I’m not a religious person. I grew up with a scientific father and a lapsed Catholic for a mom. When I was little I asked her why we didn’t go to church. Her reply was “I’ve had enough religion for the whole family!” I did go to Catholic mass with my grandparents twice a year and observed their curious rituals from a distance, especially after I was not allowed to eat “the cracker” everyone else got (I was just a child and didn’t know there was a higher meaning to what people were doing at the altar).
The closest I ever got to spiritual was when I was out in nature. In high school (painful, hellish new-kid style), I would escape through cross-country skiing or snowshoeing away in thick snow to places only visited by small furry animals. The crunch of the snow under me, the heat of my breath crusting ice on my scarf, the open blue sky…. that’s where I met with the universe and cried soft tears about life. Summers were spent trudging through remote bogs and falling in them up to my chest in peet moss. Me and my blazing fast brandy-colored dog running together, getting wet and muddy… sometimes my sister would join me, but I preferred solitude + dog.
In December when I got the idea to start the school lunch project, it was an accidental whim that came out of solitary brainstorming sessions on my personal goals for 2010. I told my husband and he said forget it because we are busy and tired in our usual lives. I think about that moment when I thought, “He is right, we have so much going on…silly idea.” …but I couldn’t let it go…
I didn’t do the project for me. I did it for my students, but actually the project has changed my life, my relationship with food, and my relationship with the world. But the best part of the project for me is that I have met so many people who take my life to a new place. I keep thinking, “What if I had never done the project?” I transport myself back to that moment because it’s so easy to remember. I scream at myself, “Do it!” I should know I don’t have to send that message back in time. Part of me thinks I’m going to wake up and it will be December 2009 and I’ll get that choice again… I have to keep telling that person, “Go for it!”
The anonymity has made it easy for compartmentalizing my life. That’s why I think that whatever happens as Mrs. Q is a fantasy…because how could it be true for the real me? When Mrs. Q gets speaking invitations it marries all the parts of my life.
I spoke on a panel at BlogHer Food this past weekend and last month I was at Transform 2010 (I never blogged about my experience at Mayo because it was utterly indescribable with words). Both of these ephemeral meetings were soul enriching and just plain lovely. For me they have been the equivalent of church-style revival meetings: passion, issues, laughter, tears and tons and tons of talking and talking… In Rochester at Transform we talked about food = health and in San Francisco at BlogHer Food we talked about food = life. Every single minute added value to my life in a small or a big way. The discussion of food unite us all. Bloggers I chatted with in person at BlogHer Food:
What’s Cooking – A chef working inside schools to get salad bars going and outside to teach kids to cook, now a dear friend.
Lettuce Eat Kale – A scrappy yet zen food journalist of the best sort: friendly, kind, and wearing her shoes out to bring you the freshest news.
Eating Rules – Funny, sweet irreverent journalist dude who has amazing ideas (check out his #unprocessed challenge)
Dianasaur Dishes – (fellow panelist) Teaching low income families to cook with basic ingredients
What’s for dinner mom? – (fellow panelist) She has a micro-farm in Alaska, need I say more?
Hunter Angler Gardener Cook – Hilarious guy who shares some Midwestern similarities with me even though he’s from New Jersey!
Novel Eats – A thinker and vegan home chef.
Eat Local Challenge – Hip to food politics
Educated Palate – Chatted about school lunch reform
Ghost Town Farm – Urban farmer!
Naomi Starkman from Civil Eats – Food activist journalist with a wealth of information regarding food policy issues
Good Food Kristin – Fighting the good fight in food politics
Food Blogga – Sweet, fun and insightful
Midlife Celiac – Great comments during the values track presentations
Gluten Free Girl – Just as she appears: giving, friendly, perfect, I want more time to discuss life’s big issues
Sure Foods Living – Life-changing conversation about going gluten-free (it may be where I’m headed next).
Nourishing Meals – Roughly the same age as me, but with four children (you go!), great insight into food/health/gf issues with kids
Virgo Blue – Huge life similarities and all around darling person
Pioneer Woman – Approachable, caring, witty
Five Second Rule – Knowledgeable food writer
Penny De Los Santos – Perceptive and talented food photographer
Celiac Teen – Extremely smart about food at a young age
Wendolonia – Found my blog on Day 6!
Boxing Octopus – A follower who introduced herself!
Jennifer Perillo – Generous food writer
Michael Ruhlman – Passionate about food politics
Foodie Reflections – Midwestern food blogger
Stephanie O’Dea – Sweet chat about parenthood
and on and on (I’m sure I forgot someone so do please let me know! There were so many amazing people…)
About ten years ago I worked with an older petite Italian woman. She wore more rings than I have ever seen on one person, before or since, and talked about ricotta all the time. We hit it off because she was funny. One time I revealed to her that I wasn’t religious and she said neither was she. Then she leaned over and told me, “My religion is loving people.” So is mine.
(More BlogHer Food information to come in subsequent posts…)