May 25, 2013
I’ve started a million of these things in the last few months. I haven’t been finishing them, and now it seems too late. I’d like to share some bits. I’m NY bound at DFW and I need to preoccupy myself with something other than these delays and the 6 people surrounding me who are all eating chicken nuggets.
“We jumped the barbed wire fence and ran to where the dogs were. We followed the sound – that sound that was deep, loud, feral, vibrating. In this moment I learned so many things – That when at least 5 wild boars are disturbed, they can shake the earth. That you should never go wild boar hunting in ballet flats, because there are a lot of prickers. And that, while M and I stopped short in out tracks out of fear to hold onto each other, silent and terrified, I’m such a wimpy girl!
That first hog took too long to die. M and I couldn’t see from where we were, we could only hear the struggle – squealing, shrieking, barking, the boys cheering each other on as they made their first kill. I watched the next three. There is something strangely beautiful that happens in the moments between the time the animal should be dead and the time it actually dies. Inflicting the initial wound is like war: it’s brutal, masculine, competitive. But when it’s clear who’s won, it changes. It gets softer and there’s relief, and the fear subsides from both hunter and hunted. The only part I hated was leaving the boars behind. We only took one, which was broken down and used properly. As for the others, when everyone started to walk away, I stayed, looking at the open eye, the wounds. I kneeled down and put my hand on its belly, still hot.
Then we shot AK47s at a dirt mound to feel tough and decompress.”
I’ve been busy. It’s a good thing. I reached Platinum status on American and my hair is no longer awkward. There was an Easter Bunny Roast with my Texan family and my NPD group’s first product launch with Avion Espresso Tequila, which is getting killer reviews! A weekend in Boston was perfect and therapeutic and delicious. T’s apartment has become my favorite restaurant in Arkansas, with 8 hour dashi and burgers with Brie and bacon jam and semi-deconstructed arugula salads and copious amounts of expertly made cocktails. And finally I’m boarding, eager to start a weekend of overdue horse and family time, followed by a week of showing off those pretty awesome drinking vinegars and beer cocktails I’ve been lovingly slaving over. (And I get to do it all in my snazzy new suspenders!)
Happy long weekend!
February 18, 2013
I moved into my Pied-a-Terre on a Tuesday night with a blow-up mattress, a pair of speakers, and a bottle of wine. It’s deliciously shabby with mini appliances, fluorescent lights, and a shower head mounted at neck level. The wood paneling gives the place a vaguely Adirondack feel that puts me in a constant mood to make coffee and read books. My new street dead-ends on a bike path that will take you into town, to a lake, or past an abundance of sprawling farmland, depending on your mood.
Outside of my sparse little dwelling is an excited little town. Bookstores offer espresso and beer. The local music venue hosts some pretty cool talent. G and I saw Lucero and now I have a crush on Ben Nichols. There is no Whole Foods here, but the local version is a co-op that’s overflowing with colorful carrots and baby kale and frail, anemic looking employees who appear desperate for a steak. I promptly became an owner and I am simply overjoyed to once again be paying a 300% markup on cilantro. I’ve taken up drinking unfiltered apple cider vinegar, mainly because I can buy it in bulk in a Ball jar I bring myself. (Hey! Quit rolling your eyes.)
I feel like I’m on vacation when I’m here, and the place is slowly coming along. My new mattress was delivered Saturday. (The blow-up was charming, but it was not a proper long-term solution to life.) Curtains from Anthro have been ordered. My getaway cabin will remain uncluttered and simple and divine. I’m considering a record player.
I’m writing from a cozy table in a lunch-only Mediterranean diner in the square that I’m happy to have discovered on this Monday off. The waitresses have severe bangs and wear colorful skinny pants and too many patterns. The scholarly middle-aged lesbians sitting at the adjacent table are discussing the impossibilities of scientifically studying sexuality. “I mean, just because you find something is true, doesn’t mean it’s TRUE”, followed by “knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to use it in a fruit salad”, followed by “I’m going to a motorcycle rally in Nashville”. I’m sipping Turkish coffee and trying to keep up.
The next 2 weeks will be a whirlwind of adventures in Dallas and NY and then Arkansas when A comes to visit. I’ll show her both of my towns and put her to work hanging curtain rods while I make dinner and everything will be back to normal.
January 22, 2013
It’s a new year, and resolutions are upon us.
I’ve resolved to make monthly resolutions, to keep things interesting.
January has been about exercise and shopping – a lot of one, and none of the other – and so far my body has been hurting for weeks and Anthropologie sent me a Get Well Soon card. Check.
February will be about improving my flexibility and social situation. Yoga classes in Fort Smith involve teachers who don’t know their right from left and students who giggle and snore. And the last time I went to a bar in town was with my sister, who was witness to “Here’s what happens when Meg gets hit on in Fort Smith” – the episode where that drunk dude who just burned himself with his own cigarette keeps trying to lick my face and eventually ends up shirtless to prove he’s a real man, while the band breaks out in a throaty, ironic version of “I’m too sexy for my shirt”.
So I’ve taken a second apartment. It’s in Fayetteville, where the university is. It’s Bill & Hillary’s old stomping ground, whatever that means. Fayetteville is pretty and closer to the mountains and there’s good music and it’s full of educated people who I hope won’t lick my face in bars, and yoga studios where I hope people won’t snore during Shavasana. There are almost no chain restaurants, and there’s a produce market that sells – get ready! – shallots AND arugula! The biggest draw, though, is that everyone I’ve met who lives in Fayetteville seems to genuinely enjoy it, while everyone I’ve met who lives in Fort Smith seems to genuinely dislike it. I’ll split my time between places, which feels extravagant and glamorous but probably isn’t.
(February will also involve a week of indulgence and sister love in NYC, and feral hog hunting with a bayonet in North Texas. Woo!)
January 15, 2013
November 14, 2012
Well it’s about time I made it to New Orleans! It’s officially my new favorite place in America. After living for 5 months in the culinary wasteland that is Arkansas, I jumped at the opportunity to join Homelessophie (see link to Sophie’s blog, stage right) on the leg of her road trip that would bring her from Nashville to NOLA. She stopped in Fort Smith, I made Stroganoff, she spent the day smoking weed on the deck and doing laundry (best guess), and then we were off!
On the way to Shreveport we passed a church sign that said “Success is Obedience. Not Growth.”
Shreveport is exactly halfway, and since it’s in all the country music songs we decided to make a night of it. We had dreams of dark, smoky bars overflowing with 40 year old cowboys in dusty jeans, drinking whisky, sitting there all quiet just waiting for us to come in and fancy up the place. Needless to say we were sorely disappointed by the abundance of boat-shoe wearing white boys gettin’ down to the gangsta rap that Carrie used to chase me out of our room with freshman year. We turned in early with dreams of chefs, musicians, and liberals.
For the first two nights we stayed with a musician / circus performer named Shameus Greymountain. He’s the lead in a really great Vaudeville kind of group that performs regularly on the streets and draws a massive crowd, and he’s also a contortionist who dabbles in trapeze. He plays the bass drum with his foot, the banjo with his hands, and his breath is used up by any combination of loud, throaty vocals, a harmonica, and a kazoo. He has very long hair, a few dreads, and the best facial hair you’ve ever seen. His tiny, tattooed stature suggests a much larger person, and you’ll never meet a more masculine man in a skirt and Dorothy slippers. Or a dress and lacy gloves. Or a ruffled shirt, a velvet cloak, and a fedora with a feather. There was often a girl or two at the house. They were either musicians or fellow circus performers. Like he was, they were beautiful and fascinating and they all had armpit hair.
Sophie is a wonderful travel partner. She dresses up for dive bars and eats her body weight in oysters and charms the boys who come looking for charm. For the same reasons, it’s likely she thinks I’m a pretty great travel partner too, except my legs are about three times as long and I’d leave her in the dust on just about every block. Sometimes I’d find a shoe store to wait for her in, and she’d catch up and convince me that yes, those are in fact special enough to spend $400 on. (They are!)
At Luke, the gulf oysters were an absolute revelation. The pot of rillettes was too large and therefore sinfully decadent and I was reminded of what food should taste like. At Yuki Izakaya we drank shochu while the octopus dumplings and ramen awakened me from a long, flavorless nightmare. The plum sauce simply served with cucumbers was SO salty, SO acidic, and SO full of umami I was sure I’d never need another man again.
On my last night we moved to the guest cottage of cookbook author and lecturer Jessica Harris. We were immediately next to a saxophone artist who practiced incessantly, beautifully, and adjacent to an alleged famous Australian painter who eyed us skeptically. Surrounded by coffee shops and courtyards with citrus trees, we knew we’d gone from one extreme end of the spectrum to the other, and we were grateful for both. Sophie will stay in the cottage for another week, and I’ll fantasize about the short life she’ll make for herself there. I hear she has a date with a fireman tonight. She’s not going to waste a minute of that life. I like that about her.
I’m back in Fort Smith, finishing the last of the Stroganoff and canning this year’s Thanksgiving cranberry sauce. I’ll go to Boston this weekend and visit the few people who make me miss that place desperately. I’ll fly to NY and do the same thing. A week will not be enough, but it should hold me over until next time.
November 5, 2012
Angelina Jolie is a director now. You probably already know that. In the Land of Blood & Honey is NOT an uplifting movie. Don’t watch it unless you’re really looking to punish yourself emotionally for hours and hours.
The Balkans break my heart. One of the best things I’ve done was travel to Macedonia (FYROM) and Kosovo, and then take a train north to Vienna. When I travel, I always meet such a beautiful mix of people and circumstance. In the Balkans I found anger and hatred. I also found gallons and gallons of sugary coffee served in tiny cups and not enough dentists, but mostly I found hatred. My extended exposure was limited to a section of the poor, uneducated class, but no one can hold a grudge like they can. There’s hatred of those in neighboring countries; they are all so loyal and believe that it’s love they feel for their own land. There is hatred for those with different beliefs, even though the Muslims and Catholics might live within the same outline on a map. They were raised with angry, 500 year old stories and they’re still looking for someone to blame. For revenge. I realize I’m speaking in sweeping generalities, but it was my experience. They believe the worst of their neighbors and trust no one.
The Albanians hate the Serbs. I fell in love in Macedonia. We shared an emotional goodbye at the train station in Skopje, witnessed by the old woman I would share a train car with. She didn’t speak English, but she was so, so happy to have seen this young, tragic pair. For 10 minutes we smiled and used gestures and expressions to discuss the hardships of love and of saying goodbye. It came out finally that he was Albanian. She stopped smiling and spit on the floor. We didn’t speak again. She got off the train in Belgrade.
I don’t think of that trip very often anymore, or of the several trips back I made in the year and a half that followed. I wish this movie of war in the early to mid 1990′s didn’t remind me of the faces and attitudes of those I met more than 10 years later. I think I understand how that war happened. I wish there was some more evidence of progress. I wish they were able to relax their faces and smile easy.
October 27, 2012
On October 26, my tomato plant finally decided it would grow fruit. This tomato plant is a force to be reckoned with. A true Scorpio. It battled unimaginable heat, was tortured by months of direct, hot sun, and then became immensely jealous of all the other tomato plants that survived strong winds and daily rainstorms. And now, in the face of our first threat of frost: fruit. Damn Scorpios. I brought it inside.
I’m an Aquarius. I don’t like Scorpios. Well, at least we should never make it past the bedroom. My sister is a Scorpio, and she makes my world go ’round, so. Obviously everything is relative.
The only bad thing about having 2 cases of red wine in the house is that when you finish a bottle, you can always open another. Good lord I hope I can keep a few bottles around for the family come Christmas. My grandparents are fixin’ to buy me a new TV, but my guess is they’re overlooking the fact that I don’t pay for cable. We’ll need the wine.
It’s gin botanical selection time at work. Distillation makes me feel like a little kid in a science museum. And not all Coriander seeds are created equally.
Being around people who “get” you- if you have this in your life, please. Please don’t take it for granted. I was happy to leave Boston and pursue something I believe in, but man, finding “my people” here in Arkansas might be one of the most challenging things I have to do. I went to a small town in Texas last weekend. There was a special reason that so many of “my people” were gathering there, but that I could be a part of it…. well it was like giving water to a tomato plant in Arkansas in JU-ly, if you ask me! JD called me a three-sided coin all weekend like it was a good thing. I mean, I’d have it no other way, but it isn’t overnight you can find a whole group of people who are out searching for three-sided coins. Also I was wearing a great dress and I learned to rope a calf, so.
That’s all I got.
Thinkin’ ’bout you, as always, ya know?
October 5, 2012
When I hear the name “Glenn Close”, I think immediately of two things: 1) how my sister, even as a 2 year old, idolized her animated portrayal of Cruella De Vil, and 2) how I have no idea what else she’s been in, but I do know that her father was a badass parasite hunter in Africa and that I read his book that summer after Parasitology class in college, that summer I dreamed of being a parasite hunter, khaki cargos, chin-strapped hat, mosquito net and all. Oh, to look deep into the eyes of someone with Loa Loa, or to unwind a Dracunculus from the length of a man’s leg… Wow! Ok, so I still fantasize sometimes about being a parasite hunter, (and the length of a man’s leg…), but it’s not one of those fantasies I indulge very often. Not the kind that comes on strong late at night and won’t let me rest. (You know the kind?) Anyway. I can’t even stand to kill a spider unless I put a cup over it and make it stay there until it starves. So.
I’m pretty sure that at nearly 23 my sister still idolizes Cruella (I mean, her college entry essay was based on her, though I don’t think she parades around in hot pink bikinis and giant fur coats anymore, except for only sometimes…), as anyone who knows me knows I idolize my sister, as anyone who’s met her understands why. She’s in marketing, you see, and she’s great at it, and for that she’ll always be some kind of wonderful. I’m a smart person, but it took me a very, very long time to understand the value of marketing, and an even longer time to understand the value of the Marketing Person. I mean, they’re forgiven their trespasses as soon as they pick the lock! But I haven’t had a TV in about a decade, and even I refuse to shop the sale rack because it’s not color coordinated in front of a wall-sized backdrop of Table Mountain. I am SUCH a consumer. I know better. But even just the other day while wearing one of my new 11 necklaces and after my new dress arrived in the mail I declared Oh! (while pouring some blueberry vodka from one container to another, after just adding some Blue #2), this smells more blue already!
Anyway, our Marketing department is based in NY, and as an R&D person from NY who gets to do what she loves while living in Fort Smith, Arkansas, my trips to NY are what keep me sane. In NY I’m not made to feel high maintenance just because I like my water with bubbles in it. And “casual dress” means I can wear my normal clothes – dresses! winter shorts!- rather than well worn jeans, Sperry’s, and a logo T (cringe!). And my sister can call and ask, regarding the Rainforest themed art gallery opening she’s attending this evening, “Can I still wear aqua in October?”.
My next trip out of Fort Smith isn’t to NY, but to Granbury, TX. Sometimes it’s not the place that feels like home, but the company. Until then, I’ll sit on the porch, snacking on tamarind ((because while this town has never seen a blood orange (OR a decent Mezcal), Wal-Mart is overflowing with tamarind)), trying to decide which gun club to join and thinking about reasons why one shouldn’t wear aqua come the close of September.
September 13, 2012
As anyone who’s ever been grocery shopping on crutches at Wal-Mart knows, life used to be better.
Meanwhile, my love-hate relationship with running continues, this time with a stress fracture in my tibia. I’m using my limited mobility as an opportunity to score some badass parking at work, drink more milk, discover the local drive-thru liquor stores, and to re-read The Fountainhead, the book I read 6 years ago and credit / blame for…you know….the way I am. They say we change every 5 years. I don’t know who they are. I like to think I’m mostly the same, but more forgiving. I hope I’m more forgiving.
On the Saturday that began Labor Day weekend I woke up at 6am and found myself upset when I finally realized it was Saturday. The project I started in the lab the night before would have to wait – it has been so long since I’ve been this excited to go to work! So that’s going great, and it didn’t take long at all before I was tasting 70 proof like a pro and calling on sense memory and my old vocabulary, finding acetaldehyde in places it just doesn’t belong. (Guys- never leave your whipped cream vodka in the sun for too long, ok?)
I’ve created this weird social life here. Sometimes I play trivia with a Baptist Deacon and an ex Marine.
Kyle came to visit. We took over the town and no one knew what to make of us, but neither of us paid for drinks all week. We’re going to Poland , Hungary, and the Czech Republic next year. (I sent gin oil to Poland recently. The shipping guy asked if Poland was in Missouri. Maybe I’m not any more forgiving.)
Signing off now, but if you ever need crutches, call me. I’ll teach you how to carry a tote bag at the grocery and transport your coffee in a mason jar. In the meantime, take care of your legs and try not to stare at crippled people. It’s annoying.
Where to begin?
Let’s see. Number of men this week who have sent me unsolicited photos of themselves in the bathroom mirror: 2.
Number of men who have done this in my lifetime prior to this week: 0.
So, there’s that….
I took myself out to dinner on Friday and ended up eating breakfast at 3am with the people next to me at the restaurant bar. She was 38 and he was 25 and wearing a Batman t-shirt. They’ve been together for 8 months. They both have 2 kids, and their kids are 10 years apart in age. They’re working on selling the house so they can move to Atlanta so that his musical career might flourish (like John Mayer’s). We don’t have much in common, but we have a movie date scheduled. So, there’s also that.
I feel like I’m traveling. I’m having a lot of very weird experiences that I wouldn’t normally have – wouldn’t normally let myself have – unless I was traveling. Because of this (among lots of other things) I know that leaving Boston was a thing I needed. I would love to hear people’s thoughts about this girl they meet from NY/ Boston who has never been to Chic-fil-A and who doesnt have a TV and who makes alcoholic beverages and is a professionally trained beer taster. (Yes, I accepted an invitation from a homebrewer at the Farmer’s Market to judge the local AHA supported homebrew competition. I was a hit! And now at least two enthusiasts know why their beer tastes like olives.)
I don’t really have a point to make here. I’m just grateful for the variety of moments I get to keep on collecting. (I’m feeling very “Semester at Sea” right now, so please bare with this transition into some contemplative thought primers, ok?)
“I have many memories, and if I am not sure yet what they all mean, I am nonetheless certain that whoever I am is whatever my memories have made me; that I am becoming whatever I can find out about myself.” -John Keats in On Running Away
(On Individuals who will not be organized): “…But they slip through the net and are gone; when the door is shut they are no longer in the room; their temple, as one of them remarked, is the holiness of the heart’s imagination, and their kingdom, though they never posses it, is the wide open world.” -E.M. Forster in What I Believe