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Posts Tagged ‘status’

new age kitchen

I avoid the kitchen during its busy peak. It is not just the crowd, chaos and confusions as many try to cook often gourmet meals. It is not just that i feel overwhelmed as people gather in groups, claiming the space, sharing a meal. It is one place where i have met others on my visits before, sat down and chatted over what we ate.

The kitchen brings up feelings in me that i do not want to admit, challenges to who i am or was that are difficult to process. It it not just┬ámy judgement as i look at the sink and the dishes left behind, of at the dishrack piled so high that it is hard to balance one more cup, but still someone finds a way – rather than put away what is there. I shut my mouth, clean sometimes and know that there are others who do the same. And i try to put my judgements to sleep, but at times they still come through. It is nt my job, not my problem i know, let it be i say to myself, not worth getting put out by, but then i think of the kitchens i have had to clean so i try to do my part – but out of love and not resentment. I take a pause, and ask myself, how many symbolic unwashed dishes i have i left behind, letting other tidy up my mess.

It is not just the bags left behind, full of food rotting in the fridge or on the shelves – though that comes closer to my heart – or is it my ego. I think not of starving children in africa as i look at the waste, but of myself, peering around and desiring what is there. I look at the bags, from whole foods, trader joes, the food co-op, full of organic produce, quality sauces and oils, wholesome grains and the latest trends and the jealousy monster rises inside. I want what they have, and i look at my own bag, simple foods which i eat, rice, lentils, some veggies and more – not all organic which is the best that i can do. I look into the free food bin – for the pickings that are there, and feel myself on the margins of a life i once wanted, and maybe still do. I feel my poverty as i open a can of non-organic tomatoes, and the food that i have, and the way that i travel, cannot carry so much on my back, and definitely no liquids. And my self perception changes too – from that as healthy foodie to one who does not eat that well at all.

For around me are no longer the meals of ramen noodles, pasta and peanut butter that i see in the hostels, but of stir fries with sauces and nuts galore, the latest grains, juicing and raw food delights and the pasta is fresh and stuffed served with an organic pesto and fancy mushrooms and more. And i listen in to the merits of diet, raw foods the only way, the best oils to cook with and for health, and how many nuts and of what type you should have each day. I listen to the talk of herbs and cooking and more i see and feel the judgements upon me. Or is it merely that i judge myself. As i listen in and look around, feeling on the margins outside, i see some glances over to me, i know that some judgement is there – but i notice it and feel it hard because of the judgements i make. And how many times have i judged others by the food they usually eat – the fast food product, processed food and more. And here, it slams in my face the judgements i have made, and still, though less often and extremely do, but i’m the one who eats poorly here and cannot beef up my ego by comparison, and here i notice what i do not have.

And i should not care, be content with what i have, and that i have food to eat. And decent food to. And i see how it has been part of my identity as it is for them and the mirror shines back to me. There are others i know, who eat like me, who eat simply and shop in a regular store, and some who have never cooked the food whose aromas swirl around. Generally i am content when i sit down to my simple meals eating what is available to me – it is in comparison, when i see that which is out of reach, that the envy reappears. And the voice inside still cries, wholesome, healthy, real food that is grown and cooked with love is should be for all, not for the privileged few. And for so many it is out of reach. And i smell the aromas that waft around, and look over and see another who eats regular canned soup. And i talk and share with some others, and see the joy that is here.

But it makes me think of the changes in my life, and how far i am from the person i once imagined myself to be, and how much of that person i still am. And how i struggle with this image inside. At times as i hear how proper it is to eat a certain way, necessary for health and enlightenment and of the others who just dont know, i think of the times i have been grateful for food to eat. I listen to the raw food diet, and think here it is fine, but what about in colder climes, in areas without abundance of food the whole year round – and i think of some of the farms i was on a few years ago, in the spring, before the crop had come due, and of the veggies that had been put away the year before, carrots and beets and potatoes now limp, as you waited for spring, and i thought of my arrival in alaska that week before i got paid, camping in the damp cold trying to keep warm, and craving calories in any way – living on peanut butter, bread and carrots. And camping on the oregon coast, or living in the sierras, so far from a store that had real veggies and you ate what was there, and were thankful for that. And i think of all the places where you need to eat fish or meat if you ate a local diet, and the places where good food cannot be found. And people around the world who eat rice and beans or corn and beans every day. And the places where people are thankful for a belly full of food. And i become self-righteous in another way – internally proclaiming opinions in the same intensity as the others i hear and feel. So have i really let go, or do the thoughts around swirl uncomfortably inside like the stomach after a heavy meal?

I listen to the talk of fasting, and the different types of fasts there are- – but there is a difference i think of going hungry when the choice is yours and you know where the next meal will come from, and the hunger of uncertainty and not knowing.

And in the kitchen i question my beliefs and the image of who i am. I once was like that i say to myself, in my early veggie days. But when my belly is full and there is food around, and a choice in that i still identify myself by what i eat, and yes, i must admit look down on those who fill their bellies of candy, and soda and fast food and more. For food is an issue with me and the kitchen brings it home. for here, i am do not maintain my sense of superiority by the food i eat. I know to be thankful for what is provided, but i am reminded that i have truly not let go. And say grace before my meal. As Jesus once said it is not what goes into your mouth that is important, but what comes out.

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My status has shifted – i am no longer the “rich gringa” i appeared to be in Central America – seen as wealthier than i was, assumptions made about me because of the colour of my hair and skin and the fact that i was carrying a backpack. nothing about my appearance has changed, but i know that the assumptions made here are far different. Is she a traveller, or more likely as one of the homeless carrying a bag, and my monetary poverty reveals itself in worn clothes and outdated glasses and is apparent to all. I am no longer a foreign traveller who brings in currency, but a traveller of a different sort, a wanderer, who intrigues some and is unwelcome by others. And while i should be immune to outside perceptions i am not. Rather than being approached by all selling their wares, i am avoided by those passing out samples in the malls.

But i am the same person, or am i? How to my thoughts about myself change in space, in relation to others? And if they do change, am i the same? And which one of me is real?
And with my status shift from rich to poor, my relation does change. I am on the outside looking in – but now that i think about it, that is something that was true all along, just what the outside and the inside are differs. Away, i was a visitor, looking onto another culture, through foreign eyes, and did feel outside, but thought to myself that is expected, i am not really part of this place. And i looked on from a privileged position, enjoying experiences goods and services that were unavailable to so many.

But on my journey, i felt the pain of being an outsider at times, walking alone through a square or market – and the variation of the quality of the looks was so similar – a curiosity, a true welcome, the what will she give us, hostility or just plain old indifference. And there, as with here, i did not usually fit with the hostel crowd – yes, at times i met some interesting people and joined right in, as i had a few places here. And perhaps it was the pain of being on the outside that i took with my on my journey, and that is the one souvenir that i took back home. For that status has not shifted – just changed its flavour in a multitude of ways.

But here, i feel that i should be “home” though it is not the coast where i was born or the country where i grew up. And here i feel poor, looking on at the life of others,unable to partake of much – either as a tourist or as one who lives. And it is a country where many are poor and are judged for it – but was it really any different there – but there poverty does not seem to be a personal failing.

Here i watch from the outside, feeling that i should be able to take part. I was going to write that i wanted to join in but could not, but as i write i realize that in many ways i do not – either that or i have been outside for so long that i feel that i cannot. The “mainstream” life has become as foreign to me as the village life away was. Except that i was once a part of it, and i think that is where the difference is. I feel that i should belong.

There i felt like a fraud, for i never felt wealthy, and maybe poverty was something i clung to. And now i can better understand the lives of those who have, but do not, cannot, share all. I remember sitting at a table on a terrace, drinking a coffee, a simple coffee with milk, and feeling sad, and then getting annoyed at all who passed by, selling ways, wanting from me, annoyed that i could not just be for a moment, that i took this moment and could not be at peace.

For i knew (or believed) it to be temporary, the being able to live “the good life” would not last for long – and even then i did not live it good. How many times did i deny myself an experience or something, a good, because it was too expensive, when by comparison to what i spend her to exist it was cheap – not merely diversions that entertain for a moment and then leave you empty or things like tastier food that do not last but clothes that you could take with you. And while i did that there, not spend 1/2 to 2/3rd of what i spend in a single night here for a private room or a comfortable place when i needed one. And in that way maybe my status, at least as felt inside has not changed for again that i something that i have done.

For here i am still visible, do not blend in, or do i – did i in santa cruz. There my identity shifted but not inside. I am often invisible – but now i am in a city and do not stand out – something i had wished for when i was away. But here in small towns, when walking where few do go, i too am visible am noticed.

And in what other ways has my status shifted, and what status do i cling to that no longer is real or really does not make a difference. For status by its definition is relative, relative to what is around, and should i really care. Can i love all that are around, not classify and judge and not feel the judgements upon me. For as i write this i see so much more that the differences are subtle, and in what i thought was a large shift, i have not moved much at all.

When first noticed that i was white, went to being a tall woman and now am back to being short. I have aged, and at the hostels am an older woman, though i remember my time on the oregon coast and even in monterey where i felt young. In the tenderloin i felt well balanced mentally and still linked to “society at large’ where often i don’t , and i notice the difference the most in the well to do suburbs. Here in this neighborhood, i feel well dressed and neat and tidy, but when i go elsewhere, where all wear more expensive, well-fitting new clothes and the women have coiffed hair and wear makeup i feel unkept – so what is outside appearance anyways, And do i look at others the same way?

If i am to feel the energy of a place, then i feel that swirls around. But can i look at all and feel all without judgement and comparison – be one with both all that is around and with my higher self. On the one hand status is an illusion, nothing more than a creation of our minds, both individual and collective, but on the other hand it can feel so real. I think about many of the poor communities, and people on my journeys, i think of some of the maya, but others, who were materially poor but dignified, and seemed to possess a richness inside. And i think about many of the notions we define as real, and how they are just illusions.

Status is but an illusion, one that claims us so. To look at its other side – it is shifting, temporary, changing, and reminds us that nothing is permanent, it reminds us that all is one and intertwined for it can only exist in relation, and it reminds us that so much of what seems real is not, and also that what cannot be seen can be real.

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