|Sans le Nom: Cookery, Rhetoric, and Other Forms of Pandering|
"Now I call this sort of thing pandering, and I declare that it is dishonorable."—Plato
"When a name comes, it immediately says more than the name." —Derrida
August 17, 2008: Remember My Name
This Web site ranks number five in the Google rankings for a search of "chicken crap gunpowder."
Excuse me while I bask in the glory of my fame.
August 16, 2008: An Exercise in Futility
I have labored for many years to get my life in order, you know, to generally keep up with the things people expect me to keep up with: grades, attendance, gas bills, holidays, teeth brushing. Despite appearances to the contrary, this does not come naturally to me. For example, I'm the only woman I know who doesn't know the exact date of her wedding anniversary (and the reason I don't know is because my husband doesn't expect me to, and that's one of the things I most love about him). I know it's some time near the end of May, but if you needed me to be certain, I'd have to spend some time rifling around in the safe to find the marriage certificate. And I'd really rather not. Thank you.
So I've created a system for myself that not only sets off alarms when something urgent is due, it also has a back-up generator for when the power goes out. You may think I'm kidding. I'm not. I've got the one-off list for projects I will only ever do once in my life. I've got both the online and paper calendars for my appointments. I've got THE LIST for daily, weekly, and monthly chores (including my workouts). I've got the tickler file for things that happen less than monthly but more than once. I've got the Molekine to remember all the junk thoughts that threaten to keep me from moving forward. When the summer began, I had the idea that I could more fully implement the system and get everything reasonable routinized and regimented before school started back up again.
And I really have been trying. Hard.
Yet, in the last two and half months, I have managed to show up 24 hours late for a friend's open house and 24 hours early for a hair cut. In the last week I've lost a paring knife, a chef's knife, and my precious Craftsman 10-in-one screwdriver (and I'm not only still searching, but I'm also trying to understand how I could have lost a chef's knife). To top things off, yesterday I showed up for a meeting on campus not only late but also lost (the office had moved to a different building)...
I could add "Change shoes" to THE LIST. But, somehow, I don't think that's the crux of the problem.
August 4, 2008: Strange Brew
I did not want to get out of bed this morning. It's not just the blazing Arkansas heat (the forecast calls for a high of 101 with 69% humidity, which is enough to make anyone want to stay in bed all day), but I also had the most peculiar dream this morning, after my husband's alarm went off at 5:50.
I was walking down an old-town street—one with which I was familiar. In one section there was a row of tiny shops. I knew there was a tea shop among them, owned by a Hindi fellow, but it had apparently moved down the row somewhere because I went into shop after shop inquiring after it: a tobacconist, a news stand, a patisserie. When, at last, I finally found it, the shop was dense with the smoke of roasting tea. The shopkeepers were Chinese-Malaysian—a young man and a young woman dressed in t-shirts and blue jeans. I asked the young woman for jasmine tea. She said, "Follow me." At first I thought, "Where?" because the shop was so cramped, but as I followed her, it grew—the wooden shelves that lined the walls extended themselves farther up and the glass counters multiplied, snaking around and fanning out to form a warren of alcoves and dead ends. As we made our way back, the young woman kept stopping and showing me various and sundry items devoted to making tea. I suspected I was getting one of the more protracted sales pitches, but I didn't mind so much because they were a fascinating, museum-like assortment: ancient tea pots, antique spoons and strainers, bamboo roasters, a scoop carved out of teak with a giraffe for a handle, and all my favorite teas—rose oolong, Darjeeling, gunpowder green, laspang souchang—in jars and drums, wooden boxes and bins, caldrons and carafes.
At the end of her pitch, down a higgledy-piggledy path that lead to no where in the farthest corners of the now massive and massively confusing shop, the young woman said, "Wait here." I was beginning to wonder about my jasmine tea when she and the young man re-appeared, carrying a great big box. The way their arms were straining and their feet shuffled across the floor, I could tell the box was heavy. They sat it down on one of the glass cases, and I could now see that it was a replica of a Hindu temple with intricate carvings of strange beasts, exotic gods like Shiva and Ganesh, and couples acting out the Kama Sutra—all in overwhelming detail—like the temples of South India.
The young woman began opening the box and explaining to me how it worked. As she did so, she would pause to praise its particular features to both the young man and me, except that either she was speaking in Chinese or she was so excited her speech became garbled or I was so excited I couldn't understand. When she was finished opening the box, it had unfolded, stage-like, into some sort of elaborate puzzle. She pulled a brass knob, which launched two glass beads. They went around and around. A ball dropped through some pins. Figures shifted. Tiles fell into their places like dominoes. At the end of it, the young woman opened a trap door in the puzzle, and there was a steaming cup of jasmine tea. How on earth did it get there? Did it drop down from some invisible elevator in the sky? Did it arrive piping hot or was heated up in the box?
The Indian fellow who owned the shop popped out from behind a curtain and asked, "Would you like to buy it?" I looked at the price tag attached to the box by a string: $119. That seemed like a reasonable price for such a marvelous object. I mulled it over for a second and looked at the tag again. Now it said, "$129" And then "$179." And then "$279." The price kept going higher before my very eyes. Just as I knew I couldn't afford the puzzle box, the dream ended.
And I'm still bitterly disappointed that I didn't get to taste that cup of tea.
I teach; cook; write; hike; read; dally; canoe; eat; write; rock 'n roll; eat some more; tumble and fall; dawdle; complain; bento; write; organize; watch movies; ignore e-mail; renovate; write; curse computers; brew my tea dark and bitter; herd cats; live in Arkansas; Plato, Derrida, and rhetoric (yes, those are verbs); remain overly cautious; persuade; imbibe; GTD; and oh, yeah, I write a little.
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2004-2008 by Jennifer Deering. All rights