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    You say you don’t, but you will

    I find the long-distance relationship thing easier if I keep the apartment as if Atsushi might return for good tomorrow. You know, no slovenly-bachelor stuff, and no putting his stuff out of sight so it’s not “in the way”–I try to keep the sense of a shared life. And no junk all over the place. Sure, I’m normally pretty persnickety anyway, but when things are busy–and they have been lately–even I can get to letting things go.

    Today was catch-up. Since I like to eat a lot of vegetables and they tend to go bad if not used quickly, I made my week’s worth of vegetable scramble. Kind of like ratatouille, but kind of not–spring onions, broccoli, mushrooms, red and yellow peppers, eggplant, a can of tomatoes, whatever herbs strike my fancy. Darkened apartment, task lighting over the cutting board, glass of whiskey, humming along with 10000 Maniacs. It makes me smile a little that I still like Our Time in Eden so much. It came out my sophomore year, my most uncomplicatedly happy time at college–my best grades, starting a few upper-level classes, fun with friends all the time. Not much later, the shakeup that ended with my coming out and leaving the church I’d been reared in would start for real, after which being my friend was not much fun for a while. And Our Time in Eden, populated as it is with characters who feel weak-willed and are faced with sticky moral decisions–well, it was so much of that time for me that I thought I might end up sealing it off there and not wanting to return to it. But it’s okay. (What’s not okay is what happened to Natalie Merchant when she went solo. Gawd, what a grim little finger-wagging schoolmarm she turned into. She used to have such empathy for people who were having trouble doing the right thing without talking down to them–you could hear it, even if you didn’t agree with the “right thing” according to her lefty politics. Tigerlily just killed that dead.)

    Oh, speaking of plants, I was making vegetables a few minutes ago, wasn’t I? Yeah. That way I can nuke a frozen portion and dump it over pasta or alongside a poached egg on toast or what have you. Not as fresh as the things just picked from the garden like we had when I was little, but a lot better than Birdseye. As I said, no slovenly-bachelor stuff.

    BTW, I think my favorite passage about vegetables ever is Miss Manners’s on artichokes:

    Dear Miss Manners:
    What is the most efficient way of eating artichokes?

    Gentle Reader:
    For those who want to eat efficiently, God made the banana, complete with its own color-coordinated carrying case. The artichoke is a miracle of sensuality, and one should try to prolong such treats, rather than dispatch them speedily. An important part of sensuality is contrast. First pull off a leaf with a cruel, quick flick of the wrist, dip it in the sauce, and then slowly and lovingly pull the leaf through the teeth, with the chin tilted heavenward and the eyes half-closed in ecstasy. If the sauch drips, a long tongue, if you have one, may be sent down to get it. When the leaves are gone, the true subtlety of the artichoke reveals itself: a tender heart, covered with nasty bristles. To contrast with the fingering, there should be a sudden switch to cool formality. The fuzzy choke should be removed with dignified precision and a knife and fork, so that the heart may be consumed in ceremonial pleasure.

    The most wonderful of many wonderful things about Judith Martin is the way she makes life seem Alice in Wonderland-ish. You know, inanimate objects have personalities, people are strange, and unexpected things happen all the time, and you just have to roll with it.

    Of course, people do what you do expect sometimes. I actually did go out and pick up some Royal Copenhagen the other week; the whole “Buy Danish!” thing seemed kind of hokey, but I’ve felt better and better about it as the reaction has unfolded since. Anyway, Atsushi already had some Royal Copenhagen stuff that he didn’t take with him to Kyushu. You know how I’ve mentioned that he doesn’t wear any colors except navy blue and the occasional so-dark-it’s-almost-black forest green? Well, he’s the same with furniture and housewares. This is what you get when Atsushi goes shopping for dishes:


    No, don’t adjust the color on your monitor. See? The placemat’s green. It’s just the dishes that have no color. All Atsushi’s are like that. Well, he has a donburi or two with a pattern, but I think they were presents or something. The insides of the kitchen cabinets looked like a Walker Evans photograph until I arrived on the scene.

    They don’t anymore, because this is what you get when Sean goes shopping for dishes:


    Unlike, presumably, the Queen of Denmark, I’m not really into the chalky pastels. But given that my tea and coffee things are already a million colors and patterns, having a few restrained, solid things kicking around is probably a good thing.

    He comes home this coming weekend.

    10 Responses to “You say you don’t, but you will”

    1. This post is very gay. So where does he live? Please don’t tell me America

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      No, not America. He was transferred to the branch of his company in one of the larger cities in Kyushu two years ago; the expectation is that he’ll be there another two or three years before they bring him back to the Tokyo region. In absolute terms, especially to me as an American, the distance isn’t so great: 1.5 hours by plane. That’s halfway across the Japanese Archipelago, and it’s on another island, so it feels far; but of course from our point of view, it’s like New York-Detroit. Not really that bad.

    3. Well, it’s pretty difficult. Tell him to get a raise so he can support you in the style you deserve. Talking of that, have you noticed the large number of bloggers who are comfy cozy stay-at-home wives? Do you detect a chip on my shoulder?

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      So we need to get a man on you who’s not a US citizen, speaks no English, and will give it the hell up so you can eat bon-bons all day? Hmmm…have you tried snagging someone in imports-exports?

    5. I do know a dashing psychocutie in that line, but he samples a bit too much of the imports to do much exporting

    6. 1bodyand2faces says:

      Man, I had no idea that Natalie Merchant ever wasn’t a finger-wagging schoolmarm (and excellently phrased, that). Almost makes me want to check out that album.

    7. Sean Kinsell says:

      beautiful atrocities:

      “I do know a dashing psychocutie in that line, but he samples a bit too much of the imports to do much exporting.”

      Uh, is that a risqué metaphor, or are you really saying he runs his business poorly?

      Just wondering.


      Well, she had her moments even in 10,000 Maniacs–I think Blind Man’s Zoo is eventually capsized by sanctimony, though it has some good story-songs, too–but in general, she was able to project a lot of empathy.

    8. Kelvin says:

      “I’m not really into the chalky pastels.”

      Dammit Sean, stop messing with my expat Gaijin queer stereotypes.

    9. Sean Kinsell says:

      beautiful atrocities, you could always think of him as a fixer-upper. I have one or two friends who have quite a line in going for guys whose lives are always in disarray and trying to get things together for them. I mean, it never actually works, but they seem to enjoy themselves. Until the break-up.

      Kelvin, we’re known for liking chalky pastels?

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