|Fresh organic cherries. Mother Nature's ruby gems.|
Summer is heating up. It's hot out there on the dusty plains. So I'm not even going to pretend on this one. Not that I pretend when I post. More like, slink and dart a little. Tucking little spitballs of truth between the ebb and tide of words, a sense of rhythm and momentum. Moving. Always upward and outward. Or seaward.
A message in a bottle thrown high and wide.
Tossing truth out there in the hopes of hearing, Oh yeah. That. Me too.
So here's the thing. And it's not easy to say.
I am utterly stuck. Flummoxed might be the perfect word. Or stymied. Clueless. Dumb. Unmoved. I can't think of what to do next. With my life, that is. And this has never really happened to me before. Aside from that minor meltdown I had after sophomore year in art school when I just wanted to call it quits and give up painting. I shelved my brushes and dated a clean-jawed blond named Bing who liked to show me off at martini soaked Georgetown dinner parties hosted by tennis-tanned women named Muffin and Sunny and pink-shirted husbands called Chip and Ash.
Aside from that brief parental approved summer, I've pretty much been an always up for anything artistic kinda gal. An insatiably curious, problem solving, I'll try anything (twice), pay my own way sort of girl.
I gave back engagement rings. I rocked thrift store Fedoras and Army fatigues before vintage was a hipster ideal. I moved with the seasons, gypsy style. I conjured
From learning how to be a script girl on set, to printing black and white glossies of oiled body builders for Muscle Magazine, I was a fast learner and not easily intimidated. I managed the section of art and film books at Pickwick's bookstore on Hollywood Blvd. where I waited on the gracious (Roscoe Lee Browne, Richard Chamberlain, Graham Nash) and the not-so-gracious (several who populate your favorite television shows). I painted hearts with wings on beach stones by the hundreds (those beach stones helped buy me a used red Audi, by the way) and printed my own greeting cards and lithographs. I catered occasionally as Painter's Kitchen, and scraped by on wits, acrylics, and thinking outside the box.
After the tender age of 26 I never worked for another living soul. I worked for myself. I did my own thing (small and crafty and arty as it was). And honestly, it's been a wild ride. I've been gifted with two talented, principled, and engaging sons. Motherhood rocked. I
My second marriage took us from Cape Cod to Colorado, and back to the Cape, where I worked as an artist until the nest was empty, then we headed to Northern New Mexico to experience splendid isolation. One broken hip and a first script sale later, my husband and I moved west again. This time to California.
Which basically fast forwards you up to speed. Where I am- for the first time since the Bing detour thirty-some-odd years ago- astonishingly unsure of what the Hades to do next.
When this post-fifty slide into artistic ennui first began I blamed menopause. Hormones. Empty nest. I entertained cliche after cliche through one sheet-twisting night after another, waiting for the post-menopausal zest promised by Margaret Mead and the army of teeth whitened, blond-streaked Botoxed authors.
I am struggling darling. Wrestling with dropping energy. Relevance. Invisibility.
Last night my husband was scanning channels on cable. I sat down next to him, quickie dinner plate perched on my knee, and crunched romaine lettuce and dried cherries as he watched the end of the Shawshank Redemption. One of his favorite movies. An affection shared by many a cinephile. This is a beloved film.
Then I heard it.
A line that stung and burned so deep and hot I stopped chewing. I stopped breathing. I sat as still as the fork on my uneaten plate of salad.
The despicable, murdering bully of a prison guard is being led away by police. We hear the voice of
The ultimate put down. Not only did he cry. He cried like a girl.
Because, really, who would ever want to be caught crying like a girl? It's the ultimate in weakness. The worst thing you could say about a man. It's dependent. It's needy. It's unmanly. Inadequate. Irrational. Disgusting.
Worthy of contempt.
A flood of sneers and mocking imagery ran through my head. All the put-downs of childhood endured and encoded in the hippocampus, stashed away for safe keeping. You throw like a girl. You run like a girl. You cry like a girl.
Bullies. Belittling. Because girls are less worthy. Less capable. Less whole.
It's a message our culture delivers every day, via media of all kinds. From raunchy punchlines about yeast infections to commercials for thigh cream, from political pundits calling single women sluts, to the latest (oops!) leaked sex tape, from a misogynist song lyric that rhymes with witch to the impossibly high platform heels women teeter in, hobbled for fashion's sake, shoes designed for prey.
I think about this. As I walk and sigh at twilight. Wearing Converse sneakers and photographing violet shadows with my iPhone. How often are girls and women celebrated for something other than appearance- a pretty object to penetrate, own, or rate on a scale of one to ten.
And after a certain age- it only gets worse.
Just look at Botox sales stats. Women fear aging with a depth of disgust unfathomable. We are buoyed on an ocean of revulsion toward aging. Why else would we fail- collectively- to tell the honest truth about plastic surgery and the freakish waxy desperation it exudes? There isn't an actress over the age of 30 who can express worry or surprise with her forehead muscles any more (well that's an exaggeration, there are, maybe, three?).
Ask yourself- how often do we get to see ourselves depicted honestly, as complicated, brave, strong, authentically sexual- never mind brilliant, sassy, dimensional - and not be reduced to mere object or caricature?
Or worse, invisible.
This keeps me up at night. This girl stuff. This aging stuff. This what-do-I-do-next stuff. My hip starts to ache and I lie in the dark and feel no closer to solving my dilemma than I did yesterday. Or the day before.
I am sorry to say, I am no closer to an answer.
But at least I've told something true.
|Warm and sweet. Cherry almond crisp. Vegan and gluten-free.|
Gluten-Free Cherry Almond Crisp Recipe
The flavor combo of brown sugar, cinnamon, sliced almonds and quinoa flakes creates a melt-in-your-mouth gluten-free crumble topping that gentles the dark tart taste of sweet summer cherries. I used organic coconut oil to keep it vegan.
6 cups organic dark cherries
1 tablespoon cornstarch or tapioca starch
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup organic virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 375º. Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch square baking dish or four 4-inch ramekins.
Wash, halve, pit, and stem the cherries. Place them in a bowl and sprinkle with cornstarch and 1 tablespoon sugar. Toss to coat. Pour into the baking dish or ramekins. Set aside.
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, brown rice flour, white rice flour, quinoa flakes, sea salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle with the almond extract. Add the coconut oil. Stir with a fork until sandy textured and crumbly. Add in the sliced almonds. Stir to combine.
Add the crumble topping to the cherries.
Bake in the center of the oven for 50 to 55 minutes until the cherries are bubbling and soft (ramekins may take a little less time). Note- cover with foil at 30-40 minutes, if the topping starts to get too browned.
Cool the crisp on a wire rack. Lovely served warm.
A scoop of coconut vanilla ice cream is optional.
Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com
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For substitution help, please see my guide to baking with substitutions here.