Sunday, January 15, 2012

Brie fever ....

Today is a day I have been waiting for for more than a decade. I finally, after a half-dozen fits and starts, finished "Underworld" by Don Delillo. Two weeks of gape-mouthed awe at what this late starter to the world of fiction made for all of us. Writer-wise, an intimidating story, no doubt. The kind of thing that leaves a wannabe novelist a little raw and a lot bruised. Who would dare try, even try, to make a complete sentence after reading that thing? Remove "return" key. Demolish it with hair brush. Shut laptop. Bind it with electrical tape. Soil it with feces. Chuck it into Lake Superior. Make sure it sinks. Wipe hands on red jeans. Resign oneself: In a post-reading "Underworld" world, reality TV is the new writing. Grand statement alert: "Underworld" is the best book I've ever read. So there.


My reading resolution for 2012 takes its cues from the old bridal custom "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." Except it is "Something old, something new, something borrowed and something graphic novelly." This means that every month this year I will read: Something we already own, something from 2012, something from the library and, well, a graphic novel or memoir. Of course, some of these categories might overlap. I could find something from 2012 at the library. I could read a graphic novel that is already in the house. Any additional reading I do during the month is just extra credit.

Why do rules make everything so much more fun?

No matter how many times I visit the library, the premise of it continues to slay me. I can walk into an architecturally interesting building and I can read the books from here for free. FOR FREE. I can indiscriminately tug titles from shelves, read the inner flap -- or not -- and make a stack in my arms. And then I can scan them in a way that thrills my inner 9-year-old who must have, must have, played librarian at some point, take them home, rub my eyeballs all over them and then return them. Libraries. My god. A girl could lose her mind.

On this trip I feel like I'm stealing three novels with plots that sound a little similar. Like all three stories shared a bathroom mirror when they were 15. And something by Sarah Vowell.


I spend a lot of words lauding the magic of nutritional yeast and mustard experiments that thicken into vegan cheese sauce. While I do believe this is delicious, and magic, cheese is still cheese. We used to have a brick of cheddar on hand at all times and I could dismantle that sucker during a single midnight snack. We used to have a tray with salmon, grapes and two kinds of gourmet cheeses -- a blue brie, an aged cheddar, havarti, a Merlot Cheddar mix -- that we ate on Wheat Thins. Now the closest thing we keep to cheese in the house is a bag of Cheddar-flavored Daija, which looks like cheese, melts like cheese, but is actually made from the hippie-tear hydrated toe jam of an organic farmer.

I recently finished reading a novel about an artist from the 1920s painting her muse and in between sessions they picked at a baguette, nipped at cheese. The imagery gave me brie fever. I told myself that on Saturday I would go to this restaurant, order a cheese plate and read. What a simple bit of awesome and a reprieve from being my old, predictable self.

So that's what I did. A plate with a stack of crispy Lavosh, a sliver of Brie, a hunk of a White Cheddar and a Blue Cheese. A bunch of grape. And then, optimizing this "Hey why-not-ness," a Bellini in the middle of the afternoon.

Since it was out of character for me, I began projecting all sorts of stuff the bartender must have thought about me. I imagined that she didn't know what to make of me and was comparing the cleanliness of my hair to the women sitting at the bar, tossing out a big league wine vocabulary. I imagined that maybe she thought I was celebrating something (like finally finishing "Underworld"?) or that I was two hours from handing my car keys to someone standing at a bus stop and then swan diving off the Bong Bridge.

Really I was just waging an inner protest about the lack of cheese in my diet and dousing it with a flute of fruit-flavored champagne.


When Chuck wakes up he's still the groggy eyes of a baby chick. We decide that we want to spend date night napping. Back to bed, where I zonked for three hours, him for five. Our pizza is disappointing.


JCrew calls with plans to stop over for a little get-together I planned earlier in the week and then never told her we weren't having. I'm on thin ice with my friend, I bet. This is the second time I've ripped plans out from beneath her. Today's was worse because she had spent the day at a bridal show where someone tried to convince her to purchase a wedding dress from a cheesy warehouse and then to bind and gag her with DJ options. She even made cake-pushers, my own personal patron saints, sound like monsters.


We watch two movies and work on training Hal to do a common circus trick.


traci said...

I have reading rules, too. Last time (after I finished grad school and had so much TIME) I read authors through the alphabet. I altered that to add books about AK (when I moved) and again to add non-fiction books. This year I've decided to read series. I'm working on George RR Martin right now. Not sure what's next, probably an alteration.
I, too, LOVE libraries.

Futbol said...

great. now i'm going to have to read underworld.