Posted by Erin B.
This week has been a blur of animal poop, dairy desserts, constant interaction with the public, warm weather jubilance, and consistent meals with the fam. A very excellent blur, as blurs go. Last Monday it was lovely and warm so my dad busted out the grill. Tuesday was my little brother’s 12th birthday so we had family friends over for pizza, chocolate coconut cream cake, and loud every-body-picks-their-own tune Happy Birthday song singing. Wednesday we all ate dinner at the Broad Street Café so I could take part in the open mic night they do. Thursday we ate together, but the details of our meal have gotten lost in the blur. Friday I was not in a good mood, and we were having leftovers. Our conversation was sparse and I left early for work. Saturday redeemed us: we had pancakes for dinner, and our conversation was interesting. Dinner felt too short and I left for work late. Pancakes, I’ve decided, are a redemptive thing. Sunday we had a bunch o’ peeps over for dinner (and hey—if you’re reading this, then you’re invited next week. Do come, and stay to watch the Oscars if you wish). Tonight I had to work until 6, and my dad had to leave for the airport by 6:30, so they went to a restaurant right near my work, and I rushed over as soon as I finished and we had a quick but lovely dinner together. We talked about 28 tables and how unexpectedly nice it is to have a set dinner time every day, but also how committing to a set time displaces things like social time and last minute dinner invites.
Outside of dinners with my family, I’ve been more conscious of how meals spent with people are way more satisfying than those spent without. On Sunday I had brunch at Parker and Otis in Durham with good friends, and it was the perfect kind of meal. We had no other agenda, so we ate without hurry, sat outside, and our conversation long outlasted our food. We had many laughs over empty plates and lukewarm coffee. Also: eating a salad in front of a computer for lunch doesn’t seem to change the workday up enough to feel like I actually got a break. It’s kind of my unexpressed goal (well, until now) to do something interesting for my lunches. My lunch hour is a sacred and full of potential, I like to spend it eating on the roof with co-workers, or at a restaurant with co-workers, or geocaching with co-workers, or sitting outside on benches with co-workers, instead of eating in the office or in front of the computer alone.
Posted by Morbo
Our family eats together at the table pretty frequently already. Because we have younger kids we have a no-TV-during-the-week policy (the final weeks of March Madness is a notable exception). So far, not eating on the fly has been only slightly inconvenient. The kids will come to dinner when asked, the hubby works from home and it’s just not a problem when prioritized.
The bigger revelation was yesterday. The children had Tae Kwon Do and the hubby came along. After, we went for a stroll on UNC’s campus. This is something we did regularly when he was still a student and I was occupied with baby #1. The weather was beautiful, a young man was practicing his guitar on a bench and the people, hurrying and hunched under large bags full of books and laptops and who knows what other tools of Serious Academic Inquiry, saw the kids running by and flashed us huge smiles. It was surreal, the sight of my daughter’s hair billowing behind her as she chased her older brother with our youngest son trailing doggedly behind.
Yesterday afternoon was an attitude shift. Sometimes they happen. I get consumed with what has been lost or the unattainable things ahead of us now and I forget that a good walk and good weather changes everything. I wonder why I forget these obvious things.
Naturally we had dinner on Franklin Street. At one of our favorite places that we haven’t been to in forever. We took our time, the littlest of us hopping out of his seat wandering about. There were at least three spilled drinks. Multiple trips to the counter for stuff we had forgotten. My daughter was inspired to share a long rambling story that none of us could follow, her big brother interrupting often with, “What do you mean? What?”
It was a lovely (and still a bit unearthly) continuation of a good walk.
This is all to say that what I have learned so far is:
1) It’s just not that hard for us when prioritized.
2) Eating out should be a part of a larger experience.
Posted by Erin B.
Sooooo…I’m totally diggin’ this experimentation. It’s definitely much easier than last month’s, and requires much less sacrifice–though sacrifices aplenty have been made so far, in the form of cutting work hours, missing parties, and getting much less/no time with non-work friends, it’s all for a worthwhile pay-off. Which got me thinking about applications and takeaways, because the hope of an experimentation is that you glean some life lessons over the course of it, and I’m not sure what I’m gonna get. I already know I love hanging out with my family, and while my normal routine has fallen into a place where I hardly ever get to eat dinner with them, I feel like my life is the way it is right now for a good reason and purpose, and therefore am not going to continue cutting my work hours back after February. I’ve also realized how many meals I eat with people as a part of my normal routine. This concept is not one that rocks my world–I’m totally a people person and have long valued the magic of conversations that happen over long meals with good people. Once a week I meet with friends over breakfast to talk about how our weeks went, I rarely eat lunch at work alone, and when dinner isn’t on the fly due to job#2, I am most of the time eating it with somebody (usually a friend) at a table face to face, engaged in conversation–and absolutely with the T.V. off. So I’m not learning the value of conversation over meals, or the concept of People as entertainment (no other forms necessary!).
But I am defintely getting something out of this, even if I can’t put my finger on it quite yet. Every day around 2pm, I start looking forward to dinner. Maybe it’s the comfort of knowing something wonderful is consistently happening at the end of each day, that I’ll get home and the house will be filled with something delicious smelling, and the family will all converge at the same time like our table is a magnet. Part of my dinnertime excitement is enhanced by not asking what we are having. I am a sucker for variety and very much enjoy being surprised. Last night we went out for a celebratory dinner and I purposefully didn’t ask where we were going until I arrived home, and then when we got to the restaurant (Micheal Deans), I did something I’ve always wanted to do. When the waitress came around, I told her to just pick something for me and tell me what it was when it came out (it could be seafood but no other meat). My meal was only so-so, but I’m definitely going to do that more often. Variety is the spice of life, as they say.
Submitted by Erin H. (I may need a new name…there are so many Erins this month!)
First off, my husband, Evan, is wondering why these experiments of mine also seem to involve him in some way. Luckily, this one is a bit easier on his lifestyle than the Month in the Raw in January. I suppose there will be a lot more “we”s in these posts than “I”s this time around.
Our dining story: Both of us grew up in families that love to eat. Both families made a point to eat together at dinner. Meals were typically home cooked 6 days of the week. Pizza Fridays were my family’s splurge. So, all this pre-conditioning carried over into our marriage: dinners are cooked and at the table at least 5/6 days a week and it became that way without much discussion. However, we recently moved to Indianapolis from Durham and our lives are not quite settled. This is the pivotal month. Pending anything unforseen, we will be moving into our new house at the end of the month. Typically, this would be a situation in which we could easily slip in to a series of eating out sessions mixed with TV mixed with “grab what you can and go” episodes. So this experiment is happening at an interesting time.
- Continue to eat meals “at the table” with Evan. As there may not actually be a table for a time during the move, there may be picnics in the future. But for us, “at the table” more represents a time to enjoy the food, catch-up, continue to learn about each other, laugh and discuss the bigger questions in life.
- I work from home and have a habit of eating breakfast and lunch in front of the computer. I will attempt to eat these meals “at the table” with myself – taking time to enjoy my food, check-in, listen to myself and contemplate the bigger questions in life.
- Our relocation to Indiana brings us closer to family and old friends and presents the opportunity to meet and make friends in a new place. At least once a week we would like to take advantage of this new location and have at least one meal with friends (old and new) or family “at the table”…because food always tastes better when shared with many.
Experiments are supposed to leave you more educated once it is all said and done. I’m interested to find out what new things I can learn about Evan, myself, my friends and family.