Archive | Country Matters

Grace and Taxes

Today I spent hours on the phone with the IRS while in desperate need of a super-rare hamburger—and, yes, that’s a euphemism for my period and the attendant horrible no-good cramps. I’m not sure why I bother to euphemize  menstruation-related matters anymore, and, yes, pretend “euphemize” is a word BECAUSE IT BLOODY WELL SHOULD BE.

See what I did there?

Well. The agent was beautifully human with my financially disordered self, and after we arrived at an arrangement that drew less blood than I’d feared, I had an impromptu americano with a friend in the pretty late-afternoon sun. Now I’m putting together a midweek cod-potato-kale casserole to roast in the cast-iron. Permakitten is weaving between my legs mewing companionably and we’re both watching the sun set from my kitchen window, apricot and rose and indigo, deeper and deeper indigo. I’m wearing a velvet robe for the first time this fall and considering a glass of wine and it’s dawning on me: This is middle-age, isn’t it? Equally harrowing and cozy, with the good grace to register all graces, big and small.
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Ahoy Maties Cod-Kale-Potato Cast-Iron Casserole.
(I made up this recipe so I guess it’s my prerogative to give it a goofy title.)
Very thinly slice potatoes and toss with thyme, sea salt, olive oil. Arrange on cast iron pan, and roast for 30 min at 425 F. Meanwhile pull cod out of fridge so it comes to room temperature and prep with salt, pepper, herbs. (Tonight I liked chopped parsley and thyme.) Pull out cast iron and top potatoes with a layer of thinly chopped kale tossed with olive oil and lemon and then layer cod filets on top of that. Roast approximately 12 min, let cool for another 5, and voila! Serve with wine, hot sauce, afghans.

A Parade of Cousins

Furry cousin

Ever since I uploaded my big green post, life has opened back up and I’m grateful. What I remembered–and it shouldn’t have taken so long to recall this fact–is that my adoration of strangers does not preclude other sorts of communion. Also I forgot my most ardent belief: we are all cousins.

The cousin dynamic is my favorite model of human relationship, because it implies an innate connection that, as my shrink puts it, “does not affect the matrix of your life.” Parents and siblings and children can fuck you up, but a cousin just lends life an extra glow. And if you don’t resonate, it’s no skin off anyone’s back. You wave across a room and leave it at that.

I always think about what my second cousin Martine Rothblatt said when we met. One of the first transgender women in the United States to undergo reassignment surgery, she had been a tall, brainy lad known by my dad as “Cousin Marty” when they were coming up. (Rubenfire was their grandmother.) Given how estranged I was from my clan, I’d been reading about Martine in gender theory classes and magazines (she’s also famous for launching Sirius Radio and the transhumanism movement) long before I realized we were related. After I did, I mentioned her in a book review, and she made her way to Brooklyn from Central Park Avenue South so we could meet in person. Continue Reading →

The Human Condition Is a Home State

All the interesting characters I’ve ever worked with–including myself–have had at their center a feeling of otherness, of homesickness. And it’s wonderful to watch someone finally open that forbidden door that has kept him or her away. What gets exposed is not people’s baseness but their humanity. It turns out that the truth, or reality, is our home.

But you can’t get to any truths by sitting in a field smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not to enter. When we have gone in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in–then we will be able to speak in our own voice and to stay in the present moment. And that moment is home.--Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

I am still upstate and spent last Saturday with music pouring out of my car speakers while I wound through great green and gold roads, indigo hills rising in the foreground, wildflowers waving hello. Ostensibly I was tag-saling (tag-sailing!), and in fact scored better than I usually do. Mostly, though, I was seeking a small adventure in the netherland between Columbia County, New York, and the Berkshires–between my chosen state and home state, respectively. I experienced my usual thrill when I saw the “Welcome to Massachusetts” sign, and my usual frustration when confronted with the parsimony of people from my native state. “One dollar, twenty five cents,” announced the older white man with shark eyes and shaking hands as I showed him the wares I wished to purchase at a church rummage sale. “So much?” I said, and flashed the lipsticky grin that opens all kinds of doors on the island of Nueva Berserk. “Now, where are you from,” he said slowly, and I could just tell he was wishing he’d charged me one hundred dollars and twenty five cents. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy