07.25.07 {california}

we've been on the east coast for four years and a few months. distributed evenly, that means that i've been a new yorker for one day of every week i've been alive. it's gotten under my skin, that day: as we drove south on the freeway this weekend, i wanted to speed ahead and weave through traffic in the same way that i muscle past packs of tourists on foot in times square. on strolls along the beach, i find myself trying to calculate what homes would be worth per square foot as rental properties (as if orange county mcmansion owners would stoop to accepting tenants - ha). i see little knots of posturing teenagers at the mall and want to sneer at them: you think you're hard? i live in hell's kitchen (admittedly, that hasn't been impressive for about a decade - now it means i have a lot of thai options for dinner)! what is it about new york that tints one's world view so quickly? it's a singular place, but so is southern california, and i spent twenty years here - and i don't go on about how much ska-pop i had to endure back in the day, or how if you want gridlock, man, you should try getting past the el toro Y on a friday afternoon. on the reflexive comparisons, it could be that since i've gone through Big Life Changes in nyc (getting married, beginning a real career, thinking seriously about buying property) and started putting down roots, i pit it against other places to assure myself that i've chosen wisely. or there could be a goblin in my chest who's super excited about becoming one of those people who uses the city as an excuse for being rude ("i'm a new yorker, we're just direct"). they are mysterious, these regional tics. does this happen to you, too?

on a california thing that has stuck with me: joe and i went to the gypsy den last night to play scrabble and visit my favorite painting. i found the den, a shabby coffeehouse full of mismatched furniture and vintage colored glass, when i was fifteen, and i've coveted that damn picture (a nondescript portrait that, for most intents and purposes, is interchangeable with the dozens of pieces around it) ever since. various employee friends have assured me that the den never sells its art, but i fantasize about winning the lottery and making the owner a ludicrous offer she can't refuse (though, knowing hipsters, she'd value the refusal anecdote more than a pile of money). joe is neutral, but he knows how strongly i feel and is cool with it for my sake; me, i practically lose sleep over the thing. my questions to you, internets: what do you think of this painting (please excuse the crappy cameraphone photo)? why on earth does it haunt my dreams?

07.24.07 {california}

this vacation is much more necessary than i thought it would be - and that's saying something, as california! has been our rallying cry for the past three months whenever new york indignities got us down. i'm sitting on my dad's patio, waiting for the sun to warm up the pool and watching yachts scuttle up and down the coast (who are these people? eight in the morning on a weekday?), and i can't stop thinking about work. i made the mistake of figuring out how to check ye olde corporate e-mail before i left on friday, so i now know that i've got an interview when i get back on monday and, if i'm lucky, a huge interview sometime next week. my junior editor is more than capable of handling everything else that crops up between now and then, but those two assignments (especially the iffy one, which would yield the niftiest clip i've ever had the chance to write) will jangle my nerves until i dull them with leisure. guacamole and sunscreen, you're up.

harry potter, incidentally, was quite satisfying (though my pilgrimage to the grand hallows ball at columbus circle on friday was, as george and joe predicted, serious overkill) - if you've finished, meet me in the [spoilertastic] comment box.


it's been a bad month for blogging: our gargantuan back-to-school issue has been wolfing down all of my time at the office, and our handy-dandy freeloaded-(with-permission)-from-the-neighbors internet service has been nonexistent (you get what you pay for, yeah, fine). i had a lovely and terribly nuanced response to alison/bluishorange's letter to the internet from 2001 last week, for instance, but pounding it out here (read: casa de ladymag) after hours did not appeal. i would do anything for love, internets, but i won't do that.

figgy shower gel, magical. joe's favorite new products get weird nicknames almost immediately: ben & jerry's oatmeal cookie chunk ice cream is cookiepuss! (exclaimed), and korres fig showergel from the beauty closet here at the office is figgy! (exclaimed at greater volume, since he's in the shower). the stuff is very good, which is kind of a problem: who can spend $11 on showergel, even if the sexy greek packaging makes you feel like a cosmonaut? this is the heartbreak of the beauty closet. we pretty much never have to buy hair products or bath fripperies, and the stuff we use is more luxe than what we would buy, but it's almost never the same product twice. for every hit, there's a 'wickedly hot chocolate' bubble bath (shudder).

fondue takedown. i got a note from matt, the man behind the manhattan chili takedown i was so pissed about missing a few weeks ago; it seems he's organizing a fondue extravaganza along the same lines ($10 to enter, $8 to scarf), which i'm even more pissed about missing (it's this sunday the 22nd, when we'll be in california). new yorkers, go forth in our absence and make us proud! i expect a full report on this, as well as recipe ideas (and possibly a fedexed box of cheese).

jacob and megan gettin' hitched (teh win!). it's awfully gauche to break someone else's engagement news, but listen: i've kept quiet for a week, which is millennia in my wedding-obsessed and utterly-non-secret-keeping world. also, megan was one of those magical girlfriends who makes your friend even more awesome than he was before; that she's now his fiancée should surprise exactly no one who's seen them together. if you were out in hell's kitchen last sunday and saw someone on their fire escape doing a weird little troll-dance of happiness, well, that was me.

joe's 30th birthday (and related neuroses). there was some aggressive pouting in the lead-up, and some panic on my part concerning gifts (joe is one of those terrible people who says they don't want anything but mixed nuts and tube socks for christmas and then gets you something fantastic), but all was well that ended well: he realized that being thirty was much less painful than thinking about being thirty, we had a crazy seventeen-course dinner with friends at zenkichi, an izakaya in brooklyn, and i gave him a robot painting. also, as gmail's 'ads and related pages' bar reminds me as i compose this, kool & the gang says there's no age limit on cool. um.

moles, suspicious. i finally, finally got in to see a dermatologist to follow up on the skin cancer screening i flunked at work, and it was not good. the appointment was of the your-copay-is-pennies-so-we're-getting-you-in-and-out-of-here-as-quickly-as-possible-to-make-room-for-the-fancy-laser-peel-ladies variety, and the doctor spoke so fast i could barely understand what he was saying; the one time he slowed down was when he first saw the spots on my back, at which point he and his assistants aauugghh!ed in unison. i'm due back in two weeks to find out if they're little spots of evil. i shouldn't talk this way, but i can't say that i would be shocked if they are cancerous: i remember girls coming to class in junior high with big bandages on their faces from their first removals (hooray for southern california, land of human jerky). i'm expecting the worst, then, but hoping for at least some credit for being lily-white since i stopped jumping around in tidepools as a kid.

ratatouille. for once, a viable flick at the ziegfeld (beautiful theater, always shows third-tier children's movies*)! ratatouille's reviews, both in the press (the nytimes and the new yorker) and via blogs, have been positive enough that joe actually agreed to see it with me. he wasn't that impressed, but i thought it was winning and clever; i'm a sucker for vermin, and brad bird's themes are decently meaty (a nice surprise for a pixar movie). also: NO RANDY NEWMAN! far be it from me, most of the time, to wish strangers ill - but that guy should be launched into space.

*rumor has it that the owners want so very badly to turn their prime midtown real estate into a mcskyscraper that they book shitty flicks on purpose; in theory, bad receipts would make it a bit easier for them to rezone the property.


brain dump 005 [recent obsession with food edition]

upper meadows farm's CSA (community-supported agriculture) program, of which we are now a (partial) part, thanks to our next-door neighbor. the first few weeks are notorious for being skimpy and random, so i've been rocking the mad kitchen improv to make use of weird wee piles of, like, grape leaves and cardoons.

5 boroughs ice cream, a series of locally made small-batch pints that pay homage to various new york 'hoods (ex. upper east side rich white vanilla, staten island landfill) . i was particulary intrigued by the south bronx cha cha chocolate, which is made with chipotle and habanero a la spicy hot chocolate; fortuitously, a single pint materialized at the amish market last week. it is awesome.

queens county farm museum, home of the only corn maze (come harvest time) in the new york city area. locals beware: i will be dragging you here in the fall.

franny's rhubarb and aperol cocktail, courtesy of apartment therapy. this solves the problem of what to do with the rhubarb we got from the CSA, but where in the world does one get aperol? knowing new york, there's probably a community group for that as well.

recipe for 'karol lu's i love you but i've chosen chili,' the winning entry at the "bruce chili" cook-off, 2006. it beat the meaty chilis, people! haven't tried this yet, but I'm excited about it. we missed the '07 chili takedown a few weeks ago, but i hear there's one in williamsburg in the next few months. (link via not eating out in new york, a brilliant recipe and food blog that also evaluates each dish's cost and 'health factor').

insomnia cookies: hey, late-night delivery service for something other than crack! if these guys made chocolate cake and delivered to midtown (at present they're only in the nyu area and handle mostly cookies, brownies, and milk), our friend george would be the happiest man alive.

tyler florence's summer berry cobbler, the final destination of the gorgeous fruit i acquired last weekend. that saturday's version, for a dinner party, was sublime - i had jersey blueberries and wild strawberries from the union square greenmarket, and wow am i sold on wild strawberries now. i tried again this saturday with a slightly higher crust-to-fruit ratio and store-bought produce, and it wasn't quite as good; that said, given my total lack of baking skills, it's a hell of a summer recipe.

consumed anything zesty lately? any sexy food tricks i should know about? no, not that one!