Sunday, December 31, 2006

Why, People? Why Do You Disappoint Me So?

Top Ten Searches on Technorati:

So Long, 2006, Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

I'm not near as graphically talented as my friend Lori, so you won't get a spiffy chart. Instead here's the rundown on an exhausting year:

January - My grandfather dies, with all of us surrounding him, holding his hands and feet or touching some part of his body. After such agonizing, drawn-out illnesses, it was a surprisingly quick passage. I'd say it was a good first experience with a close death, very humane and special.

February - Our beloved cat Simon dies, unexpectedly and horrifically. Stella found his cold body next door, most likely an accidental poisoning but we'll never know. In a month I felt sure was sprinkled with serendipitous fairy dust, Chicklet adopts us a week after Simon died and I also meet the man with whom I will carry out a deeply emotional yet ultimately doomed love affair.

March - My biological father dies. My sister and I find out weeks later. I'd been estranged from him for...well, just about all my life. I am still waiting to feel something about this. I turned 31 on the 31st.

April - July - Inner dialogue: "Holy shit, is this really happening to me? Did I really meet someone so perfect for me, so amazing? Are we really going to try to make this happen? We are? Okay, fuck...let's do this. Wow, it's everything and more I could have hoped for. Yes, of course there are obstacles....when are there not obstacles? I'm in love! It's a miracle! Oh but wait...maybe love can't conquer all....boy, am I a colossal idiot. NOTHING COULD EVER HURT AS BADLY AS I DO RIGHT NOW."

July - October - Inner dialogue: "I refuse to let go of this. I refuse to passively let my heart break. Surely there's something I can do! As much as I'd like to wallow in self-pity forever, some shit has got to change. Too bad I can't even find a good THERAPIST..why are partnerships of any kind so fucking difficult to make happen? Okay, okay...Plan B. I don't need no stinkin' therapist. I know what I need to do...I've always known what I needed to do. First things first, get out of my mother's...then...get out of this soul-sucking job." And you know what? Done and done. Sometimes the hardest part is just deciding to change.

November - Settled in to wonderful house, healing with an amazing sister/roommate/friend/fellow recovering broken heart. Thank the universe every day for my daughter. Feeling the changes on the horizon.

December - Estranged from my mother. New job. It's intoxicating - this surge of confidence, knowing that I can do this job well and thrive in it. And...I have a date for New Year's Eve. A date? A date I'm actually looking forward to? May wonders never cease. It's a fitting end.

Whew...I'm worn out.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sloth Makes Me Stupid

Remember when I would write about feminism and politics or tell stories from my crazy upbringing? I think I need the structure of a job to make my brain critically think. Today I stayed in bed until noon watching The freakin' Girls Next Door. I shit you not.

Sure it'd be nice to dash off a diatribe about Saddam Hussein's execution and the surrounding circus...or be disgusted by how much more CRAP we have in our house now, thanks to the baby Jesus, and how excess packaging is the bane of my existence. Instead I'll spend my last few days of leisure doing my nails, making playlists, and letting my mind atrophy into a worthless gruel.

Friday, December 29, 2006

There Are Worse Ways To Spend A Friday Night

Than with a glass of prosecco, researching better cameras. It is Friday, right? I've had all week off work and yes, I am rubbing it in.

I just realized I've posted way more pictures of drinks than food these past few days. Ahhh, the holidays.

No Guilt, All Pleasure

Justin Timberlake
Butterfinger mini candy bars
Getting my hair and nails done
"Since You've Been Gone"
Vogue's massive September issue
Just One Of The Guys
Sleeping until noon (0r later)
Brunch (drinking before noon)
George Clooney
Cover songs
Going shopping for a New Year's Eve party dress

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Past Three Days In Pictures


My niece loves earrings and pretty dresses. Like all the girls in the family.
I've become a Nintendo DS widow/mom.
Stella proudly wearing the ugliest shoes in the world.
Brother-in-law and niece. I just think it's a very sweet picture.
She really looks capable of stealing my breath.
Basin Park Hotel at night, blurred by shaky hands, no flash & whiskey.
Eureka at night.
Inside Chelsea's.
Interesting lights.
Closing time.
After closing time.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Not A Total Scrooge

Okay, I admit it. I love Christmas, when it's separated from family stress. I love Christmas songs* and togetherness and parties and cheer and food and Christmas lights and trees with presents piled underneath.

Wishing you and yours all the best,
Love, me and mine.

*Best ones: "Last Christmas" by Wham!, "Baby, Please Come Home For Christmas" by The Eagles, "Blue Christmas" by Elvis, "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt & "Happy Christmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Santa's Workshop

Last year I stayed up all night wrapping presents and watching The 40 Year-Old Virgin alone, laughing my ass off. This year Stella has a friend over and I'm working out the kinks on my annual X-Mess CD, printing off pictures, making jewelry & collages and watching Sex, Lies, and Videotape on IFC. I cannot STAND Andie MacDowell. She's a horribly dull actress and her reactions are always a pace or more off, not at all natural. I don't know many women, though, who don't think James Spader is the hottest thing on the planet (and I'm sure I'll hear from the ones who don't). I'm especially partial to this lush, feathery mullet phase.

Playlist for CD:
1. Hurry On Now - Alice Russell feat. TM Juke
2. Last Call - Brazilian Girls
3. Tempted - Squeeze
4. Crazy For Leaving - Catfish Haven
5. That’s All - Genesis
6. Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John
7. The Killing Moon - Grant Lee Phillips
8. I’ve Been Thinking - Handsome Boy Modeling School feat. Cat Power
9. Love Me Or Hate Me - Lady Sovereign
10. Seven Nation Army - Nostalgia feat. Alice Russell
11. Hand On Your Heart - Jose Gonzalez
12. Colours - Hot Chip
13. Saturday - Josh Rouse
14. Red Vines - Aimee Mann
15. Rainy Night In Georgia - Tony Joe White
16. Bizarre Love Triangle - Nouvelle Vague
17. Only A Fool Would Say That - Steely Dan
18. Consolation Prizes - Phoenix

Dilemma

Do I spend my Saturday late morning watching The Upside of Anger (never seen it) or Before Sunrise (seen at least four times)? I'm still in my pajamas, have had a cup of tea and a delicious spinster breakfast of one fried egg and a piece of buttered pumpernickel toast with orange marmelade. I'm ignoring the near future in which I'm taking Stella Christmas shopping. So do I watch a film I've only heard a little of? Joan Allen is always interesting to watch but...Kevin Costner? I get how his oily charm might construed as attractive...but I why do I need to be convinced? I'm intrigued by the title because, in case you haven't noticed, I'm angry these days. And it features a family of a mother and four daughters, a dynamic more than familiar to me.

But on the other hand is a beautiful, sweet, perfect little film I like to watch every few years. Before Sunrise is a film that seduces you into believing that connections between people that feel serendipitous must be meant to be. Thank god they made a sequel is all I'm gonna say.

Update: I'm watching The Upside of Anger and it's alright. I guess. I gave it up eventually, though.

Preparing For Family Time?

Last night I dreamt I was sharpening knives, swiping them up and down the whetstone at a 45° angle.

Friday, December 22, 2006

I'm Done!

I think I've earned this.
I have a ton of things to assemble and make now...but all the parts are purchased.

Cover Me, I'm Goin' In

I've got wrinkled dirty jeans and last night's smoky shirt on. All I need now is a double latte and I'm ready to do some fucking SHOPPING, y'all!

Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Couldn't Help Myself

John Oates's exaggerated facial expressions (and oh, that glorious mustache), Darryl Hall's tucked-in shirt and pleated pants, the cheese factor cranked up to 11....this is the un-rockingest song ever.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Thought Bubbles

Buying international flights for other people is a little stressful.

New delicious food discovery - pupusas.

Amended plan for holiday weight gain: drink plenty of red wine and wait for the bulges to disappear.

Nothing irritates me like those "Every kiss begins with Kay" commercials. What does that mean anyway? If I kiss my daughter goodnight do I have to buy her a diamond first? Is that their diabolical plan?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Trying To Wrap My Brain Around Such A Figure

So the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, gets a $53.4 MILLION bonus this year. Over a million dollars a WEEK, if you think about it (yeah, yeah, taxes will take nearly half...but STILL...a million every other week then). If I wasn't so busy anxiously awaiting my pathetically small monthly child support payment I'd be thoroughly disgusted.

Did I mention that because of the timing of starting my new job that I didn't get a Christmas bonus AT ALL this year? Yeah...that stings a little.

How's about a small loan, Mr. Blankfein? Say...$1,000? You'd never notice it missing....

The Most Pathetically White Trash Thing I Do On A Regular Basis

Sit around waiting for my child support payment.

So degrading.

And somehow it doesn't become any less degrading when I share it with the Internets.

Some Series Really Should Be Retired For Good

Evidence:

I Don't Care

I don't care if Miss USA get to keep her crown or not.
I don't care about Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii or XBox 360.
I don't care what the weather is doing right now or will do next week.
I don't care about Britney, Paris or Lindsey.
I don't care how Wal Mart fares this holiday season.
I don't care how sick you are or how sick you've been or how sick your kids are.
I don't care what your picks for the best songs, albums or films of the year are (I haven't heard of any of them anyway).

Apparently I also don't care if I gain a hundred pounds this month. Bring on the baked goods! Yes to extra sauce! Seconds? Don't mind if I do!

I just want it to be Monday night....the holiday over and done with, surrounded by friends and select family, whiskey in glasses, fire in the fireplace and a whole week off of work.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Freaky Yet Fascinating Read

Pythons vs. Gators!

I prefer this to Alien vs. Predator.

Now's when I need my AstroLance picture....

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

Kelly sent me this, knowing how happy it would make me. This picture makes me so very very happy. If the stress of the holidays is getting to you, just take a moment to drink in the deliciousness of the gay N*Sync-er astronaut.

Another Good One

My same friend Julie, of "fool of a red eye" fame, also used to think that Billy Squire was singing "my candelabra" instead of "my kind of lover." But it doesn't end there. She also thought that a candelabra was a model of car and that he was singing about his car.

A Good Reason For Leaving A Clear Outgoing Voice Mail Greeting

Last night I got a phone call from a very nice woman who informed me that she's been receiving all my messages that I THOUGHT I was leaving for my friend S. I guess I entered her number wrong into my new phone. These messages involved several loud voice mails that included the terms "bourbon," "slut," and "guilt trip"....among other things. Who knows why it took her so long to set me straight - maybe she was scared.

Nog It

I was given a bottle of eggnog at our party the other night and quickly set it aside. Besides knowing that eggnog would NOT be the right choice on top of champagne, red wine and an empty stomach, I also instinctively knew that pre-bottled alcoholic eggnog would have to rely heavily on artificial binders and non-dairyness. Fresh eggnog isn't so bad, it can taste good, even, if it's made with quality ingredients and lots of nutmeg.

This is a good article on the history of eggnog, the annual holiday treat. Here's hoping I won't have to write the word "eggnog" for another year.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Huh...You Don't Say

Eating at The Olive Garden can cause nausea and vomiting? I never would have guessed.

Billy Jean Is At My Door

Okay most of us are familiar with the better-known mondegreens in popular music: "Excuse me, while I kiss this guy," "Wrapped up like a douche," "There's a bathroom on the right."

I like the weird ones, though.

My friend Julie used to think Sade was singing "Fool of a red eye" instead of "smooth operator." And Liz thought the Fine Young Cannibals were saying, "She tries to get pregnant" instead of "she drives me crazy." I used to think instead of singing about Dirty Diana, Michael Jackson was saying, "Her teeth are yellow."

I'm fascinated with the function of our brains that works so hard to create meaning out of random sounds.

What lyrics have you misheard and still sing along with incorrectly?

Terrible Of Me, I Know...

..And a sure sign I straddle the generation gap, but when I read the headline: "Dozens Poisoned By Grills" I couldn't help but think of:

Strangely Enough...

I haven't done a bit of Christmas shopping and I now have less than a week and I'm not stressed out. Not at all. It could be denial...or resignation. Maybe it's more like "it'll be what it can be."

ETA: Of course the knot in between my shoulder blades and a neck I can't turn without wincing could possibly be signs of internalized stress.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

He'p Me

I need every last lurker to comment and tell me what dance songs I NEED in my collection. I'm talkin' guaranteed ass-shakers. The goal is to create the superior-est playlist.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Announcement

I REALLY love my new job.

God that feels good to say.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hot Stuff




New Best Headline Ever

World's Tallest Man Saves Plastic Eating Dolphins.

Panic Seizing My Heart

I was just creating a fantasy Christmas list and was looking for the link to Kiehl's coriander line and IT'S NOT TO BE FOUND ONLINE. Does this mean they're discontinuing the best fucking smell in the universe? Who would be stupid enough to narrow down the already slim options for single-note good smells? Most blend perfumes are nasty and almost get there, but fail. Coriander was perfect in its spicy green simplicity. It's my signature scent..what's a girl to do if she can't smell like herself? Kate, or anyone near an actual Kiehl's store, please, find out if they still sell it. My life depends on it.

Narm!

Senator Johnson has AVM. Just like Nate on Six Feet Under. Oh shit.

Hope Y'all Like Potpourri

I finally got around to uploading photographic evidence of my scintillatingly exciting life.Pork tenderloin with the sublime napa cabbage.
Gunther straddling the couch. It's the manliest thing he does.
Last night's sunset. Viewed from the living room.
The tree now flashes from the window, like a gay beacon at the top of Mt. Sequoyah. It's so beautiful and tacky, like Dolly Parton.

The Mind Races

My boss got to spend an uninterrupted hour with Bill Clinton yesterday. She said it was amazing, the depth and scope of his knowledge of the world and how it works. I can only imagine...

What would YOU do if you were granted the same opportunity?

Hoping For A Christmas Miracle

I don't care if you believe in god or not, please pray for Senator Johnson. I swear, this is like a bad movie where just when you think you can breathe and relax a little, the bad guy comes back from the dead. WE DON'T NEED ANY ADDED TENSION RIGHT NOW.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Probably Not The Best Way To Instill Gratitude

In keeping with my "Caustic Christmas" theme (see, comments from this post), I should tell you about one of my most memorable Christmas mornings....the one in which our mother returned our gifts.

It was the mid-1980s sometime, I want to say 1986. My sister and I had asked for Esprit clothes because we were dying to fit in with the other kids at school. Somehow our mashed bean sandwiches on homemade bread and choppy, uneven haircuts (also homemade, natch) weren't doing the trick. We knew our family didn't have much money but we were desperate for some token of conformity. So on Christmas morning we run into the living room and see the pastel flannel plaid Esprit shirts folded under the tree (the unwrapped gifts were "from Santa"). I was thrilled to see that the Esprit label was prominently stitched onto the front pocket, so even though the shirt wasn't what I wanted (I never liked plaid), I could at least feel secure in knowing that all the other kids in 5th grade would see that I was like them. But my sister and I failed to show sufficient gratitude for the shirts (it was the plaid) and that pissed our mother off so badly that she took them back...no offer to replace them or return them for shirts we really did like. She told us we were ungrateful and disrespectful and she was taking them away from us as "consequences."

And you wonder how I turned out this way.

Freedom Seekers Welcome in Iran!

If the U.S. really wanted to do some good in the world, we should bomb the Iran Holocaust Deniers Conference. Of course I'm kidding. I don't REALLY condone bombing. Even after reading this article and my blood started boiling. The money quote?
"Iran is your home and is the home of all freedom seekers of the world," Ahmadinejad said. "Here you can express your views and exchange opinions in a friendly, brotherly and free atmosphere."

Homemade Curry

Maybe it was all that feminizing soy talk that made me crave tofu last night. I am fighting off a bug so I wanted something healthy, spicy and soothing. So I sorta made my own kind of curry.

First I ground, with the mortar and pestle, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, shallots, thai spicy pepper and lime juice. At the same time I was toasting cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, mustard seeds and cumin seeds in the oven. I ground them in the coffee grinder and added them to the spicy mush in the mortar bowl. I added a smidge of madras curry powder and maybe 1/2 a teaspoon of thai red curry paste to make it a true curry suicide. I added all that to 2 cans of coconut milk and a cup or so of chicken broth and let it simmer and thicken. Then I added chopped onion, Yukon Gold potato, carrots and the tofu I'd already fried a little bit to make it firm and crunchy. In the last 5 minutes of cooking I added the rest of the leftover chopped Napa cabbage. And because I'm still a hippy at heart I made brown jasmine rice instead of white.

It was creamy, spicy, pungent and delicious.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I Wonder What The Hazing Will Entail

Arkansas governer Huckabee to join Reagan & Elvis fraternity.

Okay I have a few favorite parts.

First, the "closed-door, one-hour initiation ceremony at the governor's mansion." I got one (disturbing) word for you - SEXY!

Second, "He's done an awful lot for the state as well as the country," said Kevin Mayeux, the fraternity's chief executive officer." An AWFUL lot, yes. Check out our awesome per capita income, poverty level and education rates!

And lastly, "Mayeux said belonging to the fraternity could expand the network of supporters Huckabee may find if he runs for president. Founded in 1899, the fraternity has 270 campus chapters and 200,000 living members." Way to lock up some votes and build a base, Huck!

Best Headline Ever

Here's another good reason to only eat tofu in Asian dishes:

Soy: It'll make you girly, gay and small-penised.* And probably kill your children, if it doesn't sterilize them first.

I hesitated to even link to this article. I think he's probably just trying to rile up the liberals. Don't take away my tofu, now! Next they'll come for my chai latté and New Yorker subscription!

*If you're a guy. Naturally, there's no mention of what it does to adult women.

Some Are Born To Sing The Blues

Here’s why it bothers me when something I’m interested in becomes really popular (i.e. cowgirl boots, martinis, Oprah)*: It has nothing to do with snobbery (oh no, nothing at all). It bothers me because it turns something that provides for me small, personal joy into a trend. Suddenly everywhere you turn, your special little happiness is mirrored back at you in increasingly degrading ways. I don’t want to share these things with you, America! I want it all to myself. Maybe it’s a big sister thing, but I resent having to share.

That’s exactly what happened to me with “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. Yes, the triumphant song about not giving up on your dreams. For years it was laughably bad. Now it’s Ironically Bad. It’s on The O.C.! It pours out of karaoke bars and SUVs. Sorority girls sing it en masse.

I don't think they like it for the right reasons, though. Journey aren't for laughing at, they're for feeling with. Your heart should soar when you hear that guitar solo. Your veins should pump to the driving beat. Or else give that song back to me.


*That's a joke. Y'all can have Oprah.

My Little Chip

Last night my family took my grandmother to dinner for her 81st birthday. The restaurant is a popular place for holiday parties so I wasn't surprised when Santa Claus walked through, carrying big "presents" and trying to spread good cheer. He made the mistake of stopping by our table, probably because he saw my little niece and my daughter sitting there. Little did he know that Stella and I had just finished an argument wherein she thought she sounded cool by saying she "doesn't believe" in Santa. And because I'm an obnoxious mom who says things like, "Santa exists if you believe in him," I told her that if she didn't "believe" in Santa then she wouldn't get anything in her stocking. So Ol' Saint Nick, resplendent in red velvet, comes to our table and leans across to shake Stella's hand.

"And what do YOU want for Christmas, young lady?" He asked.

Without missing a beat she answered, "Your watch."

Mom? Is That You?

From today's crime report:

2: 17 p. m. A woman at 1005 Turtle Creek Drive reported “End World Hunger” spray-painted on her fence.

You can't make this shit up.

I Like Every Other Kind of Nut, Though

I've had to explain several times in the past few days that I don't eat walnuts. I know that sounds odd because I'll eat just about anything else (even McDonalds, if need be) but I draw the line at walnuts. And here's why:

When I was seven years-old or so and my sister Jessy was five, our mother decided that the family should fast for a day in honor of World Hunger Day. Because, you know, it's very important that seven and five year-olds really EXPERIENCE hunger in order to truly grasp the seriousness of famine. Of course we had no idea why we weren't eating, only that we couldn't, and we were too scared to rebel outright. We lived in an old farmhouse that had a root cellar. Because the house was built on top of a ridge it could also function as a tornado cellar, or, if need be, a nuclear fallout bunker (this was the early 80s). Mom used it to store bulk foods that she bought from the natural foods warehouse. So Jess and I snuck down into the dank, clammy room and started checking out our options. 25 pound bag of rice? No, not raw. Same went for the bin of oatmeal. And millet. But we found a gallon jar of walnuts and being very young and very hungry, we ate those walnuts until we were sick, which, I'm sure, is exactly what a famine-stricken orphan would have done on World Hunger Day as well.

So don't try to convince me to eat walnuts. The memory and experience of that day are too much a part of my DNA now.

It's probably not a stellar idea to make kids fast, for whatever reasons, either.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sunday Night Dinner

Angie made the best damn dinner last night but I couldn't get a good picture so you'll have to feast on my description. She made pork tenderloin, basted in a combination of several mustards, orange marmelade and little apricot jelly. Perhaps there were other seasonings as well. The sauce she made was very similar to the marinade/basting liquid but more of a reduction. This was served with wild rice and sauteéd Napa cabbage. The flavors combined were incredible...not too sweet or spicy but just right.

As thanks I kicked her ass in Scrabble.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fung Schway Day

We keep bringing in new plants (please, let these ones live...my f'in black thumb). And rearranging.
This all might change after we get the fireplace cleaned tomorrow, but I like it.

From The Annals Of Creepy Advertising

The Burger King waxy-faced mascot is highly disturbing. Just look at his über-creepy doofus expression. Like a delusional, stoned psycopath.
And WTF are they doing making video games with him? Who buys this crap?


Probably the same people who eat this crap:
Yes, that's an actual Burger King burger. Mmmmm......disease on a bun.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"Freedom Isn't Free"

This will probably alienate some readers and, well, I'm prepared for that...but I don't care for cartoons. There, I said it. South Park? No thank you. The Simpsons? Maybe a long time ago but not no mo'. Family Guy? No matter how many times you try to tell me it's hilarious I still won't watch it, same goes for Adult Swim, Aqua Teen Whatever Blah Blah or any of that ilk. This isn't new - I hated Ren and Stimpy and Beavis and Butthead. I only watch animated films for kids because I'm a mom. And oooh, I really hate this trend towards inside jokes for the grown-ups watching. It's gross. And annoying. And takes away from what should make movies appealing to kids.

However, that said....I relented to peer pressure and watched Team America for the first time tonight. Puppets aren't exactly animation but it's from the South Park dudes so I was verrrry skeptical. And okay, fine...I laughed. A lot. I blame the catchy tunes.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Employee Of The Year

So tonight was my very first party for my new job. Let me just enumerate the faux pas(s...plural for faux pas?) I committed:

1.) Arrived over an hour late due to happy hour margarita consumption.
2.) Did not wrap White Elephant gift.
3.) White Elephant gift was bottle of cheap wine.
4.) The majority of party attendees were a.) under 21 and b.) Muslim....thereby rendering my unwrapped gift both illegal AND disrespectful.
5.) In a fit of nervous energy I managed to spill an entire glass of red wine on both my boss and host's white carpet AND on my daughter.

I'm available throughout the holiday season to enliven your party, offend your guests, and ensure a steam cleaning!

All Crime Report, All The Time

These guys do it so much better than me.

And I can't make the police calls in Eureka any funnier than the Lovely County Citizen already does.

Looks like I need a new beat.

Upset Victory

My previous Favorite Celebrity Mug Shot Ever, Nick Nolte, has been usurped!


Meet your new winner, Rip Torn.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Oh gee, look, it's my bedtime.
Seriously, I just watched the sun set from the big picture window and I'm duh-rained. I should face the facts that I can't rock and roll all night and party every day. But I still can once in a while, right?

Even though it was a weird night where everything just felt...off, somehow, Dr. Dog were awesome once again. It was fun dancing to a few songs. I'm sick of that indie rock show bullshit where people just stand around in front of the band. They're playing songs for dancing, people. This isn't Footloose.

Quick...

Attraction at the county fair or demonic ritual altar?

Maybe it looked funnier last night. Err, this morning. Ouch.

Think Globally, Eat Locally

I adore my grandmother and respect her immensely. However...we differ on a few key points. One, she hates cats. She insists that as a young girl she awoke to a cat putting its head in her mouth. There's no use in telling her that the whole "cats steal breath from babies" myth is just that, a myth, but who knows, maybe it really did happen. The point is she turned that event into a lifelong vendetta against cats, creatures for which I have a very strong affinity. And two, she's convinced we're all going to die from salmonella poisoning. When Stella was a toddler my grandmother called me out of the blue one day to berate me for allowing my daughter to eat cookie dough. She likened it to child abuse. "Oh Alannah, all those raw eggs! And with that young delicate immune system!" I brushed it off as the hysterical rantings of a woman who has made a career of worrying about her family. But I'm maybe coming around to her line of thinking.

Michael Pollan (I love this man. The Omnivore's Dilemma is a fascinating read) was interviewed about the latest food scares (E. Coli in spinach, Taco Bell scallions, etc) and offered up some potentially horrifying scenarios. Our food system is fucked. A big part of our country's problem is the centralization of our meat processing and distribution system, something Eric Schlosser (another hero) covered so well in Fast Food Nation. The chicken you buy at the store has already come in contact with hundreds of other chickens from all over, both when it was alive and after slaughter, in its journey to the plastic package in the grocery store. There's no easy way to trace a strain of disease in the food supply. It's because of the Standard American Diet's obsession with meat that we've moved to this centralized assembly line mode of meat preparation. We eat far too much meat so we want it to be cheap and easy. It SHOULD be expensive and more of a luxury. I have no problem paying $10 or more per pound for local organic meats. I don't buy or prepare it that often, which is better healthwise anyway, but when I do, I know where it comes from and trust the source.

My grandmother comes from the era of raising your own food supply. The only meat she will eat is beef, possibly because my great-grandfather and great-uncle were both cattlemen. She's a healthy 81 year-old woman so it might do me good to follow her advice. But I won't ever stop eating raw cookie dough.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Maybe It Was Opposite Day

Arkansas Governor Huckabee Welcomes Hispanics. Welcomes them to what? To the "Political Animals Club (that) meets monthly to hear from political figures and experts?" To America? To Arkansas? To his church? Certainly not to government. Somehow I get the feeling that the Political Animals Club is a bunch of rich old white dudes sitting around a hotel convention room table and probably NOT the most welcoming group. Still..this is an example of political rhetoric at its most ridiculous.

His statement is just such a lie it's not even funny. Most halfway educated people in Arkansas have figured out that it's not cool to be racist...but racism is only against black people, you understand. It's still perfectly acceptable to make all the assumptions and embarrassingly crude and outdated prejudices about Hispanics, Latinos or "native Spanish speakers." I know this because I live here. I see it and hear it all the time.

It's the way that Huckabee presented this that's so offensive...like our influx of Hispanics is God's way of allowing the good people of Arkansas to atone for the sins of our racist past. Um, no, actually God had nothing to do with it, Huck...I think Tyson and other manufacturing companies that aggressively courted workers in Mexico and at the border starting back in the 80s probably had a lot more to do with it. Welcome! Come work in our factories gutting chickens and cleaning our bathrooms! We'll try not to lynch you!

Aphex Twin - Windowlicker

One of my most treasured possessions is a VHS tape of this video. Who buys a single video on tape? I do when I become obsessed. And I was pretty obsessed with this video. Back in the 90s ('member those days?) I used it as a litmus test. If the subject laughed appropriately and loved the video's surprises then I knew I could relate to him/her. If the subject balked or seemed offended or "didn't get it" then I knew that person would probably never get me either.

So take your time (it's nearly 10 minutes long), sit back, and and be entertained. Lisa..this one's for you.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ways To Fight Back

I wrote about my daughter's first experience with sexual harrassment and how infuriating it was as a mother to watch my daughter learn how difficult it is to protect even her own personal space. Feministing had a short piece that led me to Holla Back, a tool for women to fight back, either with photos of the offenders or by writing about their experiences. I see there's a Holla Back Arkansas but it's an invitation-only blog so I'm hoping I can make the cut. It's too bad because that sort of information should be made public, like photos of deadbeat parents at the Post Office. Just this past weekend I went to a nice upscale restaurant alone for a glass of wine while waiting for friends. It didn't take 15 minutes for some pushy old drunk dude to sit next to me and attempt to monopolize my attention and time, asking me personal questions and commenting on my appearance. Just because a woman is alone does not mean she wants to be spoken to or hit on!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dear Diary...

All three of my sisters were here this weekend. Jess had a 30th birthday party at a house in the woods that sorta reminded me of the house on Mt. Rushmore at the climax in North By Northwest. I'm drawn to that mid-century, modern, native stone chalet style. I'm in so in love with my 2 yr-old niece that I didn't mind driving all over tarnation in search of impressive "Twissmas Lights." Kate has turned so cynical that she scoffed at me when I said I'm not able to stomach reruns of Seinfeld since the whole Michael Richards n-word debacle. It's not necessarily an act of protest...I just can't look at Kramer without thinking of "if it were 50 years ago you'd be hanging from a tree with a fork in your ass." And, well, that's an awful thing to think of. Suzannah had no idea what we were talking about. That's life on a commune for you. I wonder what it must be like to live that removed from celebrity current events ("Now who wasn't wearing panties this week...?").

From now until at least January I'll be one of two speeds: high or off, no medium or low. I'm either doing a hundred things in one day or I'm watching Bravo and napping. And it's only going to get worse as this month progresses. All's I gotta say is - don't ever watch that Real Housewives of Orange County show unless you want to hate overprivileged, white, IDIOT assholes even more. God, it's galling how stupid these people are. Like David Cross said, when I watch this shit I hate America with a jihadic zeal. Little ol' me. But do I turn it off? Oh hell no, I can't look away from the horror. Then I watched something even worse. I'm actually a little embarrassed to admit that I knowingly and willingly watched two episodes of the latest Real World, in Denver. These people ARE NOT REAL. They can't be. Who is this stupid? Who is this self-consciously hammy and sleazy? Are their agents telling them to act this way?

In other news, both premature and overly hopeful, I really like my job. Although it's very strange to be back on this same campus seven years later. I love being around international students, though, and hearing many different accents. Maybe it's because it's an environment where interpersonal contact is crucial to learning, but everyone is super friendly too.

Wow, it's time for bed.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I don't Know Why This Insults Me

...but it does.

Algae-filled Hummer?

Wicker seats?

Wood panels?



Don't be ridiculous. Like any of those would be a viable alternative to the majority of the buying public. They just seem preposterous and "science from the future" and will never happen.

Or am I being overly cynical?

How Do You Pronounce This Word?

TiraMEEsu?

or

TiramiSOO?

Potpourri

It's impossible for me to sleep in even when it's a Snow Day.

The cats are slutty bedhoppers. I never know who I'm going to wake up next to.

Robert Redford. Sigh. Still.

I have to get a new phone today. I hate making technological decisions, even more than driving in this weather.

The first day of the month is exciting - new Astrology Zone horoscope. And it's a good one, people.

This is the most spinsterish post yet. Last night we were all sprawled on the couches with the pets all over us, watching The Office and eating pizza when Stella told us, "I think I'll be one of those cat ladies when I get old." Ang and I looked at each other. "Um, I think we already are."

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Snow (Ice) Day


The rain turned to sleet which turned to snow. It's beautiful outside and potentially dangerous (the dreaded black ice!).

An incredible artist friend of mine once did a series of comic-like drawings of people who are forced to share space...a group of pregnant women in an OB/GYN's office for instance. My favorite, though, was titled "In Line at Wal-Mart, Expecting a Snowstorm." It's genius because it's an experience most of us can relate to. We just braved the neighborhood IGA and every cart was taken, a total madhouse. But I got pizza makings and hot chocolate and rock salt so we're all good to go.

I freakin' love it when it snows in Arkansas because people go apeshit. It's an impromptu holiday. So go ahead, leave work early, put on your sweats, have a glass of whiskey....it's what I'm doing after all.

$17 Million Per Film

So apparently Nicole Kidman is Hollywood's highest paid actress. Um, okay...but whateverthefuck for? Seriously...her last five movies were Fur, Bewitched, The Interpreter, Birth and The Stepford Wives which collectively, I'm guessing, earned barely $200 million. I can see why Reese Witherspoon or Drew Barrymore are highly paid, as they've got the lucrative romantic comedy market cornered. Not to mention those last five Nicole Kidman films STUNK TO HIGH HEAVEN! Well, I don't know about Fur; I haven't seen it, but come ON, Nicole Kidman as Diane Arbus? I don't even think she's that great of an actress. Her Best Actress performance in The Hours? It was nowhere near as good as Meryl Streep's. But clearly, no one's paying me for my opinion. You bargain hunters get that for free.

More Gems From The Crime Reports

8: 28 a. m. A woman at Higher Self Foundation and Personal Best, 524 W. Sycamore St., reported a client threatening to hurt and kill her and her family. (Sounds like a ringing endorsement for their services!)

9: 18 a. m. A caller at Van Nail & Hair, 1702 S. Walton Blvd., reported a man keeps calling after watching pornographic movies. (Who doesn't want to talk to a manicurist after watching porn at 9am?)

10: 20 a. m. A man at 12744 Little Elm Road, Farmington, reported a man he hired stole steaks, rebar pins and $ 800 cash.

2: 26 p. m. A caller at 700 Picadilly St. reported a man asked if he could sleep on his couch.

4: 44 p. m. A woman at 51 Holly Drive reported youths throwing dead animals in her yard.

6: 11 p. m. A man at 14631 Union Star Road, West Fork, reported a man across the street playing a snare drum.

8: 17 p. m. A caller on West Jess Anderson Road, Fayetteville, reported her ex-husband stole a chain saw, weed trimmer, a saddle and a set of pearls. (In other words, her dowry)

11: 22 p. m. A man at 1370 N. Oakland Ave. reported people on a back patio singing “Happy Birthday.” (Arrest them, officers!)

Wintry Mix!

Hard rain right now...sleet and then snow to follow. It's possible my last two days at this job will be snow days!

This is perfect because all I want to do anyway is stay home and make soups. Just this week Angie made a roasted red pepper pureed soup and I made potato leek soup from leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stupid Wanderlust

What'd I say earlier about living on a budget? Check this out - I just found a way to get from Arkansas to Köln, Germany the week of my birthday for $411. Köln is the only city in Germany where I know someone. And I could also squeeze in a very quick visit with my sister (Kate, the AR-NYC leg was only $144!! - Expedia).

Why did I have to find this deal right before Christmas?

....So You Better Treat Her Right

I’ve spent the past two years, but this year more aggressively, working to get a stronger financial foothold. My history with money is a classic tale of growing up poor and struggling to escape that mindset. We weren’t poverty-stricken but I definitely felt a strong sense of lack. I had one Swatch watch, or pair of Guess jeans, to my friends’ four or five. We never took vacations. I shared a room with my sister. I didn't have access to a car so I didn’t learn to drive until I bought my first car at age 20 (using student loans..but we'll get to that). We had just enough to assimilate, though. We passed. My sisters and I worked and made our own money and developed our own style based on bargains and thrift stores. It's hard having champagne taste.

I moved out as soon as possible and promptly got myself knocked up....not necessarily the best way to learn fiscal responsibility. I got my first credit card when Stella was a baby and I was a 20 year-old single mom, the same year I took out the first of many, many student loans. Oh, that first loan check of the semester, how I loved it so when suddenly my bank account showed thousands of dollars! Miraculous! But really, it was the only viable way for me to finish my degree with no child support. After college I took a noble, fulfilling extremely low-paying teaching job. At that point I had several credit cards, several store cards and $40K in student loan debt. Reality hit me hard....also known as depression. Things spiraled out of control. I felt like I was at the bottom of a whirlpool and didn’t have the energy to fight my way out.

I climbed out slowly (still climbing), thanks to a goulash of medication, eastern & western medicine, friends, family, therapy, yoga, detox diets, exercise and sheer will. I tried a little of everything until something clicked. What they say about baby steps really is true. Imagine that. I defaulted on some student loans and got on repayment plans. I cut up all my cards and incrementally paid them off. I moved in with my mother. I worked two jobs. I got the state to take over the child support struggle (it’s amazing how effective the threat of jail time can be).

Last week I ordered all three copies of my credit report. Yikes. It wasn’t pretty. But it’s getting better. I’ve made progress, chartable progress. Yesterday I completed paperwork to consolidate my student loans. I have an IRA. But damn, this shit is hard, yo...doing it all by myself. I still hate thinking about money and I feel like punching Suze Orman in the face, even though I know she’s right. It is empowering to take control.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thicker Than Water

I'm very excited because this weekend, for the first time since I think May, all three of my sisters and I will be together again. With the two youngest on opposite coasts and Jess and I squarely in the middle, you could say our country has been stabilized by Massey girls. Or not.
One of my favorite photos of us doesn't even show our faces.
I swear we're not witches. That we know of.

Asian Pear Salad

I'm so going to make this soon. I'm thinking it would be good with sesame-crusted seared tuna and that nice bottle of cold sake given to Angie.

Morimoto’s Asian-Pear Salad

1 large Asian pear
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup plum wine
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, finely minced
6 ounces olive oil
Salt and white pepper to taste
4 bunches mâche, washed
1 tablespoon fresh chives, cut into half-inch pieces
2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

(1) Cut the Asian pear into julienne strips. Place in cold water with the lemon juice and reserve. For the vinaigrette: In a saucepan, bring plum wine to a simmer and reduce to 1/4 cup. (2) Combine with the vinegar, minced shallot, and the olive oil. Season to taste with the salt and white pepper. (3) To plate, toss the julienned Asian pear with the mâche, chives, and enough vinaigrette to coat. Adjust seasoning. Place in the center of a plate, drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Another One Bites The Dust

Pamela Anderson is divorcing Kid Rock. Shocking, right? It's a buyer's market on the Hollywood Singles Scene these days.

It's too bad. I sort of loved their lottery-winner brand of trashy glitz.

Thanks

The main reason I've barely written in the past week is because I haven't been seated long enough. Thanks to the ego-stroking I got over the weekend, people asking me why I hadn't written or saying how much they enjoyed reading this, I have the motivation and reason to keep up this exercise. This one's for y'all.

We fed 14 people on Thanksgiving. Our family is complicated, but it was still a good day, even if my mom made my grandmother cry (Mom was justified in feeling upset but this was Thanksgiving, fer chrissakes, can't we just let some things go on this day?). My mother's cousin, his wife and their FIVE kids drove down. Their kids....they're just so GOOD. It's crazy. They're not annoyingly good, all treacly and ass-kissy. They're genuinely really good kids; they're sweet and polite and funny. I worry I'll corrupt them just by talking to them....that I'll slip and say "shit" and that'll be it.....I wonder how they'll turn out, though, if they'll keep a happy and secure view of the world. Is that even possible? I spent that night with another family of mine and played with kids the next day. Then followed a debaucherous and joy-filled weekend, the details of which would cause my five little cousins' hair to curl.

Here are pictures of Stella's desserts (I also made a kickass coconut cream pie).
chocolate meringue
pumpkin cheesecake w/ caramel topping
pumpkin
cherry

I have a lot to be grateful for - Good friends and a huge, extended family (blood and chosen), a daughter who is smart, hilarious, talented, beautiful and creative, new exciting job, a warm and comforting home, adorable pets, delicious food...I could go on. Holy shit. I sound happy. Those of you who are intimate with the journey I've been through the past three years know how monumental that statement is. Don't worry...I'm still cynical and pissed off and sarcastic....I'm just happy to be RIGHT HERE.

Beauty is where you look for it.
Even the parking lot of Target. (or is that....ESPECIALLY in Target?)

Big Faker

I've always bought (or cut down myself) real evergreens for Christmas trees, justifying it by knowing the old trees are recycled to use as fish habitats in local lakes. Although I love the smell of a fresh tree, I wanted a change. I got a vision of a shiny pink house.

Here is the girliest (or gayest) tree ever:
And then these little ones are up on the mantle:
I can't tell you how happy it makes me to have the living room covered in pink and silver.
Chickie likes it too.

Oink

How much fun was my holiday? Fun enough that I'm drinking dandelion tea instead of coffee this morning, hoping to give my poor liver a little respite. Way too much rich food, wine, quality time with family and friends, pink champagne & yoga at 11pm, marathon shopping, nekkid hot tubbing at 4am, driving back and forth, games with kids, leftovers, girls' nights out, no rest for the wicked, dancing with the gays, planning parties, telling stories and laughing loudly. Maybe this dandelion tea won't make a difference. Maybe I need the Keith Richards treatment.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Quick One

Sorry, dear readers...I've been busy l-i-v-i-n'.

It's an insanely beautiful warm day and to spend one more minute inside would be an affront to Mother Nature.

Hope everyone enjoyed your holiday as much as I enjoyed mine. Pictures and descriptions of the pies on the way...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thoughts On: "Lactivists"

Salon reported today about the organized "nurse-ins" at airports, protesting the removal of a woman on a flight for refusing to cover up while nursing her daughter.

I nursed my daugher everywhere I felt like it and was only asked to go elsewhere once - at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. Just let that irony sink in a bit. Because really, I can't think of a single place outside of the Playboy mansion where you'll see more exposed breasts than in an art museum. And my boobs weren't even really exposed! But anyway....my point is that I was an out-and-proud breastfeeder. I went to La Leche League meetings, fer chrissakes so I can understand people getting upset about this but I just think women and mothers particularly have bigger fish to fry than one woman's ousting from a flight. Such as, oh, lack of suitable places for nursing or pumping milk in the workplace. What if women organized protests all over the country like this for equal pay or better family leave policies or employer-sponsored daycare? I think it's good to get riled up about things you don't like....but probably better to put those things in perspective.

Dream big and act bigger, ladies. Oh, and dudes? You furtively look at boobs all day but you freak out, visibly, when you see a mother nursing. Get over it.

Tentative Menu

Main Dishes
Turkey (duh) - my grandmother is baking it.
Salmon - me, haven't decided what I want to do with it; I just want an alternative to turkey.

Sides
Stuffing - me, traditional cornbread 'n' sage stuffing (or, technically DRESSING since we're not stuffing the actual bird).
Green bean casserole - Jess...and god how I wish she'd branch out and make something different, tastier and healthier. How f'in hard is it to throw some cans together and shove it in the oven? For the love of god, please show some innovation one year. Okay, sisterly rant over.
Squash dish - me, haven't decided yet....leaning toward a butternut squash gratin.
Bread - Jess...again, will probably be frozen or pre-packaged rolls. I shouldn't complain; she's a busy woman. But I do because I'm a food snob bitch.
Salad - Mom. I have complained plenty about her cooking when I was a kid but she can make a mean salad.
Rice dish - Mom. I'll reserve judgment until I've tried it.
Sweet Potatoes - ME, goddamnit, because I can't stand that covered-in-marshmallows shit.
Cranberry relish - me (cook fresh cranberries down w/ orange juice. That's it).

and...the best part...

Pies (My grandmother and Stella are making all but apple tonight)
Chocolate - family recipe, meringue-topped
Pumpkin
Pecan
Coconut Cream - not sure about this one but I'm really hoping they make it
Apple - Jess
Pumpkin Cheesecake w/ Caramel Swirl - Stella and I are making this tonight, per her request

Wines
Just keep 'em coming. I will be with family all day, after all.

Pounds to be gained - approximately a kajillion

Thoughts On: Today's Headlines

Flying While Muslim Bias - This story shows how completely insane and ridiculous the whole "airline safety" business has become. First of all...if some "islamofascists" REALLY wanted to commit acts of terror on a flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix, do you think they're going to draw attention to themselves by praying in the airport before the flight even takes off?

4 out of 10 Births Last Year Were To Unwed Mothers - I always knew I was a trendsetter.

Keroack Has Prescribed Birth Control In The Past - Remember this guy? See, all you feminazis freaking out about him working for a Christian organization...he's totally modern and open-minded! Birth control! Even for unmarried women! GROUNDBREAKING!! I feel so appeased.

More NW Arkansas Crime

8: 26 a. m. A man at 2605 N. Villa Blvd. reported someone kicked his front door open and stole a Dr Pepper.

10: 33 a. m. A caller on West Sixth Street and South Razorback Road reported people running in and out of traffic, stopping cars, holding signs and screaming “Go Hogs.” (10:30 am? I guess it's never too early to be a hog fan.)

3: 29 p. m. A woman at 404 N. W. Fourth St. reported finding an air compressor in the bed of her pickup. (around here we call that a gift, lady.)

3: 41 p. m. A woman at Baptist Ford Cemetery in Elkins reported finding a bullet hole in her parents ’ headstone.

7: 27 p. m. A man reported he mistakenly gave two $ 100 bills that he thought were $ 10 bills to a man for basketball tickets and the person ran away with the money.

2: 46 a. m. A woman at 2285 S. Cody Circle reported a man refused to leave her residence and wrote on her with a permanent marker.

2: 58 a. m. A woman at EZ Mart, 2124 W. Sunset Ave., reported two men bought nuts and then grabbed money from the cash register. (It was the nuts part that got me.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Oh no, no, no

Robert Altman died.

I knew he was in really poor health but still....we lost a good one. He directed some of my all-time favorite films: McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nashville, The Player, Short Cuts.....

Sick

Yesterday was one of the worst in recent memory. I became suddenly violently ill around 3am and stayed that way all day. I rarely get sick, especially like yesterday where I couldn't even keep water down.

All I could do was lie in bed and moan. I watched four, count 'em FOUR, Kathy Griffin stand-up specials, three episodes of CSI and all the Six Feet Unders they show on Bravo on Mondays.

I'm feeling much better today. I might even go to work. Naaaaah.

And now my system's all cleaned out and ready for all the pies we're baking tomorrow.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Functions Like Bhaktin's Carnival

Sometimes I need a break from parenting and working and just BEING so badly I think I will implode.

So I go somewhere, by myself, and experience a short period of time in which I'm not a mother, or an employee or daughter...and I get a taste of what it's like to not be needed or have behavior expected of me...and in that small window, it's absolutely intoxicating.

Of course there's the inevitable eventual hangover and soon I crave, with every cell in my body, to be back at home with Stella and Angie and the pets. But not before I've gotten to do exactly what I want.

Birthday Girl Kristin
Kelli singing Elton John by the fire.
Tortilla man at Casa Mañana.
Their flag is bigger than yours. You know what that means.
Arkansas's nuclear reactor. I was in a hurry to get home. And I was driving with one hand.