Monday, October 8, 2012

Food Insecurity

I'm not listened to when I say this. People who don't know me -- hell a lot of people who do know me -- just don't think it's possible. I weigh north of a quarter ton, it's just not possible that I've ever been capital-h Hungry.

I have been. Several times in my life. Underemployment, unemployment, bad money decisions, bad decisions generallly. Once I spent my last five dollars on food and while I was walking to the bus stop I slipped, fell on my back, and the carton of milk in my backpack broke open. Another time I lived on pizza, because the pizza place up the road took checks and always took a day or two to cash them. That sounds like fun, but trust me, one pizza wolfed down at lunch a day -- at the time I didn't have a fridge -- does not sustinence make. I've used food stamps. I've paid for macaroni with pennies. Popcorn is good; it's cheap and you can eat it by the handful. Dried pasta and a little margarine's another standby. I hate ramen soup but the noodles are serviceable and if you have a big enough bowl you can cook them in a microwave.

The longest I've ever gone without eating anything is about two days.

If you've never been in that situation . . . it's an interesting experience. From minute to minute, your awareness of yourself shifts. One minute you feel just kind of . . . translucent, but okay. The next, you feel like you could eat your own hand if you weren't so attached to it. Emotional control goes straight out the window. Everything aches, just a little. You're deeply fatigued, yet you can't sleep and what sleep you get isn't energizing. Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London is an excellent report on extreme poverty; I love his description of someone living on subsistance rations as a belly with a bunch of accessory organs.

To say that this is what a person is supposed to do, because surviving calorie deficits is what all that disgusting fat is for . . . I don't buy it. I never did, not really. Starvation, even at the very beginning of the process, is not a good thing to do to the body.

The especially insulting idea is that there's some lesson in hunger that I just failed to grasp, somehow. Because if I've ever been Hungry, I would know better than to overeat and thus I would lose weight. So somehow, not only am I a failure because I've been very poor, I'm a double-failure because being very poor didn't transform me into a socially more valuable -- i.e. thinner -- person.

It's interesting trying to navigate the doublethink necessary to make sure fat people are always the losers, but that's another entry.

Now I'm me and everyone else is everyone else and Results Not Typical as the saying goes. But it's impossible for me to feel hunger and not think of it as deprivation. Being cold and afraid, without resources or refuge and with no one willing or able to make it better. Come to find out, I'm not willing to endure that for the rest of my life in the faint hope that society as a whole might (or might not) hate me a little bit less.

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