I have no idea how it’s already two weeks until Christmas. I always think I’m going to be so organized, so prepared. I especially thought that I’d have my crapola together this year, since Thanksgiving came relatively early in November. An early Thanksgiving is a gift, am I right?

You don’t want to see the mammoth freakshow scramble that happens over here when Thanksgiving falls on, say, November 28.

It’s not a pretty sight, folks.

On years like that, I’m tucking the freshly carved turkey carcass under my arm, bolting through the dining room, hucking it into the garbage like Tom Brady and hollering, “Run down to the basement to get the tree skirt and the fig wreath, STAT.”

I don’t like myself much those years.

Despite the extra days of padding this year, I’m not faring much better.

Good News:

~most of the gifts are purchased, since I shop online for everything. I’d rather be slathered in hog fat and forced to wrestle Tonya Harding than face the Megamall during the holiday season.

~Miss D. is racking up the service hours for her leadership club by wrapping gifts this year. Mein Gott! Magnifique! Bien! Yee-Haw Dawgies! I’ll still have to wrap her gifts, but that is why God made gift bags.

~The house is decorated, which is so, so hard for me since Mama died. I dread it now and get all Scroogey and pinch-faced about it. Miss D., bless her soul, took pity on me this year and helped me finish the job in record time. I am not going to pretend that it’s anything fit for Southern Living Magazine (maybe White Trash Living Magazine?) but it’s done and it’s enough for us.

~Since the girls get out of school so late this year (December 20), we decided to streamline holiday baking. We’re only making two kinds of holiday cookies this year. And honestly, if you add some ice cream, do you really need much more?

~A perky, adorable little foster kitten. This tiny ginger fluff is giving us lots to laugh about right now. Is there anything cuter than the antics of a kitten?

 

 

Bad News:

~A perky, adorable little foster kitten. This tiny ginger fluff thinks all of the Christmas decorations are his personal playground. He’s broken three things and counting. Sometimes there are cuter things than the antics of a kitten.

~Panic attacks, insomnia, other physical stinkery. It’s boring so I’m done talking about it.

 

Good News:

~Christmas comes anyways, even if you are not quite yourself. And hopefully it makes all woes fade for just a bit.

~Wrangling with the energetic kitten, the physical/personal bullshit and the general insanity of the season has led me to the following decree: Until Christmas Eve, we are eating the simplest, most basic, plant-based, nourishing food possible.

It has been decided.

Well, 3 out of 4 members of our family will be doing so. Littlest Minx wants nothing to do with this plan and that’s okay. Enjoy that chicken nugget, child.

I’ll start us off with this slow cooker loaded cauliflower soup. It’s not utterly austere, given the lovely garnishes of cheese and bacon, but you can’t have a “loaded” anything without those two flavor bombs, and the rest of the dish is virtuous as heck, so allow yourself a little room for fun.

This thing is drop-dead easy and quite tasty, although I will say: it’s not going to fool you into thinking you’re eating that loaded baked potato calorie bomb soup that you get at a restaurant. You might as well eat a cheeseburger if you eat that stuff.

This will ease you into the Season of Excess quite nicely. It’s yummy enough to savor but you won’t hate yourself in the morning. Not a bad bargain.

 

Slow Cooker Loaded Cauliflower Soup

serves 6

slightly adapted from Cooking Light

 

6 bacon slices, chopped

1 cup chopped leek, white and light green parts only

1/2 cup chopped celery

4 minced garlic cloves

8 cups chopped cauliflower florets and stems (from a 2 1/2-pound head)

3 cups low sodium chicken broth

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup half and half

2 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese or white cheddar cheese, shredded

chopped chives

 

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium, stirring often, until crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel to drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon drippings.

Place 1 tablespoon drippings in a slow cooker with leek, celery, garlic, cauliflower, chicken stock, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until tender.

Remove 1 cup vegetables from slow cooker and chop into chunks.

Pour remaining mixture into a blender and add half and half. Vent blender to allow steam to escape, cover with a towel and puree. Alternatively, you can use a stick blender to whirr everything together until smooth. Transfer mixture back to pot, add reserved vegetables and warm through.

Top each serving with bacon, cheese and chopped chives.

{ 2 comments }

Let it Be

November 26, 2018

Two years ago, my family spent Thanksgiving in Hawaii with Daddy-o. It was the first major holiday without my mother, and we just couldn’t bear staring down a turkey on our own turf.

We were there to scatter ashes, but in the end, Daddy couldn’t stomach it with us there. He waited until we left.

It was windy there, and warm. The Maui air smelled like salt and flowers, like it usually does, and it surprised me somehow. It’s ridiculous to think that the air would smell different without Mama, but somehow I expected it to.

You could say that we ran from Thanksgiving that year, and you wouldn’t be wrong. We did. It felt better to run. And doing it together, it felt kind of subversive and renegade–like we were giving a collective middle finger to the holiday. Piss off, Thanksgiving. We don’t need you.

Last year, we had Thanksgiving at home but I don’t remember it.

At all.

I’m not shitting you. I really don’t remember anything about it or what we did or what we ate and I could probably dig into the archives of this blog to find out but then again, why bother? I think sometimes situational amnesia is God’s favor to the grieving.

This year, a week before Thanksgiving, I woke in the middle of the night, heart racing. I did what I usually do when I wake in the night: I got a glass of cool water, I took a pee, I got back into bed and practiced breathing. But this wasn’t normal waking and it wasn’t the occasional annoying sleepless night. It felt crushing, impossibly heavy and I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack–either that or a big wooly mammoth was sitting on my chest.

“It’s a panic attack, you idiot,” I told myself. “You’re not dying; it just feels like it.”

If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a feeling you don’t forget and you hope not to have again. It’s terrifying and it wrenches your guts out. You feel like all of the nerves in your body are suddenly outside, exposed to live air. I’ve had probably 5 panic attacks in my life and I always hope I’ve seen the last of them but naturally, if you have one, you’re probably primed for another at some point.

This past week, I had 12.

Most in the night, some in the day. Sometimes I threw up, sometimes I didn’t. A few times I got in the bathtub, blankets and all, for no reason other than it was cool and felt safer in there. Once I took the dog in with me. Turns out, he’s not a big fan of the bathtub.

Thanksgiving day, half an hour before guests arrived, I pulled the ham and beef tenderloin out of the oven to rest, violently threw up in the sink, rinsed it out with bleach and turned my attention to the potatoes. Somehow I made it through the day and made small talk and smiled and remembered the butter for the rolls. I have a feeling I won’t remember this Thanksgiving, either.

Do I know what the hell is going on?

Do I know what I’m going to do?

Do I care?

Not necessarily, which is (maybe?) a problem? I think I probably ought to care. Then again, should you worry about not caring to care? That sounds ridiculous.

I’m trying not to overthink it, though it’s hard when your body might be saying otherwise. Maybe it’s just the universe telling me to pay attention. To what, I don’t know. But something.

For now, I think I’ll just let it be and sit with it.

 

There will be an answer/let it be.

{ 4 comments }

Run

October 31, 2018

Early Fall

“Hate to break it to you, but you’re never going to understand it.”

The boy stands at my shoe, toe to toe. I look up from my seat under the oak tree but can’t see his face through the sun.

“It’s Faulkner,” I say.

“I know.”

“If you know, how do you know I won’t understand it?” I lift a hand to shade my view, but all I can see is easy bones and white teeth.

“It’s Faulkner, isn’t it? Stream-of-consciousness bullshit.”

“Bullshit. According to you.”

“According to me.” He leans against the tree like he owns it. I don’t like him.

“What if I say it isn’t bullshit? What if I think it’s kind of brilliant?”

Piss off, I think. I don’t like your dimples and I don’t like your smile or your sandy hair and I don’t like your effortless way that you hold your shoulders. Piss off.

He doesn’t piss off. Instead, he sits on the ground beside me.

He takes the book out of my hands. “Then I guess it’s not bullshit.” He grins, opens and scans the page: “The guy wrote drunk, you know that, right?'”

“Maybe guys who write drunk are my thing.”

“I don’t think so.”

“You don’t know enough about me to think so.”

He closes the book and hands it back to me. “I do think so. Because you’re about 50 pages into it and yesterday you were sitting here, same spot, and about 50 pages into it. So.”

He gives me a pointed look, launches himself off the ground and his eyes are greengreen and dammit.

***

Later Fall

“What is it about you and a perch?” he says, leaning against the doorway.

I am tucked into a corner of my dorm-issue bed, surrounded by pillows, several blankets and at least four books. “Point?”

“You…perch,” he shrugs, gesturing to the bed. “Whenever I knock on the door, there you are. Bird on a wire, but with books.”

“I hate birds,” I say.

“I know,” he says. “But for a girl who hates birds, you do perch.”

He walks across the room and slides in, burrowing under blankets. He reaches for my wrist and closes.

“Dinner? I think you need dinner.”

“I have to study.”

“I think you need to eat.”

“I think you need to go.” I press my lips hard between neck and collar.

***

“Lunch? Girl’s gotta feed the machine sometime.”

“I have class.”

“Ice cream?” He smiles. Jackal in frayed t-shirt. “C’mon, D. Say yes to ice cream, unless you are heartless and not human.”

“What if I say I only like vanilla?”

“Best flavor. Blank canvas. Let’s go.”

“No,” I laugh. “I have to go.”

“Of course you do. ‘I have to go, I have to go, I have to go.'” He catches my hand before I can stop him.

“What?”

“Just. Hey.” He looks too close and frowns. “Can we just…stop…for a second?”

I try to stop, I do.

“You’re always running away,” he says softly. “I feel like I never can catch up. Like you’re always two steps ahead, and there I am, running like an idiot.”

“I don’t run. And you’re not an idiot.”

I give up my shoulders and lean in, inhaling everything that is open and solid and exactly him. “Well, I mean, you probably are an idiot. But I don’t mind and I don’t run. I don’t.”

***

Way Later Fall

Knockknock. Bang.

“Hey. You in there?”

I slouch in the corner, among moving boxes.

Bang.

“D. Look, it’s way too quiet in there. I know Meg’s not there; she can’t be. There’s no Love and Rockets blaring.”

Soft knock.

“D. Hey. Open the door.”

Knock.

“If you open up, I’ll even like Faulkner.”

“Jesus Fuck,” I mutter. I kick the boxes into the closet throw the door a fraction.

“You don’t decide you like Faulkner. Faulkner chooses you.”

He laughs, greengreen, and sticks a toe through the narrow opening.

“That sounds ridiculous and snotty but hey, if Faulkner gets me through the door, I’m in.”  He nudges and I give one more inch. “Okay. Tell me which book to love.”

“You know absolutely zero about me, do you?” I smile.

***

My mother pulls up in the roundabout in front of the dorm. I’m on the curb, boxes at my feet.

My eyes well up at the sight of her silver Audi. It’s snowing like a bastard and I wipe my hand across my face.

And damned if he isn’t right there, out of my corners.

“Hey! Those look crazy heavy,” he says, jogging through the sludge, leaning in to lift the weightiest boxes. He places his hand on the small of my back. “You’ve gotta be freezing. Let’s get ’em in.”

“Taking some things home before break?” he says, opening the car door.

“Yeah. Just for a while.”

“Drive safe, okay?”

The hum and thrum of the Audi’s motor still isn’t enough to kill the noise in my head.

“Who was that boy?” my mother asks.

I curl hard into the passenger side, holding my face flush against the icy window.

“It’s nothing,” I say.

“THAT was not nothing,” my mother laughs, looking at me sideways. “That boy was beautiful.”

“I know.”

“And?”

“Please take me home,” I say.

 

 

I run.

 

 

 

{ 5 comments }

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