Dark Matters

I’m tired of hearing “it’s a matter of taste.”

Is it? Or is bad taste one of those things — like porn, pain and excess — where you know it when you see it, when you feel it? I’ve been circling this question for years, and each turn is another uncomfortable opportunity to interrogate my certainties. I don’t have many. But in my brief adulthood I have armed myself with a few inflexible convictions on matters humble in scale — e.g. the perfect pizza temperature, the ideal noodle doneness, the barbarity of certain phrases (looking at you, “as well as.”)

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A Question

Then there’s this pressing question about the things we look to to get us through our days.

As if days, weeks, months, years are only things to weather—to hunker down and power through—the uncharactered middle lengths of a road trip. In February I live by false peaks, and it ticks by fast, danced forward by its quiet drumbeat of minor celebrations. But now the Valentine flowers are dying. The office holiday Monday flickered away with the insouciance of a flaking dinner guest. We barely noticed the passage of the Lunar New Year; our city was buried, my family lived in a different world. And yesterday a birthday came and went, the saddest celebration of all, hungry as birthdays are, bloated as they are with exaggerated significance.

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Spaghetti a la Carbonara

Spaghetti, yolk, cheese, pork, pepper.

A classic Italian carbonara has these things in it, only these. American women add mushrooms, onions, cream, the ubiquitous English pea. The bold use butter. The insipid use milk. I overlook them all. Who needs vegetables? The simple communion of pork fat and egg yolks is perfect; more intimate and seductive and delightfully nasty than much of the sex one is likely to have in one’s life.

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An Empty Room

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.

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Cold Noodles

Too tired to cook. Too humid. Too hot.

I’m sorry. It’s been a week–I have been surviving mostly on Frosted Flakes and take out. Went out for a Subway sandwich last night. I brought it home and ate it in my dark bedroom, right now the only livable space in my apartment. I left Chicago in good weather and came back a few days ago to find my place sweltering hot and smelling like ripe, days-old garbage. The air is thick in this city: heavy, wet. When I went to bed it was still too hot and too humid and I dreamt of the dry summer heat of Los Angeles, and of central air.

But last night, patting bits of oxidized lettuce off the floor with a mustardy napkin, I decided I’d had enough of the mopey shit. And like Hemingway after his oysters, I began to feel happy and to make plans.

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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