It's been so long! A month! And what a month it's been! I spent days and days and days finishing the book I was hired to do last year. It was 10 months overdue, it was way too short, and parts of it were incredibly boring, but I did it. The man who hired me was happy with it. I can't believe I am finally free of that project. Hallefuckinglujah!
The book is called, Hammer, Anvil, Stirrup, A Portrait of the Life and Times of Michael E. Glasscock, III, M.D. FACS. Michael E. Glasscock, III is a real piece of work. He's a retired ear surgeon--that's why the title is Hammer, Anvil, Stirrup, those are the names of the bones in the ear and he's a total Texas rancher tough guy. I'm proud of the title. Mike wrote the subtitle and it's ghastly but what can you do? He paid for it. If you want to read it, if you need to know about Mike and some facts about neurotology (surgery of the inner ear) give me a shout and I'll send you the .pdf. I advise against reading it because you'll never get that time back, but if you want it, what can I do? I'll send it.
To save us both some trouble, here's an excerpt I like:
The Ranch Behind the Restaurant
Utopia, Texas is a small, small, very small town on the prettiest edge of the Hill Country. If you drive there from Austin with Mike on a Spring day, you will get car sick because, although he loves cars and has driven across the country many times without an accident, he is a speeding terrible driver. Fortunately, there is a gas station in Sabinal, a town near Utopia, that sells chewable Dramamine. On the way to Utopia, you will see thousands of beautiful butterflies bouncing above the roadside wildflowers like bubbles. They will have a quick and violent death, smashed against the windshield and the grill of Mike’s truck.
There is a French/Texan fusion restaurant in Utopia called The Laurel Tree. The Laurel Tree is a romantic place to have lunch on a Saturday (the only day it is open) if you are a woman between the ages of 75 and 150 from the San Marcos/San Antonio Corridor or an RV snowbird staying just up the road in Lost Maples (where there is a small coffee shop with delicious pie. The owner’s 11-year-old granddaughter will wait on you.) Beyond a huge field of overly bright poppies, the small parking lot of The Laurel Tree is crowded with mobility scooters, furtive smokers, and aggressive hummingbirds. The Laurel Tree dining room is decorated in the style of overwrought Texas Hill Country Faux- French, a style which includes badly worked images of hot air balloons, the Eiffel Tower, and poodles wearing ribbons around their necks painted on the walls. There are too many sideboards with disingenuous peeling paint—clearly, someone has been at these things with a pale stain from Hobby Lobby and a wire brush. Someone has carefully posed velvet runners, silk wildflowers, mercury glass objets, and rusted finials around the dining room tomake it look as if those things have been cast aside carelessly by chic French milkmaids. It is loud in the dining room, visually and aurally. In it’s defense, The Laurel Tree is spotlessly clean, the food is delicious, creative, and fresh. The rare delicacy of strong, but not at all bitter, unsweetened iced tea is available on request.
The owner is a lucky woman, a chef and an heiress. She’s built a restaurant with terrible tchotchkes in a remote part of Texas and is able to keep it open and fully staffed, with only two seatings, once a week, on Saturdays. The chef/heiress lives on the ranch behind the restaurant, the one Mike’s family used to own. The ranch where Mike lived until he was eight. The chef/heiress lives in the house Mike’s grandfather built, a beautiful Spanish style ranch house with a courtyard and a low stone fence. His grandfather also built the stucco and tile stables the chef/heiress stocks with well-tended horses that show off their shiny coats and thick glamorous manes like an ad for fancy shampoo. Imported exotic ruminants lounge under old oaks near the creek running behind the house. If you visit, and you’re lucky, you might see the albino peacock roll out his tail feathers like a gleaming damask tablecloth.
Mike’s grandfather, M.E.G. the first, was a multi-talented, industrious man, and according to Mike, a charming, handsome guy “you couldn’t leave alone with a woman for five minutes.” As well as a rancher and all-around tough Texan, M.E.G.1 had been an Air Force officer and, incredibly, a successful circus wire-walker. M.E.G.1 met Mike’s grandmother, a lovely Italian woman from Naples, riding on the lion’s cart of Barnum and Bailey’s traveling circus. They were both wire walkers. They performed on the low wire—12 feet off the ground. A low wire act made them able to adapt their show to Vaudeville stages after the decline of the circus, before the rise of cinema. They formed The Rosa King trio with another walker from the circus and performed all over the country. Mike keeps a framed flyer from one of their shows on the wall in his home office.
One of Mike’s happiest memories from early childhood was a trip to the circus in San Antonio with M.E.G.1. who still knew most of the performers and some of the elephants. He took Mike into the elephant’s tent. A huge elephant named Mabel trumpeted and flapped her ears because she was happy to see M.E.G.1. He walked Mike up to her and gave him some peanuts to offer. Mike was struck by how gently she took them from his hand, how he barely felt a thing.
During the show, Mike and M.E.G.1 sat in the front row of the center ring. A tiny Crosley sedan sped around the ring, stuffed with 15 clowns. Clowns dumped buckets of water on each other and buckets of confetti on Mike. That day, everything about the circus was mystifying, exhilarating, and a little bit scary. One of the performers, a woman wearing magnetic shoes, walked upside down across a high platform without a net. Mike asked what would happen if she fell. M.E.G.1 pointed outa small group of burly men stalking around beneath her, there to catch her if she fell, which she did. Unfortunately, she came down hard and drove the man who caught her into the ground. The ringmaster rushed to her, then cheerfully announced her good luck to the crowd, she’d only broken her leg! Mike and M.E.G.1 visited her the next day in the Santa Rosa hospital. She was in traction. They brought her chocolates and a big bouquet of red roses. Even though Mike was a little boy, he couldn’t help but notice that she and M.E.G.1 seemed to have a special relationship.
The day at the circus was an incredible adventure but nothing compared to something that happened one day at the ranch when Mike was about six or seven. Mike can point out the exact spot outside the house where he was playing, dragging a stick through the dirt, when M.E.G.1 came rushing out of the house with a gun in his hand. He shouted, “Come on Little Mike, we’ve gotta go kill a man!” Mike threw himself into the front seat of the car and they sped off on their deadly mission. Mike wasn’t terribly shocked at his grandfather’s announcement. The Glasscock men weren’t afraid of violence and often said things like “I’m going to kill that son-of-a bitch” or “I’ll kick his fucking ass.”
The reason M.E.G.1 felt he needed to kill a man was because Mike’s father, M.E.G.2, had gone missing for a couple of days. M.E.G.1 heard that a particular asshole in a nearby town had beaten M.E.G.2 so badly he’d been hospitalized. Shortly after arriving in the town, it was revealed at the hospital that the story had been mixed up. It was M.E.G.2 who’d beaten the shit out of the other guy. They found an uninjured M.E.G.2 at the bar and brought him home. The fight may, or may not, have been about money or a woman.
Mike and his third wife Janet lived on a ranch in Utopia for a short while. They lived in a lavish house Mike designed. They had some expensive horses— Janet was a fair-weather friend to dressage. Mike did not enjoy his relationship with Janet, but he enjoyed a wonderful one with a little fawn named Jasper that crept up to him one day at the ranch and stuck around. If you drive to Utopia with Mike on a Spring day, he will drive you up a winding gravel road to see the wrought iron fence an artist created for the ranch’s driveway. He won’t take you onto the property because he doesn’t know the current owners and the whole thing would piss him off because just as they were finally settled in, Janet demanded they move back to Nashville.
I turned the book in and fully expected to sleep for a week and then get back to blogging/returning phone calls/seeing friends but right around the time I was finishing the book, I took a job behind the counter at Sugar Mama's Bakeshop. I love it there, which is good because I've worked six days a week since I started. My schedule is finally calming down next week--I go to four days! In August, I'll start teaching some fun cake/cookie decorating classes there. Maybe you'll take one! I will keep you posted on details.
Another thing that has kept me occupied/busy/tired/weird over the last few weeks is my new man friend. I've been seeing him for about three months but this month we've been seeing each other A LOT. It's so fun and so stressful! Getting more serious/enmeshed/mildly toxic and codependent/lust-driven/lovey-dovey with someone is certainly an awesome experience but holy shit, it takes energy and time! The last time I had a new boyfriend was 16 years ago. I was younger and my life had a lot of room in it--I didn't have a cat I felt guilty about leaving alone several nights in a row. I didn't have an ex-boyfriend I saw everyday who has met, gone out with, and friended the new man friend on Facebook. I didn't have pesky self-esteem and a deep need for solitude. It's different now. Sometimes I feel like I don't want to wait another second to see him and sometimes I feel like I don't want to wait another second to be alone. I keep thinking of that quote from the actress Jacqueline Bisset, "Ideally, couples need three lives; one for him, one for her, and one for them together." I might need two of my own, actually. One for me and one for sleeping. I miss sleeping! I HAVE NOT BEEN SLEEPING ENOUGH! Except for the day after I turned in Mike's book. I slept for 15 hours. It was nice. It was hard on my new man friend, though. We keep in touch a lot throughout the day and on that day I'd promised to text about our plans for the evening. I never texted. He couldn't reach me all day and at 4:30pm I woke up to a knock at my door. He thought I'd died! He came over to my apartment thinking he would find my dead body. When I told Rebecca and Billy about his freakout, they both felt so much empathy for him. They both said exactly these words, "Oh, he doesn't know yet." Evidently, Rebecca and Billy both went through a period of adjustment to my sleeping habits, times when they were sure I was dead because I was totally incommunicado for hours and hours and hours. I don't think of my sleeping as excessive but my loved ones do. This is another thing that makes having a new person in your life stressful, all your idiosyncrasies get revealed and noticed all over again. There is a part of me that loves it, loves being seen, and there is another part of me that is annoyed to lose privacy, to have my weirdness appraised and commented upon. Look at me! Don't look at me! Look at me! Don't look at me! Koi Vey! It always gets so PERSONAL when you get together with somebody. I forgot that.
For me, love is always a freaky fucking interpersonal exercise no matter how much I think I can (or should) keep it sweet, easy, and effortlessly orgasmic. Is it easy and stress-free for anyone? I sincerely doubt it. There is more to say about this, and I'm sure I will say more soon, but for now, here is a picture of my super cute new man friend when he was 15:
One last thing, I finished the Whole 30, sort of. It ended up being the Whole 28 because I broke down and put half and half in my coffee on the 28th day. I hate black coffee and I really hate coffee with coconut milk in it--the only ways you're allowed to drink coffee on the Whole 30. I liked eating that way, though. I wasn't hungry all the time and as long as I ate an entire pony, ten pounds of spinach and a dozen eggs, I felt full all day. I lost 10 pounds. I've gained three back and I'm fine with that. I work in a fucking bakery, everything there is absolutely delicious. I think I'm going to be an occasionally-lapsing paleo eater for a while. Maybe I'll join a crossfit gym/cult, too. Stranger things have happened.