Keep Two Thoughts

Personal essays

Online - Essay from Newsletter 125

You and other people

Let me in

Saturday morning I walked to the Farmers’ Market as usual a little before eight.

Across the street and down a few houses there were an unusual number of cars parked and people milling about on a neighbor’s front lawn.

Uh-oh. I hope everyone is ok.

I approached the house just as it turned eight and a couple of the people started shouting over the back fence.

They wanted to be let in.

Uh-oh I thought again.

Until I saw their neighbor standing on the sidewalk calmly with a coffee cup shaking his head.

Then I saw the sign.

My neighbors are moving and had advertised a yard sale starting at eight and it was exactly eight and these people were demanding to be let in to see what was for sale.

Lesson learned.

Somehow I’d come to believe that people were only jerks when they were anonymous and online. It turns out they can be demanding jerks in person too.

Dinner pics

Now and then I need to remind myself that people aren’t necessarilly what they present online.

They know they’re online so they don’t post the empty bag of chips next to a tv showing Columbo reruns with the caption, “wasted another night on the couch.”

They interrupt their evening out to stage the wine glass next to the entree before they’ve taken a bite to capture and post the perfect picture.

I say “they” but I’ve done it.

I almost did it Saturday.

Mid afternoon I felt like making some pizza so I ground some wheat berries into flour. I mixed the flour into dough and let it rise an hour. I shaped it into four pizzas and cut up a variety of toppings.

I baked the pizzas and cut slices from each and arranged them on a cutting board.

They were beautiful.

But they tasted mediocre.

The dough was heavy and dense. The pizza was under-sauced. I’d set the oven at too low a temperature and had been too impatient to turn it up and wait long enough.

They were still pretty good but they weren’t great. I’ve made great pizza before and this wasn’t it.

If I’d taken pictures and posted them people would have responded. They looked so much better than they were.

It didn’t feel right to mislead you that way so I didn’t.

In fact, I was bummed enough that I’d put in that much work for such a so-so result that Sunday I stopped at the supermarket on the way home and picked up a can of soup and a bag of Cheetos. Not the big family size bag. Then again, not the individual bag either.

People often assume that since I love to cook that I’m fussy about food. They’re sometimes unwilling to suggest places or reluctant to cook for me.

Let me allay those feeling by telling you I loved the meal of Cheetos and Progresso Clam Chowder.

Living for the camera

There’s a photography exercise that has you leave the house with a prompt in mind and encourages you to take a picture of the first thing that speaks to you that fits that prompt.

Don’t engineer it.

Just walk around and when you see something that embodies the prompt somehow - take your camera out.

Now pause and ask what about what you’re looking at is speaking to you and what might be the best way to capture that.

But it’s not telling you to place your glass of wine just so next to your main course turned to show off the salmon.

There’s a freedom that comes when you don’t worry what other people will think.

It’s not a freedom to be cruel or callous - but a freedom to not suck in your gut before you meet someone new. It’s a freedom to laugh when something strikes you as funny and not worry about whether your laugh sounds weird.

A neighbor who never emails the entire street sent a note the other day.

Uh-oh I thought.

Uh-oh indeed. One of our neighbors had died and he wanted to let us know about her passing and that her dog Leo needed a new home.

He stopped by last night with Leo. He’s so nice that of course he was walking the dog.

This may be too much information. When he rang the bell I called out to him that I’d be a minute.

I needed to find my pants. Sometimes on a hot day if no one else is here I walk around decent but not dressed for company.

I’m not posting pictures of it - but I don’t mind sharing with you.

You know what else?

I had Cheetos and soup for dinner Sunday and I liked it.

Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 125. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe

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