The recipe calls for one hundred and eight skulls on a string. The recipe calls for a black fake-bear coat. The recipe calls for skipping the early bus, in favor of spending some time bringing order back into my studio space. Dust the incense box. Dust the embroidery box. Throw all the rolls of blue tape back into a brown paper bag. The recipe calls for going back to repack my suitcase, deciding to bring my shiny black Birkenstocks but to leave behind the oracle book and the plaid shirt. The recipe calls for going back to fetch my phone from the parking lot, so I can send my dad a flamenco dancer when he tells me to behave myself on the plane. The recipe calls for every emergency vehicle in Lebanon to deploy for a crash it also called for. The recipe calls for tree cutters on the way to the Mountain View Pet Resort to slow me down, and a young man in a hard hat to create a narrow passage between fallen oak limbs and fluorescent green plastic cones. The recipe calls for going back to replace an errant vermilion Swarovski crystal on my ring.
The recipe calls for longing.
The recipe calls for longing.
The recipe calls for great tears and sobs of longing, which are the heart’s leavening and its preheated oven.
The recipe calls for Kevin Costner in another movie about his unique abilities to rescue brown people. I know it’s not Dances with Wolves, because semi-trucks and smoke alarms are involved. Results may vary, but assumptions do not.
The recipe calls for two of the most important mentors of my life to be African-American artists. The recipe calls for them to challenge me with great heart, to see me, and to transmit to me my responsibility to see the world with care and magic and precision. I try to do this.
The recipe calls for everything that’s still in the kitchen and perishable. I sauté it all up in a big pan: peppers, tomatoes, spinach, chard. It’s delicious and has the benefit of following the directions of What Is.
The recipe calls for allowing the dogs to lead me deeper into rainy woods than I’ve ever gone before, up beyond where any traffic sounds reach, to mossy places and to the place where tall dead trees stand stripped bare, the first-seen masts of this hill-ship. The recipe calls for day to be falling as I loop in unknown uphill circles, wondering what it will be like to spend the night out here sandwiched between two wet dogs. The recipe calls for Chloe and Elliot to lead me out, for black trumpets still to be growing on the little slope near the bog, for Chloe and Elliot to disappear I walk out the last few yards in the streambed in my orange boots, for Chloe to refind her lost bone on the way back to the car.
The recipe calls for understanding of so many more ways of connection and being the than the hard and cruelly guarded categories I learned at a young age. The recipe calls for sifting together:
friend lover family challenger
colleague friend teacher boss
brother sister father mother child
partner priest son daughter confessor
Mix well, but do not overwork.
The recipe calls for honesty. It calls for moving towards delight and consternation with equal steps. The recipe calls for a hundred and eight skulls on a string, and for knowing that everyone’s head including my own is already on that string. And ever shall be, Amen.
The recipe calls for a dream in which I see an orphaned ocelot cub, brought to a museum case in which she is left alone, starving and trying to bite through a dead seal’s thick skin with her little teeth. The dream calls up a video about industrial-scale net fishing and fur hunting. Someone peels the soft white fur off a polar bear cub and throws his still-living, lox-raw body unto a pile of other “catch.” The recipe calls for outrage. The recipe calls for Elliot sprawled next to me in bed, belly up, two hind paws near my armpit. The recipe calls for getting serious about protecting animals, remaking the connections between whole human bodies, whole animal bodies, whole forests, and the body of the world. The recipe calls for recognizing cruel isolation, dissection, and cold scrutiny as abominations.
The recipe calls for working with clients in a space that conveys power, safety, and magic all at once, while being absolutely clear that these reside in the client. The recipe calls for working with distressing dreams and dreams of loss and exile. The recipe calls for restoring the body’s knowledge of how to move from its own truth. The recipe calls for unconditional love unfolding in its own rhythms. The recipe calls for the first shall be last the last shall be first. It calls for transfers of knowing that pull us out of our ideas of one another.
The recipe calls for freaks and weirdoes. The recipe calls for a stolen plastic cheetah in my pocket. The recipe calls for being queer. The recipe calls for turning my back on what will they think, while also recognizing my responsibility to prepare a dish that might in its own way nourish others and myself, while causing as little harm as possible.
The recipe calls for DVDs of movies I never heard of when they came out. It calls for more books than I can ever read. It calls for a lost-sheep library items and some hoarding that might actually be genius. It calls for my grandfather’s forty-pound red-velvet curtains, attic-aged to perfection. It calls for me to re-create structures of power, while taking them apart from the inside. The analyst’s office. The dokusan room. The professor’s lair. The oracle’s cave. The rich man’s study. I string them like skulls and invite you in.
The recipe calls for cancer.
The recipe calls for cancer.
The recipe calls for skin cancer, prostate cancer, leukemia, sarcomas, glioblastomas, colon cancer, liver cancer, and many other mutations slowly or quickly growing in the soft and hard places of our bodies. The recipe calls for allowing one another to hold our sicknesses with kindness and ferocity. With deep-teal nail polish and with henna tattoos on bald heads. The recipe calls for us to hold one another in an infinite circle of Pietas. My body, this body, now spent. Please hold me. Please let me hold you.
The recipe leaves nothing out.
The recipe demands and devours everything.
Pour it all into a heart-shaped seventy-five-cent thrift store tin and bake till well done.
Do this every day.
Do this in remembrance of me.
Do this and it shall be done unto you.
Julie Püttgen is an artist, expressive arts therapist, and meditation teacher.
108 Names of Now