Saturday, January 27, 2007

Damn, It Is Cold In Here!

This has been my outfit for most of today. That is the best thing in this weather about cooking an elaborate brunch for when your husband wakes, is that the kitchen gets hot and you can finally remove your hat and put your hair up: then take off your coat and scarf, and then cast aside the sweater while you fry the mashed potato cakes, saving them for last. (Are you aware of the wonder that is mashed potato cakes? For breakfast? mash some potatoes, form them into patties, dredge in salty-peppery flour, and FRY THEM IN A SKILLET! They might as well be dredged in Valium, such is the soporific bliss they produce.)

Today has been a perfect day. I have been cooking a lot lately and I love it and it relaxes me, so I decided to have brunch ready when Trey got up: the aforementioned mashed potato cakes, tempeh sausage with fennel, scrambled tofu with cumin and turmeric, lots of coffee. Cooking is finally something I do well -- something that is not what other people do. Why is this the theme of my life? stringing together the moments of I am allowed to exist! I am allowed to do what other people do! -- sing, write checks, wear lipstick, parse a map, knit a scarf, write a melody, invent a pesto.

I am back in all my layers -- reading Judith Krantz, sipping Picpoul, winding yarn, feeling good. I will be 35 this summer. That is like, kinda old, you know? And I feel, freezing in my house, that this is the best and it will only get better. I have my pinky and ring nails painted 2 different colors and I need to do the dishes and I had planned to drag the keyboard out from under the bed and work on stuff, which is probably not going to happen.

I have been thinking of when my mom turned 35. My uncle made her a funny card in rainbow magic marker -- the "3" and "5" popped out from the background, glued to makeshift folded paper springs. I packed it with her things last May. How funny that at that age she had two girls, was an army wife in an unparseable marriage .. in some ways I am having a life I think she might have wanted more. Fauxhemian, loved ... I will never know. All I can do is love her. Pretend she could call me on the phone, like we are neighbors: yes yes I know, yes yes come over. This is how I think these days. We were neighbors for a very long time: the ova that was to be me was inside her when she was just an embryo, matrilineage an infinite regress of Russian, protoplasmic dolls.

Open letter to the ladies: I am here to tell you that, despite or in fact because of, so take a deep breath:

You are going to be a lot like your mother. Resistance is futile! And resistance is a waste of time. Because all the time you spend resisting is time you could be spending just doing things. There is going to be massive Venn-diagram overlap between you and your mother, and the sooner you stop caring about that the sooner you can just be YOU, and just BE, without fearing that the deterministic police are at the door, ready to arraign you for being an embarrassment to yourself.

How tragic and embarrassing that I hated myself for being like my mother for so long. Needing to be "creative," needing to be loved, needing to be significant. We are practically the same. And look what happened! I am a failed actress working in an office job where I am a beloved eccentric: my mother was a failed visual artist fondly remembered by all her co-workers at the defense company as being "a real free spirit." Honestly, and I realize this only in this second -- I inherited my mother's shame at being talented. Raised in a violent and abusive family where she was shit upon for being special, she must have passed her fear for me on with her milk. No wonder I feel the need to vomit or self-injure whenever I try to write. Holy shit -- she didn't intend to make me feel bad for being alive: she just reflexively knew how scary it was and misjudged. She tried to protect me the best way she knew how: Don't ask for too much, don't trust, don't trust!!

Freezing in our apartment, dressed like an urchin and surrounded by dirty dishes, ersatz chotchkes, teetering stacks of books, I put my ear to the ground and hear the thundering happiness approach ...

I am the oldest, the happiest, the richest, the most in love I have ever been. The landlord grunts and thumps upstairs; the radiator expectorates; gold dust rains from the sky.


Blogger spillah said...

Dear Lillet,
This is the best post ever. I just emailed it to myself so that I can have it forever and always and read to myself in moments of high confusion. Not only are you your mother and I mine, but yours just as mine.
And mashed potato cakes as close to God as anything.

4:01 PM  
Blogger spillah said...

That should be, yours is just as mine.

11:03 PM  
Blogger spillah said...

And mashed potato cakes ARE as close to God as anything.

11:03 PM  
Anonymous z. said...

This post makes me all squirmy, because it is so true for me as well. Thanks.

Did you get my email? I may not have sent it to the right address (I was typing by memory)... email me & let's get a drink! zeebahtronicatgmail

11:59 AM  
Blogger Todd HellsKitchen said...

I'm wearing my hoodie as I read your blog today...!

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Amanda said...

Sweet post.

And I love mashed potato cakes (:

1:36 PM  
Blogger Ashbloem said...

This is just beautiful. Though I'm still resisting the mom thing.

11:00 AM  

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