No news is good news


Here it is nearly the end of January and I still haven’t talked about the Oprah article. You know, Oprah’s article in her magazine O: The Oprah Magazine, where the cover showed Oprah alongside her past Oprah self, who had appeared on a previous cover of O: The Oprah Magazine back when that Oprah was a skinnier Oprah? Yes, that Oprah article. And already I’ve gotten the Feburary copy of O: The Oprah Magazine, with another Oprah, meaning the Oprah of the future is now the Oprah of today, so I figured I really ought get around to discussing her whole weight gain thing, right?

Except then I realized I really don’t want to talk about the Oprah article. I mean I stared at the cover photo and at Oprah’s tidy purple sweatsuit of remorse and just felt tired. And you know, I like Oprah. I like her magazine because it has some very good books coverage, and I guess I’m at that age where I’ll read the Suze Orman column and nod yes, yes, and feel almost kind of tingly about having a Roth IRA. But you know what? I think Oprah should stop making her body news. That’s all.

As for me, you’ll noticed I haven’t been saying anything about my Progress or My Journey or This Thing I’m Doing at all, not for the past year, really, and maybe some people who’ve read I’m Not the New Me have been wondering what’s up. I don’t know: nothing. Or rather, the “problem” of being at this totally uninspiring and conventionally unacceptable purple-sweatsuit weight has become less and less of a preoccupation over the past few years as most of the crappy habits and shitty sorrows that used to be lumped in with The Problem have been taken on and managed.  My instincts to go to the gym on a regular basis, eat vegetables, and not stifle my tears with fistfuls of cheese are in pretty good working order. Doing these things has not made me thin, and maybe that’s a mystery, but one that seems more trouble than it’s worth to solve right now. These days, The Problem is mostly about how sometimes I wince at photos of myself and don’t much like that number on the scale. And who else has that problem? Oh, everyone everywhere? Okay, then.

I’m not going to pretend I have it all figured out. I can read something on body acceptance and nod wisely and be completely convinced. Then two days later I’ll read about how all I need to do is to just write down everything I eat and track all my calories every day and simply say “no thank you” to slices of cake at parties, and I’ll nod yes, yes to all that, because that, too, seems perfectly reasonable. It all depends.  But I don’t see why I should concern you guys with any of that, you know? Because it’s not news. In fact, it’s nothing new at all. But stick around, I’ll be here.

A time to plan. A time to reap. A time to rinse really thoroughly.

Yesterday was our last organic produce box delivery, which was good because we were getting a little tired of the weekly bounty, which lately had consisted of Rooty Things (beets and radishes and a kohlrabi, always a lone kohlrabi in the box), Squashy Things (and here I mean actual winter squash, although a lot of it has gone squishy a lot sooner than expected) and Dirty Greeny Leafy Things in Wet Bags. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been able to wash and cook and make some really good meals from a lot of this stuff (except the kohlrabi, which started showing up in the box one-measly-kohlrab-at-a-time shortly after I’d blown all sense of culinary adventure on the fucking radicchio), but now we’re ready to get back to pretending that stuff doesn’t come out of the ground. I want my spinach harvested by unicorns, please!

We’re not sure if we’re going to do it again next year. Chris was saying the other night that that while it definitely wasn’t bad to get all this different stuff every week, it was sort of like when a relative or someone comes to town on really short notice and you have to take him out to Navy Pier or something, and even though you wind up having a pretty good time with Uncle Whatshisface, you still wish you could do the thing you were going to do in the first place. And then furthermore imagine that Uncle Whatshisface shows up covered with mud and sometimes gets moldy, or goes a little demented, or even just withers up and dies without warning, and, well, that’s kind of how it is about the produce box.

All that sweet green icing flowing down*

Early colors

I’m in the beginning stages of a couple of writing projects, and in the middle of production at work, and at the end of a month full of out-of-town visitors and weekend trips, and somewhere in between all that I had a shitload of laundry which I’ve just now done. How are you? Don’t mind me; I’m trying to catch the hell up.

Really, I sort of feel like I left my life out in the rain (yes, like the MacArthur Park cake) and now that I’ve brought it back in to dry out (which, no, you wouldn’t do with a cake), I’ve forgotten how to wear it (and okay, now I’m making a sort of sweater analogy here) and lost track all the little places where I stretched it to make it fit right (because of course it’s a fat girl’s sweater), and things are a little itchy and uncomfortable at the moment but I’m sure I’ll break it back in eventually.

One of the stretchy things I haven’t been able to figure out is how we went to the gym all these months. Apparently the mornings used to be longer and I used to be not so tired. I know from experience that when you actually do start working out regularly,things sort of amazingly take care of themselves so that you do have more energy, and time expands, and your molecules totally rearrange themselves so that you are cuter and smarter. I know this, and yet still I wait for the perfect gym-going opportunity to appear in the mist like Brigadoon. Still, I’ve been biking to work whenever I can. Which is well, about once a week. Whatever. Brigadoon. I’ll let you know when I find it.

*Seriously, I forgot that the lyrics to that song were that demented. Donna Summer needs to be commended for her non-enunciation skills in her version.

Plug #1 for the day is for the Photo Project at Elastic Waist. I’ve got a photoset up, where the only Before shot is of me as a 4-year-old (because that really is Before lots of things). Plug #2 is for the new issue of BUST hitting the newsstands this week, because in addition to my usual Poptart column, there’s an interview with Debbie Harry conducted (via very long-distance phone call) by yours truly. BUY IT. And if it’s not at your newsstand yet and the previous issue is still there, the one with my column about Olivia Newton-John in it, you should buy that one, too. I’m just saying.

Thursday night

There’s no air conditioner here in the guest room/office, so tonight I’ve been just spraying myself with fancy water from one of these little Evian Brumisateur cans. I love these damn things: half the label is in French; the English part says that this product is particularly recommended “for infants and for babies.” Sometimes I put my Evian Brumisateur in the fridge to make it extra awesome. It is hot as all get-out but now I am well misted, like a fern. Or a lettuce.

And, speaking of produce, maybe you have been wondering how the farm share thing is going. For awhile we’d been just cruising along and we’d found a way to fix whatever turnip or mystery green the hippies tossed our way, and all of it—even the tetragonia, which sounds like some dipshit kingdom in a Star Wars prequel—turned out pretty well. Then recently we got a head of radicchio, a big purple fist lurking in the corner of our box, so I spent a day looking up recipes to see how I could use it.

Okay, apparently you can grill radicchio, but that seemed like a lot of trouble, so I picked a simple pasta recipe that involved sauteeing the stuff in olive oil with some garlic. While the penne boiled, I chopped up the radicchio and put it in the oil to wilt. After a couple minutes it began to look like wet leaf compost and I sadly pushed it around and around the pan hoping that it would stop looking like the stuff in rain gutters. And then I picked a shred off the spoon and tried it: it tasted like coffee grounds and desolation and like when you spray Deep Woods Off! on yourself and accidentally get some of it on your tongue. I’d heard radicchio is supposed to be “bitter” but it was beyond bitter; I swear it tasted like it could key my car. I read that the red parts of the leaves aren’t as bitter as the white parts, so I tried the red parts. The red parts were only slightly less spiteful. I finally called in Chris to try it. I watched his face as he took a bite. I couldn’t read his expression.

“Wow,” he said. “Can we please not eat this?”

“Oh my God, thank you,” I said. We scraped it into the trash and I made a primavera sauce instead. Maybe there was just something wrong with the recipe, something that put the “dick” in “radicchio,” but next time one of those things turns up in our box, I’m trading it for something else. But that’s really been the only snag so far.

Tomorrow morning Chris and I are headed up to Michigan for the weekend. After all this working and BlogHerniating, it’ll be good to get away.

Farm! I'm gonna live forever!

So we’re doing yet another Thing this summer, and it’s the dorkiest Thing yet, and I have not been able to shut up about it in real life conversation. It’s a Farm Thing: a farm share community- sponsored-agriculture kind of thing, where you give a local farmer a big box of money and in exchange he gives you a big box of organic seasonal produce every week. Every week for like, five months. The idea is that you do this to support local agriculture and organic farming and to infuse yourself with the sort of crunchy wholesome goodness that makes the Amish so upsettingly attractive. (No, really, their skin, it is peachy and gorgeous.)You also do the Farm Thing because you are just a tiny bit insane and wish to stage your very own personal hippie-food edition of Iron Chef. You get one week! To figure out! How the fuck to cook all this bok choy!

But I think we’re up for the challenge. For the past year now we’ve been shopping less and less at the Jewel and the other supermarket chains, and more and more at the produce stores, which have better and cheaper veggies and decidedly fewer Bad Times. (Though it must be said that Stanley’s has way too many foodie douchebags crowding the aisles on weekends to ever truly be good times, but whatever.) Anyway, I hope I’ve learned a few things from all my pseudo-frontier-wife soup-making antics this fall and winter. Like I know that kale—aka the curly leafy stuff that hotel caterers use to decorate salad bars because it practically never wilts—is actually edible, once you steam out all its latent anger and sorrow and serve it with chickpea curry. I bet knowledge like this occupies the part of my brain that used to be devoted to POINTSâ„¢ and super fun POINTSâ„¢-related SAT math problems calculating how many light-hambuger-bun-and-fat-free-cheese-singles sandwiches I could afford to consume per day. But I would be stupid and useless on Weight Watchers now. I don’t know how many POINTSâ„¢ anything is anymore because that stuff isn’t printed on the bok choy. Which, yes, we somehow figured out how to cook this week.

We got our first box last Saturday and this Sunday, on our way home from a little weekend trip, we’re picking up our second box from the actual farm. I am so stupidly excited about this you have no idea. You know it’s only a matter of time before we freak out completely and sell all our crap and move into a soy-powered geodesic dome.

How's that bike thing?

Doing the epic bike-to-work-route once a week seems to be working out so far. When I did it last week I didn’t feel nearly as worn down to a soggy pulp as I had the week before. This time I only slightly wanted to die and float away on a fluffy cloud, a cloud with built-in adjustable therapeutic massage function, so I suppose that’s progress. I’m told that the angry little knot of pain I feel in my lower back after about ten miles most likely means that I have to get the handlebars adjusted, and it probably does not mean that I am congenitally bike-impaired. And that is good.

The tiredness and the soreness do not outweigh the awesomeness of the trail and the river and the scruffy overgrown back roads and all the things I see on them. The week before last, I saw duck sex. I mean I was riding by and there by the side of the trail I saw a duck, and then another duck was sort of tangled up with it. It wasn’t until I’d already passed them that I realized what they were doing, and then I turned around, because how often do you get a chance to see ducks fuck? But by the time I went back it was all over, and the two of them were walking up the trail with a sort of awkward silence between them. Oh yeah, I know what that’s about, ducks.

The week before that I saw three deer diving across the trail, one after the other, like Esther Williams swimmers in formation. And last week I passed a front yard where half a dozen prom couples posed for photos, the girls lined up together in their strapless dresses.

I expected to see at least a few of the 17-year cicadas on to the trees, but it seems they didn’t really emerge around here, since I’ve only heard about sightings in the suburbs. At least I don’t have to worry about running over all their crunchy little exoskeletons.

If we manage to do most of the things we’re planning to do in the next few months, it’ll be the most summery summer I’ve had in maybe twenty years. The bike already makes me feel like I’m twelve, and when the outdoor city park pool opens for the season I’ll start doing my laps there instead of at the gym. So conceivably I could ride my bike to the pool. I think the last time I did that, compact discs didn’t exist yet, and neither did my boobs. Really, all I need now to truly recapture those days is a pair of jellies and the freakish compulsion to reapply Maybelline mascara every 35 minutes or so, because I was that kind of girl. Now, not so much.