Another slow evening at work becomes a spectacular night sharing stories with Jenn on the front porch. The conversation topics covered everything from local murders to how her Grandmother escaped Nazi Germany as a Jew, and her aunt escaping Iran during the hostage crisis while eight months pregnant. We talked about her Grandmother firing a shotgun at four in the morning while out to milk the cows because a strange man had wandered onto her land. I told her about Uncle Ernie telling a kid with a gun pointed in his face to "get the hell outa here!"
Sharing stories over wine, what could be better?? If you are truly lucky, you will each have your own moments of brilliance, when you think to yourself, 'wow, now I'm really thinking... now, we're on to something special and important here.' We traded favorite poets -- I told her about Stanley Kunitz and promised to let her borrow his gardening treatise, and she introduced me to Thomas Hardy. We are planning to have poetry reading nights in our living rooms, and soon, knitting parties to follow. We laughed together about how we're such home-body dorks, and it's no wonder we're turning out to be spinsters!
For a few days there has been this glass pitcher sitting on the mosaic table here on the porch. When I first saw it out there I thought to myself, 'oh, how nice, Jenn is making sun tea!'... and then I began to notice day after day that the pitcher was still there, and so I began to think she must have forgotten her tea, and so have been expected to see it mold. But it hasn't molded, to my great suprise! Last night, I asked her about it. As it turns out, it's certainly not any drinkable tea! It's called Worm Tea. How this works is she has a few covered pails in her kitchen with composting soil and foods that has been filled with composting worms. Through the process of composting, the worms end up creating this nutrient rich liquid. By saving it, Jenn can pour it little by little into the sprouting plant projects we have all around the porch and alongside the driveway. I am in awe!! She is always teaching me something, enlightening my life with the most interesting ideas. I have never me a woman smarter than this sweet cookie.
In other news, I am trying to decide between camping in the Cohutta's or driving out to Cumberland Island and camping along the beach for the next four days. The original plan was to just go to the Cohutta's, but I've begun to rethink that since the temperatures are going to be in the low 20's at night. I can't imagine I will enjoy sleeping in such a cold climate, which is why I've begun to think about going to the coast instead. I was talking to my Grandmother about it a little last Sunday, while she made my mother and I a big pot of Beef Borgunon (I'm sure I didn't spell that correctly!). When she was in college, my Grandma use to go camping on the weekends by herself, she said, because that was the only way she could get her papers written. What an inspiring thought!! Wherever I end up going, I'm definately looking forward to getting some real writing done. It's been almost a year since I've written a poem, and I can feel the ache for it in my bones. Yes, my bones.
Speaking of deep aches, I've been waking up in the mornings lately with the longing to leave. I'm so ready for the change!! Can it be March 10th already, please? I am dying to know where I will be going. I need a new future to plan. The many seedlings I've been nurturing over the last year are ready for soil! I look around this apartment I've been in now for five years -- my goodness -- and it even seems as though my things themselves are aching to be boxed and crated away. We're all restless here.
I woke up yesterday morning with the bug to get out of the city for a minute. I wanted freedom, fresh air on my face, and land... lots of land. So I called up my Dad at work and told him to put down his tools, he needed to play hookie with his daughter today. Just like the old days, when I would call Jess and beg her to skip class (again) and come with me to the mountain.
Daddy and I spent the better part of the afternoon paddling around Lake Acworth in the canoe, journeying around all the little bends, checking out lilly pads, watching the great blue herons take off in majestic flight. The great blue heron is my favorite bird; just look at the tattoo on my right arm and you'll know! They are such graceful, quiet creatures. There was one in particular that followed us all around the lake, appearing and reappearing, standing on his tall skinny legs, never afraid of our presence, just watching over his land as if he welcomed us like pleasant guests.
I have a special attachment to downtown Acworth. This is where I spent the better memories of my childhood. When Chris and I were very young, Dad lived in a run down apartment complex across from the church yard. Back then, Dad drank a lot and was close enough to dirt poor I'm surprised we weren't homeless. Us children would come wanding back to the apartment near dinner time, and the three of us would gather fishing poles and make our way down to the lake's edge. We'd catch a few fish and bring them back to the apartment patio. This is how I learned to clean a fish. Hit their head a few times to knock them out. One small slice behind the jaw bone. Cut straight down the belly, but not deep, because you didn't want to hit the viens or the blood would contaminate the flesh. Cut all the way to the bowels, then with your thumb in the mouth of the fish, starting at the slit behind its jaw you'd yank down and tear out all the guts. Then run your thumb in the socket of the fish, right along the spine, to clean out the viens.
We would have fresh caught fish and french fries for dinner every night. Or else, if we hadn't made a catch, it was a few cans of sardines mashed up with mayonnaise. If Chris and I were still hungry, which we usually were, we'd sneak across to the church and raid the fridge. We could always count on finding newly baked bread -- the body of Christ! -- to fill our hungry bellies. Sometimes we would even wander to the back of the church, where the nursery rooms were, and play with the church toys. In those days, they never locked the church doors.
A few years later, Dad moved into a house down the street that we called "The Mansion", because it seemed so big to us. In fact, it was a bed and breakfast that belonged to a friend of his. My father was offered a place to stay if he promised to be the care-taker. We rarely had guests come stay, but when we did, us children had to remain upstairs, which was never any fun. Chris and I would climb out the bedroom window and climb the roof scaling to sit on the top of the house. There, we would watch the trains go by.
The house is still there today, and still a functioning bed and breakfast. It's called the "Jessie Lemon."
If, upon my death, I could return to a time in my life to live out eternity, this would be the time I'd choose. Eating crab apples form the tree in the back yard, riding our bikes to the lake, playing in the church when no one was there, sitting on the roof of 'the mansion'...
Yesterday I was excited to snap a photograph of my favorite town, but realized I'd left the camera at home, unfortunately. Maybe next time.
As promised, here is the recipe for the special, late-night treat! Pre-warning: it would be a good thing to go for a nice, long run the next day, as this one is not a calorie-counter...
Slice a baguette and drizzle olive oil. Then, smear a thick goat cheese, with kalamata olive spread layered on top. Dice marinated artichoke hearts and spread evenly on bread pieces. Grate fresh sea salt and cracked pepper, then set in the broiler on a cookie sheet for about 45 seconds to a minute. That's all it takes, and you have this delicious treat!!!
A wonderful wine pairing to accompany this delectable dish: Palo Alto Riserva!!
I took some time to wander around the edges of campus today, in downtown Atlanta. These are a few images I came across. Some of the photographs preferred sepia, because it brought out the city's history in a unique way that color couldn't.
And home at last, fooling around with the "glow" option on Picasa. (Jess -- you would love this program, if you don't already have it...)
This was the first evening in a long time that I cooked a full meal, and it turned out absolutely delightful! I would have taken pictures to photo blog, but I will have to admit, it wasn't the prettiest presentation. This one was more about the taste than the looks!
For an appetizer, I started with lightly toasted baguette with a very rich, creamy goat cheese and pure pear preserves. I could have stopped here and just made my entire meal cheese spread on bread with jam!
The main dish was composed of three selections: steamed brussles, skillet potatoes, and sauteed dover sole. I started with the potatoes, which I imagined as the grounding aspect of the meal. I wanted to give the more earthy flavors an appearance here, so I seasoned the potatoes with garlic, mustard powder, sumac, cumin, s&p, and a light dash of smoked paprika. I added butter for tenderizing, and cooked the hell out of my taters for a good 45 mins to an hour on medium low heat.
Much later, when the tots were nearly done (or, to be honest done, just getting softer and softer), I set the brussels to steam. These I steamed for about seven or eight minutes to make aldonte, retaining the fresh texture but releasing the wonderful flavors and aromas. I decided I would season the brussels the least, with just a dousing of lemon juice, salt, and generous pepper.
For the sole, which I started at the same time as the brussels, I simmered a dill sauce made of fresh dill, butter, garlic, lemon juice, pimentos, capers, s&p. Cooking dover sole one must be especially gentle, as it's a very light and delicate fish and will break apart very easily if flipped often. I find it's best not to flip it at all, but to cook it at a lower heat and cover it. I added the sauce at the end, and there you have it!
Tonight's wine selection was a mediocre bottle of 2006 Tempranillo, selected for two reasons. One, it was $5.99, and two - I preferred a red wine on a cold night but didn't want to opt for a wine that was too heavy. At the same time, going for a pinot noir or a burgondy, would have been too fruity. Tempranillo, depending on its aging qualities, can prove to be an apt compromise of intense bright fruit on the front palate and light oak on the back. Still, I think a white Torrantes would have probably been ideal for this dish.
In the end I went for the easy, fool-hardy dessert of lightly toasted baguette pieces with olive oil drizzled and melted semi-sweet dark chocolate, with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt.
Reading Margaret Atwood's "The Circle Game" this morning. I enjoy her poetry quite a bit, however, I've noticed a few places where I'd amend her usage of certain phrases or words. One thing that tends to bother me about some poets, no matter how good they are, is the reliance on the old tried and true for the very reason that it has proven successful in the past. I call it the whoring of words. To give an example of what I mean here: alliteration is fantastic, but sometimes enough is enough. The battered baseball cap, helpless hankering, Bonnie's blue bonnet... After six stanzas of this (no less, sometimes an entire poem of it!) I get the point. Lets be more creative, though.
Atwood, I think, makes the same mistake I have seen all too many women authors (in particular) make. When we talk about the moon, it has to be bone-white. Bones, hard bones, yes... I've made this same damn mistake too, just because it sounds so good. Bones are such a wonderful image, you can feel it in your teeth. It gets to the heart of the thing. But I'm tired of it. Lets think of another way to give the effect of something cold and naked. Strands of brittle, grey hair. A tiled kitchen floor. A porch made of brick and cement. Not stone. Brick.
I also recently purchased the word of Maurice Manning. At first reading, "Bucolics" straight up bothers me. How many times is Manning going to say the word "Boss"? I get the point -- we're converging the modern guy tongue with the poetic, but something about it clashes annoyingly. Some things clashing are nice: brown shoes and belt with black pants and shirt. You can certainly pull it off if done right. But I wouldn't necessarily jump to throw neons against pastels.
Anyway, I think I'm in-love with my neighbor. She's really a very beautiful woman. Aside from the obvious richly textured interior of her life -- as one can easily see with the countless projects she begins and finishes with artistic flare -- I find her physically beautiful as well. She is more full in the hips, and very well-built. Her shoulders are narrow, her feet are small and petite. I find myself often admiring her curvature, how it is so delicate and yet so strong. The hips truly have me. Everyone is familiar with the paintings of the romantic period, with the half-nude women and their milky skin, very white, usually with dark hair to contrast, and these wide, open hips.
I am so blessed to be a woman. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the entire world. Womanhood is layered with mystery and beauty and fantastic depth! We are in constant rotation, turning with particular rhythms, expanding and retracting. Our bodies have so many discoveries, so many portals, so much changing terrain!
Having a relationship with mathematics, as a heavily left-brained individual, is an interestingly intense experience. On the one hand, there is this tangled web of heated passions against it -- frustration, anger, hopelessness, powerful resistance -- that all too often lead me to tears. Then there is this magic about it when the problem is finally solved, a wonderful feeling of not only relief, but excellent satisfaction, because you know, there is one and only one answer. It can be so straight-forward, and in this sense, for a highly creative and inventive person, this sort of order can actually prove remarkably rewarding. I say this in spite of the push-pull, love-hate of it all.
Much akin to my own experiences in romance. The oscillation of all oscillations. Good God. Valentine's Day?? How about a fever of 102 and you STILL have to go to work. Valentine's Day.... is treating myself to a cheeseburger from The Majestic... that greasy, golden goodness. And while I'm at it, I'll take a large chocolate shake please, with whipped cream.
I don't need to make my countless, almost daily reflections on love and loss a holiday. Instead I will convert it into love for food and long naps. Just for the hell of it. Sometimes it's just too irristible to not be contrary.
On a (not so) heavily related note... Woke up this morning and read all about Charlotte Turner Smith. What an incredible woman. She helped build the foundation for what would become the romantic period for poetry and writing... inspiring other more well-known writers such as Wordsworth (a personal favorite!) and Colerige. She was forced to marry a terrible man who she actually sat IN debtors jail with because the bloke wouldn't pay the bills, wrote two novels while she was in there with him, and bore ten of his children. Later, she would publicly denounce her father for forcing her into the arranged marriage, by the claim that he had turned her into a "legal prostitute"... of course, women were not suppose to marry for love, and certainly not have passionate, love-ridden sex (hmm, could that count as a pun?). Big no-no.
She sounds like my kind of woman. In fact, if I have a daughter one day, I just might name her Charlotte. And on an equally random note... I think I'd nickname her Charlie. Maybe.
Did you know that there is actually prozac for cats??! Apparently so. After $300 in diagnostic exams to find out what's wrong with Moonpie -- she has been starving herself for over a month now (I asked her if it was religious fasting, but she said no) -- I was left with a diagnosis of Feline anxiety disorder and inappropriate urination. Prescription: Daily half dose of Prozac. Yes, it truly is as ludicrous as it sounds.... but if it gets her to eat and use the litter box again, I certainly wont complain. Now, the three hundred dollar vet bill for virtually nothing, I may indeed complain about.
In my next life, I'd like to have a live-in maid. I shall make sure to check that box on my sheet before the next incarnation occurs.
Today's music selection: Antonin Dvorak; Piano Concerti in G minor. Elvis Perkins, from the Ash Wednesday album -- "While You Were Sleeping"
I made it through yesterday's third and final interview -- an all day affair. It was actually pretty challenging, and stressful to say the least. With no more than four hours of sleep I went in with my lesson plan and handouts, ready to go, longing for coffee (what a morning to run out of beans!). The first thing I noticed was all of the other interviewees with their home-made posters. Poster?! Who in the hell has time to make a poster?! Oh, precious Emory students who have full ride scholarships and whose mommy's and daddy's pay for their living expenses. That's who! I was the only Georgia State student, and the only one not involved in at least five volunteer programs. Does working full time between two jobs count for anything??
Regardless of my poster-less start, I executed my lesson plan with grace and, surprisingly, within the small five minute timeframe they gave me. I had to laugh at the fact that of course, I was also the only one who chose to teach an upper-level concept. Everyone else taught such easy, straight forward topics as second grade compound words, the FOIL method for math, introduction to the periodic table, etc. I on the other hand, taught diction and tone of voice in contemporary poetic techniques. Yeaa, that's me -- always the complicated one. At least I enjoyed the poem I used by Lucille Clifton -- "i am accused of tending to the past..." -- it's just such a wonderful piece! It wasn't hard to be passionate about talking to the "class" about it, and getting them engaged with the material. I did however, think I was going to throw up just before I got up to teach. It was a terrible anxiety attack sitting there waiting, I honestly wanted to walk right out the door... even though this is most definately what I want to do. It's a funny thing.
Unfortunately, I did completely botch the short role-playing senario between me and my interviewer. I just didn't understand the concept of role-playing. I thought she wanted me to come up with a solution to the problem. Little did I know she was actually fishing for a reaction. It's not hard to confuse me.
I kept reminding myself that if I did at any point screw it all up... at least I looked pretty damn good in my new $300 Banana Republic business suit. (And no, I didn't remember to save the tags)
In random news:
- Religion annoys me.
- Robitussen stays in the system far too long.
- Why couldn't Bush have passed a Stimulus plan that allowed new cars to be written off on our taxes? Seeing as how I just bought a new car little more than a year ago... Oh yea, because it's Bush, and Bush is a moron. (And I know that the world does not revolve around what happens in my life, and that it doesn't necessarily follow that Bush is a moron simply because he did not benefit me... it's still just as good an opportunity as any to call him a moron. It gives me satisfaction to do so)
- Watched 9 and 1/2 weeks... need I say more?? Mickey Rourke, Kim Basinger (before all the cosmetic surgery) -- smoking hot. And very, very interesting psychologically. As an aside, I must admit, there's just something about the '80's that's really, really cool.
- I now have just a hate relationship with this thesis project.
- Fake chicken patties are actually pretty good.
- Today, in the car while driving home, I thought that if I don't get this job with TFA, then I will resign myself to being a fucking school bus driver.
- Campus is a strange, strange place, if you look at it closely enough.
I decided to get a little creative in the kitchen tonight. My initial idea was to make tabouli, but I didn't have any Bulgar wheat, only couscous. So I decided couscous was close enough and began to cook it. As I was cooking, I thought about a dish that my chef Raj made the other day in which he pan fried garbonzo beans with pequio peppers and garlic. Tabouli wouldn't be enough to fill me, so I checked my cupboards for chickpeas but only found a can of mixed beans, which has kidney beans, garbanzos, and white beans.
So I figured, why not? I can have couscous tabouli and panfried beans. But then, the ingredients all started to blend together in my mind... creating this wonderful dish!! I'll ADD the panfried beans to my couscous, and throw in the parsley. And while I'm at it, why not throw in a dash of lemon juice, some sundried tomatoes I happened to have on hand, and goat cheese. Oh, My. It's probably one of the most fantastic vegetarian dishes I've ever made. An absolute must try!
Friendship holds my life together, not unlike glue, but more akin to a clean shine. Friendship is that which polishes the gold... our gathered nuggets of knowledge -- it gives our lives a hint of glimmer. It is special, and perhaps, the deepest spiritual connection we can have here on earth. With the exception, of course, of a lover.
This is I do not have -- a lover. As far as friends are concerned, I am beyond blessed. Jessica. Her husband Scott. Miss Laura Lemay. My mother. Clint Sabom. John Sullivan. Rita Yvarra... our now eight year long friendship through letters. I still have yet to meet her, even though, she is every bit a part of my daily life as are the people I see every day. Otherwise, I am mostly okay alone. Intorverted at heart, as Clint says.
Speaking of dear friends, I spoke to Clint this evening for the first time since Thanksgiving. Before then, it had been nearly a year. We spoke on and off through letters, perhaps three times, while he was away at the monastery. I think these two or so years of some distance have been good for us. We spoke tonight about many things, including the places we were in our own lives two years ago. We've been through rocky times together, when things were chaotic, and we did not treat our frienship with the greatest of care, but instead were careles with it, pushy, aggressive, and disrespectful. We can laugh now, maybe chalk it up to youth, to immaturity, to lack of spiritual depth or better put... lack of spiritual acceptance.
The bond between us has always, from the moment we met, been a deep one. Karmic, I am certain. As I said tonight on the phone, in my past, as a young and immature girl, I never knew just how to handle such intense spiritual connections. With him, for instance, I was never attracted, but the love was strong and therefor suffered its own moment of confusion. Like brother and sister, kissing one single time on the lips, and being utterly disgusted and angry at eachother for it... disappointed. What the hell? Why did you do that? And we look at eachother like foreign enemies for a second, and storm away, feet stomping and grossed out. And then the formative years pass by, we grow up a little, learn to greet one another again as adults, and then we laugh... laugh at the ridiculousness of ourselves.
We talked tonight a bit about L. as well. He asked me how he was doing... I don't know. Do I think about him still? Of course I do, but not nearly as often. When I check that place in my heart, it is usually still, silent, and unmoved. But there are still times when I it tugs, when it aches... when it misses. We learn to accept, as Clint says, the things that fall along the way.
So what was it? He asks me. What was it?? That whole thing? What was it really about? Well, okay, perhaps I am in a better position to answer that now, objectively. I've moved far enough now beyond it that I can actually turn around and see it for all that it was.
Two souls, very similar. Two intense spirits, equally matched. Someone I more than likely knew from lives beyond. A gorgeous meeting between two very intricate people. But as Clint said tonight, born in the wrong times. I see it as a matching, or meeting, of two highly charged particles.... and when they came together, proved combustible. Like a match struck on an oil leak. The explosion lent itself half of the passion, and half of the destruction. It was powerful, and devistating. Clint says, it was two people not understanding that they were at two very different places in their lives, but only seeing love and the magnitude* (magnetic impulse) towards one another, that they were bound to break the others hearts. For L., as Clint sees it, there was a surpising falling in-love, that swept him up, in the very midst of the relationship.... and yet for the girl involved (me), it was an after-the-fact discovery. Love was realized at separate times. And this wasn't even what caused the fall.
Take a twentytwo year old young woman. Her borders are not well-defined. She is highly inconsistent. She does not know who she is entirely. She isn't even sure what she wants. I don't care how well-adjusted a twentytwo year old young woman may be, she cannot escape the situation of this point in her life. This IS where she will be, where she absolutely MUST be. It's called the process of life -- growing up. And it aint over yet at twentytwo! Hell, it's never really over...
Then, take a fourtyfive year old man. He does know what he wants. He does know who he is. His morality is consistent with his behavior. His wants are consistent with his actions. He does not waver. He has learned that there is only grey when you allow yourself to exist in that borderless place.... he knows, that you make your own destiny, to an extent, by making the decisions in accordance to your dreams, and you stand behind them.
There is a huge gap here. I didn't even know how to dance back then. I know how to dance now. I know how to sing! I know how to be playful, how to not take myself so seriously.... but above all, I know what I want, what I don't want, and I know how to stand behind both of those things. I understand the importance of cementing your own moralities. I also know how to relax, how to feel confident and secure in my own skin, rather than that strange nakedness, that rawness in front of the world-stage I felt back then.
Yes, we would have been beautiful together. If I had known then what I know now. If I had been the woman then, that I am now. But I wasn't. I can't regret that. How could I? It's just a growth process.... it is, what it is. Some things we just don't have control over. A new born child cannot simply come out of the womb and be expected to hop on its feet and take off running. I had to learn to walk; I had to learn to run. I can do both now, somewhat more gracefully. At the least, I fall less. I can hold my head up. I can even wiggle my hips.... these ever-growing curves!! My, my, they don't kid around about the metabolism changing when you hit twentyfive. It's depressing. And yet, pleasantly domestic in some sense I can't make sense out of.
I guess, I hope, that one day I will find a love, a partner, that was half as interesting.... A man who loves gardening, and good flavors. A man who loves art, and beauty. A man who takes the time to get to know who I am, who takes interest in my writing, thoughts, appreciations. A man who cooks breakfast in the morning... who travels, who has his own interests, his own arts, his own snow-globe of enchantment.
I love the song "Hannah" by Ray Lamontagne. I'm listening to it right now. It's really beautiful. Not just the lyrics, but that string instrument in the background that I can't quite identify... perhaps a Cello? It reminds me of an afternoon spent in the mountains, hanging out on a porch with a glass of wine after a long day... a sunset, a healthy sigh, a warm embrace. Even the piano, has a sense of home to it, that's just so damn comforting.
So, where to next? The cards are on the table. St.Louis? Nashville? Bay Area? Pheonix??
The front door is open. I'm ready to take off for flight. I look forward to teaching, and to learning from my students. I look forward to having the opportunity to be passionate about something I am able to teach. I think, honestly, I'd take the happiness of giving to others above a lover any day. Any day.