The Mixtape That You Made

When I get in my car and stick the charger cable into my phone, connecting the technologically outdated ten year old car with the state of the art Apple iPhone, the one thing I can count on is that if a connection is made, what will play is the song 1989, by the band Clem Snide. The opening line is, “Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1989.”

This is a song I can play all of, in my head, without hearing, just by encountering part of a phrase like “I guess it’s not that funny, but I’ll say it anyway,” or “the joke is that the stereo just ate the mixtape that you made.” And if I could figure out how to delete it from my state of the art iPhone I could remove it, and make some other song the one that gets picked first all the time. 

Because of the pandemic, the Bacon Provider has gone from traveling regularly for work to traveling never for work, and so I see him in person, on weekdays, in the middle of the day, making coffee or tea in the kitchen, and this is the new normal. And you know what I found out? He gets Johnny Cash songs stuck in his head, as well as the Cure, and now, thanks to my shout-singing that one Clem Snide song, 1989.

Plays automatically in my brain. As I recall, an excellent selection for driving too fast.

How are you marking your pandemic anniversary?

We are making maple syrup. 

At this point we were pretty sure this was a maple tree.

I had my last meal in a restaurant March 9, 2020. It was lunch. In retrospect, I wish I had had a glass of wine. At least I had dessert. 

I had my last acupuncture appointment December 13, 2019. I frickin love acupuncture and when twenty minutes of solitary deep breathing in that tiny, warm, dark, windowless room with twenty-one slender needles stuck in my limbs while I lie listening to new age whale-song music seems like less of bad idea, I’ll be back on that jam. Like butter on hot toast.

I had my last haircut in a salon November 18, 2019. The stylist ignored me and spoke to the other stylists while he worked, and dried my hair in the particular kind of long, smooth, loose waves that I would love to know how to do myself but cannot seem to master. Today my hair is so long it gets caught in jacket zippers and chair backs. It is so heavy it works its way out of ponytails. It is entirely too long, just like the pandemic itself. I might wake up tomorrow and cut it all off myself.

From my brother

The thing about mixtapes, though, if you ever gave me a mixtape, I probably still have it. I even have a few mixtapes that you didn’t give me, but you left them in the Bacon Provider’s car when he took you to the Snow Bowl that time you went skiing with him, or you popped into my boombox while we drank Mooseheads out of my dorm fridge and I never gave it back.

Ten years ago this month I started to have an inkling that our time in Seattle might be ending, after 18 years, and I set about giving away piles of old toys and thirty-one cartons of books and a small mountain of obsolete technology garbage. I follow some people on Twitter who are really into old tech, and I regularly admire the their efforts to restore the crap that used to take up room on the shelves in my basement. But when it came to the cassettes, it was another story.

From my other brother

The handwriting from my friend K on the copy she made me of the then-rare Nilsson’s The Point or her annotations on Lou Reed’s New York, or my other friend K who made me a tape of several Elvis Costellos and a greatest hits of the summer of 1982, or the splendidly varied mixes created by my brother C stopped me. They weren’t especially large, or numerous, and they were made for me.

The label is in my handwriting to disguise the fact that this mixtape wasn’t mine.

My favorite mixtape as I recall was one that lived in the Bacon Provider’s college wheels for as long as he had that car, and it had to be rescued when we traded in the Mazda. It was a Maxell, C90, the kind that played and played, and while it had two Bob Marley albums crammed onto it, it also had some Sugar Hill Gang and ended with a fragment of a song that I can’t quite remember. If we can find four working AA batteries we might be able to play this tape on one of the only pieces of obsolete technology the Bacon Provider saved. 

Does it work? Dunno. We’re looking for batteries.

I went through the motions

What I did: Thanksgiving dinner for 9, with 5 sleep-over guests and 2 extra dogs

What I did beforehand: my Thanksgiving independence began as a college freshman. I went back east to school and my mother told me she wouldn’t pay for my to come home for it. I was told to get myself invited to other people’s houses. By junior year I was cooking in the empty dorm with a disposable roasting pan and purloined cafeteria dishes and silverware. I spent a month’s grocery money on a heavy Calphalon roasting pan in grad school, and could do a serviceable turkey gravy before I had my first kid. 

The rare years that we have traveled over Thanksgiving week, we’ve sworn, “Never again.”

Bacon Provider practicing selfies

For many years we have invited friends who don’t have family in the U.S. or can’t afford to get home or wouldn’t go home even if they could afford to. This practice put an end to an older tradition, where every Thanksgiving my husband and I would have a shouting fight over which wine to de-glaze the pan with or which dishes to use or whether we need water glasses on the table. 


What I wore: jeans and a favorite black shirt and Birkenstock clogs and an apron.


Who came to dinner: the Bacon Provider, 19, The Graduate, his roommate, B. who I befriended on Twitter, W. and her dog, P. and her girlfriend J. and dog

How I got the turkey: I pre-ordered an organic turkey from a local grocer. They asked 19 about his long hair, and offered to brine the turkey. 
Why I saw this show: I look forward to the day when our Thanksgiving celebrations include acknowledgement of the genocide of the indigenous peoples of North America. In the meantime, Thanksgiving is one of those sort of easy, happy little holidays that’s just about one, do-able thing (a meal), isn’t entangled with anything religious, and requires housecleaning but no significant decorating.


Where I sat: the Bacon Provider and I have a lot of dining room chairs, but only 8 that don’t wobble and feel a little bit broken. It took a number of rearrangements to make sure that the worst chairs would be ours, on the opposite ends.

Things that were sad: my middle child was not here. She texted me a picture of her homemade challah and made her own first turkey in Seattle. I ran out of time and didn’t call my older brother. One of the guest dogs chased and barked at Schwartz, so he spent the day hiding. 

I know how he feels.

Nothing has felt the same since the “election” of the Russian-sponsored pussy-grabber and his appointments parade of America’s Most Deplorable to positions of power. It’s clear he doesn’t know what a president does, but at least he’s surrounding himself with an expert panel of white supremacists, wife-beaters, homophobes, school-destroyers, war-mongers, xenophobes, and anti-Semites. I think we’re fucked.

I glumly readied the dining room for the holiday the weekend before, and finally moved the furniture around so someone could sleep on the sofa bed in there, but didn’t set the table in advance because I worried the cat would jump on it.


Things that were funny: P. and I substituted a homemade spice mixture in all recipes involving cinnamon because J. is allergic. We used allspice, cardamom, anise, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and white pepper. We had to make it over and over again. It was fine.


Things that were not funny: the day before the Bacon Provider tired to show me an article about spatchcocking a turkey. Like we were going to wake up on Thanksgiving morning, abandon our thirty years’ experience with roasting and basting, and carve up the raw turkey carcass just because of something he saw online. Also, he disagreed with me about putting water glasses on the table again. 


The brining done by the fancy store where I got the turkey wasn’t as strong or effective as my own and so the turkey turned out a lot less juicy and perfect this year. 


Our old dog had a lot of accidents in the busy kitchen.


Something I ate: before dinner we had raw carrots and homemade spelt and wheat sourdough crackers with sesame and fennel seeds with La Tur, Point Reyes blue, and an aged cheddar. At dinner we had roast turkey, traditional bread-cube stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts cooked with leeks and butter, beet salad with shallots and walnuts, maple-syrup-sweetened mashed sweet potatoes with jalapeños, sourdough millet porridge rolls, and creamed spinach. For dessert, pumpkin cheesecake, apple-cranberry-pomegranate pie, crumble-topped apple-cranberry-pomegranate pie  and pumpkin pie. We also had a lot of wine.


What it is: I am one of the extraordinarily lucky people whose Friendsgiving Dinner coincides with Thanksgiving.

Who should invite old friends and new to Thanksgiving: anyone with room at their table. 

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What I saw on the way home: W. and I took B. to his train back to the city around 9:30. I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a toad. It was walking, not hopping. Stupid toad. 

What we have eaten in Italy

Of course I have had a lot of pizza in Italy, and pasta as well. Two nights ago, I enjoyed a mushroom risotto dish that was certainly the best risotto I have ever had. Last night, we had a picnic of bread, salami and cheese with some truly good wine, and because it was a group of us who had built the bonds of friendship both over some miles of mountain trails and in the context of a leadership class we did together, it will be a meal I think of for a lot of time to come.
Some complain that in the past gelato was a seasonal treat in Italy, but now it is ubiquitous. In areas of towns with regular tides of tourists, a gelateria can be found on nearly every block. Gelato is something one can enjoy while walking and talking, two things both Italians and tourists do a lot. So far, I have tried zabaione (which was made with the local dessert wine Vin Santo and easily the best gelato imaginable), stunningly white cocco (coconut), nocciola (hazelnut), pesca (peach), stracciatella (chocolate chip), pistacchio, and a surpringly tasty and fresh pineapple. If it sounds like I have eaten a lot of gelato, I have.