Going Home

December 3, 2008 § Leave a comment

Today is my last day in Florida. I worked in the morning, walked on the beach and made banana coconut bread. I got the recipe from Epicurious.com, Gourmet 1990, and tweaked it a bit, replacing the vanilla and lemon zest with fresh ginger, cognac, black pepper and nutmeg, and the macadamia nuts with pecans. I already know from tasting the batter that Charles will think it too sweet but as long as it stops being goopy and becomes bread I will be happy. The area I use for cooking in NYC is not properly called a kitchen—in its previous incarnation it was one of those large closets with a sink and counter hotels had for people to mix drinks in. That was before mini bars. You brought your own bottle and mixers; the hotel provided glasses and ice. I remember watching my grandmother make drinks in such a room —so adult, so sophisticated. In the picture in my head my father is there in his Mad Men suit (it was the 60’s, he was handsome and in publishing) but I can’t figure out when I would have seen them together in a hotel so I’m probably just adding him for color. Or because I saw him make drinks so often the very idea of whisky poured in a glass filled with ice brings him up out of the grave for a Proustian get-together. In any case, compared with my kitchen, Charles’s modest space with the crooked stove shoved into one corner—only the small burners working and you have to adjust for the tilt—and fluctuating oven is a rare treat. Charles bought a table especially for me to use baking so I’ve been churning out the stuff, cookies, muffins, etc.

I’ve liked hiding out down here. I don’t look at my bank account. Now that I have to leave, the terror is coming back. I have to turn my life around 100% financially in a year or so. My 2.99% loans have suddenly morphed into 30% and not because I was late with a payment. They just changed the rules. I think too often of suicide.

Fish Chowder and The Afterlife

November 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

The Kingfish gave of itself willingly.

The Kingfish gave of itself willingly.

I was going to make a pumpkin-rootabaga-parsnip soup today, with roasted chestnuts on top, but Charles snuck away to the docks, bought a kingfish and proceeded to make chowder. He made stock from the head, vegetables and cilantro (simmered for 45 minutes) then added celery, rootabaga, onion, garlic, cuisinart-pureed raw eggplant and a little cream and “cooked it until it was done.” Grilled fish and red peppers were added at the table. It was the best fish chowder I’ve ever had. The cilantro and eggplant gave it a hint of my favorite Thai green curry, but not enough to distract from the freshly-caught fish.

I’ve been working on my ebay site all morning, though the beach beckons. Describing my necklaces makes me want to create more—or more honestly, makes me want to pile up all the stones and run my hands through them. When I die I want to be buried with beads; not the finished jewelry and not the glass beads, but all the jaspers and agates, and lapis to bribe the devil. William Burroughs was buried with his gun. For a man who shot and killed his wife by accident in a stupid William Tell game, that takes some nerve, the kind associated with disturbed 14 year old boys and male writers of the Beat generation. But I guess he thought he might need that pistol where he was going. Might need to shoot his wife again.

I always thought the idea of a coin to pay the ferryman was odd. If a spirit-being condemned to row the newly dead across a misty river endlessly wanted anything from earth, you’d think it would be a case of whisky—or a goatskin full of fermented mare’s milk, as the case may be. As a child, I was also confused by the ancient custom of putting food in the grave with the corpse. I thought: it’s stupid to think the dead need to eat, but assuming they do need to eat, won’t they get hungry again when they finish the little bit you sent with them? I hadn’t yet gotten used to the idea of being weaned from a familiar, relied-upon substance: coffee, carbs, Prozac. I suppose the dead might appreciate those kernels of corn and wizened apples to help get them through their withdrawal from life. In this light, purgatory is no different than what heroin addicts go through in prison. You’d need it, I think. If an afterlife exists, which I find very hard to believe in but the rumors persist, surely the transition would give you the bends. A hospital room, then…flatline…Heaven? Back up. I’d need a compulsory orientation (folding chairs, bad video), the longer and more boring the better. I’d want to squirm beside my fellow recently-departeds—sorry, arrivals—checking out their reactions, looking for potential friends. And if I died when I wasn’t feeling too bad I’d need a few roundhouse punches to get me over my addiction to the earth. I’d want that smashing-down-to-nothing addicts go through so that simple health becomes a flaming miracle. Even if Heaven is in fact heavenly, I imagine I’d miss the wind in the trees and animals and hot tea. Brew me something foul from a dog’s liver and whack me with a branch a dozen times, I’ll change my mind. I’ll take Heaven.

As for Hell: if I end up there, I can always look for Daddy.

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