Wednesday, August 26, 2009
It was always dark
She dug graves in the summer
Odd for a woman
She found it peaceful
Preparing the resting place
For the dead and gone
She was no martyr
It was the least she could do
Because she'd killed them
Friday, August 21, 2009
They came with hopes of a better life, ten dollars in their pocket, and a phone card to call the only relative living in the States who might give them shelter. They left family, their homeland, the mother tongue. Their first English words were spoken when their feet touched this hallowed ground. With no land to till or crops to tend, they gladly took the jobs abandoned by the generation turning to computers and college.
Standing all day in near hundred degree heat next to machines as loud as lawnmowers, they pump out millions of items that magically appear on our store shelves, courtesy of the immigrant.
They’ll never be rich. They’ll never work in air conditioned cubicles. They know they are considered bottom of the wrung by so many Americans. But they have pride in what they do.
When “Bring Your Child to Work Day” comes around, they gather in droves, ushering their offspring to their stations, showing off their part in the assembly line of life. For some, it is the only time they’ve been known to smile.
They remember why they left and why they came.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
As a young girl, I was probably what the adults called “boy crazy.” I’d fixate on the cutest or most charming male around, sure that he was a god never to be outdone. Inevitably, he’d do something dumb, as boys are apt to do, and my fragile bubble would burst. His beautiful image would turn to ash faster than palms on Sunday. This was the beginning of a lifelong curse of being disappointed by that unreliable gender, of looking for that crack in the armor before it collapsed on me.
There were a few who persisted in their petrified state in my mind, frozen in time, untouched by human foibles. But eventually even those cannot help but expose their weaknesses, their indignities, their intolerant corniness.
I’ll never forget the collapse of one such memory, one I held so close to my heart for so long. Before cable TV and multiplex cinemas, we were at the mercy of program planners. We watched what they fed us, over and over. And before Harry Potter and vampire lovers on HBO, we had The Dragonslayer. I was ten and Galen was every girl’s heartthrob. A head of fabulously curly hair (it was the 80s), a slight frame perfect for a young girl’s obsession, and a smile so warm it could have melted the iceberg and saved the Titanic.
Galen was my hero. He slayed the dragon, saved the town, saved the girl – the tomboy of a girl, to whom I related oh too well – and was an all around brave guy. I went through life for years looking for Galen, only to meet silly boys with no interest in being men or heroes.
Then one day in the 90s, deep into my Ally McBeal obsession of all things “I don’t need a man but I’ll take one if he’s perfect”, I stumbled across Dragonslayer on cable. My hero had returned. Seeking a two hour reprieve from the disappointment that was my life, I settled in with flannel pajamas and popcorn to remind myself what I was holding out for.
Then I saw him. Not Galen, my brave, handsome dragonslaying hero, but The Biscuit. Yep, my childhood hero was played by Peter MacNicol, now better known to me as that stuttering, oddball from Ally McBeal. I made it about twenty minutes into the movie, wincing the entire time at the sheer campiness of it all, before I threw in the towel.
Another hero bites the dust.
Walking through "old" Vegas one beastly hot summer day (Vegas is cheaper in the summer, see, and all the west coasters stay put on the ocean cliffs, leaving the desert to the foolish east coasters), I see a sign for Deep Fried Twinkies, 99 cents. Unable to imagine anything but an immediate cardiac arrest at consuming this, I snap a picture and pass.
A couple of years later, I read about a girl who, during her lunar cycle,eats nothing but oreos fried in butter until her sanity returns. Then at the next four birthday parties and weddings I attend, marshmallows dipped in chocolate grace all the tables. My taste buds lurch in objection.
So I start wondering: What the hell is this obsession with finding the worst possible combination of fat and sugar? I'm a pretty basic chocolate type of girl. A few semi-sweet chips if I have a craving or maybe coco crisp cereal with skim milk. Like my fellow sisters, I can't deny the urges that hormones thrust upon me, but I've never sat around my kitchen, throwing things into a pan until something appeals to me.
I mean, just what was rejected if the winning result is a twinkie thrown into a vat of lard and cooked within an inch of its life?
Today, though, I might have found my new achilles heel. In an article about the best chocolates (most tastes like stale halloween candy: Nestle; most butter like: trader joe's), some kitchen wizard came up with the penultimum chocolate treat: chocolate covered bacon. My traitorous mouth immediately went into drooling overdrive. It seems to have it all: the much sought after balance between salty and sweet, crispy and soft, breakfast and desert.
So here I sit, whiling away the minutes until I can hit the grocery store to find the perfect chocolate and bacon for my concoction. No apple smoked meat for me. No ghiradelli or belgium. No, I'm pretty simple. Just give me some chocolate and salt and I'm happy. Until next month, that is.
Friday, August 14, 2009
My native New England was home at one point to many great, famous writers. In my mind’s eye, I always pictured the pen folk functioning within a secret writer society devoid of time and mortality. Neighbors in another realm.
I wondered if JD Salinger deigned to answer the door when Robert Frost took the back road, because it was less traveled, to see him, or if Robbie had to stand outside the wall and do the one-handed silent clap to get his attention.
I wondered if Cormac McCarthy carried the fire to the Filipino themed beach party thrown by Norman Mailer and if Stephen King told the creepy campfire stories that kept them all up at night.
I wondered if they all mourned Mark Twain’s death or if they realized it was greatly exaggerated so just sent flowers.
And as John Updike sat in his Norman Rockwell painted house, stuffing his pipe with tobacco, I wonder if he realized just how famous and influential they’d all be one day.