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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Ralph is on the bike so I have something like 30 minutes to think of something brilliant to say before it will be time to start dinner, but nothing has occurred to me today at all except how much I want to go back to sleep.

Do you know what I want to write about? Brussels sprouts. But that’s two words.

Don’t think I didn’t consider putting them together, or calling them two words but one thing. My rules.

I don’t want to be profound today. I don’t want to think at all. I’m fundamentally exhausted. I could fall asleep right now and be perfectly content. Don’t even care if I eat dinner, which is saying something.

I walked around all day saying words to myself, waiting for something to stick. Toothbrush. Potato. Black. Small. Coconut.

Random thing I remember: my father opening coconuts with a hammer. I don’t know how you’re supposed to open them or if a hammer is the thing. I just remember it was very cool even if I never liked coconut.

Here’s when I like coconut: on top of a cookie or in a brownie.

Just eating it out of the shell is super dry and you can chew it forever and never really get anywhere. It’s the everlasting gobstopper of plants.

Random. Maybe the word is random. Maybe I can literally just say random things and call it brilliant, like someone who paints a whole canvas black and people stare into it like it’s an abyss of creativity.

See, thinking about coconuts actually helped.

My mother told me today that she never won a game of checkers with my grandfather. She can’t believe I actually did. She said, “He must have blinked.”

I think I might just go ahead and use random. It means I don’t have to think about anything, really. I can just think about everything.

So let’s see, so far we have coconut, and checkers.

My reboot is going nicely. All two days of it. I finished a second book. Which is the second I’ve finished this year. Two months, two books. Pretty sad. But less sad than it was two days ago.

I didn’t put all the things in my mouth today even though I periodically wanted to. You know what I’ve been having a love affair with lately? Daikon radishes. I just peel them and eat them like candy. And carrots, but really the carrots from the Farmers Market. They are quite a bit more delicious than what comes out of the supermarket.

I know I have said this before, but it’s ridiculously true. Mostly.

The only thing I had from the Farmers Market that I thought well, it tastes like it’s supposed to, is Brussels sprouts. See, I get to talk about Brussels sprouts!

The universe shines on me.

I love Brussels sprouts.

Love love love.

Ralph has grown to appreciate them depending on how they are cooked. He likes them how I have been making them lately, with bacon and a little maple syrup.

I love them just roasted with some olive oil but Ralph hates hates hates the smell of Brussels sprouts cooking.

Random thing I remember about Brussels sprouts: the last time I roasted them, which was the last time I roasted them, he woke me up at 2 in the morning and made me get out of bed to clean the oven and air out the kitchen.

That’s how much he hates the smell of Brussels sprouts.

He also used to be pretty vocal about his dislike of them, so much that someone once mailed us a single Brussels sprout as a joke.

But if I cook them with bacon on the stove in a cast iron, he likes them.

It took me a long time to learn that it’s spelled Brussels, with an s.

Brussels sprouts from the Farmers Market taste about how I expect them to taste. But carrots, those are delightful. They’re sweet and beautifully crunchy and so, so carroty. It’s like if you had a carrot flavored carrot.

Sometimes things you get at the grocery store have all the flavor sucked out of them so they merely approximate the thing you’re supposed to be eating, but they don’t really get you very excited about eating them.

No wonder most of us eat boxes of Oreos. At least we can count on them being deliciously the same no matter if they come from a Walgreens in Tennessee or a Shoprite in New Jersey.

There are no Shoprites here. Just Kroger. I despise Kroger. It’s gross and the produce is ugly and unfresh and ungood.

Also I don’t know what they do to their private label stuff but it’s really the worst ever. I usually don’t mind store brand stuff, and it’s usually a ton cheaper than other options. But Kroger just does it wrong.

Their butter, I have no idea what lab they dreamt it up in, but it doesn’t melt so much as crumble into little fat globules. It’s like a stick of barely edible candle wax.

Their sliced bread is a bag of yeast with some chemicals to hold it together.

And forget their cheese, it’s a sacrilege even to call it food, let alone cheese.

So I am done buying their brand of stuff. It’s an abomination.

My word is random which should really be random things about food because that is what I think about all day.

Random thing I’m looking forward to: strawberry season (food!!)

Also April. Things are going to be different in April. One day that will be a story. For now it’s a hope and a plan.

I was going to say “an expectation” but I hate having those because they never seem to work out.

I’m also looking forward to setting the clocks forward so we can have some daylight after work to maybe get out of the house and walk in the world instead of always on the treadmill.

Random thing I love: sunflowers.

Ralph is done with the bike and is buzzing his head. It started with Covid and not being able to get a haircut and now it’s just a thing. Sometimes I want to buzz my head. Sometimes it seems like the most rebellious thing I can think to do that won’t haunt me for the rest of my life. Like getting a tattoo. You could easily regret that, and be stuck with a giant fish on your arm for the rest of your life to remind you.

But I could shave my head and it will grow back eventually.

Why would I do that? Because sometimes you get in a mood to blow something up and that’s the best you can do.

Sometimes I want to blow up my whole life. Do something radical that changes everything because even if it’s worse, it’s not this.

Where “this” is whatever I’ve been doing. That’s when I think I will just shave my head and pretend to be subversive.

But Ralph would have a heart attack, and I’d have to answer a lot of questions on a lot of Zoom calls, and that would be too exhausting.

I mean, can you imagine explaining that you wanted to blow something up over and over and over…

It would probably make me want to blow something up.

Maybe things will blow up in April.

Do you know what I randomly wonder? How do people live in a house with one bathroom? I mean, what if someone is in there, and some people can be in there for a long time, and you really have to pee?

There are a few things that give me a lot of anxiety in life. One, is taking an elevator. Two, is having to pee. Worse, is having to pee while taking an elevator.

If there is an alternative, I will not take an elevator by myself. I have gone to great lengths to avoid taking elevators. There was a hotel we stayed at a lot, where the elevator squeaked so badly it sounded like it was going to come off the hinges any second, but they had no stairs. Well, they had emergency stairs but not stairs you could access for everyday going up and down. So if I had to go up, I went to the service desk and asked them to send someone to unlock the security doors for me so I could take the stairs. And if I had to go down, say for a bottle of water or a sandwich, I took the emergency stairs… out the back of the hotel into the parking lot, then I walked around the hotel and came in the front door.

It’s ridiculous.

I won’t take an elevator by myself if I can avoid it, and I won’t take an elevator if I have to pee, period. The only thing in life that I can imagine that’s worse than getting stuck in an elevator is getting stuck in an elevator and having to pee.

As I was writing that I was trying to remember if our first apartment had two bathrooms. It did.

Just a tiny half bath for the “master” but it was sufficient.

We lived there for maybe two years before buying our house and that is a whole random series of events right there. Being newly married and feeling all home-maker-y like you do, I painted every wall in that apartment myself. Some beige pinkish color in the living room. Bright yellow in the kitchen. Pink-and-purple in the office.

I stenciled ivy vines along the tops of the walls when I had time to do things like stencil ivy vines along the tops of walls.

I was teaching then, and even though it consumed my time and attention after hours and on weekends and even on our honeymoon, it did not consume nearly as much as running my own business and working for “myself.”

Being newly married and feeling all manly-toolset-ish like you do, Ralph made shelves and hung curtains. I have pictures of him with a saw to prove it, though that was the last time we owned a saw. By the time we moved into our house we took a very healthy “call the man” approach to getting things done.

I don’t remember a ton about that apartment but I do remember the colors, bless their souls. And I remember the day we got our cats and Ralph told me to sit down and close my eyes and he plunked these two squirmy things down onto my lap that wanted nothing more than to get off my lap as quickly as possible. They had colds when we got them, so we spent the first week of their lives with us cleaning up adorable kitty snot from everything they sneezed on.

That was also when I learned that there is nothing you can do to stop a cat from doing what they want to do, no matter how many internet tricks you try to keep them off your counters or out of your potted plants.

One of the best random memories from that apartment was when my brother David came to visit. He was born when I was 16 so he always felt like my baby more than my brother. I used to wheel him around in his stroller and just wait for people to tell me what a cute baby I had.

Random thing I said to my mother when I was 15: I really want a baby.

Random thing you should probably not say to your mother when you are 15, if you want her to live until you’re 16: I really want a baby.

I got a baby brother.

David came to stay with us during the summer and I was doing a morning summer camp at the time. We had a sofa bed in the living room where he slept, so I would get up very quietly in the morning and go out to summer camp while Ralph went out to work, and David would stay and sleep until I got home and then we would play.

I don’t remember exactly how it started, but I do remember that when I would come home from camp, he would be gone. And I would hunt him down and find him from wherever he was hiding in our tiny three room apartment. Either he was very good or we had a lot of clutter to hide behind, or both, because it wasn’t always obvious where he was.

One day, I came home and saw a big fwump of blankets on the sofa bed and thought oh, he’s still sleeping. I was very quiet, and sat down at the dining room table two feet away to do some writing. Even then, with the words.

Some time went by. I wondered if he was ever going to get up.

More time went by. At some point I looked up to see him walking out of my bedroom.

I looked at the sofa bed. The fwump of blankets was just that. Blankets. But bundled up in such a way that I had thought he was still sleeping.

He wasn’t sleeping. He was hiding, and waiting for me to find him.

He had managed to empty out the cabinet in my tiny half master bathroom and contort himself into it. And there he stayed, crumpled up in a dark bathroom cabinet, waiting for me to find him while I waited for him to wake up.

I think about that and don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

He was so proud of his hiding spot that day and I wrecked the game.

Poor David.

That was almost 25 years ago and to this day I have a glass jar filled with tiny stones and seashells that we collected at the beach together. We went walking that day, and we were on the beach with our sneakers on, but all the good little stones and shells were out where the waves touched the shore just as they washed back out.

So we would wait for the waves to wash back out then run to the edge and scoop up a handful of stones and shells then run back as fast as we could so our shoes wouldn’t get wet.

We beat a lot of waves that day. Maybe even one or two beat us.

Sometimes cool things pop up in your head when you let it wander over random thoughts.

Random thing I wish: that we could go back to Olema and spend a whole year in Sunflower Cottage.

Random thing I don’t like: tequila.

It’s kind of fun.

You could make an argument that this whole project is most of a random thought, whatever pops into my head on any given day. But some days you have to follow them down a rabbit hole and see where they lead.

Which reminds me, did I ever tell you about the rabbits, and the ducks in the bathtub?

Photo: my beautiful girl, who learned early on that it was perfectly ok for her to go anywhere and do anything she wanted. On this day she was helping me bake cookies.