Monday, March 22, 2010

Ask Clarissa

Spring Break your senior year is not like spring breaks of the past. I suppose this should not surprise me. In two months' time I will graduate and everything that has defined my life for the last four years will change. Most of my friends are going straight into grad school, including Lauren. And for a long time that's what I thought I would do. Anybody who hopes to do anything in business needs an MBA. I am starting to wonder if that's really what I want to do.

Partly it's because I see how hard John works for his paycheck. He's never NOT thinking about the next sales call he has to make or the next client he needs to impress or the next business opportunity to pursue. He acts like he loves it, but I wonder if he has conditioned himself to love it. You either love a life like that or you must hate it. And would you really want to hate something you had to commit to that much?

And partly it's because Abigail has asked me to think about something. Mercy's Gallery will be up and running this summer and will need a business director. She's asked me to consider taking the job. It's a not-for-profit thing, so I probably could make more elsewhere - like running around selling pharmaceuticals like John. And I'd technically be working for Lauren. She's going to be the executive director, working part time while she works on her MFA at UCLA. (Yeah, Masters of Fine Arts. Ask her about that sometime. She's the first Durough in a century to get a masters degree where you don't have to take econ. . .) Of course Lauren wants me to take it. She told me so.

My parents think I should take the job. Even if it is a not-for-profit thing. The economy for college grads is pathetic right now.

John is wondering how he fits into the picture. He doesn't particularly care what I do next as long as he knows where he is in the picture. I did ask him what he meant by that, even though I knew. "I don't want you moving away," he said. But I just wanted to hear it.

Abigail told me to think about it, but not to think about it too long, and then she smiled in this way she has now when she makes a joke about her dying. Lauren hates it when she does that, and most of the time I don't like it either. But this time I laughed. And so did she. . .

Monday, March 15, 2010

In the Kitchen with Esperanza

St. Patrick's Day isn't exactly a holiday with any kind of Latin flair to it, but I make Irish Apple Mash every time it rolls around. I've made it since I first started working for Miss Abigail because my mother made it for her. Sometimes you just need to keep doing what you've always been doing. I add a little nutmeg to mine, and accasionally a dash of cayenne pepper. Because I can.

And I think Abigail likes the tiny kick it gives her. At least, she's never asked me to stop. Apple Mash goes nicely with thick-sliced bacon. Miss Abigail likes for breakfast with a strong cup of Earl Gray. . .

Esperanza's Apple Mash
four cooking apples (Rome or Jonathan)
six to seven potatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
2 Tbls butter
Dash nutmeg

Peel potatoes and cook in salted, boiling water. Peel, core, and slice the apples. Place them in a pot with a tablespoon of water, and the sugar. Cook until soft. When the potatoes are cooked, drain and mash thoroughly. Beat in the apples and butter. Serve warm.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Abigail on the Classics

The doctor told from the very beginning that there would be good days, bad days, and days in between; days that start out good and turn bad and days that start out bad and turn good.

So far, today has been a day that has defied this prediction, this warning that my days would be limited to three kinds. It has been neither good nor bad. I don't feel wonderful, I don't feel terrible. Today I don't feel much of anything at all. Clarissa said this morning that perhaps, in light of the monster hidden inside me, this means it is a good day. The monster is sleeping and I feel nothing. But Lauren, who said nothing at all, surely thinks that any day when you can feel nothing is a day that is not quite good.

On a good day you should feel something.

There was a time when Lauren was afraid of my library. Do you remember that? My many books, stacked around the room like armed guards, intimidated her; made her feel like she was being scrutinized or perhaps judged. But she spends more time in here now than I do. Sometimes I will come downstairs at night, when I cannot sleep, and I will see a stripe of light under the door, and she will be in here having fallen asleep while doing homework, the paper-and-binding watchdogs shushing me as I peek inside.

On those nights I feel complete. There is no other word for it. It's as if I could melt away into the hall carpet and be gone forever from this house and it would be all right because I am complete. All done. Finished.

Perhaps tonight will be one of those nights when I creep down the hall and there will be the yellow ribbon of light under the library door. And then this day will become a day when I feel something.

And it will be good.