Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Note scribbled overnight: ambiguity stole into it like a cold draft seeping under the door

Rest of the morning hasn't gone much better. Having a hard time today. Woke up feeling very anxious and now it's afternoon and despite a walk and doing laundry I haven't been able to shake it. Such an unpleasant feeling, dis-ease. I wish I could leave it.

D comes home for lunch and I have the car for a while. I change from shorts to jeans and survey myself in the mirror before going out.
Ugh, I look fat today. Maybe I'm getting my period.
D laughs. Yeah, I think.
What do you mean?
Call it male intuition, he replies.
Maybe that's what's accounting for the gnawing amorphous sick feeling.

I decide to treat myself to a latté at a café in town. I order, then survey the room and select a seat, a high stool in the storefront window. I arrange myself and open my pocketsize journal. On the other side of the glass from me an old man with very pale skin and a gold watch outside is reading. I peer at the title of his book from my lofty perch. A History of the Age of the Spanish Empire. He's smoking. Hasn't killed him yet but it's a major turnoff. Despite his lofty tome which he doesn't seem too into he doesn't look interesting. Pinkie rings no matter how discreet are not a good idea. Nor are effeminate gold watches. To my left (behind me, so he escapes my unsparing gaze), a bearded gentleman, younger than me, sits at a table intently typing into his laptop. He looks as though he's been settled there a while, maybe hours. I look out the window. Passersby walk past and I realize that my being seated on this stool in the window betrays not the most flattering view of my jeaned crotch and knees. I glance below the countertop on which I've opened my journal and poised my pen. Oh darn, the storefront glazing continues below my waist - anyone passing by can see anything. I rearrange myself, draw my knees together into what I hope is a more flattering position, matching the stately comportment I've managed waist-up. Your latté is ready, says the barista from across the clean bright room. It has a pretty design that I didn't expect. Pretty! I say. He smiles.

Another note about the Charlie Rose interview with the Danish-Macedonian chef, René Redzepi. Redzepi offers a beautifully composed plate of oysters and cabbage in winter, when oysters are in season and cabbage is (I suppose) ahoyed from cold storage. Charlie Rose showed an image. The elemental ingredients appear eloquent and spare as ice floes in an arctic sea, or as fragments on a slide under a microscope (designs registering mysterious on the round lit white as one adjusts one's eye). Redzepi commented that his dish is one that could have appeared on a menu in his part of the world one hundred years ago (or a thousand). His cuisine is specific to time and place, which quietly, obversely (that is how it works, divinity) lends it a timeless quality. I think again of Emily Dickinson's dried flower album (herbarium) and a reason why I'm so taken with it. It is composed of plant materials that she herself either grew and harvested, or foraged from field or forest. This inductive explorer (in an age before cars, jet planes, and refrigerated trucking) was in corporeal respects as local as it gets. She was born 1830 and composed the album at age 14 - so let's say 1845, one hundred sixty-five years ago and it's preserved - or at least images of it are (the original itself I imagine is entombed in a cold, dark vault at Harvard). It's timeless and speaks to me and if I cared to I might be able (since I live in a region not far from and similar to Amherst) to put together just such a book.

In the shower this morning I thought what a comfort it would be to believe in the sort of God who puts his arms around me and makes me feel better. I would like to believe in such a God, my life would be easier, but a side of me won't allow it. But people have had to I suppose imagine just that sort of comforting God just to cope. If I believed in such a God, could summon him for myself, could soothe myself by summoning him in just this way, I would never wake up with the feeling of ambiguity stealing in like a cold draft seeping under the door.

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