March 3, 2011

Creative Nonfiction **

Spring training’s begun. Maybe we can get G to go to a game or two this year now that Hoffman is part of the staff.

Yesterday and Today
Himself: Talking more with the new manager who seems daunted by his now doubled caseload.

Herself: Loved playing with books, and got a lot shelved. I got the fat lady rack in color order too.

Reader Beesknees asked where she could find the essays I’ve been writing for class. I really appreciated that question as I learn a lot when I get feedback. If my friends here can’t find what I write, I don’t’ get feedback and learn less.

So far there are only three published and finished short essays for this semester: 1. All Aboard: Wednesday, February 09, 2011. 2. Semi Tugged into 2011, Monday, January 10, 2011. 3. The one I was writing about yesterday: There's Always Black written Monday, February 21, 2011.

Today I am fleeing the house for part of the morning. I’m taking the laptop and working on two pieces. One “Home Cooking” is inspired by a Keller cookbook I purchased yesterday. “Take care of your parents,” he writes while insisting we brine this or brine that. Some of us aren’t salt folks any more, darn it, or lard or bacon. The other is the “Cobb Salad” piece using a photo of me from that era that's posted below in the second draft.

Creative nonfiction? Is that what they call this form of writing? The author invents conversation and thoughts from a real incident and pulls them forward into a fictional piece. If so, that sure is me these days as I turn more and more to my imagination.

At the urging of our neighbor, we beat feet to the other side of the Point yesterday, and tried out a new restaurant called “Tender Greens.” We liked it. I had their version of a Cobb Salad….a great big, messy pile of greens with even bigger flavors but no finesse. Once long, long ago and far away, I ate a Cobb Salad at the original Brown Derby in Hollywood. There wasn’t a messy moment with that well polished salad.

Perhaps I was wearing my green silk dress that day. I never told
anyone how much I hated that dress. It made me feel fat. On top of my
head was a little pill box hat. Next to me, mother, perusing the giant
menu, wore a wispy, feather suggestion for a hat. My father and husband had on suits and ties for this lunch underneath the arched texture of the giant Derby hat. Underneath our outward skins, all of us but mother would rather have been anywhere else. Mother wanted to see how her child was doing.

I ordered the Cobb Salad. I’d heard of them and knew it had been
invented at this restaurant. Never having eaten one before, I was tantalized by the description of all these veggies and cheeses lined up in rows. Mother, who had disparaged my choice of restaurants, now poo poo’ed my choice of lunch. My seams might have been straight, my head still under her rules, but she was wrong about the lunch.

There the salad sat in front of me in all its rows of minced glory.
I’d never seen anything minced before. Mother always whacked at foods
and aimed them at the table. Grandmother hated to cook. I’d only been cooking two years. This gathering of foods before me was a carefully crafted work of art that amazed me then and still charms me in memory.

I was nervous and uncomfortable in my parents company here at the height of the Hollywood 1950’s power lunch. My stomach churned, and my head ached. When the salad arrived, those veggie flights of fancy lined in their precise rows took away all my miseries. Not only were minced foods new to me, never before had I seen bacon in a salad, and the finely chopped avocado was a revelation. The salad itself was outsized to my young eyes, but it was so delicious I finished every bite.

Yesterday’s 2011 Cobb salad had the right flavor to spark my memories, but it was no minced beauty. This salad reflected our more loose and unsettled times. Lettuce leaves were sloppy hunks, the blue cheese stuck together in lumps, and the chicken, bacon, and avocado pieces were bite sized mouthfuls. The ceiling was tall here too, but we struggled to slice up our hunks and lumps in the dark without straight seams, ties, +or long dead mothers.

Then again, I am not mentioning the crème fraiche tart. Mother would have felt right at home with that.


  1. A lively imagination is very useful in the writing game.

  2. I look forward to taking some time and reading your essays. I always find this a great way to learn about writing.

  3. I like what you did with this. Much more interesting than the first time.

  4. Hi Maggie,

    Love the picture of you in the green dress and the pillbox hat.

    Jackie Kennedy had nothing on you!

  5. Very nicely done, Maggie! You are such a wonderful, creative writer.

  6. Great story, hooked us in at the start and keeps us going. Love hearing your memories.

  7. If that's you in the green dress -- you look lovely and slender, and have a wonderful set of 'gams'!

    Like the analogy of the anatomy of your Cobb salad and the state of our culture. I wonder if this is how our parent's felt during the 60s? Somehow the stakes seem so much higher now.


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I thought these the most inventive costumes.   Sorry about the arm, but I never got a clear view. Scheduled to work at noon, ...