Love in the Time of Coriander

Thoughts on food & more.

Friday, April 22, 2005

My First Weight Watchers Experience

There's always something about coming home from a trip that makes your waistline feel a bit more bulgy than usual. Madhu, who had just gone to New York a few weeks before me, warned, "Don't even worry about joining me until you get back from your trip." Yup, it's true. There were far too many gustatory experiences in the stars. I couldn't let it get to me while on the road.

What was I joining? Well, um, Weight Watchers. (Blush.) This whole wedding-in-the-future thing has been an excuse to jump start a self-care or self-torture regimen, depending upon how you look at it. Madhu needed company, and I need some motivation to be less-than-mushy. Besides, underneath my efforts to get fit is always the ever-curious anthropologist willing to know something knew about an American phenomenon--Weight Watchers.

Like many women, my history of having weight issues dates back to elementary school. (Wow! Saying that makes me realize how potent the cultural attitude on thinness is.) I was always the "chubby" one as a child, always a tad bit on the heavier side of normal. Only now as a full-fledged adult (approaching 30 this year), I have finally become right smack in the middle of normal. Years of training (and continued training by Cosmo, Vogue, Elle, and so much media around us) unfortunately cannot be undone with a swift "you're not fat anymore" comment, which are now launched at me each time I see an Indian uncle or auntie. Believe me, they are blunt, too. Greetings even begin with a "it looks like you've lost weight" or "it looks like you've gained weight." Lately, the "it looks like you've lost weight" has been outweighing (bad pun, I know) its opposite.

Ironically, I haven't lost much at all, except perhaps some of the obsessiveness around weight. I've mostly been in a ten pound range for the last ten years (some fluctuation due to the inevitable weight gain before realizing I had hypothyroidism), and I seem to be right in the middle of it now. I've found my body (and my mind) don't want to budge from this place. They like it here. Mostly, I feel good about myself. It doesn't seem as though my butt waddles behind me as if it's its own entity, and I don't have to work very hard to be this. I can eat all the yummy stuff I mention on this blog without becoming a behemoth.

So, why Weight Watchers? Because it's hard to escape the hope that is marketed to you. That one day with enough of one product or another, enough direction, strength or perseverance, you'll look like Jessica Alba (or Aishwarya Rai) in a bikini. Something deep inside me knows this isn't true. No matter how hard I try to be thin, I will always only be a slightly smaller version of myself. I will, no matter how fat or skinny I finally get, have ridiculously small hands and wrists in contrast to my broad shoulders and full, womanly thighs. Regardless, people pay billions of dollars yearly to convince me otherwise. And, regardless, I fall for it to some degree.

Also, there's a perverse do-it-yourselfness about American culture. We know this about ourselves. Our pull-yourself-up-by-bootstraps ethic said to characterize Americans and keep them forward-looking to accomplish the American dream. If I just work hard enough, persevere enough, I can lose 100 pounds! All my life, I've been convinced that losing 10 pounds would make me a happier person--and, it's my own fault that I haven't yet been able to do it. We get accounts of movie stars that have miraculously overcome the dominant notions of weight. Christina Ricci has finally done it, lost all that baby fat, and though it seemed as if she had a bout of anorexia for awhile, it seems to have--poof!--disappeared. I, on the other hand, must just be weak-willed. (I also don't have enough money to hire a personal trainer or a personal chef!)

In actuality, I'd prefer to think of it as resistance. Leave it to the psych student to go in this direction. I remember five years ago, after a trip to New York actually, I picked up a copy of Fat is a Feminist Issue. As obvious as this now is to me, it made me realize that there are legitimate reasons for not losing those last ten pounds. Truthfully, I don't want to be all too much thinner for fear that it comes with the burden of living up to the expectations of others. Sort of like being too rich, I suppose. Then, you'd have to manage money, friends, and status in such a different and potentially more difficult way.

Sometimes, I experience this when I dress myself in the morning. I long to wear something nice, but not too nice. I fear that pairing my cute train-conductor hat with my one-of-a-kind sweater shirt by a Portland designer, will draw too much attention. One or the other, I think, but not both. We could explore early developmental issues, but for the sake of this blog I won't.

All this is a long-winded way of saying that my time with Weight Watchers was not all that long. I only did it for about a week and a half, but the verdict is already in. The jury--surprise! surprise!--voted against it. These were the key issues.

1) I don't know how people can stay on this diet. To its credit, it advocates eating lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. But it is also truly starvation! For a few days in a row, I charted both the "points" which seem to be somewhat arbitrary and proprietary, and calories. I found in caloric terms that eating 20 points a day, which was the recommended guideline for my weight range, was equivalent to eating 1100 calories. I just can't live on that! I can stop eating junk food for a good long period of time, but I can't stop eating food for health and hearth.

2) The marketing component is icky. Weight Watchers, though akin and perhaps even modeled after the AA, is a for-profit company. The facilitator for the group I attended is a goggled, too-bouncy dirty blonde who wears out-of-fashion (not things that have returned in fashion) 1980s garb. To make matters worse, she aspires to be a motivational speaker and wiggles every time she expresses her excitement about weight-loss. In a span of 30 minutes, she advocates so many of the Weight Watchers proprietary products. Is she put up to this by the company?

"For only $7 dollars, you can have this nifty looks-like-a-rosary bracelet-and-point calculator to help keep track of your progress. And you know what, it also doubles as a fashion accessory! Imagine that! Someone asked me if I got it at a jewelry store in Carmel."

Madhu is convinced it's a cult, and wonders if other meetings are less superficial. I don't know if I think it's sophisticated enough to be a cult. Admittedly, I'm more judgmental and my feeling is that it's just plain stupid.

3) I guess I'm in a privileged place, where my weight is by no means seriously affecting my health. And I already generally eat by the guidelines of sage health. That said, I think that acceptance of one's plot in life is a far easier and more gratifying road to happiness. Also, exercise, did I mention that my general malaise and mushiness as explained earlier could be easily rectified by incorporating a bit of rockin' out to Outkast in hip-hop class? Though it seems so hard to overcome the mental obstacle of exercise, it is so much more gratifying to the body, mind, and soul than "points."

As Pascal once said, "I have made this letter rather long because I have not had time to make it shorter." So, finally, to get to the point: Points? Screw 'em. Afterall, if I wanted to be a rock star, I'd have chosen another route entirely.

Monday, April 18, 2005

No Sleep 'Til Berkeley

As Dorothy put it, "There is no place like home." Except that, perhaps, the gas prices at home are so phenomenally expensive that it makes you realize that your quads and calves are a less bank-breaking alternative. Anyway, I need to get in shape for the wedding! More about that soon. . .

First, the last day of New York. I said goodbye to Katy over a Murray's Bagel, supposedly one of the good bagel places in NYC. I've heard stories for years of New Yorkers having family members carefully package and ship bagels to the West Coast. Why? Because, apparently, there are no good bagels on the West Coast. (Ever tried Katz's Bagels in SF or Santa Cruz's The Bagelry?) I'm irked by the anti-California sentiments but understand where they are coming from. We've got so much to offer in the way of food and wine that it's easy to see how the rest of the country could feel sleighted.

That said, I give a vehement thumbs down to Murray's. I've heard it's an insult to New Yorkers to ask for a bagel to be toasted. The bagels are so fresh, so darn delicious, that they don't need it, right? Wrong. These bagels were so chewy that they could have used a bit of toasting to freshen them up. And the shmears? They were nothing to write home about. Certainly not something to get shipped home!

Speaking of home. I only had a few more hours to loll about in Manhattan, so I decided to walk to the Strand bookstore. I didn't have the patience to sift through the books, nor did it make sense to pack my suitcase heavily with things I could easily find on Telegraph. But I did want one thing: a Zagat guide for NYC dining.

I have to admit that I had never been fond of the Zagat. My first and strongest association with it is from the movie American Psycho. The protagonist is a sociopath who, in striving to be the "perfect" guy, cannot stray from the cultish word of the guide. But after recently seeing the Zagats on an episode of the Japanese Iron Chef, I felt a certain warmth for them.

They're kind of a cute, chubby couple, with palates and minds open enough to try the sometimes dubious delicacies that are generated out of Iron Chef stadium. That alone is impressive. Having a less stifling association to the guide, I've begun to notice that a rating by the notorious skinny red paperback means a restaurant is not-so-bad. It doesn't, however, mean it is good enough to spend the extra greenbacks you're saving up for gas in California!

Case in point: In the middle of the fight on my last trip to New York, hunger overcame us, and we choose to duck into a moderately expensive Spanish restaurant in Brooklyn Heights. The food was awful, and I tried to hide from the wait staff that I was crying all the way through dinner. The restaurant hadn't been rated, and there was a reason for that. Had we had a little help being a bit more discriminating, maybe we would have reconciled our tiff a little earlier, too.

Let me be clear that it isn't on its way to becoming my bible. Only a reference for a few words on the closest place to get decent sushi when you're standing outside of St. Mark's church, on the north side of Central Park, or by the WTC. I know that the only way I'll amass a stellar reference guide of eats is to correspond extensively with local friends (especially foodie friends) and to have oodles of time to walk around and taste something in every corner of New York. (Somebody, please, pay me to do this!) Afterall, Souen, my favorite macrobiotic hotspot, not on the empire of Zagat's list, was a "Paul & Katie Rated" find.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A Poet's Repast

3:30pm--I must still be on Pacific time. I was hungry but hadn't yet done my "homework" on what I was going to read. I was too lazy to go all the way back to the Hampton Chutney Co. so I walked down University Place and slipped into the Lemongrass Grill ( on 11th St. I was still in time for lunch (gotta love that about New York), and ordered the special with Pad Sew Ew, which was more food that I imagined. It arrived promptly bento box-style with four compartments and a fifth little nook for plum sauce.

There was the noodle dish, a green salad topped with a Thai peanut dressing, two small spring rolls on a bed of julienned carrots, and white rice. The food was pretty good--very much college-neighborhood style. A good bang for the buck. I ate half of the lunch in the restaurant whose walls were also painted the color of lemongrass with the exposed beams of a dark wood ceiling and rice baskets acting as lamp shades. I packed the rest and had it before my reading.

Sometimes, I must remind myself that I'm a poet. It's a good thing that people invite me to come read every once in a great while to help jog my memory. This time, I am especially grateful to Cori Kopp, who curated the reading and was kind enough to set the date.

My last writerly trip to New York was almost two years back, so I was feeling rusty and anxious. But as soon as I walked into St. Mark's church, I saw my friend Erika and immediately felt at ease. She welcomed me with such warmth! We walked across the street together, catching up, and I bought a tall can of Sapporo to calm the nerves. Erika told me that she, too, was nervous about public speaking sometimes and was supposed to be giving a talk to a group of people at her work about leprosy and feminine discharge the next day. Brilliantly, she was thinking of weaving Oppen into the discourse, because the “cleanness” which is necessary to overcome these unclean things can only be achieved through community. Thus, the connection to Oppen—that being both discrete and numerous, of “community,” is what helps a society to understand and overcome its ills. I hope I got that right. Maybe Erika will chime in and correct me if not. In any case, it would be interesting to know how the lecture finally transpired.

I read from a piece called "The Language Parable," two strange stories interwoven, about female Indian characters who crave to be loved for themselves not for what they do or don’t represent. I think it went rather well, though a very silent audience always makes me slightly nervous, especially since the piece was meant to be funny. All the while that I read, I left my Sapporo, half-nursed, beside me on the table near the water bottle. I read with Sasha Steensen, who went to SUNY Buffalo, and recently won the Fence Alberta prize for A Magic Book.

After the reading, we went to the Telephone Bar, which was the perfect place for more imbibing and ingesting. Dan, another friend who I was excited to see, met us there. It was great to see him, and he very generously brought me a gorgeous bunch of orange tulips. It was also really wonderful to meet two new people--Charles & Kathleen, who are a lively couple associated with Fence magazine. I made friends with Kathleen easily before the reading, chatting of blogs and food. She had great aura and really wonderful blue eyeshadow. Before I went on, I gave her the Bud that I had grabbed from Katy's fridge. She was tickled by this gesture, saying she thought that carrying around cans of beer in her backpack was something only she did.

I couldn't help but tell Kathleen about the phenomenon that is Katy's fridge. When I first met her, the only thing she had in the fridge was a six-pack of Diet Coke and a piece of uncooked salmon. Upon seeing Katy this time, I recounted this to her, wondering if she had changed. She walked me over to the fridge and opened it. No Diet Coke or salmon, just six packs of beer--bottles and cans. I was impressed by the fact that there was still no food in her fridge. Katy pointed very sweetly to the pickle jar in which sat a lonely pickle and said, "But, see, there's a pickle!" A true Manhattanite, just like the girls in Sex in the City.

Anyway, the night was very fun! As we were winding down, Charles took pictures of Kathleen and me, then Erika and me, in the telephone booths, posing like about-to-metamorphose superheroes. At the urging of E, I had finally filled my quota of pictures.

Dan and I walked home, and I caught him up on the very fast-forward events of my last year, including the engagement to E. We tried for a last attempt at a food experience--to get a cannoli at place whose name I forget but who has yummy cannolis. When E & I had visited a month prior, I had gotten food poisoning from a chicken shawerma on Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn Heights, and I was in no mood to eat the cannolis we brought to a friend's for dinner. This time I was ready, but the bakery had closed too early. We were out-of-luck. Oh, well. There’s always next time.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Village, Take Two

Today I got off to a late start. By the time I was out the door, it was already 11am, so I opted for an early lunch. I googled a place I had been to on my last trip (a few months prior) to NY. It's a Japanese macrobiotic establishment called, Souen ( Their spin, though with a more extensive menu, is kind of like the amazing veggie sushi restaurant, Cha-Ya, on Shattuck Ave in North Berkeley.

Souen's food is the epitome of "clean." I don't mean that it's meticulous but rather that it's simple, healthy, and delicious. My body craves everything about this kind of food. It hums when I succumb to it. I loved it so much that I thought about going there for another meal. Alas, I don't have enough time for this many meals. E reminds me constantly that my eyes are much bigger than my stomach--thankfully--or I'd be a much bigger person than I am.

I frolicked about Soho again today, intent on buying some "intimate" things for my wedding. It was, let's say, retail therapy. I think if I didn't come from another metropolitan locale, I'd be more impressed with Soho than I am. The rectangularity of buildings and the tiny streets, not the stores tucked into them, are what's exciting. Otherwise, it's all the same fancy shmancy stuff. Fcuk, BCBG, Origins, Banana Republic, Chanel, Camper, etc -- it's all in SF's Union Square, too. I keep asking and have yet to find all the hidden away local-designer haunts. What about the Mimi Barr and Therapy of New York? Where are they?

Perhaps the most fun I had (outside the Agent Provacateur store that does not, unfortunately, exist in SF) was in the MOMA Design Store. Now, that's something I can get behind. One-of-a-kind wallets, scarves, jewelry, furniture and housewares with a sharp vision. Gotta love it. I bought a little somethin' somethin' for E & a box of Bollywood postcards (yippee!) for me.

I peeked into the big Dean and DeLuca in Soho before leaving. As a foodie, I guess I'm supposed to be impressed by the evolution of the grocery store, right? But the D & D just just gave me the creeps. Rows and rows of the excesses of food. Spices (no doubt from India or Southeast Asia) packed in glorified test tubes with labels designed by an Academy of Art grad remind me that colonialism in a new mutant form is still alive. Pastries that are made to look too freakishly perfect. No piece of fruit out of place or of an off-color. Food should be pretty but, in my opinion, should not take itself that seriously. I left quickly, noting that this was the Super Walmart of "fine" foods. I'll take my Monterrey Market, all the Indian sari and spice shops along University Ave and the tacquerias in the Mission, please. Even the Ferry Building is, though expensive and glossy, still a local artisan food mall.

On my way back, I passed by the Hampton Chutney Co. (, recommended as a NYC hot spot. This, in conjunction with having just read the NYC Eats blog and walking by several Indian restaurants touting dosas and uttapams, convinces me that this must be one of the new "in" things. Unfortunately, I wasn't yet hungry enough to eat so I just perused the menu and watched the NYU hipsters eating flaky dosas on benches outside the joint.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Village

There are too many gastronomic adventures and too little time! I left Philly yesterday and am now at Katy's house. She's a writer, too. (Oh, did I mention that this little trip was all about doing a series of poetry readings on the East coast? Perhaps I've gotten so wrapped in the food as to forget.)

When I arrived, we went out for a little lunch at a tiny French bistro (whose name has escaped me.) I had a spinach salad with a goat cheese phyllo pastry on top. It was a bit too much goat cheese, but light enough and delicious. Then, for dinner, we splurged at a place called Yujin, two blocks down from Katy's on 12th Street near 5th Avenue.

Yujin was simply decorated. A nice large room with light colored wood tables and warm lighting. We arrived on the late end of dinner and had the run of the place to ourselves. I ordered a seaweed salad (I am in love with the cleanness of the seaweed salad) and a 12th Street roll (Spicy tuna, green onion, and shiso). I polished the food down with a nice glass of dry Riesling, which I unfortunately did not note.

For dessert, I ordered Imagine, which was a chocolate cake with a flan-like custard topping it (which had the visual effect of a cheesecake) served with a large dollop of chocolate pudding/sauce and vanilla ice cream.

The meal was delicious, but didn't rise above the rest. The dessert, also, was of a similar caliber. Definitely the flavors came together nicely, but there was something a bit strange about the chocolate pudding/sauce which looked and tasted like chocolate frosting.

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Mighty Termite Migration

As you know, I've been traveling throughout the Northeast, and I arrived mid-day in Philly. The purpose of this trip is two-fold--to catch up with Em & to give a reading in the series that she runs. I'm just about to go on in a few hours, and I've got the nerves as usual. I was such a confident child performer, but now I need a couple of glasses of the vino before going on. To make matters worse, I've been feeling particularly bloated and zitty from the usual ebbs and flows of the female biochemistry.

Anyway, I met up with Em a bit after noon, and we both conferred that we were starved for some delicious food. She suggested a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant's lunch special in her West Philly hood. I was down. Apparently, the place that we had gone used to do an on-the-sly restaurant in the backyard before the health authorities got concerned and forced them to be legit. So, now, it's a cute little storefront on Baltimore Street.

We sat in the window next to the door, and our waitress' son, a 3-year old, intermittently brought us gifts. First, he plucked two small white fake flowers from the arrangement in the window and decided to bestow them upon us. Later, he showed us pictures of toys that he was itching for. Throughout this time, we ate delicious soups (I had tom yum & Em had spinach and tofu) and noshed on vegetarian dumplings while waiting for our rice and Thai vegetable curry dishes.

In all, it was a lot of food. I had to stop because I was bursting out of my pants. It was difficult to do so since the curry was so tasty. Em contemplated having the full meal and foregoing dinner. Thus, she kept eating.

It was at this time, in our last bites, that I suddenly looked to the floor beneath us. It was teeming with termites! At least, that's what the customers who were not-so-squeamish had said to us as they walked in and sat at a table. These suckers were big and had wings, too. In fact, both Em and I thought they were small moths. At one point, when another diner had left and the door opened before us, one little termite had flown up to the table. I shooed it away thinking it was a lone moth.

But lo and behold, it was no isolated incident but a phenomenon. Many, maybe a hundred or so, were marching all in one direction--towards the door. A number of insects at one's feet, especially in an eating establishment, is one thing, but to have them all eerily moving in one direction, marching like soldiers, made it quite a spectacle.

Needless to say, the waitress was perturbed and began shooing them out the door with a measly broom and dustpan. I could understand how frustrated she might have been since the restaurant was, though hole-in-the-wall, still respectable.

It was at this point that Em decided that she would save the rest of her lunch for later, not opting for finishing it all in one setting. We paid and left promptly, laughing along the way.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Baltimore, MD

I went to bed frantic last night trying to tie up all the loose ends--pay bills, finish papers, do laundry--before carting off to Baltimore. I slipped into bed just in time to catch the last ten minutes of the Iron Chef. Erik must have come home an hour later and got in bed with me around 1am.

We both tossed and turned, trying to get some shut eye. I was anxious about getting up in time to catch the shuttle to the airport for my early morn flight, and Erik was still trying to wind down from a major school project. We're both a mess around sleep and plagued with insomnia when the cortisol kicks in.

The flight to Baltimore was not, unfortunately, direct. Thus, it was hard to recoup the unslept hours. It was doubly difficult due to the talkative Philipina lady who sat next to me, boasting of her bad marriages (seven!) and how well she had raised her four children. I saw pictures of them at their college graduations, even. Curiously, at the end of the flight, she asked for my phone number, ostensibly because we had this incredible connection and should keep in touch?

I had a short stopover in Chicago, where I got a suprisingly good sandwich at the airport at a place called Potbelly ( A grilled turkey breast stacked high with fresh veggies and hot peppers. The tryptophan must have had a soporific effect because on the last leg to Baltimore, I fell asleep as soon as we began pulling out of the gate.

As soon as I was carted from the airport to my cousin's house by my uncle, I got dressed to go to the Austin Grill ( The service was slow, and it seemed as if they were understaffed, given the amount of tables in the restaurant. To offset, the chips and salsa were delicious. Freshly fried, warm and tossed with lots of salt. Yum! Of course, catching up with family, too, made the lukewarm service barely noticeable.

The chips and salsa, however, are the death of me at a Mexican restaurant. It's easy to loose track of how many calories you've consumed. By the time the entrees were brought to the table, I was no longer hungry. But there was all this food in front of me! I ordered a big taco salad with grilled portabello mushrooms and only made a dent in it. The food was good, but nothing to write home about. The drinks, unfortunately, were below average. I had a strawberry and lime margarita, but it might as well have been a slushy fruit drink. I take partial credit for this not-so-hot whistle whetter. I should know myself well enough to know that I've never liked blended margaritas.

Friday, April 01, 2005

I Knew a Man

When I checking email in the morning yesterday, I sighed long and deep and said in a deflated voice, "Oh, my God." From downstairs, E asked what had happened. "Robert Creeley has died," I answered.

I knew he was weak, that he had been so for many years. I recalled the only time that I had met him, and it filled me with delicious memories. Coincidentally, it revolved around a cheesecake (and I still have remnants of the recent Mango Cheesecake experiment). I remember the exact day very well, an unusual feat for me. It was Valentine's Day, 1998.

Actually, it was the first time I had tried to bake a cheesecake. I had gotten a recipe for a lowfat Raspberry Cheesecake with Chocolate Cookie Crust and White Chocolate Curls on top. I was going through a lowfat fad at the time, and had lost a considerable amount of weight because of it. (I have since eschewed most diets and have tried to maintain a good balance between decadent and healthy.)

He gave a reading at the auditorium, and a new, very different book, Life and Death, had just come out. It wasn't like the rest of Creeley because it wasn't characterized by the short, piercing lines that brought him recognition. Like in I Know A Man:

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, -- John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ's sake, look
out where yr going.

Life and Death, in contrast, was longer-lined, pensive in a different way. This is not to discount how powerfully intimate some of the earlier poems were. My absolute favorite of Creeley's, for instance, was "Something":

I approach with such
a careful tremor, always
I feel the finally foolish

question of how it is,
then, supposed to be felt,
and by whom. I remember

once in a rented room on
27th street, the woman I loved
then, literally, after we

had made love on the large
bed sitting across from
a basin with two faucets, she

had to pee but was nervous,
embarrassed I suppose I
would watch her who had but

a moment ago been completely
open to me, naked, on
the same bed. Squatting, her

head reflected in the mirror,
the hair dark there, the
full of her face, the shoulders,

sat spread-legged, turned on
one faucet and shyly pissed. What
love might learn from such a sight.

Oh! It cuts deeply to the gut.

But on with my story. I had cooked a Valentine's meal for Patrick and me, which was the original occassion for the cheesecake. Afterwards, we had gone to the reading at the university and then to the party. I can't remember now where the party was save for that it was, like all the after-reading parties, at a student or faculty member's abode.

I had carefully wrapped a fat slice of the cake to offer it to Creeley. We arrived on the early side after the reading, but he was already there perched in a chair. Many of my classmates hovered about shyly, hoping to glean something from his divine aura. Like Kevin Killian's homage to Spicer, "Poet Be Like God."

I approached with such a careful tremor and offered my slice of cheesecake. Instead of letting me scurry into a hiding corner like a mouse, Creeley insisted I sit with him while he ate it. I fetched a fork, and he began eating until nothing remained. We talked not of poetry but of global poverty for almost twenty minutes. All the while, fellow students were bringing other gifts--plants, books, etc--but he put them all to the side while he spoke to me. I could see the envy in one particular student's eye, who was to pit herself later as my nemesis. Retribution was to recall that I, not she, had had a special moment with Creeley.

It was not until Thisbe Nissan, another daring student and now accomplished writer, interrupted to talk of something else. She and I were the only ones to have that time with Creeley before he left the party shortly after to retire. My precious time with Creeley was up. It had to have been temporary, just as the cheesecake, the gift he wanted the most, had to be disposable.

In order for the moment, the gesture--not the physicalness of what remains--to be carefully folded into our hearts.