Monday, March 23, 2009

The Greasy Five: My Cradle of Inspiration

Near my side of the bed there's a basket that my wife and daughter call my rat's nest. They frequently tell me to organize it. They think it's merely full of junk, but they don't realize that to me it's a cradle of inspiration. Without my rat's nest, I'd wander aimlessly in a black and white world and blog about Wonder Bread, Velveeta, and condensed soup.

In this edition of The Greasy Five, I thought I'd reveal the contents of my bedside rat's nest.

Now allow me to highlight five of those items:

1. A Map:

There is always a map near my bedside, so I can chart new culinary journeys.

2. Copies of the Oxford American, a magazine that bills itself as "writing and art from or about the South."
This helps fuel my dreams of being a Southerner. Where else can I read an ode to chicken-fried steak, and view a picture of the Texas landscape?

3. A book of poetry and a dictionary: Here at The Greasy Skillet we value words, and we don't discriminate. We like big words, small words, words that make up the the various vernaculars of America, and even make-believe words (Who doesn't love the word muggle?)

Currently B. H. Fairchild's book of poems titled The Art of the Lathe is in the rat's nest. Fairchild graduated from the University of Kansas in 1968, and I like his poetry because he often writes about the hard working folks of the Great Plains and "small things done well". Fairchild's father worked as a lathe machinist in various oil towns in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, and much of the poetry captures those experience in those towns. Here's a taste from the poem "Body and Soul":

Half-numb, guzzling bourbon and Coke from coffee mugs,
our fathers fall in love with their own stories, nuzzling
the facts but mauling the truth, and my friend's father begins
to lay out with the slow ease of a blues ballad a story
about sandlot baseball in Commerce, Oklahoma decades ago.
These were men's teams, grown men, some in their thirties
and forties who worked together in zinc mines or on oil rigs,
sweat and khaki and long beers after work, steel guitar music
whanging in their ears, little white rent houses to return to
where their wives complained about money and broken Kenmores
and then said the hell with it and sang Body and Soul
in the bathtub and later that evening with the kids asleep
lay in bed stroking their husband's wrist tattoo and smoking
Chesterfields from a fresh pack until everything was O.K.
Well, you get the idea. Life goes on, the next day is Sunday,
another ball game, and the other team shows up one man short.

The poem goes on to tell the story of a young Mickey Mantle emerging to compete in this sandlot baseball game. It's worth reading.

4. A notebook:
Sixty percent of my blogging starts in these little notebooks I have spread about the house. I know it makes more sense to compose at the keyboard, but I usually write better when I'm able to scribble things by hand. My ideas and writing starts roughly, but through hard work I'm able to overcome my shortcomings and occasionally produce something I'm proud to post. The above notebook page contains scribblings about Margarita Boy, and the beginning of a story about a time he upset his wife. I chose not to post this story because his wife might feel like I'm rubbing her nose in his past transgressions.

5. A handheld game of Tetris:

Since thinking about food 24/7 might be a sign of mental illness, I try to engage in activities that free me from my culinary shackles. I sometimes play 5-10 minutes of Tetris before bed to clear my head. I achieve a Zen-like trance and purge myself of greasy thoughts. However, food reemerges in my dreams. Last night I dreamed I had a conversation with someone about the virtues of roasting pears. I've never roasted a pear. I'm not well.

In my rat's nest, I have another mini rat's next tucked away in this folder. Another day I'll reveal its contents.

What's in your rat's nest?

Tie down the lawn furniture. It's windy out there.


Nella said...

My rat nest is called "command central". Next to my overstuffed chair is a little table. Here is what is on it: Merriam Webster Dictionary, pen paper, cup of coffee, Gourmet, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living. Not just three, but three months worth. In front of the chair is a red ottoman with my laptop. It is where I compose, design, and daydream. I love my nest.

muddywaters said...

Nella: Thanks for your comments. I actually have several little nests: one in the garage, one in the basement, one underneath my podium at school, and one in the backseat of my car. It's really sad.

muddywaters said...

I like the term "command central" much better than "rat's next".

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm... a grilled Velveeta sandwich on Wonder bread, dipped in canned soup... what were you saying again?!

rebel said...

I definately have two rats nests. My computer cabinet and the table by my rocker/recliner. And they look very similar to your rats nest.
Long live the Rat's Nest!