Fare Thee Well

Make myself a  bed by the waterside … listen to the river sing sweet to rock my soul…

Can anyone truly appreciate the rich glory of a plain life? Even the grateful among us, the enlightened, the aware, the receivers of a second chance, can anyone who has not lost or nearly lost the life they knew, know what they have?

My philosophy is that, if  a notion occurs to me, then it must have occurred to someone else before, so I doubt this is new ground, but the question stands.

It is Autumn here in Germany,  a place I’ve been for nearly three weeks, receiving treatment at Landstuhl regional medical center on a medevac from Afghanistan.  On the casevac flight here there were walking wounded, the slightly rattled, and several guys who were wrapped up in gauze, ivs hanging, attendants monitoring.  Looking at them definitely instilled gratitude. But the trickiest thing, is that most wounds aren’t visible, the most lasting wounds that cause the most enduring damage, aren’t visible.



Wish Upon a Roquefort

AUGUST 16th, 2012

So there I am, honing my huntress gatheress skills at Goodwill, a few prizes already tucked into my basket (Diane Von Furstenburg strapless black dress, a blouse from the Gap, a pair of teeny tiny wine glasses) when out pops a … character from between two aisles about twenty feet ahead of me.  When I say pop, that might convey a bit too much … vigor.  Shall we say … lurched?  Slumped?  What is a word for awkward creeping?  The kind of slow motion pause-walking your housecat does when it thinks it is being stealthy and that you wont see it walk across your stomach to get to your snack.

It was like that.

And I say character because, well, what else do you call a very thin, tanned to the point of rawhide woman in no-less-than her 50’s wearing open toed mule sandals, a tube top and underwear at 9 o’clock in the morning?  If you are wondering at the construction of that sentence, at the omission of, say, PANTS, I did not make that omission alone.  Nope, she either plum forgot to finish assembling her outfit before she left the house or she thought no one would notice that she was wearing “cheekies” style underpants as bottoms.  And things, well, things … shivered, visibly, as she … teetered along.  It was too much to see so early in the morning before one’s caffeine has kicked in.

Last night I made Julia’s roasted chicken and before I opted for the infinitely simpler cheese plate I was going to try my hand at her quenelles, perhaps tomorrow …

AUGUST 17th, 2012
So I’d better finish writing about the cast of oddities I came across on my birthday.  First there was prunella nopants, then later in the afternoon at the coffee shop the only spot left near a power strip was next to this guy, this guy who is one of those guys who makes too much eye contact with women he doesn’t know.  This is knowledge I gained after I sat down …  The kind of guy who, even if he is just asking the time, manages to make it sound like he is a peeping Tom.  In my little celebratory polka-dot dress and curly hair I must have just made this creepers day.  *shudder*
I had to go to temple, aka the organic cooperative, just to feel less skeevy.  The awesome cheese dudes at my local co-op made up for the perviness however and they loaded me up with all sorts of treats …

It was my birthday so instead of cake I chose cheese – A  calcium crystal studded cheddar, a sheep’s milk bree, and a Roquefort, complemented by an elephant head plum, an asian pear, red flame grapes, and bing cherries, set off by some light bread crisps and rounded out with a lovely Bordeaux…

Cheddar, sheep’s milk bree, Roquefort

Cheese IS love, I’ll keep saying it until people start to realize it is true …

Some cheese, fruit and Mr. Darcy put me to bed satisfied, dreaming of Stilton at Pemberley, in the library, on a chaise …

Tu es partout


The bricks in my castle wall

Guide me Julia, like you have all the lost women before me.

“Tu dis des choses qui font fermer les yeux
Et moi je trouve ca merveilleux…”

“You tell me things that make me close my eyes, and I find that marvellous…”  Edith Piaf, “Tu e partout” L’Integrale 1936-1945

It is raining when I leave the gym, raindrops as plentiful as the breathless chatter of the Pilates instructor, just as relentless.  Flattened grey sky, grey drops, black pavement, a sudden chill.  Finally, the weather is obediently mirroring my emotional landscape.  Shelves, cleanser, trash bags, job hunting and pecking over the internet.  Who knew unemployment would be so busy.  A London Fog slurped, savored, the caffeine works a minor miracle upon my heart, a panting frenzy of distractable hope.  Water smears on the windshield, a discount book chain looms, sudden urge!  Must go in!  This feels like yesyes … Where are the cookbooks?  Farthest aisle … Beard, Bourdain and suddenly, Bertholle Beck & Child, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  I snatch.  I clutch.  I look left, right, then shove it between me knees, afraid to actually put it down lest someone else snatch and clutch while I scan for more from Les Trois.  There is a Joy of Cooking, (snatch/clutch) and while wandering away, a shelf of antique books.  My triumphant eye gazes, delighted as always with the facts as they were 100 years ago when …



Bertholle, Beck, Child.

Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck, and … Julia Child.  A MUCH older copy of Mastering… Disbelieving, I set my treats down, slide this one out of its spot, and open to the copywrite page.  1961.  Edith Piaf had begun singing her lusty sorrow … nous nous aimions bien tendrement … and I held in my hands a first edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by one Julia Child.

Oh Julia, I’m not the first Lost Girl to find an anchor in you, to feel safer, hoisting the solid heft of your instruction, defense behind a bulwark of butter.

I’ll roast that chicken, I won’t cut corners.  I’ll make those phone calls, I’ll be patient, I won’t give up and I will definitely, assuredly, eat the butter.

The Day After

What happens, the Day After? The hero rides off into the sunset, the lovers kiss, the bereft sinks to the floor weeping, the league clinks goblets in a jubilant huzzah! What then? No one really cares about that bit, I suppose because we can all experience the mundane for ourselves, and don’t often find such things interesting. The hero must stop sometime to eat, to water her horse, the lovers must blow their noses or fart; the league must finish their meal, shake hands, and swear to keep in touch, as they each turn in a separate direction for home.
And the bereft? Well, her sobs eventually subside, she splashes water on her face, patting her swollen eyes gently, makes their, now her, bed while trying not to actually look at it (quite difficult), and eats tasteless food. Suddenly the rote question of every grocery clerk, salesgirl, and librarian is perverse. How is she today? How is her day going? Frightened and alone, thanks… Terrified and very sad, think we’ll get some rain … Confused, tired, angry, scared. How are you?

Did I watch while my family was massacred in a politically fueled genocide? No. Do I have a roof over my head and food to eat? For now, yes. Can I walk to a grocery and back to my domicile, reasonably secure in the belief that I can do so without fear of death? I suppose so, yes, though I’d rather not think too long on that one … So, in the grand scheme, my fortune does not go unnoticed by me. Just to be clear.

That being said, every being is entitled to experience their emotional reactions to experiences in whatever intensity and for whatever duration their bodies/minds/hearts deem necessary.

I lost my job, just when I was preparing to leave the country for that job. I lost my domicile, on the same day that I lost my job. Neither of these things were misplaced, in case you are the literal type. My position ceased to exist and my rental contract ran its course. It was just … a gift from the universe that both happened on the same day.
I discovered that, barring extensive and invasive and delicate surgery, the likelihood of my being able to bear children is about 0%. Friends, people who purported themselves as friends, suddenly couldn’t be reached for comment, once my high-status governmental position disappeared.
I broke up with my boyfriend, who is also a really great friend, who also promptly left the country.

And my birthday is on Thursday.

I can scream, right? A nice scream? Wallowing turned out to be less fun than Cameron Diaz/How I Met Your Mother/and every single Sophie Kinsella novel would have you believe. Hiding under the duvet while devouring pints of fill-in-the-blank is less fun when there isn’t a wealthy British friend on their way to rescue you from yourself with Manolo Blahniks in one hand, and some reprobate cousin on speeddial who happens to look like Alexander Skaarsgard.

You know, it really did take ovaries of steel for Lizzy to turn down Mr. Collins. He wasn’t wrong, 18th century douchebag that he was, when he said that she could by no means be assured that another such offer would come along. However, Lizzy could afford to be brave, a little fact we like to forget in the grand fantasy. She didn’t have to apply for unemployment, purchase her own (cheap) groceries and then find ways to economize in their cooking, or go through any one of her travails alone. Most importantly, she did not do any of it alone.

After a lifetime of going it alone I am stunned to discover how fucking painful it is to do so, once one has become accustomed to having support. I had no idea support would be so incredibly lovely and soothing, nor how utterly devastating it would be when it was snatched away. Why on earth did we ever leave the cave? Having people/persons to rely upon makes everything digestible, alone it feels like the trash compactor scene from Star Wars.

So, what now?

Short and Sweet

Everything you never needed to know about a person who, for you, exists only in ether. I am a person, in a place, doing something. I am garrulous, irritable, affectionate, anxious, eager, dubious, giving, nurturing, vengeful, and hell’s very wrath. And I bake.

The way I look at it, blogging or tweeting or Facebooking or scritching your opinion inside an outhouse wall are all the same; we like most species, survive and thrive by communication. Unlike most animals, we figured out a long time ago how to communicate by messages too complex to be left in a urine trail, but we never lost the desire to let our piss do the talking. So, we splash comments on each others “walls” and litter cyberspace with our peeps and snipes and desirings because we are, ultimately, lonely and we miss each other as much as we fear each other.

So, here is our sanctuary, here is the Safe Place. The space to opine and blather and hope and weep. Let us be alone, together.