I have forgotten how to be a Strange Woman Alone — I am in a smallish town upstate this weekend, trying to remember. To see what it feels like now to wander without agenda, to eat dinner without commentary. In most ways it’s not as fun. I find I don’t want to dip into anything too deeply. I want to wait until he gets here, and see it better with him. I want everything witnessed doubly and passed through another brain and then back again. I’m going to refrain from assigning value to that but there it is.
I’d, more specifically I guess, forgotten that when I am alone I become open without meaning to. It feels like a liability to walk around this town unaccompanied. How many times in the past 26 hours have I turned a corner quickly, or just turned my head. Looked down. Two people are a shield. I feel unarmed; dangerous.
In college I wrote a paper purporting that — bear with me now — Virginia Woolf writes female subjectivity into the streets (flaneuse!) with Mrs. Dalloway, and while I am not saying I would like to rewrite my senior thesis, or even reread it - I already regret evoking it - I have often thought that I would change that thesis statement now. Include an addendum, something less hopeful, less fictional. This is the tragedy about college, about writing life before it’s lived, about not knowing that particular impossibility of women (or this woman) passing through public space unobstrusively.
Now I would write about how subjectivity for women is often at odds with the men around us, cornering us in Hudson art galleries, reeking of bad weed, wearing their barn coats, checking out the real estate print-outs in all the windows, grey-bearded, saying, “Whoops!” as they knock into us sideways. I would write now about the challenge of consuming one’s surroundings with agency and with (false, but comforting) dominance when one’s own “city stroll” is retracted every few blocks with a “Hi there little lady.”
Is self-consciousness at odds with dominance? How to do both? Or neither?
Perhaps this is not a woman thing. Perhaps it is just a human in the world among other humans thing. And either way it may be that it’s better to be shaken into reality, into community. Maybe this double-consciousness is why I love women’s writing so much. To watch and to know you’re being watched.
Women have to go from laughing inwardly at, “Richard Mapplethorpe” (Could it be?, looking up and there is, yes, a magazine tear-out of Robert Mapplethorpe photos labeled “R. Mapplethorpe, 1987) to having an older, 60ish man in aforementioned barn coat sidling up to you in a quiet corner, trying desperately — really just flinging his head all over the place, like a slithering snake, trying to catch your eye.
For my part, I did look up at him open-faced as he approached. This was my mistake. I was so joyous and smug and eager to tell someone, anyone, that they got it wrong, that this man’s name was not Richard Mapplethorpe, that come on, people, what the fuck is this exhibition anyways, a clever teenager’s bulletin board? (No, it’s an often quite brilliant but so poorly presented and in the context of shitty, shitty Hudson art and in sad wooden frames that it makes absolutely no sense — this is part of it’s allure but also renders it meaningless and weird. I wished the we of my me was here to remark on how Amazing! it all was. Part of me now is always spent wondering if something I’m seeing is something he would think is “Amazing!” or not. My instincts are getting better every day.). But when I looked up tonight and saw this grey-bearded barn-coated man, I looked away from him quickly, felt in danger of sharing anything with him, retreated from my exuberant wine-drinking self and stared straight ahead at another 80s magazine photo juxtaposition.
But he says to me anyway, as I’m shuffling away, and quite pointedly:
“Ah, beautiful nudes, aren’t they?”
10:14 pm • 15 October 2012 • 71 notes
There’s a lot going on here to unpack.
- This is me in the basement of my apartment building on Sunday afternoon.
- This mirror is right below where someone spray painted — in bright red, I might add — NO PAIN NO GAIN. Soon after, our landlord started locking the basement and hiding the key in the shadows of the doorway. It was hidden in plain sight, wrapped in a piece of black trash bag so it blended in to it’s surroundings. The basement isn’t locked anymore, and anyone can go down there. But really only we do. And yet: NO PAIN NO GAIN.
- We have this comically successful tomato plant in our backyard and it just keeps producing these wonderful, beautiful, yellow fucking tomatoes which in six short weeks have gone from being our magic earthly inheritance to a major stressor.
- WHAT THE HELL DO YOU PROPOSE WE DO WITH ALL OF THESE TOMATOES?
- We’ve made tomato jam. Mark Bittman’s. Jalapenos, lime juice, sugar, chili powder. It’s very…specific. It’s really great. But really how much can you eat? Don’t tell me to can it in the real way! I do not want to put it up. I don’t want to boil jars multiple times. In fact I have literally everything you need to can/pickle/preserve. I have tongs, I have a funnel, I have Ball jars, I have the huge stainless steel pot that I requested for Christmas. I STILL REFUSE.
- The tomatoes aren’t even the story. The story is that there is a colony of mosquitoes in our backyard and they have one thing on their (collective) mind: total annihilation of the human race.
- I am not one for bug spray. It seems cancerous, poisonous, onerous, odorous.
- I still use it. The organic natural kind but still: I use it.
- That should tell you all you need to know.
- Not really.
- WE HAVE TO PUT IT ON OUR FACES.
- We spray the bug spray into our hands, rub our hands all over, and then rub this noxious crap into our faces. Our eyelids!
- This is what I wore outside on Sunday. I felt like I was finally getting wise to the situation. Button up buttoned all the way up. Leggings and socks and sneakers. Only my face and hands revealed. We went out and it was a lovely day — not even that hot. I felt fine in my mosquito repellent uniform. Bug spray sweat was not even dripping into my eyes. There were so many tomatoes. Too many. The plant is starting to die (it’s not one plant, it’s a few. We don’t even know anymore how many. Just this great big bush, really, climbing and collapsing and overgrowing everywhere. We are on the one hand terrible tomato stewards and on the other, really fucking good at growing tomatoes. I think it’s a fluke. Benign neglect. The tomatoes feel empowered! And useful. We have confidence in them to figure it out for themselves.) and I feel very sad about that, though D has assured me this is the natural course of things.
- On Sunday I found myself somewhat frantically trying to tear out all the dead leaves and vines with my bare hands. Just grabbing and throwing and yanking and a little shameful, wanting to get it over with quickly. Like when you’re eating something really bad for you and you eat it even faster so it goes away and you can forget more quickly that you ate it. But there’s always more.
- Then suddenly mid-vine yank I felt overpowered with HISTAMINES. Like some threshold was reached and all of my body from the waist downward suddenly itched with such force that I jumped in the air and shook all over.
- When I shook, a sea of mosquitoes flew off my body. I saw them fly out in all directions.
- I had the immediate urge to slap and scratch and SCREAM, really.
- In my leggings.
- “Baby, I have to go in.” “Okay, can you take the tomatoes?”
- I stopped, though, to take a picture.
- I got upstairs and realized I didn’t have a key.
- I ran back down frantic and scratching, adrenaline pumping through my body.
- “I NEED KEYS. I’VE BEEN EATEN ALIVE!”
- When I got through the door I stood in the kitchen and yanked my pants down around my ankles, stepped out of my shoes and RAN to my bed, scratching furiously.
- I laid face down on the bed scratching and rolling around and finding new bites and just losing it.
- D came in. “OH MY GOD!”
- He immediately grabbed my phone from me to take a picture of my bare ass and legs, COVERED in mosquito bites.
- We counted 36. All swollen and red and huge.
- I really wish asses weren’t a thing you aren’t supposed to show people. How hard it is to have this amazing picture of my ass covered in these insane bites, and not really have anyone I can show it to.
- I mean, I showed it to Halle.
- I don’t think I can send it to my mom. I keep thinking about that, though.
- Halle says it seems like something I can show people. I said no, I don’t need everyone to know that my thighs are bigger than my ass.
- She said she thinks maybe everyone’s are when you’re lying down.
- I’m not sure I believe that. Like at all.
- I realized later why they only bit the back of my thighs and my ass.
- That’s where the leggings were stretched thin enough that the mosquitoes could get through to me.
- Thanks, Uniqlo.
- Thanks, ass.
- Thanks, universe.
- You’re welcome, world.
11:21 pm • 10 September 2012 • 130 notes
I was biking home over the bridge tonight, as I am WONT, and first, I had this amazing revelation. On the first hill up, about halfway through, I was feeling really tired and was like, fuck it yall I’m going into an easier gear.” I have never done this on this hill before. It seems like an act of weakness. But today, 9 months into this game, I relented. And it was revelatory! I just enjoyed riding up this hill, the sun setting, the wind blowing, me alone on my way home, thinking about whatever I wanted. People passed me on my left and right. I saw their shadows getting closer and would move out of their way. I didn’t care. I was enjoying myself. Why some people passed me on the right when I was on the very right-hand side of the bike lane, which they had to veer all the way into the WALKING lane (something I’d never be able to do, for fear of “getting in trouble”) to get around, I don’t know. Perhaps this transgression thrilled them. I marveled at their calf muscles. I kept gliding along.
Along the straightaway (lol, no idea how to use this term but going for it anyhow) I switched back to normal person gear and went on my merry way. The 2nd hill is shorter and somehow much easier to mentally handle and I was enjoying it, too. People kept passing me and I kept internally nodding to them as they went. A lot of these people are this certain breed of bike rider that is really into the whole bike riding thing and really ENJOYS passing you and when they do you just feel how important it is for them and they sort of radiate unhappiness and smugness, but also success. I want no part of it. They often travel in little unintentional packs, these men (always), because they are all trying to pass each other at the same time. They get in each others way in a way that is totally unnecessary - just, as I see it, a complete manifestation of their inner Smallness. This swarm of bike children. I guess I don’t mean to discount these men altogether, just this part of them. This is a personality flaw. I think, if encountered with it, they would feel embarrassed. I think I would enjoy tell them they are one of These People, as a way to falsely establish my dominance, which is a personality flaw of my own.
Anyway one of these bike flocks was gaining on me on the second hill. I could see their collective shadow approaching, and one of them (the pack leader?) was starting to shout. I think he said some “you” sort of word, like “honey,” or “doll” or, “hey there.” I don’t know. It was minimally objectionable, if only because this is the world we live in. I didn’t flinch but began to suspect, in these few seconds, he meant me. I looked to my left and saw a pack of 3 or 4 (it’s always ambiguous), sidling up to me, the Alpha bike looking at me as he held forth. He was moving past me but also looking over his shoulder, and saying something about how I needed to adjust something on my bike, how honey I saw you getting on the bridge and you really, for your own sake, need to [something something] —” Other heads in the bikeswarm looked over their shoulders, too, and I looked back at the sea of them and nodded, said, “Okay, okay,” even though I didn’t quite hear him. He kept explaining what I needed to do and then said, “Better yet,” (he was far ahead now and really had to yell), “COME TO MY BIKE SHOP AND I’LL FIX IT FOR YOU.” “Okay!” I nodded. I scrinched my face up and craned my neck to hear, or pretend to try to hear, when one of the men in the bikeswarm actually slowed down and turned around to look at me and yelled, “YEAH, GO TO HIS BIKESHOP IF YOU WANT TO COME BE MANSPLAINED LIKE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN MANSPLAINED!” And I was so baffled because as he yelled this I looked at his face and realized it was my boyfriend, who has been a part of the bikeswarm all along, but I hadn’t separated him from the pack in any way, or looked in any of their faces. But here he was! Witness to all of it, just the way you wish they could be — your people. I tell him these stories about my experience as a woman going about the world and he can never BELIEVE it — this idea that people will just, as I put it, traverse the chasm of individual personhood and feel the need/perogative to COMMENT on you and how you are going about your life —and I was resigned to the fact that he would never really witness it. How could he be with me at the same time I was in the world alone with myself? How can someone you love, someone who is part of your subjectivity, ever really experience you as other people do? Oh, it’s so weird. But anyway there he was, just happened to leave work around the same time, which never happens. We have literally never ridden over that bridge together, though we each ride it twice a day most days out of the week. It was so strange to see him there, so out of context (even though it’s a context he inhabits daily!). We stood there, our bikes parallel, taking up the entire right lane. We kissed in our helmets then I felt self-conscious. I said, “You ready?” He said yes. We shook our heads about what had just happened. We couldn’t believe it. I rode ahead, his shadow close behind me on the way down the hill. My brakes squeaked around a turn and I cringed, thinking he would surely comment on this, tell me I needed a tune-up. But maybe not now. I grinned the whole way home, really enjoying myself, and being Known, and the weather, and our little team of two, riding along, laughing over something we hadn’t even talked about yet. Something to be aghast about over and over for the next few days. “HE DIDN’T EVEN SAYTHE NAME OF HIS BIKE SHOP!” “I. KNOW.”
11:43 pm • 27 June 2012 • 149 notes
“Where the hell’s your mother?”
The other day I was running around the neighborhood before work (yes, one of those people) and I saw this CHAIR someone had put out on the street, leaving it for the taking, and I found myself starting to make a mental note of where it was swearing that if it was there on the way back we would come back for it. I don’t actually remember what the chair looked like, or if it was even a chair honestly, but I do remember thinking we should come back for it and then realizing all at once that I totally understood this whole other, human person aspect of my mother that I never got before: running. This was it.
See, my mom was always that mom that was telling us about some great chair in some person’s trash pile, and we were always laughing about it. She would regularly take detours on the way to other places, all of us in the car groaning while she got one more look. She’d circle the block and if we were lucky, swear that she and Dad would go back once it got dark. We’d say nooo and act embarrassed but we must have admired her resourcefulness. I say we must have because I feel that same giddy excitement she probably did then, and now understand that conspiratorial tone she would lay under all of it, like we were getting away with something, or getting the better side of some deal. Like winning. But now, running under tree branches and around people walking their dogs, staring at all the trash lined up at the curb, I started to really know my mother and her geography of houses and old chairs and dogwood trees and for sale signs. This was how she knew — she ran past all of it, before any of us were even out of bed.
We’d wake up to notes on the counter, cereal left out. She would be back and stretching on the carpet by the time we were on the couch watching cartoons, the dog rolling around near her, licking sweat off of her forehead. I remember the way she smelled when she was all sweaty: like dirt. I remember her lacing up her shoes and saying she’d be back and how it would take so much effort to peel our eyes away from the TV to look at her and nod. She would be gone but still around somehow. We’d have her notes and the knowledge that she would be back. Sometimes she’d be gone longer than we thought and I would privately worry. My dad would say, “Where the hell’s your mother?” and my heart would beat fast. I’d play out the scenario of her death and practice going through the different emotions. How would be find out. What would we do that night, the next day, and so on. At what point do we say, Okay, she’s been gone too long, where is she? And I never did figure that out — how to hear, “Where the hell’s your mother?” and think, “Oh she’s probably fine.”
So now I go out in the mornings, much later than she did, carving out concentric circles around our little apartment. Sometimes with him, sometimes alone. I am away but still around. No one knows where I am exactly but I am also at a finite distance, one that I will have to travel back myself. It is a distance the nuances of which I study three times a week. What side has more shade, which intersection is less busy, which buildings creepy guys hang out in front of, which sidewalks slope downward or feel like too much of an expanse. I look at everyone’s trash. I think about what is waiting for me at home. When he would start to wonder. I start to think about all the ways he could be lying dead in our apartment while I am out running for no real reason other than physical fitness. I keep running anyway, just faster and back in the direction of home. “He was dead and she was going for a run.”He has never run without me but if he did we would be in trouble because while I run with a cellphone velcro-ed to my chubby bicep, he runs without one. He is the one who carries the keys. Someone is probablynot pointing a gun at me right now, ready to shoot and kill me, but they could be. I don’t allow myself to turn around and look back. I know if I start I won’t stop.
She always showed up a few minutes later.
11:59 pm • 6 June 2012 • 71 notes
This is the worst photo, through the window screen, of the cat couple that comes and hangs out in our yard. I hardly ever see them but this morning looked out the window and there they were. They snuck under the twine and between the posts that D strung up around our little GARDEN of sorts, and were lying amid our tomato plants, just as we imagined they did when we weren’t looking. I was so thrilled to catch them there, all stretched out and probably just finished peeing on the radishes and digging up some freshly-planted seeds.
Through their garden terrorism these cats have become things of myth to us, invisible little demons whose handiwork we find the next day. Everything all dug up and shat in. We’ve felt powerless against them. We, or at least I, had this strange realization about things like this — you make something and leave it outside and anyone who wants to can just go tromp around in it. Of course. Why hadn’t I realized it sooner?
My mom says cayenne pepper but D isn’t buying it, not for cats, he says. I still don’t know. All the books suggest inserting a bunch of tiny posts all over the dirt, like popsicle sticks or something, which seems unnatural and mean. It would make me feel spiteful, like we used an unfair advantage to defeat them. D says once the plants grow more, get past seedlings, the cats will leave them alone. Instead of rolling my eyes at this I laugh a little — hell, maybe he’s right, maybe cats do demur once they see your endeavors are already fully underway. “Oh, these plants are really growing, nevermind then, I’ll shit around the corner!”
So when I caught them it was like seeing a famous painting in person for the first time. There they are! The whole yard to stretch out in and they squeeze through into our little marked off area, leaning on the most precious and most fragile of the plants! But they also looked so darn cute out there, like they were enjoying it for us while we had to go be at work. All I could think was that I HAD to get this on camera so I darted across the kitchen for my phone but as soon as I could open this window with the broken lock the cats saw me and walked over, their tails intertwined, waiting for something. We looked at each other, they ambled around side by side. I debated giving them some of my cereal, but did not. I tried to remember they were the enemy. I took a few pictures of them, but as soon as I lifted the screen, they untangled. I wondered if they would jump in. I closed the screen and the striped one went and laid in the patch of budding wildflowers. I took a picture of that too, but it was too far away.
10:22 pm • 22 May 2012 • 28 notes
This book this book this book. I found it on what was for an afternoon the Lost & Found table at work and the guy who cleans our office told me to take it. I hugged it to my chest. I am sure it’s someone else’s. This blog post may be my undoing.
This is I guess what people call a “food memoir” which I suppose means it has two strikes against it and makes people stand up and shout, “I COULD DO THAT! WHY HER?” from the bottom of their bellies, instinctively. But shut up for one damn second because this book is the goddamn best. Fuck every other book.
I don’t know that it’s a memoir so much as it’s this weird thing where she just…basically is like working under the premise that she pretty much has it all figured out when it comes to eating/cooking/etc and has lived to tell about it, and is now going to tell you about it. She is also an excellent writer, downright lyrical. Only occasionally annoying (I know!). She’s just like, “Okay look here is how you [boil water, make the best salad, be amazing, have a dinner part, etc].” And then you’re like, Oh this is everything I ever wanted to know, written in paragraphs and just fucking TOLD to me in this one book.
Maybe that isn’t your thing. If it’s not, it’s not. I personally feel like this was the book I didn’t even dare hope to exist (oh my god, someone pay me to write blurbs for them). I self-soothe by reading cookbooks cover to cover. There is not only the repetition but also the assurance that I am gaining real, finite knowledge. I never really remember the recipes I read - at best I remember that one or two exist, later on when I need something — but as I read them it all feels very essential.
In the age of Wikipedia (sorry) there are so few things we can’t, if we want to, immediately know (I know that statement is too grandiose and general to be accurate, but you know what I mean!). And I want to know every great recipe in the world. I want them all inside my head like a rolodex and I want to stare at my cabinet and see three things and make something that will make Dustin tell me I am a genius and I’ll say, “Oh please,” and try not to smile.
Many great cookbooks start with a little bit about a “well-stocked pantry.” I study them. I go back and re-read, trying to commit them to memory. I DON’T REMEMBER ANY OF IT. I don’t follow it! I never have once. But I still straight-up long to know the Answer to this. Some deep part of my brain is so sure there is a Platonian pantry out there and SOMEONE knows about it and maybe if I read every list of suggested ingredients for a well-stocked pantry, this knowledge will be mine and every time we go to make a meal I’ll say things like, “Oh, red wine vinegar? Yep, GOT IT.” (Just want to say that we actually do have red wine vinegar. #countit) Nothing would be out of my reach. No quick trips to the corner store would be made. Dinner was fate. We were meant to eat this perfect amalgamation of whole grains, a root vegetable, and vinaigrette. We are good at life.
[When trying to conjure dinner out of the handful of things already in our kitchen, I will NOT go to the deli on the corner that has everything. That’s cheating! Someone else always goes and I try to protest and then end up revealing that I am challenging myself in some unnecessary way for no real reason and I have to give in. Fine, go buy the leeks. “If you want.”]
When attempting to make dinner out of whatever it is we have, Not Knowing All the Recipes hurts my brain in this very particular way. I go searching for something seemingly just out of my reach, like a word I can’t seem to find or the way a dream fades from your consciousness as soon as you try to talk about it out loud. SHOULD HAVE READ MORE COOKBOOKS.
Sure you can google a few ingredients and find stuff but then cut to me sitting in the dark of my living room, starving in front of my laptop, reading every comment on every stupid ass Epicurious recipe that exists. Outcome: not as good as knowing everything there is to know.
Maybe we should back up. I am new to cooking. No one ever taught me. Okay, smittenkitchen.com taught me (holla!). My boyfriend has tried to teach me how to use a knife a few times but I don’t take criticism very well. I took a pickling class once. And so on. So this is very new and while now I know that if nothing else I like doing it, and I know what I like, and nothing seems too insurmountable.
So I can make pies and handle Thanksgiving dinner and host dinner parties and come home after work and whip something up, studied recipe by studied recipe, but I want more of that thing that Tamar Adler is referring to, I think, when she talks about “grace.” This is something I can know so completely in my head but I find it hard to articulate. I even have this hand gesture to try to explain it. A certain je ne sais quoi. You wave your hands, palms down, to the left and right a little. When you have this thing, you move through the kitchen with ease — back and forth, left and right — like that in my mind. You glide. Dinner appears before you, fully-formed in your mind’s eye, as soon as you open the fridge. You get a little thrill and then get to work. You see some leftover something in the fridge and it feels as if the Universe is unfolding according to plan. You have tamed life and made it yours. You are the picture of resourcefulness. You roast beets on the weekends. You save the broth for next time. When next time comes around you feel unparalleled levels of assurance. In yourself. You glide.
This state of being is what I want to unlock. This is all I want. Not how to make bread but how to make bread with ease so that it fills the house with bread-ness in the morning before work and you feel like you are probably on at least your 3rd or 4th life because no one got it this right the first time. Step aside, every other measure of success. This whole homemade bread thing is all that matters!
This is basically what this book is about. And if you think I sound like a loon, granted, but this woman is even crazier. In the best way, obviously.
Here is a test to see if you would like this book. Read the sentence I have pasted below and if you hate it in a bemused way — like you groan and laugh and read it aloud to someone but are also like Okay lady I see where you’re going, then you should read it. If you downright scoff and hate the world, this book may not be for you:
“The degrading of mayonnaise from a wonderful condiment for cooked vegetables or sandwiches to an indistinguishable layer of fat has been radical and violent.”
It’s that authority! It’s like, only someone with her level of Kitchen Grace could call mayo hate violent. I want her to hang out with me and make bold proclamations about the status quo.
My mom is great and I don’t want a new mom, but do you ever find yourself wishing for some wise, idealized person to swoop into your life and tell you how things are done? In reality I would end up trying to poke holes in their worldview and start resenting them, but I still long for this sort of presence in my life. And I think in a better world I would have a disembodied Tamar Adler telling me what to do and how to live, in all sorts of ways. Because she gets this way of things, and exalts it, without quite naming it, again and again. And while I don’t really remember any of the recipes or all of the Things To Do / Ways of Being (like saving stems and cooking with them later, roasting vegetables on the weekend, having little kids shuck peas for you), I do feel like I have internalized her approach a little. And I try, a few times a week, to find myself feeling like, Yes, I have done it. I am gliding back and forth around my kitchen with ease. Everything feels like fate. The universe is unfolding as it should, and by that I mean there are leftovers being brought to lunch and soup is always better on the next day. That sort of thing.
7:38 pm • 4 March 2012 • 219 notes
I feel the need to catch everyone up because recently people have started sincerely asking me what’s new and if I’m happy and that makes me feel like obviously I am not writing about my life on the internet enough.
Just to get you up to speed, the soup I made was Orangette’s broccoli soup. It was very good. Well, I think so. I made it and Dustin was very enthusiastic about it but I found myself just sort of shrugging, then remembering that I don’t really “get” soup. You just sit there eating this puree of things that is basically just a very fancy warm liquid, which, sure, I love liquid as much as the next person but it doesn’t really beat out food on my list of things to put in my body (it’s a short list, that one. I won’t go into the rest of it here).
Anyway so I did sit there wishing I was eating the actual food (broccoli, leeks, butter) itself but still eating many bowls of it. And it was indeed better the next day (womp womp, SOUUUUUP, better the next day! ugh, shut up I hate that). A few days later I even got a phone call that basically went like, “Guess how much of the soup I just ate?” “How much?” (there was like, a quart of soup left) “ALL OF IT.” He requested that we put this soup in our vows, and we don’t even have vows. That is our only vow: to make this soup. At least one more time. So I guess it was a success in that regard. Do you like liquid broccoli? Well do I have a soup for you! (It’s actually very good soup.)
A week or so later, because I have misplaced ambition, I made the 44-clove garlic soup. Now THIS soup I can get behind. Mostly because 44 cloves of garlic cannot really be eaten without being put through the souping process. You roast half of the garlic (roasted garlic: the best thing. And yes I deeply resented having to put that amazing roasted garlic in a damn bucket of liquid) and then peel the other half, which is a perfect opportunity to do the two bowl magic trick! We did it and it worked and our hearts were filled with a joy known only to people who have better lives! After you let it cook in broth for awhile and then PUREE it like it’s really ill-advised baby food, it tastes unlike anything that really exists! Well, that and garlic. It is creamy without having much cream. It’s not even that garlicky! Your coworkers will ask what is in your soup and you will say, “44 cloves of garlic,” and smile knowing you are about to blow their motherfucking minds. It’s a conversation starter, this soup. And for that, I will abide it.
It bears mentioning, however, that I did feel a little “crazy, maybe in a good way” after I ate this soup. My heart was beating fast? I googled “garlic overdose” and there were many results? Mostly from people like me writing into insane forums? But I did not die.
Soup aside, things are good. Great, even. I feel like we are really beating this winter thing. Like maybe we have evolved past it (by ruining the planet). But also a part of me feels guilty and is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like maybe this means winter will come in March and stay til June? I’m scared. Happy but scared.
I also have a false sense of confidence lately that this year is the year that I have mastered winter. Mostly because winter has meant 44 degrees. These are my new winter Things that I am using as a defense against seasonal affective disorder:
- Clementines. Literally 5 a day.
- Wool socks. Why did it take me so long? WHYYYYY?
- Buying flowers (see above). This was my new year’s resolution. I know. My ambition truly knows no bounds.
- I dunno, soup?
Really just, “clementines,” though. Fuck these root vegetables. Go back where you came from (the ground). We went to the farmer’s market today and I thought it would be great and we’d get some kind of Life merit badge for just even being there at this point but THERE WASN’T EVEN CELERIAC. Fuck everything.
Oh, and if you see my theme — ha. I just accidentally deleted everything and now it’s some insane one from like 2004 (2004 in Tumblr years is like, ‘09).
Philadelphia was fun! It was a trip that gave you that trip feeling you wish all trips gave you (and this point I am just saying “trip” again to fuck with you), where it falls outside of good or bad and just felt necessary and right and new. I want to ride a train again soon.
This sign made me so excited. It’s so perfect.
I wanted to go back to school. My stomach jumped peering in classroom windows. We sat with Arielle and had tea. I was sure no one would come. Who did we know there? We made that book so long ago. But the first person who came was a backer, a stranger, who never actually got her book in the mail (oy, oy, oy) but who was still so great. And there were dozens (I mean, at least two dozen? Probably) of people there. And we had this little outline of what we wanted to say and got through it so quickly and there we were, 10 minutes in to our 60 minute talk. We flailed in a way we reassured ourselves after wasn’t completely perceptible but could have been. But there was much to talk about. And Melissa is going to keep doing great things with this thing we started, and I feel good about it. I want to cheer from the sidelines but I can’t help getting all caught up again, talking about this thing that practically consumed our lives for a year.
Afterward college-aged ladies came up to us declaring their nervousness, and their awkwardness, and I got to declare it back, and sign their books, not knowing what to write or if I should sign my last name? That felt odd. We ate crackers and I asked some girls if it would be awkward to eat a deviled egg and I think we all agreed that yes, the eating of deviled eggs in mixed company was an inherently self-effacing experience but completely worth it. Then one girl asked me for relationship advice. Sex advice even? I had had enough wine to actually answer. When I called my boyfriend after I told him about this and he found it quite hilarious. He asked if I could give him sex advice some time. Sure, I said. Then Melissa and I stayed up late talking and ate clementines in the morning and I went straight back to work, feeling new.
The sun sets 1 minute later every day, you know. At least according to this calendar I stare at when I am feeling hopeless. We are making it! On March 11th the sun won’t set til 7pm. FYI.
10:20 pm • 4 February 2012 • 58 notes
There is a bobby pin on the ground outside of the front door of our apartment building. It’s sitting on the concrete steps and what’s notable about this bobby pin is it has been there for at least a month. At least! I remember seeing it in its earliest days of being there and smiling to myself, thinking it probably came out of my hair when I was putting on a winter hat on the way out the door. Now I check for it most times I come in the door. The very fact that I haven’t stopped to pick it up all these days, all these trips to and from the apartment, fills me with a little thrill. I smile to myself wondering if D has noticed it, if he’s also figured it was mine, if he laughs too that no one has picked it up, and also if he, too, is a little thrilled by his own refusal to bend down and grab it. Why has it not blown away, or been kicked away, or carried away by that stray cat that sometimes walks with another cat, side-by-side, tails intertwined, through our backyard?
I didn’t look today. Maybe it’s gone.
I also have this situation with the soap in our shower, wherein we had a tiny circle left of our last soap, and it was bright yellow, and the new soap is white, so I have been trying to make it so the yellow disc of soap will become one with the big, white soap, that it will meld in and stick in the middle, and that this big soap entity will look like an egg with a yolk. I’m sorry to say, though, that it isn’t working. Every time I’m in the shower I run it into the water and sort of pet it gently hoping they’ll melt a little and combine, but then as soon as I go to use the soap they come unglued and I have to start over.
But I do start over. And those are my goals for 2012: continue to see the bobby pin on the cement steps and laugh; one day realize my dream soap amalgam.
I feel like sitting with small, important things like this are all I did this year, day in and day out. I thought a lot about writing but did not write. I read a lot, but nothing I need to recount here besides sitting up in bed reading next to each other before bed is all we usually need. If I am having a particularly bad go of things (ie, I saw Drive that week and was thinking too much about Death), we read out loud. Or sang, in the middle of the night, what we remembered of 69 Love Songs. I continued to be terrible at music but we now have a record player that makes our house feel more like a home and feels meditative and right. During the same week that I thought to myself that I missed living alone and singing in my apartment, he told me he liked to hear me sing (I’m laughably bad). So I have tried to forget myself and do it anyway. We cooked. I even brought my lunch to work a few times (bringing my lunch to work is pretty much the primary aspiration of my life). We made cookies and smoothies and oatmeal and pesto and pizzas and thanksgiving dinner for our families and popcorn for our Christmas tree. We learned to not really cook together, because we are controlling know-it-all’s. We learned I’m terrible when I’m too hungry (“hangry”) and he’s terrible in the morning. I taped Jolie’s list of how to keep your apartment clean on our fridge for months and we really almost did it. We become decent, dish-doing people in spurts. And then things go to shit and we decided that’s okay. That is, I cried a little, facing the idea that yes, I’m not a Clean Person even though I’d been trying to keep up appearances every since we met. But this is us and how we live, and that’s okay. At some point this year we became a family. I stopped drinking coffee, which was a bit of a betrayal (I got him to come home with me the first time by telling him I had an espresso maker). I started leaving the wrappers for tea bags on the butcher block every day, without really noticing (so I’m told). I drank so little that now my face gets red with half of a beer. I bought a bike that was too big and sold it on Craigslist to a woman who wanted to pay me more than I was asking for. Then I got another one. I didn’t really go anywhere, besides Michigan with his family and Florida for Christmas. I only blogged 20 pages worth of posts this year. We started two different zines and never finished them. I started paying off my student loans again. I exercised my stock options. I lost 10 lbs. I started writing copy for work — holing up in a little room and going to the Good Place, at least there if hardly ever at home. We spent the night in a boatel. I made dinner for friends every Sunday night as a rule, and then decided I was being a little crazy. We found an apartment together and the old woman who lived there at the time refused to leave. “Two weeks,” she said. We put our stuff in storage and stayed at friends places, and then his dad’s, and the day before we were set to move in the broker said she had good news and bad news. There really was no good news. I walked over the Williamsburg Bridge, often with Cassie, often talking about anxiety and the vain ways I try to “earn” happiness, to Be Good as a type of insurance, instead of living. On my birthday there was a rainbow. Then I came home and we watched You’ve Got Mail and I cried, not because of the movie but because I hate my birthday. Not because I’m getting older but because everything is not perfect and I want it to be, even when I try to make it no big deal. And we’re all going to die. Coming to terms with this is probably most of what I did this year. Better to do it, to see it, to notice it, and let it be what it is and not be afraid to enjoy it. I hate the word “enjoy” so much, but my boyfriend uses it all the time. And this is what this year has been for me. I have had to learn to sit with it and trust it and take it in of all its bare earnestness, without distractions, and without laughing or rolling my eyes.
5:59 pm • 31 December 2011 • 124 notes
So I’m on this flight from NYC to Charlotte today, it’s super-delayed on the tarmac and I’m sitting next to two people about my age who did not know each other but talked so loud that I shared that ugh i know ARE THEY EVEN HUMAN? look about them with two separate people. I would give some examples of their conversation but it would be too painful for me to revisit. Okay wait I can’t help but remember: the girl kept joking about us being in the exit row and DYING and when there was turbulence she was like, “Am I going to have to pull this lever?” (to open the door!) and I had just read that fucking, fucking article about the french guys crashing the plane in the Atlantic and it was all I could think about (this plane crashing) meanwhile this unstable woman with a extra large coolatta was making jokes about pulling open the goddamn emergency exit.
Anyway so halfway through I really have to pee and I’m telling myself stuff like, “Okay, as soon as you finish this chapter, you can pee.” (along with musing about how I’d react if I found out the plane was going down) Then I realized I could pee when I wanted because I am an adult human so I put my book away and started sheepishly assessing the situation. See, the seatbelt light was on but I always forget if that means Don’t move around or, Fine move around but if you’re sitting down, put on your seatbelt. I figured it was the latter because that’s what I wanted so I found a way to justify it. Then I looked right and left. No one was up and about to reassure me I wouldn’t get “in trouble.” I craned my neck to see what the fight attendi were doing. They buckled in in the back, but I decided to LIVE ON THE EDGE and then to go to the bathroom in the front since it was closer and there was some turbulence but fuck it right? I’m an adult.
So I got up half-expecting to get yelled at (as always) but creeped on forward in my newish boots and then stopped and stood frozen under the glowing green bathroom sign when I couldn’t find the fucking door to push in and crawl inside. Ahhh. I felt the eyes of every human on the plane on me while I squinted into dark corners and wondered if I was about to walk into the cockpit . but was like whatever guys, I can do this. Then a flight attendant from the back GRABS THE MIC and says in a fluster, JUST A REMINDER THAT THE FIRST CLASS LAVATORIES ARE RESERVED FOR FIRST CLASS PASSENGERS ONLY.
Cut to me wandering around first class like a lost puppy. This lady is basically telling me, from the back of the plane, over the loudspeaker to get the fuck out of the first class section. WHAT? So I SPIN around on my heels (rather amazingly I might add) to face THE ENTIRE PLANE, shrug dramatically and say SORRY EVERYONE! in the most teenage, sarcastic tone of voice. I don’t even know where this audacity came from. But I saw this sea of faces staring at me and rolling their eyes at the situation and laughing with me and literally like, making little comments of solidarity as I walked past. Like I just committed this brave act, crossing enemy lines to pee into a little toilet vacuum. I mean people were truly making eye contact and saying like, “Come ON!” and, “Oh like they are all just LINED UP up there waiting to get into the bathroom!” And I just nodded and shrugged and wanted to like, high five everyone as I cruised by, but instead made some kind of bad kid in the back of the class type of dramatic exhalations then sauntered, victoriously, all the way to the back of the godforsaken plane, where the flight attendants would not look at me, and peed in my proletariat toilet (proletoilet).
Anyway there was total class warfare going on in the sky somewhere over, I dunno, Virginia, today and it was amazing.
9:30 pm • 21 December 2011 • 129 notes
no pain no gain
I made it all the way up the first hill of the Williamsburg Bridge today without getting off my bike and walking it. It’s so hard, which hasn’t stopped being WEIRD to me because people do it every day without comment. People are always riding by me, old people, chubby people, people with one leg (!!). I want to gather everyone together and be like, You know this is an achievement, right? You’re riding all the way up this hill without stopping, and sure, some of you are going pretty slow, on the lowest (highest? I never know how it works) gear, and pumping your body up and down, but you aren’t yelling out about how hard it is, and no one’s nodding to each other like Hey! We did it!” No one’s high-fiving or anything and I just want to make sure I am not alone in feeling like these hills are actually pretty significant and maybe one of the most challenging parts of my day? I want to be like, WHAT THE FUCK, RIGHT? while I’m standing next to my bike staring out at the East River at some turn on the bridge where there’s room to take a break. But everyone’s just going about their commute, pedaling along without comment, while I stand there chugging on my almost-ironic-by-now I <3 YOGA water bottle that is so embarrassing to drink out of after I have slept through office yoga for the 3rd Tuesday in a row.
I stop at the same part, after the same hill on the way into Manhattan every time. I’m always afraid a biking coworker will pass me and catch me hyperventilating and texting my boyfriend about which garbage can I made it to without stopping that day. ALL OF THE GARBAGE CANS, today. I am not sure how I did it, except for heavy breathing and some sort of fake confidence that Sports People probably always use but I just don’t really have the “toolbox” for that. It’s more like whatthefuckwhatthefuck fuckeverythingfuckeverything.
And then tonight! I was riding home, pep-talking myself like an athlete, putting off switching gears and counting to ten over and over, picking trash cans to try to make it to without switching gears, when a bunch of bikes were passing me on all sides and some weirdo guy looks back at me over his shoulder and goes, “C’MON NOW! NO PAIN NO GAIN!” And I dunno, part of me is like, how dare he think he can comment on me and my bike riding!” and the other part was like THANK YOU FOR ACKNOWLEDGING THIS SITUATION. WE ARE ALL RIDING OUR BIKES HOME OVER A HUGE FUCKING HILL. IS THIS WHAT IT’S COME TO? Everyone trying to play it cool? No pain no gain! No pain no saving money on your metro card! You paid $300 for this bike you damn well better learn how to ride it over a huge hill! You have imagined yourself becoming a Person Who Bikes to Work for years now, because commuting on the L train is literally ruining your day, every day, and taking years off of your life. And now this. I’m going to google “Williamsburg Bridge, bike, hard” and see what I find. Not everyone can have such robust quadriceps that this isn’t exerting. I know the truth!
10:41 pm • 1 November 2011 • 80 notes