small peace.

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Usually the process of writing starts when I see that I’ve not watered my plants enough, or when a friend drops something in my lap that says, “Here! Struggle with this alongside me!”

I wake up to it all the time.

Mostly, this bright morning sun. I am not given the option to sleep late here, because when the sun is up and bright, I feel as though I am resisting its presence.

I also wake up to a dull ache that sometimes feels like loneliness. Oh, I feel it in my bones quite often. The embrace of another warm body and someone to make breakfast for.

Then there are the wars for place and history and religion.

The senseless acts of human beings just being terrible to one another.

I know, I know. It’s too much to dive into all of that. I have always carried a weight for the world, you see?

My favorite author (read: spiritual guide) wrote a little piece this week on the things I’ve been waking up to.
She ended it by saying this,

“There are many forms of thirst, many kinds of water.”

FeedersFromBirdFeederPlans_480x360

I don’t know what to do.

And maybe that’s the best place to start.

Many mornings, I sit up and plant my feet on these wooden floors.

I can hear my ankles crack a bit, and I breathe in and out. Deep, exaggerated breaths. Like the ones I used to do in therapy when I didn’t know why or what.

There is a lot I wish I could believe. That maybe there will be a shift when things get bad enough. Or we will all be taught how to keep living in this world with all that pain and gnashing of teeth.

I believe in a truth that this world is all we have. I believe that in our journey to be perfect and to have perfect things, we have exhausted our imaginations and our resources.

It’s easy to let it overwhelm.

But you do what we all do and keep going.

It’s easier to quench the thirst of a few than a few thousand, but if enough people decide to stop burning things to the ground, then we might have a chance to build something.

I guess, this piece is a little hard for me to write. For one, I don’t like to be super opinionated. I have many opinions and it’s okay to be opinionated. I also choose safety of space more than any opinion that I have. Because to be honest, mine have changed so much over the years, so I take them as I do a good book or a song. Rich and meaningful in certain seasons, but maybe shift into something else in another.

A few days ago I bought a bird feeder and put it on the clothesline outside my apartment.

It feels good to feed the smallest of things. Especially the ones that sing their songs so loud when the sun comes up.

That makes sense to me more than anything right now.

So, I start small feeding tiny things.

And then, I see that the world keeps moving.
This is how we put out fires within ourselves.
This is how we create small kinds of peace.

‘there are many forms of thirst, many kinds of water.’

 

Gumbo Therapy

Food, Story

I work long hours on my feet. Most of the world does, I guess you could say. We work hard and it’s often back breaking, thankless work.

When I was offered the chance to submit my gumbo in Eat: Oyster Bar’s annual gumbo cook-off representing Red Hills Market, I was beyond stoked. I really don’t get to do that much cooking where I work. I act as a manager (which I sometimes feel is a bullsh*t position.) A lot rides on you to make sure everyone is doing their job and being sweet and get pounded on when something goes wrong.

But every now and then, I get to cook something delicious for a lot of people and it thrills me to the point where I have butterflies in my belly.

Between watching this week’s episode of Treme and prepping for the gumbo cook off, I’ve been an emotional wreck.

Gumbo is personal to me. It’s personal to the people I came from and when I make it, I’m usually working through something. (When are we not, really?) It can, and has always been, an all-day process if done right. I am quite sure gumbo derived from people using whatever they had to make something delicious for the masses.

But these days, folks go all over the place with gumbo. It’s a story. It’s memory and smell and an entire region mixed into one pot. While grabbing huge amounts of veggies and such at the store, the lady at the check out counter asked, “You must work at a restaurant or somethin’, uh?” I say, “Well, sort of.”

She asked what I was making. I told her gumbo and she furled her eyebrows, “Hrm…can’t say I’d like it because I don’t care for seafood much..”

“Ah..” I say, “..well my gumbo doesn’t use seafood — I think you’d dig it!”

She responded, “That’ll be 38.45 — you have your rewards card?”

Not all conversations end ultra inspirational.

I called this piece “Gumbo Therapy” because there are lots of things involved. Music. A few spirits of choice. Usually Son House, Mississippi Fred, Professor Longhair and I’ll soften it up with Andrew Bird and Bon Iver and add some harder aspects with Hatebreed and throw in some Lupe Fiasco and Common for added affect.

Beer is always good to have on hand when making roux.

The roux is my guide. My base. My flavor. All of these things are put in at each given time and ordered just as I need it. There is good structure in gumbo, but also there is space to add and change.

I can never eat gumbo the day I cook it. By tasting it over and over again, its flavor and smell overwhelms me and the walls of our tiny apartment. Gumbo tastes best a day or two after you cook it anyways.

So today will go as it has many times before. I will stir roux and chop and stir while imagining where this dish has been.

(And where it might take me next.)