Greetings from Tucson! It is quite an upheaving experience, to fly into a whole new climate zone.
Thanks for listening to my identity crisis. Being on the road is a great time not to feel bound by usual assumptions of identity, although it's also a time when those assumptions can assert themselves like neglected children, if they're not given their full expression.
One thing I want to set straight from the last post: I said: “I'm a poet, not a food writer.” I am, too, a food writer! Poetry may be my first string but denying the food-writing piece is wrong and unfair.
I want to share the story of Thursday afternoon and evening, when we were getting ready for our trip, when I wrote that 'identity crisis' post. There were three major boondoggles: two related to food, one related to poetry!
Boondoggle #1—it seems I took some gluten on board at lunchtime. Not a lot, but stupid and careless: I ate some baked yam that had been sitting in a pie plate that had pastry and crumbs all over it. At least I should have not eaten the skin (but I love the skin). So, sure enough, a couple hours later, I started to get that familiar, awful feeling. It's been well over a year since that last happened. And as usual, it took about two days or so for my tummy to feel anything like ok, and I wasn't in the happiest shape for traveling, to put it mildly. Focusing on feeling cheerful and doing my best (as opposed to beating up on myself for carelessness and such bad timing) was a good challenge: I think that the end result was that I felt pretty sick (intense nausea, cramps, runs) for two days or so, most of them on the road, but I wasn't miserable with it.
Boondoggle #2—while preparing dinner, I opened a bottle of 'ghost chili' powder. That's the hottest kind of chili there is, and I wanted a little of it with the curried coconut veggies I was making. Well, the heater was going, and the instant I opened the bottle, the fan swept the fine, scorching powder into my nose and eyes! (And yes, I was already sick from gluten.) I sneezed more times in one go than I can ever remember. Phil was wonderful: he has rewetting drops for his eyes and shared some with me immediately. I was relieved that the pepper-spraying didn't put me out of action for more than a moment, but for hours later I would intermittently have a sneezing fit and be unable to open my eyes. Yes, I maced myself! And was then cautious with the food: more spice ended up in my eyes than in our dinner.
Boondoggle #3—I was putting finishing touches to my poetry manuscript, playing about with the ordering, and then thought to look up the guidelines and email address for submission. Turns out, the maximum length was 20 pages. So, with the evening wearing on, I had to cut my manuscript in half!
This wasn't actually as bad as it sounded, despite sick tummy and peppery eyes. In fact, I'm glad that I didn't realize this until the last minute, because instead, I worked on getting a full, coherent manuscript together without worrying about artificial length constraints. And I submitted the 20 pages as 'excerpts' from the full manuscript. I'm so looking forward to getting critiqued, although I know I'll have to work on my thick skin.
If boondoggles come in threes, I appreciate the sign that the hat-trick was spread across the poetry and food worlds. We'll see how we go straddling the two plus visiting friends, family and new places over the next ten days.
Do you have any boondoggles to share? I'd also love it if anyone has any advice on what to do to feel better if you're celiac/gluten allergic and accidentally ingest gluten. I'd love to collect some tips and make a post about it. It's been a year and a half since that last happened and I hope it won't happen ever again, but it would be nice to know if there's anything to make it less worse.