No, this posting is not about “a young girl’s erotic journey from Milan to Minsk” but rather my own erotic-neutral journey from Jewish Jersey Alterna-Girl to Hare Krishna Jam Maker. At least that’s what I think it is. There is always sub-text.
Growing up, my mother–true to her Jewish roots–wanted me to become a doctor or lawyer. Famous actress would have been acceptable, too. I remember my mother driving my sister and I somewhere, stopping at a light and then turning around, facing me in the back seat of our car. She looked me dead in the eye. “Promise you’ll never marry a gas station attendant. You wouldn’t do that [implied words: “to me”], would you?” I was seven.
But my mom, the mensch that she is, was more full of hopes for me than expectations. Still, when high school began and we were all given our vocational aptitude tests, my mother was not impressed to discover my inclination to be a chicken farmer or wig weaver. “What happened to doctor or lawyer?” she wondered. And while I wasn’t alarmed like my mother was, I was concerned. Sure I was always a bit left of center, but did that mean my destiny was fixed on a path completely outside the normative, predetermined scope of happiness and success so defined by becoming a doctor or lawyer (or marrying a doctor or lawyer)?
Uh, well, yeah, kind of.
While it hasn’t exactly been a linear path from Jersey Girl to Jam Maker, the seemingly non-sequiters of my life make all too much sense in retrospect. I vacillated heavily between extremes–from natural vegetarian/vegan chick to post modern punk plastic womyn (just kidding…i was never a “womyn”….always a girl). In high school I wanted to work summers on a farm with, yes…I know…it is shocking…Mexican people!!!!! But my mother and dermatologist did not think this was a good idea. Not a good idea at all.
By the time I got to college I gave up all desire for a natural, earthy life. If the crocheted yamulke guy in my freshman dorm would have pushed it, I am sure I would have traded in a semester at my very not me DC university for some time on a kibbutz, milking goats and discovering that communal life ain’t what it used to be. But instead I stayed entrenched in city life, learning to love the filmy feel of urban air pollution on my skin at the day’s end. From DC I moved to Philadelphia, where I learned from my cousin how to be a good crunchy urbanite–visiting the farmer’s markets and buying organic dairy and produce. Still, the more exposure I got to the enlightened ideas of academia, the arts available in an urban environment and the good food possible from cooking at home with quality ingredients, the more I also became addicted to coffee and cigarettes and diet coke in a can, being skinny and the barely there body cling of synthetic fabrics.
A few more twists and turns including a job at a gay, lesbian, feminist bookstore, dropping out of Hunter College (my third school in 3 years) and a bogus resume, which landed me a job at Town & Country Magazine–and I was that much further away from my final destination of jam making. If you had tapped me on the shoulder of my Cynthia Rowley blouse in 1996 and told me that I would ditch my Marlboro Mediums, Trish McEvoy makeup and Diet Coke in a can for a life of frumpy clothes, constant eating and an arm full of burn marks, I would just blown smoke in your face. What? Was I headed for a life on the psych ward?
Thankfully, no. Just a cooking life, which got kick started in the spring of ’97 when I left a note on my parents’ kitchen counter and moved into the Hare Krishna temple. It wasn’t the smoothest transition for any of us and to be honest, was rather abrupt. But it definitely changed the direction of my life. Before this, I would drift here and there, *almost* discovering things that are so absolutely fundamental to my life now. But the key is “almost.’ Before becoming a Hare Krishna, there wasn’t much focus in my life. There were too many choices. Wait a minute…is this what spiritual communism really means?
While I could go on and on about the wonderful spiritual truths I discovered becoming a Hare Krishna, I won’t. Of course I dig the philosophy and religion, otherwise I wouldn’t have given my kids names so long they are sure to resent me later in life for it. But there is other stuff that joining the Hare Krishnas crashed coursed me on which I am forever grateful for being introduced into my life.
So you already knew this, no? Well, I’m saying it anyway because lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails from family members who read my blog. The emails almost always say the same thing. “You are such an amazing cook!!!!” “How did you learn to cook like this?!?!?” “I had no idea!” See, everyone thought I was just wasting my time living in the temple, mopping floors and washing pots (at times, myself included). I was supposed to be a doctor or a lawyer and instead I was unpaid labor. See, mom, I *was actually* doing something all those years!!!
In addition to cooking, being a Hare Krishna has given me the opportunity to come in contact with a variety of positive sub-cultures which I may not have interacted with if I was all stressed out in law school, where the hell are my cigarettes!!!?-style. So it has been a good journey.
Shall we have a pictographic look? Really, this has all just been a set-up for me to share some funny pictures. You ready, mom? I know you are loving this. And yes, you did say that about the gas station attendant. We were on Ernston Road waiting at the light at the hole in the wall. I remember. (Blogs are good for getting in the last word…let see if mom figures out how to leave a comment..)