Wednesday, August 25, 2010

And We're Off

Great Smoky National Park, here we come! Finally figured out how to attach my tripod to my camera bag. The staggering array of printed material concerning planes, cars, and lodgings has been duly printed. I'm sort of packed. As is devoted partner. What remains is a little bit of personal grooming and to call a cab.

In the meantime, though, I thought I'd talk a little bit about food. And the little of it I've been eating recently. You see, the south is full of magical wondrous hideously fattening food of which I occasionally (fine, often) dream. Devoted partner and I, while making progress towards ultimate defatification, kind of slid a little there for a while. Back on the horse, I knew I had to make some serious progress ahead of this trip in order to enjoy pork and hushpuppies and pie without guilt. Now that the trip is upon us, though, I worry about my willpower - after all 12 hushpuppies tasted 12x as good as 1.

So I'm going to make a concerted effort to not clean my plate. I will order what I like and nibble at it, the way I see skinny people do (how do they do this?!?). I will remember that most pie is disappointing and not eat some that isn't stupendous - and only eat half of stupendous slices of pie. I will, while scarfing down pulled pork, remember that the reason it tastes so good is that it was cooked long enough that all the delicious fat had time to sink into the meat. And I will try my hardest not to mainline hushpuppies.

I'm at, what I like to call, a manageable weight right now. I look in the mirror and don't want to kill myself. All clothing that should fit does fit. I would like to not return home next Tuesday weighing five pounds more than I do now.

But then I remind myself that we signed up for a full day of rafting in August. Clearly there's A LOT of rowing in my future!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Nopropos

As we prepare for our slightly spontaneous must-use-vacation-days-before-September-1 vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains, I wanted to dispense with several items.

1. I'm not feeling a lot of love and support vis a vis this trip. To a person, everyone I have told about it, including my beloved sibling, has looked at me incredulously. "What are you going to do?" "Are you, um, outdoorsy?" "Why are you going there?" When I respond with the hiking/rafting/boating/riding we hope to accomplish, the stares become even more incredulous. Listen, I know that I take pride in my Gucci hiking slingbacks and in things like hot water and television, but I would like to remind ye of little faith and great mirth that devoted partner and I, despite our girth, are some pretty outdoorsy types. Offending one and all, devoted partner has been known to call me Action Jew (apologies to Eddie Izzard from whom we shamelessly stole), or if we are being athletic in France, Juif d'Action. In fact, if we can jump on a horse, get in a kayak, or get to the top of something really high, chances are we will. Now it's true, we will not be camping, and that was my decision, but it was prompted way more by the inconvenience of hauling camping crap on a plane than it was any abhorrence of outdoor sleeping. To say nothing of the fact that we have abandoned the sloth of the shore for the wet, oxygen toxicity of beneath the waves. In the future, perhaps a smidgen more benefit of the doubt would not be unwarranted.

2. While I still believe the best future for the MTA lies in Mayor Bloomberg buying it outright and running it like a business instead of a slush fund, I would like to commend the current thieves and criminals for installing, in some stations, the board that updates passengers on when the next train will arrive. Yes, other cities have had these for ages, but I say better late than never.

3. Devoted partner is a far better interweb miner than I, coming up with tons of funnies which he shares with me. I now share some with you and also a serious one courtesy of Antonio:
* Not about OJ Simpson, surprisingly
* Not statistically sound, but tee-hee
* Roger Ebert and I are mind-melding

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 20, 2010

I'll Show You Eating Local

Flowers are lovely, what with their colors and scents; yet they are also in grave danger should they cross my path. I am a killer of flowers. It's not malicious, mind you, merely negligent. My poor mother, a great lover of all things floral, tries to help me with my black thumb by, you guessed it, bringing me flowers which, also guessing correctly, I promptly kill.

So what on earth could possibly account for the frank bounty of my small garden? It's that I can eat my garden. I have a vested interest in its health because it feeds me. And it has been feeding me quite well.

I started with some seedlings from and I waited until May to nestle them in the dirt by our front door. And then I waited. And watered. And waited. And watered. My herbs I was less concerned with: herbs are weeds - they grow anywhere (not so interesting side note: I grew some black peppermint in a pot on my fire escape and really paid it little heed; so little, in fact, that when winter came, I didn't bother bringing the plant in - after all, it cost me like 3 bucks, I could buy another one come spring - after a winter during which it was snowed on and frozen, wouldn't you know it, the plant rose again come the warm weather). By the time we came back from Nicaragua, the plants had nearly outgrown their stakes. More, bigger stakes were purchased. Then the plants started flowering and then, about 2 weeks ago, there was fruit ready to be picked.

The most glorious fruit possible. Tiny Mexican midgets, blondkopfchen, black cherries, purple Cherokees, green zebras, stupices; all sweet, all scrumptious. My awe is disproportionate to the event in question given how long we humans have grown things, but I simply can't get over the fact that I have successfully not killed plants.

And last night, in an effort to pretend we're eating while not really eating, I made the following (I'll leave it to you to guess which item someone else was responsible for procuring, but mind you it was local too): broiled Spanish mackerel (too lazy to get out the grill) over oven roasted cherry tomatoes with a parsley and mint salsa verde.

We ate the things that came from our garden. The things I water and prune and worry over. And it tasted good and fresh and low-fat and all the things the locavores say it should taste like.

Next year I'm definitely branching out into more than tomatoes and herbs, but for now, for the next 6 or so weeks, I will be blissfully happy with just that.

Aside to Clay: thanks for the mention, but crap, I try to keep my own political ranting down to 3x a month or so.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Last night, devoted partner and I read the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Yeah we knew what it said, just not the specific words it used to say it. After all, American history class is, sadly, eons ago, and I am an American, I get to take this stuff for granted.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Read it again to let it sink in.

This is truly the greatest gift we have given to civilization.

I might go so far as to say this is the greatest gift anyone has ever given to civilization, and you know how much I love the ancients, Rome and Greece.

So we've found something I'm a fundamentalist about. These words. All of them. Interpreted as broadly as possible. Forever.

People who attempt to abridge these words, narrowly interpret them, claim the authors of this document didn't really mean what they wrote? Those people are my enemies. And frankly, they are yours as well.

Messrs. Stewart and Colbert have done a much better job than I could hope to these past few weeks detailing exactly how preposterous my enemies are, but it doesn't blunt them.

We all poked fun at former president Bush the 2nd with his admittedly laughable you're either with us or with the terrorists because that's a binary equation that is logically unsound. But this one isn't: you either believe in every word of our first amendment or you believe in none of them. It's like being a little bit pregnant, it is simply impossible. Change, abridge, hem-and-haw, ignore, pass over, denigrate, disregard just one part of that comprehensive sentence and you negate the whole. The same sentence that allows you to loudly disagree with something someone else is loudly saying allows that person to say it in the first place. Opinions and feelings don't enter into it.

We, all of us, have these rights - even Scientologists and vegetarians - and if you're not willing to uphold these rights for everyone, to my mind, you're not really an American.

We as a country have made our fair share of mistakes, lo these 250ish years, but this one we got 100% absolutely right. Anyone who doubts that has completely missed the point. And while I will uphold his right to doubt, it's a pretty heavy irony; an irony that eludes so many (I have the right to say that this person doesn't have the right to!?).

Defending these words is the most important duty an American has and many Americans have died doing so. The trickle-down effects of its dilution are honestly too awful to imagine which is why I'll be sharpening my pitchfork for when the angry hordes collide.

I hope you'll be there too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What I Learned This Weekend

If I buy nothing else this autumn, I must have a camel coat. This important bit of information courtesy of Andrew, fashion designer and excellent Waldorf to my Statler. I spent the weekend in the Berkshires chez Amy ('s parents) and I must admit I had trepidation: after all, there were going to be an astonishing number of people with dietary habits I rebuke. Thankfully Andrew, while himself the possessor of food, shall we call them, peccadilloes, was content to use the energy he saved by not masticating meat and using it to be snarky with me about, well, everything. Apologies to our fellow guests.

The second thing I learned was that a dog, no matter how awesome, playful, gorgeous, fluffy, and big, does not quite replace a devoted partner. When I learned that the Greatest Bernese Mountain Dog Ever was joining us, I may (or may not have) squealed like a cartoon character, and while dog and I did some masterful playing, she just wasn't enough of a replacement for my awesome, playful, gorgeous, fluffy, and big human companion (Amy, please note the ultimate commas). That being said, I need a dog badly. Those things are awesome! Even Hogie, the smaller dog of oodle provenance, gets my heart pitter-pattering (also he is a surprisingly un-annoying small dog and quite adorable; also he does not bark).

But the final thing I learned was more a confirmation of prejudices long-held: vegetarians...WTF?

You know when you talk to vegetarians and they try to tell you that they have entrees just like normal people? It's a lie. Vegetarians do, in fact, eat like rabbits. They nibble from assortments of dishes that can only be described as salads. I don't know if eating 3 different kinds of salad at one sitting can be justified as a meal, I think it sounds a lot more like the unlimited salad at Olive Garden. And the salads all taste more or less the same. Which is understandable given the ingredient limitations (god help you if the people are also vegan). In the grand scheme of things, lentils and mung beans with tomato vinaigrette taste enough the same as rice with tomatoes in a lemon vinaigrette as to not really require two separate dishes.

When you see a plate composed of a quadrant for arugula, a quadrant for grilled vegetables, a quadrant for rice salad, and a quadrant for lentil salad it hits you that these people must be kidding. Now I am not as adamant about meat for every meal as devoted partner is, and quite frankly there is a lot in the pasta world that I enjoy meatless, but the above plate as your daily supper? Come on!

So, I'm sorry, god of tolerance, but I now have first-hand knowledge that the not-eating of meat is precisely the ridiculousity I always thought it was.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Where Does This Fall on the Adorable->Pathetic Scale?

From time to time, people have remarked to us (or to me about us), that they find it strange how often devoted partner and I do separate things. Or how we don't call to check in on each other. Or how, except in very very specific cases, there is no resentment/jealousy/peevishness about the time we spend apart. But I still get a lot of, "what does devoted partner do/say/think when you do x?" I think that having independence makes us value our time together more, but it might not be for everyone. Still, the one thing we both rely on and look forward to is that last moment of the day when we're in bed together.

So, last night when I realized that, by virtue of dropping him off at the airport I would be sleeping alone, I was kind of sad. We really don't spend many nights apart - the last time was a year ago. And it was my first time sleeping alone in the house. The scary, poorly lit, no-one-can-hear-you-scream house. I locked the doors for the first time in a while.

Then, after watching Steel Magnolias (something I would probably not do if I was sharing the couch), I became listless. There was no one to bother. I went to Whole Foods to do some shopping for the weekend; I made an upside-down nectarine cake (much more like a tatin - it needs creme fraiche to cut the sweet); I poked around on the internet.

And then I changed into one of devoted partner's shirts, arranged blankets and pillows on the floor of the living room, and fell asleep watching tv. Now I can make up some bullshit about how we don't have a tv in the bedroom anymore and falling asleep to tv is a luxury I can only experience when I have the house to myself, but the truth is, I kind of didn't want to sleep in our bed alone.

I know. It sounds crazy. It sounds a little unbalanced. But our bed is where WE sleep. I don't know where I sleep anymore. I'll try to be a little more evolved come Sunday night; thank goodness Amy has given me a reprieve (and a spare bed) in the Berkshires for the weekend!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just Because You're Paranoid...

I think my mailman may be dodgy.

Perhaps it's that we watched the first two episodes of Rubicon the other day, but I'm starting to agree with the tagline: not every conspiracy is a theory.

For a moment let me digress to express initial disappointment with the Rubicon. Leaving aside the fact that the principal character is neither interesting nor handsome enough to draw me in, the whole of the first two episodes smacked way more of the lazy stylings of Da Vinci Code and nearly none at all of the hyperbright (and sexily accented) Foucault's Pendulum. For suspense writers, and would-be suspense writers, let me just give you a small piece of advice: if I know what your character will do or say next, you haven't really achieved suspense. And it doesn't have to be highbrow. Read Agatha Christie. Please. I really want to find new television to watch.

But back to my mailman. I'll admit from the start that I do not hold the United States Postal Service in high regard. Wherever possible I pay extra for the nice professionals at UPS or FedEx to bring me things. Sadly, they do not yet bring me things like magazines and bills. For these, and certain other things that are not offered to be shipped via organized companies, I must still rely on the pedestrian mail. While in Harlem, I was frequently heard yelling expletives at the lazy SOB mailman who would NEVER ring my bell or buzzer to ascertain whether or not I was home and able to receive my package and instead would just slip a notice into my mailbox. I didn't pay the postage for my packages to be delivered to your office, sir, I paid for the package to be delivered to my home. On the rare occasions when said package was actually brought onto the property (I maintain that the mailman didn't even bother with the packages, he simply left them at the post office and did his rounds with a stack of info notices), he would leave them with my criminal neighbors. Not cool.

Now in Greenwich where my neighbors are only white collar criminals and not really interested in pilfering my amazon boxes, things have slightly improved. Unless the mail is registered it comes to the house. Sort of. Usually it comes to the driveway. Specifically right in front of my garage door in a way that would prevent me from getting my car in the garage without running over my package. Now, you might think this is a minor concern, but it's not as though the mailman drives down my driveway. He parks his car on the street and walks. The distance to the garage door and to the front door are nearly equidistant, and yet the mailman never puts my packages in front of my door, always in front of my garage (except for when he shoves and mangles items to wedge them into my mailbox - nb books don't like to be folded like that).

And yet, miraculously, both the gentlemen from houses UPS and FedEx are able to reliably find my front door (where there is a porch of sorts where boxes can be neatly stacked). Somehow it hasn't eluded those nice men that there is a place where mail goes and it isn't in the firing line of my tires. How can this be?

Furthermore, I'm convinced my mailman doesn't actually come by every day. It is just too coincidental that at least two days a week the mailbox is empty (and neither of those days is Sunday) and at least two days a week it is jampacked so full that the door can't close. I just don't buy that coincidence.

So, federal government, if you're reading, I know you don't give the post office my tax dollars, but I do know that you lend it money. Lots of money. Likewise, I know the post office employs lots of people and you're not really interested in getting people out of jobs these days, but perhaps a compromise can be reached. Why don't you SELL the post office to UPS or FedEx? I know there will be some details that need to be worked out, not to mention that UPS and FedEx know just how unprofitable it is to deliver pieces of paper at 40 cents a pop, but maybe you could sweeten the deal with incentives (off the top of my head, I'm thinking a gas tax abatement). Then UPS and FedEx could train your postal employees (who make your TSA employees look like out-of-work nuclear physicists) and I could get reliable delivery of all of the things that come to my house.

It's just a suggestion.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Ferry Crossing Problem

I first encountered this logic problem in a book, probably sci-fi, probably in 4th or 5th grade, which is why it has made such a lasting impression. The long and short of it is there are 6 people, 3 good guys and 3 bad guys, and a boat that seats 2 people. Bad guys can never outnumber good guys and all the good guys need to get to the other side without the bad guys. How do you do it. I've always liked this problem even when, like this morning, I frantically IM devoted partner asking him what it's called (doesn't actually have a name), and if you don't want to take the time to figure it out, at the end of the post and after some carriage returns, I'll print the answer.

Now I like math and I like logic and I like to be smug about my skills in both. Which is why the personal ferry crossing problem that I am struck by is so horribly humiliating. And it comes up a lot.

I cannot cannot cannot wrap my mind around the math associated with two cars and two drivers and catch myself almost weekly abandoning logic in my mind for reasons I cannot explain. For some reason I find myself thinking: if devoted partner and I go to a bar in separate cars and I get too drunk to drive, devoted partner can drive us both home and then go back to get my car. I think this, in one way or another, ALL THE TIME. Take our upcoming solo airplane trips. I have thought: ok, I'll drive my car to devoted partner's office, then he can drive me to the airport in his car, and then take my car back home. I simply cannot comprehend that devoted partner is unable to drive two cars simultaneously while also being unable to understand why the idea begins in my head as a good one.

And frankly it's starting to drive me a little crazy. I mean even the dullest crayon in the box figures out AFTER A YEAR that two cars require two drivers. But then there's me, happily plotting impossible itineraries.

G=good guy
B=bad guy

First crossing: G + B
Return trip: G
Second crossing: B + B
Return: B
Third: G + G
Return: G + B
Fourth: G + G
Return: B

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Commuting Nopropos

Merely since yesterday I have encountered a startling number of commuting-related consternations, yet none of them really warrants a dedicated post. Therefore, please enjoy these four:

1. If your teenaged son has a learning disability/drug problem/run-of-the-mill teenaged angst issue, perhaps the best place to discuss with your older daughter how much you can't wait for him to get out of the house, how you're putting him on Adderall and how if he doesn't get into any college he'll have to go into the military and you don't want him fighting, is NOT the train. Kudos to your daughter for explaining that perhaps, prior to drugging your kid up, you might consider sending him to therapy - at least you didn't mess up both your kids. Also, if you're the guidance counselor at GHS where I now know this boy goes to school, please find him and give him some guidance.

2. If you absolutely must give someone instructions, over the phone, as to the precise precise location of the spare key he can find to gain entry to your house, you might consider giving such instructions sotto voce. See, the thing of it is, now that I, and everyone around you, know where your spare key is, you run a greater risk of someone other than the person you're speaking with finding the key and robbing you blind. It wouldn't really be all that difficult to sneak a peak at your license when you hand the conductor your ticket, nor for that matter would it be all that difficult to pickpocket you - especially were the robber a professional. Show a little discretion and you might get to keep all of your nice stuff.

3. It is politically incorrect to make fun of the sounds of foreign tongues - that's akin to making fun of the culture itself. However, if you are speaking English very loudly and it sounds like this or this, then I'm sorry, politically correct or not, I will not be able to stop myself from giggling.

4. If so few people ever help you get your stroller down the stairs that you looked at me with tears in your eyes as you said, "god bless you," there is something seriously wrong with everyone who isn't me. People, help women or men, frankly, get their strollers down the stairs. It literally took me 30 seconds and this poor woman reacted as if I had saved her kid from a burning building. Don't those subway ads say something about courtesy being contagious? Unless you are actually en route to save babies from burning buildings, you have the 30 seconds.

Monday, August 9, 2010

So, About That Whole Having Kids Thing...

No, please sit down, nothing to announce here.

Except that my position on the theoretical little monsters might have softened somewhat as I came across something this weekend that might make them worthwhile.

Now I have made my fair share of fun at the idea of birth gifts, the expensive baubles some wives expect and some husbands supply to offset the physical discomfort of childbirth (btw, ladies, your asking for a diamond as reward for having a kid doesn't make having a kid seem worth it - after all isn't the kid supposed to be the reward?). I have scoffed and judged, but possibly merely on account of my relative ambivalence to jewelry. But I saw something I want. Something about as expensive as a diamond whatever, but eminently more practical vis a vis the whole if-I-have-kids-I-will-become-a-washed-up-sexless-stretchmarked-milkbag dilemma.

First some more preamble:

Preamble 1: I forgot about this item because it has been in the neighborhood of 20 years since I had seen the movie at which time

Preamble 2: I figured I would never ever leave New York and therefore would never be in the market for one.

I have informed devoted partner that the price for my safely releasing his spawn unto the world is this.

This is clearly the perfect Yelena car, Yelena being very very similar to Steve McQueen in badassitude. I saw this at an auto auction on TV and was struck dumb - or as devoted partner described it, I didn't say anything lewd about my intentions towards the car which is how he knew I was serious. This car has pretty much everything I could want: it's hatchback-ey (see also my devotion to certain Datsun Zs, VW GTIs, and the amazingly hideous awesomeness of the Porsche 944), it's speedy, and it's a simply gorgeous retro shade of metallic pine. I love this car so much that I wouldn't even consider painting it orange.

And, for the practical bit, no one in his right mind could accuse me of being a washed-up-sexless-milkmachine if I picked up my kids from school in this. I don't care if their slovenly friends can't fit in the car - I do not exist to be a dirty child delivery service. If each of two children has one friend over, we can all still fit in the car; I don't really want to be responsible for more children than that. Once upon a time the fantasy had me in a Karmann Ghia, but where that is a Barbiemobile, this is a car that hews much more closely to Pam Grier than Audrey Hepburn and, in the end, which do you think I want to be.

I can see that you miracle-of-life people out there might shudder at this craven consumerism, but it is just an opening salvo: who knows, I might be able to get the car without having the kids thereby sparing them the kind of mother who would use them as negotiating chips in the acquisition of a car.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Of Epic Battles

Really, peaches people? I know there are a lot of you out there. Why within my own family both devoted partner and internets-savvy mom are partisans for the P-Party! I know matters of taste are exactly that, but I have to say, even after all this time and a fair bit of effort, I just don't get it.

Nectarines are WAY better than peaches!

I'm not even sure I feel it's a fair fight. Yes, in a vacuum, peaches are wonderful: sweet, summery, sweet, juicy, sweet. If there were no such thing as nectarines and peaches had only the plain black plum to fight in the stone fruit wars, then yes, viva peaches! But peaches DO have stone fruit competition: the apricot, the greengage plum (now in the market and many times this morning in my mouth and bag), not to mention the weird ones like the plumcot or the apricine or whatever Californians are doing to mate their fruits with one another today. Peaches, to my tastebuds, don't stand a chance.

And nowhere was that clearer than in last night's fruit salad (side note: gentlemen, why does fruit not seem like food when it's in the refrigerator in its whole form, but once sliced immediately becomes food?). When sliced and placed next to the nectarine, the peach's one-hit wonder of taste (sweet) was so achingly, painfully obvious, whereas the nectarine, which is sweet with a divine tangy bite, shone. Notice, if you will, that fruit juice companies frequently pair the peach with another fruit, mango or orange. Could it be that the frail peach is just too simple to stand alone and needs some acid from a friend?

And poor devoted partner, he'd eat peaches every day (provided said peaches were cut for him, see above), whereas I have, throughout the years, made him exactly zero peach pies and countless nectarine mascarpone cheesecakes (Amy, can I bring one next weekend?). In my market bag right now are four peaches: two yellow, two white so that I can make more fruit salad and we can bring it to the beach, but the peaches were purchased with a heavy heart: can a relationship survive this most fundamental of differences?

Perhaps we are saved by climate. The peach vs. nectarine wars are ephemeral, lasting a mere 6 weeks each summer, after which time peace reigns in a household that prefers tart apples to sweet ones.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Perhaps Not the Criminal Mastermind I Thought

In theory, I think I would make an excellent superthief/superspy: moral relativist, flexible relationship with the truth, rationalizer. In reality, as devoted partner points out more often than I would like (though, to be fair, this is a stupid discussion to be having in the first place so perhaps he's right to put me in my place) I am not all that stealthy. I don't blend in with crowds and I haven't learned how to make myself forgettable (though I maintain that the cunning use of wigs would do wonders for my changling-ness). Also, and perhaps more troubling for the current resume I have in case SPECTRE is looking for new hires, is that there are certain scams, albeit minor ones, that just wouldn't occur to me, and I wonder if my big-picture attitude is hurting me or depriving me of lower-level experience.

Yesterday the conductor on my train, who I see at least twice a week, punched a ticket for me without seeing my train pass - several of the conductors do this because they recognize me (bad news for my covertness). This was all the more surprising because it was the first time in August I had seen him, meaning he had no guarantee that I had bought a monthly pass for August and I said as much to him, joking that had I known he wasn't going to check I could have saved myself some money. In reply, he told me that there had been a group of women who were regulars on his train that had done just that: they would buy their monthly passes and show them to him for the first week of the month; then, once they were sure he was going to punch tickets for them without verifying they had passes, they returned their passes for a partial refund and rode the rest of the month for free.

Leaving aside how rude that is - I don't know if conductors could get fired for that sort of thing - it's just the kind of petty crime I don't consider. I'm too busy wondering how far I could joyride in that Ferrari before apprehension and if I could find a way to talk myself out of it. And the sad thing is, as compelling a speaker as I believe myself to be, I absolutely FAIL at seeming pitiable.

I try not to speed beyond the average speeder in traffic because I know I'll actually get stuck with the ticket. Even if I was able to muster some tears for the highway patrol person, which I give myself about even odds for, I doubt I'd be believable, and this is a major failing in my criminal mastermind/secret agent ambitions. Women should be able to call on that, "I'm helpless/silly/don't know what I'm doing thing" at the drop of a hat. Feminists bear with me while I maintain that until we have salary parity it behooves us to use what ever tricks are at our disposal to level the playing field - consider the speeding ticket you talked yourself out of with eyelash batting as the first of many hundred dollars you are technically owed if that makes you feel better.

So, I'm checking local community colleges to see if classes are offered in this sort of thing because I figure, if I can't even scam Metro North out of $150, no one is going to invite me on that awesome diamond heist!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shit My Mom Says

First email: "Dear Yelena, Went to my "insert address" button and it came up saying 'you have no addresses in your book' Now I didn't do that!!!!!!!!!!'s the recipe and could you please tell me your address again so I cab create a new book? [recipe redacted]"

Second email: "Dear Y, I plucking hate using e-mail to send A RECIPE Do you know how long it's taken me? And all that list shit and tab and enter and pluck pluck pluck....... anyway Arrange on a heated platter and spoon the sauce over top. I served with soba noodles, but you can eat it over a pile of shit, you computer junkie,,,,,ALL my love, mom Also, I type with so many mistakes that I spend half the time backspacing and correcting But I do know how to iron"

I wasn't going to post today, summer and all, but then this arrived and I had to share it. I think it pretty much stands on its own.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Of Orcas and Puppies

Leave it to devoted partner to know the purported etymology of hushpuppies: to shut up the dogs, excess batter from frying fish would be tossed to them. Leave it to me to develop an immediate and unhealthy addiction to those delicious lumps of essentially fried cornbread.

Let me put the addiction in perspective: I eschewed home-made pie so that I could have more hushpuppies.

As an ignorant yankee, I was under the broad assumption that barbecue is pretty much the same from place to place - after all, it's just meat that's been cooked forever. Not so. Not so at all. Wisely, I schlepped us to Allen & Son in Chapel Hill because the internets seemed to enjoy it. There we ate, easily, the best pulled pork of our lives enhanced by some killer cole slaw. Now, if you're like we were, you're thinking, "what the hell could be so good about cole slaw?" I don't know. But I know this cole slaw was unbelievable! And the hushpuppies...? I could have eaten 50 (in reality, I limited myself to about a dozen).

Later when we sampled fast-food hushpuppies (cut us some slack, it was 2am) and later still when we dined at another bbq establishment, we realized the trip to Allen & Son was more than worthwhile - it was transcendent.

I briefly envisioned a world where I no longer cared how fat I became so long as I could guiltlessly eat pulled pork and hushpuppies. I would wear a tent and frost my hair and be deliriously happy - at least until my massive coronary. Instead, I turned to devoted partner and said that if we ever moved to the neighborhood, we would have to limit our Allen & Son consumption to once a month. But next time I will try the pie.

My first reaction to the greater Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area was a positive one. We saw three separate farmer's markets Saturday morning, and two of them were pretty big and pretty diverse. The shoppers looked like just the kinds of people you'd expect would stand online for 3 dollar tomatoes, otherwise known as insufferable yuppies just like us. Getting around seemed easy enough. It was a favorable first impression marred only by the preponderance of housing developments which are a concept I don't quite grok, being a person interested in privacy. I was assured by locals that stand-alone houses exist in abundance, however.

And the people. Jesus, it was like meeting awesome aliens! They all were friendly and polite. They were everything my metro-north compatriots are not: door-holding, smiling-greeting, non-shoving delights! I don't know if it's in the water, or if the rude ones get turned into pulled pork, but everyone we met was friendly. So much so that I started noticing when people were merely normal-friendly as opposed to super-friendly.

And I truly think good ol' Marcel wouldn't have been such a consumptive killjoy had his madeleines been hushpuppies - the rhapsodic waxings of the latter can only be delivered with joy!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Surprisingly Less Vocal

Devoted partner and I spent the weekend in and around Durham, North Carolina for our friend, Ariane's wedding. Obviously, of our adventures, there will be posts, but I wanted to concentrate today on the wedding aspect of the weekend.

Ariane is a performer from a family deeply into performing and with many deeply performy friends. Notably a passel of Gilbert & Sullivan singers. It is my personal prejudice that Gilbert & Sullivan singers take every possible opportunity to sing Gilbert & Sullivan and so I had some apprehension about the weekend. Also there were to be many many people who danced well at this wedding, distinguishing it from most weddings where no one can dance. Here I would be in the minority of no ones. (Also, I don't know if you've ever noticed this, but dancers are a fit bunch, which can hurt a bit in the self-esteem department for the slightly more rounded among us.)

And there was some singing. I'll admit, I was part of it, having been asked by the bride to be part of the chorale that took the role often given to the chamber musicians. But surprisingly little singing. There was dancing which, thank goodness, I was no part of at all. Instead we were treated to an incredible dance piece that, to my untrained eye, could only be described as human kinetic sculpture. And yes, there was a little bit of Gilbert & Sullivan. But a very little bit. And everything seemed to fit.

There are weddings that are ostentatiously unconventional where you wonder why the bride and groom felt they had to try so hard to be different and then there are weddings that are unconventional because the bride and groom felt a certain way about how they wanted a wedding to be. Yes, this was an unconventional wedding complete with no officiant and Krispy Kreme donuts in place of a cake, and every little quirky thing worked and made the whole seem natural and un-stilted. Of course these components were necessary, you would say, this is who the bride and groom are!

When we went out to get barbecue last night, then, we were excited to run into the other stragglers from the weekend. I like a wedding that gives guests a lot of time to get to know one another and through rehearsals and rehearsal dinners and weddings and after-weddings and brunches, we spent a nice bit of time with a new set of people. I don't know what brides and grooms hope their guests get out of the nuptial party, or if they think about that at all, but this wedding can be added to our fortunate list of weddings that were a pleasure to attend.