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SS moves in….

30 Aug

… for a couple days.

For the past two years, SS has been planning a major renovation to his apt. This project was in the works long before we met, and has him very excited.

The past six months have been interspersed with architect meetings, permit applications, visits to kitchen showrooms, samples from Home Depot and god knows what other legal dealings he had to take care of to get his dream abode on the runway. Oh, and for the past few months he’s been living in a place full of holes that the contractor requested he create so he could figure out if the architect’s plans were feasible. (You should have seen me bounce out of the bed when I was there alone and heard a scamper in the wall. Ooooooh boy!)

So after years of anticipation, today’s the day! SS left his apt his morning never to see it the same again!

We got up early to finish the last of the emptying — moving the mattress out back and the rest of his belongings into my car — and as he got ready for work, three “gorillas” showed up armed to demolish the place. (Apparently they were the voiceovers for the “Snatch” cast.)

As luck would have it, he’s got a few weeks of travel planned so finding a place to stay isn’t necessary, except for the next couple nights. And I’m the lucky one! (No, I’m not being sarcastic!)

I am also the unlucky one. His trips and my cross-country road trip overlap so I won’t be seeing my SS for a good three and half weeks or so. I think subconsciously it’s taken a toll on me.

Travel, no matter how well planned, always comes with a small black hole: There is always the potential for an unknown outcome. It’s this unknown possibility that triggers my desire to visit somewhere new. But it also instills fear. A good kind of fear. The kind that leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat wide-eyed craving more.

I guess from that perspective, it’s not completely abnormal to feel a sense of stress about watching the one you love fly off one way, while you drive the other.

I am going to miss him. But at the same time I couldn’t be more excited for his vacation. Having lived abroad, I understand the “travel-bug” and what it can do to a person when left unfulfilled. It’s not pretty! It’s the reason that I’ll be singing in the car with my little brother somewhere amid the rocky peaks of the West when SS’s plane touches back down in NY. We may be off on different journeys for the next month, but his sense of adventure is one of the things that draws me to him.

It’s a trip he’s be anticipating for a long time. Just like the renovation, it was part of him before we met!

And just like his brand-new shiny apartment, I’ll awaiting his return.


When wearing sequins, do you dance or watch?

27 Aug

Earlier this week SS and I, along with a few of his friends, went to the Scissor Sisters’ show at Terminal 5!! The show was fantastic for a number of reasons.

1) The band is fantastic. If you’d have asked my opinion on them a month ago I’d have said, “who?” But when SS got a notice for pre-sale tickets, I committed to learning — and liking — their music. And I fulfilled my duty. Their music is described as being a mix of “disco, glam rock and the New York City club scene.” And that pretty much sums it up!

2) It was at Terminal 5, which apparently used to be a club and offers that exact vibe. Similar to the ballroom venues in the city, it’s open floor with two mezzanine levels and NO SEATS! This is the best part. What’s a surefire way of making sure your audience is standing and dancing?? Book a venue without seats. We walked around, hit up a few different bars and DANCED! And since I was in the middle of reading  Notes From The Night by Taylor Plimpton, a book about the NYC club scene, I was really craving a night out at such a venue.

3) I got to wear my sequined top that MJay gifted to me over a year ago — which I received a number of compliments on.

4) SS hit the dance floor with me! 🙂

Other highlights of the night included a very flamboyant man who seemed fascinated with my “twirl” and stood to the side for a while encouraging me to twirl. Being sober and extremely acute of the silliness of the situation, I entertained him for a while and proceeded to innocently go back to getting my groove on.

The night also made me think.

Reading Plimpton’s analysis of the club scene in his book made me acutely aware of the atmosphere around me. Part of what he talks about in his book is the transition from normal everyday reality to the reality of the club scene, a transition influenced by atmosphere, drugs and energy. When discussing the end of a night of clubbing, he talks about the reality that hits when the lights are turned on, when people are forced to see things for what they are. I think it’s the similar to watching an event full of intoxicated people from a sober standpoint.

It was two-thirds of the way into the concert and we had ventured up to the second floor to find a new bar and in a new view. There was a lot more room up to dance… and watch! Standing in front of me was a guy with his shirt off dancing like he belonged behind them on stage. He wasn’t trying to impress anyone; he was just lost in a moment of having fun. At the other end of the aisle was a girl and guy grinding their way through beats on a small staircase. (Yeah, not safe!) Everyone who passed stopped to watch. They didn’t care; they were just living in the moment. It made me smile.

At the same time, I caught a couple girls sitting along the balcony watching the stage intently. All around us there were people trying to capture cell phone pics. And some people were just watching the crowd. They also made me smile.

There was such a distinct contrast between people who were “living in the moment” and “watching the moment.” I reckon this is noticeable everywhere, even though most of us never take note. And I began to wonder where I fit in more.

Am I a “liver” or a “watcher?”

I would like to think I am a liver. Isn’t it natural to want to think we live our lives to the fullest? But there are times I can recall in which I, objectively, watched! And a little bit of me is embarrassed about that. Why would I be an onlooker when I can be in the middle of the action?? Unless, maybe we all need a bit of both?

What are you? A watcher or a liver (not the body part!)?

“Water Me Please!”

24 Jul

Some people say that if you can’t take care of a plant, you shouldn’t get a pet. But I seriously disagree.

This week SS came back from a 2 1/2-week business trip. It wasn’t until a couple days before he returned that I remembered he had asked me to tend to the plants that cover his patio.

I completely forgot. And not all the plants are forgiving.

I feel horribly guilty for killing his plants — not to mention pretty stupid that one of them actually came with the yard when he moved in 6 years ago. Apparently I am a worse plant-carer that’s passed through these walls in the past 6 years. Siiigh. I feel even more guilty, because I know I am useless with plants.

The victim!

I never remember to water plants. This is the number one reason I don’t have any. When my parents go on vacation and my dad asks me to water the plants, I always forgot. He has to leave notes around the house in places I can’t miss. And I still miss them. I am a forgetful person. I have techniques to help me remember things, but they don’t always work — and I have to remember to employ them.

This does not, however, at all imply that I could not take care of a pet. The major different between caring for a plant versus a pet, or any living thing for that matter, is that a pet will make their presence known and will damn well tell you if it’s hungry. During the 6 months that I cared for Max, I never, not once, forgot to feed him. Even when I wasn’t home: I remembered that he needed to be fed and made sure someone else could fill his bowl so he could nudge it all over the ground.

And when you compare it to having a child, well, come on now!! You can’t overlook feeding a child without bearing a painful amount of auditory torture.

Therefore, I think it’s a silly statement. I hope no one ever suggests I try keeping a plant alive before getting a dog, because clearly it’s not possible. But a dog and I would be BFFs.

Birthday Cupcakes: Semi-Successful

21 Jul

So a little over two weeks ago, while everyone in the USofA was out and about enjoying the sun on the Monday after the 4th (bank holiday for you foreigners), I was at the airport waving good-bye to my SS.

My SS is a computer programmer for an big unnamed company. And along with being so brilliant comes important responsibilities around the world. I’m not sure the travel is always necessary, but there it nothing wrong with exploiting your company for a bit of foreign face time. (See why I love him?) So for the past two weeks he’s been in Asia sharing his knowledge, eating yummy sushi and traveling to dangerous places.

SS's birthday presents!! (Yes, that is a stuffed cat!)

He comes home today. And you know what’s even better? Tomorrow is his birthday.

I took advantage of his lack of presence and planned some little surprises. For example, sitting on his kitchen table are an array of wrapped pressies. (I never wrap pressies; I use cardboard and newspaper. It killed me to BUY paper that is inevitably gonna be thrown into the garbage, but I thought he deserved at least one nicely wrapped celebration before introducing him to my ‘save the planet’ ways.)

The other part of my surprise, besides dinner reservations at a delicious place that, get this you’ll never believe it, HE’S NEVER BEEN TO … (This is no small feat people, he’s been evvvverywhere!) … was CUPCAKES!

I came up with this fantasticly creative idea to make him a variety of fun flavors. The tasting menu was as follows. (All were with chocolate cake.)

S’more Cupcakes: Graham cracker inside with marshmallow frosting
Fluffer Nutter Cupcakes: Peanut butter chips inside with marshmallow frosting
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes: Jelly-filled with peanut butter frosting
Nutty Cupcakes: Crushed nuts inside with peanut butter icing
Minty Fresh Cupcakes: Crush star mints inside with butter cream icing
Birthday Cake Cupcakes: Chocolate cake with butter cream icing and sprinkles.

Now imagine a dozen of those. Appetizing right? Yeah, well, didn’t work out as planned.

First off, I used a chocolate cake recipe that I didn’t read thoroughly until in the process of putting it together. It was a recipe for Smore cupcakes that required a graham cracker/sugar baked bottom and then a layer of cake on top. I was making just the cake part and it oddly called for “1 cup of boiling water.” I have no idea WHY it called for boiling water, but as the batter looked ace without it, I didn’t add it.

Was this a mistake? I have no idea!

What I do know is that you can’t baked crushed mint into this recipe. Instead of growing to be fluffy and mushroom topped, like the plain ones, or small and solid, like the graham cracker stuffed batter, these collapsed on themselves.

Mint-infused cupcake failure.

At this point I was losing confidence and stamina. My baking partner AAA — who was ridiculously sweet to help me bake for my SS, and is solely responsible for the icings — was her typical optimistic self, attempting to focus me on the positives — and eat her way through the failures.

The next batch I tried sprinkling the crushed mint on top mid-way through baking. This didn’t work either. They instantly went from having a healthy dome top to being sucked into the black hole of the cupcake tin. Argh. The other ones that proved uncooperative were the PB&Js. Attempting to correct my mistake from last week’s PB&J mishap (all the jelly slid to the bottom when baking), I put the jelly in half way through the baking process in hope that the bottom was baked enough to support it. I have no idea if that worked or not but they didn’t seal over on top in the way I had hoped.

There are holes in the PB&J cupcakes.

At this point I was stomping around the kitchen, spastically shaking and moaning about my baking failure. I was at a loss. Should I bother bringing any to the city for him? Should I take a few? And if I do that, should I ice them before I go? Should I bring the icing and do it tomorrow? Should I just pick up Billy’s on the way over? He has no idea I’m going to see him tonight. But even though he has no idea cupcakes were meant to be waiting for him upon his return home, I felt like I was letting him down by giving up so easily. And after 2.5 a half weeks of planning, if my surprise failed in any way it would just break my little heart.  I’m not the type to give up and, well, he knows that. So I persevered.

In the end I salvaged six that agreed with my oven. There were three S’more-themed cakes and three Fluffer Nutter, which were just turned into Peanut Butter and were iced with PB instead of marshmallow. I would have liked to decorate a few plain ones too but they grew so big, they wouldn’t fit in the carrying pan. I’m guessing the boiling water may have changed that outcome somehow.

Either way, the final product looks pretty nice.

Half a dozen delic cakes are better than none.

This also left me with a challenge. That is to master the art of baking mint into cupcakes. But in the meantime, I am definitely going to make the collapsible cupcakes again. This time in a bowl in which they can be served to guests with a big spoonful of ice cream in the middle. Yummm… now we’re talking.

As for the failed ones, they stand at home waiting to be enjoyed. And the handicapped ones, well, the ladies of the house seemed to like them just the way they were. (Seriously, this was taken like 20 minutes after they came out of the oven!)

Mint-infused cupcakes flavor-success.

Now I’m scheduling this to post just as I should be surprising SS at the airport. But if he somehow catches this post before my face, WELCOME BACK SS!! Now come home and eat!!!

It Could Be Worse…

1 Jul

The July theme for NaBloPoMo is SAVED. It seemed appropriate that I actually post this, instead of deliberating over the draft like I have been for the past few days.

Sometimes something occurs during your day that opens a door. It could be a wide open doorway that promises big rewards. Or it could just open a crack offering nothing but the opportunity to see what’s on the other side. And if you’re not in the right mindframe, you may not even notice the ray of light. But when you are, it’s hard to avoid.

As I just explained in an entry to win a free registration to the BlogHer ’10, I began this blog to share myself anonymously. For me, anonymous means candid honesty… so buckle up folks:

I followed an unusual path of links to come to — one of my favorite books but a website I’ve never before explored. It’s a book of mixed feelings for me. Post after post I find myself well up with emotion — sadness, pity, admiration, disappointment. And the website proves to have the same effect.

As I scrolled down, I stumbled on this: The Mirror

I stopped short in my tracks finger-scrolling as I became overwhelmed with pride. It was a sense of pride for the writer — for her disclosure — and for myself — for being able to completely relate.

The jagged scars that run up and down my thighs used to reflect pain. The were symbol of an unmanageable and undefinable form of agony that few — luckily — ever endure. They are in sets of two, three, four — each representing an occasion that left me at a loss for words or actions, and in a hole to which I saw no way out.

There was only one person I was outright honest with my cutting about. He was the only person who I couldn’t hide it from at the time. Yet, in retrospect, whether I couldn’t hide it, or I subconsciously opened that door for him in an attempt to band-aid the deeper wounds between us, I’m not sure. But on numerous occasions he saw the aftermath before my brain had surrendered to damage control — tissues, showers and boxes of band-aids.

I started with my arms — if you look closely, you can still see the faded criss-cross scars. These cuts took place before the change of view — when I still saw my depression as atypical and my happiness as my true self. At that point, I could still imagine a sense of regret over ruining the smooth, toned skin of my upper arms. It wasn’t long after that I began to see the sad me as the new norm. But by then I had switched canvases. My thighs were easier to hide from the public. So starting as high as I could, I decorated them in bright red slits. I’d cover them until they’d stop bleeding, and then I’d spend days picking the scars making sure they were on permanent display. I didn’t want to forget the pain and the focus it took to slice through my skin over and over, deeper and deeper. It required a level of determination that I, up until that point, had applied to few other places in my life.

Over the years, a few people have questioned me without knowing their cause. A few more I informed outright to avoid facing their surprise when they stumbled across my artwork. And then there were a couple of people intuitive enough to understand without questions — and  still brave enough to ask. They were the ones I was most impressed with: Although they had never shared in my past-time activity, it was clear they had an understanding of what it took. It’s been years since I wore shorts in public.

The entry that followed “The Mirror” said (it was sent in to the site by email):

As a psychiatric nurse, I struggled for months about whether to wear short-sleeved shirts or risk exposure of my past cutting… Most people stare…but last week I had a patient tentatively reach out and touch my scars. She looked at me and said, “I thought I was the only one.” I think it helped me more than it helped her.

And this explained my reaction to the entry above. It described my feelings every time I read about someone else’s experience with cutting. And it made me smile and well up all at the same time. The most empathetic personality can’t understand the state of mind that allows a person to slice their skin up like Thanksgiving turkey, unless they’ve been there themself. It the same as alcoholism or any other form of addiction. It’s a coping mechanism that only those who use it, can get it.

I’ve stopped — years ago. Yet the scars will be there always. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. As time went by and I learned new ways of managing and transforming my pain into happiness, they also transformed. They turned into an icon of personal perseverance. They remind me, every time I face an obstacle, that “it could be worse!” They scream, as the postsecret poster said, “I survived!”

…they also look kinda bad ass!!! (Bring it!)

I heart Gordon Ramsay

20 Jun

Who is my favorite chef?


If you didn’t read the hed on this entry, it’s Gordon Ramsay! I love the loud, brash, foul-mouthed kitchen guru. I don’t, and won’t, watch Hell’s Kitchen, but that’s because of my distaste for reality TV — I have no grievance with the host. I do love Kitchen Nightmares (the British version of course; I love when he visits quaint pubs in the middle of the English countryside).

Someone once asked me, “If you could marry three famous men, who would they be?” My number one? Gordon Ramsay. A girl’s gotta eat, no? (If I remember correctly, my number two was David Beckham, but purely for his thighs, as I’ve had more interesting convos with my dog than he offers in interviews.)

Anyways… I love Gordon. I love his recipes; I love his personality.

So you can imagine my excitement when SS planned another fancy dinner date night, this time at… [drumroll]… Gordon Ramsay at The London.

I squeaked like a lil’ girl when he told me, and secretly prayed that the master himself might happen to be in NY and decide to pop in for a visit during our meal. (A girl’s gotta dream, no?)

Our meal was FABULOUS! And not only because we were we sitting in my food-idol’s NY haven, but the tasting menu sported all my favs — scallops, lamb, cheese (brillat savarin, which I had no idea was cheese until then), and I even loved the foie gras. It was fantastic!

SS wasn’t as impressed as he was with our Jean George adventure. I can agree that it was a close call, and if eaten side-by-side, based on taste alone, I may agree with him. But I’m only human, and my taste buds knew they were eating something [marketed] by Gordon Ramsay. Sigh.

I have very few extravagant desires. Eating at Gordon’s restaurant was one of them. Thank you SS.

With all that said, I must offer some criticism as well (I am a Negotiator personality; it is only fair): Work on the cocktail menu — more vodka mixes — and get an interior designer in there, pronto!

They gave us a copy of the menu as a souvenir.

“Look Marge, Only a Quarter!”

22 May

Today MJay, Triple A and I are holding a yard sale. It is the first yard sale where I’ve held a managerial position — compared to being a spectator. MJay will be moving to the far off land of Connecticut (tear), and needs to clear out some — ok, A LOT — of stuff.

So, for the past few hours I’ve been alternating between sitting in the front of my garage watching my little entrepreneur girl friend, kitted out with a fanny pack and clip board, say good-bye to all her lifelong possessions, demonstrating her Lat Thigh Stepper exercise machine, puppeteer’ing Lampchop and creating an “On the Farm Work-Out” series — so far I’ve recorded Getting Jiggy with C. E. Joe and Fundamentals of Farmland Tap — that was inspired by a pair of overalls MJay gifted me.

I only brought in about $50 — which I’ve allocated to my DR bathing suit fund… gotta try to impress the man — mostly because I feel guilty asking people to give me money for things I am otherwise throwing away. Either way, I got rid of some crap that was inhabiting my space, and MJay’s belongings are flying off the shelves. Well, except the over-priced products.

The customer base has been interesting. For me, the woman below was the highlight.

Our most fashion-forward customer wearing red fish-nets under way-too-tight denim shorts and a way-too-short black t-shirt.

In the end, we are having a blast. It’s all about the fun of spending the day with those you love. As MJay so genuinely put it: “I’m doing it solely for the company… ME and Triple A.”

ME: “Awwww seriously? We could have just hung out you know…”

MJay: “Yeah but actually doing SOMETHING together makes it more of a bonding experience!”

Thanks MJay, you are right. I feel very bonded now!

Sooooo… when does Martini night start?