27.9.10

It isn't cherry-flavored Pez.

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 As I’ve said before, I love food.  LOVE.  So, I am often asked the Stand By Me question:  If you could only have one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Or some variation thereof… Last meal? Favorite food?  Food you’d like to be able to eat as much of as you want without gaining weight or getting full?  And my favorite – which was inspired by the movie Strange Brew (yeah, I said that) – if you had to eat your way out of a vat of food, what would you want it to be?

And while all of these questions are fun, I have no idea how to even begin to narrow it down.  There are sooo many options.  I mean, even to narrow by cuisine is almost impossible to imagine.

However, in the spirit of the questions… I can easily say that Italian food is not my favorite.  I love parts of it, but on the whole, I’m never going to say to anyone, “Hey, I could really go for some Italian.”  On the other hand, I am quite apt to suggest French or Thai or Vietnamese – which in some places includes some French food. 

Aside from the raw fishes, Japanese food doesn’t do much for me.  Tempura and teriyaki can go to hell.  Indian food is delicious, but often a bit weighty, so that’s also low on the list.  Dim sum – good dim sum - is definitely in my top 10, but all the regular Chinese food is disposable to me.  Ethiopian food is excellent and has to be considered.  Korean food is good, but aside from kim chi, which I love, it’s nothing special to me. 

I’m going to lump Eastern European food together because a lot of it is quite similar.  And cream-laden.  Which is always a good thing.  However, again, the weight of this food in my stomach makes it somewhat less than tantalizing.  So while I find it delectable, it isn’t practical for everyday use.  For me.  Eastern Europeans do just fine with it.  Well, except I’ll keep pierogis on the table. 

This brings us to Mediterranean/Middle Eastern food.  It’s kind of a generic term, but the food is all yummy.  Falafel?  Yes, please.  Hummus?  Of course.  Stuffed grape leaf?  Absolutely!  And roasted, spiced meats of all varieties?  Without question.  You see how this is a problem for me…  Persian cuisine is also delightful – the tadig especially. 

Spanish food is a favorite of mine, but hard to come by unless you count tapas bars.  But paella is one of the loveliest tasting foods around. 

I’ve left the bulk of African cuisines untouched because I have limited experience with them.  Jamaican food is overrated as far as I’m concerned.  Mexican food is in my blood and is comfort and joy to me.  Irish food is also in my blood, but I can’t say I have the same affinity for corned beef and cabbage that I do for tostadas and tamales.  And then there are the South American nations, most of whose cuisine I have never sampled, so they’re out.

There.  I can narrow if I think about it a little.  As long as I’m not legally bound to anything I’ve just written.

So for the Stand By Me question:  One food for the rest of my life – it could be phò.  The broth is like crack to me.   All the simmering clove-y awesomeness with the thirsty noodles soaking up flavor... I can eat a powerful lot of soup noodles.  Nice thin slices of beef, bean sprouts and scallions to add crunch, lime to brighten it up, a meatball or two, the fragrant basil and/or mint, and bird’s eye chilies.  Mmm.  So yeah.  I’ll go with that.

For the  last meal, I have to go with the Fat Duck.  I’ve never been there, but it’s supposed to be one of the best dining experiences on earth and Heston Blumenthal has the guts to put snail porridge on the menu.  I’m in.  Go out with a bang.

As to my favorite food, I’d have to say it’s foie gras.  Followed closely by butter.  Followed closely by crepes.

I’d like to be able to eat everything without gaining weight or getting full, but if I have to reserve this honor for one food (Hear me food Genie?  I’m only asking for one thing!) it would be dim sum.  Oh dear god, how I love the ritual and variety of dim sum.  Garlicky spareribs!  Pan fried bao!  Soup dumplings!  Chicken feet!  Jellyfish!  Leek noodle!  Spicy pork noodle!  Pea shoots!  Morning glory!  Crispy duck roll!  I want to taste it all every time!

Okay, now for the last one.  It’s the one that takes the most consideration, for a lot of reasons.  Lets talk logistics first.  A vat is huge.  That’s why it’s called a vat instead of a jar or a barrel.  If I’m going to eat my way out, I’d like to be able to at least stay afloat without too much trouble while I Melinda Mae* my way through it, so soups are out of the question.  I’d drown from the exhaustion of treading soup before I got halfway through.  I need something with a bit of density.  Second, it needs to be comfortable on the skin.  No chips or crunchy stuff.  I guess that’s really it.  Not so many considerations after all. 

That being settled, I guess I could go with a vat of pork chops, but that seems boring.  And uncomfortable – although not due to crunch so much as weird to be trapped in.  I kind of see it as something macaroni and cheese-esque.  But it could be a custard, I guess.  There are mole enchiladas to consider – although you’d never get the sauce out of, well, the crannies.  And barbecue pulled pork.  Ooh.  I kind of like that one.  Although, it still has a sauce issue. 

Risotto Milanese (Italian, I know, I said there are parts I love, this is one of the parts).  Tapioca pudding is really too cold.  Hollandaise sauce  is  still maybe too thin.  Corn bread?  Too ridiculous.  Mashed potatoes? On the right track. 

Okay, if I have to pick between mac ‘n’ cheese, risotto Milanese and mashed potatoes, I’m going with the mashed potatoes.  I like the risotto Milanese the best of the three, but that’s just the reason why it’s off the list.  I’m pretty sure that once I eat a vat of anything, I’m never going to want to eat it again.  So, while I really enjoy mashed potatoes, I can live without them.  Mac ‘n’ cheese and risotto?  Not so much.  It’s the cheese, isn’t it?

So there they are.  My answers to the questions I know you’ve been dying to find out.  You’re welcome.  Of course, I’m always happy to hear your answers, too.  Especially to the vat question. 


*This is one of my favorite poems and one I memorized for school in first grade.  I should have seen it as  an indication of things to come.

22.9.10

Love

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What we don't talk about when we talk about love is interesting.

The truth is, love is hard.  All of it.  Romantic or not.  This is what we never talk about. 

Love is compromise and hurt and misunderstanding.  It certainly does NOT mean never having to say you’re sorry.  Actually, it means sometimes you have to say you’re sorry even when you don’t really think you’re wrong.  It means that when someone you love tells you something unpleasant about yourself, you have to listen and take it into consideration.  Love means that sometimes, when you’re both sick, you have to take care of someone else because they’re sicker.  It means occasionally cleaning up vomit and changing diapers (baby and adult).  It means you’ll have to get over yourself.  Love makes you crazy.  It won’t allow you to stay angry for too long.  Love makes you protective and helpless at the same time -- protective of your loved ones and helpless to actually protect them -- from almost anything, but especially themselves.  Love means shutting the fuck up sometimes when you really have something to say.  It means that there will be people you dislike on behalf of someone else.  It also means that you will feel embarrassment and hurt and pain for and with someone else.  Love will make you worry.  It'll make you mean sometimes.  It'll make you reassess.  It'll make you tired.  As Rob Sheffield so aptly wrote, "The work of love will make you bloody and it will make you lonely."

Love will kick your ass up and down the street.  Amazingly enough, though, as hard as it is, it's the greatest thing going.  Still, all of it should be talked about, because it's all good stuff, even when it's hard.  Sometimes it's good because it's hard.  Even the puke cleaning.*




*What did I get out of cleaning up vomit?  Well, aside from a case of the dry-heaves, I got the knowledge that the person I love could go back to sleep and not worry about it.  


16.9.10

What?

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I pulled into the big, unpaved parking lot and navigated to the edge closest to the building.  The car was packed full of people, almost clown-car style.  One of the passengers yelled, "Oooh!  What's that?" and pointed between the two front seats to a creature digging furiously in the lay-by.  I had seen it vaguely as we pulled in, but hadn't paid much attention to it.  But now, as she pointed it out, it took clearer shape.  I was halfway out of the car when I realized it was a lion.  "Everybody get back in the car," I said as calmly as possible.  "Why?  What's wrong?" someone asked.  "It's a lion," I said.  "It's all the way over there.  Don't worry about it," someone else said.  So I got out of the car and started towards the building across a lawn, but the lion noticed us and started to charge.  "Get in the car.  Now!" I said.  I got into the car, but there were so many passengers, the lion covered the distance before all the doors were shut.  It leaped on the hood and started butting the windshield with its head.  I started driving, doors open and people hanging out.  As I pulled onto the road, a woman in the back said, "We have to go back.  I left my purse."  "We can't go back," I said.  "It's probably gone by now," someone else said.  "Yeah, and we can just drive by and I can open the door and grab it.  We don't even have to stop," the purse woman said.  So I turned around.  By the time we got back to where the purse was, it was dark.  The woman thought it was in the middle of the lot and pointed to a shape on the ground.  When I approached, it was a mass of snakes.  I drove around the parking lot in a big circle and as I was making my way back out, someone yelled, "I see it!"  I thought they meant the purse, but it was the lion.  It was huge now and running directly for the side of the car.  It hit and the car started to roll.

When I woke up, all I could think was why did I let them talk me into that?  And now I have to figure out what's the lion and where the purse is.

15.9.10

Burned

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So I burned myself. Literally. In a disadvantageous spot (although that's anywhere you burn yourself, I think). Steaming a tablecloth.

The disadvantageous spot is my right breast/armpit It makes clothing even less comfortable than usual and yoga, well, a challenge. I've only done a couple of classes with the burn so far, but they've been...uncomfortable.

Here's what happened: I was getting ready for some dinner guests and got out a tablecloth that I hadn't used for quite a while. It had some serious fold lines, so I threw the cloth over one of the shower-curtain rods to steam it. Side one went smoothly. Then I had a brainwave: instead of pulling the whole thing down and turning it, I'll just do the other side in the tub. The flaw: the wall was closer to my elbow than I realized and as I was pulling the steamer, I hit the wall and lost my grip on the steamer and dropped it right on myself. And because I was sort of tangled in cloth it probably took about a second and a half for me to throw it off.

Oh, and did I mention I was topless when I did it? So the steam had direct contact with some very sensitive skin. Yeah. So lessons? Don't steam from inside the tub. And wear a top. And don't allow the steam to come in contact with your skin. Okay. Check, check, check.

Now I just have to wait two or three weeks and everything will be hunky dory.

Sometimes I feel like such an idiot.





9.9.10

Eccentricities

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Quirks, eccentricities, idiosyncrasies... Call them what you like.  We all have them.  And they're really funny when you think about them.  They unite us all in our humanity.  Every day, I add to my own list.  Matt laughed out loud for more than a few seconds the first time I pulled a pair of socks out of the trash to turn them right-side out, only to throw them away again.  I love the foibles of us all.  I think if we could share more of them, we'd be able to take each other both more and less seriously.  We could see our commonalities and laugh at ourselves.  So in the spirit of bringing us closer together, here are some of the crazy, silly, hilarious things I do:

-I keep all my movie stubs.  All of them.

-I have to roll up adding machine tape, register tape, etc. before I throw it away.  If it goes in the trash without being rolled, I have to take it out and roll it up.

-The sock thing.  Trash or not, they need to be right-side out.

-My clothes have to be arranged by leg or sleeve length and by color, facing the same direction.

-Before I kill a spider (of any size or variety), I prepare by taking three breathes in quick succession and then executing the task on the last out breath.  And then I apologize to the spider and explain (out loud) that if it had stayed outside, we could have had a peaceful relationship.

-I name inanimate objects.  Not all of them, but my basil plant is named Basil.  My stapler is named Stan.  Why?  I don't know.

-I talk to myself out loud - a lot.

-And for the last:  I eat peas, M&Ms, and all small, individual foods in even numbers, unless by doing so will leave a poor loner on the plate, in which case it gets added to the last forkful/handful.

There are plenty more, but you get the idea.  Now you know.  Laugh, tease, roll your eyes, and take it for what it is.

8.9.10

Ten in Ten

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Tonight I finished my tenth yoga class in ten days. I felt like I needed to kind of rededicate myself to my practice after vacations and company and moving. So I've been going and going to yoga, and tonight, I'm tired.

My muscles are fatigued and heavy, my joints are stiff and achy, I have bruises on the backs of my arms from trying to 'jump' into chataranga from crow, and I'm all around spent. I would like nothing more than a hot bath - which is filling as I write this. I'm not feeling in peak physical condition just yet, but in spite of the physical symptoms, I feel great.

I've felt rutted lately. Everything maintaining, but nothing really moving. I like routine, but it's all too easy for routine to become monotony and that breeds laziness and I've been lazy about the things that are important to me.

But no more. I feel reinvigorated and ready to get things moving again.

I have a lot of ideas I want to put into action and the energy (well, not tonight) to get them going. I'm excited about the remainder of the year - or the New Year because today is/was Rosh Hoshana. I'm not Jewish, but I like the opportunity to start afresh whenever possible...

This is why yoga is awesome. It gushes into everything - if you just let it (and do it).

So here's to new years, fresh starts and breaking out. L'shana Tova!



Baptiste Master

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On Sunday I was privileged to take a team-taught class with my usual, wonderful Baptiste teacher, Zeek, and Deborah Williamson, a Baptiste Master-Level teacher.  It was incredible.  And awesome in the true sense of the word.

I didn't know what to expect of a team-taught class.  It was amazing.  The collaboration beween Zeek and Deborah was perfect.  They really worked together, shared, fed off each other.  The energy was incredible and palpable.

The room was crowded.  The temperature started out coolish.  We worked hard - we had no choice - and by the time we finished, the room was HOT and drippy and we were all tired - but smiling.

The class went fast, even though we went for almost two hours.  Both Zeek and Deborah picked their way through the mats and did lots of adjustments and demonstrations.  They traded dialog seamlessly, their enthusiasm well-matched and contagious.  

Deborah had us going into some of the more advanced poses, stuff that took a lot of coordination that will take more practice to really get.  And as I was trying to get into a revolved standing split and feeling frustrated that I couldn't get it, Deborah reminded us that this is the first time we were doing the pose and that there was no way we were going to get there today and to be okay with that.  She reminded us that the attempt to go further is where we always start a journey.  It was a really great reminder because lately, I've felt stagnate.

The attempt.  Start.  Try.  You may not get there today.  In fact, you probably won't, but the attempt indicates a desire towards growth.  The desire, nurtured, will get you there.  But you have to keep attempting it.  Whatever it is.

Whatever it is.

7.9.10

An Imperfect Fit

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I awoke early this morning, hot and uncomforable, dreams of spiders and strangers plaguing me. Then the thunder began, and the first thing I thought was, I miss LA. I got weepy and nostalgic. As the day has worn on (I've already been up for hours), I've been thinking about my relationship with Vegas. As I've mentioned before: it's an imperfect fit.

In day-to-day life, Vegas has what I need: yoga, my favorite grocery stores, movie theatres, nature near enough, and lots of sun. In this strata, everything works.

If we go a bit deeper, though, things start to go awry. For example, I don't understand the lure of the Strip. At all. The heat is oppressive and, though it really only lasts a few months, is the thing that defines living here in many ways.

Another problem is that I feel like I don't meet people who I'm suited to friendship wise. I find that a lot of people that I meet aren't really thinkers. Not that they're stupid, but they don't want to think about things. And more often than not, they mostly want to acquire things without thought.

This leads to what I call Vegas Culture. Vegas Culture revolves largely around money and appearance. Now, I know what you're going to say: LA is exactly the same. But that's where you're wrong. That's what you get when you visit, but life there is very different than vacation there.

LA has a great gallery scene, live music every day of the week if you want it, movie theatres that show Bergman and Herzog retrospectives. There are beautiful, extensive parks and beaches. There's a museum for just about everything and the neighborhoods have charm and personality distinct to the people who live there. Oh, and the weather is gorgeous 99% of the year.

Vegas is so blank, really. This is partly because it's a new city, relatively speaking. Tracts are/were built and walled in and people drive in and out of them in their climate-controlled cars to the strip malls or casinos where everything is located and it's all the same and it's all rather anonymous.

There are plenty of good things in Vegas, don't get me wrong, but it's the vibe that's wrong for me. It just doesn't suit me. It will never be my city as LA is.

I have friends here, people I genuinely like, but most of whom I'd lose touch with the minute I wasn't living here anymore. And I feel like it's just the nature of the place.

All the same, this is where I live now and for the foreseeable future. I need to get on board, carve a space for me and figure out how to be here. So I will wear this city that grabs in some places, is too big in others and chafes a bit and continue to try to alter it to suit me. I just never want to alter me to fit the place. And that makes things hard sometimes. But I guess life is just hard sometimes.

The important thing is to not get comfortable in discomfort and to always keep going. One inch at a time.

1.9.10

Mat Musings - Literally

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My favorite yoga mat is sick. Prognosis negative. I love this mat, but it's beginning to hold too much moisture and, well, it's getting ratty looking.

So now I have a problem. See, my soon-to-be former mat was free from a team-building 'retreat' at one of my old jobs. The retreat was the best part of the job and I got an awesome mat out of the deal. I've had it for about ten years.

I have a backup mat. It works fine, but it isn't my favorite - especially for the cooler temperature classes where I occasionally work without a towel. The problem with the backup mat is that it's too sticky. Which seems impossible, but I have to shake my hand like a cat with tape on it's paw to free my hand from it's grip. Too sticky.

So I'm in the market for a new mat of good quality. The problem? Even though I do a hell of a lot of yoga, $150 seems like a lot.

Sure, I want to have an environmentally friendly mat, but come on, mat manufacturers! $150? It's a tough nut to swallow.

I've asked around and there seem to be two schools of thought where mats are concerned: 1. Splurge on a good, top-quality mat because it will last. 2. The mat is secondary to your practice, why spend that much on something insignificant?

So I'm at a loss. I'm looking for input from my fellow yoga practitioners because I'm going to have to address this soon.

The saddest part is that I'll have to sat goodbye to a favorite. Maybe I can cut off a corner and frame it as a remembrance of a decade's worth of service? Maybe not...

Suggestions welcome.