Tuesday, February 23, 2010

soggy animal crackers:::

i've been reading a collection of essays titled:
"Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant". the whole premise of the book is to uncover people's thoughts, feelings and habits regarding eating alone. as a single gal, i find myself faced with this situation often, but it never disturbs me-- as it does some. and i was inspired by the reading to collect my own thoughts on the subject. and so... here you have it.


Soggy Animal Crackers

the first year after high school, I participated in a traveling theater program, and lived on the training campus in a purple cinder-block dorm room. it was there that i developed the behavior known as "eating alone". it began out of sheer necessity-- (when week old bbq chicken sandwiches and blackened tomato soup were the only daily menu options, i quickly learned the art of tactful declination.) often starving well into the night, my roommate and i would regularly hole up in our purple sanctuary and snack on the fresh berries + iced tea our mothers purchased for our cubicle refrigerator. it was refreshing, but i wasn't always satisfied. on those nights, i'd wait until everyone had fallen asleep, then i'd sneak down the long, abandoned hallway to the kitchen-- and i'd relish in the witching hour, and in the silence.

out of desperation one evening, i emptied the remaining contents of an industrial-sized bag of animal crackers into a cereal bowl, and covered each little character with milk. I crawled up onto the counter, and sat crossed-legged next to the sink, crunching each animal between my teeth. every so often, i'd bite into a cracker that had absorbed the milk, and it would be buttery + soft. i found i enjoyed these mouthfuls the best-- so i began making it my ritual to break each cracker down the center before placing it into my bowl-- therefore insuring it reached its highest potential of sogginess. this practice became religious.

my near-nightly bowl of virtual mush became a healing ritual. a time to feed my deprived body, as well as my broken spirit. during a period of unknown, transition, and discontentment-- i was able to brush shoulders with peace in that empty kitchen, and in the vacant lounge where i would sometimes wander with my unconventional sustenance.

when i returned home, i couldn't shake the habit-- my addiction to a solo meal, eaten under moonbeams, while absorbing a symphony of night sounds. i found i couldn't sleep if i didn't tiptoe into my childhood kitchen, and pilfer a box of cereal, bowl + spoon, and cup of milk to steal away to my room. these things were comfort. they were medicine.

i was eventually able to "kick the junk", if you will, and return to normal, healthy eating habits-- but my love and appreciation for eating alone had become an integral aspect of my person. i have such respect for the art of it. for the adventure of it. there is no obligation. no expectation. you spend your time thinking, instead of listening. masticating, instead of conversating. you can choose to focus on the world- or be completely and utterly enthralled with nothing but yourself. the stillness is daunting for some. the stigma is unthinkable for others. but i have found solace dining with myself. i've even taken my little venture out into the public. it's not at all foreign to find me contentedly eating a meal alone at a local restaurant. perhaps reading the paper. perhaps not. but always sipping a cup of coffee. and always taking it all in.

i am a self-proclaimed "people person". i love characters. and laughter. and gatherings. and long talks. but i also have equal amounts of passion for silence. and my meals alone bring me to this quiet place. i enjoy finding the proper balance of alone and loneliness. i love the freedom to escape. i love the simplicity of one. and the obligation of none.

but mostly, i just really really love eating soggy animal crackers.

by myself.


  1. thanks for sharing that beautiful piece of writing. i'm about to dine alone (as i do most evenings) and now i will appreciate it more...or i might sit in front of the olympics on tv.

  2. I really loved reading this!! It seems you are posting so much lately & I can't keep up at all! But it's a great thing, keep it coming cus I'm reading (& listening)

  3. Outstanding.

    There is so much going on here and so much being said.

    I absolutely feel as though you were able to consolidate some quite complex idea's and feelings here and relate them to us in a way that is not only soft and welcoming , but also very descriptive and well spoken.

    Your writing is just simply awesome . I admire it deeply. That said , the person behind the writing shines even brighter than the tremendous writing itself.

    Thank you for sharing what you do with us all.

    *""my near-nightly bowl of virtual mush became a healing ritual. a time to feed my deprived body, as well as my broken spirit.""*

    Geeze....I almost fell off my chair when I made it to that part.