Meal plan

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Image by Conrad Olson via Creative Commons.

I’m changing how I eat–again.

Over the years I’ve gone from being an omnivore, to a vegetarian, to an omnivore, to what my nutritionist described as “vegan plus beef.” And back to being an omnivore.

I have ambivalent feelings about humans eating other animals. But factory farming just nauseates me, and our country is backwards in its food-safety system–especially with regards to poultry and pork.

What to eat is a deep and fundamental decision. As one (vegan) friend put it, “Eating is more intimate than sex. You put food in your body–and it becomes you.”

So, I’m going back to a mode of eating I’ve enjoyed in the past: mostly vegetarian, plus some seafood. Not much dairy. Trying to minimize the sugar consumption too (a huge challenge for me).

I’ve had low vitamin B12 and iron levels before, so we’ll see if lack of red meat causes issues. But I feel relieved having made this call.

If you’ve cut down on meat, or gone vegetarian or vegan, what’s the experience been like for you?

Who’s Your Babadook?

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Image by swxxii, via Creative Commons.

When a movie haunts me months after I’ve seen it, I try to figure out why. One of the films from last year that I just can’t stop thinking about is the low-budget Australian horror film The Babadook.

I kind of freaked out when I saw this movie at one of my favorite theaters in Boston. I was enthralled throughout, but afterwards felt so disturbed, so alienated, that I made a quick and ungraceful exit from the friends I’d seen it with and almost literally ran away.

The movie isn’t very gory, though there are a few violent moments. It’s terrifying because of its psychological accuracy, and because of the powerful anchoring performance by Essie Davis.

Here’s an interview with her about the international reaction to the film.

The story is about a single mom, Amelia, and her young son, Samuel, who has behavioral problems (i.e., acts like a right little monster). They find a creepy picture book in their apartment about a creature called the Babadook, which preys on children. And Samuel becomes convinced that the Babadook has invaded their house.

This plot taps into primal fears–some of which, as a non-parent, I can only skate along the surface of. Wanting to protect your child is hardwired into mothers, and I can barely imagine what it must feel like to have your offspring be threatened.

What the movie’s really brave about is that Amelia also bears a deep resentment toward her son. Samuel is a difficult and infuriating little boy, and the Babadook is a manifestation of Amelia’s own rage. So her life-and-death struggle with the monster is really a struggle with herself.

This is all deeply freaky–William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist, said that it’s the scariest movie he’s ever seen. But I was still struggling to find out why it tipped me over the edge like that.

I’ve struggled in the past with obsessive-compulsive thoughts, and some of them involved a fear that I was going to harm others. These thoughts are now gone from my life, due to some awesome therapy and a great book about obsessive-compulsive disorder: Brain Lock.

But this movie, with its themes of harming those you most love, tickled those old terrors back to life. The only antidote was to rush home and watch Masters of Sex until I felt reassured of my own sanity.

Anyway, if you’re a horror fan and haven’t seen The Babadook yet–what are you waiting for? It’s terrific. But it will also freak. You. Out. You’ve been warned!