Saturday, November 8, 2008

That's all she wrote

There are times that I have questioned this all over the past year. I just don't have it in me anymore. Really. There's nothing left to share with the world at large. I delve into my brain, my heart for something new and there's -- nothing. Perhaps one day this will all return in some new incarnation but for now I'm content in walking away. (I wouldn't hold my breath waiting, though.) So much so that I wrote this post a week ago. I take that back. I wrote the first version of this back in September when I thought that my stepmother would die within a couple of weeks. I think it's the longest that I have let something marinate. And it still feels right. So much so that I have also spent the past week paring down my subscriptions in my blog reader as well. Baby steps. But this? This has to end.

Thank you for coming along for the ride. It's been real. And sometimes it was even fun.

Peace.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Off the couch for now

So many thoughts in my head. Where to start? I am the queen of stream of consciousness though so let's just let it flow.

First of all, thank you to everyone for your comments. I just don't have the energy to respond to them individually like I usually do. Hell. Most of the day I thought that I did not have the energy to even write another post -- ever. But now I've remembered how writing it all down helps me to find my way back.

My stepmother's death was not unexpected. It's just that there is nothing that can ever prepare you for that moment. And I'm still hurting sooo much from the loss of my aunt. I mean it's only been a little over three months.

My other aunt told me this morning that the hospice folks have arranged for grief counseling for the family. She has signed my dad up. She insisted that I needed to go as well. I told her that I'd call the folks at Thrive on Monday. I mean I did already check into the whole thing back in May.

Mostly I'm trying to make sense of why I hurt so much. My stepmother and I had a rocky relationship most of the time. But it was getting better in recent years. And she's been a part of my life since I was 9.

But mostly I think that my pain comes from my father. I started grieving for her months ago. He's just starting. And he is in so much pain. He keeps saying that he's worried about me but I'm sure I'm more worried about him than he is about me. He's one of those guys who needs to have someone there. He doesn't have the nomadic soul that I do.

This evening was filled with phone calls to his best friend and his cousin. We're approaching the holiday season. Holidays in the past were at my dad's house. I think he needs to be somewhere else this year. We all do.

I called my mom earlier in the day to let her know. After she spoke with my dad, she called me. She said that my dad kept going on about how I was now his closest living relative. (For those of y'all new around here, I am an only child.) My mom told me that I need to get up to Sacramento immediately. It was pouring rain here all day though. I just couldn't pull it together enough to drive up there today. Perhaps tomorrow.

And my dad's in-laws are putting the pressure on. They want a Catholic service even though it's been years since my stepmother has set foot in a Catholic church.

Huh. Guess I was wrong. Most of the day I kept thinking that this is how this would all end -- the blog I mean. Because most of the day I kept thinking that I had nothing left in me. Nothing to write that is. I guess I still do.

Oh, and the weight loss has been going along swimmingly. Just not fast enough. I still can't fit into any of my black dresses. I think I'll be going out shopping for a body shaper in the next couple of days. That's easier than going shopping for a new dress.

And Fluffycat and Zombie Mom? We're still on for next Saturday. Even if I have to drive like a demon from Salinas. Because I think I'm going to need that night out by then.

But now I'm going to resume my fetal position on the couch.

It's done

My stepmother passed away early this morning.

I know I've done something like this before...

but I figured it wouldn't hurt to revisit it.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland
 

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
 
Boston
 
North Central
 
The South
 
The Inland North
 
Philadelphia
 
The Northeast
 
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


I've always thought that I don't really have an accent. Makes mimicry that much easier.

And don't forget about the contest. The deadline for entries is 11:59 PM PST Thursday, November 6.

Friday, October 31, 2008

More iPhone fun

So after spending those bucks on all the photo applications for my iPhone I decided to take them on a test run. As I pointed out to Marty, you can use these applications to take photos or to edit existing photos on your device.


I needed some other entertainment while watching TV over the weekend. Natasha was nearby, looking oh so cute. Voila! End of boredom. This is the original photo taken.


First I opened CameraBag. CameraBag simulates the styles of photos taken by various cameras. I settled on 1974 for this one.


For my second edit of the original photo, I used Picoli to add a sepia tone.


This last image is courtesy of Photogene. I adjusted the color levels and added a frame. If I was into making my own lolcats, I could even add dialog balloons with this app.

I think the 1972 courtesy of CameraBag is my favorite of the bunch.

Oh, and Natasha would like to wish y'all a safe and happy Halloween -- or Samhain as we call it over in our place.

Update: Thanks to a suggestion from Fluffycat, the contest is on. That's right. I am willing to part with one of my bags of Halloween Circus Animals. (I don't really need them anyway.)

"How do I get my hands on a bag of that yumminess?" you ask. Simple. Come up with a caption for Ms. Natasha. She will be selecting the winner. Because it's her world after all.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New to me



This whole weight loss thing? Fairly new to me. And the idea of my losing weight right now? Well, I think that Jade and some of my coworkers summed it up best. "Why?" Actually it was that look that my "favorite pest" gave me as he walked into the midst of my conversation with a couple of female coworkers about weight loss yesterday. He looked me up and down several times like I had completely lost my mind.

Why? Because as I said previously, I camouflage exceedingly well. I haven't worn anything truly fitted since my mother asked me earlier this year when her grandchild was due. Because my build is from my dad's side of the family. And we gain the majority of our weight around the middle. Nowhere else.

My dad's older sister who has been staying with him since early September understands. The other day she announced to me that since she has been in California, she has gained 15 pounds. This aunt has always been the reminder to me of what can happen. She's probably about a size 12 or 14 these days -- thanks mostly to her midsection. Nowadays she doesn't wear dresses much but I remember when she still did. You'd see a size 12 dress hanging over some size 4 legs. And her legs seemed so tiny compared to the rest of her. I told my mother back then that I had no problem with gaining weight; I just wanted it to be proportionate. And since I know that it would not be, I vowed to fight it every step of the way.

My dad would be the tallest one in the first photo. Check out the gut. That's what I have been hiding under the loose clothing. And if you're saying to yourself, "That's not that bad," look at the lower part of the photo. Check out his legs. Do those legs go with the rest of him? I say not. Oh, and the other end of the photo? One brother hiding his gut behind another brother. And that brother, the one in blue, is the one I hope to be like. Because he is so chill. He goes through life without anything upsetting him. Except the death of his younger sister back in July. It was the only time I saw him lose it. I use this as a point of reference for folks. If my uncle who is so Zen loses it, then what do you expect from me? Reminds me that once I've pared down the stack of books to read, I really must get around to The Art of War.

But let's talk about the second photo now. The photo in which my dad kind of hides his gut with proper clothing selection. The one that makes me scream, "Why can't my stomach look like that now?" Because the photo was taken only eight years ago. And at this point in my life that feels like yesterday. Yes, in my mind I'd love to be that size again but I am now settling on five pounds heavier than that.

That said, I've never really had to try to lose weight. I mean I've tried to lose weight in the past, and was pretty successful at it, but I didn't need to back then. That was just my twisted mind at work. The mind that told me that at 5'10" and 120 pounds that I was fat. OK. Back then I had a modeling agent tell me that I could stand to lose about five pounds or so. When I was 21, I managed to get down to 110 pounds. As I pointed out in comments the other day, I'm currently somewhere between 135 and 140. So those of y'all who have met me try to imagine that. Because even though I was told that I was really thin in some of those photos I posted on my birthday, I wasn't that skinny.

Yesterday I remembered all of this. I have an obsessive personality. This is why I don't own a scale. If I did, I'd weigh myself at least twice a day. So years ago I gave up owning a scale and started to rely upon how my clothes felt, how I felt -- without the definition of a number.

I've been eating over these last few months because the other end of the spectrum is still frightening to me. I realized in wanting to drop ten pounds or so, this obsessive part of me has now kicked in. I am completely addicted to Calorie Count. Before I eat something, I now enter it into my food log to see what the calorie impact will be. (This is how I was able to substitute a cup of yogurt for some goat cheese yesterday.) I look each morning to see what the calorie count from the previous day was and tear it apart to see where I can eat less.

The first day of the log, Monday, I ate about 1700 calories. For Tuesday I was able to drop it down to 1500. Yesterday was a 1250 day. Yesterday was also the first day during which I actually felt hungry for a bit. But I'm good at ignoring that voice. Because until I started playing around with some of the other foods in my diet, I was starting to think that I would have to give up meat to reach that calorie level.

The other fun on Calorie Count is that they have a quiz to discover what kind of eater you are. Shocker. Apparently I am an emotional eater. Yes, I have an emotional connection with food. It's just that in years past, I would get upset and not eat. Thus the rapid weight loss.

All this week, I kept thinking that the idea of calorie control was foreign to me. Last night it dawned on me that it wasn't. At least since I was in high school, my mother has tried out a number of diets. When she was given choices, she would hand the reading material over to me. My job? Plan a week of meals that stuck to the guidelines yet gave her some variety. I realized that this is why it was so easy for me to know what I needed to eat during this week. I thought it was all new to me when in fact I'm an old hat.

So yes, I honestly believe in my mind that I need to drop a few pounds. I just need to be aware when my old habits start to come back -- the ones that told me that being skinny were worth any cost. Or I could just go out and invest in a body shaper and say, "Screw it all."

Oh and on a different note, since I'm up early enough to see those few moments during which MTV actually plays videos, I must admit that I am kind of addicted to this one. (Sorry. Would have embedded it if I could have.) "You say I'm crazy. I've got your crazy." Or "Lollipop. Must mistake me for a sucker."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I was told that I could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume


Isn't it a thing of beauty? I think it is. If I ever leave my job, it's coming with me. Even if it doesn't work all that great.

My company occupies two locations. Currently these locations are across the street from one another. At first the bulk of my location was to be moving to the East Bay. And the other location, home of my former department? There was not enough office space to accommodate all of the folks who were supposed to be staying in San Francisco. So they were going to do a build out. In preparation for that, everyone became combined in one location.

This meant cleaning out of unused cubicles. That's how I came across this gem. When my former supervisor pulled it out of formerly unused drawer, I instantly claimed it as mine.

And of course, once we were all under one roof, the plan changed. Now we're all moving to the East Bay. In a matter of weeks. Woohoo!

I'm starting to think that perhaps I should start dating again, or something. Because should one be this excited over office supplies?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More changes


That seems to be the theme of this year. I'm OK with the positive ones. And a lot of the positive has come out of the negative.

Now I'm sure that some of y'all have been scratching your heads wondering why you have not seen any dresses here. Because I've only looked at dresses online. Because I'm not sure what size I need at this time.

And it's been mostly that last one. Since my aunt's death I've put on at least five pounds. Zombie Mom will tell you that for someone my size that is a huge amount. So much so that over the last couple of weeks, the sweats I wear when hanging out at home are no longer comfortable. And in answer to Fluffycat who I know is thinking, "But I never see this weight she bemoans," I spent many years of my life wanting to be a designer. I am well versed in camouflaging flaws.

So yeah, I know that I am at the low end of normal. We've discussed this before. The thing is that this is not where my comfort is. Why? Because I know exactly where those five pounds are -- around my middle looking like a spare tire. And there's the health thing to consider. Because apparently folks with subcutaneous fat around their middle are more prone to diabetes. Kind of like my dad. Who is a diabetic. The man is 6'1" and weighs around 175. But he has a gut -- slighter now that his diabetes is under control. And part of hanging out with my dad on Saturday was asking him to test my blood sugar. I am proud to say that post-meal, it was a mere 92. Which fits into the idea that a doctor told me years ago -- that I'm borderline hypoglycemic.

But the layer of fat gnaws at me. I know that I should exercise more. But then I started looking at my eating habits as well. These last few months? I've been doing a great deal of emotional eating, for the first time ever in my life. Scratch that. I've done it before but just not for such a prolonged period of time.

In my mind I'd like to drop about ten pounds. In reality what I want is to drop a few inches from my waist. If I keep going at my current pace, my waist and bust measurements will be the same. Because while everything else spreads, the boobage does not. And that so is not cool.

The last time that I was still happy with my body was in 2002. So I started examining what was different then than from now. My average daily caloric intake was a great deal less than it is now. I also ate three meals a day plus healthy snacks. And so while I have a freezer full of food, I went out grocery shopping this weekend.

The idea is that I will start eating three meals a day once more -- ones high in fiber and fruits and veggies. Also higher in protein than carbs. Carbs should preferably be whole grain. That photo above? Monday night's dinner. At first I thought that would not be filling enough and that I might have to supplement it with a salad. I had forgotten how starting off one's day with oatmeal can be rather filling. I only ate half of the steak as well. The yogurt that was supposed to be a part of breakfast and the apple I had for a snack? Those became dessert because I just didn't have room for them during the day.

If I can stick with this for a month or so, then I should be able to wear the majority of my existing wardrobe with no problem. And by this time I will have come up with a plan to increase my activity level on a consistent basis.

Because yeah, even us skinny chicks have body image issues.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cross one off the list


Friday night I was going to head up to Sacramento. But after a long day at work and this yumminess from Poulet, I felt the need for a power nap. Unfortunately my nap ended up being much longer than I had planned so I didn't head out until early Saturday morning.




After visiting with my stepmother (While conscious and somewhat alert, she had great difficulty opening her eyes.), I headed over to Old Sac with my dad and his older sister for lunch. I don't think I've been there since I was 18 or so. Definitely not since when my stepbrother was killed in the area. Oh yeah. There was that one party at the railroad museum but we usually don't head into the area much these days.


My cousin, one of the birthday girls, stated upon our arrival at the restaurant, "But I thought we were going to see a boat." We explained to her that we were on the boat. The look of utter awe on her face -- priceless. She then kept telling anyone who asked that she is now four. Ummmm. Not til next year, honey.

Some more visiting with my dad and aunt after lunch during which I learned that my aunt has once more extended her stay. (She was supposed to be leaving on Friday.) Thank goodness.

Back in September I made three lists of trips I wanted to take -- day trips, weekend trips and trips requiring more time than a single weekend. And so I ended Saturday with being able to cross one of those items off the list.

I had mentioned to Fluffycat some of the items on my list back then. Turns out that one was in her area -- and she had never been as well. She then realized that the place was probably doing something special for Halloween. And so that's how we ended up at the Winchester Mystery House for their flashlight tour.

Of course, no conversation about that place is complete without a discussion of eccentricity. As I pointed out to Fluffycat, one usually has a great deal of money in order to be categorized as being "eccentric" or "quirky." No money? Then you're just downright crazy.



Yes, I know the photos are a bit dark. It was flashlight tour, remember? And I'm too lazy right now to do anything about the lighting. But I will tell y'all this. There were many beautiful features in the house along with the crazy eccentricity.


And speaking of flashlights, we got to keep our souvenir flashlights. I bet you're jealous, aren't you?





The tour dumps you off into the gift shop. Actually you start there as well. Fluffycat commented on how many of the gifts seemed to be alcohol related. (I seem to recall that she has promised me a set of the lovely pink wine glasses as a gift. I promised her a set of the Reagan and Bush pens.) You know what goes perfectly with alcohol? Firearms.




So we headed over to the firearm museum. Where there were plenty of rifles.


But there were revolvers as well. See that beauty on the lower right? Ladies, small enough to fit in the smallest of clutch bags. Fluffycat commented that it didn't look like it could do much damage but then we agreed it was probably more a way to say, "You're annoying me. Go away."

Yes, my day was quite full but also quite enjoyable. The only question is where next. But not today. Today is filled with exciting things like laundry and grocery shopping.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hubby

Once upon a time, I used to post a quiz every Saturday. Perhaps it's time to bring that back. I found this one over at Cursing Mama's. Enjoy.

Your result for The Harry Potter Husband Test...

Mrs. Weasley Twin

Your perfect HP man is Fred and/or George Weasley.


Laughter is important to you. You want a guy who's never boring, who can always put a smile on your face, and who can pull the best of pranks and never get caught. Or possibly two such guys. Because let's face it, they're pretty much a two-fer. You get one, you get both. Even if one of them's only a friend, he'll still be around so much you'll feel like you're married to him, too. Sure, they may not seem like the most mature guys in the world, in a traditional sense, but just ask them about their business plan. When they drive you nuts by relentlessly testing their latest inventions on you, you can console youself with that huge stack of cash and dragon-leather jacket. Besides, you know you're powerless against those stereo smiles.

Take The Harry Potter Husband Test at HelloQuizzy

Friday, October 24, 2008

iPhone addict



When I first got my iPhone, I told myself that I would be content with downloading just the free app's. Then something happened that made me pay for one. Slippery slope. Next thing you know, I was downloading all of the recommended photo app's -- recommended on the site iPhone Atlas. And they were right. These app's totally kick butt.

But right now I'm addicted to Photoboard. Natasha asked why she is not the subject. I mentioned her Greta Garbo tendencies. I think she's onboard now. Boris is thinking that he should go on a diet after being confronted with images of a more svelte him.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yo slut

It all started in eighth grade. I cannot recall what exactly I said, but Jade responded with, "You are such a slut." I told her that if I was a slut, then she was a bitch. And thus our nicknames for one another were born. (Now before you get all in a tizzy, let me point out that I was the girl who could count how many dates she had in high school on one hand.)

I remember party hopping one Friday night my junior year of college. I was hanging on the balcony when I saw Jade and her roommate walking past.

"Yo bitch!"

"Hey slut! What's up?"

"Cool party. You should head on up."

While she was heading up to the party, one of the guys standing near me asked if he could use the nicknames.

"Have you known us since you were seven? Nope? Then you'd probably get your ass kicked for using them."

I guess when we graduated from college, we decided that we were too grownup to continue using the names. La Nicoya and I are known to start a phone conversation with, "Hey hooker. What's up?" though.

Where is this all leading, you ask? Well, Hilly was kind enough to share this item from Miss Britt. So thinking about Halloween costumes got me thinking about all of this.

Halloween is one of my fave holidays. The past few years, things have gotten a little crazy on the party scene, though, and it has become one of those holidays that I spend at home.

When I first started college, I discovered that it was perfectly acceptable to dress slutty on Halloween. Hell that first Halloween, a group of my friends went as a pimp and his hookers. Of course, over time slutty just became my everyday look. Halloween was slutty with a theme.

I used to sew quite a bit. That means that I generally made my own costumes. It started with the slutty angel. I made the French maid costume out of gold polka-dotted white satin. Add wings and a halo with gold sequin trim and a pair of white fishnets with white pumps. Yep, all kinds of sparkly sluttiness. I wore it to the Castro. There was a guy there wearing nothing but a g-string. I kid you not. I felt like I had too many clothes on.

Other past favorites were the slutty Bo Peep and the slutty Red Riding Hood. I like costumes with accessories. The Red Riding Hood basket? Stocked with candy, tequila and condoms. I'm starting to think that I stopped dressing up for Halloween because I got stuck on which fairytale character to do next.

On a final note, I have always been cool with slutty but skank? May I remind you of those oh so great words of Jade's. "It's OK to look like a ho. Just don't look like a tacky one."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm not going to give you a post now...

Tonight I had a long conversation with one of my mother's younger sisters. Up until this conversation, I thought I had nothing to say. The difference of one conversation.

My aunt has been actively campaigning for Obama. (We won't mention my other aunt. She thinks that Dubya walks on water. As such, she is a McCain supporter. From what I gather, abortion is a huge issue for her. Just as it was when she chose to have one. Before she was saved.) Many of our conversations center around politics. My aunt said that my mother might need to get a room ready for her in Mexico. Just in case.

We also talked about our individual relationships to my mom. My aunt laughed hysterically when I told her about the events on Sunday. Why? "It's not just me." We then spoke about the things I had thought that I had told her earlier -- the things that would prove it was not just her. We all fall under my mother's wrath. Until the day upon which my mother realizes that she too could benefit from therapy. But I'm not holding my breath for that realization.

And so yeah, I'm a little stressed out right now. My thoughts are jumbled. I switch from my aunt's death to my stepmother's impending death to the racist crap that some members of the Republican party are pulling. (I said "some members." That does not mean all Republicans.)

And I sit here broken-hearted in too many ways to count. I mourn for my family and my country. And at times, right now, I am ready to be done with both.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ha!


Eat your hearts out, beyotches! That's right. I have four bags. But two of them are going to the Zombie household.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

And then it all went downhill


Eggs Louie


This weekend was in many ways supposed to be a mom weekend. Right now a whole weekend of my mother can be rather trying. I spent days trying to get myself ready for it all emotionally. I failed.

Yesterday was not originally supposed to be about my mom. I had hoped to go to Sacramento. But my mom has always been jealous of my stepmother. She would never understand how I could cancel out on doing something that I had previously promised that I would do for her so that I could go see my stepmother. And more importantly, to see my dad. Because in the past when I have had to cancel out on my mom, I get to hear her say in a petulant voice, "But you promised..."

I had planned on taking care of all of my mom's crap last weekend. Thing is that I wasn't feeling well last weekend. I tried to explain this to my mother when I showed up. Her response was, "Have you felt this way for days? Well, you showed up to work and you didn't complain to them so I don't want to hear it." She then offered to take me to Thrive! but I told her that I wasn't sick enough for a doctor's; I just needed bed rest. She basically told me to suck it up. The second time we got into this conversation, I walked and went back home to bed. But I felt bad about not taking care of her whole list so I went back yesterday.

Yesterday was also combined as a movie outing. We went to see The Secret Life of Bees. I read the book years ago and had forgotten just how many sad moments there were in the story. I probably spent at least half the movie in some sort of tears. But at least I didn't walk away from it saying to myself, "This is such a letdown from the book." I think overall it stayed pretty true to the book. My mom was slightly peeved with me for not warning her how sad the story is. My response was, "But I brought you extra napkins from the snack bar."

This morning I got up at what is ass crack of dawn for me on a Sunday -- 9 AM. Why? Because Zombie Mom was running the Nike half-marathon in San Francisco. There was no way possible that I could be up early enough to cheer her on at the various points along the race but I knew that I could meet her and the rest of the Zombie family for brunch after the race. Also meeting her at the finish line would have meant that I would have to drive. Today my car could not move. More about that later.

The photo above is of my brunch selection over at Stacks in Hayes Valley. Not only did I get up at ass crack of dawn, but I did some walking as well. I was about to include the walk to the Berkeley BART station but that's only four blocks away -- in case you potential stalkers are interested. Fastest way to Hayes Valley on PT? Get off BART at Civic Center and hoof it the rest of the way. I did this without the aid of caffeine.

Seeing Zombie Mom flashing her Tiffany's bling? Hello? You get a pendant from Tiffany's for completing? Almost enough to get my lazy ass up and running. Key word here is "almost." Because while I love that little blue box, there are limits.

But most importantly, I got to see my favorite parts of the Zombie family -- the Commander and Lala. (Sorry about that Zombie Mom.) Because I have come to realize that through all of the crap over the last few months, those two are a large part of what has kept me tethered in the here and now. I love them because I realize that if I had kids, they would be like them. I also don't have kids because I realize that they would be just like them.

Then it was time to head back to Berkeley. I met this wonderful gay couple from Austin at the BART station in San Francisco. We helped this woman navigate her way through the system. Once we were finally on a Richmond train, I told them that I had been fascinated by Austin for years. A friend from undergrad -- OK. So he was a major crush -- had ended up there. He told me at the time that Austin was like Berkeley in the middle of Texas. The couple told me that in Austin, they always like to compare themselves to San Francisco but that Berkeley was probably the more apt comparison. They also bemoaned the gentrification of Austin. It's driving all the quirkiness out of the city. And that offbeat kind of vibe? That's what makes cities like Berkeley and Austin what they are.

So I stepped off the train to start part two of the mom weekend. Because today was The Spice of Life Festival. I have never missed this festival since moving to Berkeley. The first year, I attended it alone. Every year since then, my mother has been in attendance. Not that I necessarily wanted her to be.

My mother's worst traits come out at street fairs. "They want how much for this item? The food is crap. The music is crap." But I have heard this every year so in some ways I was prepared.

I met my mother at the BART station and we began our trek. I kept waiting for her to tell me how much she hates my hair worn in this way but then I remembered she had already told me that last weekend. It's all about tearing me down. Don't say that to her though. She will tell you how she had been nothing but supportive of me. And in some ways, she has been.

So we started our way through the fair. The food was overpriced. The Obama t-shirt, at $20, was overpriced. This after she complained about the long walk from the downtown Berkeley BART station to the fair. (Number one. I live north of the BART station but I met her there. Number two. The walk from the start of the fair was no more than seven blocks. My mother is just a suburbanite who just needs to suck it up.)

We finally found food that was a value in my mom's eyes. She then started to mention that it would be nice to sit down. I found her a table and then said that I was off to search for food for myself. Specifically potato puffs from Gregoire. After checking the last few stands that I had not previously, I headed to Gregoire. Right after I placed my order, I realized that perhaps there was a slight fiasco. But my mother was more than a block away enjoying her food so I stayed. And I waited. Once I had potato puffs in hand, I headed to a stand for the lemonade my mother had requested.

Upon returning to the table, my mother was nowhere to be seen. She is also too cheap to carry a cellphone. (Actually she's too cheap for a lot of things but is really big on telling you about how poor she is.) So I sat down at the table to wait for her return. In between, I called Zombie Mom. I just knew that my mother would be pissed off with me when she returned. I was right.

After I had been at the table for about 15 minutes, my mother showed up. And then screamed out, "Where have you been?" I said, "Getting food -- and your drink." She didn't like the tone of my answer and so said, "I don't need to put up with your sass." In my mind, I thought, "Kiss mine, bitch." Instead I answered with telling her about waiting for her at the table at which I had last seen her. And apparently all my responses were disrespectful, so I said, "I am sorry for not catering to you every second of the day today." (Ummm. I told y'all that I can get real bitchy at times.) And then she said some crap back and I said, "Next time I'll be sure to check in with you beforehand so that you can plan each second of the day." That was me being nice. I had wanted to add, "This is why no one else wants to do anything with you." Which would have been true but really hurtful.

My mother's response was to walk off but not before asking for the phone. I shit you not. Once I got my iPhone, my mother has been bugging me about what I was going to do with my old phone. She kept telling me how I should give it to her. And this is one of the other things that pisses me off as far as my mother is concerned. I get something -- either through my work or my father -- and she feels like she has earned a piece of it all. It is my obligation to share with her -- and no one else. I briefly thought about telling her, "Hell no," as far as the phone is concerned but then I decided that I am the bigger person and gave it to her. (There is still a part of me that thinks that I have "sucker" written on my forehead.) A minute later after storming off, my mother returned to ask if I still would buy the Bed, Bath & Beyond gift cards off of her. I pulled out the cash and took the cards. I then told her that the stuff she wanted me to come to Pacifica tomorrow for? Leave that stuff at her house. I don't need to see my mom anymore this trip.

After my mom left the fair, I was in such a foul mood that I didn't want to be there. I was blocks from home so I went there. And along the walk, I fought back the tears. Because when I'm really mad, I cry. Once home, I started making phone calls. But no one was available. Except for that one person. And so in desperation, I called my dad. Because there was no one else.

And so my dad and I talked about how bad things are with my stepmother. And how he's just dealing. And then we talked about my mother. How she is so obviously lonely. And how that's all about her and not us.

My dad started talking the steps. How we should not care about those things over which we have no power. Instead we should concentrate our energy on those things we can change. And also realizing that we cannot change others.

And this is why I love my father. Even when I know that he is dealing with pain beyond his imagining, he can still find it in himself to point me in the right direction.

Even though my father's words did a great deal, I am still trying to pick myself up form the place in which I was left after my interactions with my mother. Because since walking away from her, I have found myself crying. Thank goodness she's going back to Mexico on Tuesday.

But now she's crawling back in. Just as I was ready to post this, I listened to a voicemail that my mom left. A family friend has had a heart attack and is in the hospital. When will it all end? Because just when I think that I have nothing left it me, something else happens.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

When hormones attack


Fried mozzarella with mixed greens and proscuitto


What have I had from my freezer this week? If you answered, "Ice cubes," then you are quite correct. Nothing else has left the freezer.

At the beginning of the week, it was, "Gee. You really should have more vegetables. Let's stop at the store for salad fixings." So a few days of Cobb salads led me to this place.

This afternoon at work, I had decided to go to Gregoire's. I was going to try out their version of the pork and quince. Then this really small voice in my head said that I should eat was already at home. *grumble, grumble* The hormones said, "Let's look at Epicurious." And gosh, wouldn't you know that one of their featured slide shows was of comfort foods. Evil people.

You know that once the hormones saw the fried cheese it was all over. "Look! It's cheese! And it's breaded and fried!!! Could there be a more perfect food?"

Ummm. Yeah. A small wheel of Camembert placed in an egg white wash and dredged in Parmesan. Then fry that sucker up. Yes, I really used to do this. Throw some chopped scallions on it and slice up a baguette. Luckily I did not think about this until I reached home. Otherwise, the hormones would have been demanding this as well. They're pretty pushy, those hormones.

So the hormones and I headed to Berkeley Bowl when I got off work. And there were no bunches of arugula. None at all. The hormones almost burst into tears right there in the middle of the produce section. I assured them that we would improvise with some mixed greens. They decided that the mixed greens were just fine. They just thought that the arugula bunches would have been cuter. Whatever.


Corn cream soup


And if you know me, you know I like to multitask. Why go into the kitchen unless you're going to have a few pots going? Love this soup. Hated having to go to two different stores to look for dried corn. I also dislike any recipe that says "strain out solids" even though I know that I will like the end results.

Once more the hormones had a say here. It was not enough that there were dairy products involved. Noooo. The hormones said, "We're not really in the mood for shrimp. And look? It says that you can use crab. We'd really like some crab." And I responded, "You idiots. Do you realize that it is not crab season around here?" When we hit the seafood counter in Berkeley Bowl, they ended up winning out. Because not only did Berkeley Bowl have Dungeness crab meat, they had Chesapeake lump meat. And the blue crab meat was half the price of the Dungeness. So I told the hormones they could have a half pound. The guy behind the counter asked if I was making crab cakes. "Nope. Soup." And then the hormones made me go to the meat counter to get a pound of applewood smoked bacon. It took a lot of convincing on my part to convince them that we could not put both the crab and the bacon in the soup.

So now the hormones are quite content. For today. And please don't mention to them that I forgot to take the chives out of the fridge for the soup. Please. I fear them more than I fear Natasha.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The kitchen is sort of closed


No new food here for some time. I need to work my way through the things I have accumulated in the freezer over the last couple of weeks.

I tried to put this off on Monday by heading to Poulet for the Basque chicken. Alas, they were closed due to the holiday. How dare they?


But this was the sight I caught on my way home so I guess the outing was worthwhile.

And now I'm going to go out on a limb. There is a post that I actually meant to publish today about privilege. But then I decided that I'd probably catch a lot of crap for it and I'm really not in the mood.* The thoughts started a couple of weeks ago when folks were reacting to the Tim Rice piece that was being circulated via email. I noticed that while many of the folks who wrote posts about the piece understood it, there were quite a few commenters out there who just didn't. And yeah, I got pissed off. So instead of that post, I ask you to click on the link. I ask you to re-read the section on "The Persistence of White Privilege." Notice what Zetzer says about achieving change? It's about open dialogue. Hmmm. I vaguely remember saying something about that in the past year or so.

Also pay special attention to the section about wealth. This Wikipedia explanation is pretty on-point, although I do question the deletion of the stuff on housing. OK. So it's clearly discriminatory behavior. And I guess the link would be that it is due to privilege that realtors feel comfortable in engaging in this kind of behavior. Also I highly suggest that you check out the References and Suggested Reading at the bottom of the page. Perhaps after reading this you can understand why slavery enters the conversation so often. If a group of people are denied ownership, then there is no way that they can acquire wealth. And guess what? Most standardized tests do not measure a student's knowledge of a subject but the wealth of their parents. Yep, there is a direct correlation between wealth of parents and how a child performs on a standardized test. Now apply that fact to what we know about wealth distribution in this country.

Read a good portion of this and then you can have a conversation with me about what privilege is. Because this is a topic upon which I feel like Heather does about politics. I have spent way too many academic hours engrossed in this topic and it used to be part of my professional life. As a result, I may know more than other folks because I have read a lot of the writings in the area. So all I ask of y'all is that if you're going to write about a topic such as this, do your research first. Don't just base it on the one thing that you have read. Do the research.

Hell. My mother sent me an anti-McCain email tonight. I don't believe I have ever said on this blog how I plan to vote but I think I have made my political leanings pretty clear. While the email was compelling, I felt the need to do some fact-checking. What I found was that the alleged source of the email denied ever writing it. And so I did not forward it. If I do not have supporting evidence that something is true, then I will not pass it along. I think it's called having principles. And then I emailed my mother the details of the questionable provenance.

Oh dear. I just realized that I have written that post after all so I may as just keep going. This was really supposed to be about telling you to check this post out. But whatever.

So how did I become such an uppity bitch? My father's paternal grandfather somehow got his hands on 500 acres in Alabama. We still haven't figured that one out. My grandfather bought out his siblings upon their father's death and expanded the farm to almost 1800 acres during my grandfather's lifetime. It gave him the ability to send all ten of his children to college, if they wanted to go. All this while year after year, he took the tests to prove his fitness to vote -- and passed them every time -- only to be told that he could not vote. (It is for this reason that I vote in every election.) So yes, my family has wealth but a lot of my folks don't.

I have a small retirement fund. I rent an apartment. These are not necessarily signs of wealth. Of course, when certain family members die, I will suddenly find myself quite wealthy. I'm just not now. And so I can feel for folks who aren't. The folks on my mother's side? Far from wealthy. Many of them are just getting by. And this is why I can understand.

I just think that if we can't have these conversations, then we are fucked as a society. And if that's the case, then I'm out of here. I've already told my mother to get my room ready at the house in Mexico (Much easier to enter than Canada if you are fleeing. Or so I've been told.) because I might just have to move there. And you know that things have to be pretty bad here if I would seriously consider living under the same roof with my mother once more.

So let your indignant comments fly. Because the rule on my blog is that everyone can be heard. Except the spammers. Those are the only comments I delete. Because if we're going to have a conversation, then we all need to be heard. But the spammers don't count because they are clearly not a part of the conversation. And they're a rarity around here. I think I've only had to delete two comments at most as a result of spammers. Just so y'all know what kind of principles I hold.

*Death Watch 2008. My stepmother is now completely bed-ridden. She no longer has the muscle control to sit up. She is bloated and when conscious, hallucinates a great deal. I keep trying to make plans but I also know that they need to be fluid. The end is around the corner. May I never again have to experience the slow deterioration of someone about whom I care.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Death of an icon


Some of my childhood favorites. I'm still in search of the Circus Cookies. *


I was horrified last Thursday when I learned that Mother's Cookies had filed bankruptcy. Even worse is the image one gets when going to their website -- a white plate with some crumbs on it.

Mother's started in Oakland. Even when operations moved out of the area, for many of us in the Bay, they were still a Bay Area company.

The loss of Mother's? Almost like the loss of one's own mother. Especially if you have a mom like mine. "I have a job. I don't have time to bake cupcakes and cookies. Let the other moms be room mothers." As you see, I am still scarred by this.

My mom? A huge addict of the oatmeal cookies. And she would keep them on top of the fridge or in a high cabinet. I guess she was trying to keep them out of my reach. Yeah. Right. I had skills. Around age six or so, I learned how to pull myself up onto the counter so that I could get to the things I wasn't supposed to have. This usually occurred in the early morning hours of Saturdays when my parents were sleeping in.

This method was also helpful in getting the prize out of the cereal box. Climb up and find the box as well as a large bowl. Dump the cereal out into the bowl until the prize is visible. Retrieve the prize and dump the cereal back into the box. Act surprised later upon reaching the end of the box that the prize has not shown up.

I engaged in these tactics some years later as well. Toward the end of elementary school, my father went on a tour of the Mother's factory as a part of his job. He came home with a jumbo box variety pack of their wares. There were enough cookies in there to last the average kid at least a month. My mother placed the box on top of the fridge. Foolish misguided woman.

I learned from my dad at this time that they also conducted class tours for students. What?! I had never heard of this field trip. Needless to say, I was never able to convince a teacher that this was a very necessary field trip. And by the time that I was teaching, operations had moved out of the area.

When I first learned last Thursday that Mother's had shut down, I went to tell the receptionist at work. She bemoaned the oatmeal cookies. I told her that the folks at SFist mentioned leaving the package open "accidentally" so that the cookies would get stale soft. She looked at me and exclaimed, "I thought that I was the only one who did that." Nope.

I meant to go pick some cookies up on Thursday but didn't remember until I got home. I decided that Friday was soon enough. The oatmeal cookies were nearly gone. I had to search hard for those. And then while I was being rung up, this guy walking into the store said, "You'd better enjoy those while you can." I explained to him that I knew about the bankruptcy and that was why I was buying the cookies. He then asked where he could find the cookies in the store.

Saturday I was out with my mom. (And I got a reminder of why I think she is such a bitch most of the time I was with her. It is a small miracle that I am not in jail currently.) We ended up in a Target and she decided to look for cookies. The cashier asked her if she knew about the bankruptcy. And then the cashier started to share what her favorite flavors were.

I don't know how it is anywhere else but everyone here in the Bay Area has their favorite. That has been the common thread. And also the feeling of the death of part of one's childhood. Because I have yet to meet anyone who grew up in Bay Area for whom Mother's cookies were not a part of their lives. It's almost like saying that there will be no more air or water.

* If I don't find the Circus Cookies, I can always get this item.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Bon Appetit Test Kitchen -- Part 2


Pomegranate-marinated lamb with spices and couscous


I love lamb. I really love lamb. Therefore, I had yet another recipe to try. And as my aunt in Savannah pointed out, the cool thing about this recipe is that it uses one of the less expensive cuts of lamb.

Now the challenge of the recipe is that it calls for pomegranate molasses. But I was going to Berkeley Bowl Tuesday night. On my way to the produce section, I stopped on the baking aisle. (I knew that this is where I found the molasses for the pineapple upside-down pumpkin gingerbread.) There in the midst of all the other molasses bottles was one lone bottle of pomegranate molasses. I took it as a sign and after dropping it into my basket moved on to the produce section. I discovered that it is rather sweet. Almost too sweet for my tastes. But I loved all the spices in the lamb. Hmmm.

Fall to me means pomegranate. And apples. And pumpkins. Hmmmm. Maybe I should look for a recipe that incorporates all three next...

I'm starting to think that I may be in need of a 12-step program.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Porn pause


I had meant to post more food today. Then I got home last night and said, "Fuck it." I poured myself a glass of wine, dished out the short ribs, and kicked my feet up while I caught up on some of the stuff on the DVR.

But I do have a question for y'all. In all the family crap, I forgot about one thing. My dad has a great deal of social obligations. A couple of weeks ago, his older sister accompanied him to a formal event. When I was talking to my dad yesterday evening, he mentioned the holiday party that one of the organizations to which he belongs. Apparently I have been commanded to attend. And the event is black-tie.

I currently own only two formals in my closet. And I hate them both. Besides they might not fit now. I need to shop for a new one. But where? My mom says that I should mention to my dad that I need a new dress so that he will pay for it. It's how she got her mink coat. (And no, Neil, this makes me fortunate. Not privileged. But there will be a post on this topic next week. Unless I change my mind.) So perhaps I can spend a bit out of my normal comfort range.

I'd love to hear from y'all -- especially the local folks -- about where I should go to look for a dress. Or about some designer you totally love. I only wish he had told me this before Carolina Herrera was on sale on Gilt Groupe a couple of weeks ago. That's OK. One day I will own a Carolina Herrera. And maybe that helps y'all with my style.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Bon Appetit Test Kitchen -- Part 1


Day one



Day two of Braised Short Ribs


I was going to stop cooking. Really. But then I received the November issue of "Bon Appetit" on Monday. I swear I'm going to quit just not now. No, really I swear I will. Soon.

I love braising stuff. This was another one of those multi-day dishes so I started it off on Tuesday. That's right on Tuesday, I managed to start this right before cooking up the mahi-mahi for dinner. All within an hour and a half. (There were at least another couple of food related tasks as well.)

How? When I am preparing multiple recipes simultaneously, I make a timeline in my mind. I msde a couple of other items, the end result of which you will see later this week. I put the mahi-mahi into the marinade. Next I started the short ribs. Once these were ready for the oven, I started cooking the fish. The fish required a higher oven temperature than the ribs did so as soon as the fish was done, I lowered the oven temperature. Once I finished eating, I figured that the oven had dropped enough and so the ribs went in.

By the time the ribs came out of the oven, the meat was coming off the bone on some of the ribs. This looked very promising. By the time they came out the second day, they looked more than promising. And what I tasted? Convinced me that this needs to be a part of my regular rotation of recipes.

And in case the food didn't appeal to you, I've thrown in a couple of photos of the Supermodel...



Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pretending that it's still summer


Pan-seared mahi-mahi with oranges and olives


It was easy to do it yesterday since, once the fog cleared, it was actually a pretty warm day.

Mahi-mahi is one of my favorite fish. I can almost never pass up a recipe that features it. Plus I was curious about the combination of olives and oranges. And somehow they worked well together. Maybe it was the shallots and the saffron. Oh, and have I mentioned that if you ask the cashiers at Berkeley Bowl for saffron that they have a secret stash at the register? A whole half gram. For what seems like pennies. When I ask for it, I feel like I'm making a major deal.

Pssst. You have any saffron in?
You do? I'm going to need a half gram.
Really?
You take checks?
Sweet.
When's the next shipment coming in?
I'll be back.

Now I have another way to prepare mahi-mahi next summer.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sometimes she's a royal bitch

... and sometimes she's actually a nice person.

A little over a week ago, I was chillin' at Zoomie's. Cookiecrumb told me that no matter what I say about my mother here that she got the feeling that I actually like the woman.

This past weekend my mom was blowing up my phone -- to the point that I was calling her very name in the book as I watched the phone ring -- but I really wasn't in the mood to talk to anyone. Really. I don't think I made a single phone call -- except to return a couple of my mother's calls -- from Friday night until Monday morning.

When I spoke to my mother on Monday evening, she said that I seemed to be in a better mood than I was on Saturday. I explained to her that I just didn't want to talk to anyone else. It's what sometimes helps me to get through the rest of the week.

And then we got to talking about grief. She said that she had been trying to spend the last five years preparing me for my aunt's eventual death. I told her that there's no amount of preparation that can make one ready for the reality.

We talked about letting go. My mother admitted that my aunt's name is still in her email address book. I told her that my aunt is still in both my email address book as well as on my cellphone. When I see the listings, I think that perhaps I should delete them. But I can't. Not yet. Of course, it doesn't help that sometimes I am a heartbeat away from calling her because I've thought of something I want to share with her. Still. How long does this take?

My mother started talking about her maternal grandmother. Her grandparents lived with my mom's family when she was growing up. Her grandmother died when she was about 14. And there was a huge hole left in my mom's life. She shared with me that she was still crying over her grandmother's death a year later. She said that she's always known that I was just as close to my aunt as she was to her grandmother. She knew how much this would all hurt. She also told me that it's OK to cry, for what may appear to others for no reason at all. That I'm just going to have to do it.

My mom said that whenever I think of one of the things I would have done with my aunt, I should go out and do it. That's how we got to be talking about how I was mad with some of my friends. She told me that these friends had been through too much with me for me to just walk away. I owed them an explanation -- especially since they probably had no clue that I was mad at them.

Shortly after hanging up the phone with my mom, I sent off an email to Jade and Emerald. I explained that I was mad because having people follow through on commitments to plans is kind of important to me right now. I also talked about how the weekend before my aunt died we had promised that this year we were definitely going to go out once a month. The idea was to try a new restaurant each time. When I planned the girls' night back in August, I thought of it as carrying on this idea.

This morning I received a response from Jade. She reminded me that I have always been her closest friend. She also admired my courage in being so honest. She finally said that she was going to try to make more effort because she realized that lately she had been so wrapped up in her kids that she hadn't been doing anything for herself.

So last night I learned that if I am willing to hear my mom rehash all the crap that I have heard ad nauseum, then she will actually listen to me. I know that a lot of our clashes come from the fact that we are too much alike. Too strong-willed, stubborn. And I guess that's why I haven't given up on her completely. Because every now and then she actually is the mom that I need.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Back to the porn


Basque chicken with scallop potato


Tonight after running a couple of errands, I headed on over to my folks at Poulet. Just like Gregoire's, their menu last month wasn't that appealing. But this month? Tasty.


Sometimes I select wines by the cuteness of the label.


And have I mentioned that they sell wine? To go? Unlike Gregoire that only sells non-alcoholic beverages thus necessitating a trip down the block to Astronomico's. And my fave wine steward apparently isn't there anymore because there are no longer "Recommended by" tags with her name on the shelf.


Plum tart


I enjoy baking but I eat very little of the things I bake. I love buying stuff made by others though. That's one of the joys of going to Poulet and Gregoire.

I must admit that at times like these, I do feel a tad guilty. One of my coworkers told me today that she is probably going to lose her house in the next few months. She's been there for 25 years. She just made the mistake of trying to start a business and financing it with a second on her house. My mother -- so wise in things financial to some extent and so maddening in so many other ways -- has always told me that one should never finance one's business with one's home. If the business fails, you don't want to lose everything.

But see, I've never been able to afford to buy a home here in the Bay Area -- at least not anywhere that I really want to live. And so right now, I'm quite content with my rent-controlled apartment. That allows me the little splurges in life. Like Gregoire, Poulet, and Kate Spade.

Reminiscing



The summer that I regained my senses and decided that I didn't want to be a lawyer, this was the theme song for me and my girls. Perhaps it is still one of my theme songs.

Probably because I grew up with Janet. And she's only about a month older than I. And she's still one of the hottest women out there. She reminds me that even though I am in my 40s, I can still be hot. Just like Madonna at 50 does. And Susan Sarandon in her 60s. When I hit my 60s, I want legs like Tina, a face like Leena, and the social consciousness of Susan Sarandon.

What we got from that song was that certain kind of swagger. (I had had before the song came out but then lost it along the way. Some bad relationships that made me question myself.) It's the walk of someone who knows that they own whatever place into which they are walking.

Sure the song is about some guy but it could be so many other things. Like that job you really want. Because somewhere along the way I learned how to put on the mask. How to act utterly confident even though my knees were knocking. (In days of old, the knee thing would be a figurative thing since they were in plain view due to my really short skirts.)

To me the song became about claiming the things that you wanted out of life. And not being afraid to say it -- even if in veiled references. Because let's get real. Sometimes if you state your true intentions, there are others who are more than ready to step in your way.

Oh, and to make things clear, I have never purposefully taken some other woman's man. In the early days of my college years, guys would ask me out and I would accept. I would then learn that these guys had girlfriends. I would drop them as quick as possible. I had this silly idea that if a guy left his girlfriend for me, he would do the same to me when the next new thing turned his head. I may look like a tramp at times but I have always had principles.

Might have something to do with having divorced parents and having huge trust issues as a result. * It might have something to do with having an uncle who's a dawg with a capital D. I don't think he's ever been faithful in any of his relationships. I know because for years I was his confidante. (My mother has always had huge issues with this. Imagine that? The queen of no boundaries calling someone out over the same thing.) He told me that I should avoid men like him at all costs. (He's also one of the other sick people in my life. At first they thought that he was rejecting his kidney transplant but now they're not sure. Because even folks on my mom's side of the family get sick. And he's 54. I hope they get it all straightened out because I'm not ready to let go of my Uncle Juju yet.)

All I know is that this is one of the songs that I play when I am starting to doubt myself. It makes me feel like I can do anything. As opposed to the song that shares its title with this post. That song just makes me feel weepy and shit. So I'm probably going to be playing this song for many weeks to come. So that I can find my way back. Crap. Now I have a whole other song going through my head. Great.

* Trust is a funny thing. When I write stuff here, I realize that there is a certain level of trust. Perhaps the semi-anonymity allows me to say the things that I otherwise wouldn't. Thus my anxiety in meeting folks from the blogging world. I am the queen of compartmentalization -- except here. I compartmentalize stuff to protect myself emotionally. So for those of you who have met me as a result of this blog, I'd like to tell you that it is a very hard thing for me. It's why none of my friends outside of the blogosphere or my family knows how to find this. Because some of them would use this all against me.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A quiet Saturday of sorts



I told y'all that I wasn't going anywhere today. I've managed to clear most of the new shows from my DVR. Then I was once more sucked in by VH1. This time it was the "100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs." So yeah, I just finished watching all five hours straight through.

Watching the show made me remember my love of acid jazz. Yes, I love all kinds of music but back in the 90s my first choice was probably acid jazz. It's still probably one of my preferred genres right along with trip hop.

And then of course I got to reminiscing. I know I do this because so much in my life is up in the air right now. My dad hasn't decided what to do with my aunt's property. My stepmother continues her slow deterioration and everyone says how great it is that she's still around. And I think to myself, "Yeah, it's great for you but is it for her?" I occasionally think that I am a bad person for thinking that she should just hurry up and die. In the midst of this, my company is moving. Actually this is a good thing but it's change just the same. Just like getting the promotion earlier this year. I think I've surpassed my limit of change for a single year.

It has suddenly dawned on me why my mind wants to slip back to Autumn 2001. There was loads of family deaths and illness that year as well. And I changed jobs.

The music made me think of that time because just about every Friday night I would head into North Beach and dance for hours straight. The place was a bar/club. Actually it was a bar that had a tiny dance floor. And a DJ who would come in on weekends. He would start off mellow with a little Sade but as the evening progressed, there would be stuff like The Roots and Q-Tip.

My last day of work at the Death Star, I had invited a number of friends to join me at this place to celebrate my new path. (I had been to the place once before on a date and how vowed in my mind to return.) None of them showed. I remember standing at the curb in front of the place, smoking a cigarette when the realization hit that none of them were going to show up. The window to the place was open and these two guys were sitting at the table by the window. We started talking. I told them that even though my friends had flaked, I had no intention of leaving. They invited me to join them at the table. Actually it was the owner's table but they assured me that he wouldn't mind my presence when he eventually showed up. He didn't. The place closed at two; I stayed until four or so. And then started coming back every weekend.

I still have many of the clothes I wore back then. Occasionally I'll pull out a skirt and then put it back. Too short. Back then, they couldn't be short enough. Of course, I was also ten to fifteen pounds lighter then. And yes, I know that I'm not fat. It's just that those clothes make me feel that way.

What I've realized is that I really miss that person. Sure there was a load of self-destructive behavior back then, but I also had the ability to say, "Fuck them," when people flaked. Because I've hit that point once more. Of course, I don't want to get too carried away. My mother has dumped most of the people in her life -- or they her -- so that I am about all she has left. And it gets rather suffocating at times. But I'm thinking it's time to get rid of the "dead weight" so that I can move on. I just want to be that person who didn't need anyone else. Just being somewhere was fun.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Get out of my head


Baked escargot with caramelized onions on puff pastry


... or at least stop reading the same recipes that I have.

While trying to pass time til quitting time today at work, I suddenly remembered that it was a new month. That meant a new menu at Gregoire. I didn't go at all last month because nothing really called to me on the menu.

This month? Well, imagine my surprise to see "Grilled pork tenderloin medallions with quince chutney." Huh? So I read on. "Beef Bourguignon." Make that all the time. And there was this other dish but more about that later. But something did leap out at me. And then I needed stuff to go with it. So I decided to try the escargots since I've been thinking about them for some time. And of course, I had to get my usual order of potato puffs.


Roasted duck breast with grilled plums


I supplemented the food from Gregoire's with this. I already had the duck breast in the fridge to cook up tonight. If I hadn't, I would have been tempted to order the duck from Gregoire's. But not tonight.

Whenever I see recipes that call for grilling, I quickly turn the page. I don't have any outdoor space at my apartment to set up a grill. Well, I could be like some of my neighbors and set up a grill on the roof. That always kind of worries me though. It would be just my luck that I'd end up burning down the building. Or another neighbor sets up his grill by the back steps. It's just that I don't want to cook my food in such close proximity to the dumpster.

But I really wanted to try this recipe. So I headed over to one of my favorite stores to purchase a grill pan. (I really need to stay out of there because cupboard space has become almost non-existent. I guess I should pick up that cabinet from my aunt's house one of these days. I think the pan was a great investment. In fact, now I'm wondering why I didn't get one sooner.


Pumpkin bread pudding


This is what really got me to Gregoire's. Because it's going to rain tonight. So now I have all these yummy comfort foods. And plenty of good books to read. Not to mention hours of Fall TV saved up on the DVR. I think I'm set. Because I don't think I'm heading out tomorrow at all.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Two out of three

It's starting to feel a bit like autumn around here. Well at least the gutters are filled with dry leaves.


French red onion soup


Yep. Autumn means the start of soup and stew season for me. This was the first course last night though. French onion soup has been a favorite of mine since childhood, when my mother introduced me to the dish. I loved the red onions and the Manchego but I must admit that the star anise took a week bit of getting used to. In the future I may only use one instead of the two called for in the recipe.


Beef Wellington with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables


It also means comfort foods. And if that plate doesn't look like it's filled with comfort, then I don't know what does. This another first. I'm usually a rare to medium rare kind of girl. I sometimes forget that I really need to get a thermometer for my oven. The heat in the oven is always greater than what the dial says. I just need to play with the temperature and the time some.

I've been trying to decide on a dessert to make this week but I'm just not feeling the dessert thing. There was no room for dessert anyway.

There will be no deliveries to my mother this week. She finally took the pork braised with quince out of the freezer. Her verdict? It was great once she poured some barbecue sauce over it. (I am tempted to go into the ugly Curry Chicken incident of 2004 but I won't. Not now at least.) This is how my mother usually treats the things that I have cooked -- as if there is something missing. I could understand salt or pepper, but barbecue sauce? Whatever.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New world order

... because I feel it's part of the process of winning folks over to make my whole move for universal domination.

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Apparently Anna has thrown down the gauntlet. I've never been a punk beyotch so here goes.

How I hope to achieve universal domination

1. First of all, some of y'all may have noticed that I used the word "universal." That's right beyotches. I'm going interplanetary and all. I mean, have you listened to Al Gore? This planet is dying. Why the hell would I want to take over a dying planet? Nope. I'm going to round up my peeps here and then we're outie. If you're lucky, you get to come along for the ride.

2. Fool the felines into thinking that they actually have a say. I'd do the same for dogs but let's get real. "Dogs have owners; cats have staff." If I win over the cats, the members of their staff are mine for the picking. Just don't tell Natasha. She still thinks that she is the one in charge around here. And just ignore the fact that I keep looking over my shoulder. I can't risk her seeing this. She'll kill me in my sleep.

3. I'm only taking folks who have an IQ of 100 or less with me. As long as they have been vetted by the cats. I have this funny notion that the leader of folks should be more intelligent than their people. This number used to be higher but I have found that prolonged time on the internets seems to have dropped my IQ. Or maybe it was the years of spending six-plus hours a day with little folks. I don't know. All I know is that my IQ seems to be declining -- kind of like money for some folks. Then again, charisma can go a long way and I think I have plenty of that.

4. I'm hoping to take a good deal of the PRB (That's the People's Republic of Berkeley for those of y'all who are new to here) with me. There seems to be a lot of book-smart folks around here. I think I can use them. In exchange for the passage, I am promising them a diet of all organic food and that we will make a moderate, if any, carbon footprint. Oh yeah. And their kids can run wild in all public places.

5. I think it's time to weed the gene pool some. Seeing as I am that crazy ass Berkeley liberal, I think this may be possible. When my peeps roll out to explore new worlds, maybe I'll mention the existence of dinosaurs on other planets. Or the fact that gay marriage is OK with me. Leave the rest of the fools on the dying planet. Besides we will have all the great technology. It will be so easy once we leave to crush those who have been left behind.

6. Life with me will be a non-stop party. Don't tell the rest of them but here's the thing. If you spend all of your time partying, it's hard to notice the other stuff. Like my secret bank account on Neptune. Not that I have one.

7. Sunday night dinner at the palace. Everyone is invited. Every now and then it will be a potluck. But most of the time, it will be me trying out a new recipe or two. You must take at least a small sample (of the Kool-Aid) but I won't force you to finish it all.

8. Now here's the big seller. In my world you can be whoever you want. As long as you are not a threat to me. If you're a threat? Well, then we're sending you back to Earth. Enough said.

Yep. I can feel that universal domination is well within my grasp.