Friday, December 30, 2011

I knead you

Getting ready for work, almond butter and jam on bread, "What did the baker say to the bread?" snicker to myself. Alone in the kitchen with the joke I just made up. "I told myself a joke I didn't know," I think, which is the punch line to another joke I know, I laugh more.

Later, at work with my boss and a co-worker, "Hey I made up a joke!"
"Are we going to like it?"
"Okay, let's hear it."
"What did the baker say to the bread?"
"No idea."
"I knead you," I can barely say the last word, "you" comes out as more of a shriek of held back laughter, I clap my hands and tears come out of my eyes from laughing.
Straight faces on my boss and co-worker.
"On that note, I'm going back to my office now," my boss walks out the door.
Co-worker stares at his computer.
I'm still laughing.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I wish I could share everything I'm feeling with you just like pouring water. I'd pour and you wouldn't say, "Oh yes, I see," because you wouldn't see, you'd just feel what I wasn't saying. I love words, but sometimes they're just not enough.

Thank You Card for my Dentist and Assistants

Dear Dr. Guzman, Angelica, and Michelle:

I used to have nightmares about my teeth falling out, which symbolized stress according to some dream interpretation book I read someplace. For me I think it symbolized stress about my teeth falling out, mostly because my teeth were in danger of falling out. But due to too many painful dentist experiments experiences, the reality of dental work was scarier than the nightmares of tooth loss.

Then I started coming to you.

Thanks to your careful hands, reassuring explanations, and prescription drugs, I learned to be much less calmer and less scared. I haven't had a single dental nightmare, awake or asleep, since I started coming to you. Even better, for the first time since I was like, 10, all my teeth are fixed.

Thank you.
Thank you so much.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Learning to Cut a Chicken

"Ma, I want to learn to cut a chicken," I say, imagining myself crawling through the underbrush with a snare made from twisted yucca fibers, guided by the intimate knowledge of where the quail run and what their habits are. I imagine catching a quail in my snare and slitting it's throat and bleeding it out and then... my imagination stops there. I don't know enough about what comes next to even imagine it. Even if I knew enough to catch a quail I wouldn't know what to do with it once I killed it. Like that one time that quail flew out in front of my car and smashed on the bumper before I could even blink. Intending to eat it, I went back for it and put it in the back of my car. It stayed there until the dead animal smell made me throw it in to some road side bushes.

"Okay Diana," my mom replies. She has a whole chicken defrosting in a pot on the counter.
"I know I should just cut it so I remember better, but I'll just watch you do it," I tell her.
"Well no, Diana, I'm going to show you how, but you are going to do it. Why don't you want to cut it?"
"I don't want to get my hands chicken-y."
My mom makes a face, "You're going to get your hands chicken-y."
"Oh," I reply.

My mom sharpens her knife. I imagine the chicken cutting knowledge going back through my mom and my grandmothers, back in time to the days when there were chickens running in the yard of my great great grandmother. I imagine this knowledge coming forward in time, passed down from mother to mother. For a moment I feel really connected to my family.

After pulling the neck, the heart, the liver and some other parts out of the inside of the chicken, my mom advises, "I learned from a book, so if you forget, you can look it up somewhere."
"Oh," I say.
"I start with the wings, wiggle them so you find where they connect, then cut through the joint."
I wiggle the dead chicken wings.

After she shows me how to cut the wings and the legs, then we have just the chicken carcass.
"Now this part is a little harder," she takes over the knife, "look for where the ribs meet the other ribs, see in there?"
"Yeah," I say, head hanging over the abyss that is the inside of the chicken. My mom deftly cuts through the difficult parts. She shows me how to cut through the wish bone, the breast. I imagine her years of practice making her graceful, the difficulty of the dead chicken not getting the best of her. She is so quick.
"A butcher can cut up a chicken in about 3 seconds," she mentions.
"Oh." I say.

All the chicken pieces are in the sink now. My mom shows me how to cut the skin off the legs and thighs so the soup won't be as fatty. She tells me not to cook the liver in the soup or it will make it bitter. She shows me how to press the blood out of the legs and thighs. She tells me if you don't press it out it will bubble out when you boil the chicken. "Does that make the soup bitter?"
"No, it's just gross."

We are done cutting the chicken. I sit down at my computer to write.
"Diana, get back here, you have to clean off the cutting board."

Friday, December 23, 2011


Acorns. They're all different. Each oak species has it's signature shape, color, size, bitterness, sweetness. Or so I've heard. So far, all my attempts at eating them have been unsuccessful. Still, they are not just food to me. I squirrel them a way in corners of my life. Recently I opened the zipper of an old bike bag and about fifty old dry ones rolled out, along with my allen wrenches. I used to carry them in the center console of my car. Sometimes I'll find one that I like and keep it in my pocket for days, like a worry stone, but with more life.

I am an old oak
branches hanging low
darkened by the storm
burnt hollow.
Rain collects inside:
a calm black pool of sorrow.

Something beautiful is growing here.

An older song, a newer bag of acorns.
"Do you want to collect acorns or watch a movie?"
"Collect acorns!!"
We want to make cookies, my niece and I. I've never done it before, and neither has she. Acorns hold all kinds of possibilities.