Thursday, September 11, 2008

black beans, mad men, and backlash texas

here i thought i'd have so much free time this semester! hah! i had ecstatic visions of spacious weekday mornings to do yoga and meditation, piles of time to call friends and family back home, head off to school at noon for class and return for long and quiet evenings to read, blog, work out, practice strumming my guitar, study korean, experiment with new recipes and all the whole foods' treasures i lugged across the ocean in my suitcase. this beautiful life actually looked like a possibility on paper. after the first week of classes, however, it was clear that it had been a case of wishful thinking. sad to say, i may become a once-a-week blogger.

due to the change in plan, i have had to prioritize. difficult for a gemini rising, but being the cancer sun that i am, cooking landed in the front seat. so, two weeks ago, i purchased a rice cooker and have made brown rice every few days that seems to go fantastically with pretty much anything else i create. i steam or bake fish regularly and make gorgeous salads with a colorful array of organic veggies from EMART! i baked banana bread that was almost vegan, except for the egg.
being that i could eat black beans and salsa every day, neither of which can be found in korea, i packed my suitcase full. well, yes salsa can be found, but it's imported from belgium and has a frightening consistency, like hair gel. since returning to korea, i have learned to make black beans from scratch. a long soak and lots of cumin seem to be the secret. it's breakfast burritos every morning and i'm the happiest camper!

i can't believe it took a year of living abroad to figure out how much it would contribute to my sense of well being and health to be able to cook nutritious meals for myself. so, quite a bit of my free time right now is devoted to planning and preparing my daily epicurean experiences! reading michael pollan's book, "in defense of food," over the summer, inspired me to revamp my eating habits and my relationship with food while in korea. berkeley poses no problem in this regard, but here the task can feel daunting.

other than cooking, i've been focused on doing at least some yoga every day and practicing chords on the guitar. i find that playing music, even in the simplest way, is deeply nourishing and fun! i used to play the piano when i was young. or shall i say, i was forced to play the piano. i don't really ever remember enjoying my lessons. i always wanted to be somewhere else...outside climbing trees, riding bikes, playing volleyball against the side of the house, reading in my room, working on my "novel!" once my mother organized a piano recital to take place in our home. i had to wear a long, flowing, yellow gown with not a single long, golden lock of hair out of place. i vividly recall the sense of dread. i think i also had punch-pouring duties.

sometimes when i am watching the current television series, "mad men," the time period feels strangely familiar, even though it takes place during the tail end of the 50's and early 60's (before the revolution), and i grew up in the late 70's/early 80's. this may have something to do with the fact that we lived in backlash texas during the reagan years and attended bible studies and fundamentalist revival churches in people's homes at the ends of long dirt roads. deep in the heart of texas, a girl with long blonde hair and nice dresses, piano playing fingers, and the ability to speak in tongues were a sure combo for success. as often as i could, i bolted out of the house in my bare feet, a ratty, old t-shirt and shorts and ran wild in the woods till dark. those barefoot times are the most vivid of childhood memories that i have where i felt a true connection to who i really was, underneath the long flowing garb, perfectly combed long hair, one too many hallelujahs, and a knot in my stomach over the fact that i couldn't speak in tongues.

a funny thing happened the other day that led me down this particular memory lane. i caught site of my reflection in a store window and a voice in my head exclaimed, "damn! your hair is so SHORT! it's so you. and this is who you've always been."

it was one of those moments of deep recognition.

and i saw then and there how over 25 years of long, blonde hair had surely done a number on me. way too much projection and biblical "hair is a woman's beauty" bibble babble bull. way too much weight to be carrying around. and i felt so grateful for that day about 4 years back when i marched into the hair salon and said "cut it all off." and she did.

recently, i took these photos of a pond on campus with the first few lotus blossoms of the never ceases to amaze me, the vibrant aliveness that can manifest itself from the mud.

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