mornings where you feel every second

Do you know how on the nights before weekends you think how dreamy it'll be to sleep in? How you'll let the sun gently wake you as if it knows what's best for you? I am always conflicted on those nights, because on the one hand I know I've gotten too little sleep the whole week through, inevitably, and the extra sleep will help me to feel rested for the first time in five days; on the other hand, I don't know when enough is enough when it comes to sleep. I never wake feeling rested, regardless of the amount of sleep I've had. And I always wake up regretting not waking up earlier. So weekend mornings are controversial events I get to look forward to about four times per month.

What I'd really love to do is wake up early on a morning for which I've pre-planned no obligatory meetings or chores. To linger between the stark white sheets, and scootch over to the cooler side of the bed. That is a clear feeling, cool sheets. Then I'd slide slowly off the bed that's just a little too high to touch the floor when I'm sitting on the edge of it. I'd pull on my red buffalo-plaid fuzzy robe and tie it halfway. I don't wear slippers anymore, but I'd like to, as soon as I find the perfect pair or finally decide to make them myself, complete with my own custom-designed monogram. Someday soon.

After blinking intentionally a few times and peering out the blinds to see if anyone else is up and at 'em yet, I would decide to make an Americano. The beans would have to have been ground the night before, because something requiring that much precision should be given adequate concentration, and that's not what mornings are for. I would put music on while the espresso brewed, something wordless and ethereal. I would consider just how brilliantly trivial making a morning cuppa is, and how it means everything at the same time.

Black gold strikes a common chord - someone else is drinking it right now: an inner-city high school teacher with a heavy heart, a widower in south Kansas, a recovering alcoholic in Boulder, a young married woman pining for something bigger than just another day in the rat race (she is all over the place). Then there are all those who are sleeping on the other side of the planet who will drink their coffee in a matter of hours - they speak other languages and pay with different currencies. Maybe they trade eggs for coffee beans, or they sweep the shop floor in exchange for a cupful. Some person, somewhere, is seeing their reflection inside some mug. It's fun to imagine the worlds that Coffee gets to experience on a daily basis. Such a lucky duck.

Regularly, I take my joe black (after an lengthy and arduous conversion process from light and sweet to dark and raw). But sometimes there is nothing better than stirring those velvet tendrils of cream and watching them gradually color the coffee. When the mixture is complete, I would sip. As soon as it's just bearably hot. I would sip with my eyes closed and let the coffee be the only influence allowed on my senses for just a little while. Slow. Pointed. Memory after memory rushing past my eyes as I attempt to calm my head long enough to get a grip on how I will embrace today, which will have memories of its own. So much potential.


Mornings are a subtle reminder of that: potential. Reveries, minimally lighted, in which the sun begins to rise defiantly, pouring through the window slats, and with silent affirmation says, "Today, we live! Aren't we avant-garde!"


the ides of march

Acorn caps. They keep showing up in my apartment and on my desk at the office. They're just too pretty not to gather, and so they accumulate. Those and juniper branches, in as many different colors and stages of life as I can find. Also, dried roses.

Armed with full knowledge of St. Patrick's being on a Sunday this year, I took advantage of stretching the festive spirit throughout the entire weekend (it's a little harder to do this when the holiday is on a Friday or Saturday and everyone is finished being cheery before the weekend is half out, so this year is handy). For starters, it was sushi at a place that is halfway to genius. The other half is locked up in some unknown interiour designer's head, just idling. 'Til the elusive aesthetic panache makes its way here, the patio beckons. It sits above the canal, which is perfect, as I am a fan of any sort of aquatic overlook, really. Friday was a good sport and held around eighty degrees until late. I was grateful.

The functioning half of the sushi joint's genius is their creativity in the curation of their menu. I'll tell you about The Volcano (because it's the best one): a sushi roll with deep-fried shrimp, cream cheese, avocado, jalapeno - all topped with a heaping pile of scallops cooked in spicy (Sriracha) sauce and scallions. I seem to remember some lovely roe as well, but don't recall which kind. This roll was the entire purpose of the outing, initially.

Liverpool Rummy and a home-cooked meal which included a lively fruit salad were to be had at the in-laws' place. We played 'til late. Very late. Both games I lost horrifically. It was actually difficult not to be angry. Something odd.

The next morning, we had lots of tea for breakfast. Mum wasn't feeling well, so we curled up in blankets on the sofa by a dark fireplace and talked about other lives we may have lived before, and about a small boy who spoke in vivid detail about dying in a dogfight in WWII. We spoke of this over pizza, which was like elevenses.

I wore all black that day, that Sunday. Cat burglar costume, sans mask, with soft, snug, black jersey from top to toe. A kelly green sweater cardigan came out later, with orange button-thread. I did not get pinched.



They are a gateway, a long and twisty path to Oz, where we might find exactly what we're looking for.

It is a fleeting luxury that must never be taken too lightly, or too seriously. Where it is impossibly lost, we mustn't fret. And where it is utterly required, we must acquiesce to nothing short. Discernment and Caution will serve us well. Or they will kill us while we sleep.

The very vessels we ride on to get to Oz seem to think they know more than we do. They take charge and begin making up road signs that don't even exist in our route. "Exit right at 14A, Passive-Aggressive Avenue!" "Make a U-turn at Boulevard of Misunderstanding!" We waste so much time.

* * *

I have learned, sluggishly (and have still not fully grasped, might I say), that I cannot do with words what my hands, shoulders, feet and heart were singularly built to do. Words are decor. They are scenery. They set the mood like a gingham tablecloth or the sad grey hue on the wall. They are the rooms we live in, they are where we sleep at night. They are the pots and pans, the bread, the candles, the bathtub, the wooden slats in the floor, the broken teacup. They are meaningless unless either trust or confirming action accompany. It is what remains when the words are gone that truly shows a relationship in peace, or at war.

My words have become sparser over time. My sentences are shorter, yet each one a plumper raindrop than the one before it. When I don't answer letters or calls right away, you can rest assured that I believe either:

a) an answer requires additional time of reflection (delicate things, friends and family are), or
b) our friendship would be harmed or in some way affected in a negative fashion by a reply from me, and your words are best left as the last for the time being, or
c) I have simply not arrived at the knowledge of how I even feel about the matter at hand

At any rate, no words I can conjure ever seem to convey exactly what I mean, and it is a terrible fright to say something and then have to "take it back". Memories cannot be taken back, and I would rather not toy with someone's memories in so flippant and careless a way as I have been injured by, with words thrown about, slashing and bruising, leaving me concussed and low on blood. Instead I leave the exactness up to time and count my words out like pearls, precious few. You can have as many as you like, but each one deserves an equal amount of attention and care as another, so take care yourself to ask for only as many as you can handle at a time. There is always time to take time to love a person, as these things go. The price for hurried words is a burden I cannot afford to bear.

And perhaps I bask in the drama of a cleverly-crafted understatement. What a thrill to speak in a small way and watch knowingly the listener's eyes for silent acknowledgement of the monumental statement that's just been made. The wolf in sheep's clothing, or perhaps it's more like a dog whose bark is nothing compared to his bite. "Just the tip of the iceberg!", as they say! Maybe he'll catch the drift; maybe she will ask for further clarification. Maybe no one understands, but if I can't think up a way to explain it, mediator/interpreter that I am, then by-golly it had better be left right where it is until some old soul comes and gives me a wink. That's how you know. The old movies are positively saturated with nods and glances and raisings-of-eyebrows that just mean the world in a moment. This probably belies my old-fashioned way of looking at the Art of Communique. It used to be an art.

They are a tool, and a tragically beautiful one we cannot bear to go without; nay, we must not dream of discarding this pearl of greatest price. But you must build something. Choose your materials with care. With each brick you lay, each nail you drive, each rough edge you sand smooth, Oz is built. And you're going to get there, that much is certain.


how extremes can lead to exclusivity (in a negatory way)

I tend to go at my efforts in the extreme. Pendulum-swinging, if you will, which is apparently a stickier habit than I expected or would prefer. This is either a worldwide problem, or it exists only in my own life. Regardless of which it is, here we are, dealing with it. Balance probably doesn't actually exist.

Tonight is about drinking a gin and tonic out of an Irish coffee glass pedestal mug. I hope the Brits and the Irish are on good terms, because I'd hate to upset them by using pieces of their cultures simultaneously, making them play nice together.

My fiance is performing an experiment with a penny on the floor. 

I'm currently reading a book by a woman who is like me. I don't feel so alone. There are entries with dates in the headers. One of the dates is my birthday, which is exciting and a little intimidating. I hope it is a good entry, and can't help but wonder (as always) if it's going to have some epiphany for my life in its pages.

Recently at a thrift store, I made a rather pleasant purchase: two low-ball cocktail glasses with an Old-English-style 'N' on each one. I don't know who they belonged to, or what or who 'N' stands for, but I'll come up with something. My barkeep tool kit is slowly coming together. I also bought a crocheted potholder in the shape of a strawberry. It is bright as a poppy, and makes me very happy.

Right now I am wearing a soft, loosely-fitted t-shirt with soot-colored stripes and ash-colored stripes - tiny ones, very close together. My shorts are mid-length and cut-off and have some small white paint splatters, which is nice because they remind me of days I was painting. I feel like a Tom Sawyer. Upon considering what kind of shoes I would wear with this ensemble, I realized that I really, really don't want to wear any shoes. I should be in a creek, scavenging for newts and dragonflies. This is a far cry from the plethora of pencil skirts, oxford shirts and constant pump shoes that reign over my every day on the job. I've found it difficult to dress casually since I really started taking my professional dress seriously. It's that extremes thing again. Even for a simple brunch with my sister, I couldn't seem to keep out of a vintage plaid pencil skirt and leather sandal heels (there were yellow-striped socks as well, which is kind of being casual, but not really). What is the matter???

Casual dress is absolutely necessary for my well-being on an occasional basis at least. I just feel different. More human. I used to be good at the relaxed look. And with a good forcing of practice, I will master it again. Tonight feels like a good start, and hopefully it will stick like a glove-fit friendship: we don't see or speak to each other all the time, but when we do, we pick right up where we left off.

This post feels very much like myself, very much like home, and I like that.


the mattress incident & mulled wine 101

I am exercising (on purpose) again. It started Sunday. I feel more tired today than I have in months. This should probably be attributed to my contracting Mononucleosis last September. They say you can remain in a state of fatigue for up to a year after. And since this was the first actual workout since returning to work at the end of October, I guess I understand this dragging. But it's horrid.

In case you hadn't heard about THE MATTRESS INCIDENT, lemme 'splain: Normal mattresses tend to be expensive, as are bed frames. I slept on an air mattress for about a year. It grew a tumor (don't ask). I slept on a pallet on the floor, alternated with an army-style cot. My back liked the floor better. This was all fine and dandy.

On the way home from brunch one day (I was supposed to be going the opposite direction), there was a sign about an estate sale happening at that very moment. So I stopped to peek inside, because everyone's got to go to their first-ever estate sale sometime or another. Most of the nice things had been bought already, particularly a staggeringly-vibrant velvet emerald green vintage sofa with carved wooden scrollwork in the arms and back that I still swoon over when I think of it. I did find a little French lidded pot with the words “Herbes de Provence” hand-painted on the front (English version on back), as well as a set of small wine glasses.  

Here is the small pot.

But the biggest find was in the upstairs bedroom: a white poster bed complete with like-new pillow-top mattress set AND crisp cotton sheets. $180.00 for the lot of it, folks. Needless to say, it came home with me. Some extremely kind gents at the sale decided to help with the loading process, which ended up involving me on the outside of the car, riding on the running board with one hand on the mattress/boxsprings and the other hand gripping something inside the car so I wouldn't fall off. My fiance drove, which was nice. We got a lot of smiles and cheering honks and thumbs-ups on that ride. I felt adventurous.

Here is me, learning how to make kofta and cucumber-mint sauce, in my new bed.

A funny thing that happened while inspecting the bed for breaks and creaks is that, upon shaking the thing, a sharp camping knife fell out of the slats underneath. I asked the sale lady if it came with the bed, and she said it did. I've already cut myself nicely on the knife, and now have zero doubts about its ability to assist me in the wild on my next outdoor exploit. Tally ho!

Lately at the Paramount, they've been showing some pretty great films. Skyfall, for whatever reason, was their choice for a Thursday night last week. I'm so glad they chose it because espionage and Judi Dench and Scotland prairie fog and Q, but there is no rhyme or reason whatsoever in the decision.

I'm going to work out again tonight, and then rest tomorrow. You feel the pain worse the second day after, not the first. So grinning-and-bearing it, then Tuesday will be restful. Also tonight - my first attempt at mulled wine. There will be fine cheese. And scones. And some old film. A party of my own. 

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