I have a bit of a confession: I am a bit of a routine queen. I like my universe to be in a certain order and will often go to great lengths and pain - to myself AND others - to ensure that it remain so. I can't sleep without making my bed first, for instance, and haven't slept in an unmade bed since Nixon resigned. For my entire primary school career, I packed the same lunch - peanut butter and jam sandwich, juice in a thermos, cookies and a piece of fruit - and ate in the exact same order every day. With no deviation. Ever. Sick, right? Monk has nothing on my ass.
The problem with being a slave to routine and ritual, of course, is that it doesn't lend itself to a life with a ton of spontaneity which, of late, I've come to see as a bit of a character flaw. So, over the summer, one of my personal objectives was to change things up a little. I let things sort themselves out with little in the way of "personal interference", if you will, and, instead, ran my life on the path it naturally set for itself as opposed to cleaving to the grand plan I mapped out in my head. I didn't get in my own way, as they say in therapy speak.
Guess what I learned? Going with the flow: it sucks, y'all! I am a bag of toys without a consistent schedule. Meals, daily grooming and exercise, childrearing, none of these things get done with any consistency - Hell, at all!- if I don't set them to a time of day. It made my nerves so bad not to know what I was doing on a daily basis that I almost had a nervous breakdown a few times. I was like Jeremy Renner's character in The Hurt Locker, trapped in a world that expects me to make decisions in the cereal aisle of life when all I really know is wearing a helmet that looks like a giant fishbowl and defusing the same bomb over and over and over again. So I dialled it back, reverted to my old ways and made a little promise to myself that I would change it up occasionally but not as a rule, as my poor, regimented system couldn't handle the strain. Baby steps, right?
Which is why I love the new book by Michael Pollan, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual. Was this book made for me or what? Firstly, it is festooned with illustration by my God, Maira Kalman, the greatest illustrator on the planet. And it's a book. With rules. About food. I really doesn't get any better, non? Here are just a few of the wisdoms you'll find therein:
- Do all of your eating a table
- Don't become a short order cook
- Enjoy drinks that have been caffeinated by nature, not science.
- The whiter the bread, the sooner you'll be dead.
- Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.
May I recommend that this book appear in every one's stocking?