Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Is it a real cookbook? I asked.
No, he said. Or maybe any copies of The Book of Revenge?
Now here's the thing. Customers bring all manner of things through the queue, and I do not bat an eye. I pride myself on not batting an eye. I don't care if they're buying nudie mags, or books about sex with robots (true story), or the biographies of Glenn Beck or my arch nemesis Tim Tebow. I don't believe in censorship, and I don't believe it's my business what people choose to look at or read. I'm just happy they're buying it and not sneaking it into the men's restroom (often true story).
So when this gentlemen asked for these materials, I said, without any inflection: Is it about anarchy?
Because I was starting to get a feeling, but I honestly wasn't sure. Are we talking about bombs, or baking? Sometimes you just don't know.
This is when a co-worker chimed in and helped me. She told the aspiring Anarchist that we hadn't seen those books in in awhile. He thanked us and left, and a few minutes, while working with another customer, I replayed the conversation in my head and began to laugh hysterically.
"Is it a real cookbook?" I had asked him. What the hell was I thinking? What would they teach in the Anarchist's Cookbook? How to bake cookies without measuring precise cups of flour--because you know, down with the rules, and all that? Tips for using barbecue grills illegally? All the things a young anarchist needs to know about roasting a chicken without government interference? Don't measure out the vanilla extract, it might say. Just go ahead and pour in as much as you feel. Freedom from state! IS IT A REAL COOKBOOK, I asked him??
We have these customers, at Borders. One old farmer in a worn hat. It took me awhile to realize that he wasn't coming in for books on woodworking or metallurgy. He was coming in to have a chat. Once I wised up, I made a point of small talk. How's the table coming. How you handling the heat? You seen our new stuff on ship-in-a-bottle-building? He'd go away for an hour. Then he'd return.
We'd chat again.
I never asked if he had a wife. I don't think he did.
I worry about him, and the others like him. Widowers or old bachelors with no one at home. Borders is the only gig in town. Where are these folks going to go? Will someone remember to set aside the magazines on Will and Kate for the old ladies? The Linda Lael Miller McKettrick series that are supposed to be sent back? Will the people at the other stores know the difference between the need for a book, and the need for human connection?
Will the old men do their crosswords alone?
I learned today that Mercury is in retrograde and really, that explains it all. Don't worry, my mom taught me how astrology is the devil's work, but here's the deal: You know how attached I am to my Gemini sign (married a Gemini. BFF is a Gemini. I always get along with Geminis, and you know we're the Twins, right?) and if you were a fly on our wall these last few weeks you'd have witnessed the effects of Mercury getting all down with its retro self for sure. Things are topsy-turvy. I spoke harshly to Mr. V THROUGH THE INTERNETS which I've never done before. We can blame the heat too, ok? Let's blame that. I know this much is true: I've been working out, I've been taking my B vitamins, I've been eating healthy and avoiding sweets and my stress levels are still through the roof.
Add to that the fact that my computer froze up twice today and we've got ourselves a case of Old School Mercury. No doubts about it.
Here is what I want: to keep bees. I can't think of a better thing on any level. Metaphorically, spiritually, environmentally. The honey bees are dying. If you start to cry apocalypse I will hold on to reason for awhile but eventually I will give in and fret. I don't want the honey bees to die. I don't want the world to end, because I'm a big fan of this place and call me crazy, but the apocalypse doesn't sound like a kickin' good time. There's a high chance of pestilence, and a low chance of Dean Winchester.
I like the community of the lives of bees. The female leadership. The precise, miraculous proportions of the hive, both in structure and population. It is mystical to me. How do the bees know? Bees do what they were made to do without asking why. Their yield is both beautiful and sweet. I think I could learn from the bees.
I would like to keep bees to help the earth. Because bees in the ancient world linked this world to the next. I would like to keep bees as a meditation for my soul. To learn to take something I've been afraid of in my life, and coax it sweet.
Did you know you have to talk to your bees? Neil Gaiman knows. Beekeepers say that if you don't tell the bees the news, they'll leave. They'll want to be informed of births or deaths. They want to know if you've fallen in love. There were earthquakes all over today and I can't help thinking that someone ought to alert the bees.
There are so many things we still don't know.
"I dreamt--marvelous error!--that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures."-Antonio Machado.
I don't know. I think that says it all.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Things That End in August
Yesterday they said it would hit one hundred degrees.
Today I wake to clouds and thank the stars. I've got a nasty cold and the end of summer weighing me down. In the living room the goblins fight until they put on Michael Jackson videos and go slack-jawed and silent. I'm reminded of my young self, watching Kids Incorporated. I think how I still watch Kids Incorporated, only now it's called The Glee Project.
I've been waiting for Colorado peaches, but they haven't come.
The neighborhood kids walk up the block to school in the mornings. We've got until next Wednesday. I'm awake to see them because I'm headed to work at Borders. I jumped back on the sinking ship, thinking how Ayla wants an American Girl Doll for Christmas.
I tell myself this isn't going backwards.
It's noon. I hear it's Friday. Octoyeah is going down on twitter, otherwise I wouldn't know. I have spent the last week shopping for back-to-school shoes and jeans and fretting over finances. Indy is starting Kindergarten. I'm not worried the way I worried over Ayla, because by now we've been there and done that. But Indy is my baby. My last one. And her starting Kindergarten only means that I don't have babies anymore.
Ayla's Fairy Godmother sent her an ipod with Harajuku girl headphones. The word for how Ayla felt upon receiving the gift: honored.
She knows I'm a big girl, Ayla said with a tried-on solemnity. I'm going to call her and tell her how I feel like a big girl.
It took a Fairy Godmother to honor something Ayla felt within herself. Her mommy, my job is to keep her young. But I also want to honor her, when she shows me who she feels she is.
You are a big girl, Little Bird. In full bloom.
So it goes.
Monday, August 8, 2011
On Saturday I made that pizza and it was so good that I made it again for Sunday lunch, and just now for Monday linner.
I left off the chicken and the bacon because I'd intended to go pescetarian again anyway, but then we went to the Boulder County Fair and I had a moment. I was starving and didn't want anything fried or on a stick, so I ordered a pulled pork sandwich. Then I followed the girls around the corner and there were the happy piggies, panting in their pens.
I had them in my mouth.
It was really weird. I felt bad and backed away from the jolly fellows. We meandered through the livestock pens, where I witnessed one farm girl sobbing and clutching her sold-off goat, and where all the chickens and turkeys and roosters were in individual pens, in a room with a few big fans in it.
And I didn't like seeing them in those cages.
And I thought about how much worse things are for the animals I actually consume.
We've been making delicious Roovy Smoovies nearly every day, as our purple-stained carpet would happily bear witness too. The girls christened them so, I don't know if they heard it, or misheard something, or just made it up. My brother-in-law Z once told me that I know smoovies aren't healthy, don't I? And now I would like to latently tell him to suck it. We make our Roovy Smoovies with lots of frozen berries and bananas, fat free organic yogurt, almond butter, wheat germ, and flax seed. You know what? Sometimes I add a scoop of Nutella and I declare that dandy. My point is that now I'm going to start tossing in handfuls of kale and spinach. You know, for protein. I hear you don't taste them in there, and I can afford that now because remember?
I also made Frozen Cherry Mojitos over the weekend. In fact, I made them twice. I didn't have any rum so I made them with some 1800 Tequila. Because I'm down like that. I ask you: is this the kind of action taken by a person who always has to follow the rulcipes? No. I can cut loose. Get jiggy, and all that. You know what other rule I scoffed? The mint rule.No mint, no rum, no problem! We are not bound by tradition here.
I left out the mint because the store was out.
It would have been better with the mint.
The mojitos were delicious, and also an appropriate send-off for my uncontrollable drinking. Just kidding, I've never imbibed uncontrollably, but I do have a confession to make.
I feel bad because all this time, I've been misleading you. I've been letting you believe that wine and I are always off together, having a good time. Relaxing and feeling all happy and cool and stuff. But that isn't true. The truth is, wine and I aren't having that much fun. Wine and I are exhausted. I have half a glass and I'm useless for three hours. And beer? You know how I'm always telling you about me and beer, and all our wonderful adventures, the tandem bike rides and the ice skating in the park? Also not true. When beer and I get together, I just feel bloated. Hard liquor? We actually feel kind of sea-sick together.
We aren't having any fun.
Don't get me wrong. I still intend to get ludicrously drunk at weddings and scream at everyone to do the Beyonce, come on, I said do the Beyonce, damnit! I just think alcohol and I are taking our relationship down a notch. We're going from married and together every night to one night stands. We'll meet up at parties and fun community outings, enjoy each other for an hour, and that's going to be about it.
So that's what I did this weekend. Shaved off some unnecessaries. It always feels good to do that, and anyway, who knows what might pop up in their place? Perhaps a butterscotch hued pair of leather. . . boots. . .that I can. . . wear to the. . . county fair, to see the. . .cows.
Post Script: In case you were wondering: the only thing free about the "free" Boulder County fair were the view of the carnies and the scent of manure.
Post Post Script: I learned that fancy word for fish eater from my cousin. She's got smarts and a sweet job in sustainability. When we were kids and I was buying Sour Punch Straws, she was saving her pennies. I think she might be my hero.
Post Post Script: I hardly ever actually get drunk. It just occurred to me that I assume you all can see my tongue in my cheek. But maybe you can't.
Over and out.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Things People Say About God
People come to Starbucks to talk to their girlfriends while their kids run around--hey, I've done it too--or to type forcefully on their laptops, or sometimes to sit with a mystery novel.
The old men come to sit and read the newspapers, and the friendlier baristas, the ones from Colombia and Venezuela and Brazil, stop to chat with them.
The old ladies come to do the crosswords or to stare out the window together and pepper the long silences with afterthought comments on the weather, or their children, or the deteriorating health of their friends.
Teenagers come to be really loud and self-conscious and buy Venti frappucino's with their parent's money. (Hey. I did it too.)
And then, some people come to Starbucks to talk about God.
My first creative writing class in college was taught by a poet named Cactus May.
He's the one that taught me to do this.
So if you don't like it, you can blame him.
This conversation was held between a man and a woman, both in their late twenties. I can't write as fast as they talk. I can't make out every word. I don't fill in any blanks.
Man: You just get it in you, because if it's not in you, there's nothing to enlighten. . .. .I'm ready to move forward and I'm graciously trying to help you get on to the same page. . . . if something hurts your ego, what does that mean? And what does God do with that?
(The woman replies, I can't hear her)
Man: We'll check in, just see how they're doing, ok it's going well thus far. . . what you have to do is you have to clear yourself. . . waiting on God frees you from having to do anything. .. . just start to listen. That's what listening used to mean. . . . new season. Sitting down cleaning all that desire empty I'm going to be used for your service. . . his goal. . . . empty out of you that's how much God wants to fill you up you have to give him that. The cup he had to drink was death. . . . Would going back to school make you more righteous?. . . We can go to Wal-mart and look for some skin product for this guy. .. . we all have plans for our lives but is he coming into this what is god doing. .. . exactly. . . attempting to get back on that page but together. . . ministry. . . headed towards getting a house and we're gonna get comfortable. Honey it's on Christ. . . laid down his. . . all I'm doing is because this stuff comes but it has to come in God's. . .seek ye first the kingdom of god so I don't even wanna think about a house. I don't wanna think about kids all I wanna think about is god's will for our lives when you seek it on your own it gets crazy so you gotta be willing to put down all that stuff thank you for the treats honey god told us to give you that gift card.
Then they got up, and left.
Presumably for Wal-mart.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Central Park in October 2008
Yesterday I came both home and within two inches of smacking my husband's noggin with a cast iron skillet in the same exact moment.
Our house faces east and is full of the sun. It's two billion degrees outside, exactly. The flies keep getting in and I'd spent the night before being harassed by a nasty black rickety cricket. Then I walk in the house and what is the man doing? He's boiling potatoes. On the stove. In the house. The sun is shining, the blinds are melting, and the man is boiling potatoes. It gets worse.
He's boiling the potatoes in order to mash them.
And on the counter is a jar of gravy.
Excuse me while I run to the bathroom and puke. Why don't we just eat a really greasy quesadilla, put on a Fair Isle, and go to the county fair to ride the Spyder at one in the afternoon? I explain to him that this is how his actions make me feel. What's the point? We've had this conversation a hundred times. We'd have it again this afternoon when I got back from the movies and could smell it the second I stepped out of the car.
Don't be too hard on him. It's not his fault that he's a Californian. When we were newlyweds, I told him gently at first, and then with ever-increasing consternation, that Russian Pork Chops and baked acorn squash are not things we make in July. Stuffed peppers are an autumn food and chili is only for months with an r--and even then, we're getting liberal. We don't buy blueberries in January, and we don't break out the dutch oven until well after Labor Day.
The issue we have here comes down to seasons. I go on insisting that foods are seasonal, Mr. V goes on priding himself on "not being a slave to the rules". I calmly tell him that they are not rules, just firm preferences colliding with common sense. You'd think he'd get less of a kick rebelling against those, but no.
Some things are just in our nature.
In May, I had a hag's toothache that summer would be a quiet season for me. A behind the scenes sort of time. I declared myself on blogging hiatus only to post almost every day that week. But then my posts tapered off. My tides receded. I needed to be inward, and so I have. I've been busy. I've gotten a lot done. For whatever reason, my spirit asked me for a bit of solitude and I gave it that.
Call me crazy, but the light felt different today. The clouds broke open in the late afternoon, the after-storm breeze was chilled. The light hit the trees at a certain slant and I heard the promise of fall.
Things come and go. My husband is out of his damn mind.
I believe in staying true to the seasons.
"hag's toothache" means a nagging feeling or a gnawing intuition, and I made it up just now.