Saturday, August 30, 2008

Odds and Ends

On Eating Your Words Off Paper Plates

A week ago, I had my friend Brandy over for dinner, not for any special reason, just so that the two of us could hang out and catch up without spending money at a fancy restaurant. I was making spinach and arugula polenta with a sun-dried tomato puree, and I was trying to use my old and stubborn blender, and I couldn't find the lid.

"Just put a paper plate over it," Brandy suggested.

My eyebrows almost flew off my head in horror. "Excuse me," I said, snottily. "There's no paper plates in THIS house. Do you even KNOW how WASTEFUL they are?"

Brandy, appropriately chastened: "Oh. I just suggested it because there are some paper plates right there on that shelf." She pointed.

I spun around, and sure enough, there were paper plates. Whoops. "My mother must have brought those when I moved in a year and a half ago," I mumbled.

Brandy, because she is a sweetheart and a half, didn't give me the hard time I so deserved, which made my crow-pie all that much harder to choke down.

Lessons at Goodwill

In the same way that everyone should spend some time at Farmers' Markets, everyone should, at some point, spend some time at a Goodwill. Not only for the bargains, but for the visual reminder that everything you are buying new now will be junk in a year, and barely worth the shelf space it takes up. I got three books for 2.26, and this amount makes me ashamed to admit how many books I have purchased full-price in airport bookstores to entertain myself for a mere three hours, only to never read said book again. Ugh.

Monday, August 25, 2008

One of My Favorite Things:

People who can make fun of themselves, and do it well, without giving you the impression that they're fishing for compliments.

Case in Point: My girls and I went out in honor of one of our friends, who has recently announced her pregnancy. (Yes, instead of throwing her a baby shower, we went out in her honor...without her. Hey, she's in Melbourne!)

We went out in Capitol Hill, because more of us live there or are familiar with there than anywhere else, and because said Girl Of Honor lived there, and I invited two of my friends from West Seattle who hardly ever go out in Capitol Hill. They were both a little surprised by the rag-tag punk element, which I don't notice anymore. (As Molly said: "Oh yeah, I saw tons of punks where I grew the suburbs.") I shared a few of my tips: "Don't show fear, don't make prolonged eye contact with the homeless. Remember, the punks are going out to have a good time, just like you, even if they all have dyed black hair and piercings."

Molly, especially, took this advice to heart. As long as I live, I will never forget the sight of her throwing up horns at the Comet Tavern, screaming, "This pink cardigan I'm wearing is SO HARDCORE!"

Sunday, August 24, 2008

How Not to Make Zucchini Patties

Decide it will be easier to smash your own breadcrumbs instead of dragging out the food processor, since it can be difficult to clean. Also decide it will be easier to grate your own zucchini--on a grater--than it would be to throw it in the food processor. End up using about fifteen different bowls in the process. Fail miserably at smashing dry bread, and toss out bread. Find crackers from Japan--three months ago--and smash those instead. Take about five hours to smash up crackers, sweat pouring down your face. Grate zucchini, spraying bits of zucchini and water all over the kitchen--seriously, it ended up on my walls--and stop and wipe out the grater about every five minutes. Let zucchini sit to allow water to drain.

Make jalapeno poppers in the meantime, for breakfast.

Having now taken ten hours to grate zucchini and smash breadcrumbs, grate your parmesan cheese, chop your onions and garlic, mix everything together. Go ahead and add two eggs without waiting to mix after the first egg so that your zucchini cake mix ends up too gooey. Fry zucchini cake mixture poorly--make sure you achieve just the right balance of cooking time so that your cakes turn out burnt and still don't hold together. Look up after three hours of kitchen torture and realize it's raining. Realize you have spent the hottest part of the day cooking instead of riding your motorcycle. Realize it will now rain for the rest of the day--when you COULD have been cooking--so that you CAN'T ride your motorcycle. Burst into tears. Eat your zucchini cakes.

How was everyone else's Sunday?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Also: More Difficult Than I Thought

Trying to get into a dance club with a big purse...that has empty baggies inside. Fortunately, I managed to convince the huge bouncers of the truth: they're doggie bags, dawg.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Excavation, or, A Month In The Life

My wallet--which I finally replaced with a new one from The Rack, one of my favorite stores in the world--has reached maximum size, and so it is time to excavate all the receipts and cards and matchbooks and what-have-you that I receive from the ether and stuff in there. I love doing this, I get such an interesting picture of my life. There is no other reason to keep receipts--I don't record them, although that's always what I think I'm going to do--but it's such a kick to read them back.

Four Weeks Ago: St. Louis! "Bobby" showed me the time of my life, I barely slept. My receipt from El Maguey in the Loop marks the consumption of some excellent Mexican food for the grand total of 8.60 with tip. I loved St. Louis, it reminded me a lot of Pittsburgh. And so cheap.

Two Weeks Ago: South Lake Union Block Party! Unlike Capitol Hill, which is now so far from its hippie roots that they charge to even LOOK at a bar, it's free and you can bring your dog, and it's not full of snarling teenagers with trust funds. Shout-outs to Calsee and Sarah, who loaned me various pieces of clothing as I had only brought Titan to keep me warm, and to Dan and Nina, who demonstrated their ability to leave the Eastside and fulfill their roles as downtown hipsters. That night I also learned that Whole Foods sells wine and beer ON TAP, for relatively cheap--four-dollar wine pours--and that walking up Denny Hill all the way from SLU to Capitol Hill gains you 203 vertical feet in a mile. And then we collected Randy and went to Peso's. The next day I had a 14-hour bachelorette party that started at 11 am. It was a long damn weekend--about 5 pm I had to wuss out and take a disco nap. Later on I got to see the cabaret show at the Can-Can--everyone go, immediately, and say hi to my friend Benihana--and the bachelorette group attracted so much attention that we ended up on at least three tourist cameras.

Last Week: My receipts say that after I saw Sydney get married, I ran into half a dozen people that I know at Linda's, went dancing at the War Room, went to Boom Noodle, met friends of friends who were on their way to Beijing to see their cousin compete in the synchronized swimming even, went to the beach with Calsee, had a great time at the Chinatown Night Market, and tried Congee for the first time.

Other Things of Note: Gift receipt from a baby shower gift, about five million Century Ballroom receipts.

Yes. So.

Monday, August 18, 2008

In Which I Start to Talk About Japan

I have already talked a little about Japan; for previous summary posts, try First Japan Post, Second Japan Post, Third Japan Post, Fourth Japan Post, Fifth Japan Post, or Japan Summary Post.

Anyway. Once more, with details!

At the start of my trip, I flew into Tokyo on my own--the Js wouldn't arrive until Saturday--and I was deathly ill, an experience I never want to repeat. I had read several guide books telling me how polite the Japanese were and how I needed to cover my mouth when I coughed and you CANNOT blow your nose in public, but not one guide book addressed the problem of what to do when you break out into a coughing fit in a crowded subway and it's either blow your nose or drip onto your seat, and your mucus is bright green because it's so infected. Shockingly.

I survived the whole way from the airport to the neighborhood I was staying in, Ikebukuro, and I couldn't decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I was really, really sick. I don't remember which line I took from the airport--I think it was private, i.e., not one of the main lines that services the Tokyo area. If this sounds confusing, it is. Tokyo's subway system is not centralized; it's a mishmash of about three or four different companies, but they do at least attempt to work together. After several mistrials, the Js and I found that the best thing to do was to buy a low-fare ticket--making sure it's for the correct company--and then go through with our whole trip, possibly changing Metro companies without knowing it, and then, attempting to exit the subway station. If our ticket was accepted, we got to go; if the machine spit it back at you, you could take it to a machine and add a little more on, the surcharge for switching companies or the extra distance or whatever. It was easier to do it this way than try to predict how much we'd need or if we'd cross subway lines.

However, at this juncture, I was all by myself and got to struggle, which was fine--this was part of the reason I'd flown in early in the first place. I wanted to get a few days by myself. I arrived in Ikebukuro and, after wandering around for a few minutes in the dark with all my luggage, broke down and took a taxi. Ikebukuro isn't popular the way Ginza is, but it's still very crowded and I was surrounded by crowds of young Japanese laughing, talking, smoking, and I was very aware of how nerdy and out of place I looked and I just wanted to get to the hotel. My ryokan, the Kimi Ryokan, was very close to the station and I got right in and encountered my first problem: for reasons known only to the universe, I had had serious debit card issues right before I left for Japan. I had lost one and the other expired, or something, so I get to Japan and I have no way to get any more cash, all my money is in the account that I can't access because I have no PIN number, and I have $300 from traveler's checks to last me until Blog Knows When, and all the guide books I read told me in no uncertain terms that Japan is a cash-based country and NOWHERE takes credit cards. I was so worried I would do the wrong thing that I accepted my guide books as gospel, and it didn't even occur to me that places like Starbucks would definitely take my credit cards until the Js arrived and laughed at me, carrying my wad of cash around.


In spite of my misplaced fear about cash, my ryokan was one of the few that would NOT take credit cards, and I didn't have enough cash on me for more than a few nights--and I was staying five, and I had to eat some time--and so I had to tell the front-desk guy that I would pay just as soon as I could, really. He was nice about it --for the moment. I was shown to my room--no key cards, everything is done with real keys and locks--and I almost cried with relief, it was perfect. I highly recommend the Kimi Ryokan. It is very small and basic, but very clean and very lovely, with gorgeous dark wood everywhere. I got a real Japanese bath, struck out for some food, and crashed into bed.

The next morning I woke up at 3:30 with a coughing fit and figured, while I was up, I might as well get up and sight-see, which I did.

One of the reasons I've postponed getting my pictures up for so long is because I had the devil of a time trying to figure out how I was going to juggle so many formats. Finally I figured that I would write posts, like this, and divide my pictures on Google Picasa accordingly into photo albums with notes, and I would embed the photo album for each post, like below:

Flying Into Tokyo!

Does this work? Comments, questions?

Friday, August 15, 2008


It is hot as the dickens here. It's supposed to be 89 today and 90 tomorrow, and I realize this doesn't seem hot to some folks--some poor, misguided folks who live in, say, LA--but now imagine 89 degrees and NO AIR CONDITIONING.

Yes, that's right, folks. We here in the PNW do not normally need air conditioning, and so we do not have it. A lot of STORES don't even have it. I mean, Target certainly does, but my gas station on the corner does not. Just as a for-instance.

Titan is lollygagging on the floor, tongue hanging out, although he is not too hot to occasionally stir his stumps, walk out to the computer, and look at me pathetically. Also, he is trying to get me to take his cooling vest off, which he hates but I actually think works. I haven't eaten anything that can't be cooked in a microwave or served cold in days, except for coffee. I have my one pathetic fan on and the sweat is dripping down my face. And my friends Sydney and Matt are getting married, OUTSIDE, at FIVE PM, on one of the hottest days of the year. I had a nightmare last night that I missed the wedding, that I was taking swimming lessons while the wedding was happening, and I was secretly happy because I knew I was cooler than the people at the wedding were.

Help! Send me AC.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Family Talk

Hello, I am buying a motorcycle--in fact, I have already bought it--and up until Tuesday I had only told people under 40, and more importantly, people that were not related to me, that I was doing such a thing. And I have received uncensored acclaim.

I told my mother on Tuesday, and she was very upset about it, as I had predicted she would be, but she tried as hard as she could to remain polite and civil about it. She didn't say anything nasty, like, "Your desire for attention sickens me".

But when my uncle called me today it was a little more of a shock. My uncle is a funny, sarcastic, intelligent man; I dig every second I spend with him, and I especially dig his partner, a lovely and extremely talented graphic designer. Both she and my uncle laugh at my jokes and get me good books for Christmas presents, which is about all I need to like people. However, they are relatively private people, and my uncle especially is not given to large displays of affection. I was especially not expecting him to make a rare phone call to say to me, "I hear you have bought a motorcycle, and I disapprove."

Being my uncle, he said it much more creatively than that--he said, "I called so that you and I could put on a skit in which I play the old fuddy-duddy, and you play the rebellious teenager, and I can tell you what I really think about you buying this motorcycle, and you can respond by rolling your eyes and not taking my good advice." But the fact remained that he disapproved, that he was worried about me, and wished I wouldn't. The irony here, of course, is that my uncle is no fuddy-duddy--he's a modern man who feels no need to control the youth. He has never called me to say such a thing before, ever, not in 27 years of my life, and I knew he called me out of true concern for my well-being and that it took effort for him to make such a call, and he took that effort because it was so important to him. I can't just brush this off. Because of that I am now much more conflicted about this purchase than I was just a few days ago, although of course I'm still going to buy it--it's a great bike, it's a great deal, and I'm already committed.

My father hasn't yet called to do this same thing, although I expect it any day. It's particularly frustrating because both he and my uncle, although related only through my mother, owned motorcycles, and my grandfather--my mother's father--owned a motorcycle, and put me on it when I was very young. And I have ridden around on the back of the LT's motorcycle for almost a year. Never have motorcycles or the safety of motorcycles seemed to be a conversation topic of high importance in my family. I never heard a WORD about motorcycles until this week, in fact. And now that I am buying one, oh my Blog, the world, it is ending. I do not understand.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Much, Much, Lighter, and There Is Pepperjack!

I was in near hysterics reading this post from WideLawns. I can hear myself saying all week, in my head,

"You have heard about this? The bread with banana?"

Revisionist History

I was just reading my post about Wall-E and how I cried throughout the entire movie, and I can tell you all now that it is, indeed, a very good movie, but perhaps not as touching as I found it right then. I was incredibly sad on a daily basis, already; I was watching my relationship shudder and jerk its way to a halt, and Wall-E is about robot love, about a robot who falls in love with the human race--and then another robot--and has so much love to share that he gets humans to become human again.

Perhaps saying that my relationship was shuddering and jerking to a halt is too harsh. I certainly felt very neglected, but perhaps I didn't know how to ask for what I wanted. Then again, I wasn't sure the LT would have dropped a pail of water on me if I had caught fire, so I figured that asking for more attention would be a waste of time. And besides--even if I had been sure of a welcome reception--it is so humiliating to ask for more attention, like Esther at the tip of King Xerxes sceptre. What are you supposed to say? "I want you to look happy when you see me"? "It has been a month since you've told me I was good looking, a compliment I get daily from strangers, and it would mean so much more coming from you, it would be like a glass of water on a hot day, PLEASE tell me you think I'm pretty. Please, otherwise, I might die."

And you DO die, lying in bed looking at someone's back, little bit by little bit, starved for attention, crying yourself to sleep softly because he might hear and you don't want to say how needy you've become, jumping at his every word, trying to make him happy, so that he might smile at you again and give you some hope that he still likes you. You don't want to admit that his opinion means more to you than anything, and that not hearing it kills you.

And after awhile, being unwilling to say how much you've been starved and are still starving, you just...give up. You decide, if he doesn't think I'm really that great, I can at least take up a hobby, something where I might be around men who will have some reason to touch me, and so you take up dancing, and you enjoy yourself and it's a lot better than going to bed early to lie silently next to someone who ignores you, and so it begins to take up more of your life until your boyfriend starts to get mad that you're spending so much time not with him, and so maybe he becomes even more critical and then the whole relationship spirals downward in a matter of months.

So. That's what happened.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

YouTube Is My New Boyfriend

I just discovered a seriously wonderful use for YouTube: Monty Python sketches!!!

I don't know why it didn't occur to me before that YouTube would host so many. I've found hundreds of scenes from movies, after all. Monty Python sketches would fit neatly into that category. And yet I just discovered it, thanks to this post in Slog.

So as to add to the fun, here are two of my favorite written comic sketches in the world. Not that there aren't sketches that are just as funny, but I fell in love with both of these seeing them performed by my friends, so they have a special value for me. As a special bonus, they require no props whatsoever--it's just two people talking. Undeniably brilliant.

Monday, August 04, 2008


I just spent a whole ten minutes of my life--okay, maybe five--looking for this commercial, which struck such a chord in me when I saw it that I still remember it, even though I only saw it once.

And I thought you all should share in my joy.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Bad Advice

Did everyone know that I had a brief job writing for an online magazine called "Pretty Witty"? I did. It was very, very brief, both the job and the site. But it gave me a chance to write a real column--which Editor Extraordinaire Anna tells me is supposed to have a beginning, middle, and end, unlike my posts--and throw around a lot of snotty comments about "my editor". The column I came up with--the idea that got me the job--was called Susie Homewrecker, meant to be a parody of an advice column in which the advice columnist only gives really terrible advice. My editors at the time loved it and gave me the job, and I wrote four whole columns before the entire thing folded.


It's times like this, when I'm on my own again and can be just as bad as I want to be without hurting anyone, that my mind goes back to that column. I am doing everything you are not supposed to do. I am staying out late, I am dancing, I am barely eating--and when I am eating, I am eating cheese and that is it--and probably I scarcely need say that I've stepped up my alcohol consumption. Not the kind of drinking in which you tell the bartender just to leave the bottle at the table, but the kind of drinking in which you purposely slow your consumption rate so you can go for the burn. (Don't worry, Mother--soon I'll get fat and have to slow down.) You COULD, of course, describe this behavior as "staying away from ice cream and getting regular exercise", which is absolutely true. Or you could describe it as, "hanging out in bars and sometimes eating", also absolutely true. It just depends on your perspective. (Hey, a lot of salsa dancing takes place at bars, okay?)


Because of this, I have lost a little weight--all the alcohol hasn't caught up quite yet--and when I mentioned this to a friend, she demanded of me, "WHAT have you been DOING? Whatever is, tell me your secret."

And I said, "Um...I broke up with my boyfriend and have been subsisting on brie and sparks, and I've gone dancing seven hours a week." You see? Terrible advice.