from The Poet Holds a Gun
The bullet is a simple, adolescent heartache.
When guns go off around you, you wince like a single sheet
and nothing in your body has ever been so simultaneous
not even orgasm which is more like the hungry sea
meeting an Aeolian beach with their sweet
caper storms and lemon trees. An orgasm
has more surface area and salt than a gun.
Aquafaba is strange and miraculous.
Aquafaba vegan chocolate mousse – version 1
Aquafaba, the equivalent of four egg whites
1 cup sugar
Several tablespoons of sifted unsweetened cocoa
(You could also add vanilla extract and/or vanilla bean powder when you’re adding the cocoa. You can also add a lot more cocoa if you prefer. I used about two tablespoons, so it has a light chocolate touch.
Heat sugar and aquafaba, whisking together, in a glass bowl over a saucepan filled with water, gently simmering.
When the sugar is completely dissolved, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Use the whisk attachment to whisk at high speed until it comes together in medium peaks.
Sift cocoa in and this point and continue to whisk – this will take while but will become fluffy eventually.
Put in individual serving bowls and refrigerate for a few hours.
It’s not ‘pretty’, and this won’t be quite like the mousse you might be used to. It is very light but has a chocolatey marshmallow flavor.
This is a very simple version of a kind of vegan “mousse” you could make if you want something chocolate, light, easy, and vegan. I will soon try another version.
Losing as Its Own Flower
–Naomi Shihab NyeWhat if we had just said, OK we lose.
How would they have treated us then? I ask my people, they gasp,
and all have different answers.
No, no, we can never give up.
Stay strong, keep speaking truth.
Truth unfolds in the gardens,
massive cabbages, succulent tomatoes,
orange petals billowing,
even when the drought is long.
Hang on tightly to what we have,
though just a scrap. The ancestors would be ashamed
if we gave up. The invaders said our land
was barren and sad.
They said we were anti-Semitic.
But we were Semites too.
What could we do?Giving up is different from losing.
In a way, we did lose. Where is everybody?
Scattered around the world like pollen.
Disappeared into the sunset.
Mingling with other cultures
in the great bubbling stew of the world.
See, we are good at that, why couldn’t we
have done better with our invaders?
They came pretending we were
an alien species. Said they had deep ties here,
some of them did, but what about ours?
Why couldn’t we all have ties?
They said God said.
We replied, See the stone stoop of my house
with my rubbed footprints in it
after all these years?
See my shining key?
They said we made everything up.
We were crazy.
Is losing worse than being called crazy?
So we did lose. We lost our rhythm of regular living.
You want the page to be clean.
The day wide open, nobody suffering.
We lost our bearings, their voices
blew hard on us, trying to erase,
turning us inside out in their minds,
changing what we became.
Tried to make the world see us that way too.
We were the undeserving.
See what people do?
We could live up to their lies if
they made us crazy enough.
So we did lose.
Professors, educated students, best maker of maklouba,
math students of Gaza, embroiderers of the West Bank,
lemon vendors, grapefruit-growers,
artist who stayed in her room painting egg cartons
for so many days, where are you?
(She went to Italy.)
I too dream of Italy, France, Greece.
A village climbing a hill
where I’m not always looking back
over my shoulder,
eyes aren’t tipping to the sides
to catch approaching tanks and jeeps,
but this is my job.
Before speech, a baby makes a cat-cry.
Maybe I knew even then.
To document. To pay attention.
We wore striped T-shirts, they wore camouflage.
To be with my family on our ground.
If you live like a real human being –
that is the issue. Not winning and hunting others.
Not sending your sewage their direction.
Did you know? Did you know they do this?
Not just refusing to lose.
In emptying the cupboards all the remains are lentils, dried legumes and tinned tomato. For a while a few containers of coconut milk lingered.
In the last few days I’ve made ugly variations on this recipe (if you could really call it that) using different sorts of lentils I had on hand.
Variations on lentil slop
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 bunch of cilantro (I have not had any of this, but used coriander powder)
1 tablespoon curry
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1 (or 1.5c) cup lentils
1 can coconut milk (15 ounce/standard size) or 1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth or water
pinch of salt
Saute onion for about 3 minutes, add garlic, ginger, cilantro and saute another minute. Stir in the other spices – be creative and choose what to add and in what your proportion to your own taste.
Rinse your lentils and add to the pan along with the coconut milk. If you’re using tomato instead of coconut milk (or in addition), you might want to add the tomatoes to the spice mixture to simmer for a bit before adding the lentils. Stir everything together once it’s in the pan. Bring mixture to boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every so often until the lentils are soft.
I’m on the horizon of a seven hour trip and it’s quiet.
A man walks across the early highway, the sun is almost up.
You’re far away and swimming. How many bodies of water
will I cross before I solve myself.
I’m going to a wedding. Being single is expensive,
especially at weddings. I try not to think about
the cost of my solitude. Mostly I like it here.
On the train, the terrain is still familiar, but soon
we’ll slide past the capital and then anything could happen.
I’m in a set of seats reserved for parties of two.
A man pacing the aisle is having the same dilemma
and the conductor is imminent. I can’t decide if I’ll be my gentle self
and move to sit next to a stranger. I can’t decide
how much of this matters. I can’t decide anything anymore.
I’m tired. The conductor has given me a pass. Maybe she saw into me,
that I’m headed to a hotel room alone, to a wedding alone,
that I stop myself from speaking more often than not. It’s hard to say
that I used to love someone, that now I might love someone else,
because I’m a coward. Squat buildings mile-mark the train’s progress.
Will it feel good to pass my childhood home and keep going?
Have I ever actually left? I catch myself asking permission, often
feel like I’m getting away with something.
Absence makes the heart grow absent. Do I love you
or the way you move through the world. Does it matter.
The landscape unlocks tree after tree. It makes itself just ahead of me.
The train slows so as not to outrun the physical world.
Parenting: the not-so-gentle letdown of expectations. There’s a reason the word for “baby carriage” translates to “consequence wagon” in some languages.
My great takeaway from both Breeders and Workin’ Moms is that, as Martin Freeman‘s character in Breeders says (and here I paraphrase): at every moment you would sacrifice your life for your child’s… but at every moment you also want to kill that child. I suspect that this frustration, which suffuses parenthood (not to be mistaken for the groan-worthy tv show, Parenthood, with which we’ve been threatened by a reboot) in general, and the direction of Breeders in particular, is common. While that very specific angst and tension of feeling was not as palpable in Workin’ Moms (again, it’s Canadian and feels Canadian), the thematic underpinnings are… essentially the same.
Workin’ Moms: Boobs out, poo on the delivery table
I won’t dwell too much on Workin’ Moms, as a matter of fact, because, while entertaining, it didn’t stay with me in the same way as Breeders. Sure, Moms offered entertaining “filler” and presented some of the things viewers expect from such a sitcom in, let’s say, the ‘modern era’: irreverent and frank discussion on sex drives and breast pumps; exhaustion; the pull of career demands pitted against family-life; the condescension among moms in mom groups; societal, marital, personal expectations about how and when you tackle different milestones in your post-partum life.
I’m glad this exists, and it’s not disappointing as long as you know what it is. It just doesn’t grab me because I don’t feel it’s charting new territory. Honestly, it doesn’t have to. It is reliably funny and awkward in ways both relatable and not-so-relatable. Still, this so-called modern era is populated by a whole lot of people who believe we should return to a time when you couldn’t say the word “pregnant” on network television, and this conservative thread should be countered by relatively realistic stories like Workin’ Moms.
Frankly, women should be well and truly tired of and pissed off by men trying to dictate what they can and cannot say or do. In fact they should also be pissed off by other women doing the same – Mrs. America is a glimpse into a world of smart women who actively work against their own best interests, or rather espouse a philosophy that restricts and limits the freedoms of others. Either way, no one wants their entertainment tastes and preferences limited artificially.
Anyway, apparently season 5 is on its way.
Breeders: Beleaguered and praying to David Bowie
I’m not a parent so the struggles of the main characters here aren’t mine. I can’t explain why this spoke to and remained with me as I watched it. One could argue that the exploration of parenthood and how it transforms relationships, life and everything in it is shallow and overly focused on the selfish frustration that often manages to escape. In that sense it does not tread any newer ground than Workin’ Moms.
Perhaps the difference here is that Freeman’s character, Paul, is more central to this story, managing much of the parenting and childcare while his wife forges on with her career, albeit burdened by tremendous guilt. Freeman’s Paul is explosive in his impatience with the kids, semi-repentant afterwards, and it is this that is new in this exploration. We get a deeper (although not deep) view into fatherhood in Breeders, both from Paul’s experience and the experience of the central couple’s fathers. In particular, Ally’s (Daisy Haggard) absentee father (Michael McKean) appears and stirs things up. Both Paul and Ally’s fathers, whether present in their upbringing or not, reflect a different kind of fatherhood – absent, hands-off, disengaged. Paul may let his temper get the best of him, but he is fully engaged, and it is not a picture of fatherhood I am all that used to seeing depicted onscreen.
Part of what increasingly turned me off as the three seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale unfolded was the tendency to torture for torture’s sake. After the first season, we got the point. Watching its abundance and extremes play out didn’t add value to the story and plight of the characters. It felt like we were being bathed in torture porn.
Watching the television adaptation of Wally Lamb’s book, I Know This Much Is True, feels similar. It is being besieged by the torpor of other people’s grief, the heartsick hopelessness of spiraling mental illness, the relentless anger unleashed as life goes by.
The setting is grey; the mood is dark and ominous – it dwells on unpleasant moment after unpleasant moment, and relies on performances that are raw and tortured. This is not to say that it isn’t a well-told story; it’s exceptionally well done, and the performances are outstanding, particularly from Mark Ruffalo and Kathryn Hahn. But it’s painful and sad drudgery to watch.
Walking in the Woods
That’s when I saw the old maple
a couple of its thick arms cracked
one arm reclining half rotted
into earth black with the delicious
hospitality of rot to the
the tree not really dying living
less widely green head high
above the other leaf-crowded
trees a terrible stretch to sun
just to stay alive but if you’ve
liked life you do it