First Monday After Thanksgiving 2011

Bella, otherwise known as The Ancient One has become so spoiled on snacking on leftover steak and turkey that when self filled her dish with dry dog food this morning, she turned up her nose and refused to eat. Okey-dokey! No more kernels of popcorn or lamb-flavored biscuits for you, m’dear! Self adores you but she is not that crazy!

Self took son to the airport this morning. She thought his United Express flight left at 9, and she was sweating bullets on the 101, especially when traffic came to a dead stop in San Mateo. But only when she had exited the freeway did she learn that son’s flight actually left at 9:50 a.m. Ha ha ha! The joke’s on you, self!

Then the husband text-ed son that he had checked and son’s flight would be delayed “due to weather.” Oh, that wasn’t so good. Son has to make a 1 p.m. class in Claremont. But son was his usual unflappable self. “I’m sure the flight will leave on time,” he assures his falling-apart Mama.

Anyhoo, the jury’s still out on whether son is returning for Christmas. Everything hangs by a thread: she thinks she did all right, cooking wise. No, she most surely over-did it. Late last night, after son walked in, self kept trying to push apple dumplings, salami sandwiches, and what-not on him, and he finally ended up saying: “Mom, I am going to sleep soon. Stop trying to make me eat, OK?”

That’s what self appreciates so much about son: he is so direct with her! A true American!

Anyhoo, now that self has the house all to herself, she looks in the fridge and finds half of a meat loaf sandwich. And even though it isn’t even 10 a.m., she takes it and heats it in the toaster oven. Oooh, it’s on a roll of sourdough bread, and the cheese is grilled just right, and the meat loaf is — self! No wonder your jeans have been so tight lately!

As a distraction from eating, self begins to read a stack of back issues of The New York Times Book Review. This issue (of 13 November 2011) has reviews by Ligaya Mishan (pinay, self has known about her for ages), Liesl Schillinger (one of self’s all-time favorite reviewers) and Caroline Weber, author of What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. Now self is getting ready to settle on the couch and begin reading the reviews written by these three wondrous women writers, and the half of a meat loaf sandwich is right in front of her on the coffee table. She switches on the TV and sees a blonde and super-skinny Angelina Jolie snarling at a terrified and also super-skinny Winona Ryder. Oh! It’s “Girl, Interrupted!” Self’s Monday is sheer bliss.  She takes a huge bite of her meatloaf sandwich; her gaze is simultaneously directed downwards, to her feet.  The Ancient One’s warm, brown, liquid gaze has never been so intent and pleading.  But, IXNAY!  Bella, if you think your owner is going to part with even one morsel of this meltingly delicious cheese-and-meatloaf-on-sourdough-roll 1/2 sandwich, you are the most deluded pet in the entire United States!  No, in the entire planet!

And now, without further ado, here are the reviews self is clipping and saving from the NYTBR:

Ligaya Mishan’s review of Yu Hua’s China in Ten Words:  Apparently, it begins with an essay in humble self-criticism.  How very Confucian!  Self definitely wants to read this book.

Liesl Schillinger’s review of Julian Bond’s Booker-Award-winning 14th novel, The Sense of an Ending:  Not only does Schillinger’s review end up making her want to read this novel, it also makes her want to read Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and Philip Larkin’s Jill.

Caroline Weber’s review of Caroline Moorehead’s A Train in Winter:  An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France

Finally, on the very last page, the one reserved for guest essays, self reads Leah Price’s “The Subconscious Shelf.”  Oh, she loves, loves, loves this essay.  After finishing the essay, self decides she simply must read French gastronome Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

New Letters, the “Power” Issue (Vol. 77 No. 2/ 2011)

So it’s the end of the Thanksgiving weekend.  The leftover turkey and prime rib are still on the kitchen counter because there is simply no more room in the fridge.  Self is beginning to think about the morrow:  dropping son off at the airport, then seeing a dentist.  In between, she plans to stop by the post office and mail out a couple of stories.

To get her mind back into writing mode, self looks through her stack of literary journals.  She selects one journal at random:  New Letters.

She hasn’t read an issue in so long.  This one has the winners of their annual poetry and fiction prizes.

Self turns first to the winner in poetry:  a new name, someone named Josephine Yu.  Self deliberately avoids turning to the author’s bio because she doesn’t want to be sitting here, late at night on a Sunday, the kitchen still a mess, and read about a 27-year-old or even a 37-year-old whose luck has suddenly turned, whose years of apprenticeship to the writing muse have suddenly paid off, who has — oh, just quit it, self.

She turns to the first poem, “The Optimist’s Birthday,” and reads:

Tomorrow they begin the year when everything they’ve wanted
will finally happen.

!!!!

Self really loves those words!

Here’s a little more:

They’re already forgetting
the accumulated grievances. Regret rises from them
like shower steam.

(Son just walked in the door)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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