Life goes on. Today there was soup making early in the day, lentil soup that’s earthy and savory and nourishing. In fact, this particular soup is practically perfect and just about beyond reproach. I used French green lentils my ex-sister-in-law-but-still-my-sister sent us for Christmas from this groovy place I’ve mentioned before.
I’ve remained true to myself since November or thereabouts, which is to say, I’m eating healthfully and running or exercising diligently every day of the week, except these last couple of weeks. Nothing like a head cold to derail the best laid plans. Still, I’ve managed to continue losing weight in spite of deep winter and this tenacious upper respiratory virus—shedding what I call my ‘happy fat’ so I will feel better and can wear what I want, the clothing I arrived with more than seven years ago. That one can achieve this without exercising is proof positive that weight loss really does boil down to a simple calories in/calories out equation. Can’t run, can’t eat (as much). Pretty simple. And intermittent fasting does a body good; I can feel it, can hear a little note of thanks from way down deep somewhere in my gut.
Anyway, my favorite clothing is mostly packed away into plastic bins in the attic, but I suspect before too much longer I’ll start pawing through them; it’ll be like greeting old friends after a long absence from them, I feel sure. The clothing that fits me now is starting to hang off me, not a bad feeling, even if that means tugging awkwardly at it during the day. On the weekly erranding outing yesterday with The Chef I did this in full view of a passel of grocery store shoppers. I’ve reached an age where I no longer really care so much about what people think, and anyway, better that I tug than my britches wind up around my ankles in the supermarket. Which, by the way, is legal in Vermont. True story: You can go nekkid up here in public places and you won’t be arrested.
Right now I’m about halfway to my weight loss goal, and have until September to reach it. Even after I get there, though, I don’t plan to go nekkid in public places in Vermont.
Recently it dawned on me that the tradeoff for adopting this decidedly more healthful lifestyle is sacrificing writing time. This also boils down to easy math—there are only so many hours in a day. This time last year I started a writing experiment, fiddling around with fiction, writing a single descriptive paragraph most mornings. What began as a fairly simple effort to jump start my brain in the predawn hours and to exercise the creative muscle led to longer and longer posts, and deeper plot development, a couple of stories finally unfolding in parallel, connected but set in different times. Readers liked them and even urged me to consider writing a novel, although I’ve never aspired to that; I’ve always felt more comfortable churning out nonfiction and even memoir-style writing. Still, I found the praise encouraging to be sure.
But since writing serial fiction isn’t really what I set out to do in the beginning, I’m not sure how I feel about continuing down that pathway. It obliges you, even makes you feel inadequate when you drop the ball or fall short of expectations. Last summer I was explaining this phenomenon to John Zomchick, one of my former English professors, over dinner; he nodded and then observed that the very short-form fiction I was writing—my original ‘morning miniature’ effort—is in fact a legitimate form. That’s stuck with me in the intervening months, as I reflect about perhaps going back to the shorter form, and remaining truer to my original purpose instead of feeling obliged to create a plot for readers to follow week to week.
As of now, the longer stories all live in a gigantic file which has grown to around 25,000 words; that’s the most I’ve written, ever, as part of what you might call a single ‘opus,’ and that is something, I suppose. Maybe I’ll try to do more with it eventually, beyond publishing it online in fits and starts. But sometimes, I just want to write a lovely little paragraph and leave it at that.
The Chef has his own way with words, and here is evidence, a recap of our conversation on the way home from our erranding yesterday. Our drive takes us past a small body of water the locals simply refer to as the ‘duck pond,’ for its burgeoning population of drakes and mallards who live there all year. It went something like this:
Me: Look at that—there are so many you can’t even see the ground or the sidewalk. Somebody must’ve tossed them some dried corn.
Chef: I’ve seen the woman who lives across the street go over there and feed them; probably her.
Me: Duck poop for days. When I lived in Knoxville our dogs loved to eat the goose poop along the banks of the Tennessee River—it was like hors d’oeuvres to them. Disgusting. On Thursday at work Scoutie ground scored a mouthful of duck poop and I had to make him drop it.
Chef: <screws up face> Yeah, duck poop is disgusting. Except when you spread it on toast. Then it’s alright.
I stopped and reflected on this for a moment, wondering whether I was about to step into a Chef-laid pun trap, or whether this might instead be some culinary delicacy, because you never know. And The Chef has the best-ever poker face, which he was definitely wearing.
Me: What? Duck poop spread on toast?
The Chef: Yes—have you never heard of bru-sh*t-ah?
Where I’m mainly inclined to throw barbs at him when he does this to me, just as his colleagues do at work, this time we both dissolved in giggles. And I know I’ll get flak for repeating the story here.
Totally worth it, on this icy, grey winter day in Vermont.