it’s frustrating because the other parts of his family don’t really recognize that. During much of the year he is in school, obviously, and during the summer he spends 2 weeks of each month with his dad. Throughout most of the year he’s with his dad every other weekend, and during his Mardi Gras break and spring break he was gone to visit grandparents this year. Sometimes it feels as though he needs his own social calendar, and Sam and I get railroaded into having almost no family time.

So we’ve spent this week mostly hanging out at home, because that’s what he’s wanted to do. We’ve played video games and read and watched YouTube, and he’s had some time to play with his friend and for them to have a sleepover (or two!). On tomorrow, we’re going to the theater to see Kiki’s Delivery Service, and next week I think we’re going to make our way to the aquarium and insectarium and library. In short, we’re going to enjoy our city and one another, because we don’t actually get a lot of free time together to do that.

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If we were having coffee, I would ask what you have going on, what your week has been like. So link up your posts below, and don’t forget to use the #weekendcoffeeshare tag on Facebook, Twitter, and here on WordPress!

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I Am Behind on Literally Everything

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If we were having coffee, I would first apologize for being late…Oops! Generally, I am an on-time sort of person, but today I only had about a million things to do before getting the coffee share going. I definitely meant to work on all of this yesterday, but yesterday turned out to be a Bad Writing Day. I think we all have those days…When the words just won’t show up, no matter how long you look at the blinking cursor or the empty page, and nothing seems to happen quite the way you want it.

Aside from the Bad Writing Day this week, though, the week was a really good one. I finished teaching my summer class, and there are only the final essays to grade in the coming week. Sam was able to work from home this week, so we were able to spend quite a lot of time together, which was far scarcer with his last job.

And on Wednesday night, I was able to attend a book-event for Roxane Gay’s Hunger with my dearest friend, something I’ve been looking forward to for a few months now. She’s one of my favorite current feminist writers, and it was really fantastic to be able to listen to her talk about her writing, pop culture, and her own personal story. She was first interviewed by a local writer on-stage, and afterward the audience was given a chance to ask questions. I had a hundred questions, of course, but I was much too anxious to stand and ask any of them. The questions from other attendees were wonderful though, and led to fun tangents about Lena Dunham, Batman, and avocados (cue collective gasps of horror when Roxane Gay mentioned they were her favorite food, then laughter when the room full of people realized how many other people had the same pearl-clutching reaction to this in a night that included frank conversation about body image, rape, and misogyny.)

I’d read the book before attending, mostly because I saw a copy in the library and couldn’t resist picking it up before attending the event. But now have my own personalized copy of Hunger, and it’s pretty much my favorite possession at this moment.

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If we were having coffee, I would try to fill you in on the months that we haven’t talked as much as we once did. The break from grinding out the coffee share each week was a good one, and it was good for me to step away for a little while. I’ve been able to redirect my attention, which had been waning, and now I feel really great about diving back into the community. But of course lots has happened since February!

I would tell you that I chopped quite a lot of my hair off and re-added my pink streak a few weeks ago. I cut about 8 inches of hair, and it was amazing how much lighter I felt—both literally and metaphorically. I have tended to hide behind my hair for quite a long time, and now it’s far too short to hide me. The pink has faded, and the cut is a bit shaggy (oy, short hair takes so much maintenance), so I need to take myself back to the salon. But I think I’m keeping this cut for a while.

In the months that we haven’t talked regularly, I’ve also been super-delighted to welcome a new wee addition to our family, a new little niece. She’s a beautiful little creature, and we’ve been over a few times to visit since she was born. Little Jedi doesn’t particularly like to hold her (she’s wiggly, mom!), but he loves to sit next to her and chatter and to just watch her. The kiddo hasn’t been around a lot of babies, but he does quite love them. I, of course, find all of this amusing and adorable.

We’ve also taken the kiddos to lots of things–well maybe not Baby Fett yet, though I have high hopes that she and her parents will be joining us for things in the future–but Little Jedi and my dearest friends’ kiddos have spent a lot of time hanging out together. We took them to Star Wars Day at the aquarium and free comic book day at our local shop, and they were together so much during Little Jedi’s part of the summer here that they just “switched” houses from day-to-day at one point. It’s difficult to express just how wonderful it is to live in the same city as my childhood friend, to have our children hang out together the way we once did.

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If we were having coffee, I would ask how your week has been and what you might get up to in the coming week. I’d remind you to add your link below and to use the #weekendcoffeeshare tag on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress so we can all find each other! ❤

 

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I am Back Again

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If we were having coffee, I would welcome you back.

I would tell you that I’m glad to have the coffee share returning to Part-Time Monster. It was nice to have a break, and Emily at Nerd in the Brain has been a fantastic host for the last few months. I have missed the community, though. It’s been quite a while since we last had coffee together, and only about half a million things have happened since then…And few of them were the writing that I’d intended to do. I’ve been quiet of late, both because I’ve had trouble motivating myself to write and because I’ve just had so many other things going on that it’s been difficult to find the energy to write. But I’m back now, and the coffee share is returning home, and I’m learning to be tougher on myself so that I can meet my writing goals.

I’ve also been trying some new types of writing and new activities–some with more success than others. I recently read Lynda Barry’s Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, and I’ve also got a few other creativity-oriented books on my TBR list. Barry’s book was really fascinating from a visual and a cognitive perspective: her book looks like a composition notebook, and in it she has collected notes, syllabi, lesson plans, and drawings from her classes. I’ve been using some of her exercises to help me begin to journal again, hoping that handwriting and coloring and drawing will facilitate my creativity and put some fun back into the idea of writing every day, which is a habit I am trying desperately to get back to. I’ve also created a FB group of some friends and former classmates who want to work on being more productive, and we have weekly check-ins with one another and often commiserate. It helps, especially now that I’m several years out of grad school, which was a very productive time for me from a writing perspective because I was constantly surrounded by discussions about writing–what it means, how to do it better, how to teach it, etc.

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If we were having coffee, you’d probably hear a fair amount of whinging from me. Life has gotten a bit complicated, what with the kiddo gone quite a bit of the summer and attempting to juggle his schedule and my own schedule plus Sam’s schedule, too. And if that weren’t enough, there’s my ever-present battle with my allergies. Despite taking a nasal spray and an antihistamine daily, I’m *still* sniffling, and the sniffling/sneezing gets my asthma going.  Despite my whinging, though, life is actually pretty swell. It’s looking up, and finally I can start seeing my way through some of the obstacles I’ve encountered over the last few years in my writing and personal lives.

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And if we were having coffee, I’d stop now and listen to you, dear hearts, you who I have missed so much recent. Welcome back–we’ll be here next week. Same Bat-time, same Bat-station.

How Being a Picky Eater Feeds My Anxiety

Confession time: I’m a picky eater.

…And I don’t just mean that there are a few thing that I don’t like or that I’m a little bit picky. I mean I’m a really, really picky eater, and there are lots of things that I just don’t like. I don’t like peas or beans or tomatoes or sushi or eggs cooked any way except scrambled. I hate steamed vegetables. Mushrooms make me shudder.

This is not new. I’ve always been a picky eater–there are photos of little baby me, spitting out mashed peas and carrots and making weird faces at tomatoes. Occasionally someone could convince me that a food I didn’t eat was something that I actually did eat (family legend has it that as a toddler I ate fried fish because I was told it was fried hot dogs)  in an effort to get me to broaden my horizons, but that was not an oft-tried or oft-successful tactic. For a long time I wouldn’t eat things that were “delicious” because my brother told me that peas were delicious, and I hated them so very much that I was convinced that the word “delicious” meant “horrible” instead.

At some point, my mother and father stopped fighting with me about what I was going to eat for dinner, because they had already raised two children, one of them also a picky eater. They also seemed to recognize that I would’ve gone hungry rather than eat something I didn’t like. I know this is true because I had an aunt who wouldn’t let us have a snack later unless we finished all the dinner on our plates. At her house, I would sometimes go hungry because I would not eat what was on my plate.

And here’s the thing…I wasn’t, and I am not, just being a brat. The truth is far more complicated, and it has had a profound affect on my life–my relationships with other people and my relationship with food, hence my relationship with my own body.

You see, certain textures of food actually make me feel ill, physically ill. Like those peas and beans I mentioned? The texture of a bite of peas or beans triggers my gag reflex. I don’t necessarily understand how or why, but that tends to make them difficult to even begin to like. So, while I hear a lot about things that are an “acquired taste,” I’ve never really known what that was like from an eating perspective. It’s pretty difficult to learn to like something that makes you feel like you just might vomit every time you take a bite.

And boy is that a load off my chest to admit…Because I’ve been made fun of for it almost all of my life, and I really and truthfully wish that my relationship with food were different. My picky eating has caused arguments and sadness and endless amounts of frustration and anxiety. Because even though my parents weren’t hard on me about how I was eating, other people in my life haven’t always quite as kind.

And you should know that here in the deepest parts of the American South, food is a way of life. There was food at church, food at my grandmother’s house, food at family reunions and backyard barbecues. There were family dinners and breakfasts and brunches. So. Many Brunches. Everyone here loves a potluck, tables piled high with casseroles and cooked vegetables and meat….And when I sat down with a plate that had a few pieces of turkey, a buttered roll, and a bit of macaroni and cheese but nothing else, there were always snarky comments and laughter. Every time we sat down together to eat, comments were made about what I was eating, about what I was not eating. And while I desperately wanted those comments to go away, I found them preferable to the kinds of embarrassment I might suffer if one of those foods actually did make me sick.

So I started to work around having to eat with other people, trying to control as much of the environment as I could. I was lucky enough to like a few basic things–chicken and burgers, french fries and chips–that could be found at most any restaurant in some shape or fashion and that were often on the pot luck table. If I couldn’t control the menu or was going to a place that might not have anything I would eat, I’d often eat a bit beforehand (not enough to be full, so that I could be polite and eat at least a small something). Alternately, I would arrange to arrive once everyone had eaten or find a reason to leave before food was served. This way, I didn’t have to deal with rude comments or nosy people. I could, instead, focus on having fun with the people I was spending time with.

I became The Girl Who Never Ate or The Girl Who Ate Like a Bird. All of this was even more darkly comic because I am a chubby girl–even at my lightest, I was still a solid size 8/10 with curves, so there were always smug looks and occasional derisive laughter with those comments about what was on my plate.

Over the years, my relationship with food, with eating, created a spiral of frustration and sadness and fear. As a teen and young adult, especially, my food issues wreaked havoc on my physical and mental health. Food became something secret. It became something I was ashamed of, a bad habit. I ate alone, and I ate too much.  I ate things that were bad for me–because the unfortunate truth was that many of the healthiest foods were the foods that created the most anxiety, the textures I disliked and dreaded the most.  I gained weight, packing on about 75 pounds in my 8 years of college/grad school. The weight gain made me feel worse about my body, worse about food and more self-conscious about eating unhealthy foods in front of other people. This level of discomfort with food and with my own body were a kind of self-perpetuating cycle, feeding my depression and anxiety disorder. I’d feel anxious about going out and eating with other people, then my self-isolation would add to my depression.

I’ve been trying, since I first understood the nature of my disordered eating (because that’s what it is, really and truthfully) to expand my palate. This is difficult because there are emotional, psychological, and physical components to my relationship to food. In addition to being aware of the texture issues I have with some foods, I know now that, at least in part part, I have been mimicking my mother, who was constantly trying to lose weight and who had a tendency to try to hide when she ate junk food. But I now I do eat a lot of foods that I would not have eaten when I was younger, and I eat with other people more often.

I recognize that I have created a situation in which food, already culturally symbolic in so many ways, is personally symbolic. Most importantly, perhaps, I have learned to be patient with myself and to ignore snarky comments from people who cannot possibly understand how and why I am being brave when I nibble a slice of tomato.