Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Don't You DARE!!

About two hours before we had to leave for our flight to Portland, OR, my parents come over to pick up the new menu I had designed for them. I wanted to make sure that everything was 100% perfect before I made up a batch. My dad looks everything over and gives it the okay and so we go into Peter's office to print them out. Meanwhile, my mother settles herself in my kitchen so she can cook up sesame and Yakisoba noodles for us to bring on our flight. Isn't she great?

As soon as we get into Peter's garage/office/man cave, my dad complains about HOW MUSTY it is in here and WHAT IS THAT SMELL? (my room freshener from Crabtree and Evelyn) He was all, WE HAVE TO OPEN A WINDOW! WHY IS THERE ONLY ONE WINDOW? He was about to try to open the garage door when I flung myself in his path.

"DADDY! The garage door is BOLTED to the floor! I am going to the airport in TWO HOURS. I think we can handle non-fresh air for the next FIVE MINUTES!"

And here is where I make my mistake. I turn my head around and get busy printing up the menus. A minute later, I hear a loud THUNK.

I look up and see the electrical cord for the air conditioner pulled taut and an empty space where the air conditioner used to be. I turn around and I see my mother rushing to the door to see what had happened and we exchange THE LOOK.

THE LOOK is what all the women in my family exchange with each other when my dad does something so ridiculously annoying.

I ignore the situation and continue printing up the menus while my father brings the air conditioner inside, all the while complaining about Peter not bolting the air conditioner into the window and how DANGEROUS this is.

"Daddy?" I say. "How am I going to explain to Peter why the air conditioner isn't in the window anymore?"

My father looks at me and says. "Well...just tell him that I saw it in the window...and decided to do him a favor by bringing it inside...you know...because it's getting cold."

"So he's going to believe that, out of the goodness of your heart, that you decided to bring in the air conditioner?"

"Sure, why not?"

"And how am I going to explain why it doesn't work anymore?"

"Oh, I don't think it's broken. It landed in the dirt. The dirt's not that hard."

"Okay, so I won't tell him what happens until next summer when he turns on the air conditioner and it doesn't work."

"DON'T YOU DARE tell him about this!"

I give my father a, "yah right" look.

"FINE! Tell him if you want! But if he yells at me for this, I'm yelling AT HIM for not securing that air conditioner! HE'S the one whose fault this is!"

Right. It's his fault. You see what I had to grow up with?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

We Stink

I know I've been super-delinquent with this blog, but we had a really stressful summer here--Rocky got skunked, my car was caught up in a tornado in Park Slope, Peter's car was hit by a drunk driver, Rocky ran away...twice, and, oh yeah, Peter got cancer.

Whew!

And then I saw this poster:



Yup, that sums up exactly how I feel about this year.

Even though it's been a terrible summer, our house is smelling a lot better, my car is fine except that two of our passenger-side windows were blown out and right now I still hear pieces of glass skittering across my dash when I make sharp turns, Peter's car only suffered some minor bumper damage, I found Rocky the first time on our sidewalk and the second time the police found him, AND Peter went through surgery and now he's recovering and the doctors think that he'll be fine (knock on wood). Wow--I don't even think that's a real sentence.

I will tell all of these stories in later posts, but I'll start with the skunk incident:

About a month and a half ago, at 2:30 AM, Peter let Rocky and Scout into the backyard, but just as soon as he opened the door, he saw a furry little patch of black and white close to our Japanese maple tree. In an instant, Peter was screaming:

"NO!!! NO!!! Rocky! Scout! Come! COME!! COOOOOOOOME!!"

I was sitting in the living room when I heard the crazy ruckus and when I opened the door, Scout was there with a big smile on her face and Peter was having five conniptions screaming for Rocky in the dead of night. I'm pretty sure we woke up all our neighbors.

Before I knew it, Rocky ran back into the house, retching and smelling like the most God-awful awfulness ever created. There are no words for this kind of skunky awfulness. I felt like throwing up myself, and this all happened a week after Peter's surgery.

The strange thing is that when the skunk spray is fresh, it doesn't smell like the skunk smell you smell in the air whenever a skunk has sprayed. It's super-concentrated and smells like something the devil created is burning. It also permeates everything. In fact, even though Rocky hadn't gone upstairs, the next day, the upstairs smelled worse than the first floor.

Quickly, I ran to my computer to look up how to treat skunk smell and apparently, the only thing that works is hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. I ran out of the house to buy hydrogen peroxide and on the way home, I was pulled over by a cop for speeding.

Yah.

No joke.

When the cop pulled me over, I just burst into tears. I think it was all the pent-up anxiety over Peter's surgery and a scary trip to the emergency room. I hadn't dealt with any of this and so when the cop came up to the car, I blubbered all over him and told him about the skunk and the surgery and his reaction was:

"Well, I still have to write you up for speeding."

I continued to sit in my car, sobbing and then I think he caught the waft of unadulterated skunk. He jumped back a few feet and said, "Oh, I REALLY smell it on you."

That's when he let me go--because that skunk smell TRAVELS. I hadn't even gone near Rocky when I left the house. The cop just didn't want to get any of that smell on himself.

I've found the best way to get out of a moving violation. Carry skunk odor around.

I got home and Peter gave Rocky a bath with the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. One quart hydrogen peroxide and 1/4 cup baking soda with a few squirts of liquid hand soap. It really worked, but the house smelled really rank for about two weeks and the smell lasted about two months. It was hideous. Every once in a while, even now, I smell skunk when I walk in through the door.

And the very next day, my poor friend Emily and I had a lunch date. She's so sweet that when I told her about the skunk she said:

"I'm from Missouri. There are tons of skunks there. Skunk smell doesn't bother me. I'm used to it."

When Peter heard that, he was all, "Well, if that's the case, I AM NOT ever going to Missouri."

So either Missouri is a very skunky-smelling state or Missourians are just the sweetest, most polite people ever created.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Now, Relax

I've been going to an acupuncture guy for the last few months and he came highly recommended by my mother and the NY Times. Apparently, he's the best and people travel the world over to lie down in his little office on Canal Street.

Now, the whole experience of getting to Chinatown and braving the crazy traffic to make it down to the city twice a week was nerve-wracking. I've had more fun cleaning up dog pee in my kitchen. You have to do THAT twice a day when you've got an incontinent Labrador Retriever on your hands.

So we get down to Chinatown and park the car to rush to the office before it closes. Once we get there, huffing and puffing, he sets me us up in a room--most of the time Peter and I get to be in the same room, which is nice. He has us lie down and then pokes us all over with teeny needles, turns off the lights and says, "Now, relax."

As soon as he leaves the room, Peter and I always giggle, because all we can hear after the word "relax" is a thousand car horns beeping at each other right outside and two fire trucks cranking away, wailing down the street.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Most Popular Gadget in America

The other day Peter and I took a walk in Pemaquid Point in Maine.

Oh, did I not tell you all we're on a vacation in Maine?

Of course you didn't know we were away--I haven't posted in a million years. Sorry internet. I can give you a ton of excuses why I haven't posted recently, but the truth is that I am just plain lazy.

So anyway, we're walking around and I take out my iPhone so that Peter can take a picture of me.

A lady in a Pemaquid Point sweatshirt offers to take a photo of the two of us, so I gladly hand over the iPhone. She looks at it and says:

"What is this?"

I'm all, "Uhmmm. That's the...iPhone."

And she said, "Wow! It's a lot of FUN!"

Later in the car, Peter said, "Wasn't that strange? I mean, when she asked us what the iPhone was, I almost said, 'It's the iPhone, also known as the most popular gadget in America.' I think they're a little behind the times here in Maine. The do have The Internet, don't they?"

Then I said, "I thought I was late in the game, after all, I'm the last of my friends to get one."

So we kept driving for a little while and I suddenly thought of something.

"If she's wearing a Pemaquid Point sweatshirt, then she's not from around here, is she? I mean, why would you get a tourist sweatshirt from your hometown?"

Monday, June 07, 2010

Our New Pet



We found a carpenter ant in our house, which of course, FREAKED ME OUT. I wanted to call the pest control guys and have them shoot poison into our walls to get rid of the ants which were probably going to DESTROY MY HOUSE.

But Peter? He was poking holes in the tupperware we caught the ant in and feeding it dog kibble.

He was all, "Don't PANIC. Unless you see a bunch of carpenter ants, we don't have a problem. Sometimes random ones forage for food. This does NOT mean that we're infested."

I'm so glad he's much more level-headed than I am.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Black Yankees T-shirt

The other day Peter and I had lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen. We had been going there for years only getting the two or three vegetarian pizzas on the menu when some time last year, we had a really sweet waitress who told us that we could order any meat pizza and they can make it without the meat.

Hmmm.

So of course now we get the Santa Fe Chicken without the Chicken Pizza.

It's a pizza with caramelized onions and you top it with guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

And before you say, "wha---What?!" Let me tell you that it is AWESOME.

I didn't know that you could put salsa on everything until I went to San Francisco. My friend Andrew took me to this little oceanside mexican restaurant and they served clam chowder (since it's the law in the Bay area for every restaurant to offer this chowder) and I noticed that they topped it off with a dollop of salsa.

When I first got the bowl, I kind of crinkled my nose. But let me tell you something. It was DELICIOUS!

Anyway, so we're at the CPK and Peter said that a white guy at the restaurant was looking at Peter's T-shirt and giving him the nastiest look. Peter looked down and saw that he was wearing his 1935 New York Black Yankees T-shirt.

It got us wondering if wearing that T-shirt is actually a political statement. I mean, does that mean that we were protesting the treatment of African-Americans during the early days of baseball. Because, I'm okay with that.

I mean, when I got Peter that shirt, I just thought it was cool. Who knew we were being subversive?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Not a Cougar

I had this really strange dream last night that I was dating a 22-year-old. For some reason, I was a 36-year-old person who had a 22-year-old boyfriend in an alternate dream-world where Peter did not exist and I was still friends with this high school buddy I haven't heard from in 13 years.

So I'm walking with my friend Angela and this guy and we're at school. And this is a continuation of the math class nightmare I have about every month. When I was in high school, I had this Geometry class first period. All my friends understand that I'm a late person. I'm always late. And I was always so late for first period that most times I skipped math class. It got so bad that friends would ask me, "Who do you have for math this semester?" And I would answer, "I'm not taking math."

A few hours later, as I was sitting in American History class, I would sit up, startled and think, "Oh shit! I AM taking math!"

So in this dream, I'm in high school (as a 36-year-old for some reason) dating this young kid and still friends with Angela. Of course, I go through the whole, Oh Shit moment with the math class and I'm scrambling to take the final exams.

A few moments later, the three of us are off to take a motorcycle driving class (don't ask me why--it's a dream). This boyfriend is driving me crazy because he's acting all young and silly, but to tell the truth, he was adorable. Exactly the kind of kid I would have been mad for in high school. But of course, I was getting really embarrassed by him and he kept doing really juvenile stuff.

On our way to the motorcycle class, he gets stopped by a group of girls and he stays to flirt. Of course, Angela and I get mad because we're almost late for our class so we stomp off without him. We expect him to run over right away, but he stays and we act juvenile too, by not waiting for him.

Then we proceed to totally talk shit about him and I'm all, "I have to break things off with him. He's 22! I'm much too old for this. I need a grown-up!"

So we get to the class and--for some reason, the motorcycle class consisted of walking up flights and flights of stairs and waiting on lines, sort of like they have in Six Flags, and then we leave.

Then the boyfriend shows up and we harangue him for a while and he says, "I caught up with you guys and hid in the bushes. But then I heard all the shit you said about me."

Angela and I sort of stood there and blinked at him for a while. He ran off and we felt terrible.

But then I turned to her and said, "You see! I can't BE with someone who's going to HIDE IN THE BUSHES!! I can't be with someone who'se 22!"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother's Day Squared

We had two Mother's Day days this past weekend. My mother always works on Sundays, so this year, I suggested that we go over to Peter's mom's house on Saturday and celebrate Mother's Day with both of our mothers.

This led to an almost-argument between Peter and his mother, because even though we were going to go over her house on Saturday, she was insisting that we also go on Sunday. Mind you, Peter had JUST gone over to his mother's house that Thursday.

The whole logical statement of "But we're going SATURDAY" was completely lost on her. She started getting all hyperventilatingly nutso on him and she was about to break into tears, so Peter said fine, we were going over on Sunday, BUT WE WERE NOT EATING DINNER.

Yeah, that'll show HER.

Dealing with Peter's mother is sort of like dealing with my developmentally delayed sister growing up. If Judy did not get to watch her Power Rangers, all HELL BROKE LOOSE. And God help you if you didn't leave the television on for the Power Ranger Tip of the Day after the commercial break, because then it's just a huge tantrum involving a child screaming:

Tip!
TIP!!!!
TIP!!!!!!
TTTTTIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And I know that she's 85 years old and that her marbles were never screwed on right in the first place, but it's VERY FRUSTRATING, nonetheless. And everyone's always, "But she's 85! You won't have to deal with it for much longer!"

By the way, that's a TERRIBLE argument.

And besides, she's Italian. They live forever. Her own mother lived to be 96 years old. So I know that I will be dealing with this, at the very least, for the next twenty years.

Saturday was fun, Jenny, Judy, and I took my mother to Stone Barns for a tour of their vegetable garden. The girl who took us on the tour was really sweet, but my mother kind of showed her up by knowing much more about vegetables than she did.

One particular scene:

Tour Guide: So this is the kale....

My Mom: That's CHARD!

Tour Guide: Oh, yes, you're right, that's chard...y'know, sometimes the seeds get mixed up and different things get planted where they're not supposed to.

Jenny (in a whisper to me): But isn't she supposed to know what it looks like?

Afterwards, we went to Peter's mom's house and she made enough food for 20 people.

My mom was incredulous at the amount of food and Peter said, "You know. She usually makes all this food...and it's only the three of us."

She made salad, stuffed mushrooms, roasted peppers, broccoli rabe, ravioli, zucchini parmesan, chicken parmesan, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few other things.

At one point, I looked at my mother-in-law, and she had a look on her face like, "So, I guess this is it. THIS is my life. I'm spending all my holidays from now on with my son and ALL THESE CHINESE PEOPLE."

I felt kind of bad for her.

The next day, we went to her house AGAIN and as soon as we walk in the door she goes on and on about how everyone called her and how happy she was and how they love her SOOOOO much and that one of her daughters gave her a bag.

Later, Peter admitted that he felt a bit annoyed that she was going on and on about them, especially since she's all happy just to get a phone call from them and he can't get away with not coming over on Sunday when he's already seen her on Thursday and Saturday.

He was also annoyed because his sister told his mother that day that her daughter had her First Communion the day before. His mother was very hurt that her daughter kept this from her. She said to Peter, "If she wanted to keep it from me, why didn't she just not tell me about it? It's cruel to keep it from me and then tell me all about it the day after. Why does she want to hurt me like this?"

When Peter and I first started dating, I did judge his siblings for not visiting more often, but the more I get to know her, I can sort of understand. I don't think anyone gets any pleasure out of visiting her. Even Peter admits that it's more obligation than a real desire to visit. She's not a pleasant person to be around, but she's still his mother and he shows her that respect by seeing her once a week.

It reminds me of a JD Salinger short story--an officer asks his wife to spend more time with his aunt and the title of the story is, "Once a Week Won't Kill You."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's the Altitude

While I was in Denver, I heard this quote about a billion times.

"It's the altitude."

As in: "I'm so drunk and I only had a glass of wine. It's the altitude."

"I'm so tired. It's the altitude."

"My skin is soooo dry. It's the altitude."

I think that this phrase should be the official slogan of Denver.

My friend Jim said, as we were walking down the streets of Denver, "Am I just really horny or are the people here REALLY good-looking?"

I don't know. People are exceptionally attractive there. Could it be the altitude?

I don't know how they do it because, although I loved it in Denver, my skin was totally scaly and I couldn't stop taking afternoon naps, I was so tired. And yet, everyone in Denver is biking and hiking and running. I'm serious, I've never seen more in-shape people in my life. According to my friend Andrew, Denver is the thinnest city in the U.S.

I loved Denver.

The main reason? I did not have ONE BAD MEAL the entire time I was there. Yes, that can win you some converts.

My favorite place was Snooze, a breakfast place where they serve this marshmallow sauce-soaked challah bread with whipped cream sauce and rice krispies. It was like a grown-up rice krispies treat. It's the sort of breakfast that makes you want to go to this place morning, noon and night.

I was told that on weekends, the wait for a table could be as long as 2 HOURS!

We had breakfast there a bunch of times. They put a layer of hash browns in their huevos rancheros. GENIUS!!

I wish we had a place to go to like Snooze in New York. The good breakfast places tend to be divey or completely fancy.

I was telling everybody at the conference I attended about this place and my friend Jim turned to me at one point and said, "Why are you trying to sell me so hard on this place? Do you know the owner or something?"

No, I'm just trying to make your life more wonderful, but if you have enough wonderfulness in your life, well, good for you. You don't NEED the most scrumptious Cherry Cobbler pancakes ever created. Congratulations.

The last morning we were in Denver, I woke up at 5:30 am (and I am NOT a morning person) so that we could grab some Snooze takeout for the plane ride. I was so sad that I wouldn't be able to have any more of their pancakes, my friend Andrew asked the girl behind the counter if they sold pancake mixes.

Her answer was:

"Well, no, because our ingredients are secret? Because our chefs make up the recipes and they're secret so because they're secret, we can't really sell mixes, because of the secret ingredients."

Yah. I got it. SECRETS.

After we arrived home, Peter turned to me and said, "I miss Snooze."

I know honey. So do I.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tortas! to Gorgeous!

California is full of strange juxtapositions.

Case in point:

Tortas! Tortas! Tortas! Tortas! Tortas!




About an hour later:



Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous!

Monday, April 05, 2010

By the Side of the Road

Look what I found while driving in the Rocky Mountains.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Note on My Car

So Peter gets to the car and finds this:


Upon closer inspection:





Am I the only one who thinks that this is completely obnoxious?

Each time I have ever left a note on a neighbor's door, I have left my name and phone number. So that they know it's me, the annoying lady from apt #5 who is asking you to fix your air conditioner so it doesn't leak into my apartment. It's the anonymous part of the note that irks me the most.

But it kind of makes me laugh because we've lived here for almost a year now and usually we don't park the car on the street. We just happened to leave the car out for four days because neither one of us needed to move it and I guess whoever left the note just couldn't take it any longer. She must have been getting angrier and angrier every day the car was out there. The only reason I wouldn't park my car there again is that there was a ton of bird poop on the car today. They can HAVE their bird-poopy spot in front of their drivewayless house.

Although I do feel like writing this person my note:

If possible, If you can please not leave obnoxious notes on my car. It would be most appreciated because I don't like douchey notes.

Thank you douchebag

Signed by the annoying lady across the street

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Card: Lost

So I lost the Easter card I was going to send my mother-in-law. 

The Valentine's Day card I got her is still sitting on my end table because every time I asked Peter to fill it out, he kept saying, "Later, I'll do it later." 

And now the Easter card has gone by way of the black hole we call our living room. 

I feel like I've been spending my entire life looking for lost stuff. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mini-Marathon? Why?

So the Mini-Marathon last weekend almost prevented me from going to a doctor's appointment. Because of this damned thing, a zillion streets along mid-town were blocked off and no one was allowed to cross the street. Of course, this spun me in circles trying to get to Columbus Circle, where my doctor's office was and of course I was s'late. 

Instead of showing up on time, I encountered THIS:



Why do we need mini-marathons in NYC? Can't they do this in a less populated place, maybe somewhere in Omaha? 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Family Compound

My sister Jenny and I were talking and I told her that my parents wanted to build out their house so that Peter and I could move in. When I told my mom that there is no way Peter would want to move into their house in New Jersey, my mom asked: 

"Is it because he doesn't want to move farther away from him mom? Because she can move in with us too."

I mean, isn't my mother the sweetest person on the face of the planet? Who else in the world would move in the most bitter 85-year-old on the planet? 

And Jenny said, "Well, you know she wants to build a compound so that we could all live together."

"That makes sense. That's how they do things in Taiwan. The ultimate desire in every family is to have everyone live together in a compound. Why do you think Akong has one?"

"Oh my gosh! Akong DOES have a compound! She gets it from HIM!"

My mother's father has a compound. He has several buildings flanking the main house. There are actual outdoor bathroom stalls for all the buildings peppered throughout his property. Jenny used to think it was fun when we used to chat while we pooped in adjacent stalls. Yeah, it didn't take much to amuse a four-year-old. 

"Remember the row of bus seats he had in his office that he used as a sofa?" Jenny asked. "I used to love sitting in them and thinking how funny it was that I was sitting in bus seats, but I WASN'T ON A BUS!"

"I guess since he was a mechanic, he always had stuff like that lying around. So instead of getting a sofa, he was all, 'Well, I already got THIS,'" I said. 

 I told Peter that my mom offered to move in his mom also and he also thought it was sweet. The other day, when he went to visit his mother, she burst into the guilt-tears and Peter shut her up by saying, "Ma. If you REALLY miss me so much, my wife's mother has offered to build out her house and we could all move in with her."

Peter's mom's reaction was so not,  Oh, that's sweet. It was more like, Why does that woman want to RUIN MY LIFE? Never in a million trillion years would I EVER want to live with them and you shouldn't either!

"But why would she look at a nice gesture like that in such a negative light?" I asked him.

And Peter said:

"Because she's awful."

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Guilt Complex

Today I was part of an event where I sat down with writers to talk about their short stories. Out of the 23 people I met with, I had 2 bad experiences. One lady just kind of had it in for me the moment she sat down. I felt this barrier almost immediately. And everything I said to her she resisted. 

After she left I was so frazzled that I had to take a moment when I was with the next person. It was kind of obvious that she was unhappy and I told the next guy that sometimes I rub women of a certain age the wrong way. 

"It's because I look young, but really, I'm old," I said.

He laughed and said that he had the opposite problem. 

But I do feel that when I talk to certain women they get annoyed because the feeling is that I'm this young pipsqueak who shouldn't be telling them what's wrong with their short stories. 

I once taught a GRE class when I was in my mid-twenties and although I am an EXCELLENT teacher who has increased students scores tremendously as a mercenary of knowledge, this particular group of wannabe nurses asked for a different teacher because, although I was very nice and taught the material well, they wanted someone who was older. I was older than most of them! 

I mean, I look young, but I don't look THAT young. And yes, I'm still getting carded at the movie theater. For rated R movies. Which means that people think I am 16!! God forbid I try to get two tickets for me and my 43-year-old husband for The Hangover. 

And this other guy just really felt that I missed a key element in his story---and even asked me how many times I read it. I was a bit taken aback. I had read his story TWICE! And I didn't SEE what he had intended because it wasn't there! 

I came home kind of down and feeling bad until I opened up my email account and I got a bunch of emails from other people I met today thanking me and telling me how I inspired them to work on their stories to make them better. 

I turned to Peter and said, "Why is it when I had 21 good experiences do I concentrate on the 2 bad ones? Does everyone do that?"

And he said, "Only people with guilt complexes."

Why do I have a guilt complex? It's probably because I'm an oldest sister and I was brought up believing that if I didn't help my younger siblings, then they wouldn't be able to reach their full potential and then they would live horrible lives and it would ALL BE MY FAULT.

So I went through my day and I remembered this one guy who said that he had been looking forward to our mentorship session all week and that he was SO HAPPY that he came to the event. 

I decided that THIS is what I'm going to remember about today from NOW ON.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

That Teacher is a LOSER

Recently, a teacher wrote the words, "loser" on a child's exam in North Carolina. 

Now, North Carolina is a place that Peter wants to stay the hell away from because BAD THINGS have happened in North Carolina. A childhood friend of his was arrested for a crime he didn't commit and almost got convicted. So whenever we drive through that state, Peter wants to go AS FAST AS POSSIBLE, which is why we've gotten several speeding tickets there. 

Everyone has a lot of opinions about this one, but I've had my share of mean teachers. Mr. Catapano used to hand out exams and make snide comments right along the lines of "loser." Boy, was he a jerk. But back in those days, kids just sucked it up. No one ever complained to his/her mom about it, I don't think. 

The thing is that as a child, I looked up to my teachers, and I think that teachers tend to forget what it was like to be a child. An adult can say something offhand to another adult and know that whatever is said is taken with the same intent that it was said. Uhm...did I just take you down a corn maze? You got that, right? 

Children, on the other hand, tend to internalize things more and blow small stuff out of proportion. 

I remember in second grade, when my family first moved to Bergen County, New Jersey, I attended the public elementary school and LOVED my teacher Ms. Adams. I thought she was so cute with her curly brown hair and I had never encountered anyone that young who was a teacher. 

I had transferred to that school from a Catholic school in Queens which hadn't started teaching us how to read. And keep in mind, that I had just arrived in America just a year before that--so I was learning Taiwanese and English at the same time as well as trying to keep up with my first language,  Japanese. 

So yeah, I didn't learn how to read! 

One afternoon, Ms. Adams had us sit in a circle and she had her students take turns reading from our textbook. When it came time for me to start reading, I had such a difficult time sounding out the words, and I could tell that she was getting impatient, which, of course, made me all the more stumbly and stupid and made me stumble over words I already knew. Let's just say I don't do well under pressure. 

At one point, Ms. Adams took her big spiral teacher's textbook, raised it and whacked me over the head with it. Of course, I was still trying to read the words, but as I was reading, I was crying and it was SO embarrassing. The other kids just kind of stared because Ms. Adams was usually nice and this reaction was completely out of left field for us. 

Now, I don't know how Ms. Adams felt about it--she sure didn't look very sorry at the time, she just seemed SO ANGRY. And I was scared at just how angry she was--thinking back, it was SUCH a huge deal for me, but it was probably just a little blip for her. 

This memory will be with me FOREVER and that is what teachers need to understand when they deal with kids. 

Teachers represent learning and bad teachers make kids not want to learn. 

Oh, and by the way, I got into a Master's program for English that only accepts ten students out of 2,000---so even though I got off to a slow start, I'm doing just FINE with my reading skills. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It Was a Dizastah

Last Saturday we can this crazy storm in our area that knocked out the power to 420,000 homes according to the news. We were really lucky that we were spared because I hate not having my electricity. Then the fridge just becomes a big box of rotting vegetables and what would Peter and I do if we couldn't sit on the sofa in front of our TV with our laptops? What would happen to our quality together time? 

On Sunday I went to Brooklyn and of course, had to turn around twice because there were downed trees and darkened traffic lights and scary black wires that had been toppled down.

I turned on 1010WINS. When I was younger, their catchphrase, "You give us 22 minutes. We give you the world" made me think that they were a real estate agency. 

On the air was a newsperson from Hartsdale and she was reporting on all the damage in the Westchester area. It was pretty crazy. People died when trees fell on their cars. The newsperson said, "In the weehrds of one of the firemen, 'It was a dizastah.'"

Okay. 

I don't know what made me laugh more--that she had such a thick Westchester accent, or that she thought that the "it was a disaster" quote was s'good.

I mean--It was a disaster? Really? 

How about, "The worst storm in the past 100 years and for three generations to come."

All right. THAT may be too extreme. But "it was a disaster" is almost an understatement--it is NOT something that I would have thought to myself, "Oh, I better USE that in my report on the news!"

C'mon Westchester newslady! Step it up!




Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Oh, yeah...

The other day, I said to Peter, "That was really stupid of NBC to let Conan go. But I think they should have thought ahead and put someone in his time slot. I mean, NOW what are they going to do after Jay?"

"Uhm," he said, looking at me like I was totally nuts. "They have Jimmy Fallon."

"Oh yeah....I totally forgot that he had a show."

Monday, March 08, 2010

SHIP!

I was watching this interview with Seth Godin and he said something that has been my mantra for the past few days and it's this:

Just SHIP!

That means, don't just daydream about your wonderful product or idea, but self-actualize it--you have to SHIP the product. Don't think. SHIP!!

So that really did get me going, especially since I have such a looooooong bucket list now that I wrote down, which was really helpful to me--to see all the things I want to do so that it's more concrete and it gives me more of an impetus to get things going. 

I am so happy to say that I FINALLY got around to opening up Photoshop and tooling around with the design of my new site. In a few weeks (hopefully this month), I'll be putting up my new site.

I will be going through my old blog posts and eliminating anything that is not good to have out there after I non-anonymize. Hmmmm, that's probably a new word I invented, along with the Italian word Totamente (which means Totally....as in, "That is SOOOOOO Totamente Awesomedente!") I'll write up a glossary some day. 

Basically, when this blog was mainly anonymous, I wrote some gripes about certain people I am related to by marriage...some people who are not very nice. 

The lesson I learned a few weeks ago when someone from my elementary school discovered my blog was the kick in the pants I needed to realize that I DO NOT want my in-laws to be s'totamente PISSED. My reasoning in the past was, "What? Like, they DON'T KNOW that they're jerks? I mean, if I acted like a jerk and someone wrote about it, I wouldn't care..."

Well, people do care. And I know that my in-laws would act the SAME WAY those people in elementary school did--they will have totally forgotten every mean thing they said or did and think I was just plain old crazy and be all, "What is HER Freakin' problem?"

So, all bad stuff about my in-laws will be done away with in a few weeks, so don't be alarmed. But before I pull everything out, I will write part DEUX about the Surprise! party, which I hadn't had the energy to do--the party turned out great, but it SUCH a mistake to invite everybody. I'll put that together in the next few days. 

On a side note, Peter and I went to Nashville about a week ago to pick up an 80's Rick. Internet, that's a vintage six-string Rickenbacker guitar. Yes, we took the dogs and drove a zillion miles to Nashville, TN to buy a Rick from a guy Peter TWITTERS with...and who says Twitter is useless? This is the sort of thing we do that makes me think sometimes that we're living out the script to some silly indie film. 

Until last month, I didn't know the difference between a twelve-string Rick and a hollow body Gretsch. Today we went to Borders and when Peter picked out Vintage Guitar magazine, I was all, "That's a Hollow Body Gretsh, Sunburst pattern Fender Stratocaster, and a 1960's Fender P-Bass." 

And Peter said, "Whoa...I think you're right."

By the way, for all of you guys in NY, the radio station WNYZ 87.7 FM, also known as the indie darkroom, is playing a few songs from Peter's old band Pepperfarm from an album Mutiny Records put out. Isn't that AWESOME? You can listen online here

I realized that the reason I love The Smiths so much is that distinctive feeling I get when I listen to their songs, which is, as Johnny Marr says, "turning your daydreams into sound." I also think it's funny that he says that his dream guitar is a 12-string Rick, which Peter just bought on ebay. Yeah, he's going a little nuts right now, but I'm glad he's playing again. 

I found a video that shows a Rick that looks EXACTLY like the one we went all the way to Nashville, TN to get. I've now named the guitar RiiiiiiickRickRickRickRiiiiiick, like Amy Poehler's skit she did with a stepdad named Rick. By the way, notice that there's a GUITAR STORE behind Amy Poehler in that skit? S'Twilight Zone!







Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Stephan FRY!!

So Craig did a whole show with no audience with Stephen Fry.

Who?

Stephen Fry.

Who's that?

He was in that vampire movie.

You must be mistaken. Craig would never feature a guy on his show for a whole hour who I've never even heard of.

Why? Just because you've never heard of him, he isn't popular?

Yup. 

You know EVERYONE who's popular.

I know EVERYONE. And where do you know him from?

He was in that vampire movie. 

Yeah. That's real specific. 

The vampire movie with Tom Cruise...Interview With A Vampire.

You're thinking of Stephen Rea. Is THAT who Craig is having on his show?

No. It's Stephen FRY. I heard him say Stephen FRY. Google it if you don't believe me.

Fine. I will. 

(a minute later)

I guess you're right. Stephen Fry. 

I told you. Stephen FRY. Stephen FRY.

He's the guy from Wilde.

Oh yeah! He's the guy who played Oscar Wilde! 

You know who Stephen Rea is, right? 

Yeah, he was the guy in the vampire movie and The Crying Game. 

Remember the SECRET in that movie?

I saw that movie in Paris. And when they showed that transvestite, I was all, this better not be that BIG SECRET because I knew from the moment they showed him that it was a guy.

I thought it was a girl. 

Well, you didn't practically grow up in the Village. 


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Scout's Tennis Ball

This was a dog tennis ball:



Why don't tennis balls made for dogs last as long as regular tennis balls?

Monday, February 22, 2010

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

A few days ago I found out that a blog post I wrote about a year ago had been discovered by the person I wrote about. Why? Because I actually used the person's real first and last names. That was a colossal mistake. Let this be a lesson to ye all. 

I'm actually quite embarrassed about this after having been given a stern talking to by Peter for putting the names of his family members on this web site. I had systematically gone through and changed all the names to extremely long and difficult to cull together strings of "Peter's sister's husband's children from his first wife" and "Peter's brother's wife's sister." I guess I missed that particular blog post during my slash-and-burn session. I've gone through and reworded things so that it's more generic and not quite so caustic.

The thing is that blog posts are written quite off-the-cuff and so posts get written quickly (and sometimes in an emotional rant) without input from editors...SOME people find that trait charming and others find that they would rather lie down for a colonoscopy than read some stupid girl's trite internal monologue. 

Suffice it to say that I received a ton of comments that I did not post--mostly because it ranged from, "I knew those guys in high school and they are SO NICE. You need to GET OVER IT" to "God, that guy is still SUCH an ASSHOLE." None of the comments really added more to the conversation and it actually just kind of regressed people back to junior high. 

I mean, we're all supposed to be adults now. In fact, we're all middle-aged! Wow, how did THAT happen? 

The "These guys are nice to me" comments made me laugh because people are so narcissistic that they think that the only thing that matters is their own experience. Yes, I'm sure SOMEONE loved John Wayne Gacy and thinks he was TERRIFIC. But is that what I was talking about? I mean, if I read that some kid I knew in high school acted like a bully, no matter how well I knew the kid, it's still within the realm of human behavior. This is just a pet peeve because I hate that kind of comment. It's ignorant. 

We all did stupid things when we were young. We all did extremely hurtful things to people that we never thought twice about. I'm sure that Tom from high school could rant on a blog about how once he wrote me a love note and I threw it in the trash in front of all my friends. I had my reasons, among them, when he gave me the note I told him, "I DO NOT want it," and handed it back to him four times. He thought my being a generally nice person who did not want to treat him like an outcast like everyone else was (since I understood what that felt like first-hand) repaid me in dividends I did not want. Boy, I never made THAT mistake again. 

If he had used my real name, I would have written:

You know Tom, I'm really sorry that I did that and you're quite right to post anything you want on your blog, but can you please take down the part with my last name on it because I really don't want this rant to show up first on Google when I go for a job interview and my potential boss types in my name.

It's embarrassing to go back into your childhood and see all the crap that you once did or said and I'm glad you could make a funny story out of it so people on the internet could laugh about it. In fact, it's great that we can ALL laugh about every stupid thing we used to think was so insanely important and The. End. Of. The. FUCKING. World. when it wasn't. Aren't you glad you're not 14 anymore?

If I had gotten an email like that, I would have totally dug it. And I would have posted it. AND opened it up for comments.

I think the rant I wrote wasn't really about some jerk in junior high, but it was about the whole oppressive nature of the elementary school I attended. It was all uniforms, "boys-on-one-side, girls-on-another" and "stand in line" and "open your books" and "repeat after me." Of course, that, along with the whole fire and brimstone and Jesus will send you to the devil thing. 

In elementary school, when I read the Bible, I couldn't understand it. It was so confusing being a non-Catholic in a building full of Catholics who genuinely believed that they were going to heaven just because a few drops of water fell on their foreheads as infants regardless of how callously and cruelly they acted in life. We studied the Bible in school, but it was just pretty words on a page. In their day-to-day life, the teachings of Jesus were just fairy tales and their actions were, let's just say, not full of Christ-love.  

After junior high I entered high school and the experience was like Dorothy entering Oz. Black-and-white morphed into Technicolor. I checked out of elementary school and never came back. 

In high school, the teachers wore jeans and you could call some of them by their first names. They were passionate and supportive. There was no lines and girls and boys were all mixed together. Everyone in school was there to LEARN and even as a teenager, a lot of the kids were at the top of their game. Some were dancing at the American Ballet Theatre or taking lessons at Juilliard on weekends or singing opera on Broadway when they weren't at a science lab pursuing research for their prize-winning Westinghouse project. The craziest part about this school was that the door was wide open. No one was forcing you to be in class. If you wanted to cut class, you just walked out that door. Greenwich Village was just a few blocks away, so it was pretty damned tempting. 

But if you wanted to read To the Lighthouse as a sophomore like I did, even though the whole Virginia Woolf modernist psychologically deep philosophical story with no plot whatsoever is really WAY over your head at that age, your teacher will take you by the hand and guide you through it because if you NEED TO read Virginia Woolf before you're ready, then BY GOD, WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER. And yes, it was WAY over my head and I didn't understand it at all, but when I read it now, as an adult, Mr. Greenburg's kindness makes me want to cry and that kindness, internet? That is SO VERY To the Lighthouse. In fact, that kindness is the very reason why To the Lighthouse EXISTS. 

My elementary school experience became a sort of thing that I made fun of and told people about at cocktail parties. I would tell people about that time a girl in my class accused my race of taking over everything and wanting all the jobs, and my punch line was, "Yeah, like I wanted to become a checker at the Silver Barns grocery store." 

I did not maintain one friendship out of that group of kids. I left that world behind. I saw my ex-classmates as people who were stuck in that world and I wanted OUT. 

It was meeting Peter that helped me feel differently about this because he grew up Italian-Catholic in the Bronx and came from that world of Catholic school--he was an ALTAR boy, if you can believe it. He also grew up feeling different from all the kids he went to school with and he was one of them. He became vegetarian and his friends did not get it, they're still trying to convince him to eat a Big Mac. When Peter quit his promising job at CBS to go on tour with his band, they were the first to attend his gigs and buy his band's CDs. When Peter came back home flat broke after the band naively spent ALL of their six-figure signing bonus on recording their album, his friends took him out and paid. 

I always felt that I had such a difficult time because of my race and perhaps that wasn't fair. Yes, kids made fun of me for my funny lunches and the shape of my eyes, but I really could have given as good as I got instead of retreating. I mean, IRISH people making fun of immigrants and the way we look and talk? C'mon! And at least Chinese people are known to be smart in pop culture, unlike Italians. I could have opened up a dialogue but I didn't. And perhaps I missed out on something there. And perhaps I didn't. We'll never know. 

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sent From Heaven

The past few days I've been mulling over the plot of an epistolary novel that I'm working on and I've been thinking a lot about my grandfather because one of the characters is inspired by him. For the past few weeks, I've been thinking about scenes from my childhood with him. 

My grandfather, who I called Akong, was the only doctor in a very small, rural part of Japan and his patients were mostly the older rice farmers. Some of them had spent so much of their lives hunched over their fields that they were permanently hunched over and could no longer stand upright. And yet, they were always quick to smile whenever they saw me. 

Akong's office always smelled like iodine and he had a leather examining table that had felt the weight of everyone in town. There was such a sense of security growing up in his house because whenever something ailed me, I knew that he would have all the answers. 

Akong earned his license during a time when a Taiwanese medical student had to learn Japanese and German because the professors were Japanese and the textbooks were written in German. He also spoke Russian, Mandarin Chinese, a bit of French, and since my great-grandfather understood that if his children spoke English, they would be able to communicate in any part of the world, he hired an English tutor (a real English tutor from England) for all of his children. This would explain why I have relatives who live all over the planet, including several Parisiennes and a South African uncle. 

My sister inherited his love of languages. She speaks French, Mandarin, Taiwanese, English, and Swahili fluently. 

My mother told me this story which is a scene in my novel. She said that whenever he would finish with a patient, he would come into the kitchen (his office was at the front of the house) and ask her what color she dressed me in that morning as he washed his hands by the sink below the window. And then he would search for me in the schoolyard. She said that he was always so happy to spot me and he would tell her whatever it was I was doing. Hearing my mother tell this story always made me feel so cherished. 

Akong died the day after the Chinese New Year in his sleep. He had been in good spirits because his entire family in Taiwan had visited for the holiday. He couldn't stomach the rich foods and went to bed early. The next morning, my aunt came in to check up on him and he told her to go back to bed because he was still tired. When she returned, he was gone. He was 94 years old.

When I heard the news, I thought how strange it was that I had been thinking about my grandfather so much the last few days. And then I realized that for the very first time, I was living on this earth without him. It was difficult to grasp the concept. Because he lived so far away, I told myself that I could pretend that he was still there on the other side of the world. But even as I told myself that, I knew that it would be impossible. I feel as if a part of me has become a bit untethered. Perhaps that's what we all go through and we keep getting untethered until it is time for us to leave the earth. 

I asked Peter, who lost his father four years ago, how long he mourned for his father. 

"I'm not sure how long it lasts. I might mourn him for the rest of my life," he said.

When I called my father, he told me that when he was young, his mother had taken him to an oracle of some sort and she had told them that my grandfather was a god who had been sent back down to earth. 

My father said that at the time, he didn't quite believe it, but hearing about Akong's amazingly peaceful death, he was reminded of this and thought that perhaps it was true. 

Akong was such a kind man and a gentle person. While he practiced medicine he saved countless lives and genuinely took care of his patients. He was a brother to eight sisters and truly loved his wife, so when he birthed babies, he understood that this took time and never rushed the process. Years later, women would approach my mother and tell her how lucky they were to have had him as their doctor. 

He and my grandmother taught me what love could be when you found the right person. Every morning, he would bring my grandmother a hot towel as she was waking up so that she could wash her face. Witnessing this relationship gave me the faith not to settle and to search for the right man for me. 

Akong was a lucky man. Unfortunate things did happen in his life. He lost his hearing in one of his ears as a child when an uncle clubbed him on the side of his face. He lost out on his father's medical practice when he had been sent to mainland China during the second world war. Later, he would have to lead his young family aboard a smuggler's ship and brave the pirate-infested seas to return home so that his children and grandchildren would not have to live in Communist China. He borrowed money on some very bad terms from an old friend which ruined their friendship. He underwent major surgery, I think it was an appendectomy, without anesthesia because the surgeon, ignorant of Akong's identity, didn't want to waste anesthesia on a patient who wouldn't be able to afford it. Imagine his surprise when my great-grandmother came to visit her son in her mink coat and imported European fashions. I always picture this surgeon quaking in his shoes once he found out that my great-grandfather was a member of the Taiwanese parliament. 

Akong was lucky because he was born the eldest son in a wealthy and generous household. He was beloved by his family. He had a father who valued intelligence and encouraged Akong to study, and study he did, for his favorite story of his schooling was that he never scored lower than a 96 percent on a mathematics examination. 

His eight sisters filled the house with music on the piano my great-grandfather had bought for them (at a time when a piano cost as much as four houses). Akong was able to work in a profession he loved. After failing his hearing test three times, he valiantly strived to take it again and was rewarded with a broken machine and a lax administrator to become the doctor he always wanted to be, a profession that suited him. 

Later, he married my grandmother, a beautiful woman who was the love of his life, and they were together for more than five decades. They had two sons and two daughters.

Then, during a time when most men were considering retirement, Akong embarked on another adventure, and that was moving to Japan to take up residence as the town doctor in a small village. He was able to invest wisely in this new country and that's where he made his own fortune. 

It's almost impossible to fathom the world Akong was born into during the early part of the twentieth century. He loved technology, so this was an exciting century for him to live through. He was an avid photographer who fashioned a darkroom out of my father's childhood bathroom. Towards the end of his life, he was converting all his files into digital format and Akong was on his computer every day answering emails from his children and grandchildren.

I know that Akong was afraid of death. I think that's partly the reason he was so careful about his health. And as a doctor, he always monitored himself carefully. His own father died in early middle age of a heart attack while hiking in the mountains. I'm glad that his last moments were in his comfortable bed with his family by his side. 

When my father told me the story about the oracle, it does make sense to me. Perhaps Akong was a god sent back down from the heavens. And now he has returned home. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Brother Has One of You

For Valentine's Day, we decided to go up to Kingston, NY to look at a Roadtrek RV. Yup, I'm interested and Peter was dragged along so that he could convince me that these were a TERRIBLE idea. I bribed him by enticing him with a trip to The Apple Pie Bakery at the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park. 

All week Peter kept asking me to call the place to MAKE SURE THAT THEY'RE OPEN SUNDAY. I looked on their website and it said that it was closed on Monday for President's Day, but no mention about Sunday, so I assumed they were open. 

When we drove up to the place, there were hardly any cars in the parking lot, which kind of made me nervous, but I was still hopeful...I'm an optimist (or maybe simply delusional). When we reached the door and it was LOCKED, Peter was s'mad.

"I told you TO CALL THEM!" Peter said.

"Yeah, uhm. I guess when you said, 'Make sure that they're open on Sunday,' I just went to the website and it didn't say that they were closed THIS Sunday--it didn't occur to me to check their hours because it's a bakery--why would a bakery close on Sunday?"

"It's not a bakery, it's a SCHOOL and SCHOOLS ARE NOT OPEN ON SUNDAYS."

Apparently, this turned out to be true.

Wow, this was turning out to be the most terrible Valentine's Day ever.

Fortunately, we had discovered another great bakery, Bread Alone, in Rhinebeck last summer so we headed on over there. It was super-packed, but it was OPEN! Yay! 

When I ordered my food, the cashier asked me for my name. Here's the conundrum that I face whenever restaurants ask for a name--I have such a strange Taiwanese name that it always throws people off. Most of the time I use Peter's name, but this time I chanced it and told her my name. 

She smiled and told me that it was a pretty name, so of course, I thanked her. And then she said:

"My brother's girlfriend has a name that sounds like yours. I love her, she's so cute. And my brother's learning her language. It's Korean or Japanese, I can't remember which one."

That was sort of strange. My sister speaks Swahili. I know which African language she learned. I'm not telling someone,"Oh, Swahili or Bantu, one of those..."  

I mean, she can't be bothered to learn what country her brother's girlfriend is from? What kind of person is she? 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valerie-ing

I was IMing with my friend Andrew, who is one of the funniest people I've ever met. He can make me laugh just be saying one word. (The word is HUUUUUUUGE--it's not the word, but the way he says it--he's mocking someone we used to know in college and it's DEAD-ON)

When we talk, we tend to come up with our own phrases and today, he wrote that he lost 23 pounds! And afterwards, he said, "I am SO Valerie-ing!" 

So funny! I'm going to start using that phrase for weight loss--such as:

"In order to Valerie, I had to stop eating carbs."

"I'm gong to eat this cheesecake now, but I'm really REALLY going to start my Valerie tomorrow."

"I got s'Kirstie that I totally had to do some serious Valerie-ing."

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

You Can Go Purell Your Iphone Now

It's no secret that I am severely paranoid about germs. I hate shaking hands with people, I hate touching doorknobs, I hate touching shopping carts, I mean, I'm not Howie Mandel-crazy, but I'm crazy enough that it can annoy people around me. 

The other day, we had trouble with our cable service. Our phones kept dropping calls and the internet was constantly not connecting to whatever it is it's supposed to connect to so I called the people over at Cablevision, who, by the way, are a bunch of budonkadonk-heads.

The first time I made an appointment, they never showed up. When I called the next morning, their records said that the guys fulfilled the appointment. Hmmmm... Fine, whatever, so I set up another appointment between 2pm and 5pm the next day. 5pm came and went and when I called, they said that the guy was running late and would be here by 10pm. Then 10pm came and went--soooooo the long and the short of it was that FINALLY by the NEXT day, one of their guys miraculously found his way to our house. 

He fixed some stuff and replaced some wires and kind of chuckled when he asked me to check the modem for some stuff that I was apparently not checking the modem for because I was looking at THE ROUTER the whole time, which apparently is an entirely different thing altogether.

Peter called when the guy was almost done and the guy asked to speak to him (since Peter's the only person in this house who actually knows the difference between a router and a modem). I reluctantly handed him my iphone because he's a stranger and carries germs and I hold that thing to my face! But I didn't want to appear rude so I gave it to him. After he finished talking to Peter, I took the iphone back and Peter said:

"Okay, everything seems to be working okay right now. I'll be home in a few minutes. YOU CAN GO PURELL YOUR IPHONE NOW."

Friday, February 05, 2010

Nine Stories

The day I met Peter, I suggested that he read Nine Stories. I was obsessed with Salinger at that time and I was writing short stories. His were just so perfect. Each one just hits you right in the heart and it was my barometer for the guys I was dating. If you didn't understand Salinger, I was all, "I think it's about time we start seeing other people."

The stories in that collection are deep without being sentimental, powerful without whacking you over the head, funny and meaningful.  

Little did I know that just that day, Peter said to himself, "I don't think I'm going to date a girl until I find one who recommends a book to me."

Kismet?

Serendipity? 

Fate?

Salinger?

My guess is all of the above.

Peter picked up the book at Borders the next day. And we're still together twelve point five years later. 

Thanks Jerome David. Rest in peace.  

Monday, February 01, 2010

He Must Really Love Her

I was brought up by people who feel that romantic gestures are phony. In fact, the thinking is that the couple who is at your party who can't keep their hands off each other, making out in the corner, winking at each other all evening? They're the ones who are MOST LIKELY to be on the brink of divorce.

In my experience of observing people, I find that the most fragile relationships tend to put on a big show of affection around others.

When it comes to romantic gestures, Peter puts up a giant red circle with the slash across it. It's not that he's uncomfortable with them, he doesn't put any effort into it. He doesn't value it.

That's okay about 99 percent of the time, but it kind of went really wrong the day he proposed to me.

First of all, I had warned him that it was a HORRIBLE IDEA to propose at a restaurant or at a ball game. Why? Because you are subjecting people, in fact, STRANGERS, to your intimate moment--and I don't want my entree being held up because of some stupid couple who are probably going to be divorced in 7 years, anyway.

Peter planned a 30th birthday party for me and invited all of our closest friends. Unfortunately, a lot of my closest friends couldn't even come to the event due to circumstances out of their control. So that should have been a clue to him that maybe proposing at that party was NOT A GOOD IDEA.

Unfortunately, when men get it in their head to do something, it's difficult for them to see those signs.

A friend of mine knew her husband was going to propose to her one horrible night when mosquitos were eating her alive and they were sweatily trudging along a hiking path in Vermont. He kept bringing up their FUTURE and she kept changing the subject and trying to get him to take the hint of NOT NOW!! I'M NOT IN THE MOOD FOR A PROPOSAL RIGHT NOW WHEN I AM CRANKY and SWEATY!!

Unfortunately, he just kept plowing ahead and he insisted. When she relayed the story to me, she told me she said yes, of course, but she was a bit bummed out that he didn't take the hint.

My advice to guys out there? Girls dream of the moment they are proposed to so try to make it a sweet, memorable moment. And if she's giving you signs that she's not into it, or it's a bad time, do it another time.

My fantasy proposal goes like this: A beautiful walk in Vermont in autumn when the trees are all turning and gorgeous and my boyfriend takes me to a scenic spot and gets on one knee...(notice that there aren't any other people in this scenario?)

So the afternoon of the party, a party I was all frazzled getting the food ready for and setting the apartment up and a million other tasks I needed to do, the phone rang and one of my friends was at the train station. I went to go pick her up and Peter asked me to come into the bedroom...and that's when he proposed.

I literally was so shocked and I'm the kind of person who needs to take time to process things. As soon as Peter proposed, I felt that I needed to lie down and take a nap. BUT I COULDN'T because I had to pick up my friend at the train station. So about two minutes after Peter proposed, I was sitting in my car freaking out.

I didn't want to tell people, but then I realized that PEOPLE MUST ALREADY KNOW. So it would be WIERD if I was all proposed to and I put the ring away and pretended that I wasn't engaged. So the whole rest of the party was kind of a blur. I was newly engaged and I had some random collection of people at my apartment, including my real estate agent, Scout's dog trainer, Peter's web designer, the web designer's pregnant wife, and Peter's friend whose sister is best friends with Peter's web designer's ex-girlfriend. An ex-girlfriend of ten years who he dumped and then went on to knock up this other girl 6 months later. Why do guys do this?

Anyway, let's just say that it was an awkward group of people to be celebrating MY ENGAGEMENT with and I just wanted to go into the bedroom to be by myself and process what just happened and maybe spend the day with Peter getting used to the idea of getting married.

And another thing, Peter got me a sapphire ring, which was really pretty and I loved it....up until I asked him why he chose that one. He said, "Well, there was this other one I wanted, but it would have taken an extra week to get, so I bought this one."

To this day, he can't understand why this would upset me so.

Then, I freaked out. Like, I'm not worth that extra week? And why did he propose to me right before I had to pick up my friend? Doesn't he KNOW ME? He doesn't know me! How can I marry someone who thinks that I want to be proposed to right before a bunch of random people are going to come to my house? How could I marry someone who would choose to propose to me right after I get a phone call from my friend at the train station while I was putting sunscreen on my face in the bathroom?

Later, he explained that it took everything he had to ask me to marry him. After all, we had been together 7 years at that point and he was so against marriage that he never thought that he would ever marry. Finally, after SEVEN YEARS, he decided that he was ready, so he went to the store and wanted to go home with a ring THAT DAY. And he knew I didn't want to be proposed to at a restaurant, but he didn't know it was because of the PEOPLE. Then he said that he would make it up to me.

Plus, there was a bit of drama with that sapphire ring. Because he didn't get me a diamond, everyone from my mom, to his mom, to people I thought were my friends, made comments like, "Oh, why isn't it a diamond?"

When I told people that Princess Diana's engagement ring was a sapphire, they were all, "Ohhhhhh."

When I told my mother-in-law that my mother's engagement ring was a pearl ring, she said, "Pearls are CHEAP."

Well, at least they were able to BUY THEIR OWN HOUSE a few years later. Because they didn't SPEND ALL THEIR MONEY on diamonds and ugly Hummel dolls.

So a few weeks later, Peter got me another ring. A diamond ring. 'Cuz sometimes when you do things different, people judge you and one thing that Peter hates? It's for people to judge us and think that there's something WRONG. Then the person I thought was my friend got SO MAD that I got TWO RINGS!! (Her exact words were, "Why do YOU get TWO RINGS!!")

Of course, now I'm totally anti-diamonds because of what happens to people in Africa over conflict diamonds--I'm glad that the ring Peter got me was an antique ring from the 1920s.

Suffice it to say, with all that stupid drama from me, proposals are a very sore subject for Peter. Although now I find that the story is very cute and much more interesting than other people's--also, a lot of people who had lovely proposals are now divorced. I mean, look at Jessica Simpson.

The other day, I saw a cool post on designsponge. A guy made this gorgeous illustrated book and hid a ring in the book as a proposal.

When I showed it to Peter, he said, very sarcastically:

"He must REALLY love her."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Big Nose

No matter how many photographs I take of Rocky, his nose appears SO BIG. In real life, he's much better proportioned. We can send men to the moon and yet we still haven't solved the whole "the camera adds an extra 15 pounds" thing? In Rocky, that's 15 pounds of nose.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Melding Soap

Peter has saved us hundreds of dollars worth of soap by perfecting this talent: soap melding



Soap melding is what we call the combining of the small, about to be used up soap with a new bar of soap, ensuring no soap wastage. You might call this gross, but we call it resourceful.

The small white soap is this wonderful hand-made hotel soap we got at the Hard Rock Hotel in Seminole, Florida (one of the best hotels ever!) The other one is L'Occitane Honey & Lemon Hexagonal Soap.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ya Gonna Call Security?

Tuesday nights are Free Movie Nights at Clearview Cinemas for all of those who are members of the Optimum Rewards program. For those of you who have no idea what that means, it's a program that my cable provider offers to members who use them for cable, internet, and phone services.

When I told my father about this program, he asked me to sign him up for it, and I promptly did this as soon as I went home. I told him to look out for a card in the mail a month from that day. Fast forward about two months later, my mom asked me whatever happened with that card thing. I had a suspicion that my dad misplaced it/threw it away. But when I asked him about it, he told me that it never came in the mail. When I pressed him on this, he got mad.

So I backpedaled and told him that it was okay if he threw it away, I just had to know this bit of information so that I could let Optimum Rewards know that they had to send him another card. I took my own card from my wallet and asked him if he had seen something like it come in the mail.

He sheepishly told me that he sorta kinda recognized the card and that he MIGHT have....thrown it away. Because it looked LIKE JUNK. And how was HE supposed to know what that was? There was nothing on it saying FREE MOVIE CARD.

You see this right here, people? This was my entire childhood with my father in one frustrating pull-your-hair-out nutshell.

Fast forward a year later when I signed Peter's mother up for the card and she did THE SAME THING.

What part of WATCH OUT FOR THIS IN THE MAIL do people not understand?

ANYWAY, I don't know if they've done studies on this, but Tuesdays are the MOST DIFFICULT day for us to get our acts together and go out on a date night. After weeks and weeks of Peter being way too busy to go out on a Tuesday night, he had a free Tuesday last night!!

YAY!

We went to see Up in the Air.

The thing with Free Movie night is that sometimes there will be people in the audience who are just there because the movie is free since it is the type of movie they would NEVER pay good hard-earned money to watch. When Peter and I walked into the theater, we noticed that 3/4 of the audience were made up of people who, shall I say, look more like the sort who would prefer Transformers or the latest Vin Diesel vehicle.

Throughout the movie, there was a group of ladies in the far right of the theater who were acting like the movie theater was their house. And by their house, I mean a place where they can get all relaxed and shout for their kids to come down the stairs because actually walking up those stairs to talk to them like people who deserve that type of dignity would be WAY TOO MUCH WORK.

So finally, after about the fifth outburst from those ladies, I hear a scurfuffle with people SHUSHing them and there were unkind words exchanged. Then one of the ladies yell out, "Whatcha gonna do? Ya gonna call SECURITY....AGEEEEN?!"

It was the "Ageeen" that made me laugh out loud. There was such a derisiveness in the way she said it, like she was flush with the power of being such an asshole.

I mean, the poor guy sitting in the middle of the aisle just cannot enjoy his free movie. And when he finally cannot bear it any longer, he calls Security, who is supposed to handle this type of behavior. Unfortunately, we can't expect Security to do anything because doing something would require some sort of effort. And people just don't make an effort at work anymore. So the loud ladies totally get away with being loud without any consequence.

After all, how can you expect people to show pride in the jobs they are doing when there is no more job security in this country? We're all just waiting around for robots to take over our jobs anyway. At least, that's the lesson I took away from the movie.

Pretty soon, the loud ladies at the movie theater are going to ruin our lives.

Monday, January 25, 2010

But I Have Two Jobs!!

We have made an active decision to cook at home more, which means that I'm the one cooking 99% of the meals. Why? Because Peter has two jobs. He does work really hard. Just the other day he came home for lunch and before his meal he checked his inbox. He had 100 emails from people and it was not yet 11:30am! And this was for only one of his web sites.

It's been a running joke in this house that he has two jobs--and it's true, he does bring home the bacon. I bring home more of the occasional baguette or a box of cupcakes.

Yesterday when I asked him whether he was going to go outside and pick up the poop, he said, "But I have two jobs!"

So of course I went outside to take care of it before this monster rainstorm hit--mushy dog poop all over the yard doesn't bother me. The steppage of messy dog poop by our disgusting dogs fills me with horror.

And then when I came back into the house, Peter was all, "Oh, I was just kidding."

"Right. Well I didn't see you running out to help me."

"But I have two jobs!"

A part of me feels that I should be annoyed when he says this, but he does it with such an impish smile that I can't help but laugh.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Breakthrough Moment From Jessica Biel

It's not every day that I open my inbox and I find an email addressed to me from a Jessica Biel. I'm all, there's only one Jessica Biel I KNOW. And even though I never click on junky emails, I looked at this one and here is what it said:

Dear Vogue Reader,
It's funny when you think about the idea of a breakthrough moment in someone's career. A few times in my own life, I have been told by people, 'Oh! This is your breakthrough moment or that is your breakthrough moment.'

But you can't put too much weight into that idea because there really isn't one moment when you actually feel you have arrived. I feel as an actor you are trying to work as hard as you can and make the best decisions you possibly can, and you have to take each moment for what it is.

All of that said, a part of me always wanted to be on the cover of Vogue. But to have it actually happen? That felt incredibly special to me.

I suddenly found myself sitting in this beautiful location and wearing the most amazing couture, with Mario Testino shooting and Tonne Goodman from Vogue editing the story. I just remember feeling very grateful, wanting to work hard, enjoy the day, and really take it all in.

I hope you enjoy the February issue, which hits the newsstands this week.

Best,
Jessica Biel

Now I'm all, I'm supposed to have a BREAKTHROUGH MOMENT? No one has ever said to me, "You know that creative brief you wrote last year was totally your breakthrough moment in content development."

"That roasted tomato soup? Totally your breakthrough moment in the kitchen."

Do people get that said to them? What kind of crazy is she talking about? As far as I'm concerned, that Jessica is ridiculous if she thinks she's had a breakthrough moment IN HER CAREER. I've seen some of her movies. If those movie scripts had been any good, Julia Roberts would have been in them. And there are probably three other Hollywood actresses stealing Jessica's breakthrough moments.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti Coverage

Like a lot of Americans I've been watching news coverage of what's been going on in Haiti. I really can't watch it for long. Is it just me, or are the reporters almost giddy with excitement when they're out there? It's kind of gross, but maybe I'm being paranoid.

Another thing that I've noticed is that every time I've turned on the news, the story is about a blonde girl or woman who had been in Haiti when the earthquake struck and that she's been discovered to be safe. Then there's the whole interview with their families here at home and how they are so thankful.

The thing is that I haven't seen one black Haitian-American family being interviewed about the family they have in Haiti. Granted, it could be that every time I turn on the television, the reporters just happened to be interviewing white families, but I don't know...

So yes, the coverage has been irking me--but whenever I ask someone about their experience, I've discovered that most of my friends are logging online for their news and not watching television, so they haven't come across my experience.

Peter thinks the best thing to do is to stop watching how the news is exploiting people and to send money to the Red Cross instead. And of course, he's always right.

Here's the link to the Red Cross.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

ebay Person leonhart.306 is SOOO On My Shit List

A few weeks ago I sold a bunch of items on ebay--and wouldn't you know it, the ONE ITEM that I didn't purchase insurance for got "lost." I actually believe that the ebay person I sold the item to totally got it and pretended it was lost, but that's neither here nor there because it was my fault for not taking precautions.

I guess I figured that since I didn't sell the item for that much, why bother paying more money for the insurance?

Being new to ebay, when the guy asked me for a refund, I quickly sent it to him--not making him cancel the transaction first so that I could at least get my ebay fees back--which is only a few dollars, but it is the PRINCIPLE. I know, that PRINCIPLE thing gets me every time.

So I've sent the guy a couple of emails that he never answers and when I asked him to cancel the transaction, he REFUSED.

URG!!

Of course Peter is all, "This is stupid, get a life."

Anyway, I have his home number and ebay says that I should call him and try to resolve this ourselves.

Hmmmm. I want to call him at 3am in the morning, but that's harassment.

It really burned me up because he was all, "If you refund my money I won't write you a negative review."

Then I refunded his money quickly--I was going to anyway--then he wrote me a totally unfairly negative review and lied about the entire transaction.

That's really the part that burned me up.

And you know the part that really annoys me? That this whole stupid thing is irritating me in the first place! I'm annoyed that this stupid thing is annoying me. It's such a stupid thing and easy to let go, but I can't stand it that this guy is such a jerk!

I hope that an avalanche falls on him.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Orange Julius

When my father decided to open up his own business, he was seriously considering an Orange Julius franchise, which was so cool with me because I LOVED those things. We had a store at the Queens Mall and my dad wanted to open one up in Manhattan.

My parents really struggled financially in those days, so I don't think my father was able to cobble together the franchise money. But I still remember all the Orange Julius literature scattered all over the house (because to my father, the living room floor is a filing cabinet for all your important papers). When I found out that he decided to open up a Japanese restaurant instead, it was one more childhood disappointment.

For some inexplicable reason, Peter asked me completely randomly the other day, "What's an Orange Julius like?"

And I said, "Liquid AWESOME!"

Poor, poor Peter, never having had the childhood pleasure of an Orange Julius. No wonder he didn't like to eat fruit. His parents always bought mushy apples and pears and put bananas in the fridge. For the first few years of our relationship, my mother would give me Asian pears and I would ask Peter if he wanted a slice. He always turned up his nose and said, "I hate pears."

Then one day, he plucked one from my plate and said, "That's NOT a PEAR!!"

I said, "Huh?"

"Pears are gross and this is DELICIOUS!"

And I was all, "Yeah, well, WELCOME TO MY WORLD. I only eat DELICIOUS."

Once I realized that Peter was just fruit-ignorant, I introduced him to Fuji apples ("I didn't know apples could be crunchy"), pomelos ("That's like a huge-ass grapefruit"), pomegranates ("So, do I swallow the seeds?"), and other delights.

He asked me to look up an Orange Julius recipe and I found a couple of them on the internet--after some trial and error, we made up this recipe that tastes EXACTLY like my memory of an Orange Julius. Unfortunately, the closest Orange Julius location is 50 miles away and I haven't tried one since my age contained single digits, so I can't say that it definitely tastes this way. But it tastes like what my brain remembers.

The Orange Julius Recipe

6 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla flavor (that's what we have at home--but you can use extract)
8 ice cubes

Put everything in a blender and process until smooth and you'll have LIQUID AWESOME.

In order to make a slushy and not an Orange Julius, substitute the water and 8 ices cubes with one tray full of ice cubes and you'll get SLUSHY AWESOME.

FYI: The first time I used Trader Joe's frozen Organic Orange Juice concentrate--and it came out perfect.

The second time, I used my local Stop&Shop's Sunrise Valley frozen orange juice concentrate, which made the drink slightly too orangey--so you'll have to calibrate according to whatever concentrate you use.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm Totally Taking the Credit

My sister and I have the same voice, which has always made it difficult on people who call the house, especially Jenny's friends. One time I picked up the phone, said, "Hello," and her friend started going on and on about a private matter and when she finally took in a breath I said, "Do you want to speak to Jenny?"

To which she replied, "Uhm. Uh.... Yes. And all that other stuff? I was just kidding."

I left a message on my sister's cell phone today and when she called me back, she was cracking up.

She said, "When I hear MY OWN VOICE on the voicemail, you don't have to say, 'It's your sister.' I mean, it's easy to figure out who it is because why would I be calling MYSELF?"

Then later on, we both said, "COOL!" at the very same time and it was kind of strange. Not only do our voices sound exactly alike, but our inflections were exactly the same.

"Do you think you talk like me because you imitated me when you were younger or do you think that the way we talk is totally genetic?" I asked.

"It's okay," she said. "You can take credit for my personality."

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Things to Do Before I, You Know...

Instead of New Year's Resolutions, I decided to finally put together a list of the things I want to do in life. And it was actually kind of cathartic, writing them down. It makes me take these nebulous ideas out of my head and turn them into serious goals. Like, hey! If this is the only life I get, what do I want to do?

This list will be ever-expanding--whenever I come up with more things I want to do, I'm going to add them. Although I think I've made enough New Year's Resolutions here for a lifetime.

Go shopping in London
Safari in Kenya
See the pyramids in Egypt
Watch the sunset in Bali
See the fireworks at Niagara Falls
Experience bioluminescent swimming
Take another photo at the Grand Canyon
Go to a fashion show in Paris
Buy a watch in Switzerland
Leave a can of succatash on Elvis's grave at Graceland
Go to Seattle to see if it's always raining
Eat at a vegetarian restaurant in Portland
Snorkel in bora bora
Go to Hawaii just to go
Introduce Peter to my gajillion cousins in Taiwan
Take Peter to the camera shop and Harajiku in Tokyo
Swim in the Dead Sea (like Jesus!)
Take a photo with that big statue in rio de janero
See if Hong Kong really is as cool as everyone says it is
Live outside the US for a period of time
Take an Alaskan cruise
Do the American road trip in an RV
Go to Newfoundland
Experience the Taj Mahal
Own waterfront property
Move somewhere it doesn't snow
Attend a festival in Rome
Explore the ruins of Greece
Stay at the fancy shmancy Canyon Ranch spa
Attend the Hay Festival in Wales
Learn how to use my camera and take awesome photos
Grow an organic garden
Have a baby
Meet Oprah
Learn how to bake pies
Adopt a beagle or king cavalier
Adopt a miniature horse
Have my home photographed for a decorating magazine
Write a Modern Love article in the NY TImes
Write a book
Make my friends some bath bombs
Open up my own store
Renew our wedding vows (and only invite people I like and to not be sick this time)
Start to compost our garbage
Write a song
Get a steam shower or sauna or hot tub
Learn how to play drums
Learn how to play the harp
Learn how to make bath bombs
Learn how to make a rag doll
Keep the house organized and clean
Finally learn html
Read the classics
Earn a phd
Win a pulitzer
Learn how to sail
Learn how to swim the front crawl
Become financially secure
Learn how to fix a car
Be happy with my weight (or get to a weight I'm happy with)
Learn how to knit
Learn how to sew
Learn how to sculpt
Learn how to paint well
Take a culinary course with my mom
Meet Julianne Moore
Walk the entire length of Manhattan
Learn how to belly dance
Attend a world series
Attend a superbowl
Learn spanish
Learn french
Learn japanese
Learn italian
Write a will
Learn how to juggle
Donate $1,000,000 to a charity
Buy a plug-in car
Ride on a hot-air balloon
Go to Monte Carlo
Ride a gondola in Venice
Take a pottery class
Learn how to make jewelry
Form a band
Go Zorbing
Throw the first pitch at a baseball game
Become a guest on a TV show
Learn how to woodwork
Learn how to walk on stilts
Experience the northern lights
Go to all 50 of the American states
Swim in the largest swimming pool in the world
Invent something
Revamp my blog and make it awesome
Dinner at Per Se
Make a short film
Write a cookbook
Watch a space shuttle launch
Visit every baseball stadium in the major leagues
Get an invitation to the White House
Receive a personal letter from a super-famous person