“When you know something, you know it, and when you don’t, you’d better learn. And in the meantime, you should keep quiet, or at least speak only when what you say will advance the learning process.”—Roberto Bolaño - 2666
I was scared of bees when I was young. Not like phobic scared, just reasonably afraid. They were small, armed, flew fast, and changed direction in a way that like defined agility. If one was after you there was almost no escaping it. Bees seemed worth avoiding, especially after I had learned first hand what it was like to be a victim of one of their jagged stingers.
But one day when I was maybe five years old, after expressing my fear to an accompanying adult (I can’t remember specifically who it was), the adult posited that bees were probably as afraid of me as I was of them, maybe even more so. From the bee’s perspective I was huge, strong, capable of killing them in a single step or swipe. I was terrifying. I had much less to fear from bees than they did from me.
Until that point, never once had I pondered the perspective of the bee. I had not considered their vulnerabilities, that their actions could be based less on confidence than on fear, that their ideas of me were as scattered as their flight paths. But once I did think it through, I realized that the adult was probably right. Soon my aversion turned to empathy, my anger became an apology.
After all, what I had been afraid of were not bees, but my own fabrication of what I thought bees were like. I saw a stinger, the erratic, unpredictable flight, and then I filled in the blanks. And like how it so often happens, what I created in those unknown spaces was something worth fearing.
To conquer my fear I would have to replace my false assumptions with understanding. I would have to stop running away and instead, humbly, cautiously crouch down next to a flower, and slowly learn.
I’m beginning to realize that my relationship with bees at the age of five isn’t all that different from my current relationships with other people.
saunter |ˈsôntər| verb [ intrans. ] walk in a slow, relaxed manner, without hurry or effort : Adam sauntered into the room.
If you were to put a 2x4 piece of wood down on a sidewalk, and let’s make this 2x4 maybe, like, 15 feet long, so we’ve got a 15 foot stretch of 2 by 4 inch wood, doesn’t really matter what kind of wood, cedar maybe?; ok so cedar, wait…maybe maple?…yeah, actually, maple would be better because later we could cut it up and smoke meat with it, and good god smoked meat, amiright?; ok, so here’s what we’ve got: future delicious meat cooking maple, it’s 15 feet long, 4 inches wide, 2 inches tall, and it’s on the sidewalk. Now, let’s say you asked me to walk across that piece of wood without falling off. Am I worried? No, not at all. I casually step up on the plank of wood, and stroll, like saunter across the thing, not one hesitation, totally perfect, completely functional inner ears and everything. I shrug a sorta “what was the point of that?” kinda shrug, and really, what was the point anyway? Here’s the point: you then, and I don’t know how, I guess we’re near some sort of cliffs, but you take that same piece of 15 foot long 2x4 of maple and you place it over a like, I guess chasm or something…something deep and dark, like an abyss and there’s fog and it’s a long fall and this piece of wood is now a very narrow walkway between two cliffs that just so happen to be 14 feet apart. Now you challenge me to walk across that same 2x4. Well, this time, there’s definitely no sauntering, I’ll tell you that. Instead, this time my heart is racing and I’m fucking terrified. Even though I know I’m completely capable of getting across this 2x4, already done it in fact, now that it’s over an abyss, well, now there are consequences for failure, and not only do I really really not want to fail, I can’t afford to fall. And so every step is thought through so thoroughly that it’s like I can’t even walk anymore. Here’s me, a completely capable walker-in-a-straight-line (well, most of the time at least), and I’m doubting, second guessing the precision of each step, wondering if I can make it all 15 feet, so handicapped by my thoughts of what would happen if I messed up that I probably do indeed fall, that is if I even take one step on the thing.
Saw someone at a bar tonight that I haven’t seen in a while. Someone that always made me very, very aware of what I said. Someone I have wanted for so long to impress so badly that each word I said was spoken and then like, sent before committee and critiqued harshly. And I doubted. And I was clumsy. And I never ever leave thinking I did well, after all those carefully planned words, that forced humor, and nervousness played out through restless hands that I never quite know what to do with, I’m always pretty sure that I didn’t make it over the abyss.
And I wish for once that I could just saunter like normal, cause I’m sure it’d work.
This song has always sounded like an audible version of autumn. It has a crisp, leaves-falling-under-gray-skies thing going for it. For the last three years I have found myself on tour during the fall months, always away in Florida in October, the leaves changing beautifully in Richmond while I perspire in thick humidity I thought I’d not see again until late May, surrounded by a green made drab by repetition, diluted by its endurance. On those days it’s nice to sit in the chill of an overly air-conditioned room, drink bitter coffee as salty sweat dries, leaf through a book, and escape somewhere autumnal, even if just through audition.
- Combine bread flour, salt, yeast, sugar, and water in a bowl. Knead. Let rise. Punch down. Let rise. Bake in hot oven. Let cool. Slice.
- Place aromatic veggies and herbs in dutch oven. Add a bottle of red wine. Reduce until almost dry. Add beef stock and 2 lbs beef chuck (preferably local grass fed) and more veggies/herbs. Braise for a few hours in low oven until meat is tender. Reduce some of the braising liquid to a glaze. Place on sliced bread with mozzarella.
- Slice a red onion. Sauté until translucent. Add some red wine vinegar and sugar. Cook until mostly dry.
- Sauté chopped green bell pepper until soft. Add sliced mushroom. Sauté until soft. Place veggies on meat.
- Butter outer side of bread. Wrap in aluminum foil. Place on grill pan with a skillet, or something heavy, on top to weigh it down. Flip after a few minutes.
“The diseased, anyway, are more interesting than the healthy. The words of the diseased, even those who can manage only a murmur, carry more weight than those of the healthy. Then, too, all healthy people will in the future know disease. That sense of time, ah, the diseased man’s sense of time, what treasure hidden in a desert cave. Then, too, the diseased truly bite, whereas the healthy pretend to bite but really only snap at the air. Then, too, then, too, then, too.”—Roberto Bolaño, 2666