Monthly Archives: September 2010

Delicious Lunch

I made myself a delicious lunch today.

I woke up with a taste in my mouth for a sandwich, just peculiar enough to
follow, the way a private eye has a gut instinct for chasing trails.

Shopping on an empty stomach is known as troublesome, but on a specific
stomach, or in this case, tongue, is a joy.

I should say that the ingredients remained the same, yet the format shifted.

Back from the market, I began.

Forgotten in the fridge, two thick-cut bacon strips from the weekend,
still full of life, dropped into the small frying pan.

Three red-on-the-vine tomatoes sat on the chopping board.

A small pot boiled beneath a lid.  A bowl of cold water awaited on the counter.

A large pan rested above the heat-vent atop the stove, beneath the bread
warmed.  Inside the pan one tablespoonful of margarine, one of smartly chopped
garlic rested.

The tomatoes were lowered into the boiling water, one, two three.  As twenty
seconds passed, a spoon and spatula helped ease them into the cold water bowl.

Safely cooled seconds later, the skin of the tomato peels easily and is
tossed into the sink.  The calyx removed with a paring knife, the tomatoes
awaited chopping.  I’ve read to remove the seeds, doing so easily by
chopping into left-and-right halves each tomato, then using the knife blade
to pull the gelatinous seeds from the fruit.

Chopped into bits no bigger than the tip of a finger, the tomatoes blend
with the garlic margarine mixture.  The bacon now ready, it too is chopped,
any white fat removed, and the half-thumb-sized pieces added to the pan.

A flame lit to medium-high begins to work wonders on the makings, along with
equal coverings of salt and pepper over the tomatoes, then a third covered
in parsley, a third in Italian seasoning, a third in garlic powder.

The pan sizzles alive happily, and the spatula helps to gently mingle the spice
and margarine.  This continues some five, eight minutes as I chop chicken.

A roasted chicken serves for the meat of the dish, a chicken breast sliced
from the breast bone, then chopped so that each piece still appears juicy,
bite-sized, and neither too thick nor long.  All that goes into the pan.

A bowl wide as my hand, thumb-to-pinky, serves to host the dish.  Lettuce
leaves, half-a-dozen palm-sized ones, washed in cool water, edges trimmed
no more than a finger’s width at most and as needed, are stacked, folded,
torn into quarters, then halved again.

The bowl lined with lettuce, I take the oven-warmed bread and separate
by hand the crust for croutons, ten or so pieces added.

Don’t let me forget I added one slice of mozzarella, cut in half again and
again until the pieces could be called large slivers.

Stove-top off, I slide the lot of it from the pan to the bowl.

Lunch, heaven help me, I can still taste it.

Contents Are Very Hot

This is an older piece, newly revised.

I ended up kissing that kid Joey from high school at the bar on Thursday night. It was messy, and I probably never would have thought twice about it if Tim hadn’t called me the next day to “talk things over.” I asked him what the hell there was left to say on the matter.

I met him at Peet’s Coffee an hour later. I had that kiss with Joey under my belt as ammunition, a final proof that I, in fact, would be just fine without him.

We stood at the counter, staring at the menu like we’d never been to a coffee shop before. In the end, each of us ordered a small cup of coffee. I sat down at the table near the window, away from everything else.

“Is your coffee too hot?” he asked, blowing into the cup disapprovingly. The steam rose into his face, fogging his glasses.

“Oh, quit stalling,” I said. “Coffee’s supposed to be hot. Now what did you want to talk about?”

“I don’t understand why you’re so angry all of the time,” he whispered like he always did when he wanted to compensate for my louder voice.

“I wish for once you could just see yourself the way I see you. You wouldn’t be able to stand yourself either.” I took a sip of my coffee, noticing the simultaneous numbed swell of my taste buds.

“Maybe this was a mistake,” he said. “Maybe you were right about there being nothing left to say.”

I didn’t buy his surrender. I slurped my coffee, waiting for his next mode of attack.

“I didn’t want it to end this way,” he said.

“How do you suggest we end this, then?” I asked.

“I don’t know? Amicably? We’re good together, you and I, but just not… you know.”

I looked at him. “I don’t know, no.”

“You are such a different person than when I met you. Would you agree?” he asked.

“You don’t get to be disappointed in me,” I protested. “We’re not together anymore. ”

“Lower your voice.”

“No! You don’t hear me, do you? I’m sick of feeling like I have to impress you and your damn family.”

“You shouldn’t feel like you have to impress me! Don’t you get it? We’ve been together two years, and you’re still treating me like you just met me. ”

“You don’t think you’re judgmental?” I asked, baiting him.

He crossed his arms and leaned back. “No, I don’t.”

“I made out with Joey Santos the other night.”

He didn’t react, just continued to stare down into his coffee. He shook his head a little, as though I had just provided his vindication.

My right hand, clutching the paper cup, moved with instinct. The coffee made an unsatisfying splashing sound, barely audible, and steam rose from his skin like fog on top of a lake. His cry seemed to come many moments after the initial splash of coffee, and it sounded almost out of place. I was not as shocked at my action as Tim was, or even the staff behind the counter, but rather more curious. I had never thrown coffee, or any liquid for that matter, in someone’s face before.

He stood up out of his chair, knocking it backward, making these tiny staccato noises. His face was a deep red, and he didn’t open his eyes. He looked ready to defend himself, though I had emptied my cup. There was no opportunity for an encore. I didn’t listen to much that he was screaming at me; I don’t listen well to raised voices. The police officer who came to escort me out of the coffee shop spoke more softly, as though he didn’t want to wake me. I heard everything he said.

He put me in the back of his car, and I fell asleep on the way to the station. He didn’t turn the sirens or flashing lights on. It would have been too much mixed with the ruckus coming from Tim’s ambulance.

In court, they showed pictures of the burns on his face. He was sitting right there the whole time, but the jury couldn’t see through the gauze. They compared them to pictures of cuts on my brother’s arms from when we were kids. There were a lot of things that Tim’s lawyer brought up that I thought had nothing to do with the charges at hand, but my lawyer advised me to keep quiet during the proceedings.

Only the Good Die Hard

Billy Joel vs. Star Wars
Star Wars vs. Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II vs. Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen vs. The Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders vs. Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan vs. Epcot (draw)
Ronald Reagan vs. The Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders vs. Tom Selleck
Tom Selleck vs. Me & Michael Dudikoff & Michael J. Fox
Me & Michael Dudikoff & Michael J. Fox vs. Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise vs. Tom Selleck
Tom Selleck vs. Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis vs. Bart Simpson
Bruce Willis vs. Will Smith
Bruce Willis vs. Sonic the Hedgehog
Bruce Willis vs. Brett Favre
Bruce Willis vs. Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton vs. Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis vs. James Bond
Bruce Willis vs. Will Smith
Will Smith vs. Massive Chunks of Ice
Massive Chunks of Ice vs. Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis vs. Star Wars
Bruce Willis vs. Zombies, Aliens, Romans, Serial Killers, & Kevin Spacey
Bruce Willis vs. Harry Potter
Harry Potter vs. J.R.R. Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien vs. Tony Jaa
Tony Jaa vs. Spider-Man
Spider-Man vs. Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis vs. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift vs. Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis vs. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift vs. Michael Jackson
Taylor Swift vs. Bruce Willis
Bruce Willis vs. The Future

Ode to Candy Corn

rounded wax wedges, waning; a tawny
base that tapers towards a soft point
white like tundra, in taste and texture,
bleeding out from burning copper ribs
hardly mellow hardened creme
of candle crops to harvest fat
free treats, a sign of times once pagan-
pluralistic-primal-precocious-pre-
human, uncivilized, re-captured,
re-claimed, costume the dead alive
and turn the season, turn to shovel
handfuls into mouths full of rotting
teeth a special offer, a limited time only
exciting when available but hardly
missed in memories of stomaches
turned to sick, in children as in men
but indulging in each dish we find it
harder to resist the solstice sweets
and let ourselves get lost inside
that sadistic sugar maize

I Try To Imagine Myself Old

I try to imagine myself old. 80. 90.
I try to imagine myself softly daft, cloudy-eyed and prone to mistiness
when a New Order song comes on.

I try to imagine myself old. Who will visit me, this childless
old broad with blurred crinkly tattoos?
Duncan, probably, because I let him have Yoohoo with his pancakes
when he stayed over my house.

I try to imagine if he’ll dread these visits. Making small talk
while I stare at the wall, machines whirring and blinking behind me. His children
kicking, bored, at the rungs and legs of soulless institutional furniture.

I try to imagine myself old. Fearless. Working the polls in November.
People reverently whispering that I was born during the Nixon administration,
that I saw “Star Wars” the FIRST time around.
In something called a “movie theater.”

I try to imagine myself old, beloved, nonjudgmental, accepting, accepted.
Finally happy with this radically changed body, its limitations and shortcomings.
I know this much: I will not wear purple. I will not wear a red hat.

The Internet, a Garage Sale

Surfed from a
chair from Ikea,

our blue-and-yellow
fine-I’ll-just-get-it-all-here
of furniture,

on a laptop
from Best Buy,

our blue-and-yellow
fine-I’ll-take-it
of technology.

No more home-
made rockers,

unless you count
YouTube,

no more home-made
technology, I don’t mean

to get all blue-and-yellow
on these conveniences,

it’s that I’d gladly swap,
shop at your house,

take home things
made for me.

What is Expected

There are certain things to be expected after your father kills himself. It’s normal to cry all through the afternoon and evening of the day your mother calls you with the news. It’s socially acceptable to sit up most nights of the month following trying to articulate to your very understanding boyfriend, who has to work in the morning, how you can hear in your mom’s voice that she’d seen her husband hanging from a rope in their garage. After that first month, it’s part of the passage of time for that same understanding and patient boyfriend to be a little less understanding and patient, and in order to save the relationship and his sanity, you, like most people put in a similar situation, reach out to other friends. (He does not use the phrase “driving me crazy,” but you do, to your friends on the phone in the downstairs bathroom.) You reach out to friends from college and upon rehashing the time between the present and the last you heard from them, you realize just how long it’s been since graduation.

At this point, about two and a half months after your father stepped off the roof of his car and allowed his feet to dangle in the confines of the open sunroof, it’s normal to reassess where your life is currently and where it’s headed. Given your sudden and recent realization of how long it’s been since graduation (it hasn’t been that long, by average standards, but your father’s recent passing has altered your understanding and respect for time) and the shamble-like state of your relationship with your boyfriend and your recently acquired habit of drinking whiskey late at night to fall asleep, no one would blame you for wanting to pack up the essentials, clean out your bank account and drive until you feel like you can begin again.

Your boyfriend, at first devastated, angry and confused (as would be expected after three years of living together), would initially adopt your tradition of late-night whiskey as though he were trying to preserve your ghost. Eventually though, he’d allow the subconscious relief to rise to the surface. It would be admissible, even respectable, that he would begin to date again until there was a woman sleeping on your side of the bed, through the night and whiskey-free.

By this time, one year and three months will have passed since the afternoon of your father’s funeral, after which your mother – with you and the aforementioned boyfriend in tow – pulled her SUV into the garage. Upon realizing that she’d parked her car in the same garage she’d considered setting on fire hours before, she slammed her finger on the door’s remote in a frantic repetition, forgetting that each application of pressure caused the door to begin its painstaking journey opposite the direction it was already going. The door, accompanied by its lethargic motorized sound, rose and fell by inches, back and forth until the boyfriend – usually not prone to sudden movements or heroic antics – snatched the clicker from your mother’s hands and commanded the door to finally open and release you.

At this juncture, no one would think you abnormal, even without your father’s suicide as a factor, to feel that you made an impulsive and ill-advised move from home and familiarity, opting instead for something even more jarring and disorienting. It is the thing of parables for you to reconsider, to repack your things, return home.