That said, it’s finally hot where I live. Really hot and pretty damn humid as well. Good for the curls, bad for everything else.
I’d turn on the central a/c that I’m very lucky to have but this current heat wave is only for three days and it seems silly to cool an entire house when the newt and I are the only ones in it and I’m gone at work for more time than I’m not. There’s also the financial implications of flicking that switch. I’d rather save up for when it’s going to be hot for weeks on end.
The first thing to go when it gets like this is my appetite. But if I don’t eat I feel even worse which makes me not want to eat even more.
I’m finding that the key to breaking this lovely vicious circle is to have something quick, easy and tasty on hand. One of my favorites in this category is my version of a Turkish chicken.
Marinate the chicken in a bit of plain yogurt with lemon juice, garlic, and some spices to taste. I use this particular Turkish seasoning with another pinch of Turkish oregano (yes it is different than the Italian stuff) that I pick up at the Turkish market. I also throw in a pinch of a zaatar mix that’s been hanging around for awhile. It probably came from Whole Foods. Use what works for you.
Grill the chicken and if it’s a big piece either shred after cooking or cut it into bread sized medallions before marinating.
Wrap up the chicken with your favorite flatbread. I’m rather partial to the ones at Costco. They’re priced right and taste better than any flatbread I’ve ever made. They freeze great and just need to be popped into a toaster to be ready to eat.
A yogurt sauce goes well with this if you have the ingredients on hand. Just mix yogurt, dill (fresh is best but dried works) and some finely chopped and deseeded cucumber. Mix up ahead of time by at least an hour if possible so the flavors have a bit of time to mix. An even longer sit helps re-hydrate the dill if it’s dried. It starts to go south pretty quick so make in amounts that will last you for about 24 hours or so.
Add lettuce, onion or tomatoes if you have and want them.
Serve with a simple side of dressed greens.
Depending on the particulars of taste and season, all of these ingredients are part of my regular pantry, freezer and bit of garden. Work with what you’ve got and adjust accordingly. You can also do the prep ahead of time and shave down the actually cooking and assembly to as little as 15 minutes when it’s actually time to eat.
Although I’m melting even I am willing to eat this.
No one who knows me would be surprised when I say that I suffer from anxiety and have a wee bit of trouble valuing and understanding my place in the world. I’m an introvert who loves to talk. Crowds and noise generally exhaust me but nothing thrills me more than a crowded and ridiculously loud concert with one of my many favorite bands playing. It’s all a bit confusing and can sometimes overwhelm me. Not as much nowadays as in the past but there’s always a hamster on a wheel in the back of my head running their little heart out trying to escape it all.
I know exactly why I’m like this. So many reasons that combined to make the person and personality that is me. This is how it works for all of us. Quite remarkable when one thinks about it. Bring an egg and a sperm together and eventually you’ll have a fully formed and hopefully functional human being.
Knowing why I’m like this doesn’t necessarily mean that I know how to fix it though. Or if it is fixable. Do I really want to fix it? What are essential parts to the person?
What brings a life into focus?
I’ve always been fascinated with photography, in all it’s forms. I think part of the reason is because it provides a bit of distance from the life swirling about me and with a bit of distance it’s easier to see what’s actually going on and process it.
When I was little, probably even before I could read, I would flip through my mother’s photo albums. They had garishly colored covers and were spiral bound with “magnetic” pages. I now know that those albums are horrible for the photos but as a kid that sheet of plastic meant I could look at them without supervision. In those pages I saw moments frozen in time before I was even born with the faces of the people around me but slightly softer and less worn.
My first camera was a Kodak Disc. It fit in the pocket of my jean jacket and had the most adorable teeny tiny negatives. It was the first time in my life I had control over which moment was captured. Now I was the one pasting the photographs down in my own photo albums. Choosing which moments were laid out in the narrative and captioned for future reference.
I bought myself a Pentax K-1000 in high school. I barely knew how to set the it and money for film and developing was always in short supply but I loved that camera. Saw many miles and countless people through that lens.
My transition to digital happened with a lot of kicking and screaming and dragging of feet but now that I’m here I love it. For the first time in my life I can shoot as much as I want. What a luxury.
Now I have access to three cameras, each with their own benefits.
There’s the phone in my pocket on my ancient and ailing iPhone 4. That’s the one I have the most problems with. It’s only 8gb so I have to dump the photos on a regular basis or I don’t have enough room to capture a spontaneous image.
At work I use an Olympus Stylus TG-4 and I’ll occasionally borrow it if I’m traveling light. It has a microscope mode that is unlike anything I’ve had access to before. I have a macro lens for the Pentax but this is even better, especially with the light ring for proper exposure.
He bought me Nikon D3100 several years back for Xmas. I’d wanted a dslr for years but could never afford one and was completely intimidated by them. He liked to buy me tech and with being an IT guy and knowing me pretty well he bought the right tech for me.
I was able to take a class to on the basics of digital photography a couple of years ago and now sorta understand how to use all the dials and buttons, or at least most of them. It’s going to take several more years of actually using them before I really get how it works. That’s just the way my brain is.
Now that work is less demanding I’d like to spend more time wandering around with my camera. While I love industrial and urban decay I think I’d like to try shooting something new.
A lady I follow recently had a post about how second-hand stores seemed to be going up on their prices and did her readers see similar trends?
I find that it depends entirely on what store and location you shop at as well as how frequently you are willing or able to go.
I try to stay away from the for-profit second-hand stores entirely. Yes, they have things for sale at prices lower than new that still have a bit of life left in them but they’re not really in my budget range. My budget requires a significant discount from what I’d pay retail or online.
There are certain non-profit stores I don’t bother with unless I’m feeling flush because while I know I’ll find something I want to bring home the prices won’t be dirt cheap. Except on furniture. I got two of these for $25 each. They go well with the dark purple velvet sofa from Freecycle.
Went shopping at Salvation Army with the eldest up where she went to school when I drove up there for the second time in less than 24 hours to pick up MORE of her copious belongings. 300 miles on the car in a day and I never even got to leave the state. Weee.
We weren’t in a rush to get home and had both had good luck with the store so we went shopping. She needed shorts and I was looking for various things and hit the top two on my list, a new messenger bag and two pairs of jeans. Also got a hardcover book by my one of my favorite authors and probably the most expensive piece for my ConneCTcon cosplay for this year. All for under $35 bucks. Basically what the bag alone would cost new. I’d say that’s a deal.
The eldest is setting out on her own as soon as she’s back in the country. She has some basics of keeping house but not much beyond that. Found a lovely mixing bowl at a nearby Goodwill that shines like new now that it’s gone through the dishwasher and thought of her. Also checked to see what it was worth if she didn’t like it and decided it was worth the $2.99 gamble. She’ll take it if she doesn’t have to travel light. She’s not sure yet where she’s going or how long she’s staying. And if she doesn’t want it I’ll make a profit. That works. Minimal effort and capital tied up and I can make $30 or so.
The bulk Goodwills were recently mentioned by another lady I follow. Those are even more hit or miss than most thrift stores because I’m picking around the edges and not shoving my way to the front of a fresh bin. For me the fun is in the hunt just as much as the kill. I’ve gotten several good pieces there even without being ruthless; a nightstand that I refinished, a Fisher Price Little People Garage for the girls to play with, various books and movies, even picked up a nice serving spoon in the parking lot my last trip. Saw it when I pulled in and it was still there when I left so I ran it through the dishwasher several times and love it.
Have thrift stores gone up in price in recent years? I’d say yes but that doesn’t mean that you still can’t find a bargain if you’re willing to dig through the detritus and be patient.
Does it annoy me that I’ve spent way more thought and effort in securing a new messenger bag? It would have been much easier to just order a few off the internet, keep the one that worked and returned the rest. Yes, this particular hunt was annoying and time-consuming but that’s the nature of my particular beast right now. I will say, that in return for a bit of thought, effort and time I got a bag I like and will use until it falls apart, hopefully many years in the future. It’s barely used. I think someone got rid of it because they couldn’t be bothered to clean it of some very minor soiling. Wasteful for them, a win for me at $3.99 and an overnight soak in the kitchen sink.
With deciding whether or not second-hand/thrift shops are worth it depends on which way you are more willing and able to pay. Will it be with time and effort or with dollars that you bought with your time and effort?
Before that I was a rabid anti-smoker and had even broken and flushed Dad #1’s smokes more than once. Guess it didn’t take too terribly much to flip that particular addiction switch.
I was riding my bike somewhere with my sorta friends from school. One was named Bill and lived in a nearby beach community. I went to his house once. The short dead-end road was narrow as fuck and the houses jammed cheek to jowl. The house itself was amazing though. Full of family and laughter and warm colors and music and books and interesting things to look at. It was everything I’d ever wanted in a home. I was actually dumbstruck. It was old and wound about with tight rooms. When I was reading about the Burrow years later, this was the house that sprung to my mind.
So anyways, Bill and I and another kid, I can’t remember his name. He had the most beautiful brown eyes but he played for the other team but hadn’t figured it out yet. They both did, would, hopefully, figure it all out? They were nice guys. I hope they found what they wanted. I’ll call him Rafael.
So the three of us are riding our bikes. We were going to Rafael’s house. I was absolutely flying down this huge hill and had to take a sudden sharp right and didn’t realize that the road was covered in sand. Down went the bike and of course, it being the early 80’s and summer, what was I wearing? A freakin’ tube top. Yeah I ended up with some serious road rash all down my right side.
The boys helped me and the bike up. Thankfully we were at our destination for the most part. I cleaned myself up and picked the gravel out of my skin. I remember being very jittery from the crash and the pain of trying to erase my right breast with asphalt. Rafael had stolen a half pack of his grandma’s Pall Malls. So we each lit one up.
It tasted really gross but I had at least two, maybe three before we left. My stomach was queasy but I wasn’t jittery anymore.
Never told, will tell, Dad #2 that I was a smoker. His mother died of lung cancer and she was a very heavy smoker. Started smoking because her doctor told her to because of her nerves. Of course the nerves had nothing to do with the five boys who were always trying to kill each other and the alcoholic husband. Nah, just pick up this habit that’ll kill you young and it’ll all be fine. So I get why he really, really hates smoking and smokers.
Was a regular, daily smoker by 14. Smoked unfiltered Camels and loved every one of them. Loved the packaging art and the fact that they’d been around forever and the way I had to pick leaves off my lips if I wasn’t careful with tamping them before ripping the pack open.
And then there was the burn.
Taking in a deep breath of smoke and just feeling it sear all the way down.
And then there was the exhale.
Just as good going out as it was coming in.
I started working in restaurants at 15. Practically all the kitchen staff, no matter where I worked, smoked. Dishwashers were united in their love of anything menthol. Line cooks tended to smoke Marlboro. I worked with one chef who smoked Dunhills when he was flush. I tried a pack when I was jonesing while in Canada. Didn’t see what the fuss was about. Was just appalled at how much the dang things cost up there.
Whenever I worked with ex-military guys, they would always smile when they saw my Camels. They’d usually bum one off of me for old times sake and then cough their way through it.
I eventually worked my way up to the filtered ones and by the time I quit up to the lights. But they all still had that burn.
When I was in Turkey, men were fascinated by the fact that I, a woman, was smoking in public and would often bum a smoke to try an American brand. More than one was amused by the filter but they were always friendly and polite about it.
I quit quite some time ago but I still miss it, almost daily.
My youngest sister has one of those electronic thingies. I asked her if it had the burn of an actual cigarette and was saddened and relieved when she said no.
I can’t start smoking again.
Can’t afford it physically or financially. Won’t ever be able to afford it and that’s just fine.
Breathing is good. I’m a big fan of it and would like to keep doing so on a regular basis.
But oh how I miss the particular burn and crackle and the first deep drag off a just lit Camel fresh from a newly opened pack.
Coming up hard and fast on the completion of a multi-year project at work so I’m working long hours and more days than ever before. Good for the struggling finances, bad for cooking.
I’ve been trying to cook extra on the weekends to get me through the days when it’s just me to feed. I’ll eat leftovers, especially if they can be repurposed.
Otherwise I just end up with a bowl of cereal for dinner. Not the worst thing in the world but since I don’t eat when I’m busy working it can be problematic to not have at least one decent meal a day.
Roasted a chicken recently which was immediately broken down for stock. Made more roasted potatoes than the youngest and I could eat with one meal, still working on readjusting quantities. Coming from a restaurant background and then cooking for a large family means that I usually make too much.
Not a big fan of reheated roasted potatoes, they lose something in the translation, but there were too many to waste and I was hungry hence the repurposing.
I turned them into home-fries.
Start with a nice heavy pan, medium heat with a dollop of your favorite fat. I used bacon grease, olive oil would work as well. Once the pan is heated add in the cold roasted potatoes and occasionally move them around so that the edges crisp up nicely. I also added some seasoned salt and crumbled in a piece and a half of bacon that I dug out of the back of the fridge.
I considered finishing it off with some cheddar cheese melted over the top but instead went with sour cream and fresh chives from the garden.
Yeah, it was a salt bomb but I’ve been craving salt with all the running around and damn was it yummy and filling.
I’ve been working on updating things around here in this bit of my virtual universe. Finally getting the site updated, adding a not so desperate plea for people to sign up for email, changing out photos, that sorta thing.
Decided it was time to update the about page. I hated the blurb when I originally created and posted it over three years ago but I was standing firm on perfect being the enemy of the good and just got the damn thing done and up. I knew I wasn’t going to like it no matter how much I agonized.
So I started writing a new about blurb and as often happens the damn thing grew beyond its original purpose. So now it’ll be my 50th post and an edited version will be the new about page.
Two for the price of one!
About D.G. Reid
I don’t remember a time before I could read.
Not that I’m so freakin’ brilliant, just that my memory sucks, and doesn’t, in weird, horrible and wonderful ways.
I remember riding in the back of the family station wagon and watching Dad #2 back into a telephone pole as no one would listen to me as I tried to warn him. I remember the sudden in-rush of exhaust as the window shattered into a million pieces all over me. That’s a suck ass of a moment to have to remember all these years later.
But then it’s balanced with standing in a field in Turkey. The air was just on the cold side of chill but not enough to be uncomfortable while bundled up. The grass in the field was brown and sighing in the wind. I could smell coal smoke in the distance as the muezzin called the faithful to prayer as the sun started to set and cast everything from the dead grass, to the people I was traveling with, to the old Roman ruin we had hurried to reach before it closed, with an amber glow that turned everything a beautiful warm shade of gold. It was, as Spalding Grey named it, a Perfect Moment.
With my head full of the above sorts of memories it’s no wonder I have no idea when I started to decipher the squiggly lines on a page and derive meaning from them.
I’ve spent a substantial part of my life reading. Always have. Hopefully always will.
I started dancing with the muse just as I became a teenager. I have what is termed a severe sequential processing deficit in regards to language, math and other linear processes. The person who tested me figured the reason my language skills were so wonky is that I memorized the English language because the structure behind it was, is, incomprehensible. Good for vocabulary, bad for diagramming and grammar. Guess I just didn’t have enough words at my fingertips before I was 13 to be able to form a sentence that could actually convey some deeper meaning.
The first poem I remember writing was about/to a boy named Danny. He had brown curly hair and one blue eye and one green. He was my first hard crush that I got to act on.
My life blew apart shortly thereafter. No idea what happened to the physical manifestation of the poem but I’ll always have the memory of pouring a bit of myself through the pen and onto the pages of a composition book just like I’m doing with the first draft of this particular bit of me.
I wrote a lot through high school. Even attended a program for it in between regular high school and work. Students always explained it as kinda like Fame, but not. I was in the first class of the Poetry/Prose department. The program was so new we didn’t even have a classroom. We met in the lighting booth of the theater. The stairs up and down were a nightmare but it felt very special being isolated up in the tower of a former synagogue.
Writing gave me a place to dump all my thoughts and feelings so they didn’t all come oozing out through my ears.
So many things to process.
Received a national award for a short-short story I’d written. While doing a reading of the third chapter of a fantasy book I was plowing through creating, an editor for a major NYC publishing house handed me her card and told me to send her the full draft once it was finished.
I never wrote another word in that universe.
During college I was busy writing other things and didn’t have time for anything other than the occasional poem. As a history major, if you learn nothing else, you at least learn how to bang out the pages.
After college came kids and when they were little I was so busy figuring out how to be a mother there was no brain space for anything else. Not even me.
As they aged I picked up the composition book and pen. Brought dreams and nightmares to life and talked with friends old and new about writing again.
And then my life blew apart again. It happens. Sometimes more often than not, or more often than we’d like. I do what I can to minimize it. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.
And then I got sick and wanted to die but didn’t. Writing helped me hang on to what little bit of sanity I had left.
I wrote 97,000+ words in The Tome. When I couldn’t stand being in this world I had that one to retreat to. Three final chapters to go and I chucked the entire thing and started over again with an outline, character sketches and a blank page.
And then it happened again.
But here I still am. Figuring it out on my own and not feeling especially successful at the moment but still moving forward even if sometimes I take the long way around.
Words are the only thing that has always been there. Whether my own or another’s.
I string words across the page and try to bring order to my chaos.
The father of my children once said with that dry, wry wit of his that he was waiting for the floor of my study to collapse into the basement some day.
Why would he say that?
It may have something to do with the 142 linear feet of shelving stuffed into a small room which are double and triple stacked with books as well as a 1917 piano, several filing cabinets as well as just general stuff and detritus.
The piano was a rescue. I don’t play. Was never allowed to as a kid (Dad #1 was a piano player) and haven’t learned yet to as an adult. Retirement project? Ha! Like any Gen X’er is going to be able to retire. Or at least not too many that I know.
Got a call at work one day. Guy wanted to know if we wanted a piano for the collection. We already have 4 pianos (and 2 melodeans!) and this one was from across the river so it wasn’t relevant to us anyway. I offered to help him find a new home for it but he said “Nope, I’m going to get my ax. The dumpster leaves tomorrow.”
That brought me right back to when I was a kid hearing tales of when my middle aunt refused to practice piano like my Jadgi thought she should and he chopped it up with an ax and burned the remains in the backyard. My grandfather was always very calm and kind to me but there were enough stories floating around our family about his wicked temper that I knew there was something more lurking under the surface that I saw as a kid.
So I’ve got this annoyed man on the phone who just wants to clear some space in his house after no one touching this piano for years and he’s going to get the ax.
I couldn’t let the piano die.
I told him I’d take it personally if he would wait till the weekend. He was willing to do that. Took four guys and a pickup truck with ramps to get it from his house to my apartment. We left dents in the wooden porch floor on the way in while they rested from getting it that far.
When I moved next door I paid for movers. No one was willing to do all that again and I don’t blame them. This scrawny, almost elderly guy with a scraggly beard and his very young and slight assistant moved it all by themselves with a shifty looking dolly. It was a wonder. Well worth the $300 just to watch. Well, not really but what choice did I have? I may be stubborn but even I realize that I’m not moving a piano by myself.
The piano takes up a lot of wall space, which is unfortunate, but I don’t begrudge it. It is a thing of beauty and has a rich mellow tone. Sterling really did make a beautiful piano. A sorta friend gave it a good workout once and it was amazing. He’s a hellva ivory tickler.
It’s still a lot of potential shelving lost though. To make up for it I have books piled on top of it and in front of it. And in front of two of the three filing cabinets. I can open the top two drawers on each but the other three are lost to the ages.
I have books in the basement of this house and in the basement of the house next door where I used to live. My dream is to have all my books shelved at once in an orderly fashion.
An inventory would be nice too. Who hasn’t bought the same book more than once?
It’s one of the perils of buying the vast majority of my books secondhand. I can afford to make mistakes at a couple of bucks a pop and if nothing else it’s a donation.
What would I miss if I never had access to any outside books ever again?
That seems reasonable.
I’ve always wanted my own private library. Any space I’ve lived in has always had lots of books. I actually used them as insulation in one room. Well it was actually more of a porch and there was no heat so I had to use something to keep from freezing.
Yes, my current study could use a bit more square footage but too much and I would miss the intimacy of being surrounded by dead trees. So many other universes trapped within their pages that I can practically hear them buzzing, just waiting to be opened and explored.
No one but me is ever entirely comfortable in here. I didn’t intend it to be unwelcoming to anyone else, it’s just the way it ended up. This is the one place in the universe I allow myself to do anything I damn please. He once said that being in here was like being inside my head and it felt too intimate, even for him.
Maybe I can use that to judge any future potential mates. If they don’t run out screaming they can stay.
No one besides me can find anything but I actually have a pretty good grasp of what’s in here, which is both terrifying and amusing. Needed to lay hands on the patches for my bag that I bought last year at ConnectiCon. While I was digging them out, which took all of three minutes, I also set aside a pile of magazines and catalogs for recycling and actually brought them straight to the bin. Every bit helps in the Great Sorting.
The youngest is doing a project for her enrichment program and needed some research material on children who were evacuated from London during the Blitz.
“You don’t have anything like that, do you?” she asked.
It took a bit of doing but was still less time than it would have been to take her to the public library. I had to move the Little People house and a stack of about 10 books from on top of the piano to get to the one I was looking for which was specifically about children and their experiences with the Blitz.
For the one about the Blitz in general I had to get on top of a step-ladder and plant my foot on an opposing shelf for a boost up. I handed my phone to the youngest and told her to call 911 if I managed to fall and knock myself out. I was successful in retrieving the book and as might be expected caused a bit of a book avalanche.
While I was tidying the avalanche, I found another book I’d forgotten about printed in 1943 by the The British Information Services with an insert titled “How to Protect Yourself Against War Gasses”. Her eyes lit up when I showed her that. It’s got a lot of photographs in it. All black and white and it’s propaganda so I doubt there’s any bodies. Appropriate for a kid in other words.
People forget how those in charge once more overtly controlled what the people knew. Control what people have access to, like through censoring photographs of military coffins and maybe you can keep the good folks at home from connecting those ever higher numbers they hear on the news every night with an actual flesh and blood person. Control what they see and you control what they know. These days we have the threat of the loss of net neutrality to the development of alternate facts and beyond. It’s all spin control.
I know I’ve mentioned this before but it keeps popping up and surprises me like the first time I realized it; I have a lot more time on my hands these days.
It’s very, very strange.
Yes there is always laundry and cleaning to be done and figuring out meals happens on a regular basis. But the impetus to be busy in these ways, to devote copious amounts of my time to the thoughts and actions, is significantly reduced when one goes from a household of five to a household of one daily, two regularly and three rarely.
I was never really on my own, all alone and the only adult in the house except for about a year between when my daughter’s father moved out and two others moved in. Except for a short time after I graduated college, I’ve always lived under someone else roof or a shared one. And even then it was more of a communal living situation as I knew people in 6 out of the 8 apartments in the building.
It’s funny the things that pop up and need to be radically adjusted when living circumstances change.
Trying to learn how to adjust the food in the chest freezer is driving me mad. I know it’s more efficient to keep it full but with dollars the way they are these days I have to shop especially carefully. I’ve been saving gallon milk jugs and filling them with water for the bottom of the unit but even that is problematic. We just don’t go through milk all that quickly anymore.
I bought two pounds of prosciutto for $8 recently and separated out, vac packed and froze it. Gave some to the eldest to take back to school with her and the remainder will feed us for 26 meals. Yes, I’ll need some other ingredients like pasta, heavy cream, Parmesan or maybe mooz and thin sliced chix cutlets but these things are cheap in comparison to what prosciutto usually costs. We’ll probably make use of this for at least 9 months, possibly a year.
Do most people have to think this much about prosciutto?
I sure hope the fuck not. But this is my reality and I know I’m not alone.
I have a list in my phone now with a full inventory of what’s in the freezer that is current at all times. That’s only possible now because I’m the only one who pulls stuff out of the frozen tundra.
What a strange way to spend so many of the precious minutes that make up a life.
So in my copious spare time that is not being taken up by hustling for cashy money I’ve been playing with creative stuff.
I can’t work all the time.
Came across a length of vintage cloth and wanted to see it go for some use other than rags. It was too good to waste, probably a mix of cotton and linen with a lovely texture to it. But I’m also determined to find new homes for those things that serve no purpose. The house needs clearing and everything must serve a purpose or at least a purpose in the near future. Trying a bit of Morris meets Marie to whip things into shape. So the fabric needed to be used or it needed to go. But use it for what?
I have some basic crafty skills. I’m not an artist by any means, just a dilettante. I can stencil, silkscreen, paint something that’s already traced on the wall like letters or a basic pattern, sew a straight line, crochet as well as do various types of needle work like embroidery and such and recently I’ve begun playing with beads. I like playing around with new materials and methods but finishing things is not my forte’.
I really need to finish things. Lots of things.
Here’s the start of something.
It’ll be interesting to see how it works out. And I’ve promised myself that I will actually finish it.
Part of the craftyness has been realizing that it’s okay to take up hours sketching something out that I later discard. It’s part of the process. And then, when it’s ready, it’ll come together. I just need to be a bit better about following through.
But I also have more time, and brain space, to follow through now so maybe I actually will manage to finish this thing, whatever it actually is.
Work has been especially busy lately but the end is in sight and my creative side isn’t satisfied with waxing and moving lots of old and heavy furniture no matter how much it needs to be done. So I’ve been trying to sit at my desk every evening and pound out a few words, thoughts, ideas on the page even if they never make it out into the wider world.
I’m getting more comfortable with the thought that a person has to make a lot of mistakes before they finally pull off a finished product. Whether that be relationships, meals or creative works. There’s a lot of trial and error, let’s throw this up against the wall and see what sticks, happening before something finally jells and it all comes together.
Previously, with my creative time so very limited by family and other responsibilities I was very uncomfortable with just playing around, whether it be with needle and thread or words. I was convinced that every moment needed to be used Productively and every creation had to be Worthy of the time and effort.
As you can probably imagine, that didn’t go very well.
I spent a lot of time being blocked and staring at the screen frustrated or on Friendface or otherwise frittering away the precious moments.
And then life changed.
I over think as a writer.
I ponder ever word to the point where they lose all meaning.
I never finish anything.
I’m trying to leave all that behind in the past with a lot of other baggage. Trying to listen to Mr. Gaiman and JUST FINISH SOMETHING.
The other key to this lock was an article that’s been rolling around in my head about not focusing on accepted submissions but instead on racking up the rejections. Focus on quantity over quality because you’ll eventually get a gem with the former method and the latter just paralyzes.
With the aforementioned problem with finishing things however, it’s tough to come up with something viable to send out.
A friend especially liked a particular post of mine last year and suggested I send it to a specific publication for consideration. I spent ten months emailing the piece into a black hole as directed by their website before resorting to the same friend passing along a paper copy at a publication party. It’s been over two full months since that and I’m thinking I’ll count it as my first official rejection. Just would have preferred a more definitive one on paper or in email.
There’s projects like The Tome that take almost as long as real children from conception to leaving the nest but there’s also a side of me that just wants to whip through something for the fun of it. Something a bit more creative than a post on this page.
Something thrilling and/or full of adventure. That’s the kind of stuff I read. Fluff and nonsense for the most part but very entertaining. I generally don’t like to get bogged down in my reading. I’m already part of a meaty and tragic multi-generational saga, IRL and my writing universe. I want to go Somewhere Else when I read.
I don’t know if I can write like that though.
Then again, I’ve never really tried.
I want to write something quick and dirty.
I want to send the first chunk off into the universe before I’ve figured out how to write the next section let alone how it’s all going to end.
Had a grilled cheese and bacon sandwich for dinner the other night and as I was waiting for things to toast and melt I had a moment to let the thoughts wander in a multitude of directions as they often do.
Would the sandwich be better with a better quality cheese? Fuck yeah, but the 5 lbs of American “cheese” that I picked up at Costco is what I can afford at the moment and I’m grateful to have it.
But just because the ingredients aren’t top-notch doesn’t mean that it can’t taste good. This is where the technique/skill aspect comes in. Not that there’s much skill necessary to make a grilled cheese sandwich, but you want the cheese melted and the bread toasted, not burnt, so that does take some attention to detail.
So, get the pan to a good temperature. Melt some butter and a bit of bacon grease (I keep it, filtered after cooking up a batch, in a jar in the fridge) and toast what will be the inside of the bread for a moment. Then add another blop of the fats and flip over so that the outside of the bread is getting toasted. Put on an ample, even amount of cheese and then cook it low and slow till the cheese melts. You might even be able to turn off the pan if it’s hot and heavy enough. Warm the meat if you’re having any, before adding it to the sandwich right before you assemble it. Let it rest in the pan for a minute so it can all melt together and then cut and plate.
While I’m cooking this gourmet meal I remembered one that He and I had on the way to Vermont. We stopped at this lovely, if rather expensive place, because we were both starving, it was getting late and we were only moving deeper into the middle of nothing. It was parents weekend at a local boys boarding school and there were cars in the parking lot worth more than my house with people dressed to the nines, dropping more on one meal than I spend in a month.
Sooo not my world but I can code switch with the best of them and the place smelled great. We sat at the bar because that got us menus quicker. We shared dates stuffed with blue cheese wrapped in bacon (which is why my sandwich brought up the memory) and we both had small pasta dishes. Mine was a mixture of sauteed mushrooms with a light cream sauce tossed with fresh made noodles. Exquisite. Eat there if you ever get the chance.
So I go from remembering this wonderful meal on the beginning of a weekend away full of promises and potential delights to dinner in the cold and the dark, all alone and it bothers the Hell out of me but it doesn’t.
I’m finding that I like being alone for long stretches of time. No one who knows me is probably surprised by that. I think what I am surprised by is just how much I enjoy it. Deciding what, or not, to have for dinner. Three nights a week when I’m kid free (she’s with her father) I can do whatever I want. Generally what I end up doing isn’t all that exciting, working ten-hour days and sometimes eating cereal for dinner. But the potential is there and sometimes that’s enough. Or I can go out to a two-hour movie that starts at 8:50 p.m. like I did the other week and there’s no one to double-check or make arrangements with.
Standing at the stove in my pj’s, shifting back and forth through time and space, smelling the bacon from my shifty sandwich, remembering the amazing meal at Blue Heron and how I do so love to share good food with those I love.
I go from that to
Talk about reality smacking one upside the head.
It’s like he’s dead. But he’s not.
He’s just not here anymore.
This is really something that I never even imagined.
I was daft enough to think that he was the person to stay by my side through thick and thin, for better or for worse, till death do us part.
It seems he wasn’t the man I thought he was.
Whoever he was when he was with me, he’s now a person I text occasionally about picking up the last of his stuff or to check and see if he’s waiting for the mail that shows up at the house. Sometimes I have a tech questions and he’s kind enough to answer.
He never texts me first.
That’s very telling. Just not quite sure what it’s saying. Knowing him as I do, it could mean many things, all at once and each entirely opposite in deeper meaning.
Were he once was there is a very large void and it only gets larger as he moves further out of orbit and off into the darkness.
I’m still learning how to fill that void, maybe even make it a bit smaller and more manageable. Nature abhors a vacuum so I’ll obviously figure it out, eventually.
This is where the creative work comes in. So much more time now for futzing around with stuff that serves no immediate purpose other than the joy it brings through creating.
That time is a gift and one I refuse to waste.
But I miss him, even after everything that’s happened.
He’s been a part of my life in one way or another for the last 30 years and now there’s just