Breakfast As Other People

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Fry Havoc was started with a deep love from which sprung shallow aspirations. I wanted Fry Havoc to be a “resource”, a “platform” –  anything but a blog. Blogs are personal, often vulnerable. We expect women and femmes to perform that as the default setting of their lives, and distrust that vulnerability applied to creative expression.

I didn’t want to be one of those girls. I wanted to be an expert in my field. I wanted to be called in whenever some new trend in food happens and then get to be all “ah, ah, you see, arroz chaufa’s origins can be traced to the migration of Chinese laborers to Spanish colonies in Latin America, and while I’m here, I’d love to talk about how Kentucky Fried Chicken is trying to create a sort of pan-Southern culinary identity”.

That is not a viable career path; that’s a hallucination I might have if I was being tortured to death by gynoids. No one can have that job, and if anyone could, it shouldn’t be me (for quite a few reasons).

I’m reading Salt: A World History and all the reviews have described it as this invaluable historical resource; to me it reads like a bunch of catty aristocrats sniping at each other about how fish guts are so last season. I am not so cool or smart or knowledgable that I should be above writing about food that gives me feelings. And a lot of it does. Some of those feelings are hard to quantify in ways that allow me to detach myself from what stimulates the feeling.

The heyday of the personal essay trained a crop of writers to play at vulnerability for money and audience – I can spill my guts into a room covered in tarps, put them back inside me in generally the correct orientation, pack the tarps and leave without making eye contact with anyone who watched.

Intersectionality can be a useful mathematical shorthand – outlets aren’t interested in stories about trans women whose severe mental illness (which is totally unrelated to their trans identity) alienates their long-suffering partners from them, so instead I talk about transphobia and fatphobia and how a bad holiday with a partner’s family a year and a half ago led to the unavoidable demise of all my relationships.

Egad, my girlfriend broke up with me because my tendency to not say what’s wrong until I explode with desperation makes it difficult for her to fit our relationship in the context of her marriage. You’ll pay for this, Captain Planet! 

I wouldn’t say I typically eat my feelings – mostly because, as a fat woman who runs a food blog, that would actually be a good thing, and I am chronically averse to anything that would benefit me. Like a lot of people who’ve worked in the food industry, I have complicated feelings about food that are somewhat divorced from concepts of “do I enjoy eating this”.

But I am trying to eat more food “for the feeling”, as it were, to force myself to become familiar with the idea of vulnerability that doesn’t pay off for some article that might get shared on the feminist blogosphere, and also because I run a food blog and I need to stop pretending that’s not what this is.

Sometimes for breakfast I have yogurt, fresh fruit, and cereal – usually the store brand equivalent of Grape-Nuts or Raisin Bran. I don’t particularly like it.  But it’s healthy. At least, I feel healthy when I eat it.

It was a healthier time. I was still relatively fresh to California. I was dating an athlete who worked at the library, whose love for baking and 50’s aesthetic had an irrevocable impact on my style and hobbies. I pretended to be a vegetarian to impress her, which didn’t work, because being an emotional shut-in doesn’t mean your behaviors are unobservable, just that their motives are unverifiable.

I don’t actively try to emulate other people – I just don’t like being myself, and so the mannerisms, habits, and styles of everyone around me seems like a come up. That breeds a particular dynamic of toxic imposterism, one where I take things I like from people around me but offer nothing in return, because I don’t know what there is I can offer.

Such to say: Even though I didn’t really like mixing blueberries and Grape-Nuts into yogurt for breakfast, I took to it immediately after it was introduced to me by my then-partner, because I looked up to her, and aspired to have the qualities I saw in her, namely completeness.

We’d eat this in the morning before she had work. I’d look out from her dining room onto the sprawling, dawn-lit hills and imagine that one day, I would sit out on the front yard of a house like hers (that we’d share with our kids and other partners) and play my guitar and sip some homemade lemonade and feel whole and fulfilled in the ways I saw her as such.

The problem, of course, with treating your partners as aspirations is that it means you’re never quite equals, in the emotional sense. You put them on a pedestal, you listen to the songs they like and eat your breakfast like they do, but you’re only putting things in, not taking things out, and so all these positive traits you’re internalizing come into contact with your own self-loathing and distrust.

So eventually you chop down the pedestal, and these waking gods you’ve made look back at you and see that adoring eagerness replaced with empty, listless resentment.

I’m in a sense godless – I have chopped down enough pedestals that I am functionally incapable of social interaction outside of organizing and watching pro wrestling at the flea market. My youth has faded. My mind is spent, my body is broken, I can no longer build shrines to my escapism.

But I can eat yogurt with cereal mixed in – and I have, for the last week of sleeping on my friend’s couch, while listening to Pete Seeger’s “Solidarity Forever” on repeat and grimly hoping the various crises, tragedies, and scandals afflicting the left will afford me enough political work to distract myself from the numbing terror of accepting I’ll have to just stop blocking people it doesn’t work out with and learn to ask for feedback on how I could’ve been a better, more accountable friend and partner.

I have no idea where putting cereal in yogurt comes from, or what it says about us as a society, except that our cultural belief that eating the same thing every day for breakfast is normal but eating the same thing for dinner is psychosis exemplifies the “lying in the gutter, reaching for the stars” attitude typical of American millionaire-in-the-making class delusion.

I just know it gives me feelings – sadness, bitterness, the relief of forgiveness. Which is, I suppose, a start towards fully automated luxury space vulnerability.

I’m sorry I haven’t been updating much. I’m gonna try to be less critical about the content I wanna feature on here.

Author: Jetta Rae

Founder of Fry Havoc. Can be found on twitter at @jetta_rae

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