Time to Eat Blog

Time to Eat

When I started this project, I named the it after one of the ceramic corsets I'd been making. The corsets are named “Time to Eat” I, II, III, etc. I realized that I had been focusing on the “eat” but not the "time" aspect. How do I use my time?  

Over the course of this project – the interviews, the conversations, the artwork created, the connections made….none of it would have happened without spending time with others. How we spend our time defines our selves. How do we define our lives? Create our identity? How do we limit or unlimit our selves? Considering the time we have left in our lives, what do we want do with it?

In the invitational spirit of the project, this site exists to create an interactive space where people may experience the words of the other participants and have space where they can also write and share their stories about their relationship with their bodies and food.

As individuals across generations grasp the opportunity to create more intersections through interactions, will we become more “at home” in our own selves? Having collaborated in a way that left us connected to others, will we be heard and seen – not as objects, but as subjects in our own stories – and find ourselves at home?  

It is in sharing the stories that shaped us that we find connections to others. Please consider sharing your experiences here.

The legal stuff: By sharing stories from your life here, please know that you are giving permission to Christine Belton to: Use, reuse, publish and republish the same in whole or in part for any lawful purposes in any and all media whether now known or hereafter existing, including print, broadcast and the Internet. By sharing your stories on this blog, you agree to make no monetary or other claim, including any and all claims for libel, for the use of the words, images or photographs posted by you on this site.  

What I Learned – July 27, 2021

When I was a child

I was freet to explore and roam

Play with implements of construction and destruction

Slither about in the caves and dam the creek

Climb trees, draw freely and put on plays for our parents

We learned about our immediate world with our hands and our bodies

Everything was on the table

My parents are greedy readers and so are their three children

We read every book they read; they never censored what we read

We learned about the world through science fiction, murder mysteries, biography and Mom’s historical romance novels

I learned about the factual world outside my neighborhood from the materials on the bookshelves in my parents’ bedroom

Next to a full set of encyclopedias were the Life Cycle Library books; informative books about puberty, sex and pregancy

On top of the encyclopedias were Dad’s Playboy magazines

All the facts we needed to learn could be found in these three resources

Everything was on the table

We were expected to work hard and to tell the truth

We had chores and responsibilities; allowances and homework time

We played games and organized our neighborhood into teams for kickball

Caught fireflies in jars, built forts and turned our Wiffle bats into lightsabers

Drank red Kool Aid and rode our bikes until the street lights came on

Everything was on the table

Mom made dinner every night

Sandwiches for lunch in a brown bag with a piece of fruit and a Little Debbie Snack Cake

Cereal, pancakes, waffles, eggs or oatmeal for breakfast

Everything was on the table

We were not allowed to snack between meals or when we got home from school – unless it was a piece of fruit

Mom was an excellent baker

Bread pudding, apple dumplings, carrot cake, pound cake, birthday cake

Pies, donuts, strudel, bear claws and buttery cookies

We could only eat dessert at a specific time and in a specific amount

Mom was often on a diet

Eating thin toast with cottage cheese and no joy

Our food intake was directed and policed

We were hungry when we got home from school 

“Eat a piece of fruit”

I still hate those words

The food police were diligent and harsh

I became a criminal

Everything was on the table

Of course I knew I had to cover my tracks

Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew and Scooby Doo taught me that

Scoop a serving from under the crust of the bread pudding

Skim a thin layer off the top of the ice cream

Wash the spoon and put it away

Rearrange the donuts to fill in the empty space left after eating one

Slice a thin layer off the cake and make sure the contour shape of the missing wedge has not significantly changed

Pay attention to the details before stealing food

Wipe your mouth

Leave no crumbs on the counter or floor

First and only rule: Do Not Get Caught

We had a ceramic cookie jar shaped like a mug of hot chocolate

It is a mid-century McCoy piece of pottery

The lid handle is shaped like the swirl of whipped cream on top of the hot chocolate

The lid clanks ceramic-ly when opened

Mom could hear it from the basement

Mom is deaf in one ear

We desired these cookies

The food police said the cookies were off the table

We implemented the first of many cookie heists

I was the criminal mastermind behind the plan

We started a fake fight in the kitchen

Using the ruckus to quietly raid the cookie jar

Mom responded to the uproar in her usual way:

“Jesus Christ, take that argument outside already!”

We left with our ill-gotten deliciously crunchymeltychocolaty cookies

We didn’t get caught

It is a funny story

Everyone laughs when tell the story

What I learned isn’t as funny

How to lie

How to plan carefully – thinking through all future possibilities and pitfalls

How to pay close attention to details

How to cover my tracks

How to want something to distraction

How desire can compel me to irrational action

Getting what I desired left me feeling guilty because I lied and stole to get it

How to not articulate what I need

To conflate what I need with what I desire

How to persuade others 

What I learned

The adrenaline flow in the illicit act feels wonderful

The post-theft guilt feels horrible and lasts longer than expected

Waiting to be “found out” creates a free-floating anxiety in my head

The feeling of anxiety attaches itself willingly to other areas in my life

Controlling my environment alleviated some of the anxiety

I kept my room very clean and tidy and I chewed my nails 

The act of eating illicit food creates a temporary anxiety-free zone in my head

It is a cycle of eating secretly, feeling guilty and anxious and eating to feel nothing

Forty-five years later I still eat secretly

What I learned

I police my own eating now – cutting out the middleman or middlemom

Therapy, drugs, a randomized drug trial at Penn, diets, scales

Measuring cups, portion size, intense exercise

Buying “aspriational” clothing hoping I would fit into it when I lost weight

Hold the camera above my eye level to avoid photographing double chins

Stand in the back in group photos

Avoid mirrors that show my whole body

In theory I’m free but in practice I’m tethered to the past.

Forty-five years later, I also spend my time creating art

Recently thinking back to the cookie jar to see what else I can learn about myself 

What I can learn about others

Everything is on the table

I’ve been exploring the manner in which we participate in the cultural discourse about control 

Diet

Weight

Clothing choices

Body modification/surgery

Drug use 

Food socialization 

I’ve been interviewing people about their early history with food and control 

Listening to what they learned in the past

Giving them an opportunity to be seen in the present in a drawing session

I continue to look outward and inward at my own life and practices around food and body

Discerning anew the threads of what I learned 

As the threads weave themselves into my life and my work

What I Learned. Oils, 72″ x 36″. 2019

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