Monthly Archives: March 2014
How many eight hour days do you have to think, read and write for your book before you are a serious writer? 200? 78? 12? I need to know. By now I intended to have spent at least 20 or even 30 such days in 2014 but the reality is more like six. My UCLA writing class begins in a month and by then I must have at least the draft of an introduction and chapter one. More importantly I must have the habit of shutting out all distractions.
Today has been good. Eight hours of ‘book’ with only two short naps! Now for two hours of Friday evening public affairs TV, ice cream and laundry time. And instead of a photo, here’s my song of the day.
Paperback Writer by the Beatles
Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It’s based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job so I want to be a paperback writer
It’s the dirty story of a dirty man
And his clinging wife doesn’t understand
His son is working for the Daily Mail
It’s a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer
It’s a thousand pages, give or take a few
I’ll be writing more in a week or two
I can make it longer if you like the style
I can change it ’round and I want to be a paperback writer
If you really like it you can have the rights
It could make a million for you overnight
If you must return it you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer
A really clever post was scheduled for tonight. Alas, the day sped by before I could finish it. A day that began rather disappointingly with a new post-shower “Style Spray [that] Lifts Flat and Fine Hair” which, it turns out, met its match in my wispy locks. Then there was breakfast with my retired friend who thought he might go work in his garden a little while and then take in an afternoon matinee…while I, working stiff that I am, faced quite a bit of work at work. The day drew to a close with a pleasant-enough board meeting and, finally, some theater-sitting for a children’s drama company. By 8pm I was no longer enjoying the sound of happy giggles, curmudgeon that I am.
It is cool and almost rainy tonight; my apartment is warm and cozy and I have tomorrow off so I don’t want to work on that would-be clever post now. How about a nice photo or two instead?
I am really trying. No gluten, meat…all veggies, all the time. Interesting food. Do not open a can of peas and sit on the couch eating out of the can while watching the news. That is not interesting. I’m better than that.
I troll the web. Type in polenta…then tomatoes. Up pops Martha Stewart’s “Sautéed Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes” which it turns out is absolutely delicious. I finally, five years after sampling creamy buttery polenta in Romania, managed to approximate that wonderfulness. The polenta is topped with cherry tomatoes sautéed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar which results in the perfect texture/taste/look…it is everything you would imagine—a little tart, a little sweet, bright with the oil of olives, a little salty, would have been ‘a little tarragony but I’ve never used tarragon and couldn’t find it at the local pretty good store. Put the tomatoes on top of the polenta, sprinkle with ricotta (should have been the creamy not the salad kind but oh well) and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. How could that not be good?
Of course there is a catch. It takes forever to make and it is extremely messy. The good part is that I came home early from work (do not chastise me—I must work 24 hours in the next two days), put on my Scandinavian film/television MOOC and poured some nice (but cheap) Australian wine. Then I proceeded to cook.
I’m writing this before I start the dishes so that I won’t say bad things about the recipe because of the drudgery involved afterward.
Here are the problems Martha did not mention and they all involve that simple corn product—polenta. First of all you need a really really deep pot because polenta bubbles and splatters no matter the degree of heat. And, since the trick to creamy is cooking it forever you can easily splatter a larger area than you intended to clean until next spring. Then the worst part is after you’ve chilled it and cut into wedges the recipe says ‘sear until light golden….’ Therein lays the pain. Polenta does not change to golden brown without a struggle. If the heat is too high it splatters every surface within six feet with tiny missiles of fire and goop, if too low it takes minutes, quarter hours, the whole damn afternoon (it only seems like that). And the recipe makes enough little lovely golden triangles for a feast with your extended family in the Italian countryside. On the other hand the tomato topping is just enough for two delicate people who want ice cream afterward. What’s that lopsidedness about anyway?
There I’ve said it all and I’m not even through with the lectures or the wine or the dishes. What DOES one do with 27 perfectly gilded leftover polenta triangles the next day?
Sometimes it is okay to let a day go by without doing any of the things on your list. Instead I had a much overdue almost 4-hour talk with my best girlfriend…you know the person you’ve known the longest who already knows everything about you even if you haven’t seen each other for too long. She lives in Texas which seems farther away than it is. Then the Saturday nap. And ending the day with ice cream and episodes of Doc Martin. Kind of a girlfriendy day isn’t it. Tomorrow will be more serious.
Living Long is the best award (reward actually)…or is that the best revenge?
My friend has nominated me for an award…one that says I’ve accomplished worthy things in Albuquerque’s arts community. The truth is I have just been doing exactly what I wanted to do. No point in putting a gloss of magnanimity on my work; I did it for me!
It is kind of my friend however and, in a way, it puts a definite wrap on my career as an arts programmer/presenter/impresario. I will still direct the North Fourth Art Center for some time to come—but that role is a combination of social work, administration and art with social work assuming a lead role. And, if I work at it, I may be able to revive teaching skills so at least some of my education and work lives can match! Now that will be an achievement. Ending my working life with my degrees in education and social work actually matching a job! Nah…I’m going to focus on MY ART.
About the reward versus revenge concept…and living a long time. No ceremonies please. Just time to do all that writing and photography and painting and blogging and hip veggie cookery I so desperately [think I] want to do. That’s the reward part…I suppose the revenge enters when I force my family and best friends to read or view or eat all of that stuff that I call my art!
I suppose lifetime achievement/president’s awards are okay. They are like funerals really—for the survivors, in this case the ‘job’ survivors—with work still to do and careers still to manage and a desire to be acknowledged in the end for those long hours and low pay.
Listen to me. It is all about loving what you do because awards are/are not/might be/probably are meaningless. Not that I’ve received a bunch. And actually I could use a gold watch or a zillion dollar bonus.
Unlike in moister parts of the world, here in Albuquerque spring sneaks in on small temperature changes and bursts of prematurely dusty wind. It’s chilly with bare branches one day, the next (it seems) it’s hot and greenish. Up north the ice and snow start melting down and you can hear the rivulets and trickles and would-be streams of water like spring music. And the old brown grass has to let the new green grass through as it demands its own space in the sun.
Not that I don’t love Albuquerque springs as well…it’s just that they are VERY subtle. Without smells or sound. Maybe I should call our version the somewhat sense-less spring. Still, I am happy when that quick leap is made from winter to summer.
Doesn’t feel quite fair of me to complain considering the severity of the northern winter this year. But the grass is always greener, the snow is always whiter, the freezing cold always more refreshing on the other side of the fence isn’t it?
Spring today then. Still some bare branches. Next tree over the new blossoms.
Love my blogs. Even with nothing to say. Big travel plans afoot so must experiment with Surface and see if it is the right companion for an exciting productive blogging-with-photos journey. Now for the downloading a photo. It must come from my camera because I feel very silly taking pics with my Surface pad. And I must do this while sitting on the couch instead of a desk or table because when traveling much writing is done sitting on a bus/plane/train seat or on bed. And, as you may or may not know, Surface is Windows version of IPad but better. A pad with an excellent keyboard and full Office suite. I love it except for the Windows 8 part which is cumbersome at the very least.
About THIS photo. It is my first piece of ART! I sat in on three of our Day Arts painting classes and put color and swirls and lines on paper and felt most accomplished. It made me realize that I want to know how to really do this art thing with at least a modest degree of knowledge. Off I went to art supply stores and spent about $200 on watercolors and chalk and colored pencils and acrylics. Unfortunately between minor eye surgery and Oscars and family visits…no art has emerged. So for this practice-with-Surface blog I’ll share my first piece while acknowledging I’ve been advised not to quit my day job.
THE ENVELOPE…I Mean the Cake…PLEASE
Scott arrived from San Diego last night. For a visit with family, Albuquerque, cooking for the Oscars and a Bosque hike. Today is the 2nd Annual Oscar/Food party at my place. The rules are you must see all of the nominations for best picture and then you must cook or bake or buy a dish or two that represents one or more of said nominees.
Steve, Michele, Scott, Bob and I have been preparing all day for our night at the Oscars: Irish Stew and Soda Bread for PHILOMENA; Macaroni and Cheese for NEBRASKA; Texas Caviar for DALLAS BUYERS CLUB; Waldorf salad for the NYC entries, AMERICAN HUSTLE and WOLF OF WALL STREET, and for HER (story based loosely on Siri—sort of—who was invented by Apple) and GRAVITY (because an Apple falling led to Newton’s discovery of … Gravity?); Hummingbird Cake (from the South?) for 12 YEARS A SLAVE; Rum drinks for CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (you remember that old pirate chant ‘Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum?’)
Now it’s almost 9:30pm and we’re down to the wire. If Gravity wins I’m never watching another Oscar ceremony. Gravity had NO story. Yay…12 Years a Slave won. And our food was good. Here’s what it looked like…