Dear Beloved Partner,

When I wrote yesterday about the tomato on the sugar canister, I wasn’t asking that we move the tomato. I like the tomato where it is, still on the vine but close enough to the block of knives so that it should feel perpetually nervous. Also, I don’t worry too much about the hot dog buns. I was actually hoping that someday we could put the fire extinguisher to a test, and I suspect we both would like a new toaster someday soon. For me, at least, it’s on my list somewhere in between a new furnace and a new vacuum cleaner.

What I was trying to suggest is that my life — the “professional life,” at least — is one in which I feel as though I’m holding onto lots of tomatoes, desperately trying not to drop one as I’m spooning some sugar into a cup of coffee, while at the same time the hot dog buns are on fire, in the corner. I thought it was a poetic image, possibilities of flames and destruction and tomato stains all for the sake of a small taste of sweetness at the bottom of the coffee cup.

But I am so infrequently clear. And I am so often obtuse. I am your mental patient who doesn’t have the words in his mouth, but maybe if you put me in front of a keyboard late at night — like a set of finger paints to see what some non-verbal being could come up with, if maybe with yellow-and-blue he could make green, such progress he would seem to be making, such a nice tree you’ve painted, they’d say. So obtuse, repeatedly. And redundant, like the two identical tomatoes on the same vine on the sugar. And obtuse, so very clearly obtuse. The tomatoes could be us, together on the same vine. Or they could be tomatoes. Or they could just be things stacked on another, and I can only hold one at a time, can only write one manuscript or direct one project or reallocate one account or conduct one meeting. And while I have the capability to do only do singular things, I have one life with two offices and three accounts and four family members and the many stacks of papers. It’s all good — so very good — and it has nothing to do with tomatoes.

But thank you. Thank you for moving the tomatoes. Because, in spite of my obfuscations, my ramblings and silences, you make it easier to get to the sugar, to open the container, to scoop the sweetness.

With a side of catsup,


One thought on “clarifications

  1. A professor who was once at UNCG offered that teaching and life were like the balancing of round stones. I cannot recall whether he explored the possibility of falling stones harming delicate objects: breaking sugar bowls, squishing tomatoes, and disrupting relationships.

    If the metaphors cannot stand the heat, maybe it’d be best to keep yours out of the kitchen. Here is a map of local florists, along with the current traffic conditions:,+Ogden,+UT&geocode=CUVB-cv8-9acFQztdAIdarhT-Smfm0J2Kw9ThzGl3wByhgrEKQ&q=flowers&f=l&hl=en&sll=41.217292,-111.953814&sspn=0.028731,0.059566&ie=UTF8&ll=41.25471,-111.948109&spn=0.053944,0.119133&t=h&z=13&layer=t

    No need to thank me.

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