Chinwe peeked out of his window, then quickly let the blinds snap shut. That horrible woman across the street was screaming at her dog again. Why does she even have a dog if she’s just going to treat it like shit? He shook his head in disgust and returned to the job at hand.

It was finally Tuesday: Chinwe had woken up one morning, several weeks earlier, determined to cut his foot off.

He didn’t know where this determination had come from, only that it was there, and eating away at him. Vestiges of a dream haunted the edges of his memory: a short man and a tall woman, calling his name from the other side of a canyon.

And he only had one foot. His right foot.

At least it was his right foot; Chinwe was right-handed, and the logistics of removing his own right foot at home would have been slightly trickier than removing his left, as currently planned.

He scanned the room, making sure that all of his supplies were ready:

  • Newspapers to soak up the blood, although he hoped blood loss would be minimal.
  • A plastic shower curtain to cover the floor, on which he would lay the newspapers.
  • Three belts for tourniquets. Chinwe believed in backups.
  • Two bottles of iodine.
  • One bottle of alcohol. He did not plan on using this, but it seemed wrong to do without.
  • A row of syringes, already full of a local anesthetic that he had purchased online.
  • Six scalpels of varying particulars. You know, backups.
  • A bone saw he had somehow snuck from the nearby hospital that he hoped not to visit again with two feet.
  • Packets and packets of gauze.
  • Four rolls of medical tape.
  • One box of blue nitrile gloves, size medium.
  • A red and white six-pack cooler, open and half-full of melting ice.
  • A stopwatch on a string.
  • His cell phone, 911 predialed and waiting for the send button to be pressed.
  • His digital camera on a tripod, already recording in case he forget to press the button.
  • A framed portrait of Jesus giving two thumbs up.
  • A framed painting of Ganesh. Chinwe liked to have all his bases covered.

Chinwe still felt that something was missing, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. That nagging little voice in his head wouldn’t shut up and let him begin. Don’t forget them, Chinwe. Don’t forget them.

“You’ve been reminding me for weeks not to forget them,” he said. “Who? Who am I not supposed to forget? What am I not supposed to forget? You never told me that!”

That fucking voice. If he ever met the person who sounded like the voice in his head, Chinwe would happily wrap his fingers tightly around their neck and squeeze until they stopped fighting.

But his foot. It was time to take it off. He glanced at the clock: 8:37. No one would worry about him not showing up for work for at least an hour, and he’d be well on his way by then, if not finished with the job.

That bitch started screaming at her dog again. Chinwe turned up the volume on his mp3 player, and hummed along with the music as he shook out the shower curtain to begin prepping his home surgical theater.

He suddenly decided that he would feed his left foot to that poor dog. It would probably appreciate the fresh meat, and maybe it would bite that bitch, and then Chinwe would feel as if he were also biting her. The thought made him happy, and he lined up the newspapers.

The one note I took at our last philosophy meeting reads: “it’s Tuesday, I need to cut my foot off.” I don’t remember the context, but I found the torn slip of paper tonight–the rest is history.

The Humble Sandwich

Food embraces tradition and occasion. Even a simple sandwich for lunch, how or when you take a cup of espresso (if at all), or a casual meal on the run reflects culture, tradition and occasion. Does your daily “routine” of meals, or favorite meal out reflect who you are as an individual, what you love about dining, or your cultural background? Did you grow up in one food culture, but now live in another? What are the different food culture’s you’ve experienced?

Have you heard the saying if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing correctly?

Let me tell you about sandwiches.

Sandwiches are certainly one of those things worth doing, and worth doing correctly. When I sit down to consume a sandwich, I want to have a memorable experience. I don’t see the point in bothering with a sandwich if you’re just going to slap some filling between something carby and call it a day.

Sandwiches are important. They’re universal. They deserve time and special attention.

For brevity’s sake, we’ll stick to sliced bread in this discussion; bagels and rolls and tortillas deserve posts of their own.

The first thing that must be considered is slice correlation. If you’re opening a fresh loaf, but you don’t like the end slice, that’s fine. But what you must do it skip two slices, not just one. The only exception to this rule is when no one in the house will eat those two poor neglected ends, in which case, by all means, throw the first one away or put it in your duck pond stash or crouton bag or whatever. Now, the reason you must skip two slices is so the long-suffering end-slice-eater has a matched set of bookends for their sandwich.

If you don’t understand, grab a new loaf of sliced bread and try to make a sandwich from the end and a middle slice. It’s not a happy sandwich, is it? That border all the way around the smaller end piece ruins the whole sandwich aesthetic. But now you know, skip two and everyone will be happy.

Condiments. Condiments must go on both sides, or neither. Nothing will unbalance your day more than a top-heavy mustard sandwich. Or a bottom-heavy one, for that matter. Apply a thin, even layer to the corresponding sides of each slice of bread. Make sure it goes all the way out to the crust–this is why the slices must match.

Once slathered with the flavor of your choice, it’s time to move on to the cheese. Ideally, cheese touches the condimented bread. Why? Because cheese comes in slices, unless you’re making some type of blue or feta sandwich. Cheese slices generally hold the shape they’re assigned. They’ll stick to the condiments like a stamp to a letter, and if you’re a two-slice kind of person, this is crucial when it comes time to fold the sandwich into one cohesive unit.

Are you heating this sandwich? If so, skip the vegetables for now; if not, lettuce goes next to cheese, then tomato, onion, pickle, whatever your little heart desires. The key point to remember when it comes to vegetables is that they must lie flat. Normal bread will never survive a sandwich that juts out in the center or to the side, even with a cheese shield.

Some people consider meat the be-all and end-all of any sandwich that’s not a PB&J; I beg to differ. While the contribution of meat to the overall experience of a sandwich is significant, it isn’t essential. You want a good sandwich, try mayo, cheddar, and white onion on homemade bread. It’s delicious. I used to eat them daily.

But we’ll assume that you’re making a meaty sandwich. Perhaps you’re using sliced meats: in this case, layer and fold them to exacting standards so that the same number of layers cover every square inch of bread. This will ensure that every bite is as enjoyable as the last. However, perhaps you’ve decided to involve meatballs, or even chunks pulled from the carcass of a leftover turkey. In this case, you have two options: slightly squash the larger pieces of meat so that when the sandwich is completed you will have approximately the same volume of meat throughout, or break out the knife and cutting board and slice them evenly, and follow the procedure for pre-sliced meats.

Now. Did you put the meat on top of the vegetables, or is each on its own side? For ease of combination, I recommend layering the meats on top of the veg. When you’ve done that, it’s no challenge at all the flip the remaining lonely slice of bread, with or without cheese, onto the top of the tower of filling.

Once you’ve flipped, the only step left is slicing that bad boy. There are two types of people in the world: squares and triangles. Which are you?

And for crying out loud, get a plate and arrange that sucker attractively!

Tuesday Truthiness at TBP

Tuesday is Pizza Night

Today was a day of semi-normalcy in this completely screwed up world.

We found a factory sealed VHS copy of Pollyanna at Goodwill. I love that movie. Also The Parent Trap. Time for a Hayley Mills overdose.

We also stopped by Bed Bath and Beyond to peruse the clearance section and I found a cool stripy pillowcase for my body pillow.

20120103-210532.jpgIt doesn’t have to match the sheets, I like it.

This evening we picked up pizza and came home to watch the season premiere of Switched at Birth, because, well, we love that show, and we’re super glad it’s back on again. Of course, it was just luck that my husband was off work tonight, so we’ll go back to taping it every week next Tuesday.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by yesterday to offer sympathy and condolences.

Good Times and Bad Times

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that goes something like, ‘you don’t appreciate the good without the bad.’ What I really want to know is, does the bad have to be so bad? Why can’t a minor hardship here and there be enough to make us content with what we


I know I’m just railing uselessly at fate. I know that nothing anyone can say can change inevitability. The sun will rise and set, the stars will shine, and people will be unhappy.

Today is a not-so-good kind of day. All I want to do is to curl up in bed and cry and cry until it’s tomorrow. I can’t even focus enough to remember the good times. I don’t know how much good it would do if I could. I feel like when I use something good to help me feel better, I contaminate it. It doesn’t help as much the next time. I wonder if I can find some kind of metaphysical dry cleaning service to get the bad time stains out of the good times.

Have you noticed a pattern here? I’m not a big fan of Tuesdays. They’ll get better though. It’s only one day a week anyway. I’m okay with the other six.