Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Between the wars.

It's now a trope, to talk about the cascade of the worst possible things--Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the violence in Dallas and in Baton Rouge--plus the ongoing misery that is American politics right about now, how all of it renders everything else absurd. For me, writing here, in this space, the kinds of things I usually write seemed--as it has seemed from time to time in the past--spectacularly beside the point.

I don't know what to say about it, except I'm trying, like many other people, not to let the fire die down, not to let myself off the hook. As they say, to stay woke. To have courage and to add my actions to those of others.

Also: I know there is no 'between' in the wars we're living in. They are unrelenting and have been with us from the beginning.

I guess I also want to say that we, chez megastore, have been laying pretty low--the historian's surgery and recovery have meant that we're conserving our energy, looking for the healing sign, trying to keep a good thought. Also, still eating pancakes and baking pies and watching television and listening to music. Writing poems, as you do. No matter what.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Megastore recommends: when the party's over edition.

Yesterday, after the historian came home from a medical procedure, buoyant despite feeling dragged out, no doubt, from anesthesia and so forth, we both rested for awhile. In the afternoon, and then in the evening. And in the evening, after resting, I arose from the bed and said, I shall make two kinds of cake. Thus, a festive mood was set, as my son and his wife jointly worked on a tricksy word puzzle and I beat butter and sugar together, etcetera.

The party is almost over--the long June that saw family coming and going, a giant festive celebration of my mom and dad's sixty-years-long marriage, my brother and family in town, swimming, dinners out and dinners in, fancy breakfasts with grandchildren at my table, a medical procedure near the end.  I told my son today that while I'm in the whirl of such a wonderful month, it can feel so intense, that concentration of so much fun and so many beloveds, that I feel overwhelmed, but when it's over, I feel overwhelmed with sadness. What to do?

...+ this equals the breakfast
that will see me through.
1. Eggs for breakfast. The departure of beloveds calls for a substantial breakfast, one that will fortify you and make you feel sturdy and, basically, the embodiment of survival. I have eggs. I have potatoes. I have, or will have, green chiles. I plan to make eggs with a good cheese and green chiles, fried potatoes, and toast on the day everyone leaves. If I need to cry, on and off, all day, those eggs will back me up and right the ship. I'm counting on it.

the title of this is 'don't cry about it,'
but my advice is precisely the opposite.
2. Speaking of crying, go ahead and cry. There's really no point in trying not to. So what if you look like you had an encounter with grave difficulties and only barely escaped with your wits? SO WHAT. Feel free to wear your dark glasses outside and, frankly, inside, if it's called for. Also? Feel free to rest in a darkened room with a damp cloth. PRO TIP: you can get the necessary crying started by listening to whatever pop song does that for you. The car is a perfectly good place to cry, but do abide by all traffic laws. In conclusion: the crying is its own event. Suit up.

something along these lines.
3. Work out, for the love of everything holy. Is it possibly true that, whilst all the fun was being had and the day at the hospital was happening, and while two cakes were baking and so forth, that the two a days fell by the wayside? Of course it's true. And while it was worth it--who wants to be that person, who won't have the fun because she has to go to the gym?--it was definitely worth it, it's also true that the workout canNOT resume soon enough when the people leave, abandoning to us to our own resources. Our own resources, which include working out. Which, by GOD, get on it.

the first step is to write PLAN
on a sheet of graph paper, obviously.
4. Make a plan. This week, the historian and I are pretty much hanging out together. I am insisting that he eat nutritious food on the regular and policing his meds like it is my job (I sound super fun in this scenario, I realize). Next week, I have a few meetings hither and yon, and a couple of engagements I'm looking forward to. I've been writing every day this past month, even with the full-on family extravaganza, and I intend to continue with this regimen. We bought tickets to go to Scotland. The plan is essentially your counter narrative to the 'everyone is leaving and life is a bitter and empty shell' story that is kind of inevitable when everyone leaves and, well, life is a bitter and empty shell. If you have a plan, the terrible story built into the situation will, possibly, have a shorter half life. Possibly. These are the hopes we hang on to.

I realize that I am making these recommendations to myself, by the way. Of course I am.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Episode 1: The Great Summer Cull of the Vast Wardrobe of Overconsumption.

1. Sparkly librarian sweater. I realize that this characterization makes, potentially, an insinuation about librarians. So, to clarify: librarians are awesome. Librarians exhibit the entire spectrum of style. This sweater, sparkly navy blue, made me look like someone I'm not, or, worse, like I was aspiring to that look. It did not work. Into the donation bag it went.

2. Game of Thrones knit.  Provenance: Target. I bought this last summer, when, frankly, it was too hot to even try on. I literally thought: this has a Game of Thrones vibe. I imagined wearing it with long black articles of various sorts. And directional, simultaneously futuristic and medieval footwear. Have I ever seen a single episode of Game of Thrones? Were there, in fact, occasions when Game of Thrones looks were called for, in my day to day life? No, and no.

3. Pink knit kimono of great wideness and too-short sleeves and NO POCKETS. There is nothing about the description of this item that was, or is, or ever will be, right, by any definition of the word.

4. Brocade coat that won't button. Provenance: eBay. I have often had excellent luck with eBay purchases, namely in the form of a small suite of linen coats that are treasures and workhorses and give me hope for the entire future of outfits. My outfits. This brocade coat, however, resulted from what turns out to be an ill-judged and rather long-lasting obsession with brocade. It is nominally my size, but it only buttons with a strong dose of persuasion. The people: your clothes should not have to be argued with to fit you. Your clothes should not judge you by not buttoning. Your clothes, in a word, should not insult your body. I draw the line.

5. Brocade coat that would hold two of me. Also eBay. Sometimes a swirly flowy effect can be the effect of an item of clothing that is a bit on the expansive side. That was my thought, anyway. But this brocade coat (see: "an ill-judged and rather long-lasting obsession," above) turns out to look more like a bathrobe, except a bathrobe out of which you could pitch a tent. No.

On the bubble: campfire sock sweater. It is made from that kind of Ragg knit that campfire socks are made from. Is a campfire sock a thing? I think it's a thing. I thought to myself, at first, NO., because I am not much of a camper. But then I tried it on (too hot to try on sweaters, but anyway). It looked cozy (and too hot) and actually kind of cute. I thought, sweater for cozying up at home? while reading a book? and hung it back up. We'll just have to see.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Top 5 (sets of three edition).

1. Three excellent breakfasts in a row. One: Wednesday oatmeal, which I have perfected according to my own tastes (one half cup oatmeal, 1 1/4 c. water, golden raisins galore cooked in the microwave for five minutes while I (a) make tea, and (b) chop ten almonds, then serve with milk. And possibly a little raw sugar.) Two: Thursday breakfast with my daughter, her three children, and her niece at Little America coffee shop. Eggs & bacon & rye toast! (c) Friday buckwheat pancakes made at home. Breakfast is super satisfying.

2. 'Live it up' as my new motto. Or summertime motto, anyway. I have been testing it out: when we went to Arizona, I said to the historian that we should live it up, and we did. It was great. This morning before I got out of bed, I texted my oldest darling friend, whom I am visiting next weekend:

And last night, I floated the idea to the historian that living it up, together, should be our big plan. I say 'live it up,' as a motto, has legs, and thus I am sticking to it.

3. One two three poem days in a row. I am doing an online writing community group accountability thingie (sounds so sexy does it not?) this month, in which I have committed to write a poem every day, and send it to my little group. Sort of like Poem a Day/National Poetry Month, but with higher expectations, i.e., small fear of shaming, fear of letting down the team, fear of being an embarrassment to the entire endeavor. Basically fear-based poetry writing, in other words. The great news is that I am doing it, and have written three poems in a row. I texted my poet friend, who was the one who invited me to do this:

Good advice! I am working on that 'don't think about it' thing, even though it is not my strong suit NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT.

4. One two three two-a-days in a row. I was chatting with my daughter today about her beautiful philosophy ('fake it till you make it'). Conversation turned to my long-time beautiful philosophy:

Sometimes the thing I have to talk myself into is getting up to work out. Summertime, most days, allows me the beautiful reward of having a leisurely period when I am still in bed, for purposes of the self-talking-to, and possibly other self-improving thoughts. But this week, after we lived it up in Arizona, I got myself out of bed, whenever that may have 'occurred,' and worked out ('Trust and Believe!'), and then at the end of the day, I got myself to the gym and worked out a second time.

As ever, working out like a fiend makes me feel like I am living my life instead of the reverse (i.e., my life is living me). It's weird how summer brings out the structural recalcitrant who lives inside my head and perhaps my soul. But for the past three days, me and my inner grouch worked out, and we feel much the better for it.

5. Sing Street for the third time. First time: with the historian. Blissful. Second time: with my friends, also blissful. Third time: with my son and his wife, in Arizona. Also blissful! The conclusion, America, is that Sing Street is basically and entirely blissful, and you should see it--if not three times, then at least once.

BONUS ITEM: I have listened to this at least three times (well, realistically, many more than three):


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Arizona in tacos.

"Let's live it up when we go to Arizona," I told the historian. Not like it was an actual proposal. Maybe more like a directive.

"Yes, let's!" he replied, because he is good-natured like that, and also living it up was maybe a more or less agreeable proposition, as far as directives go.

"And let's eat tacos every day," I said, by way of an addendum. A rider on the directive, if you will.

"Sure," he said, for the same reasons as above.

Herewith: a taco report.

DAY 1: We eat pizza, at Organ Stop Pizza. Also, we see Zootopia. Altogether a good way to go, day 1.

DAY 2: We head to Tucson. We arrive at the borders of Tucson just about lunchtime. I Google and FourSquare Tanias.

A photo posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

Tania's is excellent. After a rather lengthy tutorial from the proprietor, in which we are told that it would be extra foolish not to get the maximum combo, if we want tacos, because: side of rice and beans plus a beverage!, and in which my daughter-in-law, upon requesting black beans, gets this in reply: "No no no no, this is Sonora, not New York!"--which basically means "pinto beans"--we all order excellent plates: three tacos for me (plus rice + beans + a strawberry agua fresca), including a potato and green chile one, a cauliflower one, and a carnitas one. The historian gets three various vegetable tacos, and so on. It was an auspicious and perfect beginning to our taco extravaganza

After some saguaros on the east side of Saguaro National Park, and a visit to my middle school (!):


 we find our way to the very first Mexican food restaurant I ever ate at in my life. IN MY LIFE.

I have a green corn tamale. Actually, I order two of them. They are enormous. However, I do not have a good sauce situation. Also, and to be truthful, I possibly had eaten more tacos, at Tanias, than I had already digested. Still, and in any case, it is meaningful to me to eat at Cafe Molina. I ate there the first time when I was in sixth grade. That, plus the middle school, plus being there with people I loved, plus the chips and salsa: saturated with meaning. The tamale qua tamale is kind of beside the point.

 DAYS 3 & 4 & 5: We are over saturated with the taco quest. My son had chosen some chorizo concoction at Casa Molina and it is having lingering effects, the details of which I will deftly leave to the side. We go to a Village Inn for breakfast and have various snacks at the cafe in the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Perfectly good and fine.

A photo posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

On our way home from Tucson, I admit I ate an apple pie from McDonald's. The next day, we have naps and sandwiches while we continue to recover from our road trip. Also: coffee cake, which one grandson helps me whip up, and which is estimable.

On Memorial Day, we go for a wander at the park, and eat at Flower Child--Dr. Write's recommendation, entirely wonderful--just before we have a visit to the butterfly sanctuary. On the way home, we buy a pineapple and a watermelon and stuff to make my best pasta salad, and a loaf of French bread. These comestibles restore us further.

I hope you're seeing that I am capable of setting an agenda aside if it is for the greater good.

We also get a babysitter for the boys, and see Sing Street, at which we eat popcorn.

DAY 6: Today is a glorious day in tacos. We eat at Mucha Lucha, which is my son's favorite Mexican
restaurant. I have three shrimp tacos and they are pretty much everything a taco should be. The line is just about out the door the whole time we're there, so we have to be patient (which I can totally do, and be), and we have to be prepared (me also). When I take my tacos to the table where the little boys are each eating a small quesadilla, and where the historian is eating a large vegetarian quesadilla, and my son is eating a burrito, and my daughter-in-law is eating street tacos, we all heave a collective sigh of joy, the ultimate joy of sublime tacos entirely achieved.

A photo posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

A photo posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

In conclusion, here are the lessons we learned:

 1. Chorizo is dangerous. Proceed with caution.

2. A taco agenda, while worthy as agendas go, is, like all agendas, to be taken up with humility and the willingness to adjust, especially where there is new data of which to take account. Data that is chorizo-inflected, for instance.

3. Returning to one's (taco) agenda is, however, a joy. A taco-centric vacation is an excellent vacation, even if the center does not hold, at least not entirely, when chorizo is involved.


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