n (Mathematics & Measurements/Units) thirteen
[from the bakers’ former practice of giving thirteen rolls where twelve were requested, to protect themselves against accusations of giving light weight]
The current trend seems to be toward publishing lists – 10 things women wish men knew ( toilet lids down, use napkins, no means no, never enough shoes, no empty jars in the fridge, yes I cry, no you can’t fix everything, finish what you start, 20 years is long enough to wear a free tee shirt, sometimes the box is better than what’s inside); 50 best places to retire this week (there’s so much more to it than cost of living, weather, and population count so laughably emphasized in those worthless articles) ; 7 deadly sins (as listed at www.deadlysins.com: anger, gluttony, sloth, envy, lust, pride, greed – how many evil badges have you earned? Collect all 7!).
I’ve compiled my own baker’s dozen list of what I’ve come to appreciate much more over the past year, in completely random order. Here we go:
TED.com – I have a link to this on my blog. Go there. Watch a lecture. Think about the presentations. Listen to the understated Ric Elias talk about a life-changing airplane trip, check out what Jill Bolte Taylor brings on stage, experience the wistfulness of wishing you’d known Ben Dunlap’s friend. Broaden a horizon, maybe your own.
CSA – Community supported agriculture. In wide-eyed, city-dweller wonder and ignorance, I signed up to receive an assigned share of locally-grown produce. Every other week I show up at a parking lot with my bag and weigh potatoes, arugula, oyster mushrooms and many other foods I would never purchase in a grocery store because I don’t know what they are. It’s a very Dickensian experience, particularly when holding up my plastic container for the farm person to fill with apple cider from a blue 55 gallon drum. I am now addicted to lettuce and realize kale can actually be eaten; you can do more with rhubarb than make pie; watermelon contributes to a tasty chutney. And mushy cantaloupe blends well with Skyy Citrus Vodka.
BEER – What a heady love affair I’m in. I want to sample every last brew from every micro and craft brewery in the United States (except maybe Clown Shoes, based on a near experience and general clown loathing). And I want to try them all by the end of the week, which I guess is a bit unrealistic (though still a noble goal).
ROBERT EARL KEEN – Why did it take one of the most heart-breaking times of my life to wrap his music around myself like hot caramel around an apple? I know every word of “Merry Christmas from the Family.” If you haven’t heard his newest release “Ready for Confetti,” stop, do not pass go, do not collect $200 until you listen to it.
LEATHER – Somebody should have dope-slapped me years ago on this one. I still harbor an aversion to our leather couch, but I have no such problem with my new leather jacket, and those absolutely necessary black leather boots I had to have to wear with that (unnecessary though shivery-comforty) jacket. There’s a safe feeling, but a bold one, too, when wearing leather. Accept no imitations. Thank you, Ebay. Sorry, Elsie.
YOU TUBE – I could not have survived the last year without YouTube. From 50 States of Confusion to Rodrigo y Gabriela to Nora the Cat to Steve Jobs to Felonius Monk to Eric Whitacre, I’m rounding out and enhancing my heretofore shockingly circumspect and limited education. I’ve learned how to fold tee shirts and tents, seen that a smartphone might outsmart me, heard that more people answered “a joint” than “the church collection basket” when asked to name something that gets passed around, and discovered I can do a decent Bruce Springsteen imitation to Mike’s Neil Young. All these have been witnessed from my office chair. Free.
BRAS THAT FIT – Not a pleasure, but less than a bed of nails. You can fill in whatever else at this point.
LOW SLUNG BOOT-CUT JEANS – As with leather above, sometimes my learning curve is so steep I tip over backwards trying to climb up the slope. These gems take at least 10 years off my middle aged frame. They’re comfortable clothes that actually look good (no humility there, but I’m discarding that with everything else these days, except the bras that fit. For now, anyway.)
THE BLUES – I’ve said it before but I’m sayin’ it again. Koko Taylor and Big Mama Thorton, if I could find a way, I’d inhale your essence and hold it in my lungs. No exhaling.
HUMMUS – I’m going to have to put a time lock on the refrigerator. Beyond delicious, and there’s a rumor it might be healthy.
NPR – Say what you want about government funding, biased news, etc. etc. NPR is about so much more than news. Never in a million years would I have otherwise discovered The Decemberists, The Bridge School Concerts, a Smoot, and more movies than I can name (including I Love You Philip Morris; Enron, the Smartest Guys in the Room; and The Battle of Algiers). NPR has made me more thoughtful and open to other viewpoints, but it hasn’t helped me understand Lady Gaga or that New Jersey girl, Snookie or Nookie or whatever her name is. No matter where I am I can usually find an NPR station with familiar voices and worthwhile stories.
MY BLOG – This year’s completely unexpected lifesaver. Some years back I wrote bad fiction. Sometimes the blog seems like bad fiction. The Magic Bus Stop is a deep, murky pothole swallowing everything I can pour into it. Somewhere in that big dark space, my missing identity lies covered by Solitude, Sadness, Emptiness, and Lost Dreams. The more I write into the blog, the closer to the surface my identity rises. Must write, must write, must write.
FRIENDS & FAMILY – Some old, some new, some borrowed. . . Sisters of another mother; friends online and in town; family found as the scales fell from our eyes leaving us bloody and bowed and leaning on each other – whether you know it or not, each of you at some point has propped me up. You are all on the Bus with me, and I’m better for having you beside me.