My home on a California commune may have been on the same planet as my other life in New Orleans, but it was a whole other world.
These two cultures collided most when it came to food. In New Orleans, I was all but force fed by my Italian relatives. Food was the centerpiece of recreation…
In essence, food, like Jesus, was worshiped in my family…
My mother, on the other hand, was inspired by the revolutions of her time and believed healthy eating (in this case, a raw diet), was essential for healthy conscious living and positive planetary change.
She left much behind in New Orleans, including Catholicism, but soon adopted a different ideology: Nutrition.
Hoping to deter my brother Frankie’s and my adolescent cravings for “normal” food, she would say, “We are not gonna’ poison our bodies with impur-a food. Our bodies are not graveyards fa’ murdered animals. Y’all want to end up like a nucleah waste dump? Don’t let ya taste buds run ya’ life!”
Like a good Demon daughter, I questioned her authority:
“Ma, you say the Indians smoke weed as ‘medicine’…well, guess what? They also eat friggin buffalo. Can we pleeease have some of that? I’ll even eat a rattle snake!”
Her common response to such pleas, was to look deeply into my eyes, then shake her hand an inch away from my face, “Be-a warria’! Don’t bow ta’ tha Gad of Sinilidy!”
(For those who need that last line translated: “Be a warrior. Don’t bow to the God of Senility.”)
Most of the time I refused her fear-of-food rap, rejecting the belief that one Starburst would make me into an old, decrepit, weak, toxic sinner. In fact, sometimes I rebelled by sneaking away and swallowing large wads of Hubba Bubba gum – just so I’d have chemicals in my system and be ‘polluted’ like the rest of society. No one was going to make me into some pure freak!
Yet sometimes, after my private riots, I’d suffer great guilt. This reaction was compounded when I was stoned with my friend Pink Heart and her father, Chickory.
Chickory didn’t live on the land, but came by occasionally to see Pink Heart. He would drive us around, getting us high and buying us junk food.
When we’d return hours later, Pink would roll her eyes in frustration when I would confess nervously to the nearest adult:
“We had ice cream with bubblegum in it….and…I swallowed the gum.”
For those of you who did not partake of prime California cannabis during prepubescence, please note that paranoia can be an intense part of the experience.
Once on Halloween, I was allowed go trick-or-treating with Pink and Chickory – though eating candy was of course forbidden.
Lets just say, devilry was afoot that night… As darkness descended, candy corn and red vines appeared everywhere… Succumbing to the lechery of the night, I bit into a Kit Kat. Instantly I felt myself bowing, bowing deeply to the evil God of Senility, far before my time!
I imagined my mother finding me, in my Raggedy Ann costume, curled up on the sidewalk, melted chocolate between my wrinkled and crone-like claws… my red yarn wig askew, revealing my bald and liver-spotted scalp…!
On the drive home, abruptly I told Chickory to pull over the car, for I, a toxic sinner, must discard this poison at once! I still remember the sound of Pink yelling from the backseat, “Don’t throw it Deli! Give it to me!”
My nervous system still can’t handle weed very well.
Sometimes Pink tried calming me by whispering Bob Marley in my ear: “Don’t worry about a thing… Cause every little thing is gonna be alright…” Other times I’d start the song, and we’d alternate singing lines to each other.
Needless to say, it’s taken me a while to find some balance between the conflicting messages I received about food. I’m still learning how to trust myself to make appropriate decisions about what’s good for me.
I suppose the gift of growing up in paradox was that I learned to appreciate both sides of the cultural coin – while seeing discrepancies in each. Caught between polarized worlds has ultimately helped me find my own truth.
In this world of conflicting beliefs, many people seem intent upon holding firmly to their rigid convictions. Some identify with a ‘superior’ or dominant culture, political affiliation, or righteous religion, food fascism…. Personally, I don’t believe in an ultimate path. Life is not about finding the answers, but more a beautiful mystery to watch unfold.
With every part and all my heart, Adele.
I thought I’d start this section with one of my favorite hand creams by J.R. Watkins. After all, my motto for gorgeous mitts is to MOISTURIZE! I’m a strong advocate for natural ingredients, and avoid chemicals, artificial fragrances and harsh dyes whenever possible. This product passes the test as a clean and green way to beautify. The texture is sensuous and the smells are divine (I’m personally partial to the Lemon Cream). So keep a tube at your desk, another by your bed and one in your purse, and you’ll soon see a little lotion goes a long way!