It sounds good to call what I do “freelance.” But it really means that when there’s no work there’s no money. It started out like any other day. There was no work, so the urge was to pose as a normal housewife. I thought, “Since the refrigerator is almost empty, I should wipe down the shelves.” I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn’t even know it yet … the horror. The horror.
I’m a lover of words fair and foul, so swearing doesn’t usually bother me. But the vitriol in this one jarred me. My older daughter had just finished her violin lesson; she and I and my younger daughter were walking down the sidewalk to our car when heard the blasphemous expression. Her lesson is on a street corner with traffic that can drive bad decisions, so I expected to witness a collision in the aftermath of the shout. But when I looked up, all I saw was a row of cars waiting for a red light and a couple of pedestrians on the opposite sidewalk.
“Shit!” It was the man walking down the street. He turned around and started yelling at the person walking at least ten feet behind him. I looked more closely and realized it was a little girl about my own daughter’s age. He was yelling at his kid.
Lately I’ve been receiving a lot of review copies of novelty books. I wanted to review Crap Taxidermy, a self-explanatory photo book based on a Tumblr, but it depressed me too much. Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World is much more my style, although it too has a Tumblr feel about it, and my feelings on bloggy books are mixed. Unrelated to the movie of the same name, Lost in Translation is a collection of foreign words that have no equivalent in English.
I don’t remember when I first realized that the word “routine” didn’t have a negative connotation for most people, but I know it must have been a shock. Growing up with a mother who never drove home the same way twice (who knows what you might discover down a different street), “routine” was a little bit of a dirty word; it was something necessary but distasteful, like poop or taxes. I can remember her tone as she would groan, “Back to the routine,” at the end of every school vacation.
I grew up to be the sort of person who becomes depressed if a passport goes unused for too long. As an office employee, I could always tell you exactly how many days until the next three day weekend or off-site meeting. People are always surprised that I have a graduate degree in horticulture, because my garden is always pathetic. I can never maintain the kind of consistent, regular care that keeps a garden healthy throughout an entire growing season. Something always comes along to distract me, and two weeks later I look up to discover most of my plants are dead.
So naturally I had kids who lose their shit if dinner is fifteen minutes late.
Delicious! is a completely realistic novel, but in it, debut novelist Ruth Reichl does some significant world-building. The aesthete’s New York City is full of foodies with unique personal style, people who notice architectural details and interior design. In this world, “artisan” is more than a buzzword and taxis are for tourists – locals walk so they can observe the changing seasons and appreciate the details of urban life. It would all be insufferably fabulous if Reichl wasn’t so adept at sharing the sensual nature of their artistic appreciation, and if the characters themselves weren’t completely developed, three-dimensional, interesting people. Even when you don’t like them, you believe in Reichl’s characters.
It’s that time of the month again, folks – time for blog statistics! Read on for links to the most popular posts of the month and a list of intriguing search terms that led readers down this Crooked Road. Continue reading