On German Food

Food descriptions in Munisch och Garmisch, Deutschland

huge Turkish sandwich stuffed with lettuce, tomato, fresh parsley springy and green, hot sauce, yogurt sauce, onions, root vegetables roasted and fried, wrapped in a soft bread, like a large, flat pita

blood orange juice, washing over tongue with tang and ache and lust, deep release

fresh-squeezed orange juice, pulp excited jostling in the sweet liquid sunshine

tomatoes red on the vine, waiting ripe and heavy, expectant, in the rough wooden bowl

brambér jam is thick and startling! more flavor bursting and somersaulting than expected, dark and airy at the same time, tangy and bright but also musty and sacred (blackberry jam)

frambér jam is like sauce, or pie filling (strawberry)

hazelnut sweet bread, coated with sugar

strong strong strong, thick coffee at früstück

loose-leaf Earl Grey tea, aromatic and cutting

pretzel and bright orange cheese dip – strong, aged, like a shockingly sharp cream cheese, topped with red onion and green scallions

carrot, apple, ginger, orange juice – overwhelmingly sweet and full of eager carrot pulp

“classic chocolat” creamy sweet clouds of cocoa-filled warmth

a sandy, bitter, and rich “butter” that I guessed to be tamarind paste, but turned out to be tahini date paste, and now I’m wondering what tamarind paste tastes like

white, bloated sausages, large and phallic, floating in water. Chris and I were a bit too repulsed to try them

white, slightly sweet grits, thick and sticky

On Cafe Daydreams

Character sketches at a cafe in Garmisch, Germany

thin waitress wearing light gold glasses and white shirt, very focused and quiet, not interacting with her coworkers much, except with thin-lipped eye crinkles to show appreciation and respect

woman pushing a stroller wearing jeans and a silvery, mirror-like raincoat that falls down to her knees, covering her arms and shoulders, reflecting the light in rainbow pools

dark blue t-shirt on a tan, blond man with a chiseled face and deep-set eyes

blond woman with light blue jeans, dark sandals, and embroidered pants with a rip in the knee

two women with short hair, severe faces, and biking outfits

heavy lash makeup barista with dark red hair tied up in a high ponytail with a thin silver scrunchy, wearing a dark outfit with white stripes down her pant leg and thick white sneakers

woman on her phone wearing a raspberry-colored wide, long dress and a creamy muslin hijab, thick and sturdy covering her head

wide, built woman wearing jeans and a beige t-shirt with gold dots on the front, holds herself as royalty or great beauty


On Desire

I’m lying in a hotel bed, halfway between New York and Florida. I’m escaping, in a sense. From what, I’m not entirely sure. I could be slithering away from my relationship, which looms around me, a dark mass of supportive, attentive love. Sometimes it disgusts me, how such a broken, oozing creature like myself could be immersed in this golden affection. Or maybe I’m sneaking out of my roomy upstate New York house, so secure, so stifling, like someone is ever so slowly smothering my breath away with a goose-down pillow.

Or, if I’m lucky, I am escaping expectations: my own urgent hope that I will fulfill my potential (whatever the fuck that means), my partner’s hope that I will be kind, my students’ hope that I will be inspiring, my fans’ hope that I will be entertaining, Instagram’s hope that I will be beautiful and toned, and my community’s hope that I will “leverage my privilege.” Other people’s dreams lodge in between my ribs like congealed Mod Podge. I’m not sure if this dripping, monstrous glob is concealing my desire, or if it’s gradually forcing desire out of me forever.

Or, maybe, I’m escaping myself. If I’m being really honest, I might be running away from my own stubborn refusal to allow my desire to take up space. Sometimes (often) I am disgusted by my own light. It threatens to burst out, innocent, enthusiastic, from tiny cracks in the thick fortress I’ve built around my Self. How dare this light come out. How dare any light get in at all. How dare I want my light to be seen. How dare I inspire light in someone else. How dare I desire. How dare I desire.

What is desire, anyway?

To me, desire is fear. Desire is the stealthy siren, leading my body to the sharp crags and unrelenting surf beating down on the shore. Desire knows that I am both the shore and the body, and it resolves to take full advantage of that. Desire doesn’t care about consequences, doesn’t delight in hierarchies or flowcharts.

Desire is wild, and wild is fear.

Wild is disintegration. Loss of self. Loss of control. Loss of power. Loss of everything. Desire doesn’t take with cautious fingertips. It takes and takes and takes, scooping great mounds into its calloused hands.

Is it possible to draw a line between joyful attraction, bubbling over in rainbow colors, and dangerous obsession? Could I pinpoint the moment when something pleasant suddenly turns rank and insidious? Would I even realize that anything had shifted at all? Would I notice that I was disappearing before the last wisp of me fell away?

“But,”

you might ask,

“if the desire is yours, yours alone,

can’t you trust it?”

That remains to be seen.

On Flight

Scruffy, angelic white puffs blow in the wind outside my plane window. My sister says it’s an invasive species. It seems ludicrous that something so beautiful could be so violent. We take off, and the white puffs give way to dead grass, then an expanse of grey sky. I’m thinking about elementary school birthday parties in dimly-lit bowling alleys. I can taste the greasy pizza soaking through the paper plates. Huge sheet cakes with frosting so sugary the granules are rough on my tongue. Blue lettering. A barbie with hair that grows when you pull a string.

Now we’re over the ocean, spots of white littering the indigo blue water. I can still see the lines of tiny boxes on the shore, distant now. I’m thinking about how someone once described humans as a parasite, quickly spreading across Earth, taking and digging, extracting all the life out of our host. Sucking her dry. The CDC describes a parasite as “an organism that lives on or in a host organism and gets its food from or at the expense of its host,” so this seems pretty accurate. I wonder if I agree with this image of my species. It’s certainly romantic, but makes my skin feel too tight for my body, especially from up here in this plane, where our parasitic behavior is so clearly laid out for me to see. The Bay, taken over by human dwellings, along with all the necessary dwelling-accessories. Tiny lines, beige against green: roads. Lighter bits bunched together in squares: farmland. Chunks of sun reflected, glinting: office buildings leering up at me.

Now the mountains are below us. They are bare compared to the city we left behind. Strong in their solitude. It’s been awhile, a long moment of just spacing out in the general direction of the horizon, but I haven’t been able to forget the parasite analogy. Will these little pockets of human disease eventually spread to cover the entire surface of the earth? Will the faraway mountains soon be teeming with scurrying people, gardens, rats, parks, highways, restaurants, and chlorinated pools?

In the distance, the mountains have huge wrinkles. Elephants, heavy velvet. These mountains know deep change: they are not static. Constant erosion. Surrender. Receiving. Yielding to the rain that flows down their many faces. They are relinquishing and relenting. I think the mountains must have to fully know themselves to accept such complete and uncontrollable distortion, without protest.

I think about how often I used to yield to people and experiences. When I was 18, the thrill of that surrender was expansive. It felt like a dripping diamond necklace, or a huge, cool lake waiting for me to jump into the deep waters. The thrill was like water, flowing around me, through me. A womb and a river simultaneously. I was at home in surrender. I trusted that I, or something else, something benevolent and good, would pull me out if it got to be too much. If I got too chilled, or too wrinkled.

I didn’t know myself yet. Or maybe I knew myself too much already, and the world would not budge to accommodate my knowing.

The people I surrendered to were not ready for the trust I immersed them in. They were not the rain. Was I the mountain? Was I the rain?

These people submerged me. And I drowned. They told me I couldn’t swim, should not swim. So I stopped swimming. That was part of the yielding, right? I had to yield. To make the complete shift to embody someone else’s experience, I had to leave my own body and experience behind. And so I went still. My limbs atrophied, my mind filled with grotesque images of floating heads and penises, surrounding me in a suspended, tangled mass until I couldn’t breath anymore, and drowned.

What was the yielding, then? Suicide? Or was it just a big misunderstanding? Back then, I assumed that everyone was exactly like me. I saw a face and thought, “behind that face is a deeply-feeling, spectacular spirit that takes in everything, yields to everything, and knows itself fully.” I thought everyone was tapped into the huge, cool lake of it all. I thought each person would automatically wrap us in a warm, fluffy towel if things got to be too much, too cold. I thought they would notice these things. I thought they were like me.

But it was all a big misunderstanding, wasn’t it?

Now we’re moving through the clouds. I’m thinking about all those times as a kid, looking out the airplane window at the clouds and feeling like this is the one true experience. Like everything else in the universe was just a distraction from this moment. Like this white, clumpy, grey, writhing mass was the pure heart of it all. At the time, it felt undeniable. Now, the cloud is over much more quickly than I remember. Now, I watch it giving way to a clear view of Los Angeles below us.

Los Angeles, the parasite to end all parasites. The horrid, flat buildings weighing down the land. The football fields, skyscrapers, palm trees, languid universities, and sad little cars. The water shipped in from Yosemite. The clouds are above us now, back where they belong, suspended in chaotic little puffs. An ominous fog obscures the horizon to my right.

Suddenly, there are large piles of red dirt and tiny scruffs of bush along the runway. White paint sprayed on the pavement to mark our way as the plane lands. Houses in the distance jar me back to the parasite idea. “The parasite carrier touches down onto its host,” I think wryly. First stop down, two to go.