April 21, 2019
I can tell the weather is warming up because my usual night-time gear—sweatshirt and sweatpants—was starting to make me too hot, a fact which will be double-confirmed later in this chronicle when my broccoli rabe turns out to have “bolted,” or begun to turn its energy towards making seeds instead of delicious stalks and leaves. Broccoli rabe is a cool-weather plant, something I will watch multiple youtube videos to confirm. At the moment, I am still sitting at my computer in the early morning dark, letting minutes and hours slip away into scattered work and whatever it is one does on one’s computer.
Breakfast was eggs, kale, and crispy-fried potatoes. Much of the kale has turned yellowish—and my arugula was totally ruined—because I have a bad habit of leaving it out on the counter to be warmed and molder. I’m sure the kale is mostly fine, but I mostly just crisp the yellow bits. As I serve the two fried eggs—crispy on one side, briefly flipped to cook the other side—I observe that my half is the shape of California, with a yolk for the Bay area and a yolk for LA/San Diego, and then I observe that I have allowed Jefferson to secede from this California, as the Bay Area is too high along the coast. My map-related breakfast scintillations are received with a generous spirit. We spatter our eggs with sriracha.
We’d been talking about making a day trip to Butte county and today seemed likely to be the day, until it turned out not to be the day. Instead, there are family discussions to be had and it is generally acknowledged that a day of less, rather than more, activity is called for. We sit on the front porch, in the bright sun, and discuss. We bring the dogs out, briefly, and they wish very much to access the sidewalk and street, but we do not let them.
At some point, we sing the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme song to Pequod, who howls along. For some reason, this has emerged as the default song to sing to get him to howl, both because it has the right kind of sound to get him started—lots of bwaaaah bwah bwah bwah-bwah-bwah-bwah—but also because it sort of captures his whole thing.
Other things I consider doing: going on a long bike ride, going for a run, going to Golden Gate Fields and watching people watch horse races. In the end, I will not do these things. I do a little garden work in the back yard and discover that my larger tomato plant is starting to fall over and clearly needs a wire-support. The flowering vines on the fence need pruning, and I do a very half-ass job of that, but better than nothing. My broccoli rabe is toast, basically; I offer the flowers to Lili, who does not want them, so I eat them. They are, actually, they’re pretty good, very tasty.
It is a very nice day, so—about 45 minutes after I had said I was going to, having repeatedly gotten distracted—I go for a walk. Instead of stopping in at the bookstore I used to work at—though I can’t help but peek in and see who’s working—I continue on to La Boulangerie, which has cheerful orange tables. Even though it is 2:30—and I usually don’t drink coffee after noon—I drink a cappuccino and read my book, Ida Jessen’s A Change in Time at one of the cheerful orange tables. It’s a novel about a Danish widow in 1927, whose husband—a provincial doctor—seemed like he kind of sucked, but also, it’s really hard to have your life radically altered by the loss of your husband. But also, it’s not clear whether he sucked a lot, or whether he just sucked the normal amount; is this novel about A Woman’s Emancipation From Patriarchy or just about a shitty marriage and the mixed grief of losing a flawed husband.
I am struck by this passage, and tweet it:
I considered tweeting something like “if you like Sally Rooney and Elena Ferrante then you might like this book” since there really are moments that reminded me of both writers—a close and careful but opaque focus on banalities of everyday life of a woman who doesn’t quite seem to know herself, first, and a broader thematic attention to What Does It Mean For A Woman To Write?—but those kinds of comparisons are ridiculous, really; all writers are kind of similar to each other and none of them are, and comparisons are too easy to actually be helpful. But if you like Sally Rooney and Elena Ferrante, maybe Ida Jessen’s A Change In Time is your next book.
Instead, Kiprop wants to know whether there’s something funny about how that “fried egg” is being used, and you know what, there is; “a fried egg” or “fried eggs” would seem to be the way, but “fried egg” implies that eggs are an amount rather than a quantity and, friends, they are a quantity.
Across the street, I purchased a tomato cage, telling the hardware store person that I wanted “a tomato cage” and he directed me to the tomato cage aisle; throughout, I have had the feeling that “tomato cage” is not the correct term, and yet, having successfully procured the object in question using it, who am I to deny that the English language—its meaning being normatively, not prescriptively construed—now contains this usage, if it didn’t before.
On my way home, I bought an ice cream cone for Lili from the gas station nearest our house, and the guy who is always there—I have never seen anyone else there—was reading a Koran, and said “Happy Easter” in a very formulaic way. Struggling for something to say, I asked him if Islam has “Easter” as a holiday, a really dumb question, but when you’re having an awkward conversation with the always-friendly guy at the gas station where you purchase ice cream cones on occasion, you sometimes find words coming out of your face that are really stupid. Yes, he answered, and began explaining Ramadan to me, at great length. He really did go on at some length, and I just wanted an ice cream cone, but there was an occasion for me to observe (stupidly) that fasting was good for the body, and ice cream wasn’t. Easter Mubarak.
When I got home, it transpired that I had purchased a chocolate ice cream cone, and Lili doesn’t like chocolate ice cream. I eat it.