I’ve been about to clean my house for a week now, but first I had to create a playlist of just the right music, but before I could do that, I had to get recommendations, and then I had to listen to the suggestions, and then, while I was at it, I might as well listen to related artists, and then I should probably go to allmusic.com and read up on everyone, and then download a bunch of songs and put them through my rigorous method of getting onto the various playlists, and then, well, entire days have elapsed this way, with a lot of yoga and a little bit of hospital visiting sprinkled in there. This is what I do when I say I’m writing.
So today I decided I should go to the store, test drive the housecleaning playlist and start moving forward towards creating a thanksgiving feast.
I wander around the store aimlessly for a while watching all the bustling people, and it’s all going so fast. Which makes me think about coffee. So I go to the coffee aisle, select some beans, and start grinding them. A woman walks up holding a small plastic can of folgers decaf, and asks which is better: the fresh Tully’s beans that I’m purchasing, or the folgers that was probably ground in Kansas City in 1964.
“Well, I prefer this,” I say, trying to be tactful. “Who will be drinking the coffee?”
“My grown children. They’re coffee drinkers. Should I get the kind you’re getting?”
I didn’t know how to respond, so I was quiet for a minute, which gave her the chance to tell me about her husband’s back surgery, and how he’s doing okay, but the kids are cooking the thanksgiving meal, and they went to Olympia to get a real turkey from a farm. She said she’s never had a real turkey before. I didn’t know what she meant by that, so I was quiet again, or maybe I should say “still”, and she used that gap to tell me that all she has to do is set the table, provide the coffee, and make a salad. She pointed to two large bags of shredded iceberg lettuce in her cart next to a large jar of ranch dressing.
“I think your kids might enjoy this coffee,” I said, indicating the fresh beans.
“Oh, you’ve been so helpful,” she said.
“Uh, glad to hear it. Have a nice thanksgiving,“ I responded.
I had no idea where my cart was, so I wandered around for a while and remembered that I wanted to buy ammonia, which wasn’t on my list. I had to hunt for it, because it’s on the bottom shelf. While I was searching in the cleaning supply aisle, a woman walked up to me.
“I saw this show, I think it was Oprah. No, maybe it was something else. It was about our cleaning products, and how poison they are. Did you know you can use vinegar for just about everything?”
“Oh, that’s great,” I said as I picked up the ammonia.
“What do you use ammonia for?”
I didn’t really want to tell her. I didn’t want her to know that I’ve been growing lettuce under lights in my kitchen for about a month, and it’s not very vigorous, and I’ve been hunting around my house for a cheap nitrogen source. And I know where to get nitrogen, but seriously, I’m not going to pee on the lettuce.
“Oh, just cleaning,” I answered.
“Yeah, see, I think you can get by with vinegar. You might want to reconsider,” she said as she walked away.
I sat down in the cleaning aisle and composed an e-mail to my writing teacher on my tiny cell phone, the kind that’s smart-ish, but not really meant for that sort of thing.
“Why am I writing this dark book again? It’s kind of slow and painful and maybe I should scrap it.”
By the time she replied I was in the produce section, fondling the pomegranates. She said she knows. She knows how hard it is. She’s trying to write her own book about divorce, and has spent the morning researching plane tickets to Hawaii, talking to the cat, preparing and eating three breakfasts, and designing a kitchen remodel. And now she’s writing her book as a fictional story where the main character can be as bat shit crazy as she wants, and no one will ask what’s wrong with her, they’ll just think the author is really creative.
A woman came up to me as I was reading the e-mail and asked if I’ve had any pomegranates yet this year.
“Oh, I had one yesterday, you can see the stains on my fingers still.” She held her blood-stained palm up to my face, and I nodded, as she continued. “How do you extract the seeds? I’ve tried a few ways, but I usually just slice them into hemispheres. That’s what I do.”
“Me too,” I said, mostly just to be agreeable, but I have done it that way. I stayed crouched there for a minute and texted C. “I think I’m going to change my book to fiction.”
“Yes. It could be funny and interesting.”
“That’s a huge and important question. We need to talk.”
“You mean text messaging isn’t the best way to have huge and important conversations?”
To her credit, she didn’t reply.