butternut squash soup
February 28, 2014, 2:31 pm
Filed under: Mental Illness, Society | Tags: , , , , , ,

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Maybe it ruins the atmosphere here to post something like this, but I made this soup pictured (Adzuki Bean Butternut Squash Soup With Cilantro Drizzle) over the course of two days: chopping onions and garlic one day and the squash and cilantro the next day. I’m posting it because I’d like to save my adaptations to the recipe, which I think are smart and effective in making a yummy soup without one of the called-for ingredients. I avoid tomatoes, and the recipe calls for five canned tomatoes.

And maybe I’d like to just do whatever I want here. I dislike rules and narrow paths.

Cooking has become an absolute chore since coming home from the hospital seventeen days ago after what looked like a “psychotic episode.” But cooking seems necessary to lower the grocery bill–and I’m especially encouraged to eat healthy since I’ve been sick with a cold for the second time recently when I’m used to never getting sick when I regularly cook.

Even though I enjoy cooking less lately, I still enjoy eating something I have made because, unlike frozen meals and eating out, my meals are made with love and care. I see it as simply a more fitting, trustworthy meal. I prefer using some organic and locally grown ingredients, but I’m not sure I will be able to sustain this effort as it seems I will have to pay some hospital bills.

I am looking to God on the bill thing because I really don’t want to pay.

Really I just want to be free of consequences for my actions, which were walking outside naked and shoeless and standing in front of cars on the highway. For some reason, I don’t see the frost bite on my toes as a consequence, but a reward. I thought I was going to get hit by a car and die, and at one point raped, but all I got was frostbite. I haven’t gotten around to seeing the medical bills the same way. An impersonal world’s forced solution to my condition and I have to pay for it–that’s how I see it. The only reason people do messed up things is because they believe in the world and its unquestioned ways instead of themselves. I think I was being separatist (like the culture I live in) when I did what I did. Still making sense of things.

Anyway, here’s a bit about the recipe I’d like to take note of:

See 101 cookbooks for the recipe. I followed all the directions, but added three and a half extra cups of butternut squash, which was the amount the squash I had yielded, to make up for the five canned tomatoes. I also added lemon juice to the soup and to the cilantro drizzle, to which I also added a little ume plum vinegar instead of more salt and additional olive oil because too much oil upsets my stomach. I also subbed a heaping teaspoon of powdered chipotle pepper and more to taste for the dried chipotle peppers called for. One cup of dried aduki beans plus a little more yielded about four cups cooked beans. I started with half the salt called for and added more later, along with a portion of a bouillon cube for more flavor.

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Nobody’s Home

I read other blogs sometimes that are freshly pressed, but my favorite are food blogs. New recipes show me how to make boring veggies delicious: Kale with cashew sauce replaces kale stewed with onions and garlic. every. single. time.

Even as I read other blogs, and write on mine, I always feel like I’m watching a performance. Sometimes I wonder, What am I doing making use of blogs and blogging when I don’t really feel a part of this “production”?

Most wordly things that people end up discussing on blogs are things I don’t believe are as valid as people let on: jobs, marriages, friendships, parenting–not when people are expected to hide and be ashamed of so much.

I think that’s why I like food, because it’s  something naked and natural that we all do, and that is still unshameful. Not true with staring, having food in your teeth, having a sexually transmitted disease, being unmarried over 30–which are considered embarassing.

When I had my first psychotic episode I wanted to tell people at work about it. Not telling made me feel like I was living in a different world from everyone else. I was new to mental illness, and I sensed it was one of those things I wasn’t supposed to mention. Also, I worried I’d embarass my family.

Another unmentionable thing about me is that I have a sexually transmitted disease (herpes). Sometimes this, and a lot of other things make me feel gross and unacceptable, considering what I’ve learned is appropriate discussion.

For a long time I was extremely ashamed of liking white guys. Once when I was a high school student I turned down a chance to go back to the room of a college guy (who happened to be black) at a party. He said, “What you like white guys?” That was the second time something like that happened to me.

I’ve also been ashamed of not having a real career, like writer, even though my experience explains why it’s been so hard. It’s like my story–how I got herpes, how it was liking white boy after white boy as a little girl, and not telling anyone–doesn’t matter.

Some days I start to wonder what I have to offer a world where stories don’t matter, only appearances. When we avoid talking about so much, what we have left is more like death than life.

When we hide so much we have no real knowing, or connection between us, something key for marriage or any other relationship.

We can have no real guiding or parenting others when people don’t know their story–what kind of guidance they’ve needed, simply because our stories are considered too shameful to face. No one is really “working,” or present when he is avoiding his greatest struggles, which are only apparent in our stories.

I hope my memoir and writing can help people feel more at home in this world, more like all of who they are matters, nothing about them is so bad they can’t be loved. And I hope it will help me find my place. I’ve always wanted to be understood, and that’s been my biggest challenge in a world where so much is considered too ugly to mention.