Sunday, April 29, 2012

The twitches ...

A few days ago I woke up with a sleeping injury. My neck was sore, my shoulder crushed. A sharp painful reminder that at age 36, I'm one awkward blink from breaking a cheek bone. I tried to find a yoga class on Monday so I could be led through a series of slow stretches that might untie the knots. The class was at a community center I'd never been to in the East Hillside and I drove around a block a bunch of times trying to zero in on it. I never found it. By then I would have been late. So instead I went to Burrito Union and ate a bowl full of a nacho cheese sauce spiked with chorizo, downed a pint of the shop's home brewed root beer.

This did nothing for my shoulder pain.

An abbreviated version of life followed. A life where things that happened over my right shoulder were lost to me. Items placed above shoulder left were left on the shelf. Chuck lubed me up with Ben Gay. We straightened out the feather bed in case it was the culprit. I began a diet of three Advil at a time in regular intervals. I did slow windmill maneuvers with my arm. Rolled my head until I winced. In moments of high stress, I alternately forgot the pain, then came to to find it throbbing and aching.

I try not to Google these aches and ailments that crop up. It's too easy for me to read something, relate to the symptoms, then send out a mass email telling my friends and family that I now have Lou Gehrig's or Fibromyalgia. Please send money. So I let Chuck Google things and then pass along the information. He keeps the biggies under his belt and tells me about a treatment in which a doctor manually redirects the wire-work and muscles in your shoulder and arm to alleviate the pain. He tells me about Valium. He tells me I don't have Muscular Dystrophy. Maybe you shouldn't sleep on your stomach, he tells me. I'm not willing to give that up. Stomach sleeping is worth the pain.

Sometimes I think I have the lowest tolerance for pain of anyone on earth. I think "Surely the pioneers occasionally slept wrong on their lumpy mud beds. They didn't use it as an excuse to hole up all day and watch Lifetime and wince their way through commercials featuring people with nice hair and active lifestyles." On Friday night I slept on the bad arm to show it who was boss. The arm was boss. I woke up before birds, screaming, shuffled into the kitchen for an Aleve then had a hard time finding a way through the ache and back to sleep. On my back, no less.

On Saturday the twitching started. First at the top of my arm. Great convulsions visible to the naked eye. You've seen the birth scene in "Alien." Now in the role of Sigourney Weaver's stomach: My right arm. It bubbled and jerked it's way down my elbow. My arm felt heavy, like an added limb I'm forced to carry around. Just walking makes the appendage tug on my shoulder. Carrying a coffee cup taxes it.

First I watch a handful of episodes of "The Killing" with a heating pad wrapped around my arm. Then I nap. Then I watch a movie on Lifetime in which a woman has growing suspicions about the activities of her next door neighbors. She believes they have murderous secrets. She is either incredibly intuitive or paranoid. I wonder what science would say about this channel. Say I'm the target audience -- which I'm not because I don't wear khaki pants cinched above my navel or get woozy over cleaning supplies -- and I have a neighbor I'm sort of morbidly curious about. And say my dog suddenly dies and my daughter breaks her arm and my husband is crushed beneath the car he has jacked up in the garage. Does this channel justify my suspicions? Do I say to the police "I saw something like this on the Lifetime Network. The show starred that guy from 'A Guy, a Girl and a Pizza Place.'"

I begin to wonder if the muscle twitches are a message in morse code from my body or from God. My arms shakes as I take the pizza from the delivery man. The two liter Coke gives me palsy. We have plans to go to a party for my friend Sea Dawg, who has left his longtime job and has started a new one. "Chuck's still sleeping," I text JCrew, his fiance. "And I have muscular dystrophy. But we'll be there soon." The paranoid woman is right. Something is amiss next door. And then a new movie starts starring a 2007 version of Lindsay Lohan, a victim of torture who ends up in the hospital with just 1.5 legs remaining.

What if they have to amputate my arm?

I once spent five-sevenths of my nights at the Pioneer Bar. It felt like home. A disgusting home where people felt free to liberate their bladders on the bar stools, then conk out backward onto a dirty floor covered in pull tabs. Still, they were my people. And I stepped over them on my way to a bathroom, risking the possibility that what I was about to do would appear on a weird website specific to toilet cams. The bar eventually changed ownership multiple times, closed, re-opened and now has been renovated. The last time I was there I met my former landlord and his brother. They had just emptied a storage space from their rental property, a trailer worth of life's accumulations that had been marinating in layer of fluids from a backed-up sewer system. They had bellied up to the bar. Outside, the entire block smelled wet and fecal.

Tonight the place is packed in a way that never happened in the old days, except for during dart league. The Pioneer Bar now has lasers. A fog machine. A DJ who has remixes of 80s songs and Rhianna. Someone is celebrating his 40th birthday in the back, where there used to be rubber flooring similar to a wrestling mat. I see Taco Dip simmering at room temperature and wonder how many beers it will take to make me dig into the strangers' pot luck. Maybe none.

My arm feels better when I move around. But it also doesn't. I'd made a grave error when I walked in the front door, raising my arms in the air and dancing along to "Mony, Mony." I hold my arm as it twitches. The message: "This is not Billy Idol's shiningest moment." Sea Dawg's party is like an all-star event filled with faces rarely seen. Our entrance marks the exit of the first shift of people, a crowd that believes that 7:30 p.m. is an appropriate time to descend on a bar on a Saturday night. "I've usually been in bed for an hour by now," an acquaintance says as she makes her way to the door with her husband.

When I was in grade school there was a woman who lived across the street from St. Piux X Church who wore an eyepatch and a sling. She had two kids at the school and sometimes worked in the lunchroom as an aide. Years later I'm envious of the sling. My arm is so heavy. Stupid "Mony, Mony."

"Do you really have muscular dystrophy?" a woman asks me. I'm glad JCrew has spread the word.

This night is what I like to call a shit show. JCrew bullies people on to the dance floor with a growled "Come on, you little bitch," as she yanks on their arm, pulls them from stools. Blitz, quiet, not a drinker,  probably not a dancer, gets a hearty tug from my friend who rips him to the back of the bar: "Let the world know!" Two minutes later, his head can be seen bopping above the others. I'm unable to talk about the worst of my pain because I'm sitting next to a woman who is crippled with carpel tunnel and no longer able to work. My "It hurts all through here" sounds flimsy. Like telling a Cancer patient, "I know how you feel. Our drain is just clogged with hair. Sometimes I shower in water that is ankle deep."

It seems like the beer should serve as a muscle relaxer. Like maybe the twitching will slow or maybe I'll just stop noticing it. But it doesn't. And around 1:30 a.m. I am restless and ready to leave. I want to stuff my throat with Aleve and see what Episode 5 of "The Killing" has to offer. Back at home I prop myself against a heating pad and eat pizza. We watch TV, read a bit, then get heavy lidded. "You no good lousy stomach sleeper," my arms messages me.

I fall asleep on my back. Like a commercial for sleep hygiene.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nothing, only nothing ...

Nothing shines a light on how little I accomplish week to week than this here list, and how when I make it I sit here and think: "Well, shit. What did I do last week besides make delicious meals and read books?"

Nothing, obvs.

In other news, here is what I made, watched and read this past week. But first, a picture of me and Princess Linda at brunch.



HOW IT ALL STARTED IN THE KITCHEN

Potato Leek Soup with Sweet Fennel: Another day, another potato soup recipe. This one with a fennel kick to it. I love potato soup. I like how you can throw inexpensive things into a pot and have it turn into something hearty and edible. It thrills my inner "How to Make Stone Soup" person. Anyway, I left the skin on the potatoes -- because I'm starting an anti-peeling movement -- and I added nutritional yeast. Lots.


Reuben Sandwiches in a slow cooker with Tofu Corned Beef: Sometimes I think it is interesting to see a meal that would traditionally take milliseconds to make and have the process elongated just for fun. Like these Tofu Reuben sandwiches. Tofu marinates in a mix of seasonings in a slow cooker for hours and hours. Meanwhile, a gourmet-style Thousand Island dressing is made using mayonnaise, ketchup, capers, pickles and seasonings. Then the whole thing is put on rye bread and it tastes so freaking good. It's not hard, it just takes a long time because of the marinating process.

BEEN READING
Emma Straub is my 2012 Miranda July. The author of "Other People We Married" is just so fun to be a fan of right now. Here she writes about selling merch on the Magnetic Fields' tour and does things like describe SXSW as "the juggernaut music festival that turns the entire city into a beer-and-taco-stained pair of jeggings." Jodi has accused me of having a crush on Emma Straub. Guilty.

MOVIES
Melancholia: This movie is terrifying. It's told in two parts: In the first half it is Justine's wedding day and the new bride is all smiles and kisses until the couple gets to the reception and her mental illness starts to flare. Justine keeps ducking out of the festivities to nap with her nephew, walk the grounds of the golf course, take a bath. Her sister tries to corral her; Her new husband apologizes for not taking care of her; her boss desperately wants her to come up with a tag line for an ad the company is working on. In the second half, Justine is steeped in depression. She's emaciated and weakened, pale. She goes to stay with her sister on this expanse of land. Meanwhile, a planet called Melancholia is on a path to collide with earth and it's making everything a little wonky. The resident astronomer assures the family that it won't hit, but. Gah, I loved this movie. For all the horror movies in the world, there is nothing more terrifying than something that cannot be outrun or hidden from. You might lose feeling in your legs waiting for impact.

Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields: There is about three square inches of Stephin Merritt's face that looks like Chuck's face. It's very interesting. Anyway, this is a decade-in-the-making documentary of the Magnetic Fields. It was interesting. But, seriously, the scenes where Claudia and Stephin are working on music almost made me hyperventilate and just reminded me of how much I hate collaborating on anything. Eeps.

QUITE BOOKISH
Carry the One: A Novelby Carol Anshaw: A group of friends/family in the 20 years following a shared tragedy. This book had to be ripped from my cold, dead hands when I was done reading it. I wasn't ready to be done with it yet.

Full review here.

Forgotten Country by Catherine Chung: Since childhood, Janie has been charged with watching over her little sister. When Hannah moves to California, their dad is diagnosed with cancer, and the rest of the family moves back to Korea, all sisterly hell breaks loose.

Full review will be here.

Darkness Visible by William Styron: The writer behind "Sophie's Choice" talks about his go-round with depression.

Full review will be here.

THAT PESKY 2012 RESOLUTION
And ... done. (For this month)

Something old: "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins
Something new: "Carry the One" by Carol Anshaw
Something from the library: "There But for The" by Ali Smith
Something graphic: "Tina's Mouth" by Kashni Kashyap

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Out of the running ...

My vanity took a huge hit in the spring of 1989 when I learned that there is no such thing as cute running shoes. Running shoes looked like something that would eventually smell like puddles and foot. A tragic tongue stained with sweat, laces frayed. Color combinations that defied the logic of, say, Teen magazine. Anything remotely teetering on adorable was a cross trainer, but runners don't wear cross trainers. It's intuitive. The soles have no give. It's like running on hard plastic rather than running on flexible rubber. Cross trainers are geared more toward athletic coupon-ing and sale-sprints in the Target parking lot. Runners wore Asics or Reebox, Saucony or New Balance. Not LA Gear.

Before the junior high track season started, my parents took me to a sporting goods store in downtown Rochester. It was a dim store filled with stock in dangerous piles, a style I now recognize from "Hoarders." It felt like stumbling into your cranky neighbor's garage and having him set aside his cigarette, hack into a Folger's tin, creak his way upright and say: "We probably got something here that will work for ya." They sharpened skates in the winter, they sold spikes for amateur softball players in the summer. And on this day an old man pressed his thumb to my toe, his fingernail long, thick, yellow and talon-like. I'd been watching enough "Married with Children" to understand the plight of the shoe salesman. The armpits of dress shirts damp with onion flavor; breath like the first whiff of an long forgotten crypt. This guy could have been Al Bundy.

My first pair of running shoes were grey with red trim. It was devastating. It was my first sobering and adult reality that not all shopping is good shopping. I understood that something had been purchased for me, which meant that "... But we just bought you running shoes ..." could stand between me and receiving something that I loved and couldn't wait to trot out in public. These were enough to make me quit track before it even started. Until that point, Keds had worked just fine. I'd won plenty of playground races in mine, deigning only to put the shoelaces back into them.

Later, in consultations with Princess Linda, my partner in all things running-related, I learned that her shopping experience had matched mine. So we were a team, at least, of seventh-graders who would visually assault the aesthetic of our junior high track team. Until we got to the first practice and realized that not only could we not find cute running shoes, no one could. No matter how many times you circled the bodies stretching in the infield, fashion did not exist here.

That changed everything. Suddenly I loved the ugliness of being a runner. The damp smell outside the locker rooms, the sweat-dried shirts stuffed into a duffle bag and the vintage uniforms worn for generations. I liked blisters and toes thickened with callouses. The smell of shoes worn without socks. The way mud would stick to our shins after an interval workout in a park. The smell of sun-warmed rubber bus seats, burnt skin and sweat. Dirty hands sharing homemade cookies after a track meet. You could burp here, you couldn't not fart and one time on a 13-miler I used a leaf as a pioneer maxi pad. When an easy-on-the-eyes mid-distance runner cashed his Tahitian Treat in a single flood of chunky red behind a pine treat in Stewartville ... well, that was interesting, too.

I got new running shoes today at a running-specialty store. The kind of place with its own treadmill and lax rules about testing the product on the sidewalk in front of the store. The kind of place that sells, astronaut-style, gel packets that count as food. "I don't know if I could handle that peanut butter flavor," a customer said. "It's not too bad," one of the employees vouched for it. There was a wall with about six brands of show, mostly similar in their meh except for a sexy pair of pink Nike shoes. Hot pink and fast.

The employee watched me walk sock-footed the width of the store. He handed me a pair of shoes and had me run on a treadmill while recording my lope. "You run on your toes," he said and I thought of this 400 runner, a teammate with wild naturally curly hair.  A short girl with long legs who bounced from foot to foot and was one of the fastest girls in the Hiawatha Valley League. She was like a cartoon character dodging mines and fire balls. She never looked tired. "I think I've always run like that," I said.  At least I don't remember the day this changed. Is that true, or is that the product of not-running, and sometimes saying I'm running when I'm really on an elliptical machine. "I think it would make your calves hurt," he said. Maybe I've condensed my run-style to look like the step taken right before you hit the white tape at the end of the long jump runway.

"I ran college track, you know," I wanted to say. But what did it matter. Anyway, I didn't run college track, I jumped college track and I wasn't even in the top three on my team most days. But I had the purple coat with my name stitched into the front, you'd think I knew how to run.

I studied the wall of shoes more like it was a single piece of abstract art than as individual pieces of footwear for me to choose from. This still isn't a selection process that ever takes color into consideration. The salesman played "Choose Your Own Adventure," yanking down shoes with a certain level of cushion, something for a runner who doesn't over pronate, and probably won't compete in an ultra-marathon in this lifetime -- or at least not this week. At no point does he ask "Which pair do you think are the cutest? Do you like this color or this color best?" And until I leave the store, I don't even notice that this is missing from the shopping experience. That's running for you.

I'd like to be a runner again, to have piles of crusty shirts and socks piled in the corner of the bedroom. To wake up with the creeps and perverts and begin circling the neighborhood, ditching out of civilization and onto paths. My steps perfectly timed to the beat of a Girl Talk album. A free pass to sniff my pits at stoplights, then put my hands on my hips. Come home, drink orange juice wearing just a sports bra and a layer of silt. I realize the only thing standing between me and the distinction of being a runner is, well, me.

I went to the YMCA last night to start this new life. Shiny white Asics with red and blue trim. I fired up a mix that marries Theophilus London and Trampled By Turtles. The Foo Fighters, Cloud Cult, and Coldplay. I made it 1,200 meters before I could feel the lunch I thought I'd digesting shifting above my right hip bone. Chorizo and Cheese Pain. "My fat hurts," I texted to Chrissie! when I slowed to a walk.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

And the holograms ...

I don't have a relationship with Tupac Shakur. But in 1993 I loved the song "Never Fall in Love with You Again" by Janet Jackson. It was the theme to the movie "Poetic Justice," which she starred in with Tupac and which I was still too young to see when the R-rated show was in theaters.

So the name Tupac Shakur was on my radar and I liked to say it. Tupac Shakur. Much in the way that in grade school I liked to say Shaquille O'Neal. Shaquille O'Neal.

None of this really matters. What matters is that I'm terrified of the Tupac Shakur hologram that performed at Coachella. And not just because it was the first time I thought: "Well. Those light particles certainly are arranged in a sexually appealing way. I can practically see through its pants." It terrifies me because there are far bigger perverts in the world with much bigger science lobes who are probably two giga-whatevers from making sexy hologram pole dancers that can silently contort their way across living rooms. Friends, this is the beginning of something very fucking creepy.

What a nightmare, too, for Tupac's killer, who probably (falsely) assumed that he/she would never have to see Tupac on stage again after that fateful September night in 1996. As the person who made the final call on my cat's mortality two years ago, I can say that if I saw Toonses on stage performing choreography with Snoop, my brain would melt right out of my ear.

Things you will overhear when holograms roam the earth:

"Well, we got a hologram cat to keep the mice out. But then we realized they were just hologram mice!"

"Sorry I'm late. Caught Hologram Woodstock last night and ended up getting wrecked with Grace Slick. Hologram Joan Baez had to drive me home. God. Hologram Joe Cocker is so handsy."

"It wasn't me, officer. It was my hologram!"

"I just sleep better with Hologram River Phoenix standing at the foot of my bed."

"Then you know what that bitch did? She didn't even show up. She sent her hologram to meet me for lunch."
"Ugh. Her hologram is such a monster."
"Totally. She got hammered on cosmos and gorged herself on the bottomless bread basket. It was so embarrassing."

"We dated for five years and I never knew he was a hologram."

"You've got to try the homemade bread at Hologram Colonial Williamsburg."

"My daughter's hologram did not deserve this C-. She worked her hologram ass off on that project."

"She left me for my 24-year-old hologram."


"God. I went to see the Hologram Go-Gos last night at the Rose Bowl. It was supposed to be Hologram GoGos 1982, but the real GoGos showed up. Belinda Carlisle is so old."


Regardless, holograms are a thing now. They have been for awhile, obviously. Jem and the Holograms were wildly successful in the 1980s. But now a hologram might tour with Snoop and Dre. And eventually a whole hologram band will play an arena near you. Your creepy uncle will be bringing his hologram wife to dinner. Politicians will slight holograms; We will rally about it. And in five years, this post is going to be as quaint as the sounds of a landline ringing.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The dooker ...

SO FRIENDLY HERE!
This happened to me at the grocery store today.
Me: (unloading my basket) Aw, nuts. I forgot coffee.
Cashier: Oh! That's okay. You can just run back and grab some.
Me: Oh, no no. That's okay. Well. ... Are you sure?
Cashier: Yes. It's okay because you just asked me, instead of just telling me that you were going back for coffee.
Me: Is it so annoying if I do that, though?
Cashier: And it's extra okay because you just asked if it was annoying.
(Go get coffee. Grab pre-packed bag instead of using bulk)
Me: Since you were so cool about letting me go back, I just got pre-packaged instead of filling a bag.
Cashier: Thank you. These are whole bean. Now do you have a way to grind them?
Me: Yes.
Cashier: Because I have a friend who got whole bean and had to grind them using a hammer and a bath towel. She was like 'It was okay, no big deal.'

In other news: Here's what I watched and read this past week. Such a slim week of *things*.

MOVIES
Some Like It HotThe original Bosom Buddies. This movie is a riot, with Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as dudes on the lam from the mafia, masquerading as women in an all-girl band. Marilyn Monroe is the breathy Sugar, always in trouble for something involving booze, and making the boys all google-y.

CONVO
Me: What are these little seeds?
Chuck: Those are flax seeds.
Me: What do they do?
Chuck: They make you take a giant dooker.

BEEN READING
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson: Winterson tells her life story, some of which has appeared in fictional accounts, in this story of cutting lose from her adoptive mother and finding her birth mother.

Full review will be here.

Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Kshni Kashyap, illustrated by Mari Araki: This is a cute story about a 15-year-old girl who is keeping a comic journal to get the root of who she is and who she is becoming.

But, it's not going to light you on fire. It's pretty safe and easy and teeming with the sorts of teen cliches that make so many teen movies forgettable.

Full review will be here.

READING THE INTERNET/TRENDING
Right now I'm really obsessed with how no one won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction this year, so I'm reading everything I can about it. As Jodi pointed out to me today: We were right. 2011 was a bummer year in fiction. (To which I had to look at what my favorite reads were last year ... a list of things mostly not published in 2011). My gut opinion is that if that committee didn't think any of the three titles offered up by the jury members were good enough, then shrug. Maybe "Swamplandia" (which I've admittedly not read) is no "Goon Squad," (which I have and is one of my all-time favorites) winner in 2010. Of course, the more reading I do, the more this opinion twists and morphs and waxes and wanes and returns to where I started. Now: I just think it's an interesting curiosity.

This piece by Laura Miller of Salon is the best thing I've read so far and b) Conversations generated by this non-win might be just as good for Karen Russell, author of "Swamplandia" as winning. There has not been a no winner for fiction in the era of social media. So. It should be interesting.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Melk ...

After the Fish Fry, we decided it might be nice to have an old-school slumber party. Bras in the freezer and prank calls. Fannie's dad shipping up some of his world famous popcorn, a super secret recipe of extra light kernels salted to perfection. We didn't take the evolution of interests into account, and instead spent the first few hours with a soft mound of cheese spread on gourmet crackers and beers at Fannie's Summer Home in St. Louis Park. Fannie and I squaring off in Draw Something, Princess Linda kicking around apps on her new iPhone and considering the zillions of approaches to ring tones.

We went to King's Wine Bar and ate Tater Tots, nuggets of fried potato and cheese with a bacon dipping sauce. Fannie and I split an Arugula and Beet Salad and Shrimp and Grits; Princess Linda went with the gooiest of gooey Mac and Cheese. We consumed a handful of bottles of Prosecco between the three of us and our surprise guests: Dong and Hank.

I've been wanting to do this for ages: Sit in a dark room, cackle and cash wine bottles. Deconstruct the time when Fannie was invited to go to Cancun with a guy and agreed to go with the stipulation that he not expect her to sleep with him. Not that she wouldn't, she just didn't want him to think that paying for a plane ticket and hotels made it a sure thing. Spoiler alert: Fannie with her bags packed, uncorked a bottle of wine to wait for him to pick her up. Uncorked another bottle of wine when he was late. Six hours later he called to say he was taking a different girl, Adios. She was pretty blurry when we rallied the troops at McMurphy's that night to each come up with colorful ways to describe the dude.

(Fourteen years later, I love that Fannie made this stand).

Yesterday we ate brunch al fresco at Salut. Eggs Benedict and maybe the beginnings of a sunburn on my back. Not hung over, but layers of grogginess and gooey balls of eyeball excretion from sleeping in my contacts. We shopped a bit, Princess Linda left, then we shopped some more. I bought three leotards, and no I'm not worried about what happens when I'm wearing them and have to pee. Small price to pay.

This was a pretty tame visit, light on crazy antics. Although Fannie and I did have to negotiate fresh blood stains on a sidewalk in Uptown. Also: When we realized the shirt I was wearing still had a piece attached so that it could be draped from a display hanger, we had to dip into a shop, borrow a scissors and perform a quick fix on it before I could safely return to Urban Outfitters, where I got the shirt in the first place. Is there anything more awkward than going into a store wearing their clothes the wrong way?


Stopped in Minneapolis to see CHRISSIE! and QT and enjoy some rough talk on their lanai. I was served Fresca and treated to a very naughty commercial for Liquid Plumber.


Last night Chuck and I watched an old movie, then got so drunk on ice cream that when he said "I love your melky white skin" I choked on air.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just a beardful of Cottage Cheese makes the medicine go down ...

This totally happened. I was leaving the grocery store and there was a bearded man sitting on a bench just inside the doors eating from a carton of Cottage Cheese. Why do I always do this? Think: I bet there is Cottage Cheese in his beard. I bet it is white and clumpy and drippy. And then I do look more closely and I'm right. I must like to be grossed out. Secretly. And then to report my findings publically. Maybe I'm a collector of gross imagery.

Anyway. Last week we painted a bedroom a very brave shade of green. As always, this project begat more projects. Anyway, here Orin models the new color: (Photo by Chuck).



Anyway, here's what I ate in public, read, etc. this past week.

MEALS TAKEN IN PUBLIC

I totally forgot there is a bakery-bakery, fresh-bread bakery even closer than Subway and stopped in to How Sweet it Is on Friday. "I'll take a half sandwich," I told the cashier. He looked at me and said "You understand that the half-sandwich is THIS big and that you'll be eating a half a pound of turkey, right?"
"..."
"The half-sandwich is big enough to be shared by two to three full grown adults"
"Would you recommend the fourth-sandwich then?"
"Yes."
It was so freaking delicious. It made Subway seem like Fast Food cranked down an assembly line. Oh. Wait. Big problem: This place has like cupcakes and cake pops and, well, cake. So if you're looking for me, I'll be nose deep in frosting. 
FAVORITE CONVERSATION
Me: Wait. Did you have two earrings?
Chuck: Yes.
Me: What happened to you?
Chuck: Two things. The 80s and the 90s.

PHOTO DUMP
The Paparazzi caught me playing Draw Something. 

ON THE INTERNET
I think I've been reading This Recording for years and every once in awhile one of the essay (song, picture) mixes jumps out at me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one about a woman doubling back to visit an old boyfriend with OCD.

READING
Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games)by Suzanne Collins: It took me awhile to double back to this series. Book 2 finds the districts in upheaval and Katniss has become a sort of symbol of rebellion. It's all quite exciting.

Full review will be here.

The Long-Shining Waters  by Danielle Sosin: This is the story of three women living on Lake Superior: One in the 1600s, one in the early 1900s and one in 2000. All three are on the precipice of something. It's a nice book. (There is a real soul-ripper of a scene or two, too).

Full review will be here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Green. The greenest I've been ...

One thing that really blows about getting older is the reading injury. The I-stacked-too-many-pillows-leaned-awkwardly-and-now-I-can't-move thing that affects those prone to hours of moving only their eyeballs. I just don't remember having this problem when I was 15 and hopped up on a Christopher Pike high. But last night I clearly sunk too deeply into my stacks and when I wake up today it feels like I was in a car accident.

Blerg.

Chuck kneads Ben Gay into my back and comments on the tightness of my shoulders.

"What if," I say to him, "I'm really not a laid-back person at all? I'm a stress ball who doesn't know she's stressed until she's in self-imposed traction?"

"It's possible," he says.

***

I'm at Bed Bath & Beyond looking for the elusive 63" curtain. I've not yet been to the Duluth store and when I walk in, as when I walk in any sort of place like this, I start thinking of pioneers. Floor mats, rubberized sink drains, shower radios, feather beds. How they dragged floor-length dresses across dirt living rooms, spent hours sweeping and churning and kneading and sewing. Reading the bible by candlelight. How it would be a daylong trip by buggy to go to a general store to buy flour and fabric and fuckit, I'm going to splurge and buy a new hat and some lace, Merry Christmas, enjoy your apple. And now we have sheets with an 800 thread count or a stand for propping a cookbook. It's interesting to me that we have so many options on color, design, fabric and cost on so many non-essential things. I need 63" curtains. I'm actually annoyed when they don't have what I need, though I know I can find them online. What would Laura Ingalls say about that?

***

"Do you want to see it?" the guy at Mendards asks. He's just mixed a can of paint.
"What if it's purple?" I ask.
"It won't be," he says. People in public rarely understand my sense of humor. It plays best in our kitchen -- and, well, in my head.
He opens the can to reveal a color not found in nature.
I giggle manically.
"This is going to be the ugliest room ever," I say with a smile, stopping just short of clapping.
"No, no," he says. "We sell lots of this."

***

Customer service tip: I've said this before and I'll say it again: Walgreens clerks really need to look at what they're ringing up before they ask how your doing. The answer, lady, is in your hands. I've just set 20 dollars worth of items from the feminine health aisle on your counter. We both know I'm lying when I say "I'm doing great!"

***

I have too many books going at once and I can't get myself to read any of them. Non-fiction. Local fiction. Non-fiction comparative lit. A graphic novel. A Kindle Sample of a recommendation from my friend The Rock Star. Pick one up, brain itches. Pick up another, eyes swim. Pick up another, no, don't start this before Book 1 or Book 2 is completed. I'm restless and scratchy and I wonder if reading a young adult adventure novel has ruined me for things without blood shed and cliffhangers. What if I can never read an adult book ever again.

***

You know what's wrong with 2012? There is not enough pan-style pizza. Everything is thin crust. That's why I was delighted to open a box from VIP tonight that looked exactly like something one would eat after rollerskating up a deep hunger.

***

Chuck and I are doing a house-improvement project that involves turning one of the bedrooms from a place where we put stuff into a cat-free record lounge, complete with soft surfaces and cave-like lighting. An oasis. A make out room. Whatever. Tonight we painted the first coat and whoa is it ugly.

Fun fact: For 36 years I thought that the song "Ruby Tuesday" was by the Beetles.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Toasted ...

I guess the big news right now is that Subway's Sandwich of the Month is Bacon, Egg and Cheese. Mostly this just means equal rights for people who don't wake up on time to enjoy the shop's breakfast fare. I don't know about you, but I really believe the only way to make a sandwich better is to plop a half-inch thick disc of microwaved egg product on it. (I don't have the most refined palate. I'd also fill a Big Gulp with Nacho Cheese and a straw, so you might want to look elsewhere for tips on how to exist in a polite society).

Anyway, they started advertising this in mid-March and if you think I wasn't keeping a countdown, then you don't understand just how restless this regular has become.

Recently I had a pre-lunch convo with CHRISSIE! about the grilling option offered at Subway. Point of fact: A grilled Turkey and Cheese is greater than a cold Turkey and Cheese. This is true across the sandwich board. CHRISSIE'S take was that she thinks it's a dick move to ask the Sandwich Artist to take the time to toast a sub. I understood where she was coming from. It took me a long time to warm up to it, too. I don't want to be state-ist, but I believe this is a Minnesota thing and that if we were in, say, not-Minnesota, we would be more inclined to say "Toast it. Twice. First with JalapeƱos, then without." (I recognize this a weakness that will get me nowhere and I've been taking small steps, like miniscule, like backward almost, to correct it). Anyway, it's not like the Sandwich Artist gets paid per sandwich they crank through the conveyor belt.

So I ordered the Sandwich of the Month on Italian Herb and Cheese, with Cheddar. The Artist 1) Heated the egg-like disc in the microwave; 2) Set aside a few strips of Bacon; 3) Cut me 6 inches of Bread; 4) Removed the Egg-like disc from the microwave and put it on the bread; 5) Added the Bacon and Cheese; 6) Stuck it in the Toaster Oven.

"Whoa," I said to her. "This is a really high-maintenance sandwich."
She nodded.
So I vowed to her that I would stick to Turkey henceforth. And she sighed with visible relief.

Other than that: When I turned the corner to fill my glass at the soda machine, I had to wait for a man who was washing a set of chopsticks under the machine's water spout. Yeah. I don't know. ...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wedgie ...

Hey y'all! Here's what I made, ate in public, watch and read last week. Now with bonus highlights from my Draw Something matches!

MAKING FOODS

Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic Couscous: This is nice and easy and light and summer-filled. Just make couscous. Just top it with some onions, garlic and sundried tomatoes (or probably anything else you want to top it with).

Don't make the mistake we made and chase it with one thick mass of Goddess Bar from Positively Third Street Bakery each. Split those bastards. Favorite things Chuck said after eating it (Don't get me wrong. These are my favorite baked goods in all of the land):

"What do these have in them, cement?"
Then, noticing that these are very dense and that he was quickly filling up on the whole nutty, chocolate awesomeness:
"I knew it was happening, so I just ate it faster!"
Upon further review:
"It's like eating that spray foam they use for installation. It gets in your stomach and it just expands."
Final thoughts:
"My inner goddess wants to barf."
To which I said:
"They're so good though, aren't they?"
To which he said:
"I can't answer that question right now."


Red Lentil Soup: This was pretty nice and easy and we had everything required to make it, which counts big. It's a good, panic, non-offensive go-to meal.


Moroccan-Style Olives and Chickpeas: I totally loved this. All those spicy flavors with chickpeas, tomatoes and green olives served over Israeli couscous. So good. I'd totally forgotten these flavors exist and not to mention we never use green olives, which are like my favorite thing in the world. (So what if they remind me of my Grandma Smittley's vodka gimlets, they're still good).

MEALS TAKEN IN PUBLIC
Oh Gah this was so good. Marrow Toast at Lake Avenue Cafe on Saturday night. I burned the eff out of my mouth cramming it into my face. Plus, it's so fun to eat. "Let me use my little spoon to dig out this gelatinous substance and spread it on my toast." 
This is like my favorite thing that is made in the Duluth city limits. It's pork shoulder with bits of bacon served on a cheesy polenta with bitter greens. From Lake Avenue Cafe. 
This is Panna Cotta from JJ Astor, where we went for dessert. Love. It's so pudding-ish and subtle. 
PHOTO DUMP I
This is the best thing I've ever drawn in Draw Something in, like, ever.  
MOVIES
The Hunger Games: How come I haven't read anything yet about how Lenny Kravitz and Katniss seem to have a sexual tension that is not at all reflected in the book? There is a scene where our former dread head is all gold eyelinered out and he's zipping her coat before she goes into battle and that zipping takes just a little. too. long. And then they put their foreheads together and then it is like PUT YOUR TONGUE IN HIS MOUTH, KATNISS!

I suppose this is why fan fiction sites exist.

Aside from that, I was a little disappointed in the casting of the two duds vying for Katniss's attention. Don't give me that "just normal boys" speech either. This is Hollywood. No one wants to look at normal boys.

BOOKS
Cosmopolis: A Novel by Don Delillo: Eric Packer has a 48-room spread complete with a lap pool, shark tank and screening room. His is one in the line of nondescript white limousines parked out in front of the building. The floor of his ride is made of imported marble. It has a bathroom and enough space for his daily rectal exam. He's got a cartoonish load of money, his billions birthing billions. What he needs, in Don Delillo's novel, is a haircut.

I totally loved this. When Chuck and I line our hallway with author photos, Don Delillo is going to be on that wall. (There are still three slots open. Now taking submissions).

Full review here.

Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in the Seventies by James Wolcott: This is the memoir-ish story of Vanity Fair writer Jim Wolcott's move to New York City in the 1970s, climbing the writerly ranks and chilling with people like Patti Smith and Pauline Kael.

More lifestyle porn. Full review will be here.


There But For The: A Novel by Ali Smith: I had one question reading this book, it was never answered, so screw it.

Full bitching will be here.

READING THE INTERNET
Chuck linked to this article from the Atlantic about the the "slow books movement." I love it."To borrow a cadence from Michael Pollan: Read books. As often as you can. Mostly classics."