Thursday, February 23, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday to my Blog!

Yesterday, I was so busy checking things off my to-do list for the move that I didn't even remember to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of my blog. Two great years and 767 entries later and I'm still committed to the mission. And that's the mission of staying present in the middle of striving for that life we all want. It's easy to lose perspective. It's easy to look at a situation in the most negative way possible. Unless you've got a mission everyday to travel through all the beautiful places and savor each little moment of creation. 

In celebration, I think I'm going to find...or bake myself if necessary... some red velvet cake. Brits aren't really familiar with Red Velvet (they tend to think it's cherry-related. It's not. Think chocolate) and I think that is a travesty. 

I'm also going to celebrate by giving you a small snippet of a super un-edited section of my novel. The section is about the very nature of savoring. And our rituals to keep that alive on a daily basis. Jeannie, my main character, is sort of a project of my worst imaginings. What I might have become if I'd stayed tired in NYC and lost sight of what it means to savor. Hope you enjoy! It's after the jump. And, as always, thanks for reading! 

In those early nineties days, Jeannie lived with her half-brother and his wife and daughter. They said things she wrote down all the time. She wrote them down. They were funny. But then all she could do was stare at the words on the page. She could not employ them.
            Her brother liked the idea of raising his kid in real New York neighborhoods so he bought a Brownstone on 4th Street between First and A—riding the somewhat invisible line between those who tickled the underbelly of NYC and those who got naked and snorted drugs off it.
            Still, Alphabet City had its charms, even in those days. You could say you lived in the village and get away with it. It wasn’t the village, really, but you could get away with it. Jeannie liked to think of it as the “satellite village.” And walking allowed her to savor this.
            These were the days before a New Yorker felt pathologically compelled to listen to music on headphones at all times. One could be open to the city.
            So Jeannie would walk west on 4th until Second Avenue, then head North until she hit St Marks Church in the Bowery with its perfect symmetry. The welcome way it broke up the grid and reminded her to turn left. Tenth Street veered off at the church on this beautiful cross-angle heading Northwest toward Union Square.
            Jeannie would run her hands along the rough but glossy metal work on the stoop gates and stare up at the townhouses with their oblong porter windows and begonia pots.
            “This is the street I will live on one day.”           
            She’d weave through the mess of constant orange traffic cones and street vendors around Union Square, stopping at the racks of books outside The Strand if she had no money, going in if she had. Jeannie was prone to paper cuts, but she sort of liked them. She wore them like a badge of honor; sort of sought them out while browsing.
            In those days, she was working for a famous old female lighting designer, Candace Blackfriars-- one of the first ‘Out’ and proud lesbians working at that level. Blackfriars was also the first person to ever call Jeannie incompetent. The insult moved in and occupied a special studio-loft in Jeannie’s heart: one she’d throw open the door to and air out each time she passed Blackfriars’ own loft in the 14th and 8th tangle of streets that also, somewhat metaphysically, included West 4th.
            But then, once she’d cleared it: The Mecca. In an old bank building, there was the most beautiful grocery store in all of America. Balducci’s—though Italian, like most all good grocers in Manhattan-- felt more like Saks Fifth Avenue. It felt like that vision of Manhattan in Shirley Temple movies, right as the Great Depression was ebbing and people could see the hope of prosperity again. Jeannie could feel that same hope as she approached: the gleaming gold and white and marble beckoning her inside even before the doorman greeted her, “Good Afternoon, Miss.”
            The Doormen treated you like you were coming home to the Dakota Building. Their floor-length cashmere coats and their chauffer caps made her, for just one minute, believe it. But then she’d remember the two reasons why she came.
            Jeannie often said on first dates—though she realized it was rather ill-advised to discuss either your heart or your predilection for fatty foods early on with men—that the quote unquote ‘way to her heart’ was through smoked cheeses. She didn’t have a lot of second or third dates.
            But of course, all the really good cheeses were too expensive for her, and her brother was one of the very first to jump on the lactose intolerant and vegan bandwagons of the 90s.
            Balducci’s was the answer to these cheese problems. At Balducci’s, they gave out free samples of all the finest little cubed favorites. Each piece was slightly different from the others, slightly imperfect from where the grocer had cut through a swiss hole-- making them much more interesting than sugar cubes.
            Jeannie would spend at least an hour sampling what Balducci’s had to offer, taking in the smells and rolling the poetic food names over her tongue. Stone-cut Scottish Loose Oats. Almond and Lemon Stuffed Portuguese Olives. Snow-Crab.
            Then, it was time for dessert. The bakery was the other reason for the trip. But the glazed tarts seemed too much like shellacked art to consider eating and the full red velvet cake with is foam-light cream-cheese frosting was far too expensive. The red velvet cupcakes, on the other hand, were made for Jeannie.
            They were proof that, even on a salary of nine thousand dollars a year, God loved her and wanted to be at least a little bit happy. This was her little religious ritual to that fact. She would buy one. She’d watch them tie it up in special-sized pink cardboard box with brown, rustic twine. The respectable looking baker would place the box carefully in a crisp brown paper bag and she’d carry it, unopened, listening to the rustle of it, halfway home, until she could see Washington Square Park.
            When she could see the miniature Arch de Triumph, she’d unwrap her package and take one bite.
            Once she sat, on whatever bench had the most going on near it, she’d eat the rest and have her best, wholly independent, wholly belonging-to-her ideas. Owing no inspiration to anyone.
            Rituals worked. That’s what she’d say to Susan when she walked in for her meeting on Tuesday morning. 

Copyright 2012 - Ryann Ferguson
All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday blog! I go here to the "happy dreamy truth place" everyday.


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