"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Monday, September 05, 2005

all I need to know I learned from onion (st)rings

We ate at Pyramid Brewing last night in Sacramento and it came to pass that there was something on the appetizer menu called "Onion Strings." Battered and deep-fried and seasoned innocent little strings of onion, with a side of "chipotle catsup." [Note: author can't remember what spelling was employed on the menu but 'ketchup' doesn't seem to match 'chipotle' as well.] I was determined to have these Onion Strings. I had fully recovered from the french fries I had eaten two or three nights before. Celia tried to call on the better angels of my nature by asking a rhetorical question, i.e. "why do you like to eat things that hurt you?" but I would not be moved. Onion strings / rings are practically a vegetable anyway; how much harm could they do? Besides, they would be a good warm-up for the meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

When the pile of onion strings arrived Celia noted that it was larger than my head, which though apparently proportional to the rest of my body, is still a good 23 1/4 inches in circumference at the widest point. I dove in, and yes, they were good for the first 10 or 20 bites or so. Celia ate some too and thought they were pretty good. But of course she was right, they turned on me even before we left the restaurant. I got off fairly easy with moderate nausea and a feeling of bloatedness, but I couldn't help but think, now Emily, is this the diet of an aspiring triathlete?

Later that night we were at Tower Books and I purchased a copy of TRIATHLETE magazine. I have long resisted purchasing triathlon-related magazines because, unlike Runner's World, they don't seem geared toward entry level people. The pictures in the magazines are of men and women in skimpy lycra outfits with nary an extra roll of skin on their bodies, riding $2000 - $4000 and up bicycles that would appear to be totally useless for any other purpose than a triathlon. The bike I'm going to be "racing" with is the same bike I ride to work and the grocery store, and it has a rack on the back for toting the groceries. I confess to having a fair amount of lycra in my wardrobe but let's just say I have adequate stored energy reserves in certain areas. However, closer inspection of the magazine revealed that there are some beginner-oriented articles (despite lack of photo evidence). And, I thought, if I really got into this sport, maybe some of the bony-looking freaks in the magazine would be my friends some day, and I shouldn't judge them too harshly. I envy their commitment to their training; there are other parts of my life that are too important to me to sacrifice in favor of being a great athlete, but I know I could still do better.

Taken together with the lesson of the onion strings, the magazine prompted me to reevaluate how serious I want to be about this endeavor, and perhaps how serious I want to be about my health in general. I'm going to be 33 years old tomorrow, maybe it's a good time to work on nourishing myself with a little more compassion and good sense. I'm not ready to swear off all things deep-fried but maybe I can handle a moratorium until the triathlon. Only four weeks away.

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