Traffic #3

“Shonda, look!” James exclaimed. Shonda was looking.  Looking right out the window. She was looking as far as she could see. If she could have, she would have looked her way right out of that car, right out of her marriage, right out of her life. Not life itself, let there be no mistake about that, but her life. The one with all the mistakes. The one where she was married to a shoe salesman.

“Remember those orange shoes. Those prison orange shoes. The one that I told the boss he should send back because no one would buy them.”

Never one to miss the chance to correct him, she abruptly added, “The shoes you came running home to tell me about when someone bought them. The shoes that got you in a sour mood when I told you that you shouldn’t cut down your boss. Especially when it comes to decisions that he makes about the business he’s running.”

Shonda added to the mental hash marks she had acquired against him. James 36- Shonda 4078. Poor James couldn’t have even been right 50 times in 10 years of marriage. Not 5 times a year, not even every other month could he be right. Shonda had enjoyed it, particularly how every hash mark seemed to make him a bit shorter than he had been before.

“Ok, Shonda.”

He resolved to be silent. If he did not speak, she could not prove him wrong. Without that, she was nothing but a drain on the household economy. It would have been perfect if he could have pulled it off. You could tell that he couldn’t by just looking at him. If he got shorter and shorter every time she cut him down, those missing inches found their way to his waist. The members of his hairline were abandoning ship one-by-one. One-by-one isn’t too bad except when they are so anxious to leave that you have to wonder if they were taking numbers. The sweat stains on his shirt looked, even from a distance, like rings of frustration. No, this was not a man capable of orchestrating a silent treatment.

“There she is.”

“What are you saying now, James?”

“There she is. The woman who bought the orange shoes. I just thought you might want to see her.”

“Why would I want to see one of those discount shoe store shoppers?” She laughed as if she were somehow of a different caste than he. She laughed as if a discount shoe salesman/ice truck driver/midnight shift stocker wasn’t the man working three jobs so that she didn’t have to buy discount shoes. She laughed like she laughs when she beats him out of the driveway, he on his way to work and she on her way to the mall to buy things that will never divorce their price tags.

Despite the laughter, she looked up and saw a woman jogging, striding down the freeway naked, with the exception of those shoes. Instinctively Shonda took stock of the woman. She was young and taut. If she had a husband at home, she wouldn’t have all of that time for working out.

“What are you looking at?” Shonda accused James.

“Why can’t you talk nice to me sometimes,” James asked her, softly, still staring after his customer.

“Talk nice to you so you can feel warm inside while you watch these girls.” Shonda’s disgust dripped from her lips like blood from a boxer’s wound. Her condescension was strong enough to shroud the forest of jealousy that had sprung up around her.

Never before had James wanted to hit Shonda, but something vicious roused from its dormancy. It was hungry, it wanted to devour her. It told him that she had better be glad that they were stuck in the middle of traffic with so many witnesses. He knew that there were people with cameras ready to record the colors of his rage, crimson, cranberry, scarlet, the colors of her blood, poppy, brick, fire-engine. He bit at the insides of his mouth, not enough to draw blood, but enough to taste it, enough to keep him from hitting her, from grabbing her by the hair and pushing her face toward the dashboard. He wondered what it would feel like to break her nose.

“What’s the matter, James? You don’t hear me?” Shonda asked.

“What’s the matter with you? You can’t work?” The dam was weakening, the deluge growing nearer.

“What did you say to me, James?”

“You know what, Shonda, all I want to know is whether you saw the shoes?”

***

Want to catch up on the story? Do it here.

 

 

Links I Like #36

linksilike

Oh no! Someone wrote about my favorite dressing tip. Practice? Dresses over pants. When you’re of ample thigh and of long leg, sometimes you have to take extra steps for what feels like appropriate coverage. via shutterbean

Recently, I wanted a piece of pie with all of my soul. So I procured one. It did not live up to my gustatory fantasies. Maybe this blueberry slab pie can?

I love looking at photos of homes that have a lot of plants in them. I have a few, but I am not a good plant parent (did I just say that? yeah, forget I said that.) I can admire, though. That, and aspire.

This Vegan Cobb Salad with Coconut “Bacon” looks super refreshing.

I’m a pretty voracious eater, but I do have a couple of food quirks. The main one is mayo-hatred. In a close second is a dislike for bottled salad dressing. There’s just something about it I don’t trust even when I’m not afraid that mayo is secretly hiding within. But, I can do a homemade dressing with no problem. So these spoke to me

I loved the Baby Sitters Club books, so this post about this interpretation of their snacks made me so happy.

This Green Chile Adobo Sauce looks so fresh and tasty.

Is there a moral problem to feel lust toward a salad?

Dark. Chocolate. Potato. Chip. Bark.

This Peach Lavender Gin Fizz looks pretty tempting.

I spy another salad. Maybe my cravings are trying to tell me something.

 

That’s Right, I Used To Run

Sweaty mess

When I was much, much younger, we’re talking half my age, I entertained all of these fantasies of running. I held on to them for years and years. The year I turned thirty, I decided that it was time to either start running or let the dream fall to the wayside. That year, I decided that I’d give that year to running, and that if I didn’t like it afterwards, then I would let it go. That year, I got into it. That year, I ran a 10k, a 10 mile race, and later a half marathon. I completed two more half marathons. And finally a marathon.

That marathon did a number of me. It was sort of the end of my fairly consistent running. I was under-trained going into that run and had caught a nasty cold the weeks leading up to that race. I finished, and crossing that finish lines is one of the accomplishments that I’m most proud of. However, after crossing that line, I was pretty sure that I never wanted to do that again. Without a next goal, quite a bit of the wind was stolen from my running sail.

I was browsing at the library when I picked up My Year of Running Dangerously. I like books about people reaching their goals. I’m a real sucker for that genre. Can I call that a genre? Anyway, I finished reading that book a couple days ago, and it made me feel like running. For real. I got up that afternoon and took to the road. It had been probably over a year since I last ran (that I remember anyway), and I decided to give it a go. I did some run/walking, and was glad to have done so, even though it was hot as all get out.

Today, I went again.

This time with no walk breaks. 

That’s how I started running several years ago. Back then, knowing that I could run for a couple miles, without walking made running much more appealing. 

And for me, so does music.

 

 

 

 

Traffic #2

serialnovelMegan noticed, as all women learn to at one point or another, that it was taking all of the effort that he had to keep his eyes aimed at hers. Upon reaching his car, she had realized her power, his vulnerability. And who said she wasn’t spontaneous? Gary had said it. She wished her boyfriend could see her there in her spontaneous splendor. Maybe it just took a traffic jam, but the impulsiveness, what did he call it, “just live-life” was there. She could be whimsical if, of course, someone wasn’t there closing in on her, stifling anything that didn’t directly benefit him. What did it matter that she was standing there naked, well, naked with orange sneakers on.in front of a stranger? It was liberating, refreshing! Effervescent? It made her think of a commercial for something minty and fresh. Now if only she had some iced tea. Though naked, she was still quite hot.

She looked at the stranger again; all of this, of course, only taking seconds, and felt a second surge of power.

She knocked on his window.

He rolled it down, partially.

She briefly wondered if hers and this stranger’s were the only cars among hundreds with manual windows, if this bound them somehow.

Once he rolled the window to its bottommost position and his hand returned to his lap, she spoke, “Pardon me. Do you happen to have any Grey Poupon?”

Grey Poupon? She was disappointed. She knocks on a stranger’s window naked in the middle of the worst traffic jam she had ever seen and all she could think of was Grey Poupon and those commercials from her childhood. Her confidence deflated, a proofed dough roughly handled. Grey Poupon. She had never understood those commercials, why people were using mustard in their cars anyway. A mustard stain is nearly impossible to get out,  decidedly bad choice for vehicular snacking. Besides, if the stuff was that damn good, you’d think these people would keep a box of it in the trunk or at least know a complete stranger wouldn’t be eager to part with his beloved goldenrod condiment.

“Grey Poupon?” The man asked.

“Grey Poupon,” she confirmed. Suddenly she felt laughter explode from within. Or maybe she was just laughing because her hair tickled her back. She laughed loudly, wildly and with all of her soul the first time in years. Certainly it was the first time since she had started dating Gary.  Besides she had, as a child always wanted to give someone that line.  In fact, she had begged her parents to let her do it. By the time she got her own car she was too embarrassed by it, painted by the elements not by some besmocked guy in a garage. to stop anyone for anything. But now, years later, she and that car had successfully acted out a childhood fantasy.  She had done something she had always wanted to do, fulfilled her most longstanding dream. She felt good again, inspired. She could create a website about becoming your true self.  She noticed the silence between herself and the man with the manual windows. Hoping she wasn’t too late, she offered, “I always wanted to ask someone that.”

She watched for his reaction.  He almost looked scared. She had never seen a man look afraid of her.  Intimidated, sure, after all women tend to hold the upper hand when it comes to certain sexual aspects, especially if she has the demeanor of someone who has experienced stronger, taller, smarter or otherwise better men.  His apparent hint of fear made her feel good.

“Ironic,” she started, “men spend most of their scheming a way to get women naked and here you are…a naked woman strides right up to your car window and you look frightened.”

“You’re naked. On the highway. That is frightening.” He responded to her calmly and logically , punctuating his statement with an audible deep breath. He made her think he was a mathematician.

“What’s there to be afraid of?”

“Lots of things. There’s plenty to be afraid of.” At that moment, for example, he wondered if she had crabs and if she did whether one of them could jump from her crotch to his eyebrow or moustache.

“You know I’m not hiding anything, nowhere to hide it.” She pauses, thinking “these,” spreading her endless, sculpted arms like a television menace basking in the brilliance of a nefarious plot, “these people are the scary ones.” She turns around slowly, completes each and every one of three hundred sixty degrees, feeling like a superstar. “They could be hiding anything.”

She looked at him again. A searching look and found that he looked disinterested.  She bored him.  Here she was wearing only a pair of bright orange sneakers and a sticky, sweaty, film and she couldn’t even hold his attention.  She was offended. His car has manual windows and he’s bored! He doesn’t even deserve to be bored.

***

Want to catch up on the story? Do it here.

Traffic #1

serialnovel

Megan sat in her unreliable Plymouth Reliant in 85 degree, remind-you-of-a-moist-mouth, Michigan summer heat. Why is the universe mad at me this time?  She looked around, realizing that she was being dramatic again; to be stuck in traffic is to be stuck with the equally unlucky.  Revision: only someone who is cursed could get stuck in traffic on a day like this in this car. Clarification always did something for her. Made the world more…she didn’t know what. She also didn’t know why she kept having all of those weird dreams about Salman Rushdie.  He’d appear out of nowhere, as she did the normal and not so normal things of her dreams. Salman was always above her and looking down at her, looking like he had something to say to her, to impart upon her. Then he looked directly at her with those severe, strigine eyes and disappeared, as if deciding that she is not ready to become wise. She didn’t know what it meant that Salman Rushdie was the first person she thought of in the middle of the traffic jam. Must have something to do with the heat. Is this touch of life in Bombay? Mumbai? She had heard that it was crowded there, cramped. We’re lucky he’s even alive after that whole fatwa thing. Lucky no one killed him, Raid-style, exterminated him.  That still didn’t answer her question.  Why think of Salman in a time like this?  W.W.S.D.? Maybe she just liked his name. Salman. Rushdie. Maybe it was the Rushdie part. Traffic jam-no rushing here. Rush. Limbaugh. At that, she knew he was bored. She had nothing to read in the car, all idle hands. That’s how people get themselves in trouble. What was a girl to do? And she was so hot. Her entire back was laminated with sweat. She reminded herself of a construction worker or a plumber or someone else who works with his hands under less than optimal conditions. She wondered if she should have been one of them. She fantasized that the plumber pants thing might work for her, if, of course, she could remember to wear cute underwear. Rosie the Riveter, she scolded herself, never thought of coordinating underthings. She probably went without.  Anything to help the cause. She wondered just what Rosie looked like in her skivvies, what she drank after a long day at the plant, what a palm full of Rosie’s cheeks might feel like. Riveted, she wondered what was wrong with her—not Rosie, Megan.

 I wanna take my clothes off, she thought.  I’m gonna take my clothes off.

So she did.

 

Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Soup

Sometimes, you allow circumstances to get the best of you. In those times, you may or may not resort to one of the easiest vices around. Food. You see, food is a seducer. Food says to you, “You need me. You can’t say no to me. You yield to me. We become one.”

When you listen to the desires of your mouth and of your belly, you pay for it in thighs and booty.

But there comes a point when you’re living at the perimeter of you wardrobe when you have to pick up the pieces of your fallen habits.

You may be reminded of a Lyndon Johnson quote, “That bitch of a war killed the lady I really loved — the Great Society.”

That might be stretching it, but here, the war is eating out, and the lady is cooking.”

You have to take to the kitchen.

You remember falling in love.

You were a vegetarian then. You pull out a vegan cookbook, and you return to your warm bed: soup.

Spicy Peanut and Eggplant Soup
Print
Ingredients
1 pound eggplant, peeled, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to season soup
5 large shallots, peeled and sliced very thinly
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, diced
1 hot chile, seeded and minced
1-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 (16-ounce) can roasted diced tomatoes with juice
5 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/2 green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Garnish: green and purple basil
Instructions
Toss the eggplant cubes with the teaspoon of salt in a large bowl or colander. Allow to sit 30 minutes to soften, then gently rinse the eggplant with cold running water and drain.
While the eggplant is being brined, preheat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots in 2 tablespoons of the oil for about 20 minutes until very soft, browned, and slightly caramelized. Scoop the shallots out of the pot and set aside in a medium-size bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pot and add the eggplant, stirring to coat with the oil. Stir and cook the eggplant for 12 to 15 minutes, until slightly tender. Transfer the eggplant to the same bowl as the shallots.
Add the remaining oil to the pot and allow it to heat, add the ginger and chile, and fry for 30 seconds. Add the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, an fry for another 30 seconds, then add the onion. Stir and fry until the onion is just slightly soft and translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste an stir-fry the mixture for another minute.
Add the diced tomatoes, water, eggplant, string beans, and shallots to pot. Stir well and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, then lower the heat and simmer.
In a separate bowl, stir the peanut butter to incorporate any separated oils. Add a ladleful of hot soup. Stir the peanut butter with the soup until creamy; the peanut butter should be complete emulsified. Scrape the peanut butter mixture into the rest of the simmering soup, stirring to mix.
Simmer the soup over medium-low heat, covered, for 35-45 minutes, or until the eggplant is very tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Salt to taste after the soup as cooled for at least half an hour.
Top with basil, if desired.
Adapted from
Adapted from
Project Addict http://sherlonya.net/blog/