Days of my Life #37

“How to cook a chicken.”

That’s the title of this piece except I have a feeling my inner muse is just messing with me because It is really not my intent to give you a recipe for cooking a recently thawed, currently sitting in my refrigerator, 3.5# chicken. Or is it?

I must have something better about which to write, don’t I?

Well, well, well, speaking of chicken reminds me of the restaurant in the countryside, just outside of Fribourg, Switzerland where I dined on the best fried chicken, frites and jug wine I’ve EVER tasted! Yup. The mere thought just got me salivating, big time. That plucked, rolled in flour and fresh herbs clucker was so darn good it nearly beat the pants off the sex I had been having with my, ten years younger than I, (call me cougar) German lover with whom I was dining…and that was fan-fucking-tastic lovemaking, which says heaps about the food. But enough of the foul mots or about the sex, lets get Back to the fowl and the amazing view.

It was late morning in the late spring of the late 1980’s, when we drove, talked non stop, laughed and fondled each others knees-(his car had a stick shift and I a free hand), from my “friend’s” fab apartment up in the hills above the town of Gruyere, past the laiterie with the truck-tire-sized wheels of …cheese, to Fribourg, then along a winding, picture postcard country road which eventually led us to Restaurant Grandfey.

There were so many cars, parked everywhere, even up to the entrance. I remarked, This is either the only place to eat for miles (which it was) or the best place to eat anywhere…it was that too.

There were tables outside and inside, you know, basic, no-frills round cafe style ones with center support and stackable chairs…as I recall, paper mats and napkins, but metal cutlery and as I recall there was little else to order other than poulet, frites et vin…perfectly fine for us since we had been working out steadily (use your imagination), thus were famished.

We sat outside drinking robust French jug wine, remarking about the perfect weather, bright blue skies and puffy white clouds. It was so much like a dream from which I prayed not to wake up. Soon giant plates teeming with aromatic, perfectly browned and crispy poulet and pommes frites were set before us. There were many other diners around us but few were speaking more than the occasional outburst of “oohs and aahs” in between munching bird and tater and sipping yet more red wine. We gazed affectionately at one another, holding hands over the table and caressing body parts under, in between bites. It was a time to cherish.

The day was perfect…both food and company were absolutely delicious. I prayed it would go on forever. Alas it would not. We were celebrating the end of our life changing romance with me flying in the morning back to LA and a husband who spent more time reading in the bathroom than working with me to resolve our differences. I held little hope for the continuation of either affair or marriage but I knew I had to try to make my marriage work, for the sake of my children.

That was nearly thirty years, and three husbands ago. In the summer of 2018 I attempted to contact my sweet younger man-friend to see if he and his wife would like to meet me for dinner when I was next in Switzerland, first by email (we had been in touch on and off over the years) and then through Facebook. His son contacted me to tell me his dad had died just months before of a heart attack.

When I am next able to travel I will head first to Fribourg for poulet y pommes frites, and drink a toast to those days. In the meantime, here’s my version of fried chicken ala Grandfey.

Whole chicken, washed, quartered and blotted dry

Mix together on plate big enough to hold 1/4 chicken

1 cup or more of all purpose flour

3 tablespoons herbes de provence

1.5 teas. Salt

In separate bowl

1 egg beaten with 1/2 cup milk

Sunflower oil to fry in

1. Dip each piece of chicken in egg milk mixture

2. Coat eggy chicken in flour mixture

3. Heat enough oil to cover chicken.

4. When oil is hot gently fry chicken pieces until golden brown

5. Place pieces on newspaper or towels to drain excess oil.

6. Eat.

Okay that’s what I’m going to make tonight, but without the frites or red wine.

Besides I currently have no one to play footsies with.

Tune in.

Days of my Life #33

Hi. I’m back. I’ve been away on my dream vacation, where, You are asking? In my dreams, of course. Several days ago I checked out of the hum drum of my “pandemic pandemonium is this really my reality”? And checked into “dream a little dream of me as my formerly adorable svelte thirty or forty something self gallivanting around with a handsome, yet rugged, sensitive but strong, definitely not gay lover”. We hit the beaches, the mountains, my castle in the south of France, his keep in the flowing hills of Och wira wira near the cliffs of some Moor of this, baby. We avoided the big cities because why go there? It was three glorious days of sex, sex and more sex plus delicious food and gut-busting laughter. A holiday only I could’ve imagined, and boy did I.

Life, in my dreams was exciting, actually downright invigorating and extremely satisfying but unfortunately for me I had to return because I had a cancellation policy that expired at noon today and I could hardly afford the exorbitant emotional fees had I foolishly deigned to be late.

So here I honestly and truly am, sitting with three dogs- two old, one a whipper snapper, at my feet, as I ask you, because I’m expecting you to know, when can I go there again?

Now don’t get me wrong, or do, it’s your choice. My life, compared to many others is pretty damn good, and for this I am eternally grateful. I have a daughter with whom I live, who is probably as smart if not smarter than I, easy to get along with, funny or maybe she just tolerates my humor, and is a master baker (my waistline is proof). My grandson, with whom I also live, keeps me on my toes. And while I am surprisingly quite adept at predicting weather, fashion, and the crazy shit that this administration pulls out of its ass, I cannot ever figure out what the kid is going to do next, thus I am constantly challenged, which is quite good for my age addled brain. All this and we have a big roof over our heads, comfortable beds, food in the fridge and are friendly with our neighbors. No real complaints, or rather nothing worthy of kvetching about.

The metaphoric grass is, however, greener in my dreams…and I wonder why oh why can I get no satisfaction…in reality. But in saying that I totally understand that this is the dilemma of so many people now faced with the simplicity of being home, constantly at home, having zoom sessions with bored compatriots with the only excitement being when Netflix, Hulu or Amazon announces a new movie release or the curbside shopper substitutes triple chocolate extra fattening ice cream for the boring single chocolate keto crap you ordered and you finish it off in one evening, enjoying every fucking calorie, cellulite be damned.

Yes, I’ve been making fun about those of us who are blessed with such limited problems, but the joke stops here, because I’ve been forced to awaken to the understanding we, who are the fortunate ones, have the responsibility to help those of our friends, family, neighbors who can’t even dream of a getaway from the reality of being, sick, or unemployed, or being further indebted, evicted or homeless, or being at risk of being killed by hateful bigots.

It’s time we all woke up to make a better world, and while it might temporarily be easier to check into fantasy village, eventually we’re gonna have to wake up and deal with the real mess before us. As to what you can do…I’ll leave that up to you.

Tune in.

Days of my Life #28

Have I developed a habit of writing daily? It’s debatable, even though it is about twenty eight days that I started doing this with surprising regularity and that is, more or less the standard for creating a lasting habit. I woke around 2am thinking I might begin this daily expulsion of words from ether to paper, but I futzed around for an hour …obviously avoiding the work then immediately felt the need to go to back to sleep.

Oddly enough, When I awoke at eight I was totally convinced I had indeed written something clever and had even published it. Why? Because my recent habit of writing is now occupying my bloody dreams. Sheesh!

I was absolutely certain I had a subject, had gotten to the root of it, expanded on the gosh darn thing and reached a abfab conclusion…an editor’s dream…but no such luck, it was just my dream. So, now here I am, it’s seven in the evening, and I’ve done next to fuck all today with the exception of feeding the dogs, myself, grandson and daughter, doing a minor repair on the kitchen island, email, an hour of solitaire, talking with my bff who lives in lalaland and keeping my hyper grandson from destroying various animate and inanimate objects. So why in goddesses name am I tired?

I think I’ve got a case of pandemonium and fauxnews fatigue. It is ridiculously tiring thinking about all the stuff to think about. So many variables and sources. How to choose? Does it even matter and why doesn’t Ben and jerry make mocha fudge ice cream anymore? Don’t you often wonder why they, who ever they are, can’t just make electronics that can be repaired using universally available parts? Why can we get the same shoes a year or five later? And…What happened to penny loafers?…they were comfortable, at least to me they were.

It’s blind, mostly inhumane, capitalism, stupid.

Don’t get me wrong, or do, since everything is in the eye of the beholder and a whole lot of people are devoid of 20-20, it’s not just a year. I’m a former fashion whore….really I am…In my youth I even designed clothing for the rich and infamous. I still know how to tweak a design that makes crowds go wild, but at whose expense?

Uh oh, here comes my inner eco warrior, better look out. In recent years as I’ve been creating/transforming refuse/trash into art I have come to realize just what a waste of everything it all is. No, not my art, silly, my art is totally cool….just go to my art site janetbernson.com and you’ll be amazed.

I’m talking about the waste of resources, human life, animal and plant life and nature itself…for what? So a few insecure, nihilistic, feudalistic asshats with so much money and no soul can control the world? I say fuck that. Them too.

The Beatles wrote a little ditty, some of you might remember, “can’t buy me love” was totally true. Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure you can get laid with money, and you can buy fake friends with money and some people may love that you have money …but it ain’t going to buy you love or real friendship or inner peace.

And the “poor” schmucks… And you know who they are, want us all to believe that money or the promise of it is the answer to our woes. Except funnily enough those same perpetrators of the capitalist mystique don’t want you to have enough money to fully pay your bills …housing, food, medical or otherwise. And they could care less if your water is clean enough to drink or if your daughter gets raped or your son (especially if he’s a color other than white) gets offed by an officer of the law. Because there’s a line miles long and around the globe who will take y’all’s place, to keep the money ball rolling.

Do I sound like I want a revolution? Not exactly…certainly not a violent one. And we’re not gonna even go into the people toting around guns because that’s an entirely different bit of writing. I’m kind of thinking that with all of us sitting around baking sourdough bread and planting our gardens, wrangling children and zoom chatting that the revolution won’t need to be televised – it will just be that we’re not gonna go back to the way things were because we’re getting some quality time to develop new habits. I Think the dreaded virus may be affording our world the opportunity to make a mega shift…so that we can actually EVOLVE into caring about each other.

Oh my, I’m sounding like my old hippie self! Whoopee!

Tune in.

Days of my Life #18

The rain was over by the time I awoke this morning but I was too sleepy/lazy/didn’t give a rats ass about getting up to do anything important, much to the chagrin of the dogs who had been sleeping with me, but were now fully awake because grandson was speaking excitedly to his dad, who had come to extricate said kid from house for a few hours, about something or other. The sound resonated loudly throughout our home. I was thinking my sleeping in could be a good habit to adopt.

Surprisingly I was neither perturbed nor amused. Instead I sat up in bed, propped the pillows behind me to determine if I was indeed awake enough to then began my morning ablutions. I collected my assortment of still dreamy thoughts.

Fortunately dear deaf dog, Mocha, did not yell at me as she often does when considering a meal might be forthcoming and this made it oh so Easy for me, once dressed in yesterday’s fashionable exercise garb (when was the last time I actually showered?) to stealthily enter the kitchen.

I quickly fed the dogs then retreated, with my mug of WBDecaf and a bowl of cereal, back into my hideaway to maintain my distance from distractions, I.e. dogs barking, daughter recording music, the metro whistling in front of our house, etc.

I may have said this before, but what the heck (thought I might say hell?-oops, there I did it.) here I go again.

We have passed the 28day mark in breaking old habits, but I think we are still going through heavy duty withdrawal. From what besides the obvious of going to work, school and the gym? You may ask?

Shopping is a big habit. More for some than for others. We have been raised on touchy-feely, peruse the aisles, throw it in the cart, pay at the register consumerism. It’s a stretch for some to be confined to a virtual shopping cart, even if you can comparison shop to your Google’s desire…and even tougher if you’re a kleptomaniac I suppose, though the only time I ever stole anything was when I was fifteen and took a pair of flowered capris only to have them hijacked by my older sister who subsequently ripped them while falling and ripping said pants that still had the tags, stoned on painkillers after dental surgery. I learned then that crime most certainly does not pay, but it’s best to pay wholesale whenever possible.

Live entertainment is habitual..at least it can be, for both performers, and audiences. Personally I am non-plussed by the zoom concerts. Is it because I don’t like staying at home in my pjs to be entertained by stars who are allegedly in the same boat but definitely on a different deck? Yeah, there might be some of that. Or maybe it’s because I might like (which I don’t) the roar of a crowd of stoned strangers, as they bob and weave about me in their tribal tattoos and piercings, gawd knows where, holding up their selfie sticks to prove to FB friends they were “there”. I do miss good live theatre and house concerts and standup. This just doesn’t quite work as well with an audience of one or for the artist…It’s hard to ascertain the temperature of the room when it’s everybody’s living room.

Dining out was a global ritual and opportunity to hang out with friends before the scourge made us watch cooking shows to boost our confidence and abilities in the kitchen. For many now it can mean concocting simple sandwiches and sitting in the back yard, consuming said victuals with a Bud, while intermittently swatting insects; all diners seated six feet apart with hand sanitizer at the ready.

Regular hangouts at the local coffee shop/pub/bowling alley have been replaced by coffee/cocktail zoom chats and walks with masks at ten paces. I miss my regular face to face Thursday postcard group…we now are on zoom but it ain’t quite as fun.

While much of our world has all but stopped, our neuroses (or is it just me?) have exploded at light speed…which makes me wonder just what kind of new habits am I now acquiring? Waking slowly and hanging out in bed seems like one I could get used to, ditto for writing and art and gradually starting my day in semi-silence. I wonder if today was just a one-off event.

Do I want things to go back to “normal”? No. Maybe. Change is inevitable…truly the only thing about which we can be certain. I’m ready to embrace it. But before I do I’m gonna have dinner and watch a RomCom.

Tune in.

Days of my Life #16

Breakfast was filling if nothing else; shredded wheat and oat milk with a touch of dark brown sugar and some “why bother” decaf. I have already begun my day by perusing the news and email. Yuck!

Even the travel ads are having the “How can I get excited by armchair excursions?”challenge. Just the other day I received a tantalizing invite to travel to Spain and Portugal with a group of cutting-edge science/history/comparative religion nerds (that may not seem sexy to you- but those peeps and their suggestive haunts really turn me on), only to be cock-blocked by the first page on their website reminding everyone about possibilities of date change/cancellation due to covid. Cold shower time.

Even though I’m guarding myself for another disappointment, I’ve been preparing to rev up for the election with new insoles for my block-canvassing sneakers, extra sunscreen, all-natural insect repellent, “go-blue” hat and my selection of socially responsible tee shirts. I suppose I’ll have to wear something like pants or shorts, that is if we’re not still in lockdown or the slug who would be king declares martial law and usurps our elections. If need be, I can always do bottomless virtual block walking, but that’s TMI!

It’s time like these I wish I’d paid more attention to the crystal ball gazing class I took back in the eighties. Of course if I could’ve foretold the future then I probably would’ve divorced husband #1 sooner, definitely wouldn’t have married husband #2, would’ve moved to the south of France or Barcelona or at the very least, Portland and might’ve taken controlling interest in Amazon to make it a socially responsible company. Oh well, hindsight, but then it is really 2020.

I, like so many others, am finding so much time to reflect, to imagine and then locate the remote or iPad charger. I’ve made a bunch of masks, calls to friends & politicians, signed online petitions and donated to food banks, yet I’m still wondering with all this time on my hands I might do something more worthwhile, like create a “why didn’t someone think of this yet?” cure for cancer or world hunger or homelessness or war or joblessness or global climate change!

I am reminded of the adage “every cloud has a silver lining”. While we don’t have cures for the above specific woes, we have the possibility/opportunity to look at them with new eyes. Years ago, my dear friend and teacher, Aristhaia Cash, goddess rest her soul, said, “Most homes have a front door and a back door and usually a few windows -yet most of us mainly use one door to enter and exit and a favorite window by which to regard our outside world. But what about the other door/s and windows? What view/s are we missing? Do we need a skylight? How is the foundation?” Her wise words have served as a reminder that I’ve gotta look everywhere for answers because the predictable views don’t always have the total picture. Its not even the point of fake news as it is limited news, just who’s paying for it and what is their agenda?

To be a critical thinker one must exercise their skills of investigative discernment. A sort of treasure hunt for real, unabridged truth, which these days is a full time job, given the internet and people who only read headlines then spout off with their minimal information and apparent lack of deep thought.

Am I being hypercritical or just unrealistic in thinking we’ve gotta be better than this? Perhaps, then again I’m reminded at just who is running our state/country/world into the polluted ground.

Oh dear! Now I wanna escape to the land of oohs and aahs where I can be spoon fed deep dark chocolate lava cake with vanilla bean ice cream after having a long and oh so sensuous massage by a geeky, creative, straight hunk who whispers sweet everythings into my ear.

Alas, these sorts of brief fantasies are short lived in these times of virus. I’ve finished the cup of decaf and I’d better go take the dog for a walk.

Tune in.

Days of my life #2

Janet Bernson April 7; 2020

Imagine being rudely awakened by the sound of a dog puking. Yep, that just happened.But that’s not a big deal since I’ve been avoiding cleaning my floor like the plague. Now I have the opportunity to mop up the yuck splattered upon my oh so cool, artistically stained by me, concrete floor before my dog either tracks it across the house or laps it up. Double yuck…and gag.

Ok. I’m back. Job done. And lucid enough to write. I thought about writing a sort of “what happened yesterday” but there was little to report since I spent most of the day in isolation, while my sweet hyper grandson wreaked havoc, first loudly playing games on his iPad while my daughter attempted a Zoom meeting, and then in the front yard with a fuck of a lot of water, everywhere…while my daughter sewed masks. It was the day I decided I’m moving to god knows where, to do god knows what, but god only knows when, oh yeah, when the virus has eaten it’s last and we can go back to being cogs in the wheel of life.

As to my dreams…I remember little when I’m yanked out of slumber by gagging so unless my unconscious kicks in to share we are SOL for the dream telling. Too bad.

And now that my irrational escapism is out of the bag I cannot go back to sleep. Hell. See what you made me do? I just can’t take any responsibility for the situation in which we are all living, because I didn’t vote for this. I didn’t make the virus. Nor the idiots who think this is God’s punishment to gay people. Or rape the Earth…or incarcerate children or kill life-flora or fauna, well maybe a houseplant. I didn’t hoard toilet paper or disinfectant. And I’m certainly not the orange narcissistic weevil who is taking giant nibbles out of our government and refuses to take responsibility and blames everyone else. But I do vote. And call. And tweet and write postcards. And reuse, compost, donate time and money. Does that count? Anymore?

Yesterday, for me, the earth stood still, or I wanted it to, as I buried screams into my pillow. A vain attempt at my shutting down the reality of societal limbo.

One blessing I’d like to point out is: I’m not currently in a romantic relationship. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have wild unabashed and totally satisfying sex with a intelligent, sensitive yet strong, financially stable, healthy, environmentally conscious, male feminist who speaks French and cooks great French food, who also laughs at my jokes, loves my art, my kids, and my dogs and who also cleans up after himself… and when the dog pukes. But I am not delusional. And with my luck I’d be holed up here in Austin, social distancing with a beer-swilling, pot smoking, ne’er do well, or a cowboy, neither my idea of a good time. So I’m relatively lucky.

I guess for now I’ll just be satisfied with the life I’m living and thankful to have gotten this far, and wonder what today will bring. In the meantime I’m gonna attempt to go back to sleep perchance to dream of the French speaking dude. At least my floor will be clean when I get up. Tune in.

Days of my life #1

Janet Bernson April 6, 2020

Awake again. Is this my new covid-19 inspired circadian rhythm ? Well poo! I really would like to sleep some more since my damn dreams are so friggin crazy! Wow! I can’t believe I haven’t used shit or fuck yet. Oops. Okay I’m normal and not speaking abhorrently. This must mean I am awake. God forbid I should tone down my expletives for whoever you are who might be reading this, what shall I call it? Oh yes a rant.

My daughter has reminded me, or was it I reminded her? Whatever. That we probably would do better not tuning into the news. I mean really, how much do either of us want to talk about “it”. No, not death, not the fucking plague, not universal health, not the dreaded election, and not the scourge occupying the place formally known as the White House. No, we have to stop hearing that grocery curb alert is unavailable for the foreseeable future.

If we were to talk about it it would only cause distress since I blew it by not checking out of my shopping cart at the right time. Now she will have to go into the grocery store, adorned in one of our over-designed masks (hers has sloths on a dusty blue background), nitrile gloves, and raincoat, when our larders are scantily half full. Once returning I will blast her with homemade disinfectant, make her take a shower, then wipe down every package as if I had just spilled honey (I’m allergic to bee poop). Woe is us. If only I had known others would be blasting through the Joy of Cooking like it was a reality tv show?

Yes. Yes. I attempt to make light of this strange sci-fi-ish situation in which we find ourselves living. It’s as if L.Ron Hubbard created it…Scientology nerds might get my drift, and no, I was never one of those people who bought into that shit. Perhaps Twilight zone is more to your liking and a lot like the strange ass dreams I’ve been having. Can you imagine anything stranger than the fucked up, is this really reality, we’re in? Apparently my unconscious is working overtime to top it. Who knew?

I suppose you’re wanting me to now divulge tidbits of these inner thoughts, hoping for something risqué or otherwise delicious. Naw, I’d rather you delve into your own macabre night thoughts because to share mine with you, who might use them to implicate me in case I run for office…ah what the hell, here goes. Besides, I can tell you without compunction, in my youth I inhaled, I fucked some cute musicians who are now dead, and I did commercial fishing using gill nets.

A recent night story.

I’m standing in a forest, naked. Did I say I’m in my twenty year old body? Well I am, at least in my dream. And all of a sudden I’m clothed in a sort of camouflage armor that mirrors my surroundings. I’m feeling great! And it’s a damn good thing I am because there are villains around me…but hahaha they can’t see me. “Good ole armor I say to myself”, not wanting to divulge my whereabouts.

The bad guys I pick off one by one by using my magical powers – carefully blasting them into an alternate universe filled with “helpers” who de-program the captives, and teach them to be considerate human beings. Once the bad guys, now good, have completed their training they are released into transitional housing where they learn how to get along in the newly improved real world. Yes. My superhero name is The Changemaker. Cool eh?

Yes, there’s more romance and intrigue, but I’m not going to use up anymore of your precious time. I’ll let you get back to your email. Besides, I have a grocery list to make.

Tune in for the next…Days of My Life.