Wednesday, September 21, 2011

IS THE WORLD REALLY MY OYSTER? The Etiology Of Retail Impulse



     If I’ve missed saying thank you to you for reading my work and looking at my photographs, I’m sorry. I need every one of you to keep reading and responding to what I do. I spend part of every day answering e mails and thanking total strangers for their positive regard for my writing and photography. I try to acknowledge all the thumbs ups, comments and ratings. I’ve had a good year selling photographs and receiving acclaim for my writing. But, so far, no one has offered me a book deal. My dream is to combine my photography and writing into a package that would earn a little money. That hasn’t happened, and I find it discouraging. 
     I try to just shut up and write, but occasionally I falter in the faith that if I stick with it, one day my dream will come true. Usually, when I whine to my husband and girlfriends about this, they suffer though it, knowing that I’ll shut up eventually if they just let me go on. It usually goes like this: “I’m just not good enough, apparently.” I try to deliver this as a matter of fact, not an emotion laden bomb, nor an opener for my neediness. Unconvincingly, I say it like I don’t care, like I’m bigger than that, like my ego doesn’t need more than doing the work for the work’s sake alone. Artistic types lie about that all the time. “I don’t paint for other people; I paint for myself.” Ya, sure you do. If that were true, you’d never show your withered water colors to another living soul.  
    I whine and snivel on, often after too much wine or when fatigue weakened.  “My biggest fear is that I’ll never amount to anything, that I’ll never create anything noticeable, that I’ll just disappear into a cloud of artistic mediocrity. People will even remember Barry Manilow, but they won’t remember me!” I’m usually crying by this point and dangerously sloshing a glass of red wine around. On one of such occasion, a girlfriend snapped unsympathetically. “Oh for Christ’s sake! What the hell’s the matter with you? Look around, will you?  You are famous! Look how many followers you have on your blog! And people already know who you are when you are introduced; they know your name!  That’s never happened to me! And, all those Editor’s Picks on Open Salon for God’s sake! That’s millions of people! I don’t know what you want, lady. Look around you –you’ve already gotten someplace! You’re there! What more do you need anyway?”
     I don’t know the answer to that. But, I do know that whatever it is, I don’t have it, yet. My seemingly bottomless appetites disgust me. I’m a greedy, needy, dissatisfied little, piggy person. The best I can do is confess to it in the hopes of being freed from it (And who says I don’t understand Catholicism!). I will work at fearlessness in the face of my deepest, darkest fear that no one will ever know me - whoever I am, whom ever you are. 
     A few years ago, I had my first oysters on the half shell. I only had a couple shared from someone else’s restaurant appetizer, but I was hooked. I wanted more someday. My husband recently came home with a big, fat bag full fresh from a local oyster farm. He shucked while I looked on the Internet for preparation guidance. We laid the oysters on their shells nestled into a bed of crushed ice to keep them cold and stable. If they fall over their delicious liquor spills out which would be a shame. My husband pried them open, and then delicately released each one from its fleshy hinge. The ecru morsels were floated back into a personal pool of brine and pearl shell.
     Oysters are best slugged down in one gulp, like a shot, juice and all from their own shell spoon. Purists don’t add anything to them. I can’t leave well enough alone, though; I always need to tinker. I squeezed on a little fresh lemon. On some we had a squirt of brilliant, red, Tai hot sauce. Some I served with a dollop of cool, cucumber Mignonette with shallots and rice wine vinegar. Rice wine vinegar added just the right acidic sweetness complimenting the oysters’ sweet meat. The cucumbers married the earth and sea. We tried several with both the Mignonette and the hot sauce.  Each way we had them was more divine than the previous. They tasted like mouthfuls of the sea, the sky and the earth combined, floating in briny oceanic goodness. They were so delicious that we ate three dozen! I would have eaten more had there been more. There will never be enough oysters for me. We sat on our deck, looking out to the southward sea, savoring oysters and the last days of summer. What more could I have wanted? I don’t know, but something.
     I also know there will never be enough shoes for me. My husband likes to razz me about how many pairs of shoes I own. He says I have shoe stashes all over the place, like a drunk that has bottles of booze hidden around the house. He doesn’t’ really care how many shoes I own but rather sees it as a personality quirk. He also thinks I have a sunglasses fetish which may be true. When I came home with another pair recently, he said “What, more sunglasses?” “How many do you have anyway?” “Not that many,” I defended. 
     One of my girlfriends has told me I have a shoe problem, too. I winced when she said this, having assumed no reasonable woman would have thought such a thing. Wounded, I examined my shoe piles. There wasn’t one set I was willing to part with. They all have different purposes, moods, practicality, or total lack thereof to support their existence in my space. I need them all.
     A few days ago, I went shopping for a pulse meter for exercising.  Next to the pulse meters were pedometers. Logically, I went from the sporting goods store to buy a pulse meter to the TJ Max shoe rack. And it was not my fault, either. Some evil temptation entity put the pulse meters next to the pedometers to prod me toward the shoes in the next retail establishment. I can’t be held responsible for that.
     I came home without the pulse meter. But I did get two pairs of the coolest, sexiest, hottest boots ever heeled. When I put on those boots I felt like a rock star! Who needs a pulse meter when you’ve got great boots! So that was that: I had to have them. Winter is nigh upon us and I’ll need something appealing to mince through snow and then slog through mud season. I’ll need something that will help me to look better than I will feel. Then, while working on my retail rationalization, I saw it: the most must- have, to die for, out of this world accessory ever fabricated.
     Imagine a sort of boa, a silky, soft, begs-to-be-touched shawl-ish wrap of fur. Close your eyes and conjure a cuddly, delicious scarf of Finlandian fox died in every color of the rainbow. Slung around my shoulders, the colors came to life as I moved; I was a goner. I would have defaulted on my mortgage before I’d pass up that chunk of lovely luxury. “Winter will be coming,” came to my mind again like the words of a song.  
     When I got home, I had to try on everything.  I had all the makings of a great outfit. I slung my wrap around my shoulders, put on my new Jackie-O sunglasses then sashayed out onto the deck. I felt taller in my boots and I’m sure I looked younger. I looked out to sea. It was calm. The water surface undulated softly, a satiny blue color, like the shells of oysters. Every color of the sky breathed in my scarf -pink, purple, teal, midnight blue, and tangerine. For just a few minutes, I felt like a famous writer.

Winter Point oysters (Crassostrea virginica) served three ways, with lemon, Tai hot sauce (Sriracha is a common brand of Tai hot sauce) and cucumber Mignonette.

Oysters are an important form of aquaculture in Maine. These came from J.P.'s Shellfish in West Bath, Maine, just up the river from us.

For more on Maine aquaculture, click here.
Read this for an interesting article on local oyster farming:
http://www.workingwaterfront.com/articles/New-oyster-farming-technology-comes-to-Maine/13165/

7 comments:

  1. I live in the desert now and one of the things I miss the most about the coast is oysters! Wonderful meditation on what you want--shoes!

    Miguela Holt y Roybal
    September 21, 2011 09

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  2. Miguela, thank you for the read and rate. I'm sorry I made you miss something you love, but I'm happy to be able to create that much movement in the mind of my reader. Thank you, thank you!

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  3. Lady, anybody who can make me swallow over and over while reading about the oysters, knows how to describe.
    One question, oh my soul sister of "down on myselfedness".... you were wearing: a wrap around your shoulders, Jackie-O sunglasses and boots ..... that's it?!?!?!?
    "The water surface undulated softly, a satiny blue color, like the shells of oysters. Every color of the sky breathed in my scarf -pink, purple, teal, midnight blue, and tangerine." Again, a mediocre writer would not have come up with that.

    Chrissie Pissie
    September 21, 2011 09:18 PM

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  4. Chrissie, You're the best. Have you ever had oysters? I'm glad that my piece got you thinking and gulping and swallowing and wondering. I wondered who would notice, if anyone, that accessories and boots were all I said I had on. :) Indeed. Thank you so much for you compliments and confidence.

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  5. Let's put it this way Robin, when, and note I said 'when' and not 'if' you get your book deal, put me down for a copy straight away, lady you have a wonderful way with words, it's only a matter of time!! loved this post, you're a natural!!

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  6. thank you too much, Perth. Here it seems I'm at a loss for the words. Comments like yours bolster my courage when I'm feeling like a loser. Thank you for that, more than I can say.

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  7. Will you be Jackie-O for Halloween this year? The colorful scarf must be shared! Was I the GF who put you in your place! Hope so! Robin, you know I think you are the most incredible writer- I think it's a matter of time before I say, "I knew her when...." Just take time and smell the roses and enjoy the beautiful life that you have, and keep writing, taking photos and sooner or later, some big-time editor will come across your blog and won't be able to stop reading it- and then...you'll NEED the Jackie-O glasses when you go out, but you might want to leave that crazy scarf home, or it will draw extra attention, and you'll have to swat off the fans! Luv, Ms. Boo

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