Friday, May 28, 2010

The Inevitable Approaches

I was all set to talk to you about Cuban food today, honestly I was. Before leaving the house, I set the photos I wanted to use to upload, confident that they would be there when I arrived at work. Which, from the lack of pictures herein, you will know did not happen. And I feel I owe an explanation. After all, from the way I talk about it, you'd think editing and uploading photos was akin to stalking, killing, and prepping my own wild game.

My computer is not so much a Dell or a Sony or an IBM. My computer was (I can't believe I admit this stuff) built by me with some guidance from devoted partner out of parts. The hard drive part, the memory part, the motherboard part, the dvd drive part, etc. This was, at the time, cheaper, and allowed me to add on as needed. Well, I finally can add no more. My motherboard will not support any newer awesomer stuff which leaves me with a computer that struggles both with Adobe Lightroom and 17MP photographs.

And by struggles I mean like the little engine that could.

Now I know this is uninteresting, but I can't post what I wanted to because I have no pictures - they're somewhere in limbo.

I need a new computer. And I hate hate hate needing a new computer. I don't want to spend the money, I don't want to reinstall all my programs, I don't want to do any of it. But as each passing day chokes and splutters to a megabit close, I know the time is long since nigh. And now the only question becomes: laptop or desktop.

Pros to the laptop are portability, cons are I'm not sure I like using them. Devoted partner got himself a shiny new laptop this year (very well deserved) and I kind of hate typing on it. The keys are unsubstantial and don't give good feedback. Now I realize that most of the time, I can have the laptop on my desk, hooked up to my nice big monitor and a real keyboard, which kind of makes the decision seem easier, but then there's another con: with another self-built desktop, I could play the adding-on game for another 5 or so years, whereas with the laptop, not so much.

I know my budget, and it's sufficient for either (though, let's be honest, for about $400, I could build myself a pretty rocking desktop and only come away with one of those mini-laptops that don't accommodate my key-mashing fingers), I just, for some inexplicable reason, resent having to get a new computer. I feel like the computer I have, though completely inappropriate for today's software, works well enough. It's not broken, or virus-ridden, or sad in any way save processing speed. It's just old. Old and slow. But I haven't yet thrown out and replaced my parents, so doesn't it seem callous to do so to my computer? We've had such good times together. And I built him from scratch.

Ok, I don't actually have any sentimental attachment to the damn thing at all. I'm mostly concerned with spending money to replace a still-functioning item and with the endless work it will take to get the stuff I need from old computer to new computer.

Ridiculously boring post: over.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Miami: Not About Cuban Food

I bought my first two-piece bathing suit the summer I graduated from high school. It was black and from J. Crew and made in that cottonish material that wasn't shiny. The top was a triangle and the bottom was a brief. The moment I made the decision to buy it was a big one. There's a picture of me from that summer in a pool in Massachusetts and you can see I'm still not quite comfortable without that piece of fabric covering my midsection, but I'm smiling, so at least I'm trying.

I have a picture in that same pool from two summers earlier. I am wearing a frankly ghastly royal blue one-piece with visible underwire cups for a variety of breast I still can't grok (the cups were spaced about two inches apart forcing the breasts to point out to the side, like Farrah Fawcett hair or the orange cones the guys on the ground use to direct planes).

I made the decision to go to two pieces after a long and frank (and frankly filled with self-loathing) accounting of me and my body. A diet here, a chocolate eclair binge there, I was going to have more or less the same shaped body for the rest of my life. I was never going to get any taller, nor was my waist going to get longer. And I would probably never have washboard abs. And, after thinking about those things I said, essentially: F it. I wanted a tan stomach. And I'm pretty positive I also wanted to send myself a message that two-piece bathing suits weren't only for Cindy Crawford (though I know she looks better in hers than I do in mine and that's ok too).

In the (number deleted) years since then, I have owned seven additional two-piece bathing suits and zero additional one-pieces. When I pack for the beach the only choice is what color. The tops are still triangles, but I've managed to wean myself off high waisted bottoms. Call it confidence or a deep misunderstanding of reality, the result is the same.

And do you know what I've noticed (when I am not, forgive me, noticing that women really do peak physically at about 16)? I'm not the only person on the beach or at the pool who "shouldn't" be in a bikini. Bathing suit season is the great equalizer. And people watching the parade of imperfections makes me feel a lot more generous to women whom, while dressed, I might harbor some unbecoming envy. I hope my personal parade of imperfections is cheering to others as well. The fact is very few people have perfect bodies. Choosing to walk around essentially naked while knowing we have imperfect bodies is both a courageous decision and one I know can be fraught with painful anxiety. Because we all think we're being judged.

And we are.

We point out to friends and lovers the good bodies and the bad, sizing ourselves up in their wakes. But it really comes to naught. Since while she might have cellulite, you have moles; while her ass is wide, your thighs shake too much; while her breasts are fake, your nose is too. I feel better about myself not because so many others have flaws, but because I feel part of a group of flawed people as opposed to the only flawed person looking in on perfection.

I know bathing suit season is a well-trod path of insipid Cosmopolitan magazine articles designed to traumatize and debase, and I know it's popular to jump on that bandwagon: "oh, I hate bathing suit shopping!" But I would like to suggest that this year, we ditch that cliche, buy something in a snappy color (I'm still looking for the perfect red), and simply resolve to eat ever so many fewer tortilla chips (which is good for us anyway). I've got an itsy bitsy magenta bottom I'm not quite ready for, but it sits in the drawer reminding me how much I'd like to be.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Miami (not really): Dinosaur Sex

Originally uploaded by reallyct
Remember recently when I mentioned that devoted partner and I have a vehicular compulsion that necessitates our jumping in a car and driving places just cause? Our recent trip to Miami was no exception. It's true that I had taken perhaps a trifle more sun than I should have, but it's also a bit of hard work to sit slothfully under the sun doing nothing save reading, occasionally sipping from a pina colada, and cooling off in the pool or ocean from time to time. A day of it is terrific. Two days can also be good. But a ceaseless stream of doing nothing can get old. Since we're throwing ourselves in the water for a good solid week later in June, we decided to forgo a bit of Miamian diving in favor of a needless toodle (toodle=touring) to the Everglades.

We even splurged and rented the Mustang convertible.

We started the day heading west towards Naples and a lovely area run by the Audubon Society known as Corkscrew Swamp. Sounds charming, no? For those fearful of malaria, the Corkscrew Swamp folks have constructed a 2 mile boardwalk through their patch of the Everglades - this is also good for families and persons of limited mobility. While the adventurer in you or me might scoff, considering how putridly hot interior Florida is, having the route mapped out for you ahead of time with no possibility of becoming lost, isn't all that awful.

I was the expert animal tracker (to see the whole (unfinished) set, click here), discovering icky bugs, raccoons and the first alligator of the day. Feeling as though we had accomplished our main task, finding an alligator, we took the long way home, stopping for late lunch at a fish place (bad idea - out of season + flavorless + deep-fried = bland and bad for you), before heading back east.

And then we stopped for Bob. We were driving along an unremarkable and very straight road when we passed two people standing on the side of the road not hitchhiking. They were looking at something. We drove about 200 yards before turning the car around and going back towards the people who we had decided had spotted alligator. This was a fortuitous choice because we then spent the next half hour or so harassing poor Bob (the name we have the alligator) as he tried to swim and ignore fish and just get on with his afternoon. There were also some massive, and massivly attractive-hued, grasshoppers which are in the full (unfinished) set of photos.

Now that we knew what to look for - other not-stranded motorists on the side of the road - we drove the boringest road with more purpose. And this is how we discovered what we discovered. Alligators. Doing it. Yes, for my first non-local outing with the new camera, I was privileged enough to be confronted by some of the worst light, the darkest subject matter, and lizard humping. Do not be confused by the seeming innocence of these shots. These alligators effed one another. Underwater for the money shot and away from the MANY prying eyes, but you knew what they were up to. Then they went at it a second time. As we were walking away a charming blond girl of 3 or 4 came scampering up yelling, "daddy, daddy, alligators!" She turned to me and said, "I think it's a boy and a girl." I told her I thought they were married. "Daddy daddy the alligators are married!" "How do you know, honey?" I told the father it was that the alligators were VERY FRIENDLY. How's that for some serious Discovery Channel shit?

Tomorrow: la comida de Cuba.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Miami: The Book Reviews (still haven't uploaded photos)

While we wait (patiently) for my editing and uploading, I can still talk about the lovely several days we spent in Miami. Sort of. I'll confess, we didn't do much. I mean devoted partner did quite a bit as he was there for work and so was working for two days but I not so much. The two places I had meant to go to? Not so much. What I did do for two days was tan and read (possibly a little too much sun, but it is now a perfect shade of bronze so no one's the wiser). Since I became over-infatuated with the knitting, my 100-meter dash reading habit has suffered. Also I've been kind of disappointed with nearly everything I've been reading. But I packed six books for the trip and thank god we didn't spend Saturday on the beach or I would have run out. As summer is on our doorstep and many of you might similarly take to the beach with a book, I thought I might give you my opinions.

Life After Yes. Aidan's book arrived prior to the cab to the airport meaning I was able to open her book bright and early Wednesday morning in my chaise. By 10:45am, Aidan's book was done (honestly, would it have killed you to have written another 300 pages? :smiles:). I will admit, rather shamefacedly, that I was anticipating more girlishness in the book than there was. And while I enjoyed the day at the beach those years ago when I read Bridget Jones' Diary, I don't traditionally pick those books off the shelf. Aidan's book was touching and feminine without trying too hard to land the chick-lit vote, which for someone who doesn't vote that way, was terrific. Her protagonist was aware of her flaws and her lapses toward cliche and that made her so much more human and easy to relate to, even as she was rich and pretty. The story traces a relationship through the unexpectedly rocky times post-engagement as the protagonist, Quinn, wonders if she's making the right decisions about anything. Woven throughout the story are memories of her father who died in the Twin Towers but the book doesn't seek to capitalize on boo-hoo 9/11 hokum like SO MANY OTHER BOOKS DID (I'm looking at you, Don DeLillo). So I now feel confident, nepotismessness aside, in recommending Life After Yes as excellent summer reading that even snobbish bitches like me who look at the girlbook table with disdain can guiltlessly enjoy.

Rough Music: Blair, Bombs, Baghdad, London, Terror. And of course, one must follow any enjoyable fiction with a short tome on British politics. I'll be honest: unless you're REALLY interested in British politics, you might want to skip this. As much as it pains me to say (and you have no idea how it pains me), this book, for me, suffered as Umberto Eco's "Turning Back the Clock" did (which was a lot about Italian and European politics). Interesting? Yes. But completely time-specific and, frankly, if you ever glance at a foreign newspaper or political blog, you're pretty much already familiar with what's happening. I call this a pass.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I think I'm pretty much the last one on the bus here, so forgive me if you read this book when it first came out. It had been on my list and I just hadn't gotten around to it. Quite pleased, however, that I finally did. Ostensibly merely the story of a lonely Dominican kid in New Jersey, Diaz does a rather brilliant job of capturing the legacy of the Dominican Republic in the 20th century while peppering his prose with more old school sci-fi references than I am comfortable admitting I understood. While I got the feeling that Diaz is no Mario Vargas Llosa fan, I would offer a double feature that starts withThe Feast of the Goat: A Novel. But then again, I'm a fan of double features (as anyone who has ever caught me doing a Poseidon Adventure/Towering Inferno thing will doubtless vouch). I found the character development in the book, and not just that of the protagonist, to be the highlight, and reminded myself how frequently I am disappointed reading half-formed characters, but the story, as pedestrian as it could have been (oh, right, coming of age story blah blah) was fast-paced and polytropeic (I have made up this word).

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. I have been reading Molly Wizenberg's blog, Orangette (see sidebar) for many years, and when I started subscribing to Bon Appetit, I was happy to see she was gainfully employed writing a column. I owe a debt of gratitude to so many of the food bloggers who made the internet a far tastier place and so I have frequently "thanked" them by buying their books. This one was different, though. In the place of a glossy picture book of recipes, this was a reading book. Each recipe boasted a story at times sweet, at other times a trifle forced, but the formers outweighed the latters (and have compelled me, at least theoretically, to a pledge of more salads this summer). The stories follow Molly from her Oklahoma home to her Seattle adulthood and along the way she loses her father to cancer and finds a husband while spending a jealousy-inducing amount of time in Paris. The recipes are from the heart and simple enough for timid cooks and I estimate that at least 50% of them will be made by me sooner rather than later.

Atmospheric Disturbances: A Novel. More often than not, a book will show up in my Amazon box and I have no idea how it got there. Sure, I remember ordering it, I just don't remember how I decided to order it. This was one of those books. When I read the back cover (man's wife comes home and is decidedly a double of his real wife and he must launch a search to find her aided by a psychotic who thinks he controls the weather) I was intrigued. I was thinking Operation Shylock meets something. Sadly, by chapter 6 or 7 (and these are those short 2-3 page chapters) I knew how it was going to end and the getting to the ending part was neither particularly interesting, nor particularly facile writing. This was an author trying too hard. I would also say that a 34-year old woman author writing a 50-something male protagonist was something that was mostly unsuccessful. The protagonist was far more unintentional Philip Roth satire than I'm sure was intended. I think it's very difficult to write from the perspective of the opposite sex and few (frankly I can think of none at the moment, but I'm giving the benefit of the doubt) examples that have worked. You may feel free to skip this one.

So that's what I read on my mini-break. If you have read anything of even relative merit recently, please let me know - we leave for Nicaragua in less than three weeks!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Around the House


Originally uploaded by reallyct
This morning, as devoted partner removed the screen from our bathroom window in order that he might have a clear shot at the family of feral cats cavorting in our yard with his air pistol, it occurred to me that I hadn't updated much about the domestic suburbification. Perhaps it's that, while I think shooting at cats is perfectly normal for a Monday morning, I worry my former citymates would not. Perhaps it's that, should my gardening projects end in tears, I will be embarrassed at my total inability to thrive in grassy cultures. Perhaps it's simply that because the quotidian is so easily taken for granted.

So let's get right to it: my blue table still needs some help. I'm hoping the "Coming of Amy" will help with this. I just kinda need some guidance and some motivation. The laundry room could stand to be emptied of, well, laundry. Apparently it is true that the more space you have, the more space you fill. I feel distinctly cluttered until I remember that we have an attic for "emergencies."

But I guess there are two big changes, one of which I'm sure you can guess at based on the photograph: I am gardening. I dug little holes and lovingly put plants in them and sprayed them with water when they looked thirsty. Sadly, for my mother at least, these are not the pretty kinds of plants. These plants are utilitarian. 8 varieties of herbs and 9 heirloom tomatoes. I envision a long summer of endless fruitings (in reality, I know I'll be lucky to get one salad's worth). I even paid the neighbors' kids to water my pretty little plants while we were in Miami. Yes, I fear for them when it gets hot and they look wilty, but a cursory evaluation of their health while I was gone yields some positivity: they seem spry.

Now there are some problems. For one, I have not consulted the great Internet for information on, let's just use this example, what it means when the leaves are yellow. Does that mean too much water or too little? (Oh, and by the way, now that I have searched, there are more new questions and too many answers.) Also, at the same time as plants were going in the ground, another outdoor toy landed by the front porch. My new bird feeder, a small gift from devoted partner. It is now exciting to see birds eat things out of my feeder (though I need to create a blind from the kitchen window so I can try to take pictures of them feeding). But, of course, the bird feeder has also brought squirrels who, I am not certain of this, might enjoy eating my garden. (The nice man at the garden store assured me to the contrary, but I am skeptical.)

So we sit back, relax, shoot some animal intruders, and await our homemade mojitos and tomato/basil salads. Kids, this, it seems, is what it's all about in the suburbs.

P.S. Many Miami postings coming once I edit and upload the photos.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Benvenido, Sloth

Once upon a time I would have thought you were out of your mind if you had suggested to me that good times can be had whilst doing nothing. A vacation was touring cathedrals of Spain, castles of Germany, the Great Wall. Anything less was sort of a waste.

Devoted partner saw things differently. On our grand tour of Europe he continually beseeched me (besought me?) to find us a scrap of sand, if only for a day or two, to break up the monotony of Giottos and portculli. Turns out he was right. Beaching becomes me. I don't know why it took me so long to realize. After all, I can recall sunbathing ad nauseam at summer camp (with baby oil) and enjoying that. I just always though beach vacations were a cop out. Until I took one.

Now I have difficulty summoning up the energy for a museum or a walking tour of anything other than the pool. Well, not really, but let's just say I now appreciate the value of a stack of books, a cold beverage, and sweet sweet ultraviolet.

Which is why I invited myself on devoted partner's business conference in Miami over the next two days. I assured him I would be plenty happy alone, with my books, and my drinks, by the pool while he did whatever it is people do at conferences (I hear murmurings of powerpoint). This useless blathering is my way of excusing my sunny absence for the next few days. True, we'll have the computer and, conceivably I could write something, but I make no promises.

Now I am just hoping that the UPS man, armed with Life After Yes arrives before my cab to the airport.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Beer Good

Originally uploaded by reallyct
Do you like beer? I know you do. How about really good beer? Brewed by a really good guy? Who has two hyperadorable rescue dogs? Yeah, that's beer you can get behind!

Saturday marked the launch of the New Jersey Beer Company with an event in North Arlington at the Copper Mine pub. The owner, Matt, is a very close friend, first of devoted partner's from high school and then, obviously, mine. Aside from his not permitting me to kidnap his puppies, I can say nothing bad about Matt, and as we have followed his journey from "I'm going to open a brewery," to "customs is holding my equipment hostage," to "Saturday 3-8pm beer launch," I have grown more and more excited (as I'm certain, has Matt).

So when the day arrived, we were up, at 'em, and on the road to New Jersey (a place reserved only for special occasions and invitations; ooh, wait, and the beach; I always forget I like Jersey's beach). I brought tennis balls just in case there were any dogs that would need entertaining - there weren't, grrrrr. The bar had that terrific neighborhood vibe that many bars strive for and few achieve. There were regular patrons making conversation with the owner and watching a variety of professional sporting events (the one with the bat, the one where you kick balls, and the one where you drive around a circle very fast), and, yes, they were ordering the new beer on the block!

Matt launched three beers this weekend: a pale ale, and abbey single, and a stout. It's the middle one that I couldn't identify and, when I tasted it, was more surprised still; I had assumed it would be, for lack of a better descriptor, sweet; but it was far more nuanced than that. Each beer had such a delightfully unique character and each conjured up, for me, a different way to be enjoyed. There was a fourth beer making the rounds, a version of the pale ale with extra hops, and wow if I wasn't educated about how slight changes can produce tremendous differences in the finished product.

Shameless plug, or not, I would encourage all of you to join the New Jersey Beer Company's Facebook page so you can find out where near you they're serving and upcoming events where you can support local enterprise and one of the nicest guys I know. Also, if I haven't yet mentioned it, the beer is really, REALLY, good. So drink up!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Lies Women Tell

"My husband and I never fight."

"He can just look at me and I have multiples."

"Labor is the worst pain ever."

"My boyfriend's is enormous."

"I'd never want to be as skinny as she is."

"Every time is as magical as the first."

Thank god Amherst didn't have sororities or I would have been in trouble. I've not been fortunate in amassing a coterie of close female friends. There are a number of almosts, some halves, but I don't have that terrific group of women with whom I can take a week in Barbados. This makes me sad and the future prospects aren't great.

But, and rationalization this must be, some of the above statements have always given me pause when I am surrounded by an XX crowd. If you are a woman, you have heard other women you know, and occasionally like, utter one of the above ridiculous statements. Maybe you've ignored them, maybe you've pitied the speaker, or maybe, like me, you've seethed at the necessity for the utterance at all. Devoted partner has often said, and I have often been pissed at him for it, that while men measure their relative worth against other men on the power/income metric, women measure by relationships. And as we all know, no relationship can be good unless there is never friction and always huge member magical special time. Right?

I mentioned sororities up top because I always found this kind of chatter a form of hazing. I remember it especially when the topic of giving birth was brought up and those that had would launch into the most hyperbolic hysterics about how painful it was. But my mom told me it was no biggie. Sure, she wouldn't choose to do it every day, but her report of the experience was at complete odds with every other report I received. I chalked it up to a bit of one-upmanship. Of course when followed immediately by, "but it was worth it because my husband is gigantic and we had magical whoopie every night in an effort to conceive and I had a million little deaths each time," I felt less charitable.

Because isn't the goal of those statements, if only for a moment, to make the listener question her own life and choices? Wait a second, sometimes our special time isn't all that special, and last night I yelled about dirty dishes, and then there was that time when for a couple of months no one was reaching satisfying completion. F$%#%$K! Is my marriage/relationship/life doomed? Cause this bitch in front of me has it all!

Not nice, ladies, not nice.

I swear, and those who know me well know I am precisely this stubborn, I sometimes consider never marrying devoted partner simply in protest to all the people, most especially women who look at and speak towards me pityingly when they hear about my "situation." Or, should we birth, to film it and put it on YouTube showing me calmly reading a book during the whole process; or playing Parcheesi. For someone admittedly so good at lying, I seem to find insincerity and dishonesty at the top of my peeves list, and when I am around groups of women (no matter what kind of group), I hear it everywhere.

Now that we're older and people are, especially the coupled ones, having less sex, the bragging rights go to the couples that don't fight. Ever. I don't know why this is considered a good thing. To my mind, if you never fight, you're never really invested in something. Or you are so indifferent to one another that nothing seems worth getting heated up about. Or you've both already commenced your affairs, so why stir the pot?

Why this upsets me when, much like the television, I can choose to tune out or change channels, is that it simply perpetuates the wholly unrealistic picture of adult couplehood lapped up by young women. Which, when they discover how unrealistic it is, can spend much of their time feeling like they've failed. After all, if everyone else has X and I don't, there must be something wrong with me. And even among us liberated self-determinative, impervious types, there are a couple of moments of doubt we can all recall.

So why write about this? Well, I've been asking myself to identify things I'm passionate about and, as I look at what I've chosen to write about, I see a lot of women's issues creeping in. But not the traditional ones. Pay equity and reproductive rights, while certainly on my list, are issues there are more than enough people tackling. These other things, these insidious cultural things, these are never mentioned, and their ill effects are perpetuated. And we're all culpable. Any time we lied and instead of saying, "I'm really happy," we said, "it was perfect from the first moment," we contributed to the utter falsification of what a stable adult relationship is.

And we miss the opportunity to share the important information - how relationships aren't always easy, but when you know you want to work on them, you've probably found one worth staying in.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Best friend is fleeing the country. By choice, not dictat, but the result is the same. I will be best friendless for at least a year. His self-imposed exile with best fiance will commence in Mongolia and, as we discussed this, I said that, should devoted partner and I win the lottery, we would do the Mongol Rally and meet up with them. Prompting, of course the question: what is the Mongol Rally? The short answer is the Mongol Rally is awesome. The longer answer involves perhaps fighting with Uzbek rebels and running out of petrol (this is a Euro thing) somewhere in a desolate landscape and resorting to yak hunting. The longer answer is also awesome.

I don't know where it started though I know I can blame Tim Cahill's Road Fever for much of it (Tierra del Fuego to Prudhoe Bay - sadly the lame-os at Guinness Records no longer allow you to break these sorts of records citing "safety concerns" - lames). Then, as anyone who has ever spoken to us knows, we spent the summer after graduation driving. A lot.

But best friend asked why something like this, 3-6 weeks of driving, would appeal to us. After all, there wouldn't be much time for sightseeing (I disagree; I think we could drive fast enough during the driving parts to leave ample time for local color), it isn't the most conventional of trips, and there is the danger part. I brought this up with devoted partner who, while not setting his sights on the Mongol Rally anytime soon, would certainly join up were having a job not mandatory, and he somewhat coldly analyzed our motivations thusly:

We're relaxed when we drive.

Devoted partner doesn't mind being behind the wheel while I ooh and ahh at scenery and goats who climb trees, and now that I actually know how to drive, devoted partner can feel free to snooze in the passenger seat while I drive (and ooh and ahh at goats). We have twice gone (by google's count) 368 kilometers out of our way simply to enjoy the highway between Nice and Italy. We like being in the car together. I can't remember a single in-car fight about getting lost or almost getting killed (we've both been guilty once). While trying to find a good photo to describe why we like that stretch of highway so much, I found these guys and seriously considered learning how to ride a bike in the hope we could go with them next time.

Perhaps we're just especially canine, leaning our heads out the windows as feeling the force of the wind as we waggle our tongues, but even the thought of getting to the Mongol Rally one of these days (did you know the Paris-Dakar rally is no longer run from Paris to Dakar? this upsets me greatly as that was on the bucket list and I liked our chances) makes me happy. If any of you can think of a way to make it revenue neutral, I'd like to hear about it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Fetid Nest

I spent two days in essentially the same 3 square feet on the couch. I probably should have stayed there today. In short I am morally opposed to my own illnesses. I think of myself as a generally hardy person and any chink in that armor offends me greatly. Though come to think about it, I'm the only person I know missing a gall bladder - so that doesn't seem too healthy.

Nevertheless, between naps, I had a lot of time to myself that I couldn't use to, say, do anything that involved a lot of movement or exertion. So I was able to use my thinky organ to make lists of all the ways in which I am currently failing as a human being (sickness really does not agree with me).

Issue #1: Laundry. I make no secret of the fact that among all the household chores that exist, laundry is my least favorite. And I have no excuse these days that I need to schlep anywhere to do laundry; after all, I have an entire room devoted to laundry. And still, the laundry room is a tornado of both clean and dirty clothing that I just don't want to get near. I don't know what about this particular chore haunts me so, I only know that it's the combination or sorting, washing, drying, then folding, and finally putting away that has always struck me as a step too many (the dishwasher, on the other hand, has three steps: load, wash, put away - far more civilized in my opinion). It seems devoted partner and I share this loathing as his attempts have always skipped over the folding and putting away steps. But I'm currently missing a lot of clothing and I assume it's somewhere in the laundry room - so that should be taken care of sooner rather than later.

Issue #2: Not eating. I seem to be having some difficulty with this one as well. I ate brioche ends all day yesterday not really paying attention to how many actual slices of brioche the ends may have made up. Devoted partner is making great strides (though I think he has an unfair advantage of being stressed out all the time) in not eating, whereas I am making very very tiny strides. There is no good reason I should be ten pounds heavier this year at this time than I was last year. None whatsoever.

Issue #3: Life planning. Yeah, not making a lot of progress on this one. I've attempted to identify things I'm passionate about, and travel and leisure pretty much take the cake each time. Perhaps I'm going about this wrong. Perhaps when I hear the word 'passionate' I take it too seriously. I sort of hear it as 'consuming passion' as opposed to, perhaps, 'dude, this is ok.' So now I will have to expand my list to things I consider ok. But that list needs to be cross-referenced with the 'profitable' list and those twains meet ever so infrequently.

Issue #4: Family planning. Is it ok that I'm now 33 and still eons away from even weighing in on this subject? "Oh, you're never really ready," is what all you people who already did it say, but I would wager that most of you went off birth control which is readier than I am or foresee myself to be. I feel like there are at least 127 more important things to talk about, but I'm not unaware of the fact that this one has an end date. Can we talk about it later?

Those are the biggies and they assaulted me for two straight days (which is probably why I got out of the house today even though I don't feel much better). Now I send them out into the world in the hopes that talking about them is kind of like doing them.

It is, right?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sick Days

Just a quick note to let you know I'm bailing for the second day in a row cause I'm sick. And super pissed off that I'm sick. Please send soup.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Feedback and Follow Ups

Originally uploaded by reallyct

I am trying to embrace small-town living (and by small-town, you should understand me to mean fewer than 3 million people or so). When I saw that there was something called Art on the Avenue in Greenwich, I knew I wanted to go. Local artists' work being featured in local stores and an opening night schedule of festivities featuring live music? Love it. And certainly that was what was on offer last night. But it was lacking for me. There was no feeling of community. The streets, while populated, were not packed, and people were guarded, insular, and unsmiling towards strangers. As devoted partner (sadly at work during my perambulations) said later, Greenwich is a bedroom community and, as such, not a TV-ready suburb of neighborhood pool parties and town hall dances. This evening of purported festivities merely highlighted the differences between my perception of all non-urban environments, and their reality.

I mention this here because I had waxed rhapsodic about the feel of Scarsdale. But Scarsdale is also a bedroom community and while the lady at the knitting store in Scarsdale was nicer than the lady at the knitting store in Greenwich (I later discovered the reason: the Scarsdale knitting lady reverse commutes from Manhattan), the vibe of the street wasn't that much different. So I told devoted partner that for our next move, I'm thinking the south where it is possible that the small-town community shtick that I think justifies not living in the center of the world exists.

Nut-allergic Ed and I ate dinner together on Wednesday - our annual fete-ing of me by him to celebrate how long I have been alive - and he commented that in my anti-special-needs-food post I made no mention of litigation; that is, I didn't mention that the reason people pussy-foot around the nut-allergic, especially when those nut-allergic are children, is that should the child have a severe allergic reaction to the smell of peanuts somewhere in its vicinity, the parents would surely sue. He's right. I didn't mention it. Mostly because I hope those people are consumed by righteous fire, but also because I was being idealistic.

What the parents who crusade for peanut butter-free schools don't seem to realize is that the trading floor on the NYSE won't be peanut butter-free. Eventually, when there's no one left to threaten with lawsuits, their precious little angels will emerge into a dangerous world where peanuts exist. Their workplaces will have peanuts, their public transportation, the streets they walk down. So one of two things will happen: they'll adapt or they'll drop dead. I don't see how preventing the inevitable helps anyone. I know if you have that severe an allergy your life probably sucks, but might I suggest going to a special school, like other people with severe physical disabilities do?

Finally, Aidan wrote about women and lingerie this week. I knew she was going to because we had briefly discussed it, but I was not prepared for the response. No one, but no one, was on Team Yelena. Of the 29 comments left on the post, mine was the only one that advocated fancy things. All the other women were of the, "I'll wear baby-vomit stained yoga pants cause they're comfy and I dare my husband to not want to make it with me," opinion. That's partial hyperbole, but none of the other commenters thought nice undies were a necessary component of a well-lived life. This made me really sad.

And only partly because I dream of opening a lingerie store (I thought I could get together with Kate, my most fashionable friend, and open a fancy bra/fancy shoe store and call it Tits and Toes). I maybe a holder of many minority opinions and sometimes this might make me feel supremely badass (i.e. Tom Jones rocks!), but when stared in the face with it, especially about something I feel passionate about, it kinda stings. I am forced to ask why am I so alone in my thoughts. These thoughts, however, did not make me abandon my quotidian habit of wearing supremely badass underthings. After all, today might be the day I meet Tom Jones!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fundraising Opportunities

Back in the day, when I lived on 110th street, CNN was a part of my daily diet. I woke up, turned it on, went to the computer, and spent 20 or so minutes availing myself of information. Sure, Paula Zahn annoyed me, and the other guy, Blinky (I don't remember his name, I only remember that he has a serious blinking frequency problem) was distracting to watch, but I felt that it was the 1010WINS of national and international news: 20 minutes and you were pretty good to go for the day.

Then September 11th happened and, like others, I spent a lot of time watching television. But after two or three months, I became pissed off, "Man in Nebraska tells local radio station he is positive terrorists will next attack his corn field. We have him live in the studio to discuss his national security concerns." So then I stopped watching CNN. Apparently just in time. As the cable news wars heated up, the news became unrecognizable and the news I was interested in was replaced, a lot of the time, with missing white girls and tornadoes. I went back to reading my news.

But every now and again I'll tune in just for a quick refresher. And I'm so glad this morning was one of those days.

You see, fellow Nutmeggers, our esteemed Senator Lieberman has given me the greatest gift of all. He has said something so utterly preposterous as to make your donations flood my nascent campaign office. Our senator, the guy we keep electing despite compelling reasons not to, has suggested that citizens of this country, if arrested on suspicion of being involved with terrorists while abroad, should be stripped of his citizenship so that he would not be able to avail himself of our legal system and could, instead, be sent to military court. (And I'll link to the FoxNews story so that I can't be accused of unfairness and imbalance.)

Let's try that again:

Joe Lieberman has penned a bill that would allow the State Department to strip a U.S. citizen of his citizenship if it deems him affiliated with a terrorist organization (for the sole purpose of trying him without, for example, due process).

Lieberman claims that this is no different from stripping citizens of their citizenship if they serve in a foreign army (and I've never quite understood how the kids who go play soldier in Israel for a year get around this). But, as with many things, nuance is important. If you join, say, the Botswanan Army, there's probably a piece of paper that you signed somewhere pertinent to that assignation. If, on the other hand, you end up (stupidly, and possibly with criminal intentions, though I like courts and such to make those determinations) hanging out with some guys at a mosque in Pakistan, we don't really know what your intent is. Yes, the war of the future is not going to be between uniformed soldiers of sovereign nations, but might this not be getting a little out of hand.

I will freely admit that I'm one of those "100 guilty men go free so 1 innocent man isn't falsely imprisoned" kind of people, but let me be more bloodless for a second (and check out my logic, voters): if allegiance to a foreign terrorist organization (TO) is tantamount to participation in a foreign military (FM), don't we then need to extend Geneva Convention (GC) rights and responsibilities to our dealings with foreign terrorist organizations? If TO = FM and FM = GC then TO = GC. Idiots.

But we don't want to be bound by the Geneva Convention when dealing with terrorists - they aren't members of, say, a foreign army, whom we must treat humanely, they're, well, terrorists. And if you join up with them you will be stripped of your citizenship the same way people who join foreign armies are.

It is obvious that, contrary to perception, we are willing to sacrifice quite a bit of essential liberty for temporary safety, I just think the esteemed senator may have drunk an especially heady brew of Kool-Aid on this one. And that it's probably time for retirement. And that you'd be way better off with me as your senator. (Full disclosure: I am pro-Mexican and anti-"wo Sie Ihre Papiere sind.")

I know that terrorism is scary.

But Joe Lieberman is scarier.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I'm Not Quite Sure What You're Doing

This morning, at about 7:30am, my cellphone rang. Of course I assumed it was devoted partner's cellphone because no one calls my cellphone because the very few people in the world who have the number know a) I don't answer it and b) it's hardly ever charged. I didn't get to the phone in time and I didn't recognize the number so I tossed the phone back in my bag. This shocked devoted partner who is the kind of person who calls people's numbers on his phone regardless of whether or not he recognizes the number.

I told him that only about a dozen people have the number, all of those people have our home phone number, and that all would either leave a message or call the house having gotten no answer on the cell. That it was obviously a wrong number and why do I want to spend time calling a wrong number back to verify that it's a wrong number. Which I guess brings me to the crux of this: I don't much like talking to people on the phone.

Sure, Ed and I can waste several millennia talking about absolutely nothing (Dear blogger spell check: Really? You don't think "millennia" is a word? You're retarded!) And I'm generally happy to talk to the people I already know and like, but more often than not I'd prefer to be contacted by carrier pigeon. When the house phone rings and it is for devoted partner, 99 out of 100 times I'll toss him the phone as opposed to answering it and then passing it on. I think this might be rude, but I do have a lot of knitting to work on and I can't be all distracted by making small talk.

This lengthy preamble is, of course, to my complaint of every day: mobile communication on public transport. The thing is, all of you (general, not specific) seem to LOVE to talk to people on your tiny phones and go blind and carpal tunneled by typing emails on your tiny phones. And I don't get it. At you home or office, presumably you have larger communication implements, a more comfortable chair, and privacy. Wouldn't you like to do your business/complain about your redecorating/talk about how wild it was at the bar last night in those places? This morning it wasn't so much that people were loud, they weren't, it's that everywhere I turned people were heavily invested in clickety clacking their toys in a way I am just flummoxed by.

I love my train ride because it is neither work nor home. I actually find it relaxing (when I'm not elbowing people out of my way to gain access to the seats they were saving for their laptop bags). Either I am really mellow, or other people are really really not. The thing, and forgive me for harping on it, is that if my job was such that on the 9:04 train I needed to be doing so much work, that would indicate to me that perhaps I'm not getting to my office on time. If I took an earlier train, by 9:04, I'd already be at my office typing emails and fielding phone calls. Using the train as a makeshift office seems not only rude, but (and I'm really surprised we don't hear more of this) potentially litigious.

So I ask ye of clickety clacking habits to try and shed some light on this for me. My iToy is a last resort to entertain me when there's simply no elbow room to do anything else. All thing being equal, I just don't want to communicate or be communicated with at every moment of the day. So help me to understand what I am obviously missing.

And please don't ever call me at 7:30am unless we a) have plans or b) you know that a missile is headed for my house.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

This Suburban Thing Is Getting Out Of Hand

I think you know the evil elves have taken control of your brain when you visit other tony suburbs and think, "this seems a delightful place to live." I know because it happened to me this weekend. Devoted partner, who sadly must spend a lot of time these days being devoted to his job, was at the office, I was bored, the car had gas. There was a knitting store in a nearishby town I was interested in checking out so I figured what the hell.

I arrived in town and was immediately struck by how much prettier it was than Greenwich. Greenwich Avenue, the main shopping drag is a sorry amalgam of completely socio-economically mismatched stores (Victoria's Secret should not share real estate with Tiffany's), and most, if not all, of the buildings are new. It has, in all honesty, no charm. Which saddens devoted partner who remembers a time when it did. This time must have been very very very long ago since in the 15 or so years I've known Greenwich Avenue, it looked like this. This other town's shops were located in a lovely set of at least 50 year old Tudor-style brick buildings. There were independent shops and there was greenspace. I was briefly in love.

The knitting store was not nearly as snooty as some I have visited and I walked out with a project and time still left on my parking meter. The wine store was having a sale and had a favorite of mine. I joked later that while devoted partner is at work, I merely knit and drink. The best part about the town, especially for those who enjoy buying things, is that the train station is right there. You get off the train and you're in the town - which is true for Greenwich as well (and Port Chester) but there's just simply less charm.

Well now for the reveal which struck both devoted partner and my mother as hilarious: Scarsdale. As I know really nothing about anything, I was unaware that Scarsdale was a punchline for where rich Jews go to have lawns, but damn it, even if it's true, then bravo to the stereotypes for making a lovely town. For all of the stereotypes about wasps and how proper they are, they certainly managed to hose up their shining beacon of a town (unless I totally misjudged Greenwich and it openly invites the velour clad to its DAR dinners).

So now I think I'm going to have to spend some time reminding myself of the joys of Manhattan before I become a totally different person. Thank god the suburbs are nearly devoid of decent food because they do, sadly, have a number of other things going for them. Ok. Now I'm going to go drown in my shame.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Originally uploaded by reallyct
This is Courtney. She is not our dog. I have spent the past 48 hours hoping/having anxiety dreams that some really nice couple or family have adopted Courtney. Because I couldn't.

Let's backtrack. Devoted partner and I attended the Adoptathon at the North Shore Animal League this past weekend. We first learned about it last year from an adorable 6 or 7 year old on the D train who was over the moon about the puppy he had just adopted and told us we absolutely had to go the next day because Cesar Millan was there. Not one to pass up an opportunity to window lick at the puppy palace and to get a photo with the Dog Whisperer, I used my best puppy dog eyes on devoted partner and off we went to Long Island (strangely not as bad as one is led to believe). We went again this year.

Now we live in a lovely house with a lovely landlady who, it seems, has had more than a couple of bad experiences with tenants and their pets. Both devoted partner and I think there could be some wiggle room, perhaps with the promise of additional security deposit/installation of invisible fence etc., but we just haven't gotten around to doing it because we know that once we do, we're definitely getting a dog and much as we would really really like to be dog owners, we also know it's a huge responsibility and one we are not willing to halfass. Still, we love dogs and the adoptathon is really really a nice time. (And thankfully none of the volunteers remembered us from last year as the people who fondled multiple dogs and adopted none of them).

The North Shore Animal League puts on a great show and they smartly ask would-be adopters to walk through the selection of adult animals before letting them at the puppies. This is a hard gauntlet to walk because it is immediately apparent which dogs are not destined for adoption. NSAL is a no-kill shelter, may they be endlessly praised for this, but some of the dogs are, well, broken. You see the eyes and you hear the growl and you know this is a dog that needs more help than most people are willing or able to give. And that is really really sad. I was heartened to see a number of families getting to know the adult dogs in the atrium, but most people came for the puppies including, frankly, us. As we rounded the corner I saw this dog and probably said something like, "ah, shit, she's going to have a hard time getting adopted," and we moved on, eager to see the puppies.

And there were puppies galore - lots of cute ones too. My early favorite was a fawn colored hound who liked chewing on my fingers; devoted partner liked a shepherd mix. We were pleased to see both of them picked up by happy families. Still, while there were many cute puppies, none of them was The One. We walked around a bit more, hoping to see the new puppies being brought from the back, and to kill time we walked around the adult dogs again. This time, I stopped at Courtney's enclosure. I like pits. I think they can be amazing dogs, provided you're willing to put in the time to temper their natural enthusiasm - they're a bit like boxers that way. You just have to be able to determine whether or not the one you're about to pet would like to roll on its back to give you access to its stomach which needs petting or if it would like to eat your hand. This dog wanted belly rubs. She came up and smelled our hands and let us pet her through the grate; then she got up on her hind legs and leaned her head over the top.

It was right around this time that I sort of lost it. I just knew in my heart of hearts that this was a good dog. That this was a dog who would love you forever. And that would be immediately dismissed as not suitable pet material by most of the people walking by. 2 1/2 year old pit bulls are not at the top of people's adoptable lists and this made me uncontrollably sad. I knew she wasn't going to be our dog, but I wanted her to be someone's dog because I could so easily see how she would seamlessly fit into our household and I knew we weren't the only ones. Devoted partner was a mensch - after all, I'm sure his idea of a fun time did not include looking for paper towels so that his woman could mop up her blubbering.

I've thought about Courtney a lot since then and even in my wildest fantasies - our landlady immediately agrees we should have a dog, doesn't mind that it's an adult pit bull who will be moving in next to her two grandchildren, Courtney is still at the shelter and we get approved to adopt her, she turns out to be the kind of wonderful pet that would eat neither Hogie nor Saunders - well, it still doesn't make sense. We're off to Miami for nearly a week later this month, and then to Nicaragua the next. We're truly not at a place where a dog makes sense - at least not for the next couple of months.

So I'm going to believe that someone fell in love with Courtney the way I did and that right now she's at her new home with good people and yummy treats. Cause just thinking about it is making me cry a little.