30 November 2010

4 meaning



there was a time when i genuinely believed God intended i be a poetess.

it is a time upon which i do not look back with great fondness and which was the direct result of a prolonged encounter with t.s. eliot and sylvia plath in a lower level 20th century american literature survey course, the release of the downward spiral, and a break-up with my high school boyfriend who had recently, permanently, become gay. a potent combo at any age, this cocktail of emotions was stirred further by The Novelist then teaching my creative writing class.

i was not attracted to The Novelist. he was not an attractive man. he wore silk shirts through which he sweated profusely.

i did not know who he was and i had not read his books, but i am a girl who loves words and, though i fancy myself tough, my heart is easily captured by romantical sounding sweet nothings.

i was 19 and i did not know any better. that is why i thought there was nothing more enchanting in all the world than The Novelist's repeated assertion that, as artists, we must craft "verbal word pictures of opaque transcendency."

let's spend a moment with that phrase because it is important.

verbal word pictures of opaque transcendency.

look at it closely. breath it in.

verbal word pictures of opaque transcendency.

ignore the fact that "verbal" and "word" are totally saying the same thing. YOU ARE AN ARTIST. do not be sidetracked by trivial details. cut them loose and take everything else in.

pictures of opaque transcendency.

close your eyes. repeat it once or twice.

pictures of opaque transcendency.

pictures of opaque transcendency.

imagine you are a 19 year old girl. imagine the only word in that phrase for which you know the definition is "pictures." remember, YOU ARE AN ARTIST. you do not need what you already know.

now look at it again. stare deep, deep into the mystery of the great unknown.

opaque transcendency.

opaque transcendency.

OPAQUE TRANSCENDENCY.

wow.

that's magical, right?

i imagine this is the exercise thomas kinkaide uses to psych himself up to paint.

The Novelist incorporated this phrase, in its entirety, into the beginning and end of every class. clasping his hands in front so his fingers formed a steeple, with the patience of a preacher he would evoke the power of verbal word pictures of opaque transcendency as beads of sweat fell steadily from his silk cuffs like rain from the easements of a church.

we would meet in his office, The Novelist and i, to discuss my Future in Poetry. we both of us seemed to sincerely believe i had one.

The Novelist would look at me in all earnestness and say my Poems would take me far. he would push me to do better. the pieces i submitted in class would return with marginalia like, "you are opaque. TRANSCEND!!!" at the time, this seemed excellent advice. i wonder now if he was on drugs.

opaque transcendency. i did not know what the hell it meant, but by God, i was going to do it.

i would waste an entire semester striving towards this.

The Poems are not all bad. there is one. it is satisfactorily mediocre. it is framed and hangs in my living room as a reminder of how far i have come- as a woman, as an english major, as a destroyer of the written word. this poem is, as they all are, about my high school boyfriend being gay.

the problem with adolescent poetry is that there's a relatively finite field of topics to mine. the only thing that had ever happened to me that seemed remotely poetic was that my high school boyfriend had come out and that is a limited well from which to draw.

not that this deterred me. it was my only poetic experience and, believe me, i sucked that thing dry.

this is probably as good a time as any to confess that The Poems are violently sexual.

yes, i was a virgin comically ill-informed on the mechanics of sex and our physical contact had consisted of the simple holding of hands, but The Poems paint an altogether different picture. had i purposefully set out to assess every aspect of this relationship through the context of the "closer" music video, i could not have done a better job.

i had never been molested or abused, but i had listened to a lot of tori amos. and so, with the presumptuousness one can only have when enrolled in an undergraduate creative writing course, i figured this must be what that was like. because being dumped by a gay man is so clearly analogous to rape.

there's a u2 lyric. "every artist is a cannibal/every poet is a thief." bono didn't write that. he stole it from someone else. at the time, i took that as verification that Real Artists must steal and therefore stole everything i could find.

collectively, The Poems are a tempest of high/low brow. i'm not going to position myself as an innovator but i dare say no one else has brought together trent reznor, t.s. eliot, andy warhol and rock master scott & the dynamic three in a matter of eight lines.

and i'm not saying they would want to or need to. just that they haven't.

perhaps the most galling aspect of The Poems, aside from their obvious dreadfulness, is the fact that i shared them with everyone i knew.

in those heady days of the early internet, when sharing was suddenly so easy, i emailed them to my closest high school friends, virgins all. when boys expressed an interest in dating me, i insisted that they first read The Poems, so they would know who i really was. like, on the inside.

i had mistaken an aping of the work of other people as an expression of my true self.

in class, where i had quickly gained a reputation as a teacher's pet, i would lean back in my chair with the self-conscious pride of a poet laureate, secure in the belief that i had found my craft and it had been mastered.

i had done my research. i knew what being a poet was supposed to look like. taking a cue from sylvia plath, i would wake early on cold mornings and tiptoe barefoot across the cold floor into the hall, to slip early drafts under kbg's door. i did this as though i were leaving tender love notes, but there was no tenderness here.

i wrote 115 Poems in the span of 39 days. they were the literary equivalent of napalm. i was scorching earth.

but i did not see it that way then. i thought i was being avant-garde. i did not know enough to know that i was following in the footsteps of every broken-hearted teenage girl from all of history since the beginning of time. and i did not imagine how hurtful the extravagance of my grief could be.

because this was back when there was still a small chance that the internet might be a passing fad and we would one day return to paper and pens, i sought to preserve my work, The Poems, through the most enduring means i could imagine.

thus, i spent the night before christmas break of sophomore year alone in my dorm room printing all The Poems on my lexmark dot matrix printer. with "fake plastic trees" on repeat and four forbidden candles lit, i loaded the tractor feed paper one sheet at a time. when all 115 were printed, i tore all 230 edges clean and bundled the pages with a yellow ribbon tied in a perky bow.

following an impulse not unlike that which compels lovers to carve their names in trees, i packed The Poems in a box and walked to the post office, where i mailed this package- this emobomb- to my high school boyfriend who was now gay.

as i placed it on the counter, the mailman asked what it was, presumably wondering whether its contents were combustible. consumed with self-satisfation, i smiled knowingly and assured him they were not, saying, this box is the best christmas present in all the world.

in reality, it was the meanest. my high school boyfriend and i didn't speak again for the next six years.

i'm oversimplifying. this wasn't entirely the fault of The Poems but The Poems played a part. because, The Poems, they are haunting.

though we didn't speak for all those years, my high school boyfriend kept them. he had them bound and stored them in a trunk. they moved with him around florida, onto an island and then up into tennessee.

when my high school boyfriend came to visit in the fall of 2007, The Poems came with him, the yellow ribbon still tied in its bow.

we sat on the floor of my bedroom as he read them aloud.

i had no Future in Poetry. my Poems did not take me far. but as my high school boyfriend and i lay rolling on the floor like penacostals with each Poem sending us into renewed gales of laughter until our faces were streaked with tears and snot, somewhere in there, in the spectacle of my high school boyfriend reading The Poems i wrote for him in an undergraduate creative writing course upon the discovery that he was gay, i realized that wasn't entirely true. The Poems had taken us somewhere.

The Poems are a horrible, dead thing written by a girl i no longer am. an adolescent relationship as taxidermied beast.

but, all these years later, when i close my eyes, when i let everything else go, when i remember I AM AN ARTIST and stare deep, deep into the mystery of the unknown and give in to the power of the verbal word pictures of opaque transcendency, The Poems make me laugh harder than anything else in the world.

and when my high school boyfriend looks at me and asks, do you think we'll still be laughing at your verbal word pictures when we're forty? i say, God, i hope so. i want to be always able to laugh like this.

4 november: a revue



"so here today... DRAMA. let's start with my vagina..."

"is this the non-sexual dinner thing?"

"who knew my childhood was so jon benet?"

"now. let’s focus on your vagina."

"you make a hot man, in an attractive female sort of way."

"my kid loves cake, as we knew he would."

"when you say 'beginning of the end', do you mean like his life? or just his corporate career?"

"you’ve probably had the equivalent of a lady erection all day."

"i got hit on by a pan-sexual."
"well, that's just gay."

"it's like vacation of the dolls."

"it makes me really sad that i just spent 49¢ plus $3.95 shipping."

"i'm sure he's a lovely person, but wow."

"well, some of us can't pull off a rapier and an eyeliner mustache."

"i don't like people when i'm sober but when i'm drunk, i'm totally into them."

"i have this scarlet johansen/napoleon dymnamite appeal thing going on. it drives the boys nuts."

"once my stylist started cutting, she went 'oh shit.'"

"my issue of laughing too loud almost caused a new friendship."

"that was hopefully the last time I ever have to discuss anyone’s cervix with my father."

"she wanted to do an audrey hepburn thing because my features are sharp. little did she know my forelocks don't agree."

"your birds were provocative."

"if you can help it, never lock yourself in the house with a newborn during the entirety of winter."

"i almost needed my elastic waistband maternity pants this morning."

"is 'a paean to the human spirit' what maeve binchy sits down to compose at her mahogany desk overlooking the irish sea?"

"my white guilt doesn't know who to vote for."

"americans have always had a ridiculous relationship with the british monarchy, which has basically consisted of knowing little about it but remaining fascinated with princess diana."

"there were also many good moments involving your rapier - let's not sell those short!"

"will you be dancing in colorado or in illinois?"

"canadian pen-pal, gay ex-boyfriend - it's like you're hanging with the cast of degrassi the next generation."

"yes, the motee. and don't give me that face. i didn't come up with the nomenclature."

"what is a midwife? a funny question considering i actually once went to one on accident."

"remember the cupcakes, eaton! REMEMBER!"

"dare i ask, what is she going to do with the one ovary?"

"i feel like i've done nothing all week but consider lady plumbing."
"it has been one of those weeks, yes. fissures, ovaries, cervixes… next week, let’s talk about ding dongs."

"before we were married, it was the 'we’re in LOVE!! let’s make as many babies as we can!!!' plan..."

"a strange random thing happened to me the other day. i woke up with a strong desire to have sex with ewan mcgregor."

"and um... why are you all in bed in sleeping bags?"
"we’re in sleeping bags because our comforter has baby pee on it."

"we're the family that had menorah ornaments on our christmas tree."

"if the palins’ life were a sitcom, andy would be the guy brought on to play the levi johnston character in the pathetic final season, after the original actor left to embark on a failed career in movies."

"you must be very good with liquids."

"i live off of swag."

"like, the distinction between 'savoring' and 'this is a meal'?"

"i was 23. what is sex even like when you're 23? all i remember is dark and awkward."

"who is playing tonight that there are so many people in line not dressed like hipsters... and a mom?"

"it is so hard to pack for climates you are not residing in."

"am i allowed to go? clearly, no, look at the attitude face she just gave me."

"we watched chicago together yesterday morning while my dad was at church. i feel quite proud of myself for introducing such 'smut' to my mother. she loved it."

"it's a polarizing spread."

"NEVERMIND. abort, abort! save your monies!"

"who needs news about unemployment and other terrible things when you can rewatch the same five minutes of footage of wills and kate on every news shows."

"i thought it was going to be more of a ghost story than a social ill."

"it's not like the bears get ennui from living in the suicide forest."

"if we're going to talk about puberty, i need more alcohol."

"i hear sampling."

"i don't want to go to heaven. i totally want to haunt the fuck out of some other place with a hell of a lot of other ghosts."

"i like stories about different kinds of outsiders eating together."

"they are the worst, but everyday they are the worst in a new, visually perplexing way, and i am unable to stop looking."

"i look at the confederate flag and i think, 'this reminds me of evil but it also reminds me of home.'"

"it is like a nexus of suck."

"i'm entering the world of skinny jeans."

"my balls are lumpy but still quite tasty."

"he was tall, lean and salt and peppery."

"the rest of us are lying, but i feel like you might be telling the truth all of the time and that is terrifying, especially in the context of this story."

"i mean, i wasn't even on the bottom rung. we were looking up to the kids who played dungeons and dragons."

"grinding and nipples are your calling."

"there's no stadium seating in hives."

"it's a psychic bomb, like having an erection in math class at 15."

"and i did buy the gold shoes. i felt, after all of that, they were a medical need."

"i have, in the most non-creepy way, an unexplained emotional attachment to these shoes."

"he seemed quite charming though a little tired. apparently he was tired because he was making fun of us on the inside."

"this is going to sound a little crazy, but i want more descriptions of the grinding."

"your naughties don't do anything for me."

"it's like cousin it, you know, but foreign."

"i came through a lot of wires but only one of them was expensive."

"i'm never going to be that person because i'm never going to be that cold."

"we laughed so hard that we got headaches so bad that we had to go buy a $30 bottle of 1,000 ibuprofens at cvs."

"i dreamt i was single and acquired the attentions of a sexy older man by making a quip about cooking."

"you never think that far ahead when you're young. that one day we'll be thirty and drinking wine... and not for pretend."

"ah zen, a place where- while i love it- i feel things often are not zen."

"you give a firm cuddle."

"in terms of biographies, the Bible is kind of not good."

29 November 2010

0 tennessee

4 father/daughter


my father says he is ready to die.

not that he is going to or wants to, but for the first time in his life he feels ready.

we're standing alone in my parents bedroom. because it had been too cold and our beds were too warm and so we never mustered the fortitude for one of our early father/daughter morning walks, we are slightly off-kilter. our early father/daughter morning walks are key. we need to be outside, to be moving, to be at liberty to talk openly without looking at one another. but we never did that this time.

and so, i am looking him straight in the eye when he tells me he is ready.

i do not know what to do with this. i just know not to tell my mother.

2 funny


how being an oline in the city often looks
like being an irish immigrant in 1902.

2 young oline, flattered.


[trans.: We didn't have any school today! It was cool. 
I've begun to read Rose. It's cool.
XXXXXX XXXXXX put in the school newspaper
"XXXXXX XXXXXX luvs XXXXX's legs"
How perverted.
If I were XXXXX, I'd kill him.
She called me up and asked for advice on how to handle XXXXXX.
I asked her why she was asking me. 
She said because I knew about those sort of things.
Although it's entirely untrue I found that rather flattering.]

28 November 2010

2 dear new apple store @ north & halsted


YOUR LIGHTS ARE TOO BRIGHT!!!
DIM THEM.
LOVE,
OLINE.

#72 bus stop = permanent retinal damage


0 devilled



"there just isn't a facebook photo for that."

"it smells like my uncle. i liked him though."

"and i'm catholic. i know what i'm talking about."

"i've never been good at putting things up my nose."

"yeah, i do that. i date guys who don't have jobs."

"they're very quick to clear here."

"it's a sign of a really good bar when they have every spirit in the world."

"i've seen some rough shit coming through that door."

"my earrings are too big for this place."

"it makes me think my dad wasn't so bad at making mix tapes."

"i find him strangely attractive for someone accused of rape."

"oh we can dance. i just don't wanna panic."

5 meanwhile in memphis













27 November 2010

1 vacation of the dolls





0 btw

if you come to memphis, it's best to fly in at night. late. real late. like 1 a.m. otherwise you'll miss the most beautiful bit of memphis entirely. you'll never see the fedex planes lined up to land, stretched miles and miles in every direction as far as the eye can see around memphis international airport, like christmas lights strung on the horizon.

2 proper

the old man i work for is very sick. he is also very vain.

he is 85. i am 29. he calls me a "dumb broad." i take this as a compliment. so we have an odd dynamic, to say the very least.

when the old man asks me if he looks ill, i know the proper response. instead, i look him in the eye and say he looks a few days removed from a street fight. an impropriety that, based on the subsequent laugh, was, in fact, the proper thing.

26 November 2010

0 o young oline, bummed.

 
[trans.: Allison came over and we worked on our Science project. 
It's coming along good. I got a 64 on my Math test. Bummer!]


[trans.: A new month! How grand. We went to church and learned about lying.
99% on my History test. Sammy (our Science gerbil) died last night. 
Allison's dog broke it's neck. Bummer!]

0 young oline reviewing the TIME CD-ROM


[trans.: We received our TIME CD-ROM. It is really  neat. It just astounds me, all of the technology that we have these days. A few years ago they were unthoughtof now things are a part of every day life. It really astounding. The day seemed to drag along slowly. To quicken the pace, I watched Scarlett. Bad idea. After that, things just got slower. The soaps were really stupid, as always, so as I watched it mostly went over my head. This evening I stepped on a tack. It hurts like the dickens. I assume it has finally stopped bleeding. F.C.]

25 November 2010

0 young oline and the "conservitive sense of values" and living the life not just to be having fun


[trans.: As I conversed with XXXXXXX today she commented how fortunate I was to having such a wonderful family. I didn't quite comprehend that. To me every person has a hidden side of them that is never revealed to anyone (at least it ought not to be). I often wonder how other people view me. I just don't feel that I could reveal myself so that my innermost feelings were like an open book. I'd go insane. I know that everyone has their own individual way of living our lives. We all make mistakes and we are all mortal. We all experience joy and grief, pain and triumph. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I want to live life not to just be having fun. I don't think that is an...


... acceptable priority. I want to live my life and help others. Daddy said the other day that I had "a very conservitive sense of values." When people discuss topics that I find vulgar or personally offensive I tune out of the conversation. I don't consider it right to speak cruelly. I'm trying to bring myself back up to the standards I had upon our arrival in Franklin. I had such an enormous sense of innocence. I sincerely hope I haven't lost it entirely. But there is so much filth in the world today that it is quite hard to carry on day to day living as a Christian. I know with the strength...


... provided by God I shall endure the changes the future holds. At least I hope so.]

0 dear world,

BE THANKFUL.
you are not a 13-year-old girl.




[trans.: Today was "THE DANCE"! And boy did I dread it. (Rightly so!) XXXXXX and I got ready together. For about 1/2 an hour XXXXXX and XXXXXX avoided each other then they were held together by some super-human force (which involved swaying like you were drunk) for an hour and a half. At 8:45 we were supposed to leave. She begged for 10 more minutes. It was awfully humilliating going in there and tapping her on the sholder saying "Gotta' go". (I've never felt so much like my mother as I did at that moment). The good thing was I made XXXXXX, XXXXXX, and XXXXXX laugh. XXXXXX thinks I'm jealous because she has a boyfriend. I don't think I am. I'm jealous of the time she spends with her boyfriend. She's not XXXXXX anymore. She's some mushy, sentimental alien. I wish I didn't have to grow up.]

0 in things that only matter to me and oprah

today, jfk jr. would be 50.

24 November 2010

2 so, some people came to town

and there was awesoming.


more on that later...

3 i do not care about the royal wedding

mostly because prince william and kate middleton look alarmingly old for 28-year-olds (receding hairline! FIERCE makeup! oh my!), which makes me wonder, do i look alarmingly older than i think i do by virtue of being a whole year older than these prematurely aged people who are a whole year younger than me?

i feel they have forced me to confront my mortality and for that i do not like them. 

that said, i am loving the british press coverage of this nonsense about which i truly do not care. and i am loving that things like this pass for actual news:

3 #17

sugar bliss
chocolate peanut butter.

3 dear diana, i think i understand you and then you do things like this


23 November 2010

4 #16

there are nights when everything is perfect. where everyone gets along and everyone is quotable and everyone has fun. nights where you can just be a girl in a pink party dress standing in an alley outside rainbo smoking cigars at 1 a.m. and then suddenly an incredibly, unbelievably amazing thing happens. peggy walks by hawking her homemade cupcakes for $2.

peggy's kitchen.
vanilla, vanilla.


5 rainbo


"i'd like to go to LA just to see botoxed people and sun."

"cheers! let's get drunk in the city."

"is that a phone or an easel?"

"if someone's saying your calves are voluptuous, that's an insult to your breasts."

"look at the way they're standing there talking to each other. it's like the meeting of adam and eve."

"that guy has nice junk."

"i'm bored in regina but at least i'm straight."

"by 'the goods' i mean my ass, which is not a good."

"yes, we're american. we know where sarasota is."

"unless her name is dante, i don't know who the fuck that is."

"networking is weird. it's like social sex."

"it's like we went to this place, got a lot of inside jokes and now we just look stupid."

"so chicago has an aquarium?"

"i didn't realize you great lake was so big."

"he's the thing i'm afraid of. when the lights go low, i'm like 'oh no.'"

"i never thought i'd be having a debate about asian carp. this is awesome."

"how TCBY of you."

"joe's not happy unless it's exploding."

"it's such a good camera. it's totally worth being blind."

"you don't even have to read the book. you just get to taste."

"i don't know why they had swedish food but didn't play abba."

"i love drinking from straws."

"i told you the dog thing was a miss, but the fish were awesome."

"i went to dollywood as a child and i saw the light."

"i fucking love dolly parton but i love women too."

"i've met your gay men and i wouldn't have fucked any of them."

"not in a catching herpes way..."

"gold pants' girlfriend smelled like a locker room."

"i hate this song because i can never tell what song it is."

"did i really just spill money from my dress?"

"it's like an underwhelming ocean."

"it's weird. it's kind of like their names are fucking."

"are you winding the film on your camera? are you really that hip?"

"you're like an octofecta."

"but you're really cool for a republican."

"i feel like i drank a freight train."

"it's what all the patrick swayzes do."

2 #15

dominick's.
vanilla and awesome.


ps. this is the PERFECT frosting to cake ratio.

22 November 2010

1 dear chicago, what is THIS?

6 in the valley

my canadian penpal and my high school boyfriend are in town. we went to a screening of valley of the dolls featuring an appearance by the real, live patty duke.

i fell. and as i was lurching down the aisle with startling, unstoppable momentum, scraping my left forearm across metal covered in worn velvet, wacking my right shin against concrete and hitting the right side of my skull against an armrest with such force that birnsy would later liken the resulting sound to "a hammer hitting bone," all i could think in this moment was, God, i hope patty duke isn't watching this.

0 47 years

7 young oline on female friends

female friendship is a funny thing. on one end of the spectrum, there are the mean crazy psychos who won't let you wear leopard-print. on the other end, there are these amazingly wonderful other women with whom you feel a connection that is very hard to articulate outside of the observation that it is an emotion not unlike first love.

we're in the naked lady bar (and just a warning, we're going to be in the naked lady bar a lot from since this is where the Big Ideas are being born) when sensei tells a story about how a roommate of his once returned from a night out looking all moony and starstruck. she said she'd met her soulmate. she was speaking of a girl who would later be her best friend.

i didn't give this too much thought until, purusing through 1994/1995 for the next young oline, i hit the first time partner and i hung out. listen closely and you can almost hear the angels sing.


[trans.: XXXX's over. It's so cool. We have *so* much in common.
 I think she could be the one great Christian friend I've been asking God to send me. 
Church was rather a let down. 
We basically talked about ourselves. Not God. Oh well!]

21 November 2010

0 frigidity



in maph, dougo and i were at this party, standing in the corner by the fridge. i don't remember whose party this was. all i remember is that someone came to get ice from the freezer and, as they opened it, we could see a package of popsicles nestled inside the door. and that dougo and i spent the remainder of that party talking about those popsicles.

we were living on pasta-roni and ramen at the time. if our freezers contained anything, it was frozen pizza. we certainly did not have popsicles. we would not have even thought to have popsicles.

popsicles were such an indulgence. so decadent. they seemed to us then so terribly adult.

well, we're all adults here now and the times are no longer quite so lean. my freezer presently boasts popsicles of multiple varieties and it is filled to overflowing.

this is thanks, in large part, to the fact that everyone i know moved away this summer, leaving to me their abandoned frozen foods. and not only theirs but those they had previously inherited. when you are abandoning ship there is apparently this universal impulse to throw your frozen foodstuffs to the people you leave behind.

because a night in which i will need to store four cakes in my freezer is coming up, i've begun systematically working my way through this food. and because my creepy memory gives me a pretty good idea of the freezer from whence each frozen thing has come, what should have been a simple fridge purge has become a sentimental journey.

for instance, when i made vegetable stew the other night, i knew it contained not only the philosopher's edamame but the okra of his friend from champaign. she had brought it to him the night before she moved. it was the first of three nights where we stood on a balcony watching fireworks go off in the western sky.

this is what i'm thinking about as i stand there, stirring a shit-ton of creole seasoning into a pot of so many vegetable combinations that jessica seinfeld would weep for joy. i am thinking about that night and the life these vegetables led before me. i am likely not thinking clearly because it is a notion that strikes me as the most romantic thing in all the world.

i am being ridiculous. rationally, i know the philosopher and his friend did not wander into a field to personally pick each pod. rationally, i know they grabbed the bag on the top of a pile at trader joe's. and rationally, i know they gave me their frozen perishables as an alternative to the very great waste of throwing them away.

i am attributing meaning to something that was a mere convenience.

and yet, there is a reason why i am doing this.

being from the south this is, in part, just how my mind works, imbuing everything with a romantic glow it does not necessarily have. especially foods. even the slutty ones. but i'm also from a particular part of the south. one in which the giving of vegetables is a fundamental social drive.

my grandparents live in mantachie, mississippi, a region of the country where vegetables and fruits are so plentiful that people will literally give them away for free. not only dear friends but also your arch enemies. in mantachie, come harvest time, your nemesis will haul over a choice selection of his green bean crop. you will give him your extra blueberries and, briefly, you will be the best of friends, brought together by the bonds of abundance. the very great need to dump your overage on someone else.

and so my freezer not only contains the vegetables of midwesterners who have moved. it also holds a significant cross-section of the crop yield of my grandparents' friends and foes from the springs 2007-2010.

zucchini and squash and raspberries and blackberries and black-eyed peas.

all in ziplock freezer bags. all dated. all signed by the people who picked them, like how quilters stitch their names into the hem.

i've been inheriting other people's produce my whole adult life. but it has always come with a story, with a date and a name. aunt hazel's corn even comes with an inscription to me, as though someone had queued up for hours in a field holding a plastic bag and a pen, begging the corn queen for a personalized autograph on my behalf.

though i've been supplementing my produce stash with store-bought vegetables for years, there are still moments where these impersonal vegetables from unidentified farms strike me as incredibly strange. but then i reach into the freezer for a bag of sweet potatoes that my 80-year-old grandmother dug up at the sprattling farm in september 2009 and, again, all is well with the world.

2 the hostess


"oh yeah, the toilet plunger 
is in the living room 
because the sink gets clogged up."

20 November 2010

0 hello.

0 father

0 optometry


i've never been in therapy, but i've been to the optometrist.

and i know, i know. this is terribly strange. it creeps people out. one should not be so intimate with one's eye doctor when one's prescription is a mere 1.0.

the optometrist was the first doctor who was even remotely close to my age. we are contemporaries(ish). we banter. we flirt. we are friends. on facebook even.

and because sometimes a married man with three kids makes the best confidante, his files hold not only the progress of my astigmatism but also a complete history of my dating career. since i have ever needed glasses, it has been this way. like an eye exam conducted by dr. drew.

accordingly, every november, i would parade into the optometrist's office and spill the beans on the boy of the moment, like a cat proudly laying a carcass at its owner's feet. i was not forward-thinking. i did not realize i would one day have panic attacks about explaining breakups to my eye doctor and that my glaucoma tests would be punctuated with questions like, let's talk about XXXXX. oline, what happened there?

BOYS. this is all we have ever talked about. literally, the only thing. i've been chasing jackie during this whole time, and yet it wasn't until  last year that we began talking about her instead.

i've developed a theory. an incredibly superstitious theory that for relationships to work, maybe they need not be put under the autorefractor or into my medical file.

i believe that in therapy they call this moment the break-through. this realization that maybe, just maybe, there needs to be some separation, some distance. that one's love life need have nothing to do with one's eye care.