31 January 2007

Clarifications....

Okay, okay... I know. You're not too happy with my last posting. I've heard from several of you that you didn't much care for it very much and had some concerns... So here you go:

Why are you still angry / hateful? Can't you get over it?
I'm sure I will, one day. And I'm not angry all the time... it's not a seething, never ending feeling of loathing. It happens in unexpected spurts, between feelings of contentment, independence, strength and optimism. But yes, sometimes I am angry because my life changed in the last year in many painful, unexpected ways. I've turned into a person that I really don't want to be: Single at 34 with an ex-husband who left me with no explanation to be with another woman. A year ago, I was married to a man that I'd been with for 12 years. And while in hindsight it certainly wasn't a perfect marriage, I was committed to it. I loathe that the feeling was not mutual. I loathe that my marriage failed. And all of this happened and changed at the same time that I was laid off from my job. It's been an entire life-upheaving change in a single year. But I'm making progress... and I'm making salmon. That's one small step that is just the beginning of a long journey into real happiness. But for now, I need to be angry and hurt and upset sometimes, and I need to write about them. (I also need to have adventures, have fun, and live out my dreams, which I am also doing... but the blogs about those aren't the ones that people get upset about.)

Yes, all of this happened for a reason, and yes, all of it will turn out for the better for me. But for now, it is what it is.



Aren't you tired of being angry?
Yes. It's exhausting. It sucks. I wish I wasn't angry. But I'm human. And I'm not nearly as angry as I was a year ago... so that's progress...


Am I the one you're wanting to punch?
Probably not. In the last year, I've learned that things take you by surprise, and what you think your reaction will be is not necessarily the reality. So if you think that I'm talking about you, you're probably wrong. It's like that song, You're So Vain... you probably think this song is about you.


Hate is not a very nice thing to feel. I don't like reading about it.
True... it's definitely not a pleasant emotion, and to be honest, I wish I could live without it. But as with most human emotions, I have 'em, and they're valid, and if you don't like reading about them, then... well... you can change the channel. I am writing this blog - as I warned most of you - without editing for my audience. No, it's not quite as fun to read about 'hate' as it is to read about skydiving, but this is my life.

Why can't you just forgive (him/her/everyone) and move on?
Ooh, that's a big one... I want to first debunk the prevailing myth that "forgiving" someone is a one-time shot that is "required" of the offended party in order to make the world right. I don't feel like it is necessary to forgive someone in order to move forward... it is, however, necessary to forgive oneself. It seems that people think that "forgiving" someone is something very easy to do: Either you do, or you don't, and "forgiving someone" happens in one big flash of enlightenment and then afterwards you can skip all the way through the forest to grandma's house eating cookies and living happily ever after. Anyone who has ever been wronged will tell you that this is as realistic as a fairy tale itself.

And I also very much despair at the idea that if you do not forgive someone who has wronged you, then you're a bad person. To be blunt... that's F'd up. First of all, this puts the responsibility on the one wronged to make it 'right' by 'forgiving', which is a lot of responsibility to put on someone's shoulders who has been seriously wronged. Second, it also negates the fact that the person who is wronged can go through the ups-and-downs of life and if they feel forgiving one day and not the next - that this flip-flop makes them a "bad person". I prefer to think of things on an hour-to-hour basis: Sometimes I have forgiven some people for some things for an hour, and then something will bring that back to being angry and 'unforgiving.'

That's not very Christian of you.
Yes, it sounds positively un-Christian and against everything you're 'supposed to do' according to what society says is 'right'. Without getting into religious debates, I argue that society often promotes behavior that is unrealistic in its expectations and counter-intuitive in it's execution.

I also recommend that if you want to read more on how I feel about 'forgiveness', there's a much more articulate and eye-opening version in Janice Spring's book: How Can I Forgive You?: The Courage To Forgive, the Freedom Not To. To quote, "We have been taught that forgiveness is the only healthy, morally sound response to violation, and that it must be granted without conditions, even when the person who hurt us is unremorseful.... Dr. Spring proposes a new alternative that lets us overcome the corrosive effects of hate and get on with our lives -- without forgiving. She also offers a powerful and unconventional model for genuine forgiveness -- one that asks as much of the offender as it asks of us. Forgiveness is no gratuitous gift, she argues. We can heal ourselves, but forgiveness must be earned."

At this point, I can honestly say that forgiveness is fleeting, and I don't feel has properly been earned. Yes, that's my opinion. Yes, that may not jive with what people think I 'should' do... but it is what it is, and yes, I'm still moving on with my life.


Okay, enough of that for now. I promise more frivolous musings later.

.

29 January 2007

Opposites

In the last few months, I've begun to re-evaluate what some definitions mean in the relationship world. Admittedly, most of my thoughts are currently slanted towards my own decidedly UNromantic experiences over the last year, but that's the clay I'm working with these days, so cut me a little slack. In the end, it really comes down to a bit of a reinterpretation of some assumptions we make... and an analysis of the tendency to over-simplify some terminology that - being human - we use to try to classify the world in certain ways that make sense.

To call words "opposite" is simple. Naming opposites is easy when you're first presented with the challenge:
Black - White
Wet - Dry
Tall - Short
Love - Hate

But is it that simple? My sister was the one that started my thoughts on this when several months ago she said to me:

"The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference."

I suppose the root of the argument against pairing 'love - hate' as opposites would be grounded in the emotional aspects associated with the words. After all... hate does indicate that one cares about the other party and how they feel - that actual time, emotional energy and thought is actively put into considering the 'other', and that the 'other's' actions have some consequence to how you react and feel about the world, small or large. Does the Taliban hate what the West represents? Yes. But it's an active, heated, emotionally-charged emotion. Similar and even identical adjectives are used to describe the emotion of love.

On the flip side of this, indifference would indicate that there is no emotional attachment - by it's very definition, little 'heat,' or 'activity' or 'emotion' is involved. My sister said this statement to me a few months ago, at a time when I was lamenting the fact that certain things were still "getting to me" and that after the life I've lead in the last year, it would seem simpler not to care at all.


My other friend remarked that if I did not care, I would not be me.

Indeed, indifference seems an unattainable goal for myself... it's not something I would ever describe myself as being, when it comes to other people and their lives. And perhaps it's best that it is unattainable - I'd much prefer to live my life caring too much about things than be accused of caring too little.

Before this year, I had never felt what I would classify as hate in my life. In that way, I considered myself lucky... and yes, sheltered, I'll be the first to admit it. I 'hated' cancer when it took my mother from me, but that's not the same as the personification of the word. Rather, I found pride in the fact that I could think of no one that I could find enough reason to hate. Yes, it's communistic in its reading, I'll admit. And naive. And rather "peaced, loved and happinessed" up the wazoo. Gag me.

To some extent, it would make sense that now would be the time that I would first feel what I would describe as hate. (But still, in an attempt to maintain my standing as a "good person," I try to qualify it, and temper it, and make myself a better person: "It's not the person that I hate, but the effect that this person's actions have had on my life." Logically it makes sense... But when does life follow logic? The reality of it makes me want to punch their lights out (and now that I take karate, I know how.) Of course it won't happen, even if presented with the opportune moment. But I can't wish strongly enough that fate never puts us on the same subway car or street corner.)

But even now, the 'hate' feeling still gets ambiguous for me. Because if it were not for the actions of this 'other' in my life (and accomplices, lest you think I relegate the responsibility to one single person), I would not have had my eyes opened to the possibilities of bettering my life. I would not have realized the limitations and suppression that I had been subjecting myself to on a daily basis. I would not have seen the potential of a better, stronger and healthier form of love. I would not have the opportunity to find my way out of compromising myself.

So then, does hate include gratitude? Of course not... that makes no sense.

But does the opposite of love include gratitude? In this case - for me - yes, there is an element of that. But again, this makes no sense.

I'm rambling now. Yet I cannot help but be thankful for the veil that I had placed on my life being lifted, however painfully that eye-opening was for me. I suppose it's all about the experience... that's what we ultimately walk away with. And for the record, I hope I never become indifferent, because that would negate so many things. After all, can one really know love without knowing hate, at least on some level? They may not be perfect opposites, but in the end, rarely is anything perfect... and who would want it to be?

In the end, I hope that the new definitions I've found will lead me to more redefining in the future: That one day I'll experience what love really means, since I seem to have misinterpreted it thus far. I'll find what promises mean, what commitment means, what support means... and yes, what marriage means. So far, I've seen the opposites of these... and I can only hope that the flip side is as relatively joyous as the journey thus far has been painful.

25 January 2007

Graffiti

.
A bit of philosophical graffiti I saw on the subway today....


Where's the bathroom?

I'm sure you've all seen the articles lamenting the hazards of driving because people are constantly doing things in their vehicles that they shouldn't be doing - like eating, cell phone reaching, DVD-changing, or putting on makeup. If you have a car, this of course makes perfect sense, as does the stunning statistic that 80% of drivers think that they are "above average" when it comes to their performance behind the wheel (which is, of course, statistically impossible.) But it's mildly irrelevant to the people who don't have cars.

Until now.

I move to expand this concern for attention-span safety to the streets of Manhattan. Not because there is a sudden rash of people driving while doing these other activities (though you could argue that the taxi drivers on cell phones are a danger, but I don't think it's because of the cell phones), but most people can't seem to accomplish the simple task of walking and adding another action.

I am often stunned by what I see people doing on the streets of New York. And I'm not talking about the obvious, like urinating or tossing one's cookies on the corners (though I do not envy the store owners and doormen who have to clean up these messes in the morning), or flashing one's privates. Those are quite mundane, to be honest, in the circus that makes up this fine city. I can even excuse the random spitting habit that seems to have become as common these days as tossing gum onto the sidewalk (has the gum become so instantaneously horrible that you can't walk 30 more feet to the trash receptacle that is located on every corner in Manhattan?) As annoying, gross, or incomprehensible as these things are, they are the things that you've come to expect when living in this great metropolis.

But there are some things that I've seen that are truly baffling. On my bleary-eyed stroll to the subway this morning, I noted a woman who was simultaneously talking on her wireless headset cell phone, holding a compact mirror, and using an eyelash curler. Now, the eyelash curler in and of itself is blog-worthy, since - for some strange reason - it terrifies most men (why? it's not like anything of value to you would fit in there anyway, so why the fear?) I'll admit, it does resemble some miniature torture device, no matter how well it's been pinked up or packaged. And while the eyelash curler is often hailed as key to the fashionista's morning routine, I will admit that this is the first time I've seen it used while walking down a city street. I admire the woman, really, since I don't have enough coordination to do it in my own bathroom 3 inches away from my mirror (and biting the tip of ones tongue in concentration doesn't help either, for the record.) She has apparently mastered the technique to the point where she can do it walking down a city street, talking on a cell phone, and avoiding other commuting walkers. Impressive. Random, but still impressive.

Brushing hair, I've seen several times... I've even done it myself, in the mad dash from my karate studio to a dinner with friends. But one woman on the subway a few months ago had brought her entire hair regimen with her... two kinds of brushes, a mini can of hairspray, pins and barrettes, and a headband. It took her the entire ride from the upper East Side to Tribeca to finish her primping, all the while balancing a mirror on her lap. It would have been amusing, except that by the time we all exited the subway, our lungs were coated with the extreme hold of Aussie Instant Freeze Hairspray. Our alveoli were cemented in place, no matter how hard the wind blew that day!

A few years ago, I even saw a man brushing his teeth while walking down Madison Avenue. And lest you think of a homeless man with a simple brush in his mouth, let me correct your mental imagery. He was dressed in a dapper pinstriped suit, hair gelled, and scrubbing away, complete with white foam dripping around the mouth and water bottle in hand, ready to rinse (and hopefully spit into the trash can on the corner.) That really epitomises for me what people feel comfortable doing in a crowded and yet still anonymous setting. I can't help but think - what would he have done if he ran into his boss? Or a client? And the other thought - Has the New York real estate market gotten so exclusive that bathrooms are no longer available to do morning routines? Or is it a new time-saving technique - combining your commute with your morning routine?

Whatever the reason, it's all OK here... as long as you walk safely while doing it. Because apparently, even if you don't have a bathroom, you can do it all on the streets of the Big Apple.

24 January 2007

A phone call.

*ring*

"Hello this is the Roxy"

"Hi... I'm wondering if the roller skating rink is open on February 14th?"

"Oh. (laughter) I can't tell you that."

"Why not?"

"That's too far away to say."

"Really? I thought it was every Wednesday night."

"It's tonight, and this Friday."

"Friday nights too?"

"No, just Friday this week."

"And every Wednesday?"

"Yes. Wednesdays."

"But you can't tell me about February 14th?"

"No. We just don't think that far ahead here."

.

23 January 2007

Isn't that dangerous?

Last night, after working a particularly grueling 13-hour day and anticipating an early call and stressful morning today, I arrived home at about 8:30pm, totally wired. It was too late to go to karate and I was too cabin crazy to stay in and do a video or something. (Plus, I try to do my embarrassing workout videos during the day, when the naked gay couple across the street are less likely to stare at me while I gyrate in bizarre motions as directed by Denise Austin.)

So last night, I decided to go for a run. Overlooking for a moment the fact that it was 'snowing' (I use that term loosely since it was mostly ice chunks and rain), and that it was about 36 degrees outside, I'd been cooped up in an overheated office with overheated workmates for too long and needed to vent some energy and get some air, even if it was frozen air.

I live in midtown Manhattan, on the East Side - what's considered a very safe neighborhood (or, as safe as it can be with millions of people literally living on top of one another). The few times that I've actually run in my neighborhood, I prefer to run north on Park Avenue because of the wide sidewalks (that are well-kept) and minimal pedestrian traffic. Third Avenue is more convenient, but the pedestrian density in front of the popular after-work bars is often challenging to navigate, and the twisting and dodging risks a broken ankle or full-body impact with someone who's had too many beers. Ew. Lexington has the shops and tourists who believe that walking down the street with their eyes closed is a good idea. And riding the subway to Central Park to run at night is just dumb.

I also have it worked out that 20 blocks is approximately a mile, so I can also easily keep track of how far I've gone. And overall, Park Ave. is a pretty good route that is only plagued with some slight inclines around 68th street - but it only lasts about two or three blocks.

Of course, the last few times I've had the bizarre urge to go running, I went during the day. This was the first time I was going to jog at night, and honestly, I thought nothing about it. Until I called the elevator. When I got in the elevator, I asked the doorman if he could hold on to my key, because I was going running. And I told him my route - go up Park Ave, and then come back down Park Ave. At least this way, someone will know where I am, right? (See? I'm not totally clueless.)

To this commentary, my doorman looked me up and down (in my uber-baggy ripped sweatpants, lint-laden hoodie, bad-hair-inducing wool cap, and super-cozy and super-unstylish mittens) and said to me worriedly "Do you think that's safe?"... and then, before I could reply, he shook his head and said, "Oh, never mind. You'll be fine. You take karate."

I take karate. And therefore it's okay for me to be on Park Avenue alone on a Tuesday at 8:30pm in my sweatpants with uber-ugly hat hair. And if I didn't take karate, would it be unacceptable? It's a compliment, I think, for people to be watching out for you and telling you to be careful... and that they worry enough about you to warn you of what they think may be unsafe situations. But the interaction got me thinking... what if I didn't take karate? Would I therefore be unsafe? More or less at risk?

I kept track of who I passed along the way. There was a fine selection of upper-East-side fare, including the piddling mini-grannies with their matching mini-dogs; the dapper couples out for a stroll after dinner in long furs and clippy-clop high heels; groups of businessmen finishing up post-work networking cocktails, walking in long-wool-dress-coat herds towards a subway or Grand Central to tardily join in the commute; a few boxed-up homeless folks that were sleeping in stair alcoves in front of churches. So far no one who deserved any karate-chopping.

I did pass two other runners, and we nodded at one another, acknowledging that a) we were committed to our health, and b) we were stupid idiots to be running in the freezing rain. The only people that actually said anything directly to me were the more-than-a-few doormen standing bundled in front of East Side high-rises and hotels who told me to "go for it" or asked me "who are you racing?" One guy in front of the Bentley car display window asked - as I passed - if I could buy him a car. (I told him I'd forgotten my wallet.) But heck, there aren't even any bars on Park Avenue for drunkards to come out of and bother people. It's just not that kind of Avenue.

But after running for a few dozen blocks, I couldn't help but realize that if someone came up behind me with their mind set on clocking me over the back of the head with a tire iron, no amount of karate training could possibly do anything about it. After all, if I'm unconscious on the pavement at 72nd street and Park Ave., karate isn't going to do much to help me out. Perhaps there would be a few puzzled faces at my funeral saying things like "It's too bad they never taught her any moves when it came to people attacking her from behind with a tire iron on Park Avenue" or speaking in low tones saying, "Which karate studio did she go to? I don't think I'm going there...")

But this really comes down to my observations about 'safety' in New York City. Sure, there are some truly stupid things to do, like taking out your wallet and counting your twenties on the subway at 3am. Or picking a fight with a man who is muttering nonsensical profanities on a street corner. Or trying to jump a taxi line by going 1/2 a block further up from the person that's been trying to flag a cab for 15 minutes. Now those are the ways to get hurt in NYC. (Not that I want to seem insensitive to those who do get into trouble, like the woman who was raped in her apartment last week. I am certainly aware of these things as a single woman in New York, and I think here, one is more cautious purely out of habit. After all, when someone approaches you on the street in New York City and says "How are you today?", the first reaction is "What do you want, and why did you pick me, and if I ignore you will you go away? And if not, I can claim self defense, you know." If this happened in pretty much any other part of the country, the response would more likely be, "Fine, how are you?" It's just the way the city works.)

But the true threat comes from the taxis running yellow lights, and potholes that can suck you and your ankles down faster than quicksand in the Amazon basin, and the buses who apparently think that pedestrians have point-values in some twisted video game. There are the few people who try to "get out of your way" by dodging right into your path, or the tourists who stop short in front of you to do some window shopping. Running at night as rather satisfying, knowing that you're ending your day with something healthy, and allowing yourself to vent out the frustrations of the day by sweating a little bit. I found the whole experience rather soothing, to be honest. All in all, the most terrifying part of my evening run was when one woman at a corner nearly poked my eye out... with her umbrella. But there was nary a tire iron to be found... and I was looking.

On a plus side of the training regimen, adding a bit of paranoia and fear to your running routine does up your pace a little...

21 January 2007

20 January 2007

A random assortment of photos...

First: My new "Edge only" brownie pan! I think I'm in love...


Before:
(note the "resolution" apples in the background)



During:



And AFTER!! YAY!!!





And the final photo of the day, me and my nephew, DJ.... on a bright, sunny day, as interpreted by him... (*insert warm fuzzies here*):




19 January 2007

Dinner with me

Yea, I know... it's 10:30pm and I'm about to embark upon the enthralling story of making myself a dinner alone... in New York City... on a Friday night. In case you haven't guessed, I didn't have a hot date (or even a lukewarm one, for that matter) and actually, I'm okay with that. If given a choice between going to a bar and drinking alone, or a nice catch-up on my television shows (Medium, John Stewart and Earl, please), and an actual healthy dinner, I'd pick the latter. Well, I'd pick it probably half the time. No, it's not very "SATC", but my mother would be proud.

My game plan was to make pan-seared salmon, porcini mushroom risotto, and a baby spinach salad. For some reason I've recently started enjoying salmon, especially if prepared well. Organic from Fresh Direct (they have good stuff, I tell you), I was ready to go with a gorgeous salmon fillet that I didn't want to screw up. That's the problem I have with food... it's a one-shot deal, and at times, only a matter of seconds that determine whether you'll end up with food on your plate, or the fire department at your door.

Before we go any further, I suppose I should pause and take a moment to explain to you that when the world jokes about those sad, sad people who can't even boil water when they try to cook, realize that I actually personify that. Literally. Once upon a time, in one of my teenage attempts at learning to use a burner, I filled a pot with water, put the pot on the stove, and turned on the stove. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? Water should then begin to boil, and one can then add pasta (say the directions) and stir, and let it get soft and such. Except when I turned around to check on the progress of my "bring water to a boil", there were flames. Not small flames... open, flickering, orange flames jumping about 2 1/2 feet above the stove top. I had (and I say this with great embarrassment, since it brings me almost as much pride as the story of when my cousin peed on my leg when I was 5 during a car trip) turned on the wrong burner. The burner I had turned on high was now topped not with a pot of boiling water - which was sitting cooly on anther burner - but the flaming remnants of a pot holder.

I put out the fire. Poured out the water. And called for pizza.

That was just about the last time I tried to cook anything except cookies and brownies.

So in my "new life", I have decided that I needed to know more about food preparation and eating more healthily (plus, the fact that I know Mee's Chinese Food's phone number by heart is truly disheartening. 212-888-0234) Salmon was my next challenge. And I relied heavily upon the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook to guide me through the cooking of a fabulously perfect fillet of skin-on organic salmon that I got from Fresh Direct. The recipe had four ingredients: Salmon, salt, pepper, and vegetable oil. Not too hard, you say? Remember the boiling / flaming pot of water? That was ONE ingredient. See why I'm nervous?

1. "Pat the salmon dry with paper towels." PHEW! No burner required for that. So far, so good. Salmon patted. And dried. With paper towels. Check.

2. "Season with salt and pepper." Again, no heat, so I'm good. I put on salt. Oh hey, can there EVER be too much salt? I put on more salt. I flip it over to do the other side. And then (because it's been expertly patted dry) figure that the first side's salt all fell off, so I flip it back over and put on more salt. (Did I mention I like salt?)

3. "Heat 1 Tbs vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking". Okay, boys and girls, here's where the fire department gets nervous. Heat. I've watched plenty of America's Test Kitchen shows, where the most excellent Chris Kimball and his staff have apparently spent far too much of their time staring at and scientifically analyzing the behavior of oil in a pan. There's the 'shimmer' stage, where the oil gets, well, shimmery. And then - right after that - there's the 'just smoking' stage where wisps of smoke just start peering off the oil's surface. Now, to me, "just smoking" usually means "oh shit, the smoke detector's about to go off." So before I even turn on a burner, I take the battery out of the smoke detector, turn on the ventilation fan and dial "911" into my cell phone with my finger hovering above the "Send" button. (Hey, this is ME playing with FIRE you're talking about... you can't be too careful.)

So okay, here we go... oil's in the pan, and the gas goes on... we're cookin' with gas!!! The oil gets shimmery quickly enough, and then it's time to look for 'wisps of smoke'. I wait. And wait. And it's like watching water boil... it's just not happening. I even change my angle of view, and still... no smoke. It seems like 20 minutes of watching (but unlike a pot, I refuse to turn away, for fear that flames will erupt again) and whoof! There's a WISP!!!! Yay!

4. "Gently lay the salmon skin-side up in the skillet and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes." Okay, pick up salmon, lay in pan... OIL SPLATTERS AND SPITS ALL OVER THE NEWLY CLEANED OVEN. Oops. The oil didn't LOOK that hot... Oh well. Keep on truckin'. But 5 minutes seems like a long time, I think. But I leave it on, for 5 minutes, and during that time, the oil splatters and spits all over my entire kitchen (not hard when it's only about 3 square feet.) After 5 minutes it's time to flip the puppy over. "Gently flip the fish skin-side down and continue to cook until all but the very center of the fish has turned from translucent to opaque, about 3 minutes." That seems like an awfully long way of saying "Flip fish and cook 3 more minutes," but hey, it's my first fish and I don't write cookbooks, so who am I to say anything...

The flipping sounds easy enough... except that my salmon sticks to my pan. And the flipping turns to scooping, prying, scraping, sawing, salmon splitting, more scraping, swearing, and "flipping" that quickly deteriorates into slinging... which leads to more spitting and splattering of oil as I turn the fish skin-side down. PHEW. It's not pretty, but it's flipped, and the side that was on the heat before is actually BROWN!!! How exciting! I should have changed out of work clothes.

The whole skin stuck to the pan when I brought the poor fillet out of the pan. But I pried and scraped the skin off the bottom, because hey, that's where all the yummy salt was! It was delicious, I have to say. Simple, easy enough (though surprisingly messy), and absolutely perfect. The center was juicy, moist, and the seared outside was brown and crispy (and slightly salty - yay!) When combined with a side of porcini mushroom risotto (from a box, sorry) and a baby spinach salad with homemade dressing (made with olive oil and lemon juice shaken together in a Ziploc bag because I couldn't think of anything else to mix it in) with Craisins and raw almond slivers on top (basically I made all that up in my head... I mean, you can put ANYTHING on raw spinach and it HAS to taste better, right?)

Overall, it was a surprisingly good dinner. And I didn't screw it up. Or set anything on fire. And nothing exploded. Or burnt to a crispy. Here's what it DIDN'T look like:




Next time, it's maple-glazed roast pork loin with parmesan focaccia and caesar salad. Or maybe the cold sesame noodle from Mee's Chinese (212-888-0234). After all, I probably shouldn't push my luck... or the fire department's... quite yet.

p.s. Special thanks to the folks at ATK for giving me the inspiration to cook, as well as giving me more knowledge of oils than I possibly needed. And to James, for showing me how stupidly easy a really good salad dressing can be to make. Tomorrow - the tale of my first adventure with my new mostest-favoritest-thing-in-the-whole-wide-world: the Edge-Only brownie pan...



18 January 2007

Eat more apples.

January 18th, and I'm 34 years old.. plus one day. It's time to make my resolution.

"But wait!" you gasp... "Aren't resolutions meant for January 1st?"

Yes, that's true. For the normal person, it does indeed make sense to start the year with a fresh outlook on life. However, for most of us Capricorns, the birthday undermines and thwarts most efforts at sticking to January 1st resolutions. First off, this doesn't allow for the post-holiday consumption of gift candies and egg nog. If your stocking - like mine - is filled with Hershey's miniatures (thanks, Sue!) then there is no way that you can be finished with them by January 1st in order to start the inevitable "I'm going to be healthier this year" mantra. Plus there is the impending birthday cake, birthday drinks, and birthday parties to be wary of that will challenge, smother and bury with no marker any will power that a healthy resolution requires. If you try and fail THAT quickly, then there's no way a resolution will stick for longer than a few days.

As a result, I make my resolutions the day after my birthday. Somehow it makes the whole process a bit more personal, I think. After all, throngs of people aren't asking "What's your resolution this year?" and by now, the inundation of articles and headlines guilting you to "DIET UNTIL YOU'RE DEAD!" and "OBSESS ABOUT YOUR EXERCISE PLAN!" have begun to die down (and it's still to early for the "Bikini body in 6 weeks!" stuff to appear.)

Yes, January 17th is the perfect time to start a resolution.

I had a lot of directions I could have gone in the resolution department... There certainly are a myriad of things for me to choose from looking back at my past years' experiences: Find a better guy to be with, go to karate on a more regular schedule, pamper myself with massages every month, drink more mint juleps... all of these are perfectly legitimate and fabulous resolutions (and some of which I may do anyway, though they may not be "officially" resolution-bound.) I've been pondering what my 34th-year resolution would be for the last week or two, because I do believe in letting things simmer in the thought process, until - like a toaster - the perfect resolution pops out, nicely browned and perfect for consumption.

I was having quite a rough day today. Actually, it's been a rough two weeks that culminated in a really rough day. It's been two weeks chock full of looking back over painful losses and devastating life changes in the last year. I've lost what I thought was a good marriage (but really, in hindsight, wasn't very good at all), I lost my best friend (and the betrayed trust was worse than the infidelity), I changed jobs and had a few months of unemployment (at the same time as my marriage was falling apart), and my closest buddies in Manhattan have all moved to other states (or countries.) So this week, I think the mental shit hit the fan. I was talking about this with my friend this afternoon... a very emotional outpouring, with lots of tears and a swollen red, runny nose (that was me, not my friend - and if you know me at all, you know that tears are not my modus operandi. They are rare, so when they are seen, they scare most people.) So when said friend asked me suddenly during this emotional moment what my resolution would be this year (she knows of my birthday resolution practice)... my immediate response was:

"Eat more apples."

I think she was expecting something a little different. Perhaps something a bit deeper, or more introspective. Perhaps something a bit more philosophical, or psychobabbly, or at least more broadly superficial and self-indulgent. Something along the lines of "Learn not to be perfect" or "Look towards the future and not dwell on the past" and perhaps even "Find a really hot guy"... but, gentle readers, the apple gets it for 2007.

It's simple, and yet surprisingly complex. And in case you think of the simple Red Delicious, please allow me to expand a bit on my qualifications: Not just any apple will do. I have begun to shy away from a former favorite, the Macintosh, in favor of the crisper flavors of the Fuji. I also choose organic, mostly because I cringe at the thought of eating pesticides. I like my apples room temperature (not just out of the fridge) and sliced off the core, please. And don't mess it up with things like peanut butter or caramel... The perfect apple satisfies so many needs. (I have to give a shout out to Jenn, who - earlier in this emotionally draining week - managed to buy me the perfect Fuji apple at the perfect moment... and who therefore directly inspired my resolution. It was this perfect apple at this perfect moment that I was thinking of when the resolution popped out of my mental toaster. Thank you, Jenn.)

The apple - as my friend acknowledged after my recent roller coaster of a year - was actually a pretty good resolution. It's healthy, sweet, takes care of you, and at the same time, is a reward in its own right. It's flexible in its application, and resilient in its form - you can eat it raw, baked, fried, or pureed. It's sturdy enough to be made portable, but can be made malleable under the right treatment. It's sweet, but not overwhelmingly so... and can kick back when it needs to (ever had an unripened Macintosh?)

Kind of like life... sweet, but sometimes sour... good for you, unless in excess, and solid in form - unless neglected, at which point it rots away. I think it's that simplicity that appeals to me now... the straightforwardness of an uncomplicated goal. There's no esoteric bent or unachievable psychological goal, no need to live up to unnecessary pressures from society or oneself, no intellectual exhaustion or physical injury to be had... it's just an apple. And it's good for me. And not very likely to betray me. Sure, there's an intermittent worm (what do you expect from organic?) but in the end, there will always be worms in life...

just be careful you don't marry one.


16 January 2007

The Last Moments of 33

Today is, officially, the end of the last day of my 33rd year on Earth.

I have rather mixed emotions... At the same time, it's nice to know that the last year is something that I've survived, and have indeed gained wisdom, strength of character, and a jarring dose of lessons from a painful reality. Since I have started my 33rd year, I have lost my job of 11 years, lost my marriage of 5 years, and lost what I considered at one time to be my soul mate. There has been a lot of betrayal, a lot of pain, and a lot of tears.

But I have also found who my true friends are (and I mean TRUE friends), have gained an extraordinary amount of perspective on what's important in my life, and have learned to value myself as a person more than at any time before. I've also learned to go for what I love, to grab life by the balls, and do things that I've only ever dreamed... because in the end, it's all about the experiences.

They say that you can only know happiness after knowing sorrow. Dearest readers, I have known some small amounts of sorrow this last year... and I am now just beginning to understand the incredible potential for happiness and exhilaration that is possible after experiencing such things. The only thing missing is my mother, but she's with me in spirit always, so I just have to listen and I hear her giving me advice.

So yea, 33 is a good year to leave behind... so why the mixed emotions? Because 34 just feels really damn old!!! (Just kidding...)

On a more mundane and immediate note, I have to admit, the last day of "33" also started out a little rough... I had a jarring awakening by my phone, which I accidentally left on 'vibrate' mode and scared the crap out of me when the alarm went off. And for some reason, I must have been wearing a sign that said "run into me" because about 12 people bumped me on the way to the subway. I felt rather invisible. (I call these unpleasant days "invisible days", and usually they're annoying, but not grating.... today, for some reason, was different.) One lady almost sat on my lap in the subway because I was apparently transparent.

When I got to work, I received a call from my bank telling me that there had been an error that they were "attempting to rectify", and that several thousands of dollars in my account had been "misplaced." (How you 'misplace' electronic money is strange to me, but hey, I guess if people can lose something as nebulous as their mind, then I guess a few decimal points really isn't that surprising.)

I figured that this day was pretty much a summation of my last year of my life - a reminder that I didn't matter much to some people as I would like, and that you get screwed sometimes even when you're not paying attention.

On a much happier and more fun note... On Saturday, my four nephews decided to throw me a surprise birthday party, which was - without a doubt - the cutest thing EVER. I think it was the first time they've ever tried to throw a surprise party... When they came to pick me up at the train station after my one hour and seven minute ride on Metro North, I get in the car to a resounding chorus of children yelling "AUNT BETH! AUNT BETH! AUNT BETH!" at the top of their lungs. And their excitement and painful effort to contain the surprise was evident when the four year old excitedly said "Aunt Beth! Guess what! We.. um... we DON'T have a cake!" (This is how four-year-olds keep secrets.) Then, it was even more evident when the 5 year old told me: "You can't go into the basement! Well, you can go in the basement, but you can't go into papa's workshop! But if you want to play darts [the dart board is in the basement] then you can't look at papa's work bench! Because... [at this point the whole car breaks into a rousing chorus of "SSSSSHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"]... uh... because it's clean and we don't want you to see how clean it is!" (It's immediately apparent to me that the basement - and more specifically, papa's workbench, is where the surprise gifts are... the ones that I'm not supposed to know about. Of course, I play along nicely with others...)

Then we had pizza, and my nephews blindfolded me while they brought out the cake (my sister made a TO DIE FOR chocolate cake (*YUM*) complete with the numbers "34" on it (I don't know why she did that... since I told her that I'm only 23.)) and the gifts...which included an edge-only brownie pan, a Costco-sized box of Ghirardelli brownie mix and - and here's the best part - several hand-picked gifts from my nephews. My sister apparently let the boys loose in Wal-Mart and told them that they could pick out gifts for me. How amazingly fabulous is that? I love it!

My eldest nephew (after being deterred from his first choice in the Housewares section) chose a gorgeous blue necklace that matches a sweater that I have perfectly. (Is he destined to be a fashion designer? Who knows... perhaps he's destined to be a psychic, because my bathroom faucet broke the day after my birthday party, and *he* was the one who wanted to go to housewares... hmmm.... Oops, digressing...) Nephew number two chose a beaded barrette, and nephews 3 and 4 chose "sparkly hair bands" that got me some rave reviews in karate last night (by cute boys, by the way... oops, digressing again).



Now if THAT is not a perfect surprise birthday party, I don't know what is! These guys rock my world, I have to say.

The day after this fabulous trip to the country, I finally decided on a gift to give to myself. I know it's a splurge, but after the last 12 years of promises and looking forward to going on this very trip, I am treating myself to an African safari. Yep, that's right! Africa... because it's one place I've wanted to go, and it was supposed to be my 5th anniversary trip. So guess what, life... I'm going to live it! Look out, Big 5... There's a 6-foot blond chic from the Big Apple heading your way for a month-long tour of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. I leave in June... and I'm counting down the days! (and for my NBC friends - how is THAT for burying the lead?)
Now THAT balances out a slew of "invisible days" in every possible way.... Yes, 33 has taught me a lot of lessons that I hoped I'd never have to learn about betrayal, lies and deception. But it's also taught me about some other things that I feel I've taken for granted in my life.

I have a new and overwhelming sense of gratitude for my wonderful family (who throw the best surprise parties ever), me incredible friends who will tell me that they love me any time and show me the perfect examples of compassion whenever I have doubts about the integrity of this world, and my newly found sense of spiritual peace and adrenaline that will propel me past my fears and into my next adventure, whether it be in the throws of the African outback, or the far more dangerous world of New York City dating.

So that's the lesson here, I guess. 33 was rough. But because of the love that I have suddenly had to rely upon to make it through the last year of my life, I'm planning on 34 being an incredible ride... and my friends, you are welcome to take the journey with me. I couldn't have done it without you.

12 January 2007

Online dating translations, part 1

While anticipating dipping my little toe into the adventures of dating after 12 years, it's interesting to me what has become of the world of internet dating. In the early days, the internet was basically a place to send and receive emails, look at porn, and the only people who posted online were skeevy perverts with few social skills and presumably an arrest record. It was reminiscent of the times when pagers and cell phones only really belonged in the world of doctors and drug dealers... no one could be trusted if you picked them up online.

Now it's a bit different. Actually, it's a lot different. When you look for potential mates online, the outline of the guy is right there in front of you: Relationship history (single, married, separated, divorced, "complicated"), sexual orientation (m4w, t4m, m4m), baggage check (have children, want children, do they live with you), education /literacy level (grammar, spelling, writing skills), music / movie / book preferences, hobbies... and you can even gawk at his photos without worrying about making too much eye contact, as you would at a bar. Of course everything is up for negotiation, and factors like age, income and just about everything else can be misinterpreted or an outright lie. But assuming at - barring some serious psychological problem - they are apt to tell mostly the truth, the only thing missing, of course, is the interpersonal interaction. So all you have to do is read, and you know everything you need to know, right?

Well, not exactly. I'm learning slowly but surely that what you see is not exactly what you get when it comes to online representations... and I'm not just talking about the "interpretive" ages, "estimated" heights, "approximate" weights, or the "oops, I checked the wrong box" marital status. No, no... ladies... there are some much more subtle clues on this than you might think. I liken it to the real estate listings, where everything is "prettied up" in order to sell at the highest price. For example, when searching for an apartment, cozy means don't sit on the toilet before you close the bathroom door or you'll bruise your knees, and pre-war charm means running water may work 30% of the time, and on a good day you might get a lukewarm shower.

It is the same with online dating, my friends. There are statements that say one thing... but mean something entirely different. And so here, ladies and gentlemen, is the first installment of my "Online Dating Translation Dictionary" for your perusal, amusal, and rebuttal...

No Baggage Please
What men think they mean: Please, I'm a nice guy, don't be a whack job.

What men really mean: Once you start complaining about anything, I'll blame it on PMS, your past relationships, or your need for anti-psychotic medications. I've been in a relationship where the woman complained, and I hated it, so all I really want is a life-like sex toy that talks, but has nothing to say. Once you start having emotional needs indicating that you're human, I'm outta here. And you shouldn't have kids. Period. And you should never mention children. Ever. (Except perhaps when you tell me that I'm so perfect that your life is fulfilled and you can't imagine messing up the stunning sex we're having by doing something so annoying like procreating.)


I'm A Sports Fan
(There are several variations to this statement, including "I'm a huge [insert random sports team here] fan" or having the username that resembles anything like sportnut, giantsfan, or touchdown74.)

What men think they mean: I'd love to meet a woman who enjoys watching the game with me and would appreciate season tickets as a gift for their birthday.

What men really mean: I might like you. But only if you cease to exist entirely when my favorite team / sport is on TV, or when I'm at the game. You cannot ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, accompany me to any games, sports-watching parties, or sports bars unless you are: a) a professional cheerleader and can demonstrate your skills on a bar in stilettos during a halftime wet T-shirt contest... and win, b) can chug cheap beer from a funnel as fast and with as much tolerance as my ex-football-player friend, Scott who weighs 290 pounds, or c) have all the names of the teams, players, positions, coaches, and have the sport's history and rules memorized, but will always defer to my expertise when we disagree on a point.
You are not allowed to complain at any point about my absence during said events, even if you are in the process of giving birth to our child during a game. If you do complain, then I will break up with you because you are a bitchy nag who doesn't understand my needs.


Looking for someone to have fun with!
What men think they mean: I'm looking for someone to have fun with!

What they really mean: I'm looking for someone to have fun with... until I get bored with you. At that point, I will leave you because: 1) You have failed at meeting my entertainment needs, because I have the mental capacity and attention span that almost rivals that of a 4 year old with a severe case of A.D.D. who is high on candy and Coca Cola. 2) Once the sex is no longer mind-blowingly amazing, and you stop jumping my bones and trying to give me blow jobs every time we're together, I will go find something else to play with because you're boring in bed. 3) I can't commit. To anything. Ever. Even doing this online posting is already boring to me and I won't log in to check my account for weeks, at which point I'll try to log in again to see who has "winked" at me but won't remember my password, so fuck it... the site was lame anyway and only had dorky, loser women on it who didn't know how to have fun.

Ready to Settle Down
(This also has several variations, including the ever-popular "looking for mrs. right" line.... my personal favorite.)

What he thinks he means: I'm ready to settle down and get serious.

What he really means: I went out drinking last weekend, and three days later, I still have a killer hangover. I can't do this any more, man! Plus, I can't remember the names of the last six girls I slept with, and that's beginning to be embarrassing because I'm reaching my mid-thirties, and I'm verging on the "old guy who picks up chicks at the bar" now instead of the "cool, fun guy at the bar" that I used to be. All my friends are in long-term relationships, engaged, or married, so I think I should settle down, but deep down, I really don't want to. Unless, of course, you're good enough for me so that I won't ever be attracted to anyone ever again. This means, of course, that you have to stay young, hot, sexy, happy, fun, energetic, chatty, flirty and have a kick-ass body every day... for the rest of your life... even when you're 65... and worship my body even when I turn into a 65 year-old overweight couch potato who still thinks he can drink like a 22 year old. Otherwise, I'll leave you when the hangover quits and I've decided that I'm "looking for someone to have fun with!" (cross-reference previous entry.)


Looks great in a formal dress, but also comfortable in jeans

What he thinks he means: I'd love to have a woman who can carry herself well in any situation.

What he really means: You should look great, no matter what time it is, how early the alarm clock went off, or how much sleep I didn't let you get last night. You should be able to keep up with my breakneck walking speed while wearing 6" heels, and not complain about it when we arrive. You should wake up and need approximately 36.3 seconds to go from dead asleep to walking out the door in perfectly coiffed hair, clothes, and style. (Noticed that I left off makeup - you shouldn't need any ever. Unless it's maybe some red lipstick that won't smudge or wear off during the 6 hour party.) You should be able to switch seamlessly between a formal gown and horseback riding on the beach in Negril without ever having raccoon-eye mascara smudges or sweating unattractively. If you ever DO have raccoon-eyes or bad breath, I'll break up with you because you're getting to be too high-maintenance. (After all, the Bond girls do this all the time... so why can't you?)


(to be continued...... )

09 January 2007

'Tis the season... for a boyfriend.

One of the most interesting places to catch some insight into the world of 20- and 30-something single women in New York is in the locker room of my karate studio. It's dirty, smelly, and only one of the two toilets works about half the time, but they do keep free hair dryers on-hand and - if you're lucky - it might work for about 3 minutes before it shorts itself out.

Discussions range, of course, depending on the crowd and the time of day... and so far, I have I heard conversations about funky dieting techniques ("detox" is the word du jour, apparently), makeup techniques ("the bruises cover better with a yellow-tinted cover-up"), bras ("you only have to wear one sports bra?"), and last but certainly not even close to being least, BOYS. The conversations on boys run the gamut, from comparisons of those in class with you ("did you see that high green belt today? Wow, I'd love to untie HIS drawstring pants") to the various boys in the "outside" world, ranging from husbands, boyfriends, crushes, friends-with-benefits, and the seemingly endless gamut of relationship possibilities. (To be fair, there are plenty of lesbians there, too, but the talk rarely runs to girlfriends, unless they're referring to jealousy of a girlfriend who also has a male friend-with-benefits.) But I digress....

One of the most interesting discussions I've overheard and butted into lately was about the seasonal need for a boyfriend. This is what I've affectionately started referring to as "Seasonal Dating" (not to be confused with "serial dating" which is a whole 'nother beast entirely.) Last November, there were two very attractive, young 20-somethings in my class who were discussing the need to find boyfriends, because "It was the right season." At first, I didn't quite follow what they were talking about, but as the conversation progressed it became clear that the ideal dating scenario is to pick up a boyfriend when the weather starts getting chilly (they told me that October was ideal) and then dump the guy when the weather starts getting nicer (usually April or early May.) Why? Well, there are several complex and yet surprisingly understandable factors in that:

Indoor vs. Outdoor activities:
In the winter, you do the "indoor activity" thing... go to cozy restaurants, see movies, and tour museums or dance clubs, depending on your morning- or night-time preferences. For these activities, it's ideal to have a mate. Preferably one that is good in bed, can cook for you, has a swanky apartment with a big-screen TV, and pays for the takeout dinners.

In the summer, and warmer months, it's time to break out of that shell and go OUT. This means outdoor seating in cafes and bars, late-night partying at bars with single cute boys, jogging in Central Park (or, who am I kidding, it's mainly short-shorts and bikini-top Frisbee tossing in Central Park), trips to beaches, pool parties, and all sorts of fun outdoor festivities. These activities are not conducive to having a boy attached to you, so it's best not to have one during these times of the year.

Clothing Required:
As alluded to above, the necessary parka and snow boots of the cold months are not very revealing, and the much-preferred clothing to attract young boys is easier to wear in the summer months. (I guess you could arguably wear said revealing items in winter, but let's face it - frostbite isn't sexy, no matter what color concealer you use.) Plus, often times, if you're dating a boy, he may have something to say about you wearing your brand-new string bikini top and playing Frisbee in Central Park without him being around to cast threatening looks at other boys who happen to pay too much attention to the... uh... Frisbees.

In the winter, even if you do have to wear long undies, unflattering Ugg boots, bad-hair-causing hats (with the accompanying bad static-electric-hair), up-to-your-chin sweaters that leave you feeling about as alluring as a nun in a habit.... you still get to make out with someone at the end of the day, because your boyfriend is waiting for you and will help you with the removal of said layering options. You have to admit, it's very hard to give a "come hither" look (or booty shake) to the guy who catches your eye on the street while you're wearing long johns, wool pants, fuzzy boots, a parka the size of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade balloon, earmuffs, a scarf, hat and mittens.

In warmer months - not so much layering, and much easier to show off the fabulously toned Karate legs and new push-up bras. Hence, easier to flirt with potential boy toys.

Gifting Season:
Lest you think it's all about emotions and sex, let's face it, the winter season is a fabulous time to have someone who likes you well enough that gifts are required. In the winter, there's Christmas, New Year's Eve (it's always better to get kissed than not), and Valentine's Day... all of which pretty much revolve around the guy getting the girl something romantic, or pretty. In the summer, there is a distinct lack of opportunity to get gifts from a boy, so ... why bother sticking with one? Yea, I know... it's a materialistic way to think about things, but honestly, it makes sense a little, doesn't it?

So the lessons we've learned from our little locker-room banter was that the time to pick up a boyfriend is in the chilling-off months of October or early November... and then you can play with him until the first trip to spring break beaches requires that you suddenly be single again...

Interesting. And also interesting to note that I screwed it up this year... but now I know. And in October, I'll start hunting for my seasonal boyfriend for 2007-2008.



08 January 2007

A bad day.... (warning, very descriptive of feminine issues)

While I do so wish that I had the time to write a wonderful blog, I have so many ideas, but am in desperate need of sleep. So I'm going to blatantly and unabashedly steal this posting from an email that my friend sent to me, which was written by HER friend. So, thank you, friend-of-friend, for providing some interesting reading. I got a huge chuckle out of this...

(Warning: The below is very descriptive of feminine hygiene issues, so if you're squeamish on those types of things, you'd probably be best served by going and watching something on your TiVo right about now...)

...so I'm driving, right? from the small town in texas where I live to el paso is about 6 and 1/2 hours. I wake up the morning I'm going to leave and I'm feeling good. I don't shower, because, why? I put my stuff in the car and leave. I stop for gas, still feeling fine. feeling actually pretty optimistic.

as I start to enter el paso, my optimism fades. I have started my period. why? who can say? I wasn't supposed to be starting my period, and yet it was undeniable. so I see an exit with a walmart and veer off because I really have no choice. I mean I do, but that's so gross. so I go into walmart thinking okay, problem solved.

problem not exactly solved.

the feminine hygiene products are nowhere to be found. I mean, I look everywhere. near the make-up, near the shampoo, near the tissues/toothpaste/razor blades, even back in the back near the baby stuff (I don't know what my logic was there, it just seemed like a good idea.) so there I am leaving a trail of blood through walmart and I know I have to do something.

so I go to the pharmacy and I say, 'excuse me? I'm looking for tampons. do you have any?' kind of like the grey poupon commercial, but kind of not, if you see what I mean. do you know where they are? what he told me? 'they are in aisle 12, next to the incontinence products.' next to the incontinence products? I'm sorry, I didn't know that the lining of my uterus shedding and expelling itself from my body was comparable to accidentally loosing bladder control and peeing when I laugh. it isn't like if I do some sort of exercise that I can work on holding it in. if I could, would I? sure. sure I would. it would make it really convenient if that was the case. unfortunately, it is not something that I or anyone I have talked to has figured out yet.

so you would think that it ends here. I find the tampons, pay for them, end of story. not so. so I am by the tampons and think, well, while I'm here I might as well buy pads, too. seriously, if I am going to be sitting in my car for another 13 hours, let's not take any chances. let's be overly prepared. while I'm at it, let's go ahead and buy midol. I've only used it once before, but it made me feel pretty good.

the midol is nowhere near the aisle with the pads and tampons (and adult diapers.) that would be too easy. apparently the sadistic bastards that design walmarts marketing scheme also have a sense of humor. they want to lead you on a form of a treasure hunt, with the treasure being, suprise! if you find it you can return to feeling like a normal person. if not, you'll probably bleed to death and be so pissed about it you'll shoot others and take them down with you.

I go back to the pharmacy, pads and tampons in my arms on display and begin to scour the pain relievers. bayer, tylenol, advil, etc. again, my search appears to be in vain. I go around to the other side, slamming directly into and tripping an elderly gentleman in the process, who proceeds to look at me and then down to my merchandise and before I can say 'I'm sorry' has literally taken off in a manner that can only be described as a hasty scurry.

after about 5 mintues of no success, arms full of products I go back to the counter and say 'midol?' 'look on the bottom shelves near the sides, it should be there.' I return and so it is. there, hidden at the bottom on the extreme left of the last shelf, is the midol. there is also a box of pamprin. I hate the name, but if it might work, hey, I'm willing to at least read the box. the box, like midols box, says it relieves pain,cramping, tension headache, bloating and here's the kicker, the difference from midols box and the reason I will never buy pamprin (aside from the ridiculous name): irritability.

irritability? I fucking bet that if I didn't have to consult an atlas, an oracle and burn two living sacrifices to FIND the goddam products, I wouldn't be so freakin' irritable.

I grab the midol and go to check out. self check out is not an option. it's el paso, texas. it's a monday. why would there be something as quick, easy and convenient as a self checkout? I go to the ten items or less line. begin to move through fairly quickly. place my products on the counter. ready to pay, exchange pleasantries with the poor young male kid who is blushing and stammering as he scans my multitude of feminine purchases, my hard won and fought for prizes.

I'm not worried about it, I smile and bite my lip, glance at him and make my eyes sparkle when our eyes catch, tilt my head innocently to the side, things that would probably be more flirtatiously effective and fetching if it didn't appear that I was losing enough blood to form a goat or to at least give another person a full transfusion.

I do kind of feel for him. I do have a surplus, he is young, he probably hasn't seen a vagina, but hey let one of his internal organs reject its interior and have the residue leave his body, and then we'll talk. until then, please check-out kid, please, don't ask me or any other female to discuss the nature of the products with you.

'do they really work?' yes. yes they do. I'm happy with their levels of performance. happy enough to pick out and stand by specific brands. however, I am provoked to wonder why you want to know. for what purpose? will you be sampling one or all of these products? and please don't misunderstand, a healthy curiosity is great, but you can look me in the eye when you ask, it's okay. I've been buying these things for years. probably someday YOU will even be asked to buy them. and hopefully, if you haven't turned into some machismo asshole, you will gladly crawl out of bed, kiss your girlfriend and drive to the store.

until then, don't worry. you don't have to talk about what I am buying. you can go the the old stand bys, the weather, the nature of my day, or even your day, I am usually interested to know. either way, it was nice to meet you. you seem like a nice guy, walmart kid. and I don't even mind that you watched me all the way to the bathroom. if I remember correctly I glanced at you and winked when I went in smiled and waved at you as I came out and left the store. thanks for all your help. sincere thanks to you check out kid and pharmacy guy, you were both really sensitive and helpful and if not for you I would probably still be wandering up and down the aisles.

a less sincere, but still special thanks to the masterminds of the walmart set-up.

and last, thank you el paso, tx. you really made my day manageable.

03 January 2007

Feeling BLUE!

It's amazing how life balances itself out. Tomorrow will be one of the shittiest days of my life. But tonight, when I went to karate to vent some anger and frustration (and to get my tush back in shape), I was promoted. Please welcome my newest fashion accessory...


02 January 2007

Welcome to 2007

Happy New Year!! The days of new beginnings and new directions have arrived. It's definitely going to be a glass-half-full year this year... filled with adventures that I'm sure I'll write about (if they're appropriate.) I have much more to write about my amazing trip to New Orleans... but for now, you'll have to settle for just a few photos...

The French Quarter:

























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Katrina's presence still lingers:


























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The steamboat Natches cruisin' the mighty Mississippi:












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Just about the only photo I can show you of Bourbon Street without some sort of nudity in it:










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Bead-throwers on the balcony on Bourbon Street... and revellers below










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Me and Stephanie... yes, we earned those beads, and no, we won't tell you how:


















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Me, Steph and Megen ringing in 2007! Three happy chicks who are looking forward to a fabulous 2007...




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Thank you, Stephanie!!!
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(2007.... to be continued..........)