Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fiery Language

There I am. Friday night. Looking forward to the Cherry Soaking In Rye at the bottom of my Manhattan, trying not to spill My First Cocktail in a crowded bar.

I didn’t even have a chance to nod a toast to the BFF accompanying me before a stranger shouts, “Nice hair.” In My Face.

Okay, so, I should probably explain something.
According to the Women’s Magazines I That Helped Navigate The Early Puberty, there are three types of hair that Caucasian Cis Hetero-Females fashion in for themselves in various modes to catch the eye of a potential vaguely Caucasian Cis Hetero-Males Looking at the Glossies, you have your Stick Straight, your Long Thick to Thin Mostly Wavy With A Touch of Frizz (and usually dry due to the amount of Straight Ironing it withstood), and your Hinting At Kink But Ambiguously Curlier Than That.

My hair grows beyond That Thunderdome.

Strangers frequently reach to boing my curls without being invited, or find it's a Good Way to Start a Conversation on Race/Ethnicity.

I deliver a curt “Thank you.” It is the end of a particularly long day.

BFF and I shuffle through the loud crowd to an "Open Spot." I am in the middle of an anecdote with the BFF when Stranger is In My Face once more. “Your hair makesh it look like you’re Mixshed Race.” He slurs a bit. “Everyone always thinks that,” I chuckle for those two uncomfortable beats between G.T.F.O and A/S/L.

“Where are you from?” Uh oh.

Begin Liz Lemon Epic Eye Roll.

Alas, I am a bait-taker. “Where do you think I’m from?”

“What're you, like Quadroon?”

Not Quadroon, I am speechless.

Still breathing, “It’s cool if you are, I have a nephew who is quadroon? Or are you octoroon?” He makes no statement, has no purpose, everything ticks up to the question.

As an English Major, I am unaware people still employ such terms.

The last time I read such terms, I was agonizing throughAbsalom, Absalom, and it was William Faulkner who was using them, to taste. More recently, I discovered The Landlord by Hal "Harold & Maude" Ashby, the main character Elgar inciting racial sensibilities while referring to his dark heritage. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the artistic value of fighting words. In works of literature--or more recently, Quentin Tarantino movies, the N-word and its ilk-diluted can provide important context clues.

What I should have said, “Actually, I prefer the term mulatto,”

But my dismissals aren't firming. “How many drinks have you had?” Due to the crowd, his presence didn't dissipate.

“I haven’t even enjoyed my first!”
Rebuffed. Insulted. Unsatisfied. “What did I ever do to you?” Huffing away, “I’m done.” At. Last.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Paper cuts

Is it wrong to brag? It is. It is wrong to brag.

I know it is wrong to brag. But I am going to brag about my cooking anyways.

I saw rabbit loins in the front of the butcher's case today. I asked that a pound be set aside for me. The butcher used a number 4 and spelled my name wrong, but they were still a fresh tender pink at the end of the day, so who cares?

With safflower oil I started a mirepoix in the wok I got for my birthday. By the time I finished chopping baby carrots in two, the onions were translucent. While waiting for it all to be tender together, I washed celery. I cut the ends off three bulbs of fennel I will roast tomorrow morning, thinking about Prometheus--swift down Olympus carrying fire to man. I stripped away the feathers, diced the green stalks. It was all tossed around with pink salt--evocative of Himalayan ranges. I think of non-violent protestors and wonder if pink salt with such a label could be considered as blood-diamonds.

I turned the oven on, which wasn't as hard to do as it was two months ago, in the thick of July. Tonight's supper asks for more than just 15 minutes with the gas on high. I think, I will sleep well without the window unit on tonight. A full moon has begun to grow and shines brighter than New York's efficient grid system, try as it might to keep me from sleep.

Back on the stove, I set down a lovely roasting pan of burning orange. In its bony enamel, I drew a full circle of green olive oil which only just got warm before I threw in little teeth of garlic. But, before the garlic even had a chance to remember it burns easily, I covered it all with generous handfuls of nutty black rice, and took it off the heat. I stirred, each grain lightly coated by the oil, the garlic teeth gleaming in a bed of tiny coffins. Dracula would be wary of a kiss, should he happen by my open window.

Flicking the burner on again, I brought the pan's contents to a simmer in a shallow bath of cold water. I laid the rabbit loins to rest over the lightly writhing rice, they had been dusted by white pepper, more blood-diamond salt, and flakes of tarragon. I tossed twigs of rosemary in, and soon it was all buried beneath the bright greens and orange of summer's late bounty. I turned off the range once more.

I added brassy rings of a few chili peppers, piquant and bright, but on the milder side of flavor, I thought they might balance out carrots' sweetness. Then waters grew high with just enough pink wine to make it all pretty. The fennels' feathers from before peeked out from under the lid, I let it all sweat out in high heat. When the lean loins were pulled into tender white pillows of muscle, and the rice was firm but tender, I took a bite that billowed steam.

It didn't burn my mouth too badly, and I was able to say aloud how kinda bad I feel for the boys who will never again eat my damn fine cooking.

I have eaten well, and I think that is what I am bragging about tonight, so I perhaps it is not bragging after all.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ellicit Groans

I'm not sure how this starts. Is it worth noting that the quadrophonic sound being parked below my bedroom window is making sure Lil Wayne knows that I know that karma is a bitch, and that I should make sure that bitch is beautiful? (I know Lil Wayne, I know. Bitch is beautiful, no doubt.) A crossword puzzle, which I am doing partly because my Papa Lars did them daily until he died, kept folded in his shirt pocket with leaky pens and cheap cigars and partly because I can see my beloved maternal Nana and my beloved paternal Grandpa Julian--what-- climbing a ladder to? Sliding down into? Dementia. Oh Dementia. I see you getting comfortable in lives that are not yours. I see your tacky mask, blocking out memories and brightness and sharp wits. I do not want your tacky mask over my life, and so I will do this crossword puzzle, and solve that clue for a three-lettered-word elliciting groans (PUN). I have been elliciting groans all day. Some of my three-lettered-words are worth a mere chuckle (LOL). But the most hilarious thing I have done all day is buy a plane ticket.

I had planned to do a tour de grandparents. Visit the paternals in the mountains, visit the maternal in Texas, fly back to Big Apple, skipping my hometown (beach, beach, beach) for the sake of valuable time with valuable folks. One week. So I called the paternals. I said, "Hey Grandma! Comin' to visit!" And the paternals said, "Oh, we'd love to see you. My, that'd be fine, but it's been such a rapid decline. Lately. Why don't you hold off a bit?" So I changed my plans. Texas, hometown (beach, beach, beach), and then back to New York. It seemed this plan could stick. Affordable enough to leave some meat on my bones. And so I gave the airline my credit card information, and I received my flight confirmation. And then, we get to the punchline, because the news is no rapid decline.

It is a tear, it is broken, it is a neck, and of course it is still strong and breathing, and of course we will operate, but of course it is risk, and of course now we all hang in this strange appreciation of mercy and I don't know what you're supposed to feel when the news is hospitalized, but not gone. Gone to a better place? Gone, gone? A fish? Not a fish? Not here. Not there. Not a clue for this puzzle.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Calm before

New Yorkers have no sense of calm before the storm. Perhaps it is just Saturday morning grocery traffic, but there is an anxiety as the lines grow longer.

The feeder bands began to spatter a light rain, and despite the winds which are clearly picking up, the air is warm with humidity.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

x= blue

In algebra, I always had a ball unfolding equations.
So many mathematical possibilities for a tiny letter, it could be flourished or utilitarian.
Oh, to have understood de Saussure at a sweet sixteen.

I bounced through a Russian revolution to the French front. Romantics smashed empty wine bottles to the ground, thrashed by the harmony of colors and surprising new forms of art.

One sketch held together with a pin, of Picasso; influential. A nod to Dada, perhaps:
a square scrap parallel to charcoal bars.
Tacked by faux-bois and held back in the cradle of
Journal, small victories day and night.

Holes in pockets betrayed by elbows, and dancers stretched across mattresses flecked with paint to catch a glint off the hip of the guitar as we took a deep breath before the chorus.

Some dry coughs sprinkle blood on their kerchiefs, some wine splashes onto the hems of garments.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reading against the grain

For the moment, New York is unblanketed. I have cracked my window open the past two nights, although April has been showering, it's been pleasant enough to fold down the comforter.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Right. Blogging. Write. Blogging.

Tomorrow is April Fool's Day, and hopefully New York will finally release its furious grasp on winter and let us all in on the joke.

On one hand, Spring is pushing the bulbs up, the buds out, and the grass around; under dull skies spitting rain, ice, and even now snow, on the other. This has been one noisy lamb, friends.

To make it through the lack of lovely days, I get out and about, perusing the thrifty vintage racks and stomping around Brooklyn in a good pair of shoes so my mind won't worry about barking dogs. It's not wanderlust so much as an interest in the curio nestled in all the lefts and rights of way. I like to see things happen.

There's plenty to mention.
The store...
My local...
Changes changing... chaos in the details I spose. And that's probably why I haven't blogged since the eighth night of Chanukah, 2010.

So. I will simply start fresh and tell you, dear reader, that yesterday I went to my most favorite museum in New York to catch up with a friend visiting from San Francisco. It was my first time through the meteors and minerals, and my second tour of the dinosaurs. There are millions of stories one could tell along so many different kinds of tours through the American Museum of Natural History--and Smithsonian memories came cantering--but I think the gem I'll drop pays homage to our 26th president.

Back when I was teaching in Miami, I asked the seventh period AP U.S. History class what came to mind when they thought of Theodore Roosevelt. I think I was expecting "Rough Rider," "burly fellow," and other unimaginative responses but right away the brightest student's hand shot up as she blurted, "National Parks!"

So, as I sit on my couch while the changing climate squats in what is supposed to be a lovely spring, I slap hands with conservation.