Monday, December 15, 2008

Small Kahuna

This adventure comes to you from the mind of my friend Sara S. A word about Sara S. AWESOME.

No really, she’s terrific. I didn’t think so when I first met her, but that was only because our first meeting was at the disciplinary hearing I had with her when I was a junior in college and she was the hall director. To be fair, she didn’t think much of me either when she met me at that hearing, but that was mainly because she’d already met with the other 10 friends of mine who’d been written up as well, and while Sara S. knew in her soul that we were lying about our story, that there wasn’t alcohol in the room and we weren’t having a party, Sara S. could prove nothing because all of our stories synced up perfectly. And that is my story and I am sticking to it. (Hi Mom and Dad! Thanks for the tuition!)

Anyshoes, Sara S. and I have clearly moved on past those fraught times of making me write a paper as a sanction to right my wrongs. (Which I will post later, as I still have a copy of it.). She has become a very good friend of mine, and a perfect partner in crime when I need to tackle hard-hitting BaltimoreMetromix.com assignments like finding the top 5 places to drink martinis in Charm City, as Sara S. not only lives in Baltimore, but she also is not one to turn down free drinks. (Apparently working at Saint Mary’s College, even for a short time, turns you into a boozer. I would very much like to tell you I’m shocked.)

So thank you, Sara S., for the idea for this wonderful adventure. You will be receiving a major reward for helping me Look Fine at 29. And now, on with the show.


**

There is a class I like to go to at my gym on Saturday mornings. It’s a total body workout class, and we lift weights for half the time and do squats for the other half. There’s a little cardio thrown in for good measure, but mostly, it’s just the lifting and the squats. I’ve been going to this class for about a year now, which means that in that time I’ve completed 4,697 squats, working my gluteus maximus 4,697 times.

I was thinking about this class, and silently thanking my butt and Tamara the Total Body Workout instructor, as I stood in a modified squat position, arms out, one in front and one in back, looking down the length of the arm out to the front. This is okay, I thought to myself. I can do this.

Of course it was okay. Of course I could do it. All I was doing was standing on a surf board. In the sand.

The instructor of our surfing lesson, a fair-haired, fair-skinned short man with a thick coating of sunblock on his nose and tips of his ears, walked us through the process of getting from the paddling/flat-on-your-stomach position to the standing on your surfboard/riding the wave position, breaking it down into four steps. I watched apprehensively. The standing position I got. It was the paddling and pushing up part that will be the death of me, I thought sadly. For despite attending this Total Body Workout class for the last year or so, and despite all the lifting we do in said class, I do not have a ton of upper body strength. Ask me to hold something or wave my arms around in the slightest and I tire out almost instantly, requiring a nap and a cold compress for recovery. Whatever muscle I do gain in my upper body doesn’t stick around very long before deciding it would be happier living Thighland rather than the United States of Amarmica. I prayed that when we got on the water I’d have some natives return to their homeland of Amarmica, at least for a visit.

After a mere 20 minutes of surfing instruction on dry land we headed out to the water. “Most of the work you’ll do today will be paddling out!” the fair instructor called cheerily on our way out to sea, and I died a little on the inside. As we paddled out into the water, my panicking instincts kicked in, and while I’d been relatively calm earlier, I was not as much now.

Because did I also mention the ocean freaks me out a little?

The ocean freaks me out a little.

The freak out is partly due to the fact that I have a bit of an overactive imagination and am convinced that those things that people say could never happen to them or in a million years will actually happen to me. For example, the calm waters in front of a Hawaiian resort will suddenly turn deadly when I turn around on my surfboard, only to find the second coming of Jaws looming over me, eagerly licking his two sets of teeth in anticipation of snapping off my head in one bite as easily as you would bite off the top of a popsicle. I would be as cold too, being in the water, though maybe a mushier around the edges.

The larger part of the freak out has to do with the fact that I can’t always see the ocean floor. Who knows what’s lurking down there, waiting to wind its slimy, filmy, fluttery self around my ankles. I do not like what I cannot see, and while I can mostly put this and other thoughts out of my head, they were niggling around the sides of my brains as I paddled and paddled, breathing deeply but not quite panting yet, out to the spot where the rest of my classmates were waiting.

Oh, and I have a mild fear of drowning, I don’t know why, since I know how to swim.

The instructor, along with another instructor, who seemed very Cheech-like in his demeanor, joined us on the water. “Lay on your board and paddle up to us,” they said. “We’ll push you into the wave, and when we say pop up, that’s when you pop up on your board and ride the wave in.” But, they warned us, don’t ride it too far in, otherwise you’ll ride into shore, and the sand? Not so soft when your board stops and you go flying and eat it. So just fall off your board instead.

Of course! Shouldn’t be a problem!

And fall off your board with your arms out, and fall either directly forward or directly backward. That way, if you’re over rocks or coral, your hands will hit first, and you’re less likely to do major damage, the instructors told us.

Why, sure!

Oh, and when you fall, don’t pop out of the water right away. You don’t know where the board is, and you don’t want a wave to push it into your face, they added.

No head injuries! Right-o!

I let the other class participants take their turns before I paddled my way, a little knot of nerves sitting primly in my tum.

“Ready?” the instructor asked.

“Ummm,” I said.

“Get in ready position,” he said, and I pulled my arms back so my elbows were pointed skyward next to somewhere between my boobs and my waist. I stared straight ahead, the water calm beneath me, and then the instructor said, “Okay,” and I felt a wave roll under my board as the instructor pushed me into it. I stayed down for a moment until I heard him shout, “POP UP!” somewhere behind me, and I frantically scrambled to climb up my board, forgetting everything we’d learned in the 20 minute session on land. Because do you know what happens when you try and scramble on a surfboard? I shall tell you. Amazingly, you do not so much slip because you are wearing water shoes that help grip your feet to the board. But you do a lot of flailing, have a brief moment that shines like the glorious Hawaiian sun above you as you stand for a nanosecond, right before your hips pitch forward and your back bends, and you think to yourself, “I can touch my toes!”, before you go flying off the board and into the water, arms and legs tangled together as you have the fleeting thought of hoping to God above that there is nothing dangerous below you because you are certainly not falling off your board in the proper position.

The instructors would have done well to have also given the one simple instruction of “DON’T FREAK OUT.”

When I popped up, I looked back toward the instructors. “Whoops!” I called. I hopped back on my board and paddled out to the waiting area.

After that, it got easier. After that first fall off my board, I looked down and realized that though the water was murky, I could, indeed, see to the bottom, and see that I was standing on a whole lot of rocks and other sharp things that could hurt me (and would, as later my hand would scrape against a patch of it, but thankfully draw no blood). Realizing also that the water wasn’t all that deep even where the instructors were, since they were able to stand as they watched for waves, a good deal of the panic washed out into the ocean as the tide pulled itself back out to sea.

The next push into a wave proved more successful, and I rode it quite well, as I would the majority of the waves I encountered in my surfing lesson. I will be honest when I tell you that these waves were not big in the least. They were itty-bitty waves, and while Kate Bosworth would have been disappointed, I was just fine with it all. The only problem the waves’ lack of force caused was when the instructor pushed me out into a wave, and the wave piddled out before we even made it a quarter of the way to shore, and I was left standing there on my board on top of the ocean, bobbing aimlessly. I turned around to look at the instructors and shrugged. “Sorry about that! That was my fault!” He called. I hopped down off my board into the water, turned around, hopped back on in stomach position and paddled back out. (Later, I would get to ride a mildly bigger wave, the thrill of the day as I rode it for a short distance, despite eventually getting knocked off my board by it. It was big enough that when I did fall it washed over me in a rush, and my arms flew over my head, and I curled into a fetal position, which is a Midwesterner’s response to such an event, taking the finer points of surfing safety and tornado drills and making them One.)

Because of the small waves and calm waters, there seemed an inordinate amount of hanging out flat on our stomachs until the next viable wave came our way. Some of the other people in the class would sit upright on their boards while they waited, straddling their legs over it and into the water. I desperately wanted to do this as well, as laying flat on my stomach was starting to hurt my lower back. I’d push up onto my elbows, debate trying to pull myself up into a sitting position, but fearing I’d never get back into a laying down/ready position without falling off my board, I opted to endure the uncomfortable flat-on-stomach position. Risking falling off my board was only worth if I was standing up on a wave. Falling off my board when getting back down into ready position, not so much.

Because getting back on the board was, ah, complicated.

The complications stemmed partially from the aforementioned lack of upper body strength and partially from the face that oceans make things wobbly. In trying to get back on the board there was a good deal of heaving myself at the board, clinging desperately to its sides as it teetered back and forth, dangerously trying to tip me into the water. Once at least part of my stomach or lower body was anywhere remotely on the board, I did my best to scramble to a more stable position, like a crab on ice. Feeling good at one point, I decided to try a new approach to getting on the board, and took a sort of running start, with a bounce and a hop, leaping stomach first, sailing through the air at my surfboard. This is great! This worked! I shouted to myself silently and gleefully. And it did work great, for one half of one second that I was on the board, before I went rolling off the other side, really accomplishing nothing more than skimming my body out of the water on one side and into the water on the other.

Good times.

So you can see why I was hesitant to rock the board too much with any moving around, lest I fall off and have to get back on again. The good thing, though, was that the lack of movement and interminable waiting of waves subsequently made me stop and contemplate all that was happening around me. First, I contemplated that I did not put enough sunblock on the backs of my legs. My poor, pale skin prickled as it burned, and later the patches of bright pink would feel scratchy against fabrics, though ultimately they did not burn as badly as I’d imagined. Hooray and God Bless SPF 50. Secondly, I also contemplated on the issue of my right forearm and right knee getting board-burned. I have yet to figure out why this did not happen on my left side.

And then there was the contemplation of the beauty of it all. In front of me the beach stretched out to my right and to my left, filled with families playing, never mind the expansive resorts dotting the background. Behind me was a swath of gently moving water, beyond it the hazy outline of another Hawaiian island. In the distance, dark clouds hovered over hills and volcanoes in the distance. Our instructors said a storm would roll in later, though it never did, save for a few sloppy splotches of water that drooled slowly out of the sky. It was glorious and spectacular, and I did not drown and no sharks ate me, not even on the last ride into shore, our surfing lesson over just in time for lunch.

Beauty shows itself in so many ways.









POP UP!












It's no Blue Crush, but it will do.














Wipeout

Monday, December 1, 2008

Butterfly in the Sky

So!

One of my best girls, MareSul, is a bit peeved with me that I haven’t posted anything in, oh, quite some time. She was not very accepting of my reasoning that I Am Very Busy Doing Other Things, Like Packing For Vacation, wondering, really, Mol? You’ve been packing for vacation for a month and a half now?

Mentally, yes.

Doesn’t everyone?

Anyshoes, I do have an adventure that will be posted soon, but until then, I present you with this: Book List 2008. This is the second year in a row that I’ve kept track of all the books I’ve read throughout the year, and let me tell you, it’s an interesting little project, and kinda fun. I’ve always wondered how many books I read per year. Now I have a pretty good idea. This year, it was 46. The year before it was 52. I tried to shoot for reading 100 books that first year, but that is simply, um, impossible. For me, anyway. Other people I know, reading 100 books in a year is a cakewalk. This year I didn’t put a number on my list, just jotted down each as I finished, wondering if I’d read as many without the pressure of a number behind each and every one. It was much more pleasant. To me, setting a goal of reading a certain number of books takes all the fun out of reading. And if you love to read, then reading should be fun. I find it tremendously fun. I know others do not, but I’m not them and they’re not me, so to each his own. My mom has a framed Mary Engelbreit print in her room that sums it up best. The print states, “Books Fall Open, I Fall In.”

That is so true.

To fall into a book is one of the greatest feelings in the world. It doesn’t have to be the smartest book, the most classic book, or what have you. It just has to be a book that induces that escapist, floaty feeling, when time isn’t given a care, but ends up speeding by you, particularly toward the last few pages and paragraphs, when you deliberately slow your reading, get up, go to the bathroom, watch some TV, let a few days pass, because you really do not want this book to end. Because once it ends, you’re quite sad and fear that you will never ever have such a good time reading a book again.

But you will, and you do. Not always the immediate next book, sometimes it takes a couple tries.

It’s quite addictive, reading.

There’s a second reason I’m posting this list, which is that I’m often asked for book recommendations. So here’s a few from which to choose. I’ve put an asterisk next to the ones I particularly enjoyed; these are the ones that come to the top of my mind when someone asks me what they should read next. Clearly I got on some author kicks this year. Clearly not all of the books I read were of, ahem, high caliber. Clearly, Marian Keyes could write the ingredients on the back of a cereal box and I will read it, and probably love it. I’m okay with that, with all of that. Of all of these books, there is are only a couple that I wished I hadn’t bothered finishing, one of them being Chasing Harry Winston. I am a fan of chick lit, so long as it’s well-written and interesting. And this book was not quite either of those things. It was written just barely to decent, and the story line was a half-step below mildly interesting, that wonky point where you think to yourself, “Okay, I could see how this might pick up! I’ll just read another chapter…no, okay, not that one…maybe it will pick up in the next chapter…maybe the next one?” It had the potential to be very interesting, but it just…wasn’t. Something Borrowed gets the second place prize for Book I Did Not Enjoy And Wish I Had Just Stopped Reading. But stopping a book is not something I’m very good at. I’m getting better, though. I think this year I managed to walk away from at least three books that were not really making me excited at their prospect and/or boring me to death and/or I wanted to punch the characters in the face and tell them to either grow up, go to hell, or both. To walk away from not one but three books this year is quite huge in Molly’s World.

So, anyone got any suggestions for Year Three of Books? I’ve got a few under my belt and completed already, as well as some on the backburner, but I’m always open to suggestions. Suggest away!

Year Two of Books
Books Read Between November 13, 2007 and November 12, 2008

A Tale of Two Sisters – Anna Maxted
Shoe Addicts Anonymous – Beth HarbisonJulie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen – Julie Powell
Size 14 Isn’t Fat Either: A Heather Wells Mystery – Meg Cabot
A Dog Year: Twelve Months, Four Dogs, and Me – Jon Katz
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table – Ruth Reichl*
Secrets of My Hollywood Life – Jen Calonita
Comfort Me With Apples; More Adventures at the Table – Ruth Reichl*
Big Boned – Meg Cabot
Angels – Marian Keyes*
Run – Ann Patchett*
Anybody Out There? – Marian Keyes*
Watermelon – Marian Keyes*
Rachel’s Holiday – Marian Keyes*
Escape – Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer
Princess Mia – Meg Cabot
Gang Leader for a Day – Sudhir Venkatesh*
Getting Rid of Bradley – Jennifer Cruisie
Undead and Unwed – Mary Janice Davidson
Undead and Unemployed – Mary Janice Davidson
Undead and Unappreciated – Mary Janice Davidson
The Royal Treatment - Mary Janice Davidson
Undead and Unreturnable – Mary Janice Davidson
Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen*
One for the Money – Janet Evanovich
The Royal Pain - Mary Janice Davidson
Undead and Unpopular – Mary Janice Davidson
Bringing Down the House – Ben Mezrich*
Love is a Mixtape – Rob Sheffield
Undead and Uneasy – Mary Janice Davidson
The Opposite of Love – Julie Buxbaum
Something Borrowed – Emily Giffin
The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (And How to Do Them) – Peter Sagal*
Queen of Babble Gets Hitched – Meg Cabot
Remember Me? - Sophie Kinsella
Last Chance Saloon – Marian Keyes*
This Charming Man – Marian Keyes*
I Love You, Beth Cooper – Larry Doyle*
Suburbanistas – Pamela Redmond Satran
Rock On – Dan Kennedy
Undead and Unworthy – Mary Janice Davidson
Stop That Girl – Elizabeth McKenzie
Chasing Harry Winston – Lauren Weisberger
Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married – Marian Keyes
The Other Side of the Story – Marian Keyes
How To Lose Friends & Alienate People - Toby Young


Monday, October 6, 2008

Songs Mean A Lot When Songs Are Bought*



This adventure is brought to you by the letters J and B. Which stand for JMac and Brianne, two very good friends of mine who donated to Locks of Love last year and inspired me to do the same.

I have known JMac since we studied abroad together in Rome. She is a very smart and funny gal with a kind heart who let me sleep on her couch on and off for almost a month when I decided it would be a grand idea to up and move to DC with no job and no apartment. JMac is a dear friend of mine not simply because she is easily bribed with food, but also because she has educated me in the art of constructing unnecessary and lengthy backstories when lying to people. In a good way.

Brianne and I met when I moved out here. At the time she worked for a senator and often gave tours of the Capitol, and I happened to have guests coming in to town who were interested in such a thing. We bonded during that tour, and have since spent many days and nights – when Bri is not at work until 3 a.m. because she still works for the government and they like to pull that sort of shit and keep you at work really late, apparently – eating a lot of food, drinking margaritas, and shopping for bras. Though not all at the same time. Usually.

Thank you, J and Bri, for the inspiration. You will both get a Major Reward, even though you technically didn’t suggest that I do this, but you certainly did put the idea in my head, so in my book that totally counts.

On with the show.

**

There is not a woman alive who doesn’t have thoughts (good, bad, or neutral) about her hair. Hair is such a personal thing, right up there with family, religion, and pizza preference, a sticky and tenuous relationship that goes beyond hair gel. For a woman, her hair is an asset, or a nuisance, or a constant reminder of what she will always or never be or have. Sometimes, it is all three.

My own relationship with my hair has always been, at best, unstable. It’s not exactly curly but it’s not exactly straight, and were I to just say it is wavy brings to my mind a picture of a sleek, bodied head of hair, and that’s not right either. What I have is weirdly frizzy hair with a wavy twist and more and more grays threading their way through my mane. (Thanks, Mom!) It only looks nice when I go to the salon and have a cut and a blowout, but two days later I am back to wrangling with it in my own disastrous way once again. None of my other sisters have hair like this. No, they all have lovely hair, shiny and able to be tamed and coiffed into magnificent styles. I’ve always thought my sister Nancy in particular has terrifically great hair. You could take a hacksaw to it and it would still end up looking fantastic. I don’t think she even uses product in it. I would very much like to hate her for this, but she’s my sister, you see, so I cannot very well do that because I love her very much. Instead I sigh a great wishful, somewhat jealous sigh and then go buy another lottery winning’s worth of products that promise to give my hair that fresh-from-the-salon look despite that I am, in fact, hair retarded and have only just recently gotten the somewhat hang of using a blowdryer.

Oh, the pity parties I could have about my hair.

Until I remember that at least I have hair.

In fact, I have lots of hair. It’s fine hair, but there’s a good amount of it, according to the hair stylists I’ve known and loved over the years. (And oh, there have been many.) So I decided that I should stop whining and share what I have.

I will share my hair.

I’ll let you read up about Locks of Love yourself if you so desire, but the gist of it is they collect donated hair to make into wigs for kids who don’t have any. You need 10 inches of hair for a viable donation, which means This Girl has been growing her hair out for over a year to make that goal.

I had hoped I’d be able to cut it before the summer started, but I was about an inch or so too short. I was heartbroken. Or at the very least, I was very disappointed. It looked ratty if I left it down and frizzed even more so than usual in the humidity, but there was not a chance in hell that I would subject myself to a blow dryer followed by a hair straightener followed by constant brushing followed by another round of hair straightener in the middle of July in DC. I am not a masochist. Instead, I invested in more hair ties and bemoaned another summer of ponytails and messy buns. And by the end of the oppressive heat season I was overtired of long hair, tired of the work that went into it, tired of it never looking nice. It was just so long.

And then a couple weeks ago, I tied my hair back and pulled out the tape measurer. Contorting my arms and neck to get an accurate read, I smiled broadly, threw the tape measurer aside and picked up the phone. Two weeks and I would be a free woman. Two weeks and I would have an appointment with Justine at the salon. Oh joy of woman’s desire, I was going to get a haircut.
The Length To Go To For Hair:


The Best is Yet to Come
The day of the cut was perfectly fall. I had the afternoon off from work and tottered along to home, all the while anticipating my 5:30 appointment. Frank Sinatra came on my iPod to tell me that the best was yet to come as I sauntered into a Metro car, and I believed him.

So happy was I that I almost felt guilty about the new hair life ahead of me. I felt like I should take my hair out for coffee to break the news to it gently that I was breaking up with it, that maybe in the future we could get back together, see each other again, but I couldn’t make any promises. I didn’t know what my future would hold; I didn’t want to give my hair false hope.

“You’re too high maintenance,” I would tell it. “It’s too much effort, and I can’t be who you want me to be.”

“Who do you think I want you to be?” I imagined my hair asking me angrily, hurt and confused, trying to understand, desperate to make this relationship work.

“Someone with hair styling skills, to treat you right and make you a better head of hair,” I would respond solemnly and a little sadly. “You want me to be your hairfriend.”

“I never said I wanted that,” my hair would retort huffily.

“You didn’t have to say it. It’s written all over your follicles,” I would pat my hair gently, telling it it was going to be okay, that it would move on to bigger and better things and it should just let me go, it was better off without me.

My hair and I marched to the salon to make our split final. Stacey, Justine’s assistant waved me over to the chair as Justine was finishing up with another client. When she approached me I could feel her eyes roaming over my hair, taking it in. “What are we going to do today?” she asked.

“Cut,” I said. “The Big Cut, for Locks of Love. And color.”

Justine’s eyes lit up. “Oh, that’s great!” she exclaimed and then asked me how I wanted my hair cut. I looked at her blankly.

“I don’t know?” I said. “Not shorter than my chin? But other than that, do whatever you want.”

“Okay, like a bob,” she decided. “Highlights?”

“Umm…you can dye it purple for all I care, just make it shiny and pretty and cover the gray, please,” I requested. Justine is a magician with color, and I trusted her completely. And as I sat in the chair waiting for her to pull out the scissors, I knew that any cut she gave me would make my hair look better than its current state.

I did have an inkling of worry, though. Clearly, for some time now, I’ve had long to longish hair. I haven’t had very short hair in about 10 years. And I worried that if I cut my hair too short hair would make me look like a boy. (A longish-haired boy, but a boy nonetheless.) Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel this way about other people, I feel and worry this way solely about myself. I think short hair, on others, can and does look phenomenal. I see other girls skipping down the street with their short, swingy hair and heave a wistful sigh. But on me, I’m not so sure. It’s akin to how I feel about wearing flats with skirts and dresses – I think they look so cute on other girls, but they make me feel like I am short and squat and have stumpy legs, and I just am not sure that I can pull it off.

But while this inkling was trickling through my gray matter, Justine was busy measuring and combing and then snipped her scissors and looked at me in the mirror and said, “Ready?”

“Oh my God, yes,” I replied, and I realized I was. Who cares what I looked like? I decided. It’s just hair. And it’s for a good cause. There are worse things than thinking you might possibly end up looking like a boy, I snapped at myself, like not having any hair at all. But what if it’s not pretty? a small voice tried to pop up in the back row of my brain. What if it makes us look silly and like a mushroom, and…and…

Oh, shut up! I nearly fell out of my chair trying to push the voice out the plate glass salon window. It’s for a good cause! I hollered at it as it tumbled into the hubbub of G Street.

Justine took a keep breath. I took a deep breath.

And then she lopped that ponytail right off my head.


Freedom! ‘08
Oh my, it was short.

Especially when I reached around and felt the back, which was much shorter than the front. That’s what happens when you cut your hair off in a ponytail, after all.

The ends felt fuzzy and razored, but I smiled, happy to have all that hair gone, though still harboring a slim shred of nervousness about what it would look like at the end. Stacey walked me over to the shampoo bowl, and is there anything better than having someone else wash your hair? Not in that creepy, trying-for-sexy way like in that Brek commercial back in the early 90s when the girl was in the tub on her front porch while her lover washed her hair. Because who takes a bath on their front porch? But when you’re at the salon, and there is nothing else you can do but sit back and let someone fuss over you for awhile, and give you a scalp massage at the same time, it’s pure heaven. And the shampoo just smells so good. By the time Stacey was done, I was so happy to not only have clean hair and a relaxed crown but to also have the long hair gone, Justine could have come over and said, “I’ve decided to give you a buzz cut,” and I would have said, “Okay, just make it shiny and pretty,” and sat about the salon chair in my merry way.
The rest of the visit flew by. One minute I was sitting under the salon’s space helmet letting my color bake, and the next Stacey was blowing out my hair with surprisingly little product before Justine came over to detail the cut.

“Do you like it?” they asked me, and I stared in the mirror. I most definitely did not look like I did when I walked in. And I most definitely did not look like a boy.

“I love it,” I said breathlessly, calculating in my head how long I could make this sleek, shiny cap of hair last before I had to ruin the moment and wash and style it myself. I gave it three days. (I was right.) Justine and Stacey beamed.

After dropping a few oodles of cash at the front desk for the bill, I damn well waltzed out the door to the Metro Center to catch the train home, flicking and fluffing and preening my hair. George Michael’s Freedom’90 played through my head and I wanted to sing in the street. I wondered if I opened my mouth if his voice would come out, but I realized that since I was not singing with a black turtleneck sweater pulled over my face, probably not. My ponytail was tucked in a plastic bag, ready to be stuffed in a padded envelope and sent off to make a child hairfully happy. I will say it looked so much better in Ziplock than it did on my head, as I’m sure it will look better on someone else than it did on me.

My friend JMac came over later that evening, wanting to see the haircut before she left for the weekend.

“Oh, it looks so sophistamicated,” she said seriously, reaching to pet it. I nodded and smiled. I thought so too. But I’ll let you decide for yourself.




*Note to readers: The first person to correctly identify how the title of this entry is linked to the subject of this entry will win a batch of my super awesome oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. You can leave your answer in the comments section, and I’ll be in touch with the winner.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Going Places

Anne is her name. Anne Miller, to be exact. She’s a psychic, and I was going to see her and have a reading. So was my friend Robyn, and we left this early to make the drive to Ohio to do so:





I put it on my list of things to do before I turn 30, because I’ve been hearing about Anne Miller for years now, since the first time my friend Poofie had a reading with her, I believe just after our freshman year of college. And since then, Poofie’s gone back. Several times. As has her mom, Jane, who first found Anne (though Jane cannot remember how). Carlie, Poofie’s sister, has gone, too, as has Rick, Poofie’s dad, and GiGi, Poofie’s grandma. From all that I had heard, Anne is accurate. Pretty damn accurate, though you may not realize it at the time, Poofie told me. The first story Poofie told me about Anne when we were 19, I remember sitting out on the back patio at my parent’s house, gabbing away with Poofie like we often did that summer between freshman and sophomore year of college, jacking up our parents’ phone bills. Good times. Anne had told Poofie that there would be a guy, and it had something to do with…spaghetti?

“It’s Giacamo! You’re totally going to marry Giacamo!” I shrieked. Giacamo was going to be a senior at Notre Dame that year, and Poofie knew him from marching band, and had a wildly awesome crush on him. He was a drum major, the son of straight-from-Italy parents, and I do remember him looking quite dapper when doing the high kicks out onto the football field. Poofie just sort of giggled and said, “Oh, I dunnoooooo,” in response.

Poofie got married in 2001, two months after we graduated from college. It was a lovely wedding. Her husband’s name is Shawn. They met through marching band and first hung out over dinner on the way back from the ND/Pitt game. Dinner was at Fazoli’s.

***
The week before we our Ohio adventure, I called both Jane and Poofie to ask what I should expect out of this Anne Miller.

“What do you call her?” I twittered to Jane. There was a long pause on the other end of the line.

“Anne,” Jane said slowly.

“No, no, no, I mean, what do you call her? Is she called a psychic? A medium? A spiritual guide? What?”

“Oh,” Jane said, understanding. “You know, I’ve never really thought about it.”

“Well you’re no help. How does she get the answers?” I asked.

“I don’t know, and don’t waste your session time asking her,” Jane replied sternly.

“What should I do beforehand?” I asked. “Do I need to prepare anything?”

“Well,” Jane thought a moment. “It’s probably a good idea to think of a few questions beforehand.”

“WHAT IF SHE TELLS ME I’M GOING TO DIE A VIOLENT DEATH BY MARSHMALLOWS?” I yelled down the phone.

“She’s not going to tell you that,” Jane said. “I might tell you that, but Anne doesn’t hand out bad news.”

After Jane, I called Poofie. “IS WHAT YOUR MOTHER SAYS TRUE?”

“Yes,” Poofie said. “And stop yelling.”

“I’m sorry, I’m just nervous. What if Anne tells me something that I don’t want to hear?”

“Then you tell her to stop and you don’t want to hear about that anymore. She’ll move on,” Poofie explained calmly.

“Well what, you know, happens during the reading? What does she do?” I asked. “How does it all go down?”

“Oh, you know,” Poofie said breezily. “she does some tricks with cards and then you do some shit with rocks.”

“‘Tricks with cards’” I said. “And ‘shit with rocks,’” I paused. “That’s all you have to say.”

“Yes.”

“Do you teach your daughter to talk with that mouth?”

“You shut the hell up.”


So they were helpful.

**

On the ride to Ohio, Robyn and I had debated what Anne Miller looked like.

“Skinny, with long, frizzy hair and a very pointy nose. Glasses, but he hair is always falling in her eyes,” I said. I was picturing a character on an episode of Scooby-Doo, the name of which escapes me at the moment.


“I’m picturing Dumbledore,” Robyn decided. “With long, flowing robes. Except female.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong, Jane informed us later as we sat on the front porch with her and Rick, eating sandwiches.

“She’s short, very short,” Jane said. “And overweight. Wears glasses. I think today she has a pink shirt on. She’s someone who wouldn’t look out of place at Wal-Mart.”

That was true, I thought to myself as Anne smilingly ushered me into the session room an hour later. I sat down and told her my name and she turned on the recorder to tape our session. As she readied her items, I was completely distracted by the waggles of flab on her underarms, mesmerized as they wobbled to and fro. And then I panicked, convinced that Anne Miller could see into my mind that I was obsessing over her arm waggles and if she was going to use some sort of hoo-doo-voo-doo Jedi mind tricks to stun the thoughts out of me. And then tell me I was going to die a violent death by marshmallows.

Instead, though, she handed me a deck of tarot cards and asked me to shuffle them. And while I shuffled them, I was to think of a question I wanted an answer to, or make a wish, but not to tell her what it is. I shuffled and shuffled in various ways, squeezing my eyes shut and wishing, prolonging the suspense of starting the session. I still wasn’t I wanted to hear what she was going to say.

I had barely handed the cards back to Anne when she looked at me curiously and asked, “Did you recently start dating someone?”

“Um, no,” I said.

“Oh,” Anne nodded. “Okay. Well, there’s a guy standing right next to you, which means he’s coming into the picture very soon.”

“Really?” I asked, looking to my side, as if this guy was tangibly there instead of in my aura. Or destiny. Or future. Or energy. Or whatever you want to call the space right next to me in psychic terms. “What does he look like?” I couldn’t help but ask, thinking to myself, please let him be tall, please let him be tall.

Anne paused, closing her eyes as if to see him better. “Well, he’s handsome, but the first thing you notice about him is how smart he looks,” she replied. “And he’s incredibly smart,” she continued. “He’s tall-“

HOORAY!

“-right on the cusp of six feet, a little more or a little less – “

Dear God, please let it be a little more. It’s okay if it’s a little less, but let’s be real. I’m tall. I like tall dudes. At least, taller-than-me dudes. Let’s make that happen. Love, Molly

“ – and he wears glasses sometimes. He’s just incredibly smart. Incredibly smart. Wow. He’s really going places.”

Anne Miller had yet to flip over a tarot card but had already given me some good news. This was totally worth the $55 fee. Violent death by marshmallows was looking less imminent, and I realized how nervous I’d been, my knees twitching and jangling underneath the table, like when I’m on an airplane and let the nerves get to me because I am not the one flying the plane. Anne was flying this plane, and doing a pretty good job so far (because who wants to be dating a dumbass?) which meant I could relax. Kind of. Because how much can you really relax when someone is about to tell you what might possibly happen to you? How much do you really want to know? And how smart is Anne that she’s tape recording this because I am too distracted by my own thoughts to hear what she is saying right now?

The cards flipped over one by one, Anne tapping a finger on some to point out particularly good things to come for me.

“You’re going to get a new job soon,” she said. “What do you do?”

“I’m a writer,” I said.

“Yes, that makes sense,” she said. “Oh, I’ve been meaning to write a book for years. Have it all planned out, just can’t seem to find the time.”

“Yeah,” I said. This isn’t about you, lady! And can’t your own abilities tell you if that book will ever come to fruition or not? Christ!

“Do you write poetry?” Anne asked, and I started laughing.

“Good God, no,” I told her. “I’m horrible at poetry. Anything I’ve ever tried to write ends up sounding like a lame power ballad.”

“Huh.” Anne thought a minute. “There are beautiful words that will come through you. They aren’t yours, but get a notebook and write them down. They are words from others coming through you, like nothing you would ever write. Not for sale, but just to get them on paper.”

“Oh. Okay.” Because that’s not a little freaky, I thought to myself.

“And in general, when you’re writing,” Anne advised me, “surround yourself with as if with mirrors, so that negative thoughts bounce away from you and don’t taint your writing, and that they bounce back with peace and love.”

And if you don’t think I now have a mental image of myself hunkered down in a mirrored writing teepee with just two eyeholes and a pair of armholes cut out of the front to tap, tap, tap at my laptop, you are so wrong.

“Okay!” I said.

Anne paused again, hovering over the card that just announced I’d get a new job soon. She closed her eyes and tilted her head upward – something she would do regularly throughout the session to concentrate on the thoughts or visions or whatever they were coming to her. “It will be more money, too, this new job, and if you want to take it, take it,” she said finally. Then she looked at me.

“I’m getting pulled toward California. What’s your connection there?” she asked.

I scrunched up my face, thinking. Cousins, friends, but job-wise, “Nothing,” I said.

“Hmm…” Anne said, pausing and closing her eyes. “And now I’m getting pulled toward New York, too. But you’re not living in either place. Maybe you’re working for a company that has offices in both, and you travel to them a lot?”

“Hmm…” was my response.

***
Now would be a good time to note that in my earlier talkings with Poofie, she had warned me about giving Anne too much information. Poofie has known me a long time, knows that ask me a simple question and I will give you a 500 word answer on occasion. On sometimes. On often. Okay, on most of the time.

“If she asks you where you grew up, don’t go into some long explanation of ‘Well, I lived here, but then we moved, and then I went to school here, and this and that,” Poofie said in a sing-song imitation of me. (Which is totally NOT what I sound like, FYI.)

“Are you telling me to stop talking so much?” I asked, trying to decide if I was insulted that one of my best friends had just called me an inane chatterbox. I was not. Because it’s true.

“Yes.”

“Okay.”

***

Anne flipped over more cards, pointing at them here and there. She was seeing comedy writing, maybe about 5 or 10 years down the line.

“I am very funny,” I said seriously.

“Oh, um-hmm,” she said, ignoring my comment, “this card goes back to the guy that’s coming into the picture soon. There is going to be a lot of romance. A LOT of romance.”

“SWEET!” I yelled with a fist pump. Anne startled and I dropped my hands back in my lap and sat back as she turned over another card.

“You’re going to be moving soon,” Anne said.

“Oh,” I replied, not mentioning that thoughts of moving back to Chicago had been fliting in and out of my head recently.

She peered at me. “I keep getting something about Arlington. Very strong, Arlington,” she said, squinting.

“Dear God, I hope not,” I muttered, and put my head in my hands.

“It’s not immediate, your move, but sometime in the near future,” Anne continued. She thought for a moment again. “Yeah, I keep getting Arlington.”

Dear God, Poofie said that Anne isn’t always right on everything. Please let this be one of the things she is wrong on. I do not want to live in Arlington. Heights or Virginia. They are lovely towns, but I have no desire to live in either. Since I’m not military, I’m going to assume she doesn’t mean Cemetery. Love, Molly

Over and over went more cards. I was going to take up a new hobby, she said, and I needed to have more fun in my life. You’re going to be signing a document soon, she told me, but not one I’d need a lawyer to look at. Anne stopped suddenly and said, “I’m hearing loud piano music. Does that mean anything to you?”

“Um, no,” I said, wondering if Anne had suddenly turned bat-shit crazy.

“I’m hearing loud piano music. Really loud. It’s not what you normally listen to, but you like it,” she said. “That doesn’t mean anything to you?”

“Nope.”

“Huh. Well, maybe you’re going to a concert or something. Or maybe it has something to do with that guy who’s coming into the picture. I mean it’s really loud, this music.” Anne looked at me expectantly, and all I could do was shrug. It meant nothing to me. Anne shrugged back as if to say, “Well, there you go.”

WE INTERRUPT THIS PSYCHIC READING FOR A FAST FORWARD

A couple weeks after my visit with Anne I was up in Baltimore doing some work (re: testing cocktails) with my friend Scalzo and a couple of her coworkers.

“Hey, do you want to come up on Saturday night for Mike’s birthday party?” she asked.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I said noncommittally. “Maybe.”

“Well if you don’t have anything to do, you should come,” she said. “We’re going to Howl at the Moon.”

“Howl at the Moon?” I asked her with wide eyes, having told her my story of Anne’s reading.

“Yeah, Howl at the Moon,” she said, looking at me like a couple marbles had rolled out of my ears.

“DOES LOUD PIANO MUSIC MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU?” I yelled at her.

“Oh shit, I wasn’t even thinking of that!” she yelled back.

“Well I wasn’t going to come up for this, but now I am!” I shouted.

So I did go, and it was a lot of fun, and not something I would normally do, and I even chatted up a young man I met there as well, and texted my friend Robyn about it the next day.

“Was he tall? Did he wear glasses sometimes?” she asked.

“Yes and yes!” I responded.

“Did he look smart?” she questioned.

“Nope,” I said, “but he sure looked pretty.”


WE NOW RETURN TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED READING.


“This one,” Anne said, jabbing a finger at a card, “this one is the answer to whatever it was you were thinking or wishing for when you were shuffling the cards.”

I blinked, remembering what that wish was, and panicked a little, my scalp getting a wee crawly.

“And the answer is resoundingly yes,” Anne said. She looked at me intently, and then said, “Yes. People will know your name. You are going places. You have absolutely no idea how successful you are going to be.”

At which point I fell out of my chair.

Anne had no idea what I’d wished for, that I’d asked and wished and prayed that I would be successful in my career, wildly successful, because hey, I may as well shoot for the stars in this wishing game, but she just zeroed in and bulls-eye’d my target. Maybe it was a lucky guess. Maybe she’s just really good at reading people. Maybe my fear of career failure is something other people can smell. Who the hell cares? Do you know how calming and reassuring it is to have an impartial outside third party tell you something supportive and that it’s going to be okay about an issue that’s been gnawing at you for as long as you can remember? Even if it doesn’t come true? Or maybe it will? But who’s to say, because only time will tell? It’s like therapy. Except better. Because at therapy you don’t do shit with rocks.

About those rocks. We’ll get to them in a minute.

“Someone is lying to you,” Anne said, the stack of tarot cards dwindling. She tapped the card in front of her, as I looked at it and at her with alarm. “Someone is only giving you part of the story, so be careful. If someone tells you something that seems too good to be true, really look at where the information is coming from. You know, like if one of your friends says, ‘Hey, let’s go here, because that’s where the movie stars hang out,’ really think about the source.”

“Umm, okay,” I said.

“Oh, and this person is a female,” Anne added, and my head nearly spun off my neck cataloguing my friends and thinking, “Alright, which of you bitches is lying to me? Oh, I’ll find you." I narrowed my eyes and Anne flipped over a few more cards.

“This one shows me that you’ll have a lot of spiritual growth this year,” she said, “and your own psychic abilities and intuition will be more prevalent in the coming year. All in all, you are surrounded by really good spiritual energy and people with really good energy.” I smiled and nodded. I could have told her that.

“Except for that lying one,” Anne said. “You need to cut her out of your life.” My eyes went back to narrowed form.

“Don’t take the job with Disney,” she suddenly said, apropos of nothing.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Did you apply for a job there?” She asked. “You shouldn’t take the job. The pace is too grinding and you won’t like it.”

“No, I didn’t, but okay.”

“Well, isn’t it nice to know that when they offer you the job you can turn them down!” she exclaimed brightly.

“Okay!”

The cards were dealt, literally, in front of Anne, her hands empty now. She looked at me expectantly. “Do you have any questions?”

Blank! Blank!

“Umm….not at the moment?” I said. Dammit! I should have listened to Jane! I should have had questions ready! But nooooo…I was too busy waffling back and forth and being dramatic about what do I want to know? What do I want to knoooooow? that I never got around to actually thinking up questions.

“Okay,” Anne said, moving on. She pulled a thick, round wooden disc toward me, and picking it up revealed a ton of rocks and stones. Some were shiny, some were smooth and dull, all different shapes and colors and sizes. Ah, the shit with rocks. The disc had writing all over it, and Anne instructed me to pick up as many rocks as I wanted in two hands, and then drop them on the disc. How they landed was meaningful, as was where they landed.

“Ah,” Anne said, looking over her glasses at the disc. “The rocks landed in almost a perfect circle, which means that you will have more balance in your life soon.”

Dear God, thank you. It’s about damn time. Love, Molly

She pointed to some other stones – one meant I was going to be doing more exercising (true – I’ve been running with Robyn a lot lately as she trains for the Army 10 Miler), and my finances were still going to be stable, but not as much as I wanted them to be (true – they never are) and that I would be feeling better soon, because, as Anne pointed out, I’d been very tired lately (also very, very true at the time). But that would get better, she told me. Apparently the tiredness was coming from internalizing the stress over jobs and such.

Anne put away the shit with rocks and asked me again if I had any questions.

“Well,” I asked tentatively. “Is, um, there anybody, um, you know, here with us right now?”

“Oh yes!” Anne nodded enthusiastically. “There are three, no four, people here with us right now.” Interneters, it was all I could do to not whip my head around and shout, “WHERE?! WHERE?!”

“Oh,” I said, keeping my face calm and blank. “Can you tell me who they are? Maybe describe them to me?”

“Well, there’s a young guy, and two older gentlemen, and an older woman,” Anne said, squinting her eyes shut. I pressed her for more information. “The one older man says…I’m getting he’s a great-grandfather? He says he knows you, but you don’t know him. But he’s very proud of you.”

“Awww, that’s nice!” I said. “What about the others?”

Interneters, I should point out here that I made a deal with one of my grandmothers, Magga – who I think likes to come around and hang out and visit every so often – that if she was there she needed to give me a Really Obvious Sign that she was there. And I should also point out that I was kind of hoping she would show up.

“The other gentleman…it’s like you called him uncle, but he wasn’t really your uncle? Older man,” Anne reported.

“No clue. Who’s the woman?”

“Well, she’s quite modern. She’s wearing slacks,” Anne said. “She’s got dark hair that’s pulled back, and she was an excellent cook,” Anne continued, “but she didn’t like to cook, because she’d rather be out running around and having a good time.”

“Huh,” I sat back in my chair. The good cook part, yes, that was Magga. But according to my Uncle Skip, Magga owned one pantsuit in her entire life. “I have no idea who that is,” I said to Anne.

“It’s like she’s saying to me to tell you, ‘You know who I am,’” Anne replied.

I thought about it, racking my brain of everyone in my life who is passed on. Not all that many, thankfully, but I felt like this person’s – whoever she is – name was on the tip of my tongue. I just…couldn’t…figure it out. “I just don’t know!” I practically wailed.

“Who is the other guy?” I asked. “Is he a relative too?”

“Oh, no, you went to high school with him,” Anne stated.

My ears perked up. “Excuse me?”

“He was a classmate. He was killed in a car accident,” Anne said.

“Oh.” So, yeah, there is a guy I went to high school with who died in a car accident a few years back, after college. It was incredibly tragic (is there any other way for it to be?), not just for the loss of life, but because this guy was one of the nicest people you would ever meet. But I didn’t want to bubble forth with all that information, frankly. I wanted Anne to tell me. “Can you tell me what he looks like?”

“Well, he was always smiling, when he was alive,” she said, closing her eyes and peering to the inside of her mind. “He’s not fat, he’s not skinny, somewhere in between.”

“Okay,” I said, getting anxious. Maybe she’s pulling my leg. This could be any guy.

“And when he stands in the sun, his hair – “

Oh, hell. I was waiting for this one.

“ – is bright red. BRIGHT red. It’s not, really, it’s more like a strawberry blonde, but in the sun, it’s just a fireball.”

Oh my shit.

“Yeah,” I said, kind of freaked out at this point. “That’s Kevin.” Anne had just described Kevin, my classmate who was killed, to a T.

“He’s waving,” Anne told me, “he wanted to stop in and say hello.”

“Oh, hi, Kevin!” I said to the air.

“He likes to go around and check in on you and your classmates, see what everyone is up to. He says he’s fine and he’s having a good time, and he loves that no one can see him,” Anne said, like she was reading me a postcard from a cousin vacationing in Oahu. Anne adjusted her glasses and huffed. “He’s in for a shock, though, one of these days someone IS going to see him,” she half-muttered, for my benefit, or Kevin’s, I’m not sure.

“Ha. Shock of his life,” I said. And then stammered, “Except, he’s, you know, dead.”

“Shock of his afterlife,” Anne said.

Heh. Psychics are funny.

She told me more and more people were coming forward, the door must be open, but I didn’t know most of them, they were relatives long gone, and they just wanted to say hello. Although one woman, in a long dress, did step forward, Anne relayed to me, and said she wanted me to put together my family tree.

“Right now?” I asked, wondering if maybe this would be my new hobby, and wondering how you even start such a thing and dear God, why me?

“No, not right now,” Anne said, “but she wants you to do it eventually.”

I shrugged. “Okay.”

They started to leave then, Anne said, and she relayed that Kevin had turned around to wave goodbye, and the modern woman in slacks was still a bit exasperated that I couldn’t figure out who she was.

“Well I’m sorry!” I wailed again.

Anne straightened her things and asked me again if I had any other questions. I raced through my brain which was foggy with all I’d just been told, eager to ask her something but not knowing what.

“Umm…” I stalled. “What writing project should I be working on?”

Anne peered at the insides of her eyelids for a long moment. “The one you put aside,” she said finally.

I stared at her blankly. “Yeah, that’s all of them. Could you be a little more specific?”

Anne pondered on it for another moment. “The one you don’t want to write.”

“Again, that could be any of them.”

Anne shrugged, her hands up as if to say, “That’s all I got, kid, you’re on your own now.” I sighed.

And then, it was over. The session just sort of ended, and Anne walked me out to where Jane and Robyn were waiting for me. They looked at me expectantly, Jane with cheer, Robyn with panic because it was now her turn. I grinned stupidly back at them, feeling like I was soberly drunk, a bit dazed and blinking in the bright sunlight streaming into the room. That lasted for all of about 1 minute and 30 seconds until Robyn left for her session and Jane said, “So?” and the 45 minutes spent with Anne talking at me fell forth. (Jane has that effect on people, though, Anne or no Anne.)

It was a lot to take in, and close to two months later, I’m still taking it in, and of course, all sorts of questions flood through my mind that I beat myself up for not asking. Bits and pieces of the things she said will come floating back to me at times, and while I have the whole thing on an audio cassette, I haven’t listened to it. I wish I could tell you how I feel about it, a couple months later, but I'm still trying to figure that out for myself, figure out what Anne said was right, what was wrong, and what was wishful thinking. If nothing else, Robyn and I agreed on our drive back to DC, the session with Anne opened our eyes to possibilities we might not have thought of before. Or if we had thought of them before, we hadn’t felt confident enough to put into action. And if nothing else beyond that, at least we could say that meeting Anne gave us new insight to the meaning of tricks with cards and shit with rocks.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rome. If You Want To.


This has nothing to do with me turning thirty in six months. Not really, anyway. This is just to say that 10 years ago today I was on a plane headed to Italy where I would spend my sophomore year of college soaking up Italian culture and education and all that came with it. That was the idea, anyway. When I left the following April to go back home, I thought for sure I would be back to Italy soon. Hopefully within five years. Definitely within 10.

Wrong. I haven’t been back since. Physically, anyway. I take a trip there in my head about once a week, though. At least once a week.

I’m not going to spend the next 3,000+ words Romaniscing about my time spent studying abroad. I could, but I won’t. Unless you were there, it would mean little more to you than me telling you a funny story about this one time when we were on a Lecture and Tour excursion and saw historical things and someone made a funny comment, and then later, this girl Liz Marsh fell down the stairs. A lot of what happened in Rome involved seeing historical things, someone making a funny comment, and Liz Marsh falling down the stairs, but I understand that it’s probably not all that interesting to someone who wasn’t there.

But in honor of this 10 year Romaversary, I would like to share a top ten list of things that I learned while studying abroad, ten things that I remember a decade later.

1) Cutting your spaghetti is barbaric. Our program director, our mother hen, if you will, Portia Prebys, informed us of this on our first day at our first meal together, all 60 of us sitting down to eat. Also, you should cut your fruit when you eat it, but you must cut it gently. Hacking away at it is akin to raping your fruit. Apparently, Italy frequently suffers from foodicide? To hear Portia talk, indeed.

2) If you are travelling by train, do not be alarmed if at the last minute you suddenly realize that the train station officials, for no apparent reason, have switched the track from which you are to depart. Just run really fast to that track screaming like an uncouth, American banshee.

3) When you get back from Christmas break and realize that you’ve just blown all your money but yet you have an entire second semester ahead of you and you were really hoping to go to Ireland for Spring Break, call Dad. He will sigh in exasperation at your bad money habits, but he will loan you dough to be paid back when you come back down to earth and start waitressing again the next summer.
a) Addendum to #3: working three jobs the summer prior to studying abroad does not guarantee that you will have enough money to get you through the year if you don’t know how to budget.
b) Addendum to #3a: Europe is expensive.

4) People, like your program director, tend to remember last names like Strzelecki. And then immediately dislike you, even though you have only been in the country six hours. But someone (oh, I don’t know, your eldest sister, maybe) pissed her off 10 years prior and Prebys never forgot it and that means wonderful things are simply bound to happen for the next year of your life.

5) Hand-washing clothes in your tub or bidet on a regular basis may be eco-friendly, but it is definitely not fun.

6) The Amalfi Coast may be one of the most beautiful places on earth. And when in doubt in Bologna, just order the tortellini soup.

7) You may think you are drunk on the power of freedom, being without parents in Europe at the age of 19, but really you’re most likely just drunk.

8) If you meet people who don’t like Americans, tell them you’re Canadian.

9) You don’t need to speak Italian to live there. It would be nice, sure, but more often than not they’ll speak to you in English before you can even say, “Ciao.” And if you’re my friend Deb, you can spend the entire year using barely any words at all and simply gesticulating with your hands and throwing knowing gazes to and fro and have entire conversations with someone else even though neither of you speaks the other’s language.

10) If you want to smoke a cigarette on an Alitalia flight, you have to be sitting on one of three specific rows at the back of the plane. Otherwise, the flight attendant will come hustling down the aisle waving her hand frantically at you and throwing around Italian words. If this happens, just blame the guy sitting next to you who gave you the cigarette in the first place, because he should get used to being blamed by women for something. After all, he is about to spend the next educational year as one of 15 guys surrounded by 55 girls.

There is more, so much more than that. I did learn a few things, classroom-wise that year, but now I can't remember what those things were, but I'm most positive that they had to do with mythology and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. (Though not together.) There are three journals and two scrapbooks worth of memories that I can pull out whenever I want to remind me of my year in Italy. It was the smartest thing I’ve ever done, keeping that daily journal while in Europe, though last week when I was reading through some entries, I cringed out of embarrassment for my 19-year-old self who wrote with confidence and a cooler-than-thou worldly knowledge, but did so only after a few days of whining to her notebook about how she missed home. This girl scribbled away trying to take it all in, the people, the places, commenting that she thought Corey Clay was soooooo cute and she was very glad he was on her Rome program this year, commenting look how well she could already get around Rome and look how awesome everything was and how awesome she was, even when she was being thinky and philosophical and maybe a little maudlin as you might be when you are 19 and awesome, and writing as if She Knew Everything.

My cringing knows no bounds when I read these journals. But then again, neither does the smiling and cackling and pride and happiness, because underneath it all there are stories and smells and flashes of sights that helped shape me and that I will always carry with me. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world. That year was amazing, dammit. All the blogs posts I could write could never fully do my thoughts and feelings justice on the subject. So just trust me on this one.

Happy 10 years, SMC Romers. Don’t forget to look left.

LOOK LEFT!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Funny Lady Part 2

Molly,
When I was looking in your closet for your tennis racket it occurred to methat maybe after you clean your room b4 you're 30, you also might considercleaning out your closet. I'm not saying your tennis racket isn't in thecloset--I just couldn't see it among the 10 shoe boxes and 12 cocktaildresses along with a lot of other items still in the closet. You wouldprobably need a heat seeking missile to find the tennis racket.
love the mom

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Meeting of the Minds

A few months back my friend JMac and I got an email from our friend Brady asking if we wanted tickets to the Taste of Chicago in DC. Homesick for Chicago-style grub, we both readily said yes please!, and on the appointed day trekked over to the Library of Congress for the event.

I don’t know what I was expecting, walking into the event. I think I expected that it would be a lot of people originally from Chicago or the surrounding Midwestern areas coming together for free food from the homeland. Maybe all our accents would spill forth more than usual, and eventually we’d all start yelling, “Oh my GAHD! Yous guys won’t believe this. I gotta go call my ma and tell ‘er. Holy craep! Grandma Wojaliaczck is gonna flip her Newports right inta tha kielbasa pit! Aw craep!” Or something like that. I don’t think I was expecting it to be quite so network-y and schmoozy as it was. Because instead of Grandma Wojaliaczck what I got was a bunch of Hill Staffers and other muckety mucks with name tags like displaying their name and who they worked for:








descending on the Library of Congress for free food and shaking hands and kissing babies. Not that there’s really anything wrong with that. The food part, anyway. God knows JMac and I were there for the free food. But only the free food. Convenient networking set-ups like this make my skin crawl. They are unavoidable sometimes, especially in this 4-quadrant bubble, but they still make my skin crawl. I’m not one to often (or ever, now that I think about it) attend the schmoozy, networking events that run rampant in DC. I don’t work in politics, I don’t work anywhere near the Hill (hell, I don’t even work in the District, my office is in Bethesda), and my job isn’t one where people really want me to come to their events because they think I can give them or get them something. I cannot give or get anyone anything, unless maybe you are looking for a clever new way to button your shirt or make a sandwich after you’ve had a stroke or are driven to distraction by the tags in your shirt. Then I can probably hook you up. But beyond that, I’d simply rather just eat my food and drink my cocktail in peace. I really don’t care who you work for. And most likely, I don’t even know the person you work for. He or she could slap me on the ass and call me pumpkin, and I’d yell, “Hey! Watch it, man!” instead of knowing to instead say, “Hey! Watch it, Congressman!” (Or woman.)


Anyhooters.

Despite my aversion to events like this, and discovering upon entering that it was just such an event, I really did want to go be at the Taste of Chicago in DC, for no other reason than I needed some Chicago-style pizza and I needed it bad. There are two places in the DC area that boast having “Chicago-style” pizza. One is Uno’s. The other is Armand’s. For those of you who know Uno’s you do not need me to tell you that it has been franchised within an inch of its life and no longer qualifies as true Chicago deep dish. And Armand’s…Armand’s really is Chicago deep dish pizza. And I am really serious about that and NOT banging my head on the keyboard AT ALL over the deceptive lies on their restaurant sign proclaiming as much…….

Slkwepwsk3e09qpo3j22-0dkjw’4ifcnw3-3oaOWKDJUW2P9P3skeiw243i2nedogos


Set up along the perimeter of the second floor was the food, long lines stretching from each table. From Chicago, Rick Bayless and his Topolobampo crew were there to represent with some tasty and spicy treats, as was Vienna beef, Eli’s Cheesecake, and some others, and there, in the far corner with the longest, stretchingest, curvingest around itself line, was Lou’s.

I will be honest with you, Interneters. Lou Malnati’s is often said to be the best true Chicago style deep dish, but on my list, it barely squeaks into the Top 5. (It depends on the day, really.) I think Pequod’s does a better job, and Gino’s and Giordano’s is awesome, and then there’s Eduardo’s, and were I to leave out Connie’s Pizza I would be shunned to death by my own family. And those are just a few. We haven’t even begun to touch on the mom & pop pizzerias that dot the suburban landscape. There are countless others. You simply have to go to Chicago to find them, and unfortunately, none of them came to the Library of Congress. So Lou’s it was. JMac and I hopped in the lengthy line and waited our turn for a slice (or two). And while it was cold and a bit limp by the time we got it, it was still pretty good. At the very least, it was neither Uno’s nor Armand’s, and that is all we were really asking for.

Licking the final pizza crumbs from our fingers, plates, napkins, and random passersby, JMac and I decided to do another lap around the hall to find another Chicago morsel to tempt our palates.

“J,” I said as we shuffled our way through the crowd, “if we see Richie, we need to have our pictures taken. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to be That Girl.”

This, my Interneters, was my other stipulation for attending the Taste of Chicago – meeting Richard M. Daley, mayor of the City of Chicago. It was not, per se, on my list of Things To Do Before I’m 30, but it really should have been. Because why not make it an adventure to meet the man who has ruled over the place from whence you came (or, okay, its suburbs), the third largest city in the United States of America, for the past 19 years and who, a few years back, did not like the way the City Council was dragging their feet and being all floopy on his idea of turning Meigs Field into a park and concert venue so he illegally sent bulldozers from private crews in the middle of the night to dredge deep Xs across the landing strip of Meigs Field so planes simply couldn’t land there and it then had to be turned into a park and concert venue?*

“J! There he is! Come on!” JMac and I hustled over to the spot where Daley was standing with other adoring fans, smiling incessantly at the camera. There wasn’t so much a line as there was a circle of people hovering around him, so JMac and I got in the hover and eventually inched our way up to the front, taking our cue and moving forward until we flanked Daley on either side.

It was then that I realized that Da May’r (or Da Mare, whichever spelling you prefer) is really, really short. He was right about JMac’s height, but standing next to me, he may as well have been a damn garden gnome. Even if I hadn’t been wearing heels. He was very pleasant, though, and turned to me to shake my hand.

Now, Interneters, I will have you know that a few days before the event, I called my dad in a panic. I knew that Daley would be at the Taste, and I was indeed hoping to meet him, but I was worried that I would say the wrong thing if I did.

“Dad! DAAAAD!” I yelped. “If I meet Richie, what do I call him?”

Dad, in a very calm voice said, “You call him Mr. Mayor.”

“I don’t have to call him Your Honor, or anything?” I shrieked.

“You could. Or you could call him Mayor Daley,” Dad replied.

“Dad, I don’t think I could call him Your Honor, because I keep getting that confused with Your Excellency, and for God’s sake he’s not a clergyman,” I explained.

“Then just call him Mr. Mayor.”

“Can I say, ‘Heeeey! RICHIE! How’s it going!’?”

“No.”

“Oh.”

So shaking the man’s hand it was all I could do to remember what to say. Which I believe came out as, “It’s nice to meet you, sir. I’m Molly Strzelecki.”

At which point Mayor Daley said, “It’s nice to meet you, too,” and then turned around to face JMac on his other so fast that it would make your head spin. And all I could do was stand there with my hand still in the air and think, “Well that was kind of rude.”

I snapped out of my confusion in time to hear JMac chatting up the mayor. She was explaining that she was from Rockford, actually, but had been in Chicago just the previous weekend. And then she informed Richard Daley that he was doing an excellent job with the city. And that she had seen his name on an escalator.

There are numerous reasons why JMac is one of my very dearest and favorite friends. These are two of them. We have bonded in so many ways, JMac and I, and those bonds were strengthened as I thought to myself, “J, did you just say that? What the hell are you saying? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU SAYING TO MAYOR DALEY? Dude, I totally know which escalator you're talking about!”

So that was awesome. My poor friend wanted nothing more than to stop making small talk with Mayor Daley and just get the damn picture over with, Daley probably wanted nothing more than to stop making small talk and get the damn picture over with, and all I was doing was standing there with a stupid, confused smile on my face wondering what the Sister Mary Fudge was going on here.

Finally, as the inane small talk ended, we did finally get the picture taken, and JMac and I said our goodbyes to the mayor and then to the festivities and headed out the door.

“Wait, stop,” I said to JMac as soon as we got outside. “I need to change my shoes.” I leaned on my friend’s shoulder to do so. And all became clear. No wonder Daley could barely finish his sentence before turning his back on me.

He would have been right about level to look straight down my cleavage without even moving his head.

I only recently received this, which is why you’re only hearing about this now, but here, Interneters, for your viewing pleasure – my photo opp with Richie. You can see him in the middle, obviously, but what you can’t see is that my knees are slightly bent and I’m leaning back and to the side in an awkward sort of angle so as not to look gargantuan compared to the other two in the photo.




Too late. But that’s a nice tie, Rich.



*Of all the absurd, illegal, strange, dickhead, smart, stupid, awesome, or awful things Richard M. Daley has said or done in the role of Mayor, this is my absolute favorite. It epitomizes the Chicago attitude of “Fuck it, I’ll do it myself.”

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Molly Had a Little Lamb

Today is the last day of that whole blogging-for-a-month-about-food-thing. After 31 days of that (give or take those days that I…forgot…) it’s back to the usual, where you all wait around anxiously for the next post to appear. Thankfully, Interneters, you won’t have to wait long, as I’m off on an adventure this weekend, this adventure of my own design that will take me to such far away places as Ohio.

I will say, however that as a last day of writing about food, I went out with a bang, of which I will tell you. And that telling is this:

BGR: The Burger Joint DC is delicious.

AOH and I went there for lunch today. I’d read a snipped about the place in the Washington Post a couple weeks back, and it’s been on the brain ever since. To give you a reference to how tasty of a burger it was, I will tell you only that AOH and I didn’t speak for about 15 minutes because we were too busy shoving food into our mouths. I would not have been surprised if bits of fries and bun started flying everywhere, we were eating so fast and voraciously. We couldn’t enough. AOH had a classic cheeseburger with The Works, and This Girl tried The Greek – a lamb burger with Tzaziki, cucumber, onion, FETA!, and some other deliciousness, I believe. As I sit here, I am still tasting it, and every once in awhile I burp up a little garlic.

Klassy.

The fries are quite good, too. Well done, so they’re not mushy, and big, thick-cut with just the right amount of grease. BGR has shakes, too, which look divine, but we passed on those. Guess we’ll just have to go back again to try them. Oh. Damn. Boo. Hiss. No. No. You can’t make me drink chocolate milkshakes. Ew. Gross. No.

And what’s better? There’s a TV in the joint that they have tuned to the Food Network. After the while of silence save for chewing, I peeled my eyes away from the television, my face and hands covered in tasty burger goodness and said to AOH, “Why aren’t we here every day for lunch? We can eat burgers and watch Food Network.”

AOH responded with only a shrug, the rest of her entire being occupied with her burger and fries.

At some point we managed to squeeze ourselves out of the booth and waddle back to the office.

“I can’t walk quickly,” I warned AOH as we pushed through the door and into the swamp. “I might yarf all over the place if I do.” AOH agreed.

Thankfully, there was no yarfing, though there was a small amount of uncomfortableness going on in my tum after lunch. Which I guess is what happens when you inhale all sorts of pungent meats and cheeses and condiments and top it off with fries and a diet coke.

But it was totally worth it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Up on the Roof

I have a roofdeck.

Have I told you that?

I have a roofdeck, and for some reason, save the 4th of July, it is almost always empty whenever I go up there. You can see the National Cathedral clear as day in the distance, and further out, in the opposite direction you can just catch the tip of the Washington Monument. Sometimes, the very tippy top of the Capitol. And sometimes, it's more important to sit up there and catching that last few rays of light fade into darkness than it is to go downstairs and eat dinner.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Summer's Blockbuster

Friday was an exercise in patience. And also, an exercise in technology.

Lindsay and I met up at 6:45 to see Dark Knight at the Uptown on Connecticut Avenue. We should get there early, we decided, there might be a line. There was. Thankfully it moved quickly (for a line) and our prattling on about how excited we were to see the movie kept our patience in check, since there was still a half hour to go before previews would even start, prattle that also kept us from being too terribly annoyed by the mugginess that has consumed the District these days.

We filed in, eyeing the long line at concessions. “Seats first,” we said to each other, making our way to the balcony. We found two seats together in the quickly fading availability and stashed our stuff.

“I’m going to get something to eat, I’m starving,” I stated.

“Me too!” Lindsay replied.

“Okay, I’ll go, you stay here with the seats. What do you want to eat?” I asked.

“Umm…” she pondered this question seriously hemming and hawing over the options and we threw around the idea that we should both go to the concession stand. It was hard to say the best option, because we didn’t know what the options were. “Or,” Lindsay piped up, “take your cell phone, and then call me when you get down there and tell me what they have.”

“Perfect,” I said. And I did just that. The end result was a classic: Two cherry cokes and two small popcorns, a perfect combination for a Friday night out with one of your gal pals, a summer blockbuster filling the screen, the acting so good it’s almost painful to watch, the main villain character so creepy and disturbing.

Never mind the fact that I finished my popcorn before the movie even started. Never mind that at all.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Speaking of Food....

Yesterday DC Restaurant week was announced for this August. And guess who's excited?

THIS GIRL!

And Smart Girl that I am, knowing that reservations for Restaurant Week fill up quickly, I made a reservation for a prime time on the Friday night toward the end of the Restaurant Week at a very fine restaurant called Central that I, and some of my friends, have wanted to try for a long time.

Again: Smartest Girl in the World! Hooray!

And then I clicked on the link to participating restaurants.

And Central? Not so much participating. At all.

Sigh.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fruits of Summer

Now would probably be a good time to mention that I love watermelon. Now that I think about it, I think I love it just as much as I love corn on the cob, but in a different way. Which is why this morning, when I was at Safeway, I heaved one giant watermelon out of the bin and added it to my cart with the milk and bread. Milk, bread, watermelon, diet pepsi. What more does a girl need?

Apparently, more people living in her house. Because now, after I’ve just spent 30 minutes butchering the enormous melon down to manageable pieces*, juices spraying everywhere and pooling on my counter and dripping down the sides, I have three huge containers of the sweet red fruit. Not that I’m complaining, but this is one of those moments where I think to myself, hey, maybe I over-bought? I guess I could have just gotten a half of a melon or one of those pre-cut containers that would last a few days rather than over a week, but to be quite honest, those just don’t taste the same. It’s like once you cut into the watermelon, it loses all those sweet juices completely, unlike when you hack it up yourself, when you only lose some of the sweet juices, and that’s just because countertops are magnets for things like watermelon juice, and you still get some off the juice when you toss it all in a Ziplock container, making it that much sweeter.

Did anyone else’s dad carve baskets out of whole watermelons? Because mine did. It was one of my favorite things when I was little, because he didn’t do it very often, but when he did, it was awesome. And once it was all carved we’d fill it with fruit salad. Mom was at a store one day, though, and found a glass bowl that was made to look like a carved watermelon basket, and we’ve used that ever since. And as far as I know, Dad has never carved another watermelon. Bummer, though I remember the process as being very time consuming, what with having to cut the melon specs first, scoop out the insides (usually with a melon baller) before the carving part could even begin. So maybe not a bummer that we now have this glass basket, as not only did it save time, but I’m sure a lot of grumbling from Dad.


*I had a moment, at that point, where I wondered if this was somewhat akin to butchering a cow, cutting each slab into more manageable pieces, and then cutting those pieces into neat, bite-sized, presentable bits that people want to eat. Though I doubt butchering a cow smells as pretty.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Corny, But True.

Tonight I had some corn on the cob with my dinner, and I must tell you that corn on the cob is one of my favorite summer foods. Any fresh produce is awesome to me, but there’s something special about corn on the cob.

When we used to live in Dolton, we belonged to Queen of Apostles, and every year, sometime around August I seem to remember, the parish would put on Queen’s Fest. The parking lot next to the IC was filled with carnival rides and games you could never quite win, and the area in front of the church and school was lined with food booth after food booth. And the bingo tent. We Can’t. Forget. The Bingo Tent. When I was little all of these seemed big and as if to stretch on forever, but were they to still hold the Fest and were I to go back now, I’m guessing it probably wouldn’t seem so huge. (Much like how when I was little, I thought my mom was tall. Spoiler Alert! She’s not so much.) Our family used to co-run the gyro booth, serving up for three days straight delicious meat on pita with tzatziki sauce. (Why? I don’t know. We are not in the least bit Greek. The closest our people come is Poland, which is a TOTALLY different kind of food.)

Thankfully, I was too little to do any actual work, so I was allowed to run free among the sights and sounds of the Fest. And when I got hungry, I’d get tickets from Mom and Dad and get food. I’m pretty sure that they let me eat whatever I wanted during those three days, so basically my diet consisted of maybe half a gyro, a hot dog, and 16 funnel cakes.

And corn on the cob.

Over the course of those three days of festing I would typically eat about half an acre’s worth of ears of corn, cooked (steamed, maybe?) in burlap sacks on enormous grills, the husks pulled down perfectly over the end of the cob to make a cool handle for the hot ear. Huge glass jars of butter sat on the tables in front of the grill, and numerous salt and pepper shakers were strewn in between. You could dip and shake until your heart’s content.

It was the best corn on the cob I have ever had in my entire life.

Sadly, Queen’s Fest is no longer, but thankfully, the memory remains.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday's Food For Thought

Earlier today I was looking up things about novenas and patron saints, and I came across this:

San Lorenzo ( Lawrence )- patron saint of restaurants, pasta, candy makers and dieters

For all of you out there wondering, Yes, Virginia, God does have a sense of humor.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It Will Be Fall Soon. Right?

First of all, for those of you who may be wondering, HO did indeed make it to dinner last night, and we were all very happy about that. We were doubly happy when she broke out the Roman tokens she brought us, and I am proud to say that I now own my very own Popener.* And not only is it a Popener, on the one side there is an image of our current Pope Benedict, but on the OTHER side there is a picture of PJP II. So now, whenver I crack open a Miller Lite, my drinking will be blessed by the two popes I have known so far in my lifetime.

I am truly blessed.

Secondly, the other day I threw caution to the wind, turned up the air conditioning, and busted out my crock pot because I was in the mood for chili. And it was delish. It still is, actually, and frankly, even better than day 1, as chili is wont to be. Who cares that it's 95 degrees outside and that chili is more of a fall and winter food than a blazingly humid and hot summer food? Right now, I sure don't. All I care about is that this chili is AWESOME.


*Popener (n.) - a bottle opener with an image of the Pope on it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Pasta Primaries

Tonight, I'm having a few of my gal pals over for some pesto pasta, wine, and Romaniscing.* Wd were supposed to have this dinner on Tuesday night, but my friend HO had to cancel because of work. HO works for a firm that does media for various and sundry Republican candidates. We are all very proud of her because she is very much in her dream job**. The downside to her being in her dream job, however is that she works a lot. A LOT. And when election season hits, the workload goes from A LOT to MASSIVE QUANTITIES THAT WOULD KILL EVEN THE MOST SANE PERSON WHO LOVES THEIR JOB.

And this? This is election season, people. Can you hear the engines revving? I can. And it sounds very much like what you hear when a friend wants desperately to see something other than the inside of an editing room and loop after loop of the governor of whatever-state endorsing some other candidate for something.

As of right now, it's 5:45 and I haven't heard a peep from our little HO as to whether she'll be able to make it tonight or not. Either way, though, we've all learned our lesson before, which is: HO or No HO, pesto pasta and wine will be consumed. Though maybe we'll hold off on the Romaniscing for another time. I just hope that time isn't November 5.



*Romaniscing (v.) - Sitting around regaling each other with tales of when we all studied abroad together in Rome during college. Usually involves wine and swinging arm motions.

**HER dream job. HERS.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We Ain't Goin' Out Like That...But Like THIS.

Yesterday when I got back from my weekend in Chicago, I realized that there was little to no food in my apartment. And if there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I get very nervous when there is little to no food in my apartment. There is probably some deep, slightly strange, psychological reason dating back to some pseudo-traumatic event in my childhood, or maybe last week, for while I feel this way, but it's true. I just feel better when I have a full fridge.

Needless to say, one of the first things I did I got back to DC was run up to Trader Joe's and Safeway and stock up. Over the weekend some of us had been talking about things you should avoid when eating, namely high fructose corn syrup. And on this latest shopping trip, with the discussion fresh in my mind, I was taking careful note to NOT buy things with high fructose corn syrup in them, or other such chemical ingredients. (For example, hydrogenated oils.) So I'm at Safeway, throwing things into my cart, and I can't help but be tempted by the boxes of macaroni & cheese. A) Because I was starving, and almost everything in the grocery store was sounding good to me about then, and 2) Because I love macaroni & cheese. LOVE. IT.

But since, as I said, this healthy eating conversation was fresh in my mind, and since it was on sale, I decided to pick up a box of organic macaroni & cheese. I figured I'd like to have it on hand for any such night that I come home and simply cannot bear to actually make something a little more nutritious. And wouldn't you know it, last night was one of those nights.

I get home from a quick jaunt up to Baltimore, throw some water on to boil, and pull a turkey hot dog out of the freezer, and the box of organic macaroni & cheese from the cabinet. At this point, I am a Sexy Jackpot Star and the Smartest, Healthy Eatingest Girl in the World. The buzzer buzzed and things came together in a bowl and I sat down on the couch to dig in to dinner.

Oh, dear Interneters, there are so many positives to eating healthily. Ditching chemicals from your diet is always a good thing.

Except when they leave your macaroni & cheese tasting like chalky cardboard that all the salt in the world can't help with an aftertaste that is just....not worth the muscles it takes to mush the noodles around in your mouth. Turkey dog - Good. Organic macaroni & cheese - Not.

I don't care if Velveeta could withstand the apocalypse and there is no such thing as powdered orange cheese in nature. If I'm going to ingest chemicals that could potentially harm my innards at a later date, you can damn well bet that I'm going to do it with a big blue box of Kraft.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'm Not Sorry

Some of you (you meaning YOU, RHW) may be wondering (wondering meaning bitching) why I haven't posted for the past few days. Some of you may even be thinking to yourselves, "She sucks at this game," or "She has TOTALLY fallen down on her promise of posting every day for a month about food."

And you may be wrong. But you may be right.

But I have a very, very good reason for falling down on the job this past weekend. And that reason is: I Was Busy.

I was very busy eating, you see. And I was very excited about all of this eating - starting with the impromptu cookout Friday night at my sister Anne-Marie's house. The problem was I couldn't explain all this joy of cookoutness to you all because I wasn't supposed to be in Chicago.

Or, at least, my mutherrr wasn't supposed to know I was in Chicago. And seeing as how she's surprisingly consistent about checking this site, I didn't want to take the chance and have her call up Annie in confusion and the cover would be blown.

We were covering, of course, the fact that we were throwing her a surprise retirement party the next afternoon. Where there would be an obscene amount of food.

So don't worry, dear Interneters, I may not have been writing about food this weekend, but I was certainly eating it. Or as I like to call it, Doing Research.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pissed Off, Party of One, Please

After I was done having a hissy fit on Wisconsin Avenue (due to the American Valet re-heeling my shoes while at the same time de-patenting the patent leather aspect of my shoes and making them simply very shiny regular leather) in Tenleytown today, dropping F-bombs left, right, and center in front of Roebeck’s and some Green Peace volunteers, I realized that my shoes may be ruined, but I was still starving.
Thankfully, there is a Whole Foods just behind the Roebeck’s, so I made a beeline for their salad and hot bars. It is a gastronomic wonderland back there, I tell you. Expensive as hell, but frankly, at that point, I was still so hopping mad about my shoes that I didn’t even mind Whole Foods (or, as my sister Lizzy likes to call it – Whole Paycheck) prices.

And for the low, low price of $16 and some change, I had some pieces of General Tso’s chicken, a samosa of some sort, twice-cooked beef, a few of these other chicken things wrapped up like a dumpling of sorts, and a separate container of tomatoes and mini-mozzarellas, asparagus, and a lettuce wedge salad. Not whole servings of all of this, mind you, just tastes and bits and a spoonful or a dash.

It was the only thing that kept my lunch hour afloat. Unfortunately I had to walk back past the American Valet on my way to the metro, and it was all I could do to not fling my lovingly created lunch at their window and watch bleu cheese dressing slide down in thick globs.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

God Bless Central Air Conditioning

Here's your food-related thought for the day:

Walking around outside in DC these days is like walking through soup.

And yet, here we are, masses of us, wandering to and fro, sucking it all down with each step. I only wish it was gazpacho or vichyssois.