Note the headgear!
All images taken from one manuscript of the Bibliothèque nationale de France’s copy of the Les Maqâmât d’Aboû Moḥammad al-Qâsim ibn ʿAlî al-Ḥarîrî, known as manuscript Arabe 3929. The Maqâmât (or “Assemblies”) are 50 stories, written in the mid 13th century C.E. in northern Syria. The prose is written in the style known as saj’, meant to be learnt by rote and recited to others by heart.
This image of of the hero of the story Abu Zayd (on the right of the image) and his wife. This is Image f40 in the manuscript.
This image is Abu Zayd and his wife being arrested. Taken from Image f49 in the manuscript.
Abu Zayd appearing as an old woman. Taken from Image f85 in the manuscript.
Another picture of Abu Zayd as an old woman. Taken from Image f88 in the manuscript.
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I read a news item the other day that clamped my throat shut with rage tears and will not fade from my brain.
Did you see this article?
“I think I would’ve starved at the Olympics if I didn’t have him bring me food,” Maroney said.
Nassar’s simple gestures shielded a disturbing ulterior motive. Maroney claims he would take advantage of the gymnasts’ insecurities, depicting himself as a savior of sorts, in the midst of competitions.
“[He would] buy me a loaf of bread,” she said
It’s not just how deeply fucked up it is to starve children, period; or to do so because they can jump higher when they’re skinny. It’s not just the horrible culture of child athletes being broken like ponies, and worked harder than rented mules. The anger about all of this is real, for me; immediate and deep.
But it pushed other buttons, stirred some deep pots in my basement hearth.
Food is involved. A child in need of food.
An evil man disguised as kind…who won’t feed a child for nothing. Coaxing trust with a trail of breadcrumbs. Betraying the real gratitude and abusing the trust. Being a savior but also cutting a kid open, taking a pound of flesh from a kid who has none to spare. A kid who is hardworking and hungry and trying so hard…cut up for his pleasure. What kind of monster doesn’t take care of a kid?
I’m just so upset about this I can’t even describe it.
Haven’t been posting about it since my shame receptor burned out, but going to the fitness club is now painless. Helpful hint if I ever fall off again:
Changing clothes is my least favorite part of the process. I hate flapping my tits at the gym (terrifyingly packed with coworkers) while I try to untangle my sports bra. I hate changing pants and shoes at work, because our floors are not safe to touch and my ride is waiting while I fumble with keeping shoe soles from touching work clothes. It works well to split them. Takes less time at each end, lowers stress all the way around.
Still need to find a reliable distraction. One session on the treads was wrecked by having more than half of the TVs showing the same revolting right-wing news show, with the other two TVs valiantly screeching about the same stressful crazy-time stuff from the “please don’t kill people without good cause” / AYFKM end of the spectrum, with the rest being two-teams-I-don’t-care-about-playing-football-poorly. UGH. But I can’t read when I am treadmilling it, I hate podcasts / being read to, and my music choices always, always fail when I make playlists in advance.
Failing so far, not worried for now. I have a plan that is ready to execute, but I also have a workplace happy hour tonight.
Unhappy hour. We’re all ready to quit or burn the place down. One reason for the happy hour tonight is to break in a new team member, see if we’re heading toward jelling, or heading toward disaster. The person seems like a dim shipwreck but we’re desperate here.
Has been better. LOTS better. Home-prime is alienated for both of us. My best friends are struggling with marriages and illnesses and newly emptied nests and new normals. My own reason for being is having surgery next month. My aunt is guilt-tripping me to visit her before she dies, and my baby sister, who is still in her 30s, not only had her breast cancer return, but found that it’s metastasizing. That gut-ache is too much to talk about now, or here.
Visualizing what I look like in a state of rich contentment is depressing. Had a panic attack at work yesterday, leading me to skip the gym, go to the store, have junk food for dinner, and not do as I had intended and make a plan for mental health. Hell is certain.
I don’t know what makes this Egyptian, as opposed to any other North African region or nation. Unless it is the birthplace of red lentils, I may have un-Egyptianed it by running in my own direction. This was primarily to differentiate it from two other soup / stew dishes I make that are very similar: a spicy tomato-chicken-peanut stew, and a chickpeas-yam-coconut milk affair. All are flavored with what might generically be called “curry”, albeit with highly individual profiles.
Here is my first try at the recipe I see everywhere called Egyptian Red Lentil soup:
Toast the curry spices, turmeric, and some cumin, then saute in butter and oil.
Add onion, saute briefly; add celery, saute until both are nearly tender.
Add potato. Cover with water and increase heat, tasting and re-seasoning. Go heavy on the cumin.
Add a couple of inches of water, then add bouillon to mild strength.
Re-season with saffron, coriander seed, 5 spice, hot spices, bay leaf, half the garlic, and even more cumin.
Add lentils and the bay leaf. Slowly heat to bubbling and turn low to simmer.
When the lentils have cooked, they will lose their form. At this point, add the rest of the chopped garlic and heat only until it is no longer raw.
Serve with or without blending, with or without garnish.
Let it sit overnight if possible — it’s divine the next day. It’s spectacular with ham, if your dietary restrictions permit.
If I were going to merge this with my other favorite North African vegetarian soups, I would add carrots, integrate the yogurt and lemon juice, and blend.
As it is, I would recommend this as a warming winter soup or as a summer side dish, scoop-able with pita or mounded under the meat.
Fire-roasted cumin-rubbed lamb kebabs
Spinach salad with pecans, tomatoes, and sweet pickled red onion
Spicy red lentil stew served cold, with pita and lemon wedges
Torshi (a sort of fermented / pickled vegetable — Persian giardiniera)
Iced mint tea with honey and cucumber
Lime sherbet with pomegranate arils
11/17 – Friday. Got off only a little late from work. Saw that the coveted near-end treadmill was free and jumped on it…only to learn that the TV it faces was NOT turned to the coveted channel. I do not know how to operate the remote, and am too timid to change a channel in front of a room of strangers who might be watching it…even if it is showing the same damned news program that’s on three other screens. DAMN IT.
Learned that being able to tune out to cheerful home & garden reno shows is a big part of my tolerance for otherwise dead time on the treadmill.
Ate delicious tacos afterward, too — shredded beef toothpicked into a tortilla, frozen, and deep-fried, just like those at Juan’s (Irma’s) in Phoenix. Sublime. Hard to diet with a few days left to Thanksgiving.
Decided not to go to the gym over the weekend. Every damned day is just too intrusive. Maybe one day it will be part of my real self-care routine, along with brushing teeth and washing bod, but for now it is part of my work day: go to work, go to gym, and my work day is not over until I’ve gone to the gym.
I plan to cultivate a gym routine that decompresses me from work, but for now, getting the routine in place is the key step I have to complete before I can move forward. (Realizing that there are steps in life, one BEFORE the other, is a big deal for me, and new enough that it might slip away from my awareness.)
But the gym is not yet helping me decompress. First I will need to lose a LOT of weight, and I will need to improve my cardiac strength. The doctor says I’m fine based on healthy blood pressure, but when I exercise, the chest pains and overall feeling of weakness is real.
Over the weekend, I ate too much, drank too much, and didn’t sleep nearly enough. When I did sleep, I had nightmares about work. Part of it is the stress of my workplace, period, which involves high expectations and low support, and part of it is the misery of one of my clients. It’s weighing on me heavily.
Over the weekend I cooked and played video games — didn’t sew, didn’t clean — and did run errands including holiday groceries. But I woke up at three this morning and never got back to sleep. Had to call in sick to work — I was so groggy / logy that I was not in a position to make it to work safely, maintain environmental awareness, or perform to the minimal degree of competency. Tried to nap earlier, but I was cycling hot and cold; the best I managed was a few hours of horrid dreams (involving my job AND trying to find my lost mother AND going to a loved one’s funeral) followed by lying in bed, shuddering in and out of sleep, finally giving up and getting up.
Today I am grateful for mind-numbing video games and TV shows that are total fluff. Chores are good therapy, but some days I don’t have the energy. Id est quod id est.
Stress level: Left work two hours late, still behind, high stress. Bawling my head off for a suicidal client as I entered the gym, only to run into chipper coworkers…one of whom followed me into the locker room and chatted at length as she peeled outer layers to a bathing suit underneath, and I unpacked and repacked and re-un-packed my workout clothes to avoid flashing my tits at someone who outranks me.
There should be a special stress modifier to amplify running into coworkers in public, with bonus gold star and oak leaf cluster for being cornered in a changing room.
Exercise: light day due to short sleep, high stress (chest pounding before I even started) and kept the incline and speed low until the end. I cranked both a few minutes before cool down and moved my heart rate from moderate to borderline high. Honestly, the distraction of home and garden shows, Jeopardy, and the sportsball makes the time pass for me. 36.5 minutes at 2+ mph / 2%, 3.5 minutes at 3 mph / 5%, 110 – 140 hr.
Feelings: a little shame and self-loathing, possibly residual from work, not specifically linked to any gym activity or incident.
Breakfast: two eggs and a tsp of butter, ~200 kcals
Lunch: mug of saffron rice made with rich stock, probably an easy 500 kcal (~300 rice, ~200 schmaltz)
Dinner: big bowl of leaves (negligible), chicken lunch meat (100?), a mushroom and a two-inch section of small zucchini (who cares, call it 25) and some oil and vinegar dressing (200? I don’t care.) 400 total?
This would put me in good shape, but I’m about to have a large cocktail and something crunchy, so add another 400-500. Still might be lower than usual.
Wish I could exercise hard enough to work out my ya-yas without giving myself a stroke.
Workout status: 40 minutes walking, 5 minutes cooldown, steeper incline today, higher heart rate (120-130), currently having chest pains.
(Didn’t work out yesterday due to working two hours later than anticipated. 😦 )
Feelings: looked forward to going to the gym; bored on the treadmill; worried about those chest pains. Not an iota of shame.
[Maybe there is something to this whole idea of letting your feelings run their course without trying to stifle / smother / repress / out-think / overanalyze / reduce / diminish / discount / etc. those feelings in a way that most people would (inaccurately) call gaslighting. If you would condemn your crummy ex-boyfriend for treating you that way, why are you treating YOURSELF that way?]
Body: taking it easy means very little soreness. Here on Day Two, we are glad to be setting a good new habit, not trying to overdo it and break routine to recover, not causing damage that will lead to delay. A good habit can be made better.
Dinner: bowl of micro greens topped with the meat mix for PF Chang-style lettuce wraps: pound of ground turkey and med-small onion fried in a little oil; 2 T *each* minced garlic, minced ginger, hoisin sauce, shoyu, rice wine vinegar, sriracha, and finely sliced scallions; can of water chestnuts, matchsticked; drizzle of sesame oil to finish, dressed with more splashes of vinegar and tossed with the leaves. Tasted very good, but enough sodium to knock you down.
SUPER short sleep last night — woke at 4:13 and never went back to sleep — but I bet I sleep like the dead tonight.