Here are a few titles of some of my graduate school essays:
Face to Face with Michelangelo: An Examination of the Artist’s Self-Portrait in the Last Judgement as Representing his Transient State of Being
Roman Fingerprints in Miletus, Ephesus and Aphrodisias: A Discussion of Scenographic Architecture in the Cities of the Greek East
Potential and Selves: An Examanination of Artist as Art Object as seen in the Works of Cindy Sherman and Matthew Barney.
Evolving Gottfried Semper: The Influence of Darwin and the Debate between Materialism and Idealism in the German Architectural Theorist’s Work
Oh, I’m sorry: Did I wake you? Don’t feel bad. I fell asleep for the two years it took me to complete my Masters of Art, emotionally speaking anyway. I had a real hard time with the theory side of things at school: I’m talking about the Foucaults, the Derridas and the Bartheses–about Deconstructionism, Semiotics and Post-Structuralism. Sadly, I couldn’t understand any of it. I would read a sentence in Of Grammatology six or seven times in a row, often out loud, desperate to glean any sort of meaning but I always turned up empty-handed–and very frustrated. Maybe it was the translation. I don’t know. But something wonderful came out of that discontent: I craved good old-fashioned complete sentences with such ferocity that after I graduated I spent my afternoons (I worked at night) selfishly reading words that meant something to me: Epictetus, Spinoza, Thoreau, Goethe and Bertrand Russell, among others, became my good friends that summer.
And then I lost it–that yearning for reading beautifully written words that address fundamental questions about our funny little existence, and for being challenged to read things you don’t necessarily agree with if only to learn how to articulate why exactly you disagree.
Now, I mostly think about what colour I want to paint my nails, what’s for dinner and…what was I saying? It’s sad, really.
On Sunday I was out getting a mani and a pedi (no joke) and shopping (for real) and was late getting home. I was starving and suspected that the Beast would also be starving so I made a pit stop at the Drake BBQ for some pulled pork sandwiches and whoopie pies in order to tie us over until dinner.
After our sammies (we saved the whoopie pies for dessert later on) I got to work in the kitchen (a room I’ve been in only a few times these last two busy weeks): I had quite a bit of produce that was about to make a turn for the worse in the fridge so I wanted to make an eggplant and zucchini parmigiana to cover a few weeknight meals and a mushroom pasta for our dinner that night. The latter is based on a Jaime Oliver recipe that you can find here. I’ve made it before with great success, when I’ve actually followed the recipe. This time around, I decided I didn’t need to actually pull the cookbook out so I made it up as I went along.
In the living room, watching commercials and trailers on the DVD to the movie, Never Let Me Go.
Foodie: Mmn. Not bad. What do you think?
Beast: It’s good. It could use a bit more sauce though, just like those pulled pork sandwiches.
Foodie: You’re right–that sandwich was so porky. I would have liked to sauce it up a bit. I’m going to get some olive oil to try and fix this pasta.
After carefully drizzling a nice olive oil over both of our pastas.
Beast: That’s much better!
Foodie (The trailer for the movie 127 Hours comes on): We should rent that.
Beast: No way.
Foodie: Why not? I thought you liked James Franco.
Beast: I do. But I refuse to watch a movie directed by Danny Boyle–the man who directed Trainspotting.
Foodie: What’s wrong with Trainspotting? Didn’t it speak to your generation?
Beast: Trainspotting was a movie about how hip and cool drugs are and then it ends by saying don’t do drugs. Danny Boyle has nothing to offer me.
Foodie: Quiet! The movie is starting.
Beast: Do you mind if I go upstairs after dinner and finish redesigning my music room?
Beast: You won’t be mad if I don’t watch the movie?
I wasn’t mad. It was probably better that I watched this movie alone. Now, I don’t want to reveal the story to those who haven’t seen it, or who haven’t read the book, but I will say this: the movie ends on a note about the resounding speed in which our little lives take to pass: How we have to cram in so many moments with loved ones and it’s messy and painful and beautiful and then it’s done. The Big Sleep comes and all those memories–those moments that make up an entire being’s existence: they’re gone. I wasn’t crazy about the movie, but that ending left me weeping uncontrollably. When the Beast came downstairs he found me sitting on the edge of the couch with swollen eyes and wet sleeves from wiping the hot tears away.
Beast: How was your movie?
Foodie (sobbing): It was…..sad.
Beast: Did she have to harvest her friend’s organs because society is so cruel?
Foodie (raging): You are a such….a….BULLY! I bet you were a terrible, terrible bully in high school!
Beast: I was NOT a bully in high school! What are you talking about?!
Foodie: Well you shouldn’t go around wrecking meaningful things for people just because you think something is sooooo beneath you. I’m sooooo sorry that I have feelings and that I think about things like death and existence and, and stuff like that. I’m sooooo sorry I just don’t think about, about….JAZZ. (Still sobbing) You shouldn’t make fun of me!!!!!
Beast (almost laughing): I’m so sorry. Genuinely. I did not mean to make fun of you. Or the movie. I don’t think the movie is beneath me either. (Pause) May I ask you a question?
Foodie (sobbing): WHHHHHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTT?
Beast: How much wine did you drink?
Foodie: I don’t know (sobbing). Whatever was in that bottle (pointing to an empty bottle.)
Beast: May I sit down here with you now? I’d like to spend some time with you.
Foodie: Are you done being mean?
Beast (pause): Yes.
So we ate our whoopie pies and the Beast held my feet (newly pedicured) while he searched for something to watch on the television.
The Beast, because he adores Hugh Grant, settled on Music and Lyrics, a romantic comedy about a one-hit wonder musician (Hugh Grant) who falls in love with a woman (Drew Barrymore) who has a knack for writing lyrics. It was a café scene: Hugh was drinking a coffee and Drew was drinking an iced tea.
Foodie: Did you know that Drew Barrymore loves iced tea in real life?
Beast: Wow. I tell you anecdotes about Bach, Brahms and The American Civil War and you tell me about how Drew Barrymore loves iced tea.
Foodie: It’s all I’ve got anymore. I’m empty. (Pause) Did you know that Drew Barrymore had a breast reduction?
Beast: How the fuck do you know so much about Drew Barrymore?
Foodie: I’ve always identified with her.
Beast: Laughing hysterically.
Foodie: What? We’re the same age.
Beast: You’re the same age as Drew Barrymore?
Foodie: Okay, like, I’m seven months older. I identify with her earlier roles mostly, like Gertie in E.T. and Firestarter. Also, Mad Love.
Beast: Of course.
Foodie: I also read her biography, Little Girl Lost, when I was a teenager.
Beast: Holy fuck.
Foodie: Laugh all you want. But this is the sad reality of things for me now. (Pause) Do you know how many people it took to get my pant leg pulled down over my calf after my pedicure today?
Foodie: Three, including me. All the ladies were laughing at me too. They were like, Stop flexing your muscle lady! and I was all like, I’M NOT FLEXING NOTHING MAN! This is just the sort of shit that happens when you wear skinny jeans to get a pedi.
Beast: Are you feeling better?
I was feeling better: I had successfully distracted myself from the fright of the Big Sleep with the electric glow of Hugh and Drew, and I let myself unfold into the Beast’s comforting arms. And there, I took a moment to consider something: Perhaps I was originally drawn to the Beast because he had (and still has) that curiosity that I’d lost. I had just lost it too when we met: I remember him wearing his mother’s hand-me-down cardigans and carrying a Toronto Library bag filled with books written by people who addressed all those isms that I’d so fiercely resisted, like Theodor Adorno and some dude named Slavoj Žižekwondering, and wondering Who is this odd little creature? And I remember declaring myself a staunch formalist and determinist to him, and in turn, he challenged me to explain why and I–having lost the hunger–was incapable of doing so. I could barely even remember what those things meant.
I was like a moth, hoping to get close to his light, hoping that some of his wonder would eventually wander over to my side of the couch.
Drake BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich: Foodie: *1/2 Beast *
Drake BBQ Whoopie Pie: Foodie: **1/2 Beast **
Mushroom Pappardelle: Foodie: ** Beast **