I adore restaurants.
There are of course times when I would rather not be eating at a restaurant:
A Frazee or Sonnenberg cookout. A Frazee or Sonnenberg holiday meal. My mother is cooking. My friend and former housemate Beckie is cooking. My father is making Green-Fried-Tomatoes. My friend and former roommate Sarah is making Shepherd’s Pie. I am making Chicken Pot Pie.
Any other time, I’d rather be eating at a restaurant.
I like the way restaurants smell. I like the way they sound. I like looking at menus. I like servers who smile and seem glad to see me. I like servers who are obviously over it, or bored, or sarcastic. I like just sitting there until the food shows up, as if by magic. I love the part where it’s time to eat.
And I know it’s not really magic. I work in a restaurant. It’s fresh ingredients and love and swearing and grit and showing up and smiling even when you don’t feel like it, not magic. (The cooks might be a little magic, actually. They work wonders back there. I’m just the go-between.)
But it feels like magic.
I think that’s why I like working at a restaurant so much. I like the way it smells. I like the way it sounds. I like smiling at the customers, and being glad they’re there, and that I’m there.
I like being part of the magic. And I love the part where I get to take some food home to eat.
I only ever learned pi out to two decimal places. Couldn’t tell you what comes after the four if you paid me to, although it must be a number less than five, otherwise they’d round it to 3.15 instead of 3.14.
I’m a little more knowledgeable about pie.
I learned pie-making from my mother. She makes crust from scratch and tells the best story about the time she made apple pie for her father and it, um, didn’t quite go as planned. Under her tutelage, I took home a couple of Champion Fruit Pie ribbons at the County Youth Fair, and now, in my own home, I make Chicken Pot Pie and Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie and Tamale Pie and if I can ever get the Husband to try a different kind of cooked fruit, we might have blueberry or cherry pie once summer rolls around.
There’s something both deliciously homey and strangely magical about pie-making. The smell of nutmeg and ginger. The sound of a wooden rolling pin on the counter. The feel of flour and dough between your fingers. The moment of triumph when you finally get the top crust on and the whole thing safely into the oven. The moment of kicking yourself when you realize you forgot the butter and have to take the pie out of the oven to try and cram bits of butter through the slits in the top crust.
Eating pie, though. That’s the best part. You can’t eat pi. Although I suppose you could eat 3.14 pieces of pie.
That, I think, would be a fitting way to celebrate the 14th day of March.
I grew up on a farm, on Hill Road, with ten other children (three sisters, seven cousins), and at some point during this childhood, the older relatives began to call us “Hill Kids.”
Assonance, spoken fondly, to describe a pack of dirty-dishwater-blonde Homeschoolers, speaking in references and giggles and made-up words like “Dudefish,” and “Lampie.”
We made so many things up. So many worlds. So many stories. Peoples, places, histories, myths, legends, prophecies, romances, adventures.
We imagined a lot of men for our stories (nine out of the eleven Hill Kids are girls-who-like-guys). I don’t remember all their names, or what all of them looked like, or much about their personalities, though mine were often quiet and patient (or incredibly obnoxious and funny), and dark-haired (or blonde-ish in a raised-on-Tatooine kind of way), and they could usually ride horses.
I think of these imaginary men as I watch the Hill Kids (me included) get married.
These non-imaginary men are different from the stories. They’re not cowboys or pirates or Jedi or aliens or wizards or secret agents or Civil War era soldiers trapped on an island somewhere.
There’s just enough of the stories in them, though. Doesn’t ride horses, but rides motorcycles. Not a cowboy, but a crack shot. Not from Tatooine, but from a distant country. Dark hair. Patient. Not a pirate, but a sailor.
It will be interesting to see who else joins the family.
Joins the story. =]
Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like the rain.
~ The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
It’s been a long time since I read anything with an omniscient narrator. It’s different than I thought it’d be, but I’m sorry I waited so long to begin it. I keep wanting to circle words and underline phrases and draw hearts and flowers and thoughts in the margins, but it’s not mine; it’s on loan.
Perhaps I’ll buy my own copy. We’ll see how it ends.
Five and a half years ago, in the hallway of Cornerstone’s science building, on a bench across from the fish-tank, a friend and I talked about the date he’d arranged for me.
“Well, he works nights,” Friend was saying, wearily. “He can’t meet people. He’s not awake when anyone else is awake. I had to intervene.”
I’d spent three college years avoiding morning classes and doing the bulk of my homework in desperate, up-all-night sessions, so this mode of existence (getting up in the afternoon, going to work from early evening to early morning, and then climbing in bed as the sun’s coming up) sounded enchanting. If the date went well, and this Random Boy and I had a future together, it would be a future of nights instead of mornings.
Fast-forward into the Random Boy’s and my future, to last month, around Valentine’s Day, when he (after six years? Seven years? Longer than that?) was finally switched to a daytime work schedule, something he’s been attempting for, well, six or seven or longer than that years.
He is thrilled to have rejoined the majority of working friends and family who are up before the sun and home around 5.
I am, um, so-happy-for-him?
*sigh that is very happy-for-him, but also mourning the loss of those late nights, those sleepings right through the mornings*
I get up in the morning, now.
I hate getting up in the morning.
Mornings are all in keeping, of course, with my goals of being more productive, spending more time writing, learning to do new things, and running a smoother, tidier household. They’re a thick slab of day where you can’t do much except read books and Scripture and journal and drink coffee and make breakfast and put the dishes away and go over the budget book because nothing in town is open and no one is sending work-related emails.
Hopefully, I get used to this, and learn to find the joy in mornings. Until then, grrr.
Sometimes, I see lovely things and want to catch them. In word, with a photo, in a shout – “Look at it! Come see!”
But there isn’t anyone there, or I don’t have a camera on me, or I can’t find a pen to write the image out. I end up simply looking. It ends up being a lovely moment I experience alone, like it’s a gift made specially for me.
“For you,” a moment says. “Enjoy.”
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing. I grumble about the internet and social media in general, but am continually enchanted – disarmed – by the generous, joyful, excitable spirit of humans using online platforms to share things that are beautiful, are delightful, are cute or funny or sweet or somehow wondrous.
I also think there’s value in letting some things be. In knowing that you saw something beautiful, and it was beautiful, and you don’t have to prove it to anyone. You don’t have to share.
I wish, this morning, that I could have taken a picture of the cardinal perched in the snowy hedge by my window. But to take that picture, I would have had to run upstairs, find my phone, run back down – and I was afraid that if I moved, I’d spoil it.
So, watching from my place on the sofa, with my cup of coffee, and sitting very still so as not to disturb the cat on my lap (who most certainly would have ruined the moment if she’d opened her eyes long enough to note the cardinal’s presence), I enjoyed this lovely thing, this moment of something beautiful.
And you will just have to take my word that it really happened, while I feel kind of silly for writing about the value of enjoying an unshareable moment as a special gift for you alone, and then sharing it anyway.
There’s a line from the film Return to Me (Hunt, 2000) that goes, “I am blessed with work.”
I’ve been thinking on these words a lot this new year, as I make attempts to both do and be more. More cooking, more reading, more cleaning, more writing. I’d been looking at my habits, and saw a life shaped around inactivity, rest, and dreams. The best parts of the day were doing-nothing and going-to-bed.
Surprise, surprise: this cultivation of sloth led to exhaustion, boredom, and an unhealthy amount of time playing Minecraft. I had to ask myself whether or not I wanted anything more out of life than potato chips, video games, and naps when I wasn’t at either job. I looked around my home – my real home, not my Minecraft home (which is adorable, by the way) – and there was so much to do. Dirty dishes piled in the sink. Baskets and baskets of laundry that hadn’t been folded in weeks. A fridge full of ingredients that needed to be cooked into meals before they went bad. Stacks of books waiting to be read. Empty pages that needed filling.
All these things, and I didn’t want to do any of them. This total lack of interest struck me as peculiar. I mean, household chores aren’t exactly a rollicking good time, but they’re not torture. And reading and writing has always been an important part of my life. But, looking back at the past winter – at the habits I’d built, at what I’d taught my brain to expect and enjoy – it seemed obvious that I’d not want to do anything. I’d spent months taking pleasure in time off, in staying home, in avoiding errands and effort and anything that even vaguely resembled work.
But there is joy in work. If I had trained my brain out of enjoying things it used to take pleasure in, maybe I could train it back into better habits. (Always harder, but possible, I think.)
I folded my laundry. I like the smell of clean clothes. I like looking in the closet and seeing my good shirts hanging up so they don’t wrinkle, neatly sorted by season and color.
I did the dishes. I like that I am the only dishwasher in the kitchen. I like that there’s a big window above the sink, looking out into the neighborhood. I like that when I take care of the dishes before the Husband gets to them, I won’t have to wonder where he put my pots and pans and favorite utensils.
I cleaned out my fridge, and I made delicious food. I love delicious food. Potato soup and chicken pot pie and baked macaroni and cheese and shepherd’s pie and tacos-in-pasta shells. I love looking at something I made and then getting to eat it.
I chose a book to read and read it, and it made me smile. I like books. I like starting a new book. I like rereading an old book. I like underlining ideas and turns of phrase and scribbling responses in the margins. I like coming across old thoughts of years-ago-me, and seeing if me-now still agrees.
I scrubbed the shower and drove to the grocery store and got my hair cut. I looked for new recipes to learn. I cleaned up my messy study. I went to the library. I went for a walk. I finished another chapter of rough draft, even though I didn’t feel like it.
I did things. I made things. I like doing and making. I like having done and having made. I like having something to write about, in the journal my mother gave me for Christmas.
The joy in work is different than the joy in rest. And I do love rest. But maybe I can find joy in work more often, now?
A week ago, while eating breakfast and drinking coffee in morning sunshine, I came across this ad in a magazine:
I found that last bit (“A Clean, Easy garden With No Work!”) puzzling. I don’t do much gardening, but I have fond memories of helping my mother (kind of) in her garden:
Of course the point of a garden is the fruit and the vegetables and getting to cook and eat and can and such. But some of my enjoyment of gardening stemmed from the work itself. The feel of crumbly, sun-warmed earth between your toes as you plant corn. The smell of the tomato plants when you pick Sweet 100s. The dirty, sweaty satisfaction of uprooting weeds with your bare hands.
Something about the idea of a clean, easy garden with no work makes me sad. But it helps propel me. It makes me ask, “What can I do? What do I want to do? What do I need to do? How can I want to do what I need to do?”
It helps me remember that I am blessed with work. My home. My household. My jobs. My books.
And hey! This blog. =]
May you find blessing in your work today.
Recently, I’ve acquired a new cell phone. It’s nice. But I’ll miss the old one, which I bought for $68 shortly after graduating college:
Our relationship was . . . complicated. I don’t like cell phones, as a rule, mostly because they track you, and they pester you with noise, and they make people think you’re available. To talk. To look something up. To check emails. To come to work. But I needed something simple and inexpensive to make/receive calls and texts, so I set up an account with Ting, ordered something refurbished from their website, and that’s been my phone for . . . almost five years now.
We’ve had some good times. Like when I put it in my purse and wouldn’t check it for two days. Or when I dropped it and it popped apart – phone, battery, back casing – but I just put it together again and it worked fine, screen barely scratched. Or when it was ringing and I didn’t want to answer so I threw it across the room so hard it broke apart just like when I’d drop it in parking lots. Or when the Random Boy (now turned Husband) put music on it for me, so I could listen on the bus at 6 AM, on the way to Steak ‘n Shake. Or the way it ran out of battery the one time I needed it, so I had to borrow the landline at a campus help desk. Or the time it conspired with my right earlobe to hang up on a friend eight times during our conversation. Or the way it started putting sun-spots on all my pictures. And refused to talk to the internet. And wouldn’t process photos if they were sent by someone else.
New Phone is twice the size of Old Phone. The Husband picked it out for me and when it arrived I asked him why it was so big.
Husband: “That’s small for a phone, dear.”
Me: “It’s the size of a electronic keyboard! It could double as a coffee table if we gave it legs! It will never fit in my pockets!”
Husband: “Nothing fits in your pockets.”
New Phone is young and fresh and has not been dropped multiple times on several varieties of pavement or thrown across the room or forgotten in my purse for days at a time. It’s happy to connect to the internet and processes pictures sent to me from other people and it’s communicated a seemingly genuine desire to learn about me, so all the articles it offers will actually be relevant to my interests.
Um, thanks? I guess?
I don’t like phones, but Old Phone was cranky and terrible so I feel like we understood each other, by never understanding each other and not really caring to bother. New Phone is almost certainly going to be a bother.
Oh, well. I’ll get used to it. Yay progress.