Saturday, October 31, 2009

Don't take the chair

I'm sitting at a coffeeshop, alone, at a small table. I'm enjoying a latte, a cupcake that's way too small, and I'm reading my book. I'm comfy and I'm happy.

But then some girl comes up to me and wants to take the empty chair to another table with her friends. And I lie and tell her someone's coming.

I know this sounds kinda selfish but when you take that chair away all of a sudden I become unapproachable. You get to sit with your friends but now no one will have a chance to sit with me. Ever walk into a coffeeshop and spy those people sitting at a table alone with no other chair? It's isolating.

The empty chair is there as an opportunity for someone to join me at this table. Once, in this very coffeeshop, someone sat with me. That happens. Some people will sit with you if they see an empty chair available and talk with you.

So don't take that chair away from that man or woman sitting alone. Wait until something frees up. Because you don't know what you're taking away from them.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, October 23, 2009

I've felt better, I've felt worse.

I was listening to my ipod, shuffling songs, when the song that played in the background 15 years ago while a boyfriend broke up with me came on. I let it play, those feelings are long gone now, but walking down the street with gray skies overhead, I remembered how it went down.

He was sitting on the bed and I was standing. I was asking for the reason why and as he told me, the song seemed to get louder. While he told me I wasn't "the one," I heard these lyrics over his words: "Just love yourself like no one else. Love, it's enough, they can say what they like but they still can't take your love." (Now, normally I could barely understand what Harriet Wheeler said in her songs, but this I heard very clearly.)

I was crying, he was still talking, but I was only hearing the song and dumbly repeating "I'm not the one" while feeling like the most unloved person on the planet who now had to figure out how I going to go about loving myself like no one else.

That moment could have ruined the song for me, but it didn't and for a time, I ended up playing it a lot.

Here's the song.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Overblown reactions to dumb shit part 1

Keffiyehs - Why do these drive me up the wall? Why do I want to strangle people who wear them with them? I think it's how it's worn - folded in half to make a triangle, then gathered around the neck to leave one point facing down in the center of the chest, like a bandanna gone wrong - that's getting on my nerves. Otherwise, I can't explain my passionate and vocal dislike for this style. It's not hipster hate - y'all know I love them hipsters - but can we stop with these scarves now?
Hey, Rachel Ray freaking wears them. Isn't that reason enough to stop?


I retract my previous post

As you likely figured out by now, I'm not moving to San Francisco. I changed my mind. More came out of that decision and undeciding it than I was prepared for or wanted. I don't want to write about it publicly, though (I know, surprising). Nothing's a secret, so ask me if you want to have a conversation, but be prepared to discuss it over drinks and/or dinner.

Dinner... that reminds me: I finally bought a dining table and chairs. One of those folding space saving kind. So people, you're going to start getting dinner invites. And, if you show up wearing a Keffiyeh, I will give you major shit for it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Moving to San Francisco!

I'm moving to San Francisco in December!

It's not completely out of left field. It's something I've thought about for years and always had one excuse or another as to why I wasn't going to move. I like familiarity and the safety of my life. I'm soooo comfortable here in my cozy apartment. I love Brooklyn and Prospect Park and the Park Slope Food Co-op and I love the people in my life here. But, losing my job changed the routine and allowed me a lot of time to think about what I wanted out of myself and out of this life. It's time for something else. I've lived in this area (NJ/NY/MA) my entire adult life. I want to switch it up, have new experiences. Shake up my life. See what happens.

Even though I'm excited, I'm sad too. I think about all the incredible people I know here and how I'll be lucky if I'll see them once or twice a year now. I will say this to my NY friends (and you'll hear me say it again later): I will make the effort to keep in touch via IM, twitter, FB, email, phone, text and I'll come to visit. I hope you do the same.

So, now for some Q&A:

Q: You got a job over there?
A: Not yet. If you got some connections, please let me know!

Q: You got a place yet?
A: Not yet. I'll be staying briefly with some friends and am trying to get a sublet. I have two kitties that are coming with me, so it makes it a little harder.

Q: Damn, girl. You crazy?
A: Huh? No! You know I got it covered!

Q: Will you come back and visit?
A: Yes. And, I'm already paid up for a conference here in NYC in early 2010. Can I stay at your place? Seriously. Can I?

Q: Can I visit you in SF and stay at your place?
A: You better! If you don't, I will be very, very sad.

Q: Will you ever move back to NY?
A: I don't know. Nothing is ruled out. Besides, I love NY.

Q: Will you miss me?
A: Very much.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My eleven hour bike ride

On Sunday, I rode my bike 86 miles around Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Far Rockaways, Queens and then back into Manhattan. I started at 6:30am and finished at 5:00pm. It was fun and challenging!

One of my friends casually mentioned this bike tour, the NYC Century, and I perked up. Since getting a bike back in June, I've taken to riding it a lot around town and to various places. When I started working at my last job, many of my coworkers commuted to work so my fear of riding in the city started to wear off. The question then turned to what kind of bike I wanted. I just wanted a bike I could cruise around in, all relaxed and stuff. I loved vintage bikes and the whole image of the girl in a skirt riding her bike in the countryside with a baguette in her basket. I wanted to be That Girl.

So, I bought an authentic Dutch bike. My bike is single speed, has coaster breaks, and weighs a ton (about 42lbs). It's super comfortable to sit and ride because instead of leaning forward to hold the handlebars you're upright. I didn't get a basket, but I have a cute bag that I attach to the back rack. Yes, I wear skirts when I ride, and yes, I do look like That Girl!

So, back to this bike tour. When my friend mentioned it, I knew immediately that I wanted to participate. I can easily ride my bike for long distances for hours on end so I was in. There were several options: a 15, 35, 55, 75 or the full 100 mile ride. The only concern going the full 100 miles was the supposed hills in the Bronx that the tour warned about. As the Bronx was the last leg of the tour, I figured I'd do the 75 mile ride instead considering my equipment.

4am I get up and take my bike on the subway to Central Park (no skirt, proper leggings). The train was full of other people participating in the tour and it was fun to talk with people about their experiences. People were asking me how far I intended to go on my bike and were surprised I was doing the 75, which, due to rerouting, became 86 miles.

6:30am I started and made my way from the park down to the Brooklyn Bridge. I gt into a good pace and take in the scenery while I go through parts of Manhattan and over the Brooklyn Bridge towards my neck of the woods, Prospect Park. After that, we head over to the Far Rockaways and then towards Queens.

Now, I've always gotten a lot of comments on my bike, because it's different and incredibly cute, but the amount of comments I've received on this ride was astonishing. People would ride next to me or pass and yell, "Nice bike!" but all were dumbfounded that I was going the distance on a bike like mine, told me I was amazing and cheering me on. People took pictures of me on the bike, and took pictures of the bike itself. I didn't understand at first but comparing my bike to everyone else's, I was taking a harder ride. And, NYC isn't as "relatively flat" as claimed. I worked my ass off climbing hills!

There were so many interesting parts to this ride like seeing bridges up close and going through neighborhoods I've never been in. I rode through Howard Beach which just from the streets you could see was such an Italian-American nabe. I got a "how you doin'" from a big burly guy in front of a diner. Rode by the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Rescue. Rode through Flushing Meadow Park. I especially loved the trails around Kissena Park, it was like riding in a forest. I passed houses that were built over the water (I should have stopped and taken photographs of that as it was truly unexpected) and just rode through such unique neighborhoods both architecturally and ethnically. Also, it was sweet to have children and old men with their grandchilden wave at me.

The hardest part of my ride was the last six miles of it. The Triboro bridge had a bunch of stairs and that meant carrying my bike. I carried it up and down a few flights until I gave in to repeated offers of help. That's when I realized exactly how tough my ride was and why all who spoke to me were dumbfounded and amazed. When another rider carried my bike, I carried his - and I easily tossed it onto my shoulder! It weighed 19lbs! It almost made me cry! This ride would be nothing to me on a bike like that!

When I got to the finish line I laid on the grass for a very long time. I was sweaty, smelly beyond belief, and achy. But I was really happy. This was soooo much fun and such a unique experience! If you get the chance to do a tour like this, go for it. It's not a race, you go your own pace and get to talk to interesting people, and you come away with a different perspective on where you live and what you're capable of.

I heard that the Bronx was relatively flat and that I could have done it. Next time I will, but on a completely different bike!

Monday, August 17, 2009

A kite lost and found

Yesterday evening I was reading on the roofdeck and enjoying a glass of wine. In the distance I see what I think is a balloon high in the sky. I watch it turn from a black speck to a kite with alternating colors and a tail of dark ribbons. I watch it dance over the Grand Army Plaza arch, zig-zag over a few short buildings and then head straight towards me. I stand up and move to the railing prepared to jump up and catch it but, as it floats above the neighbor's building, the wind dies and the kite slowly and gracefully bows down onto their deck.

A few minutes prior, I was feeling kind of emotional. The sun had set, there was a cool breeze, the sound of leaves shaking on the trees, clouds turning from white to pink in the sky... it was that time of day when you have just enough light left to know that soon it will be dark and the moment felt both beautiful and sad.

And right into this moment comes a lost kite merrily dancing in the breeze.

I had to go get it. :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Things I used to care about but don't anymore

I'm procrastinating so why not put together a list?

Key chains
It started with those gimp key chains that everyone had in the 80s. I had to have a cute key chain! I moved onto Winnie the Pooh, a New York subway token and finally my last key chain was a simple piece of leather from Coach. Now, all I have is a simple key ring.

I really wanted a Swatch back when it was popular. Know what I got? A Swatch-like watch branded by.... Playboy! This was ok for my uncle to give me as a gift?? I can't believe my parents let me wear it, but I did. And got made fun of. I also had a fake Seiko gold-tone watch that was also pretty popular back in the day. I wore watches on and off, settling on a Guess brand watch for a few years. My cellphone saved me from buying a $$$ Longines watch. But, that watch is super duper classy.

Although I was a tomboy growing up, I liked make-up and when I started making enough money to buy department store make-up I had a lot of fun buying stuff. I used to buy lipstick and eyeshadow and experiment all the time! But, after a while I realized that for the most part I wear brown eyeshadow as eyeliner and one shade of lipstick and that this shit lasts forever. I have make-up for when I'm going out but, I'm no longer interested in buying the newest thing.

This was such an 80s thing. Of course I grew out of it.

Pens & Markers

This started as an 80s thing when all the girls carried their pens inside little plastic boxes. I was also obsessed with those pens that had metallic ink. I had a major, major marker collection. This really doesn't deserve to be on this list, since I still care a lot about pens - I write everyday in a notebook at work and I journal - but man, did I go through a fountain pen phase. I still kinda want a Namiki fountain pen but it's just not going to happen. Unless someone wants to gift me?

Sun, Moon & Star stuff
For a while, I had a few things with this pattern, blankets, nested boxes, assorted chotkies. But I got over it long before people stopped buying me Christmas gifts with sun, stars and moons on it.

Tori Amos
I still remember when Debbie pulled up in her beater with "Crucify" blasting from her stereo back in college. Hard not to love Tori when she was grinding her piano bench and belting out songs like "Precious Things" or "Cornflake Girl." My collection is complete. I was an active member of the Tori Amos communities on LJ. I witnessed the TBL LJ community self-destruct and was part of the resurrection. The album art from "From the Choirgirl Hotel" was my computer wallpaper for years. But, everybody grows up, moves on, gets married, has kids, finds botox and turns out elevator music like "Ireland." Oh well. Yet, I spent over 20 minutes looking at photos of Tori to find the right one to post.

Ok, time to do some work.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I spent my Saturday afternoon fixing a box clock that I found on the street over a year ago (that's a picture from when I found it). The pendulum was stuck and I figured I'd just take it apart, check out what was wrong and see if I could fix it and boom, I'd have wind up clock that chimed.

The faceplate covered the inner mechanism so I start by removing the two screws in the back, thinking that would remove the backplate and expose the gears. Instead, I hear chimes fall. I lay the box clock on its back and go about removing the faceplate (which ended up being ridiculous to remove). The painted particle board should have been a sign.

I expose the gears and start inspection. When I was a kid, I'd take apart clocks and music boxes to see how they worked. And, as people are fond of throwing things away, I'd often find clocks in the garbage (um, I dumpster dived as a kid. Another story.) and open them up. I found that as long as the mainspring wasn't broken, I could sometimes repair them.

I turned the minute hand to the half hour and hour and two hammers would move to strike the now removed chimes, so those gears were working. Next was to figure out what was up with the pendulum.

I unscrewed the clock from the box but the pendulum was stuck somewhere in the mechanism preventing me from lifting the clock out. I tried every angle and not only could I not get the clock out from the box, I couldn't even angle it far enough to look at the back side.

I kept trying and realized there was no way I could angle the clock out and I gave up, deciding that the clock was just going to be for show. I'd sand the outside down, repaint it and leave it at that. I screwed the chimes back in, spent an absurd amount of time aligning the hammer against the chime and put the clock aside.

While looking at the pendulum's rod and how thin it is, it occurred to me to saw the bottom piece of wood that the clock screws into. If I sawed right in the middle between the two screws (bottom of photo), I could slide out the pendulum from underneath the wooden support, free the clock from the box, and, when I assemble it up again, hide the cut. I have a Swiss army knife with a saw and it was small enough for me to use in the minimal amount of space available when angling the clock to the side.

I freed the clock and when I turned it over saw the problem: an opening in the pendulum was caught within two gears. This clock must have hit the ground hard to cause this. Thankfully, none of the gears were destroyed.

However, removing the pendulum could destroy the gears if I wasn't careful. It took a lot of delicate hard work but I managed to free the pendulum. I sat the clock upright on the table and tested it out. It worked!

Now, here's where it all went to hell. Where I was once delicate and exacting, I was now excited and careless. There are two pieces of metal hanging in the back. One of them triggers movement in a gear which moves another gear that ultimately moves the clock forward in time and the other is a rod off which the pendulum hangs off of.

The rods were a little bent. I tried to straighten them and by doing so, I broke a tiny piece of metal ribbon that ends up being one of the most important things in this clock - the suspension string (see the photo) - which helps the pendulum swing freely back and forth.

It's not over yet and there's a reason I get called MacGyver: scotch tape the sucker back together! It took a while to get it to be as flexible as I could make it (I'm razor blading pieces of tape into tiny pieces )and I assembled it all back together and it worked!!

Until late last night when the spring fell. I took the clock apart, taped it up again, but the pendulum stopped swinging after a few minutes.

It's at that point that I decide that perhaps I should google clock repair. Come to find out that the suspension spring is something that often breaks but is cheap to replace.

I spent a lot of time on this clock and even though I ultimately failed, it was incredibly rewarding to get it working again for a little while and hearing the tick-tock resulting from my efforts. I'm thinking of looking for old broken clocks at stoop sales and resurrecting this as a hobby!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The secret world of hat wearers

I've been wearing a new summer hat on and off this summer, a lovely Christy's Crown Series, and started to notice that in addition to the compliments I receive from women about my hat, I get nods from women also wearing summer hats.

What's up with that?

Last week, I was walking with a coworker to a bar and he was walking his bike. When we got to the crosswalk, a bike messenger rode by and nodded to him. My coworker nodded back. They didn't know each other.

When I run on trails in Florida, runners in the opposite direction would often nod to me and I'd nod back. (This actually happens to me any time I run outside of New York City.)

After the last hat nod, I realized something: there's a hat wearers club. Just like I'm in the runners club and my coworker is in the cyclist club. It's a greeting, a silent shout-out, a recognition and acknowledgment that both of you are engaging in the same activity and have a common bond.

And so earlier this evening when a woman in a straw hat nodded at me with a small smile, I nodded my own straw hat wearing head right back at her. ;-)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Choco-Lite: the chocolate bar of yore

Do most people have a strong sense of taste? I can eat something once and 1) remember the flavor(s) for life and 2) for the most part, identify the ingredients and duplicate it myself.

I bring this up because when I was a kid, between the ages of 5-8 and still lived in Queens, NY, I was obsessed with a particular chocolate bar. My dad, who worked at an airport, would bring home Toblerone and m&m's all the time, but there was one chocolate bar that I liked better than all the rest. It was a thick bar with tiny bubble holes throughout. I can still remember how it would crumble in my mouth and had a rich sweet flavor, dense and airy at the same time. After taking each bite, I'd look back at the bar and study the holes. It was my first food obsession.

One day, I remember going into the candy store, looking and not finding it. I asked the salesperson and found out that they stopped making it. I didn't believe it, so we walked to a different store I knew. Found it there but then eventually, they too told me it was discontinued. And then, it was gone from every store I knew once carried it.

We eventually moved to Florida and I didn't stop looking for it. How does a chocolate bar get discontinued? I'd go back to New York to visit my Grandparents and search in vain. Over the years, I never forgot the chocolate bar but I had forgotten the name. I'd mention it to people and no one knew what I was talking about. No one had ever eaten or remembered eating a bar like that. How could that be?

In the last couple of years, I started hearing about a chocolate bar called Aero from the UK and Canada that had tiny bubbles in it. The name didn't ring any bells, but I wasn't 100% certain that it wasn't my childhood chocolate bar. Since it's not a bar that's produced in the U.S., I couldn't find it at regular shops and I didn't make a big effort to locate it. Frankly, I assumed it wasn't sold here at all. But, when I went to Economy Candy a few weeks ago (an old time candy shop on the Lower East Side) and saw it, I decided to give it a shot.

It wasn't the same. While it pleased me to see tiny bubbles when I looked back at the bitten bar, the flavor wasn't the same. It didn't have the same "give" when I bit into it, and the flavor wasn't as sweet. After finishing and staring at the wrapper, I decided to google Aero and find out more about it. Quite possible it was the chocolate bar, but after 30 years and the move towards lower quality ingredients, it could have morphed into this.

That google search eventually led me to Choco-Lite! And, Choco-Lite was the chocolate bar! More googling led me to a photo of an original display (via JasonLiebig's flickr):

Which I totally remembered instantly!! Turns out, Choco-lite was discontinued back in the late 70s due to poor sales (what?!) and Nestle, who made Choco-lite, claims Aero is the same thing. I also found a bunch of folks who remember Choco-lite!

Eating the Aero bar made me miss Choco-lite so much, made the memory of the flavor, along with the happy, early memories of my childhood, so much stronger but also bittersweet. My happy childhood and the candy bar were both gone by the time I was eight, and both were things I yearned for while growing up.

Will I eat another Aero bar? I'm undecided. What I want is Choco-lite. But, like so many things in life, I can't ever have it again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Table for none

My apartment is pretty small and currently, I don't have a dining table. I eat on the sofa. That's cool when I'm eating alone but I've been wanting to invite friends over to dinner lately and don't want to make them eat on their laps or sitting on the floor. I've been holding back on inviting anyone over to eat because of this and that's lame. People are missing out on some killer food and beverages. Something has to be done.

I have two options that I've come up with. I have a counter that looks into the living room and have often thought of buying some stools. Can't really seat more than three people comfortably though. Four pushing it. On the kitchen side, I could also put some stools, but there's no legroom since the counter is flush with the wall on that side.

My other option is to get a folding table. I could ditch that small table currently under the counter and get a space saving folding table like this (comes with 4 folding chairs that hide inside when folded) and open it up when guests are over.

Drawback is that I don't get to use the counter as a dining area like I would with the stools, but I could seat more.

What do you think of these options? Any others? I've also thought about getting several folding chairs but that still requires lap eating (although that's fine if I have a party, but if I have a party, I'll take it to the roofdeck). I need ideas!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pizza and the past

I made a pizza today that was just ridiculously delicious: fresh campari tomatoes (these are small, super sweet tomatoes), olive oil, fresh mozz and spices. It was with pride that I told my dad earlier this afternoon about it, along with some of the other pizzas I made and how much I loved making them. He asked me how I learned to make pizza.

"I don't know," I tell him. "which is really odd as when I watched a cooking show on making pizza recently, everything the chef did I already knew how to do but I can't remember learning how."

"I know how," he says. "You used to make pizzas as a kid."


He goes on to tell me that my mom used to bake all the time and that I learned from her and I used to make it from scratch. Problem is, I have no memory of this. The reason I have no memory, he says, is because one time he came home when I was making pizza and I was covered in flour and the kitchen was all covered in flour and he "did what he was best at," which means he yelled and scared the crap out of me.

Memory is a funny thing. I take it for granted that I have a good childhood memory. My mom's memory stinks and I'm constantly having to hear how she has zero memory of what I consider really significant childhood events so it threw me to not remember that my mom baked and that I used to make pizza. Come on, I clearly remember making them meatloaf, peas and mashed potatoes after watching Nathalie Dupree on PBS, so how could I forget something even more important to me, like my humble beginnings making one of my favorite foods?

Then when I was in the shower tonight, something surfaced: a clear pyrex bowl, a fork tossing flour with specks of oregano, a crust formed by lifting and pinching. A badly formed, salty, crunchy crust that often broke off.

I'm always remembering things in the shower. And, OMG have I come a long way from that pizza! :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Who wants to go faster?

I just made my mom laugh so hard that she nearly fell down.

We were on the phone and in the background I could hear the TV. She tells me that the commercial for the Dade County Youth Fair is on and that she always thinks of me when she sees it.

So I'm like, "wait, when does it end? I gotta see if I can get a flight out there!" She starts laughing like a lunatic. I start seriously checking fares.

She thinks of me because the Dade County Youth Fair was probably my biggest childhood obsession. This fair would come once a year, last for about two weeks and had two components: an expo and an amusement park. School kids would participate in the fair by submitting artwork, poetry, or do an assortment of agriculture-related projects. Part of the fun was finding out that you won ribbons and going in and seeing your stuff displayed with your name on it and your ribbons.

The amusement park was the best. We would do the expo part first and hit the amusement park after dark. Every ride imaginable was there along with funnel cakes, cinnamon rolls, and roasted corn dipped in huge vats of butter. All the kids would hang next to the Himalaya ride, which blasted loud, bass-heavy music, used strobe lights and loud wailing sirens while it asked you if you wanted to go faster!!!! (and we all screamed) or if you wanted to go backwards!!! (and we all screamed some more). It also had sleigh-shaped angled cars which were perfect for smashing right into your crush and getting stuck there for the duration of the ride (super cute video btw).

The fair also had these giant slides. You'd sit on a sack and inevitably get a burn by the time you got to the bottom.

When I was twelve, the Dopple Looping rollercoaster came to the fair. And I did not like rollercoasters. I was terrified of them, of being upside down, of possibly falling out of one. And this thing was massive and had not one loop but two. And it was fast. Our fair had the Superloop and the Mark I, but this was the real deal. This also might have been the first major rollercoaster that I've ever seen.

I loved standing next to it and hearing the noise it made as it rushed on by. I remember looking up and watching as it made it's decline and then swoop into the first loop in complete fascination. That's probably when I worked up my courage and made the decision that I really wanted to be on it, despite my fear.

I know I must have been scared getting on for the first time but I don't remember that. What I remember is getting off, jumping up and down and telling my parents that I wanted to ride it again. I remember feeling the adrenalin rush and feeling like a champion for conquering my fear. I rode it several more times that night. Every year after that I'd purposefully walk into the fair and go directly to Doppel Looping.

The fair ends next week and I couldn't find a cheap enough fare. Which is alright I guess as I found out that the Doppel Looping is no longer there. It was retired last year and sent overseas. It would have been nice to give it one more ride. The nice thing though about thinking about all of this is I had some really good fair memories, I was a pretty awesome kid for getting on that ride, and it also reminded me how much I love rollercoasters and how I really should become one of those people who travel the country to ride them!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gary Busey is a Genius

This is just too good to not share. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Scrambled egg sandwiches

I still like my scrambled eggs the same way I did when I was a kid: in a sandwich. Granted, the ingredients and technique have gotten better, but it all comes out the experimentation I started when my mom gave me the ok to scramble my own eggs as a kid. I would wake up early on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons and they would sleep late. Unsupervised, I took liberties in the kitchen. My mom never really knew what I was doing since by the time she got up, everything was clean and put away. Many years later, I made one of my sandwiches for her. She asked for the recipe. :-)

Here are the basics: warmed bread with mayo, onions, scrambled eggs. Assemble. There's a lot of ways to get fancy. Sometimes I make my own mayo with chipotle or cilantro, make my own bread or use ciabatta, wraps or pita bread, use cipollini roasted onions, add fresh herbs, potatoes, bacon. List goes on. It's the best breakfast sandwich in the world.

And when I make it with sliced sandwich bread, like I did this morning, I still cut it into triangles. :-)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Is this really necessary?

I checked my mail this evening and found six envelopes from CareC0re. I have no idea what CareC0re is and why I have six envelopes marked "confidential." Immediately, right or wrong, I'm concerned. Last time I got so many envelopes from one company it was from the Student Loan Corporation and I nearly had a heart attack as all my loans were broken out - eleven in all - in separate envelopes. Really hammered home that I had debt. I freaked out.

So what the hell is this? They're coverage verification and approval letters for healthcare services. I open one and start wondering what the other five say. Am I approved or am I paying out of pocket? No, I'm approved, but they took six letters to approve three services. They sent duplicates.

Really? Is this really necessary? Couldn't they just consolidate this? They're all dated the same and going to the same address!! Dumb!!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Welcome to the Dollhouse

I've been watching the new show "Dollhouse" by Joss Whedon. I regularly watched Buffy and Angel and really loved how strong the females characters were in his shows, so I was ready to instantly like it, but it didn't happen that way.

If you haven't seen it yet, quick synopsis: Eliza Dushku plays Echo, a woman who enlists in the Dollhouse, where there are women (And one guy so far) who are blank slates, empty "hats without rabbits" to quote from the show, who have personalities imprinted to fulfill any desire from (at least in these 3 eps) male clientele. They are then hired as dates, negotiators, sexual partners, bodyguards. After each assignment, their personalities and memories are wiped clean and they are returned to a blank slate.

Aside from the show being all over the place so far, which I can temporarily live with as part of the chaos of a new series, what's really bugging me is this concept of a blank slate and imprinting of personalities based on whatever a male client needs her to be and then pimping her out.

When Echo is a blank slate, she is spoken to like a retarded child, condescended to. She has no identity of her own and is given different identities upon someone's request. When she is on assignment, she is whatever someone else wants her to be and any experience she has is erased - she can't own any of the experiences and what happens to her doesn't matter.

What's also problematic for me is that Echo seemed forced to enlist, or had her back up against the wall or something. The backstory hasn't been revealed, but it didn't seem like she enlisted willingly, so there's a hint of human trafficking here.

Joss considers himself a feminist, and in the first two episodes I wasn't really sure where he's going with Dollhouse and I started to unleash some feminist wrath, but by the 3rd episode it became clear to me that's what he's doing with this show is playing with the concept of female perfection, objectification and most of all, identity. He's slowly revealing that the characters in this world need to be whatever it is someone else wants them to be, even if that someone else is the general cultural expectation of women: be happy, be beautiful, be a fantasy, anything but what you yourself want. Your own experience isn't important. And, besides, who owns that experience if you're programmed to be whatever someone else wants you to be?

The additional conflict in the show is that there's no such thing as blank slates. Like the Echo says in the first episode, before her real personality is erased, a blank slate can never be totally wiped clean. She's not going to be perfect because they will not be able to wipe every memory of her experiences and who she was prior to joining the Dollhouse. What happens to the fantasy then? Who decides her fate when she starts creating her own identity? Who will be in control of her?

So while intially I was ready to disregard this show, I'm now intensely curious as to where Joss is going to take us. This show has potential to be great, despite a lousy 9pm Friday night timeslot. I hope it can last.

In the meantime, Eliza has a goldmine of a role: she gets to play a different character in every episode so far. But, she still looks, moves and acts like Faith. I'm hoping that these different roles will loosen her acting abilities and that she can make me forget that she's a vampire slayer.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

it's not so fun anymore

So while I am having fun eating foods I haven't eaten in 18 years and enjoying the taste of sausage, bacon, fish and chips, and Pop-Tarts (it has gelatin), the questions are back: Do I need to eat animals? Is my survival dependent upon it? Do I have choice in the matter? What is the value I place on the animal that died so I could indulge? How was this animal treated while it was alive? How was it killed? Am I willing to trade in my spiritual beliefs for momentary pleasures involving the death of a living creature? Is it worth it?

I remember saying many times that I would never eat meat again. And I know part of why I'm eating meat right now is about self-indulgence, resignation, and a challenge to my spiritual beliefs and the belief that I would never "fall" and never question or diverge from my own dogma. But, I don't think I can keep going down this road because it's becoming rapidly clear that eating meat means that I have to engage in hypocrisy. I don't like being a hypocrite if I can avoid it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Coffee Time

This afternoon I went downstairs and picked up a package that the super was holding for me. I got my new coffeemaker! (That's a stock photo of it.) I've been really excited to get it for a few reasons: this is the coffeemaker that Chelc has and recommended and I have never owned a drip coffee machine.

When I went to SF for the West Coast Reunion, I was taken by Chelc's machine and the coffee was delicious (Yay Peet's!). I liked the "fuel gauge" and instead of having a carafe, there's an internal reservoir that keeps the coffee warm. To get the coffee, you press down on the lever. Cuteness and convenience planted the seed to get my own.

But yeah, I never owned a drip machine. Honestly, I used to look down my nose at it. I've always used a French press or a macchinetta for espresso. I love making coffee this way, but it's not quick and as a result, I'd find myself inconsistently making coffee and just picking up a cup at the local coffee shop. I mean, it got to the point where I rather put a jacket on than boil water, grind beans, pour, stir and steep and wait. And, as I got lazy, my freshly roasted beans got stale and unusable. So, I'm excited to get this machine because it will be easy to regularly make coffee. And to think how close I once was to going the route of home roasting and using a vacuum brewer (Which I may still get. They are super cool.)

After clearing up some counter space I cleaned the machine and then made two cups of coffee. It came out great. Tonight, I'm going to program it so I can wake up to the smell of coffee brewing. I think this is going to rekindle my coffee obsession!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rumspringa continues

Tonight I made this fantastic Tuscan white bean soup (didn't turn out white but green thanks to the leeks) and while it beyond delicious, I wonder, how much better would it be if I had cooked it with a ham bone?

So yeah, I still haven't returned to vegetarianism. Vegetarian rumspringa is what I'm calling it. What's weird is that I haven't ventured further than pork products and fish. Oh, I ate fish and chips and had some fish tacos. Both were a first. Why didn't anyone tell me that fried fish was so good? I don't want to eat cow and I never really liked chicken or turkey. A friend of a friend suggested I try lamb at this middle eastern restaurant in Brooklyn, but I 'd really prefer fresh, local meat from farms that treat their animals with respect and that pretty much means I have to go to a butcher shop and cook things myself.

I don't know how to cook meat, really. I remember making meatloaf for my parents once, but before I became a vegetarian either my mom or grandmother were cooking for me or else I was frying up tater tots or heating up Tostino's pizza. While I always baked, I didn't start seriously cooking until I became a vegetarian.

I need a guide!!

Ok, seriously, how fun could someone have with me? We could go to restaurants and have me try stuff they love, or we could cook and they get to watch my reaction. I would salivate at this opportunity if the shoe were on the other foot!

But anyway, I keep saying every week I'm going to cook a new recipe, since I have so many cookbooks. For the most part I do, but what ends up happening is that I try a recipe, like it, and then I change it up to make it mine and make that dish all the time until I'm sick of it. It ends up taking me a while to go through new recipes. But this time, I really am going to try and cook new things. The soup tonight was new and I'm glad I made it (and, it wasn't spicy).

I want to get a new, non-veg cookbook. Any suggestions?

Monday, February 9, 2009

It's three o'clock in the morning, dammit

Well, not right now it isn't but for the past week, I've been waking up at 3am every night. I'll wake up and be completely wide awake. The first few times it happened I'd lie there, staring at the ceiling, thinking away, or I'd toss and turn until I could fall asleep again. It would take me about an hour.

After the third time, I decided to do something instead of just lying there thinking and trying to force myself back to sleep. So, at 3am I have:
- Walked around, looked out the living room window.

- Tinkered with some song lyrics I've been working on adding:
this love won't leave
this heart still bleeds
i'm on my knees
begging you please
- Wrote and deleted two blog posts about waking up at 3am and about other careers I thought I'd be good at (arson investigator, private investigator, detective, etc).

- Played with the cats.

- Wrote down story scraps - sentences or paragraphs that don't really fit anywhere.

- Went up to the roof deck for some naked eye astronomy.

- And of course, been thinking and thinking about the things that keep waking me up.
While this has been... fun, I'd really like to sleep through the night.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Listen carefully and don't move

Last Thursday, I went to Lincoln Center to hear the NY Philharmonic play Haydn and Brahms. Not my favorite composers by any stretch of the imagination but I like listening to classical music performed live so I go.

I had a cough that night and the moment I sat in my seat and coughed, before anything even started, the lady next to me whipped out a cough drop. This was actually really nice of her but as Brahms' Serenade #1 started, it got me to thinking about how we're not to make noise and how restrained this whole experience was. Here's this piece of music that's evoking emotion in me and in others and we're supposed to stay still in our seats and not make a sound?

All music asks you to respond and feel. Why do we think that classical music only asks for silence and reverence?

My dad loves classical music so growing up, I listened to a lot of it because of him, especially Mozart and Vivaldi. To get Saturday started, he'd often put on Vivaldi's Four Seasons and we'd end up dancing around, playing invisible musical instruments or conducting. My dad would ask me what I saw in my mind when I heard it, what I felt and to think about what the composer was trying to express. With Mozart, we'd talk about what a smart ass he was, and point out when we thought he was making fun or playing tricks and we'd laugh and dance. Yeah, there were plenty of times we'd sit quietly and listen but whichever way we listened, we let the music carry us to where we thought it wanted us to go.

When I lived in Boston with my then boyfriend and 4 other roommates, we all loved Beethoven's 9th with a passion. Every Sunday when we did our chores, Gary would put on the CD. We'd be cleaning the bathroom, the kitchen or the common area, all of us dancing, the excitement brewing, and then when "Ode to Joy" started, we'd grab our song sheets and run around singing in German. We'd all go nuts! To me, it is impossible and wrong to sit silently and listen to it. When I got the chance to listen to it performed live at MIT, I went twice, for rehearsals and for the real deal. During rehearsal, the atmosphere was joyful. The musicians were smiling and ass dancing in their seats. It was just so great. In comparison, the live performance was good but lacked that energy.

So anyway, there I was sitting in my seat listening to Brahms and there are points in the piece that I just wanted to yell "whooo!" because it was just really good but instead I had to sit there, stifle coughs and not express myself.

Classical music isn't boring but this adherence to some Victorian manner of listening totally is. I wonder what it would be like if we were allowed to just react to the music in whatever way we wanted to.

I'd probably get thrown out.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Aunt Jemima Treatment

I just made some chocolate chip cookies (I accidentally used too much butter so they taste like I fried them and are going in the trash. That's what happens to me when I bake from a box) and while going through my kitchen drawer, a scene from Stripes replayed in my mind.

I was really young when I saw this film and this scene really caught my attention and stuck with me all these years. Whenever I fish around a kitchen drawer, I sometimes think of this:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Temporarily Omnivorous

Since trying some turkey back in November I have also tasted fishcake (nasty, nasty, nasty) and sausage. While these portions were tiny, I can't in good conscience call myself a vegetarian during this period of experimentation. So omnivore it is, however temporary it may turn out to be.

About that sausage. Tried it this past weekend while having brunch at Craftbar. Now, before I became a vegetarian, pork products held a special place in my heart. Argentinian sausage, linguisa, prosciutto, these were some of my favorite things. So, when my eggs and fingerling potatoes came with a side of sausage, I gave two links to my friend and kept one for myself and ate three tiny bites. It tasted divine. Better than I remembered.

While I feel conflicted, I thought I'd be judging myself harshly over this, especially eating pork (pigs are incredibly smart; smarter than dogs) but I'm not. Most of the feelings coming up relate to mind/body connection. Plus, it's a funny thing to eat food that I've deprived myself of for the past 18 years. I have no idea when this will end, where I will find myself at the end of this journey, nor do I know what will happen next.

Well, I know that prosciutto is likely next!