Thursday, September 17, 2009

Even though I am fighting the sore throat that is already touring among my family members, I've already this morning made more progress on my essay than I have otherwise made in a week. Partly this is due to my friend Charlotte, who in an email yesterday flattered me with the encouraging comment: "You are one of the funniest writers I know." Instantly I realized that this essay draft I've been prodding along is not at all funny but ponderous and fake-academic and tight-lipped and paunchy. Given the fact that I'm writing about Elizabeth Bowen's The Heat of the Day, which is a sad book, I'm not sure that it will ever turn out to be funny, but it ought to turn out to be more human. So thank you, Charlotte, for reminding me to fall off my high horse.

Dinner tonight: big baked ham, mashed potatoes, sauteed savoy cabbage, tomato salad because everyone in the family has a cold and needs a stodgy comforting meal in the style of my Polish great-aunts . . . who would not have bothered with a tomato salad because fresh vegetables can give you the heartburn. They would have pressured me to consume far more than I actually wanted to eat because "you're tall; you can hide it." After lauding the benefits of all-day Crock-Pot cooking for reducing vegetables to a tasty pulp, they would have produced a large Jell-O dessert and then continued to sit around the kitchen table telling ominous tales about their youth, all of which would have contained suspicious informational gaps. With my Scotch-Irish-descendant-of-Indian-fighters great-aunts, the menu would have been identical, except without the cabbage and with a penny-ante poker game and a plastic bowl of Chex Party Mix after the Jell-O.

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