The Kitchen (Confidential)

We will now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming (or complete lack thereof) for a moment of obnoxious bragging: this weekend I got my first (and hopefully not the last, only ever in my lifetime) five-star Amazon reader review! Of course, it was in German, as is the translation of my novel to which it refers. So how fortunate for me that I happened to be in the house of a woman who speaks German fluently. I dragged Sabrina over to the computer and asked her to translate every word. She wisely refused to do this — since a literal word-for-word German-English translation makes no sense, as evidenced by the many places where my novel comes up as BLOOD FISHING ROD — but got across an in-depth gist of the thing. The reviewer not only said he/she ‘highly recommended’ the novel but concluded with something like: “In my personal library this is a dream of a novel and I eagerly await this lady’s next work.” Huzzah! The German reader response has been positive so far — in fact, my book seems to doing better over there than I would have allowed myself to hope — which has put me in a more confident and energetic frame of mind about promoting the thing when it comes out here in Oct. (Or Sept. The scheduled date is early Oct., which probably translates to mid-Sept.)

Spent the weekend in Jackson Hole, in a spacious wood-and-glass house packed to the rafters with thirtysomething adults and small children. I admit to several surreal moments where I stood off to the side and thought, “Quite a few of my friends now qualify as thirtysomething adults with small children. In fact, I myself am now a thirtysomething adult with small children.” Since this group is among those highly fortunate to have nannies, we were still able to do the leisurely-lunch thing and steaks-and-hard-liquor-by-the-fireplace thing and had some of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted at the Snake River Grill. Although once returned from the SRG, we went to bed at a time that my twentysomething self would have considered appallingly early. But I have reached a stage in my life where I would kill for sleep. We also took a pass on the outdoorsy things we once would have done, such as hiking. Lazy hanging out (and making sure the little darlings don’t kill themselves or each other) is now a virtue.

On the way back to LA, we stopped off at the small airport in Boulder, Colorado. The twins stayed on the plane with Dinora, a wonderful woman who makes the rest of my life possible, and we drove into town to eat at The Kitchen. This is my brother-in-law’s restaurant — he is one of the two chef-owners — and although E. has eaten there several times I myself had not, had only read about the food in the reviews the family picks up from the press and emails to one another. Said brother-in-law and I chatted a bit about the frustrations of being ‘classified’ — as a specific type of writer, as a specific type of restaurant — and about the upcoming television show based on Anthony Bourdain’s KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL, which I’m sure will suck but shall watch in the wildly optimistic hope that it won’t. Although I like to eat — and I like to cook — I’m hardly a foodie, much less a food writer, otherwise I’d steal a page from Poppy Z. Brite’s playbook and describe the truly awesome stuff I ate and wine I drank before boxing up a steak for Dinora and dashing back to the plane.

I have to say: I wanted kids, and I like having kids, but I also only wanted kids under certain circumstances, and if my life had gone a different route altogether — which it very well could have — I also would have been happy without kids. I might have felt regret, but comes a point past your early twenties when any decision you make results in some kind of regret for the other decisions now no longer possible; comes a point when the staggering potentials of what your life could be start translating into the smaller specifics of what your life actually is.

Point being, I have friends –woman friends — who don’t have kids and don’t want kids, who have always known they didn’t want kids, for reasons that always struck me as extraordinarily sound and sane. I get defensive sometimes on their behalf, possibly because I could so easily have been one of them, possibly because for some reason I’m always a bit surprised when they describe the reactions they encounter from people who find their decision somehow unnatural. “Oh, she’ll change her mind,” a friend’s mother once told me about another friend who insisted she didn’t want kids. Ten years on, and that college friend is now a married, hard-driving professional who still considers herself ‘indifferent’ on the baby thing, despite the fact that she has reached an age where baby-hunger should be kicking in hard.

What I’m not sure enough people realize: the difference between putting off the decision to have kids (and perhaps missing that boat entirely) and knowing deep-down that you just don’t want them at all, because your self and your life aren’t cut that way, or because you don’t want to hand down whatever fucked-up family legacy you might have inherited. It isn’t a case of changing your mind, more a case of recognizing what your mind truly is on the matter in the first place, and I suspect that happens relatively young. How, or if, that mindset gets carried out is another thing entirely, but no matter which side it falls on — kids/no kids — it should be respected. Deeply.

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