Modern Spinster Poet: Divorced, Empty Nester, Writer
Hanging Pictures

What Do I Deserve?

Still snowing

Almost buried by the snow


It’s another snowy Monday up here in the tundras of Virginia, so school is closed and the roads are slick, which means that I’m home. After a weekend of already having been home alone, I have reached my procrastination threshold. I did just hang (crooked) the picture that fell off the wall on Friday morning, and I graded enough papers on Saturday and Sunday to have put a significant dent in the pile, but I can’t bear to finish because I need a break from reading the work of 14-year-olds as I have reached my frustration limit with their willful ignorance of the comma, their adorably literal take on poetry, and their breezy familiarity with the Holocaust after doing a few hours of research. So it is time to finally sit down and think, or space out, or, as is too often the case, consider what I will eat and when.

In a sad display of where my mind travels, I already know that today I will have frozen pizza (probably the whole thing between lunch and dinner), finish the apple crumble that I made on Thursday for my book club (four women said they were coming when I planned the menu, but only one showed up), probably snack on trail mix, and maybe finish the chips and salsa (also purchased for the book club no-shows; otherwise, I would have stocked up on potato chips when the snow forecast came in). It’s probably not horrible that I think too much about what I will eat, but what bothers me is that I feel bad about it. I feel bad about eating, that somehow just the fact of planning what I will eat indicates that I am a weak person. Of course, I have to lose weight, but as I tell myself, I still shop in the regular women’s department and not in the Women’s department with all of its euphemisms for Xs, so it’s not too bad.

Why should I think that I’m not deserving of food? I am not a 15-year-old girl with an eating disorder, I am a healthy 52-year-old woman with a modicum of self-confidence in both my self and my looks; and since I wouldn’t consider wearing yoga pants in public, what’s with this perpetual disdain? Perhaps it’s because I think that I should be doing something important with every moment of my day. (I should be improving the world. I should be learning a foreign language. I should be making more money. I should be training for a marathon. I should be doing anything, everything, other than just living a life, my life). What makes a person value herself enough not to pry into her confidence?

But perhaps it’s not so dramatic a cause; perhaps it comes down to a way of breaking up the aloneness and the sameness of an ordinary life. “What will I have for lunch” is a way of breaking out of the daily struggle to come up with ways to enliven teenagers so that they do care about semi-colons and do wonder about the figurative meaning of a bagel rolling down a street. Perhaps this is my antidote to burrowing in and resigning myself to ordinary being dull as opposed to interesting. Every meal (except breakfast, don’t toy with my bagel and butter) can reveal something else about the world and can be a moment of enjoyment that the tedium does not offer. It is wrong to relegate food to the calories wasted as opposed to the flavors captured.

Still. I wonder what I can say to truly convince myself that I am not shallowly wasting thinking time.

Can I admit that I don’t generally have fun? Reading political articles and books about the Holocaust, while I choose them, don’t bring on a joyful laugh, rather they enforce the perception of the tragedy inherent in our humanity. The interlude of feasting, then, even if it is opposite the computer screen watching a documentary, gives me a moment to appreciate my life, life. It is a way to keep me balanced, just as long as I keep off the scale. It is a way, then, to be human in an experiential way and not a thoughtful way. It is being, so why begrudge myself? Maybe if I lightened up on myself, I would lighten up, too, on this nagging perception that I must be worthy every moment of every day, and lift this burden of purpose from me, and admit that I have value, regardless of what I do, and deserve to be alive—to be happy just because. 



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