I am hoping that reading The Age of Revolution will make up for the fact that I went to a college with no requirements and know less about history than I would like. I felt optimistic that it will be a step in the right direction, or a direction. Plus there is a great deal of sluggery one can get away with when one can reliably respond: “I’m reading a classic history text” when asked, “Why have you not yet gotten up?”
Merle, my blue heeler, who is 14 and generally prefers to be lying down, was uncharacteristically alive to the sounds of human activity. She came in from the living room, hopeful about food. I drank some water, fed her, and went back to sleep. At 9:30, after many weird dreams I don’t remember, I woke up again.
We were out of coffee. This was a tragedy on one hand but also good, because we had to go to the coffee shop in town. I brought Lucky Jim with me and struggled through it.
I do think Lucky Jim is funny but it’s also extremely hard to follow. Jim could be a bit more plainspoken every now and then as far as I’m concerned. I read the scene where he calls up Professor Welch’s house looking for his awful son Bertrand and then pretends to be a newspaper reporter. I laughed out loud several times. Tor, my boyfriend, was reading something called Revolutionary Yiddishland, which he has told me the gist of several times and I keep forgetting. This is a dig against me, not the book. I can’t remember anything anymore unless it concerns me fairly exclusively, it seems.
We split an egg on toast and each drank two Americanos. I love going to the coffeeshop and reading with Tor on a Sunday. There is nothing better.
Coffee shop patrons kept coming in with plants, boxes of basil and other things. Apparently there was a plant sale next door. A friend of ours showed up recently and, to thank us in advance for staying here this summer, when it gets too hot at her place in the valley, she planted us a tiny garden. We decided we would buy some basil, apparently it is easy to grow.
I find gardening a challenge. I don’t mind watering things but it seems there is more to it, and my instinct for it is almost non-existent. Cooking and cleaning are easy for me, both a dirty kitchen and a stocked one, or even understocked one, fill me with energy and purpose. When I stand in a garden I just want to cry. What does one do? When? How?
After we bought the basil—and some mugwort, just for fun because we ran into a new friend who told us it would make our dreams better, and I am just hippie enough to try that out—I wrote our gardener friend in the valley a Happy Mothers’ Day message. The subtext of it was “come plant these plants, help.” She wrote back “thanks” and I said, “feel free to visit any time.”
Back at home I put the chicken thighs I’d been marinating in buttermilk, cumin, salt and chili powder into the slow cooker and cleaned the kitchen. Tor made a salad of eggs, celery, lettuce, and cannellini beans and I ate it while editing a story I wrote last week. Tor looked at some properties in our area and we agreed they were all in danger of burning down and we should buy a piece of land with very few trees on it and live in a concrete block at the center of it. Merle just lay there with her eyes open.
I kept working on my story well into the afternoon. I love the part of revising when something is already fine and you’re just making it better. I don’t mean like, oh, this thing I wrote is perfect and I’m just polishing it. I mean when you’re at the point where the thing generally makes sense and you could stop, but you’re actually interested enough to keep going.
I sat outside and every once in a while Merle would come out on the porch and stare at me and then go back inside. Merle loves to stare at people. She is very old. I tell myself I am prepared for her death but when I realize that she will never stare at me again I don’t know what I will do. So for now I try to savor her stares.
We had rice and chicken for dinner and I invented a dressing out of yogurt, dill, lemon juice, salt, and a little bit of oil. Tor said it tasted like ranch. I said I wished. We watched a detective show from Belgium. It was stupid. We turned it off. I went back to Hobsbawm. That name is a real tongue twister. I read a section about how most of the noblemen of Europe actually agreed that the serfdom and serfdom-esque systems in place needed to be reformed but that they didn’t do anything about it. It kind of reminded me of all the people that are like “I’m a total Marxist, that’s why I want X to be president.”
Anyway, things only actually changed after the French Revolution. That’s what Hobsbawm says, anyway.
I took Merle on a tiny walk. She can only go on tiny walks. She rummaged in the bushes with her short snout. “Merle, no,” I said. She ignored me so I pulled on her leash. She peed, and as she did she looked up at me with her sweet pleading eyes.
“You’re my small infant,” I said. “Forever and ever.”