Today I ripped down a collage that has decorated the walls of my California bedroom for ten years.
When I was twelve I made this depressingly conventional bit of tween art clipped from the pages of tween magazines. Its guts was glitter and brightness and glue. Break hearts not curfews. Girl power. Work it, girl. Don’t be a statistic. Think, don’t smoke. Pictures of the men I wanted, but none of the women I wanted to be, and only the barest hints of the woman I’m becoming. Romance! True beauty. Sensationally beautiful. Love the skin you’re in. If you love someone set them free. Lover! Life is a blur. Fight your fears. Write on.
Across the top it said “Brave New World.” Continue reading
Salad is good. But what’s this prickle of shame I feel when I say it?
I want to show you food that wets the tongue, that tickles the groin. Rich, lush, ecstatic food. And I know that this may not be it, that it’s hard to do belly cartwheels for a garden salad. Still, I love them, and like any stubborn affair of the heart, it troubles me a little. Because for me–and maybe not only for me–salad seems a fairly potent symbol for the failure of female desire.
Did that come out of left field? Sorry reader. I know you don’t just write sentences like that, not about salad, and then you certainly don’t leave them like that, orphaned at the end of a paragraph. Except on days like this. Finesse-less days. I mean hungry days.
This week I have been craving the food of another season.
Spaghetti with yolk and cheese. Spicy, buttery Indian. Braised short rib stew. Oxtail. Rice and beans. Warm food. Stewy food. Gut-satisfying brown food. Food that fills in the empty spaces and puts us to sleep.
It is hot again for everybody. Dewy skin, wet sheets, happy basil, watermelon. Huge insects attach themselves to my window screen and chirp the deafening song of the season. But oh. Come August, summer starts to lose its wonder for me. This is how it ends: at the close of the season, we find ourselves pining for the next one. That is, unless our luck has run out. Then we pine for one that’s already passed.
In an essay I’ve read several times this summer, Joan Didion suggests, as an antidote to crying, putting your head in a brown paper grocery bag.
Now, I have not yet attempted this–I’m skeptical of any purported cure for weeping–but I have learned the importance of habits like these, small disciplines that force perspective and teach character. “It is difficult in the extreme,” she writes, “to continue fancying oneself Cathy in Wuthering Heights with one’s head in a Food Fair bag.” Brown paper bags: for the sweats, a very hot shower. For anxiety, a cold one. For an attack of mid-day tiredness, not a nap, but a punishing run. For heart-sickness, I wish I knew.