March 28, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Announcement: I am going to jail.
I realized late yesterday that I had failed to show up for jury duty. This is where my dislike of numbers becomes less of a joke and more of a life problem. Dates are numbers; I can’t remember numbers; ergo I can’t remember dates; therefore I never know what day it is. Ever. Here’s how I figured out what happened:
Other mom at soccer practice: Whew, what a long day – I’ve been downtown since this morning for jury duty.
Me: Oh, I have jury duty coming up!
Other mom: When?
Me: March 27th.
Other mom: That’s today.
I am so disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I find jury duty just as agonizing as the next gal. But I’m a big rule follower, and it’s a rule that you go to jury duty when you are called; so I think people should show up and not invent a bunch of wily reasons to get out of it. It’s part of the duty of being an American citizen. I mean, geez – there are Americans out in the world being shot at just to provide folks like me the freedom to say fuck on the internet*, and I can’t even remember to hold up the rules back home.
(* I totally realize that the freedom to say fuck on the internet isn’t really the main thing anyone’s fighting for. But I do appreciate that freedom, so I just want to say thanks.)
Anyway. Speaking of freedom, mine’s probably over.
I like to be prepared, but I don’t know much about prison other than what I gather from TV and movies, which leaves a few holes in my comprehensive understanding of incarcerated life. Feel free to chime in if you know the answer to any of these questions:
- BACON: Do they serve it in prison? If so, is it loaded with additives? My farmer’s market has fabulous bacon. Do you think they’d let me have it sent in weekly? I’m completely willing to throw some kind of fundraiser to stir up the cash to pay for enough bacon for all my fellow prisoners, too. Like, “Dancing With the Stars… of Prison.”
- TATTOOS: I don’t have any yet. I want to fit in. Can you get tattoos in prison? And if so, is that sanitary? Is the tattoo artist any good? (Again, I’d be happy to make arrangements to bring in a good artist not only for myself, but for others.) If they don’t offer this service in prison, will I be allowed adequate time to get tatted up before I get put away? I’m picturing a pastoral scene across my bosom, and I think it’s one of those things that has to be done in installments.
- POSTERS: I know I have to have a poster for my wall to cover the hole I’ll be chipping away at with my oatmeal spoon. The only poster I currently have is from an Avett Brothers concert. Is the alt-folk-quasi-country-rock scene cool in prison? Or am I just going to have to keep explaining it again and again? And will we have access to an iPod or CD player? Because you can’t really appreciate it until you hear it.
- SOCIAL GROUPS: How do you make friends in prison? Are there clubs for various interests? How can you tell who’s popular? I need to find that mid-level crowd. It’s no fun to be at the bottom of the food chain; but then again, top of the pyramid doesn’t seem like a good idea either. If I’m the homecoming queen of prison, everyone will want to hang out with me every day in the yard, which means that when I escape (and I will escape, because you know when I stop following the rules? when I’m in prison), my absence will be noticed.
So that’s the news. If I don’t post here again for the next 10-15 years, you’ll know why. I’ll just be doing pushups on the concrete floor and writing blues songs about my life in the slammer. And playing the harmonica if they let me have one. Which they probably won’t. Because it’s fucking* prison.
(* Thank you, America!)
March 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Here we go again. Kitchen porn.
Every so often, Williams-Sonoma succeeds at brainwashing me with this stuff. A holiday nears, and the promotional blitz hits me daily with glossy photos of homemade baked goods, paired with pictures of the nifty pans and electrified spatulas needed to create such things. Seasonal catalogs start showing up two and three at a time.
A subliminal message is airbrushed into the hand-whipped cream on every page: You can do this. You love to do this. And by the sixth catalog received in the span of four days, I’m believing it. Look at all those fresh doughnuts piled up on a festive platter, spilling playfully onto the matching tablecloth – such a wacky abundance of doughnuts!
Before I know it, I’m planning an Easter Eggstravaganza brunch for 12. I need bunny-shaped cupcake pans shipped to me, stat, plus hand-harvested artisan sugar and gluten-free Peruvian jellybeans for decoration. It’s going to be Peter Cottontail’s Super-Bitchin’ Pastel Pastry Festival up in here.
Just one problem.
I want to like to bake. I wish I liked to bake. About quarterly, I go all Missy Muffincakes and pull out all my baking-related wedding presents and whip out my Barefoot Contessa cookbook and crank up the tunes on put on my apron and make an unholy mess of my oven and give it a shot. Come on, Contessa, let’s do this.
But here’s the thing: There’s a difference between baking and cooking. I enjoy cooking – mixing together fresh things in a pot or on a pan or in a bowl. There are few things I love more than having good friends seated on the barstools in my kitchen, sipping wine and tasting food and talking to me while I chop onions and stir. Needs a little salt? Somebody throw some in there, go ahead.
But you can’t chit-chat while you bake. Baking is math – one big, fat, #*@%ing word problem – and it requires attention to detail and proper use of tools. It includes steps like sift, fold, and worst of all, measure. I don’t do measuring. “Measurements” in my kitchen are, in order of amount: dash, swirl, slug, slosh, handful, assload.
It’s not that the results are always disastrous. I made zucchini bread last week for my kids. As they ate, my eldest said encouragingly, “This is so much better than the banana bread that time. The one that tasted kind of vomity? Remember?” Yes. I remember discreetly scraping my tongue against the edge of my juice glass and trying to give the leftovers to the dog, who fell over and feigned death to avoid having to eat any more. And I thought, oh my God, I killed my dog. NO. INA GARTEN KILLED MY DOG. It’s just – I never know, as I’m baking, which way things will turn out. I like positive outcomes.
I prefer, when I take a forkful of coffeecake, NOT to encounter tiny pockets of improperly sifted dry ingredients, such that with each bite, little powder bombs explode on my tongue and make me aspirate flour and choke. But that’s what happens about 50% of the time I get the itch to bake.
So stop it, Williams-Sonoma. I know you mean well, and you’ve taught me to consider a lot of good questions over the years. (Why just put fruit compote on your pancakes if you could use three separate specialty tools to cram it inside your pancakes and impregnate them with little jam babies?) But I will resist your sexy springform pans and cookie-icing guns this time.
That said, I do think I could really use that cast-iron bacon press, so I’ll take three of those, pleasethankyou.
March 19, 2012 § 3 Comments
So… just discovered a little stat-tracking tool that’s showing the number of blog visitors from other countries. Wow. Europeans are totally on board with this suspicion-of-hotel-robes thing. Especially the Irish, it seems. Apparently, we’re also being joined by visitors from the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada. (Bobby, is that you?) I have no idea how you people got here, but please — pull up a chair and unroll a pack of Mentos.
I don’t know a soul in Ireland, despite having lived there for a short time a few years ago. Just goes to show, if you’re committed enough to your antisocial ways, you can live in a place for months and never make a new friend; but dip a toe into the internet, and bam. Irish buddies!
Irish people, I need to tell you: Your country is beautiful. I had a great time there. But I also learned some important lessons about traveling with small children.
For starters: Parents, when you are dropped off at your new front door by the airport cab with all your luggage at your feet and your two little children clinging to your jacket and wailing, in the blinding sideways rain, with blood pouring down your chin because your 1-year-old just head-butted you and split your lip open, and the cab drives off — you should already know where the nearest grocery store, restaurant, pub, or food establishment of any kind is and how the shit you’re going to get there without a car. If you are a woman, do not assume that your husband who has been working in this country for a year knows this kind of stuff. He does not.
Two small children who haven’t eaten anything since they boarded a plane the day before are likely to try to gnaw each other’s limbs off. And when that doesn’t work, they will come after you. When you realize that you have nothing but half a baggie of cheerios left over from the trip and you’re so exhausted you
could cry are crying, it might not occur to you that you’ve got tears and snot and rain all over your face and your lame attempt at a neighborly smile reveals a freaky-ass mouthful of bloody teeth. You can’t just knock on someone’s door and ask where the Harris Teeter is. Because they won’t know who Harris Teeter is. So they will assume he must be the dastardly villain who did this to you, and then they might call the police.
Do your research in advance.
Oh, also: Be aware that in some countries, what looks like the fridge is actually a freezer, and vice versa. It’s one thing to successfully set out on foot to find food, bring it back and put it away, then settle in for a 10-hour nap. It’s quite another to awaken to find your frozen goods all melted and your refrigerated ones all frozen. But if it does happen, be creative. “YAY, kids! Eggsicles!”
(These days, none of this would be a problem, because you could just pick up your iPhone and ask Siri to drop a steak dinner out of the sky. Still, take note. You never know when you might be out of range and need to be resourceful like in ye olden times.)
Other than all that, the next most interesting thing I learned is that blondes in Ireland are apparently as rare as true redheads are here. Either that, or maybe there’s a thing in Ireland where blondes are considered magical? I’m not sure. All I know is: (a) At least once a day, I got asked for directions to The Netherlands embassy, and (b) If I paused long enough with my baby in her stroller, old ladies would hobble over to touch her hair and call her an angel. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have given out a few blessings and promised to grant a few wishes if you were in my shoes.
So, just to recap: Still don’t really know what the hell I’m doing with the blog; you have no excuse for being as stupid as me when you travel now; and Ireland is lovely. Carry on.
March 15, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I was just thinking about cheese.
You know how some of the fine, aged cheeses are supposed to be so fabulous, but really they taste and smell like the bottom of a goat’s hoof after the goat has been romping around in the grass and dirt and lord-knows-what-else? But still, they’re considered ultra-special and are super expensive, because hey, some people just like their cheese that way.
I thought of a slogan for the makers of such fancy cheeses, if they all wanted to join together to promote their products:
Great Rinds Stink Alike
YES. It’s yours for the taking, cheesemakers. You are WELCOME.
March 11, 2012 § 2 Comments
Until I figure out what the hell I’m doing with this blog, allow me to share with you some images from my spring break on a farm.
First, what I did within five seconds of getting into my room at the QUIETEST farmhouse ever in the history of time: I spazzed out. Specifically, I went to close the door with my hip, unknowingly catching my belt loop on the door-lock, thereby yanking myself backward just when I thought I was going forward and flipping myself over, flinging my purse all over the floor, and somehow catching myself on my hands just *outside* the doorway, where the luggage guy was still standing.
Then it was time to Lysol the remote, phone, and faucets, as is my custom.
I also did what I always do when in the presence of a new bed:
Then I checked out the selection of toiletries. I was delighted to find this:
I thought about changing into the robe in the closet. It looked fluffy and white and full of promise for an afternoon lounging on a chaise or at a spa or by a pool or with Alec Baldwin and a magnum of champagne at noon on a Wednesday. And *probably* it was well laundered in boiling hot water with hotel bleach. But unfortunately, the imagination train had already left the station, so I couldn’t think of anything but this: What if the person in this room before me tried the robe on? Naked? And wore it just long enough to change bandaids on that pesky weeping sore; administer to himself/herself a Sally Hansen bikini wax; give a quick hug to the child laid out on the loveseat with a trashcan because the vomiting just won’t stop; and ultimately decide that it would really be better to go ahead and get dressed. AND THEN they took it off and hung it right back in the closet, nice and neat… so that when housekeeping came, they’d see that the robe appeared unworn and just leave it there. So I didn’t put it on. But I glanced at it with mixed feelings many times during my stay.
Here are some of the animals I hung out with:
This is the movie scene I re-enacted with extra dramatic flair when my husband got back from his day fly-fishing:
But I also mixed in scenes from other Brad Pitt movies, including when he gets killed by a bear at the end of Legends of the Fall and the first time he tastes peanut butter on a spoon in Meet Joe Black — just to keep things fresh and unexpected, but still kind of cohesive, what with the 1990s Brad Pitt references. A mash-up of sorts, if you will. I didn’t include “WHAT’S IN THE BOX?” from the end of Se7en, because I didn’t want to go that dark.
Anyway. That’s what we did.