The Murderous Mandoline

No, not the musical kind…

…this kind:

Some of you know I have a fondness for cooking. Mostly I’m only able to complete meals when someone else is eating, typically the lucky/unlucky person I love. But in an effort to be healthier and keep grocery bills down (prepared foods cost more than their ingredients, have more sodium and fat, and generally don’t taste as good), I’ve been trying to cook more.

I do most of my prep work on Sundays. Chopping, thawing, slicing, reducing, etc. It’s easier to chop ten vegetables for five days than it is to do two a night, I say. So yesterday I prepped for:

Chicken pita pizzas (an old favorite)
Barbequed flank steak and cheesy cauliflower
Chicken with corn & black bean salsa
Smothered steak burgers with shoestring potatoes

Everything was going fine until I had to slice up the potatoes. I got out my trusty mandoline only to find that a key component of it was inexplicably lost in my move to DC: the safety gripper. The gripper has little teeth that sink into whatever you’re cutting to give you traction as you move it through the two-blade cutting surface (one blade cuts horizontally, while several smaller blades cut vertical strips at the same time). Needless to say, running a starchy potato through a mandoline takes both strength and traction. I had one but not the other and so…

…the mandoline bit me. Bit my thumb to be more precise. Right above the little knuckle crease on the inside of it, where there’s sure to be plenty of healing-preventing movement and discomfort.

And it was pretty deep. It was “little flap of skin” deep. It was “my thumb instead of an onion” deep. It was the kind of deep cut that doesn’t bleed right away, that you wonder, “Well, now what?”

And then gushing blood. Luckily, none of it on my prep area. I got a strappy band aid on it right away and looped it tightly over the wound. The first band-aid lasted through the rest of my prep, and the second one got me through til this morning. I think I will be okay. In about a week.

I am a very clumsy person. I am often covered in small cuts and bruises because I constantly run into furniture, corners, sharp edges, or worse, I publicly trip over things. I once tripped over a cement block wall and then, five minutes later, realized I had a seven-inch gash running down my shin that was white in a few places. Stupidly, I did not get stitches and have lived my life since with an enormous but crowd-pleasing scar there. If you ask me, I’ll tell you a dude pulled a knife in Chicago.

And, because Jen Lowe reminded me of it, here’s an appropriate poetic companion for today’s tale:

Sylvia Plath

What a thrill –
My thumb instead of an onion.
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of hinge

Of skin,
A flap like a hat,
Dead white.
Then that red plush.

Little pilgrim,
The Indian’s axed your scalp.
Your turkey wattle
Carpet rolls

Straight from the heart.
I step on it,
Clutching my bottle
Of pink fizz. A celebration, this is.
Out of a gap
A million soldiers run,
Redcoats, every one.

Whose side are they one?
O my
Homunculus, I am ill.
I have taken a pill to kill

The thin
Papery feeling.
Kamikaze man –

The stain on your
Gauze Ku Klux Klan
Darkens and tarnishes and when
The balled
Pulp of your heart
Confronts its small
Mill of silence

How you jump –
Trepanned veteran,
Dirty girl,
Thumb stump.

My Accidental Date with David Leavitt

I’ve been busy lately. Busy-busy. So busy, in fact, I have almost no time to read my personal email (much less read it closely). So when a friend of mine mentioned he’d made reservations for a group of us for Wednesday night of DC’s restaurant week, I dutifully got all bundled up last night, timed my Metro trip to give me extra time so that I would be early (a common complaint against me here, that I’m late–a rarity elsehwere in my life), and grabbed a book for the ride.

I got to the restaurant about 40 minutes early. I grabbed an overpriced cosmo from the bar and sat down to read my book for a while. I felt relaxed. I sipped my drink and read “The Wooden Anniversary” from David Leavitt’s novella collection Arkansas. It was wonderful. I didn’t worry myself about the time, although I’d glance up occasionally to see if my friends had arrived, or to hazard how long it would take before the scotch-drunk conventioner to my right would actually fall off his barstool, but other than that, it was a quietly pleasant evening.

Just after nine, I checked my phone and wondered why no one had yet arrived. Since I have a smartphone, I popped up my email and reread the email. I was in the right restaurant, the right time, the right night. Then the date scrolled by: Feb 18.

So, there I was, having travelled 30 minutes by Metro to enjoy a delicious (but overpriced, yes) cosmopolitan while reading a wonderful David Leavitt story in a restaurant bar full of strange people. And I thought it was wonderful.

If only this were an isolated occurrence, I’d not be as embarrassed. But truth be told I once gathered up four friends for dinner and the Margaret Cho performance in Phoenix–a whole night early. That was embarrassing. But since this time it was just me, I actually wondered if it’s something I should do more often.

Although Arden would probably have a different opinion, were I to ask her.

Say Hello to My Little Friends

It was sort of embarrassing in retrospect yesterday, when I came back from seeing my doctor for a follow-up (still no firm diagnosis, but the pain’s gone), the post office, Human Resources, etc–only to discover that the shirt I’d been wearing all day completely and totally exposed my nipples to the entire world, and not in a subtle “it’s cold” kind of way. More like in a torrid braille novel way.

An Argument for Reading Things Closely

I got a bit of really unfortunate news this morning when I came in to work. Some of you know that over the past few weeks I have been writing grant after grant after grant. Two of them were in support of expanding LOCUSPOINT in some way, shape, or form. The first of those is for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and that one went just fine.

But the second one, to the Edson Student Entrepreneurial program at ASU, did not go so well. It was a $10,000 ask that I was going to use to fund travel to host readings, pay editors, and do a bunch of other expansion items, but when I came in to work today I saw the deadline was Wednesday, not Friday, as I had thought.

So, I missed out entirely on the grant. And as this is my last year of school at ASU–forever, I hope!–it was also my last chance to apply for the grant…

So, sorry, LOCUSPOINT folks…I’ll have to find another way.