What exactly is it you do?

Surprisingly, I get asked this a lot in different forms. "Occupation?" a paper-pusher at the hospital asks me when I'm pre-registering for the Big Day. "So, do you have a job?" an old friend asks me when we're catching up on each other's lives over facebook (Yes, I rejoined). Or, my favorite, "What do you do all day?" my sister asks me, suddenly more interested in my life now that I'm barefoot and pregnant than when I was clawing my way through a really awful version of Survivor in Brooklyn. ("Barefoot" being a word chosen for the sake of the saying. Unless I'm walking on a sandy beach at the height of summer and the sun's beating down on me like someone's holding a giant magnifying glass over my head, there isn't much chance I'm anywhere near warm enough to be barefoot.)

No one in their right mind actually reads this crap, but I figured it's as good a place as any to tell people what exactly it is I do. I am a writer/homemaker. That's how I fill out or answer people who are filling out official forms and no one yet has called me on the big, fat rip in reality I'm trying to sell them when I say that. Maybe it's because people who fill out forms for a living or read forms for a living don't know any better. Maybe they don't want to know any better. They want to believe a woman can stay at home all day cleaning house, taking care of children, getting supper ready for their man, and still hit it big writing books. Maybe that actually happens once every fifty-thousand stay-at-home writers.

More likely, I think no one has called "bull" on me yet because they don't know any writers. (I'm about to generalize egregiously about writers even though the only experience I have with writers at home and out of school is myself.) Most of the time, writers don't give a second thought to scrubbing the shower or picking up their dirty clothes. For all I care, people can come in and see that "Good Lord, she left her underwear and socks inside the pants she wore yesterday and the whole mess on the floor and she knew we were coming over!" It's a cold day in hell when I look at the kitchen sink and think to myself, "I'll just do those dishes before they pile up."

It's not that I hate to do the laundry or sweep the kitchen or wash the dishes...I do hate to wash the dishes, but it's not that, not all the time. It's because those things--those incredibly mundane things--don't make sense to me the way that a person who's been cursed into the body of a wolf or a country where everyone sleeps during the day and goes about their lives at night makes sense to me. Those stories occupy my thoughts more realistically than that dirty pan that's blocking me from getting a glass of water from the sink.

To some extent, I'm trying to romanticize the fact that I am lazy and a person who almost procrastinated herself out of a high school graduation at which she was giving a speech. I find things that keep me busy all day long (typing a blog, for example) so that I never have to think about why there aren't any glasses to drink out of. Joshua understands me. He says he loves me for being so far out of orbit that I can't even see the Great Wall, but I know for a fact he still thinks every now and then, "Sure, she's a writer, but would it kill her to wash a freaking plate?"

No, it wouldn't. It might even be good for me. I know it would be good for our kitchen.

Even so, what I do all day is this: Not much. Once Enis comes, I'll be a writer/stay-at-home-mom, which I assume entails a lot of things. For now, though, I'm just a stay-at-home-eden (writer is included in this particular job description), which doesn't entail much at all.


Score 1 for eden

Joshua loved the salad and dressing even though he was skeptical at first. He loved it so much that we had it again less than two weeks later with minor alterations (I don't have every ingredient all the time), so I'm counting that as a complete success.

As promised, here's the recipe:

Iceberg Lettuce
Bacon (stew chunks or flavoring pieces)
Grape Tomatoes

Vegetable Oil
Orange Juice

It's pretty simple to make. Basically, you fry the bacon pieces to however crispy (or if you're like Joshua, floppy) you like your bacon. Then throw all the salad stuff together.

For the dressing, just dump the ingredients into an empty bottle (preferably with a lid). The vegetable oil is the base, so add your juice, mustard, and honey to taste. I used a lot of honey because I only had the standard yellow mustard, not the Dijon or fancy brown kind. Then shake that stuff up like crazy (after you put the lid on).

Add salad to dressing and enjoy. I ended up picking the cranberries out of mine because I don't like cranberries, but that's the good thing about salad-the stuff doesn't get unalterably mixed together until you eat it.


'Tis a Far, Far Better Thing I Do

But seriously, the hardest thing I've ever had to do is get Joshua to try something he doesn't already know he likes.

Why is that hard? Because I like to cook weird crap. Ask the French-toast fried oranges Emily and I made. Ask those disgusting egg fries. Ask that chicken cacciatore. Joshua knows enough to be cautious when I say, "I'll make something cool for supper."

This time, though, I really am making something cool for supper--a salad I made up and a salad dressing I made up. I don't have all the right ingredients, but I didn't have all the right ingredients for the cacciatore, either, and that had minimal consequences at worst. Remember this blog's motto: "There is no ingredient so crucial that it can't be substituted for."

I believe that whole-heartedly. I also believe that, with time, I can convince Joshua that it's true. If all goes well, I'll tell you about the salad.


An Update on Fatty

I'm much fatter. Like maternity pants fat. But I still weigh less than I've weighed since I was a fat little 4th grader. That kind of makes me feel good about myself.

I'm now 27 weeks pregnant according to computer due date calculators, which means that my baby is now the size and weight of a standard roast. If you know much about cooking, you're probably thinking, "Goodness me!" If you don't know much about cooking, a standard roast is like 14 inches and 2 lbs. Don't feel bad, I just know because the computer told me.

As I mentioned in my last post, I left Brooklyn for good. Now me and Joshua live in La Plata, MO, his hometown. It's a little more refined than I'm used to Missouri being, but not too bad a place. Plus, my high school history teacher Coach Carvajal is now the superintendent here. (Weird, huh?) Here are the important highlights in my life that you missed while I didn't have the internet:

1. I quit facebook.

2. Josh and I bought a house.

3. I finally went to a baby doctor. She's Russian and I like her very much.

4. We thought about getting a dog.

5. We decided not to.

6. My sister Emily got married.

7. I stopped barfing every five seconds. Now I only vomit occasionally.

8. I started to gain back the weight I've lost. I'm down 15 lbs from my prepregnancy weight, but up 4 from my last baby doctor appointment.

That's pretty much it, except that Enis started kicking several weeks ago and hasn't stopped or slowed down yet. I'm suspicious that he's not actually a mutant but a retarded fish that hasn't figured out it's in a bowl yet. We'll see when he comes out.

Here's an important note: We don't know what this thing is going to be and we're not going to find out before it's born. Joshua gets mad when I call the baby "he," but I mean it in a non-gender-specific way like the Spanish "los" for a group of male and female. If it bothers you, too, that I keep saying "he" instead of "it" or (even worse) "he/she," you can go suck eggs.


Ah, Screw It...

I don't like wordpress very much, and I can't get it to look like I want it to. I'm back here.


PS. I'm leaving Brooklyn tomorrow for good! Hooray!


I Forgot to Mention...

I'm moving my blog to wordpress.com. Here's the url: http://www.whitetrashcappuccino.wordpress.com/

See you there.


Fatty Post #1

If you've heard the rumors and wondered whether they were true, the answer is yes. I'm going to have a baby at the end of next February or the beginning of March. That leaves a lot of people finger-counting, so I'll go ahead and give you this: I'm eight weeks and change today, which means my baby is the size of a kidney bean. Gross.

I've been told I ought to keep a pregnancy diary so I don't forget the little things about this miracle. (I don't deserve to be as sarcastic as I am when I say miracle because of how long Josh and I have been trying to get pregnant. And maybe I'm not as sarcastic as I think.)

Here, in order, are the things I don't want to forget:

1. More than a week before I took the pregnancy test, I got incredibly dizzy and short of breath while reading a friend's story. I went to lie down and after a few minutes, and my kitten Gypsy jumped onto the bed to see what was up. She climbed onto my stomach, stopped and smelled the place just below my belly button, then left seeming to have satisfied her curiosity. About 30 minutes later, Abraham, Josh's kitten and Gypsy's brother, did the exact same thing.

2. My boobs are huge and, for a little while, my waist was small. That was fun, and you can bet I wasn't the only one to appreciate that change.

3. I owe dropping about 10 lbs to morning sickness so far. Nature takes over where willpower fails. Lucky for me (or unlucky?), I'm still barfing, though it seems to take a day or a few hours off now and then. The weird thing is that I didn't start getting sick until about 3 days after I found out I was pregnant.

4. There's this spot where my stomach has started to stay poking out even when I suck it in. It's right under my belly button. This, I assume, is where I'm growing my kidney bean. Josh sometimes pushes down on the bottom of my navel and says that it's solid.

5. We're calling the baby Enis right now, since that was the name we had picked out a long time ago for our mutant child.

6. Sheila, Josh's sister, has announced that our baby is a girl. I'm hoping for a boy, but I guess I'll be happy either way.

And that's it for now. Maybe in 50 years, when this blog is cross-referenced with my old facebook account and all the fake names I've used, and Enis is googling himself, he'll read why I didn't really enjoy the first few weeks of knowing I was pregnant. Other than the knowing part that is. I do enjoy that.


True Story

This is an excerpt of a story I think I’ll probably call “Rain Like Bones.”

When I was five, my family went tubing with my dad’s friend Ray. On my turn, I fell out of the tube and started sinking.

We were in the middle of the lake. The boat hadn’t turned around to come back for me. I didn’t have a life jacket on. I could swim in a pool, but I could see in a pool. The further I sunk, the darker green the water got, the less I could see.

Instinct tells children that monsters live in the darkness. As the blackness of deep water closed in around me I heard someone whisper it: Monsters live in the darkness.

I panicked. My mouth opened and I screamed most of the air out of my lungs. No one was down there to hear me. No one alive. I had to get to the surface.

When I started kicking, my foot hit the trunk of an old dead tree. I felt the thunk vibrate through the water and down the tree to the roots buried in the mud at the bottom of the lake. I felt myself start to cry. That sound—that bass vibration—was how it called the shadow.

I knew if I looked around, I would see the shadow coming. I’d see it go from a shadow to a form to the monster that—

Monsters live in the darkness.

I squeezed my eyes shut and started flailing my arms. When I thought I was far enough away from that skeleton tree, I kicked my legs. My lungs started burning long after they should have. My chest was heaving, trying to make me take a breath. My mind tried to sabotage me: What if I was swimming down instead of up? Or sideways, just below the surface? How could I tell with my eyes closed?

The water started swirling around me, and I knew the shadow was at my side. The shadow had chased me right into the trap. I’d swam down instead of up, down into the dead village under the dead trees. They were waiting, waterlogged hands, no more solid than pudding in their gooey froglike skin, ready to grab me. I’d be just one more dead girl in their dead village.

When the first hand closed around my ankle, I took a deep breath, ready to scream, but ended up choking on lake water. As I coughed and heaved, an arm encircled my waist. It wasn’t cold, rotting pudding under gooey frog skin. It was solid, and warm, and hairy.

“Here, take her.”

Rough hands grabbed me by the elbows.

“Got her.”

I opened my eyes. My dad’s friend Ray was pulling me into the boat, Mom hovering over his shoulder. As soon as he laid me on the deck, she pushed to my side.

“Honey, are you okay?” she said. I couldn’t answer because I was still choking. She started pounding me on the back. “Thank goodness your daddy hopped off after you fell.”

“Dad?” I choked out. He was holding onto the ladder at the back of the boat. “Dad!” I screamed it in my broken voice. “Get out of the—”

“Lie back, honey, Daddy’s coming,” Mom said.

“—get out of the water! There’s a monster!”

“Don’t worry, kid,” Dad said, swinging a legful of water onto the deck as he climbed up. “It was just an old tree.”

He came and sat on the deck by me and pulled me into his lap. His body was hot and the carpet of his chest hair rubbed against my face. I never felt so safe in my life.

“Jeez, Deeanne, give her a little space,” he told Mom. She backed up. “See, kid, before they were lakes, lakes were valleys with rivers or creeks running through them. During the Depression, a lot of people got put to work building dams and flooding some of those valleys so we could have lakes. They didn’t cut down the trees or tear down the houses or nothing. Most of that stuff they just left.”

But I knew all that before he told me. They’d been after me. They wanted me to join them.

“So, it wasn’t a monster at all, kiddo. It was just a tree.” He sat me down like that explained that and there was nothing to worry about. “There ain’t any monsters.”

But I know what I’d seen below the surface of the water as he climbed into the boat. The shadow had come just close enough to my daddy to get a taste of his scent.


Dad died four years later. He, Ray, and a couple of their buddies were night fishing when he fell out of the johnboat. The police report said he’d had too much to drink. He was too drunk to swim and his friends were too drunk to save him. It was a regular Let This Be a Lesson to You ending the way the papers printed it. The searchers were unable to recover his body.

For years I woke up screaming from the same nightmare: Daddy tripping into the blackness of the water from the johnboat. Daddy laughing bubbles and trying to swim to the surface. His foot hitting an old dead tree. The thunk vibrating through the water. The shadow. The dead village. Arms made of rotting pudding in frog skin closing around his shoulders.

They couldn’t find my dad because he had become part of the dead village. I didn’t tell Mom.


Would you believe...

These are the most recent things I was going to do with my life:
1. Steampunk out those mini-laptops (and whatever other electronics I could) for people.

2. Re-learn the guitar, then learn the banjo, fiddle, and harmonica. Start a bluegrass band.

3. Open a coffee shop in Kirksville called "eden" and pretend like me and the coffee shop were mystically connected. I'd try to be in the same mood as the coffee shop and somehow get the idea across to the patrons that it was part of me.

I really threw myself into these ideas. For about three or four days apiece, I was SO committed that I looked up material costs, made plans, talked to realtors about buildings...you get the picture.

Remember when this was a blog about cooking? That was another idea that didn't pan out. I'm kind of wondering what my next big thing will be.


Operation Narcissus

Well, I haven't written in about fifty years. I attribute this to no longer being interested in cooking (or maybe never having been very interested in cooking).

One of my friends and co-alumni from Pratt says that Facebook is the vanity of vanities. I agree. And, I thought, what's more narcissistic than Facebook? Easy answer: a blog. So I got one. Now I'm turning my blog into something without any semblance of interest in the world outside myself. The only connecting thread between posts will probably be that I'm writing them and that they're indulging in the fantasy that people want to read what I have to write. (Maybe it's even more deeply narcissistic than I thought. Maybe I don't even care if other people read what I wrote.)

I imagine there will probably still be lots about the different kinds of coffee because--for some reason--that seems to be a large part of my personality.

Anyway, enjoy.


A Short Story I Wrote Instead of Cooking Anything

The Woman Alone
I’m a pretty boring person when I’m alone. I do a little karate around the apartment, sing, talk to my cats, and read. If there’s a TV, I watch TV. When my husband dies—whether I’m old or young—I’ll just go on being boring and alone. I imagine that, if I’m still here, I’ll learn to use his saws and drills. I’ll learn to make furniture and continue his business and become self-sufficient. I’ll learn to drive in this city without getting distracted. Or maybe I’ll take a job at my school, work forty-hour weeks, and pray to God that I can pay the rent. I don’t think I would pick his dirty clothes up off the floor or delete his woodworking stuff from the computer.

How would time pass when it was just me? Slowly, probably, like a fingernail dragged across a bloody scrape. Boring and painful. Someone waiting at a stoplight that won’t turn green. I’ll have to turn the television on for noise.

Of course, if I was alone here and died the kittens would probably start eating me before anyone wondered what the smell was.

Maybe then they’d fly me home and bury me in the graveyard behind my parents’ house. Or maybe in the cemetery where Granny’s buried. But if my husband is already dead, he will have been buried in a graveyard back home, too. Most likely, they’ll bury me with him. And that’s what I would prefer. Not because I believe that means we’ll be together in the afterlife, but for the symbolism. There in the mud our bodies decompose while our souls sing “Glory to God” in Heaven.

It’s not such a bad way to spend eternity.


Where'd all the chicken go?

Well, the truth is that there never was any chicken. Or maybe chicken was just a myth, like ice (Spongebob Reference #1). Since last we talked, the aforementioned depression has kept me too bogged down to cook anything more complicated than fish sticks. When I wasn't stuck to the couch trying to stop crying, I was drinking or smoking or crawling out of bed with a sore throat and hangover. If you're wondering about the boozing and smoking, there's a simple explanation: I've decided to take my anger at my depression out on my body. But on the off chance that you're a writer, too, I won't bore you with the details. Chances are you already know this cycle intimately. I will say that I survived the worst of this last down. Maybe some day there will be chicken, but for now I have too many important things to think about. Namely Nacho Cheese Macaroni, my newest invention.

The theory behind it: I like pasta and I love queso y salsa, so why not combine them? It seems like hamburger might go well with this. A kind of Mexican goulash. I think I'll work on a prototype Friday or Saturday night and let you know how it turned out.
Via con pollo, amigos.