Adventures in (Not) Gardening

I always thought of myself as someone who picks up and drops hobbies.  Someone who gets interested in this shiny new thing, and then lets it fall by the wayside.  Writing doesn’t count, because I can’t actively recall a time when I didn’t write (though I know such times had to have occurred).  Then sewing proved me wrong.  I sew.  I am a stitcherer.  Yes, you read that correctly: stitcherer.

Recently, I’ve realized that I have other hobbies that have lurked around me for years, masquerading as mere practicalities.  Hobbies that require of me back-breaking labor, extreme discipline, and a great deal of skill.  Well, one hobby.  Gardening.  Edible gardening, to be precise.  Because if you’d like to press the issue, I’d like to tell you in detail where you can stick your snot-nosed hybrid tea roses.  If I can’t eat it, I won’t grow it.  You’d be surprised at what you can eat, though.

Now, you might think that having such a hobby for as many years as I have would have granted me a least a modicum of knowledge on how to do very basic things.  You can see where this is going.  So I just want to show you a photograph of my most recent achievement in fuck-uppery:

If you’ll notice, there are two side to side rows which lack all growth.  You can follow them from left to right and see that no little seedlings are poking their sweet heads out of the soil.  Why is this?  Well, I used old seed.  Those seeds are dead.  I killed them from improper storage over a period of two to three years.  They were supposed to be jalapeño and cayenne peppers.  That’s the first thing.

The second thing… do you see that white fuzziness?  And the green splotches clinging to the egg carton?  I know you know what that is.  I didn’t use sterile materials, thus mold.  So whatever would have germinated despite being old seed was likely killed instead by damping-off.  Damping off, I have learned, is kind of a catch-all term for various fungal infections of seedlings which cause them to die off or just fail to get started.  I watched a few of the heirloom tomatoes in that flat fail to shake off their seed casings and their little stems withered and die.

There only seems to be one plant I can grow without foolish hitches and stupid mistakes cutting into my yields: okra.  And who the hell likes okra?  What kind of crazy would grow such a thing?  It’s slimy and seed-filled, and what on earth do you put it in?  Fortunately, I know the answers to these questions, and they are quite simple: me; me; and gumbo, a deep fryer, a pickling jar, the crockpot, some bizarre iterations of a succotash, and my stomach.

Consumption Vintage

I wandered through the racks of clothes and furniture in the vintage store.  “Vintage.”  These old things, the urge to nostalgia, a search for permanence, the trappings of ancient modernity heating coils and dun brown faux wood veneer, peeled plastic in shades of rust and goldenrod, robin’s egg crockery: artifacts of a more modern age, we are stepping through the cracks into a vision of a better tomorrow.  Only it’s today.  And nothing really changes.

At the grocery, I wander the aisles and see the labels on brand new processed delights, filled with high fructose corn syrup, fillers, and preservatives, labeled in contemporary colors, using bold fonts, for bold people, who eat and choose decisively.  Artifacts of the consumer age.  I am stepping through a looking glass.  I don’t know what to make of it.  I can’t read the labels.

A pile of phones, a whole box of decommissioned communication hardware: flip phones, Blackberries, little bricks by Nokia with tiny displays, and early camera phones.  They all worked last testing.  My love’s son rifled through them, picked one up, and powered it on.  “How do you use it?  It doesn’t have a touch screen.”

It seems that when we’re not trying to reinvent another age, we’re busy forgetting how much we consumed to get this.

Effing Love Poems: Epilogue

With the addition of the poem “Undiscussed” a few weeks ago, the series is complete.  I haven’t written any more since then.  They are weird little beasts, love poems.  Thorny creatures.  They’re a way of saying what we’ve all felt a thousand times over, again and again and again.   Sometimes even in a new way.  That seems to be the role of many arts.  We can’t say these things often enough.  We say them again.  Novelty isn’t truly new: it’s the same thing yet again, with one surprising change.

Each of these poems I wrote with a specific person in mind over the course of my life.  Some know them, and have read them.  Some have been repurposed and performed.  Some were written with clarity and detachment, and some came out white hot.  I hate most of them.  I hate them because they make me feel vulnerable.  I hate them because there are lines in them which really aren’t good.  I hate them because I feel an obligation as a poet not to write love poems.

I don’t write love poems.  I hate love poems, trite and tried.  My love poems are a reaction to love poems.  Maybe.  Maybe they’re just love poems.  And maybe I don’t really hate them.

DIY Procrastination Fix

It’s totally the environment.  With everything in boxes, and no clear space, how can I ever sit down to write?  I would totally go to the coffee shop, but I’m so broke.  I can’t find the notebook I started to write my novel in long-hand after the Great Computer Crash of 2013, so I can’t work on that.  My head’s not in the right space for short stories, I can’t write those.  And I believe in Big Foot, too.

Excuses seem to be everyone’s favorite craft project.  They’re easy to make.  Instead of listening to my own hype, I decided that another DIY project was in order.  I set one of the kitchen stools in front of the counter.  I cleared off just enough space to fit my computer.  I plugged the fucker in and turned it on.  I took some white glue, knowing my jeans were already slated for the sewing scrap bin, and I smeared the seat with the sticky pale stuff.  Then I plunked my ass down to write.

Uncomfortable physical reminder of the task at hand acquired, achievement unlocked!  But I want to tell you something— it worked.  Two hours of text, fifteen minutes of clean up.  Today’s score is Story : 1, Procrastination : 0.

A Cautionary Tale

Unpacking books is simultaneously the most dangerous and most space-effiecient task one can engage in after a move.  If you’re anything like me, most of your possessions are books.  There are boxes upon boxes of them in my living room, in the back bedroom now dubbed “the study,” in all the other bedrooms, and a few that I’m reading right there on the bathroom counter.  Enshelving them all is top priority.

So I sat down today and sliced into one of the boxes.  Dangerous though this task is, I managed not to cut myself.  Instead, I removed the top layer of books, and began sorting titles.  There was my collection of Transmetropolitan, followed by some anthropology text books, and a book of Margaret Atwood’s poetry.  I’d been feeling a little deprived of poetry, so I cracked it open and read a few.  An hour later, I returned to my sorting only to find my copy of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales.  i had wanted to write a piece about his quite obvious belief in children’s purity and goodness, which I find bothersome, so I reread “The Little Mermaid.”  After an hour and a half of that, I unearthed a bunch of books I’d been holding aside for a research project of mine, about tabletop gaming, identity, world design, and audience— they were collections of essays and research— anthropological, sociological, and literary takes— on gaming as a cultural act.  I was going to blog about this stuff anyway, so why not get started on the research?
Four hours later, I was still lolling on the floor, books strewn about me, and the box only half empty.  Consider yourselves warned.

Phase B

It’s upon us.  The cross-town move.  It seems like every fiber of my being is directed toward it.

I am intrigued at how it seems like a beast to be fed: it eats attention, it eats effort.  I only have so much of those things.  I marvel at the things which have been shunted to the side: email, writing, calls to family, most online activities, because my main computing devices are stowed away and it’s a much bigger pain to access them from phone interfaces.

It’s eaten so much effort, I woke only a few hours ago, and already I am ready to sleep for the night.  At 4:30 EDT.

It’s a fascinating process.  Like a parasite.  There is a part of me, detached and faraway, watching my energy being devoured, and theorizing, which I’m sure takes energy of its own.  It’s the kind of energy output which makes the process bearable, despite the fact it’s made a domestic of me.

You hear that?  It’s made a domestic of me.  Wake me when it’s over.