Tag Archives: romance

Take it personally!

Need a great gift idea? How about dinner for two prepared in your home by a personal chef.

As some of you may know (despite my public displays of affection for my lovely boyfriend, D) I am not very romantic. I hate the idea of Valentine’s day, I think celebrating anniversaries is kinda lame, and I rarely make any requests for candlelight dinners, flowers or chocolate. But I do love giving and receiving  unique gifts.

And so, the other week, I was trying to come up with a gift for D– whether we celebrate or not, I still wanted to do something special for our three-year anniversary. That’s when Fran Davis popped up on my Facebook newsfeed with the idea of hiring a personal chef to prepare dinner for two. Bingo. I hate cooking, but love to eat healthy so I chose my menu items (she had a few to choose from) and I hired her.

Personal Chef Fran Davis, of The Flavorful Fork

On Friday, she arrived at 4ish with all her cooking supplies, including her own pans, knives, spices,  and towels for clean up. I think she even brought her own sponge! Anyway, as she cooked (in my kitchen), I was able to finish up some work and then pad around the house, doing virtually nothing. Actually, I kinda felt like a lazy, pampered (spoiled) bourgeois housewife. But we chatted and laughed and I was amazed at how well she was able to not only cook this amazing meal, but socialize as well. I think if I had her job, I would have been more like, “OK, don’t talk to me, and get out of the kitchen!” Who knows, maybe inside that’s how she felt. Truth is, she seemed very at home and comfortable.

So, D came home around 5:30.  Fran had also brought over a bottle of Spanish red for us, so we started drinking that. I set the table, lit a candle (why not) and by 5:45 dinner was served.

Our first course was a mango and avocado salad with mango dressing (I still have the dressing in my fridge and keep putting it on everything), after that she served Parmesan-Herb Crusted Tilapia, served with mashed yams (I believe she threw a little sage into the yams too). This main course was so amazingly good that it made me believe I was eating at Le Bec Fin. Tres gourmet. To think that something that delicious can be made in my kitchen is a bit of a shocker. That was always my excuse as to why I never cooked. I didn’t think my kitchen was capable of it. Then again, there was that time that Natalie made that amazing risotto. Now, I guess, I have no excuse.

But back to Fran, our final course was a pear-cranberry fruit crumble for dessert with a scoop of coconut ice cream. Dear Lord! I think I gained 10 pounds in two hours. But it was completely worth it. By that point, D and I were both in our respective food comas and I don’t even remember Fran cleaning up. The next thing I remember was hugging her goodbye and dreaming up a future event where her services could again, be put to good use. Maybe a tapas party in the new house? Just to make sure the new kitchen is capable of serving up fabulous faire? Definitely food for thought.

As for my lack of enthusiasm for romance, I guess I’m not entirely averse to it. But I would still not say that the night was romantic. It’s kind of hard to be all shmoopy in the presence of a friend who’s cooking in your kitchen. But it was definitely a positive, unique experience. And that’s what I liked about it. I could feel pampered for the night and in my book, any time I don’t have to cook, it’s a good thing! I will definitely be calling Fran again. And I hope this inspires others to do the same! She can be reached at The Flavorful Fork dot com.


Eight months ago, after you left, I learned how to make soap. In fact, I uncovered the buried truth that adding any number of additives will not, after all, interfere with saponification, and that soap is actually a paradox. It takes oil to remove oil. And so eight months ago I came up with this recipe amid the desire to create something out of nothing not realizing it had already been done:

24 ½ ounces of Olive oil

12 ounces Palm oil

4 ½ ounces of Cocoa butter

6 ounces Canola oil

1 ounce Palm Kernel oil

6 ¾ ounces Lye

17 ¼ ounces distilled water

I made the recipe, but I never actually made the soap, which is my eternal problem. I start a project and then quit. The travel agency that I wanted to start but didn’t. The consulting business I wanted to go into but didn’t. The trip to Marrakech that I swore I would take but didn’t.  It was the same with you. The moment you moved in I wanted to quit. You told me, “You have a fear of commitment.” I was defensive. I admit it. I snapped back, “I don’t have a fear of commitment; I have a fear of commitment to you.”

I wish I could relive that moment now. I would come up with something better, like “I’m just afraid. Bear with me.” Or something like that.

Not that it would have made you stay, but…it would have been worth a shot.

So, like I said, I didn’t make the soap. Instead, I listened to DeBussy’s Claire de Lune while ripping the apartment to shreds, getting rid of every trace of you lest I forget for one moment that you were really gone. I sang Martha Wainwright’s “Wish I Were” lying on the floor of an empty living room, until my voice shattered into broken glass. I read Hills Like White Elephants and decided, eventually, we were better off going our separate ways. And I watched really bad romance movies like P.S. I Love You and Ten Things I Hate About You and The Notebook, my hand on my belly, feeling somewhat content that, even though you were gone, you left a part of you behind.

There are two things going on here. A birth and a death. And I still can’t wrap my mind around either.  I should have just stuck to soap. But eight months is long; a year even longer. We are only reminded of the length of time at the end, when we have the sensation that we are back there again, having come full circle; empty, where before we were full. Or should I say full, where before we were empty? Sometimes when it seems everything’s been lost, it’s an illusion. Nothing’s been lost. Everything is still there.  It’s just become something else in the process. And instead of darkening the soul with the burden of love, it washes it clean.


Bedroom Window

It was late August. She lay down in bed for a long while in the morning with Henry, feeling the start of the day already heavy with heat and humidity. The cicadas were singing their summer song in a woosh through the trees. It was a perfect day for the cicadas; still and warm, and laden with the quiet tick of timelessness. Hers and Henry’s bodies tingled with the reverberations of the night before as they listened to life through the open windows. “I love the sound of the cicadas,” she said. “I wait for it every summer.” Henry smiled back. “Me too,” he said,  ”Year after year.” He crawled closer to where she lay, kissed her softly and said,  ”I love you. For whatever it’s worth. For however long it lasts.” She looked up at him tenderly and nudged his warm skin with her arm. It was early, but it was hot enough that if they lay too close, they would stick together.

A year ago she sat at a table out on the lawn with a man named Jack that she’d been dating for several months. They talked about Hindu “pain religions,” elephants, monkeys and the Temple of the Rats. She had experienced her own religion of pain back then but didn’t realize it; chanting Om to the numbing sensation of shallow, pretend love; the kind of love you force upon Ken and Barbie when you’re a kid. That simulated, dress-up love that feels real and fun at the time, but then one day just disappears when you grow up and stop playing with toys. She had had a conversation one night with him. She asked him to tell her the truth. “I only want to know the truth,” she said. But he looked at her like she had asked him the mystery of life. The truth, it turned out, was something as illusive, if not more so, as the love they were trying to create with their plastic, doll parts.

A year before that she was following George around his front yard, watching him water and mulch the trees they had planted the previous year. She felt connected to the seasons then. She knew when the blueberries would ripen on the vine. She knew when to expect the abundance of the harvest in the fall.  And she knew that when the frost of winter came nothing would grow and George wouldn’t be able to water or plant anything until spring. She knew that they’d lie stale and frozen too, until something came along and thawed their cold, tired selves. Something extraneous and fleeting, that neither of them could grasp on their own. When the tall grass was cut, they tried to make love under the shade of the big maple, but it didn’t work. It never did. She would kiss him and he’d push her away. And his response was always the same: “The love between us is so much deeper than that, baby.” And so she wrapped her arms around herself in frustration and believed him.

She thought of the past as if it were something she possessed, whether she liked it or not. It was part of her. And she kept it with her, despite Henry asking her if she wouldn’t enjoy life more if she let it go and live in the moment. But it seemed to her that if she did let it go and move on, she would not recognize herself. And that scared her. And yet, she was certainly not content knowing that over the past five years there was no permanency to her life whatsoever. She hated the fact that she had several different lovers after her divorce. She hated that there were no patterns created, no traditions built upon the previous years, nor anything remotely related to Time to convince her that she was secure in this life, with this man, or that she would be.

By noon, while she and Henry lazily fumbled for their clothes, the cicadas stopped chirping.  She wondered if the little bugs went to sleep, or if they were like those insects that only live for a day. Temporary. Only on earth to serve the menial task of chewing up deciduous trees. Or to mate. Nothing more. This thought seemed to disappoint and leave her feeling empty. What, if anything, was the purpose and beauty of a life if only lived one day? By late fall the cicadas would be gone.  All of them. Lovers, friends, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. Someone new would crawl up the trees to take their place. The singing would start again. But the song would be the same. Carried by voices that grew into summer for only a season.

She shook out the bed sheets to cover the bed and fluffed the pillows, ambling around the room so as not to create too much energy in the early afternoon heat. Henry collected his things from the floor; his shoes, his shirt, his suit and tie, leaving behind, as he did each time he’d visit, another piece of clothing for her to wash and place in the spare drawer she had offered him when he first started spending the night. It became a sort of running joke between them. The first time he slept over he left behind a t-shirt, then two, then three and so on. He said to her one night, early on, “It’s all a part of my master plan!” and she laughed at his quick and lighthearted sense of humor. But after she finished covering the bed, she eyed the undershirt and socks he had placed atop the hamper, well knowing that they were two more items of his to add to the growing pile.

“Not sure if you realize this, baby, but you now have two drawers, not just one.”

He turned to her and looked in humorous disbelief. “Two drawers?” His mouth was agape as if in shock. She laughed and opened the dresser drawers for viewing. Each of them was filled with Henry’s socks, underwear, t-shirts, shorts, books, CDs and so on. Seven months of stuff.

“Two little worlds,” he said, “That’s all.”

“And expanding,” she added.

She walked him to the front door and kissed him goodbye in a playful, housewifey way. Her children would be coming in soon from their father’s and she had lots of mindless tasks to do.

“If it makes you happy, I’ll clear some of that stuff out of here when I come over next,” he said.

She paused and looked at him; searching for something less irreparable to say than simply yes or no. “Why don’t we wait till the cooler weather,” she said. “It’s too hot to bother with that now.”

dreaming of reality

I’ve been listening to Feist’s The Park, probably a song I should stay away from. Same with all the rest of my depressing music…Burn, Wish I Were, If You Stay… 

I had a brief exchange with S yesterday and it just opened the flood gates of that (as it turns out) not-so realistic rockabilly, grungy life I thought I was living. He had a dream about me and the boys, “just like a quick flash or something,” he said. I guess that is all he’s capable of dreaming, or admitting anyway. Well…at least it was that. I actually thought, “I hope we haunt you…” I do wonder about him from time to time. God only knows what he’s up to. I miss him. Some of him. Not all. Not those parts that hurt me. Only the parts that seem so inconsequential now. 

I had a very strange dream last night about DS, the guy I almost married back in ’93 (with whom I hooked up with after,  coincidentally, getting no where with S). We were in a hotel room. He was in room #350 and I was apparently down the hall or on the second floor or something. Thing is, he was holed up in this tiny room with all of my journals and at one point, I was overcome by this gut feeling and realized it was a huge mistake that he should be. So I ran to his room and busted through the door and there he was standing in the center of the room, angry, sad, disappointed, disgusted with me, and there on the floor were my journals, all torn to shreds. I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Why?! Why???” And I got down on my hands and knees and began to pick up the scattered pages, crying, trying to piece it all together and get them all out of his room. I thought he would attack me or keep ripping up the journals, but he just stood there and didn’t move. Nothing. Just looked down upon me as I struggled. I felt at once humiliated and enraged. 

I’m having some fairly vivid dreams lately. And I suppose it’s because I am trying to work something out in my head and can’t seem to do so during waking hours. Like this whole superficiality thing, and more importantly, my renewed obsession with Nathan Followill, the drummer from Kings of Leon. KVM and I determined last night that he is the archetype of  lust for me, that is, because as she stated, “he looks stoned and he’s not even that good looking.” I take that personally. But the matter at hand is that I’m beginning to think I am, dare I say it, shallow. 

I mean, when I seriously consider what attracts me to someone, I do go for the mind. Mind, spirit, intellect, creativity. It’s all got to be there for me. Yet, there’s this nagging obsession with long haired, grungy looking, tattooed musicians that chips away at me–This Nathan guy is S and G and K. He’s Prince and Jimmy Ibbotson. He’s possibly even an earlier yet unformed version of BJ.  And the rockabilly, stoner, loser, musician guy is like this bad tune that keeps playing itself out over and over and over again in my life. I cannot make a life with him and yet he summons me. I cannot seem to be able to live without him. It’s like an affliction or a genetic defect in me. I don’t know. 

The superficiality comes in like this: when I was with S there were certain things missing. Certain things didn’t work (and I’m not talking body parts). But I didn’t care. I overlooked so much…so damn much…because his “look” fulfilled me. I felt redeemed, saved, delivered in his beauty…I buried myself in the shallowness of materialistic ideas like his tattoos or the glasses he wore or the way he dressed. It reminded me of something, though I am not sure what. Maybe it made me feel safe because I knew it wasn’t real. 

I can’t figure it out, but what bothers me is that I feel on the brink of losing “him.” Not S, that is (been there, done that) or some rock icon like the dude in the picture. But just “him.”  The imaginary Disney-esque, archetypal guy of my dreams. 

Years ago, when I was poised to marry DS, I couldn’t. He was brilliant. Well-educated. Clever. He loved me deeply. But he was not “him.” He was not the archetype. He was plain. He had fair hair. He wore khaki pants and plain t-shirts. He was responsible.  Physically or materialistically, nothing set him a part. S, on the other hand, back in the day, wore a chain on his wallet. His hair was long and kinky. His nose was pierced. His tongue was pierced. He had tattoos. He smelled like patchouli. He wore vintage shirts from the 70’s. DS had depth. S was the epitome of rebel.  But…where did my heart wander? To the kinky shallowness of the shore, not the ocean.

Here’s the big, glaring HOWEVER (coming at age 40, mind you):

I think I am at a point in my life where I finally recognize that shallowness hasn’t gotten me very far. I’m so very tired of repeating the pattern. I repeat it as a way to deny myself a true life. I repeat it as a way to deny myself a true identity. It’s my way of NOT growing up. It’s that I want to be something I am not- not always, but a lot. And that cannot be. And the rockabilly, grungy hippy dude can’t conform to my life either. He can’t fit here. He needs to be in the city with his grungy, hippy, rockabilly girlfriends. S and I were the culmination of two people who both wanted to be something they were not. He wanted to be normal and I wanted to be a rebel. He was my way of saying to the world, “I am not a suburban housewife who drives a mini-van and owns a mid-size corporation.” 

God, I still find that so hard to accept. I wasn’t supposed to be “this.” I was supposed to be a writer. An artist. I was supposed to be working in publishing or on a movie set some where. Demanding black coffee from ass-kissing interns. 

But Tracy. Life is not that. You need to be real, Tracy. You need to be real. Really real. Tracy. Hold on to real. 

My Aunt Sue said to me many years ago, the hardest thing we have to realize is that we are average. I never wanted to believe her, I still don’t want to believe her. But I suppose I have no choice. She is, for the most part, right. The obvious exception would be Nathan.

This one is for you


I have seen the look of want in your eyes and so i took you to my room last night where i dreamed up dreams of devouring consequences. We were out to dinner. You in a suit. Me in a vintage cocktail dress, heels with straps around my ankles. You ordered french wine for the table because you recalled that I lived in France back in the eighties. Cliche. But polite.

It was mention of the fact that you knew tiger lilies could be eaten that undid me.

I suddenly saw you in a new light. Not that deadpan, emotionless, punctured soul you come off as being, day by day, in the drabness of your conventional life. But a sensual man. Unafraid of the world and the knowledge that we are all so delicate. 

Besides, your eyes screamed: I am lonely. I haven’t had a home-cooked meal since last December when she left me for that fuck. 

We didn’t go out dancing. Or see a movie. We ate and talked and talked and talked, sitting across the table from one another. I watched your lips, mostly, glide across a set of perfect teeth. I measured the possibility of your kiss.

And when there was that moment, late into the night, sitting in your car listening to Grace Jones’s La Vie en Rose, parked outside my house, the burden of newness no longer upon us. When we arrived at that place that comes instinctually between new lovers, to kiss or say good night, I reached out the tips of my fingers and drew an imaginary line toward the door, and said, come in.