Thursday, October 30, 2003

The Week-end

The fund raiser came off without a hitch and was enjoyed by all. My gumbo was fabulous, even if I say so myself. The boudin balls were a delightful surprise to my little group of California foodies. Ain't nothing like discovering a new food to make them go nuts. The weakest link in the dinner was the crab cocktails, but no one sticks their nose up at a generous serving of crab. I made Helen Corbitt's cocktail sauce which was a nice touch. Dessert was a freezer version of keylime pie.

Friday night, however, my car died. My poor old cadillac. I was cruising down Oak Street in San Francisco and suddenly every light on the dash came on, and there are a lot of them. I was warned that the engine was overheating, my electrical system was failing and then my power steering went out. I was sure the car was doomed.

Okay, when the car died Friday night, I parked it and walked away from it. I gave the s.o.b. to the universe. I refused to go near it on Saturday (NOT that I had time, but I didn't anyway). On Sunday I went into San Francisco and checked on it. It was fine. No parking tickets, depsite the fact that it was in a location that warned that street cleaning occurred daily. I did notice that there was a lack of signs of extreme motor duress. So, I blessed it again and promised I'd be back.

On Monday morning, I checked in with it again and still no tickets. At that point in time, if the rules had been followed, I could have had as many as a dozen parking tickets. Is that a sign from God or what? I called Triple A and had it towed to a garage recommended by the tow truck driver. It was close by. They took it in, diagnosed the problem, called me within an hour with an estimate, and by 4 o'clock, had my car ready. Bear in mind, I was ready to walk away from it as a hopeless and expensive cause. I did not blow the engine, I only lost a waterpump. So, once again, I have a car. I am so happy.

Well, not entirely. Do you ever do computer dating? I'm registered with several: Yahoo Singles, Chicago Singles, Planet Out (or some such shit), and occasionally I run ads on Craigs List. I'm not always sure I'm looking for someone, but as long as I'm single, I dutifully put bait on the hook and cast the line. About the only ads I never answer are the ones who are looking for a hairy chested alpha male. I am defintely not that, and besides, that's what I'm looking for. But I love to meet people. It's like an old fisherman who talks to everyone he sees. Since we're all looking for fish, we do have something in common and something to talk about.

So I answered an ad of this real cute guy who, by his own admission likes my stories, enjoys my writing, blah, blah, blah, but feels it necessary to write to me and tell me that our "chemistry" is not right. Excuse me? What chemistry? We haven't met yet. How can one determine "chemistry"? I think he wasn't honest in his ad, and that annoys me. A lot of guys won't say that they're only interested in White men, so they write an ad that is inclusive and then they just don't respond to Blacks. Same with HIV, same with age. Oh, well. Next?

Friday, October 24, 2003


Sounds kind of pretentious to say it, but it means different things to different people. How about, I had an epiphany? Well, walking to work the other morning, suddenly, a light went off in my head. Oh. And I can couch it it buddhist terms, christian terms, California-new-age-let's-all-feel-good terms, but in the language of my people, I figgered something out. I figured out how to let go of some of the struggle. A weight was lifted off of my shoulders. A close friend dismissed it by saying it was just my drugs kicking in, but that's not true. It is true that I had a third cup of coffee that morning, but it was more than that.

For the past few months, I've been less energetic than usual. OH, hell, I was seriously depressed. Wasn't nothing wrong with me as far as I could tell. I was a year older and fatter, working at a dead-end job that I'm trying to milk out another half dozen years, have lost interest in a sexual relationship of any sort, what could I possibly have to be depressed about? On top of that, I felt like I was skiing down an expert slope and I'm a beginner. Everything was going a little too fast and I felt that I was in the last turn instead of the next. There was this layer of anxiety. I didn't feel like I could pull it off. I was losing control.

Control is an illusion, anyway, right? I have no control over anything. Never had. I surrendered that illusion Tuesday morning while walking to work. With that surrender came the most peaceful feeling. I'm three days into it, and maybe it won't last out the week and I'll go back to that steep slope, but I don't think so. But even if I do, I won't be quite as afraid as I was two or three weeks ago.

Tomorrow I'm cooking gumbo for 16 people I don't know. I donated a gumbo supper/cooking demonstration to my girlfriend's choral group, the San Francisco Choral Society. Usually we sell 4 slots for about $50 each. It's a total win-win situation. I get to have nice people come over for a smart party where I get to entertain in my best Louisiana or Texas accent, show off my china and silver, regale them with tales of my life on the bayous "back home." The choral society gets a $200 cash gift, the people get a lesson in making gumbo, and we have one fun afternoon. I play cajun music, ply them wine, and real good food. This year, a couple who bought tickets, asked if they could invite their cooking club along, adding 10 to the count. That's $800 to the chorus and oh, my god, I've got a crowd coming over to eat.

I've noticed that when one is depressed that their house cleaning skills seem to be one of the first things to go. I looked around my house and thought, oh my god, I can't let people see this mess. Then I remembered Tuesday's epiphany and thought, people aren't necessarily looking at the things you're pointing to. Sometimes they're just looking at you point. You know, I think my place is charming, just as it is. Is it a mess? No, I prefer to think it has a "lived in" feeling to it. Those people are coming to taste my gumbo, not to judge my housekeeping. (I will clean the cabinets, floors and bathrooms and put out flowers, but that's it! The tub doesn't need to be scrubbed--no one's going to be taking a bath, ya' know?)

I'm cooking chicken and sausage gumbo. The reason it takes a cooking lesson to cook gumbo right, is because you can't start with a recipe and do a traditional gumbo unless someone has showed you how. Why? Because you wouldn't know if you got it right or not. It's not because it's hard to do.

My families started arriving in Louisiana in the late 1780's, about 20 years behind the Cajuns, following them into the back bayous of southwestern Louisiana. It didn't take ten years to begin seeing our names marrying theirs. We immediately became part of Louisiana's fusion of culture. I'm pretty sure my people, the Ashworths and Perkins and Clarks and Drakes and Bunches and a dozen others, reflected the Scots-Irish culture of backcountry South Carolina. Cooking was at best primitive. Meat would probably be stewed or fried. Bread would be corn pone. It is doubtful that they even had sourdough. Next to the Cajuns we were primitives. We were also Baptist and they were Catholic, but still there was intermarriage. Abner and William Ashworth, the sons of Keziah Dial and James Ashworth, married Cajun women: Abner to Rosalie Gallier, and William to Deliede Gallier. Thank god for it, too, because the cooking in our family got good, quickly.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

How Stupid is Stupid?

I gotta ask this question.

Here's the set-up: there's this guy who feels a connection to bears. He's an amateur, but he's had a modicum of success in marketing his connection. I don't imagine he's a bad guy, just a little obsessed to the point of lacking a certain ability to stay rooted in reality. I mean the potential has always been there. It always is when someone successfully markets an avocation.

Okay, this guy's name is Timothy Treadwell, and according the L.A. Times. I'm going to link to the Times story, but you have to register with them in order to read it, so don't be afraid. Anyway, this dude has a reputation with the Park Service up there as not having a realistic attitude about the bears, and in their opinion, he takes too many chances. Make that took too many chances, cause, he's daid now. He was eat by a bear.

But that's not why I'm writing about stupid. By cruel irony and coincidence, we have an audio recording of his last moments. ("Chomp, chomp, chomp.") I apologize to anyone who's sensibilities I offend with this.

"...the tape begins with sounds of Treadwell screaming that he is being attacked and calling for help to Huguenard [Treadwell's companion whom we are given to believe was his girlfriend], who was apparently still inside a tent.

"It's obvious that the attack was going on before the tape was turned on," said Wilkinson, who then repeated quotes from the tapes.

"Come out here; I'm being killed out here," Treadwell said.

"Play dead!" Huguenard yelled in reply.

"That strategy is commonly used to pacify angry bears in an attack. But Treadwell told Huguenard the strategy wasn't working and she then urged him to "fight back."

"Treadwell, who never carried weapons [emphasis mine], then asked her to get a pan and to hit the bear, police said.

"At that point, the tape stops. Much of it is fuzzy or inaudible . . . .

We are left assuming that she grabbed a frying pan and went after a thousand pound grizzily. More probably? I don't know. Did she try playing dead in the tent only to have the bear rip it apart to get to her? What do you think she did? What would you have done?

But do you understand my question? How stupid is stupid?

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

What Do Conservatives Want for Us?

In a op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal today, Andrew Sullivan asks If it's not a crime to be gay, why can't we get married? I don't know, Andrew, they're your friends. Be sure to tell us what the answer is.

Meanwhile, back in Texas, a Republican state senator says to one of the Democrats, "If you're going to act like Mexicans, then you're going to be treated like them." (via Eric Alterman)

Now let's talk about California's recall. So long, Gray, hello Arnold. Eric Alterman sums it up well for me. Quoting Eric, "This is a lesson to Democrats everywhere. Don’t think you can win if you ignore your base. They will ignore you back. . . . If Arnold makes politics fun and interesting again, well then, I’m all for it. And if he screws up the state horribly, well then, tough luck. You people [we] voted for him."

Maybe Robert Rosencrantz can get a break now. The Governor-elect understands that people sometimes deserve a second chance. That seems to be something that Davis never understood.