My 2006 NaNoWriMo novel. Woo! Note: since I am posting as I go along, the storyline is backwards. To read this, start from the oldest post and read to the newest.

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

I am an awkward, stubborn, slightly insane woman who would rather talk Plato than Prada, rather watch Frank Capra than Carrie Bradshaw, and rather listen to Norse myths sung in Icelandic than anything currently on the radio. Yeah. Told you I was weird.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Chapter 15

Sunday morning was cold and rainy, the first good rain of the season; everyone else in the dorm seemed depressed about the cloud cover, but I was glad for it. While I like sunlight, and generally enjoy looking at all the colors that it brings out in everything, I have an innate love of overcast skies and rainy days.

Ryan’s car was a little late pulling up in front of the dorm, and when I climbed in, my clothes were slightly damp from the rain. By the time we turned onto Rosecrans, I was steaming from the moisture and the warmth in the car.

For some reason, we were all silent on the drive to church. I mostly sat and stared out the window, and the other two in the car sat quietly turning pages in their Bibles. The low clouds hung over the hills, and the Kingdom of Heaven was hidden from view. In the grey dampness, it was hard to think of it as anything but yet one more set of tract houses on a small rise of land in an unremarkable part of southern California.

The service was lethargic and slow; everyone seemed to have only enough energy to shift around restlessly. After a half-hearted sharing of the peace, the congregation dropped into the pews, and prepared to tune out for the next ten minutes.

Father Timothy came forward to give the announcements; I found myself intently staring at the small beige prayer request cards in the pewback in front of me, and only refocused when it sounded like the announcements were coming to an end. It was a skill I’d begun to perfect at chapel in the mornings at school.

“Ok, I think we have one last announcement. Marie?” A tall, willowy woman stood up and walked rapidly to the front of the church. “Yes, thank you, Father Timothy. As most of you know, our liturgical tradition is descended from Jewish liturgical worship. So, to help us understand more about our faith and traditions, we’re co-hosting a Seder supper here next Saturday night. Now, it’s nowhere near time for Passovr, of course, but we want to have these dinners once a month from—with the start of Advent—up until Pascha, so that we have some time for learning, training, and explanation; then, during Holy Week, we can just host the supper, without pauses or lectures. So we’ll meet up here at 6 pm on Saturday, in the parish hall, to walk through it. We hope to see everyone there!”

For some reason, I was struck by the idea. I didn’t really know anything about Judaism, and didn’t really care to, but something about the image of a large group of people, sharing a common meal, was very compelling.

I barely made it through class that night; I’d resumed my full load of classes and hoework, and it was almost too much for me. The hands of the clock seemed to be in another dimension, in which time had no meaning, and I thought the end of the class would never come. But finally, at 7:43, the professor handed out our homework, and class was dismissed; I was the first one out the door.

It was only a few minutes walk past the library and across the small street to Lyman Hall, then up the stairs, right into the second floor lobby and kitchen. An array of low coffee tables occupied the center of the room, surrounded by a ring of couches and chairs. The tables were spread with several large pizza crusts, jars of sliced mushrooms, a plate of thickly cut tomatoes and onions, bottles of olive oil and spices, and to my unexpected delight, one table devoted exclusively to cooked harmburger neat and bags of shredded cheese.

Several guys were lounging on the couches, two were debating about the best way to hook up the television and DVD player, and from the sound of it, about four more guys were in the kitchen, pretending to take directions from James. Since I didn’t really know any of the guys in the lobby, I wandered through into the kitchen. Sure enough, there was James, towel draped over his shoulder, shouting instructions. “Yeah, Gary, go ahead and turn on the oven. Yeah, top and bottom, we’ll need all three racks to get all the pizzas in. I think we can fit two per rack, if we’re careful about it. Peter, you got the knives and forks washed up? Great! Ok, you two over there, no towel-fights, that comes during clean-up time.”

“Hey James.”

He spun around, grinning. “Oh hey man, you made it! Excellent!” He whipped the towel off his shoulder and wiped his hand before slapping me on the back. I think we’re about done in here, so we’ll leave Pete to finish up there and we’ll go get settled in. “ When everyone finally got seated around the tables, there were about twelve or thirteen guys present. “Ok, most of you have been to one of the infamous pizza nights, but for those who haven’t, just a quick overview. One, you do not talk about Pizza Night. Two, you do not talk about Pizza Night!” A quick ripple of laughter, punctuated by a towel thrown at Peter’s head. Ducking quickly, he went on. “Rule three, don’t hog any of the ingredients. There’s plenty for everybody. Rule four, don’t skimp on anything you like; if your pizza ends up six inches high, so much the better. Ok, now, we’ve got six pizza crusts, so find partner or two to team up with, preferably someone who shares your taste in pizzas.”

Most of the guys seemed to know who liked the same things they did, and got to work right away. I was silent for a moment, before Peter turned to me. “He who hesitates is lost!” he exclaimed, grabbing a pan with a pizza crust. “You like mushrooms?” I nodded. “Good, then you can be my partner on this project. If you’ll put the olive oil on the crust and rub some herbs into it, I’ll gran the meat and veggies we need.” “Ok, sounds like a plan.” I poured a little of the olive oil into my hand, added a little oregano, and began rubbing it into the dry crust; something about the motion and the simplicity of the task was encouraging. After a moment, Peter returned, carrying a paper plate loaded with meat, tomatoes, and mushrooms. “Do you mind not having onions on the pizza? Tonight just doesn’t seem like an onion night. “

“No, that’s ok.”

Peter carefully arranged the tomatoes on the crust and then placed handfulls of meat on top. After the mushrooms went on, the pizza was about three inches high. “Um…”

“Don’t worry, it’ll cook. And yes, it can fit into the oven like this, we’ve tested it. Trust me, once you’ve had this kind, you’ll never be satisfied with Pizza Hut again.”

“Ok…I think maybe you’re getting into this pizza thing a little too much…”

“Oh, not at all. It’s something we can do, so we enjoy trying to do it well.”

“But isn’t it…I dunno, kind of a waste of time?”

“Hang on, let me get the cheese, and I’ll answer that.”

He went off to the cheese table, and began loading up the plate with several kinds of shredded cheese. It really did seem like a waste of time. I mean, it was fun, but it seemed to be a funny thing to be devoted to.

“Ok, as to it being a waste of time. For one thing, it’s not just about the pizza. It’s about spending time with these guys, and getting to know them better. But even so, think about it. What sort of person is the most concerned with not wasting time or effort?”

“I don’t know…a business man?”

“Hardly. They don’t seem personally offended by casual, senseless things. It’s someone who’s sick, who can’t muster the energy to waste on whistling. A healthy person wastes time and effort on a hundred things, just by his vivacity. Have you ever watched people walking under a door way with a high top? What do all the young, energetic people do?”

“Jump and smack their hands against the top of the door.”

“Right. It’s useless, pointless, and fun, and almost everybody does it at one time or another. It’s this sort of thing that life is often about.”

I was about to argue, but he grabbed up the finshed pizza, and ran to the kitchen to put it in the oven. By the time he came back, everyone else had finished as well, so we settled in to watch the films. About halfway through the first one, the pizzas were declared to be done and were brought out of the kitchen with mcuh yelling and whooping. Most of them were at least four inches thick, at least an inch of which was cheese.

Peter was right. It was far better than Pizza Hut.


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