Friday, December 18, 2009

Let the hunting begin!

Alright Photo Hunt that I have been sort of taking pictures for in the back of my mind but really putting off until after finals are over*. Bring it on:

1. Holiday Lights
2. Holiday Spirit
3. A Holiday Treat
4. An Ornament
5. A Gift-Wrapped Package
6. A Window Display
7. A Winter/Holiday Icon
8. A Tree
9. A Tradition
10.Something that says Noel
11. Something Precious
12. Something Peaceful
13. Something Hot
14. Something Cold
15. Something Red
16. Something Green
17. Motion blur
18. Black & White Photo (with selective coloring)
19. Any photo using an Infrared Photography Technique (in-camera OR post-process)
20. A Macro Shot

*Not actually over

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Don't worry, I'm probably going to cut it

I can't believe I just wrote this in an academic paper, brackets and all. I'm such a tool.:

"Now, it’s not uncommon for me to cry at good theatre. Even mediocre theatre. As I once told a friend, I like to ride the [emotional] rollercoaster as they’ve built it for me, but when I get off I can tell you if it was worth the cost of the admission. This is somewhat misleading: I’m seriously acrophobic, which keeps me from enjoying most rollercoaster rides. I can take the spinning ones, that keep you low to the ground. But that’s it. A trip to an amusement park is only amusing for my friends. I usually shed a tear or two where I am supposed to, at the appropriate point of the show. When someone good dies, or when anyone is faced with the inevitable cruelness of life, I tear up. But at the beginning of an overpriced, corporatized, not just corporatized but Disneyfied, kid’s show that cost me over 100 bucks to get into? I think not."

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

momentum...

I can't stop!

Anyway, this Neutraface parody of Pokerface video is one of the funniest things I've seen all year. I love it! It's so nerdy, and most of the stuff I don't understand, but the one with the dark beard is SO committed. Also, the nerd-on-nerd action at 3:19 is HOT


Watch it watch it! Share the hotness!

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Photography is phun

Folks! I'm doing a Photo Hunt! Cool! It's a little more holiday-y than I hoped this month (not really a fan of the holiday pics), but oh well. This is the first I'd learned of these hunts, so I'll give it a shot. (That was a pun).

Keep your eyes out here. I'll keep an album on Flickr but I'll link to it here to keep you all posted!

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Bam!

This, people, is precisely my philosophy. Seriously, some things just need to be ignored.

Also, the website above always has great/cool/interesting stuff going on. I'm excited about their most recent post about the now-declassified (hilarious and yet still interesting looking) CIA manual from the Cold War. That time period fascinates me, so if you've read the book, let me know if it is cool enough to check out.

And with that, I bring you the end of National Blog Posting Month. Tomorrow, I'm taking a break. But I hope to continue to blog more and I hope you continue to blog more as well.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Apparently I can't be around big crowds

Because I've somehow managed to catch a cold. Ick. Probably all that getting-only-a-few-hours-of-sleep-and-then-waking-up-at-5-am-to-stand-around-in-the-cold-with-a-bajillion-people. Boo. But at least it's not the flu. I saw the twin off (back to VA for her) this morning, and I have been hanging around the house eating leftovers and getting ahead on the little bit of reading left for the semester. My reading load is decreasing dramatically these last few weeks, but I still have about 65 pages left to write and/or polish. All of my time now becomes about these three papers and prepping for my one final.

I guess that means my blogging will get boring-er. Hang in there, holiday blogging is always fun!

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving: In Photos and Recipes

This was my first time cooking Thanksgiving. Kristen helped!


She helped soooo much. Thanks twinface! We agreed ahead of time to just relax and enjoy the cooking. I can get so picky about how things go that I can be terrible to work with on the cookings. But we both agreed to be totally chill and just see what happened. So we did.

Gilgamesh also helped.


He lay on his new favorite thing, the sleeping bag, in the middle of the hallway to make sure we were graceful enough to dance around him.

Here it is:

Thanksgiving Spinach Salad

Ingredients:
1 package baby spinach
some pecans
some dried cherries*
some plain chevre
1 lemon

Wash spinach. Toss ingredients together except lemon. Add a squeeze of lemon to each serving.



Ciabatta

Ingredients:
Go to your local French-Italian bakery and buy a loaf of ciabatta. Slice generously, warm in the oven. Eat. (No way I was gonna add baking bread to the already long list of cooking that needed to be done for this meal.)



Garlic Potatoes with Spiced Sour Cream

Ingredients:

As many baby red potatoes as you want
several cloves of garlic
4 tbsp butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 cup sour cream
Chives, diced (we couldn't find any and used scallion greens. Chives would have been better)

Mix the sour cream with the paprika and garlic powder. Add black pepper to taste. Refrigerate

Put slits in the potatoes, but don't cut them all the way through. Slice the garlic thinly and insert garlic into some of the slices in the potatoes (about three/potato). Roll the potatoes in melted butter. Place the potatoes in a baking pan, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until soft, about an hour. Top with sour cream mixture and a sprinkle of chives.


Turkey

Alright, this baby had three main parts that made it delicious: brining, the stuffing/basting combo, and the rubbing/baking step that we stole from Emeril.

1) Brining

Ingredients:
2 oranges
2 lemons
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup salt
about 1 gallon water
handful of rosemary
handful of thyme
1 turkey (we had an 11.2 pounder, for the simple reason that we just couldn't find anything smaller!)
a bucket large enough to fit your turkey and 1 gallon of water, but small enough to fit in your fridge

Add sugar, salt and spices to the gallon water in the bucket. Stir until dissolved. Quarter the fruit and throw it in the bucket as well. Clean the turkey. Remove the giblets and neck (I almost did not find the giblets), trim off any extra fat, rinse it with cold water. Immerse in the bucket. Put the turkey with bucket in the refrigerator for 12-48 hours (we went with 12 as we were worried about the saltiness).

2) Stuffing/basting-y/baking stuff The rest of it

Ingredients:
2 cans of chicken with wild rice soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cans of turkey broth
1 can of french fried onions
2 onions
7 cloves of garlic
Turkey from Part 1
A little butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove turkey from brine. Rinse it with cold water inside and out. Pat dry inside and out. Place it in the pan and rub it all over with the oranges from the brine. Then rub it with butter (according to Emeril, people. Not my idea...). Quarter the onions and stuff them inside the cavity. Add the garlic. Turn the turkey breast-side down. If you are using different kinds of soup (like I recommend above), mix them together first or you will have to hold the turkey out of the way to stir. Pour the soup into the pan with the turkey. Place in oven. Roast breast side down, uncovered, for 1 hour. Flip! Baste with 1/2 cup turkey broth. Return to oven to cook uncovered for about another 2 hours. Baste with 1/2 cup turkey broth every 30 minutes. When within the last hour of cooking, start sprinkling the turkey with the french fried onions after basting each time.

Cook until that pop-up timer pops out or turkey is about 185 degrees F. Carve. Serve soup mixture with turkey.

Enjoy!



Cranberry Cream Cheese Wontons

Ingredients:

One package of gyoza wrappers
4 oz (1/2 package) of cream cheese
1/2 can of cranberry jelly
canola oil

Let's see. What's the unhealthiest way to prepare a fruit? First, lets squeeze all the juices out of the rest of it. Then let's add a bunch of sugar and turn it into a jelly. Then let's can it. And then let's mix it with cream cheese. Wrap it in a floury tortilla layer. And fry it in oil. That's it! That's perfect!

Oh boy. Kristen doesn't really like cranberry jelly, so we decided to try something new this year. In my mind, it was justified because we had to have a cranberry course at our Thanksgiving dinner.*

Warm the cream cheese for about 30 seconds in the microwave. Add the cranberry. Mix till smooth-ish. Add a small dollop to the center of a gyoza wrapper. Seal with water. Heat the oil until it's...well, hot. I don't know how hot. But you want the wrappers to start sizzling as soon as they hit the oil or the oil will just seep in and make the interior greasy. If the outer shell of whatever you are frying gets crispy right away it will seal off the oil. So, heat it until it is hot enough. Then fry these babies. Quickly. Remove them from the oil before they burst and the cream cheese mix makes the oil splatter everywhere, burning you and smelling gross. Can you tell that happened to us?




Pumpkin Cheesecake, New York style

1) Crust

Ingredients:
1 package of graham crackers, crushed to make 1 1/2 cups
1/3 cup sugar
dash of cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, melted

Mix the ingredients together, press into the bottom of a 9 inch spring-form pan. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes

2) The rest

Ingredients:
1 pie pumpkin
4 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice or cloves to taste, about a tbsp each
2 eggs (well, we used 2.5, but the recipe we used called for eggs but didn't mention them, so we were just guessing. 3 eggs seemed too wet.)
Crust from Part 1

Slice up the pumpkin into manageable chunks. Scoop out the insides. Steam until the skin separates easily from the flesh. Mash the flesh with a fork. Then blend it in a blender until smooth (limited materials here: my smoothie maker worked, but it wasn't pretty). In a separate bowl, mix the first package of cream cheese with 1/3 cup sugar and the cornstarch. We didn't have a hand-mixer, so we microwaved the cream cheese to a manageable softness first. Beat in the remaining packages of cream cheese. Add the rest of the sugar and the vanilla. Add the eggs, and keep beating. At this point we should have added the pumpkin and the rest of the spices. The heavy whipping cream should be added last, and only stirred until it is well mixed in. It should not be beat too much or the cake will get too fluffy. Don't overmix. Spoon the mixture over the pie crust from Part 1. Place the pan in a larger pan containing water that comes up the sides of the cheesecake about an inch. Bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour, until the cheesecake only barely jiggles at the center when you shake it. Cool, then refrigerate overnight. Nom nom nom.






Could you tell we were too hungry to take good photos for the last one? This looks/tastes so much better than these pictures can capture!

*So, Kristen brought cranberries instead of cherries for the salad. So I had no excuse to eat deep-fried cranberry wonton deliciousness.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

So, we didn't go shopping today, thank goodness. We did hang around the house all day and study. Well, actually I played games and finished a mediocre book I started last summer. Then I finally studied.

The thing is, I haven't really had a lot of opportunities to read for fun. I miss it immensely. When I was in undergrad, I was working 2+ jobs, taking a full course load, and always volunteering or something. I was far too busy for recreational reading. In the summers I would usually just work and volunteer, and spend my evenings alternatively hanging out with friends and reading my heart out. One summer I remember I read 63 books. Most of them were young adult fiction, but they were all my old favorites. It felt like eating an entire bag of peanut butter cups or something equally guilty but great. But that you know you will regret later.

But this past summer, I admit that I didn't get a lot of reading in. First of all, I really wanted to read more non-fiction. I got a healthy start on Zinn's People's History of the United States (which I highly recommend...it is fascinating and well written and includes all the dirty history that they keep out of classroom textbooks), but I am always much slower at reading non-fiction than fiction. I just love getting swept up in a good story, and in fact I find it takes more work to stop reading a good story than it does to just continue reading. So I churn through that kind of stuff pretty fast. But, while non-fiction is interesting and I am lucky enough to usually learn just by reading, it's hard to get carried away in the same manner.

On top of the non-fiction, I also worked a pretty intense full-time job (instead of one or two part-time jobs), and I pretty much spent every weekend adventuring, and every night going out with my favorite peoples. So, in fact, I spent a lot of time putting reading for fun at a lower level of priority. And now I read approximately 300-400 pages of non-fiction, theoretical or research stuff for class each week. So while I read all the time, and I am getting better at reading non-fiction, it's been a bit of a killjoy.

But I have been working very hard so I decided to take it easy the beginning of this week pretty much through today. I did the work for class, but very little extra research outside of that. I cleaned as best I could, and didn't worry about the rest. And Kristen and I cooked Thanksgiving dinner together. So it somehow seemed appropriate to let myself finish the last 300 pages of that book that I had been working on. And parts of it were awful but parts of it were very good, so overall, I'm just going to enjoy that I got to read it. And then I will let myself slowly sink back into academic reading for grad school. I can feel the urgency in the back of my mind, but not in my heart or in my gut. Instead, I will spread out working on my three final papers. I will not leave them until the last weekend, nor panic. I will do the best I can to get a first draft done of each in the next week and then spend the week after that reviewing it, improving it, adding to it, and otherwise working my butt off.

And on December 17th, after my last final gets out at 4, I will rush across town to JFK and fly to Chicago with a giant suitcase full of gifts for the family and friends and dirty laundry to wash at the house of someone who owns a washing machine (Dad?!). Why yes I am trying to save $11 by being vastly inconvenient. I can't wait to see you all in less than a month!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope yours was great.

Thankful for:

My family. My friends. For putting up with me and for being great.

All the opportunities that I have had throughout the years.

Being in such a good grad program, and being funded. All the people who helped me get here.

All the kindness I have experienced throughout the years!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In which my oven can't count

Last night I baked Rachel's Mom Muffins. Remember the incident with the cake where I doubled the recipe but got three cakes out of it? Well obviously I have a problem because this time I doubled the recipe which makes two dozen muffins and got...24 muffins. WTF?!

Admittedly we had two different muffin pans and I like muffin tops*, so some of them were ginormous. I just didn't realize how ginormous.

Today Kristen comes into town. Well, she was going to come into town this morning or last night or something. But she is a busy busy bee, so I will just sit here and twiddle my thumbs until she deigns to call me and tell me what is going on.

This evening I get a visit from Rachel R! I love this lady. I met her at the co-op and we lived together for three and a half years. I have been needing some Rachel R in my life!

Tonight we also begin the cooking process for t-day. (The muffins and sangria don't count, they are nibbles for the rest of the weekend.) We are going to buy a crusty loaf of bread (I wish we could wait until tomorrow for that loaf, but I think a lot of bakeries are closed...), make the dessert and start the turkey. I bet you want to know what we're cooking internet, but you're just going to have to wait!

Here are some photos to distract you from the fact that blogging this week will probably suck:

Staples:


My new humidifier. Why yes, that is a dolphin!:


Attack!:


omgkill it!:


Cat in a basket. Don't ask how he got up there:




*The main reason I like muffin tops, other than deliciousity, is because it is the only fat-positive slang I've ever heard. I have my own muffin top, and I love it!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Always the wrong kind of productivity

Well, I stayed after class and worked on my paper for several hours this evening. But I don't have anywhere near the draft that I need prepared. But that's ok. At least I worked on it.

Now, I'm burning baking Rachel's Mom Muffins. Listening to Pale Young Gentlemen and Erin McKeown. And making sangria for (another) Rachel.

Autumn Sangria:

1 large bottle cheap cheap cheap Merlot

1 cup sugar

dash of nutmeg, dash of all spice, big dash of cinnamon

two apples, thinly sliced

about 8 cinnamon sticks

1 liter ginger ale

Bring the wine (with sugar and ground spices mixed in) to a gentle simmer (Warning: if you let it get above simmering, the alcohol will boil off!) When simmering is achieved, add the apples and cinnamon sticks and mix for a few minutes. Take off heat and refrigerate at least 24 hours. Before serving, strain if desired, and mix with ginger ale.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

one step forward, two steps back

Things I did this weekend:
Did laundry, including sheets
Bought groceries for Thanksgiving
Did dishes
Cleaned some of my flat
Talked to the flatmate
Saw Hamlet
Read for class and wrote my discussion question
Played with the cat
Bought a calendar for 2009
Surfed the internet
Bought cat food
Called Sara, Clare, Mom, Jacqui and Kathy
Baked
Planned the holidays and bought my plane ticket to/from Chicago
Put some CDs on my compu
Listened to the soundtrack for Muppet Treasure Island

Things I should have done this weekend:
Finished readings for this week
Done 8-10 hours of research for my Latin American Theatre class
Written 10 pages of my paper for same class
Hung out with humans
Traded in my megabus reservation before it expired
Finished my holiday shopping

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Crafty-ness

I don't do nearly enough crafting anymore. But this weekend has been a total loss anyway, so last night I decide to change my new winter coat from drab



to fab!


Well, or at least to a little more unique looking. I added these neat-o faux-antique lion's head buttons:



Now I'm thinking of adding some sort of trim. Maybe smaller gold buttons on the collar? Should I do it, or leave it alone?

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

or lack thereof

It's after midnight, so I'll get a jump start on tomorrow by blogging before I go to bed.

Went out and saw another show: this time Hamlet. I'm guilty of being a doctoral student in theatre and not being that familiar with the show, and since I've started putting money aside in order to see more shows, I figured why not go all out and see it on Broadway?




Why yes, that is Jude Law as the title character (that, admittedly, helped me make the decision to go!). And yes, he is very hot in person. He's a very physical actor, which I think helped this play connect with it's audience, but...I was surprised at his anger. There was a lot of anger in the character and while I feel that, I expected a greater range. But it was still great. Ron Cook as the gravedigger was AWESOME. Geraldine James played a great Gertrude. At first I didn't feel Gugu Mbatha-Raw's Ophelia, but she played crazy very well. The set design and sound were dark and eerily moody, and the lighting was PHENOMENAL. Absolutely breathtakingly stunning. Perfect. Worth far more than the $35 ticket price for the lighting alone.

Lots of folks have been asking me about shows and ticket prices, and although I am not the most experienced of NYC theatrites, I did have a good mentor. The best place to check out everything about Broadway and Off-Broadway is Playbill.com. You can also get show times, theatre locations, and ticket prices there, and you can get cheaper tickets if you call ahead. Many shows offer student rush tickets, significantly discounted tickets that you can get day-of by asking for them and presenting your student ID. Some shows (like Hair, which I will, unfortunately, be seeing tomorrow) have a lottery for discount tickets. If we don't win tomorrow, I will pay $20 for standing-room only. Yes, that means you stand for the duration, but I hate Hair and I will NOT pay $60 for lousy seats for a show that I hate but that I feel obligated to see because we are reading it in class next week.

The quality of the discounted seats varied. For Finian's Rainbow our student rush tickets were at the front of the orchestra, house right, what I thought were really some of the best seats in the house (although productions of this scale are almost always designed to look pretty good even at the back of the house). Those tickets were $27. Tonight's student rush tickets for Hamlet were $35, and the seats were in the middle right of the balcony. The seats were EXCEEDingly uncomfortable (a lot of the old theatres are, although the worst by far was BAM); my knees were literally pressing into the back of the seats in front of me for the entire 3 hour show...and I'm short! Imagine how the tall people felt... Each row is more expensive than the one behind it, and Hamlet has been set for a limited run, until December 6th, so it's clear that the student rush tickets are more pricey and not as good because the show expects to make a lot of money in a very short time. And while there were certainly open seats at tonight's production, they were few and far between, so it looks to be meeting it's goal. I am sure 1/2 of the audience was there because Jude Law's face is all over the advertising.

I only had to go a few hours ahead of time to get rush tickets (in fact, tonight I had been planning on getting there 2 hours ahead of time, but I didn't even leave the house until 5:45, and didn't buy my ticket until about 45 minutes before curtain). I probably could have showed up a few minutes to curtain and gotten the tickets, but the seats would have been worse. But I am sure for some shows it really helps to show up at noon, or to line up at the kiosk on the northern part of Times Square and buy them that morning (ask KMJ for more details, as she's the one who stood in line at that kiosk-to no avail-last spring). I like to make sure I have my tickets and then head over to 9th Avenue for dinner. There are lots of good little restaurants that are only a little overpriced there. So, this is how I recommend you do Broadway. Thanks to Donatella for all the advice!

Oh, also, tonight after the show I was the impatient walker, darting around all the slow gawking that was happening in Times Square. I got to my train and was just hanging around when I struck up this conversation with these two guys. One was from LA and the other from NYC, they both worked for this investment company and were hanging around the city, trying to find a place for a party. They were super fun, and one was very cute. I wish I had gotten his number, but he got off so soon! Alas!

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Updates

Instead of posting an update today, I've added a new section:
New York Theatre

You can find it to the right of the screen (or, screen left, haha). I'll include links to all the plays I get to see in New York City. I eventually hope to upload pictures of all the programs or tickets or something, but for now I am accepting the publicity artwork/photos. You can keep up on the theatre I make it to, let me know if you think I should see anything, or ask for my opinion on a production. Yay!

PS: I'll be tweaking this over the next few days to make it more lovely. I couldn't find a pre-made widget for this, but I was able to usurp blogspot's "List" with html.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top 10

Since I am a schmuck today and super busy, I'm stealing another list from the good ol' Jessi.

Top 10 favorite foods:

1. pizza
2. sushi/sashimi: any kind without crunchy vegetables (except scallions are ok)
3. good cheese: cheese curds from WI, aged cheddar or gouda, chevre, humboldt fog, ETC!
4. prosciutto
5. popcorn: any kind except the kind with the sugary shell on the outside (yes, that means caramel corn is out)
6. garlic bread
7. pad thai
8. general tso's or sesame chicken
9. a good cheeseburger, preferrably with bacon or mushrooms or onion rings on it
10. fresh fruit: almost anything, pineapple, apple, cherry, kiwi, mango, strawberry, blueberry (I love fruit)

This does not bode well for my health. Only the last one is remotely good for me. Why can't my favorite food be spinach?

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Rachel's Mom" Muffins

Too busy to write much. These muffins were delicious.

1.5 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/8 tsp ginger
3/4 t. nutmeg
1 15 oz can 100% pure pumpkin
3 eggs
2 2/3 c flour
1 t salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c margarine or butter
1 1/4 c chopped nuts, optional
1 1/4 c chocolate chips
cream margarine and sugar
add eggs and spices, mix well
add flour, salt, baking soda and pumpkin
mix together
stir in chocolate chips and nuts
grease 24 muffin cups
bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes

* I actually don't know if "t" also means tsp. I just copied it exactly as it was written. I assume so, but I'll ask Clare and get back to you.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

someone throw me a freaking rope or something

alright, I LIED, there are no new pictures on fb because i'm drowning! drowning in work! Glub glub glub....

I have lots of reading left to do and I am teaching half of our class on Thursday! On my topic! Ack I wish I were better prepared! *reads frantically*

And, more than that, I need to be an expert on everything. Everything! Right away!

glub glub glub

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Monday, November 16, 2009

D. C. Weekend Recap!

1) Arrive evening of Thursday. Find train. Take it. Meet Clare and Rachel at their station. Much grand waving while still within the protective turnstiles occurred. Then there was hugging and yelling and walking to their beautiful place and yammering and eventually sleeping.

2) Rachel goes to work. The rest of us sleep in and attempt to be productive. Then we attempt to open a bank account. Then we attempt to buy groceries. Altogether unsuccessful afternoon. Then there was consumption of some beer (Dogfish Head=good!) and MANY tiny hamburgers and french fries with fancy sauces. Drunk on food only, we proceed to pick up tired Rachel from her long productive day and find some weird place called The Big Hunt. Irish Car Bombs and furry chandeliers ensued, quickly followed by more train travel and sleep.

3) Rachel goes to work (yes, it is Saturday). Muffins of deliciousness are baked. (Rachel's mother's recipe is for pumpkin chocolate chip. Yes, I will be making these.) Productivity is once again attempted and somewhat achieved. Bank accounts are achieved. We go to this great place called Busboys and Poets, and while drinking coffee and whisky and/or more Dogfish Head, we get a phone call from Toby! I haven't gotten a call from him in over a year, so it was wonderful to hear from him. We hung around and eventually met Rachel and her party of folks from work, and had some delicious dinner. Then we went to a house party (!), which was strange. But I met some cool folks that know Rachel, and that was good. One of them is a grad student at the New School and lives in Harlem. Cool enough, but on top of that he also works on the sort of things that intersect with the sort of things that I work on. He gave me some good hints on things to sink my teeth into in New York, so I'm really glad I met him. We return to their apartment and Clare and Rachel go to bed. I stay up until 3:30 studying.

4) It is beautiful out. We get up at an awfully early hour. Rachel goes to work. Clare and I go to Big Bear Café (sorry, no actual bears of either type) and finish our homework. We then go to the East Market Farmer's Market and Rachel eventually joins us. Purchasing of produce commences. I try Honeycrisp apples and "Asian pears" for the first time and am duly impressed. Pumpkin butter is purchased (mmmm...pumpkin...). We all get a little whiny, and I decide to take off for a glass of wine, a cup of tea, and some alone time for both me and them. We all nap. Harmoniousness is restored! I get ahold of Cedric (yay!), someone who I should have first hung out with long ago. Actually, Cedric and I knew of each other in Madison, and he would frequently drive past me on the street and lean out the window to yell my name. But we never hung out, I don't know why. Anyway, he lives and works in DC now, so I was stoked to get to grab a smoothie with him. He had a cold (boo), but we still managed to talk almost incessantly for several hours. He's an amazing, sweet person, a great listener, a critical thinker, and I look forward to chilling with him again. I return to Clare and Rachel's, and on the way I get to talk to Mingwei! It sounds like she's doing very well. I study some more and Clare and Rachel watch Mary Poppins. We sleep.

5) I get up this morning, pack and shower, say goodbye my friends, and hoof it downtown. I arrive at the bus just on time to be told that my ticket is for the wrong date (WHA?!). I am forced to buy a new bus ticket. Boo. 5 hour bus ride in which sleep is always interrupted first by our arrival in Baltimore, and later by the terrible, speeding bus driver constantly needing to slam on the breaks to avoid carnage. I stop by this place called Izumi Shushi near 28th and 7th, where I honestly had the best sushi I've had so far in NY. It wasn't super creative, although the lunch specials were good; it was the freshness of the fish. It was definitely exactly like fresh raw fish should taste like. I really recommend the toro scallion roll, which I switched for something else on a whim at the last minute. It was by far my favorite, but I also had eel, salmon, and regular tuna, and all of the fish tasted amazing. Quality of products really make a difference; even the avocado tasted amazing. Then I caught a train home and met my cat. Yay. I would have had a nap, but the drummer upstairs is still going nuts (he must be teaching lessons or suffer from some debilitating mental disorder WHEREUPON HE BECOMES INCREDIBLY ANNOYING. Always when I am trying to nap). Anyway, I've spent the rest of the afternoon studying and trying to buy cat food. I'm passing out soon. The blissful sleep I've been trying to get all weekend is calling me.

All in all, I have a beautiful trip which severely combated my loneliness. I feel much my old self. Here are some photos of around their apartment. More are up on fb. Enjoy!

Clare works:


Boots:


Leaf on window ledge:


Bike:


Their apartment:


The foyer:


Rachel works:


Tegan, my first love:

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

happy happy happy

warm fuzziness is a coffee shop with this woman

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

revealing

I've stolen it from her!

I give you money and send you into the grocery store to pick up 5 items.
You can only pick one thing from the following departments… what is it?
1. Produce : Mushrooms
2. Bakery : Garlic ciabatta
3. Meat: Sashimi-grade salmon (hey, if you're buying...)
4. Dairy : 5-yr+ gouda (with crunchy bits)
5. Dry goods : Popcorn

Let’s say we’re heading out for a weekend getaway. You’re only allowed to bring 3 articles of clothing with you. So, what’s in your bag?
1. plain black t-shirt
2. jeans
3. New Balance sneakers

If I was to listen in on one of your conversations throughout the day, what 4 phrases or words would I be most likely to heard?
1. "it's a social construction"
2. "errrgh"
3. "I know!"
4. "awkward"

So, what 4 things do you find yourself doing every single day, and if you didn’t get to do, you probably wouldn’t be in the best mood?
1. Shower
2. Check my email
3. Pet my cat
4. Sleep

You’re driving down the road, and suddenly you’re hit with this sense of road rage. What 3 factors probably contributed to it?
1. Jerks
2. Self-centered jerks
3. Capitalism! Racism! Sexism! Competition! Blatant unkindliness! America's sense of entitlement! Oh god!

Sweet, you just scored a whole afternoon to yourself. We’re talking a 3 hour block with nobody around. What 5 activities might we find you doing?
1. Surfing the internet
2. Chowing down on some popcorn
3. Singing along to my music
4. Napping
5. Reading fiction

We’re going to the zoo. But, it looks like it could start storming, so it’ll have to be a quick visit. What 3 exhibits do we have to get to?
1. Sea otters! River otters! Otters otters otters.
2. Dolphins
3. Penguins

You just scored tickets to the taping of any show that comes on t.v. of your choice. You can pick between 4, so what are you deciding between?
1. Firefly
2. Firefly
3. Firefly. Is this really a choice?
4. The old Whose Line Is It Anyway?

You’re hungry for ice cream. I’ll give you a triple dipper ice cream cone. What 3 flavors can I pile on for ya?
1. cookies and cream
2. pecan praline/butter pecan
3. chocolate peanut butter

Somebody stole your purse/wallet…in order to get it back, you have to name 5 things you know are inside to claim it. So, what’s in there?
1. debit card
2. credit card
3. driver's license
4. photos of family and friends
5. monthly unlimited ride metro card

You are at a job fair, and asked in what areas you are interested in pursuing a career. Let’s pretend you have every talent and ability to be whatever you wanted, so what 4 careers would best describe what you want to be?
1. President
2. musician
3. taxi driver
4. opinionated

If you could go back and talk to the old you, when you were in high/middle school, and inform yourself of 4 things, what would you say?
1. LIGHTEN UP. It's ok to have fun. Being in trouble is not the end of the world. Think about why rules are in place and make intelligent choices from there.
2. You are SO BEAUTIFUL. Those boys aren't making fun of you. They are hitting on you.
3. Look around you. You are part of a complex system that affects everyone around you. It's ok to be wrong and you DON'T know everything.
4. Stop wasting your energy doing what everyone else wants and figure out what YOU want.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

FRIDAY

Where upon I take an idea from Jessi and do the friday fill-in.

1. The last band I saw live was The Cash Box Kings and Pupy Costello and His Big City Honky Tonks at the High Noon Saloon back in Madison last spring.
2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is seeing Kristen and Rachel, and cooking our own new Thanksgiving recipes! I sense a new family tradition beginning! Hopefully I can get my family to be part of it!
3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is something I've only dreamed of so far. Gulp!
4. Thoughts of good old times fill my head.
5. I wish I could wear high heels.
6. Bagpipes are strange but mournful.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going out with Rachel and Clare, tomorrow my plans include catching up on my homework and Sunday, I want to see Cedric!

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

...in a bag!

On the way to D.C. Intermittent internet. Here, enjoy Gilgamesh instead.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

At the Graduate Center, it is always TheatRE. To -ER is unthinkable.

Saw Finian's Rainbow at the St. James Theatre tonight. Exchanged some flirtatious smiles with the drummer in the pit. Normally I would complain that this was the best part of the evening, but the show actually...was not that bad.

There's not much I should talk about here, but, let's face it, I never update that other blog, so you guys are just gonna have to cope. The show has a very interesting depiction of race in America in the 1930s that remains relevant today. There were interesting depictions of class-based racial solidarity in the south, which I happen to be reading about in Zinn's People's History of the United States Right Now. There were even critiques of the middle-class (although all the while rife with middle-class values). And then there was the race change of the antagonist. It's a fascinating (albeit superficial) look.

And of course there's a hilarious prestidigitating leprechaun. So, you know. Really well-rounded. But then my appreciation for it got compounded by multiple baseless heterosexist love stories.

Balls.

NOTE: I went back and read this post and realized that you can tell I haven't formed a full opinion on it yet, because all I have to say is: "interesting" "interesting" "relevant" "fascinating"...

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bake bake baking!

No, I didn't say bac bac bacon, but maybe I should have...

Yesterday I was caught up with most of my work and trying to think of a house-warming gift for my friends who just moved to D.C. I went recipe hunting and discovered this amazing recipe from The Amateur Gourmet: Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with Lemon Crunch Glaze!. It sounds weird, but the guy's a funny writer so he had me convinced. Besides, the zucchini is a squash that I have never learned to appreciate (actually I don't really like squash at all...), so I thought I needed to acquaint myself with it better.

And anyway, if the words Lemon Crunch Glaze don't make your taste buds twinge a little, perhaps you aren't eating enough lemon. So, I decided that after I got out of work and class today I would make this monster and bring it with me to DC on Thursday. I know it's a little early to make a cake for the weekend, but some classmates and I are off to get student rush tickets for Finian's Rainbow tomorrow night, so I just don't have any more time. I'm sure it will keep.

Well, here's the result. What do you think?



I'd doubled the recipe (well, almost...I ran out of vanilla. And granulated sugar(!) And, all-purpose flour. And the only nutmeg we had was whole, so I had to grind it by hand, and, well, 2 teaspoons is a lot of hand-grinding, and, well, eventually I just gave up. I ended up using my flatmate's flour, and substituting some extra confectioner's sugar for granulated, but the vanilla was a total loss). But somehow, despite the doubling and the disasters, I ended up with enough batter for three cakes (and an entire left-over zucchini...now what!?). The last one was a little thinner, and got a little burned on the bottom, the second one lost the bottom when I was taking it out of the pan, BUT the third one was just right.



They sure look pretty though! The last one is the one that is going to my friends. The other two I'll have to find something to do with...I'm just not sure what to do with these cakes...(nom nom nom...)

Of course, last night when I was thinking about the cake recipe, I couldn't wait to try out another recipe I'd discovered. It's the pizza dough recipe from Peter Reinhardt's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. You can find a link to enough of the recipe to try it here but the author warns that it is pared down. The key to success, claims the author, is an over-night refridgerated rising for the dough. So I halved the recipe, threw the dough together last night, balled it up, and floured it and wrapped it in oiled plastic wrap. I am a moron and forgot that this is BREAD DOUGH, and instead of putting them all on top of something solid I just tossed them in the fridge. One of them was on top of the bars (instead of on top of my carton of eggs or on top of my package of shredded mozzarella, yes, I cheated and used pre-shredded cheap store-brand mozzarella, but this is NY, there is NO CHEESE here), and when I came back the next day it had, of course, sunk through the bars, spread all over my flatmates enormous selection of jams, and solidified-ish into this paste-y mess. Awesome.

After cleaning that up, I didn't have a lot of trouble with the recipe, though I couldn't stretch the dough nearly as much as that recipe calls for. All of the times it tells you to flour your hands and mess around with the dough, you might be making a mistake, because the delicate flour to water ratio which is supposed to make pizza dough so good was definitely lost. This dough was easy to work with, which is nice but wrong. What I get from the reading is that pizza crust's water to flour ratio should be obnoxiously sticky.

All in all, I was happy with the dough anyway, although the high flour ratio was noticeable and a little weird (read: it tasted too floury). I also threw together a tomato sauce which I was also not-quite pleased with. There were too many seeds in the can of crushed tomatoes I used, and next time I would use more tomato paste and less oregano. But still, when this baby finally came out of the oven at like 10:30 pm, it was DE-licious.






The crust, for all its short-comings, was still the best I've ever made. It wasn't puffy, and the bubbles weren't fluffy, which is good, because I'm not really a fan of that kind of dough. It was crispy and chewy without being too crispy or too chewy. Woohoo! I used up my shredded cheese, so it looks like I am making flat bread tomorrow, which I think will turn out great. I'll keep you posted.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Title!

Well, while I have been deprived of my NASCO peeps (and whined about it all weekend), this has actually been a good weekend for me. I caught up on my school work and house work, I caught up with my mom, and I got some good advice from an old mentor at UW.

It was unseasonably warm yesterday, and today also feels beautiful. I am inspired to go on with my work and that is important. I'm going for a walk this afternoon to explore the neighborhood east of me. I'll take some pictures for you all...

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Well, this is actually kind of a boring one.

Today I'm genuinely back in business! You can tell because I walked to the train and went into town. I stopped at several pharmacies and finally found a cheap humidifier. The air here is incredibly wet when it is warm and very dry when it is cold; hopefully this will help me get rid of the cough that always sticks around after I am sick. I also walked through Times Square and went to the Mid-Manhattan Library and did some reading for school. Then I walked around Midtown a bit.

This weekend has, much to my chagrin/happiness, been quite productive. I finished up my reading for Tuesday and Thursday already, and I am finishing listening to some recordings for Tuesday right now. Tonight I will read through as much as I can for Wednesday, and hopefully finish that as well. It will feel very good to actually be ahead. Before class I'll review the readings, and in the meanwhile I will prepare the readings I need to distribute to my research class for the 1/2 of class I'm teaching the week after. I will also start the readings for that week as well, so that I can enjoy myself in D. C. this weekend.

Some suggestions I have heard so far for a house-warming gift:
beer/something drinkable
plant/s
something decorative (I have already threatened to get them a bowl with those decorative balls in it...we both hate those things)
something edible (if I can find coconut strings I can try this great recipe)

More ideas!

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

I hope it's warm enough for visiting Minnesota and Wisconsin this winter...

I ventured out of the house today! I went to the hardware store and bought a coat hook, and installed it near my bedroom door. Not very exciting, true. But this is a good sign that I am recovering. The anti-viral treatment has really made a remarkable difference. Usually I struggle through with the flu and am miserable for a week, but today I was really feeling significantly better. Of course this would happen now that I've missed half of NASCO Institute. But I talked to Clare today and bought a train ticket to visit her and Rachel (and Cedric!) in D. C. I shall have to get them a house-warming gift. But I just don't know what they'd need....recommendations welcome.

This, of course, all reminds me of how much I miss them and being together in Madison. It is very strange, not that I don't miss Madisonians at all, but with Clare not being there any more, a sizeable piece of my desire to go back is gone. I am glad that Clare and I are still friends. That is a weight off of my shoulders. But I suppose I should have known, because we stayed friends even when she moved out of the house. So YAY! for friendships.

I also bought a coat online. When KMJ came to town to visit, we were out at a restaurant and this woman who was leaving had the most beautiful bright purple pea coat with empire waist. I stopped her and asked her where she had got it from, and she told me that this mall store had an online section with plus sizes. So, as it's been getting progressively colder here, I decided to stop at the website and order a coat today, in the hopes that it will arrive before I freeze to death. But the coat didn't look like the same one online, and it wasn't in quite the right size, so I started poking around at other plus size sections of other stores I know. And I went to Fashion Bug, a store about which I have very mixed feelings, and they had cute pea coats in a bunch of colors marked down to $60. Not cheap, but about what I would expect to pay for a coat. I decided to get the bright blue one. Then I poked around at boots for a while and finally decided to buy the coat. I checked really quick for online coupons, found one that seemed to good to be true and plugged it in. Imagine my surprise when this coupon for 50% off worked! I got this $110 coat for $30. I quickly checked out before the coupon expired or something. It's coming this week, and I'm excited about getting such a deal on it.

Woohoo for not freezing to death!

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Friday, November 6, 2009

FYI

things i do not like
(inspired by Fussy)
illness
when the heat is on too high too early
living with other people
cat poo animal poo poo in general
hipsters and wannabe-hipsters
missing the best weekend of fall
neoliberalism conservativism liberalism uh both
cooked green peppers

things i do like
fresh flowers
learning to cook for one
voicing my cat's thoughts with a british accent
raw green peppers
a good story
the internets
garlic
firefly (both the insect and the tv show)
tall people
Whiskey beer with Clare, wine with WASTED, beer with Jan, vodka with Ari,
  piña coladas and coco frio with Kristen, Irish Car Bombs with anyone

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Easy Thursday

Since I'm still feeling lousy, I'm taking the easy way out today and stealing a survey from Jessi

1. What time did you wake up this morning? 7:42
2. Are you hungry? Sort of in that weird sick way
3. What level can you play on Guitar Hero? Only easy.
4. When was the last time you ate ice cream? A few weeks ago.
5. What color is your winter jacket? I don't have one yet! Yikes!
6. Who is your favorite neighbor? I don't know any of my neighbors yet.
7. Do you wish at 11:11? Sometimes
8. Last phone call? Kristen
9. What were you doing six hours ago? Sleeping
10. What are some details about your first kiss? He was MUCH older than me...
11. Have you had any soda today? No
12. What is your favorite scary movie? I am a wuss, I can't handle scary movies.
13. Do you own a Wii? No. I wish I did, I would play Super Mario Galaxy all the time.
14. Did you wear shorts today? No
15. Anything fun happening this weekend? Well, I was going to go to NASCO Institute and see all the cool people, but I guess I'm just staying in and playing with my cat...
16. What is your favorite type of Pop Tart? Cinnamon & sugar
17. Do you subscribe to any magazines? Not anymore
18. What was the last television show you watched? It's been ages...I watched A&E Sherlock Holmes this past summer sometime, I'm sure.
19. Do you know any other languages? I know some Spanish.
20. Are you wearing anything green? Not now
21. Are your parents married or divorced? Divorced
22. Would you ever have plastic surgery? Probably not, but it depends
23. Have you ever done anything illegal? I plead the 5th
24. Can you roll your tongue? Yes
25. What is your hair color? Dark brown
26. Gold or silver? Silver
27. Hamburger or hot dog? Hot dog
28. City, beach or country? A beach, any beach
29. When's the last time you cried? This morning...I hate being sick
30. Do you post poems in your blog? Thank goodness no.
31 Ever been involved with the police? Yeah
32. Ocean or pool? Ocean, I love the waves
33. Do you drive a stick? No, I wish I knew how
34. Cake or ice cream? Cake
35. Have you ever given money to a bum? Yes
36. Last thing you spent lots of money on? My cat's vet trip
37. Where do you live? NYC
38. Last wedding attended? Avi and Alexa's
39. Favorite drink? Irish Car Bomb
40. How long was your longest drive in a car? Madison to Virginia by way of NYC. Well, we were in a truck, but I think it counts.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cough cough hack sniffle

Not much to blog about today. I'm sick. I didn't get my flu shot because the wellness center at the CUNY Grad Center hadn't gotten them in and I didn't want to pay for it when I could get one free. And now I have the flu. I went to the doctor and he prescribed me some antiviral stuff because my temperature is so high. Now I am just on the lookout for "emergency warning signs" that would mean I would have to go to the hospital. Boo.

Double boo is that now I can't go to NASCO Institute this weekend. I am very sad.

If you are sick with the flu, here's some advice from the CDC.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Number 50!

Woohoo! Post number 50. Wow, that's...so not as impressive as I hoped. Twitter is channeling all my clever comments.

People ask me lots of questions about what it's like to live in New York City, so I will try to answer some of those questions here. The most popular question so far has been about how I get around, oddly enough. So, for your information.

I always leave my apartment an hour before I want to get to school or work. If it is the weekend or if I am going further downtown (or if I have to transfer and go uptown), I need to leave about 1.5 to 2 hours before I need to be someplace. I walk about a mile to the train station. I have a monthly unlimited ride pass, which costs a little less than $100, so I don't hesitate going anywhere. I then wait for the train to come. I usually go into town on the weekends or the early morning, so I can usually get a spot on the first train that comes. If there isn't an open seat, there are bars to hold on to, and the train moves quite fast. Depending on which train I can catch (both my house and the Grad Center are near larger stations where several lines run), it is usually 15 to 25 minutes to get into the city (which is what the residents of the outer boroughs call Manhattan). Then I walk a long block and cross the street to my building. We're literally across the street from the Empire State Building, so I usually have to avoid a lot of traffic, people trying to hand me marketing or get me to go on tours.

There are also buses that I can take, but if I have to get anywhere I usually walk. The buses take some time (see yesterday's post), and I enjoy getting to walk so much, despite the pollution. I almost never take a cab, but I do have a small cab fund in case I need to get somewhere in a hurry. I took a cab once so far, when I only had 15 minutes to get to a show, and it was totally worth it. Nonetheless, cabs are expensive, and I couldn't afford to take one to class, for example.

Everything else is mostly in my neighborhood, although I wish I had a World Market or something. There are a few grocery stores and fruit stands within 10 blocks, a hardware store right down the street, and a few dollar stores within the block. There's a shipping store right across the street, and an organic food store 5 blocks west that sells Gil's food. There's a vet a few blocks away, although I might have to venture out further because I'm not sure I like this particular vet. There is also a laundromat a few blocks down, and my flat has a cart that I can stuff all my laundry in so that I don't have to carry it. There are two florists across the street, one good one and one lousy one. I didn't know that one of them was lousy until I bought these irises.



They're beautiful, as you can see, but they are already dying.

This all means that I am incredibly thankful to Andra, who taught me how to take public transportation. Without that, I'm sure I'd be stuck in Astoria.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

November 2nd is not a good day to be striving for material...

Well, I have 49 minutes left to blog today before I've lost this challenge essentially before it has began. With that in mind, today's post might not be funny or even interesting. But it is timely.

A few weeks ago a fellow student in my program at the CUNY grad center invited me and another student to have dinner with her and her boyfriend at their apartment. I was stoked. I am interesting, funny, opinionated but open-minded, and moderately well-versed in almost every topic under the sun. I am great for dinner parties with strangers. Once I get to know people better, I become more willing to speak my mind and drink my fill, so to speak, and my ability to converse about most subjects means that, on many of those topics I can only converse to a certain depth before I get out of my league. So I become a less-than-perfect (albeit still entertaining) dinner companion. It's then that I discover which people are my good friends and which people are merely very polite. Good friends either enjoy or forgive me for who I really am, even when I'm at a loss for words.

And not only am I a jack-of-all-trades enough to converse about culture, science, economics, or recent events. I've also spent some time training myself to be a good dinner-party guest. Always ask what you can bring, expect to be politely declined, always bring something anyway. Drink what your host offers, compliment the meal, include everyone in conversation, dress not-too-nicely, steer clear of politics (this one is hard for me), which fork to use, where to sit, how much to eat, have a little (!) coffee before you come over to kick things off, what to do with your napkin and your wine glass and if there really is a fly in your soup, and ALL. THAT. NONSENSE.

All of this is weird for a working-class girl from the Midwest. I started caring about it when I was still interested in business, and after that I realized if I was going to make a class transition I was going to need to learn to speak the language of where I was headed, to abide by the social codes. (Aside: This, in fact, is entirely what getting an advanced degree is about. You do learn facts, theories, and methods. But mostly you learn how to speak, write, and THINK like an academic.) For your information I learned all of this by reading, mostly on the internet. I especially like Table Manners on Chowhound, a site for people who know far more than me, but where I like to go to learn how to act like I know how to talk about and think about wine and food. But beware posting.

Anyway, you can imagine how freaking excited I was to be invited to an honest-to-goodness dinner with some cool people. And of course, for me, being excited is always, I repeat, always a mistake. It has been pretty much true throughout my current existence, that if I get excited about something, look forward to it, expect it, anticipate it, or in general get my hopes up about an event or occasion, the chances are that I will not enjoy it. I don't know if it is fate or if my expectations are too high, but I have learned that flying by the seat of my pants makes me happier (and thus probably more fun as well). You can imagine what this means for my ability to plan a party: oh fuck. Can I plan a party? Hell yes! Will I have any fun at it? Probably not. So I should have realized when I was looking forward to this thing that I was going to somehow curse it.

And I did. I committed the ultimate faux pas. I arrived late. Not a gentle 5-10 minutes "fashionably late" late. 1 hour and 15 minutes late, to be precise. One. Hour. AND. Fifteen minutes. Holy cow. I had a million good excuses (I burnt the bread to hell and had to find something else to bring, I missed my train, I took a bus instead, the bus blew a tire, the bus is a terrible idea for long distances in NYC, etc.), but it really didn't matter. I was terribly, utterly, horribly late. FAIL.

The appropriate response probably would have been to just cancel when I realized that I would be beyond 20 minutes late, even though I told them I'd be there shortly. Then they could have enjoyed the evening without having to wait for dinner (which I'm unsure if they actually did). But, being the awkward soul that I am, I just sat on that bus (and then the second bus that they sent to pick us up when the first blew a tire). And waited nervously. I waited nervously as we went up the UES and stopped every other block for 131 blocks. No lie. 32nd Street to 163. And as we got stuck in traffic every three or four blocks. It was literally insane. And when we blew that tire I thought I was losing my mind. The downside to drinking coffee before you come over is that if you are stuck on the bus it will make every second you are late feel like eternity.

I wish there was a positive ending to this story, like "but the food wasn't even done when I arrived and my wine saved the day and we stayed late into the evening chatting." But there isn't. *sigh* I guess I've just got to resign myself to being the awkwardest of awkwards. But they were very great hosts, handled it very well, and it gave them a chance to chat with the other guest for a while, which I guess is good. And hey, it could have been worse. What an awkward end to an awkward post about an awkward evening...

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wherein I am strongly influenced by my siblings

So, yesterday my twin Kristen calls me and yells at me: "Blog more!" Then she hangs up.

Yeah yeah yeah.

And then today I notice that my sister Jessi is doing NaBloPoMo. And I remembered the days when Kristen used to do NaNoWriMo and, despite how totally nuts that made her (and I hope she isn't doing it this year, no offense twin), how awesome and impressive it was.

SOOOOOOOOooooooOOOO

I caved.



Now, blogging is NOT as cool as writing a novel, even if that novel sucks because you wrote a lot of bad exposition just to get to your word count (the goal for nanowrimo is 50,000 words in a month). But I think it will be nice for me to have some goal here lest I get lost in the weirdness that is solitude and graduate school.

So, how should I begin? It's the beginning of November, I'm listening to They Might Be Giants and watching my cat sleep in an exhausted lump on the couch. Which means it has been a weird beginning of the month so far. Halloween was last night. I got dressed up and met Katy, Jana, and Katy's friend John at Union Square around 8.




There was a giant parade on 6th Avenue that's supposed to be amazing, so we headed over there to check it out. I got some really great pictures. Check them out:





Yeah. As you can see, the closest we got was...still not close enough to see anything. We actually got about five people deep, but still couldn't see anything because we ended up directly behind the Society for Ladies and Gentlemen Seven Feet or Taller with Umbrellas. It was also the most aggressive crowd I've ever been in. At one point we couldn't move for the wall of struggling, pushing people in front of, behind, and surrounding us. It was around this point that some girl (luckily) a few people behind me, who had been freaking out about the crowd, threw up all over her costume. In other words, it was freaking nuts. I'm a little disappointed because it's supposed to be an amazing parade, with all these huge puppets and amazing costumes interspersed with regular drunk people in their store-bought gear. Next year I think I'll walk in the parade, because I am pretty sure that's the only way to get a view.

We followed that up by stopping for dinner at some fancy place in Greenwich Village, and then traipsing around handing out PBRs and drinking Irish Car Bombs all over the Lower East Side. That might be an exaggeration.



After a while I bowed out because I am a little old lady and caught the train back to Astoria with HUNDREDS OF COSTUMED MANIACS JUST STARTING THEIR NIGHT. It was...surreal. Best costumes: a large man, probably late 30s, on the subway, wearing nothing but a giant diaper. Also, a group of people who went as the Super Mario Brothers characters. I saw lots of Mario and Luigis, but this group had Toad, the Princess (yes, in a barely-there-but-yet-reminiscent-of-Mario style dress), and Yoshi too, all huddled together under one umbrella in the rain near the parade.

What does a reasonable person do to follow up all this nonsense? I'm not sure; I clearly can't be reasonable because I'm a grad student. So I went home and studied. For a class. Which is on Tuesday. While coming down from all those Irish Car Bombs. Yeah, I know I have a problem.

This part is for Kristen:
And now I'm making blueberry muffins with streussel!




The goal is to read more for class, finish these muffins (baking, not eating, although I will undoubtedly be muffin-riffic for like a week), and then head over to a Packers bar on the Lower East Side (which is apparently the neighborhood I hang out in all the time now), and watch the Packers beat the heck out of the Vikings.

NOTE!: I just want you to know that I made 11 blueberry streussel muffins. And one chocolate-espressso blueberry cinnamon streussel muffin. I thought that the batter for the last one didn't have any blueberries in it, and I felt sad for it. I was trying to think of what I could add to it when I remembered that Katy, the night before had given me a small chocolate from her work: dark chocolate-espresso. So I fetched it from the pocket of my costume, broke it to bits, stuffed it in the batter and added a dash of cinnamon and the rest of the streussel. As I was eating it this afternoon I realized that there had been one blueberry in the batter, which was now hanging out. It was a weird, delicious experience.

PS: Just so you know, I may officially fail at this one-post-per-day requirement, because I'll be traveling from November 5 through 9 and I may not have internet access. But I guarantee that if this is the case I will write it on paper and post all 5 days upon my return to civilization.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hi Dad!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Travels and thoughts

I visited the twin! I rode the Megabus down to Charlottesville, VA. It was only $3 on the way down, $13 back.

In fact, I'm on the bus now! See:



Anyway. Kristen has a sprained ankle, so we spent much time driving around Charlottesville and exploring. We also did a bit of shopping and discussing how she will set up her AMAZING apartment once she can walk without crutches and bend her leg and ankle properly. I am very excited for what I see happen there! It was a little like getting to organize my space again, except for Kristen has different tastes and preferences than me, which are difficult to communicate. We stopped at Pier 1 and I bought a few of these lovely glasses with little blue bubbles of glass stuck all over the lower third (the glasses I bought before are very shoddy; I've already broken 2 of them just knocking them over in the sink when doing dishes!). I don't get to bring them home yet, because I like to travel light and I spent the last 5 days living out of one backpack (which means that the backpack is kinda stuffed). Kristen will bring them when she comes to visit me sometime in October. She's going to come and get me, trade bookshelves (I have a darker one she wants, and she a lighter one I want), and we are going to go somewhere (possibly camping?) in upstate New York to enjoy the fall colors. I get very fresh fruit at the corner grocery in Astoria, so I am enjoying the thought of fall apples, but I miss having all the trees and all the leaves blowing around.

Kristen and I also did a lot of studying. Boring, I know, but a good sign for us, since it is likely that we will be this busy again for the rest of our lives and it shows we can get work done and still make time to hang out with each other. Yay! We also talked a lot about our new lifestyles. I have been really pausing to make studying the number one priority in my life, since I have that opportunity right now, and Kristen wants to do the same (I think). It is all very cool.

Recently a friend sent me a list of awesome goals she wants to meet before the end of the year, and I like the idea so I will replicate it below:

Go visit Ganas for dinner
Gain a better background/outline understanding of theatre history
Master Bordieu
Eat 20 different fruits
Eat enough veggies every day!
Walk in Central Park when the leaves are falling
Discover 3 new great places to ruminate over coffee/life/food/alcohol
Befriend at least one stranger (who is not at the grad center)
Finish NASCO's policy manual revisions
Go on at least 3 good dates
Host a successful party at my place
Visit Boston
Cook Thanksgiving dinner
See the tree at Rockefeller Center
Go to/host a non-pretentious wine tasting
Make-outs! Woo!

Ok, you can see I'm getting a little silly by the end, so it's time to sign off.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

NYC fun

Well. Two blog posts in one day. Who would have thought I had it in me. Well, technically if I don't crack this out in the next four minutes it will be posted tomorrow, but you get the idea.

Some lovely things happened that I thought I should share with you all. The loveliness began when I was sleeping early this morning. It was a little chilly from the lovely autumnal rain, which I could hear slightly through the open windows, and as I was pulling a blanket around me I realized that my cat was curled right up against me, a little under my arm, sound asleep. It was a moment that, through the blurry eyes of sleep seemed full of love and trust, very kind of him, for all we go through. I slept in until a lovely 8 am, gradually awoken by the hungry cat (attempting to be patient!) We ate and lounged around the room all morning. He curled on the couch, and I in a sweater in the old recliner under the open windows listening to the rain and traffic as I languidly read a book that continues to have some promise. It was a lovely scene that I always imagine when I think of fall, except for this time I actually have a cat and I didn't have a cup of hot cider. So I went to make some cider, but instead I ended up showering, making lunch, and strapping on my new sneakers (check out the purple and gray ones), and forcing myself to head out of the house. See, last week I thought I had this whole walking 3/4 mile to get home thing down but on Monday it kicked my ass (to be fair, I had stopped for $80 of groceries, basically my entire grocery shopping, and the walk is uphill). But still. So I decided that taking a day off isn't really worth it in the long run, so I wanted to try to force myself to go into the city at least once/day. That way I would explore more, get more exercise, and get out of the house. Winners all around.

So I'm quite content in my dress (neat new kicks, perfectly fitting black dress tee with 3/4 sleeves and heart-shaped bodice, favorite jeans rolled up to the knees exposing my white hairy legs but keeping my pants from dragging in the water, and the green scarf that Rachel got me in Israel that I used as a combination wrap/poncho), marching towards the train, finally wearing adequate walking shoes that are giving me a kick in my step. I've had a beautiful morning, I don't notice the length of the walk, and I just got a flirtatious smile from that dude. And my positive attitude just continued. I rode the train, I walked to class with the wind whipping my scarf and the rain around me in just the right way, I unrolled my pants gracefully before I got to my department, and I spent the afternoon getting caught up on my source of employment. Scanning documents for a professor, lunching and blogging about the phenomenon, hanging out with the few people from the department who were around on a Friday afternoon, etc. It was quiet and nice and sort of fun. Then I took the train up to 53rd Street and went to meet my flatmate Amy at the Museum of Modern Art. Due to a corporation which I will not name here, Friday nights between 4 and 8 are free admission to the MoMA. Previously I'd only been to the Whitney to see PROTECT PROTECT, so I was stoked to go see this exhibit, even if it meant that I was somehow supporting ~~nameless corporation~~

So, Amy got the tickets for us, but they wouldn't let her in without checking her bag (she was in bag check for almost an hour, so I'm very glad I didn't bring anything with me that didn't fit in my pockets). The thing is, this museum was crazy. I mean totally crazy. The line for coat check had probably 500 people in it. Like, it was absolutely flooded with people. It was AMAZING to see so many people who might not otherwise get out to see the art. While Amy was in coat check I went up to the top floor and checked out the special exhibition. It was work by James Ensor, and I enjoyed at least a third of it. My two favorite pieces were a portrait he did called The Oyster Eater, because he used a lot of red but hid all the bits beautifully, and Doctrinaire Nourishment, which included a bishop, a king, public service, a nun, and universal suffrage shitting on the happy faces of the masses below, while the sun vomits onto these prestigious figures. I know, you expect me to say how I loved the social commentary, but really I liked it because of how it looked. Everything seemed so right. I just don't know how to describe it.

After that we wandered around the other galleries. For the pleasure of those of you who are art illiterate like me, I'll only name what stuck out (I get on overload after a floor or two of art, and I admit we only made it through half of the museum before we had to go). There was an entire room of Matisse, including his sculpture (didn't know he did sculpture), although nothing I knew of before I entered the room. I had the pleasure of seeing three Picasso's (Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, I believe, as well as Girl before a Mirror and Three Musicians) Dali's The Persistence of Memory, Kahlo's Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair and Fulang-Chang and I (which, by the way, has two parts: the first the famous painting and the second a mirror in a similar frame installed side by side). I also saw Seurat (one of which I liked better than his famous A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, which wasn't there). What was most remarkable was van Gogh's Starry Night. I know it is totally cliche and has been returned to the pop art of the world, but there is something in all the lines and the colors and the picture that just draws you in. It was stunning. I stood looking at it for quite a while. The entire experience is one I can't sum up easily.

On the way out we stopped at the surrealist Eros exhibit, but my brain was too full to process it much, except I thought Julie might like it a lot. Afterwards we walked around Manhattan a bit (found the touristy LOVE statue, will be back to take photos later!), and then caught a train up to Astoria's famous beer garden. It was chilly and rainy, but they had set up these huge tents with lights and everything, so we did the genuine outside experience. We dined on kielbasa with bread and onions, and drank something light and Czech. It was awesome, the closest I've been to nature in a month, and a really fun experience. We struck up a couple conversations with neighbors, and except for one outburst where I called something she was saying totally stereotyping, we got along pretty well. We walked back in the rain and I am beat (done the calculation: over 6 miles of walking today...yay me). But the first thing I did was take out the trash, feed the cat, and do my 50 crunches (I almost forgot! Yikes!)

And the cat just jumped up on the bed even though I was hovering at the edge. He's half standing on the keyboard. I guess it's time to cuddle! I'll see you later, internet.

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Nobody saw it coming

I'm a notorious lunch-out-er. I've been known to have lunch out as early as 9 in the morning and as late as 7 in the "afternoon." Maybe it comes from disdain for the peanut butter sandwiches that filled up the lunches of my school days, or perhaps it is a convoluted expression of my desire to institutionalize the siesta in the US. (I mean, who doesn't want a break from everything for a nap right after lunch, refueling your energy level for more late-night fun?) Whatever the cause, no one is ever suprised to find me without a lunch from home. And, really, although I will lunch at chain restaurants or salad bars, I enjoy experimenting more. I love cart-food (an appreciation I picked up in Puerto Rico) and cafes with out-door seating. I enjoy restaurants that prepare a special menu, or just pare their menus down for the hours between 10 and 3. I adore coffee shops and bookstores with sandwiches.

I wish I could say that I came to the realization that I was going to cut down on lunching out when I was analyzing (in detail! with a calculator!) my new New-York-City-on-a-grad-student-budget finances. But I really came to the realization at the grocery store. Because really...REALLY people, it all just suddenly made sense. I had nice cheese (leftover from a rained-out Labor Day get-together), I had spinach and condiments, and man would all that go good with some cajun turkey. I think what finally won me over were the options. Because all those cafes and coffee shops each have their own fabulous options, but with the power of the grocery store, I could essentially make whatever I wanted for lunch. I could experiment exactly how I wanted to experiment. It was very promising.

All of you are undoubtedly going "DUH!" at this point, for which I can really only begrudge you the outmoded vocabulary. But really, you think I would have picked up on this sooner. I am sure it came from a combination of my limited income and oh yeah food-buying wasn't my workjob. (PS, Did you ever ask David H that one joke about the light bulb because it is hilarious for co-opers...Do it.) So, what with excessive overachievement on one hand coupled with a total unwillingness to do anything superfluous on the other, I haven't regularly bought groceries, I'm embarassed to say. Ever.

There was my first year at college, in the dorms, with the mini fridge, but the roommate always treated me with such disdain that I felt guilty for eating a pickle (vegetable...!). Than there was that one summer I lived "alone" but they had a cafeteria at the place where I worked/lived (and apparently /ate). And then... 4 years of someone else buying groceries for everyone in the house. Sigh. I thought I would miss those days.

Who knows? There are thousands of amazing cafes for me to discover in this city, so I might shortly fall off the home-lunch band-wagon. But for today there is Mexican Turkey:

1 Hard Mexican roll (bolillo-esque, but that's not what they called it at the grocery)
Some Turkey breast (I get it sliced so thin that it starts shredding)
A Buttload of Spinach
Lots of Brown Mustard
Slivers of White Onion
2 slices of El Trigal Manchego (thickly sliced, rind on)

Accompanying: kalamata olives and a slice of seedless watermelon (did you know it's getting very difficult to find watermelon WITH seeds?) With a lunch like this, who needs a siesta?





(Actually, I'd still like the siesta...)

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Buying is being

Beijing loves IKEA - but not for shopping - LA Times

The difference between America and the rest of the world?

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Love this

http://kottke.org/09/08/would-be-collective-nouns

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Three times...

Not to be a jerk, but I can only once recall seeing a movie where I did not anticipate the ending. It was The Prestige, and I won't ruin it here (although, I will admit that, while the IMDB entry for it makes it sound rather dull, I would probably still have enjoyed it even if the ending hadn't got me). I am constantly engaged when watching movies; my mind usually works through things as the movie progresses, eliminating possibilities left and right based off of hints of information in the movie and my knowledge of pop culture in general. And, admittedly, I did think of the ending of The Prestige, as soon as the main problem was presented, in fact. It was one of my working hypotheses early on. But something along the course of the movie made me cross it off my list, not even tentatively, but with a whole-hearted scribble. And that is why it was such a good movie. It tricked me, tricked everyone I'd talked to, made me stand up and say "How?" I loved it. I loved that feeling.

I am very rarely truly surprised. I mean, people have popped out of closets to scare me. I've jumped in fright, even shrieked. I've stumbled, been dismayed and disappointed many times. I've lived unforeseen events both good and bad, I've dealt with situations unusual and unexpected, but genuine surprise, an experience that my mind did not really conceive of as possible, has been very rare in my adult life. (My memories of childhood are so sparse that I really can't say what it was like to be surprised then, but I am sure I was not so unshakable as a kid.)

But I can recall three times when I have been genuinely surprised, when my brain, bewildered in its inability to anticipate this situation, has stuttered to a halt, my mouth gaping fish-like as I attempt to grasp reality before I fall flat on my face.

I am recounting these now because I just remembered one of them. I have told people "3 times" before, but I've never been able to expound upon the whole list, though I knew it was there.

The first time I can remember being surprised was my birthday, or around my birthday. It must have been senior year of high school. I was sleeping, in bed, in my room, at my parent's house. I woke up to find that Lisa was standing in my room. Being scantily clad and under-rested, I responded in the only reasonable way I could: by blubbering "Wuh?" and sitting up quickly. And then by just as quickly pulling the sheet up to my chin to prevent any more damage to Lisa's delicate eyes. Lisa giggled that really great low laugh she has that sounds like a mix of Butthead and Batman, and explained how she was on her way to work and couldn't stay, but happy birthday! She gave me two wonderful, beautiful gifts: a bunch of irises (beautiful, beautiful blue-periwinkle irises, today still one of my favorite flowers), and an autographed hardcover copy of the new Tamora Pierce book, Trickster's Choice. I still have the book, it sits in honor on the small hardcover fiction section of my bookshelf (or, it would if it weren't still in a box with all of my other books...I need to finish unpacking). I pulled the sheet around myself and hugged her, and I had nothing to say but "Thank you" and "ohmigawd." And I learned that day how I underappreciated my friends. Lisa was one of my best friends in high school, but I had learned that most of my relationships during that time were not about me. I learned to be less selfish in high school (well, in friendships anyway, don't even ask me how I treated my family...ugh), and I had therefore never imagined that anyone would know me well enough to pick out flowers for me (although Lisa was a fabulous florist), much less pick out a gift for me that I had never asked for (actually, never even knew existed until Lisa handed it to me), and gotten everything so right. I didn't know that if I had mentioned my favorite book series (when I was younger, 2 of 3 were by Tamora Pierce) Lisa had listened. That when I talked about what I found beautiful Lisa noticed and extrapolated. And I will always love her for that, no matter what else happens between us.

The second time was later that same year, I believe. Or maybe it was the year before. I don't remember. So maybe this one should be the first time but then I would be confused and I already wrote about that time, so whatever. This one is now officially second. I had a terrible habit in grade school of imagining that whatever giant award was being announced was for me. Whenever there were awards given out I would start listening to the description and think "That could be me. That could still be me." Etc. You can imagine how debilitating all this NEED TO WIN NOW thing must have actually been to my self esteem because really, it was never for me, and I was constantly disappointed. I mean I got my share of student-of-the-month-esque awards being a freaking whack-job about school (as my family can attest, as I recently went through a box of papers that were ONLY awards and assignments with praise and positive feedback on them). But it must have been that whole middle child thing I had going on, because it was never enough. I always wanted to win. Explains a lot about me, no? Oh wait, you couldn't tell that from my neurotic need to be good at everything, right? No? You could? Hmph. ANYWAY, in high school I joined DECA, a business and marketing club, and of course I had to win at it. I was the first sophomore they let join, and I did very well, winning awards at Regionals, State and Internationals in a variety of categories, was vice-president of something or other, you know, the whole thing. At State they always gave out some big awards at the closing or opening ceremonies, and the most prestigious for students was the state's Marketing Student of the Year award. I don't remember what the requirements were, but it sure sounds like a big deal, doesn't it? That year, or maybe the year after that, I don't recall but we really aren't going there (see above), I did the same thing I always did about the award, I listened and was like, "That could be me, that could still be me..." until I got to the part where I was like "Oh, that's definitely not me." And then I tuned out. Because the other people didn't really matter. (See the neuroses?) And I remained tuned out when I suddenly heard that the winner this year was the President of the Cooper Hawk fund. And I was all, no, that can't be right because I'm the President of the Cooper Hawk fund. For your information and because this hasn't dragged on long enough, the Cooper Hawk fund was me and a few other volunteers who went around school with these big tin cans, coffee tins with coin slots cut in the lid and decorated enthusiastically, who tried to raise enough money from our already broke students to adopt a Cooper's hawk (our mascot) from the rescue shelter, and have the experts come and free it during Homecoming. I planned the judicious use of those coffee tins, and dammit I did it well. It was one of the scores of activities (including DECA) that I participated in because I was lucky enough to not really have to pay attention to school in order to get good grades (and then grad school arrived to kick my ass). I mean, I did some cool volunteer stuff in high school, some community organizing around education that even now I think was pretty bad-ass, none of which was mentioned, and what did they notice but that lousy work I did with the can and the hawks. Anyway, next thing I know everyone from my school is snickering and kicking me and where has my teacher gone? and oh, wait, am I supposed to go up there and accept this plaque? Holy shit. It really was me, this time, I really won that award, the big one. And everyone knew about it but me.

The last time I was totally floored was much more recently. I have a good friend, named Avi, who might even be reading this blog right now (Hi Avi!). I met Avi when we were on Finance Committee together, oh, almost 3 years ago now? I love finance committee for a number of reasons, but one of those reasons was that Kathy served on that committee in her capacity as our finance staff person. I have spoken of Kathy briefly on this blog before. Anyway, when Avi joined this committee, I remember that first meeting. He drove Kathy and I nuts because he had to be right about everything. And there was something about the way that he had to be right...He reminded me so much of most of the other Philosophy (and Physics) majors I met in Madison, with this determination that if he had wrapped his mind around something and came out with a conclusion than it must be truth and everyone else a fool if they disagreed. Those type of people drive me nuts (how equally close-minded of me, you would be accurate to point out...). Anyway, over time I came to realize that Avi really wasn't that bad. He joined a group of friends of mine that hung out every Monday evening, and over time he grew less obnoxious. I, in fact, grew fond of him. This group of friends, mostly powerful men, had an annoying habit of turning our games into a sort of sausage-fest, with me and the other lady sort of hanging along the sidelines. But it's difficult to talk with some guys about their own masculine privilege and how they bring that, in this case literally, to the table. (Oops, I'm writing on the wrong blog for this bit, but its so relevant you are just going to need to deal. Tough it out.) One night they made a few really demeaning comments about a woman in the game, and I really lost it. I called them out for being sexist, that their behavior was oppressive and making me not want to hang with them anymore. Of course, they just got defensive, but I held my ground a little longer than usual before storming off to the lav. When I returned things continued as though my outburst hadn't happened. After that situation I was pissed off and uncertain about what I would do with my future Monday nights. And at that time Avi came to me as we were cleaning up and asked me to talk to him more about what I had been upset about. I was busy and a little flustered, so I explained things in my own terminology, we had a brief discussion about it, and he explained that his girlfriend was challenging him about a lot of these things and he wanted to learn more. I wrote the situation off, but I did notice that Avi was becoming increasingly more awesome to hang out with. Later, Avi told me he was taking a women's studies class and would like to talk with me about it if I wanted. We had a few good discussions throughout the semester about a variety of things that I never thought he would be really able to talk about. Kathy and I grew fond of talking about how pleasantly surprised we were by Avi. Overall, Avi is one of the most impressive people I know, because he is able to take his conceptions about a particular situation, and genuinely challenge himself. He is truly interested in bettering himself, even if that means he has to accept that he is wrong or needs to change. Not like it is my place to say if he is wrong or needs to change, but he was totally ok with this as no other person I've known has been. It has been a pleasure watching him grow and learn and change and I feel like I can say that without any condescension because I think he would say the same about me and we would both be saying it with respect. He's analytical, but thoroughly so, not like many people who are so caught up in how open-minded and analytical they are that they cannot possibly be wrong. ANYWAY, the point of this is that Avi surprised me a little when he told me that he and his girlfriend were getting married. But, having learned from Avi to give more people the benefit of the doubt, I did just that about his marriage plans, and have slowly come to realize that they are the right decision for him. Avi really surprised me when he asked me to be in his wedding party. I was totally astonished. I have truly enjoyed my relationship with Avi so far, but this is once again one of those situations when I just did not realize the extent that another person was actively participating in our relationship. I thought I saw the full of it during my interactions with him, but there was so much more. I was completely floored when he used the word "mentor" to describe me. My mouth blathered out a "Yes, of course" before my brain kicked in. Thank god I have good instincts. I have never been more honored than to be a part of this significant page of this man's life.

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