Monthly Archives: January 2009

Near-Death Experience

Pre-birth: During labor, I get stuck on my mom’s bone structure somewhere up in there. They use a forceps to get me out. Had it been 100 years earlier, I probably wouldn’t have survived.

Birth-5: Due to a proclivity of putting things in my mouth, I scared the crap out of my parents on numerous occasions (did she just swallow a nail?) and was the subject of multiple trips to the emergency room for x-rays. Also, this one time I was riding on my dad’s shoulders and he tripped and fell and I fell off and had the wind knocked out of me but they didn’t know if I had a broken neck or anything so there was another trip to the ER.

Age 5-17: None that I can remember. I had an awful flu one year and probably had a mild concussion at one point but never even ended up in the hospital.

Age 17: Nearly hit by a bus in Berkeley coming home from campus (the bus ran a red light).

Age 18-21: Nearly hit by multiple vehicles on multiple occasions in Berkeley (generally, red-light runners).

Age 21-28: Nearly hit by multiple vehicles on multiple occasions in the Bay Area and in Denver (generally, red-light runners and people who don’t watch for pedestrians).

Age 29: This morning, along with several other people, I was nearly mowed down in a crosswalk by a driver who ran a REALLY REALLY red light. As in, the walk sign had already turned for us, every other car had stopped, and several people had already started crossing through the crosswalk. He had 2 small children in the car and didn’t even appear to care that he’d nearly killed at least 3 people. Bastard.

Internet, I ask you once again: is it really that hard to watch out for people who are walking near where you are driving? Is getting to your destination 30 seconds earlier really worth almost killing people, not to mention endangering your own progeny?

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Help me to be a girl

Last year, as a wedding gift (ostensibly to both of us, but really to me), some of my coworkers bestowed upon us(me) a $60 gift certificate to the Aveda Institute here in Denver. It’s a short distance away from my work on the 16th street mall here, and it’s the place where Aveda trains people to cut hair and do salon treatments like manicures, pedicures, facials, etc. I used $15 of the gift certificate to get my hair cut back in November, but I won’t need another haircut for a while and the gift cert. expires in early March.

So, I’ve got $45 to spend at an Aveda salon and I have no idea what to spend it on. I’m not a product type of girl, and I have very sensitive skin so the idea of getting a facial or buying some fancy expensive shampoo doesn’t really appeal to me because I have no idea if it’ll make my skin break out or work on my (oily thick fine) hair. My gym friend is the one who told me about the $15 haircuts and she cautioned me against getting a manicure (not that I’ve ever had one!) saying that the few times she did, the polish came off really quickly.

The Aveda Institute’s website shows a “service menu” describing the things you can get there. Some of the things, frankly, scare the ever-loving crap out of me. Disincrustation back treatment? Botanical skin resurfacing? Uh…no thanks.

The idea of spending $30 on a pedicure, even if it’s technically free, just sounds kind of over-the-top to me. But tell me, internets, at least, those of you who have had things like pedicures and facials and stuff. What should I get? What should I use that last $45 on? Frankly, the most appealing-sounding things to me seem to be the massage and the waxing – at least I’ve had both of those before. I wasn’t thrilled with the wax job I got at the fancy salon the week of the wedding (I felt like I can do just a good a job or better myself for $7.50 worth of wax) but maybe the fancy plant Aveda wax would be better. I haven’t had a massage from a professional (or, I guess in this case, semi-pro) since college. Am I wrong to give up on the idea of a facial or pedicure or (ugh) disincrustation back treatment?

Please help me, girly internet people. (or boyly internet people, if you’re still reading this) How should I spend our (my) last $45 at the Aveda Institute?

In which Jive Turkey asks me questions, and I answer them

So over at Jive Turkey, she had to answer some questions another blogger asked her. And I volunteered to be interviewed, because a) I like doing that sort of thing, and b) I don’t have any photos from the weekend or of the baby blanket I finally finished or of Dan’s sweater that he wore 3 days in a row because either he really loves it that much or to make me feel better about all the time I spent knitting it.

Or something.

Anyhow, Ms. Turkey was kind enough to email me with five questions. If anyone would like me to interview them, please let me know in the comments.

1) What is your dream career?

Wow, you really don’t pussyfoot around, do you? I go back and forth on this one, especially because I think there is more than one career I’d ultimately be happy doing. But here are some of the things I’d like to do if money were no object and I could easily complete the education needed to work in these fields:

Genetic Counseling
Physical Therapy
Corporate Training
Someone who takes difficult information and transforms it into an easy-to-understand format and then teaches the information to other (adult) people using that format

In a nutshell, it’s really difficult for me to answer this question. I like working with people (but not “the public”, like a customer service-type job). I like science. I like teaching in a non-academic setting. I like how bodies work.

2) What movie/scene from a movie has left you a complete, sobbing,
emotional mess?

There are some movies that you watch because you want that emotional catharsis, and some movies you watch knowing you’ll only see it once because it’s too damn hard to deal with otherwise. I always cry at the ending of Beaches, I sometimes cry at the end of Big Fish, I’m sure there are other ones if I sat and thought about it for a while. Movies I have seen only once (and they made me cry plenty): Schindler’s List, Requiem for a Dream, Million Dollar Baby. Movies I haven’t seen at all because I know they would be too much: Boys Don’t Cry, American History X.

3) What kind of behavior/attribute is an absolute deal-breaker when it
comes to a romantic partner?

Smoking. Hard drugs. Bigotry. Condescension. Arrogance. Stupidity/lack of intelligence. Someone who makes me feel like less of a person or less valuable than I really am.

4) You’re on death row. What is your final meal?

Wow, the last meal I’ll ever eat. And I get anything I want? No matter how well it doesn’t go together?

Crab cakes, salad with freshly picked greens and veggies, grilled portabella mushrooms, fancy cheeses, at least 3 different wines, and cheesecake with dark chocolate and raspberries.

5) If you could go back in time and erase one thing you did or said,
what would it be? Assume that erasing it wouldn’t substantially alter
the course of your life.

Of course there are things that I wish I’d done or said differently, but mostly I try to go through life without regrets. And I try to make decisions that I think will lead to positive outcomes rather than negative ones (maybe it’s just my lifelong proclivity for being a Good Girl). I think if I could go back and do it over again, I would NOT have spoken with The Chef (I met him while waiting for a BART train back in the fall of 2000). This led to dating him, which led to me breaking his heart, because a) I wasn’t over my college boyfriend yet, b) I wasn’t that into The Chef, because c) he wasn’t very smart. And he was a lot older than I was (which, at the time, was kind of a big deal – he was 27 and I was 21). Also, I found out later he was both a liar and a drug user. And possibly an alcoholic. But I learned stuff from the time I spent around him, namely a) how to make my own salad dressing from scratch, b) how to do pan-flipping when sauteeing something, and c) how to play competitive scrabble. I also learned that I wasn’t over my college boyfriend, that I really needed to be involved with someone long-term whose intelligence I could respect, and that if I’m not that into someone I shouldn’t let it get past a date or two. Ultimately, I probably would have learned those lessons in other ways, so to go back and undo the whole Chef incident probably wouldn’t have altered the course of my life.

Here are the meme details:
If you’d like to play along, just follow these instructions:
1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.” (And realize I might take
a while to get back to you.)
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the
questions. (Eventually!)
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. Be sure
you link back to the original post.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone
else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five
questions.

Poo-ish

I have succumbed to my annual January cold, and so was out sick all yesterday. I came in to work for a few hours just to wade through my email (darn this no internets at home thing!) but I’ll be leaving shortly and going home for a nap.

There’s nothing to say about being sick except it sucks. At least it’s not 3 infections at once, like last year.

We saw Slumdog Millionaire (finally) over the weekend. It was awesome. And I found 4 new pairs of shoes for less than 80 bucks. Including a pair of boots that fit over my calves! (barely)

Food on Friday, Vegetarian edition

One thing that I like to do when we visit people and they let us stay in their house is to make food for our hosts. This becomes more difficult when people have food allergies and aversions or special diets, and while staying with our friends in CT last weekend it proved to be nearly impossible for us to devise a meal that would both taste good and fit the requirements for all four diners.

Kent is a vegetarian who is deathly allergic to all peanuts and peanut products, plus highly allergic to all legumes, peas, and beans.

Christine is a notoriously picky eater (her list of things she will eat is far easier to relay than things she won’t); plus, as a result of ongoing treatment for thyroid cancer, had to be on a low-iodine diet while we were visiting.

Here is what we made:

Spanish Tortilla, garlic bread, plus regular salad with tasty lettuce and veggies(for us) and iceberg lettuce/cucumber/carrot salad with homemade dressing (for Christine). She made her own pasta with olive oil and garlic and timed her main dish to be done with ours. Had we had more time to prepare, we could have made the bread for the garlic bread ourselves and she could have had that, too.

Spanish Tortilla (recipe adapted from one Dan’s mom makes) (serves 4 large servings or six medium-sized)
4 eggs, scrambled, plus a bit of milk mixed in
2 medium or 1 large russet potato, scrubbed and chopped into small dice
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
seasonings to taste – garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili powder, herbs, whatevs.

In a large nonstick skillet (you use a lot less oil this way) pour some olive oil. Sautee potatoes and onions with seasonings of choice until pretty well cooked. When po’s are done, add scrambled egg, turn heat down, and cover the pan to let the egg cook, 10-20 minutes depending on your pan and your stovetop. When egg is set, use a cookie sheet or pizza pan to cover the skillet, flip the tortilla over, and slide it back in the pan so the top is now on bottom and cook a few more minutes. Serve with salsa and sour cream (or nonfat greek yogurt, which is what we use instead of sour cream).

To convert this recipe to a low-iodine diet, we would have had to use egg whites, no milk, non-iodized salt, and peeled the potatoes. Christine told us not to bother; she was happy with her plain pasta.

The Strykers Take Manhattan (and New Haven, CT)

Saturday: Up early and up to Times Square again in the frigid TKTS line. Avenue Q is our first choice of shows, but we’ll take Chicago or Gypsy. Turns out Gypsy is the best deal. We find a great spot to have bagels with lox as we walk back down Broadway; the sort of place I’ve never seen outside of NYC – a full service deli, plus salad bar and hot food bar, almost like a cafeteria. They sell groceries and flowers, and we warm ourselves with hot chocolate seated upstairs while looking out at the bounty below. Back down through Union Square’s farmer’s market and our first ever apple cider donuts, The Strand bookstore, more exploration of the village and it’s time to change for the show.

The neon lights are much brighter at night. But then again, there are far fewer people at 9 AM on a Saturday in January.


Mere blocks from the place we stayed.

Words cannot express how awesome the experience of watching Patti LuPone play Mama Rose and the rest of the incredibly talented cast perform Gypsy was for me. This show has been near and dear to my heart since I was wee, and getting to see it both live and on Broadway was phenomenal. Our seats were in the orchestra, second row, far to one side so the view was a bit obstructed, but it didn’t matter a bit. I was high for hours afterward and completely forgot that I hardly ate anything all day.

Dan went back to get our bags; I subway’d to Grand Central to buy train tickets up to New Haven. He made it back and we got on the train with no time to spare, but the ride up was quiet and peaceful.

Our friends bought a house recently in a town outside of New Haven, surrounded by land and trees. We spent a quiet evening enjoying delicious pizza, meeting kitties, touring the house, and watching Wall-E in Blu-Ray projected onto a wall of their living room.

Sunday: Lazy day, stayed in our jammies until 2 and then went out for a quick frolic on the snow-covered beach. I discovered the joys of crunching through crusty-soft layers of snow and laughed at the things they call “waves.” We toured Yale campus and took a quick jaunt through one of the campus libraries, which looked like a church but wasn’t. Shopped for supplies, made dinner, and played Scene-it – a lovely visit with our friends who came through this last trying year with flying colors.

There were a billion shells on this beach.


And far less seaweed (and tar) than the last beach we were on (Santa Barbara).


Old lighthouse


Library at Yale. The inside is even more church-like, except instead of Jesus they worship knowledge. Or something.

Monday we took an early train back to Manhattan, and spent the day walking with all our stuff (luckily we packed light) from Grand Central all the way up through Central Park (saw my very first cardinal ever!), to Fifth Avenue and Museum Mile, up to Harlem and 125th street. We found another deli-type place and finished our time in New York with tasty, tasty food. The only notable thing about the journey home was that the teenager sitting next to me spent the ENTIRE 4.5 hours biting his nonexistant fingernails, methodically, one finger at a time, then starting over again after finger 10. After an hour I wanted to slap his hands; after 3 hours I wanted to throttle him like Bart Simpson. Note to teenaged boys everywhere: compusive nail biting is NOT SEXY. Wanna get laid? DON’T DO THAT.


I found the Chrysler Building far prettier than the Empire State Building.


I wonder if someone puts roses here every day, or if this was a one-time thing?


My favorite thing in Central Park (other than the free public bathrooms at the boathouse).

All in all, it was a terrific trip, with enough time in the city to get a good taste, with some downtime and friend time, with the promise to return when the weather is better and Central Park has more in it than fences, snow, and barren trees. Because while a few days is enough to get a taste, the city of New York deserves a far more thorough exploration.

The Strykers Take Manhattan, part 1


Wednesday: Arrival in NYC, disorientation, tasty falafel/gyros, meet a new friend, meet the other people staying at the same place, deep slumber. Thus far, I like the West Village.

Thursday:

Walk downtown through Tribeca, past the WTC site, church yards, to Battery Park and the Staten Island Ferry (it’s free!) My facial orifices run like crazy and my hands freeze into painful claws while attempting photos of the Statue. We have set foot on 3 boroughs in less than 24 hours, though our time on Staten Island was limited to the three minutes between departing the ferry and boarding the ferry back to Manhattan. We walk up through the Southstreet Seaport area to Chinatown and a mediocre lunch but the best egg tarts ever. Canal street; back to W.Vil to rest for a few hours and then dinner (coal-fired oven pizza)/drinks with Laura and Jimi. We end up in Brooklyn after dinner; that is borough #4 by hour 26.

$20 to take the ferry to the statue/Ellis Island or $0 to take the Staten Island Ferry and get good photos. Free wins.


At South Street Seaport


One of the things I love about traveling with Dan is that he remembers things he learns in art classes and explains them to me. This time, I learned of the history and significance of the design of the Brooklyn Bridge.


I heart them.

Friday: Walk uptown through Chelsea, the Garment and Flower districts, giant Macy’s. Up to Times Square to find a deli much beloved by our friend Julie; it’s nowhere in sight and we finally manage to ask a local. It’s 12 blocks farther and about a million times more expensive than we were expecting (and not really a deli; more of a restaurant where the sandwiches are named for famous people and my lousy texas toast and velveeta sandwich, the cheapest thing on the menu, is $12!). We make up for it later by passing by the MOMA and discovering free Fridays, exploring Rockefeller Center, watching the ice skaters, happening upon hot chocolate and cupcakes at Magnolia Bakery that are far more reasonable. The MOMA contains significant awesomeness but by far my favorite thing is the installation of a huge circular couchlike object with squishy carpet inside, surrounded on 3 sides by soothing sound and video. It is trippy, it is womblike, we remove our shoes and vegetate after a long 2 days of walking in the freezing cold. 4 more floors of modern art and I have had my fill.


I imagine the flower district is far more flowery in the spring. In January, there’s not a whole lot to see.


Can’t sleep. Giant Macy’s Bear will eat me!


My very first wooden escalator, somewhere in the upper floors of Macy’s.


MOMA had a whole room of stuff that was both interesting and functional. This is a chair.


An installation at MOMA, consisting of linty fibers and mirrors.

Dinner is reasonable sushi back in the West Village; we walk down Christopher street and pass by bars with happy hours full of men all interested in each other. At dinner, I profess a craving for a small amount of fried food and girl beer. Luckily, there is a tavern across the street. Our familiar-looking server turns out to be someone who worked at the late, lamented Walnut Cafe. We all reminisce and she brings us free beers.

PS. Don’t forget to check out Dan’s trip report and NYC Alphabet!