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The Fruits of the Weekend

September 13, 2009

I don’t plan it this way, but it seems like every year I choose a new dish to obsess* over. First it was chili. I spent months dissecting recipes, discarding the vestigial bits and sewing up the vitals until I produced a Frankenstein’s monster of pure, undiluted awesome. (Pure, undiluted awesome is ground buffalo, jowl bacon, roasted garlic, and diced tomato. BTW.) After that, it was Pad Thai. This year, it’s salsa.

I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting closer. The patchwork corpse is lying on the table. I grafted on a few new pieces yesterday:

And I say to you it will live!

Today I picked up Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. Hadn’t realized Murakami had a new book out, and hey, I’ve been getting sort of serious about running this summer, so what the hell. I did not expect to tear through it in a single sitting. It’s a weird little book: out of place on the fitness shelf, as much about writing as running but offering guidance in neither, a memoir dwelling mostly on everyday routines and the importance of setting goals for oneself. (Or rather, the importance of Murakami’s setting goals for himself. He hates to generalize.) I’d recommend it to pretty much anyone, but what struck me most was my own interest. Two years ago, I would have rolled my eyes through the entire damned thing.

Used to be any talk of goals and meeting potential and cetera would have put my bullshit sirens on orange alert. Even now, I’m going to raise an eyebrow at most books that smell like self-help. But…I don’t know, maybe my sirens are getting less sensitive. Maybe I’m just more pointedly interested in the relationship between goals and contentment. Something about Murakami’s casual earnestness makes the whole meditation compelling, makes me want to understand how he negotiates with the work he loves. What I Talk About reads like a self-help book that absolutely refuses to make a prescription — the half of the conversation where a friend says, “Well, we’re all different, but what works for me…” I hadn’t asked the question, exactly, but I realized I was very interested in Murakami’s answer.

* Which is to say that when I cook, I make this one thing over and over ad nauseum, to the exclusion of all else. Despair for Liese.

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