Wednesday, December 31

Books in 2008

Every year I want to keep track of the books I read, and every year I fail. So this list of favorite books/authors that I read in 2008 is pretty random & is skewed toward things read in the second half of the year.

2008 was my year of the mystery. And for some reason, most of the mysteries I read took place in either Sweden or Italy.

Compared to Europe, Lehane's Boston is comparatively closer to home. Still, it's unlike the Boston I've visited. I liked the substantialness of his characters, and the weight of their pasts. There's a moment in Mystic River where a character thinks that he'll remember his entire life how he reacted wrongly to an important moment; that moment rang true, likely because I fret over that myself.

Somewhat related: I liked both the movies--I saw Gone, Baby, Gone before reading the book; Mystic River after reading the book. That was everything a bit confusing.

It's one thing to capture an area that is somewhat familiar, as Lehane does. It's entirely another for an author capture a neighborhood that you own. The LES of Lush Life is not my LES, but it's Price's, and it feels legitimate and true.

The writing on restaurants & bars felt pitch-perfect to me. The pacing of the book is erratic, but I *think* intentionally so.

I remember some portions of this so sharply -- the vacation home from college, the cancer -- but these memories seem so episodic. The book was too, wasn't it?

A confession: I read this book because of the title (it's taken from a poem, btw) and the cover. Also because it took place in NY and featured a lonely/alone character with a quirky profession. NY locale -- Quirky profession -- Aloneness. That's 3/5 of my list of favored book characteristics right there.

There was a restaurant in this book -- on one of those side streets of the West Village -- that served only hunting meats (like rabbit, or venison), had a roaring fire & velvet curtains. And hot chocolate. It was called Camp. Despite my vegetable-eating ways, I wish it actually existed so that I could go there.

Both of these books are from Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, which is about:
  • World War I
  • Pacifists
  • Homosexuality
  • Psychology
  • Class differences in Britain
And more, more, more. These books (I've only read two of the trilogy so far) are so good that I surmounted the fact that one of them was called The Eye in the Door and features a character that suffers from PTSD because of a truly disgusting wartime moment involved eyes. (Ugh, eyes.)

It's silly for me to say that this is my year of discovering Dawn Powell, only 'cause she's one of those authors that was discovered relatively recently by others. Regardless! This was the year when I went beyond the design of her books (I do not approve) and read one. It was excellent and contained a phenomenal description of that certain feeling you get on Sundays (why doesn't that have a name?).

I am so nervous -- and a little bit excited -- to see Revolutionary Road. I read it a few years ago, and lurved it. Young Hearts Crying is not as good a book. But it's still solid and beautiful.

I read this book and thought, hmm, marriage seems like a failing proposition. My mom read the book and told me that she thought the characters should have just been less lazy and stayed married to their original spouses instead of marrying-cheating-affairing-marrying on a rinse-and-repeat cycle.

Make of that what you will.

Thursday, December 18

First they took the Zima away, and now there will be no more Sparks? What will I do on the late-night train?

Tuesday, December 9

They Love Mariah

The girls that live in the apartment next to mine just played "All I Want for Christmas" four times in a row. Loudly. With singing. And, I imagine, Tom Cruise-style dancing.

Tuesday, November 18

Everyone's Favorite German Word

I'm sure you saw the story. In case you didn't: the Bloomberg Budget Takedown. Aaaaand the pull quote:
“I’m not addressing,” Mr. Page began,before burying his face in his hands, and mumbling, “Oh, forget it. Fine.”
I mean, it's kind of terrible how much I'm enjoying Bloomberg's failures lately. I'm TOTALLY on his side for the bag tax. Ask me about how much I believe in the power of taxes to change people's habits. (Uhm, little known fact: I did major in economics.) Also ask me about when I lived in Ireland, where there was a bag tax of five euro cent. Or maybe it was two euro cent? Whatever it was, it was high enough that you would often see single people stumbling home carrying one roll of toilet paper, a jar of pasta, and four tall boys of beer. No plastic bag, though.

A New Respect for Stunt Doubles

Would you believe me if I told you that at 9th Street this weekend, the drawbridge over the Gowanus was raised? What if I told you that there were barriers? And that I ran by them, dodging the yellow cones, vaulting smoothly the four feet to the drawbridge, and then leaping the four feet down on the other side? No? No, you wouldn't believe me? You're probably right not to -- you've probably met me, seen my too-big converse at the end of my legs, my collection of black-and-blue marks.

Nonetheless. The words "Just do it and don't ask any questions" were said to me, and I did, in fact, climb over the drawbridge. It's just that it was somewhat awkward and slow-motion. At one point, I was half suspended over the drawbridge, but it was not at all Spider-man like.

Monday, November 17

Well, the Flight to China Is Pretty Long

But this does seem a bit optimistic.

Sunday, November 16

On Sunday, I Made Bread

This bread, to be exact. It's my first. It's by no means perfect -- this picture was selected because I thought it hid (a bit) how little the bread rose. Making bread is a series of very simple steps, and I think my mistakes lay in (a) using too much flour; (b) not thinking about how melting butter left a bunch behind in the pan; and (c) maybe not letting the yeast work it's magic long enough / stirring it in well enough? For all that though, this is a tasty -- if dense -- loaf of bread.

Saturday, November 15

Insults, Vegas Style

I'm so pleased to know that I've likely been to Vegas for the last time in my life. That said, I did have a good time -- seeing Cirque Du Soleil exploded my brain, I developed an obsession with the Texas Tea slot machine, and ate at BLT Burger entirely too many times for someone who doesn't eat meat. (Salmon burger, x2)

Saturday night, we spent at a dive bar far from the strip, then back in our hotel casino. Gambling is a weird beast, so deeply unsocial yet requiring that sense of crowd and shared purpose. I kept losing people; I'd look up from Texas Tea and see that everyone I knew had disappeared. After a little bit of wandering, I'd see Brian looking anxious at the roulette table, or someone else eyeing the craps. Down $15 bucks at the slots after having been $30 up at a highpoint, I decided to go to bed. It was a little bit early.

In the elevator, there were two girls in their young twenties, dressed to slut, and a middle aged man. He looked at the two of them, and asked them about their night. They'd been at dinner, and were about to go clubbing. Then he looked at me, and asked "Gambling?" I said yes, and then he said, "The penny slots, right?" OH. It was a great put-down because it was all too true. When I got to my room, I thought about that elevator ride and when back downstairs to the casino.

Friday, November 14

For one thing, there was a very large turtle tank in front of that window. A creaky, difficult to open window. For another, you had to turn off the alarm completely, or shunt it, leaving that window the only escape out of the house. So we didn't go on the fire escape often.

The one time, though, we did. It was spring, or fall, or some day when sitting outside seemed like a great thing. I have no sense of where my family was. I sat firmly on the fire escape, not leaning against the house at all, trusting in the old metal.

We brought a six pack of Zima. "Tastes like 7-Up," I was told, but it didn't. There was a strange aftertang, and it seemed too fizzy and altogether gross. But I drank one, fairly easily. By the time I struggled through the second, now warm, but still fizzy, I was officially tipsy for the first time.

I haven't had a Zima in a long time. In fact, that first time may very well have been my last time. Maybe, then, it is my fault that Zima has been discontinued. I'm not a karaoker - just like on the fire escape, I wasn't really a drinker. But maybe -- for nostalgia's sake -- I should venture to karaoke and Zima in Chinatown for one last sip of faux-lemon-lime-ick.

Tuesday, October 21

Lies, Damn Lies, and Well, You Know the Rest of that Saying, Right?

So how much did the Waterfalls earn, anyway?

• $15.5 million in direct spending on the exhibition’s total presentation, including building materials, construction, operation, disassembly and promotional and educational materials.
• An estimated $26.3 million in incremental spending by the 1.4 million visitors to the show.
• An estimated $26.8 million in “indirect spending from these expenditures.”

Question: Do I believe that the waterfalls earned NYC sixty nine (69) billion dollars?

Answer: No. No I do not.

It's great to see art in the city, but for next time...better. I request better art.

Not really all that relatedly, here are some interesting things to read about Bloomberg's attempt at changing a city-wide referendum that's been voted on (twice) so that he can remain mayor: Article in Slate, and this post in Lost City.
If it just happened once, I wouldn't think much of it. But all the time - really, all the time - I get to the train station and am gripping my keys for entry. Or the opposite: I arrive home, wallet out, and metro card in my hand. The synapses in my brain that are in charge of the idea of "access" and "get me inside" are all kinds of twisted.

Tuesday, October 14

Tuesday, September 30

First He Came for Our Smokes, and We Said Nothing

Do you think the NYT chose an image of Mayor Bloomberg kindasortamaybe rolling his eyes as an editorial statement on his running for a third time?

It's not that I don't like Mayor Mike - I do! - but srsly, he's thinking of banning our salt. And he's still not completely forgiven for the trans fats incident...

[Somewhat related side note: This reminds me a lot of the House's vote on the bailout -- when they didn't vote yes, the time limit for voting just got e x t e n d e d. Why bother having the rule, then?]

Wednesday, September 24

These Kinds of Posts Are Why Twitter Is Better

Today in my lunchtime soup there was a big plastic wrapper. It looked sort of like the wrapper to a package of sour peach candies -- yum, delicious -- but that doesn't quite make sense since it was a white bean and spinach soup, with no sour peach candies involved.

Anyway, it was that kind of a day (by which I meant a day of not-even-exciting complaints and problems) and so I intend to have several beers posthaste.

(Does doing something "posthaste" mean that I will do it as soon as the mail arrives? Or, does it mean that I will do it at the speed of mail?)
Let's start with a cliche: If one Presidential Candidate attends the debate, but the other Presidential Candidate does not, is there still a debate?

There (potentially) go my Friday night plans. And there had even been drinking games afoot. 'Smash suggested drink at every "change" but I was going to tell her that we should maybe aim to be sober for more than ten minutes. I guess now I won't bother.

Who else is there to be sorry for? Well, the students and staff of Ole Miss. They were trying to be less of a joke, which is hard when students routinely chant "the South will rise again" at football games. Articles like this make me pause in my perpetual what if I left NY daydream.

Wednesday, September 17

There's a lot to learn from the news of the past few days. For instance, perhaps we should consider that just three years ago, John McCain wanted to turn social security over to Wall Street. Small government! Privatization! Those are the answers
. . . except for when they're not, and loans are made for scary, too many zeros, amounts.

Of course, it's also a good moment to reconsider that moment when I mocked my friend JayPay for buying gold. "That's the equivalent of storing your cash under your mattress," I said, and "Do they give you the gold in bars? Do you have a sack of doubloons?" But that mocking was very, very wrong, because you don't see the crumpled dollar bills and grimy coins that linger under my bed appreciating by 11% in one day.

Sunday, September 14

Today we had a maid coming, so (of course) last night I dreamed that while she was cleaning, she evaluated my housekeeping skills and said I was a reasonably good cleaner. Ha ha -- I dream self-validated myself.

Wednesday, August 27

My Day, In Bullets

  • Biked to work. Passed by cute messenger. (Stared at ass.) Passed by hipster boy. (Stared at ass.) Passed by grandpa, with overly jacked legs. (Stared at ass, but felt really uncomfortable about it.)
  • Meeting at work. Spoke. Turned bright red. Spoke more.
  • Pounded out emails at work. Pounded. Violent typing gets the job done.
  • Continued ongoing fight, mostly via email, but also via passive aggressive gchats.
  • Supported Hillary's speeh, pantsuit. What! I like orange!
  • Spend SEVENTY-FIVE CENTS (or, THREE laundry quarters) on air for my completely flat bike tires. Screamed "What! For real! Seventy-five cents!" out loud several time in gas station. No one noticed.
  • Drinks at bar.
  • Dinner: cheese, mojitos, good things.
  • Biked home. Yelled at one pedestrian, two cabs, one truck.
  • Flipped between Bravo & DNC.

Monday, August 18

Things I Have Learned From Proofreading

I have learned literally countless things from proofreading. (I say "countless" and "literally" because in my tipsiness, I tried to count them, and I was incapable. Could be the wine, or could be the sheer number of things I have discovered by proofreading various Slavic dissertations and sci-fi wonders). Here is my fun fact of the day, which perhaps you were unaware of:

There is indeed a kind of coffee called "long black." This is not a typo for "tall black coffee" as a certain proofreader may have imagined. A long black is much like an americano; it's a couple of shots of espresso poured over hot water.

Tuesday, August 12

Oh! I Finally Understand

These kinds of error messages and inaccessibility are why Gmail is still in beta after FOUR years.

BTW, you should have seen my confusion after I took this screenshot* and wanted to email it to myself at home.

*ugh, I am sorry that is so blurry.

Wednesday, August 6

Absolutely & Entirely Too Far

After a day at work, I saw this gladiator-wearing man on the 14th St. train station. I took a picture for all of you, because mocking this person in my head was just not satisfying enough. Please join me in snickers.

note: UGH preview blows.

Monday, August 4

My Fake Fortune

Sunday night, I got Chinese food and lay on Jason's couch watching bad TV. It doesn't sound like much, necessarily, but it's everything I wanted in a Sunday night. When you dream little, you can get every little thing you dream of.

In an intense food-and-tv-coma, it seemed like the only cure could be fortune cookies. That's actually not true: I just lost my sense of any kind of segue to my fortune, which was: "You need to forgive that person today. Just believe me." This is no kind of fortune; you can tell because you can't play the in bed game with it. (In contrast, J's fortune, "the best times of your life are yet to come" works beautifully with an "in bed" tacked on the end.) It's the "just believe me" that really makes this particularly intimidating and weirdly like a mom-guilt-trip.

The cap to all this, of course, is that on Saturday there actually was fighting. But on Sunday, no fighting at all & no need for forgiveness.

Tuesday, July 22

Because I Am 5

There isn't any part of me that's mature enough to handle even the possibility of NYC having a Mayor Weiner.

Wednesday, July 16

Tomorrow I could see Mamma Mia or Dark Knight at a midnight showing. Whichever should I choose?

Monday, July 14

May I Suggest an Improvement?

Don't we all agree that the world would be a better place if all cameras used the same type of memory card? I just can't see the logic for needing a different card just because I switched from Casio to Sony. Except for the memory-card-makers. I can totally see the logic for them.

My other technical suggestion is that there should just be a place on the computer where I could shove in the memory card. Kind of like a floppy disk ('member those?) only wee and tiny. The cord seem unnecessary, and also are inevitably left behind at hotels. Again, great news for the cord makers; bad news for Madeleine.

This post marks the official moment when I became Andy Rooney. Next I will be complaining about the senseless cotton that's stuffed into pill bottles and talking about kids these days.
If or when I am ever feeling down or disappointed at work, it helps to get on the elevator.

My office is on the second floor, but the stairs are locked (for fire safety? it confuses me) so I get to ride with the uber-corporate people who work for a different company, on a different floor. I work in editorial. At an internet company. So I'm generally only a smidge away from wearing pajamas.

People from other floors, though, have shiny shoes. Nearly reflective. On days when they're not wearing a suit, they're wearing business casual. They're often talking about meetings, thumbing their blackberries, and groaning about how late they are on their boring sounding project, involving lots of Excel and culminating in a deck shown at a meeting. Today, the men of the elevator were talking about golfing, and their lives, and seriously: I was in a bad mood when I got on that ride, but when I got out to go for my lunchtime walk, I felt 50% better about my life. Maybe even higher.

Sunday, July 13

...nothing touched me as much as the arrival in September 1981 of Sandra Day O’Connor.... The first time I looked up from the press section and saw a woman sitting on the bench, I was thrilled in a way I would never have predicted. Her presence invaded my subconscious. I had recurring dreams about her. In one, she asked me my opinion on a pending case (something no justice ever did in real life). But mostly, she just had walk-on roles in ordinary nighttime dramas, her presence signifying what it meant to me to know that there was no longer a position in the legal profession that a woman could not aspire to.
~Linda Greenhouse (I'm sad she took the buyout)

Friday, July 11

If At First You Don't Succeed

...the city is creating a public esplanade along a portion of one of its most prominent streets, Broadway in Midtown, setting aside the east side of the roadway for a bicycle lane and a pedestrian walkway with cafe tables, chairs, umbrellas and flower-filled planters.
If you're Mayor Bloomberg, you just try again. Nicely done.

Tuesday, July 8

The best part about the FAQs on Bravo's website is the lead-off question: Why has Bravo stopped airing Columbo? Ha. I picture thousand of plaintive viewers emailing them that question daily.

PS: There would have been a screenshot of the faq page, but I had technical difficulties. Sigh. It's a hard world for a lazy blogger.

What I'm Reading

I've hit a reading sweet spot recently, after a long stretch of nothing but dull & tedious books. Every book I pick up lately feels new, revolutionary, relevant to my life, and beautiful. It's pretty damn satisfying, as you might imagine. So let me pass along some recommendations to you:

1. Dawn Powell. This doesn't happen often, but I'm ready to just call her a favorite author, based on having read just one of her books, Angels on Toast. I wanted to show you a snippet of what makes the book so pitch perfect, from the dialog, to the characterization, to the situations, to the period era details. (I'll assume those are correct.) Flipping through random pages of the book, looking for a good chunk to show you, I found myself rereading instead of selecting a blurb. Here's one:
The Olivers started their fight at a brisk tempo at four-thirty--the hour when Flo had summoned Jay to Marshall Field's for ominous reasons--but by six-thirty they were running out of material and on the ride to the Donovans it looked as if there would be no photofinish at all, merely whimpers and "Oh, is that so?"s, and "That's what you thinks!"s, and "Oh, for crying out loud!"s. As the Donovan house hove into view there was one brief moment of complete rapport when both Olivers joined in a vast rage at the Donovans and a mutual silent vow to get stinking as fast as possible.
2. Linda's new (first) blog. If you know Linda, this blog is just what you might expect: funny, quirky, weird, obsessive, and with great taste in music. If you don't know Linda, please enjoy the near-knowing that is reading her words.

3. Other books I am currently reading / have just finished: Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth. (Did you hear that she was just flat out given a prize for best short story collection of the year without even a pretense of a short-list? The prize committee was either overwhelmed with the wonderful, or didn't feel like reading shorts on the beach.)

BUtterfield 8 (John O'Hara): also amazing. I'm trying to read as slowly as possible. Whenever I read things that take place during prohibition, I get nervous that if I'd lived back then, I wouldn't be let into any of the secret speakeasies for drinking. I picture myself wandering the city, peering in random windows, uttering random words in the hopes that they were the secret password. Let's all take a moment to be grateful to easily accessible dive bars.

Sunday, July 6

Weekend Realizations AKA I Have Given Up and Now Write Only Listicles

  1. I am 27 years old and sleep on a futon. I really like sleeping on my futon, but still, that first sentence reeks of failure, doesn't it?

  2. It's been over six months since I've eaten meat. (The sea world is still not safe from me.) Your burger meat officially looks gross to me, both raw and cooked. To be honest, it looked gross even when I was eating the meats.

  3. B & H has some of the nicest, most helpful salespeople that I've ever met. No one seemed to care that I asked billions of questions, and then didn't buy anything due to painful indecisiveness. I'm going to switch my former fervent endorsements for J & R over to B & H.

  4. My body now thinks that "time to wake up" = 5AM. Thank you very much; what other new betrayals will year # 27 bring?

  5. I'm thinking of changing the font on my blog -- suggestions?

Wednesday, July 2

Top 3 Reasons I Can't Be a Shoe Saleswoman

Don't know what to be when you grow up? Flip that and reverse it, cause it's way easier to think of things you can't be when you grow up. Another potential profession knocked off the list -- here are the top three reason I can't be a shoe salesperson when I grow up:
  1. I hate feet.
  2. Club music makes me all weird and twitchy (and not even rhythmically twitchy).
  3. I am a terrible recognizer. True story: I once didn't recognize the first person I made out with in college. Years later, we became friends, and he told me he'd spent at least 25 minutes wondering if he'd done something horrific to piss me off & make me ignore him on campus. Nope. Just had no clue who he was, or that we'd ever canoodled.

I Don't Mean to Call You A Liar

I simply do not believe that the people on this commercial are real New Yorkers. Especially the woman who is so overcome with shock that she covers her face and davens.

Related: Other pizza places I'm in a fight with, also for NY-related reasons.

Friday, June 27

On the Road Again

The last time I went to New Hampshire, we rode behind this truck for pretty much the entire length of the West Side Highway.

This time, we're going to take the FDR to get out of the city, because driving behind a hot dog truck for that long can do crazy things to you, even if you've given up meat, and even if you've all-too-recently watched a documentary on how sausages and hot dogs are made. (Hint: it's not cute at all.)

I'm not sure if you can see in this picture, but the cart is closed with a plastic fork. So it really did seem like an easy, doable proposition to get out of the car (we were driving at approximately 0-4 mph) and grab a dog. We restrained ourselves, barely.

Wednesday, June 25

Why Yes, I DO Have Lots of Things to Say About Feet

Today I got a mani/pedi because I will shortly be attending a wedding, and it seemed like the thing to do. This is noteworthy mostly because I have a bit of a foot issue. When I say "a bit" of an issue, I meant actually that I hate feet, especially my own. When I was little and growing up, I asked my parents if I could get a toe-ectomy to fix my biggest toe, since it's so freakishly large. They said no, since as far as I know this vanity surgery does not exist. (Although if women can have vagina prettification surgery, I don't see why a surgery to make my toes more proportionate is so out of line.)

My relationship with my feet has been doing somewhat better ever since I went to the foot doctor, and he said my feet were cute and he liked my toes. It was like foot therapy. He is now my favorite of my doctors.

Anyway. The last time I got a pedicure was literally two years ago, in July of 2006. So I'd forgotten what it was like. And I'd also forgotten that one of my toes is incredibly ticklish. Just the one. The woman next to me was giggling up a storm the whole time they scrubbed her feet, and I thought it was really endearing and that maybe someday we could be friends.

Then she did something I did not know that a person could do. She decided -- after all ten little piggies we're painted -- that she didn't like the color she'd picked out. And so she had them take it off! Can you do that? Is that OK? I guess you can do it. But the international language of rage in the manicurist's eyes tells me that this is probably not OK.

Tuesday, June 24

Plz Picture Photoshop Here

This week's New Yorker came with an article so horrifying that it should have come with a warning attached:

Do Not Read Unless Sitting (Sitting on a Plane Doesn't Count)
This May Be So Disgusting You Will Never Recover
Some Medical Things Should Be Kept a Secret
This Is Why You Didn't Go to Med School
EWWWW, Gross

Note that Jason Kottke totally disagreed with me, and just found the article fascinating, not horrifying. He quotes from the 'graph that made me sit down on the street in Park Slope, head spinning and stomach turning. I'll also note that I actually really like reading medical conundrum type articles; I read all of Atul Gawande's book -- mostly with a hand half-covering my eyes in horror, but read to completion. I'm not sure if I'll finish this article. It seems like it can't get more horrifying, but who can know for sure, when no warning labels are given?

Friday, June 20

I won't fuck us over, I'm Mr. November

I saw the National, Modest Mouse, and REM at MSG with the three Ls (Linda, Liz, & Liane) last night. (Thanks for the FREE tickets, V!)

It was a great show, especially since we were in a box seat with a waiter delivering sippy cups of alcohol. When the National played "Mr. November" they dedicated it "to Barack." Clever. I wonder if they will trot that line out at every show, so that it becomes like that funny story you tell on every first date. Perhaps I will have to buy tickets to see them at Central Park to find out for sure.

Wednesday, June 18

Monday, June 9

The Truth Is

Sunday, when I was shoving furniture away from the wall so I could sweep & mop under it, an open bottle of wine fell to the floor, ricocheting off my head and spilling absolutely everywhere. I don't really have any insightful commentary. It happened. I re-mopped; I took a half hour long shower; I went to bed. Monday, our air conditioner broke at work. This week has nowhere to go but horizontal or up.

Thursday, May 22

Birthday Cake (with 3 layers!)

After J took this picture, where I'm apparently high-fiving with the air, an old college buddy wanted to take a picture as well. With J in it too -- which is fine, of course, although he only carried, and did not bake, the cake. But then my friend kept requesting that we make out in the picture. Which is when the photo session got weird: it was kind of like a cross between accidentally walking into a porn photo shoot, and having an embarrassing relative take your picture.

Anyway, on Wednesday I baked a cake for my lovely friend Jen's birthday. It came out a bit, um, special, so I'm glad that this photo is not a closeup. More stories later.

Sunday, May 4

The other day, I had a nightmare about next November. And no, this was not a political dream.

Tuesday, April 29

Question of the Week*

There are quite a few mini-road trips planned for this summer, because a. I just got my license, and b. all of my friends are getting married, none of them in NY. I've been debating the idea of taking highway driving classes, since the idea of switching lanes still makes me feel a little twitchy.

But do you think I could skip that and just play Grand Theft Auto instead?

*If you think there will be a question every week, or even that there will EVER be another question again, you don't know me at all. In which case, WOW: I have someone I don't know reading my blog. Cray-zy.

Meat-Free in 2008

Since mid-January, I've eaten no meat. It hasn't, actually, been as hard as I imagined it would be, and I've already been to two BBQs and the state of Texas.

Last Saturday, my resolve was tested. We were out to dinner at Song -- me and five other people -- and had drunk two bottles of wine already while waiting for our table. Finally, our Friday hangover was a thing of the past.

Appetizers were ordered, and when the summer rolls came, I popped a sushi-sized piece in my mouth, just as J. said "But those have CHICKEN."

I tried to say, "Oh!" back, but, you know, there was a whole meat-containing thing in my mouth. By now, the other five people at the table were staring at me. Uh. My eyes started bugging out. The weird thing is, no one had any suggestions. No one said "Oh, just eat it." Or, "Spit it out." Time passed. I got sick of breathing through my nose, and my cheeks chipmunked out.

Finally I realized that spitting it out into my napkin would be disgusting. And while I didn't care that much about accidentally eating meat, at this point that started to seem gross too. So I ran to the bathroom (it was fortunately both out of order & unlocked) and spit it out. I'm pretty sure everyone back at the table was grossed up at my near-bulimia, except for J, who thought I should have just mother-birded the summer roll.

Thursday, April 24

Happy Days: Here Again

I can tell that the warm weather is Really, Truly Here, because last night my dinner was an ice cream cone, and several beers. At least a few of those beers were drunk outside, too.

Besides the ice cream and the beers, last night I played trivia at a bar. Insanely hard trivia, including a section on songs with saxophones. We got one of ten of those songs. Shameful. I'm still glowing that I knew that "Thomas Friedman" was the NYT columnist who recently had a pie thrown at his fae while speaking. Who knew that information would ever prove useful?

Monday, April 7

This Happened

As I was leaving the Chambers / WTC train station tonight, I passed a plain woman on her way in. She was so very plain, so devoid of makeup and frumpily dressed, that I mistook her at first for a bag lady. As she walked into the station, she muttered under her breath "I miss the old New York. Where did that go?"

Tuesday, April 1

Austin: It's Not Like Boston At All

Initial thoughts: it just makes way more sense when people wear hipster clothes (particularly the boots part) in Austin, than in the wilds of Brooklyn.

Monday, March 17

Mad.: I think I'm having a quarter-life crisis.

[sigh so deep it can be heard 'round the internet]

jlongo: But Mad, you're too old for a quarter-life crisis.


I have always been a late bloomer.

Monday, March 10

I don't mean to be all food, all the time, but...

HOORAY! The redhook vendors have been given a six year permit. My real goal is to go to Mexico sometime this year...but if that doesn't happen, at least I know I can have delicious food while watching soccer.

Saturday, March 8

I read this headline "The Shutter: Le Madeleine Evicted" too quickly, and thought it said: Shudder: Madeleine Evicted.

And then indeed I did shudder, thinking about how very terrible it will be when I have to move out of my five-flight-walkup.

Thursday, March 6

At this point, I'm pretty inured to the daily stream of fakoirs being revealed. At first I was shocked by every revelation: OMG, you mean the woman didn't really escape the Nazis to dance with wolves?

I'm a little sister; I fall for everything.

Now my skeptical glasses are on at all times though, and I just assume that everyone's fakin'. But I'm finding the most recent "I faked my life -- wrote a book about it -- and no one figured it out for a really long time" scenario somewhat shocking. To catchup: a woman wrote a memoir about her life in South Central, dealing drugs with the bloods. Totes believable, right? You too can go from drug dealer to published novelist in a decade; I should switch my career path stat.

The fakoir got rave reviews...and then was revealed to be a total invention.

What gets me here isn't the faking, but that it was her sister that busted her. What kind of sibling loyalty is that? Maybe what we need here is a memoir -- fake or not -- from the sister. (I'd also read one by David Kaczynski.)

Monday, February 25

If it were still 2001...

...I wouldn't be late to this party: whoa, Fast Food Nation is a really good book.

Tuesday, February 19

lemon meringue pie

The other day I made jlongo a lemon meringue pie because I like him a lot, and because I'm trying to get better at making pie. Here's the breakdown:

  • making meringue - so way easier than I'd ever imagined. There will be lots of meringue having in my apartment from now on, since nothing is better than airy-fairy sugar and egg whites. And, beating the eggs gets out my aggression even when it's electrically powered. (I baked an extra wee meringue blob and ate it myself.)

  • I find the use of eggs in this pie incredibly satisfying. There are three used altogether: all the yolks go in the lemon custards; all the whites in the meringue. How logical & symmetrical.
  • God! pie crust is just damn difficult. This time I used a slightly simpler recipe -- it's always pretty much the same three ingredients, but before I was using a mixture of Crisco and butter. Crisco is supremely white trash sounding to me, and the combo always seemed unnecessarily complicated, so it was a delight to use only butter. But on that step where you're supposed to make the flour and butter the consistency of small peas (wtf is a small pea? I've only ever seen peas of one standard frozen size) something went awry. Somehow I both mixed too much -- the pie was terribly tough and chewy -- and too little -- when I was rolling it out, I saw huge hunks of unintegrated butter. (Here is the pie crust, before I made it all the size of "small" peas.)
  • After a pie crust failure there's not really much to do. You can throw it out, untasted. But that's kind of a gamble against yourself, because maybe unincorporated butter is a good sign. So I didn't throw it out and jlongo carefully and fastidiously ate around the crust. I ate it; it wasn't really as bad as I'm making it sound.
  • The pudding was the most fun part to make. When I was growing up, I was often in charge of making the My-T-Fine pudding, and this was a similar process, with just a few more steps. After combining cornstarch, sugar, and water you stir until the stuff gets thick & boils, or until your arm is near falling-off. It's tough work, but again, good for aggression. Then you add eggs, lemon juice (I hand squeezed!), etc. It's pretty yummy, and since I cooked alone, I ate everything that was leftover in the pot, thanks-it-was-delicious-and-meant-easier-dishes. (Pictured here is more butter, melting into the pudding.)
Finally, do the dishes (and breeze a sigh of relief that your roommate isn't home to bear witness to the kitchen disaster):

(Note: Perhaps you're noticing the lemon juice bottle over to the left of the kitchen disaster area. I did hand squeeze the lemons; I did not lie to you. I just didn't really know how many lemons would make half a cup of juice. Turns out, it's more than three big ones, which meant I had to use some trusty lemon juice in a bottle.)

EDITED: ugh, i fixed my monstrous headline typo.
It was great to have a day off, but it's also great to have our annual presidentially sponsored grammatical disaster be over. I saw all three versions this year: President's Day (AP Style), Presidents' Day (Chicago Manual of Style), and Presidents Day (Crazed Apostrophe Hater Style).

Saturday, February 16

Someone should totally make a montage of people in movies saying "We've gotta hurry! We're running out of time!"

Sunday, February 10

This past year or so has been many things, but at least partially, it's been a countdown to the being a bridesmaid (my first time in a wedding!) in April. A few days ago, the dress arrived:

That's me wearing the dress with a t-shirt underneath. Um. Yeah. I'm going to need some serious alterations. And maybe a strapless bra with tennis balls sewn into it. They sell those at Victoria's Secret, right?

Friday, February 8

I've meant to write this for awhile.

Please file the following under "I'm not entirely sure what the appeal is, and I'm pretty sure that's because I'm too old for the interweb after all":
Sometimes I do read Anna Marie Cox's twitter, tho, just to contradict myself.

Monday, January 28

Welcome to Miami (Bienvenido a Miami)

Spent the last weekend in Miami, celebrating a good college friend's bachelorette party. Here we all are:

Tuesday, January 8

I don't actually know what a soapbox is. Well: I can imagine that perhaps it is a cardboard box, emptied of the soap that it previously carried. Wait -- will an empty box support me? That seems less than sturdy. (Note: Let's use the internerds and figure this one out.)

Moving along. Here I am, up on my weakass soapbox to discuss the environment. No, no: not the weather. Jesus, I hope I can still discuss things other than the weather here. (Although, it has been nice -- and creepy -- to give my spring coat a mid-season spin these past few days.)

In a fit of a bizarre not-leaving-things-to-the-last-minute, I bought my mom her birthday present two weeks ago. (Her birthday is not until February. Late February. UNPRECEDENTED.) Earlier this week, her present arrived, and after you look at the picture above, you'll understand why I was confused.

That littler box there is her present. Not to give away any secrets, but it was about the size of a jewelry box. The bigger box? That's what it came in, stuffed in perhaps a tree's worth of brown paper. Red envelope: Thanks for helping me get a present earlier than the day before someone's birthday for the first time EVER. But this will be the last time I order from you, and your excessively packaging order fulfillment company.

Monday, January 7

I passed the road test! They're mailing me a driver's license. I can drive!

Wednesday, January 2

"Can I tell you a secret?" someone asks me, and as it turns out, it's a secret I'm happy to know, because this isn't just a secret -- it's a compliment. Oh, and it's a lovely one: flattering and untrue, anonymous and unsolicited. I take off my cardigan. The compliment keeps me warm the rest of the night in the drafty loft apartment as I dance and talk, beverage in hand.

I've got high hopes for you, 2008.