What does it mean when your plant won't hold water? That is not a metaphor or some folksy bit of folk wisdom for folks,* it is a literal truth. I have a lovely plant, big and spiky and possibly sort of desert-dwelling, although it has a woody trunk,** which is not usually seen in desert things. This plant is from IKEA, was only $10, and will not hold water. It is all dry, and seems to need water, but then when I water it all the water just comes out the bottom and the plant still is dry and sad, and now some of the leaves are starting to turn brown. I am an emotional wreck about this! I says to the plant, I says: “Plant! Why do you not nourish yourself with my generous watering, using your mysterious vegetative powers? Why do you reject the water when you are starting to turn brown, precisely as if you need water? Plant? Are you listening to me, Plant?” If you have any insight as to why my plant has gone all bulimic, please send it to me.
*Are you people or are you folks?
**Heh heh. Woody trunk.
Last night S. came over for food. LT grilled some fish and I made a fake butternut squash risotto and a pear crumble for dessert. (The risotto is not fake, exactly, it is just that you put it together and bake it instead of standing there tediously pouring in wine or broth bit by bit.) Everything turned out fabulously, although LT would have liked more marinade time with his salmon, I should have peeled the pears and maybe baked them ten minutes longer, and next time I make the risotto thingy I will go hog-wild and use literally handfuls of fresh sage instead of the babyish chopped tablespoon the recipe suggested. We are such perfectionists. S. brought beer and of course LT bought some too, because he is a veteran of many depressing punk-rock poverty-stricken college parties where the beer ran out too soon, and, sort of like Scarlett O'Hara* biting into the turnip after the war, has vowed that as God is his witness he will never go beerless again.
*Who has turned up with eerie frequency in these pages of late. I don't even like that movie!
So now there is a lot of beer. Which is fine, because I think there is an Indian food outing tonight, and my favorite restaurant (oh such a good dosa they make) is unlicensed, so see it all works out. Was that not just a scintillating story of alcoholic economics? Like a tale that a drunk Alan Greenspan would tell around the fire. Once there was a surplus of beer, but then the demand for beer rose to match the surplus, and they all lived happily ever after amen.
Remember The Cowboy Way? It might be best for me to just LET GO of the package design and product copy for this particular brand of barbecue fuel, but I can't, it seeps into my fevered brain like lighter fluid. My neighbors either used it recently or else just shifted the bag around, so now the other side of the bag is facing outward. Although that side's copy does not mention or imply gay cowboy sex, it does have the phrase “100% PURE LUMP.” Isn't that magical? Pure lump, through and through.
ALLEY AND BUS STOP
When I finally stopped futzing around and left the house this morning, I was witness to a whole bunch of little brown birds cheeping and screaming and fluttering all over each other in a little brown bird riot. I have seen birdy skirmishes before, but this was extreme Bird Fight Tonight. If we may extrapolate for a moment from birds to people, this was no emo-boy striped-sweater fight where they push each other a little and then their friends hold them back, and they struggle a tiny bit but they are both secretly relieved. No, this was a skinny mulleted redneck missing-key-teeth sixteen-Pabst-Blue-Ribbons fight, where this 105-pound dude just gets in there and won't stop, even after it is clear the other guy is unconscious. This was a Chickadee Beatdown. I had never seen anything like it: a mass of sparrows or wrens or whatever the fuck (no bird-watcher, I) all a-wrassling on the ground.
After that amazing spectacle, my bird-noticing-feelers must have been tuned to an extra-high frequency, because while I waited for the bus I watched this really weird-looking yellow-beaked bird, very small and dark but with giant feet, eat a french fry twice as long as his body. He did not peck at it like a regular bird but picked the fry up, somehow got it vertical, and made it disappear down his gullet like a sword-swallower. Then the bird gave me a threatening look. Really. Birds kind of give me the heebie-jeebies in general, despite the fact that my very first pet, Mr. Tweeters (I never did know his first name) was a parakeet. So I was a little twitchy on the bus, and my surreal commuting experience (WHERE DID THAT BIRD PUT THAT GIANT FRENCH FRY?) was not helped any by a field trip of about ten mentally challenged adults, from the area group home, who were shepherded onto the bus at Clark Street. I know it is not politically correct to be freaked out by the mentally challenged but sometimes it is hard to control your freaked-outedness, particularly if you had just watched some crazy bird defy the laws of anatomy and then glare at you with its beady bird eyes.
Not much to report on the train, except:
(a) I was forced to listen to an OHMYGOD!!!!!-style cell-phone monologue from some slag in a flouncy fluffy ruffled flowered blouse (will this fashion craze die already? Hello, I am not a folksinger). She is moving to San Francisco (good, get her out of here), her dad gave her the down payment for a condo out there (why am I not surprised), and she is going to work at this “totally cool, totally laid-back” internet company (ha!). She was the Red Line's very own time-travel visitor from the 1990s, complete with the size-zero insanely small ass, the ass that will literally make you go mad if you contemplate its smallness too much. I am normally against plastic surgery but some ass-augmentation might be a good thing in this situation, seriously.
(b) Right before Wilson, where some unused railroad tracks have provided shelter to a sort of shantytown of the unfortunate, the train slowed down and I noticed some kids with spray-paint cans tagging a passed-out hobo. While of course that is not nice, it is kind of funny. Okay, it's really funny. But still not nice. I am all conflicted. However, I think I have to go with funny on this one.
Still high on my smashy-smashy time from a week ago,* I have been feeling all tough and strong lately. Which is why it was such a letdown to receive several comments today about my more reality-based puny-weakling status: I was hauling a huge stack of manuscripts upstairs and three different people said, “Oh my god are you okay? Do you need some help? Can I get the door?” blah blah etc. I mean, that is nice and all but RRRAARRR I CAN HANDLE IT WITH MY BIG EDITOR MUSCLES THANKS. Or at least I can fake like I can, and then go secretly into the stairwell to shake out my arms afterwards. Ow. That humiliation was canceled out, though, by the cool chick on the street who told me my hat was “fierce.” I think I like having a fierce hat. Especially a fierce hat that I bought at a garage sale.
*By the way, in the photo from the last entry: the smashed wall was not in my house (do you really think I’d smash up my own house?), but a party at a house that is a few days away from being torn down; I do not drink Boone's Farm (anymore), it just happened to be there on the bar; and yes, I am left-handed, which some wonderful correspondent quipped “explains a lot,” and I have to agree, yes, it does.
One of these scooters is parked outside my office and it gives me a pang of retro-style travel-lust in my heart. This is absolutely absurd, as me driving is bad news, me riding a bike is bad news, me doing anything that involves split-second timing and fearlessness in traffic is bad news. But they are just. So. Cute. And the spring weather inspires a fantasy of me scooting around town. In a fierce hat.
BOOKS AND MISC. (IMAGINARY SPACE)
I recommend Bad Blood by Lorna Sage. I am almost finished and the book takes a little warming up to—I wouldn't exactly call it “entertaining”—but read slowly and thoughtfully and you will be rewarded. It is a marvelous, completely unsentimental memoir, and so refreshing in that it does not screamingly, tantrum-throwingly insist on the Story of Self that most memoirs indulge in, but it widens itself out to be the story of a generation, the story of a certain class of British women, and it is just amazingly perceptive and good.
All Dorothy Parker all the time. Makes me want to go be dissolute in New York again.
—mimi smartypants knows why six is afraid of seven.