Sunday, September 21, 2003

I have spent the last week absolutely freaking obsessed with reorganizing, refurbishing, and redecorating my apartment. I have been in major feathernesting mode . . . I pulled out every single one of my closets, cupboards, and drawers and reorganized them completely . . . yanking out junk and setting up user-friendly systems that are more in line with my current work and domestic habits. I bought various new small kitchen appliances and cooking tools, revised color schemes, put together a couple pieces of new furniture, and scrubbed and cleaned the entire apartment down from top to bottom. In other words, there has been a veritable flurry of compulsive domestic activity . . . like I said, it's as if I've developed a case of Tourette's Syndrome, with Martha Stewart tics. The thing of it is, I always feel compelled to engage in hardcore nesting activities at the start of entering into a period of concentrated writing activity . . . say, for example, at the start of the summer. I do most of my work at home, and it helps me immensely if my space feels pleasant and orderly . . . plus, okay, I have obsessive compulsive disorder, and I fully admit to being more easily distracted/overwhelmed/offended/enraged by small, weird details in my environment than most people. So yes . . there is that to contend with as well. Although it's weird . . . I seem to vacillate between states of domestic obsession and domestic sluttiness, and it's frequently one or the other, without much in the way of a happy medium. I like my new space, though . . . and now I can turn my full attention to writing again without annoying environmental distractions.

Tonight I'm just relaxing and enjoying things . . . looking over my notes and research a bit, the clink and thump of laundry tumbling around in the dryer in the basement, watching episodes of Buffy. There's a Tulip Yankee Candle burning, hypnotic groove of the Beta Band playing in the background, and in the kitchen, a pork roast with balsamic-glazed vegetables is slowly simmering its way to deliciousness in the crockpot. (Granted, due to a miscalculatedly late start, all of this crockpotty goodness won't actually be ready to eat until about 2:00 in the morning . . . but that's a minor, persnickety detail, right?)

Last night I had my friends S. and C. over for a cheesecake party . . . due to my obsessive nesting, I hadn't seen much of them since I returned to the country from my extended interlude with
The Canadian Dyke. I was actually able to find some marvelous fresh blackberries at the grocery store, and so I made the cheesecake with blackberries, which is how I like it best. It's a nice sort of a summery cheesecake . . . a bit lighter, with ricotta, sour cream, lemon zest, eggs. sugar, and cream cheese . . . and blackberries of course. The best part, though, is the crust, which is made out of slivered bits of almonds and plain English tea biscuits (I was able to find a package of Peak Freens Arrowroot Biscuits (Product of Canada!) which worked out very well.) It makes for a very elegant sort of a cheesecake crust.

At any rate, the cheesecake turned out well, which is crucial if one is going to throw a cheesecake party, and furthermore, one of the highlights of the evening was that C. had found a snakeskin in her garden and had brought it over in her pocket. She brought it out to show me, and I made such appreciative oohing and aahing noises that she gave it to me, which made me exceedingly happy!! It made me think of the Elizabeth Bishop poem, "Santarem" . . . in the last paragraph, the speaker/Bishop, who is traveling in South America, recounts:

In the blue pharmacy the pharmacist
had hung an empty wasps' nest from a shelf:
small, exquisite, clean matte white,
and hard as stucco. I admired it
so much he gave it to me.
Then -- my ship's whistle blew. I coudn't stay.
Back on board, a fellow-passenger, Mr. Swan,
Dutch, the retiring head of Philips Electric,
really a very nice old man,
who wanted to see the Amazon before he died,
asked, "What's that ugly thing?"

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Books by Artichoke Heart
Beyond Heart Mountain
Year of the Snake

Poems by Artichoke Heart
Songs for a Rainy Season
Toothpick Warriors
Snake Wife
Happy Hour
Girl With A Bowl On Her Head

Pillow Book Courtiers Of The
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Pillow Book Courtiers Of The
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