My Midnight Confession

magazines11.jpgFor a long time, I wasn’t writing because I was swept away by a passion that completely eclipsed my love of food and cooking. There’s something about losing weight that makes me start thinking about clothes again. I speak not of the utilitarian Mom Garb that tends to be stretchy and sexless, and purchased for the dual purposes of comfort and covering up body parts which are too awful even to contemplate. I mean fashion. I mean I start reading “Vogue,” and “Allure,” and “InStyle” and (my personal favorite) “Lucky” and scheming about where to get a faux Chanel jacket and whether I can get away with a pair of the 4-inch Gladiator shoes  that are essential for the transition from summer to fall this season. I cooked, I worked, I kept my kid in clean Abercrombie jeans, but my mind was usually far off in the land of boyfriend cardigans and vintage Diane von Furstenburg wrap dresses. I had nothing to write, unless it concerned the preparation of food that would not leave a stain on a Prada jacket, or how to pick an outfit and accessories to coordinate with one’s dinner. (Hint: a large Mabe pearl ring is a delightful tongue in chic accompaniment to a plate of oysters on the half shell).

In the midst of this superficial but extraordinarily pleasant psychotic break, I got sciatica. If you are not familiar with sciatica, I will tell you as briefly as possible, that it is a kind of nerve pain that originates in the back and is mostly felt down the back of one leg. In my case, I had an exotic variation known as Piriformis Syndrome, and the pain went down the front of my left leg. I could not bend over, I could not sit for longer than 2 minutes, I walked as if I were on my way up to the top of Notre Dame to ring the bells, and I was completely and utterly useless to the world. When I finally gave in and saw the doctor, I came away with four kinds of drugs, three of which I could have sold on the street and sent Sam to Harvard. I took them. I slept. I crept around the house. I did not cook, and I didn’t even particularly want to eat.

spilled20drugs1.jpgSo there was still not much to write about – I considered and rejected “The Sciatica Blog” in which I described in great detail how hard it is to get your pants on when you can’t bend at the waist, the highlights of a day spent walking ar0und the house until you’re in agony and then lying down until you feel better, followed by another tour of the downstairs ( repeated until bedtime), or the difficulties inherent in eating cottage cheese while lying down (hint: a dog or two is handy for this project).  So I continued not to write. I also spent a lot of time watching TV and reading magazines (there’s something wasteful about the combination of a good novel, Vicodin and Flexeril).

rachelzoe.jpgI did not watch documentaries about the Spanish Civil War, I did not watch breaking news on CNN, and I did not even look for old Bette Davis movies on AMC (which now seems to run nothing besides “Dirty Dancing” and other 80s classics, anyway). I watched HSN and QVC because they were having “fashion week.” I watched a steady parade of leopard tank tops made of something called “Slinky,” pleather jackets, skinny jeans with secret elastic slimming panels, and T-shirts with giant tiger heads on them.  I also turned a keen eye towards other things I would never be caught dead in, like elastic-waist corduroy pants and “magic” Henley shirts with a faux layer sewn in for “the look of layers without the bulk.” (Imagine!) I listened to women who had to be in their 80s call in to extol the virtues of  their Spanx control camisoles. I was completely hooked. I also discovered “The Rachel Zoe Project,” and watched all of this season’s episodes back to back, hanging on her every word and tearing up when she was admitted into Coco Chanels’ apartment in Paris and allowed (sniff) to try on the Great Woman’s sunglasses.

When I wasn’t lying on the couch in a drug-induced coma, snoring and drooling as my family went about the business of living, I devised a way to prop my laptop on my knees so that I could surf the net in a prone position. I found fashion blogs, including one in which a charming young woman in Cincinnati takes a picture of what she wears every single day, and posts it. I discovered “Go Fug Yourself,” and sneered at the poor red carpet choices made by Lindsay Lohan and Megan Fox. My discerning, rapier-sharp mind, my concern with world politics, my devotion to eating locally and reading globally (not to mention my Buddhist devotion to “wanting less”) were all erased by the alchemy of pain, boredom, frustration and pills. Had I been 30 years younger and 30 pounds thinner, I could easily have become the newest cast member on “The Hills.” Well, I’d also have to get extension, have my teeth bleached, and get a pre-frontal lobotomy, but you get the idea.

captain_moose1.jpgI’m getting better now; I have actually cooked a few dinners, I have gone grocery shopping, and I am sitting in a chair long enough to write this post. I have not cooked anything that would be of any interest to readers of a food blog – my main criteria for what I cook at the moment is that it involve about ten minutes of standing up followed by about an hour of lying down.  Although I still have magazines to read, I have been forced to abandon my TV addiction – fashion week on home shopping has given way to Wolfgang Puck (who annoys the hell out of me) hawking his pizza oven, and I have already seen every episode of Rachel Zoe except for the Special Season Finale which I await with bated breath. I am doing the extremely tedious exercises that my doctor says will keep this from happening again, and have stopped taking all medication that makes me believe that I am a character in “Captain Kangaroo.” This is progress.

Alas, I am still not really cooking; I am mostly shouting directions from the couch while Rob makes dinner, and I don’t yet have the heart to crack my newest food magazines because it’s a sad thing to get excited about making a root vegetable soup only to remember that I can only stand up long enough to peel two parsnips. I’m not sure who Ill be when I come out of this – perhaps an immaculately groomed woman with gladiator heels, a faux Chanel cuff and an apron standing over the stove and creating something low carb and delicious. There are worse things I could do – besides, I’ve been reading about a fabulous new cream eyeliner that doesn’t run even if you chop a whole bag of onions.



Ann Graham Nichols cooks and writes the Forest Street Kitchen blog in East Lansing, Michigan where she lives in a 1912 house with her husband, her son and an improbable number of animals.