Oct 30 2009


We got a break in the clouds today for a couple hours and I forced myself to take a walk. Seeking a bit of solitude and anonymity, I drove over to Lake of the Isles for a change of scenery. The wind was capricious, whipping the water into a feisty chop and sending the leaves skittering for their lives, like hordes of movie extras in Godzilla.

At one point, I saw a chubby dredlocked young woman give the finger to the back of a lanky hipster guy wearing skinny jeans as he slunk past her on the path. He had no idea she had given him the finger and she had no idea I had seen her give him the finger. I’m pretty sure they didn’t know each other, but I suppose if they had, it would have made more sense. Only to me, it made complete sense. She had the look of someone wearily trying to whip herself into shape. His very existence was an affront to her, for no other reason than the fact that he cut through her line of vision, sending a ripple through her foul mood. 

Being privy to this unguarded personal moment, this human hiccup, this hasty gesture, I couldn’t help feeling a sense of kinship with the chubby woman because I too am wont to a bit of the behind-the-back-finger-giving. Nuns, teachers, librarians, my parents, a partner at my old law firm, pharmacists, drivers, volleyball coaches. One time Doctor Dash turned around abruptly on his way to the garage after we had argued and caught me flying the infamous double fisted fingers. I know, how mature of me. Can you imagine glancing behind you and seeing your wife in the window giving you not one, but two frenzied pumping fingers? It’s absurd and simply one of those things Doctor Dash has long ago learned to accept and ignore. You can believe I holstered those puppies pretty quickly, feeling more than a little sheepish.

The truth is, sometimes we need a way to say fuck you, with out saying fuck you. We need the release, but we need it to dissipate, to flutter away in the wind like a dry leaf. To have it land, to have it stick, would be inflammatory, unfair, rude, hurtful. The Lake of the Isles finger had nothing to do with the guy and everything to do with the girl. I know how these things go, so I veered off the path rather than pass her. If the hipster slinker pissed her off, the yoga pants power walker might just have put her over the edge, possibly into double fisted pumper terrain. And who wants that comin’ at their back?

Oct 30 2009

Love you long time: an ode to short ribs

Last week Chief Big Voice swept into town on the heels of a wretched weather pattern that is stubbornly still plaguing us. As far as he’s concerned, Minneapolis and Seattle could pretty much be interchangeable based on the furrowed brow of rain clouds our city has sported on his last two visits. Alas, I can’t control the weather no matter how much I suck up to Mama Nature on this blog. What I can do, is control what we eat and I can think of no better way to welcome an old friend, to love him up, than to cook. And so I did.

I don’t normally post recipes because, frankly, there are so many stellar food blogs out there that it would seem like pure hubris, which, ironically is what ruined my grilled pork chops. Hubris in that I bragged about how delicious they are, coming from such happy pigs as they do. The final coup de grâce: a few too many glasses of wine causing a break in the chain of custody. In criminal law, in order for evidence to be admissible, you have to document every transfer from person to person and prove that no one else could have accessed the evidence. In cooking law, in order for the pork to be delicious, you have to make sure that the last person to handle it before Doctor Dash takes it out to the grill is me, because I, apparently, am the only person who knows you have to salt the meat. YOU HAVE TO SALT THE MEAT. Something distracted me and Dash pulled the pork out of the fridge where it had been luxuriating in nothing more than a little garlic, rosemary and olive oil and threw it on the grill, assuming I had salted except that you never put salt in the marinade because that will dry out the meat. You salt right before you throw it on the grill, but since I didn’t touch the meat, I totally forgot and suffice it to say I was less than happy with our happy pig that night. Frustratingly, I couldn’t put my finger on it. Were the chops over cooked? Under cooked? Too rubbery? Not enough char? What what what???? It wasn’t until I was doing the dishes that it hit me! No salt! Of course! That’s why they tasted insipid AND were missing that fabulous little salty char crust. Salt is essential, for taste and texture. Never forget the salt. And always use way more salt than you think when it comes to meat. Luckily, Chief Big Voice had slathered his chop with my roasted cherry tomatoes with chorizo, kindly claiming he hadn’t noticed. Argh. 

I did, however, manage to make up for it the next night with some seriously delicious short ribs. Seriously. I cook a lot of meat in a lot of different ways and I might have to go out on a limb and say that this was the best thing I have ever ever ever made. I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen as a starting point because I seem to be constitutionally incapable of actually following a recipe to the letter. Much like Nanook, who sometimes refuses to read her book club selections, feeling it to be one of the last acts of rebellion left her, I refuse to follow recipes. I start out with every intention and then suddenly I realize I can’t find the port (infuriating because I know we have it and never drink it, so what better way to use it?) and all hell breaks loose and I’m digging around throwing whatever I want into the pot like some sort of enfant terrible chef who refuses to be boxed in.

There is something so satisfying about braising. I love the frenzy of chopping and searing and seasoning followed by the glugs of your concocted braising liquid and finally, slipping the lid on for hours of slow cooking that fills the house with the most heavenly aromas known to carnivores. It seems almost ridiculous that you can go about your day, knowing that what is in your pot is just getting better and better, richer, more tender fall-off-the-bone, more concentrated and savory. It’s the most delicious and magical form of multitasking I can think of.

 These short ribs are a two day process because you absolutely have to cool them in the fridge overnight to scrape off the inch of lard that forms on top. I’m sure if you follow the recipe, you’ll be over the moon. If you happen to be interested in my perverse culinary aberrations, then here they are: There is no need to finely chop the aromatics because they all get seived out anyway  - inch-sized chunks work fine. I think I threw half a fennel bulb in instead of the celery. I also reconstituted some dried porcini mushrooms and added them with the nasty, funky juices. Incidentally, do you know how awesome dried porcini mushrooms are? Any sauce or braise gets instant heft and depth and dark mysterious strangerness about it from their addition – just drown three or four or five or six of them in a bowl of hot water, let them hang out for a while and add the whole steamy deal to your pot, avoiding the bits of grit at the bottom of the bowl. Smells like bunk, but tastes like heaven – like fish sauce, dried shrimp, parmesan – all that soulful umami business. Ooof. Love. I know I polished off our bottle of Cholula hot sauce into the braising liquid. Why not, right? I toss a spoonful of dijon mustard into just about everything. I didn’t do the pearl onions because they bug me. I love the idea of serving the short ribs on a bed of swiss chard like Smitten Kitchen and next time I’ll try that. Instead I made mashed potatoes, spicy sauteed broccolini, and maple roasted squash. DO NOT forget the horseradish creme fraiche. I thought it seemed like gilding the lily, considering the richness of the short ribs, but the sauce brings a tang that plays beautifully with the ribs. I didn’t do the step where you quick roast the ribs because, honestly, I just wanted to serve them in their gravy – strong, dark, velvety and completely irresistible.

What came out of that pot after two days tasted like all that is good in life: long rainy afternoons of cooking, funny, woozy, gregarious meals with old friends and the knowledge that after every cooking mistake, awaits a cooking triumph.

Oct 26 2009

Forever Young

Take one.

On one end of the beach is a girl. She’s running with a huge smile on her face, her braces catching the light of the sun, the green rubber bands in her mouth strained to capacity. She’s wearing a plaid kilt, navy and dark green with thin lines of red and yellow, and an oversized white oxford shirt, tucked in only at the front. On her feet she wears knee socks pushed all the way down and loafers with one penny tucked in on heads, one on tails. The girl believes this to be a clever way of beating the odds of life. Under one sock around her ankle is a thick band of multicolored woven friendship bracelets. Months later when she grows tired of them she will cut them off and sew them to the pocket of her jean jacket. She is sporting a formidable lion’s mane of dark permed curls, scrunched to perfection, redolent of Vidal Sassoon styling mousse, bouncin’ and behavin’ as if they have a life of their own. She wears dangly earrings and a gold class ring bearing the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but is otherwise unadorned, save a scrunchy around her wrist. Her face is tan and line free. Everything is either a joke or a drama.

A woman is running toward the girl, if you can even call it running because she hasn’t done any cardio in ages and is a bit winded. Also, she’s wearing tall boots and skinny jeans, neither of which is particularly conducive to the long gazelle-like strides of the girl. No matter, thinks the woman, she’ll get to me eventually, running’s no good for my joints anyway. She watches the girl’s knock-kneed gait, her flailing arms, and wonders when she lost the unselfconsciousness, the joy of pounding the earth with the soles of her feet. Probably on this day, the day that sports died. The woman has gobs of gold jewelry stacked on her wrists and around her neck, some of it real, most of it faux, all of it gaining a certain je ne sais quois by virtue of being piled on in a more-is-more-mish-mosh, or so she thinks. One of the few perks of growing older, she believes, is the freedom to over do it with the jewelry and fur. Subtle, be damned, she thinks as she feebly slogs through the sand. Understated be damned. The woman’s hair is straightish, her future husband having extracted a vow in 1992 that she would never again perm her hair. Her face is no longer tan, no longer line free. Everything is still a joke or a drama, only less so. Or maybe more so.

There is no way to be sure anymore.

One thing and one thing only has brought the girl and the woman to the beach and set them on a collision course for each other: Jay Z’s Young Forever featuring Mr. Hudson.

CUUUUUT! That’s a wrap!

Holy buckets, Jay Z! This song is just TOOOO much! Do you know how much I used to love Alphaville? Do you have any idea how much I had to finagle to get Sister Church (her real name, no joke) to agree to let us sing this for our class ring ceremony Junior year?  Do you know that she made us replace “are you gonna drop the bomb or not” with “are you gonna sing the song or not”? Do you know that we stood in the chapel in our blue blazers and plaid skirts, our arms around each other, singing our hearts out in a teary crescendo until we were all sobbing in a florid display of adolescent group-think copy cat feminine hysteria? No, seriously, it’s true. This kind of stuff happens all the time at Catholic all-girls’ schools. Apparently, we wanted to be forever young, really really bad.

Listen, Jay Z, you better believe I’ve been trying to figure out my fascination with hip hop because, frankly, it’s vaguely unbecoming for a mother of three to drive around in her minivan with heavy base shaking the bumpers, my childrens’ heads, barely visible through the tinted windows nodding in rhythm to some seriously unsavory tunes like a bunch of bored hoods. I actually considered that I might be doing it out of peevishness. That I might be doing it because I like to imagine Lil’ Wayne standing on a corner and the look on his mug when I drive by with a little Mrs. Officer on deck. What’s that you say? Lil’ Wayne is totally down with Minnesota housewives? Good to know. I suspected this went beyond peevishness anyway. 

With this song, you helped me figure it out. Sweet Jay, you have managed to take the addled, melodramatic, swelling synthesizers of my teens, the anthem to long drawn out sighs, daydreaming and feverish journal writing and mash them up with your song (a doozy, by the way, well done). In a genius bit of alchemy, every thing I love about hip hop rose to the top like thick beautiful cream: First of all, it’s collaborative and creative. I love that artists are constantly showing up on each other’s tracks. It actually seems like the norm and I’d love to know how it happens. Do you guys text each other? Dude, I think you introduced me to Santigold with Brooklyn (Go Hard). I love that sampling is one of the building blocks of hip hop – there is nothing like decontextualizing something to give it a brand new shiny veneer, new legs, new life. I love that it’s about beats not tears, stories not drama (for me anyway). And sometimes it’s just about a party, unobscured hedonism. I love that it’s quick and dirty: the fastest way to a good time, to shakin’ my booty, to a laugh and a drink.

When I was a teen, the emotions were big and sweeping and all my synth pop seemed tailored made to wrap me up in a big blanket of ennui, all the better to wallow in. I’m done navel gazing. Now, I’m looking for a little relief from the monotony of emptying the dishwasher, of that umpteenth drive to soccer, of that mountain of clean laundry that needs to be folded. If a song makes me dance in my kitchen with my kids, makes me laugh, makes me blush, makes me lunge at the pause button so my kid doesn’t hear the rest of it, then that song is doing exactly what it needs to be doing for me.

So let’s dance in style, let’s dance for a while. Thanks for the memories, Jay.

Oct 21 2009

My Josephine.

0000908322-65664LThere is a woman. I don’t know her, but she intrigues me. It’s been awhile. It’s been awhile since I’ve been intrigued by someone in this particular way: the way of someone young and curious, the way of someone with time to watch people and ponder, the way of someone who might be taking a short fiction workshop, the way of someone more interested in looking at everyone else than herself.

If you live where I live, you may have seen her. She is tall and has short hair that looks like an afterthought – neither unruly nor too kept. She is a light skinned black woman. She waits for the bus. Sometimes she walks. Once I saw her on her bike, bundled up against the wind, a scarf around her head, big glamourous sunglasses hiding her face. But I knew it was her. I can spot her from a mile away. She just has one of those bodies that cuts the air in an unmistakeable and completely unique way.

50th Street seems to be her artery, or maybe it’s mine, because this is mostly where I see her. She doesn’t have a car, and if she does, she chooses not to use it. Her feet point out slightly, giving her a peculiar gait, at once graceful and gangly. She reminds me of Josephine Baker. Maybe she’s a dancer. Maybe she has a lonely heart. 

If she’s not a dancer, surely she should try it.

She waits at the bus stop, not reading, not talking on the phone. Simply waiting. Is she waiting for something else? Besides the bus? Because who does that? Wait for the bus, not reading, not talking on the phone?

I wonder.

I would like to watch her dance.

It’s been a long time since I’ve wondered about someone like this. In Boston there was a man who used to floss his teeth in the street with an absurdly long piece of floss, his hands held at least twelve inches apart. No dental hygienist had taught him how to roll it around his index fingers and so he played his teeth like a cello. I used to wonder about him. The homeless man with impeccable dental hygiene. 

She reminds me of Josephine Baker. Maybe that’s why I think she should dance, because really, nothing else about her seems like a dancer. She has a long, strong, flat footed stride. But then again, so did Josephine Baker.

In Southbend there was a little old couple who used to walk around campus holding hands. They were always impeccably turned out – he in a hat, overcoat, and natty suit, she in a neat twin set, a matching tweed jacket and skirt, stockings, sensible shoes. Gray and twinkling, they were throw-backs to a time of tailors, dressmakers and haberdasheries, of yellowed measuring tape, pins and dashes of chalk. I used to wonder about the little old couple. How had they managed to stay in love for so many years? What had they survived in order to walk hand in hand under the shade of the trees?

I wonder if her job involves paper. She looks like she pours over words, possibly numbers, her torso curled into a C in her chair. She probably has to speak only sparingly, a polite word at the soda machine, an update for her boss. Words may bring her pleasure, but I suspect it’s not the spoken kind. Her desk is either really messy or really neat. Not in between. And she has little gold frames with pictures of children, though not her own. Sweet dimpled faces of a niece and a nephew, but from a few years ago. They must look so much older now. I don’t think her office has a window, but what do I know?

Maybe if she danced, it would make her smile. 

I wonder.

Oct 19 2009

What’s so funny?

world-mapThe other day, Saint James and Supergirl shared a hearty chuckle at my expense, for the first, but undoubtedly not the last, time. It started with a little laminated map of the world that’s been floating around the house for eons. Every time I clean up, it gets propped on a windowsill in the kitchen, shuffled into my planner or a stack of place mats, or stuffed into the cupboard where we keep the playdough and paints. It hangs around the kitchen mostly, but I have found it fraternizing with the dust bunnies under Saint James’ bed and once it was in my tub, a world patiently waiting to float away.

I’m convinced someone is paying my kids to quietly and deliberately carry things around the house because this is what they do with a thoroughness and alacrity that can only come from mucho cashola. I picture their employer as a shadowy figure sitting with his back to them, a halo of cigar smoke around his bald head muttering in a ripped paper voice: You just move things, right? Ya take your toys, don’t even play with them, you just move ‘em. Up the stairs, down the stairs, just put ‘em in a different spot. The floor’s good. Always good. And if it’s not a toy, even better. More money for moving household items. Kitchen stuff. Always good. The whisks, the oven mitts, the tape. Always good. Always good. Take ‘em to another room. Better yet, take ‘em to your mother’s car. Drop ‘em. Always remember, a ladle in the minivan is a beautiful thing. Same goes for a box of bandaids in the freezer. Stuffed unicorn under the sink. Always good. Always good. Don’t over think. Just keep moving. You pick it up, carry it, drop it. Simple. Capish? My children nod solemnly, their eyes as big as saucers.

This all by way of saying, the mapa mundi has got some legs. So the other day I decided to put an end to its shifty and peripatetic ways and tape it to a wall. Specifically, the wall next to the toilet in the kids’ bathroom. Supergirl, who never misses a thing, came sliding out of the bathroom with an exaggerated, Disney tween show intoned Can someone please explain, like, WHY there’s a map, like, in the bathroom? To which I responded, simply: So you can learn about the world while you poo. And that’s when it happened. She and Saint James chuckled, and then they LOOKED AT EACH OTHER and laughed some more. And then they repeated what I said, and laughed even more! They were sharing a laugh. At me. At something I said. I walked away with a secret grin, letting them revel in a rare moment of solidarity and mirth.

With that little exchange, I realized that their sense of humor is evolving, ever so subtly. They are precariously perched in that spot where I can make them laugh because I’m so smart and funny and that spot where they can laugh at me because they’re so smart and funny. I can tickle them and still make them laugh. I can make a cross-eyed bucktooth face and still make them laugh. But not for long. Someday, that behavior will elicit nothing but groans and eye rolling and the only giggles I’ll get will come from general battiness, slips of the tongue and tumbles of words. Lucky, for all of us, I’ve got those in spades.

Oct 17 2009

Peter Pan


Oct 14 2009

Music Part IV: Saint James and Shakira

shakira_narrowweb__300x376,0I’m not sure why I’m so obsessed with Saint James’ musical maturation, but I am. It’s fascinating to me. Maybe it’s because I was such a late bloomer when it came to music (and admittedly fairly regressive considering the tunes that are passing my ears these days). Or maybe I’m just obsessed with Saint James. He’s just so darn cute – exactly the kind of boy I would have had a crush on in fourth grade: the cute, smart, quiet one. 

The other day I went to pick him up at school and was scanning the school yard, doing a Where’s Waldo of shaggy haired dishwater blond boys, when I spotted him with a little clump of older kids huddled around an iPod. Two of the boys each had one earbud in his ear and the rest were standing by with heads bent toward the ground, listening by osmosis, I suppose. Being the fiendish mother I am, I stopped in my tracks, bit my lip and feeling all gushy and mushy, decided to give him a few more minutes to listen. Or maybe I was giving myself a few more minutes to watch. I never did find out what they were listening to, but wouldn’t I like to know! (You see? Even though I’m a total crazy mother, I’m savvy enough to control myself so he has no idea I’m a crazy mother!)

A few days later I was putzing around the kitchen, Saint James on his perch at the laptop, when I hear a little She Wolf. Aaahh, Shakira! What’s not to love? That girl taps into my basest and most hoochie Latina impulses, the ones that were basically eradicated by virtue of growing up in snowy Michigan as the first born daughter of Argentine parents who had no tolerance for hoochiness. I happened to glance over and realized he was watching the video, not listening on iTunes as I had assumed. I watched for a couple seconds from a distance and Ay caramba sweet sabrosa Maria Magdalena Madre de hoochiness! does Shakira have it going on in this video! I thought I was familiar with her pelvic gifts, but she takes it to a whole other level with the cage and the skin colored leotard. She does this move where she starts on her stomach, holy shit, and ohmyGod you’llknowitwhenyouseeit!

In the past, I’ve been rather blithe about censoring music. I don’t believe in it, mostly because I choose to assume most of it goes over their heads, and when it no longer goes over their heads, then hopefully they’re old enough to understand that it’s entertainment, that it’s part of a whole, that it may represent someone’s truth, but doesn’t have to be their truth. As a prolifically profane person, I take the position that all words should be loved, regardless of what they are and how they are strung together (not true for words of hate and racism, but true for my sweet, sweet cussin’).

But visuals? Visuals are a whole other ball of wax. Watching Shakira gyrate around in her cage, my first impulse was to leap across the kitchen, landing on my side with my chin in my hand in a perfect breakdance denouement, the laptop shutting with a soft click under my deftly placed ass. But I couldn’t. That would embarrass him, maybe make him feel guilty about checking out this Shakira he keeps hearing on the radio. I’m the one who has been encouraging him to explore, after all. Furthermore, if we lived in Argentina (or Brazil, Uruguay or most places in Europe, for that matter), he’d see the likes of Shakira shaking their moneymakers in commercials for everything from yogurt to snow tires. After all, she’s just singing and dancing. Cough, cough. In the few seconds that I stood frozen like a deer in Shakira’s headlights, he clicked out of the video. Had he seen enough? Had it made him uncomfortable? Had it bored him? Had it scared him? I felt like I needed to address it somehow, someway, so that he wouldn’t be left holding a big bag of confusion. So I cleared my throat and plunged right in:

Me: Well! Well! Wooowee! Wow! Some of those South American ladies sure do know how to shake their bootays! Phew! My goodness!

Saint James: . . .

Me: Holy moly! Um. Guacamole. Ya, they have a whole other way of dressing and dancing! Don’tcha think? They are something else. Some of those. Uh. Ladies. Woowie.

Saint James: . . . 

Me: Um, ya. So, ya. I think that everyone’s used to the ladies acting a little crazy down there. Like it’s no big deal to dance so, like, hubba hubba. Er. 

Saint James: . . .

Me: Wooh. That dance is a little much, but I really do like Shakira. She’s got a great voice. She’s from Brazil!

Saint James: Columbia.

Me: . . .

Oct 12 2009

Silver Lining

30704131          Photo: Nicole Bengiveno NY Times

It isn’t often I read about something in the paper that doesn’t make me flare my nostrils in frustration or click the screen closed with a shudder. Spend too much time scratching the surface of anything from what goes into the box of Frosted Flakes in the cupboard  to the “changing school options” in the Minneapolis Public Schools to healthcare reform and you see the politics, the machinations, the behind the scenes special interest mongering that seemingly drive everything these days. Humans are indeed Machiavellian, to the point where it defies reason, defies rightness. The shortest distance between two points hasn’t been a straight line for as long as I have been paying attention. But then you see an article like this one and you realize that sometimes things work themselves out as they should. Sometimes people figure out how to bring some good out of a bad situation. A little creativity, a little cooperation, a little open mindedness and suddenly you have art and light and life in spaces that were empty, gaping reminders of failure, blight and recession. Commercial landowners, unable to rent or develop their properties, are turning them over to artists at deeply discounted rents and in return their spaces get a little love. Less crime, more interest, more traffic and the artists get a chance to spread their wings. It’s a win win that will hopefully lead to changes in those neighborhoods that no one can even begin to anticipate. Simple proof that the shortest distance between to points can be a straight line.

Oct 12 2009

Peevish Mama Nature

I have half an hour and a hot cup of Yogi Detox tea at my wrist. It’s snowing outside and last time I checked it was OCTOBER. As I made my kid-drop-off-supermarket rounds this morning I came to the realization that Mother Nature is one peevish mama.

Perhaps it a tad self-aggrandizing to think that I might have anything to do with the state of affairs outside our windows, but I write one little post last week about not being ready for winter and the next day – BAM – snow! Mother Nature’s all Hey yo, you stupid little bitch, I like how you thought it was safe to sign up for playground duty on October 12. I know you and your crisp fall day bullshit. Take that. Booof! Smell me now, fools! Kind of an I’ll give you something to cry about move, which, honestly, can only be described as deeply, deeply peevish. I know peevish and I can tell you, my friends, she’s gone super freak deep peeve.

Last year I wrote this about winter and it was a full month later. Admittedly, it was kind of an odd post with whispers of peyote usage – not sure what was going on with me and my fingers that day; you are free to draw whatever conclusions you will. My conclusion, retrospectively, is that winter sort of yawned into us last year. There was something inevitable and drawn out about its settling over our piece of the earth. Right? Lethargy? Bitterness? Resignation? Did you get that from the gray opera gloves? Hmm. Not sure I did either. But this year feels completely different. Mama Nature is feeling spry and peevish. Puckish and and meddlesome. She’s on a bit of a power trip, I think, but it comes from a good place – she’s feeling like a saucy little trickster, hence the white stuff. And when she’s feeling like that, what other choice do we have but to rub our hands together, bust out a little hip hop move and say, OK, baby, I’ll play.

Mama Nature, I’m IN, girl.

Time for playground duty. Now where the fuck are my boots?

Oct 8 2009


I feel like I’ve been sucker punched by Mother Nature. When fall hits us in Minnesota, it hits us hard. One minute it’s boiling out and I’m marveling at how much my kids stink when they come home from school – sweaty and sticky, the smell of playground, jostling, new friends, and a wee bit of stress clinging to their warm heads. Without the benefit of the pool to wash them off and with the shame of a teacher to smell them, I force them to bathe every night. Sorry, you stink I answer flatly to the groans and eye rolling. They do. Stink.

But seemingly overnight the weather turns, and this week in particular, with the cold driving rain, our noses are rubbed in the mess of Autumn. Get ye inside, Mother Nature seems to hiss as the rain drops pelt my kitchen windows, And like it

But I don’t like it. I’m feeling bereft. Unmoored. Discombobulated. I haven’t made peace with the darkness, for one thing. As the daylight retreats earlier and earlier every night, I cower in my kitchen. The drives and drop-offs, the errands, the stuff of life that now need to happen after dark take on a heaviness, a sense of sacrifice. The hour belies the black curtains outside my windows which make me want nothing more than to curl up under a blanket. I glance at the clock, time for bed on the tip of my tongue and wilt: What? It’s only 7:20? 

And soon the cold will come to stay and every move out the back door will require armor, literally and figuratively. Winter is a battle. You suit up and you suit up your underlings with layers of protection against the cruel air. You hunch your shoulders, put your head down, squint, grimace, let out a war cry and run into the danger. Every time. Every time you open the door. It’s exhausting.

And then when you come back in, it’s a whole other kind of carnage: Boots, mittens, hats and coats left for dead all over the mud room floor – a winter massacre in the mud and melting snow. Once I found a pair of snowpants standing straight up, they were so caked in mud. Did I mention we have white tile floors in the mud room? I cannot even begin to understand what kind of a person would install something so monstrously and offensively impractical. Idiots. 

Believe it or not, I actually like many things about winter in Minnesota. As someone who has a near Pavlovian reaction to the sun that makes me race outside and stay there for as long as possible, it’s nice to take a break, to have an excuse to hole up, to feel no guilt for the hours spent indoors. I like fires. I like cooking hot things in big pots. I like living in a city where people refuse to surrender and find joy in every season. I like tiny dancing. Wait, I LOVE tiny dancing. I like scarves. I like tea. I like books. I like boots.

I like winter. In its own time. I’m feeling rushed. Pushed. Bullied. I’m not ready to let go of the ease and the sun, the warmth and the long lazy days, the relative lack of responsibilities and places to be. But what I want doesn’t matter. I need to make peace with the paradox of a busier calendar when we’re supposed to be hibernating, of having to move quicker when I want to slow down.

What I want doesn’t matter. I know what I need to do. I need to get some thick winter blood and some balls. Maybe a cute pair of boots. Winter’s coming. And I best be ready.

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