Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Richness of self

I was a Christmas orphan this year.

I'm not going to lie - at first I was pretty bummed about it.  Not that you'd have realised it, seeing me anywhere in public, though.  During my last work shift, on December 23 (Christmas Eve Eve, for those in the know) I was acting as cheerful as you can get without actually glowing. People just kept coming in and everyone could see we'd have to stay later than normal and my buddy Pepe was tired and misanthropic and we all just wanted to go home already.  So in retaliation against the wave of Grinch-like ennui sweeping over us all, I did my best to be as happy as possible - smiling even wider than normal; singing along to the radio; joking and laughing with customers, cooks, runners and all.

And I kept it up even after the place  was closed and empty and the cooks had gone home and it was just the last FOHers cleaning up.  The radio was off, so I started singing all those beautiful ancient Christmas hymns that I still love so much, even though it's been years since I ascribed to the belief.  The sanctity of the music itself, one note after another in precisely the same way it's been done for hundreds of years, is enough for me.  I sang Dominatus Ex Parentis (although I had to switch to English because I don't know the whole thing in Latin), and Un Flambeau, Jeannette, Isabelle and the Coventry Carol and Lo, How A Rose.  And some more, but it was the last one that got me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Experimenting with gluten

So I came to the conclusion quite some time ago (nearly two years, I guess), that gluten and I do not agree.  I'd just completed a Whole30* - essentially 30 solid days of eating super clean, paleo-style: no dairy, no grains, no sugar, no alcohol, no processed foods, etc.  And it made me feel super incredible and ready to take on the world and glowing and all that good stuff, which is certainly to be noted, but less interesting to me than my reactions to consuming the disallowed foods after that month was over.

Dairy is iffy.  Conventional, uncultured milk makes me kind of mucus-y (I'm sorry for that image) and my throat and the back of my mouth get itchy little raised bumps.  Organic milk has the same effect, with slightly less severity, although it was just kind of irritating to start with.  Raw milk is even better.  Raw kefir has none of the issues whatsoever and it's a good portion of what I consume these days. Cream seems to have no negative effects (although to be fair I don't take it by the glass as I did milk).  And I can eat cheese until the cows come home (dairy metaphors ftw!).

Alcohol doesn't give me any specific trouble, but I'm now a very cheap date.  Moving on.

Processed foods leave me feeling sick to my stomach pretty instantly, followed by being both weighed down and a little bit jittery.  Still, though, any negative effects are relatively minor and simply annoying, rather that actually disrupting my day.

And now we get to wheat.  It's close to inevitable that I consume some - I'm a baker, for Pete's sake - but I try to really limit it.  On the occasions that I do have something made with flour, I notice the same series of events every time: my stomach poofs up within about 2 minutes of consumption, my mood gets more prone to grumpiness and overemotionality for several hours and my digestion is...altered.  These effects are obviously nowhere near life-threatening, but they're more significant than those experienced from the other "bad" foods and definitely annoying enough for me to avoid wheat on most occasions, unless the item is particularly delicious (PIE) and the surroundings festive and friend-filled enough to assist in warding off the grumpiness.

Well.  The other day I threw an extremely last-minute soup party.  For the uninitiated, a soup party is a party...with soup.  Sour Chicken in a Pot with Cabbage from How To Cook Everything, if you're wondering, which is my standby because it's incrediballs.  And, because it was so last-minute, not a lot of people were able to attend.  It ended up being my parents, Babysis, my dad's guitar and the lovely Julia and this one guy she hangs out with a lot**.  And they brought Things with them, even though they totally did not have to.  And the Things included a loaf of sourdough bread, which I have not had in a Very.  Long.  Time.  But the evening was so full of singing and soup and mochi that Babysis made that I forgot to have any.

So that was two days ago.  Yesterday, I looked at the bread.  And the bread looked back at me.  And in a little bread voice, it said "Nelly, I am totally fermented because that's what sourdough is!  You and I could be so good together!"  And I thought for a second or two, and I said "Ok, bread.  You're on."  And then I realized that my cats were looking at me funny and so I stopped having conversations with my food.

I had three meals yesterday.  Each one was a bowl of leftover soup (no seriously you guys don't understand it's the best soup) and a slice of delicious spongy crusty bubbly sourdough bread, slightly smaller than the size of my hand.  And for dessert after dinner I also had one and a half very small slices of pound cake, also made by Babysis.  Could have thrown things off a little, but seriously they were not very big.  More gluten than I'd had in one day in a long while, but also more sustained consumption, which was what I was really interested in.

The immediate effects showed up, as I'd expected.  Belly poof didn't seem quite as extreme as it can be, but it was still noticeable, at least to me.  And in my Systema class, we had two solid hours of hardcore work with the fake guns - dropping out of the line of fire and simultaneously drawing a bead on the shooter, taking down someone who has a gun when you don't, and the like, which are mentally difficult enough.  But we started with a simple push drill: two people stand fairly close, and one of them has a gun and is pushing the other with the muzzle in various places - stomach, chest, face - and it's the job of the other partner to just move out of the line of fire as efficiently as possible.  And then you go the same drill with the gun-less partner on their knees.  Even with a fake gun, it's enough to shake you deeply, and I wonder if I was a little more affected because of this gluten experiment.  There are other possible reasons, though, about which I'm composing a long and dedicated post.

But yeah.  So far, nothing out of the ordinary.  Ended the day with Tam, the fuzz-butt, curled up in my arms like a warm, purring teddy bear, which is objectively one of the best ways to end any day.  So that was good.

And then I woke up this morning.  About 8-o-clock, not too late or out of the ordinary for a vacation.  And I was SO FREAKING HUNGRY.  It was bizarre.  Normally, when I get hungry, it's just kind of like my stomach saying "hey, I could stand to have a little something but you know don't go out of your way or anything."  But this was different.  It was painful, so strong I confused it with nausea at first.  I was so hungry I was angry - at my stomach for giving me this crazy pain, at the rational part of my brain for suggesting that hey guys this really isn't normal, howzabout we have a cuppa like normal and see how we feel at regular breakfast time? and at the lamp for looking at me the wrong way...etc etc.  It was a little scary.

So yeah.  That was weird.  And it seems to suggest that while intermittent consumption of floury things can be worth it, depending on what they are, any kind of regular intake is super not good for me.  Meh.  I'd like to experiment more with making my own sourdough and soaking the grains and trying different flours, but until I've got the equipment and time to try that, it's probably best to avoid it.

Anyone else have that creepy hangry feeling after eating dirty?


I can't get the Blogger app to work right and my damn laptop power cord just gave up the ghost, so here are the links that are supposed to be included:


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Project Fear Less: Sing on the Internet

Hi there, internet.

I missed you too.  Exams and work and stress and drama and gahhhh.  But I'm still alive.  And now I'm back with a vengeance.  Or something like that.

So there are videos of me on the internet.  Finn, if you're reading this, no, not that kind.  For shame, boy.  No...there are just a few, mostly documenting some stuff I did at my old school, like help my buddy Myles out with an ad for his baby, Terrier Productions (yes, I was a blonde once):

...or that one time my friends and I danced in a talent show and did not win but had a ton of fun:

But never, until now (to my knowledge, at least), was there a record of my voice on the internet.