The Public Market.

We went to the Rochester Public Market yesterday morning, which is one of my absolute favorite things to do. If you’ve never been, you should definitely check it out. I love the sensory experience of it all: so many different people, languages, colors, smells, tastes and textures, all intersecting at once. Here are a few pictures from yesterday:

I love people watching at the market.


A sweet old man gave us samples of his golden plums...which were delicious.

Everything around is beautiful-from the produce, to the flowers, to the people exchanging kindnesses over the tables. It makes me happy to be in the midst of it. However, of everything there is to experience at the market, there is one thing that is my all-time favorite, can’t-miss stops: The Nut House. And here’s why:

The Nut Guy.

This is the man who owns The Nut House, and he is, by default, The Nut Guy. Walking down the end of the corridor, this is always the view you have of him, standing out there, smiling, handing out samples of his AMAZING cinnamon roasted almonds, and making cheesy jokes about nuts to passing couples, who always laugh. And I LOVE him. I always look forward to stopping by, chatting for a minute, and then spending too much money on those aforementioned almonds, and whatever other concoctions they’ve got available (yesterday, it was garlic roasted pistachios-SO good). I’ve learned that it’s a family business, and along with him, he’s got his wife and kids there, helping out. And they are all as pleasant and sweet as he is.
Here he is, asking Andy why he's not smiling. This is the same question he asks every time he sees him.

I think I love him, because I love the way he draws people to him, the way he laughs this huge laugh, and smiles widely, despite a missing front tooth. I love his goofy jokes, the way he takes the time to stop what he’s doing in a busy morning, and talk to strangers. And really listen. I wish more people were like that.
As always, we had a fantastic morning at the market, even if we did get a little over-ambitious with the produce purchasing. Here’s what my kitchen looked like yesterday afternoon, when I laid it all out to survey the damage:
Yikes!

So, if you can, go spend a Saturday morning at the market, and enjoy everything it has to offer. Support local businesses, score some great produce, and make sure to pick up some ricotta cookies from the Italian cookie lady. And some cinnamon almonds from The Nut Guy. Trust me, you’ll thank me for it later.

Friday round-up: road rage, more medical mishaps, and why I can’t get any work done.

Road rage is for the badass and/or mentally ill.

Which is why I guess, being bad at it is a mixed bag. Yesterday, I was passing a slow moving tractor trailer, who suddenly decided he needed to get into the passing lane. Ok, fine, I’m moving. All the sudden, he decides that I’m not moving fast enough (at 70, I think I was, considering up until this point, he was going around 62), and starts maniacally waving me forward, his tattoo-sleeved arm flailing out the window. “I’M GOING!” I shout, to no one in particular, because he sure as hell can’t hear me. Then, in a fit of anger, I…shook my fist at him? Yes, you guys, I road rage like Alice, complete with “NHHHH!” Why-I-oughta! sound. Apparently, this pissed him off, because then he laid on his horn, and did an aggressive pseudo-swerve towards my lane. Ok, I’m outta here, as fast as the four cylinder engine I’m commandeering (and the law) permits. I’m not a rule-breaker, after all.

Once safely ahead of him, I got ballsy..and half-flipped him off. Two things about this-ultimately, I only did it because I knew he couldn’t see me (again-scared of confrontation, especially with someone piloting an 18-wheeler), and because another car moved in between us. Beep, beep! I’m lame. Oh, and non-sequitur, but about twenty minutes later, I came to an intersection that was only a two-way stop (and I was not in a stop lane), and this cadaverous old woman in a Ford Taurus blew through the stop, causing me to slam on my brakes and beep at her. What does she do? Slowly turns her head towards me, and raises a creaky, spindly middle finger in my direction. Narrowly averted car crash aside, it was just too funny to be angry. When you’re 104, what do YOU have to lose? Cruise on, Cryptkeeper!

Can I get a funnel in here?

This morning, I had a doctor’s appointment, one which involved me peeing in a cup. I don’t know about you, but I prep for this event the way others prep for surgery. Driving to the doctor’s office, telling myself that I’ve consumed enough water so as to not provide a paltry sample, giving myself enough of a cushion should I miss the cup at first. A pep talk, if you will. For some reason, there is no worse potential outcome for me than wasting a sample due to my wayward aim, and having to sit around the doctor’s office for another hour, pounding chlorinated tap water and waiting for my chance to shine. And yes, I’ve lived that experience. Multiple times. So, I get there, and it’s time to get to it. And while I was mostly successful, I still didn’t get out of there without peeing on my hands. It’s like my body goes crazy, and becomes some sort of unmanned fire hose. This particular visit was even better, though, because I somehow managed to get pee on my shorts. ON THE FRONT OF THEM. Which looked super awesome coming out of the doctor’s office, by the way. And since I’m sure everyone’s wondering with excitement now, no, I’m not single. This girl is off the market. No big surprise, right? I’m a lackluster cook, mediocre with an iron, and pee on myself. Anyone would be lucky.

Sure, Pickle, go ahead and eat that plant of unspecified origin.

So, between my two trips to the doctor’s office today (one was first thing this AM for bloodwork), I was already feeling disorganized by working at home today. Given that, it only made sense that Pickle should suddenly snap up some sort of unidentified greenery and swallow it, when I took her outside this morning. Dog owners will know that with that event, comes the invariable gastrointestinal warfare that is now being waged against my house. Three hours, five episodes of vomit, and an utter lack of paper towels later, I’m now down multiple dish cloths (yes, totally not green of me, but what the hell was I supposed to do?), a shitload of Lysol wipes, and half a bottle of 409. And all before noon! This dog is sick more frequently than any human I’ve known, and of course, like any good American, she’s uninsured. I think we’ll try to ride this one out, see if it gets better. We’ve been to the vet enough with her, that we should get some sort of pay ten visits, get one visit free punch card. And maybe some paper towels.

Happy weekend, ya’ll-hope yours turns out less messy than mine has started.

In case you haven’t heard…

…The National, you should check them out. They’ve been in perma-rotation on my iPod for a few years now, and “Green Gloves” is one of my all-time favorite songs in the world. No matter how many times I hear it, it still gives me the same shivery feeling. Matt Berninger’s voice is killer, and I wish he could sing me to sleep every night. All of their albums are equally great (in my opinion), so pick one, and enjoy. You’re welcome.

Breaking up is hard to do. Unless you have facebook.

I read an article this weekend, and it honestly escapes me exactly where, about a workshop held for teenagers regarding healthy breakups. I thought this was a pretty novel concept, given that I had no idea how to handle my first breakup, at seventeen years old. I treated it as some sort of death, walking around in a haze, assured my life was over. Given, I know now that this is how most young people treat that first experience, having nothing to compare it to. But how nice it would’ve been to have peer-driven dialogue and objective facilitation on the topic. I would’ve loved to have known that it was normal for me to be reduced to snot and tears at the discovery of a left-behind t-shirt (tie dye, by the way-ew), or to feel like my stomach was going to explode at the inadvertent eye contact made in a high school hallway with the Dreaded Ex. But these feelings blindsided me. I had no idea what to expect. And let me tell you, it sucked.

However, the Dreaded Ex became less dreadful, and eventually, an acquaintance. And the stinging memory of it became sort of laughable, in that God, I was ridiculous sort of way. And, on life goes. But man, do kids now have so many more tools at their disposal, when it’s time to cut someone loose. Or, to simply torture said partner with, until they are driven to end the relationship. I would have never, EVER survived high school, if texting and facebook existed. I mean, how do kids focus on anything besides the intracacies of electronic high school relationship betrayal? One boy interviewed for the article said that when it’s time to dump a girl, he simply changes his facebook relationship status to “single”, leaving the young woman in question to discover this on her own (unless a meddling concerned third party discovers it first, during which time he/she will eagerly share the information). A number of the kids felt it was completely appropriate to end a relationship this way, or via text message. Are you kidding me? Look, I’m as non-confrontational as the next person (perhaps more so), but I feel like this is one of the times in life when you DESERVE to be uncomfortable. After all, you’re about to inflict emotional pain (and possible weight gain, depending on whether they decide to eat their feelings) on another person, so a few minutes of awkward, frank conversation is a fair trade, I’d say. People are owed that.

As I read along, I realized-kids don’t need a healthy breakups workshop, they need a healthy social skills workshop. And tech-savvy adults need a refresher course. Life is so embedded in electronics and technology that people are losing their ability to connect in real life with the people on the other side of the screen. And that extends way beyond childish breakup moves-these are practices that are becoming ingrained as normal and more or less universally acceptable. I myself am even guilty of it-I admit that I would much rather conduct a conversation via email, than telephone. It’s something I have to constantly be aware of, and move past. And don’t even get me started on the feelings I have when I misplace my iPhone. It’s shaming.

So, my thoughts are this: look away from the bright light (of a backlit screen) once in awhile. Make some eye contact, have a conversation. Read social subtleties, instead of trying to piece together someone’s tone via text. I think we’d be surprised to discover that our counterparts on this earth are (mostly )pretty amazing in real life. And kids-as hard as it is, take the time to tell your girlfriend or boyfriend that you’re making out with their best friend,face-to-face. It’ll make you feel like slightly less of a dirtball, and will provide you with the right amount of conscience-battering you deserve. Don’t make them wait to find out until they update their status feed.

Let’s talk about kids, shall we?

“I have come to the full-on decision, Dad, that I don’t think I’m going to have kids. Ever. It’s just not me,” I said to my father, slowly, anticipating the But-I-need-more-grandchildren! response. Both of my parents have always communicated this idea that life is much more valid with children. I happen to find it much more valid with free time, quiet, a flexible schedule, and only one giant, stubborn ego to battle with (my own). So, agreeing to disagree has been the name of the game.

However.

Steve’s response was this: “That’s fine. Kids aren’t for everyone. Besides, you’re too old to start having kids now, anyway.” Totally serious. Whaaaa? If this is some sort of reverse psychological move, this attacking my age, in order to trick me into having a child, consider yourself denied, Pop. BOOM. DENIED. But no, he was serious. I don’t know what motivated this change in thought, but I’d venture to guess that these proclamations of desiring a child-free life carry more weight coming from your 30 year old daughter, rather than that same daughter at 20. Life is a bit more figured out, you know who you are. I think he recognizes that.

It just doesn’t seem like anyone else recognizes that. I have entered the space in my life where, when talking to someone that happens to be a parent, I hear-“So, when are you going to have a little one?”, “Time’s ticking!”, or “Don’t you want one of your own?”, almost weekly. I DO have one of my own. She weighs 80lbs, sheds hair all over my house, eats paper towels, and chews my glasses under the dining room table. That’s enough for me. As much as I like to say that this incessant focus on children doesn’t bother me, it does. I don’t like being made to feel bad, or somehow selfish, for not wanting children.

Look, I love kids. Adore them, even. And because I love kids, I elect not to have any, because I also love my life, and it’s a life that isn’t conducive to properly nuturing and raising a child, at this juncture. It’s something I never envisioned myself doing, and I just don’t know if I have the capacity to be THAT responsible for someone else. Whenever I encounter a tantrum-throwing toddler, my anxiety instantly ratches up to 1000%, and then I hear the inevitable, “Yeah, but it’s different when it’s your own child.” This isn’t a comforting thought for me, because all I hear is, “Yeah, but it’s WORSE when it’s your own child, because you can’t safely give it back and walk away.”

I know the response that this is going to elicit in some people, and so, what I need to make clear is that I am in no way saying that choosing to have children, and raise a family is a somehow less valid way of life. I respect and admire people who choose to be parents, and are doing amazing jobs at cultivating these outstanding, loving, socially-responsible little people. I think it’s one of (if not the most)important roles that people will ever play in life, and also one of the hardest. I, on the other hand, cannot even properly iron a crease into a pair of pants, let alone handle the pressure of raising well-rounded, emotionally mature children. I can, however, walk my dog semi-sporadically, feed her everyday, and forgive her (begrudgingly) for eating yet ANOTHER possession of mine (RIP, laptop power cord). I guess family looks different to everyone, and the one we’ve created looks pretty good to me.

It’s not that kind of parade.

Henry and I were snuggled up this weekend, watching the parade for a local community festival, when he yelled, out of nowhere, “It’s raining men!” Andy and I looked at each other, and I said, laughing, “No, Hank, it’s not that kind of parade.” So, of course, he asked, “Well, what kind of parade would you say that at?” You would think by now that I’d know not to make dismissive jokes in front of this child, assuming he won’t pursue the issue. Andy, matter-of-factly, replied, “At a pride parade.” Hank turned to me, and said, “What’s pride mean?” I told him, “If you are proud of who you are, then it means you have pride in yourself. And a pride parade is where groups of people celebrate being happy about who they are, and about who others are.” He thought for a minute, and then said, “I think EVERYONE should be in a pride parade, and be happy about themselves. Why not?” He shrugged, and turned his attention back to the events at hand.

I wish everyone had that kind of open heart.

Ira Glass said it’ll be fine.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

So, Friday night, I’m sauntering up to bed, checking out facebook on my phone, and a photographer that I follow posted this video. Of course, anytime I see the words “Ira” and “Glass” together, I’m instantly interested. Everyone knows how much I adore Mr. Glass, and the work he does. I listened to it, and it was like he was speaking directly to me. This could not have come at a more critical time, because what he spoke of is precisely what I’m experiencing. I’m up to my eyeballs in creative ambition; namely, photography and writing, and storytelling via those mediums. It’s so much of what I think about everyday. But those disconnects he speaks of? I’m the physical embodiment of them. I feel like I’m on this perpetual ledge, forever wanting to step off, jump off even, into this world of creative work, but I’m practically paralyzed by the inability (in my mind) to develop something compelling. *I* might find it compelling, but will anyone else? The (brief) forays I’ve made thus far into these worlds feel..disappointing. I may take a ton of pictures in a given day, but only 6 make the cut, and of those, I’m only mildly happy with 2. Or I spend all this time writing, only to post, or re-read it later, and say to myself, “What the hell was I THINKING?” I want to create photographs that haunt like Darcy Padilla’s, write words that are quiet, yet powerful, as Joan Didion does so gracefully. I want to give people and places a voice through my work. But it feels like a space I’ll never get to.

But Ira Glass, in all his geeky, warm splendor, made it so simple for me: it’s going to take awhile, sister. Get comfortable. Push through it. Even if it’s not so pretty. So, that’s what I’m going to do. Keep on going, until I create something beautiful.