A new place

Tonight I’m writing you from somewhere different.

I moved to a place on the water. “I think you can make a real home here,” my mother said, stepping in, weighted down with boxes. I felt the dark wood moldings and breathed in the lake, a salt-dusted almost-sea smell, and agreed.

Now the place has some furniture in it, and I’ve stacked its shelves with what little I own, and it still feels like something borrowed. You can hear the waves in every room. You sleep to their pull, wake to their breaking. It gives new meaning to the thing we say about sadness, that it feels like living underwater. The waves, it turns out, don’t sound so different from under water than from three floors above it.

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As I write this I’m eating cold corn on the cob, roasted yesterday in its husk, and it’s as good as anything I’ve ever eaten.

It’s been a trying month. I feel myself getting a little weird. My belly is pregnant with apricots and corn and spelt bread. I don’t think I’ve spoken a single word since digging for beets in Cabrini Green yesterday and don’t mind it. I bought goggles for swimming in the lake. At first it terrified me, being way out there in the water, to see the smallness of my belongings on the shore. But then it got all weightless and quiet and profound.

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On Flesh

Some thoughts on what it means to have a body:

One: All the good street art faces east. We are riding the train north, passing one of the Red Line burning men—long-faced, suited men engulfed in pink and green flames—when the suited middle-aged lady beside me extracts a roll of toilet paper from her large straw bag. She begins to blow her nose, emitting this percussive, unrelenting, glottal-sounding sound, the relentlessness and percussiveness of which I am powerless to describe.

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Roasted Artichokes, Guacamole

There is a book I love, “On Being Blue,” and it begins with a list.

“Blue pencils, blue noses, blue movies, laws, blue legs and stockings… the rare blue dahlia like that blue moon shrewd things happen only once in.”

We may be surprised to find that the book is not about sadness, except in the way that all art circles back to sadness, which is the being it’s born of. In the end blue is about desire, but desire on the page, the stringing together of words, the, forgive me, the love of language.

So we get underway with today’s list, our string of green things: green apples, greenbacks, green beans; the green of the party, of the river, of the day, of wanness and bruising and the first breath of spring.

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On Figs

Six months ago I wrote a totally failed piece about fruit and sex, a kind of meditation on the sensuous qualities of oranges, mangoes, pomegranates, etc.

It was fun to write because it gave me permission to use words that weaken the knees: juice, skin, pulp, flesh, pluck, lick, suck. A terrible essay, I realize now–embarassingly bad, written to please only the writer–but it remains a fairly accurate portrait of how I feel about fruit.

Fruit in general and figs particularly. When I was writing the bad fruit essay I decided that figs are the sexiest fruit to eat. It’s in the grotesqueness of their appearance: the bruised purple skin, the pink flesh, the green stems leaking punishing white sap. Then you taste it: the yielding texture, the almost aggressive sweetness, a subtle savor of dirt and earth, reminding you where it comes from, all of it.

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Sweet Corn

I never called corn sweet until I moved to the Midwest.

In California, corn was just corn, something you ate with too much butter. But for four years now I’ve lived among farmers’ sons and for farmers’ sons, there isn’t just corn, but sweet white and sweet yellow and sweet multi—because here in the Midwest there’s also feed and seed and ethanol corn, a lot of it, and no one in his right mind would call that kind of corn sweet, whatever its color.

Seed corn. Feed corn. You say it with a kind of grimace. Cows eat it before we eat them. Yet the vast sweep of unsweet corn fields—bearded, detasselled, green, yellow, harvested, whatever—flat as a crisp new map stretched over a table, straight down to the geometrically flawless line of the Midwest horizon, is stunning.   Continue reading

Something Green, Something Blue

These past couple weeks I’ve done nothing but write and sleep and eat, though you’ll notice I haven’t been posting much here.

An explanation: for the first time in my life, I am swamped in writing that’s one hundred percent non-recreational. At work, it’s been marketing plans and positioning statements and web copy. At home, it’s papers on, like, Foucault and Victorian sexuality and Chicago lit. It’s all kind of random, and kind of a lot. I don’t want to complain. These things need to get done, and I have to do them… but enter reason number two for my bloggy silence, now broken: There’s frankly been a tremendous sadness coloring everything I’ve had to write, everything I’ve had to do, these past two weeks.   Continue reading