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Binging

I could say it was the unexpected Christmas ice storm that provoked my behavior: but that would be a lie. I think we recognize aspects of our behavior, aspects that we control or control us, depending on circumstances.

But last night after minus 26 degree weather and comfortably tucked into my sofa under a chenille afghan, I had to admit that every aspect of my evening existence screamed : binger.

Binging Behaviour One:
I love anything chocolate and although I had purchased chocolate popcorn to share with my husband that night, the bag was being steadily emptied from noon onward. I rationalized that the 2 second walk to the kitchen was burning some calories. Did I really believe that closing the bag with the chip sealer would somehow deter me from finishing them?

Funny how we can delude ourselves when we want to: imagining, bargaining, making deals, whatever. I admit the delectable savouring, the prolonged sucking of the chocolate bits off the popcorn, very slowly to sustain the moment when the hardness softens and then melts dreamily on the tongue- is tantalizing.

So being drawn back to the kitchen over and over again to scavenge for- just a few more handfuls is like a siren’s call to hit the rocks no matter what. Interestingly, I did not feel guilty in the slightest, each grabby searching handful re-establishing the lure of my addiction. So much better than just regular popcorn, or whole chocolate bars, although Cadbury’s fruit and nut hits the right note sometimes; however, this popcorn satisfies me. It has the crunch, the velvet texture, the crispness, the nubbly feel on the tongue and the noise I love that usually comes from stomping on chips- to my family’s annoyance, but fulfills my aesthetic need. I think as well it’s the uneven textures of chocolate on popcorn as I hold it in my mouth. It invites me to continue on until the bag is empty, even turning it over to seek for crumbs.

Binging Behaviour Two:
Frustrated as I await two shipments of wool from the UK, I needed something to do with my hands. I finished the wonderful Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, appreciating her thought that we seek beautiful things because it leads us on to bigger beauties, and her understanding that art is a midpoint between reality and illusion, perhaps a hiding place when life becomes really too hard to bear. The book recalled for me the rapscallions from Dickens’ streets, the Oliver Twists in the memorable abused character of Boris. I thought The Goldfinch a good example of the picaresque, a genre that depicts realistic episodes as the protagonist travels through multilevels of society: from New York to Vegas to Europe, scams and relationships and lost boys in search of identities. Throw in art work and I am happy. Binging again as I cannot move from being ensconced in my couch unable to tear my eyes from the page, except perhaps to snatch popcorn from the near empty bag.:-)

Cathy Tile’s book group’s next book, The Watch about an Iraqi woman with no legs coming to bury her brother’s body in Iraq is a pretty grim read, echoes of Agamemnon. As antidote, I take out the yarn to knit my grandson a new sweater to distance myself from the ugliness I know that pervades the world, particularly war stories. Thus, calling a hiatus from my binge behavior.

Binging Behaviour Three:
Most people knit a bit, leave a bit, resume whenever. Not I. I am so obsessive that I do not stir for hours until the garment is almost finished. No matter tearing eyes, I am driven to complete, breathlessly pursuing a sleeve, a design, a cable pattern to its end.

Last night I completed an entire back. To put it down is so difficult as I almost hear it entreating me, to complete me, make me whole, scream the elves locked inside the garment, get on with it., win the race and scream success. In my closet there are umpteen knitted projects in a variety of colours. I fantasize that I am problem-solving by following a pattern, making it look as it does in the patternbook picture.

Yet quite often, I concoct solutions to puzzles that are not really there , for I do not read ( former English teacher that I am!) properly, quickly scanning the instruction and then having to tear back because there is a hole where no hole should be. My addiction is balanced by a belief that my fingers are being kept supple as they race back and forth over the lines of craft . Yet for me, there is much that fascinates me because of the interweaving of colours and textures, thick and thin, variegated and soft, that sets my mind on fire, satisfying that aesthetic call.

Binging Behaviour Four
We were even binge watching. This new term we recently discovered in the newspaper this holiday describes exactly our- at least my viewing habits. Netflix runs great stuff: from House of Cards to Orange is the New Black, Hannibal and now Weeds. Weeds is old stuff but this holiday, we have been truly watching show after show, often 2-4 a night of the 25 minute variety.

The characters as discussed in previous blogs are immoral. In this case, Nancy in Weeds is a widowed mother selling pot- to the destruction of her two sons, Silas and Shane. She momentarily feels compunction, but not enough to get an ordinary job as most of the population must, to survive. The people she interacts with and that includes her creepy brother-in-law should never be around children.

I imagine we are supposed to think this plucky skinny woman who always has a plastic drink container complete with straw in her scrawny hands ( “This woman has balls,” says a biker pot dealer) is impressive and the equal of any guy. And so she may be, but she pushes her family over and over again to the edge of danger, involving herself in crimes beyond drug dealing.

I know it’s only a show and yes, I binge on watching it. Maybe like the knitting and popcorn to get to the other side of it; the end ( ironically to start all over again), but the show presents a morality that has become more and more acceptable to kids because it is constantly dramatized, de-sensitizing the issues that provoke outrage not acceptance. As in the humanization of the mom who goes to great lengths to provide for her family, just as Jordan Belfort in Wolf of Wall Street, maintains his bilking people of hard earned funds to make money is justifiable,we are shown the tough resilience of keeping the course, fighting off bigger fish so these anti-heroes can be successful in their quests and triumph over difficult odds. Even some softening of their characters is included : “ as your mom” in “Weeds”, the horrible mother murmurs, as she kisses Silas’ head. Feh.

It’s true that there would be no story if Nancy kept her pants on and went to church and chose to sell purses at the Bay. The anti-hero, the trickster gets the space and like the Perils of Pauline, we are transfixed by her penchant to survive at all costs.
Yet, our society has lauded so many bad heroes that we become junkies in our need to watch and cheer them on. From video games to reality shows, these examples cannot be good for teaching values, and instructing good from bad.

Although Orange is the New Black presents a plethora of humanizing narratives, the protagonist Pyper on furlong for her grandmother’s funeral is shown wrapped around a bottle of booze, at least admitting she is a changed person to the one she was when she entered incarceration. She boldly informs those who have maintained her image that she is no different from the other inmates, white colour crime or not, and that she has succumbed to doing bad things and she understands how similar she is to the rest of the inmates.

Someone, also a former jailed inmate, wrote to say that although the show brings attention to incarceration, the show is glamorized and unlike Oz ( strong revulsion on my part as I used to say, “ It’s like being inside a toilet bowl) it does not reveal the reality of jail.

Yes, I am a luddite, grown up in other times and I know that life will continue as it does shaped by the contexts that continue to change and reflect the mores, advancements?, sadly technological advances in society.

Do I enjoy my binging?

Yes, I do.

Fortunately I have learned that I must not keep the house stocked with chocolate, especially chocolate popcorn. My husband has become the gatekeeper of addictive shows. But unfortunately the store of sweaters continues to tumble from my cupboard and as long as there are beautiful wools with great textures, fabulous colours or pattern books that call for me, I will respond, lead by the lure of their song.

Well, what to do while the husband falls asleep in his chair?

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