The Process

Tag: wine

People and Dead Wine

All the directions are just to continue.  Veering is fancy.  Do we just
?  Continue for 17 miles.  Colder, now it’s warm.  And it’s white
out.  In the house, we talk about the winter season and the not having
people.  My fairy wine unicorn says a shitty restaurant in town serves grandma food.  The sausage
man says hauw dayer jshou eensult grondmazher layk zhat?  Grondmazher is vanderfahl.  Unicorn’s husband served us meatballs last night; he learned to cook from a mother who didn’t want him to burden a woman.  Grondmazher is vanderfahl.  And the unicorn had served her husband a tuna sandwich with two cabbage leaves, and he said, “you could kill a man like that.”  It’s all stories to say between rows of vines.  We’re looking

out.  The sudden chill will freeze the buds on the vines, and there may be no grapes this year.  My mother and I think on it and later in the day drink a bottle.  Will there be wine?  Maybe cider.  I think about the diaper smell of fermenting cider I once harbored in my room.  And then of the winery smelling like diapers, and it made me sad.   The sausage

man is yelling about zhe preezon ghard, his wife.  I cant evuhn fahrt weezhout hehr purmeesshun.  We are smirking.  We are laughing at all of this; we continue.

The Things That Happened

The truth lives inside a hangover, so when I woke up in my floating I thought about the little truths that I know like how normally I would save a day to cleanse but that I’m tired of trying to be <, and I would rather lay down and eat bowls of cereal instead.  Actually, I’m going to leave behind commas for now to say the true things because they box it up wrong.  And I got out of bed and bought wheat bread and bologna and the man at the counter kept not knowing what I was saying and it hurt my head to try to decide if I was being too quiet or if he just didn’t speak English and it was hard because I mumble and I still had a floating head.  And I went back upstairs and made the fried bologna sandwich in case the lady wanted to wake up and eat something greasy to make the pain stop and I took a bite and went back to bed.  And then she left and I sat on the toilet absentmindedly while her cat yelled at me and then the cat and I laid down and I couldn’t get up and I had to make myself leave to do the day and I walked toward the train but I kept not wanting to leave the air of the day so I kept walking past each R stop.  R R R and then I went into the Harley Davidson cafe for a coffee because why not…but the why not is that the coffee was watery and not cold enough and the lady was bitching about a woman paying in change and I was too tired to hear even though I understand.  And then I got on the train at Canal because it was time and I didn’t feel like buying art supplies anymore because I’m tired and maybe my bank account is low and maybe I would write instead.  On the train there were a few beggars, a dancer, and a couple of men chatting about normal things, which reminded me that all the world’s a stage.  And the concept of blissful ignorance exists on many many levels.  And I thought about how my mom said talking to me is like talking to a forty year old woman and is it weird that made me glad.  And I thought about how I always ask if we died and this is the afterlife.  Just the other day I saw a man in a burger suit advertising for a burger place on a hot day and I thought about how maybe this is actually the afterlife and that hell and heaven exist side by side on earth or everywhere and we’re just all experiencing the joys and punishment on a continuous loop but how that would be hard to support without the existence of a god or karma and that even still we might all just be random.  Because I am so convinced that when I die I will be completely done.  But then there are infinite possibilities of what could become of a person after death…like maybe you’d just be on a beach with Bjork like in the exhibit at PS1.  Or maybe all the world is just Bjork’s imagination while she’s on the beach and when you take your headset off you die.  Or I am Bjork.  Or you are or this is death or every night sleeping is dying and tomorrow is the afterlife.  The point is that every action doesn’t matter if we are going to die once and for all but if each new sleep is death and the afterlife is living in the effect of your previous action, then everything is completely relevant and direct and god is cause and effect or life and death and afterlife is cause and effect and god is still a scapegoat that lives on some people’s lips.  Or when I die I will go to hell for my debauchery and eschewing religion or I will go to heaven to prove a point and God will laugh at me and say “gotcha, bitch.”  And then I got off the train and considered buying a bagel but couldn’t believe I could think about food because of the fact that I drank two margaritas and seven glasses of wine last night and ate dinner and woke up and ate part of a greasy sandwich so I just went home.  And as I walked down the street with the flowers emerging from the branches I smelled buckwheat honey and semen on the lukewarm breeze and felt peaceful with a tinge of disgust which is what Spring is about I guess.  And the thoughts I had when walking down my street became a story like a fantasy I guess but I hate the word fantasy when it refers to anything besides some sort of great ideal occurrence so I would call it more of an imagined story where I was telling someone about how the reason that you never say “never” is because never is a tiny fairy that is summoned when you say her name and she brings you the thing of which you spoke.  Never always comes to get you, you know.  With the commas, I know, but fuck you…because I’m allowed to do anything, really.  And they fit there.  In a way that made my brain feel OK.  I thought, too, about how I had meant to be better.  “What had happened was” is a great way to put it What had happened was what had happened was dot dot dot.  Dot dot dot dot dot dot.  That makes life an ellipses.  Or considering my inability to comprehend whether life is life or afterlife or day or whatever then I am just an ellipses or an excuse or a shrug and a piece of belly fat that tried to say I’m not sure I care or this is just the way I am because inertia is real and change requires energy, focus, and tunnel vision, none of which I really possess at the moment.  I would almost say I’m wry but it’s a raw thing too and a bit of heavy jading.  Yeah I wake up worried because of myself and the expectation of catastrophic abandonment but if I’m to embrace my abundant mediocrity it’s just a doom I’ll come to terms with and come to love one day, as those things often happen.  It makes me laugh a little just because it reminds me of the part where Motley Crue sings “if you want to live life on your own terms, you gotta be willing to crash and burn,” and maybe I am that and by transitive property Bjork is crash and burn or the absence of it…and it’s not necessarily willing to crash and burn but accepting that it’s probably coming and What had happened was dot dot What had happened was hold me closer tiny rocket man dot dot dot dot dot dot dot dot dot dot dot dot dot What had happened

The Lost Kids

FOURTEEN

When I wake up, I look out to a line of cars ahead of us.  Holy shit, Jed–are we at the border already?  What time is it?”  He looks over at me and laughs.

“It’s six.”

“Jesus.  Should we be worried about border control?  Are you sure there aren’t any drugs hiding in this van right now?  Are we gonna get arrested?”

“Calm down, Gretchen.  I don’t think there’s anything in here.”

“You don’t think…”

“I checked.  Just calm down.  Here.  Want some?”  Jed holds out a half-eaten McDouble.

“Ew…you’re disgusting…”  I take the burger, realizing I’m starving, and take a bite.  For a cold, grey meat sandwich, it’s perfect.  I wolf down the three remaining bites.

“So disgusting…” Jed smirks.

“Shut up.”  I turn up the radio, which Jed has switched to some hip hop station and sing along:  “Ass fat!  Yeah I know!  The mo’ you spendin’, the fasta it go!” I do my best Nikki Minaj impression, and Jed looks surprised.  “C’mon Jed.  I know you know the words, too.  Throw some mo’!  Throw some mo’!”  He grins.

“You’re fucking crazy.  Turn it off for now; we’re coming up to the booth.”  I turn off the radio, as we drive up to the woman checking passports.  She asks Jed a bunch of questions about our trip and what kind of shit we have in the car.

“OK, can you pull up there and go inside so that we can check your car?”  Fuck.  I knew this was going to end in a drug bust or something.

“Sure.”

“Jed, what the hell?  No other cars ahead of us got checked.”

“I don’t know.  It’s probably just routine.  Don’t worry about it.”  We get out of the car and go into the building.  To take my mind off the situation at hand, I read some brochures about Canadian tourism and maple syrup, but my hands are sweaty, and I have to pee.  After a few minutes, the man who went out to inspect the car comes in and says something to another guard at the desk.  I can’t hear what they’re saying, but I see the second guard put on a pair of gloves and go out to the car.  We’re totally fucked.  I shouldn’t have come to Canada with this stranger.  I don’t want to go to jail.

A couple minutes later, I see another guard summoned out to the car.

“Jed…this is not looking good.”  I can tell he’s trying to stay calm for my sake.  How patronizing.  A few minutes later, the first guard comes back in and walks over to us with a serious expression.

“You can go back out to your car.”  I feel relieved but also confused.  We walk out the door, and one of the guards looks up.

“Where did you get this car?”

“It’s my friend’s…”

“This is the same van Rush used when they first started touring.  Not just the same model, but the same van!  Geddy Lee rode in this car!” he exclaims in a heavy French accent.

“My friend’s uncle helped organize Rush’s first tour in America.  Their van was on its final days, so they left it with him in America, and later on, he gave it to my friend to fix up if he wanted.  It’s a miracle it runs, but it does.”

“Bobo fucking owns Rush’s old tour van?  We’re driving Rush’s old tour van?  Jed!”  I’m at once ecstatic and offended Jed hadn’t told me before.  He smiles, and the guard gives him the keys.

“Have fun in Montreal,” the guard says.

I’m still trying to calm down, and as I get back into the van, I feel jittery.  “Alright, Jed.  Well, that was fucked up.  And I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.  Fuck you!  Anyway, I guess it’s appropriate to put this on, then.”  As he turns his key in the ignition and starts to drive, I put some Rush on my phone and turn it all the way up.  “MONDAY WARRIOR MEAN, MEAN STRIDE, TODAY’S TOM SAWYER, MEAN, MEAN PRIDE!”  I yell.  Jed smiles and joins in.  “THOUGH HIS MIND IS NOT FOR RENT, DON’T PUT HIM DOWN AS ARROGANT!”  We do a wonderful, terrible job singing the song, and I laugh to myself, briefly thinking that Jed is a little bit of a Tom Sawyer guy.

“So I’m really hungry.  Should we just go put our shit in the hotel and go get some food right away?”

“Yes,” I agree.  I’m fucking hungry, and I would love a drink.  Actually, I would love a bathroom, and then a drink, and then some food.  Dennis went to Canada last year, and he said the food was amazing.  “Should we go try some of this poutine shit, or should we go somewhere fancy?  After all, this is a very sophisticated getaway week for us, is it not?”

“I say fancy.  I mean, haven’t you had your fill of poutine in New York?  It’s at every hip eatery.”

“But I would hope it’s better here.”

“Maybe so.  Oh, here it is,” Jed points to a pretty brick building and pulls up to the valet.  The hotel looks really nice, and I feel a little bad that he’s spending his money on our room.  However, it’s not every day people my age get to do such things, so I brush off the guilt.  We check in and go up to our room.

“A king?”  I look at him with a playfully annoyed smirk.  Like hell I’m sharing a bed with a random man I just met.  But I don’t mind.  I’ll sleep on the luxurious looking leather couch.

“It’s all they had available.”

“Naturally.”  We drop our bags and go downstairs to ask the receptionists about restaurant recommendations.  Typically, I have a whole list of places to go when I travel, but something about the spontaneity of this trip made me want to wing everything.  The hostess is a young woman probably not much older than me, and although she is well dressed and groomed, something about her vibe seems a little punky and badass.  When we ask her where we should eat, she pauses, sizing us up, probably wondering what two younger, somewhat grungy Americans are doing at a nice hotel in Montreal in the middle of the winter.  Barely missing a beat, she recommends a place called Gros.

“What’s it like?”  I ask.

“It’s hard to really say,” she starts.  “But just go.  I think you two will like it.”

“What kind of attire is it?”

“Go as you are,” she smiles in a strangely mysterious, all knowing way.

“Well OK, let’s do it, then,” Jed seems pleased with the bare amount of information we’ve received.

“Fuck it, yeah.  Let’s go.  I’m starving.”  We walk toward the door, and as Jed opens it, I ask, “Is it wrong to trust someone’s restaurant recommendation just because she’s hot?”  He laughs, realizing we’ve both trusted this receptionist in blind faith, and says,

“No.  I think it’s perfectly fine.”

Gros is only five blocks from our hotel.  It’s pretty busy when we get there, but it is also small.

“Table for two?”

“Yes, thanks.”

“OK, just give me one moment…here.  Have these while I get your table ready.”  The host hands us shots of brown liquor.

“That’s how I always want to be greeted.  Everywhere I go,” I say, as I sniff the beverage, verifying that it’s whiskey.  “Cheers, Jed.”

“Cheers, m’lady!”  We down the fiery shots, and my belly warms up immediately.  My stomach growls, wondering why I’m only sending it alcohol when it really wants food.  Shhh…I tell it.  Food to come.  The host sits us at a table in the back corner, which is dim and beautiful.

“Well, how romantic!” I joke.  Jed laughs, but there’s a hint of something else in the laugh that worries me.  I hope he doesn’t feel this is a romantic dinner.  Or is it?  Canada feels like an alternate universe to me.  Maybe I will create a new world today.  This place…this food…this person…for now, I love them all?  I could love everything here.  And that might be perfect.  And yet, maybe this is the whiskey talking.

“What can I get you two to drink?” A woman appears next to our table.  We order a large bottle of La Fin Du Monde, a beer made in Montreal, to split.  A few minutes later, the waitress comes back with two glasses and the bottle and pours it for us.  She sets down a basket of biscuits between us and gives us some time to look at the menu.

“Cheers!”  I clink glasses with Jed, and some of the tall, white foam runs over the side of my glass.  The beer is refreshing and strong, and the biscuits are warm.  “Do we even need anything else?”

“Haha…yes…but this is pretty great by itself,” he agrees.  “What about this braised goose tacos situation?”

“Mmm…that sounds great.  What about this lobster po’ boy with crispy pig ears and Ranch?”

“Should we have smoked before coming here?”

“Maybe.  But we’re pretty hungry already.”

“Excuse me,” a woman at the table next to us looks over at us. “I don’t mean to intrude, but would you like to go smoke?  My husband and I are taking a break in our meal, and we’re going to step outside.  People actually do it here quite frequently.  The restaurant doesn’t really mind; there’s an alley right next door.”

“Seriously?”  Jed looks happy, and the woman nods.  “Gretchen?”

“Sure.  Let’s go.”  We put our napkins on the table and walk outside.  It’s started to snow, and most of the streets are empty.  I realize it’s already ten, and that makes me happy.  Late dinners are one of my favorite things.  The woman pulls a joint out of a small tin in her purse and lights it with a match from a Gros matchbook.

“So where are you two from?”

“New York,” I say.  “Are you from here?”

“No, actually we’re from Toronto, but my husband is a graphic designer, and I’m a musician, so we moved here, because it’s more conducive to our work.  Perhaps not because of the work itself, but, em…the nature of the environment,” she laughs, taking a pointed drag.  “And what do you do?”

“I’m a salesman, and she’s a cook,” Jed replies.

“And how long have you been together?”

“Oh, we’re–”

“Two years,” Jed cuts me off.  I smirk. I can play this game.  We talk with the couple, Bette and Louis, some more, and when we finish the joint, we return to dinner.  Back in the restaurant, we push our tables together and order a ton of food.  Even though Bette and Louis were once half way through their meal, they’re again ravenous.

It turns out they’re both devout wine lovers, so they order wines with our food that make everything perfect.  Muscadet with our seafood, Carignan with our goose tacos, a Cote du Rhone with a fried rabbit dish.  Although at first I was nervous about prices, it eventually becomes clear that the chef is good friends with Bette and Louis, and by extension, everything is on the house.

“We’ve known Jean for ten years,” Louis says.  “He was my best man in our wedding.  He’s like a brother to me.  I design all his menus and book covers, and I eat here free.  It’s the essence of a symbiotic relationship.”

“To symbiosis!”  I toast, as I begin to feel quite drunk.

“Symbiosis!”  Everyone cheers, in unison.  After the other tables have cleared out of the restaurant, Jean and a few other chefs come out of the kitchen with some more food and a few bottles of Pastis.  We all drink, talk, and smoke in only candlelight, now, and I feel a sense of peace that I’ve never before experienced.  Jed looks happy, too, which makes me happy.  He looks up and catches my eye, and I smirk, thinking, yes, two years, we’ve been together now.  He looks healthy in the candle light, and something like love bubbles up in me for a moment.  I’m surprised, but I suspend the concern to prolong the good feeling.

“Well, then,” Jean announces, stirring me from my dream-like state, “I think it’s time to go have some fun.  To the bars!”

“To the bars!”  Bette echoes.  Jed and I exchange looks of surprise, considering we clearly underestimated just how hard these French Canadians could party, and we shrug, chiming in,

“To the bars!”

The Lost Kids

FOUR

I wake up in a strange mix of comfort and hazy stupor.  As I piece together the reality of the new day, beginning with the daily assessment of, “am I hungover?” followed by, “did I even drink last night?” (not drinking water warrants both questions), I become aware of another being.  Who’s arm is this arm that is not my arm?  Oh, goddamnit.  Please don’t be naked…Please don’t be naked…I turn over to see Seamus half-spooning me in his sleep.  Oh dear…well, we are dressed, and based on the evidence around me, I deduce the events of the previous evening: neon orange crumbs on the floor and in the bed, rolls of duct tape here and there, some shards of glass and sticky residue on the floor—we got white girl wasted and ate a bunch of Cheetos while trying to fashion shoes out of duct tape.  This happens sometimes…all in a night’s work.

I am too dazed to think, so I go into my living room and curl up in the lumpy easy chair.  By now, the shape of my ass is sunken into the poor thing.  At least I get good use out of it.  It’s leather, and I found it down in Alphabet City outside someone’s apartment while I was waiting to meet my friend Sasha for dinner.  I sat in the chair and quickly became attached.  Long story short, we canceled our dinner plans and devised a plan to get the chair back to Queens for free.  Truth be told, it did involve a mildly untrue post on TaskRabbit, which involved payment in beer.  Beer that did not yet exist.  So the guy who drove it back to Queens with us had to buy the beer himself.  I will say that the Christening of the chair party we had together made it worth his while (as threesomes do), so no remorse resulted.  I should really call Sasha to hang out sometime soon.  I miss that bitch.

I really wish that Seamus would go home.  I have to go to work in four hours, and all I want is to lay under my faintly Cheetos-stained down comforter and lament the awkward swimming in my head.  Possibly while eating a bagel.  Ah, a bagel.  Good idea.  I creep into my room and wake up Seamus.  It’s awkward, since I’ve never had to get him out of my bed before, but there’s simply no other solution that will get me back under my own covers quicker.  “Hey, Shay,” I tap his foot, which is jutting off the end of my bed.  “Seamus!  Let’s go!  Shay’s world!  Shay’s world!  Party time!  Excellent!”

“Gretch…stop it…nooooo.”

“Come on, dude.  Let’s go get bagels.  I’m starving.  Por fa-fucking-vor.”

We are still at the stage in our friendship where one degree of politeness and awkwardness is necessary, so he gets up.  He groggily gathers his things, assessing the sad duct-tape shoe he had worked on last night.  He tosses it in the garbage and then follows me out the door.  At the bagel shop, Seamus orders a cinnamon-raisin bagel with veggie cream cheese.  This is something I’ve only witnessed my Jewiest friends do, and it appalls me.  And I knew about it, early on, because my mom’s parents were Jewish, and they did it too.  But back then, I thought it was some old people thing where they were trying to find the highest fiber combination possible.  Not so.  I get my usual poppy bagel in a bag, untoasted, much to Ishan’s chagrin.  Ishan, the main counterperson, thinks all bagels should be toasted.  As much as I like him, I prefer when José works the counter.  José is probably eighteen years old and may or may not be in love with me.  The result is that he takes immense pride in remembering my order.  When he’s there, I enter, he tells me to cut the line, and he says, “poppy seed bagel in a bag, medium coffee, milk-no-sugar?”  And I smile and nod.  “Three dollars.”  Done.

We get our stuff to go, and I bid Seamus goodbye at the train before I shuffle away to go back to bed.  Well, I don’t shuffle away.  I have this awkward pirate-swagger-y walk I developed from the combination of years of fatigue and being mildly pigeon-toed.  So I do that.  Back at home, I take a shower, lint-roll the crumbs off my bed, and get back in.  Everything smells like wine.  I must have spilled some, but it’s unclear where.  Oh well.  I turn on Pandora and drift off again.

When I wake up, my chest hurts, and my stomach feels low in my body; my palms are wet.  I must be dying.  But as my brain shifts back onto the horizon, I become aware of the song coming through my speakers…”Annie are you OK, Annie are you OK, are you OK, Annie?”  A tear sneaks up in my left eye, and I push it back, turn off the music, and sit up, my back against the Bowie poster on my wall.  I slink down and hear it rip a little, but I’m in my head watching something else.  I’m back in Evanston, cooking dinner in Jenna’s house.  She’s watching “This is It,” the documentary about the dancers training for Michael Jackson’s final tour before he died.  She’s seen the movie seventeen times already, but it’s her favorite, and I don’t mind the repetition.  It’s worth witnessing her fascination throughout the documentary.  “Smooth Criminal” is her favorite song and routine in the show.  She’s obsessed with the lean.  How the hell do they do that?  She’s always trying to do it, so I’m constantly catching her before she falls to the ground.

I force myself to exit the vision and stop thinking about her; she doesn’t deserve the consideration.  Coming out of the flashbacks always reminds me of Harry Potter coming out of the pensieve.  It’s ridiculous, and the inability to forget is exhausting.

I pull myself together and get ready for work.  Pants, hat…apron…ah, goddamnit, I forgot to wash my aprons with the rest of my laundry…I’ll just wear one backwards…wait…where the fuck is my hat?  I rush out the door, since I’m cutting it close and need to pick up a new hat before work now.  Hopefully, Chef won’t bitch about my apron.  After only seven months at Downton, I am tiring of the douche-y, pretentious kitchen.  But fuck it—I need a job, and it’s good experience.  Once I’m there, I walk in the back door and through the kitchen to the locker room.  “Grizzly bearrrr, what up, girl?”

“Hey, Devon.”

“Sup, monsta?”

“Charlie.”

“Grizzlllllle!”

“Dan, hey dude.”

Luckily, no one is in the locker room anymore, because I’m a minute late.  I’m the only girl in the kitchen, so I always have to wait for the bathroom to be free if I want to change or just suck it up and change with the boys.  I wouldn’t really care, either, except for this one dude, Andre, is obsessed with me.  One has to send the right messages in this life if one does not desire to be hassled.  You know.

Buzz on Fuzz

Sparkle
Horse is my bottom bitch

Sparkle Horse is my bottom
bitch

Sparkle Horse is
my bottom bitch

Keep him in my purse what
purse

Irony is trading
your money for a bag
for your money now
it’s empty.  Bag on
your shoulder.

Sliding beers with Sparkle
Horse on my coat
rack: why’s everything’s missing–
Well, I left my luck
hung up.  There’s

a balance in the air
so I’m bleeding
benefactor; Pip
where’s Pip Pip Pip
taking it all:

{pip is a bitter thing makes
a man out of pussy wine.}
Sparkle Horse is my bottom bitch;
If I keep him I’m gonna be pip

dry your mouth out
suck                                       money pop ow.