Friday, October 29, 2010

And then it was gone

Look Up, 2010

The bus was quiet and after several minutes of fidgeting and arranging myself I settled in. I looked out the window and my mind drifted back to song lyrics I'd heard earlier in the day. Inside the bus, in the stillness, the lyrics felt more real. I heard each word distinctly. Each line spoke to me so clearly. And then that tightening in the back of my throat and the tears welling up. One fell from the outer corner of my right eye as I pushed the orange button to request my stop. I stepped off the bus, exposed, nowhere to hide, and the chaos of Chinatown whisked it all away.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Of Parks and Trailers

Confined Desertscape, 2010

I wore glasses to my first real job interview, non-prescription glasses. They fit the character I was creating. I found myself quite cunning. She was from old money. Very smart, but not at all pretentious. Driven, but never aggressive. Poised and sophisticated by day and slightly rebellious after hours. My model of the perfect young professional female. Some of it was true, most of it wasn’t, not yet, but it would be. It’s amazing how focused I was on branding and marketing before truly understanding either concept. I was very determined, but my character was only a shell. Truth is more complex, layered, murky, especially when it is seen through the lens of memory. Once in a while we retrieve a slice that is crystal clear and undeniably accurate. A mix of the two is most likely.

My parents never hovered. There were rules, but personal space was rarely an issue for me. It was mine for the taking, perhaps too much so at times. When we moved to Arizona and my father became a single parent, he played the role of the strict authoritarian. Do as I say, not as I do, articulated through the mouth of a grin, was one of his favorite lines. He talked a good game, but like most parents, once I was out of sight, he rarely knew what I was up to.

I was transacting my own business at about 12 years old. I babysat a little girl named Jillene. Although I quickly learned she was a 4 year old terror, I liked the independence of it all, and chose to soldier on. Her parents sold pot and lived in the trailer across from ours. I was always a little nervous about who might stop by when they weren’t home, but I liked them. They were nice people and they always had Doritos.

Katy and Tony lived beside Jillene’s family. They liked to laugh and told the types of jokes children were not meant to hear. They drank a lot of wine and on occasion my father and his far too young girlfriend hung out with them. I’ve never seen my father drunk, so I’m not sure what they had in common. It must have been the jokes.

The park was a place that pretty much fit the stereotype. Poorly landscaped lots, large aluminum boxes posing as homes, parents acting inappropriately, and kids hanging out by the public pool, at night, not swimming. My sister and I were strictly forbidden from hanging out, anywhere. This had always been the rule.

It’s difficult to describe what Dad seemed to believe during our trailer park period. I don’t think he understood that we were too young to choose our own influences. He always saw the best in us and believed we were capable of great things, including immunity to our own environment. We were constantly reminded that we weren’t like the rest of these, I believe his exact words were, goddamned punks. We were not to step anywhere near the flickering lights of that pool after dark, but I’d always stare curiously from the back seat of our car when we’d drive past at night. To me, they seemed to be the lucky ones.

Dad tore out the shiny new manufacturer’s countertops in our kitchen and installed quality butcher block. He built a well-crafted wooden fence around our lot and landscaped Southwestern style with fine gravel and a cactus or two. He made dinner every night.

I had a crush on a boy with long wavy dirty blonde hair that had been highlighted by the hot Arizona sun. I admired him from afar. He was one of the lucky ones who hung out late by the pool. I guess his parents didn’t mind. He wore faded jeans, untucked shirts, and had beautiful green eyes. I found him dangerous, in a good way. I never knew his name.

The Mexican population ruled the roost in our neighborhood. There was no talk of protecting the kind good-hearted immigrants. No. They would have cringed. These people were proud, territorial, and the only people requiring protection were those they didn’t like. I tried to fit in quietly and play by their rules. It seemed the safest path.

I can still hear the metal vacuum cleaner pipes beating against our doors and the aluminum siding of our trailer after the one time I wasn’t so quiet and decided to stand up for my little sister. They never made it inside. Perhaps it wasn’t their goal. Maybe they just wanted to scare us. I recall little more of the situation. I’m not even sure why I was originally protecting my sister. I have no idea what happened the next day or the day after. Could their anger have just fizzled out? I wish there was more to tell, but there isn’t. It’s just the echo of those pipes connecting with the aluminum that has stayed with me.

I don’t know where Dad was that day, but I know I didn’t tell him what happened, not until years later. I was too afraid of what his response might fuel.

It wasn’t all bad. A girl named Gloria lived next door and we became good friends. We saw each other daily. I realize now that her mother’s to-die-for watermelon juice must have been my introduction to aguas frescas.

And then there was Martha. Martha was a big tough Mexican girl with long black hair who attended my Junior High School. She was a powerful force. For some strange reason she liked me and became my protector. I was friends with Martha, so hands off. She taught me how to wear mascara and look tough by wearing untucked flannel shirts, over my pretty peach and pink tee-shirts, cardigan style.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I know it's autumn, but...

I just played this song and the sun came out. It's nice, isn't it? I'm going to play it again.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'd like to knit a scarf for you.

As you might have noticed, I like to knit. Knitting is a meditation of sorts for me, so I like to keep it simple. Knitting scarves is the perfect solution. I was thinking about how good you all are to me and decided I'd like to knit a scarf for you, well, one of you. I'd love to knit a scarf for each and every one of you, but I don't think my wrists would be quite as willing.

So here's the plan. I like the look of and the story behind the new Shelter yarn, conceived and developed by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. One of my favorite knitting shops, Churchmouse Yarn & Teas, just happens to be a flagship location for Brooklyn Tweed. Isn't this perfect? I'll be in Seattle in November and will ride the ferry to Bainbridge Island to purchase your yarn.

If you'd like a simple scarf to keep you warm this winter just take a peek at Brooklyn Tweed's palette and leave me a comment below with your color choice. The color names are pretty fabulous. I'm especially fond of Homemade Jam, Sap, and Pumpernickel.

I will select the winner on November 10th via a nifty random number generator I've found.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sometimes it's just one sentence.

Monday Morning, 2010

Today I woke and read. All was calm and peaceful before I was halted by this sentence.

They might have been robots, so mechanical was their performance, and I asked myself if it was possible that at one time, when they were setting out, they had thought they might be musicians whom people would come from far to hear and to applaud.

Sometimes it's just one sentence. I absently replaced the bookmark and decided to visit the bay.

Quote: W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One of those people...

My Lunch (yesterday and possibly today), 2010

You know those annoying people who post such frivolity as what they've eaten for lunch? I'm one of those people.

Tomato Sandwich
serves 1

2 slices of homemade whole wheat bread (w/ sesame, sunflower, flax, and pumpkin seeds)
mayo (it wasn't homemade, but it was organic and made with cage free eggs--perhaps this is also annoying)
extra sharp cheddar cheese
handful of clover sprouts
1 small ripe heirloom tomato
fleur de sel

large glass of cold milk

Slice tomato and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Reserve enough tomato to cover one slice of bread and eat the rest. Slice enough cheddar to cover one slice of bread. Toast bread. Generously smear one slice of bread with mayo. Place a nice mound of sprouts over mayo. Arrange tomato slices over sprouts. Place another mound of sprouts on top of tomato slices. Arrange cheese slices over new mound of sprouts. Top with second slice of toast. Serve with a large glass of cold milk. Eat slowly. Repeat as needed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Before Sunrise

Fort Mason, 2010

The sun is sleeping much later these days, but I am not. Inspired by Alexandria, I've decided to venture out before the sun rises. One benefit of the days growing shorter is that the sun rises later and waking up to catch a glimpse of this beautiful part of the day becomes a little easier. I better scoot. I'll continue when I return.

I'm back. It was worth it. I strongly recommend giving it a try.

What I love most about sunrise and sunset is the way the light changes so rapidly and therefore changes the look of all that surrounds you just as rapidly. It's pretty amazing.

Today was overcast and it appeared all I'd see as the sun changed position was a shift from a dirty white sky to a dirty white sky that was slightly brighter, but then the sun started to break through and backlight the clouds, adding depth to the sky.

Looking into the bay from Fort Mason I saw small shimmering plates of silver just beneath the surface of the water. At first I thought they were reflections, but then I realized they were fish darting about. What I was seeing was the sun catching their scales at just the right angle. The fish shared this part of the bay with some hungry gulls, long strands of glistening seaweed lazily swaying, and a few giant orange starfish hugging the legs of the pier.

I ended the morning inside Greens. This is a well kept secret, so try and keep it to yourself. Greens Restaurant does not officially open until lunchtime, but they have a small to-go counter that is open in the morning. Purchase of a simple muffin or cup of tea at the to-go counter allows you access into the closed restaurant and your choice of a large selection of tables, each with a spectacular view. As if this were not enough, there are also several Annie Somerville cookbooks marked sample at the counter along with a couple copies of The Tassajara Bread Book that you are free to peruse while sitting at your table beside the bay.

I learned that Annie Somerville uses her chard stems. She simply slices them thin and combines them with the leaves. I checked The Art of Simple Food when I returned home and Alice Waters does the same. Why haven't I been doing this?

Starting my days by strolling into North Beach with Chris and conversing while sipping coffee is a beautiful thing, but this was a nice shift in perspective.

Okay, enough about me. How do you start your day? Do you love your morning routine or do you switch it up sometimes?