Bento Box

First, an expansion of my response to Eli on his blog: my trips to Hanover most evenings really IS an institution to me. I’ve been doing it since the fall of my Junior year in High School, with brief interludes of not cropping up as I travelled or moved. Even when I was living in Burlington, I would come down relatively often to hang out. There is something I crave that is (at least somewhat) satisfied by the experience, and I’m not sure what it is. I could say social interaction, but I do enjoy myself even when alone (though not as much). I think it might be better defined by the term “social experience”. Social interaction absorbed through osmosis by merely being out in the middle of things.

Why social experience, instead of social observation? Social observation is too abstracted a term, too much like removing yourself from the environment and viewing from the outside, which is not the case. You DO have an effect on the environment, on who sits where, who talks to whom, the mood and types of interaction occuring. Passive participation, which is different than observation. Whether you like it or not, no man is an island, and pretending you are is foolish.

I’m just rambling, though. Ultimately, I enjoy hanging out in Hanover, I enjoy hanging out with my friends in Hanover, I find that it is important to me. Thinking about all this has left me with a realization: Seattle feels like one long Hanover hangout session. We’ve wandered all over the region (more on that below), and the feeling remains the same: the same feeling I gain from hanging out in Hanover.

On to other things. We hung out with my friend Robert yesterday (he runs the advertising/marketing for Penny Arcade, and does a bang-up job in my opinion). The poor guy was sick as a dog, but was still pleasant company, and treated us to a very nice Mediterranean restaruant called Spazzo’s. The place is on the 9th floor of a building out in Bellevue, looking out over the bay: very cool. Hopefully our inane ramblings didn’t scare him off too much, as it would be nice to hang out again when he’s feeling a bit better.

Before heading off to dinner with Robert, Mickey and I wandered around the University district, which was a great deal of fun. They have some fantastic rose bushes growing by one of the fountains on campus (anyone who has been to the University of Washington will know the one I mean) and a variety of interesting buildings, all of which was excellent sight-seeing/photography fodder. We wandered through the various bookstores, including a small one that I can’t remember the name of but is about a block down from the University Bookstore, which had a great selection of photography books (none of which I bought… though I did buy Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny on impulse based purely on how fantastic both authors are).

After getting back from dinner (yes, I KNOW I’m not being linear. Get over it!), we hung out and read for the rest of the day. This morning, we were up early getting out of the way of the cleaning lady, and had some breakfast down on Broadway at a place called Julia’s on Broadway. Quite tasty. We wandered around for a few hours on Broadway, which is kind of a hipster punk hotspot, full of way-too-hip-for-us places that make Hot Topic seem like the Gap. Let me just say that there is some REALLY nifty garb down there, that I’m sure we will look through again once we are out here and no longer on a buying moratorium. (A few exceptions, such as some small books like Deus Irae and Godling, Go Home!, and a really nifty blouse for Mickey.)

After enough time had passed that we felt sure the cleaning lady was done, we swung up and grabbed my camera, and headed over to the Space Needle (which is out in Seattle Center). If you’ve never been… yes it is touristy, but worth doing at least once. The view from up top is spectacular, and they have all sorts of nifty overpriced junk in the gift shop. We wandered around the top, taking pictures, finally got bored, and then wandered around the area (the EMP Museum is there as well, which is this amorphous metal plated building that is indescribably cool).

Not yet ready to head back to Arik’s place, we swung by the REI headquarters, and wandered through the massive building, looking at everything and carefully going “ooooh” and “aaaah” plus the occasional “tch, maybe when we get out here.” There is also a pretty decent wrap placed called “World Wraps” in the building, which was tasty, quick food (I remember it from when I was first in Seattle with my father, about 6 years ago). Mickey got a wrap, and I got a bento box, which leads me to the title of this entry. (Hah, thought it was random, didn’t you?)

Despite the fact that I don’t eat any kind of fish or seafood, I like what Japanese cuisine I’ve had (I know it’s been “Americanized”, please bear with me), namely non-fish Sushi (cucumber rolls, avacodo rolls, et cetera), Hibachi, and bento boxes. A bento box is (generally speaking) a compartmentalized tray, containing a full meal… salad, appetizer (whether dumplings, sushi, or whatever), a meat, vegetables, even a dipping well for soy sauce in some cases. I love the concept of these types of food. It lets me be sequential with tasty food without getting funny looks.

I’m slightly OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive). It comes out in strange ways, such as the fact that with very few exceptions, or when I actively try to avoid it, I eat my food sequentially, one thing at a time. I’ll eat each type of vegetable out of a stir fry, I eat all of one color of skittle at a time. It’s not something I consciously do, and didn’t realize until Mickey pointed it out early in our relationship.

The beauty of bento boxes and hibachi and sushi is that it, in a way, encourages sequential eating. With hibachi, things are made one at a time, so while the next portion of the meal is being cooked, I’m chowing down on rice or noodles or meat or veggies or whatever. With sushi, since presentation is such an important part of the meal, it doesn’t occur to me that it is made of many things. I look at it and see a nice little cluster of 4-8 pieces of bite-sized joy.

The bento box accomodates my OCD by compartmentalizing. My subconscious doesn’t need to separate everything out, because the tray itself does that for me. This is a beautiful thing, in my humble opinion.

I’ve been thinking (horrible habit, try not to start if you can), and the metaphor of bento box kind of fits my life. I like having a wide variety of things going on, but I don’t like to mix them. And moreover, I want to be able to choose which thing I will do and when, like choosing a compartment of food in the box, that I don’t have to do it in a specific regimen or order every time. Biggest point of all, I like to focus all of my attention on one thing, and I don’t like getting interrupted when I am doing that thing. I am quite capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time (quiet in the peanut gallery!), but when I’m reading, or playing a game, or writing, I don’t like getting distracted. I get absorbed into what I’m doing, which is the only way I ever actually get something done to my level of satisfaction. It’s why I get irritated when people ask me to do something and then continue to jabber at me about other things, expecting me to maintain the same level of attentiveness I had before I was doing something else.

Y’see, that’s a problem. I very much focus my attention when talking to someone, and usually tend to JUST do the conversation (which is one of the reasons I’m generally not very talkative at dinner. I’m either eating, or talking. Not both). So when my attention gets divided, I am no longer able to give the amount of attention to the conversation as I’d like.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this, but it does explain a bit about me. I’ll leave it here for now.

5 thoughts on “Bento Box

  1. The winds carry words once spoken. However the memory of winds is short, many words not flow easily. Few words be heard longer. I have spoken!

  2. I always knew that OCD exsisted. but I could not find anyone who had the same line of behaviors as i do…. the eating 1 thing at a time thing has haunted me for my whole life. I do know that I have only eatten my food out of order 1 time. if you can call eating a hamburger (and not the other food of the same type on my plate), instead going to single french frie by mistake, thus preventing me from being able to finish my meal.
    I Make sure not to do that again- it litterally ruined my whole day. Even as a child my mother would try to get me to eat a slice of my favorite cake before i had completed eating the rest of the main meal. Letting me know it was okay would not get me to take the slice of cake was not enough to make me diveret from my task. I hate it becaus i would like to be able to eat “more than one” hot course during a meal.

    The only other behavior that i will mention is my complusion (ironically) to over explain… If I am asked a question requiring simply a’yes’ or ‘no’ answer-I am off to the races! i will tell you the y/n answer. but then I MUST Explain the reason i came up with the answer that i did. i you try to stop me- i will talk louder and faster just to get it out. if i do not i feel like i’ll explode right there. I was just put on antianxiey meds- the seem to help a bit and slow my thinking to less than a run.

  3. While it sounds like I don’t have OCD quite as acutely as you, I am glad I was able to offer some validation that you aren’t alone in this. I think it is actually fairly common in lesser degrees of obsession, IMHO: it’s called having a preference.

    I know, I know, a wacky concept in this day and age, but there it is.

    I over-explain, too. I react in a variety of ways, but honestly I just try and relax about it and figure they just don’t want to hear it if they interrupt me.

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