Pish Tosh

Wednesday, July 27

In other News of Patriotism: Best News Lead

More than 300 Boy Scouts were sickened by the heat Wednesday while waiting for President Bush to arrive at a memorial service for four Scout leaders who were killed while pitching a tent beneath a power line.

If I wasn't already married...

I would totally want to marry Sarah Vowell.

I am listening to her book of essays on democracy as I "clean the house." And her essay on Al Gore, it's breaking my heart, because he's so amazingly learned. Did I vote for him? I did not. Living in a throwaway state, I staged an (ill informed?) protest vote for Nader. I did not, however, put the Nader bumper sticker on my car.

I'm mortified by all the years I didn't vote.* I remember being fourteen or fifteen, babysitting, during the first Iraq war, the newscaster in the gas mask. And what I tried to feel was: civic pride. That's what I thought I was being sold.

I remember seeing Vowell on The Daily Show when this book came out. I'm listening to it (true to form) on my Ipod, and she herself reads it, in her strange, quirky little voice, backed up by her friends Stephen Colbert and weird, verging-on-annoying music between essays by They Might be Giants (of The Sun is a Ball of Incandescent Gas, A Gigantic Nuclear Furnace fame, a song which takes me back to my freshman year of college, when Kurt Cobain died and I occasionally lifted weights in the student center, unable to shed the jock-ish vestiges of having been on the swim team for eight years).

Anyway. It's good. It's funny. She says "like" a lot. And she's pointing out to me just How Very Smart Al Gore is, how informed, and how totally the kind of person I would want to be president, if he is a little geeky which didn't play well. Her essay on Gore draws all its titles from the third Revenge of the Nerds, I think.

The brilliant thing about this book, when they have the quotes from Al Gore, they're read in that Saturday Night Live caricature voice. Pointing out all the obvious things, the "sidekick qualities" (sidekicks are SUPPOSED to be nerdier than the star, she says, invoking Jordan Catalano and that Brian guy from My So Called Life)... and in spite of this, in fact BECAUSE OF, the regret is even more intense.

Before I broke up totally and completely and for the last time ever with my flashy grad school friend, we watched one of the Bush/Kerry debates at her house. A particular moment during which there was that flash of erudition (and even the irritation against The Monkey Man was RESTRAINED), and we just KNEW Kerry had totally creamed Bush. We couldn't believe the next day, that the WHOLE PRESS didn't see it that way.

I don't like to talk about the election, I feel so liberal bandwagonny. You know all my opinions, from the word go, just when I say yes, I'm a Big D Democrat, I feel like all the rest of you in the liberal academic blogosphere. There was this totally ridiculous thing we did in Social Studies in eigth grade, where we were supposed to divide ourselves up into Democrat or Republican. This must have been, what, 1988? I did not know a thing about partisanship. I did not know a thing about the "debate" over abortion. When we were presented, I swear to god, with the task of deciding how we felt about abortion (in eighth grade I was TWELVE), I CONSIDERED THE EVIDENCE, the arguements for both sides. Choosing a political party, I READ THE PLATFORMS. I knew that my grandfather was involved with the Democratic party, and that in our county that was a totally rare thing, like having Lyme Disease or being a foreign exchange student. (N.B. In our high school, the exchange students, mostly all from Sweden, were Cool.) But this wasn't why I picked it. I can't tell you now what exactly it was, but I vaguely remember that the Republicans were Against Government and For Tax Breaks For The Rich but even then I was like, taxes are okay, they provide the money that helps the poor people and the artists.

In the end, it was Democrats: me plus the four most sarcastic hilarous boys in classes, Republicans: everyone else. Including cheerleaders and fellow members of the swim team. Which is pretty much how it went in the country, right? I mean, I think it was the time of Dukakis. I don't remember too well. It was the phase when every day I came home and listened to Abbey Road, the first side only, over and over and over. On record.

So anyway, this book. It's cool. If you like essays, or if you want to see sarcastic blog-type person does Patriotism, check it out.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled program of Fretting About the Reception.

*Also known as, all the years up to 2000. My reason is the state I live in, though this has not even at the time ever actually sounded like a good reason.

Tuesday, July 26

I have a confession

I'm having trouble with the blog lately, not just because of time issues and audience issues and persona issues and laziness issues. I have this entry that's been half-written for, like, two weeks, an entry about a laundromat. It was already a week old when I linked it mentally to my posts about kids or whatever last week. It was the third entry I was supposed to write, to get the blockage out of the way, to let loose! And it's not that stellar of an entry, and it's not that difficult, and I don't know why I don't just finish it already, or else just let it go. As it is it's just sitting there in the down-chute in my brain. Blocking things.

I think it's because I worked at the laundromat, and really it's kind of a drab place, and it just seems tiring to try to spend an adequate amount of attention on describing it for just the space of a paragraph or two that I'd need to for it to perform its function in my entry.

But the other problem is that I am trying to write an un-blog-related essay, which needs to be done by Monday, and this is the week where we're having a wedding reception, and OMIGOD, WE'RE HAVING A WEDDING RECEPTION, WITH ALL OUR FAMILIES, and it's in like a couple of days or something. When I talk to, say, Mrs. Pants, I feel excited! I'm having a party and Mrs. Pants is coming! But then one of us talks to a relative:

My Dad: So, your grandpa's brother, the one who has a PhD in aeronautics but does things like stand over a fire and pour gasoline on it from a can, assuming he'll be able to toss the can aside without burning himself, and who also is a Shriner? He invited himself. Is that okay?

K.'s Sister: So, your niece? She invited her boyfriend. He just got back from a year in Iraq and they met at a country music festival 6 months ago and he's 24 year's old and a truck driver. I'm worried about her...

My Brother: So, I realized today that all I have to wear are t-shirts and ripped jeans. Should I go shopping for something else? And also will anyone be freaked out by my 6-foot-three linebacker-esque black boyfriend?*

K.'s Mom, in an E-mail to me:We hope you received more responses back by the deadline.......did you ever hear from Sister or Grandma??? We stopped to see Aunt Sue, and she didn't think she would be down by you yet...still packing and trying to sell stuff by the highway that she doesn't want to move and doesn't have room for...... Did M. & T. respond??? It is getting closer isn't it!!!!

Yes. Yes, it most indubitably is.

*Tony, I'm so glad you & B. are coming!

This cup of coffee could have KILLED me.


And I don't just mean because of the caffeine. But rather, because this cup of coffee was made HERE:

more deadly!

Yesterday, I got in the mail a piece of correspondence, addressed to me, by name. And the note inside read:
Do Not Use Certain Coffee Makers
This is because out of 529,000 such coffee makers, thirteen "incidents" involving fire have occurred.

To make it up to me, the company will replace my coffee-scarred, three-or-so-year-old, needing-to-be-replaced coffee maker with a brand new coffee maker of higher caliber and fancier design, or with like a toaster or else a FOOD PROCESSOR with an actual uncracked bowl.

THIS IS AMAZING. And to be clear, what's amazing here is that apparently I didn't throw away the registration card when I bought the coffee maker, but rather FILLED IT OUT. AND PUT A STAMP ON IT. AND ALSO SENT IT IN.

Monday, July 25

I like the NY Times and all, but do you think that venerable paper could bring itself to make the "tool" joke found here? I didn't think so.

World's oldest dildo found in cave.

Sunday, July 17

Peanut Butter Post #2 (not actually about peanut butter)

Somewhat unrelatedly, what were your favorite books as a child? I loved most of all Harriet the Spy and Roald Dahl. In Harriet the Spy, which I first read at age 6, Harriet's diary notebook is discovered and her friends all turn against her and everything goes to shit and her parents take her to a psychologist. I'm here to tell you, it can be really isolating to be a little kid, and little-kid factions form and unform and there's a lot of psychological crap that goes on even for a six or seven year old. Harriet the Spy was like The Moviegoer for tots, a book where psychological angst becomes redemptive if rendered as a really good story. Mental pain exists, but it can go away, and it can be made entertaining and instructive, through writing.

Here you can read a New Yorker article about Roald Dahl, the not-nice man whose books adults have often been against. (Including Ursula LeGuin? Though, delightfully, Leguin calls a Dahl book "a tiny psychological fugue" for her daughter.) The article is by Margaret Talbot, who wrote the article about Mean Girls in the New York Times Magazine a few years ago, and so who knows about the anger and meanness that can lurk in the hearts of little girls. Talbot quotes Bettelheim on fairy tales:
Children need the dark materials of fairy tales because they need to make sense—in a symbolic, displaced way—of their own feelings of anger, resentment, and powerlessness. Children also benefit from learning about violence and brutishness in fairy tales, Bettelheim writes, for it counters the “widespread refusal to let children know that the source of much that goes wrong in our life is due to our natures—the propensity of all men for acting aggressively, asocially, selfishly.”
It is the "widespread refusal to let children know" that I am arguing, here, against.

Childrearing With Boob, Sans Ham

Last week there was this post at Dr. Crazy's, a post about a university policy of banning children from classrooms &c written in respose to hoopla about this article. (Looks like she's written another post about it, which I'll definitely read when I finish my wriiiiting.) The question is whether it's appropriate for a university to have a blanket policy banning children from attending classes with their parents (students or faculty). A large number of people seemed to agree that yes, children inhibit the learning environment, and having the blanket policy offers faculty members a gentler, less personal way of saying don't-bring-your-kid-to-my-(x-rated)-class. A minority of people (Bitch, Ph.D. for example) argued that the blanketness of policy created an environment hostile to mothers, esp. if said university doesn't provide childcare for faculty children.

I have never experienced a university classroom with children, except for in that class that met at the professor's house and his adorable and intelligent daughter Jane regularly came in and showed us pictures she had painted and that was great. So in general I'm not down with blanket policy, though I'm obviously not down either with children being allowed to run around unsupervised. But the debate got me thinking, and watch me now as I parlay this question into three, three, THREE peanut butter blog entries, none exactly about the subject at hand. (Mwah ha ha ha.)

As you might imagine, one objection to children in the classroom has to do with the sensitive or x-rated material that comes up in college classrooms sometimes, say in a field like English. In comments, this particular situation was posed: the teaching of The Bluest Eye in class when a seven-year-old was present. In The Bluest Eye (I have to admit it's been years since I read it), the child Pecola endures not only horrible racism, but also is raped (by her father, I think?). Okay, so we have two sensitive topics: racism on one hand, rape on the other.

Would I teach it in the presence of a seven-year-old?

This is an interesting question to me, specifically, because it's the the kind of question that asks me to put my money where my mouth is, and my mouth can frequently be found saying things like free information for everyone, no banning books of any kind, and let the little children listen to George Michael, for pete's sake. I hate, hate, hate the rhetoric of protecting kids which so often simply stands in for the perpetrating onto the children of the parents' own narrow mindedness -- i.e., that which is inappropriate for children is that which is UnChristian, or which celebrates the naturalness of bodies, sex between men, evolution from sea slime, etc.

The idea that there's a magical and definitive point beyond which a small person becomes "mature" enough to see boob on public tv, say, or say men making love onscreen -- but up until which this small person must be at all costs shielded from boob or man-sex -- is ridiculous. It's a mentality that makes me scared not only for these small persons who will someday be large persons, but also for the civic sphere. We tell these people, these children: these acts, they are not appropriate for you! They are bad! And then the small people turn eighteen, old enough to watch rated R movies and also to VOTE, and we expect them suddenly to be able to make informed, compassionate decisions about matters of legislature and about who should get to make up legislation and on what grounds.

"Protecting" of children from sexuality, from racism, from various uglinesses can lead to dangerous naivete, the kind that could expose a kid to pregnancy or disease on one hand (I still remember my ardently-Catholic best friend in high school, who somehow reconciled with her religion that she could have sex as long as she didn't use a condom), or on the other to the gut-punch of the nineteen year old girl who discovers her boyfriend looks at pornography and HOW CAN HE CHEAT ON HER LIKE THAT. Totally avoidable, that.

The overzealous (pretense at) protection of children from Ideas They Are Too Young To Process leads, I think, directly to the crop of corn-fed eighteen year olds who have sometimes shown up in my college classroom, insisting that racism doesn't exist and entirely unaware of the "possessive investment in whiteness" that has protected them from, say, living downwind of garbage incinerators. I like the books of Francesca Lia Block, and find them appropriate for teenagers. I also believe that my (dad-sanctioned) reading of entirely inappropriate materials of all sorts at young ages made me, ultimately, more thoughtful and tolerant -- as I had to grapple with the fact that the world I lived in (small, conservative, white) was by no means the same as other worlds out there. And yeah, I've grown up into a dilettante and a pervert, but I'm a MARRIED, HETEROSEXUAL pervert. I wasn't ENTIRELY corrupted beyond the pale, I'm saying. Finally, I have had the pleasure of babysitting for many children of many ages, and the most delightful have always been those treated by adults with some measure of gravity and respect, and who have been allowed (or encouraged) to discover some of the complexities of the world.

But this is not to say that children should have to deal with adult ugliness and adult despair in unadulterated form. (Tee hee!) This is simply to say that the sharp delineations between some kind of magical, sex-free, fluffy world where children live and the suck-ass world where the rest of us live does a disservice, to children and to the adults they'll eventually become.

To answer my own question, racism, yes, I'd teach about it in the presence of a seven-year-old, and rape, I donno -- the question of GENERAL sexuality is distinct to me from the question of THREATENING sexuality and I don't quite know what I think about introducing that. But imagine you are that seven year old, and you are in the college classroom. (And here I am leaving aside entirely the objection that the child is distracting to the students or teacher in the class: a point with validity, sure, but as it happens not my concern here.) You are probably bored, first of all, and you don't understand a lot of what you do hear. But what you might be left with is the idea that there are bad things or confusing things in the world, but that people can DISCUSS them rationally, can work on them with their brains and pens. That some adults are in the direct business of trying to figure out these bad things and how to make them bettter.

I don't know. I can't help thinking that, for seven year olds, maybe it would sometimes be a good thing. To be included in the business of the world, to be welcomed to observe it.

Also, if I were a parent and had decided that my child had the context for a certain class discussion, or could be trusted to ask me later about anything confusing or upsetting, I'd be pissed as hell at anybody, even a professor, making that decision FOR me. Like pre-empting my ability to judge my own child able to withstand the subject matter of a given class.

But then, you know, if I have children I'm sure to play them gangsta rap in the womb, allow them to consort directly with homosexuals, and to fail ENTIRELY to feed them ham. So possibly I can't be trusted to make this decision for myself.

What Blogging is Like for Me: Tight Pants.

A while ago there was a sentence making the rounds on the blogs: "If, as you live your life, you find yourself mentally composing blog entries about it, post this exact same sentence in your weblog." (I saw it here first.)

Yes. But I also have a reverse condition where if, as I mentally compose a blog entry or even as I begin the actual physical typing of a blog entry, I don't finish, no other entries can come out through what then has become a blockage. It seems to reside in my head somewhere, the blockage. The blog becomes just one more thing on an endless to-do list that I put off or avoid or have to get the groceries first because it's ten-percent-off day.

Blogging: it's problematic. This is because I am a girl between genres so this is a blog between genres. Sometimes I want to use it to vent, sometimes I think I'll use it simply for the regular composition of little essays, sometimes I want to have that kind of blog where it's just all the time funny hopefully-commercial-style writing about daily life, sometimes I want to expound on academic topics or go on ad nauseum discussions about whatever, sentence styles say. Sometimes I want to be more like an academic blog, to join more often into the academic reindeer games in the friendly circle of the discontented; sometimes I want to go in the other direction and stay narrative and practice that.

"Practice": this is part of the question. What's this blog for? Is it for joining a community? Is it for creating a persona that can eventually take over the world? Is it just for practicing for "serious" writing projects that some day I'll get around to sending to magazines? Or is it for entertaining my in turn very entertaining friends, who have all lately begun blogs themselves? Am I trying to join a world, or to create one?

I think there is after all something politically important about the honest presentation of everyday suckyness: the dissection of anxiety, the stories about failing to get teaching at my institution at this stage in my academic career, all that bullshit. Raising awareness, acknowledging, all that. But the thing is I want to be loved, liked at least, and I want to think and write about things that are sexier. Like Frank O'Hara's thing about poems: their purpose is like a tight pair of pants. I want my blog to be the well-cut tight pants that will make people adore me and also my booty. But I also want the freedom to be ugly and bitchy 'CAUSE THAT'S REALITY SOMETIMES, DUDES.

This schizophrenia results in a very sporadic blog style, as days and days go by with nothing, or with a stupid little something, and then a day comes where I'm like "that's it, time to finish up this blog entry that's been blocking me" and then it comes out and another and another. Altogether, it doesn't seem a very effective method for gaining a regular audience who can rely on my blog, that it will be updated, and that they will enjoy or find engaging (or, given my logorrhea, will be able to finish) what they find here.

I feel like the Dave Chappelle of blogging*. I want my own show BUT OH MY GOD, STOP PRESSURING ME. Yes. And bring on the weed.

*With the obvious caveat of being far, far less popular.

Wednesday, July 13

Pish Tosh Inexplicable Search Term of the Day

"Translucent wallpaper -- penises"

Not a bad horosocope, for a birthday, I guess

Dear Cancer! What a momentous, joyous month! You waited so long for July 2005 and now it's here! For two years, you've been beset with many new situations that you had to adjust to, and at the same time, had to endure quite a bit tension. You probably found it hard to relax. Saturn, the taskmaster planet that brought you this no-frills environment since June 2003, will leave this placement this month on July 16. Saturn will not return until 2032! This is truly cause for celebration!

In the weeks and months to come, your cloudy skies will clear and the sun will come out again. Your old self will gradually reemerge and your confidence will return. This period was not without benefits - you have matured enormously over the past two years, and you are now ready to handle anything life throws your way.

Saturn, the planet that prodded and pressed, tested and challenged you, also took away your illusions. Everyone has some, but now you look at life far more realistically. Saturn also strengthened your ability to work "as is," not as you wished it to be. The recent years had to have been very hard for you, for you are a highly sensitive sign.

The universe didn't create this situation for no reason. Saturn's job is to help you become more practical. In the process you were urged to reassess your talents and reformulate goals. Its effect was to launch you into a new arena.

You've proven yourself much stronger than you ever thought you were. Saturn periods are always marked by enormous work and little fun, but also great accomplishments. You are a much wiser, more mature person as a result.

What caught my eye is the June 2003 bit... June 2003, or just after, is when I unexpectedly got offered my job as an Assisstant Professor, and thus began my life as one of those who spend two hours daily in their cars, without time to exercise properly. Then a lot of other stuff happened, like an accidental screw-up with my salary, my funding line getting cancelled there, teaching failing to come through for me here. Also we had some exciting adventures in mental health, and the lack of it.

Well, good. If that was a learning period, from which I emerge stronger, that's fabulous. It's too bad the horoscope goes on to emphasize that though I'm now on the way to the top, I won't get any raises for a while, and will continue to be poor as dirt for another couple of years.

Happy birthday, Harrison Ford. You too, Patrick Stewart, Cheech Marin, and Fatboy Slim. Also, in memoriam, Julius Ceasar and Mr. Rubik, inventor of the puzzle and harbinger of the cube.

Thursday, July 7

Important lesson learned while en route to the Hobby Lobby this afternoon.

Me: (Doing my normal road ragey trash talking) Yes. See? That's a turn lane expressly so that you can pull into the turn lane BEFORE you stop in front of me. Jerk.
Me:(defensive and irritable) What are you SIGHING about?
K.: I am sighing in relief at scratching my genitals. Specifically, my itchy scrotum.
Me: (giggling)
K.: Sometimes it's not about you. Sometimes it's about my scrotum.

The Other News

Yes. Everyone knows that bombs are going off in major cities of the world, that P. Bushie gets to try his hand at stacking the Supreme Court, that people are leaking information and reporters are going to jail, and that people still care inordinately about your sexuality. Probably you also know that oil production will begin an "irreversible decline" in five years which, I am assured, will lead to very bad things.

But. Did you know a man set himself on fire in order to propose to his girlfriend? Actual dialogue therefrom: "Honey, you make me hot."

I don't know what to say.

The State of Things Around Here

1. Our wedding reception is in approx. 3 weeks. HOLY. SHIT. I told K. it's a good thing we already took care of the getting married to e/o part, because I don't necessarily deal well with stress and probably I would pull a runaway bride if I had to, in addition to the fretting demanded by throwing a large-ish party, particularly one involving relatives, also deal philosophically with the "we're getting married!" idea, in addition to fretting over performing getting married in front of aforementioned relatives, in addition to looking pretty so that I could be documented. I already looked pretty at my wedding and had it documented in ridiculously expensive pictures. See?

down the aisle

So anyway, who cares about what my hair will look like or the fact that I have a pronounced farmer's tan because of my silly habit of wearing clothes when I ride my bike to school.

2. Relatedly, these arrived yesterday.

line of thingstodo

The idea is that these will be filled with orchids and stood on the tables. I suppose this means I should order the orchids.

In this one, you can see also one of the favors.


HOLY SHIT. We're throwing a wedding reception, folks. I'm somewhere between excited, intimidated, and embarrassed.

3. I got an A on my first German test. Actually, I got 26.5 out of 25. Taking a class again after all this time is interesting. It's also totally painless. However, this makes me think perhaps I should have tried harder to pass the test again without spending the $700 it's costing me to take this class, $700 which would have bought a looooot of orchids. But whatever. It's probably good that I have something to go to everyday, so I don't just stay home and fret.

Wednesday, July 6

Food Memoirs, Three

I know no nicer tribute to those early boys than to say they left me with new tastes and recipes. God knows what I would have eaten without them.

When G. visited, that first year of grad school, he taught me to make homemade salsa. It had never occurred to me to do so. The batch was watery the next day, the juice having leached all night from the little squared tomatoes, the whole island of salsa surrounded by a pale pink moat, lightly thick, like syrup. I ate it anyway, gingerly, with thin white processed tortilla chips. Even then the horrific waste of home made food, which can change and become inedible quickly though it was sharp and piquant at the start, invoked my guilt.

In a later visit, G. would facilitate my first experience with bulk pulses. He was looking for a certain kind of soap; I told him the hippy-store most likely to have it. He found the soap – a severe, pepperminty, natural-prized kind – and also purchased lentils in a bulk bag. This, too, had never occurred to me.

What was the recipe? I don’t remember at all. Just that there were rice, and lentils, and he insisted to season it with a few drops of picante sauce. This is how he ate his soy burgers, too… carefully arranged, precisely flavored.

We lunched in a Mexican restaurant down the street, with wicker chickens on each table filled with packets of sugar, and when G. said tomatillo to the waiter, he rolled the lls. Then he would tell me over lunch about, for instance, a trip to New Orleans, where the girl he went with suddenly tried to turn him over to the police. When dessert came, G. insisted. “Have the mango sticky rice,” he decreed. And we did: and if you don’t already know, mango sticky rice is the best desert, a bit like a rich peaches and cream oatmeal, with slippery sweet mango and firm little grains of rice bathed in coconut and salted up with tiny sesame seeds.

Another more utilitarian approach to food preparation came from my friend Joe, who visited exactly once. It was Joe, a concert clarinetist, who taught me that a banana eaten before a performance suppressed nerves.

Joe’s innovation was chicken and rice. This was a practical variation on a dish I already loved; my grandmother used to make it special Sundays, in a pressurized pot with a little spitting blow-hole on the top that screamed out and rattled when the dish was hot. This chicken and rice was cooked all together in such a way that the chicken was falling-apart pink and grey succulent, and the rice was glutinous with chicken grease. It was delicious. Joe’s recipe was not like this one; it’s just that he reminded me one could adapt and cook these dishes for oneself. I believe that Joe’s chicken was a slab of breast, microwaved with butter and one particular pallid dried green herb I can’t remember now. The rice, was it just made on the stove?

It left a legacy; that fall, still trying to live within the confines of my pitiful stipend, I scouted the meat department each trip to the grocery store. When boneless chicken breasts were on sale, I bought as many packets of them as I dared, then brought them home and divvied them up into plastic bags and put them in the freezer.

Occasionally I suspected the sale was due to the meat being near its deadline, its color turning dark and its odor ghoulish. I was always squeamish about meats gone off, one of the reasons why it was so easy to give up meat when I eventually did so. But when chicken was $3 off/ pound, how could I resist? I bravely peeled the pieces apart with my fingers. Uncooked chicken, I was interested to discover, had a translucent quality, especially when it was not unfresh. Then I would wash the tips of my fingers over and over, like a compulsive. I have always thought of that chicken since, when I think of my own muscles.

My vegetarian roommate must have been disgusted, but she was coming off a phase of eating nothing but lettuce with ketchup and then throwing it up in the toilet, so her disgust meant little to me. Indeed, it probably gratified me. I was angry and small, and my chicken dishes were cheap and were for me a form of fight against the system. It shows how young I was that I thought my roommate was a part of the system, but it is true she had hurt me by rejecting a key element of my writing style and my friendship and I probably wanted to wound her, with chicken.

Another disgusting thing we did in early grad school was to drink gallons and gallons of coffee, but it was always Maxwell House or whatever was cheapest in 3 pound tins at the grocery store. We drank so much horrible, cheap coffee that we constantly smelled of it; it came out our pores and scented our pee. Each of us would occasionally come home from the grocery with a salad, piled with spinach and kidney beans and baby corn and artichokes and blue cheese and orange slices and sunflower seeds and grapes, and eat the massive pile out of its Styrofoam clamshell with relish. We called these salads “I have scurvy.”

One spring break we went to the seashore, if you can call a windy Rhode Island beach on the brink of a snowstorm the seashore. We met up with our college friends, now scattered like a pocket of pebbles. They had a recipe for Corn Chowder, which was the first involved soup I’d ever helped to make from scratch. It’s not that involved, but I was used to soup out of a can. This involved chopping potatoes, and building up the broth ourselves, with stock, a bay leaf, onion... It was cooking. My boyfriend and I wrote down the recipe, and made it ourselves in his little Brooklyn apartment for months after, whenever we were together there. The kitchen was a good place for us and it nourished our relationship as well as us.

By the time Jeff visited, I lived alone with my cat and ate mostly garden burgers and takeout burritos. We went together to the Indian restaurant, my very first time. He showed me what to order, made me try his. The rice came in a sort of loaf, with one pea and one chop of carrot as an accent. The food came in brown bowls and the sauce was heavy and sweet in an unfamiliar way, and though I liked it, I didn't immediately love it. At home later, he got out his guitar because he wanted to sing for me. The songs were good, better than I had feared, because he was my first boyfriend and we had spent a lot of time in cars parked off country roads, listening to the Cure and talking and not making out, and his life was so strange and sad that I wanted him to succeed. I worried his voice would not be robust but it was. Then he made me listen to a song about me. Later, Elliott Smith’s posthumous album would come out, and on it would be a song with the same name, but it was not the same song, though certain similarities obtain.

Although I liked the music, I was embarrassed as I always am at too much attention trained on me, though I yearn for it, and somehow or another we never spoke again, even though we had previously talked so much that 6, 8 hour phone calls were not rare. Mostly we had talked about how dysfunctional our relationships with lovers were, and I suppose the end of our long talks meant we had become well adjusted.