Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Grateful I Still Had A Red Shirt To Wear

Tonight I took 20 Japanese students to the Razorback basketball game. Thank god we won, but that's another blog post (don't get me started on the decline of our basketball team). Last night was exciting, beating Mississippi State. I hadn't been to a game in so long. It took me back to the golden days of '94 when we won the NCAA National Championship and '95 when we went to the Final Four. With Clinton in the White House and the Hogs as national champions, Arkansas was in the best public standing ever. Of course I was too young to appreciate it or deservedly gloat like I might now.

Stella was born in 1995 and in the video of her birth (filmed AGAINST my wishes but that's also another post) you can hear people cheering as they watch the game in the other room. Because really, isn't watching Arkansas play in the Final Four so much more exciting than the birth of a child? Most of y'all will say, "Yes, Alannah, it really is. Not to mention a lot less gross." It was fine by me. I didn't want a roomful of assorted people all watching me grunt and bleed anyway. Ew. Wait...wasn't I talking about basketball?

I had a blast tonight. Watching these games live is so much more fun anyway, but watching it with a group of international students who are experiencing it for the first time makes even more exciting. AND WE WON!

She Would Have Approved

School in India built with the proceeds of Audrey Hepburn's Breakfast at Tiffany's iconic black dress.

Finally, something good to come from a celebrity's belonging auctioned off.

Monday, February 26, 2007

New Ride & Weekend Update

Since it was requested, here's a picture of my new car (and Me. And Lucy).

Last weekend I took a group of eleven students from nine different countries on a trip to our state capital. In addition to seeing the Clinton Presidential Library, Central High historic site, and the capitol building, we visited the Heifer International ranch. It was an incredible trip and unfortunately I don't have time to go into detail about it. It stormed all Saturday morning but by the time we got to the Heifer Project, the skies cleared and it turned into a beautiful early Spring-kind of day. Here I am at the Heifer ranch. I love my job.

Last night our Japanese student made us dinner (don't worry, Five Forty guys, no yakitori), a delicious beef chirashi dish, and I made gyoza and we all sat around the low coffee table, sipping sake and watching the Oscars. A perfect ending to a great weekend.

(I hate having my picture taken.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

And Some Good News!

Wimbledon will now pay female winners the same as men.

Equal pay for an equal effort? What an outrageous concept!

Alright, Bravo...

You sucked me in with Project Runway. I stayed along for Top Chef. I hate most reality shows, but I like these that feature talented, interesting contestants and unique challenges. I even get a bizarro, guilty, sick form of entertainment from The Real Housewives of Orange County. So I'm a fan; you got me where you want me. I even read the blogs on your websites for those shows I watch. I'm your ideal audience. And, apparently, I'm pretty easy to please (see: The Real Housewives of Orange County).

So why do you have to go and disappoint me with Top Design? First of all, Todd Oldham? He sucks as a host. His line delivery is very weird and he just seems uncomfortable all the time. Bravo has made a mistake in thinking they can find a Tim Gunn for every "creative profession show" they air. And then there's the judges who aren't near gay or funny enough. Bravo, you're the gay channel. You brought us Queer Eye. We LIKE gay! It's okay to amp up the gay here. And finally that brings us to the contestants who ARE gay enough but also not funny, or even interesting. And the design challenges so far have been equally uninteresting. Beach cabanas? Why? Kid's rooms? Yawn. It also seems weird that the designers are given this patch of white space to work with each week instead of what "real" designers do which is work with the space, and the clients, they're given.

Thumbs down.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Yes, It Still Has Traces Of That Smell

I did something that terrifies me today. I sat in a car dealership and signed papers to buy a new (used) car. It's by far the shiniest, newest, prettiest car I've ever owned.

This is a big deal for me in lots of ways. I knew this year would be a big year for me, but I didn't know that by February I'd be looking for a house with the greatest guy ever, challenged and happy with my job, or buying a car. I'm overcoming a lot, deprogramming my psyche of all the negative dialogues imprinted since childhood, facing a lot of fears, and feeling so fulfilled and at peace in this relationship. This is it, y'all. This is what progress looks like.

I imagine this is how it must be for "normal" people.

Perhaps This Goes Without Saying

Buying a car and looking for a new house and working a (demanding) full time job and being a single mom and hosting an international student all at the same time is really, really stressful.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"No Shit" Headline Of The Day

"Sexed-up Images in Media Hurt Young Girls: Study"

You don't say.

I'm trying not to think about the see-ay-are, and also trying to channel my frustration toward more worthwhile targets - like sexist advertisers.

ETA: New way to channel my frustration! Read the comments for Broadsheet's take on this study. Wow...if only I'd known that taking my daughter to church would prevent any harm done from society's sexualization of girls....

Oh, and I'd like to offer my sincerest apologies to my grandmother for all the cursing. I couldn't help it.

Yes, that's right. My grandma discovered my blog. So keep it clean for Mommom's sake.

Monday, February 19, 2007

My Mouth Is Coated With Sweet Poison

Sure sign I'm losing it:

Wearing sweat pants in public & drinking a Diet Coke with cherry syrup from Sonic. It tastes like aluminum covered in cherry cough syrup and acid rain.

The Opposite of King Midas

Everything I touch turns to shit.

The transmission on my car went out today.

"Wait," You say, "Didn't that just happen to you?"

Why yes it did, dear reader. But that was my dad's car. The "extra" family car, the one that was supposed to be in better shape. Once that transmission went out we decided it was worth the money to fix my old Honda. The car that my mechanic said was in "surprisingly good shape."

Is it me? Do I ruin transmissions somehow subliminally with my driving technique? I don't ride the clutch. I don't even rest my hand on the gear shift.

Did I mention that my Japanese student was with me when it went out? During rush hour on one of our busiest roads? And I had to put it in neutral and back it down the hill into an abandoned parking lot? During rush hour? With a young woman* who is in a foreign country for the first time in her life and for whom communication of any kind is a struggle? And I, her supposed guide through this already-confusing place, was in that hysterical half-cry/half-laugh state? Yeah, it was awesome.

I held it together, though. For her sake. I didn't curse. I didn't cry. Hisako** would have been proud of me.

I'm about one exhalation away from a total meltdown, but it hasn't happened yet.

I'm completely fucked.

*Probably the first time I've ever referred to someone as a "young woman." Just further proof that I'm way too old to be killing cars on a regular basis.

**Crazy Japanese boss I once had. She was one of the most bi-polar, psychotic, hilarious, cruel, and insensitive people I've ever known. I sort of loved her, like a wife loves her abusive husband.

Not Always a Bad Beat

Today's entries in the NW Arkansas Crime Report make me really happy to live in Arkansas. This is free entertainment, people.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

On The Go

So far today we've made breakfast, gone for a long walk, went to Target, the mall, and Petco, drove to the Asian market only to find it closed, came home, made lunch, took a nap, made some more origami and organized my beads and made some necklaces. This hosting-a-student business is gonna make me much more productive. I tried to explain to her that we like to be lazy on Sundays but she just looked at me like, "Lazy?" So I feel compelled to keep doing things.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

We Needed More Chaos In Our Lives

Ang, Stella and I are hosting a Japanese student for the next three weeks. I've spent all day cleaning like mad because I used to work at a Japanese restaurant and I know how fastidious the Japanese can be. And we? Well...let's just say we have a healthy tolerance for dust and clutter. I hope she doesn't think we're disgusting pigs. That's my job.

It's been a fun day so far. I think she's completely jet-lagged and exhausted and doesn't speak much English, but she's helped with the dishes and brought us fun gifts from Japan. We made brownies and are sitting in front of the fireplace making origami. It couldn't get much cozier.

Friday, February 16, 2007

In Serious Danger Of Voiding My English Degree

I need a good novel to read. Remember the good ol' days when I'd read 10+ books a year? Yeah, I think I read maybe four or five books in 2006. That's pathetic.

So please, give me suggestions. I'd like to read something smart, funny, compelling, heartbreaking, unique, and accessible.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

VD Menu

Appetizer course of brie cheese, pink lady apples & french bread
Salad of mixed greens, bosc pears, roquefort cheese, red onions & candied pecans with a mustard/balsamic vinaigrette
Organic filet mignon with a portabello mushroom/red wine reduction sauce
Garlic & chive mashed potatoes
Molten-core chocolate cakes with vanilla ice cream

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Won't Lie

It's really nice to have (and be!) a valentine.

It really feels different now. Every year before this one I've given Stella some sort of stuffed animal with chocolate for Valentine's Day. This year she got a Nintendo DS kit to hold all her video game accessories. Every year before this I've been bitter and cynical, often hosting singles dinners or eating pounds of chocolate. This year I'll be preparing a special dinner for two. We're growing up, I guess.

Change is good.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I Hate Being Embarrassed By Arkansas

This is much worse than your mother singing in the grocery store.

Feministing has an article up today about the failed efforts in Arkansas to ratify the ERA on the state level so it could move forward to national ratification. The bill's sponsor was Fayetteville's own Lindsley Smith (a woman I cannot say enough good things about, as both a politician and a person). It was all good to go until the Christian Right got wind of it and raised a stink, saying that ratifying the ERA would be a slippery slope towards federal funding of abortion and legal gay marriage.

Read the article and make sure to watch the video of that doddering old biddy, Phyllis Schlafly, still just as adamant as ever that the ERA will bring about all sorts of horrors, like women fighting in combat and the end of Mother's Day.

I'm amazed at how many people don't even know about the ERA or, if they do, don't realize it's never been ratified.

So, if you're one of those people, here's the text: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” Radical, huh?

This makes me wonder what our schools would look like if desgregation hadn't been federally-mandated. This is also why I believe (as much as I'm SICK TO DEATH of this dichotomy) that Barack Obama would become president before Hillary Clinton - because sexism is more deeply ingrained in American society than racism.

Smoke Coming Out Of My Ears

"The House of Representatives begins three days of debate today on the Iraq war, but don't count on George W. Bush to spend much time watching. 'You know, I've got a full day' he says in an inteview with C-SPAN. 'I mean, it's not as if the world stops when the Congress does their duty.'

The president's schedule today? According to the White House, he and the first lady will 'celebrate the fifth anniversary of USA Freedom Corps (USAFC) with a briefing on volunteerism,' and then he'll visit the Anthony Bowen YMCA in Washington.

As for the Iraq debate? Bush says he's heard it all before anyway. 'I already know what the debate is,' he says.'I hear a lot of opinions.'"


He "hears" a lot of opinions...but is he LISTENING???

I wonder what kind of "full day" the troops in Iraq will have today.

Waiting For...

The inevitable reality show that will chronicle all the insanity and drama surrounding Anna Nicole Smith's death. The camera crews are already there. All you need are some editors who can shape it into a narrative and a few mobile "confessional booths."

What a disgusting feeding frenzy.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I Respond Well To Guilt Trips

Thanks, Lori, you're right. I've got no excuse to not blog (now you've got me using it as a verb, dammit). It's not like I'm working 40-50 hours a week (and weekends) as a single parent with a boyfriend who lives an hour away. I got time to lean AND time to clean.

Okay so before I go into the pictures, I'll briefly go over last night's Grammys. I don't know why I even watch them; I'm so out of the loop, musically speaking. I guess I'm just a sucker for awards shows. I was happy to see strong women who speak their minds win over manufactured bimbos. I think the Dixie Chicks and Mary J. Blige are pretty awesome but I'm mostly just grateful that I didn't have to see Fergie or Gwen Stefani perform. I'm also an old fogey who was pissed that they didn't air some of the more interesting categories (contemporary americana/folk album for example) but I had to suffer through MULTIPLE Eagles covers by the gayest country band in the world (Stella told me they were Rascal Flatts? Is that right?) and Nashville Barbie, I mean Carrie Underwood.

Perhaps needless to say, I had yet another great weekend. I'll spare you the mushy details but I will discuss the food. Saturday I made two kinds of enchiladas: one stuffed with potatoes, cream cheese, red & yellow peppers and carmelized onions and the other with shredded chicken, roasted tomatillos, green chiles, queso fresco & cilantro. The potato enchiladas had the red sauce and the chicken ones got the verde. We drank a Sonoma Coast pinot noir that was spicy and not too heavy for the flavorful enchiladas.

Stella had "Crazy Hair Day" at school on Friday so we pulled out the old foam curlers. This look on her face really cracks me up.

I'm hard at work now planning the menu for Valentine's Day. I don't want to give anything away but it's gonna have multiple courses.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

KKK Grows By Switching to Anti-Immigrant Sentiment

I was talking to a Mexican student about this topic just yesterday as we drove through Springdale, explaining that although many people around here understand "racism is bad," they also equate racism with African-Americans only, and think it's perfectly okay to be hateful towards Mexicans or other Central American immigrants. Makes me sick, this subjective kind of bigotry. It's one of the biggest problems we're facing in Northwest Arkansas, I believe.

If You Take One Piece Of Advice From Me, Take This:

If you're ever invited to a dinner of Brazilian food, lovingly and painstakingly prepared by a beautiful native, for the love of god, people, - GO!

Last night we were first fed little puffy, cheesy bread balls as an appetizer. I'd never watched anyone make caipirinhas in big batches, crushing the ice, lime and sugar altogether in a pitcher. Dinner was Bobo de Camarao, a thick, hearty, sensuous shrimp dish served over rice with cilantro & spicy peppers as an optional garnish. Dessert was a flan-like eggless papaya custard with coffee liqueur drizzled on top. A truly memorable meal.
The poorly-lit and blurry (what's new?) spread. SO GOOD!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Haggard Totally Cured Of The Gayness

So a minister who has overseen Ted Haggard's counseling is convinced he is now "completely heterosexual."

You see, the gayness "wasn't a constant thing."

Uh huh.

You know how that pesky homosexuality just comes and goes.

I Would Do Anything For Love, But I Won't Do That

I've done some crazy things in the name of love, but I don't think I could ever drive 900 miles (using diapers instead of making pit stops) with a disguise, a BB gun, pepper spray, a steel mallet, a knife, and rubber tubing in order to kidnap my rival.

Like deserted airport parking lots didn't creep me out enough before this...

Remember when astronauts were one of the most respected professions?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I Almost Forgot I Had A Blog

Life is getting very busy.

I'm learning that just about the only fun I can have with a pre-teen daughter is when I embarrass her in public. It makes up for the eye-rolls, scoffing, loud sighing, and "MO-OM!" that have replaced normal, human interaction. Tonight we were doing some Sunday grocery shopping at IGA. I've got to hand it to IGA - they play really good supermarket easy rock music. I absentmindedly started singing along to the songs ("You Make Lovin' Fun," "Ventura Highway," "You Make My Dreams,") and realized Stella was now walking several steps behind me. "Mom," She hissed, "Stop it. You're embarrassing me."


There are few moments in the life of a parent when you're given these golden payback opportunities. So of course I had to add some dancing, finger snapping and background vocals. Stella ducked down a separate aisle. I relished the maternal power I'd forgotten I had. It's way too much fun to be the weird mom singing and dancing by herself in the IGA.

In other Stella news, check out the awesome Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired building she made as part of her Gifted & Talented unit on architecture:It was one of only two buildings from her school chosen as the best examples from this district-wide unit.

Here's what happens when Stella gets a hold of my camera:Chicklet is just trying to look smart.

You know how I can tell I've got it bad for my boyfriend? After a long week in which we saw each other much more than usual, all I wanted to do was drive the hour to his house to make him dinner (arugula pesto, goat cheese & red pepper-stuffed chicken breasts, sautéed squash, wild rice). As we were sitting down to eat he said, "You should've taken a picture of this." He knows me well, y'all. Here's the chocolate cake w/ chocolate buttercream icing I made for him on Wednesday. Who am I kidding? I made it for all of us. And then he made me fall for him even harder when he showed me old photos from his rocker days. I've got two words for you - mustache & spandex. How about five more? Teenage Judas Priest cover band. Swoon! Chicklet even likes him better than us now.

The view from his deck:
Last night I brought some of the international students to hear him play with a blues band. One of many great things about the Latin students is that they love to dance. So while the place was filled with boring Arkansans sitting around on their asses watching the band, we danced most of the night. We had an after party with a Chinese, two Brazilian, and three Mexican women, an American husband and then D. and me. We sipped tequila in the hot apartment and pretended that outside wasn't one solid sheet of ice.

Tonight I craved spice. I made Chicken Biryani, cucumber raita, and curried lentils. I used this yogurt in the raita and it's hands-down the best I've ever eaten - so creamy.Okay, that's about all I got. Back to work. Tomorrow is one big deadline.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Attention A-Holes Who Stole My Daughter's Sled Last Night

You want to know what hell is for a kid? It's planning for a snow day, having a friend over to spend the night, stocked up on snack foods and then waking up to a perfect, white, snowy morning ONLY TO DISCOVER THAT YOUR SLED IS MISSING FROM THE SIDE OF THE HOUSE.

Way to ruin her day. I hope it was worth it.