Something You Should Know

I was prescribed my first set of glasses in the second grade. The ones I picked out at the optometrist's were thin-rimmed, almost perfectly round, and mottled blue. Mottled, because they were splatter-painted (faux?) as many things tended to be in the early 1990's. Aesthetically, they pleased me, but their intrinsic purpose made me uneasy. I felt this was another one of those tricks, the vitamins disguised as orange-flavor candy. The chalky aftertaste was always a dead giveaway– deception.

I remember first trying them on in the car, pressing them to my face, slowly, cautiously, like the first step on the moon landing. Peering from behind the plastic disks, a distressing thing occurred. The trees had changed. It was summer, and what before had been a dizzyingly lush effusion of green watercolors, pulsating hypnotically like seaweed in a crosscurrent, suddenly took on the hard, defined edges of an anatomical drawing; the world was screaming lines, eviscerating precision, headaches. I immediately removed the glasses. In the way that my grandmother decided about Thai food once and for all upon first tasting it at a restaurant, I thought -oh no, no, no. THIS is not for me- and got to losing the glasses in the most ingenious of places, ever accompanied with the most noble, pitiable of circumstances when held for questioning. I did this until I succeeded in breaking them, and then repeated the process on the successors throughout my childhood, which, viewed together (if any but a few pathetic limbless specimens still exist), would inform a contemporary understanding of ocular fashion evolutions from the 1990's into our current decade.




letterpressing from hometown art house Struggle Inc., for Longman & Eagle




Wherein I Rescind Upon a Resolution, Deliciously


Out of a misplaced sense of virtue, I wrote a terrible, terrible resolution for 2010. It reads: no more sugar and flour. What possessed me to write such a treacherous thing? The first, noted above, then perhaps that bleary stupor that attends the sweet-filled holidays, after a rigorous diet of cheesecakes barely tasted into the second slice and family viewings of blockbuster movies unavoidably helmed by a similarly bloated Nic Cage?

Once the madness of the sentiment had passed, I resolutely banished this amendment, and got to baking out of one of my favorite christmas presents, the glorious Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The carrot bread recipe caught my eye as anything that approaches carrot cake tends to do, but the beauty of the bread is its lightly sweet flavor, moist crumb, and adaptability towards all-day noshing. I also happened to have 4 obscenely large carrots from the CSA looking strangely like fat baby arms in the fridge, which I decided I was too uncomfortable having nesting there any longer. It was the right, the delicous, decision. Have a slice for breakfast with coffee, then spread it with brown-sugar sweetened cream cheese for a heavenly dessert.


This is How Memory Works

(photo copyright alexandra leon 2009)

You are stepping off a train.
A wet blank night, the smell of cinders.
A gust of steam from the engine swirls
around the hem of your topcoat, around
the hand holding the brown leather valise,
the hand that, a moment ago, slicked back
the hair and then put on the fedora
in front of the mirror with the beveled
edges in the cherrywood compartment.

The girl standing on the platform
in the Forties dress
has curled her hair, she has
nylon stockings---no, silk stockings still.
Her shoulders are touchingly military,
squared by those shoulder pads
and a sweet faith in the Allies.
She is waiting for you.
She can be wearing a hat, if you like.

You see her first.
That's part of the beauty:
you get the pure, eager face,
the lyrical dress, the surprise.
You can have the steam,
the crowded depot, the camel's-hair coat,
real leather and brass clasps on the suitcase;
you can make the lights glow with
strange significance, and the black cars
that pass you are historical yet ordinary.

The girl is yours,
the flowery dress, the walk
to the streetcar, a fried egg sandwich
and a joke about Mussolini.
You can have it all:
you're in that world, the only way
you'll ever be there now, hired
for your silent hammer, to nail pictures
to the walls of this mansion
made of thinnest air.

-Patricia Hampl


Crystal POW

Ed Ruscha, 1986


Magic Touch



Community Sponsored Agriculture:Type Specimen


I made this type specimen for a typography class last semester; it intends to show off Gil Sans in all its glory, while providing information about and resources for the community sponsored agriculture movement. I've written about my CSA in this blog before; it's a concept and commitment that has changed my life, specifically, in how I think about food and myself as a consumer. I know the farmer that grows my food; I see her every week and we talk about the weather conditions on the farm, the challenges of transporting hundreds of pounds of food 90 miles, and sometimes just trade recipes for the vegetables she knows so intimately. These veggies are often dusted with dirt, and packed with care inside of a waxed box by the interns at the farm, who sometimes slip little poems in with the fennel, and who tell me their favorite storage techniques as they help me load up my bicycle basket. The seeds that grow these veggies are often antique or 'heirloom', a practice that is quickly growing extinct as mono-cultures take over agricultural methods in the US. In short, I could never imagine having the same soulful relationship I have my food if I was making it out of mealy, anonymous supermarket super-veggies.


Last night I dreamnt about the ocean. My body was being tossed amongst the grasping hands of pink coral cities. The tide beat me down and sucked me back up again, a giant. There was blood in the water, blooming in flowers around my open eyes, my unstruggling arms, whisked away. I was afraid of the unseen cities, the dark forms sliding in and out of touch, incomprehensible. I was afraid of the moment when I would cease to fear the massive crashing, the vast wild blue.


blue planet:the deep, image via luxaire

When I was small, I was never afraid of the ocean.



A New Egg

The day after "NYE", which I always hear in my mind as "nee-yeeeeeeeeee", sounding like the beginning of a cherry bomb going off, the invisible, terrifying time in the confused dark before it explodes in the air hundreds of feet, safely, above your head, we go to a french restaurant to celebrate that ritualized paean to our communal recklessness. Brunch. A word that seems to describe the action of lustily biting into a very chewy hunk of brown bread in German, a language I don't speak. People wearing sunglasses (neon, plastic), glasses full of restorative juices, cutlery being knocked onto the ground with the precision of a military band. Like a big, sly wink, this brunch, traces of champagne and glitter on everyone's faces.

My poached egg comes, poached, a concept never fully understood in my mind, something french and secretive. It is wonderful, puffy and delicate and quivery, like scarlett johanssen's breasts in pictures, white as snow, a pillow, for sleeping, a promise, for breaking. When I slice delicately into it, parting the hollandaise expertly, I imagine I'm a surgeon, world-class, the kind that saves lives easily, like maybe in her spare time, as a hobby, when not para-gliding off of cliff faces. I finish my cut, and a small tidal wave of viscous fluid floods the plate, lapping the shore of a mountain of potatoes. I spy the alien yellow heart of a yolk tucked in the pillowy shell before it explodes spectacularly, rushing to meet the lake of primordial ooze that has spread to cover the entire plate. "ewwwww", I whisper, reverentially. The first egg of the year, raw and glistening, spread out on a big plate, just for me. I smile, and scoop up a big spoonful.