Wednesday, June 29, 2005

My Guardian Angel Smokes Borkum Riff

Today tastes like vanilla, cream, honey, and bourbon. And oddly enough, it smells like Grandfather’s tobacco.

I drive a convertible (in Arizona, eleven months of the year are topless weather, after all) and I finally understand the attraction for a dog when it comes to hanging its head out the window, ears flapping in the breeze, eyes slitted and nose pointed into the wind. If I lived through my nose, I’d be too distracted to drive. As it is, it’s great fun in orange blossom season.

Not so much fun driving past the cemetery. I can tell when it’s a “burn day.” And sometimes when I’m really hungry, it’s hard to tell the difference between that and the barbeque joint a few blocks away. My own personal Stephen King moment.

Right now though, we are paying the price for a warm wet spring with lots of lush plant growth with the inevitable summer wildfires. Mummy Mountain, in the heart of Phoenix, is burning from a lightning strike, and the streets look like San Francisco. I can barely see the purple hulk of Camelback Mountain, three miles away as I write this. It looks like a watercolor of a mountain—a sharp purple outline at the top, and then melty shades of purple, with soft trickles of dark veining and little pops of highlighting instead of the rich tight detailed crevices and sharp texture I can usually see.

So yes, while I understand that what I was smelling was a combination of burnt plant material, the mélange of perfumes from shampoo, deodorant, and cologne (oderant??), and hydrocarbons; it still combined in a sweetly nostalgic form that was like having my guardian angel riding shotgun on the way in to the city, bopping along to the alien surf music that is Blue Man Group and Logictrance.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Pick What You Want, and Pay For It

Toady tastes like root beer that's been left out on the porch overnight--and now it's three in the afternoon.

Hot, sticky, cloying, flat.

It's review time at work, so all the bosses are snippy, and nothing can be done right.

And this leads into priorities and settling and the connections between them.

Settling used to be the worst thing I could imagine. Getting stuck with less than you really wanted simply because it was comfortable, and change is inherently disturbing. But at the same time, you do need to choose what is maximally importnat in your life.

Do you want six adorable stairstep children? Then you need to make hatching and rearing the brood your main priority--not a high-octane career (because those often require you to work late at the office, or drag work home with you, or work on the weekends) and realize that there won't be cash for exotic vacations for all eight of you--unless the other parent makes it their mission to support the family and keep you all in nametags for the weekly dinner with the breadwinner.

And some may say that the homemaker in the above scenario settled for that role. A shame about Pat, getting a degree and all that work, just to marry and raise children. Do you think the eight year old is into Proust yet?

But Pat made the choices that led to that life--agreed to marry Kim, agreed to be the one to stay home and care for the brood--heck, agreed that children and a big family were worthwhile goals in life, and that kids need to be raised by parents, not daycare. And agreed that a high-octane career and hundred mile an hour lifestyle was not what was desirable because of the choices that are precluded by that.

So I'm working in a career path that I outgrew years ago, and am frustrated by a job I can do in my sleep. And yet--the very banal nature of what I do allows me to do other things on the side and in the corners of my head, such as blog to keep the writing flowing, and do paper artsy stuff for fun and trade, and design knitwear for fun and profit.

If I had a higher-powered job, I'd have to yield focus to that in order to keep the gravy train from overturning. If I took a creative job, I'm afraid the muse would simply go hide in the bathroom with the door locked.

So am I settling, or is it simply that my priorities are to earn enough bread to make a well-rounded life?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Back at Last

Today tastes like heavily salted butter, lemons, and lipstick. I'm just glad it's the weekend.

Last night was Vincenza's birthday. She had decided she didn't want to get any older. I told her the options (you got your classic method where you cease to move through time--or space for that matter; and you got your modern method where you ignore the event completely--no cake, no party, no additional year.) She wasn't too happy about either.

Then Mischief and I put our heads together and decided to throw her a party at a hot-dog place. With helium balloons so we could all sing "The Lollipop Guild" at the end of the night, an Elmo tablecloth, and an ice cream cake.

We grabbed a table outside and proceeded to fingerpaint the town red. Vinnie decided she was four this year. Next year she wants to be seven. I suggested that she be 21 in 2007 so we could do a pub crawl or martini tasting.

Met with Terpsichore last week, and she's delighted with the new project. I really ought to sign off and write the pattern.

More later. I was going to do a riff on settling and priorities and the varied costs of both, but right now I don't have the stamina.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Back again

While it is good to see one's family again, I really cannot recommend doing it this way.

Borkum Riff will always smell of bittersweet.

I picked up the ingredients for a Coke Cake at the store, and will bake one tomorrow after work. The plan is to eat a little, then freeze the rest in individual slices for later consumption.

The memory that will stick with me longest will be the time at graveside. I was touching the casket, reluctant to turn and go, eyes filled with tears. My husband was beside and behind me, with his hand on my right shoulder. I felt someone rest his head on my left shoulder, and couldn't figure out who it was--or how First Consort Gareth had contorted around me like that. A moment later I realized it was Li'l Bruddah. He's been a pall bearer for all of his grandparents now--one of the mixed blessings of adult masculinity.

I promise to be more fun later this week. Right now, I'm tired and raw, and not really up for a discussion of museums and friends and art-alongs.

Good night.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Brief Leave of Absence

Today tastes like burlap, glass, and burnt bone--a painful sort of sweetness.

Grandfather has passed on. The funeral is tomorrow.

I fly tonight.

Back soon.