Tuesday, October 31, 2006
This is the beautiful blog of my beautiful almost-cousin Angelique. I call her my almost-cousin because she, her brother, and her parents have always felt more like family than just the family friends that they are. Our dads are best friends. Actually, my dad was briefly married to her aunt when they were both younger than Angelique and I are now (a fact that weirded me out for a bit when I first learned it years ago).
Growing up we lived too far apart to really be very close, but we spent quite a few holidays together and have always kept up on each other's lives through messages relayed by our parents. The family albums contain several shots of the four of us opening Christmas presents or setting off firecrackers on the 4th of July. And I'm not sure if she remembers this--in fact I didn't really until about 3 seconds ago--but 7-year-old Angelique is actually the one who told me everything a 6-year-old could possibly ever need to know about where babies come from.
The day after that midnight conversation, she and I stole every book containing the word "sex" in the title from my parents' rather sizable library and holed up in my room looking at awkward line diagrams and reading descriptions until her mom walked in and caught us. The next year, when my own mother decided it was time to have "the talk" with me, I didn't even bother pretending that this was new information. "Yeah, Mama," I said. "Angelique actually told me all this last Thanksgiving..." I think she was both disappointed and relieved as she left me alone with what was to be the first in my own rather sizable collection of books on the subject.
Over the past couple weeks, Angelique and I have reconnected a bit thanks to our parents and (I begrudgingly admit) the Soma-like pages of MySpace. It seems that we've both been going through relatively similar situations lately, and now that I'm back in Jersey, I'm actually excited to get to know her again. We got along very well as little girls and seem to have led fairly asymptotic lives until now, so I'm eager to see if this could prove to be a great new friendship for the both of us.
I direct you now to her blog, Drama Purge. I found it while checking out my site stats to see who links to me and instantly fell in love. She's an incredible writer--honest and clever, and has a way of cutting straight to the heart of it with a sarcasm that manages to be both equal parts biting and tender.
Monday, October 23, 2006
I have no control over my mind today. The tiniest little thing will set it off. All will be moving along according to plan—I’m throwing things out, assembling boxes, deciding where things will go. And then I find a book or a letter or a ticket stub or a matchbook and off goes my brain. I’ll then spend the next 20 or 30 minutes daydreaming until I remember what I’m supposed to be doing. So I go back to packing, but pretty soon it’s just more of the same. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Let's try it again. I'll be back with more later, I'm sure.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
But I digress...
In order to properly mark my transition from DC web chick to NY writer girl, I've decided to throw one last little swank soiree at my place in the circle known as Dupont. The date is set for Thursday evening to accommodate a certain BFF who is jetting off to Argentina that weekend (ahem...Looney...) Yes, I realize it's a school night, but we're starting at seven so there should be plenty of time to feast and imbibe and still make it home in time to catch your 40 winks (should you be so inclined). Personally, I can go sans winks.
Pretty much the entire local cast and crew of sent from my dell desktop will be in attendance (with the notably sad exceptions of BFF Vanessa, who is a slave to her temp job, and friend for whom I've yet to decide on an appropriate pseudonym, who now lives on the opposite side of the globe). I'm also extending the invitation to all you blog girls and blog boys that I've met or corresponded with over the course of the past few months. I don't have all of your e-mail addresses, so either drop me a comment or click on the "e-mail me" link over there on your left, and I'll respond with my addy and the details.
Few things make this blogger happier than having a party to plan. I get to obsess over the menu and dream up hors d'ouevre ideas (I confess that I actually sketch these out sometimes...if I had a scanner I'd show you some of my canape sketches). I spend hours concocting the perfect playlist. I obsessively check my evite site to see if anyone new has responded. It's madness, but it's also a lot of fun. This will probably be the last party I'm hosting at my own place for a few months, so I'm really looking forward to it (although there is a rumor that I might be co-hosting [read: cooking for] a spooky halloween party in NY later this month). Also, it will probably be the last time that I get to see all my DC friends together for a while.
So that said, I have canapes to sketch.
We quickly learned, however, that the movie had nothing to do with Asians. The plot, as described on the Blockbuster sleeve was this: "A proper young Southern debutante gets an irresistible urge to take off with a sexy young carny."
That's right. A "sexy young carny."
The movie starts very properly at a Southern girls’ college where it seems like everyone wears corsets and garters, and dresses exclusively in white. We are introduced to a preppy fraternity president and quickly learn that this is the man to whom the girl is enfianced. Everything is very pretty and proper with lots of pastel clothing and games of golf. Then seemingly out of nowhere, the plot turns...
Cast aside are the frills and petit fours of proper Southern society life—suddenly the girl is in a shower doing that thing that all girls do, but few girls talk about, while spying on the boys in the shower next door through a hole that she had drilled in the wall. A carnival comes to town and the girl meets the carny. He’s fresh. She’s indignant. She stops wearing underwear. She cries every time they have sex. There are a few more shower scenes. (The dirtiest movies tend to have the most shower scenes.) A lot of lines like, "Everything I am is between my legs" and "You fascinate and repulse me." The girl's rich parents tried to bribe the carny to leave her alone.
But carnies can't be bought.
A few more showers. A few barn scenes. Then the girl marries her preppy fiance. A lawman with a shotgun is hired to kill the carny. He misses. The girl runs away from her new husband on their wedding night and slips into the carny's shower to wait for him. The movie ends with the long-haired carny and the debutante in the shower, the camera focusing on her new wedding ring.
The movie was, for all intents and purposes, horrible. The long-haired carny who apparently didn't own a shirt...the platinum-haired southern belle...the preppy, clueless fiance. It was too much. But then again, there was something about it that was actually kind of intriguing. It had that trashy, sultry, soft-core feel of Showtime Late-night. Everything was kind of (literally) steamy and pastel. It was like someone had ripped off the cover of one of those cheap paperback romance novels (you know, the kind the drugstore sells) and set a camera on it for two hours. In fact, it was exactly like that. And I think that’s probably why I found myself a little turned-on by it. Because it reminded me of that warm, fluttery feeling I used to get low in my belly when I read those novels.
I used to secretly love them when I was 12 or 13, and just starting to feel those kinds of feelings for the first time. That dizziness that happens when all the blood rushes away from your head. I’d read them locked in my room or with a flashlight late at night. My mother was constantly finding them around the house and throwing them out. “These are terrible,” she’d say. “They have no plot—it’s just sex.” I’d argue that there was, in fact, a plot. I’d expound in vain about the peasant girl locked in the castle or the poor farmer’s daughter or the neglected wife, but all the while I knew she was right. There was no plot. It was just about the sex—and that was precisely why I read them.
Monday, October 16, 2006
In addition to the network shows, I've fallen back in love with public television. I love the late-night Agatha Christie dramas. On Saturday I watched a Sherlock Holmes movie in a language that I'm pretty sure was German, but which I have no way of checking. I've also really gotten into nerdy documentaries. I saw a great one about the history of baseball and one about the photographers who worked with Marilyn Monroe. Yesterday I watched one about poor inner-city Baltimore children that made me cry. When I told Looney about this he shook his head.
"I'm kind of an emotional wreck lately..."I admitted.
"Yeah," he agreed. "You're a Republican...poor kids aren't supposed to make you cry."
By far, my new favorite channel is Channel 49. It's a channel devoted entirely to movie previews. It's the weirdest thing ever, but for some reason I find it fascinating. It's the perfect channel to leave on in the background while cleaning and packing. It's entertaining, but doesn't require that much concentration. And the beauty of trailers is that they make every movies seem so amazing. So far, I have a list of about 137 films that I want to see.
The odd thing is that the previews aren't just for upcoming films. Some are for movies that have been out for a while, or ones that are already out on DVD. What's great about the preview channel is that there are no commercials--it's just a continuous loop of previews, occasionally interrupted by a station identification message. I imagine that's because previews are really just commercials for movies, but they're a lot more entertaining.
The trailers seem to be grouped by theme. This morning they showed an hour of animated and children's films. Movies like Cars, Happy Feet, and the new Harry Potter. That was followed by period pieces: Pride and Prejudice, Marie Antoinette, etc. Right now the movies all seem to be war or 9/11 related: Annapolis, Ground Zero, The Marine, etc. Last night, Looney joined me for an hour of dramas and foreign films. As we watched scene after scene of European lovers crying and dying and being torn apart by politics or social pressures, we started to get a little moody.
"Watching these previews one after another is a little depressing," he said. "Life is such a struggle!"
"Eh," I replied. "That's just the French..."
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Happy Homemaker became the default away message on my AIM profile while I spent hours buzzing around the kitchen experimenting with marinades and pie crusts. That was the year of my first Passover chicken, the one that was so tender at the bone that it practically disintegrated before we made it through the four questions. In the spring, armed with a French-English dictionary and a stack of cookbooks from the library, I set about on a month-long quest to bake the perfect Proustian Madeleine. My roommates would come home to tray after tray of fluffy lemon biscuits. "You're making me fat," one of them always used to say as she tried my latest experiment. Provisions Too, the gourmet market on the GW campus became a daily stop. I quickly worked my way through my meal points on ingredients like white truffle butter, porcini mushrooms, and saffron threads.
Looking back at it now, I realize that it was my way of regaining control over a situation that I found overwhelming. It wasn't about the food--I rarely even had a chance to eat the things I made--it was about the process. I’d had my heart broken for the first time and was disillusioned with my course of study. Inside I felt lonely and adrift, but all those feelings melted away once I stepped into the kitchen. Cast iron skillet in hand I could do anything. My power was limited only by my imagination (sort of a culinary Green Lantern). It was the perfect therapy for someone who refused it in its conventional forms. I made decisions in the kitchen: the Madeleines helped me realize that it was literature and not politics that I wanted to pursue, and I opted to take a semester off and attend culinary school in Italy instead of a traditional study abroad program. I set aside my textbooks and devoured food memoirs by Ruth Reichl and Jeffrey Steingarten noting the parallels—I wasn’t the only one who recognized how sadness has a way of dying in the kitchen.
I’ve started again. Only this time, in addition to cooking, I’ve started coding with abandon. I’ve literally spent hours hand-coding a new template for this blog to mark the new chapter in my life. I researched ways to circumvent the strict default templates of MySpace to create a great new profile. I’m also working on a personal page to highlight some of my writing and have been thinking about designs for BFF Vanessa who wants a page to showcase her artwork. Just like in the kitchen, I’m limited only by my imagination. Yes, some things require more technique than I am currently in possession of, but I refuse to let that stop me—I just find a way to teach myself.
I know that this is clearly a control thing. I’m sad and there is no real way for me to change that. I have to live it. If there were a code that would make me happy, I would write it. If there were I recipe, I would follow it. As it is, I have no power over the moments of doubt…the sharp pangs of sadness…the uncertainty of what’s to come. So I focus on what I can. I focus on the things that I can do. And hopefully, while I immerse myself in those things, the rest will work itself out.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
In six years, they still haven't gotten around to hiring someone to fix it. So for six years they have continued to purchase an average of two cases of water a week:So that's six thousand two hundred and forty dollars in water bottles. Even allowing for a generous margin of error--say, $740--it is still an absurd amount of money to throw away on what they could be drinking for free.
Now I took the initiative and decided to do a bit of online research. In fewer than two minutes I learned that Sears sells 338 different kinds of side-by-side refrigerators in all colors, sizes, and materials. Of those 338, all but two can be purchased for less than $6240. I even went a step further and narrowed the search down to only those manufactured by Kenmore (their preferred brand) and found that for that price they can purchase not just one, but TWO of the most expensive Kenmore units available. I'm talking side-by-side, stainless steel, and 28 cubic feet of storage space.
I'm hoping that seeing this all laid out like this will motivate them to finally do something about the fridge. If not, I would also like to propose an alternate solution: let me fix the fridge following the step by step DIY instructions I found on this blog, and then give me 20 dollars a week for the next six years.
You might know their song "Ice Cream" from that sexy Intel Core 2 Duo ad with all the funky Jamiroquai-like dancing. [It is also currently the featured song on my MySpace page...] The video for the song is even cooler in that makes-me-happy-brightly-colored, New Wave kinda way. And it's dripping with good things like corn syrup and licorice allsorts (which I've always thought of as the prettiest, albeit most disgusting candies ever).
I figured I ought to drop them a little linky so that when they blow up in a few months I can say something along the lines of: "I told you so... Remember when I told you so?"
Monday, October 09, 2006
The tone of the blog has also evolved significantly. My earliest posts consisted mostly of snarky observations, overheard conversations, and Photoshopped celebrities. As the months have gone by, however, the posts have gotten longer and more introspective. I find myself spending hourssometimes even daysworking and reworking an entry. This method has resulted in better writing, but it also ups the pressure. Im no longer satisfied with those quick little entries. Ive become obsessed with finding the storythe meaning within.
My inability to achieve clarity within my writing is really reflective of the unclear state of my life right now. Things have pretty much been turned upside down and over again. So many things have happened over the course of the past two months: my brother came back from war; one of my best friends got married; I left my job; I turned down a better one; I decided to give up my apartment, leave DC, and move back home to NJ; and most recently, someone very, very important to me moved very, very far away.
Its been 8 weeks of some of the highest highs and lowest lows that Ive ever experiencedand its not over yet. In fact, from where Im sitting, things are still uncomfortably cloudy. There are many things that I still need to figure out and even more things that I need to get done. But I have faith that everything will work itself out eventuallyand I know
Saturday, October 07, 2006
I’ve been anticipating the publication of the story about my date for some time now. When the freelance writer who had been assigned to our story called me three weeks ago to ask for an update she mentioned that the article would be published “any day now.” So I wasn’t that surprised this morning when I opened up the magazine and found myself smiling back up at me. “Oh great,” I thought as I read the subtitle: “She’s a food lover who attended culinary school. He’s a devoted calorie-watcher. Drat.”
As a writer, I understand the need to create a character in order to tell a story. However, I must admit that this was my biggest concern about the article. “How are they going to paint me,” I wondered, thinking over the things I’d said in the interview. Evidently, they decided that I was going to be a “food lover” with expensive shoes. Not necessarily inaccurate, but certainly not how I’d describe myself. I was disappointed that they cut out a lot of my funny (at least to me) quotes. During my 30-minute interview, the reporter laughed hysterically when I told her how I blew a fuse and my comment about Rachel Ray. I’d been hoping that some of those lines would make it into the article, but instead I came off sounding shallow and a little snotty. I literally cringed when I read the first line about my being a “stilettos kinda girl.” Yes, I did say that, but it was within the context of explaining how I generally feel more comfortable when I’m dressed up. Also, while I realize that I am in fact from New Jersey, I am fairly confident that I stopped using the word “shady” sometime in the fall of my sophomore year of high school. I believe the actual word I used was “sketchy.”
I think what struck me most about the article is the fact that I learned more about Alfredo from his handful of quotations than I did throughout the course of our date. He explained in his interview that he was trying to “keep it simple,” but would it have not made sense for him, upon learning that I had been to culinary school, to mention that he writes about food and nutrition? Within context, his seemingly freakish obsession with the portion sizes would have seemed less so. He described himself in his questionnaire as a former “super-nice, chubby guy” and mentioned that he’d had his heart broken several times. Now he writes about nutrition and seems horrified by the idea of cleaning off his plate. You don’t need to be a shrink to connect those dots… Looking back at it, it was his refusal to volunteer any information about himself that really made me dislike him. Had he mentioned the food thing or the fact that he had a friend coming in from out of town, I would have understood. But as it was, I was forced to fill in the blanks, and that didn’t work out in his favor.
Overall, the article wasn’t that bad. I think they could have done a better job selecting quotes from my questionnaire and they mixed up the part about my “dream date” with the answer for my “usual physical type,” which again, made me look a little shallow. For the record, my actual answer to that question was:
“Basically, I just want a male version of me—and I want him to look like Dermot Mulroney. Actually, I was watching the movie Prime the other day and totally fell for the guy that Uma Thurman dates in that movie…the cute, quirky wit, sexy boyish looks, NY accent, with an artsy side. I love that. Other options: Mr. Darcy as played by Colin Firth, Cary Grant’s character in The Philadelphia Story.”
At least the picture wasn’t that bad, although I wish I’d had time to straighten my hair. You’ve probably noticed that I added a picture of myself to my blogger profile. I figured that once you’ve been outed by the second largest newspaper in the country there really is no point in grasping for those last few traces of anonymity.
Go check out the article—I’m interested to hear what you guys think about it.