Thursday, June 28, 2007

My New Home.

I went to the Texas Department of Public Safety today and applied for a Texas driver's license today. The woman who processed my application took my New York license and wouldn't give it back. I guess they figure once you're a Texan you don't need to be anything else.

Even with all the moving around I've done since 1998, I still had a New York license. It came up for renewal when I happened to be living in Jersey City for a year, in 2002 (after I'd lived in Nashville for two years and on the road for two years), and it was so easy to renew it by mail -- and I was almost living in New York, I was right across the river -- so I just did it. Since then I haven't really had a home anywhere, till now.

I love my new Texas home, despite the fact that, after just spending half an hour on the front porch reading and drinking a beer, I have 40 mosquito bites on my ankles -- really, forty. But, because I can sit on my porch at 7 in the evening in late June and drink a beer and read a book, I know my life is pretty damn good.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


It struck me very funny today to think that I suddenly have this tremendous feeling of security knowing that I will be graduating from college in 2 years, about $20,000 in debt, with a liberal arts degree. I guess it says a lot about the course of my life that this is probably the safest choice I've ever made.

I feel secure knowing that I will not have to think a whole lot about where the money is coming from for a while, but there's also a bit of the traditional something-to-fall-back-on feeling mixed in there, because I find myself thinking that, with a degree, I can always teach to make a living.

I think in the past most of my resistance to finishing a degree came from a fear that I would relent, that I would give up my art and take a teaching job if I could. If it got too hard. Because I knew I would be good at teaching, and because I like school. And because it would be easier. Maybe now, after 25 years of not giving myself anything to fall back on, I have more confidence. I know that, even if I end up teaching, I'll still be an artist.

So I'm ready to introduce the possibility of security. But a liberal arts degree is a pretty flimsy security. Then again, is there any security that's not flimsy? (The answer to that question is "no," by the way.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Fried Okra.

I just fried some okra, and it was about the easiest thing I've ever done that tasted that good. Cut the okra into half-inch rounds (they're not really round, but you know what I mean) and put in a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and cover with water. Refrigerate for an hour. Then drain the okra in a colander, but don't rinse it. You want it to be sticky.

Put some cornmeal on a plate with lots of salt and pepper, heat up about an inch and a half or more of vegetable oil in a pan -- use a wok, you'll need less oil -- over medium-high heat. The oil is hot enough when you throw a pinch of cornmeal into it and it goes bwishhhhhh and floats.

Dredge the okra in the cornmeal, try to coat it pretty well, and throw it in the oil in batches. Too much at a time will bring down the temperature of the oil. Move them around with a slotted spoon, try to flip them over, but don't worry too much if some of them won't. When they change color a bit, pull them out and put them on paper towels or newspaper.

Serve NOW!

(Save and re-use the oil. Put it in a jar in the fridge and it'll last for weeks.)

I also made a batch of pumpkin muffins which are just about ready to come out of the oven. And I'm soaking some posole to make a vegetarian posole stew tomorrow.

The food at the drug trials makes me crazy. It's not that it's so bad. In fact, it's really okay. It could be worse. There are people, after all, who eat flour mixed with dirt every day. It's just all very processed and characterless. It's loveless nutrition.

Yet, when I'm there I look forward to meals. Sometimes, depending on the protocol of the trial, there will be periods of fasting, so I'm famished and can't wait for dinner, but even when we're not fasting, meals are breaks in the long days of ECGs and blood draws, or just long days of reading.

It's a cycle of disappointment. I look forward to the meals yet they are never satisfying. It's the samsara of drug testing.

I need some real food.

Laundry and Peeing All Over Everything.

This morning I woke up at a little before 7 from a dream in which I was spraying urine all over everything in somebody's house and couldn't stop. I pulled the skin of my penis up over the top and pinched it to try to stop the flow but it just turned into a fine mist. I thought if I could get the spray fine enough and keep moving so as not to spray too much in any one place, maybe no one would notice. But the finer the mist, the longer I kept peeing, all over a couch, chairs, a table, the floor.

In some of these drug trials, they collect your urine for a given period of time. Every drop of it. They send you into the bathroom with a plastic container and you drop it off on the way out. And then during that period, there are specific times at which you have to produce at least 40 ml of urine. We're always drinking lots of water anyway, to keep hydrated, which makes the blood draws easier, so we're peeing often, but still we have to be aware of the time and not empty our bladders too soon before those times when they want the 40 ml.

So when I woke up at 7, I had to pee but I knew I had to pee again at 8:10 and I was worried that if I peed at 7, I might not have to go again at 8:10, at least not 40 ml worth.

I was a bed-wetter when I was a kid, and usually the way it happened was that I would dream I was peeing and wake up to find that I actually had. It was a big deal when I started to wake up from those dreams not having wet the bed. I still fairly often have dreams of urinating in inappropriate places. And I still wake up extremely relieved that the bed is dry and I still have to go.

Which leads me to laundry. J and I got a washing machine a few weeks ago. Though trips to the laundromat have not been as onerous the last few years, now that I have so few clothes, still it's nice to be free of that. And I'm happy that we're air-drying our clothes, which is a big energy savings.

But it's been an adjustment for me. I was never one to separate laundry. I just threw it all in there, rugs, underwear, towels, t-shirts, everything. And it all came out clean. White t-shirts didn't stay white very long, but that didn't matter so much to me. Even the plastic shower curtain liner came out sparkling.

Not so with the our new washing machine. All my black pants and t-shirts came out with splotches of white powder from the soap and fuzzy lint from the towels. And my white t-shirts weren't just dingy, they had brown stains that weren't there when I threw them in. I tried the "extra rinse" feature and the "extra spin." I tried the "heavy duty" cycle. Same thing. For a while, I was washing all my dark clothes twice, the second time with no soap, just to rinse out the white spots.

Of course, J's laundry comes out fine. He separates, and that's what I'm going to start doing. Not just lights from darks, but towels from everything, to avoid the fuzz. I still don't know how he avoids the white powder problem. I've switched to liquid detergent, and I'm not happy about it because it costs more.